Archive | November, 2017

Canada, UN still hammering out details for peacekeeping mission as summit looms

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Canadian officials are gearing up to host a major peacekeeping summit in Vancouver this week, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scheduled to drop in on Wednesday.

OTTAWA—A senior United Nations official says UN staff are in talks with Canadian counterparts about when, where and how Canadian military personnel and equipment will be employed on peacekeeping missions.

But Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the undersecretary general of UN peacekeeping operations, tells The Canadian Press that no final decisions have been made.

The comments come as the government is gearing up to host a major peacekeeping summit in Vancouver this week, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau scheduled to drop in on Wednesday.

It was widely expected that the Liberals would announce their plans to deploy peacekeepers either before or at the summit, with options including sending helicopters to Mali and a transport plane to Uganda.

But Lacroix’s comments indicate that more than a year after the government promised up to 600 troops and 150 police officers for peacekeeping, Canada’s contribution appears to be very much a work in progress.

That is sure to disappoint many foreign dignitaries who are scheduled to attend the conference starting Tuesday, though Lacroix says he is encouraged that Canada is preparing to help the UN.

 

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Liberals haven’t rebounded from summer dip in the polls: Forum research

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

A new public opinion poll by Forum Research shows a dip in popularity that began for the federal Liberals this summer is still there.

The popularity of the federal Liberals hasn’t rebounded since their dip this summer, while support for the Conservatives has improved, according to a public opinion poll from Forum Research.

The poll, conducted Nov. 4-6, found 38 per cent of Canadians surveyed supported the Conservatives, while 36 per cent said they would vote Liberal. For the front-runners that’s virtually unchanged from Forum’s results in mid-September when the Liberals were at 35 per cent and the Conservatives were at 39 per cent.

But those September numbers reflected a dip in popularity for the Liberal government, which was at 42 per cent in the polls in mid-August. The Conservatives have improved from 34 per cent support at that time.

Support for the NDP has remained steady, despite the fact the party elected Jagmeet Singh as its new leader on Oct. 1. The NDP was at 14 per cent in mid-August, 15 per cent in September, and 14 per cent in the latest poll last week.

The Green party, which had 4 per cent support in August and September, increased to 6 per cent in November.

Similarly, the Bloc Québécois was steady at 4 per cent, 5 per cent and 6 per cent respectively in those three months beginning in August.

 “The Liberals’ dip in popularity, first identified by Forum in September, has steadied in November, but (the fact) that it hasn’t rebounded suggests their down numbers might be more than just a blip,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research.

“There are still two years before the next election, which is an eternity in politics, but clearly some of the negatively received policies introduced by the Liberals of late have begun to hinder their overall support.”

Bozinoff attributed the Liberals’ decline since August to the government’s handling of the small business tax file, as well as controversies over Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s perceived conflict of interest and how he has managed his personal finances while in his post.

Morneau faced a torrent of criticism from farmers, doctors, small business people and opposition critics in the House over tax reforms he unveiled in July aimed at closing loopholes in the tax system that benefit small business owners.

In the fall he faced personal attacks over the way he has managed his finances. Among the developments was the discovery he hadn’t placed in a blind trust a large number of shares from a family business he used to run. He had promised to do so when he was first elected in 2015.

“It’s all been badly received, Morneau’s handling of everything and his own perceived conflict of interest,” Bozinoff added.

Despite their dip in support, the latest poll numbers would give the Liberals a minority government, due to vote distribution. The Liberals would secure 164 of 338 seats, the Conservatives 148, the NDP 15, the Bloc 11 and the Greens two seats, Forum says.

The results, collected from 1,281 randomly selected voters, are considered accurate, plus or minus 3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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Federal government delays $2.14 billion in infrastructure spending

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

The figures show that the Liberals are having difficulty moving cash out of the federal treasury fast enough to fund projects around the country.

OTTAWA — The federal government failed to spend $2.14 billion that was earmarked last year to rebuild roads, bridges and other large-scale projects aimed at helping people in their day-to-day lives, newly released documents show.

The recent department report shows spending from Infrastructure Canada was about 40 per cent lower than the $5.3 billion that had been planned for the last fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2017.

The largest chunk of the spending shortfall was $1.48 billion that didn’t get spent on various large-scale projects, representing about 90 per cent of what the government expected to spend on things like new transit and water systems, two key areas of focus on the Liberal agenda.

It’s not clear from the documents how long it’s expected to take for the money to actually flow to projects.

The figures help to illustrate the magnitude of a problem that has plagued the Liberal government’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure program from the outset: they can’t seem to get the money out of the federal treasury fast enough.

The government — which typically does carry about 25 per cent of its infrastructure from one project to the next — says it’s simply managing the flow of cash to projects. Opposition critics, on the other hand, say the idle money is symptomatic of problems with the program.

Federal dollars flow only once cities and provinces submit receipts for reimbursement, often creating a delay between when work takes place and when the federal money is spent.

In some cases, the federal government won’t receive receipts until a project is completely done. In other cases, projects are delayed because of labour strife, bad weather or other factors beyond Ottawa’s control — a factor last week’s departmental report warns readers about.

The report also shows that the government moved $591.8 million into a fund for small communities, boosting its value to $1.5 billion.

It says the federal government has given provinces and territories an ultimatum: identify projects for all the money left in the program — created by the previous Conservative government — by March 31, 2018, or watch it go to municipalities through what’s known as the federal gas tax fund, established in 2005 to provide a stable, predictable source of annual federal infrastructure dollars.

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Sousa to unveil tax cuts for small businesses in budget update

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Ontario’s finance minister is set to deliver an election-ready fiscal update that will give businesses with fewer than 100 employees tax breaks to offset a higher minimum wage, the Star has learned.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa is set to deliver an election-ready fiscal update that will give small businesses significant tax breaks to offset paying employees a higher minimum wage, the Star has learned.

In Tuesday’s fall economic statement, Sousa will announce that corporate income tax rates for small business owners will drop to 3.5 per cent from 4.5 per cent on January 1.

That’s the same day the $11.60-an-hour minimum wage jumps to $14 before it rises to $15 in 2019.

Sources say Sousa will announce more than $500 million in new initiatives to help companies with fewer than 100 employees, including $124 million over three years to hire and retain workers between the ages of 15 and 29.

That could allay fears expressed by some business groups that raising the minimum wage could cost the province between 50,000 and 90,000 jobs.

The treasurer will also improve the existing apprentice training tax credit so that it encompasses more trades and increases the number of apprenticeships for minority groups, who are under-represented in many sectors.

Currently, about 120 of Ontario’s 150 skilled trades — in construction, manufacturing, mechanics, and industry — are eligible for the tax credits.

Those credits are available to businesses that have permanent establishments in Ontario, pay provincial income tax, and incur legitimate expenses in training apprentices in skilled trades.

In a major speech to the Toronto Region Board of Trade luncheon last Tuesday, Sousa signalled he would have good news for Ontario business operators “to help them improve their bottom line.”

“I will be announcing a whole set of new comprehensive initiatives to help small businesses in Ontario reduce costs and become even more competitive,” the finance minister said.

“Ontario’s balanced plan is helping build a fairer, more inclusive province. But our work is not done,” he emphasized.

“Despite a strong economy, too many are still facing challenges. Behind the robust economic growth, we know that people are feeling uncertain about their economic future. The rising tide has not raised all boats.”

That’s why the Liberals are increasing the minimum wage to help the nearly 30 per cent of workers who make less than $15 an hour.

“Economists remind us that nearly every minimum wage dollar earned will be directly spent. A higher minimum wage will help people get ahead and fuel our economy,” he said last week.

The treasurer will also use the annual fall economic statement to tout the fact that Ontario’s books are still in the black heading into the June 7, 2018 election.

“I will confirm that we will balance the budget. In fact, last year we beat our targets by just over $3 billion. And I will confirm that we are on track to deliver balanced budgets for the next two years as well,” he said.

“The 2017 fall economic statement will further outline our plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of economic change.”

With a surplus in the treasury, Sousa said last week that $155 million will be spent over three years on a “seniors’ strategy.”

That includes a new website for seniors to more easily access information on drug coverage benefits, recreation programs, volunteer opportunities, tax credits, and powers of attorney.

Starting next fall, there will be a free high-dose flu shot designed especially for the elderly.

As well, Queen’s Park will spend more than $15 million over the next two years to upgrade apartment buildings that have become “naturally occurring” retirement communities because so many seniors choose to live in them.

With polls showing Premier Kathleen Wynne is in a tight contest against the front-running Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, Sousa is eager to showcase that Ontario’s economy is performing well with unemployment at 5.9 per cent.

“Our government’s efforts have helped, but it is mostly due to the hard work of the people of Ontario. Make no mistake: businesses created 800,000 net new jobs since the recession,” he said.

“For the past three years, we’ve outperformed all G7 nations, including the United States, Germany and Japan. And independent, private sector economists are projecting that Ontario’s steady growth will continue.”

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Almost half of Ontario youth miss school because of anxiety, study suggests

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

A survey commissioned by Children’s Mental Health Ontario suggests that children and parents miss school and work to cope with mental illness.

At five years old, Shannon Nagy told her mother she wanted to die. In Grade 6, she missed almost the entire school year because more often than not, she couldn’t get out of bed.

Nagy, now 20, was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and borderline personality disorder and was never able to finish high school. She spent most of her childhood immersed in a mental health care system that she said “did more harm than good.”

Her struggle to get help and the impact that struggle had on her education is a trend captured in a new survey commissioned by Children’s Mental Health Ontario, released Tuesday.

It found of the 18- to 34-year-olds surveyed across the province:

•          46 per cent had missed school due to issues related to anxiety.

•          40 per cent had sought mental health help.

•          Of those, 50 per cent found the experience of getting help challenging.

•          42 per cent did not get the help they needed or are still waiting.

Parents are also impacted when their child has to wait as long as 18 months for mental health care, said Kimberly Moran, CEO of CMHO, the association that represents Ontario’s publicly funded Mental Health Centres and advocates for government policies and programs.

“Parents miss work and certainly myself as a parent, I have to take time to look after my daughter,” Moran said.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Ministry of Children and Youth Services did not respond to requests from the Star for comment, with Monday being a holiday.

The study, conducted by research firm Ipsos, surveyed 806 people in October and suggests that a quarter of parents have had to miss work to care for their child due to issues related to anxiety.

When her 11-year-old daughter tried to die by suicide while on a year-long wait list for mental health care, Moran took a four-month leave of absence and then worked part-time. Six years later, she still takes about 10 per cent of the year off to help her daughter.

Half of the parents surveyed found getting their child mental health help was challenging because wait times are long, they don’t know where to go, or service providers don’t offer what their child needs, don’t exist in their community, are too far away or aren’t available at convenient times.

Anxiety is one of the “big front-runners” when it comes to mental illness in youth, said Lydia Sai-Chew, CEO of Skylark Children, Youth and Families, which offers free counselling and mental health services in Toronto. Wait times at Skylark for in-patient programs can be up to six months.

“The difficulty with wait times is that the youth gets more stressed, but so does the family,” Sai-Chew said. “Anxieties build up. They don’t have the strategies and it just gets worse.”

For 13 years, Michele Sparling of Oakville has juggled owning a business and taking care of her son who was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when he was 10 years old.

“If your child is home from school, you’re not leaving them alone,” Sparling said. “You’re worried when you have to step out for a moment. When a fire truck goes through your neighbourhood, you think ‘not my kid, not my kid.’

“That worry is constant.”

She said her family struggled to get her son the help he needed. In between driving him to and from appointments in Toronto, she got used to telling clients she might have to end a meeting at a moment’s notice if a crisis occurred. She watched as her son had to miss school, and continues to care for him now as he struggles with mental illness in university.

“This is not just about this one person, it’s about the bigger picture, the lost potential,” Sparling said. “I think we’re doing young people such a disservice.”

CMHO is asking the province to invest $125 million in community-based mental health centres, staffing and services for children and youth.

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Annual rate of homes entering construction jumped in October, CMHC reports

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Vancouver hit a 12-month high as housing starts doubled, while Toronto saw a slowdown in its pace.

OTTAWA—Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual rate of housing starts ticked higher in October as the pace of new construction in the Vancouver region hit a 12-month high.

The housing agency said Wednesday that housing starts for the month came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 222,771 units in October, up from 219,293 units in September.

The annualized pace of urban starts increased by 2.5 per cent in October to 205,935 units, boosted by a 12.5-per-cent jump in multiple urban starts to 149,593. Single-detached urban starts fell 17.1 per cent to 56,342 units.

In Vancouver, the annual pace of housing starts nearly doubled to 34,850 compared with 18,116 in September. Multi-unit starts soared to 30,384 compared with 12,864, while single-detached starts in Vancouver fell to 4,466 from 5,252.

However, Toronto saw the annual rate of housing starts in that city slow to 35,299, compared with 28,049 in September, as both the multi-unit and single-detached categories moved lower.

The overall increase in home starts comes even as the resale market for homes has been slowing this year compared with the fever pitch in the spring.

“We continue to expect a moderation in starts at the national level over the next year that would be more in keeping with what we are seeing on the resale side,” Royal Bank economist Josh Nye wrote in the report.

“The combination of policy changes, including measures set to go into effect in January, and rising interest rates is expected to result in a sustained cooling in existing home sales and less price pressure.”

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 16,836 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts was 216,770 units in October, up from 215,153 units in September.

The housing start figures came as Statistics Canada reported that building permits rose in September.

It said Canadian municipalities issued $7.9-billion worth of building permits in September as a 1.7-per-cent drop in the residential sector was more than offset by a 13.9-per-cent increase in the non-residential sector.

 

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Ontario Supporting Seniors to Live Their Best Life

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

New Action Plan Provides More Fairness for Seniors in Brampton and Enhances Support Across the Province

Every person in Brampton-Springdaleand across the province should benefit from the opportunities that Ontario has to offer, no matter their age. That’s why the province is taking action to make sure that all seniors are able to access the support they need at every stage of their life.

Earlier today, MPP Harinder Malhi was at Flower City Seniors Centre in Brampton West to share the,Aging with Confidence: Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors. The plan empowers people to make the choices that are right for them when it comes to their care, their independence and how they access government services — whether that’s finding ways to keep up an active lifestyle or getting the support needed to live at home longer.

The number of seniors in Ontario is forecast to double to 4.6 million within the next 25 years — and Ontario aims to become the best place in the world to grow older. Aging with Confidence focuses on areas that seniors say they care about most, including living independently for as long as possible and staying connected through social, recreational and volunteer activities. To ensure communities like Brampton-Springdale are ready for the changing realities of an aging population, the plan also substantially expands the number of long-term care (LTC) beds across the province, while increasing staffing levels and support for LTC home residents.

Helping seniors live their best life is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of Medicare in a generation.

The new action plan offers:

          A one-stop website where seniors — about 70 per cent of whom go online every day — can find information about tax credits, drug coverage, powers of attorney, recreation programs and more. Seniors will also be able to get information over the phone in more than 150 languages

          An annual high-dose influenza vaccine, targeted to protect seniors, will be available free of charge as part of the Ontario Universal Influenza Immunization Program

          Support for “naturally occurring” retirement communities by investing more than $15 million over two years for apartment buildings or housing developments where many seniors already live close to one another

          More volunteering opportunities connecting seniors and youth, fostering learning and mentorship while reducing older people’s risk of social isolation

          5,000 new LTC beds over the next four years and 15 million more hours of nursing, personal support and therapeutic care annually for residents in LTC homes, as well as a 10-year plan to create more than 30,000 new beds over the next decade, working with the long-term care sector.

 

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Councillor Chin Lee nominated as the Ontario Liberal Party candidate in Scarborough North

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

SCARBOROUGH—Today, Toronto City Councillor Chin Lee was nominated as the Ontario Liberal Party candidate for Scarborough North in the June 2018 provincial election.

“I am excited to be joining Premier Wynne’s team and am ready to continue to serve my constituents at Queen’s Park,” said Lee, who was first elected to Toronto City Council in 2006.

“This government has invested in Scarborough, with the Malvern Family Resource Centre, TaiBu, Hong Fook Mental Health and many other NGOs. Recently this government announced consolidation of Scarborough hospitals and funding for a Health Innovation Hub on Bridletowne Circle. These investments for our future need to continue, and I’m ready to do my part to ensure that record continues with a re-elected Ontario Liberal government,” Lee added.

“Chin Lee will be a tremendous MPP for Scarborough North. He has been a strong voice on Toronto City Council for many years and a very accomplished community leader. We are privileged to have him as part of our Scarborough Liberal team,” said the Honourable Brad Duguid, MPP for Scarborough Centre.

Shaun Chen, the local MP, also endorsed Chin Lee, saying he “has a proven track record of service to our community. An experienced, responsive and principled representative, Chin will fight for us at Queen’s Park. He has my full confidence and support.”

Chin Lee currently serves on the Toronto Police Services Board and is vice-chair of Scarborough Community Council. He has served on several other boards and committees at City Hall. Before entering politics, he was a consultant and manager in information technology with over thirty years of business experience. Lee is an advocate for building strong communities. He served as the President of the Goldhawk Community Association and co-founded the Scarborough Homeowner Alliance for Fair Taxation, helping to reduce property taxes for over 90% of North Scarborough homeowners. Lee and his family live in the Agincourt Community. He is a graduate of York University and Ryerson University.

Under the leadership of Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Ontario Liberal Party has a plan to deliver opportunity and fairness for everyone. While Ontario has a balanced budget and growing economy, not everyone is feeling that growth yet. That’s why we are working to deliver a fairer, better Ontario through free tuition for 210,000 students, free prescription drug coverage for children and youth, 100,000 affordable child-care spaces, and a $15-an-hour minimum wage. This progressive plan is at risk if Conservatives like Patrick Brown and Raymond Cho were to win the election.

For more information:

communications@ontarioliberal.ca

 

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Madhuri Dixit – Sanjay Kapoor to recreate 90s chartbuster ‘Ankhiyan Milaoon’ from Raja on TV

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Sanjay Kapoor recently returned to the small screen with the unconventional love story ‘Dil Sambhal Jaa Zara’. The actor will be seen romancing as well as tying the knot to a much younger girl in this romantic drama, a role essayed by TV actress Smriti Kalra. Gearing up for their nuptials in the series, actor Sanjay Kapoor will recreate his iconic number ‘Akhiyaan Milaoon’ along with co-star Madhuri Dixit for the small screen.

Soon, the serial ‘Dil Sambhal Jaa Zara’ will feature episodes of Sanjay Kapoor and Smriti Kalra’s wedding ceremonies which will also include Sangeet. Madhuri Dixit will appear in one of the episodes as Sanjay Kapoor’s friend and the duo will dance together for the latter’s sangeet on their chartbuster ‘Akhiyaan Milaaon Kabhi Akhiyan Churaoon’ from their 1995 blockbuster Raja. Talking about the same, Sanjay Kapoor believes that it has been one of the most iconic songs of his career as audiences continue to remember the steps of the number. Although Raja featured many chartbusters, Sanjay Kapoor decided to zero in on this number since it is his favourite.

On the other hand, Vikram Bhatt who is the producer of the TV show, decided to extend an invitation to Madhuri Dixit to make a small appearance in the series and Sanjay Kapoor, we hear, was more than happy to shake a leg with his former co-star. It is being said that Madhuri Dixit has already started rehearsing for the episode and will be shooting for the same in the next few days. As for the said episode which will have Sanjay and Madhuri performing together, that is said to be aired in the second half of November.

 

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Aishwarya Rai Bachchan-starrer Fanney Khan and Salman Khan-starrer Race 3 to clash on Eid 2018!

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Since 2009, Eid and Salman Khan’s releases have gone hand in hand. Except this year’s Tubelight, all the previous Salman Khan’s Eid releases – Wanted, Dabangg, Bodyguard, Ek Tha Tiger, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan – have been huge blockbusters. In fact, for a long time, no film was slated to release on Eid 2018 and nobody even dared to announce their film on this coveted day, as everyone knew that it’s a date reserved for a Salman Khan biggie. And sure enough, it was revealed that Race 3, featuring the superstar, would be hitting screens on this festival.

But it seems like Race 3 won’t be the solo Eid release. A smaller film, Fanney Khan, has announced its release date and it’s all set to clash with Race 3 on June 15, 2018. Interestingly, Fanney Khan’s leading lady is Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who once dated Race 3’s leading actor Salman Khan. Hence, this clash becomes all the more interesting.

According to a leading tabloid, Fanney Khan producers Arjun N Kapoor and Bhushan Kumar jointly announced that they have locked Eid as Fanney Khan’s release date since the lead character of Fanney, played by Anil Kapoor, is a Muslim. Hence, Eid is the apt time to release this film.

Says producer Prernaa Arora of KriArj Entertainment, “We are happy to announce that Fanney Khan is coming to wish audiences Eid Mubarak on the 15th June next year. The film is a beautiful slice of life story that comes straight from the heart and will have audiences thoroughly entertained.”

Fanney Khan also stars Rajkummar Rao and Divya Dutta. Race 3 meanwhile is directed by Remo D’Souza and also features Jacqueline Fernandez, Daisy Shah, Bobby Deol and Saqib Saleem. The first two parts of Race incidentally also starred Anil Kapoor along with Saif Ali Khan. Both were directed by Abbas-Mustan. Race also starred Akshaye Khanna, Katrina Kaif, Bipasha Basu and Sameera Reddy. All these four actors were not a part of Race 2 and instead, it co-starred John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez and Ameesha Patel.

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