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Peel school board looks to rid the classroom of racism

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017

The Peel District School Board says it soon will be sending its own teachers back to school to address issues of racism and discrimination within its own ranks.

The move comes after two reports painted a troubling picture of deep-rooted discrimination at Peel Region District School Board schools towards black students.

“This is where training is good, but training is only a one-stop shop,” said Poleen Grewal, associate director of instruction and equity at Peel District School Board. “We’re also looking at where did it start? How do people experience and see black youth generally, so I think it is an education for everybody.”

The board says its managers, directors and school principals will take part in two half-days of anti-black discrimination training this year. Teachers and support staff will follow next year.

The move comes after a 2015 report commissioned by the advocacy coalition called FACES of Peel found many black youth said they felt unwanted, devalued and socially isolated in school. Many also felt they were being streamed to applied verses academic courses based on their skin colour.

The FACES report, launched after violent incidents in recent years in both Peel and Toronto, was followed in 2016 by a PDSB report, which came to similar conclusions.

It’s something now-Grade 12 student Liban Osman said he experienced himself in middle school.

Osman says he was in line to accept an academic award when he was barred from entering a classroom and questioned by a teacher.

“All the students were lining up outside the room to accept our certificates and me and my friend, who is also black, we were near the end of the line,” he said. “Me and my friend were both stopped at the door and we were asked whether we won an award. And we were confused and we were both like, “Ya?”

The honour roll student, who hopes to attend the University of Waterloo next year for math, says he was immediately hurt by the teacher’s actions.

“Inside, I felt like the teacher thought I didn’t fit in with other students academically and I wasn’t able to achieve some of the accomplishments that other students could which really demoralized me at that time,” he said.

The PDSB says it has developed a four-part action plan to address its own problems racism, including training for staff, community consultations and the creation of an advisory council made up of parents, black students and board members.

Sharon Douglas, director of community for the United Way of Peel Region, an organization that co-authored the FACES report, applauds the board for its actions thus far.

“I think part of that change that needs to take place is building the trust within the community,” Douglas said. “They’ve opened the doors and said, ‘We want to hear.’”

Osman, who sits on the newly created We Ride Together advisory council, has recommendations of his own.

“Personally I’d like to see teachers to be a little more sensitive that racism is an issue,” he said. “It’s one of my goals to see a world where blacks, white, whatever colour you are, to live in harmony to not really have to deal with discrimination day in and day out.”

Video of pedestrian being struck prompts police warning on road safety

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017

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A disturbing dashcam video showing a young person being struck by a vehicle while racing to catch a bus has prompted police to reiterate an age-old warning; look both ways before you cross the street.

The video, shot by Christopher Drost, shows two young people dashing across Parkside Drive just north of The Queensway on Sunday night at around 6:20 p.m.

In an apparent rush to catch an approaching TTC bus, they narrowly avoid a vehicle in the southbound lane before a northbound vehicle crashes into one of them, sending him flying through the air.

Despite the violent collision, the young man wasn’t seriously injured and walked away from the scene.

Drost said he felt compelled to share the footage on his Facebook page.

“Driving home tonight (I) witnessed the kind of thing that would make any human cringe,” he wrote. “Watching two young adults run across the road to catch the bus. Except they weren’t paying attention to traffic … nor was the driver paying attention to the two running.”

“(We) pulled over and immediately went over to assist. Was really fearing the worst. The guy was remarkably fine with a monster goose egg on his head and some nasty scrapes…And didn’t want to go to the hospital.”

A disturbing dashcam video showing a young person being struck by a vehicle while racing to catch a bus has prompted police to reiterate an age-old warning; look both ways before you cross the street.

The video, shot by Christopher Drost, shows two young people dashing across Parkside Drive just north of The Queensway on Sunday night at around 6:20 p.m.

In an apparent rush to catch an approaching TTC bus, they narrowly avoid a vehicle in the southbound lane before a northbound vehicle crashes into one of them, sending him flying through the air.

Despite the violent collision, the young man wasn’t seriously injured and walked away from the scene.

Drost said he felt compelled to share the footage on his Facebook page.

“Driving home tonight (I) witnessed the kind of thing that would make any human cringe,” he wrote. “Watching two young adults run across the road to catch the bus. Except they weren’t paying attention to traffic … nor was the driver paying attention to the two running.”

“(We) pulled over and immediately went over to assist. Was really fearing the worst. The guy was remarkably fine with a monster goose egg on his head and some nasty scrapes…And didn’t want to go to the hospital.”

Liberals to enhance child-poverty spending in fall economic update

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to press at the Gateway Conference, in Toronto on Monday, September 25, 2017.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

OTTAWA – The Trudeau government is expected to announce more money for children and the working poor, along with shrinking federal deficits, in a crowd-pleasing economic update today.

The Liberals are also counting on the update to draw attention away from their embattled Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

But the government still isn’t expected to provide a timeline to bring the federal books back to balance, despite the economy’s surprisingly strong performance in early 2017.

A senior government official says the fall economic statement will show an improving fiscal outlook in the coming years, even though Ottawa also plans to announce new spending measures today alongside the updated predictions.

Morneau is expected to enhance the Canada Child Benefit, which the government boasts has already lifted 300,000 children out of poverty.

One source tells The Canadian Press that the child-benefit change will come through indexation.

The benefit is not indexed to inflation, which means it does not increase with the cost of living.

Indexation is currently set to happen after 2019, the year the next federal election is scheduled to take place.

City asks province, federal government for $20M to help house refugees

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017

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City council will have to dig deeper into their pockets to help house refugees, and they’re hoping the provincial and federal government will help foot the bill.

The city of Toronto is asking for an addition $20 million to help temporarily house refugees in motels and hotels as of Nov. 1 all the way to December 2018.

A city report from earlier this month is calling for action to better manage the influx of refugees coming to Canada and specifically Toronto.

“We’re seeing the report now because we have overspent, the shelters are full and there’s no more space” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam.

As of last month, there just over 1200 refugees in need of shelter everyday in the city and nearly three times more than a year and a half ago.

Experts tell us the reasons include natural disasters, geopolitical turmoil or simply the politics in the U.S.

“We need to come up with a better, more permanent solution to deal with increase in demand because maybe the increase that we’re seeing now is the new norm” says Patricia Anderson, Manager for the Partnership Development and Support Committee for the City of Toronto.

According to Councillor Joe Mihevc, that solution includes better integrating refugees in the community from the very beginning.

“We need to get them better settled and oriented in society and it’s much better to do that in a neighbourhood or in a community than in a motel” he says.

For Councillor Wong-Tam, the solution isn’t spending additional money.

“I think we can all agree that spending on hotel rooms is not an economic way to spend scarce public dollars, I think we can all agree affordable housing is the long-term solution”

Councillor Wong Tam also says it is important to welcome new Canadians, and the investment will pay off in the long run as they contribute to society. She hopes all three levels of government will come to the table to come up with a viable long terms solution.

Thousands of dishwashers recalled in Canada due to potential fire hazard

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017

OTTAWA – Health Canada is issuing a recall notice for thousands of dishwashers that it says could be a potential fire hazard.

The agency says about 61,000 dishwashers sold between January 2013 and May 2015 are being recalled because the power cords can overheat and possibly spark a fire.

It says the affected brands are Bosch, Thermador, Gaggenau, Kenmore and Jenn-Air.

There have been no injuries reported, but Health Canada says there are five reports of property damage in the United States, where 408,000 affected dishwashers have been sold.

No damage has been reported in Canada.

A full list of the models included in the recall can be seen on Health Canada’s website.

To check to see if your machine is recalled, you can find model and serial numbers printed on either the top of its inner door panel or on the right side of the dishwasher panel.

Anyone who owns one of these dishwashers is advised to stop using it immediately and call the Safety Recall Hotline at 1-888-965-5813 for a free inspection and repair.

Partial service resumes on Barrie GO line after pedestrian struck

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 23rd, 2017

File photo of a GO train. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve White

A portion of the Barrie GO line has resumed service after a pedestrian was struck on the line.

Just before 7 a.m. on Monday, GO Transit said trains would not be moving through the area for approximately three hours after a possible fatality south of the Barrie South GO station.

“We’re doing everything we can to help passengers this morning get to where they need to go,” Metrolinx spokesperson Scott Money explained.

“We understand it’s rush hour, people need to get to work and we’re doing everything we can to help given the tragic circumstance when incidents like this happen.”

Shortly after 8 a.m., transit officials said service would be running on the Barrie Line stating at the Aurora GO station.

Teen charged after vehicle clocked going 185 km/hr on Hwy. 403

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 23rd, 2017

Teen charged after Audi S5 clocked going 185 km/hr on Highway 403, Oct. 23, 2017. Image Credit: TWITTER/@OPP_HSD

A teenager has lost both his license and his car after police pulled over a vehicle going nearly double the speed limit on Highway 403 in Mississauga on Sunday night.

Police said the Audi S5 was clocked at 185 km/hr.

The 18-year-old driver, who has his G2 licence, was charged with stunt driving and the vehicle was impounded.

Under Ontario’s graduated licence system the G2 driver has had his licence suspended for 30 days.

As well, a 22-year-old G1 driver was also caught going 160 km/hr along the same stretch of highway.

Police said that person has also been charged with stunt driving as well as multiple G1 offences. The vehicle has also been impounded.

 

International students risk losing $800 a week over college strike

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 23rd, 2017

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Tens of thousands of international students affected by a faculty strike at Ontario colleges are being reassured by immigration officials that they won’t be penalized for a delay that is beyond their control.

But some international students say the work stoppage, which began last Monday, has them worrying about finances as well as their education and immigration status.

“It is very stressful,” said Noble Thomas, 24, a human resources management student at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Thomas, who came to Canada two years ago from India, said each week on strike represents a loss of roughly $800 in tuition fees, not to mention the additional money spent on rent if the semester is prolonged once faculty return to work.

And though he has a job at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Thomas said international students are limited to 20 hours of work per week. What’s more, he said, uncertainty over the length of the strike prevents students from scheduling additional shifts.

Schools should be giving refunds for the time lost, he said – a sentiment expressed by domestic and international students alike in a petition that had garnered nearly 100,000 signatures by Sunday morning.

Several colleges in the province said they recognized the concerns raised by the strike and hoped it would end before the more than 40,000 international students enrolled in Ontario colleges felt financial – or other – difficulties.

Officials at Humber, George Brown and Confederation colleges also stressed that other services remain available during the strike, including support for international students concerned about their visas or study permits.

“We haven’t started down the path of refunds yet,” said Kim Smith, associate director of international admissions and student services at Humber College, where some 5,000 international students are enrolled.

“In the past, this has always been decided by the province and not by an individual college so at this time we’re kind of waiting to see what comes out of that,” she said.

A spokeswoman for the Ontario ministry of advanced education and skills development would not say whether the province was considering refunds.

“We are optimistic that the two parties will return to the table to work to reach a successful, negotiated settlement that is in the best interests of all parties, with a focus on students and their learning,” Tanya Blazina said in an email.

“I know that all students, domestic and international, are upset about the strike, and understandably concerned for what the impact could be on their education. While the uncertainty students face is challenging, I want them to know that previous college strikes have not led to students losing their semester.”

Meanwhile, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is seeking to relieve international students’ fears about the fate of their visas and permits.

“Study permits include the condition that the student must make continual progress towards the completion of their program,” said Beatrice Fenelon, a spokeswoman for the department.

“However, international students whose studies have been affected by the labour dispute at some designated learning institutions in Ontario will not face enforcement action for being unable to fulfill that condition, as it is a circumstance beyond their control.”

International students who need to apply for extensions should include with their application a letter from their school’s registrar confirming the impact of the strike, she said.

And while students are required to have studied continuously in order to qualify for a post-graduation work permit, the interruption caused by the strike won’t affect their eligibility, she said.

John Porter, director of international admissions and student services at Toronto’s George Brown College, said most students have study permits that span the duration of their program, plus a 90-day grace period afterwards so they can apply for a post-graduation work permit.

Permit extensions are “fairly common” even in a normal school year, said Porter, himself a regulated international student immigration adviser.

“We’re not really expecting that because of this current work stoppage situation that we’ll have a really great increase in the need for study permit extensions unless it goes beyond X number of weeks,” he said.

Thomas, whose program and permit are scheduled to end in December, said there won’t be enough time to apply for a work permit if the school year encroaches on the 90-day grace period, since that process can take months.

So the strike could also put international students’ job prospects at risk, he said. “If everything goes alright, I would like to stay here to experience more.”

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