Council kicks off its 2022 agenda and the Freedom Convoy rolls towards Ottawa: Five stories to watch this week

Ottawa City Hall. (File photo)

Ottawa's top doctor provides an update on the COVID-19 situation in the capital and the Freedom Convoy is expected to roll into Ottawa to protest vaccine mandates.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at five stories to watch in Ottawa this week.

THE STATE OF COVID-19 IN OTTAWA

Ottawa's top doctor will provide an update on the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa, one week before restrictions begin to ease.

Medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches will address a special meeting of the Ottawa Board of Health at 3 p.m. Monday.

Board chair Keith Egli called the special meeting, "Given the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19 in our community." Egli told reporters earlier this month Dr. Etches will provide an update on the COVID-19 situation, and allow board members to ask questions about the response to the pandemic.

The meeting comes as Ottawa Public Health reports a rise in hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 in Ottawa. As of Sunday, there were 93 people in Ottawa hospitals with COVID-19 related illnesses, up from 65 people in hospital last Monday.

The update comes one week before Ontario takes the first step in a three-step plan to begin relaxing COVID-19 restrictions.

As of Jan. 31, social gatherings will increase to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Restaurants, bars, retailers and gyms can operate at 50 per cent capacity.

Sporting events, concert venues and theatres will be able to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

FREEDOM CONVOY

Truckers are expected to roll into Ottawa on Saturday from across the country to protest the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truckers.

The "Freedom Convoy" left British Columbia on Sunday en route to Ottawa for a demonstration against the mandate. Truckers from Ontario and eastern Canada are also expected to arrive in Ottawa.

As of Jan. 15, the federal government requires all truckers crossing the border from the United States into Canada to be vaccinated.  As of Jan. 23, all non-Americans entering the United States at a land border must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A GoFundMe page for the Freedom Convoy states, "We are taking our fight to the doorsteps of our Federal Government and demanding that they cease all mandates against its people. Small businesses are being destroyed, homes are being destroyed, and people are being mistreated and denied fundamental necessities to survive."

The Canadian Trucking Alliance issued a statement saying it does not support and "strong disapproves" of any protests on roadways, highways and bridges.

"The vast majority of the Canadian trucking industry is vaccinated with the overall industry vaccination rate among truck drivers closely mirroring that of the general public," said the alliance in a statement on its website.

"Accordingly, most of our nation's hard-working truck drivers are continuing to move cross-border and domestic freight to ensure our economy continues to function."

Ontario Provincial Police reported a convoy from Pembroke to Ottawa on Saturday.

COUNCIL KICKS OFF NEW YEAR AT OTTAWA CITY HALL

The legislative year kicks off this week at Ottawa City Hall, as the countdown begins to the 2022 municipal election.

Council will meet for the first time in 2022 on Wednesday.  The first meeting of the year will be highlighted by Mayor Jim Watson's final state of the city address before he leaves municipal politics following the election.

"It's somewhat bittersweet, as it's a yearly tradition I've grown quite fond of over my time in office and one that provides a good opportunity to look back on the year that's gone by and ponder the important decisions that lie ahead," said Watson during the Mayor's Breakfast on Friday morning.

Watson announced in December he would not seek a fourth term in office, and will retire after the October municipal election.

The final council meeting of 2022 includes a motion from Coun. Jeff Leiper to eliminate 'red revert' sensors at all intersections. The transportation committee rejected a proposal to eliminate the sensors for cyclists at an intersection in the fall.

OTTAWA POLICE SERVICES BOARD MEETING

The Ottawa Police Services Board will discuss workplace sexual violence and harassment in the workplace during its first meeting of the year on Monday.

A report recommends the board adopt a five-year, $8.2 million strategy to address harassment and violence within the ranks, after an independent review called for "urgent and immediate attention."

Rubin Thomlinson makes 18 recommendations, including:

  • Create a new "Office of the Workplace Investigator"
  • Establishing a new Code of Conduct for the Ottawa Police Service
  • Introducing new mental health supports, including hiring a full-time psychologist
  • Improved mandatory training to address respect at work, harassment and workplace violence, inclusion, diversity, equity and access
  • Provide support for women returning from pregnancy and parental leave
  • Ensuring promotions and career development opportunities are merit based

BELL LET'S TALK DAY

Wednesday is Bell Let's Talk Day – a day to engage in a conversation about mental health and mental health initiatives in Canada.

This year, Bell Let's Talk Day is encouraging Canadians to support themselves and each other.

"Working together in communities large and small all around the country, we have made great progress in moving mental health forward and increasing awareness about mental illness," said Mary Deacon, chair of Bell Let's Talk. "On Bell Let’s Talk Day and throughout the year it’s so important to keep listening, keep talking and keep being there for ourselves and each other to make a lasting difference in the lives of so many people impacted by mental illness."

On Wednesday, Bell donates 5 cents to Canadian mental health programs for every applicable text, local or long distance call, tweet or Tik Tok video using #BellLetsTalk, every Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tik Tok, Twitter and YouTube view of the Bell Let's Talk Day video.

EVENTS HAPPENING IN OTTAWA THIS WEEK

Monday

Ottawa Board of Health meeting – 3 p.m.

Ottawa Police Services Board meeting – 5 p.m.

Tuesday

Ottawa Carleton District School Board meeting – 7 p.m.

Ottawa Catholic School Board meeting – 7 p.m.

Ottawa Senators vs. Buffalo Sabres. (TSN 1200)

Wednesday

Bell Let's Talk Day

Ottawa City Council meeting – 10 a.m.

Thursday

Ottawa Planning Committee meeting – 9:30 a.m.

Ottawa Senators vs. Carolina Hurricaines (TSN 1200)