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Canadian mayors look to Ottawa for new partnerships

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Mayors of Canadian cities have won partnerships with Ottawa and provinces on housing and transit.

After big wins with Ottawa on transit and social housing funds, the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities want partnerships on mental health supports and fighting the opioid crisis.

Mayors John Tory of Toronto, Valérie Plante of Montreal and Gregor Robertson of Vancouver hopped off a new Toronto streetcar early Thursday to talk with reporters and look at the King St. transit-prioritizing pilot project.

The trio then strolled to the Front St. convention centre for a full day of closed-door meetings with 19 other mayors from across Canada.

Their Federation of Canadian Municipalities caucus has gained clout in recent years, amid international recognition of urbanization and the Trudeau government’s commitment to long-term partnerships with cities rather than the one-off federal pledges of the past.

“We’ve made huge progress in recent years, particularly thanks to the new federal government – the Trudeau government have been stronger partners on transit, on housing specifically,” Robertson said. “We’ve come to the table with resources too.”

But while they work to get money flowing on those two priorities, cities are looking for other challenges they can tackle with Ottawa and their respective provinces.

Tory said he asked that mental health be added to the mayors’ agenda because the issue affects all cities and encompasses homelessness and the need to operate shelters, substance abuse, policing and public health. “We need a partnership” with senior governments, he said.

The federal government also needs to co-ordinate a “pan-Canadian response,” to the overdose crisis, added Robertson, whose city is Ground Zero for Canada’s opioid epidemic.

In an interview after several of meetings, Robertson elaborated on the need.

“Public health questions loom large because vulnerable populations cluster in our cities because that’s where our services are,” he said.

“But without real, functional partnerships with the provinces and the feds, we’re on the receiving ends of those challenges. So we’re talking about ‘How do we position cities as partners for the next round of breakthroughs beyond housing and transit?’”

The mayors also debated how to make cities more financially self-sufficient, and less reliant on property taxes, so they don’t have to lean heavily on other governments, Robertson added.

Options include lobbying for a share of income or sales taxes, which grow with the economy and reward cities for innovation, he said, “but there isn’t a consensus for one tool that would work for all of the 22 mayors around the table.”

The Montreal mayor, elected earlier this month in an upset win over incumbent Denis Coderre, said she was eager to meet her mayoral colleagues and learn from them.

Elected on a pro-transit platform, Plante was enthusiastic about her ride on a Toronto streetcar.

“I’m pleased I was able to get in a streetcar just to see what are some of the solutions we can put together, because mobility is the key to social and economic developments in our city…” Plante said. “It’s fast. It’s comfortable.”

An aide to Plante, however, said her transit priority is a campaign promise to build a 21-kilometre extension of the city’s subway system.

 

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Below freezing temperatures expected to return mid-week

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

After a week of mild temperatures, cold weather will be back later this week with temperatures dipping down below zero.

Get your parkas and scarves back out. Environment Canada is forecasting flurries with the temperatures dipping below the freezing mark starting Wednesday.

The weather agency is calling for above seasonal temperatures to start off the week. Expect a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 10 C and a low of 8 C on Monday.

You’ll need your umbrella on Tuesday with rain and wind in the forecast. A high of 9 C is predicted, falling to 4 C in the afternoon. There’s a 30 percent chance of flurries with a low of -3 Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday, the cold returns with the mercury only hitting 0 C. It will be a mix of sun and cloud with a 30 percent chance of flurries. Temperatures will dip down to -6 in the evening.

Thursday and Friday will be a mix of sun and cloud with 30 percent chance of flurries for Thursday and Friday as well. Temperatures will continue to hover around the freezing mark with a high of 1 C on Thursday and -2 C on Friday.

For TFC fans planning to attend the MLS Cup Final on Saturday, you better bundle up as the forecast suggests the high will only be -1 C, dipping down to -5 in the evening. It will be mainly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of flurries.

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College students missing entrance exams, apprenticeship hours

Posted on 01 December 2017 by admin

Five-week long job action took its toll, opposition parties demand government help

Paralegal students at Toronto’s Centennial College will earn the required hours in time to write their accreditation exams — though things are not as clear for those at other institutions.

From career entrance testing to required hands-on training, Ontario college students have been left struggling to catch up after a five-week strike by faculty that has forced semesters to be extended to make up for lost time.

Centennial “is actively working on semester recovery planning” for those in the paralegal program, said Véronique Henry, who chairs the college’s centre for legal and administrative studies. She noted that the school’s weeklong break in October meant students missed fewer classes because of the job action.

“Depending on the length of the strike, strategies for the paralegal program may include scheduling classes in the evening and/or on weekends, as well as extending the semester end dates. These strategies will ensure that paralegal students have the opportunity to meet the instructional hour requirements for this program, and can then be permitted to apply to write the law society licensing exams.”

At Queen’s Park, however, New Democrat MPP and education critic Peggy Sattler warned she’s been hearing from frantic students who are unsure about their future after the government introduced back-to-work legislation to end the strike.

“We are now learning that because of the extended semester, some students wishing to write their paralegal entrance exam with the law society won’t be finished in time for the February exam sitting — putting students behind by at least six months,” Sattler said Thursday at the legislature.

“Given the fact that the Liberal government sat on the sidelines for five weeks and did nothing to help prevent or resolve the strike, is the premier working on a solution for these students?”

Sattler also said she’s worried about students in co-op programs and those with on-the-job training requirements that won’t be met.

The College Student Alliance said it has reached out to the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development for answers.

Minister Deb Matthews — who noted the NDP delayed passage of the legislation that forced instructors back on the job — said “colleges are working very hard to make sure that students are able to successfully complete” their semester.

“We have been working with students throughout the strike and following the strike to make sure that we can be there to offer as much support as possible to get students back on track,” she also said.

The NDP has also criticized the government for its hardship fund — from monies saved by the colleges during the strike — as being inadequate to meet student needs. In a city like Toronto, the maximum $500 would not even cover rent, said Sattler.

Matthews said the student alliance is supportive of the fund — a first “in the history of post-secondary education strikes” — and the government’s efforts.

“This has been very, very difficult for students, for faculty members, for employers in the community who were looking forward to having those students working in their organizations,” Matthews said. “The strike was tough. It had a big impact. We’re doing everything we can to support students to get back into the classroom and back on track for their careers.”

During the strike by 12,000 faculty members, classes were cancelled for as many as 500,000 students starting Oct. 16, and resumed Nov. 21.

 

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Police now ticketing drivers who break King Street Pilot rules

Posted on 24 November 2017 by admin

Const. Clint Stibbe said violators could be fined $110 and lose two demerit points.

Drivers caught violating the rules of the new King Street Pilot project will be fined, Toronto police say.

Const. Clint Stibbe of the Toronto Police Service’s traffic unit has said that, starting Monday morning, police would be handing out fines – not warnings.

He said on Twitter over the weekend that “thousands” of warnings had been issued to drivers who violated the rules of the new pilot project during last week’s grace period.

Drivers caught breaking the new rules will be fined $110 and receive two demerit points on their license, Stibbe said.

Police haven’t kept track of the exact number of informal warnings they’ve handed out to drivers. But Sgt. Brett Moore said “in the thousands is fair.”

He added that, despite the number of warnings, he has been “pleasantly surprised” at the number of people who are following the new rules.

 “The compliance, actually, is very good,” he said.

The new rules make it illegal for drivers to go straight through the length of King St., between Jarvis and Bathurst. New signage will encourage drivers to make right-hand turns off of King St., leaving the centre lane relatively open for streetcars.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross previously told the Star it will likely take several weeks for everyone to adapt to the changes.

City staff have said that giving streetcars right-of-way will allow for more efficient movement of people downtown, because the majority of commuters who travel along King St. use transit. It also reduces car traffic and allows cyclists to ride down the curb lanes.

The pilot went into effect on Nov. 12 and is expected to last for a year.

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Canada Earns Bragging Rights in the G7 with its Top-Notch Economic Performance

Posted on 24 November 2017 by admin

 (Mississauga) Saturday, November 18, 2017— Peter Fonseca, Member of Parliament for Mississauga East-Cooksville, spent this constituency week connecting with local small business owners within our community, listening to the views and perspectives about the economy.

“Our economy will grow by 3.1 per cent this year. That’s the best result of any Group of Seven (G7) countries.”

MP Fonseca says “A strong economy is a proof of the hard-work done by Canadians; the government is committed to helping those that work hard for their success.”

The government is fulfilling its commitment to lower taxes for small businesses from 11% to a 9 per cent by 2019.

The combined federal-provincial-territorial tax rate for small business will be the lowest of any G7 country. Small business owners can expect savings of up to $7,500 annually.

Marcus from Nova Pastry & Bakery told MP Fonseca “hard work pays off. A lower tax rate will mean we can focus on growing and staying competitive.”

Canada has had a nice steady job increase.

Statistics Canada has released information that on average the economy is creating over 25,000 jobs per month, for a total of approximately 500,000 in the last two years. The government looks for small businesses to create jobs, a key source of good local jobs in communities across Canada.

Paul Tavora, owner of Tavora Foods, stated “I’m happy that the government has provided small business owners with a new tax break, I will be able to hire more employees.”

Unemployment in October was down to 6.3 per cent from 7.0 per cent just a year ago, the lowest it has been since 2008.

New legislation has delivered a reduction in the second personal income tax bracket from to 20.5 per cent from 22 per cent, while boosting the tax rate to 33 per cent for top earners, creating a tax cut that benefits the middle class.

Blue Ribbon Automobile Centre’s owner – Peter – was optimistic “it’s a competitive market out there, only the hard working and honest businesses survive, we welcome these changes.”

Businesses like these, and ones all around Mississauga East – Cooksville are the backbone of our community providing their goods and services and good quality jobs for our residents.

The measures which have been introduced in the past two years are designed to empower small business owners, strengthen the middle class Canadians to support local small businesses, and allow citizens across Canada to begin saving for their future.

“Our plan to invest in our people and in our communities is working. Canada’s economy is growing faster than it has in a decade, allowing us to do even more to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. With lower taxes on small business, more support for parents, and more money in the pockets of low-income workers, are working to grow the economy in a way that benefits all Canadians. And that is exactly what Canadians sent us here to do.”

-The Hon. Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance

“I want to thank all constituents that took the time to time to consult with me on the proposed changes. I know that lowering the small business tax will ensure that small business owners in Mississauga East – Cooksville have more money in their pockets at the end of the year so they can save, invest in themselves, create more jobs and grow our economy”

- Peter Fonseca, MP Mississauga East – Cooksville

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Patrick Brown Promises to Roll Back Increased Minimum Wage

Posted on 24 November 2017 by admin

 

Ontarians Would Earn Less under Conservative Scheme

Well, he’s finally shown his true colours.

Patrick Brown has promised to roll back the $15 minimum wage and kick the increase down the road another four years.

Brown confirmed his plan to delay a pay increase for low-income earners while speaking at a York Region Business Breakfast overlooking the 18th green at a golf course today.

Even with the audience, he should know that Ontarians who are working full-time yet are struggling to pay rent, put food on the table or care for their families can’t afford to wait. For them, delaying a minimum wage increase is the same as denying one. And under the Conservative roll-back scheme, they’ll earn less.

That’s not fair.

The Ontario Liberal plan is different, phasing in a $15 minimum wage over 18 months. By tying increases to inflation afterwards, Ontarians could be earning upwards of $16 by 2022 too.

This ensures more workers are benefiting fairly from Ontario’s economic growth literally years before they would under the Conservatives. Together with free tuition, rent control, and OHIP+, our plan is another step towards increasing fairness and creating more opportunity.

In voting against and standing opposed to these progressive policies, the Conservatives are doing exactly what Ontarians expect of them.

Only the Ontario Liberals are willing to fight for fairness, standing with those who worry about falling behind even as they work so hard to get ahead.

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City staff recommend 5 per cent water rate increase, 2 per cent garbage increase

Posted on 09 November 2017 by admin

Council will vote to set the 2018 rate-supported budgets later this year.

The City of Toronto is proposing to bump garbage and water rates up by the same amount next year as it did in 2017.

The rate-supported budget process for 2018 kicked off Friday, with councillors discussing a proposed 2 per cent increase in single family home garbage rates and a 5 per cent increase in water rates.

The same increases were approved in 2017.

“Over the last nine years we’re running around a 1.6 per cent rate increase average, so we are trailing the rate of inflation year over year,” Jim McKay, general manager of solid waste management services, told the budget committee Friday.

The starting point for garbage rates, which still have to be debated and set by council, are a 2 per cent increase or $4.99 more for small bins; $6.06 for medium; $8.23 for large; and $9.55 for extra-large. The new rates would be $254.66 for a small bin; $309.14 for medium; $419.85 for large; and $486.99 for extra-large.

The recommended rates would see a 1 per cent increase for multi-residential pick-up and 5.2 per cent for most other solid waste services.

McKay warned the city is stepping up efforts to reduce blue bin contamination and eyeing the possibility of fining repeat offenders.

Staff are recommending council continue with a plan to increase water rates by 5 per cent next year.

Council voted in 2015 to amend the city’s 10-year capital plan to increase the water rate by 8 per cent in 2015-2016 and 5 per cent in 2017-2018 to cover $1 billion in previously unfunded capital projects.

The budget committee meets again next Friday and will hear from the public. Council will vote on the rate-supported budget at its Dec. 6-7 meeting.

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Census confirms Brampton’s growth, youth and diversity

Posted on 03 November 2017 by admin

Brampton, ON – Wednesday’s Statistics Canada’s 2016 Census release, as well as findings from earlier this year, confirms Brampton’s strong growth, youth and ethno-cultural diversity, making it attractive for business and government investment.

Highlights:

• Brampton’s growth continues to be driven by immigration, as over 52 per cent (308,790 people) of its population was born outside of Canada, a two per cent increase from the 2011 Census.

• The City celebrates a diverse population that represents people from 234 distinct ethnic backgrounds, up from 209 reported ethnic backgrounds in 2011.

• Brampton ranks fifth nationally for percentage of immigrants making up total population, behind Richmond (BC), Markham, Richmond Hill and Mississauga.

“Brampton’s growth, youth and diversity is really remarkable – making our city truly unique in Canada. Brampton is an exciting and dynamic place to live and work,” said Mayor Linda Jeffrey. “People from around the world are choosing to live here. Business and all levels of government are recognizing that growth through targeted investment in our city.”

Quick Facts:

• February’s 2016 Census release on population showed almost 40 people choose to move to Brampton every day.

• Brampton’s growth rate is double that of the Region of Peel’s, three times greater than Ontario’s, and two-and-a-half times greater than Canada’s growth rate.

• With a net increase of almost 70,000 people since the 2011 census, Brampton is the second fastest growing community of Canada’s largest 25 cities.

• May’s 2016 census release on age showed that Brampton’s continues to rank among the youngest large cities in Canada:

• Brampton has an average age of 36.5, compared to an average age of 39.7 for the Greater Toronto Area, 41.0 for the province, and a national average age of 41.0.

• August’s language data release highlighted Brampton’s diversity, as the number of languages spoken in Brampton rose to 115 from the 89 reported in the 2011 census.

Recognizing its young and growing population, the Province of Ontario has committed to supporting a new university in Brampton, bringing innovative approaches to skills development needed to build the workforce of tomorrow.

Understanding demographic trends helps the City plan investments and development to compete on a global stage. Brampton recently launched a public engagement campaign to tap into its unique demographics for input on creating a planning vision, to help position Brampton as a North American leader in urban planning and design and build a connected, inclusive, innovative and bold city.

For more detailed census information on Brampton, visit www.brampton.ca/census

 

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Canadian involved with human smuggling arrested

Posted on 05 July 2012 by admin

A Canadian, accused of organizing the MV Sun Sea human smuggling operation has been arrested at Toronto’s Pearson airport after arriving on a flight from Germany. The RCMP had been looking for Nadarajah Mahendran since June 6, when he and two others were charged in connection with smuggling 492 Sri Lankan asylum seekers to Canada from Southeast Asia in 2010. The former Toronto convenience store owner and alleged alien smuggler had left Canada after being questioned by authorities. He traveled to Sri Lanka, his birthplace. While he was away, police issued a warrant for his arrest. He was taken into custody last Monday, after his flight landed in Toronto.

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Federal judge rules IRB erred in case of Pakistani refugee claimant

Posted on 27 June 2012 by admin

A federal judge has ruled that the Immigration and Refugee Board made a mistake in denying the claim of a Pakistani man who sought refuge in Canada on the grounds that his wife’s parents set police on him because they disapproved of their marriage. The judge said it was unreasonable for the IRB to suggest that the man could “live in hiding” in another part of Pakistan. He cited a corrupt police force and the high number of “honour crimes” committed against couples who marry in defiance of parents’ wishes in countries like Pakistan. As Nadir Saleem’s wife’s parents did not approve of their relationship, the couple fled to the city of Mardan and took refuge with the family of a friend. They married in 2007. Subsequently, his wife’s parents lodged a complaint against Saleem that resulted in charges of abduction and rape being filed against him. Saleem fled to Canada and sought protection.In reviewing his case, an IRB adjudicator suggested that Saleem could reside in the cities of Multan or Mardan — “Internal Flight Alternatives” — which are more than 400 kilometres from Sialkot.Saleem applied for a judicial review of that decision, arguing at a hearing in Calgary that it was wrong for the IRB adjudicator to suggest his in-laws and police were not actively searching for them.

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