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NDP critical of which ministries Ford downgrades

Posted on 05 July 2018 by admin

Energy, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, others to get part-time minister

QUEEN’S PARK –Today’s announcement that Doug Ford has downgraded the Ministry of Energy shows that he has decided to settle for the hydro system the way it is. The Ministry of Energy is now no longer its own portfolio – a decision that raises serious concerns for Ontario families and small businesses as the hot weather brings huge hydro bills and families brace for the coming 70 per cent increase to their bills due to the Wynne/Ford Hydro borrowing scheme.

“Doug Ford’s decision to make the Minister of Energy a part-time job is devastating for families who have been struggling for years to keep up with soaring hydro bills,” said NDP MPP-elect Sara Singh. “This decision shows that Mr. Ford is not planning to tackle the hydro mess that the Liberals left Ontarians in and leaves families who are already squeezed by sky-rocketing hydro bills to worry.

“The other government portfolios Ford is eliminating or collapsing give us all reason to worry about who will be hurt most by Ford’s across-the-board cuts.”

Ministries cut include Citizenship and Immigration and Research, Innovation and Science. Ministries collapsed into other portfolios or being overseen by a minister with other duties as well include, Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, Energy, Francophone Affairs, Community and Social Services, Status of Women, Housing, International Trade, and Northern Development and Mines.

The critical files of Children, Community and Social Services, Women’s Issues and Anti-Racism have all been downgraded into a single ministry.

Andrea Horwath and the NDP have committed to be a constructive official Opposition – but to fight hard on people’s behalf when Ford’s cuts impact health care, education, transit and services people rely on, and when Ford’s moves make life more expensive.

The NDP is also highly critical of the decision to eliminate the full-time minister overseeing the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation.

In Ontario, dozens of First Nations communities are under boil water advisories or orders, Indigenous communities often have poor access to basics like health care and First Nations schools are disadvantaged and underfunded. Indigenous youth suicide is an epidemic. Downgrading MIRR is a big step backwards – one that makes the future for First Nations and Métis children bleaker.

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Bitcoin too risky to go mainstream, central bank overseer says

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

LONDON—The Bank for International Settlements just told the crypto currency world it’s not ready for prime time — and as far as mainstream financial services go, may never be.

In a withering 24-page article released Sunday as part of its annual economic report, the BIS said Bitcoin and its ilk suffered from “a range of shortcomings” that would prevent crypto currencies from ever fulfilling the lofty expectations that prompted an explosion of interest — and investment — in the would-be asset class.

The BIS, an 88-year-old institution in Basel, Switzerland, that serves as a central bank for other central banks, said crypto currencies are too unstable, consume too much electricity, and are subject to too much manipulation and fraud to ever serve as bona fide mediums of exchange in the global economy. It cited the decentralized nature of crypto currencies — Bitcoin and its imitators are created, transacted, and accounted for on a distributed network of computers — as a fundamental flaw rather than a key strength.

In one of its most poignant findings, the BIS analyzed what it would take for the blockchain software underpinning Bitcoin to process the digital retail transactions currently handled by national payment systems. As the size of so many ledgers swell, the researchers found, it would eventually overwhelm everything from individual smartphones to servers.

“The associated communication volumes could bring the Internet to a halt,” the report said.

Researchers also said that the race by so-called Bitcoin miners to be the first to process transactions eats about the same amount of electricity as Switzerland does. “Put in the simplest terms, the quest for decentralized trust has quickly become an environmental disaster,” they said.

The BIS is weighing in at pivotal moment in the crypto currency story. Even as Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the New York Stock Exchange, and other institutions take steps to offer clients access to the new marketplace, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is cracking down on the offerings of new digital tokens, which it has found are rife with rip-offs. At the same time, cyber-attackers are hitting crypto exchanges regularly — just last week, Bitcoin nosedived after a South Korean exchange reported it was hacked.

The report may also revive concerns that for all its ingenuity, block chain transactions will get harder and harder to protect as it scales up. When this decentralized anonymous system was introduced in 2009, it quickly proved it could secure purchases by computer enthusiasts, networks of friends, as well as criminals in the digital black market, says a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit organization in Cambridge, Mass. Yet with supporters pushing to make it a mass market platform utilized by companies and governments, it may become too expensive to secure, concludes Eric Budish, the paper’s author and an economics professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The value of the cryptocurrency market has plunged 53 per cent this year to $280 billion (U.S.), according to CoinMarketCap.

The BIS did say that blockchain and its so-called distributed ledger technology did provide some benefits for the global financial system. The software can make sending cross-border payments more efficient, for example. And trade finance, the business of exports and imports that still relies on faxes and letters of credit, was indeed ripe for the improvements offered by Blockchain-related programs.

Still, the institution concluded that Bitcoin’s great breakthrough, the ability of one person to send something of value to someone else with the ease of an email, is also its Achilles heel. It’s simply too risky on a number of levels to try and run the global economy on a network with no centre.

“Trust can evaporate at any time because of the fragility of the decentralized consensus through which transactions are recorded,” the report concluded. “Not only does this call into question the finality of individual payments, it also means that a crypto currency can simply stop functioning, resulting in a complete loss of value.”

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2016-17 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey released

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

New results will help to ensure that policies are focused on areas of concern

OTTAWA, June 12, 2018 /CNW/ – Timely and reliable data are critical to developing evidence-based policies and programs that will help Canadians reduce the risks of substance use. Today, Health Canada published the results of the 2016-2017 Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey (CSTADS).

The national survey—which measures tobacco, alcohol and drug use among Canadian students in grades 7 to 12 (secondary I to V in Quebec)—provides valuable information that will inform approaches to addressing complex health and social issues such as the problematic use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, including opioids and cannabis.

The research was conducted on behalf of Health Canada by the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact at the University of Waterloo. The survey collected responses from more than 52,000 students and is a representative sample of the more than 2 million students of this age group in Canada.

The Government of Canada continues to take action to address substance use issues among Canadians. This includes:

•          Continued enhancement of the Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy;

•          Budget 2018 investments for a range of actions, over five years, to improve treatment, address stigma and expand the evidence base on problematic substance use;

•          Budget 2018 investments to enhance Canada’s Tobacco Strategy, a comprehensive, integrated and sustained tobacco control program aimed at reducing tobacco-related disease and death; and

•          Significant investments to ensure that Canadians have access to information to understand the health and safety risks of cannabis use.


“The health of Canada’s youth is of great concern to us all. As a long-time advocate, I understand the challenges of encouraging youth to focus on good health. This survey helps us understand where we need to do more to support youth so that they can make healthier choices. It provides a solid foundation of evidence for our future policies and actions to address issues of substance use among young Canadians.”

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor

Minister of Health

“All Canadians—especially our youth—deserve the opportunity to achieve optimal health, and to have a say in their own wellness. This is why the health and well-being of youth is a priority for me. These survey results shed light on how we can help youth address their unique health challenges and live long, healthy lives.”

Dr. Theresa Tam

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada


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Statement by Ruby Sahota on Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Imposed by the United States of America

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Ottawa, ON – As a Member of the Automotive Caucus and as a Member of Parliament for the city that is home to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, one of the largest automotive companies in North America, I will not stop fighting for the Canadian Automotive sector and the jobs it supports, especially here in Brampton. In response to the United States President’s decision to place tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, our government will impose dollar for dollar tariffs against imports of steel, aluminum, and other products from the US. We will challenge these illegal and counterproductive measures under NAFTA and at the WTO. Businesses in our community have spoken to me to express their concerns about these tariffs. We know that tariffs are not helpful to businesses and consumers on either side of the border. It will disrupt linked supply chains and impact both Canadian and US businesses. My door remains open to local businesses to discuss concerns you may have, and I invite you to submit feedback directly to the Government. The consultation will be open until June 15. The US is Canada’s close ally and friend, and these tariffs are an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the US. Our government continues to believe that common sense will prevail. We will always protect Canadian workers and Canadian interests and work to put an end to the US’ illegal and counterproductive tariffs.

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MP Sonia Sidhu Introduces Bill C-403, the Diabetes Awareness Month Act, in Parliament

Posted on 06 June 2018 by admin

Ottawa, ON – On Thursday morning, Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South and a Member on the Standing Committee on Health, presented Bill C-403, the Diabetes Awareness Month Act, to her fellow parliamentarians in the House of Commons.

Recognizing in its preamble that diabetes awareness and education can help people identify early signs of diabetes and thus prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, Bill C-403 would mark the month of November as Diabetes Awareness Month in Canada.

Currently, roughly 11 million Canadians suffer from diabetes or prediabetes with a new diagnosis being made every 3 minutes. Diabetes, a major cause of stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and lower limb amputation, places a large burden on Canada’s health care system with direct and indirect costs expected to grow to $15.9 billion by 2020 – up from 2010 levels of $11.7 billion.

“My colleagues and I have heard about the extreme hardships and enormous demands on our health care system caused by diabetes” said MP Sidhu in the House of Commons. “There is no reason why the country that gave insulin to the world cannot lead the fight to defeat diabetes”.

Bill C-403 is a continued part of MP Sidhu’s work in her fight against diabetes as Chair of the All-Party Diabetes Caucus and as a Member of the Standing Committee on Health.

With goals of encouraging Canadians to make healthy lifestyle choices and for Canadians to familiarize themselves with diabetes warning signs, this Bill follows MP Sidhu’s previous work with her municipal partners in proclaiming November as Diabetes Awareness Month and November 14 as Diabetes Day in the City of Brampton.

In March of 2017, MP Sidhu had put forward a motion to the Standing Committee on Health to study anti-diabetes strategies in Canada and other jurisdictions. As of this week, the Committee has begun its study and has heard from expert witnesses from Diabetes Canada, JDRF, Diabetes Action Canada, and the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association thus far.

MP Sidhu invites fellow Parliamentarians and Canadians alike to share their feedback, stories, and experiences with her as Bill C-403 progresses through the House of Commons.

Quick facts:

•         MP Sidhu is the Chair of the All-Party Diabetes Caucus and is a Member on the House of Common’s Standing Committee on Health. The All-Party Diabetes Caucus works through all parties to advance solutions on behalf of the 11 million Canadians living with diabetes or pre-diabetes.

•         World Diabetes Day is held globally every November 14th and is recognized as an official United Nations Day. Bill C-403 would mark November as Diabetes Awareness Month and overlap with this important day.

•         Throughout the summer of 2017, MP Sidhu embarked on consultations across Canada to receive input about healthy eating strategies and diabetes prevention and management, with feedback and recommendations being delivered to the Minister of Health.

•         On behalf of the Government of Canada, in May of 2018 MP Sidhu highlighted a $7.7 million investment into diabetes research that would support the clinical trials of ground-breaking therapies in order to accelerate the development of new treatments for people living with type 1 diabetes

•         As overweight and obese children are at an increased risk for the premature onset of type 2 diabetes, MP Sidhu rose in the House of Commons in support of Bill S-228, the Child Health Protection Act. Bill S-228 would amend the Food and Drugs Act to prohibit food and beverage marketing directed at children.

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Toronto’s new ward boundaries challenged in court

Posted on 30 May 2018 by admin

The fate of how Toronto’s 2018 election will be run rests in the hands of Superior Court Justice Katherine Swinton.

On Friday, in a sunlit courtroom on the second floor of Osgoode Hall just steps away from city hall, the judge heard arguments about whether the court should consider an appeal of the city’s new ward boundary structure.

In what may be an unprecedented move, the case contesting a city council decision, which was confirmed by a provincial tribunal, was brought by a sitting city councillor and a local resident.

A decision will be given at a later date.

Swinton’s judgment will be pivotal to how the municipal election on Oct. 22 will be run.

But there are pressing timelines. The nomination period for candidates to sign up and run for a council seat opens May 1 — just two months from now.

The city approved a 47-ward structure recommended by independent consultants in 2016, which would increase the number of councillors by three. That decision was affirmed by the Ontario Municipal Board, a provincial tribunal that has the final say in land-use disputes, in December. That came just before a deadline to have those ward boundaries take effect for the 2018 election.

There are now two issues that have been raised in court: Firstly, whether the court should hear an appeal of the OMB decision, and secondly, how the 2018 election should be run.

The legal team for Councillor Justin Di Ciano, who represents Ward 5 (Etobicoke Lakeshore) and Tony Natale, a real estate broker who lives in the Davenport area, argued Friday the OMB erred in its decision.

An appeal can only be heard on the basis that there has been a specific error in law.

The city’s lawyers argued that was not the case and that leave to appeal should not be granted by the court. They also argued the OMB’s decision was not appealable to the court at all.

Lawyer Bruce Engell, representing Di Ciano and Natale, also argued that the city failed to pass a bylaw confirming the number of councillors on council, which he says creates a “legal vacuum” where 47 wards could be in place but only 44 councillors elected. Toronto council is currently made up of 44 councillors and the mayor.

City lawyer Glenn Chu responded saying a bylaw confirming one councillor be elected per ward has already been passed. The city has asked the court to confirm how the election should be run: With 47 ward seats up for grabs.

None of those issues have been decided.

Di Ciano and Natale argue that a 25-ward structure, which follows federal electoral districts, is superior to the council-approved 47-ward structure.

The OMB earlier agreed with the city’s position that there were no “clear and compelling reasons” to overturn the council-approved 47-ward option.

Those arguments were rehashed in court on Friday.

“There’s no reason to doubt its correctness or reasonableness,” city lawyer Brendan O’Callaghan said of the OMB’s decision.

The 47-ward structure would see the area where Di Ciano’s family home is located cut out of the ward he currently represents. On Friday, he told the Star that did not factor into his decision to appeal the decision. He said he believes the 47-ward option was based on a flawed methodology.

A candidate does not have to live in the ward they wish to represent, they only have to be a resident of the city. Di Ciano won with 54 per cent of the vote in 2014.

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Ontario is most at risk in Great Lakes region to NAFTA disruptions, BMO reports

Posted on 23 May 2018 by admin

Ontario is most at risk among economies in the Great Lakes region to any NAFTA trade disruption as the Canadian province relies on U.S. exports for a quarter of its output, according to a report from Bank of Montreal.

“Its economy is arguably the most integrated with the U.S. through well-established supply chains,” said the report by Robert Kavcic, a senior economist at the bank.

Quebec by contrast has only about 11 per cent of its economy tied to U.S. exports, given its diverse shipments to regions such as Europe, according to the report presented Friday at the Great Lakes Economic Forum in Montreal. U.S. states in the Great Lakes region have much less to lose from the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, with areas such as Michigan relying on Canada and Mexico for about 7 per cent of gross domestic product.

The $6-trillion economy in the Great Lakes area will expand 2.2 per cent this year, up from 2 per cent in 2017, according to the report. That will top growth for Canada alone, which is pegged at 2 per cent. Michigan will have the fastest growth for the region, at 3 per cent, followed by Indiana at 2.6 per cent.

The Great Lakes area accounts for 30 per cent of the combined Canada-U.S. labour force and economic activity, and would be the third-largest economy in the world if it were a country, trailing only the U.S. and China, according to the report

“Uncertainty on the trade front is currently the biggest concern” for the region, according to the BMO report.

Senior trade officials from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are scheduled to resume talks in Washington on May 7 in a bid to reach a deal on a revamped NAFTA.

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OPP receive complaints after Thunder Bay Amber Alert sets off phones Ontario-wide

Posted on 17 May 2018 by admin

An Amber Alert for a missing 8-year-old put Ontario’s Emergency Alert system to the test Monday morning after the child was reported missing in Thunder Bay.

The alert was issued around 11:30 a.m. to phones across Ontario. A second alert, this time in French, was sent out shortly after. A third alert rang out around 1:30 p.m. after the child was found safe.

Test alerts were sent out to LTE enabled phones across eight provinces and two territories on May 9. A glitch in the messaging system caused problems for alert’s testing in Ontario, where only a small set of mobile users received the notification. In Quebec, no alerts were received.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ordered wireless providers to implement the system to distribute warnings of imminent safety threats, such as tornadoes, floods, Amber Alerts or terrorist threats.

“There is no opt out,” said CRTC spokesperson Patricia Valladao when contacted by the Star on Monday. “Given the importance of warning Canadians of imminent threats to their safety, life and property, it will not let you opt out of receiving alerts.”

Pelmorex Corp., the company that controls the service that disseminates amber alerts, said on their website that “the issuing government authority” of the alert decides which areas it’ll be sent to. OPP spokesperson Sgt. Carolle Dionne confirmed that the police form sent to the alert system has a checkbox to specify whether or not the incident warrants a “provincial alert.”

“People need to remember that it’s a quick alert that may potentially save a child’s life,” Dionne said. The OPP received numerous complaints from people about the alert causing disruptions.

The message lead to fervent discussion on social media, with many questioning the effect of an emergency alert issued across the province for an Amber Alert in Thunder Bay. Further concerns were raised on the impacts that the alerts may have on drivers who are startled by phones that were intentionally left on silent.

Martin Davies says he was at his work desk with his iPhone set to “do not disturb,” a setting that blocks incoming calls and text messages from disrupting the user. Davies was listening to music when the alert came in — loudly — through the headphones he was wearing. Later, Davies says he was driving to lunch when a second alert came in, this time over his car’s Bluetooth.

“All of a sudden it starts going off like crazy,” Davies said. “If someone was easily startled that could now cause distracted driving.”

The Alert Ready website notes in its FAQ section that a device set to silent will display an emergency alert, though may not play the alert sound.

“The emergency alert sound will usually play at whatever the current volume setting is on the wireless device,” the page reads. “However, this behaviour can differ depending on your wireless device.”

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Power outages continue in Toronto three days after vicious windstorm

Posted on 09 May 2018 by admin

Widespread destruction made process much slower, leaving as many as 600 people still without power Monday night.

The widespread destruction caused by a Friday windstorm made the process to restore power to people’s homes slower, leaving hundreds still without electricity more than 72 hours later, Toronto Hydro says.

“We had over 400 wires down across the city, and at one point we had 1,500 different outage events in the queue at the same time,” spokesperson Brian Buchan said.

Buchan said that the outages are individual incidents spread across the city, instead of a concentrated area, making it more labour-intensive than usual.

He said 630 people were still without power as of late Monday afternoon, and said Hydro Toronto is working to get that number to zero.

Buchan said he hoped to have the majority of people back with power Monday night, but it may take longer for people who have experienced major property damage.

Janine Smith said her apartment building in Downsview had been without power or water since Saturday. While it’s an inconvenience for her, it caused serious issues for elderly and disabled tenants.

“It’s annoying for me, it’s dangerous for other people,” she said Monday afternoon.

One of her neighbours is recovering from cancer, and is hooked up to medical equipment.

“His immune system is just wiped so he can’t leave his apartment,” she said. “And even if he could, he can’t take oxygen tanks and all of his equipment down 36 flights of stairs.”

Smith said some tenants left their apartments to stay with other people. Smith said she had to shower at her sister-in-law’s house on Sunday.

Toronto Hydro said power to her building had been restored by Monday evening.

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Calgary police constable gets jail sentence for assaulting suspect during arrest

Posted on 09 May 2018 by admin

Const. James Othen was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon after Clayton Prince was injured trying to run from police in July 2016.

CALGARY—A Calgary police officer who used excessive force against a suspect during an arrest has been handed a 90-day sentence.

Const. James Othen was found guilty of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon back in February for his role in a traffic stop where Clayton Prince was injured trying to run from police.

Prince suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a facial cut and significant bruising in the July 30, 2016, arrest.

Court heard that when Prince was in the cruiser, Othen dug the point of a key into Prince’s neck behind the ear.

The injury became infected and required medical attention.

Othen, who is suspended, will begin his sentence later this month and will serve his sentence on weekends.

Two other officers who were charged in connection with the arrest were acquitted.

Prince told the trial that he ran because he had been at a music festival and had been smoking marijuana prior to the traffic stop.

After he was pulled over, he jumped out of his vehicle and ran through a nearby restaurant.

Prince said three officers caught him, placed him in handcuffs and proceeded to punch and kick him.

Othen testified in court last fall that his adrenaline was pumping and he feared for his safety as he and about a half dozen other officers were trying to take down Prince.

He said at one point Prince started to move toward officers, so he thought there was going to be a fight.

Charges against Prince of resisting arrest and possession of marijuana were later stayed.

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