The world is changing every day. Now, more than ever, these questions matter. What’s happening? And why should you care? This Matters, a daily news podcast from the Toronto Star, aims to answer those questions, on important stories and ideas, every day, Monday to Friday. Hosts Adrian Cheung, Saba Eitizaz and Raju Mudhar talk to experts and newsmakers about the social, cultural, political and economic stories that shape your life.
Why is there a high rate of vaccine hesitancy among pregnant people?
Guest: Megan Ogilvie, Toronto Star health reporter
It's well documented and well-known now that pregnant people and their unborn babies are at significantly high-risk due to COVID-19, with many requiring hospitalization and intensive care. Six months ago, COVID's third wave in Ontario saw more pregnant people in ICU's than both the previous waves combined. Now we are seeing similar tragedies play out in Alberta as the province grapples a devastating fourth wave. Babies are being delivered while pregnant patients are on ventilators. This is why there was such the push and prioritization of vaccination for those who are pregnant. There is now global data proving that the vaccines have no risk for pregnant people, in fact it could save lives. Yet, vaccine rates of pregnant people remain low in Ontario and vaccine hesitancy remains high. There are multiple reasons for that and they're important to understand.
Breaking the silence: Dancers accuse choreographers of sexual harassment and grooming
Guest: Star journalist Morgan Bocknek and Keanu Uchida, professional dancer
An exclusive Star investigation has found allegations of widespread sexual harassment and predatory behaviour by Break the Floor (a big part of the dance community of North America) coaches over their younger students. Eight former staff and students allege BTF employees, famous in the dance world, initiated sexual conversations, propositioned them for sex, sent them nude photos, sexually harassed them at work or engaged in sexual relationships with them.
Break the Floor CEO Gil Stroming did not respond to specific questions, though told the Star that the dance company did not have “fully thought out policies and procedures regarding this” and, “over the last year and a half we have worked very hard to make BTF a better and safer environment for everyone,” and, “we could have and should have done better.” BTF has undergone training and revised its code of conduct, the company said in a statement. “We are truly heartbroken that anyone has been subject to inappropriate behaviour by any person associated with Break The Floor,” the statement read. “We remain committed to these initiatives and will continue to learn and be better.”
Are Ontario’s new election laws being used to muzzle dissent?
Guests: Star reporters Noor Javed, who covers 905 municipal politics, and Kris Rushowy, Queen’s Park reporter
Earlier this year, the Ontario government controversially used the notwithstanding clause to push through a new election advertising law which, despite being found to be unconstitutional, added new restrictions on third-party advertising to curb large scale, American-style special interest political fundraising in the election process. Now, exclusive Star reporting has found that a sitting minister contacted Elections Ontario and asked it to look into at least three small community groups to see if they were in violation of the new laws. Critics say it could lead a muzzling of political dissent in the province and change the rules for political advocacy.
Can you get fired for refusing to get vaccinated?
Guest: Rosa Saba, Business Reporter at The Star
With vaccine mandates now being enforced in many establishments, workplace mandates are now proliferating across many businesses as they try to return to normal. This raises questions about employer and workers rights if an employee chooses to remain unvaccinated. It’s something we are seeing play out on large stages, like the NBA, where star player Kyrie Irving has been told to stay away from his team until he decides to get vaccinated. But we are seeing it all across North America, as health care workers and police officers and others choose to remain unvaccinated. In Canada, the question is, can people be fired with cause? Do accommodations need to made? Is the employee eligible for Employment Insurance? These are all questions that need to be worked through and dealt with by all kinds of organizations and their personnel.
What you need to know about the Canada-U.S. land border reopening
Guest: Edward Keenan, Toronto Star’s Washington Bureau Chief
More than 18 months it closed due to the pandemic, the world’s largest undefended border will reopen in November. The closure has resulted in long delays and frustration, and fraught with clear-as-mud guidance around the air travel and policies around mixed doses and vaccination. As Canadians get ready to cross the land border once again, we sort through the many questions that still remain on how the reopening will work amidst the politics of the pandemic.
Why won't City Hall move forward on rooming houses and renters' rights?
Guest: Shawn Micallef, contributing columnist for the Star
This summer, the city of Toronto spent almost $2 million on private security guards and police to forcefully clear encampments in public parks. Despite the obvious need for housing, council has once again delayed a decision on legalizing rooming houses citywide, a debate that's been ongoing for ten years at City Hall. Rooming houses, also called multi-tenant homes, are currently illegal in most of Toronto, yet they are said to be an accessible and affordable living option for students, newcomers, and individuals with low income in a city where the cost of living is among the highest in Canada. Columnist Shawn Micallef joins "This Matters" to explain the significance of rooming houses, renters' rights and why encampment clearing should not have taken place the way it did in the middle of a pandemic and an escalating housing crisis.