The funding is not a concern, the worry is the financial accountability on the part of city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykWell, wasn’t that quite the diatribe this week from Vishal Chityal and his counter ego Charlie Duke over at SupportiveLiving.ca. The lengthy Facebook posting was in response to last week’s item on COVID-19 precautions that may be in place at Walnut Manor, a home operated by SupportiveLiving.ca.
There hasn’t been pushback like that from Vishal/Charlie in the six years we’ve documented conditions at Walnut Manor, beginning with the closure of the kitchen by the health unit in 2014.
So, why is that?
And, the detailed itemization of the many protocols now in place at the facility including increased sanitization, temperature monitoring and PPE for frontline staff.

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A response to our “shocking statement” last week regarding Walnut Manor


The following is a response to last week’s item on Walnut Manor. It was submitted by the owners of the facility, SupportiveLiving.ca. We have included the submission in its entirety.

As background to the six years spent documenting the plight of the individuals warehoused at this facility, the following is a link to MPP Jeff Burch’s private member’s bill to protect vulnerable Ontarians. The home in question in this backgrounder is Walnut Manor, right here in St. Thomas.  https://www.ontariondp.ca/news/ndp-mpp-jeff-burch-tables-legislation-protect-vulnerable-ontarians-supportive-living-homes

On Dec. 28 of last year, City Scope posted the following item detailing part of the back story to MPP Burch’s bill. “An Award-Winning Team? What an Insult to Walnut Manor residents” can be found here. https://ianscityscope.com/2019/12/28/an-award-winning-team-what-an-insult-to-walnut-manor-residents/

In a shocking statement by Ian McCallum posted to his blog with regards to Walnut Manor, he has once again raised questions as to the operations of SupportiveLiving.ca in St. Thomas.

Ian McCallum chooses to attack SupportiveLiving on a constant basis to serve his own political agenda. For many months, well before COVID-19 was even a current topic, SupportiveLiving.ca was monitoring the situation closely.

Through this pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca has been weeks ahead of public health guidelines in the fight against COVID-19, protecting our residents and frontline workers alike.

As of today, we are proud to say that our homes and residents are safe and well protected, which is a huge accomplishment, considering the number of residents we serve. Management and frontline workers are monitoring this situation on a minute-by-minute basis during these trying times and adjusting our policies and procedures accordingly.

SupportiveLiving.ca will continue to be a front runner in the fight against COVID-19 and will do everything in its ability to keep residents and frontline workers safe.

Under the guidance of our CEO, Vishal Chityal, who has tirelessly championed the rights of the homeless, the vulnerable and the weak, we will get through this pandemic and set a shining example of how homes for the vulnerable should be operated in Ontario.

Previous blogs written by Ian McCallum have perpetually reported false information on how SupportiveLiving manages Walnut Manor and its residents – today’s post is no exception.

For weeks, we have worked hand in hand with our communities, public health departments and stakeholders at large to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our frontline staff, external healthcare workers and most importantly, our residents.

We began enforcing strict policies within our homes since March 2, 2020 which include the following:

1. No visitor policy, including contactless delivery of supply chain essentials, weeks before anyone else in the industry

2. Mandatory screening of essential medical/psychiatric service workers to the residents of our homes, five weeks prior to the advice given by public bodies

3. 24-hour telephone support for our residents from doctors, family members and supports

4. We have halted new admissions as of March 26 to protect our front line staff and residents

5. Increased sanitization practices in commonly used areas within our homes – in addition to our already stringent policies on cleanliness within our operations

6. Temperature monitoring of our residents and an immediate 14 day isolation/quarantine of anyone exhibiting fever, cough, or other known COVID-19 symptoms

7. PPE available to all of our frontline staff. Gowns, masks, gloves and face shields have been in place in all SupportiveLiving homes and are available to staff, well before recommendations from public health officials. This PPE have been provided personally by our CEO Vishal Chityal and is not publicly-funded

8. Increased activities, supports and individualized mental health support has been made available to our residents on a 24-hour-a-day basis, all personally provided by our CEO due to the lack of public funding

The strict guidance that has been provided to us by our CEO has kept Walnut Manor as well as all of our homes across Ontario safe and infection-free thus far.

Our website and social media channels have consistently communicated the policies and measures that we have put into place, even before the crisis began in Ontario.

Pre-pandemic, SupportiveLiving.ca sounded the alarm in St. Thomas, Ontario and is on record with public health officials questioning the practices of other care homes and businesses with the intent of keeping Walnut Manor’s frontline workers and residents safe. SupportiveLiving.ca had taken swift action with regard to community spread weeks before official guidance in order to protect our frontline workers and residents.

Our mandate is to ensure the health and safety of our residents – pre-pandemic and now.

If Ian McCallum questions, “Is anybody monitoring,” the answer is a resounding YES. The real question to be asked here is what is his political agenda and why has he been spreading false rumours about our operations at Walnut Manor for years?

As a community, we need to be asking Ian McCallum what he is doing for the city of St. Thomas when it comes to our vulnerable population. His constant attacks in a time when communities are coming together now need to be questioned.

The community in St. Thomas is an intelligent community and will no longer accept the tabloid falsehoods that he spreads.
Future articles exposing these falsehoods and why Iancityscope.com continues to perpetuate his slander about SupportiveLiving.ca will be released shortly.

We wish all citizens of St. Thomas the best during this crisis and give special recognition to all the Frontline Workers in healthcare, retail, logistics, as well as all other industries that are keeping our city running.

Stay safe and stay well,
The Management and Frontline Workers of SupportiveLiving.ca

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Yes, St. Thomas Transit buses are being cleaned and sanitized. But, in a COVID-19 world, when did this begin?


city_scope_logo-cmykWith cramped quarters and no exit doors near the rear of the buses to keep passengers distant from drivers, is it safe to ride St. Thomas Transit in these far-from-normal times?
Well, it appears this week much attention is being paid to the safety of passengers and drivers. But what about the situation over the last month when the transit system was operating a regular service while others in the province had shut down or substantially reduced hours.
And, larger operators with full-sized transit buses could take the front door out of service and have passengers enter and exit the vehicles through the rear door, well away from drivers.
With the city’s fleet of what can only be described as glorified airport parking shuttle buses, the above is not an option.

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St. Thomas is in desperate need of affordable housing. Question is, who should build it?


city_scope_logo-cmykLet’s start with the following premise.
“If the joint goal of our community is to provide as much affordable housing for people (as possible), it is important that the private sector be the primary delivery agent.”
That’s the argument put forth by Peter Ostojic who, along with his brother Joe, has completed several affordable housing developments in St. Thomas and Aylmer.
In the past several months via emails sent to this corner, Peter has repeatedly questioned why the city is undertaking the construction of affordable housing units such as Phase 1 of the city’s social services and housing hub recently opened at 230 Talbot Street.
A total of 28 apartment units are located on the two floors above the ground floor office space.
Of those units, eight one-bedroom apartments have received funding through the federal/provincial Investment in Affordable Housing (IAH) program. As such, rents can be no higher than 80 per cent of the average market rent for the area.

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An award-winning team? What an insult to Walnut Manor residents.


city_scope_logo-cmykThe arrival of the email was as disturbing as it was unexpected and the tone of the opening paragraph introduced an icy chill to an otherwise warm and cheery Christmas morning.
“My brother just moved to this assisted living house a few weeks ago, disgusting is all I have words for this,” announced the email from Shelley Turner.
“I have written the ombudsman, spoke with the people in charge of this residence to no avail.
“My brother is a recent leg amputee, they assist in what? Taking people’s money? That’s the complaints I hear from within, besides the food that is deplorable, and the bed bug situation that has been there for a year now as I was told.”
Before delving deeper, I was resigned to reading another horror story about a poor soul warehoused away at Walnut Manor in St. Thomas.

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Surge in incidents, human trafficking basis for substantial grant to St. Thomas Police Service


city_scope_logo-cmykThe past few days were a good news/bad news rollercoaster ride for the St. Thomas Police Service.
On the positive side, the service was the recipient of $870,000 in provincial dollars under the new Community Safety and Policing (CSP) Grant program over the next three years.
In total, the province is investing $195 million in the initiative.
According to a media release announcing the investment, the police service “is collaborating with several community agencies to better support survivors of human trafficking as they go through the investigative process.
“The funding will help provide ongoing training to enhance frontline officers’ knowledge and abilities in supporting survivors, add a new Street Crimes police officer, provide the necessary resources to maintain the position of Technological Crimes Investigator and help develop a social media awareness campaign to encourage the public to be an active police partner on the issue of human trafficking.”

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2020 St. Thomas budget outlook: Contract negotiations cloud the horizon at city hall


city_scope_logo-cmykMore investment is needed in infrastructure; a number of city assets could be pared; there is a call from the treasurer to address user fees, some of which are too low; and be prepared for several rounds of employee bargaining.
That’s the St. Thomas financial picture for the coming year.
With a minimum amount of fuss – read little spirited debate – and the complete absence of pencil sharpening, council this week approved a draft of the city’s 2020 budget.
Members were content to rubber-stamp the budget which will see a 2.43 per cent increase in the municipal property tax levy next year.
That’s dependant on the results of contract bargaining on several fronts at city hall. More on that momentarily.

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A tale of two schools: ‘The public doesn’t support us closing full schools to create a business case to open another one.’


city_scope_logo-cmykIt was a three-year battle to save a couple of rural schools in Elgin, but in the end, it may have been a last-minute letter of clarification that sealed the deal.
Tuesday evening (Nov. 26) Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) trustees voted overwhelmingly in favour of rescinding a motion to shutter New Sarum and Springfield public schools next year.
The motion had initially been introduced in October by Elgin trustee Meagan Ruddock, with the support of fellow area trustee Bruce Smith.
After the school board completed an accommodation study of a dozen area schools, it was recommended four of them be closed: South Dorchester, Westminster Central, New Sarum and Springfield public schools.
A fifth, Sparta Public School, was to be repurposed as a French immersion school.
Several trustees had opposed Ruddock’s motion in the belief such a move could jeopardize the business case for the construction of a new school in Belmont.

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Provincial dollars to support St. Thomas crisis intervention team because ‘mental health is truly a community issue’


city_scope_logo-cmykWith a ballooning caseload and the threat of budgetary dollars evaporating next month, yesterday’s (May 24) announcement the provincial funding tap is to be turned on couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the local branch of the CMHA and the St. Thomas Police Service.
The significance of the announcement was underscored through the appearance of a pair of Ford government heavyweights on hand for the investment news.
Solicitor-General Sylvia Jones, accompanied by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott, took to the podium outside the police station on CASO Crossing to announce $70,775 in funding that will allow a CMHA caseworker to continue working with the police service’s mobile crisis intervention team. Continue reading