2 people taken to hospital after fire at Toronto auto body shop

Two people were transported to hospital after a fire in Toronto on Saturday evening.

In a tweet, Toronto police said officers received reports of a fire in the Warden Avenue and Danforth Avenue area.

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1 dead, 1 in critical condition following two early morning shootings in North York

According to Toronto fire, the incident occurred at an auto body shop.

Cars were reportedly on fire both inside and outside the shop.

The fire, which was initially deemed a two-fire alarm, was upgraded to a third alarm due to reports of explosions, Toronto fire said.

Toronto paramedics told Global News two people were transported to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ottawa Police Homicide Unit investigating fatal stabbing

The Ottawa Police Homicide Unit is investigating a fatal stabbing in the city this weekend.

Police say officers located a badly wounded man in the 200 block of Hannah Street just before 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Read more:

Human remains located at site of explosion on Merivale Road, officials say

They say the man was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries.

He has since been identified as 40-year-old Jayco Partridge.

Investigators say an arrest warrant has been issued for 28-year-old Devon Wynne on a charge of second degree murder.

Anyone who knows Wynne’s whereabouts, or has information about the case, is asked to contact police immediately.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Canadian scientist examines melting Antarctic glacier, potential sea level rise

The Arctic sea ice has suffered devastating loss and has shrunk to its second lowest on record. Melting sea ice is just one of many signs of a warming climate in the North. Emanuela Campanella explains how climate change is rapidly transforming the Arctic Circle.

As icebergs drifted by his Antarctica-bound ship, David Holland spoke this week of how the melting glacier he’s cruising towards may contain warning signals for the coasts of far-off Canada.

The atmospheric and ocean scientist from Newfoundland is part of an expedition to one of the world’s most frigid and remote spots – the Thwaites glacier in the western portion of the continent – where he’ll measure water temperatures in an undersea channel the size of Manhattan.

“The question of whether sea level will change can only be answered by looking at the planet where it matters, and that is at Thwaites,” said Holland, director of the environmental fluid dynamics laboratory at New York University, during a satellite phone interview from aboard the South Korean icebreaker Araon.

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It’s over 16,000 kilometres from Holland’s hometown in Brigus, N.L., on Conception Bay, to the site about 100 kilometres inland from the “grounding zone” where the Thwaites’ glacier leaves the continent and extends over the Pacific.

The team’s 20,000 tonnes of drilling gear will be assembled to measure the temperatures, salinity and turbulence of the Pacific waters that have crept underneath and are lapping away at the guts of the glacier.

“If it (the water) is above freezing, and in salt water this means above -2 centigrade, that’s not sustainable. A glacier can’t survive that,” said Holland.

Since 2018, more than 60 scientists from the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration group have been exploring the ocean and marine sediments, measuring warming currents flowing toward the deep ice, and examining the stretching, bending, and grinding of the glacier over the landscape below.

The Florida-sized Thwaites glacier faces the Amundsen Sea, and researchers have suggested in journal articles over the past decade it may eventually lose large amounts of ice because of deep, warm water driven into the area as the planet warms. Some media have dubbed Thwaites the “doomsday glacier” due to estimates that it could add about 65 centimetres to global sea level rise.

Holland notes current research models mainly suggest this would happen over several centuries, however there are also lower probability theories of “catastrophic collapse” occurring, where the massive ice shelf melts in the space of decades. “We want to pay attention to things that are plausible, and rapid collapse of that glacier is a possibility,” he said.

While Holland looks at the undersea melting, other scientists are examining how the land-based portions of Antarctic glaciers are losing their grip on points of attachment to the seabed, potentially causing parts to detach. Still other researchers point to the risk of initial fractures causing the ice shelf to break, much like a damaged car windshield.

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All of the mechanisms must be carefully observed to prove or disprove models on the rates of melting, said Holland.

“If the (water-filled) cave beneath the glacier we’re studying gets bigger, then Antarctica is losing ice and retreating, and if the cave collapses on itself, then (the cave) will disappear. This is how Antarctica can retreat, these kinds of specific events,” he said.

The implications of the glacier work reach back to Atlantic Canada – which along with communities along the Beaufort Sea and in southwestern British Columbia is the region most vulnerable to sea level rise in the country, according to federal scientists.

Everything from how to calculate the future height of dikes at the low-lying Chignecto Isthmus – the narrow band of land that connects Nova Scotia to the rest of the country – to whether the Fraser River lowlands may face flooding is potentially affected by glacial melting in Antarctica, he said.

Scenarios where Antarctica ice melts more quickly than expected are briefly discussed in the 2019 federal report Canada’s Changing Climate. Based largely on Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that refer to them as low-probability “tipping point” theories, the 2019 report invoked the possibility of one metre of sea level rise by 2100.

However, Blair Greenan, a federal oceanographer who oversaw the relevant chapter of the report, said in a recent interview that a rise in global sea levels approaching two metres by 2100 and five metres by 2150 “cannot be ruled out” due to uncertainty over ice sheet processes like Thwaites.

“We don’t know, nobody knows,” Holland said. “But it’s plausible these things can change, and several feet of sea level change would have a major impact on Atlantic Canada. What’s needed is glacier forecasting that resembles the kinds of accuracy that weather forecasting currently provides.”

However, collecting glacier forecast data is a daunting undertaking in the short period – from late January until mid-February – when scientists can safely take readings. Helicopters will be ferrying a hot water drill, 30 barrels of fuel and water to Holland’s site beginning near the end of January. The drill will have to penetrate over a kilometre of ice to reach the 300 metres of undersea channel to take measurements.

As the data is collected, some scientists question whether there’s really much for Canadian coastal residents to worry about at this stage.

One study by Ian Joughin, a University of Washington glaciologist, has suggested Thwaites will only lose ice at a rate that creates sea level rise of one millimetre per year – and not until next century. At that rate it would take 100 years for sea levels to rise 10 centimetres.

In a telephone interview last week, Joughin said planning coastal protection and other measures for the more extreme scenarios may not be cost effective at this point, as it may take up to a century before the major risks starts to unfold.

However, Joanna Eyquem, a Montreal-based geoscientist who is studying ways to prepare infrastructure for rising sea levels, said in a recent email that glacier research shows sea level forecasts “are constantly evolving,” and adaptation efforts need to be quicker.

“The question is: How desperate does the situation need to be before we take action?” she asked.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Police investigate after pedestrian killed in hit and run in Toronto

Police say one man is dead after a hit and run in Toronto on Saturday.

In a series of tweets Saturday, Toronto police said a vehicle struck a pedestrian in the Weston Road and Dee Avenue area.

Toronto paramedics told Global News a man in his 50s was taken to a trauma centre in critical condition, with life-threatening injuries.

In an update Sunday morning, police said the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead in hosptial.

Officers said the driver of the vehicle fled the scene.

According to police, officers are now searching for the driver.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford holds meeting on rural, remote and northern housing issues

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is set to meet Sunday with leaders of rural, remote and northern communities to discuss their housing challenges as issues of rapid price growth and lack of supply are felt far beyond urban borders.

The talks come after the premier and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark hosted a virtual housing summit recently with big-city mayors. Clark said Sunday’s meeting is an “opportunity to collaborate and co-ordinate” with smaller, rural, northern and remote municipalities on how the government can address the housing supply crisis.

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“This can include discussing ways to build the right mix of housing in the right places, share best practices, and discuss these municipalities’ unique experiences with the housing supply crisis,” he said in a written statement.

Those who work in housing in the areas outside Ontario’s large centres said that while there are common issues across the province, governments seeking solutions need to remember the unique needs and challenges of smaller regions.

Mitchell Twolan, the mayor of Huron-Kinloss in Bruce County, who has also been a Realtor for 27 years, said the past two years are the busiest he’s ever experienced.

“A lot of the folks that are coming in are from the cities, and they’re coming here for quality of life, and we are still considered quite affordable even though the prices of homes have shot up,” he said.

Home prices have risen by 31 per cent in Grey Bruce-Owen Sound from December 2020 to December 2021, according to Canadian Real Estate Association figures. That’s the same percentage as Toronto.

In many regions, it’s even higher. Kawartha Lakes, Cambridge and Brantford all saw about 40 per cent growth, while North Bay saw 42 and the Bancroft area topped the list with a whopping 48 per cent growth in prices year over year.

Twolan said he was involved with a property that saw 27 bids. Huron-Kinloss saw the most residential homes in its history built in the past year – even during a pandemic – and the new supply is still not meeting the demand, he said.

“It really is that what happened in the city previously is starting to happen in rural Ontario,” he said.

Rebecca Carman, the housing services manager for Northumberland County, said their average retail price rose by 30 per cent in a year to more than $825,000, which is unaffordable for most people in the region.

“The challenges have always been there, but they’ve definitely had a light shone on them during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“What has happened over time is housing affordability and availability, it’s been long viewed as that urban issue with affordability often seen to be more achievable in rural communities, and it’s just no longer the case.”

Because housing had been more affordable in rural communities, there was less demand for rental units, so very few such homes were built, Carman said. And as house prices rise, homeowners are selling their houses instead of renting them out, she said, leaving the community also dealing with a very low rental vacancy rate.

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Among the provincial measures Carman suggests are giving developers a financial incentive to build a mix of housing, increasing the supply of rental housing, and improving the process for directing surplus Crown lands to municipalities for affordable housing.

Robin Jones, mayor of the village of Westport in eastern Ontario and chair of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association, said two areas the province could address are land-use planning rules about where rural settlements can be built, and landlord and tenant rules.

“Our issue is, of course, like everybody else, affordable housing. But let’s be clear, the lack of affordable rental housing in rural Ontario is just as dire,” Jones said.

In many small towns, villages and hamlets, wealthy individuals or developers buy buildings and convert old homes with three or four apartments back into single-family residences, she said.

Henry Wall, the chief administrative officer of the Kenora District Services Board, said one way the province could help speed up housing development is to constrain the ability to appeal housing developments or at least streamline the process.

Municipal councils will often approve a zoning amendment for new housing to be built only for them to be challenged and mired in a lengthy appeals process, he said.

“We’re losing development because of appeals being filed, because of NIMBYism (not in my backyard), and it has another very serious implication in especially in northern Ontario, where very often race plays into it,” Wall said.

Wall also noted that it costs more in the north to build homes, and with a shorter building season, it takes more co-ordination to get supplies.

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The Association of Municipalities of Ontario said in a letter to Clark that the two housing meetings are a good start, but addressing the housing crisis will take joint action.

Some of its suggestions include applying inclusionary zoning policies to more communities in order to get more affordable housing built, rent-to-own programs, and a public education campaign to combat NIMBYism and promote a diverse mix of housing.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

'Havana Syndrome': Canada cautions diplomats about mysterious illness symptoms

WATCH: Havana Syndrome: New CIA report sheds light on mysterious illness

Canada’s foreign ministry has advised staff serving around the world to watch for mysterious illness symptoms following unexplained health incidents among diplomats in Cuba and U.S. personnel in various countries.

In September, Global Affairs Canada began briefings with senior managers at headquarters in Ottawa, all heads of mission abroad and partners from other federal departments working at embassies, says a newly disclosed briefing note.

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On Oct. 7, a broadcast message to all Global Affairs staff was issued, outlining the symptoms and how to report concerns, says the note, prepared in November for Melanie Joly, who had just been sworn in as Canada’s latest foreign affairs minister.

Canadian diplomats and family members posted to Havana, Cuba, have reported difficulties since 2017, including headaches, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, cognitive and vision problems, noise sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, sleep disturbances, mood changes and nosebleeds.

Fifteen Canadians have received a confirmed working diagnosis of “acquired brain injury,” Global Affairs says.

Several U.S. personnel who worked in Cuba have reported similar health issues, commonly known as Havana Syndrome. More recently, there have been reports of symptoms among U.S. personnel in Washington, Austria and China.

“There continues to be ongoing media coverage of unexplained health incidents experienced by U.S. government staff abroad, which has understandably generated concerns among Government of Canada employees around the world,” says the November note to Joly.

The Global Affairs staff briefings were done out of “an abundance of caution and to meet our duty of care obligations,” the note adds.

The RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have sent similar messages to their staff, the department says.

CSIS has offices located within certain Canadian diplomatic missions.

“In alignment with Global Affairs Canada protocols to respond to any unusual events affecting Canadian officials abroad, CSIS advised its employees accordingly,” said intelligence service spokeswoman Keira Lawson.

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Global Affairs spokeswoman Patricia Skinner declined to say whether any new cases had been reported by staff since the department’s 2021 briefings on health symptoms.

“For privacy and security reasons, we cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigations, individual cases, nor on specific security measures,” she said.

Ongoing Canadian and U.S. investigations have not determined a cause of the ailments, though theories have ranged from targeted sonic attacks by an adversary to pesticide spraying.

Given the unusual health incidents in Cuba, as of April 2018 the Canadian diplomats posted to Havana have not been accompanied by spouses or children.

In January 2019, Global Affairs reduced its diplomatic footprint in Havana by half. Since then, the department has increased the number of diplomats, not yet to full staffing, to allow the mission to respond more effectively to the consular needs of Canadians in Cuba and to advance Canadian foreign policy, trade and development priorities, Skinner said.

“Global Affairs Canada intends to increase the number of Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba in due course,” she added.

Department records obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act indicate the move to fuller staffing in Havana was paused temporarily last March given the appearance of a possible new case of the syndrome.

“Depending on the situation, we could explore additional health and security measures that would allow us to go forward with the increased footprint, or we could look at other options,” say internal notes for a March 5 briefing of officials.

Skinner declined to say whether the possible case was indeed confirmed through testing.

Eight Canadian diplomats and their family members who became mysteriously ill while posted to Cuba are suing Ottawa in Federal Court for millions of dollars in damages.

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Paul Miller, a lawyer for the families, said in an interview that at least one more diplomat who served in Cuba – possibly the unnamed one mentioned in the March 2021 department memo – will soon be added to the lawsuit.

Miller said that some ailing diplomats “do not want to get involved with suing their government” given the possible damaging effects on their careers. “And this last person took some serious time before deciding to join.”

The diplomats say the Canadian government failed to protect them, hid crucial information and downplayed the seriousness of the risks. The government denies wrongdoing and negligence, and wants the court to dismiss the action.

Skinner said Global Affairs continues to maintain a security and health protocol to respond immediately to any unusual events or health symptoms affecting Canadian diplomats and their families.

The RCMP has not revealed findings of its long-running investigation of the health ailments.

Pamela Isfeld, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, said she hopes there will be a resolution to the puzzling episode.

“I share the frustration of everybody – there just doesn’t seem to be a conclusion anywhere close in this investigation.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Canadian Shapovalov reaches Australian Open quarterfinals, sets Nadal match

WATCH: Shapovalov predicts 'long battle'against Nadal in quarter-finals of Australian Open

As the 2022 Australian Open began, Denis Shapovalov talked about wanting to bring the “Rafa mentality” to the court.

Now that he’s reached the quarterfinals Down Under for the first time in his career after a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 dismantling of world No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the round of 16 Sunday, he will get to test out that new mantra against the man who created it.

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The 22-year-old Canadian will face 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

“It’s just fighting for every point, kind of just staying in it, not letting things bother you,” Shapovalov said of the mindset he hoped he and his team could bring to the court in 2022.

If the match against Zverev was any indication, it’s already mission accomplished.

Shapovalov is the third Canadian to reach the final eight in Melbourne. He joins Milos Raonic (who has gone at least that far on five occasions) and Mike Belkin, who reached the quarterfinals in 1968 _ the first year of tennis’s open era.

Felix Auger-Aliassime will attempt to join that group Monday (late Sunday night ET) when the No. 9 seed takes on No. 27 seed Marin Cilic in his own round-of-16 match.

“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there. He makes you play a lot. His defence is very good. He’s very good at what he does, you know?” Shapovalov said of Nadal. “I’m going to have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing: playing patient, fighting for every point and picking my spots to play aggressively.”

Shapovalov had a slight dip in focus at the end of the second set against Zverev. But beyond that, he outhit the mighty Zverev from the baseline. He kept the errors down. And on a steamy, humid day, he kept his infamously inconsistent cool pretty much throughout.

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“Obviously it was really hot to begin with. Did a good job of just staying patient and, yeah, trying to play a little quickly on my serve games,” Shapovalov said. “I think I did everything really, really well today.”

Other than 11 double faults, Shapovalov dominated the rallies with power and surprising consistency. He rarely looked in trouble.

For his part, Zverev never looked as though he might mount a charge. And his career-long struggle with his second serve, resolved fairly well in 2021, reared its head. With eight double faults, he won just 29 per cent of his second-serve points.

“Maybe since Wimbledon, one of the worst matches I have played. It’s just tough,” a downcast Zverev said. “Obviously I give credit to Denis. It’s incredible he’s in the quarters. I think he deserves it. He’s done a lot of work. He’s improved his game. But I’ve got to look at myself, as well. Today was just, in my opinion, awful from my side.”

Shapovalov went 22-for-27 at the net on Sunday. That’s an area where he has made steady improvement in the last two years, and where he hopes new coach Jamie Delgado, a fine volleyer in his day, will make even more of an impact.

The arrival of Andy Murray’s former longtime coach, and Shapovalov’s first breakthrough effort Down Under, are happening concurrently.

After just a few weeks, though, it’s far too soon to assess Delgado’s impact.

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However, adding the 44-year-old Brit, after parting ways with Russian former top-10 player Mikhail Youzhny at the end of last season, was 100 per cent Shapovalov’s decision.

It may be the first major call on his career that the Richmond Hill, Ont., native has made on his own, with mother and coach Tessa such a strong presence as he rose through the ranks.

“For sure, it’s a little bit about growing up _ wanting my parents to be my parents and kind of treating this like more of like a business and like a job,” Shapovalov said. “And I really wanted to build a team that’s going to be on the same page the whole time. So it was it was my call, and my decision.”

Shapovalov spoke to a few potential candidates. He even approached his former coach and the former Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau to return.

“It just didn’t work out. He’s in a good position with Tennis Canada, and he’s pretty comfortable. We just, couldn’t come to a good agreement,” Shapovalov said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Teachers say social media is 'hurting' students — but their jobs have also gotten harder

WATCH: Teachers say they are ‘stretched’ responding to social media impacts in classrooms

Shortly after the start of the new school year last September, Pam Johnson started noticing soap dispensers were going missing from bathrooms at the New Westminster, B.C. high school where she teaches Grade 8.

The streak of vandalism was inspired by a viral trend on the social media app TikTok, and would have been shocking if it happened earlier in Johnson’s 16-year teaching career. Instead, it is just one example of many she gives about how social media has made her job — and her students’ lives — harder.

“It’s like Whack-A-Mole. Every day, it feels like there’s something new,” said Johnson.

“The increase we’ve seen in just overall troubling behaviour, it’s exhausting and it’s very, very concerning.”

Even before social media existed, teachers have had to address their students’ bad behaviour and the mental health challenges that come with growing up. But Johnson says as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other apps have become more central in students’ lives, those issues have risen dramatically.

“We see increased behaviour around self issues, self-harm, kids who are more inclined to be suicidal, who have relationship problems,” she said. “Kids have always fallen asleep in class, but they’re doing so a lot more now.”

“They’re so engrossed in their phones and what is happening there that they can’t concentrate on school, or even things that are just going on around them.”

To a certain degree, the damaging effect social media can have — particularly on young people — is nothing new. But in the decades since the introduction of MySpace and the eventual rise of Facebook and Instagram, there are clear indications it’s only getting worse. A recent deep dive into Facebook’s operations, by the Wall Street Journal, revealed the company is well aware of its platforms’ negative influences on the mental health of users — a sizable percentage of those being young ones.

Despite the negative effects coming into clearer focus, the entrenchment of social media in the day-to-day lives of Canadians is nearly inescapable. Global News is unravelling the many facets of influence these platforms have — both offline and on — and the impact on the classroom is just one piece of the puzzle.

Read more:

Influenced: A Global News series about social media’s impact on and offline

Teachers and youth mental health advocates are quick to point out that social media use is not a direct cause of increased negative behaviours, which can also stem from other problems in kids’ lives. There is plenty of good to be found on these platforms, they add, and kids need to be taught the proper and healthy way to use them.

But they also agree that the negative aspects of social media — the addiction of seeking “likes,” the self-isolation it can promote — need to be addressed.

“For those kids who are struggling at home, maybe they have low self-esteem or other things like that – this medium is so difficult on them because they already feel disconnected,” said Johnson. “They already feel like they don’t fit in. And this just makes them feel more so.”

Johnson isn’t the only teacher who has seen the impacts of social media on their students.

Carl Hofbauer has spent the past five years as a student counsellor at a fine arts school in Langley, B.C., after over a decade of classroom teaching. He remembers sitting in on a music class this past year when he noticed just how much smartphones have invaded young people’s lives.

“(The students) were playing this Stravinsky piece — a pretty tough piece,” he remembers. “And one of the students, the oboe player, she had her phone on her music stand, and she’s scrolling through it … then she would play her part, and then go back to her phone.” Hofbauer notes the phone was next to the student’s sheet music.

“It just seemed so amazing to me, that in the middle of playing this beautiful music, some of these kids are still finding ways to disconnect.”

After transitioning to a position where he’s now intimately involved in students’ mental health struggles and anxieties, Hofbauer says it didn’t take long before he began feeling overwhelmed — not just by the issues he was confronting, but by how many students he was counselling at a time.

“I have 500 students in my caseload, and if 20 of them are dealing with issues at home or severe mental health struggles, you just can’t be proactive,” he said. “You’re putting out fires instead of actively counselling these kids, which is what they need.”

Carl Hofbauer, a counsellor at a Langley, B.C., fine arts school, in his office.

Carl Hofbauer, a counsellor at a Langley, B.C., fine arts school, in his office.

Jennifer Echols

Other teachers agree with Hofbauer that there is what Johnson calls an “urgent need” for more mental health resources in schools, including adding more counselling staff.

Emily Jayne, who teaches Grade 8 at a Vancouver private school but spent eight years prior teaching high school in the United States, says she’s seen in both countries how mental health has worsened — and how social media has played a role.

“It’s just this constant, consistent access to information that’s leading kids to become more concerned about climate change, more concerned about politics, how the world is changing,” she said. “It’s made their lives so much more stressful, and that has led to a change in how they behave for sure.”

Without those additional supports, Johnson says it’s often been left to teachers and other school staff to respond whenever those mental health struggles spill over.

“There have been fights, the police have been called on occasion … and often the dispute or the outburst can be linked to something on these apps,” Johnson said.

“It comes down on our shoulders a lot and we are stretched. And we just don’t know what to do anymore. So you just kind of start to shrug your shoulders and go, I don’t know. I don’t know.”

In their most recent annual student drug use and health survey in 2019, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Ontario — where there are nearly as many K-12 students as Quebec, Alberta and B.C. combined — found “suicidal ideation and serious psychological distress” were at an all-time high for students.

Symptoms of anxiety or depression were also found to be on the rise steadily among students in Grades 7 to 12, with over one in five students reporting “serious psychological distress” — double the rate it was six years prior.

The researchers behind the study were explicit in explaining that screen time and social media usage weren’t the sole cause for these levels, but were among its main contributing factors.

Statistics Canada also found that youths aged 15 to 24 not only used social media more than older age groups, but also reported far higher negative outcomes from its use.

The researchers, which used the results of a 2018 survey of Canadians, found more younger users had reported experiencing “lost sleep, trouble concentrating on tasks or activities, less physical activity, feeling anxious or depressed, feeling envious of the lives of others, and feeling frustrated or angry” as a result of social media.

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Yet some researchers — including Natasha Parent, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia who specializes in the intersection of human development and technology — have refrained from pointing to social media use as being the determining factor in declining youth mental health.

“I don’t think that social media is that different from other things that we have seen in the past. You know, if this was 70 years ago, we’d be talking about TV, and there was so much fear mongering (back then) about how TV was going to melt kids’ brains,” Parent said.

Although Parent’s own research and work with kids has found a similar connection between depression and social media, she’s often found that those issues are driven by other factors — a bad home life, relationship problems — and social media can act as a coping mechanism.

Particularly during COVID-19, Parent says, “social media was actually a very important tool for teens and kids to connect with one another when they weren’t physically able to before.”

Teachers are aware that as social media’s reach grows, students are spending a majority of their social lives on these apps, making it harder to convince kids to tune out completely.

While teachers say it’s still worth exploring ways to limit or outright ban phone use during classroom time, they say that would only address part of the problem that teachers are facing.

“The amount of time spent fighting students to put their phones away, that’s a huge loss of time,” Jayne said. “We’re not able to focus on what we’re supposed to be doing because it’s up to us to police it.”

Dr. Philip McRae, a researcher with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, says what’s most concerning is that mental health resources have seen a decline for the students and teachers that need them — particularly during COVID-19.

Among the issues, he says, are that there has been a general underfunding of resources from the provincial government that has led to a shortage of educational assistants and other support staff in schools. Even principals are being overworked, he added.

“We do see a great deal of anger (toward) this current government around not having the adequate resourcing and supports in schools,” he said.

In 2020, Alberta made deep cuts to its education system totalling nearly $1 billion and slashing thousands of support staff and educational assistants and redirecting it to the pandemic.

While other provinces like Quebec and Ontario have also seen cuts to their education or local school board budgets, governments have also begun to redirect existing funding towards mental health supports. British Columbia allocated over $20 million up until 2024, while Saskatchewan last month announced $400,000 towards ensuring “mental health first aid” training for one staff member at every K-12 school.

“We wouldn’t expect to send our children to school without somebody knowing first aid for a physical issue, so we shouldn’t expect that support not to be in schools for mental health,” said Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan.

Duncan says he’s aware not only of the rise in kids’ social media use but also the impact it’s had on the classroom and youth mental health. Stories he has heard from parents whose children have been bullied through social media led him to not only think about ways to limit kids’ use, but also his own.

He says his 100-day break from social media helped spark the province’s Take a Break public awareness campaign, which was announced in December.

“I talk to school boards on a regular basis, and there isn’t a meeting where the mental health of our students doesn’t come up, and the demands are becoming greater for more supports for students,” he said.

“This is a way to remind those students that, if it’s once a week or once a month, it’s okay to take a break from social media once in a while.”

Read more:

The dark side of social media: What Canada is — and isn’t — doing about it

Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), says governments still aren’t going far enough. He says not only do teachers lack the resources necessary to tackle in-school crises and online bullying, but there is also a lack of legislation and guidelines for teachers and staff in general.

Wozney warns it isn’t only students having to deal with the fallout from social media use, but also teachers now have added dimensions to their job — including a responsibility for them to teach kids proper online behaviour.

“Teachers’ workload is complicated by social media and the classroom because society expects teachers to be the primary educators of youth about appropriate online, virtual and social media behaviour,” he said.

“I think teachers feel very much like a lot of the other important figures in children’s lives aren’t taking the same kind of responsibility that is being laid on teachers.”

For Johnson, more mental health supports will do little unless the social media companies themselves change their behaviours.

“What we need is these big tech companies to actually care about our youth and their future and not their massive profits, right? Because honestly, they target kids,” she said.

Pam Johnson, a teacher in New Westminster, B.C., in her office.

Pam Johnson, a teacher in New Westminster, B.C., in her office.

Pam Johnson

Facebook’s parent company Meta, which also owns Instagram, says its only incentive is to “try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible.” It also says it has spent more than $5 billion on improving safety and security this year alone.

The company also pushed back against the internal research highlighted by the Wall Street Journal’s recent reporting. While it admitted some teen Instagram users who struggled with anxiety and depression said the app made them feel worse, “more teens told us that Instagram made them feel better when experiencing these same issues.”

Last month, Instagram launched its own Take a Break feature that gives notifications reminding users to put their phone down after a certain amount of time. The platform will also allow parents and guardians to set their own time limits for their kids, while exploring other options to “keep (kids) safe.”

TikTok last year reinforced certain limits on video downloads and direct messaging for underage users, while push notifications are also paused during night hours for those users. The company, which has retained an outside safeguarding firm to conduct a review of the platform’s impacts on youth, also has a parental resource guide to foster family discussion.

A spokesperson reinforced the company’s position that “dangerous challenges and illegal behaviour” — like the removal of soap dispensers that Johnson witnessed — “are not allowed on our platform.”

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said in October the company is exploring an in-house parental control system called the “Family Center.” The system will give parents “better insights to help protect their kids, in ways that don’t compromise their privacy or data security,” according to a company statement.

Parent, the UBC researcher, and other youth mental health experts say fostering parent-child relationships, while also encouraging more discussion in the classroom, is critical to improving teens’ social media use.

“So much of it is about the relationship” between parents and their kids, said Ashley Miller, a child psychiatrist at BC Children’s Hospital.

“Of course, all teenagers, as they get older, are going to have their private life because that’s completely normal. But the stronger the underlying parent-child relationship is, the less likely they are to engage in the harmful behaviours online or to (feel they) need to hide really serious things.”

Parent says teachers can play a role too by regularly adapting classroom policies on devices to fit the needs of their students.

“Maybe students will say at certain times of their lives, ‘Oh, I really want to have my phone on because my grandma is in the hospital and I want to know something happens,’ and then you can adjust the guideline,” she said. “Make it a living document rather than a hard rule.”

Johnson agrees that social media is not an absolute evil — “Hey, I learned how the play the ukulele on YouTube,” she laughs, “and a lot of our resources come from (social media)” — and she is always looking for new ways to integrate it into the classroom to keep students engaged.

But she’s seen enough over the years to know that something needs to change.

“The bottom line is our kids are hurting,” Johnson said. “They are hurting big time. When you have, you know, Grade 6s wanting to die, when you have kids who hate their lives and just feel worse and worse or more lonely because of this stuff … this is extremely worrisome.

“A lot of times people say, ‘Oh, the schools need to do more.’ We are, we are. We are. I can guarantee you that we are trying and trying, but this is not where it’s going to change. It has to change at the top.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton Oilers rally for 5-3 win over Flames

Leon Draisaitl scored the game-winner with 5:31 left in third, giving the Edmonton Oilers a 5-3 decision over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at Rogers Place.

The Oilers end a seven-game winless skid that saw them go 0-5-2.

“We’re not the team that loses seven in-a-row,” Draisaitl said. “We’re not that bad, and I think everybody knows that. We know that. And I think that’s most important. Tonight feels really, really good but we have to continue pushing and getting better.”

LISTEN BELOW: Leon Draisaitl and Mikko Koskinen

For the 24th time in the last 28 games, the Oilers allowed the first goal. Matthew Tkachuk slammed in a rebound to make it 1-0 8:29 into the game. Milan Lucic deflected a puck past Mikko Koskinen for a power play goal in the final minute of the first.

“It would’ve been easy to fold up shop and worry about the next one down two, but I thought our group responded well,” Connor McDavid said.

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The Oilers broke through on the power play in the second when Evan Bouchard bombed one past Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Bouchard wristed home another power play marker four minutes later.

“Jesse (Puljujarvi) was doing a great job net-front, doing the dirty work in front and that’s how goals come,” Bouchard said.

LISTEN BELOW: Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard

Brendan Perlini rifled in his fourth of the season to make it 3-2 with 1:41 to go in the second, but Noah Hanifin replied for the Flames 57 seconds later.

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Koskinen made a brilliant, stretching save to deny Dillon Dube on a two-on-one halfway through the third.

“I think it’s my top save in the NHL if you think about where we are,” Koskinen said.

“Saturday night against your biggest rival on Hockey Night in Canada, and you’re on a losing streak—there’s a lot of pressure with that, and he performed very well,” Oilers head Coach Dave Tippett said of Edmonton’s goaltender.

“(Koskinen) is a guy that’s faced a lot of criticism—same with a lot of our group—but he’s a guy we want to battle for and he played great for us tonight,” McDavid said post-game. “He made a lot of great saves and that one in particular was massive for us. It gave us a chance to win.”

Later, Draisaitl took a long pass from Duncan Keith and went in down the right side. He cut around Chris Tanev, out-waited Markstrom and flipped in his 27th tally of the season. Draisaitl, who finished with two goals and two assists, added an empty netter just before time expired.

Koskinen made 44 saves for his first win since December 1.

“There’s relief but there’s a happiness,” Tippett said post-game. “People don’t realize the toll it takes on you when you lose. It hurts everybody, so it’s great to see them feel good about it for a night and, hopefully, it’s a night we can use to start building ourselves back up again.”

LISTEN BELOW: Dave Tippett

The Oilers, 19-16-2, will play in Vancouver on Tuesday.

With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Big third period gives London Knights the victory in Guelph

Third period goals by London Knights Sean McGurn, Tonio Stranges and Luke Evangelista turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 win over the Storm in Guelph on Saturday night.

Bad bounces dogged London in two of the first three games they played against the Storm this season. One resulted in an overtime winner for the Storm in London. Another off a referee’s skate led to the winning goal in Guelph a couple of weeks later.

On Saturday things were different.

Cody Morgan turned the tide when he literally bounced the puck into the Guelph net off the back of goaltender Owen Bennett at 8:22 of the first period.

The Knights came out flying in the second period and peppered nine shots at Bennett in the first five minutes and 22 seconds but could not beat the Georgetown, Ont. native.

Guelph rode those stops to the game tying goal at the 8:15 mark of the period as Jake Karabela banged in a loose puck in front of the London net to make it 1-1.

Storm rookie defenceman Michael Buchinger scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal on January 18 against Flint. He scored the second of his career on Saturday to put Guelph up 2-1 as he sent a shot through a screen and past London goalie Owen Flores.

Matthew Poitras fed Braeden Bowman under four minutes later to make it 3-1 Storm, but Knights defenceman Gerard Keane got London within a goal heading to the final 20 minutes with a hard snap shot from the slot.

The third period featured the biggest bounce in London’s favour as a point shot by Logan Mailloux hit the leg of a Guelph defender and deflected right to Sean McGurn. He had an open side to fire the puck into to tie the game 3-3.

The Storm challenged the play as goaltender interference, but after a review that lasted long enough to play “The Hockey Song” by Stompin’ Tom Connors in its entirety, the goal was counted and the game sat even halfway through the third.

Morgan picked up a puck in centre and fed Tonio Stranges for a breakaway where he got the eventual game winning goal at 13:42 of the third.

Flores made his biggest stop of the game for in final two minutes with the Guelph net empty. Vegas Golden Knights draft pick, Daniil Chayka, skated into the slot and got a shot away that Flores snapped out of the air with his glove.

Moments later McGurn set up Luke Evangelista for an empty-netter to give London their first win over the Storm this season.

The Knights outshot the Storm 33-23.

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An Evangelistian pace

It will always be pointed out that anyone who scores a hat trick in their first game of an OHL season is on pace to score 204 goals. So far not a single player has been able to keep up that kind of a pace. Ernie Godden set the record for most goals in an OHL season with 87 in the 1980-81 season and it has stood ever since.

Still, London Captain Luke Evangelista has been keeping up quite the goal scoring momentum this year. Two goals against the Erie Otters on January 21 and another in Guelph on January 22 have Evangelista on pace for the first 50-goal season by a London Knight since 2015-16 when Christian Dvorak hit the number on the nose and the first 60-goal season since Patrick Kane when he put up 62 goals in 2006-07.

If Evangelista keeps up his current production rate he would score 61 goals this year joining Kane, Dave Lowry, Dennis Maruk, Dave Simpson and Dino Ciccarelli as the only players in Knights history to top the 60-goal plateau. Ciccarelli is the all-time record holder. He had 72 goals in 1977-78.

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McGurn and Evangelista lead London Knights to win to kick off three-game weekend

Houser stays hot

Former Knights goalie Michael Houser is now 4-2 as a National Hockey League goaltender with a .927 save percentage in six appearances with the Buffalo Sabres that have been spread over two seasons.

Houser won his second straight start on Saturday, January 22 as Buffalo beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. Houser stopped 30 of 33 shots against the Flyers less than a week after making 44 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Houser is doing in the NHL what he did in his final season with the Knights when he posted a .925 save percentage on his way to being named Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year and the Red Tilson Trophy winner as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player.

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Up next

The Knights and Storm will be right back at it on Sunday afternoon in Budweiser Gardens for the fifth of ten meetings between the teams this year.

The game will mark the fourth home game London will have played without fans in attendance.

The Knights are scheduled to play the Saginaw Spirit on January 28 and 29 and the Flint Firebirds on January 30.

All games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at http://www.9890cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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