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Data suggests elevators in Ontario are proving increasingly dangerous

COLIN PERKEL, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, May 15th, 2017

A sign is taped to a door of an elevator in a downtown Toronto office building on July 13, 2016. A private member’s bill that aims to tackle the major problem of unreliable elevators appears to have gained some traction on both sides of the aisle as the proposed Ontario legislation heads toward its first debate. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

 

From bumps and bruises to amputations and even death, data suggests elevators in Canada are proving increasingly dangerous.

In the past six years, six people have been killed and 1,225 people have been injured, including 69 permanently, in elevator mishaps in Ontario – which accounts for close to half of Canada’s elevators – according to the Technical Standards and Safety Authority, which regulates the devices in the province.

The TSSA data shows the number of incidents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016, rising at an average rate of about 14 per cent a year. Serious injuries have been increasing annually by eight per cent.

To be sure, the thousands of residential and office elevators in service are generally safe, and deaths and serious injuries related to their use are relatively rare. Still, data obtained by The Canadian Press paints a disturbing picture of what can go wrong when people use a device most take for granted.

Many mishaps, data indicates, relate to levelling issues: when an elevator fails to stop flush with the floor despite TSSA stipulations that elevators should display “stopping accuracy.”

“Out of level: Lady cracked her toes when she tripped into elevator,” one TSSA investigation report states. “Member of public watched four people within 15 minutes trip,” states another. “Lady tripped going in elevator; broken nose, broken thumb,” according to another.

The authority identifies numerous causes for the problems, including shoddy maintenance and failure to follow the rules. However, the bulk of incidents – 75 per cent – are blamed on “user behaviour.”

“The most prevalent occurrences are related to doors, either by impact when entering or exiting the elevator or while trying to prevent elevator doors from closing,” the TSSA says in its annual report. “Factors such as distracted users are identified as primary causes for such occurrences.”

Whatever the reasons, some incidents might be categorized as truly terrifying.

In March 2015, an 86-year-old Ottawa man had his legs amputated after a faulty elevator crushed them in a seniors’ co-op building. He died a short while later. “Man got legs pinned between car and hall sill, amputation of legs,” the report states. What caused the mishap was never clear, the TSSA said.

Other incidents range from toddlers getting fingers and hands trapped, and electrical fires erupting, to devices that drop and stop suddenly and unexplained losses of critical hydraulic oil.

“Day-care: Five children on a tethered nylon strap. Two got in elevator, three outside elevator. People rescued them. No injuries,” one report states. “Man with dog tried to kick dog leash into elevator and caught foot between doors and fell broke his arm.”

In another case, an elderly woman got into the elevator at her seniors’ residence. “(She) was in there for 20 hours before they found her,” according to the report.

Sometimes, parts aren’t secured properly: “Position-indicator panel in the car came loose and swung down and hit tenant in the face; cut to face.” Or: “Ceiling fell on passengers; little girl got a goose egg, and mother two-centimetre cut on finger.”

Electrical fires originating in circuit and controller boards are not unusual, the reports show.

“Bottom right side of controller had flames that melted wires,” one report states.

Between 2008 and 2016, TSSA inspectors examined 2,942 occurrences across Ontario. Given that some incidents go unreported – potentially in violation of regulations – the number is likely higher.

Still, the odds of being killed are 800 times higher in a car – 35 times higher in an airplane – than in an elevator, according to the TSSA. That might come as cold comfort to those hurt in elevators or the thousands of Canadians trapped in one every year due to a malfunction.

Sometimes, reports show, vandalism gets the blame.

“Someone tampered with controller; beer sprayed over it causing it to short out and caused contaminated parts,” one inspection report notes.

Other recorded incidents stray into the bizarre or even comical:”Male leaving elevator tripped while carrying pies, hit the hall wall; various body parts sore,” and “Valet retrieving car left it in gear. When he got out, it crashed into door. It bent and came off track.”

Bomb squad detonates suspicious device at Etobicoke school

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, May 15th, 2017

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A bomb squad has successfully detonated a suspicious device found at St. Eugene Catholic School in Etobicoke on Sunday evening.

After moving the device to a safe location, they attempted to “disrupt” the device twice, without success. It exploded with a loud bang on the third attempt, with sparks and flames continuing to burn for a short while after the detonation.

The school was empty at the time and no evacuations were deemed necessary.

John Yan, the head of communications for the Toronto Catholic District School Board said the incident will not impact classes on Monday.

He added that a number of measures will be in effect at the school overnight, including a security watch that will remain on site throughout the night.

A meeting will be held before classes commence on Monday morning to advise school staff about the incident. A counselling team will also be on hand should any students have questions or concerns regarding the incident.

Six fire trucks, police and a CBRNE team responded to a call regarding a suspicious device at St. Eugene Catholic School around 5:15 p.m.

The call was made by a local area resident who allegedly saw three teenage boys playing with the device in the school yard.

The man reportedly confronted the youths and they ran away, leaving the device behind.

Toronto Police say the device appeared to be homemade. It was approximately the size of a soccer ball and was wrapped in duct tape with a fuse attached.

The contents of the device are unknown, but tests will be conducted to determine if it was dangerous. Depending on the test results, charges could be laid pending further investigation.

Investigators are searching for the three teenagers first seen with the device. They are described as white males, approximately 14 years old and carrying backpacks.

40 Mother’s Day gift ideas from our BT hosts

BT Toronto | posted Friday, May 12th, 2017

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Kevin, Dina, TK and Frank each share their top ten gift ideas for mom this Mother’s Day!

Kevin: 

  1. Flowers
  2. Candy
  3. Spa day
  4. Mani/pedi
  5. Breakfast in bed
  6. Homemade gift certificates
  7. Day off
  8. Shopping spree
  9. Picture of her made of macaroni
  10. Homemade gift basket with her favourite things

Bonus:

  1. Books and tea
  2. Bath salts/candles/favourite music download

Dina: 

  1. Hug her
  2. Say you love her
  3. Give her a day of rest
  4. Do the laundry
  5. Clean the house
  6. Make her dinner
  7. Wash dishes
  8. Put away dishes
  9. Go for a walk together
  10. Repeat once a month!

TK: 

  1. Mani
  2. Pedi
  3. Bikini wax
  4. Blowout
  5. Makeup application
  6.  Blouse/top
  7. Skirt/Pants
  8. Heels/shoes
  9. Handbag/accessories
  10. Glamour shots/photo shoots

(Bonus: And a date with George Clooney).

Frank: 

  1. Roses
  2. Hydrangeas
  3. Ageratum
  4. Petunias
  5. Pansies
  6. Mandevilla
  7. Orchids
  8. Weed the garden
  9. Mulch the garden
  10. Cut her lawn

Fiat Chrysler recalling approximately 1 million trucks in North America

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, May 12th, 2017

ELMHURST, IL - JANUARY 12:  Ram 1500 trucks are offered for sale at a dealership on January 12, 2017 in Elmhurst, Illinois. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today accused Fiat Chrysler Automobiles of cheating on its diesel emissions software to get better fuel economy for about 100,000 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel pickups and diesel-equipped Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ram 1500 trucks are offered for sale at a dealership on Jan.12, 2017 in Elmhurst, Illinois. GETTY IMAGES/Scott Olson
Fiat Chrysler is recalling approximately 1 million trucks in North America due to a software glitch that could prevent side air bags and seatbelts from deploying during a rollover.

The company’s U.S. division said Friday that it is aware of one death, two injuries and two accidents that may be related to the problem.

The recall includes some 2013-16 Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups and 2014-2016 Ram 3500 pickups. It also affects about 216,007 vehicles in Canada, 21,668 in Mexico and 21,530 outside the NAFTA region.

After some trucks experience significant underbody impact, a computer module may incorrectly determine that one of its sensors has failed, temporarily disabling the side air bag and seat belt pretensioner, the company said.

If the vehicle is turned off and then back on, those restraints become functional again.

The company plans to reprogram the software in effected vehicles free of charge. The recall is expected to begin June 23.

PC critic calls Ontario hydro prices ‘debt retirement charge on steroids’

NEWS STAFF AND THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, May 12th, 2017

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A Progressive Conservative critic says the “Clean Energy Adjustment” that’s eventually to be added to hydro bills is nothing more than a revamped debt retirement charge.

New legislation introduced by the Liberal government will mean lower hydro bills for Ontarians for the next 10 years, followed by higher costs for the next 20 after that.

PC Todd Smith says it still boils down to a new charge being on bills, and he calls it a “debt retirement charge on steroids.”

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault says the goal is to better spread out costs over a longer term, much like a mortgage on a house.

The new legislation,called the Fair Hydro Act, was introduced by Kathleen Wynne’s government on Thursday. Queen’s Park promised to lower electricity bills by 25 per cent on average — but it came out on the same day a leaked internal cabinet document has revealed Ontarians’ bills will rise again in four years.

Starting in 2022, the average bill is projected to go up 6.5 per cent every year. In 2028, it will jump 10.5 per cent, bringing the average amount to about $215 a month compared to this year’s average of $123.

“For any confidential document, I can’t verify it, but what I can tell you is the number is inaccurate,” Thibeault said.

“We are working hard right now to continue to pull costs out of the system.”

But Smith, the energy critic, said the minister was briefed on the leaked document.

“It’s a real document,” he said. “The minister … when asked about the price of electricity in 2024, said he didn’t have a crystal ball. But it’s right there in black and white in that document.

“The average price of electricity — is it going to go down next year compared to this year? Yes. But we’re going to see those rates soar to heights that we’ve never seen in Ontario, as a result of the plan that the government has brought forward.”

Electricity bills in the province have roughly doubled in the last decade, and have sparked increasing anger among Ontarians, leading to plummeting approval ratings for Premier Kathleen Wynne ahead of the 2018 election.

Ten weeks after announcing its plan to lower hydro bills, the Liberal government has introduced its legislation to lower time-of-use rates, take the cost of low-income and rural support programs off bills, and introduce new social programs.

Time-of-use rates are being lowered by removing from bills a portion of the global adjustment, a charge consumers pay for above-market rates to power producers.

For the next 10 years, a new entity overseen by Ontario Power Generation will pay that difference and take on debt to do so.

Then, the cost of paying back that debt — which the government says will be up to $28 billion — will go back onto ratepayers’ bills for the next 20 years as a “Clean Energy Adjustment.”

“Like the mortgage on your house, this regime will cost more as we refinance over a longer period of time, but this is a more equitable and fair approach when we consider the lifespan of the clean energy investments, and generating stations across our province,” said Thibeault.

NDP critic Peter Tabuns called it a “get-through-the-election” next June plan.

“We’re going to take on a huge debt so Kathleen Wynne can look good on the hustings in the next few months and for decades we’re going to pay for it,” he said.

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Metrolinx moves to Plan-B for its LRT train delivery: reports

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, May 12th, 2017

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An LRT pilot vehicle sits at Bombardier facility west of Kingston on Feb. 22, 2017. CITYNEWS/James Tumelty
Metrolinx has inked a deal with another manufacturer to provide vehicles for the Eglinton and Hurontario LRT projects according to several published reports.

The Globe and Mail and Toronto Star both report the transit agency has signed an agreement with Alstom as a back-up to its contract with Bombardier.

Metrolinx has expressed concern over Bombardier’s ability to deliver working prototype vehicles in time. It’s lack of confidence in Bombardier led the agency to try and get out of a $770-million deal it signed back in 2010.

The first trains were scheduled to arrive in the spring of 2015 but none of the vehicles have been delivered so far.

Neither Metrolinx or Bombardier have commented on the reports but Ontario transportation minister Steven Del Duca will reportedly confirm the deal on Friday morning.

Recall of pie and tart shells expanded due to E. coli contamination

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, May 12th, 2017

pie-shellmain
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is expanded a recall for pie and tart shells, including these products, on May 11, 2017. CFIA
A recall for pie and tart shells issued last month has been expanded.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) warns that the products were sold across Canada and may be contaminated with E. coli.

The expansion affects four products sold at three locations in Ontario: The Briwood Farm Market at 1030 Talbot St. in St. Thomas, Lynn’s Bakery & Deli at 2190 Dundas St. in London, and Lenover’s Quality Meats & Seafoods Ltd. at 525 Park Ave. E. in Chatham.

Click here to see the four products.

Click here to see the link to the original list of products.

United passenger claims she was forced to ‘pee in a cup’

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Thursday, May 11th, 2017

FILE - In this July 8, 2015, file photo, a United Airlines plane, front, is pushed back from a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. United Airlines announced Friday, June 24, 2016, that the company has tentatively negotiated a new contract for its 25,000 flight attendants, who will hold a ratification vote. If approved, the agreement between United and the Association of Flight Attendants would let the airline mix cabin crews from United and Continental Airlines, which merged in 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
United Airlines plane, front, is pushed back from a gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

United Airlines is denying that its staff told a Missouri woman to urinate in a cup rather than leave her seat to use the restroom on a flight from Houston.

In a Facebook post, Nicole Harper says the airline “forced me to pee in a cup… and then shamed me” while on a flight last month to Kansas City, Missouri.

Harper says that while other passengers were allowed to get up and use the restroom, she was told she would be unable to do so until the pilot turned off the seat belt sign.

“After explaining that I have an overactive bladder and would either need to use the restroom or pee in a cup, I was handed a cup by flight attendants,” she said.

“You would think peeing in a cup on an airplane in front my family and strangers, would be the worst part of this story. But the way I was treated by the flight attendants afterwards was worse.”

While Harper says the incident happened less than 30 minutes into the flight, United says it was during descent.

The incident happened on the same day David Dao was dragged off a separate United flight for refusing to give up his seat. However, Harper says she attempted to resolve the issue through the airlines customer service department. But after several weeks of what she claims was no response, she decided to go public with details of her account in the hopes that “this goes viral.”

United said in a statement it has reached out to Harper to “better understand what occurred.”

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