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School custodian refuses to download phone app that monitors location, says it got her fired
Michelle Dionne was excited about her new job, helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by doing extra cleaning in an elementary school in Darwell, Alta. — about 85 kilometres west of Edmonton.
But last October, after being on the job for about six weeks, her boss at the cleaning company sent out a companywide message — telling employees to download an app on their personal phones that would check their location and ensure they were working their scheduled hours.
Dionne found the request offensive and refused.
"I was at the school working so that I could provide for my son," she told Go Public. "We're not thieves. We don't need an ankle monitor."
Less than two months later, the single mom was fired — her refusal to download the app was mentioned in her letter of termination.
WATCH | Custodian claims she was fired for not downloading tracking app:
Other Canadians have been asked to download software that helps employers remotely monitor their productivity — such as phone apps that register an employee's location via GPS, and software that monitors the activity of their computer mouse. Others have tracking devices in their vehicles.
It's prompting some employment lawyers Go Public consulted to sound the alarm.
"Tracking of employees … is the beginning of a cautionary tale that might take us to a place we don't really want to go," said Toronto employment lawyer Soma Ray-Ellis. Read more on this story here.
Defiance in Myanmar
A child playing with a toy gun runs next to a banner put up by activists in protest against the Myanmar military coup in this photo taken Sunday in Yangon. More than 700 people are reported to have been killed in protests since the coup took place on Feb. 1.
Hundreds of protestors gathered in Montreal Sunday in defiance of a newly adjusted curfew aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 cases before dozens of them smashed windows, lit fires and damaged property in the city's old quarter. The protest began in relative calm, with a mostly young crowd dancing to music from loudspeakers while lighting fireworks and chanting, "freedom for the young." But the festive atmosphere turned violent as a few protesters lit a garbage fire in Montreal's Jacques Cartier Square, which was met with tear gas from riot police. Police soon rushed the crowd, prompting dozens of protesters to scatter and cause mayhem down the cobblestone streets of Montreal's tourist district. Police say they made seven arrests and handed out 108 tickets. Premier François Legault said last week that he was rolling back the curfew from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Montreal and Laval due to the heavy presence of more contagious virus variants. Read more here about the protest here.
A troubled Canadian military reserve unit failed to promptly address hateful conduct by two of its members who were associating with far-right extremist organizations, according to a military investigation report obtained by CBC News. It also found that the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group failed to be proactive in dealing with unit members associating with extremist organizations. CBC News obtained a two-page summary of the army investigation's findings and methodology, prepared for the chief of the defence staff, the deputy minister of defence and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. CBC News has independently verified the report as authentic. The report says the presence of far-right sympathizers in the western-based Ranger group was modest; the investigation concluded it could only identify two members of the unit who had been associated with extremist organizations. Read more on this story here.
China's top disease control official admits that the effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccines developed there is low and that the government is considering mixing them to get a boost. China's vaccines "don't have very high protection rates," Gao Fu, the director of China's Centers for Disease Control, said Saturday at a conference in the city of Chengdu. "It's now under formal consideration whether we should use different vaccines from different technical lines for the immunization process," Gao said. At a news conference yesterday, officials didn't respond to questions about Gao's comments, but another CDC official, Wang Huaqing, said developers are working on mRNA-based vaccines. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is made using the previously experimental messenger RNA, or mRNA, process. Read more about China's COVID-19 vaccines.
There's a good chance you're not breathing effectively and it may be impacting your health, according to James Nestor, the author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. He spent years researching how we breathe and found that humans, unlike most species, are "terrible breathers" because many of us breathe through our mouths most of the time. "When you breathe through your mouth, you're exposing your lungs to everything in the environment," Nestor told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of The Dose and White Coat, Black Art. "Our noses are our first line of defence and so few of us tend to use them today." Breathing is on our minds more than ever these days, as we cover our mouths and noses with masks as protection from a disease that could rob us of our breath. The most important thing you can do, Nestor said, is breathe through your nose. Read more and listen to Dr. Goldman's interview with Nestor here.
After another member of the Vancouver Canucks has entered the NHL's COVID-19 protocols. Centre Jay Beagle was added to the protocol list on Sunday. Twenty-five people, including 21 players and four members of the coaching staff, tested positive for the virus during an outbreak. That led to eight Canucks games between March 31 and April 14 being postponed. With some players starting to emerge from the league's protocols, the Canucks are due to return to the ice for a practice on Wednesday. The Edmonton Oilers are scheduled to visit on Friday for the Canucks' first game back. Read more about the impact of COVID-19 on the team.
Now for some good news to start your Monday: A newsletter featuring the adventures and observations of a toddler in Kingsville, Ont., has been bringing joy to seniors in a Toronto retirement residence through much of the COVID-19 pandemic. "He already can create a joke, and he thinks he's pretty funny. He's very adventurous," says Edison Tiessen's mother, Maylin Tiessen. "He's always loved climbing and being outdoors, very very brave I would say." Nearly every week since last May, a new edition of "Fridays with Edison," written largely as if the two-year-old himself were writing it, shows up at the Chartwell Avondale Retirement Residence. Tiessen and her lifelong friend Chrissy Kelton, who works at the home, developed the newsletter after seeing residents struggling with being separated from their families in the early days of the pandemic. Kelton said residents snatch the newsletter up. "You can actually hear them talking about it during lunch and dinner. It's definitely a point of conversation and everyone has a laugh." Read more about Edison and the newsletter.
Front Burner: A tale of two virtual political conventions
As a federal election looms, two parties mustered over the weekend. Can the NDP seize the moment and address the inequalities the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed? What big ticket items do the Liberals have in store?
Power & Politics host Vassy Kapelos joins Jayme Poisson to break down what happened at the two policy conventions.
Today in history: April 12
1917: Women in Ontario win the right to vote.
1961: Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man in space. He orbited Earth once before Vostok I capsule re-entered the atmosphere 89 minutes later.
1980: In St. John's, N.L., Terry Fox dips his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean to start his cross-country Marathon of Hope in aid of cancer research
2017: Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner and girls' education activist, becomes an honorary Canadian citizen at a ceremony in Ottawa. She was just the sixth person to receive the honour, and at 19, the youngest.
With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters