Archive | June, 2017

PRIME MINISTER TRUDEAU JOINS PROJECT RAMADAN BUILD

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the Muslim Welfare Centre in Scarborough today and took part in the Project Ramadan initiative that assembles food baskets that is distributed to the needy.

“Eid Mubarak, everyone. What a pleasure to see the community come together in generosity and support, working hard for our neighbors, working hard for those who are less fortunate,” Prime Minister Trudeau told the Project Ramadan volunteers.

“It really is something that is so typically Canadian to be there for our neighbors,” remarked the Prime Minister. “But it is also at the heart of what it means to be Muslim – to be generous, to be present in your community, to be contributing.”

Established in 2009, Project Ramadan fundraises, assembles and distributes baskets containing staple food items that help recipients – regardless of race, nationality or ethnicity – create healthy, balanced meals during the holy month of Ramadan.

According to Project Ramadan, its mission is ‘to build food baskets that will provide one month’s supply of food, household goods and a little bit of extra happiness to a local Toronto-area family in need.’

As a program of the Muslim Welfare Centre of Toronto (MWC), Project Ramadan brings together hundreds of generous and enthusiastic volunteers from across the city during Ramadan to make this initiative possible.

“This is a perfect example of the strength and resilience of Canada, a place that understands that strength comes through diversity not in spite of it and the more we pull together and help each other out, the better we all are,” said Prime Minister Trudeau.

“It is an extraordinary pleasure for me to celebrating with you all. Eid Mubarak and Merci beaucoup.”

Project Ramadan is a signature program of the Muslim Welfare Centre (MWC) which was established in 1993 with a simple mantra and mission, “Service to humanity is service to Allah.

Since its inception, the MWC has created and run many beneficial community programs such as Meals on Wheels for seniors, a free medical clinic for the uninsured, Regent Park meals service, public school nutrition programs and three food banks.

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Second would-be candidate takes Progressive Conservative party to court over nomination

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

A Durham regional councillor is taking the Tories to court because they won’t let him run.

Another spurned Progressive Conservative candidate is taking the party to court, the Star has learned.

Joe Neal, a Durham regional councillor and lawyer wants a judge to overturn a PC party decision to disqualify him as a candidate because he donated money to the Liberals in the past and ran for them in 1985.

“I was working at this for six months. I was fully approved (by the Tories). I don’t consider myself a Liberal, I consider myself a PC,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

“This process has been unfair. I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck and am looking for a job. I truly want to help the PC party make some changes in Ontario.”

Neal is hopeful Justice Bruce Glass will rule Friday in Oshawa that he be reinstated to contest the Durham nomination next week against rivals Lindsey Park and Dominic Morrissey.

His case is bolstered by a recent court ruling by Justice Ian Nordheimer that registered political parties, which are eligible for public subsidies, are not private clubs free to make their own membership arrangements.

“These types of decisions can the subject of judicial review because . . . parties are now in receipt of substantial public money. Justice Nordheimer’s decision was these aren’t just private clubs we’re dealing with that are immune,” said Neal, the second Tory hopeful to take the party to court.

Vikram Singh, a lawyer and a runner-up in the four-candidate PC contest in Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, is seeking to overturn the nomination won by Ben Levitt on May 7.

Singh’s complaint is scheduled to be heard in court in Hamilton next Tuesday.

Mark Holmes, president of the Durham PC riding association and chair of the nomination committee, said local activists were “surprised” when the central party disqualified Neal.

“The decision was made outside of the riding association. We were not consulted,” said Holmes, who is neutral.

“We interviewed the candidates as part of our responsibility to the nomination process; we recommended that all the candidates proceed to the next stage,” he said.

In an email, PC party president Rick Dykstra said, because the matter is “before the courts . . . we won’t be commenting.”

The Tories’ rationale for disqualifying Neal, a local and regional councillor since 2010, is unusual because there are many former Liberals in the PC fold these days.

MPP Raymond Cho (Scarborough-Rouge River), who ran federally for the NDP in 1988 and as an independent in 2004, was unsuccessful in a 2005 bid to be a provincial Liberal byelection candidate.

Some newcomers to Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown’s slate are also former Liberals.

Mississauga-Erindale PC candidate Sheref El Sabawy lost the 2014 Liberal nomination in Mississauga-Erin Mills and failed to win the federal nomination in Halton in 2011.

Neal’s would-be rivals were decidedly split on his disqualification.

Morrissey, a district manager for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said “it’s unfortunate” and it changes the dynamic of the contest because there would only be one ballot.

Park, a lawyer and former federal Conservative staffer, said she “will not let Joe’s antics distract me from working hard to earn the trust of the people of Durham and ensuring they have strong Conservative representation in the next provincial election.”

The Durham debacle is the latest in slew of nomination problems for the Tories, who have hired private-sector auditors PwC to oversee their elections because of controversies.

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Ontario Liberals embed 2019 minimum wage hike in new law

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

A Progressive Conservative government would be forced to change labour laws in order to derail the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase that takes effect six months after the June 2018 election.

A Progressive Conservative government would be forced to change labour laws in order to derail the $15-an-hour minimum wage increase that takes effect six months after the June 2018 election.

In an unusual move, the Liberals have embedded the increase in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act being studied this summer by an all-party committee.

Under the legislation expected to pass this fall, the minimum wage, now $11.40 an hour, will jump to $14 on Jan. 1.

It will then increase to $15 an hour on Jan. 1, 2019, well after the June 7, 2018 election, before being linked to the inflation rate that October.

“Ontario’s economy is leading growth. A $15-minimum wage will help ensure families experience this growth in their own lives,” Premier Kathleen Wynne tweeted Thursday.

But Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, who leads Wynne in most public-opinion polls, has warned the increases are too much too soon for employers to bear.

“Do I think we should have a 32-per-cent increase immediately without a cost-benefit analysis? No,” Brown said three weeks ago.

“The way that the premier has announced it is too fast, too quick. It’s not giving proper notice to our job creators . . . so, yes, I have significant concerns,” the Tory leader said.

 “I’m sure, right now, Kathleen Wynne is looking for distractions for the next election,” he said May 31, the day before the legislation was tabled.

“I get that Ontario right now is unaffordable. I get that it is difficult for people to live in Ontario right now — and frankly that’s Kathleen Wynne’s mess from the last 14 years — but do you need to do this 32-per-cent hike immediately? Or can you pace it out?”

In an interview with the Star last week, Wynne acknowledged the Liberals would campaign on the minimum wage increases as well as the new OHIP+ pharmacare plan that provides prescription coverage of 4,400 medications for everyone under 25, which launches Jan. 1.

That appears to be one reason that a timeline for the wage hikes is specified in the legislation.

“(Determination of minimum wage) is amended to increase the minimum wage on January 1, 2018. The minimum wage increases again on January 1, 2019 and is subject to an annual inflation adjustment on October 1 of every year starting in 2019,” the bill reads.

The premier said her party would remind voters that higher wages and better drug coverage could be lost if Brown’s Conservatives are victorious next June.

“That will be part of the subscript, obviously, because we’re different. We are different parties. We’re different people. We have different sensibilities and different values, as far as I can tell,” said Wynne.

“So, that’s obviously going to have to be part of the discussion.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, whose party is pitching a universal pharmacare plan for all ages, though it only covers the 125 most commonly prescribed medications, has long favoured a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

 

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Wynne says Ottawa providing ‘clarity’ on weed

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Things are a little less hazy now. The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

Things are a little less hazy now.

The Ontario government, which has a Cannabis Secretariat gearing up for legalized recreational marijuana next year, is welcoming “clarity” from Ottawa.

But in the wake of the federal-provincial finance ministers’ meeting on weed, Premier Kathleen Wynne says it is still too early to say how and where it will be sold here in the province once it is legal on July 1, 2018.

“We’re looking at different options. Nothing has been finalized,” Wynne said Tuesday.

The provincial secretariat made up of officials from 12 departments is studying a myriad of issues, including where recreational marijuana should be sold.

Wynne has always maintained that Queen’s Park will have some role in the distribution and regulation of cannabis, though she has moved away from previous musings about it being available at LCBO stores.

However, the illegal cash-only “dispensaries” that still exist on many Toronto streets will almost certainly be prohibited once the province determines its retail model.

“You will know that the work that’s being done on our government is focused on protection of people,” the premier told reporters at Amazon Canada’s headquarters on Bremner St.

 “Protection of young people, protection of the vulnerable, and answering questions about safety — like road safety — and so we’ll continue to do that work,” she said.

On Monday, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau emphasized to his provincial counterparts that the July 1, 2018 deadline was firm — a move welcomed by Wynne.

“We have more clarity now from the federal government on what they will be doing as of July 1, 2018 and we needed to know that, we needed to understand that. We’re working with them to work within that timeframe.”

Wynne noted cannabis will be high on the agenda for discussion at next month’s annual Council of the Federation meeting in Edmonton.

“We won’t have a final (retail) model, but certainly I expect that the conversation around the table will be about the work that we’re doing and what we are thinking and I will certainly be willing to share the thoughts that we’re having,” she said.

Morneau said Monday that tax rates on cannabis should be kept low to avoid encouraging weed users from buying black market products.

“What’s the taxation level that actually has that impact? We didn’t get to a conclusion on rates today. What we did talk about was the fact that revenues shouldn’t be our driving goal,” he said.

Ontario’s Finance Minister Charles Sousa pointed out that any tax bonanza would have to pay the costs of the new reality of legal weed, including road safety, public health, and education programs.

“We have yet to flesh that out, but it’s certainly something we want to make certain is accommodated as we proceed,” Sousa told the Star’s Bruce Campion-Smith.

Last November, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s task force on cannabis urged that any taxes are “high enough to limit the growth of consumption, but low enough to compete effectively with the illicit market.”

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Learning lessons from September’s school bus bungle: Keenan

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Toronto’s public and Catholic school boards turn to technology to keep families informed if their buses will be late.

Remember the bus chaos that kicked off the school year back in September? There was a somehow unanticipated shortage of drivers for the routes that serve Toronto public and Catholic schools, leaving kids standing at the side of the road waiting for hours for buses that sometimes didn’t come.

I remember — my own children were among those whose buses either didn’t show or came late for the first few weeks of the school year. The worst part of it was the lack of information. As I wrote at the time, calling the school yielded no answers about whether or when a bus might come — apparently, at least at first, the schools didn’t even seem to know where buses were running, or where they weren’t.

Like I said, chaos.

The public and Catholic school boards, who contract bus service together, announced this week they’re rolling out some measures for the start of the next school year in September in an effort to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

The first one, kicking off their announcement, is that parents can register at torontoschoolbus.org to access their children’s school bus route information online and to receive email alerts when their service is late or cancelled. This itself is a great leap forward for the bus services — a leap into 1990s communications technology.

The next leap after that, into the app-enabled Smartphone era, is already underway. Starting this school year, all buses will be required to have GPS units installed in them, at first so the boards and bus companies can track where they are. Eventually — perhaps in about a year, after the kinks are worked out, says Ryan Bird of the Toronto District School Board — this will enable parents to track from their Smartphone their children’s bus as it moves along the route, in the same way Uber users can now track their ride or food deliveries in real time.

These two overdue steps seem likely to virtually solve the communication part of the problem for most parents — though the boards are also planning to staff call centres during peak times such as the start of the school year to deal with any confusion over the phone lines.

As for the lack of drivers and of timely buses running at all, which was the central problem back in September, a big part of the cause had to do with all the private bus contracts being newly awarded this year. New companies were taking over almost all routes, hiring new drivers to serve them, and that caused problems.

Bird emphasizes the operator contracts are not changing this year, so there ought to be less confusion in that regard.

But another source of delay was apparently that route information was not given to the bus companies early enough for them to advise all their drivers and then deal with shuffling around based on driver demands (a lot of drivers, apparently, will quit if they do not like their route, or will have gotten themselves hired by two different companies so they can choose the route they prefer, leaving the other one suddenly without a driver after routes have been assigned). So the boards will provide the route information to bus companies earlier in hopes of minimizing any last-minute surprises and working more closely with the companies on route planning to head off any problems. Bird says current communications say neither the bus companies nor the boards are expecting any problems this coming year like those experienced last year.

As a parent — and as a citizen whose government runs this bus service to safely get children to school on time — these measures together provide a lot of reassurance. Provided the school boards, as Bird suggests, “apply a lot of lessons we’ve learned” the next time the contracts turn over, the immediate problems seem to be taken care of. The communication measures, particularly, seem long overdue. It’s sad that it took a minor crisis to prompt these updates, though that is often the case with government agencies afraid of being accused of wasting money on frills such as communicating with citizens who use their services. Either way, this progress looks like good news.

Of course, the proof will be at the curbside come September.

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More first-time home buyers putting purchases on hold after Ontario introduces new measures

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

 

Ipsos research for the Toronto Real Estate Board showed that in May, first time purchasers comprised only 40 per cent of those who plan to buy a home this year. That is down from 53 per cent in a November survey.

First-time home buyers appear to be delaying their purchases in the wake of the province’s new policies intended to cool the housing market.

At the same time, consumers buying new construction homes are overwhelmingly opting for lower-priced condo apartments and stacked townhouses.

Two reports released separately Friday by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Building and Land Development Association (BILD) suggest that first-time buyers are sitting back and waiting to see what happens in the cooling re-sale housing market.

But among those purchasing new construction, condos are the starter homes of choice.

High-rise and mid-rise apartments and stacked townhouses represented 86 per cent of new-construction home sales in the region in May, as the cost of a new townhouse crossed the $1 million mark for the first time, according to BILD.

Condos comprised 75 per cent of new-construction home sales this year to date.

Unlike the re-sale market, which has seen an influx of listings over the last two months, the supply of newly built homes remains constricted, especially in the single-family home category, said BILD CEO Bryan Tuckey in a press release.

“The price acceleration in the condo portion of the market is especially worrisome since it not only represents the lion’s share of new housing in the GTA, it’s also making it difficult for condos to remain the affordable option,” he said.

The average price of a new single-family home rose about $10,000 to $1.2 million in May from April — a 40 per cent gain over last year. Condos averaged $604,683 last month, a $30,000 increase over April and a 33 per cent rise compared to the same period last year.

Ipsos research for TREB, conducted in May, showed that first-time buyers comprised only 40 per cent of those who plan to buy a home this year — down from 53 per cent in a November survey.

The findings come as TREB prepares to update its 2017 market forecast on July 6.

TREB had been predicting that this year, a seller’s market would continue in the re-sale home sector, with prices rising between 10 and 16 per cent over last year.

But double-digit price growth in the first four months of the year — March prices rose 33 per cent year over year — has been cooling since just before the government’s Fair Housing Policy announcement on April 20.

With a 15 per cent foreign buyers’ tax as its centre, the policy was aimed at non-resident speculators.

While it’s unclear whether those buyers have been discouraged, TREB says the new policy had contributed to the decision of 10 per cent of buyers who say they won’t purchase this year.

“It makes sense that some first-time buyers have decided to at least temporarily put their decision to purchase on hold. First-time buyers are more flexible, and can take a wait-and-see approach. They could also re-enter the market quickly once they make the decision to purchase,” said TREB director of market analysis Jason Mercer in a press release.

Home prices were still about 6 per cent higher in the first half of June over the same period last year, according to TREB’s mid-month sales update. But realtors expect that the board’s official month-end report will show a second consecutive month-to-month price drop.

TREB’s newest consumer survey on May 23 to 29 showed 30 per cent of Toronto-area households are at least somewhat likely to list their house in the next year.

Fifteen per cent cited the Fair Housing plan as the primary reason they would put their home on the market.

Of those who said they would be selling, 80 per cent expected to buy another home.

“That means that these households are not exiting the home ownership market, but instead, changing the type or location of the home they will own,” said Mercer.

The 35 per cent of households that indicated they were likely or very likely to buy a home in the coming year was similar to the fall survey findings, said TREB.

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Rents in Ontario can be hiked 1.8 per cent in 2018 under new guidelines

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

The Ontario Ministry of Housing set the rate Friday based on the provincial consumer price index, which measures inflation.

Tenants will face residential rent increases of no more than 1.8 per cent next year unless their landlords apply to authorities for more.

The Ontario Ministry of Housing set the rate Friday based on the provincial consumer price index, which measures inflation.

Another 250,000 tenants will be protected from “unreasonable” rent increases now that the Liberal government has, as part of housing reforms, extended rent control to buildings constructed since 1991, said MPP Cristina Martins (Davenport), parliamentary secretary to Housing Minister Chris Ballard.

Landlords who make improvements to their rental units can apply to the Landlord and Tenant Board for larger increases based on the amount of money they have spent, Martins noted.

“We know that a strong rental market in Ontario is one that balanced affordability with tenants with the right conditions for continued investments in rental properties by landlords,” she told reporters Friday.

“That’s why landlords who undertake certain capital repairs will still be able to apply for above guideline rent increases and landlords will still be able to set rent levels for new tenants.”

The rent increase cap does not apply to vacant units, social housing, nursing homes or commercial properties.

Rent controls were expanded by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration in April in response to the then-overheated housing market, where house prices and rents on units built after 1991 were skyrocketing.

Some tenants complained of being booted out of their apartments by landlords for personal reasons, such as moving a family member in, and then saw those units rented for hundreds more dollars a month.

Landlords evicting tenants for personal reasons will soon have to pay them a penalty to discourage capricious decisions to force tenants out.

“It will be taking place this summer,” said Martins.

There are about 1.2 million private rental units in Ontario.

Under Ontario law, annual rent increases can be no more than 2.5 per cent.

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MP Sahota Welcomes Minister Hussen to Brampton to Discuss the Passing of Bill C-6

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian

23/06/2017 – Brampton, Ontario – Ms. Ruby Sahota, Member of Parliament for Brampton North, welcomed the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to Brampton to discuss Royal Assent of Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act.

“Our Government knows that one of the strongest pillars for successful integration into Canadian life is attaining Canadian citizenship,” said MP Sahota. “Bill C-6 reduces the time immigrants must be in Canada before being eligible for citizenship to 3 out of 5 years prior to applying. It also reduces the age range in which applicants must demonstrate knowledge of Canada and one of its official languages from 14-64 to 18-54.”

MP Sahota was pleased to have Minister Hussen on hand to discuss and clarify changes brought in with the passing of Bill C-6, and the positive impact it will have on her constituents and Canadians all across the country. This Bill repeals the barriers to citizenship that the previous Conservative Government put in place, and eliminates discriminatory two-tiered citizenship.

“The passing of this bill into law represents an important promise kept by our government,” remarked MP Sahota.” I am proud to have voted in favour of Bill C-6. This piece of legislation shows our Government’s commitment to streamline the citizenship process and enhance the integrity of the programme.”

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“Katrina Kaif and I have lost all our clothes in fire” – Ranbir Kapoor on his new song from Jagga Jasoos

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif’s Jagga Jasoos has already created much buzz. The first two songs from the film – Ullu Ka Pattha and Galti Se Mistake are already hitting the charts becoming everyone’s favourite.

Soon, makers of the film will be releasing the third song titled Jhumritalaiyya that features Ranbir and Katrina in a very different avatar. As much hints we can take from the stills of the songs, it sure looks quite fun with both stars wearing nothing but just a basket.

In the picture we see two of them looking every bit cute with Ranbir following Katrina in the song with a lot of fun happening and we can’t wait to see more of it. Both Ranbir and Katrina look super excited for the song as they told a leading daily. Ranbir said, “It’s one of my favorite songs. Basically, Katrina Kaif and I have lost all our clothes in fire.”

Even Katrina spoke about the song saying, “We both end up in baskets. We don’t have any clothes and we have to protect our modesty. We spend rest of that song running around in baskets trying to make sure we are decent because all our clothes got caught in a fire.”

The song is composed by Pritam, and it’s after Barfi that we will be seeing Anurag collaborating with him for Jagga Jasoos. The film will scheduled for its release on July 14, 2017.

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Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez to shoot Bandook Meri Laila soon

Posted on 29 June 2017 by admin

Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez are all set for their upcoming action comedy, A Gentleman. While the fans are already gaga over the poster and teaser, the duo is gearing up for shooting a song from the movie named ‘Bandook Meri Laila’.

A source said, “The song was being discussed and the directors loved the tune. They immediately added that to the teaser. Now it’s gone viral. Everyone’s asking for the song.” Henceforth the duo will start shooting for the song next month because for now both Sidharth and Jacqueline are busy with their respective films, Aiyaary and Judwaa 2.

A Gentleman is slated to release on August 25.

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