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Flour recall expanded, 20 kg bags of Robin Hood affected

NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Jun 20th, 2017

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has expanded a recall for 20-kilogram bags of Robin Hood flour, because the flour may be contaminated with E. coli. These two items were added on June 19, 2017. CANADIAN FOOD INSPECTION AGENCY
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has expanded a recall for 20-kilogram bags of Robin Hood flour, because the flour may be contaminated with E. coli.

Both the Super Keynote Strong Bakers Flour and the Italian Style Flour are affected, the agency said Monday. The flour was sold to hotels, restaurants, and other similar institutions.

The initial recall was issued the previous Friday. At that time, The Canadian Press reported that no deaths were reported in connection with the recall, but the agency said 26 people were initially infected with E. coli and at least six required hospital care.

A class-action lawsuit has already been proposed.

Click here for a full list of related product recalls.

The new recall involves products that were sold in Ontario and may have been sold nationally.

The Super Keynote Strong Bakers Flour had lot codes containing BB/MA 2017 OC 24 and 6 298 SK and C0010573, and a UPC of 6 28622 10597 4. It was sold at Hillcrest Home Baking at 2192 Floradale Rd. in Floradale.

The Italian Style Flour had lot codes containing BB/MA 2017 OC 31 and 6 305 SK and C0010889; BB/MA 2017 NO 01 and 6 306 SK and C0010889. It had a UPC of 6 28622 10134 1. It was sold at Flour Barrel at 115 Wyndham St. in North Guelph.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

About E. coli 

Food contaminated with E. coli may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, mild to severe abdominal cramps and watery to bloody diarrhea. In severe cases of illness, some people may have seizures or strokes, need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis or live with permanent kidney damage. In severe cases of illness, people may die.

1 in 2 Canadians will get cancer, 1 in 4 will die of disease: Cancer Society

SHERYL UBELACKER, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 20th, 2017

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A radiologist uses a magnifying glass to check mammograms for breast cancer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Damian Dovarganes
Almost one in every two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and one in four Canadians will die from the disease, a new report by the Canadian Cancer Society predicts.

In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with some form of cancer and an estimated 80,800 will succumb to their malignancy – making cancer the leading cause of death in Canada, the charitable organization said Tuesday in its annual cancer statistics report.

“Currently, every year we’re seeing an increase in the number of cancer cases in Canada,” said the society’s epidemiologist, Leah Smith. “So between now and 2030, for example, we expect to continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Canada.

“That is a reflection of the growing and aging population,” she said. “About 90 per cent of all the cancers that we expect to be diagnosed in 2017 will be among Canadians 50 years of age and older.”

About 45 per cent of those cases will occur in people age 70 and older, said Smith, noting that as more people move into old age, the number of cancer cases will rise.

Despite the projection that cancer will cause the deaths of one in four Canadians, cancer mortality rates have been declining since their peak in 1988. Over the last three decades, deaths due to cancer have fallen by more than 30 per cent among males and by about 17 per cent among females.

“Declines in death rates have been largely driven by decreases in lung cancer incidence and mortality,” she said, “so tobacco control in general has had a big impact on our death rates,” especially among men who historically had higher smoking rates than their female counterparts.

Increased rates of screening for breast cancer and improved treatments have also bolstered survival among women.

Still, four cancers – prostate, breast, lung and colorectal – continue to top the list of the most common malignancies, which together are expected to account for more than half the cancer diagnoses in 2017. Lung cancer continues to take a huge toll: more people are predicted to die of the disease this year (21,100) than from a combination of the other three cancers (19,200 in total).

Sarah Metcalfe of Ottawa is all too familiar with the ravages of cancer, which has affected eight people in her family.

When she was a child, an aunt died of breast cancer. But cancer really hit home when Metcalfe was a new mom in her early 30s and her husband developed osteosarcoma in his upper arm, which was successfully treated with a bone transplant and long courses of “dramatic” chemotherapy.

About the same time, three uncles succumbed to lung cancer, mostly due to smoking, and then her father developed fatal colon cancer.

“I thought that’s got to be it now,” said Metcalfe, 58.

But is was not to be: her brother was subsequently diagnosed with skin cancer, though he is doing well,” she said, “and then I had my turn.” In 2011, Metcalfe learned she had breast cancer.

“Just as I’d finished treatment, my mom found a lump on her thigh” that turned out to be a soft-tissue sarcoma. Despite treatment, the cancer spread and her mother died about two years later.

“That’s it so far,” said Metcalfe, who as the owner of two women’s fitness centres in part credits regular exercise and maintaining a healthy diet with her five-year survival.

Survival rates for some cancers have improved dramatically over time: overall, 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed and treated for cancer will survive five years or longer, says Smith.

But that’s not the case for pancreatic cancer. With an eight per cent five-year survival rate, the gastrointestinal cancer has the poorest prognosis of the 23 malignancies the Canadian Cancer Society reports on. This year, an estimated 5,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas and 4,800 will die of the disease.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing very little improvement in pancreatic cancer, not just in Canada but around the world,” said Smith, pointing out that the report has a special focus on the disease in a bid to raise awareness and designated funding for the cancer.

Dr. Jolie Ringash, a radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, said pancreatic cancer is challenging to treat because tumours don’t typically cause symptoms – abdominal or back pain – until they are at an advanced stage.

“It’s one of the areas where we really have not seen significant breakthroughs in 50 years,” she admitted.

“So the lucky ones are where it’s found very early, often by chance because the (patient is) having tests for some other reason and there’s a tiny cancer that can be surgically removed.

“That’s the good-case scenario. But unfortunately, the vast majority of these tumours progress within the abdomen, don’t cause any symptoms for the longest time and by the time they’re recognized they’re very advanced and treatments aren’t very effective.”

Ringash said more research into the causes of pancreatic cancer is needed, which could help lead to a screening test that could to pick up tumours when they’re small and more treatable. Researchers hope to find a biomarker in the blood – similar to the PSA test used to screen for potential prostate cancer in men – but she said more research dollars are needed for such screening and to develop much better treatment.

Unlike with breast cancer and prostate cancer, where survivors and their families and friends often hold events to raise awareness and research funding with the goal of finding cures, the issue of pancreatic cancer seems to fall below the public radar and suffers as a result, she said.

“We don’t have enough survivors out there pounding the streets and doing the walks and raising the money.”

61 dead in central Portugal wildfires; many killed in their cars

HELENA ALVES AND ARMANDO FRANCA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 19th, 2017

Police investigators stand by a burnt car on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017.  Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called "the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years." (AP Photo/Armando Franca),
Police investigators stand by a burnt car on the road between Castanheira de Pera and Figueiro dos Vinhos, central Portugal, Sunday, June 18 2017. Raging forest fires in central Portugal killed more than 50 people, many of them trapped in their cars as flames swept over a road, in what the prime minister on Sunday called “the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known in years.” (AP Photo/Armando Franca),
A raging forest fire in central Portugal sent flames sweeping over roads, killing at least 61 people, many of them trapped in their cars as they tried to flee, officials said Sunday. The country’s prime minister called it “the biggest tragedy” that Portugal has experienced in decades and declared three days of national mourning.

A huge wall of thick smoke and bright red flames towered over the top of trees in the forested Pedrogao Grande area some 150 kilometres (95 miles) northeast of Lisbon where a lightning strike was believed to have sparked the blaze Saturday. Investigators found a tree that was hit during a “dry thunderstorm,” the head of the national judicial police told Portuguese media.

Dry thunderstorms are frequent when falling water evaporates before reaching the ground because of high temperatures. Portugal, like most southern European countries, is prone to forest fires in the dry summer months. At least four other significant wildfires affected different areas of the country on Sunday but the one in Pedrogao Grande was responsible for all the deaths.

“The dimensions of this fire have caused a human tragedy beyond any in our memory,” said Prime Minister Antonio Costa told reporters on his arrival at the scene Sunday. “Something extraordinary has taken place and we have to wait for technicians to properly determine its causes.”

He said the death toll was lowered from the previously reported 62 victims because one person had been counted twice.

More than 350 soldiers on Sunday joined the 700 firefighters who have been struggling to put out the blaze. Authorities say temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the area in recent days might have also played a part in the inferno.

The forest fire deaths were the biggest in memory in Portugal, which saw 25 Portuguese soldiers die fighting wildfires in 1966. Last August, an outbreak of fires across Portugal killed four people, including three on the island of Madeira, and destroyed huge areas of forest.

Resident Isabel Brandao told The Associated Press that she had feared for her life when she saw the blaze.

“Yesterday we saw the fire but thought it was very far. I never thought it would come to this side,” she said Sunday. “At 3:30 a.m., my mother-in-law woke me up quickly and we never went to sleep again. We were afraid the fire would reach us.”

Other locals were also shocked.

“This is a region that has had fires because of its forests, but we cannot remember a tragedy of these proportions,” said Valdemar Alves, the mayor of Pedrogao Grande. “I am completely stunned by the number of deaths.”

State broadcaster RTP showed terrifying images of several people on a road trying to escape the intense smoke that had reduced visibility to a few meters (yards). A young man shared a bottle of water with a distraught woman as she stumbled down the road.

Interior Ministry official Jorge Gomes said firefighting crews were having difficulties battling the fire, which was “very intense” in at least two of its four fronts. He said authorities were worried about strong winds that could help spreading the blaze further.

Schools in the area were closed until further notice and outdoor fires were banned, authorities announced Sunday.

Gomes gave a grim description of the deaths to RTP. He said at least 30 people died inside their cars as they tried to flee between the towns of Figueiro dos Vinhos and Castanheira de Pera. He says 17 others died right outside their cars or by the road, 11 people died in the forest and two people died in a car accident related to the fire and information was missing on the other deaths.

So far, no one has been reported killed by the fire inside a house.

Gomes says 54 people were also injured in the fire, 5 of them seriously, including four firefighters and a minor.

Costa tweeted his “deepest regret for the victims … and a word of encouragement and strength for all who help combat this scourge.”

“We are most likely facing the biggest tragedy of human life that we have known,” he said.

There was no immediate identification of the victims. Portugal established a special diplomatic channel for embassies to receive information on foreign citizens who “may be affected” by the fire.

The European Union responded to a call for assistance by Portuguese authorities. As a result, Spain sent four firefighting aircrafts on Sunday. France was also sending three aircraft and Greece’s prime minister also offered to send firefighting help.

Many world leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, Pope Francis and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressed solidarity with Portugal. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy tweeted that he is “overwhelmed by the tragedy at Pedrogao Grande. The Portuguese people can count on our solidarity, support and care.”

In Kazan, Russia, Portugal’s national soccer team wore black arm bands and stood for a moment of silence with the Mexican team in solidarity with the forest fire victims. The ceremony took place before the teams’ match Sunday at the Confederations Cup tournament.

Coach Fernando Santos, Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the players released a statement saying “in this sad hour, we send our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and loved ones of the victims of the fires.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, attending the match in Russia, also offered his condolences.

“We want to send a big hug to everyone in Portugal for what they are going through, which is absolutely terrible. There are no words for that,” he told reporters.

Number of dead, missing in London fire rises to 79

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 19th, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 15:  A train drives past Grenfall tower, as it continues to smoulder on June 15, 2017 in London, England. At least twelve people have been confirmed dead and dozens missing after the 24 storey residential Grenfell Tower block in Latimer Road was engulfed in flames in the early hours of June 14. The number of fatalities are expected to rise.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
A train drives past Grenfall tower, as it continues to smoulder on June 15, 2017 in London, England. GETTY IMAGES/Dan Kitwood
London police said Monday that 79 people were now believed to have died in the highrise apartment building fire.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy gave the new figure during a statement outside Scotland Yard, saying it includes both people who were confirmed dead and others who are missing and presumed dead. It’s an increase from the previous number of 58.

The new number may change as the investigation continues, Cundy said. He said that the search and recovery operation in the 24-story Grenfell Tower continues, he said, adding that it has been incredibly distressing for families.

“It’s hard to describe the devastation the fire has caused,” Cundy said, fighting back tears as he spoke.

He said it had been “incredibly emotional working in there … On Saturday, I went in myself and went to the top floor.”

He told reporters the “awful reality” was that it might not be possible to identify all the victims.

Cundy said that authorities were continuing to investigate whether any crimes had been committed in the fire. Two British officials said Sunday that new exterior cladding used in a renovation of the high-rise may have been banned under U.K. building regulations.


Related stories:

Canadian building standards meant to guard against fires like London blaze

Death toll in London highrise fire rises to 30; fire may have destroyed DNA evidence

Video: Witnesses recount terror during massive London highrise fire

Queen reduced to 1 lane between Bathurst and Spadina for construction

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Jun 19th, 2017

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File photo of a cyclist at Queen Street and Spadina Avenue. CITYNEWS/Michael Talbot
It is going to be a tighter squeeze on Queen Street West starting Monday.

Traffic will be reduced to one lane between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue until early September for the reconstruction of sidewalks and streetscaping.

Work will start on the north side of Queen at Bathurst and move eastward to Spadina before switching to the south side.

The city says the work is scheduled to be completed in time for the Toronto International Film Festival in September. However, some streetscaping work will continue until November.

This is one of several projects taking place on Queen this summer. Because of the number of projects, the TTC replaced their streetcars with buses on the route on May 7.

Streetcars are expected to return to Queen on September 3, but buses will continue to run west of Roncesvalles Avenue until the rest of the year. Riders can also expect streetcar diversions for other work until November.


Related stories:

Buses replace streetcars on Queen Street all summer

No streetcar service on Queen Street this summer: TTC

Queen West streetcar riders loving replacement buses

All hands on deck for emergency personnel bracing for Canada 150 bash in Ottawa

KRISTY KIRKUP, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 19th, 2017

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Chinese tourists vist Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, as preparations for Canada Day are underway. Be alert but not alarmed, police are urging Canadians who will congregate under the Peace Tower next month for Canada 150 celebrations – a massive public gathering for which intelligence agencies and emergency teams have spent months preparing. Experts are well aware of what is at stake on July 1, especially in the wake of the deadly shootings that erupted on Parliament Hill in 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Be alert but not alarmed, police are urging Canadians who will congregate under the Peace Tower next month for Canada 150 celebrations — a massive public gathering for which intelligence agencies and emergency teams have spent months preparing.

Experts are well aware of what is at stake on July 1, especially in the wake of the deadly shootings that erupted on Parliament Hill in 2014.

“When you’re talking about (Canada) 150, you’re talking about bringing a number of Canadians together,” said Terence Chase, a former Canadian Forces soldier and director of B.C.-based security consultants Defense Intelligence Service.

“It is exactly the target-rich environment that (attackers) are looking for.”

Ottawa police Supt. Joan McKenna, who oversees planning for Canada Day events, said officers in the national capital will take an all-hands-on-deck security approach that will include everything from canine units to carbines and long guns.

“We can’t control everything,” McKenna said in an interview.

“What we can control is that there is strong communication between the federal intelligence agencies, the RCMP and our Ottawa police intelligence section. This happens daily, so there’s lots of communication happening with our police partners in this area.”

The public should be vigilant, but not afraid, she added.

“There’s lots of eyes and ears out there —not just the police but there’s the public … city workers, anyone part of emergency planning,” McKenna said.

“We will be standing up significant police resources for Canada Day and all will be alert for any suspicious situations that they see and suspicious calls to police warrant investigation … There will be high visibility with police on that day.”

A number of road closures and barricades will also be in place to prevent vehicle access, McKenna said.

“We will have controlled pedestrian access to certain areas and there will be identified routes in and out and that’s for everyone’s safety.”

Emergency personnel will also be deploying special resources in order to effectively navigate the security envelope, said Marc-Antoine Deschamps, superintendent of public information with the Ottawa Paramedic Service.

“If there’s limited vehicle access to a location, that means that our ambulances cannot go there so what it means is we have to find alternative ways of transporting our patients out of some areas,” Deschamps said.

Ottawa paramedics will use golf cart-sized vehicles to more easily navigate the crowds, and stretcher teams will be deployed when necessary to carry patients from dense areas toward transport vehicles.

Paramedics will also be riding bikes through the precinct, he added.

“We have a picture dating back years that has an ambulance trying to drive down Wellington,” he said, referring to the busy, tourist-jammed street that runs right along the edge of the Parliament Hill grounds.

“We keep using that example … we want to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

The City of Ottawa is also identifying the most suitable location for a field hospital, provided by Ontario’s emergency medical assistance team, to help reduce demand at other facilities, its emergency and protective services department said in a statement.

Susan Adamson, a Calgary resident who was visiting Parliament Hill this week, said she would not think twice about taking in Canada 150 celebrations in Ottawa if she was here for the occasion.

“I think it is kind of exciting — 150 years,” she said. “I would be aware of my surroundings, but I’m not that worried.”

Jacqueline Stacey, a resident of Ottawa for more than 30 years, said she plans to avoid Parliament Hill on July 1 — but not because of the security concerns.

“I can’t even imagine on Canada Day, being the 150th, that it is going to be fun to get down here,” Stacey said.

“The party is great. The parking is a nightmare.”

Canada’s fed-prov finance ministers to start deep dive on marijuana taxation

ANDY BLATCHFORD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 19th, 2017

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A man lights a marijuana joint as he participates in the 4/20 protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
As the country’s finance ministers meet in Ottawa, the Trudeau government should expect to hear concerns about the added burden marijuana legalization could heap onto provincial shoulders.

The agenda for the two-day, federal-provincial-territorial gathering, which starts Sunday, will include discussions on how best to apply taxes on a regulated market for cannabis.

The federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational marijuana by July 2018.

Pot taxation is expected to stay low to ensure the regulated market elbows out illegal dealers.

Details, however, on how the tax revenues will be shared between provinces and Ottawa have yet to be determined.

The ministers are scheduled to start working on a “co-ordinated approach to the taxation of cannabis,” says a news release from the office of federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, who hosts the twice-yearly meetings.

Taxation is poised to emerge as a key focal point of Canada’s pot-legalization process.

Since the federal legislation was tabled, several provinces have voiced concerns about how much work will fall within their jurisdictions — from addiction treatment, to distribution, to policing.

For example, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has warned that provinces will be left with a lot of the “heavy lifting” related to pot legalization, including considerable costs.

In Quebec, Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois has expressed doubts the tax revenue generated by recreational pot will cover the price tag of preparing for regulation, particularly when it comes to health, security and education efforts.

Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in an interview he is not apprehensive about cannabis legalization, he just wants to ensure the transition into regulated markets doesn’t impose any extra costs on provinces.

“There’s going to be a lot of requirements on behalf of the provinces,” said Sousa.

“We want to make sure that the proper sharing is there and enough is supported for the implementation of cannabis and the protection (of) our society as we proceed.”

Sousa said he will also be keen to hear how his counterparts are approaching legalization.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott has promised to work with provinces and to commit more resources to cannabis-related needs like public security, policing and educational campaigns.

Philpott’s office has also argued that the current system of prohibition is very expensive and legalization could significantly lower the provinces’ existing costs.

The trick for Canada’s lawmakers will be finding the pricing sweet spot — high enough to cover costs, but cheap enough to squeeze out the illegal market.

The federal government has repeatedly stated its primary goals with legalization are to get weed out of the hands of young Canadians and prevent criminals from profiting from the drug.

In addition to cannabis, the finance ministers will also discuss how to improve information sharing between jurisdictions as a way to address tax avoidance, tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing.

They will also focus on the Canada-U.S. trade relationship.

For Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao, the discussions on Canada-U.S. trade, including renegotiation of the North American free trade agreement, will be perhaps the most important issue on the agenda.

“I think the objective is to get to a consensus amongst the provinces and the federal government as to what is it that we think that we should be doing, both in terms of the taxation of cannabis and in terms of our relationship with the United States,” Leitao said in an interview.

Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz will be on hand to deliver a presentation on the state of the economy.

Sousa said he would also like to hear more about the state of the federal government’s infrastructure plan, including its proposed, $35-billion infrastructure bank.

The bank is designed to use public funds as leverage to attract billions more in private investment for large projects.

Senators have been debating whether to split legislative provisions related to the creation of the bank from the government’s budget implementation bill.

Death toll in London highrise fire rises to 30

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 16th, 2017

0614-londonfire
In this image taken by eyewitness Gurbuz Binici, a huge fire engulfs the 24-story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road in London, England, in the early hours of June 14, 2017. GETTY IMAGES/Gurbuz Binici

The number of victims has increased to 30 in the fire that engulfed a highrise building earlier this week, London police said Friday.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said that 24 people are being treated in the hospital, including 12 in critical care. The number of victims is expected to grow.

Authorities say they’ve examined original location of fire and there is no indication it was started deliberately.

More to come

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