Top 5 stories in Ottawa this week

An Ottawa family doctor is denied permanent residency, the OPP asks the public not to spread rumours about the disappearances of two men and a grocery store is closing as a fight continues with alcohol regulators.

CTVNewsOttawa.ca looks at the top five stories in Ottawa this week.

An Ottawa family physician is worried she won’t be able to stay in Canada after she did not meet the threshold for permanent residency due to factors beyond her control.

“It breaks my heart because I do understand how important it is for every single person to have a family doctor,” said Dr. Carmen Bilcea.

Bilcea moved to Canada from the United Kingdom in 2021 and currently practices at the Meadowlands Family Health Centre. She’s currently on a five-year work visa and applied for permanent residency through the federal government’s Express Entry program, but was denied. Based on the application process, the doctor did not meet the threshold for permanent residency because of factors like not being married and being over the age of 45.

In a statement to CTV News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) would not comment on Dr. Bilcea’s specific case but said they have made changes to the Immigration and Refugees Protection Act to facilitate the selection of candidates in June 2022.

“IRCC has set target ranges for the various categories for 2023. This includes 9 per cent to 12 per cent of invitations to apply for permanent residence via Express Entry going to candidates with work experience in certain jobs in healthcare, compared to 4.8 per cent in 2019 and 4.5 per cent in 2022 – prior to the introduction of category-based selection,” the statement read.

Dr. Carmen Bilcea at Meadowlands Family Health Centre on Dec. 1, 2023. (Natalie van Rooy/CTV News Ottawa)

Ontario Provincial Police are warning the public about the spreading of unverified rumours as the investigation continues into the suspicious disappearances of two men in Smiths Falls, Ont.

In an OPP media release on Tuesday, police said the missing persons investigation into the disappearances of Lawrence Bertrim and Robbie Thomson remains active.

Bertrim was 42 when he was last seen on Sept. 30, 2022, in Smiths Falls.

Thirty-four-year-old Robbie Thomson went missing sometime between Oct. 12 and 18 of this year.

“We continue to hear stories about disturbing details, but no one has come forward to investigators with any first-hand information. Rumours are not evidence and cannot be used in court,” OPP Detective Inspectors Jennifer Patton and Daniel Levert said in a statement.

42-year-old Lawrence Bertrim (left) was last seen around 11 p.m. on Sept. 30, 2022 in downtown Smiths Falls. 34-year-old Robbie Thomson (right) went missing sometime between Oct. 12 and 18 of this year. (OPP)

Ottawa Public Health is calling for tough new tobacco regulations in Canada, including banning anyone born after 2008 from purchasing tobacco.

Health Canada launched a public consultation process in September on its review of the Tobacco and Vaping Products Act, focusing on tobacco-related provisions.

In a letter to the federal agency, signed by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches, OPH recommends Canada introduce a New Zealand-style law banning an entire generation from being able to purchase tobacco.

New Zealand moved last year to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after Jan. 1, 2009. However, the country has already decided to scrap the policy.

Etches also wants Health Canada to ban tobacco sales to anyone under the age of 21 and ban smoking on outdoor federal lands, including parks, trails and lands.

A smoker puts out a cigarette in a public ash tray in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick/File)

A popular grocery store in Ottawa’s Little Italy is planning to close its doors as a dispute continues with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The owner of Mercato Zacconi says it’s closing its doors, and 40 employees will lose their jobs.

“It is with deep regret to inform you that we have made the hard decision to close our doors to Mercato Zacconi,” a statement by the store released on Thursday said.

“The decision to close our doors has been a challenging one as we have found ourselves being unfairly targeted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This has made our future success unobtainable.”

Many restaurant and grocery store owners in Ontario have been fighting to keep their ability to sell booze, an exception that was granted to many during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the AGCO said they are obligated to uphold Ontario’s liquor laws.

“Over the past two years, the AGCO has offered to work with the owners and representatives of Mercato Zacconi to help them achieve their business goals in a way that meets the requirements of Ontario’s liquor laws,” read the emailed statement.

“The AGCO continues to be available to offer guidance and work collaboratively to ensure measures are in place for the retailer to meet their obligations under the Liquor Licence and Control Act.” 

Mercato Zacconi in Little Italy will be closing its doors after two year in business. (Instagram/Mercato Zacconi)

As the countdown is on to Christmas, it’s expected to be a mild winter in Ottawa and across eastern Ontario.

“We think the character of this winter will be milder than normal,” Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said. “I think El Niño is going to dominate the weather across the country.”

The last El Niño year in Canada was in 2015-2016, which was a milder winter with slightly above normal precipitation.

The Weather Network’s winter outlook calls for milder temperatures in the lead up to the holiday season.

“During the weeks leading up to the holidays, we expect near-normal or above-normal temperatures across most of the country,” the Weather Network said, adding colder temperatures will return in January.

A city of Ottawa plow clears Elgin Street as the snow starts to fall on Friday night. (Josh Pringle/CTV News Ottawa)


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