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CTCN_WEB_PIC_TORY_TTC_UPDATE_2018JAN29

Hop-on, hop-off TTC transfer to be part of city’s 2018 budget

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Jan 30th, 2018

Most of us have been there — you take the TTC for a quick errand, hop off for a few minutes and then get right back on, having to pay another fare for the quick trip.

But Mayor John Tory announced Monday that some long awaited relief is on the way for busy transit riders, with hop-on-hop-off transfers on the TTC being included in Toronto’s 2018 budget.

The proposed time-based transfer would give transit riders two hours to hop off and then back on to a bus, streetcar or subway on a single fare. It’s aimed at giving people the option to run errands or make quick stops on their way to and from home, work or school. The program will cost $11 million and is set to roll out by August.

Tory says the program will make life more affordable and increase ridership. “It gives people flexibility and gives them options at no additional expense,” he said.

Other TTC initiatives in the city’s 2018 budget include: a fare freeze, adding elevators to more stations and working towards the implementation of a ‘Fair Fare Pass’ — likely a discounted pass for those who cannot afford to take transit at it’s current prices.

York-Bay-Yonge ramp opens after reconstruction

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jan 29th, 2018

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The new York-Bay-Yonge exit ramp was officially opened Sunday afternoon, bringing some relief to drivers on the eastbound Gardiner Expressway into the city.

After nine months of demolition and reconstruction, drivers will once again be able to access Lower Simcoe and Harbour Street from the Gardiner.

Another part of the major overhaul that began last April included widening Harbour Street from three to four lanes between Lower Simcoe to Bay Street.

The $30 million project was part of the $700 million investment made by the City in 2017 to upgrade and renew aging infrastructure in the Toronto.

The new ramp features automated anti-icing spray technology – a first for the city. The system relies on weather and road condition data to determine when to apply a special biodegradable solution to the ramp’s surface, to prevent the formation of ice.

Mayor John Tory was on hand to cut the ribbon and officially open the ramp, along with Jaye Robinson, chair of the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee.

The final touches will be completed in the spring, when the weather improves and will include permanent traffic lights, the final coat of asphalt and installation of planters and other streetscape elements on Harbour Street.

Change is needed to encourage women to enter politics, says Trudeau

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jan 29th, 2018

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Thwarting inappropriate behaviour amongst those who wield power and building on international trade agreements are both essential elements to creating a better country, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday as he rallied his party’s caucus.

A day before Parliament was set to resume sitting after its winter break, Trudeau told Liberal MPs that change is needed to encourage more women to enter politics.

“Add women, change politics is how we will make a better country,” Trudeau told the gathering as he referenced a women in politics social media campaign the prime minister said was more than just a hashtag.

“Sexual harassment is a systemic problem. It is unacceptable.”

His comments came as the recent fast-paced movement against sexual misconduct, which saw the resignations since Wednesday of the Progressive Conservative party leaders in Ontario and Nova Scotia, was felt within the federal Liberal caucus room.

Absent from the meeting was Trudeau’s former sport and persons with disabilities minister, Kent Hehr, who resigned last week after being accused of sexual misconduct while he was a member of the Alberta legislature.

While Hehr remains a member of the Liberal caucus, the Prime Minister’s Office said he decided not to attend the meeting.

Had he been there, however, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould said she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable by his presence.

“Sexual harassment on the Hill is a very serious issue, and we need to take it seriously,” she said.

“But we also need to make sure that we’re allowing due diligence.”

Other Liberals, however, struggled over questions of why Hehr was allowed to remain in caucus while a fellow Alberta MP, Darshan Kang, resigned from the party’s caucus last summer after being accused of sexually harassing two female employees in his office. Kang has denied the allegations.

Members of Parliament were expected to debate legislation Monday, Bill C-65, which would strengthen sexual harassment protections for federal employees, including those working on Parliament Hill.

As Sunday’s caucus meeting began, Trudeau also boasted about last week’s signing of a new, comprehensive international trade agreement — known as the CP-TPP — that he said included significant gains for Canada over the former Trans-Pacific Partnership approved by the previous Conservative government.

The prime minister said his government hopes to make similar gains during negotiations of a new North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Mexico.

As the sixth round of talks to reach a deal were wrapping up in Montreal, Trudeau also set aside nonpartisanship over NAFTA, accusing the Opposition Conservatives of being willing to bend to U.S. demands for changing the pact.

“They wanted us to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership with no improvements,” Trudeau said of the Tories.

“And if they had their way, we’d give into American demands on NAFTA.”

While visiting Washington earlier this month, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his party was united with the Liberals in seeking an updated NAFTA. Scheer has in the past, however, accused the Trudeau government of not properly spelling out a plan for the NAFTA talks.

From weed to wages: Ontario marijuana producers hit by minimum pay rate hike

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Jan 29th, 2018

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It’s not just coffee chains and restaurants under pressure from Ontario’s minimum wage hike — marijuana companies say the higher provincial pay rate is driving up the cost to produce and sell cannabis products as well.

Aphria Inc. says if the new $14 per hour minimum wage had been in place during its latest quarter, this would have raised its all-in costs to sell dried cannabis by 12 cents, or nearly six per cent, from $2.13.

The Leamington, Ont.-based cannabis producer adds in recent financial documents that the mandatory 21 per cent pay hike from $11.60, which took effect Jan. 1, will add another $600,000 to its overall wage costs each year.

When the provincial minimum wage goes up to $15 in 2019, Aphria says it expects overall company wages to go up by another $300,000 per year.

Newstrike Resources’ chief financial officer Kevin Epp says the southern Ontario-based pot producer anticipates its all-in costs to sell cannabis will rise by roughly 10 cents per gram due to the provincial wage hike.

Beacon Securities analyst Vahan Ajamian says the higher provincial pay rate will make it more difficult for marijuana producers in Ontario and other provinces with rising minimum wages to compete with those in Quebec, where both labour and power costs are lower.

The Weeknd, Alessia Cara among Canadian winners at the Grammys

The Associated Press | posted Monday, Jan 29th, 2018

Alessia Cara accepts the award for best new artist from Nick Jonas at the 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018, in New York. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

Alessia Cara’s dreams of winning a Grammy Award are no longer confined to her bathroom shower.

The Brampton raised singer accepted the award for best new artist – the first Grammy of her career – at Sunday night’s televised ceremony.

Cara told the audience she’s been “pretend winning” Grammys in the shower since she was a kid.

She then encouraged people to “support real music and real artists,” saying that “everyone deserves the same shot.”

While other Canadians like Drake, Alanis Morissette and Justin Bieber have been contenders for best new artist, none of them emerged victorious.

It’s been a stellar rise for Cara, who swept through the Juno Awards nearly two years ago, winning breakthrough artist.

Since then she’s appeared on a number of big hits, including Logic’s suicide prevention anthem “1-800-273-8255,” which is nominated at the Grammys for song of the year.

Prior to the telecast, The Weeknd’s “Starboy” picked up a Grammy for best urban contemporary album.

It’s the third career Grammy for the global superstar from Toronto.

He’s among a group of Canadians who scored golden gramophones in a pre-telecast ceremony where most of the awards are handed out.

Leonard Cohen’s song “You Want It Darker” won a Grammy for best rock performance. The track appears on the Montreal singer-songwriter’s final album of the same name.

Nova Scotia soprano Barbara Hannigan’s “Crazy Girl Crazy” picked up a Grammy in the best classical solo vocal album category. It’s the first Grammy win for the contemporary opera singer.

Charles Moniz of Burlington, Ont. shared a Grammy win earlier in the ceremony for “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, which scored best engineered album, non-classical.

Kesha wows at Grammys

Kesha gave a passionate performance at the Grammy Awards with the help of powerful women behind her, including the Resistance Revival Chorus.

She was joined by Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and Bebe Rexha for her Grammy-nominated song, “Praying,” on Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Dressed in white, they won over the audience and hugged at the song’s end as some audience members cried, including Hailee Steinfeld.

Kesha, who earned her first pair of Grammy nominations this year, has been in a legal war with former producer and mentor Dr. Luke. Janelle Monae introduced the performance with strong words.

“We come in peace but we mean business. To those who would dare try to silence us, we offer two words: Time’s Up,” Monae said. “It’s not just going on in Hollywood. It’s not just going on in Washington. It’s here in our industry, too.”

Before the performance, Maren Morris, Eric Church and Brothers Osborne performed an emotional rendition of Eric Clapton’s “Tears In Heaven” – written after his son died – in honour of the 58 people who died at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year. The names of the victims were displayed behind them as they performed.

The performances were two of the show’s serious moments. Dozens of artists and music industry players also sported white roses in support of the Time’s Up and #MeToo movements against sexual abuse and harassment.

Doug Ford to make announcement on Monday

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Jan 29th, 2018

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Doug Ford will make announcement on Monday, leading to speculation he may be interested in running for leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

Ford will make a brief statement just after noon and will not be taking questions.

Last September, Ford announced that he would be throwing his hat into the Toronto mayoral election this year to continue his brother’s legacy and take on current mayor John Tory.

This isn’t the first time Ford’s name has come up in provincial politics. In 2014, Ford announced that he wouldn’t be running in the provincial election, but instead would be helming his brother’s re-election campaign for mayor.

A Forum research poll released on Friday found that Ford and Christine Elliot were favourites to replace former PC Leader Patrick Brown.

Last week, the Tories picked Vic Fedeli has their interim leader following Brown’s resignation after allegations surfaced of sexual misconduct.

Mayor Tory’s name has also been dropped when it comes to potential candidates to head the provincial PCs.

The Ontario PCs will select a new leader sometime before March, ahead of the spring election.

No fare hike in TTC’s proposed 2018 operating budget

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Nov 15th, 2017

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Welcome news for TTC riders. The transit body released its proposed 2018 operating budget Tuesday and it does not include a fare hike.

The TTC had increased cash fares every year for six consecutive years.

The TTC’s budget committee, which meets on Friday, will be looking for an additional $37-million subsidy on top of the more than half billion dollars it already receives from the city.

The TTC says the $37-million is actually less than the original $86-million request which was considered during the start of the budget process.

The TTC says the subsidy increase will enable them to maintain current service levels even without a fare increase. But don’t expect more buses on the roads, in fact, in some areas you can expect less as the Toronto York Spadina Subway extension starts to replace those routes once it begins operating in December.

Bombardier’s delay in delivering the Light Rail vehicles also means the TTC is saving cash on some jobs it can’t fill until the vehicles get there.

The TTC’s budget is $1.8-billion but its a budget that has a lot of optimism.

There’s $4-million budgeted for paid emergency days, a proposed measure from the Liberals that would give employees two paid days for personal crisis. However, that estimate is based on how many employees took unpaid days last year – a number that is likely to climb when they’ll be able to afford to take the time off.

The budget also hasn’t factored in any of the other proposed changes such as extended paternal leave and increased vacation times after years of service, changes that will increase labour costs.

The budget is also banking on passengers making the move to PRESTO slowly. So far, only 12 per cent of riders have made the switch. Every two per cent costs an additional $1.1-million in transitional costs so a sudden spike to 50 per cent would cost the TTC at least $20-million.

The budget also assumes Bombardier will deliver enough Light Rail vehicles to cover several routes completely. If that doesn’t happen, then costs will climb.

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