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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.”

Women getting promotions comparable to men but at a price: report

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 23rd, 2017

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A recently released report reveals women are asking for raises and promotions at rates comparable to their male counterparts, however, it comes with a price.

The Women in the Workplace 2017 report surveyed over 70,000 employees and their experiences with gender, opportunity, career and work life issues. The authors of the survey, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, call this “the largest study of its kind”, as 222 companies employing over 12-million people submitted data and participated in the report.

Though the study reveals women of all colours are just as likely as men to ask for raises and promotions, they are also more likely to pay a “social penalty.” Women are more likely to be told they are intimidating, too aggressive or bossy.

The findings also revealed on average women are 18 per cent less likely to be promoted early on in their career, compared to their male peers.

“At every subsequent step, the representation of women further declines, and women of colour face an even more dramatic drop-off at senior levels,” the report reads.

“Even in industries where there’s a lot of women in lower ranks, the higher you go, you end up with a male leadership,” said Stephania Varalli, co-CEO at Women of Influence. “If it’s only men at the top, without their action and cooperation and them trying to solve a problem, we’re never going to get anywhere.”

Though there’s been progress in recent years, there’s still a wage gap that exists in the workplace. Varalli says there aren’t only gender differences, but race plays a role and that’s sometimes influenced by biases.

The results show women of colour face more obstacles as they advance in their careers, receiving less support from upper management and fewer promotions.

“Overall, two patterns are clear: compared to white women, things are worse for women of color, and they are particularly difficult for black women,” the report said.

“People don’t really recognize that they have those biases within them, so they act a certain way thinking they’re being fair. Really what they’re doing is picking people that look like them and moving them up in the organization,” said Varalli.

MORE FINDINGS

Women are less likely to think they have an opportunity to adance

– 37 per cent of women say they believe gender play a role in missing out on a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead, compared to 8 per cent of men.

– 39 per cent of women believe gender makes it harder to get a raise, promotion or an advancement. While only 15 per cent of men held that same belief.

– 57 per cent of women and 62 per cent of men say they have same equal opportunity for growth as their peers though.

Respondents on their companies treating people fairly

– Compared to 47 per cent of male respondents, 39 per cent of women say the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees

– 40 per cent of women and 48 per cent of  men believe promotions at their company is based on criteria that’s fair and objective.

The study also advises companies to understand and address the gender and racial gaps in the work place.

“A Road Map to Gender Equality”

The authors say the companies need a plan towards supporting and advancing women in the work place, and recommend organizations to do the following:

• Make a compelling case for gender diversity

• Invest in more employee training

• Give managers the means to drive change

• Ensure that hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair

• Give employees the flexibility to fit work into their lives

• Focus on accountability and results

Other tips: organizations urged to invest more resources in more employee training, provide a work-life balance for workers, allow for managers to play a more critical role in gender diversity efforts, and make more of an effort to ensure hiring, promotions and reviews are fair.

“You really need to have leadership on board, in order to be able to move the needle, and it can’t be just seen as a women’s equality problem,” said Vararalli. “It has to be seen as an issue that impacts everybody, your bottom line, and your ability to innovate. This is something that can really change our economy for the better, if you can figure out how to get everyone involved.”

Liberals accused of diabetes tax grab with apparent benefit clawback

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 23rd, 2017

Soila Solano prepares to inject herself with insulin (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Health groups joined forces on Sunday with the Conservative opposition to accuse the Liberal government of trying to raise tax revenue on the backs of vulnerable diabetics.

The accusation opened a new front in the ongoing opposition waged war on government taxation policy, amid the backdrop of the conflict-of-interest controversy dogging Finance Minister Bill Morneau over whether he’s properly distanced himself from millions of dollars of private sector assets.

Diabetes Canada was among the groups that joined Conservative politicians to publicly denounce what they say is a clawback of a long-standing disability tax credit to help them manage a disease that can cost the average sufferer $15,000 annually.

Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre branded it as one more example of an out-of-touch Liberal government that he characterized as unfairly targeting the hardworking middle class people it claims to support.

“His tax department tried to tax the employee discounts of waitresses and cashiers. Now his government is targeting vulnerable people suffering with diabetes with thousands of dollars in tax increases,” Poilievre said on Sunday at a Parliament Hill news conference flanked by fellow Conservative critics, a young diabetic constituent and a top official with a leading diabetes advocacy organization.

In May, the revenue department stopped approving a disability tax credit for people with Type 1 diabetes for those who had previously claimed it, he said.

People who need more than 14 hours per week for insulin therapy, and had a doctor’s certification previously qualified. But other than citing a spike in applications for the benefit, the government offered no explanation for the change during initial interactions earlier this spring, said Kimberley Hanson of Diabetes Canada.

Thousands of claimants from across Canada who had previously been given the $1,500 annual benefit have been rejected in recent months, but Hanson said she can’t get an exact number from Canadian Revenue Agency and has had to file an Access to Information request to find out.

In recent months, the agency officials and Minister Diane Lebouthillier have for the most part rebuffed their overtures.

“Over the past two months, she’s stopped responding to my messages and answering some of my questions,” Hanson said, referring to one senior department official.

On Saturday, a senior department official reached out to her to reopen dialogue, she said. Poilievre said that only happened because the matter was raised briefly on Friday by the Conservatives during Question Period.

“Applicants are now being denied on the basis that ‘the type of therapy indicated does not meet the 14 hour per week criteria.’ These denials are in contradiction of the certifications provided by licensed medical practitioners and do not appear to be based on evidence,” says an Oct. 3 letter to Lebouthillier, signed by Diabetes Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Canadian Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism and two other organizations.

In an emailed response to The Canadian Press on Sunday evening, a spokesman for Lebouthillier writes that the “concerns brought up by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and other groups, are worrisome.”

It says the minister has initiated a “five-point plan” that included numerous consultations with “stakeholders” to better understand how the benefit is administered.

It says she wants the agency to improve its data collection and is planning to hire more nurses to work in processing centers to evaluate the claims.

This would help “to ensure that a medical professional is involved in the reviewing of individual’s applications,” said the emailed statement.

This latest complaint about the government’s tax policy comes after the Liberals were forced to reset proposed tax measures after weeks of vocal opposition from small business owners, doctors, farmers and backbench Liberal MPs.

The Canada Revenue Agency was also recently forced to withdraw a notice that targeted employee discounts after it caused an uproar.

“It’s not like I can snap a finger and this disease turns off,” said Madison Ferguson, a constituent of Poilievre’s who first raised it with her MP this summer after her claim was rejected.

She said she has to constantly calculate the effect of what she eats, while monitoring her blood sugar levels as much as four to 10 times a day, using test strips that cost $1.50 to $2 each time.

“It’s quite expensive but it’s needed because without this I wouldn’t be here,” said Ferguson. “So every moment of every day has to be calculated.”

Busy weekend in Toronto with Waterfront Marathon, TTC closures

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 20th, 2017

Runners taking part in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Photo credit: canadarunningseries.com

The weather is expected to be just perfect for the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Sunday, with temperatures in the low 20s forecasted for this weekend.

If you are taking part in the race or cheering on the runners, and plan to take transit there, a portion of Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) and Queen Station will be closed.


Events

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon
Runners will be everywhere you look in the city this weekend as the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon takes to the streets on Sunday. Around 25,000 people from around the world are taking part in the marathon, half-marathon and 5k. The marathon and half-marathon start at 8:45 a.m., while the 5K starts at 8 a.m. Click here for an interactive route map. Runners will be taking over several streets including Lake Shore Boulevard, Queens Quay, University Avenue, and Queen Street.

Bay Street, from Queen Street West to Dundas Street West, will be closed from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 8 p.m. on Sunday. A series of road closures will also take place from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, in the area bounded by Bloor Street West, Victoria Park Avenue, Lake Shore Boulevard and Windermere Avenue. Click here for a list of road closures.

Happy Diwali
The Hindu festival of lights was celebrated Thursday, but the party continues in Brampton this weekend. The Bramalea City Centre will be home to a large, free indoor celebration both Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The mall will be filled with the sights and sounds of Diwali, including music performances by Jassi Sidhu and Mickey Singh, dance workshops, and a Miss India-Canada show. The event runs from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.1019-diwali

Howling Hootenanny
The Black Creek Pioneer Village is getting into the Halloween spirit with a Howling Hootenanny. The event – which runs both this weekend and next weekend from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – will give children a chance to trick-or-treat around the village, explore a haunted maze, and listen in on some spooky pioneer superstitions. There will even be a pumpkin decorating station. There will be a limited number of pumpkins each day, so make sure you get there early to secure one.

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Boo at the Zoo
If your kids want to dress up as their favourite animal this Halloween, why not take them to the zoo to see them in person? Both this weekend and next weekend, the Toronto Zoo will be hosting Boo at the Zoo. All children in costume, ages 12 and under, will be able to get into the zoo for free. And there will be Halloween photo opportunities at the park, so don’t forget your camera.

Fall Cottage Life Show
The summer season has long gone, but you wouldn’t know it with summer-like temperatures in the forecast this weekend. If you have already closed up your cottage for the year, you can get a head start on your cottage plans for next summer. The Fall Cottage Life Show, which takes place at the International Centre from Friday to Sunday, features renovation and decor tips, and other wants you need for your space.

TTC closures

Subways won’t be running on Line 1 between Sheppard West and St. George stations this weekend due to signal upgrades. Shuttle buses will run between Sheppard West and Lawrence West stations. Extra service will run along the bus and streetcar routes to the Yonge portion of Line 1 and the bus routes to Line 2. Wheel-Trans buses will run between Sheppard West and St. George stations upon request. Regular service resumes at 6 a.m. on Monday.

Queen Station will be closed and trains will not be stopping at the station from 11 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Monday The closure is so for fare gate construction.

 

Amazon HQ2 would ‘fundamentally alter’ potential Canadian city candidates

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 20th, 2017

An Amazon Echo Dot is displayed during a program announcing several new Amazon products by the company, Sept. 27, 2017 in Seattle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Elaine Thompson

It’s like a technology-themed reality TV dating show.

Suitor Amazon is on the hunt for a North American city to house what it calls HQ2: a second headquarters. The ideal match will tick off most of a wide-ranging list of requirements that covers practical matters, like available buildings and green space, as well as a certain je ne sais quoi that, for example, helps it attract tech talent.

Many Canadian cities consider Amazon a catch. After all, the tech titan is promising up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and a US$5-billion investment. Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Edmonton and Calgary have all promised to submit proposals by Thursday, the deadline for those looking to woo the firm into their regions.

But while the possibility of a Canadian city turning into the next Seattle — Amazon’s existing home — is tempting, experts say it’s a risky proposition that comes with some drawbacks, like making operations more challenging for local technology companies.

“An investment this large would fundamentally alter a town,” said Dan Shaw, a lecturer at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business in Halifax.

Other businesses, including local startups, that employ highly-skilled technology workers may struggle to compete, he said.

A company may have relied on hiring new graduates from the local university for starting salaries of $60,000, Shaw explained, but Amazon has deep pockets and could push the bar for salaries higher by offering closer to $90,000 for entry-level jobs.

Canada is already facing a tech talent shortage, partially due to a brain drain as desirable candidates are lured to Silicon Valley. By 2020, there’ll be a lack of qualified workers to fill about 218,000 positions, according to the Information and Communications Technology Council’s projections.

Adding Amazon’s demand for tens of thousands of full-time workers would put further pressure on the industry, said Kyle Murray, vice-dean of the Alberta School of Business at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

While that’s a concern for any local companies trying to attract workers from an insufficient talent pool, he said it’s good for society to have increased competition.

Some Canadian tech leaders have grumbled about the incentives Amazon’s asking for and city proposals are likely to include.

The proposals are private and many competitors haven’t disclosed the incentives they’ll offer, if any. The city of Toronto said the day before the deadline it wouldn’t offer any new financial incentives, but it’s clear they’re a big factor in Amazon’s choice.

The tech giant — which has a market value of nearly half a billion dollars — asks for incentives, including tax credits and/or exemptions, and various grants, in its request for proposals. Initial and ongoing business costs “are critical decision drivers,” the company said.

“The concern, of course, is that it becomes a race to the bottom,” said Sherena Hussain, an assistant professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto.

The successful city could also find itself in a situation in which the company makes up such a large portion of its economy that it must continue giving it preferential treatment so it doesn’t leave town, said Shaw.

Though, he noted that “massively scalable organizations don’t grow on trees,” so Amazon does present an exciting opportunity.

Businesses aside, the advent of an Amazon headquarters could also create problems for local citizens.

Tens of thousands of new workers earning an average of more than US$100,000 would substantially raise housing prices and the overall cost of living, Shaw said. It could also create transportation problems as the employees increase the number of people commuting via public transit and roads.

These issues presented themselves in Seattle after Amazon built its headquarters there in 2010. Still, former mayor Greg Nickels has said he considers the growth Amazon brought worthwhile and a better alternative to being a Detroit or Cleveland.

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