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40% Of Canadian Workers Would Take A Pay Cut For Career Growth

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

It’s not all about the money, apparently.

According to a new ADP Sentiment Survey, 40 per cent of Canadian workers would take a pay cut at a new job in order to overcome a “growth gap” — a lack of career development opportunities from their current employers.

Of the 828 working Canadians surveyed, 23 per cent said they would take a five per cent pay cut, 12 per cent of employees would take a 10 per cent decrease, and four per cent would take a hit of more than 15 per cent.

One-third of Canadians said their employers didn’t offer support such as skills development programs, training, and career mentoring. Others (19 per cent) said they haven’t asked for support, while nine per cent said their bosses don’t have time for their concerns.

“The paradox of a growth gap is that while many employers say they need workers to be increasingly adaptable to new tasks and responsibilities, many workers are saying they lack the development support to deliver on these expectations,” Sooky Lee of ADP Canada said in a press release Wednesday.

The survey says Canadians facing a “growth gap” can be divided into three categories: “The Ready,” “The Resigned,” and “The Relaxed.”

“The Ready,” are employees who are eager for growth, but feel their company isn’t investing in their careers. This makes up 65 per cent of Canadian workers. Employees who want progress, but have given up on their company are labelled, “The Resigned,” and represent 53 per cent of Canadians. The last group, “The Relaxed,” are those who say career advancement would be nice (21 per cent), but it is not that important.

“Whether the under-developed employees in your organization are ready, resigned or relaxed, this study should be a wake-up call for any employer that cares about employee retention and productivity,” said Lee.

Mentoring costly and time-consuming

While employees may face frustration in dealing with a growth gap, managers aren’t always able to satisfy their needs. A 2012 Forbes article said many managers recognize the importance of mentoring and training, but they are costly and time-consuming tasks.

“Companies must either come up with the resources to meet up the expectations of their talented employees or be constantly in the market to replenish them,” the article read.

How can companies make workers stay?

Companies that provide workers with new job titles and a clear path forward are more likely to retain them, a February study by Glassdoor found.

“Every additional 10 months an employee stagnates in a role makes them one per cent more likely to leave the company when they finally move on to their next position,” according to the job recruitment company.

The study went on to say that employees won’t stay for job titles alone. Pay increases and a healthy workplace culture are also important.

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Buying a condo, though cheaper, comes with its own costs

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

Buying a condominium may be an affordable way for many first-time homebuyers in Canada’s big cities to enter the real estate market.

But the condo market comes with its own set of costs.

Purchasing a condo should start with finding a realtor who specializes in the neighbourhoods you’re interested in and knows the buildings, Vancouver realtor Mike Stewart says.

An experienced agent, he says, will be able to steer people away from problem buildings where a bargain price may be cheap for a reason.

“You never want to buy the best unit in the worst building because an individual property owner can do nothing effectively to change what’s happening overall in a building,” Stewart says.

“But the inverse is true. If you buy the worst unit in the best building, you can always fix your unit. But you can’t fix the building.”

Condos are generally cheaper than houses and, in markets like Vancouver and Toronto, may be the only option for a first-time buyer.

There may not be the same maintenance chores with a condo that come with owning a house, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a cost. Condo owners may not have to fix minor problems around the building themselves, but somebody does and they need to be paid.

Stewart says all buildings have issues, so what is important is that the condo’s strata council, which manages the building, is transparent and proactive about dealing with the problems.

“Good maintenance and timely repairs maintain the value of the property, which is the value of everybody’s investment,” he said.

Monthly condo fees are generally related to the size of the unit. They may sometimes also be based on non-square-footage features that affect the value of a unit, such as what floor it is on.

For those buying a condo, they need to understand the monthly maintenance fees, what they cover and how much they are expected to increase.

Ottawa lawyer Leslie Kirk, who specializes in real estate, says it is important to review the condo documents so people understand the financial health of the building and ensure the strata council is meeting its required obligations.

An inadequate reserve fund could mean owners might have to cough up cash for a special assessment to pay for things like windows being replaced or major repairs to common elements of the building.

Those living in a house may be able to put something off until they have the money, but not so for condo owners.

“You don’t necessarily get to choose when you’re going to make a major repair in a condo,” Kirk said.

Condos may also have rules about what people can and cannot do, such as restrictions on the size and number of pets, whether or not they can install hardwood floors or if they can put a barbecue on the balcony.

“There’s also some condos now that ban smoking everywhere, including inside the units,” Kirk said.

Ottawa real estate sales representative Tammy Laverty says choosing a condo is about what is best for you.

“If you have a big family and you want a big yard . . . then a condo is probably not for you,” she said.

“But maybe if you’re a first-time homebuyer and buying a brand new home is overwhelming or you want to downsize or you’re really busy, a condominium is probably going to be a really great choice for you.”

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Panama Papers have helped fuel ‘a more aggressive CRA’

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

For the Canada Revenue Agency, the Panama Papers was a line in the sand.

Unlike those exposed by previous leaks, tax cheats named in the massive database won’t be offered amnesty; instead, they’re more likely to end up doing hard time.

“This is a more aggressive CRA,” said assistant commissioner Ted Gallivan in an interview with the Star. “There are some actors who need that threat of a jail term to stop, or they actually physically have to be locked up in jail to get them to discontinue their activities.”

Tax fraudsters identified in the Panama Papers will not be allowed to clear their name by declaring their hidden assets and paying back taxes and interest, a process called voluntary disclosure.

“(The Panama Papers) allows us to showcase how the CRA has changed,” Gallivan said. “There’s a bit of a paradigm shift for us: no voluntary disclosures and a lot more criminal investigations. That reflects a shift to more severe consequences for people who are participating in aggressive tax avoidance or tax evasion.”

From now on, the CRA will also fingerprint anyone charged with tax evasion, which could affect their ability to travel abroad.

“It’s about more than revenue,” said Gallivan. “It sends the message that it’s not just tax evasion, it’s not just white collar crime, it’s a serious criminal offence and it comes with serious criminal consequences.”

Internationally, Canada has long been considered lax on white collar crime, with few prosecutions and prison sentences measured in months, not years. But after the Panama Papers were made public last April, the new Liberal government quickly announced a nearly $500-million investment in the CRA to bolster tax enforcement.

Early results reflect an ongoing reorientation toward fewer, high-value tax cheats and a focus on multinational corporations.

The number of criminal convictions for tax evasion has dropped dramatically from 137 in 2011-12 to only 17 so far in 2016-17, yet the criminal fines imposed have almost tripled from an average of about $46,000 to over $123,000 for each offender.

Sentences are up, too, from an average of 18 months in 2011-12 to 26.5 months this year, according to numbers provided by the CRA.

Additional tax collected by CRA audits has increased almost 45 per cent over the last six years from $8.7 billion in 2011-12 to $12.6 billion in 2015-16. More and more of these audits target large and multinational corporations, producing tax assessments that have more than doubled in the last three years from $6.1 billion in 2013-14 to a projected $13 billion this year.

In order to move more quickly from investigation to prosecution, in the last year 230 people have been added to the compliance department and lawyers are now being embedded in investigating teams.

The Panama Papers even spawned a new branch of the CRA, known as International, Large Business and Criminal Investigations, which operates under Gallivan’s personal watch. This branch, which has 100 specialized auditors, will be taking on the most complex, big-ticket cases that often have an offshore component and involve sophisticated tax professionals, the enablers of tax evasion.

“The new thinking of the new branch is in addition to finding the taxpayers, we need to find the promoter, the head, and go after the head that’s driving this behaviour and put them out of business,” Gallivan said.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year so far, tax professionals have been fined $44.3 million for their role in facilitating tax evasion — a huge increase over the $200,000 handed down last year — and the information gleaned from the Panama Papers promises an uptick in years to come.

It helps that the CRA obtained parts of the leak before it was made public and got the ball rolling early.

“It gave us the advantage of timing. By the time the public took interest in this, we were already fairly well advanced in our work,” said Gallivan.

But the gears of justice move slowly. Almost a year later, there are 75 audits and several criminal investigations underway, but no charges have been laid.

Investigators, Gallivan acknowledged, have had difficulty finding the individuals behind shell companies used to defraud the tax collector, a phenomenon highlighted by the Star’s Canada Papers investigation.

“Some actual people have multiple corporations with millions of dollars and millions of dollars of non-compliance,” he said. “Taxpayers who are conducting these things certainly go to great lengths to obscure them.”

Last year, an international evaluation of Canada’s financial system flagged lack of transparency in corporate ownership as an impediment to law enforcement.

But Canadian enforcement efforts are only a small part of the solution. The post-Panama Papers world is about to get much more complicated for wealthy individuals who hide their money offshore and multinationals that shelter their profits in tax havens.

The EU and G20 are set to publish a new black list of unco-operative tax havens this summer, shortly after the first global system of tax information sharing becomes operational. The OECD’s “automatic exchange” system will allow tax auditors in one country to see what their citizens are declaring in another. There are 54 participating countries in 2017 and next year Canada will start sharing its tax information, along with 46 more countries.

For the 2016 tax year, Canadian multinational corporations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue will have to report to the CRA their profits, sales, employees, assets and taxes paid on a country-by-country basis. This information will then be fed into the international sharing system, creating a web of tax oversight that will be much more difficult to escape.

To prepare for this new “big data” era in tax collection, the CRA is ramping up its use of computer analysis to troll the information looking for red flags suggesting suspicious activity.

Instead of just checking the math on people’s tax returns, the CRA is developing algorithms to cross reference outside data — including real estate transactions and luxury purchases — with what people claim to be making.

“The agency knows that people who are trying to avoid paying taxes often manipulate their tax return so they look like they’re low income,” said Gallivan. “The system will flag that despite somebody’s low income on their tax return, they have a lot of money. When we see that flag, we dig deeper.”

The CRA recently started receiving real time data of all international electronic money transfers and is building a computer system to monitor more than 1 million transfers each month in real time.

Because it could take two or three years to get the system up and running, auditors are currently going through them manually, Gallivan said, having flagged more than 41,000 transactions worth $12 billion last year. The manual review will ramp up to looking at 100,000 transfers this year.

“The money flow is exactly where our focus is now,” he said. “We do have to be accountable for results.”

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You are what you eat: Surveen Chawla

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

Actress Surveen Chawla, last seen in Jhalak Dikhla Jaa 9 and 24 (Season 2), was seen last evening at The Femina Beauty Awards. She wore fashion designer Samant Chauhan’s Kinnaur Queen II collection’s white gown.

Surveen’s gown was styled by Sanam Ratansi. A happy Surveen quoted, “I feel very beautiful, and Femina is all about feeling beautiful. For me I don’t think Diamond would be a girl’s best friend, but Femina surely is. It’s got everything that a woman needs to know about, beauty and sometimes life too. It’s informative and a cool take-away for when you’re traveling or at the airport and feel like reading something and hence I say, Femina is a girl’s best friend.”

When asked about her secret to her beauty she said, “Everything that you eat actually becomes who you are. Eat that food that radiate a lot of colour and brings them into your life too. A lot of meditation also helps radiate the skin. First thing in the morning that I need is lots of water and it has to be warm. Water is very essential. Also some moisturizing for the skin and masks for the hair.”

Her final statement on beauty was “You are what you eat.”


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Anushka Sharma talks about her brother: We are living our dream

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

When younger, Anushka Sharma would find her brother Karnesh irritating. Today, they have teamed up to create magic on screen.

Our conversation begins with some guy talk. Anushka Sharma’s brother, Karnesh, enquires about the mid-day mate. “I remember it used to be popular,” he says. A shocked Anushka is clueless about what her brother is talking about. When told it is a photograph of a sexy girl in a bikini, she quickly says, “Why isn’t there a picture of a man too?” It’s a hot afternoon and we are at Anushka’s home in Versova. In a tete-a-tete with the siblings, who are ready with their second production Phillauri, we talk about filmmaking and bonding.

Your first production venture NH10 (2015) was a thriller which was critically-acclaimed. Did people approach you with scripts of the same genre?
Karnesh: Yes. It was not only newcomers, but established directors and writers as well who pitched womencentric thrillers or about a woman avenging her husband’s death.
Anushka: It’s funny because people should understand we will not make a film on the same subject again. Even as an actor, I do not. NH10 and Phillauri are such diverse films. We’re trying to create different and new content.

What comes to your mind when people say womencentric film? Do you identify with the term?
Anushka: I don’t identify with it because stories are about people. It can be a male or female protagonist. Phillauri is about a ghost; it is her love story. A woman-centric film is not always about strength, substance or fighting society.
Karnesh: It is only here that we talk about woman-centric films. It doesn’t happen in Hollywood or European cinema. People are aware of telling stories with women as the protagonist; that’s why there is a debate about women-centric films.

Phillauri deals with mangliks who are considered unfavourable for marriage? Do you believe in it?
Anushka: Karnesh is a manglik and I told him to get married to a tree for the film’s promotions and he refused [laughs].
Karnesh: Not for film promotions [laughs]! On a serious note, I don’t believe in it.

Anushka, do you find your brother annoying?
Anushka: There was a time when I would get irritated, but it was when I was younger. We would complain to our parents , but today we respect and accept each other .
Karnesh: I like how we are today, and not when we were younger. I am enjoying what we are doing. I wish it had came a little earlier in life, but probably we wouldn’t have had the same understanding of each other. So, I guess everything has the right time.

How were you as kids? Anushka, being younger, would you always get away with tantrums?
Karnesh: I had more tantrums than her.
Anushka: I remember when I was seven, he coaxed me to ask my parents for a video game as a birthday gift. I was least interested in it. He told me, “Bahut mazza aayega saath main khelenge.” I never saw the joystick of the game even once.
Karnesh: I have been manipulative, but now I am making up for it.

Karnesh, you were in the merchant navy. What made you get into film production?
Karnesh: I got bored of sailing. People think it’s a cool job and you get to travel the world, but that’s not the case. There were times when I was working for almost 20 hours a day. I thought if I continue, I will remain alone all my life. Maneesh Sharma was directing Shudh Desi Romance (2013) and he suggested I should try it out with him.
Anushka: Maneesh directed me in Band Baaja Baraat (2010). Whenever I make friends, I make sure they meet my brother because I don’t know how to carry on friendships [laughs]. I am socially inept. Whenever Maneesh would write a script, he would call Karnesh as he has good judgement and gives an honest opinion. In fact, Adi [Aditya Chopra] has called him on several occasions too.

Anushka, you have starred in both your productions. Would you plan a film without starring in it?
Anushka: Of course. By God’s grace, I am doing well in my career, so I don’t need my production house to make films for myself. If I don’t fit into the scheme of things, I will not.
Karnesh: Scripts are not written keeping Anushka in mind. We don’t write scripts keeping any particular actor in mind.

What are your plans for the future?
Anushka: To be able to make the kind of films we want to. We have great ideas and plans. We don’t look for other people’s mistakes and what our action should be.
Karnesh: We are pursuing our dreams and we aren’t going to change our plans according to others.


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Taapsee Pannu is eager to teach Kudo to women after training for Naam Shabana

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

Taapsee Pannu who is all set for her upcoming release Naam Shabana is keen on teaching Kudo to women. The actress feels that the biggest weapon every female has for her safety is herself and hence, wants to spread awareness about the same. She has taken her first step towards it by giving women self-defence training.

Taapsee Pannu, who is playing a role of an undercover agent, wants to highlight the importance of self-defence for women. The actress is looking forward to teach the basics of kudo, which consists of kicks, punches and submission techniques on the ground.

Taapsee says, “I’ve learned the basics of Kudo and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), which will help me in my self-defence. With the rising violence against women, it is important for every woman to know the basics of self defense, and I would like to take a step to teach them.”

Taapsee plays the titular role in Naam Shabana, India’s first spin-off, based on her character in Neeraj Pandey’s Baby. She is essaying the role of an undercover agent and has undergone intense training sessions in Mixed Martial Arts to perform action stunts in the film. Gulshan Kumar and Cape of Good Films presents A Plan C Studios production, Neeraj Pandey’s Naam Shabana which is directed by Shivam Nair and is slated to release on 31 March 2017 .

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Rani Mukerji’s first interview post-motherhood & she talks about EVERYTHING

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

It’s been two years since I last met Rani Mukerji. She took a break from the life she knew to concentrate on the life she made — Adira. She was immersed in motherhood, and movies were nowhere in the picture (excuse the pun). Now that the queen has committed to a film, she is coming out of her self-imposed exile.

Today, March 21, is her birthday, and she will be working today. A day before her big day, I met the luminous Rani sitting on her throne (okay, chair) in her cabin in YRF studio. The vibe of her office space is warm and friendly, an extension of her own personality. From the colours of the furnishing to the posters of her films on the wall, it’s her domain, alright. And there’s an extra-special place in her world — a photograph of husband Aditya Chopra and her baby girl.

As she talks about her husband, I can’t help but marvel at her fairytale marriage. It’s a coming together of two very different people and they make it work, without making it seem like work. As she returns to the set to shoot her next film Hichki, she talks about what drove her back to work (her hubby), what drives her to act (the love of her fans) and what she dreads (not giving her best to her work). Read on for excerpts….

Let’s talk about your comeback.

Again, that word! Comeback! It’s nothing. It’s just like any another professional taking a maternity leave/break and then coming back to work. That’s exactly what I am doing.

Excited about being back on a film set?

I still don’t know if I am ready to get back to work. I have said yes to working again. But I don’t feel the the way about work now, like I used to, before I had Adira. Right now, though work is something which gives me happiness, the joy that Adira gives me is just too special. I keep telling my husband that’s because he actually forced me to get back to work. He was after me for about three months from the time Adira was born, because he saw me getting obsessed with her. He said, ‘If I don’t push her now, I think she is going to go into that full-on obsession zone.’ And I am still there. Since I gave birth to Adira, he has been like, ‘Come on! You have to reclaim your life and get back. You have to do your work and you can’t completely immerse yourself’, but I wasn’t ready. I don’t think I am ready even now.

So what brings you back?

I have a lot of people who love me and my work, I think it’s my responsibility to keep doing films, so that they get to see a part of me that I am known and loved for. I think working is very important for every woman. It’s a special feeling for a woman when she is independent. It’s a different kind of satisfaction, a different kind of respect she gets, a different feeling of well-being that she feels. There are a lot of mothers who dedicate their lives to their children, and that’s absolutely great and I respect their chosen path. At the same time, I feel, somewhere down the line when the kids grow up and have no time for their parents, that’s the time when few parents or mothers

get a bit…

Feel lost?

Yes, when the kids grow up and they have their own lives, schedules and friends. They don’t want their parents around that much. It’s important to understand early on that while your child is important, it is equally important that you make yourself happy and share that happiness with your child. The way our world is now, a child adapts to both parents working. They know that parents will come back and spend quality time with them. Because I have help. I can leave my child at home. It is easier because I have people I can trust. In other cases, there are family members, but I live in a nuclear setup. And it’s taken me long to kind of identify people and to be able to have that confidence of leaving my baby for those many hours and leave the house. For the first six months, I was completely immersed. I would not move out for a minute.

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Housing report suggests surtax on expensive homes could help Toronto market

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

A new report suggests a foreign buyer tax alone can’t solve Toronto’s soaring housing prices.

The report, titled “In High Demand” and released Monday by Ryerson University’s City Building Institute, favours a tax on foreign buyers — similar to the one introduced in Vancouver last summer — but suggests it should be implemented in addition to a “progressive surtax” on expensive homes owned by people who aren’t paying income tax, including people with foreign capital.

“The surtax essentially gets wiped out if you’re earning money locally and paying taxes locally or in Canada,” said report author Josh Gordon, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University.

It’s a system that hasn’t been implemented elsewhere, Gordon said, though it was first proposed several months ago by his colleague Rhys Kesselman.

The surtax would target foreign buyers who don’t contribute to the local labour market, as well as wealthy Canadian citizens who have “aggressively evaded taxes,” the report said.

And it would also be progressive, like income tax. The surtax would only apply to the value of a home over a certain threshold, the report said. The further you get from that threshold, the more the property is taxed.

“Most importantly, the tax would alter expectations,” Gordon wrote in the report. “Torontonians would come to recognize that subsequent demand for housing would be primarily local, not foreign, and thus that prices were likely to fall.”

Gordon noted that both the policies are related to demand in the housing market, as opposed to supply.

He noted while the number of active real estate listings in Toronto has declined in recent years, the number of new listings has stayed the same. In other words, the same number of houses are going on the market, they’re just getting snapped up quickly.

“This isn’t normal. A lack of supply isn’t causing this. It’s a surge in demand, and demand that’s beyond the normal growth of population, construction and new listings of homes,” said Cherise Burda, executive director at the Ryerson City Building Institute.

“I think often demand is overlooked by this cry for more supply,” she added. “We can’t build our way to affordability.”

But she said supply shouldn’t be ignored altogether.

“When you look at supply, it’s what type of supply you need to build.”

She said developers are largely building high rises downtown, and detached houses in the “suburban periphery,” far from transit, schools and services.

She said Toronto needs to build “missing middle housing”: townhouses, midrises and stacked flats.

Figures from the B.C. government show a drop in real estate transactions in the Vancouver area after the provincial government brought in a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers last August. However the market had been showing signs of softening prior to the tax after months of scorching sales.

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Brampton mayor condemns ‘hateful’ campaign against Muslim prayer in Peel schools

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

A campaign calling on the Peel District School Board to end the accommodation of Muslim prayer in schools has been condemned by board officials and Brampton Mayor Linda Jeffrey for spreading “hateful” misinformation.

At issue is the practice of Jummah, a Muslim congregational prayer held each Friday around midday.

Peel students have performed Jummah in school for several years, but a new religious accommodation policy enacted in January has sparked vitriol at school board meetings, a public protest and a petition.

“It’s been getting more aggressive with each passing day,” said Jaskaran Sandhu, spokesperson for Jeffrey’s office.

On Saturday, around 200 people held a march starting near Square One in Mississauga to demonstrate against “religious practices in public schools.”

Flyers advertising the march included contact information for Canada First, a group whose stated mission is to protest the federal Liberals’ “anti-Islamophobia” motion.

On March 6, self-described “concerned parents” launched an online petition demanding that the board “immediately discontinue . . . religious clubs and religious congregations of any religion.”

Gayathri Iyer, spokesperson for the petition’s organizers and the mother of two Peel students, said the petition was specifically inspired by concerns about Jummah.

The petition claims that “religious congregations” in schools lead to segregation, interruption of studies, increased costs to taxpayers, bullying of non-observant students, and “unsolicited exposure to religion” that could “create subconscious bias in the minds of impressionable children for or against a faith.”

Board spokesperson Brian Woodland called the petition “pure and deliberate misinformation,” and a “campaign against Islam, counter to . . . our own board values.”

“It has been frustrating and disheartening to see hatred and prejudice toward a single faith group disguised in a supposed campaign about religion in schools,” Woodland added.

Youtube videos taken at a town hall-style school board meeting in January show men named Eric Brazau and Ron Banerjee accusing Islam of promoting violent acts.

In 2014, a man named Eric Brazau was sentenced to nine months in jail for promoting hatred of Muslims and criminally harassing a Muslim family.

A man named Ron Banerjee runs Canadian Hindu Advocacy, a group previously described by the Star as “a militantly anti-Muslim organization.”

Neither Banerjee nor Brazau could be reached for comment.

Brampton mayor Jeffrey addressed “the recent misinformation and hateful speech surrounding the accommodation of Muslim prayers” in a written statement last week.

“Over the last two decades Muslim students in schools across the Region of Peel have been accommodated for Friday prayer,” Jeffrey wrote.

“The Ontario Human Rights Code mandates religious accommodation . . . Muslim students require a time to pray that may happen during a school day, and we must respect that — as we do any other religious requirement.”

The Ontario Human Rights Code states religious accommodations may be withheld only if they create “undue hardship” in the form of cost or health and safety risks.

“Letting Muslim students pray for 20 minutes in an empty space with the supervision of volunteer staff does not cause any financial hardship,” Jeffrey wrote.

The accommodation of Jummah in Peel schools gained public attention in 2016, when the board created a new policy requiring students to read from scripted, board-approved sermons.

Following a backlash from Muslim community members, the policy was overturned. In January of this year, the board issued a new accommodation policy allowing students to write their own sermons or choose from a bank of scripted ones.

“Regretfully there has been growing xenophobia against people of the Islamic faith being spread recently,” said Peel board trustee Nokha Dakroub, who supported allowing students to write their own sermons.

“I wonder if the renewed opposition to (Jummah) is a byproduct of that sentiment.”

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I Bought My 12-Year-Old A Smartphone And We’ve Never Been Closer

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

Lianne Castelino

Mom of 3, television journalist, entrepreneur, founder, healthcare communications

We flirted with fairness recently, opting to buy our daughter, the third of our three children, a cell phone for her 12th birthday. It was the only thing she asked for, and had been asking for quietly for at least a year — and likely longer.

We had previously bought cellphones for each of our boys when they were in grade 7 — because each was taking public transit to get to school.

(Despite that strong reason to purchase a cellphone, it was still something my husband and I grappled with mightily for a host of reasons, still not understanding why children need a mobile phone device on their person during the waking hours of each day.)

Our daughter got a cellphone in grade 6. It came on the heels of consistent outstanding achievements academically, athletically, artistically and elsewhere. The rationale and body of work made the decision a little easier to justify — only a little.

Needless to say she was elated when she opened the gift on her birthday. We all watched — parents, brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — as she carefully peeled back that final strip of birthday wrapping paper to reveal an iPhone (chosen only because it made sense with our family’s other Apple devices).

She was absolutely overcome. And with the pure innocence of a young girl covered her eyes and held her face for several seconds, as the tears began to flow. It was a raw, sweet moment that we will likely never forget.

One thing I didn’t give much thought to with this purchase and what has become a happy cellphone circumstance is getting to know my daughter even more — thanks to texting.

Let me stop here for a moment and declare that despite watching history unfold through our eyes every day when it comes to the type, range and quality of communications vehicles at our disposal — never before seen in the history of the world — many of us have a long way to go when it comes to the quality of our interactions.

I know plenty of people who hide behind emails, voice mails, call display — you name it and they’ve found new and annoying ways to avoid human contact.

I will go on the record as sounding happily old-fashioned when I say that face-to-face contact, conversation, interaction is something I value and will seek, wherever possible — except perhaps with people who like to hear their own voices, those who slip off onto wild tangents or those who either cannot submit a reasonable meeting agenda or stick to one (in the workplace environment).

There are plenty of valid reasons to be wary of social media, even have a healthy fear of it, if you are a parent. We all know what they are and we should continue to be vigilant. One of the positives is what you learn about your child through succinct, rapid-fire messages called texts.

The text is enabling a whole new level of understanding of each other (my daughter and I), and for now it could not be more fantastic!

In our particular case, she has an incredibly sharp wit, so you can find me peering down at my phone from time to time (usually after 3 p.m.) and laughing out loud when she recounts her school day in 10 words or less. It’s hilarious, quite frankly. That is ONLY if she did not have a day where she was “bored out of my eyeballs,” as she puts it!

In its own unique, almost unorthodox way, texting forces kids to focus on their message, get to the point, be clear about what they are communicating, ensure no confusion or else they might be stranded at the wrong movie theatre for longer than expected.

TRY to remember proper spelling (one can always hope, can’t one?). Even manners and politeness become part of this equation. When all of these things happen, you end up with a message that is more often than not a small little nugget of truth.

I would submit that you also get a glimpse into how a child thinks, reasons, plans, makes decisions, organizes themselves — all behaviours that many parents will argue they wonder about these days —- in the era of mass, reckless helicopter (overprotective) parenting and other curious parenting practices.

If my daughter or sons send me a text laden with mystery or intrigue or unanswered questions, I will check the time (if it’s a school day) and promptly call them to get clarification. It’s amazing what you may hear in that moment.

As a communications professional, I’m generally always fascinated by messaging, no matter who crafts it, how it is formed and what vehicle it is transmitted in. I find texting with my children, in a word, nothing short of — riveting.

With two older teenage sons, my husband and I continue to have the experience of learning about our boys through texts. I have to admit that with all three of them, my favourite texts are the sometimes unexpected ones that say “thanks Mom” or include some other message of gratitude.

Now with our daughter’s thumbs doing the talking, it’s a whole new and different world!

My understanding of emojis/emoticons, abbreviations/acronyms and text-speak have also expanded quite nicely, TY and LOL!

While never intended to replace conversation, a chat or discussion in our house, texting has proven to provide interesting insight into our kids, their character and personalities, and inevitably into how we parent, by deepening our understanding of what makes our kids tick in different situations and how they go about thinking their way through it — all by themselves.

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