The RCMP, Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Ontario Provincial Police will soon launch a fraud prevention campaign focused on emergency/grandparent scams targetting the elderly.

This comes after a significant increase in victim losses from these scams in 2022 when more than 9.2-million dollars was reported lost. That is up from 2021 when the country saw 2.4-million dollars in victim losses. Manitoba was one of the most impacted provinces with over $313,000 in reported losses.

More information from the RCMP is below:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are launching a fraud prevention campaign, February 6 to 10, 2023, to raise awareness about the significant increase in emergency-grandparent scams targeting Canadian seniors.

In 2022, the CAFC received fraud reports totalling a staggering $530 million in victim losses. This was nearly a 40 per cent increase from the 2021 unprecedented $380 million in losses.

Fraudsters target anyone and everyone, particularly the vulnerable and seniors. In 2022, more than $9.2 million was reported lost to emergency scams, according to the CAFC. This was a drastic increase from $2.4 million in 2021.

Reports from residents indicate the five provinces most impacted in 2022 were:

  • Ontario - over $5.4 million in reported losses
  • Alberta - over $1.1 million in reported losses
  • Quebec - over $732,000 in reported losses
  • British Columbia - over $322,000 in reported losses
  • Manitoba - over $313,000 in reported losses

It is estimated that only 5-10 per cent of victims report scams and fraud to the CAFC or law enforcement.

What is an emergency scam?

Emergency scams, including variations called "grandparent scams", use urgency and the manipulation of emotions to extort money from victims. In these scams, fraudsters cold call seniors, on landline phones, claiming to be a grandchild, family member, law enforcement officer or lawyer calling on behalf of their loved one. They'll say that the person's loved one was involved in an emergency situation, such as a collision, charged by law enforcement, legal peril, being sick or injured, etc. They demand the senior provide payment immediately for supposed bail, legal fees, fines or other amounts "owed" to stop the family member from going to jail or to get them released from custody. This is a scam.

The fraudsters isolate the victims by informing them that there is a court-imposed gag order, and they're forbidden from discussing the matter. The victims are directed to attend their financial institution to withdraw the requested amount in cash. The fraudsters will then send someone to pick it up from the victim's home or have the victim send the money via courier services. There have also been reports of victims paying with cryptocurrency.

If you fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, contact your local police service to report the crime and also report it to the CAFC at 1-888-495-8501 or online on the Fraud Reporting System, even if a financial loss did not occur.

The Manitoba government released an update on conservation officer enforcement in the province and it includes an incident near Sifton in November.

On Monday, November 28th, 2022, a conservation officer from Dauphin checking deer hunters near Sifton discovered an SUV passenger in possession of a loaded firearm with a freshly fired cartridge in the chamber and two live rounds in the magazine.

The officer noted the safety was off on the firearm. When questioned, the passenger admitted he had just killed a white-tailed buck. The white-tailed deer, located in the back hatch of the SUV, was not tagged and the game tag had not been notched.

The deer, rifle, and game tags were seized and the hunter was issued tickets for having a loaded firearm in a vehicle and failing to notch his game tag. On further investigation, the individual was issued additional charges for shooting along a municipal roadway and possession of illegally taken wildlife. In total, the Port Perry, Ont. resident faces fines of $2,754, a two-year hunting prohibition, and $1,500 restitution for the white-tailed buck.

Anyone with information on illegal activity is asked to call a local Natural Resources and Northern Development office or the Turn in Poachers (TIP) line at 1-800-782-0076.

More information about recent conservation officer enforcement is below:

Night hunting near Pine Falls  

On Nov. 15, 2022, conservation officers conducted a patrol to target illegal night hunting in the Pine Falls area. Officers observed a vehicle repeatedly shining a spotlight on various farm fields along Provincial Road 304. Officers stopped the vehicle and four male occupants, one male from Sagkeeng First Nation and three males from Pine Falls, were arrested for night hunting. With assistance from a K-9 unit, officers located a firearm discarded from the vehicle along the roadway. Officers seized the firearm, hunting gear, and the vehicle. Three adults were issued court appearance notices for illegally hunting at night with lights and a 15-year-old youth was released to his guardian.

Enforcement in the North Whiteshell district

On Nov. 17, 2022, conservation officers from the North Whiteshell district received a report of a suspicious vehicle stopped on Highway 44 near Rennie. Conservation officers attended the area and observed a kill site and drag marks. Conservation officers located the individuals and further investigation revealed that one individual had previously filled their general white-tailed deer tag when they shot and killed a white-tailed deer doe. That individual, from Whitemouth, was issued a ticket for hunting a big game animal without a valid licence, a ticket for possessing illegally taken wildlife, and a warning for discharging a firearm from a highway. The white-tailed deer doe was seized and donated. The individual was issued a ticket and restitution totalling $3,282.

On Nov. 19, 2022, conservation officers from the North Whiteshell district encountered individuals on a resource road near Whitemouth and conducted a compliance check. During the check, one individual advised they had shot a white-tailed deer buck. That individual could not produce a licence for inspection when requested. Further inspection revealed the tag affixed to the deer was not properly filled out and did not match that of the individual’s licence. The individual, from Winnipeg, was subsequently issued a ticket for possessing a big game animal under the authority of a tag other than that issued with the licence and a ticket of $846 for failing to carry their licence on their person while using it. The deer was seized and donated.

Illegal trapping and trespassing in Beausejour leads to deaths of a private land owner's dogs 

On Nov. 20, 2022, a Beausejour conservation officer investigated a complaint in the La Broquerie area of trapper trespassing. An individual had set several power snares on private land without permission of the owner. This negligent action resulted in the death of two of the homeowner’s dogs. The individual, from La Broquerie West, was identified and charged with trapping on private land without permission and trapping in a manner dangerous to property. The individual faces fines of up to $25,000 or imprisonment for a term of no more than six months, or both.

White-tailed decoy helps nab road shooters

On Nov. 24, 2022, Beausejour conservation officers conducted a white-tailed deer decoy operation in the Anola area in response to complaints of individuals shooting deer from the road. Officers observed two individuals in a grey truck stopped at the decoy and the passenger shoot the decoy out the window using a high-powered rifle. Officers conducted a stop and arrested two individuals. The shooter, from Ross, was charged with discharging a firearm from a vehicle and because this occurred in an archery only area, he was also charged with hunting out of season. Two rifles and other hunting equipment was seized. The shooter was issued a ticket for $1,782 and given a two-year hunting suspension. The driver of the vehicle, also from Ross, was charged with hunting from a vehicle and faces fines of $1,296 and a two-year hunting suspension.

The Manitoba government announced that Manitoba Métis Federation citizenship cards will be recognized as valid identification when accessing products and services regulated by the Liquor, Cannabis and Gaming Authority of Manitoba (LCGA).

In the coming months, the LCGA will update its regulations to accomodate the change. As well, staff at licensed businesses will get training to recognize MMF citizenship cards.

A press release from the province is below:

The Manitoba government is recognizing Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) citizenship cards as a primary form of identification to purchase liquor, cannabis and gaming products in Manitoba, Premier Heather Stefanson announced today.

“The Manitoba government is continuing to advance reconciliation and honour the vital contributions of the Red River Métis in shaping Manitoba’s history and culture,” said Stefanson. “These changes will remove barriers for Indigenous Peoples to access products and services such as those regulated by the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA).”

The MMF is recognized as a self-government through an agreement with the Government of Canada. Currently, there are roughly 47,000 registered Métis citizens in the province. MMF citizenship cards include secure holographic images, displaying the photo, birthday and other verification information of the holder and security features that align with preferred identifications at modern retailers and regulators. These citizenship cards are also recognized by Elections Canada and Elections Manitoba.

“The National Government of the Red River Métis is pleased to hear that Manitoba intends to pass legislation to recognize our citizenship cards as government-issued ID,” said David Chartrand, president, MMF. “We look forward to the end of the discriminatory policy that saw our secure and protected IDs disregarded and we thank Premier Stefanson for her efforts to remedy this discrimination. We will continue to advocate for the recognition of our nation and the rights of our citizens with our provincial partners on many other matters of importance to us, here in the province we brought into Canada’s confederation.”

“I am pleased that the LGCA is able to take this important step to update and modernize regulations to recognize the MMF citizenship card as a primary form of identification,” said Kristianne Dechant, CEO, LGCA. “We also understand that not all individuals may have access to identification that is currently accepted by some retailers and this is another step to removing barriers for Manitobans to access these age-restricted products.”

The LGCA will lead the process to update its regulations in the coming months. Staff at licensed establishments will also be trained to recognize MMF citizenship cards to ensure a smooth transition of accepting the new form of identification.

Bill C-21, specifically the amendments made to the bill, have come under a lot of fire recently, as many critics and gun owners say they unfairly targeted hunters and farmers.

This morning, Liberal MP Taleeb Noormohamed said the government is removing the clause that would have effectively banned any rifle or shotgun that has the potential to hold a magazine with more than five rounds, whether or not it actually had one.

The government was also planning on banning long guns that generate more than 10,000 joules of energy, or guns with a mizzle wider than 20 millimeters. Both of these would have landed many firearms on a "prohibited" list.

When it was originally drafted, Bill C-21 was intended to ban handguns, but amendments were made which changed the bill entirely, and was met with mass criticism from gun owners across the country.

While Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has stood by the amendments in the past, saying the government wants to cut down on gun violence, critics of the amendments say most guns used in crime are handguns, brought into the country illegally from the United States.

Garton's Auction Service is hosting the provincial government's Agricultural Crown Land Leases Auction next week. While bidding doesn't open until Monday, Larry Garton says you can already go look at the lots available.

"Just go to the Gartons Auction website, and click on the link to take them into the Crown Lands Auction. They can preview all the lots that are up for sale, it's all sorted by municipality and then the legal land description is on those lots. Once you click into each individual lot, you'll see the AUMs listed, the taxes, and everything else that comes about once you've purchased the right to lease these lots."

Garton says that the auction is not selling the land, but rather the right to lease the land for a certain period of time. It's also important to get registered early because, on top of the normal registration needed for an online auction, Garton says you also need to get approved to bid on Crown Land.

"Go to the Gartons Auction Website and click into the crown lands auction right now, so that they can get registered ahead of time and make sure that once they're registered on that site, go into any one of the lots that are on the site, and click on the button that says get approved to bid."

Crown lands have to approve anyone that wants to bid on the land, and that's why there is the extra step after you're registered. This year, Garton's has imposed a strict deadline to get approved, as there were some issues with late registration last year.

"The sale is on, ready for registration this week. Go on, get your Get Approved To Bid button pushed on one of the lots, so we can get that declaration out to you. We have an absolute deadline this year, we didn't do it last year and it led to some people leaving things to the last minute. So this year, we have an absolute deadline on February tenth, the closing day of the sale, of 12 noon."

You can get registered and approved to bid, and check out the available lots at the Garton's Auction Service website.

The Pas RCMP has arrested the 17-year-old wanted in connection to a double homicide.

Officers got a report of an unresponsive male just before 4 a.m. on January 15th, and when they responded, they found two victims near each other.

The RCMP launched an investigation with several departments, including Major Crime Services, Forensic Identification Services, Search and Rescue, and the Emergency Response Team. On January 23rd and the 31st, two males, aged 25 and 20 were arrested and later released with no charges.

On Tuesday, police arrested and charged a 17-year-old from Moose Lake with two counts of Second Degree Murder. He's been remanded into custody.

Police say that at this time, there's no know connection between the victims and the youth charged in the homicide. The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are anticipated.

The government of Manitoba has announced an increase in funding for Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools across the province by $100 million, starting in the 2023-24 school year. Education and Early Childhood Learning Minister Wayne Ewasko announced today.

“Our government believes that all students must succeed regardless of where they live, their background or circumstances, and this year’s investment will provide an operating funding increase to each and every school division across the province,”

The money makes up a 6.1% increase in funding and will be spread out to school divisions across the province says Ewasko.

“Every division will see an increase in funding next year, which will help them engage students and invest in the programs and services that will best meet the needs of local communities.”

This year's increased funding includes:

  • $62.9-million increase in operating support including an additional $20 million to address cost pressures, $5 million for special needs along with increases in other existing grants;
  • $8-million increase in capital support payments;
  • $24-million increase to the Property Tax Offset Grant; and
  • additional $5-million increase for independent schools.

The province is also investing another $106 million to make the one-time funding given to divisions last year permanent, which includes $22 million to support student presence and engagement to facilitate the implementation of Safe and Caring Schools.

February 2nd is known as World Wetlands Day and Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is joining in the celebration.

The organization has partnered with thousands of Manitobans to conserve wetlands on their property. Since 1938, over 700,000 acres of wetlands have been set aside for conservation in the province. Despite this, DUC notes that the southwestern portion of Manitoba still sees significant wetland loss every year.

This year, DUC is providing just over 15-million dollars in financial incentives and programs to encourage landowners in the province to conserve wetlands. Part of those incentives includes average payments of $100,000 to landowners who commit to protecting their wetlands.

Some of the benefits that wetlands bring is an increase in pollinators in farm fields which leads to better pollination and higher yields. Wetlands can also host insects that prey on common crop pests such as flea beetles in canola. They can also be home to many species of birds and other animals that you don't commonly see or could be endangered or at risk of becoming endangered.

All the contact information and a map of DUC's target landscapes in Manitoba, click here.

Update posted on February 1st, 2023 at 4:12 p.m. below:

According to the RCMP, 12-year-old Zoey Shorting from Little Saskatchewan First Nation has been safely located.

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Original article posted on January 27th, 2023 at 9:36 a.m. below:

Gypsumville RCMP are searching for 12-year-old Zoey Shorting of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, who is missing. She was last seen leaving her residence in Gypsumville around 11 in the evening on Monday, January 23rd. Zoey is described as 5 foot 3, 100 pounds, with long brown hair and hazel eyes.

It is believed that she could be in the Winnipeg area. Police and family are concerned for her well being and anyone with information is asked to call Gypsumville RCMP at 204-659-2682. More information from the RCMP is below:

Gypsumville RCMP searching for missing 12-year-old

On January 24, 2023, at 12:20 am, Gypsumville RCMP received a report of a missing 12-year-old girl.

Zoey Shorting, 12, of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, was last seen leaving her residence in the community at approximately 11pm on January 23rd, 2023.

Officers and her family have been actively looking for Zoey since she was reported missing, but have not been able to locate her.

Zoey is described as 5’3” tall, 100 pounds, with long brown hair and hazel eyes.

It is believed she could now be in the Winnipeg area.

Police and family are concerned for Zoey’s well-being. If you have information, please call Gypsumville RCMP at 204-659-2682, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477, or secure tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com.

The Member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar, Candice Bergen, has resigned her seat in the House of Commons.

Bergen has held the seat since 2008, and she served as the interim leader for the Conservative Party and the Leader of the Opposition from February to September 2022. Before that, Bergen had served as the deputy leader of the Conservative Party since September 2020.

Bergen had announced in the fall that she wasn't going to run in the next federal election, but the riding will now need to hold a bye-election to fill the spot. Manitoba Finance Minister Cameron Friesen announced last week that he was resigning as an MLA to run for the federal Conservative nomination in Portage-Lisgar.

The Fisher Branch RCMP has made an arrest after a stabbing, standoff, and arson on Peguis First Nation.

Officers responded to a report of a stabbing at a residence on Peguis First Nation at around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 29th. They found a 53-year-old man who was taken to a Winnipeg hospital with serious injuries.

Officers immediately began searching for the 46-year-old suspect who was known to the victim. Around 4:00 p.m. the following day, officers found the suspect at a residence in the community, but he barricaded himself inside with a firearm.

RCMP contained the area, and called the Emergency response team to the scene, but shortly after they noticed smoke coming from the home. Police then called both the Fire Department and EMS to the scene.

While firefighters worked to put out the blaze, officers found the suspect laying on the ground just outside of the house, and he was put under arrest without incident. EMS treated the suspect on the scene, and then he was transported to the hospital where he was later released back into police custody.

Wescott Sutherland is charged with Aggravated Assault, Assault with a Weapon, Arson, Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose, and Theft of a Motor Vehicle. Further charges may be pending in relation to the firearm. Sutherland remains in custody and the investigation continues.