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Students outraged over banned washroom breaks

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 15th, 2017

Historically washroom breaks have been an excuse for some students to get out of class.

Michael Power – St. Joseph High School in Etobicoke believes they have the perfect solution: banning washroom breaks during class time.

Now, students are raising questions about their personal privacy.

According to Grade 12 student Paul, it’s like being in “JK all over again.”

“In order for us to go to the washroom and be let out of class, we have to call down someone (to the class) to escort us to the washroom.”

In an email the Toronto Catholic District School Board confirms, “In some instances, students may have been accompanied by admin staff to the washroom as part of the regular monitoring of hallways to ensure that students do not miss out on class time.” They go on to say, “Staff are being asked to monitor the length of time the student is absent.”

The students CityNews spoke with confirm faculty are escorting students to the washroom but not into the washroom to the best of their knowledge. However, Grade 11 student Juliano says it still makes him feel “uncomfortable.”

“I don’t want someone watching me and knowing how long I take in the washroom or how long I’m there,” he said. “It’s just weird.”

Grade 12 student Silvia calls the washroom protocol “embarrassing,” going on to say that if students want to waste time going to the washroom instead of spending it in class learning, “it’s their own loss wasting their time.”

Ontario’s education Minister Mitzi Hunter weighed in, noting the school climate is something that is “extremely important.”

“We want every student that walks into the school to feel safe and included and that they belong in that school and that includes that the students voice is heard. So in this specific incident it’s important that the educators listen to the student voice.”

Human rights lawyer Caryma Sa’d told CityNews there are issues with the school’s policy.

“In my view, it’s treading in the territory of violation or privacy and human dignity to be watched, monitored or timed when using the washroom,” she said. “Or to even need to seek permission in the first place.”

4 dead in Hydro One helicopter crash in eastern Ontario

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 15th, 2017

OPP and Hydro One trucks stand near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

With little daylight at their disposal and a deep freeze setting in late Thursday, investigators quickly scoured the wreckage of a deadly helicopter crash in eastern Ontario.

None of the four Hydro One employees on board the Aerospatiale AS350-B2 chopper survived the crash, which happened shortly before noon, police said.

Parts of the aircraft were scattered over a snow-covered field outside Tweed, north of Kingston.

While provincial police confirmed the four deaths, and said that next of kin had been notified, the names of the victims were not released.

Darkness and a cold front that saw wind chill temperatures drop to near minus 30 eventually forced investigators to wait until first light on Friday to continue their probe into why the helicopter went down.

“We will document the scene, photograph the scene, gather as much information at the scene as we can,” Transportation Safety Board investigator Peter Rowntree said as Ontario Provincial Police cordoned off the crash site for the night.

“At some point the wreckage will be removed to another facility so we can examine it in a warmer climate.”

Crews had been ferried by helicopter in and out of the area for weeks as they worked on hydro lines strung on the towers that cross the property, said Kim Clayton, who lives near the crash site and grew used to hearing choppers fly back and forth.

Clayton said there was no indication of any trouble until a loud crash shook the house. She scrambled to a window, where she said she saw part of the chopper in the trees that surround an open field. Other hydro crew members were running around, yelling that a helicopter had crashed and to call 911, she said.

“My heart started pounding in my chest,” said Clayton, 45, who moved onto the property just six weeks ago. “I was in panic mode.”

Initially Clayton didn’t think the situation was that bad but then she said she feared for the worst when she saw ambulances turn away without transporting any of the chopper’s crew.

“I then said to myself, ‘They’re not coming out of this’.”

The helicopter was apparently heading for a landing, Clayton said, adding she was relieved it didn’t hit anyone on the ground or her horses, which were on the other side of the field.

Clayton, whose husband was away and children in school, said she choked up when the orange tape started going up and she realized just how bad it was.

“They have families, it’s almost Christmas time,” Clayton said. “I still can’t believe four guys died on this property today and it’s sad.”

The Tweed fire department and several provincial police cruisers responded to the crash but there was little they could do. Ontario’s air ambulance service was also called to the scene but left without loading any casualties.

In a statement, Hydro One expressed its condolences to the victims’ families.

“We are deeply saddened to confirm that an incident involving one of our helicopter aircraft occurred in the Tweed area and has resulted in four fatalities,” Hydro One said in a statement.

The utility also said it would do what it could to help employees and their families affected by the tragedy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his sympathies.

“Tragic news from eastern Ontario today,” Trudeau tweeted. “My deepest condolences to the loved ones of those killed in the helicopter crash near Tweed.”

Rowntree said investigators would be looking at a wide range of factors to determine a possible cause of the crash, including photographic evidence of the wreckage.

With a file from News Staff

OPP and Hydro One trucks stand near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

OPP and Hydro One trucks stand near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

An OPP truck stands near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. TWITTER/OPP

An OPP truck stands near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. TWITTER/OPP

An ambulance stands near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. TWITTER/OPP

An ambulance stands near the site of a Hydro One helicopter crash near Tweed, Ont., on Dec. 14, 2017. TWITTER/OPP

EXCLUSIVE: Mom launches $240M lawsuit against school board after girl restrained

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 15th, 2017

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An Etobicoke woman has launched a $240-million lawsuit against the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, claiming battery, infliction of mental suffering and negligence after her 11-year old daughter allegedly came home bruised and beaten after staff used restraints on her.

Last April, Karen Marr told CityNews she had pulled her daughter Charlie out of school because she was being restrained “every day or every other day.”

Charlie has a severe intellectual disability that results in a cognitive delay, and Marr enrolled her in a special education class with partial integration in the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, although she lives in Toronto.

Mother and daughter started the long commute last year, staying with Marr’s mother in Haliburton, after Marr was advised Kawartha could best address Charlie’s needs.

Charlie’s records from February, however, show she is regularly put in a restraints by a group of teachers.

Reasons include “not allowed to do something she wanted to do” and “setting events that occurred before school.”

Marr claimed she has never been given full explanations from the school, although she admitted she signed a “safety plan” that gives permission to staff to use restraints in certain circumstances.

Physical restraints are allowed in schools across the province, usually to prevent assaults or for self-defence. Although most boards have a “no touch” policy for teachers to students, the rules for special education differ greatly.

“They are telling me that these restraints are going to be used across the board, no matter where she goes,” Marr said.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) has guidelines for how restraints are used with exceptional students, cautioning against repeated use.

A union document advises “this can lead to a familiarity with physical interventions that engenders a routine or ease with physical intervention, not because it is always required. but because it is familiar and feels effective.”

Marr believes restraining Charlie has become the school’s go-to solution, and they use up to five staff members to hold Charlie down. The lawsuit claims it’s been used as punishment rather than a last resort.

“There’s nothing that Charlie could ever do that would warrant that kind of force and five people holding her down,” Marr said.

“From the evidence that I’ve seen, bruising was significant all over her body,” explained lawyer David Rose who is representing Marr and Charlie in the claim.

“The worst incidents alleged [were] on Feb. 24, where she came home and not only did she have bruising but she had burst blood vessels in her eyes and in her cheeks, and that was concerning enough for her mother that she hasn’t sent her back to school since.”

The lawsuit alleges Charlie is too traumatized to return to class.

In its statement of defence, the school board denies the allegations and claims Charlie’s “attention-seeking mechanisms such as hitting, kicking, scratching, spitting and biting” necessitated the safety plan.

A 2009 Board document says “the intent of any restraint is to calm down the situation” and “physical restraint is only used in situations where there is a physical aggression and as a last resort when someone presents a danger.”

“Should a child come home multiple times with bruises and burst blood vessels in the eye?” Rose said. “The answer is ‘no,’ and I can say that as a father and as a lawyer.”

The Board declined comment because the matter is before the courts. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

SIU investigating senior Peel police officer over sexual assault allegations

CityNews | posted Friday, Dec 15th, 2017

The Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Mississauga. CITYNEWS

The province’s Special Investigations Unit has been called in to look into allegations of sexual assault against a high ranking Peel Regional Police officer.

The incident allegedly occurred back in May.

The SIU will not confirm the name or rank of the police officer or any other details pertaining to the allegation.

The senior officer has been suspended pending the results of the investigation.

City inspectors return to probe your recycling

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 14th, 2017

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This past summer, the city launched a pilot project and sent out inspectors to see exactly what people are putting in their blue bins and warning them that if it’s contaminated with materials that shouldn’t be in it.

Toronto’s Solid Waste Management Services division is now prepared to go through the second round of the project in order to curb the amount of garbage found in the recycling system.

“We collect 204-thousand tonnes of recycling a year and last year 52-thousand tones of that was garbage” Jim McKay, general manager of the division, said.

Some households received a “Dear Resident” letter last week from McKay, reminding them what should and shot not go in the blue bins.

  • Tips include the following:
  • Empty and rinse food containers before tossing them in the Blue Bin. Food scraps go in the Green Bin
  • Don’t throw out clothing, blankets and shoes, instead donate them
  • Do not put any black plastic in the Blue Bin (food containers, trays, packaging, hot drink cup lids) – Those belong in the Garbage Bin

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“Right now we’re spending around a hundred thousand (dollars) on the program,” McKay explained.

“The cost of having half a dozen staff in the field going bin to bin is nothing compared to the actual cost of the issue.”

According to McKay, 26 per cent of the city’s recycling system is contaminated. Every percentage point the city can bring it down saves between $600,000 to $1,000,000.

“If we get it down 10 per cent or 15 per cent we’ll save more than 10 millions dollars a year,” McKay said.

“We spend six figures to save seven.”

In some cases, notices are put on bins upon inspection, telling the resident what’s wrong with their recycling, and explaining why it won’t be collected until the next scheduled collection day after it’s been properly sorted.

According to Emily Alfred, waste campaigner for the Toronto Environmental Alliance, this type of direct feedback approach has been very effective in other cities around the world.

She says the key to recycling the proper materials is to first recycle knowledge.

“I think the city could spend more on education, but we also need to look at the fact that recycling rules change,” says Alfred.

“Each city has different recycling rules … In Mississauga you can’t recycle Styrofoam, so it can be confusing for someone who lives there but works in Toronto.”

The Solid Waste Management Services is working on better educating the public when it comes to recycling. It’s also looking at stricter ways of getting the message across.

“We hope we don’t have to get (to the point of) actually charging someone or levying a fine against someone for doing the wrong thing, but we have had discussion on what that might look like,” he explained.

McKay also said it’s still early days but they’ve seen some good results. The city hasn’t released any formal reports yet, but based on what they’ve seen the plan is to continue the pilot project.

McKay said anyone who wants to learn about proper recycling should consult the city’s online Waste Wizard or check their recycling calendar to see what goes where.

Ontario creates green home renovation rebate program

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 14th, 2017

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Homeowners who complete energy-efficient renovations will be eligible for thousands of dollars in rebates under a new program announced by Ontario’s environment minister Wednesday.

Chris Ballard said the government will use $600 million over four years from cap-and-trade proceeds to establish the rebate program through a provincial agency called the Green Ontario Fund.

But energy critic Tom Adams says the program is a distraction from the real problem facing consumers: rising hydro costs.

“It’s a way of establishing public acceptance for the rising cost of power — ‘Yes, the cost of power is going up, but conservation is going to solve the problem,’” he said of the government’s line of thinking.

“That’s not how the math works, but it’s how the PR works.”

The program offers up to a $7,200 rebate for new insulation, up to $5,000 for new windows, and up to $20,000 for new ground source heat pumps.

“Those funds are being re-invested in programs like this where we’re helping business, we’re helping homeowners fight climate change and save money,” Ballard said.

The program launched online Wednesday at GreenOn.ca. In order to access the rebates, homeowners must hire a contractor who has been screened by the Green Ontario Fund.

The new program comes after an August commitment to provide thousands of free smart thermostats to homeowners, a promise that Ballard acknowledged has rolled out more slowly than the government would have liked. Only 1,000 of the devices have been installed to date.

“The response was overwhelming,” he said. “We’ve upped that now. We’re going to be installing by springtime 140,000 thermostats. It’s a matter of making sure we have the qualified installers.”

Ballard also used the announcement to take a shot at Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown’s plan to scrap cap and trade if the Tories win the election next spring and replace it with a carbon tax system.

“All of it would be lost if the province were to adopt a Brown carbon tax,” he said. “Their program doesn’t invest in Ontario.”

PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said the minister’s claim isn’t correct, adding that the Tory plan would maintain all existing Liberal spending, including the program announced Wednesday.

“In our plan, we have $1.5 billion kept to make sure that all of the programs that are announced are kept in place,” he said. “It’s obvious that the minister is playing politics instead of actually looking at our platform before he critiques it.”

The government said buildings generate nearly a quarter of the province’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Ontario has pledged to cut greenhouse gas pollution to 15 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, 37 per cent by 2030 and 80 per cent by 2050.

With files from News Staff

Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts sold to MLSE

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 14th, 2017

Toronto Argonauts players hold the Grey Cup as the team holds a Cup winning rally in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square, on Tuesday, November 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The Toronto Argonauts are joining the Toronto Maple Leafs family.

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment announced Wednesday it has an agreement to buy the Grey Cup champions.

There was already some cross-ownership. MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum’s holding company, the Kilmer Group, jointly owned the Argonauts with Bell Canada.

Plus the Argos play at MLSE-operated BMO Field, home to the newly crowned MLS champion Toronto FC.

“Under its current ownership, a transformed Argonauts football club enhanced its presence and fan base in Canada’s largest sports market and ultimately marched to the CFL championship,” MLSE president and CEO Michael Friisdahl said in a statement. “We look forward to building on the Argos’ strong momentum as we welcome the team to the leading provider of sports and entertainment experiences in Canada.”

The sale is expected to close in January 2018, according to MLSE.

Approval from the CFL board of governors would not seem to be a problem

“On the heels of a stunning Grey Cup showdown with the Calgary Stampeders that highlighted the sheer excitement of Canadian football, we’re thrilled that the Argonauts will be joining the MLSE roster,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, said in a statement. “We welcome MLSE to the CFL and look forward to working with them to further enhance the experience for Canadian football fans.”

Founded in 1873, the Toronto Argonauts are North America’s oldest continuously operated professional football club

Along with the Maple Leafs, MLSE also owns the AHL’s Marlies, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC of MLS.

Here’s a timeline look at the companies and individuals who have made their mark on the Argos boardroom – for better or for worse.

ARGONAUT ROWING CLUB – 1873-1956

The Argonauts began in 1873 as a team for members of the rowing club who were also rugby enthusiasts. They claimed their first Grey Cup title in 1914 and would win nine more before being sold to a consortium including Ontario businessman John Bassett.

JOHN BASSETT AND THE DARK AGES – 1956-1974

Bassett was part of the Argos ownership group in some form for almost 20 years, buying the team outright through his Baton Broadcasting media company. The team failed to win a Grey Cup under his watch, and he sold the team to Canadian hotel magnate William R. Hodgson for $3.3 million in 1974.

Interestingly Bassett’s son, John F. Bassett, was awarded a World Football League franchise, the Toronto Northmen, that same year. The team made a splash by signing former Miami Dolphins stars Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick and Paul Warfield, but protectionist legislation to insulate the CFL proposed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s government forced the team’s relocation to Memphis.

CARLING O’KEEFE AND THE END OF THE GREY CUP DROUGHT – 1976-1988

After originally coming in as a partner, brewer Carling O’Keefe bought out the rest of Hodgson’s shares of the team in 1979. Success on the field followed as the Argos won their first Grey Cup in over 30 years when they beat the B.C. Lions 18-17 in the 1983 title game. Carling O’Keefe sold the team to Canadian businessman Harry Ornest in 1988 due to an impending merger with Molson.

MAKING A SPLASH – THE MCNALL, GRETZKY AND CANDY ERA – 1991-1994

Ornest sold the Argos to the high-profile trio of Los Angeles Kings owner Bruce McNall (60 per cent), NHL legend Wayne Gretzky (20 per cent) and star comedian John Candy (20 per cent) for $5 million in 1991. The trio made an audacious impact, signing impending top NFL draft pick Raghib Ismail for an eye-popping $18.2 million over four years. The CFL had a salary cap of $3.8 million per team that would have been obliterated by Ismail’s contract alone, but the bulk of his salary came through a “personal services contract” through McNall Sports And Entertainment.

The Argos won the Grey Cup in 1991, but Ismail’s contract turned out to be an albatross, and with McNall facing mounting financial problems (he was convicted of fraud in 1997 and spent four years in prison) the trio sold the team to the more stable Labatt Brewing Company, through its TSN network, for $4.5 million in 1994.

MONEY PIT – THE SHERWOOD SCHWARZ YEARS – 1999-2003

The Argos won two Grey Cups during the Labatt years, but low attendance combined with the brewer’s sale to a Belgian company had the team looking for an owner yet again in 1999. If the team was losing money before Schwarz took over the team, it was hemorrhaging it by the time he left. The team’s debt ballooned to $20 million, with Schwarz’s own money counting for $17.4 million of that number. The CFL was forced to revoke Schwarz’s bankrupt franchise and take over the team in 2003.

LOCAL HEROES AND A SILENT PARTNER – HOWARD SOKOLOWSKI, DAVID CYNAMON AND DAVID BRALEY – 2003-2015

Local businessmen Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon rescued the Argos, purchasing them from the league for $2 million in November 2003. The perceived stability paid instant dividends, with the Argos winning their 15th Grey Cup title in 2004. But losses continued to mount as the duo sold the team to David Braley in 2010. Already owner of the B.C. Lions, Braley now owned almost a quarter of the teams in the league. It was revealed by all parties and then-commissioner Mark Cohon that Braley had been helping Sokolowski and Cynamon bankroll the team since they took it over from the league.

Braley proved to be a capable caretaker of the team, owning it for another five years before selling it to two thirds of the MLSE triumvirate, Bell and Larry Tanenbaum’s holding company Kilmer Sports. With Rogers now on board the Argonauts appear to be in safe hands again.

GTA college students plan walkout on Friday

CityNews | posted Thursday, Dec 14th, 2017

Students gather outside the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday November 1, 2017, as they protest against the ongoing strike by Ontario college faculty members. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Some college students in the GTA say they are planning a symbolic walkout on Friday.

In a Facebook post, the group Ontario Students United said they are planning to walkout on what would have been their last day of the fall semester, before the college faculty strike.

Nearly 25,700 full-time Ontario college students received tuition refunds after the five-week strike derailed their semester.

Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education confirmed Tuesday that 10.3 per cent of Ontario’s roughly 250,000 full-time college students asked for, and received, their money back after the strike.

The government ended the strike in November with back-to-work legislation passed in a rare weekend sitting at Queen’s Park.

Photo credit: Mohammad Ali FACEBOOK

Photo credit: Mohammad Ali FACEBOOK

Organizers said students at Centennial, Sheridan, and George Brown, as well as other colleges across Ontario, have committed to take part.

The walkout is expected to take part between noon and 2 p.m.

With files from The Canadian Press

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