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Police are looking for a black 2005 Ford Escape SUV, similar to the one pictured above, in connection with a murder near Hamilton on Nov. 8, 2017. HANDOUT/Niagara Regional Police Service

Hamilton man found dead in SUV was murdered: police

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

Niagara regional police say a 45-year-old man whose body was found in an SUV in a rural area outside Hamilton was the victim of a homicide.

Police say the body of Johnathan Bailey, of Hamilton was found at about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Township of West Lincoln.

An autopsy was scheduled for Thursday at Hamilton General Hospital.

Investigators say they are searching for a black 2005 Ford Escape, which is believed to be associated with the homicide case.

They say the vehicle has aluminum rims, a roof rack and a stick family decal on the rear bumper with a father, mother and son.

The vehicle is believed to be from Ontario or Quebec, and police add there is no front licence plate.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

Celebration of life for former Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay to be held Tuesday

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

CREDIT: MLB/TWITTER

A celebration of life for former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay will be held next week in Florida at the spring-training home of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Halladay was killed Tuesday when the tiny sport plane he was flying crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. The service, which will be open to the public, will be held Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, the Halladay family said in a statement released by the Blue Jays and Major League Baseball.

“Our family is heartbroken in confirming that Roy passed away in a plane crash Tuesday afternoon,” the statement said. “While many will remember him for his success as a major league pitcher, we remember him as an amazing father, loving husband and loyal friend. Roy had many accomplishments in his professional career, the memories of which we will cherish forever. He described each achievement as a team effort rather than an individual accomplishment, a true testament to his character and love for his teammates.”

Halladay, who was 40, was a devoted husband to wife Brandy and a loving father to sons Ryan and Braden.

Halladay made his big-league debut with the Blue Jays in 1998 and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2003. He hit the 20-win plateau on three occasions and won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award with the Phillies.

He spent four seasons in Philadelphia before retiring in late 2013.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of Halladay’s Icon A5. A preliminary report is expected in the next week and the full investigation could take up to two years.

“Roy grew up with a passion for planes and always had the goal of becoming a pilot,” said the family statement, released late Thursday afternoon. “Since retiring from baseball, he has been actively studying, accumulating the required flight hours and obtaining multiple pilot certifications and licenses. Just as he was known for his work ethic in baseball, he was also widely respected by those who knew him in the aviation community for his hard work, attention to detail and dedication to safety while flying.

“He treated his passion for aviation with the same joy and enthusiasm as he did his love for baseball.”

Halladay had been the proud owner for less than a month of his Icon A5, and was among the first to fly the model. In one of many enthusiastic tweets about the plane, Halladay said it felt “like flying a fighter jet.”

“While we mourn the loss of the core of our family, we choose to celebrate him and remember the man we knew privately on and off the field,” the family statement said. “We hope that he serves as an example of professionalism, integrity and hard work for all who knew him. For us, we will forever remember his unconditional love, humility and the sacrifices he made to provide for the family that meant the world to him.

“On behalf of our family we thank you for respecting our privacy during this time of overwhelming grief. We also ask that you respect the privacy of our extended family as well as the families and children who Roy has coached, taught or worked with. We are so fortunate and thankful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from across the world.”

Halladay was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year. He had a career mark of 203-105 and a 3.38 earned-run average

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Small knives to be allowed on planes, but baby powder banned: Transport Canada

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

People carry luggage at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Dec. 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Under new regulation changes effective later this month, airline passengers will be able to carry some small knives on most flights, but baby powder will be banned.

Transport Canada says knife blades up to six centimetres — about the size of a large paper clip — will be allowed on domestic and most international flights.

Blades of any length will continue to be banned on U.S. flights while razor blades and box cutters of any size will remain prohibited on all flights.

Another change will prohibit certain powders and granular material with a volume of 350 millilitres — the size of a soda can — or more.

Prohibited materials include items such as bath salts, sea salt, baby powder, foot powder, cooking powder and sand. Baby formula, protein powder, tea and coffee will still be permitted in any quantity.

Transport Canada says the adjustments — which are effective Nov. 27 — reflect changes in the security environment and are needed to harmonize with international standards.

“These changes to screening procedures will bring Canada in line with international standards and our partner countries, while continuing to keep passengers safe,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a release.

Needles, dirty streets and crowds: Yonge BIA dealing with fallout of supervised safe injection site

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 10th, 2017

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As two additional supervised injection sites get set to open in Toronto before the New Year, concerns are surfacing surrounding the impact Toronto’s existing site is having on public health and safety.

Yesterday, CityNews reported on the discovery of syringes, pointed out by students steps away from the front doors of St. Michael’s Choir School in the downtown core – less than 300 metres away from the supervised injection site at Dundas and Victoria Streets.

On Thursday, the principal of that school told CityNews that he has called Toronto Public Health on five separate occasions since September for syringes found on or near school property.

“Their response has not been amazing. They have come, but not right away,” principal Linton Soares said. “Their response has been anywhere from an hour to an hour-and-a-half.”

Soares adds that more supports need to be put in place to assist the community with what has been an ongoing issue.

“This community should not have to bear that on our own”

Resources are a growing concern to keep the neighbourhoods surrounding these sites safe.

The Downtown Yonge BIA has had to take it upon themselves to clean up many of the syringes, paying to remove them from the streets. The BIA’s CEO, Mark Garner, says since the supervised injection site opened kitty-corner to YongeDundas Square they’ve noticed an increase in the needles.

“This is the busiest intersection in Canada, this is Canada’s main street, and it’s the number one tourist destination in Toronto,” Garner told CityNews.

“If this is the face that we put forward to the world we need to have the resources to be able to deal with these very complex issues and the increase in needles we’re finding in the area,” he added.

Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, whose riding includes the Toronto Public Health office injection site, recently took Mayor John Tory for a tour around the site and she echoes community concern that while the sites (which she supports) are receiving financial backing, the surrounding neighbourhood is not receiving adequate support to deal with a long list of issues from used syringes to drug dealers operating out in the open.

“I said specifically to the Mayor and to the chair of the board of health that what we needed was a coordinated approach to service delivery. You can’t just invest in safe injection services. That is important, but we need to make sure there’s wrap-around services.”

Getting a handle on the “unintended consequences” at the site near Yonge and Dundas and adding appropriate resources is paramount, according to Garner, before Toronto opens its next two sites.

In September, CityNews spoke with area businesses near the supervised injection site set to open this December near Queen West and Bathurst. Area business were asking for security to be added at the centre to help deter drug dealers and street level drug use. At the time, Councillor Joe Cressy declined to commit to added security telling CityNews “police are increasing and planning to increase their response and protocol to ensure 24-hour plans are in place for security of facilities.”

It’s a statement and promise, Toronto Police Association President Mike McCormack calls ridiculous. “Mr. Cressy doesn’t have a realistic understanding of policing in this city. Our members are going from call to call right now, so for Mr. Cressy to put forward a position that we’re going to have these resources available for the safe injection sites is just untrue.”

A written statement from the Mayor’s office to CityNews this afternoon states “Mayor Tory is aware of the issue – it is part of a much larger problem that the City is working to address. The Mayor is dedicated to ensuring community safety and doing everything possible to prevent overdose deaths. He visited the area recently with Councillor Wong-Tam to speak to local residents and hear their concerns first hand. Toronto Police, Toronto Public Health, City of Toronto staff, the local councillor and the Mayor are all committed to working together to address this problem.”

Though it’s still unclear if that means more funding for resources will be set aside in the upcoming 2018 budget. Something Councillor Wong Tam and several other stakeholders in the heart of Canada’s largest city believe they deserve.

Kevin Spacey to be cut out of upcoming Getty film

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 9th, 2017

Actor Kevin Spacey arrives for the European Premiere of "Now" at a cinema in central London on June 9, 2014. (Photo by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

In a wholly unprecedented move, Kevin Spacey is being cut from Ridley Scott’s finished film “All the Money in the World” and replaced by Christopher Plummer just over one month before it’s supposed to hit theatres.

People close to the production who were not authorized to speak publicly said Wednesday that Plummer is commencing reshoots immediately in the role of J. Paul Getty. All of Spacey’s scenes will be reshot, the people told The Associated Press. Co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams are expected to participate.

Scott, who is known to be an efficient director, is intending to keep the film’s Dec. 22 release date.

Representatives for Scott did not immediately return email messages seeking comment.

The film was originally set to have its world premiere at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles on Nov. 16 but was pulled earlier this week amid the sexual harassment reports surrounding Spacey, who has also been fired from “House of Cards” and dropped by his talent agency and publicist.

“All the Money in the World” was primed for a plush awards season release from distributor Sony Pictures Entertainment and its advertising campaign, which prominently features Spacey, has been public for about a month already. But its plans have been in question since Spacey’s reputation has diminished over the past week with harassment allegations growing daily.

The film chronicles the events surrounding the kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and his mother’s attempt to convince J. Paul Getty, his billionaire grandfather, to pay the ransom.

The 87-year-old Plummer was reportedly Scott’s first choice for the role of J. Paul Getty, but the director was pressured into casting a bigger name. Plummer is probably best known for “The Sound of Music.” He won his first Oscar in 2012 for the film “Beginners.”

One of the people close to the production said that Scott’s plan caught Sony by surprise, but the studio is supporting the switch.

The trade publication Deadline first reported the news.

City committee proposes new rules for short-term rentals

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 9th, 2017

Airbnb sign

The city’s Licensing and Standards Committee is proposing a new category and rules for short-term rentals in Toronto.

If approved by city council, anyone engaging in a short-term rental in their home would have to register with the City and any companies that help facilitate short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, would have to be licensed.

The new rules would also require that the home being rented be the principal residence of the owner. Anyone renting out their entire home would only be able to do so for a maximum of 180 nights per year.

Records of short-term rental activity would also need to be provided to the City upon request.

Companies such as Airbnb would be required to pay a one-time license application fee of $5,000 and a licensing fee of $1 for each night booked through the company.

The regulations will be debated next week by the Licensing and Standards Committee before going before the full City Council for final approval next month.

In a statement, Mayor John Tory says he wants to address the concerns of residents affected by commercial rentals while allowing for people to continue renting out their homes.

Click here to view the full report.

Family elated after girl with rare disorder gets funding for costly drug

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 9th, 2017

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It’s nothing short of a medical miracle; three-year-old Sophia Gall can now ride a bike and hop for the first time.

For months, Sophia’s parents were terrified because her miracle was in sight, but just out of reach.  It wasn’t long after she was born when her mother Julia Gall felt a nagging fear. Something was wrong.  Her daughter wasn’t reaching milestones the way she should.

Just after Sophia’s first birthday, those fears were confirmed. Sophia was diagnosed with Type 3 Spinal Muscular Atrophy, known as SMA, a rare degenerative disorder that destroys all of the body’s muscles.

Sophia couldn’t run the way other children could. She was weak and started falling more and more. Doctors told her parents she would likely be in a wheelchair within a year. Her father Alex Gall choked up at the memory.

“Just the idea that our baby girls is, you know, not going to walk,” he said.

Their only hope was the drug Spinraza — the only treatment for SMA — approved in the summer by Health Canada.

Testing promised remarkable success. Videos posted online showed children, who had been unable to sit up or walk, taking their first steps.

But Spinraza is not yet covered by Ontario or any other Canadian province because it has to go through a lengthy review process to determine cost effectiveness and benefit. That could take another year or more.

Paying for Spinraza themselves was impossible for Sophia’s parents; the drug costs US$750,000 in the first year and US$375,000 every year after that — for life.

In October, Sophia got her miracle. After months of lobbying, Alex’s health insurance agreed to pay for Spinraza, and she got her first injection.

 

Julia said there’s already a vast improvement after only two injections.

“It’s unbelievable the difference,” Julia said. “She’s happy; she’s not as frustrated; her confidence has skyrocketed.

“She always tells me, ‘Look what I can do, look what I can do. Can you do this mommy? Can you do this?’ Whereas before she would say, ‘Mommy, I’m broken,’ and she would cry all the time.”

But for other families who don’t have health care coverage, Spinraza is still out of reach.

Three-year-old Khloe Madgett from Peterborough, who has Type 2 SMA, is now in a wheelchair.

Her mother Jessica Madgett said she feels helpless watching as her daughter gets weaker by the day.

“Knowing there is a drug out there and I can’t get it for Khloe, I feel stressed,” Madgett said. “I can’t do anything as a parent and I feel I’m failing; I’m feeling hopeless.”

Biogen, the company that produces Spinraza, is offering the drug to Type 1 SMA patients, the most severe type, through its compassionate care program.

Khloe’s family knows the longer it takes for the drug to be funded by OHIP, the more SMA will take a toll on her body.

Expanded parental leave to come into effect by end of year, sources say

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 9th, 2017

File photo of a father feeding his baby. GETTY IMAGES/KIDSTOCK

OTTAWA — New mothers and fathers who are poised to go on parental leave before the end of the year will be able to spread federal benefits over a longer period of more time starting next month.

The federal government will today unveil the details of its long-promised changes to parental leave rules that will allow eligible new parents to take up to 18 months of employment insurance benefits after the birth of a child.

Sources say the new rules will take effect next month, but the exact date will be disclosed later today by Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.

On that date, a new family caregiver benefit will also kick in, and eligible soon-to-be-mothers will be allowed to claim maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before the baby is due.

However, the government isn’t expected to increase the actual value of employment insurance benefits for anyone who takes the extended parental leave. Instead, the Liberals will stick with their 2015 election promise: spreading 12 months’ worth of benefits over 18 months.

The change in leave rules will automatically give more the option of more time off for federally regulated workplaces, which include banks, transport companies, the public service and telecoms, and are likely to spur calls for changes to provincial labour laws to allow the other 92 per cent of Canadian workers access to similar leave.

Affected workplaces will have to decide how — or even if — to amend existing leave policies and collective agreements that spell out issues like salary top-ups.

As is, the federal parental leave program pays out benefits for up to 17 weeks for new mothers and allows parents to split an additional 35 weeks.

Under the changes first outlined in this year’s budget, new parents will decide when they apply for employment insurance benefits whether to take additional weeks off, which can be split between parents. Once either receives the first dollar of parental leave benefits, the choice is locked in.

Anyone on the 35 weeks of parental leave before the new measures officially come into effect won’t be able to switch and take off the extra time.

The Liberals budgeted $886 million over the next five years for the new measures, and $204.8 million a year after that.

All the parental leave changes won’t affect Quebec, which has its own parental leave program.

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