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Mom’s final wish dashed after Air Canada mix-up puts her remains on wrong flight

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

It was a promise to his dying mother but because of an apparent mix-up by Air Canada, a son’s final commitment was left unfulfilled.

Back in 2013, Jean Stone was moved out west, from Toronto, to Prince George British Columbia by her son, Glenn Stone. Stone promised his mother then, and again as her health began to fail, that he would accompany her body on the same plane back to Toronto, after which she would be buried beside her late husband in Dundas, Ontario.

“The hurt is once I found out (she was on a different flight) I couldn’t do a thing to correct the problem.”

Glenn Stone and the body of his mother, Jean, were to fly back to Toronto from Vancouver on Flight 34, on Saturday, October 21st at 9 a.m.

However, the flight was cancelled and they were moved to Flight 2134 on the same day at the same exact time. Stone claims the funeral home touched base with Air Canada Cargo to ensure they were both still on the same flight.

“I went to bed Friday night thinking this is the last request I can have for Mom. We are on the same flight in the morning. I went to the airport and inquired at the gate that Mom had been put on the same flight, a gate agent called to check and then told me Mom had been put on an earlier flight to Toronto an hour earlier.”

In the official contract for Jean Stone, the Air Canada transfer clearly says: “Do not load on earlier flight – family is travelling.” Though Stone’s remains were still put on an earlier flight to Toronto. Without her son’s knowledge.

“I’d done everything I could but I was devastated that promise couldn’t be honored to mom.”

In a statement to CityNews, Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick wrote: “This unfortunate situation arose because the flight the customer was scheduled to travel on with his mother’s remains was cancelled due to a mechanical issue with the aircraft designated to operate that flight. We created a new flight with another aircraft, which the customer flew on. To ensure that the casket arrived in Toronto in a timely manner, it was put on an earlier flight as soon as our Cargo team became aware of the flight cancellation. Our intention was to avoid any delay.”

The problem is, both the cancelled flight and the new flight were scheduled to leave on October 21st at 9 a.m. Stone has since been issued a $200 dollar voucher, an offer he finds insulting.

“To think they could brush it under the carpet, and give me a $200 dollar voucher? Why would they think I would ever want to fly on Air Canada again? Why would my family want to?”

Air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs, calls Air Canada’s offer an “insult to the passenger.” Lukacs also calls the case a complicated matter.

“On the one hand, one can say it arrived there on time, it fulfilled the contract from a cargo perspective but at the same time we must understand when we talk about the body of a family member it is not simply a piece of cargo.”

Since CityNews reached out to Air Canada they have said they “understand the disappointment this has caused and our customer relations office has reached out and remains engaged with the customer.”

Late Wednesday afternoon Air Canada again reached out to Glenn Stone, and according to him, admitted there was a breakdown in communication.

He says they’ll be reviewing what happened but will not be offering anything more in the way of compensation.

Reported illnesses prompts recall of Maple Leaf Foods chicken strips

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

Maple Leaf Foods recalled its Chicken Breast Strips product on Nov. 1, 2017, because it may be contaminated with staphylococcus bacteria. CFIA

Maple Leaf Foods has recalled a brand of frozen chicken strips because they may contain the toxin produced by staphylococcus bacteria.

The chicken breast strips were sold in 840-gram packages with a best before date of Sept. 29, 2018.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says illnesses have been reported but did not provide further details.

The agency says the recall was triggered by a consumer complaint, and that more products may be pulled from stores depending on the results of a food safety investigation.

Food contaminated with the bacteria may not look or smell spoiled. Symptoms of staphylococcus poisoning include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping and fever.

Click here for more information on the recall.

Transport truck safety called into question after Hwy. 400 crash

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

Aerial photos of the Highway 400 crash north of Highway 88, Nov. 1, 2017. 680 NEWS/Darryl Dahmer

At least three people were killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on Highway 400 Tuesday night, which police believe was caused by a transport truck driver.

Just six days ago, the head of the Ontario Provincial Police force Vince Hawkes held a news conference to express concerns about a spike in crashes involving transport trucks and put truck drivers “on notice” for being inattentive while behind the wheel.

Speaking at the scene of the 14-vehicle collision, Hawkes said the trucking industry should take a close look at the way it conducts business. He said truck drivers are unable to brake for slow or stopped traffic if they are texting, eating or watching TV while behind the wheel.

“These truck are, in essence, missiles travelling down the highway with contents in those trucks that as a result of a crash that happens further upstream… we’ll see the devastation like you see today… and the trend seems to be getting worse” he said.

Provincial police say that since Jan. 1, there have been more than 5000 transport truck related collisions that have left 67 people dead.

The head of the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) was quick to defend both drivers and the industry over its role in transporting dangerous goods. He interprets Hawkes’ comments as focused on “the bad apples.”

“The Ontario Trucking Association, the Ministry of Transportation and the OPP believe that strategic enforcement with regards to whether its mechanical fitness, although we have a high performance of mechanical fitness, or driver related issues, should focus on that small percentage of carriers that are not following the law,” he said.

According to the OTA, mechanical and technological improvements such as speed limit and stability controls have made trucks safer. It says there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions, despite a 75 per cent increase in large truck vehicle registrations in the past decade.

However, the OPP say a quarter of all fatal collisions they investigate involve a commercial vehicle. On Wednesday, the Ontario Safety League called for a coroner’s inquest into highway safety.

Ontario’s Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca said the ministry will cooperate fully if an inquest is called for.

“I welcome any initiative or undertaking that will help produce the outcome that everybody, the travelling public need in the province of Ontario which is road safety,” he said “If the coroner decides to go in the direction of an inquest the Ministry of Transportation will be happy to provide whatever is required.”

“Any death on the highway that’s preventable should be prevented” added Premier Kathleen Wynne. “So we will continue to work to make sure we do everything possible to prevent this kind of tragedy happening again.”

With files from The Canadian Press

3 killed in Colorado Walmart shooting; police seek suspect

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

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THORNTON, Colo. — A man nonchalantly walked into a Walmart and immediately opened fire with a handgun, killing two men and a woman before fleeing in a car on Wednesday night, according to Colorado authorities.

The shooting appears random and there are no indications that it was an act of terror, said Thornton police spokesman Victor Avila.

“This is a very heinous act,” Avila said. “We don’t know exactly what the motive of the person was, but it was certainly a terrible act.”

Two men died inside the Walmart, which is about 10 miles (16 kilometres) north of Denver in a busy shopping centre. The woman died later at a hospital.

Authorities did not immediately release any other information about the victims.

Aaron Stephens, 44, was in the self-checkout line when he heard a single shot followed by two more bursts of gunfire before people started running for the exits.

“The employees started screaming. Customers were screaming. They were running like crazy, and I ran out too because I didn’t want to get killed,” he said.

Guadalupe Perez was inside the store with her young son when she heard what she thought was a balloon popping. A Walmart employee told her someone was shooting, and then Perez saw people running away yelling, “Let’s go. Let’s go. Leave the groceries.”

“You see all these things in the news and you go through it, it’s scary,” she said. “But thank God we’re OK and nothing happened to us.”

Investigators, including special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were reviewing security video and interviewing witnesses to identify the suspect. Avila said police don’t yet know how many rounds were fired.

Ragan Dickens, a Walmart spokesman, said the company is working with investigators and declined further comment.

Ontario strengthening police oversight, redefining core police duties

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

File photo of police officers in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Ontario is expected to announce sweeping changes to its policing laws Thursday that include strengthening oversight of the system and making it possible to suspend officers without pay, The Canadian Press has learned.

The changes would include the first update to the Police Services Act in more than 25 years.

A source says the government will be implementing all of the recommendations contained in Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on police oversight, released earlier this year.

An Inspector General would be established to oversee police services, with the power to investigate and audit them.

Three civilian agencies charged with police oversight already exist – the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. Unlike the SIU and OIPRD, a source says the Inspector General would not investigate individual police misconduct.

Those three current oversight bodies would also get expanded mandates, such as requiring the SIU to report publicly on all of its investigations.

As well, the SIU would have to be called when an officer fires at a person and would be able to file more charges on its own. It currently only investigates police-involved death, serious injury and sexual assault allegations.

Local police boards would also be created for the Ontario Provincial Police, similar to the structure of municipal police services boards – which will be required to undergo more training, such as on diversity. The new act would also allow First Nations police forces to establish their own police services boards.

An amended Coroners Act would require coroner’s inquests when police kill through use of force, one of Tulloch’s key recommendations.

The government’s stated approach is to share the burden of community safety with municipalities. They will be required to implement community safety plans, such as identifying a need for more addiction and mental health programs, aiming to prevent problems before police get involved.

The new act will for the first time clearly define police responsibilities as those that can only be performed by an officer, sources say, which wouldn’t include directing traffic.

Two new pieces of legislation would allow police to track a cellphone and search a home in missing persons cases – something they can only do now when a crime is suspected – as well as making accreditation and oversight of forensic labs mandatory.

Police chiefs have been calling for a decade for the power to withhold pay from suspended officers, and parameters to do so will be set out in the legislation. Ontario is the only province in which chiefs can’t revoke the pay of suspended officers, who collect millions of dollars each year.

Under the current law, suspended officers have to be paid even when convicted of an offence, unless they are sentenced to prison.

The new legislation proposes to allow suspensions without pay when an officer is in custody or when they are charged with a serious federal offence that wasn’t allegedly committed in the course of their duties.

Legislation would also update the police discipline process more broadly, including giving a tribunal the power to revoke an officer’s licence.

The new Police Services Act and the other new and updated acts are being bundled together as the Safer Ontario Act.

With files from The Canadian Press’ Colin Perkel

Father of 9 believed to be among 3 killed in fiery crash on Hwy. 400

CityNews | posted Thursday, Nov 2nd, 2017

Aerial photos of the Highway 400 crash north of Highway 88, Nov. 1, 2017. 680 NEWS/Darryl Dahmer

A father of nine is believed to be among the three people killed in a multi-vehicle pileup that sent a wave of fuel and flames rushing down a highway north of Toronto, prompting motorists to run for their lives, police said Wednesday.

The Nugget reports that North Bay truck driver Benjamin Dunn’s vehicle was reportedly among those destroyed in the explosions following the collisions.

His wife Nikiyah Mulak-Dunn told The Nugget the devastating news was conveyed by an OPP representative on Wednesday. She said police said they still need to make a positive identification and have requested her husband’s dental records.

Provincial police confirmed the number of fatalities Wednesday evening after first responders combed through the burned-out wreckage of some 14 vehicles.

“The damage to those involved vehicles is absolutely catastrophic and I can’t tell you if those people got out, if they’re still inside the vehicles,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told reporters near the scene.

“There are cars everywhere, twisted transport trucks, destroyed vehicles, metal that is unrecognizable as to whether or not it is a vehicle at all or not. And that’s why we’re still looking to determine any other victims that may be inside the vehicles.”

The crash took place in the northbound lanes of Highway 400 south of Barrie, Ont., late Tuesday night, when police said a transport truck crashed into slowing traffic, triggering a pileup that involved at least four transport trucks and two fuel tankers that spilled thousands of litres of fuel on the road. The impact caused a fireball.

“The temperatures that were achieved in this fire are apocalyptic,” Schmidt said. “It is unbelievable to see that kind of damage and destruction from a motor vehicle collision.”

Police said the northbound lanes of the highway — between Country Road 88 and Highway 89 —would remain closed on Wednesday, adding the road may need to be repaired before traffic can resume.

The names of the other victims have not been released.

On Wednesday morning, the area around the crash was littered with twisted metal, pieces of what looked like molten debris, and the shells of burned out vehicles. The highway itself was covered in soot in areas and Schmidt said molten aluminium from the wreckage was draining down the road.

OPP commissioner Vince Hawkes, who just days earlier had sounded the alarm about fatal collisions caused by distracted truck drivers, said the latest crash could have killed many more people.

“It’s a miracle that we don’t have 25 bodies down there,” Hawkes said, adding that he’s putting the trucking industry on notice.

Luba Zariczny, 25, said she felt the heat from the towering flames from the other side of the highway as she drove past the crash on her way home to Mississauga, Ont.

“I felt a lot of heat coming off it and just a lot of cars burnt up and people just off to the side. It looked like some people tried to reverse back and then there was other cars that I could see emergency lights on so they just literally left their cars and ran,” she said.

“I automatically assumed that there was definitely casualties in there, like fatalities. Just seeing how on a big scale it was, it gets you a little bit.”

Officials said the fatal accident had come less than hour after a three-vehicle collision that happened a few hundred metres further north on Highway 400.

Kevin Gallant, fire chief for the neighbouring town of Bradford-West Gwillimbury, said heavy traffic from that collision likely set the scene for the pileup.

Gallant said he was on the scene of the first collision when the second one happened just before 11:30 p.m.

“When I looked to the south from the accident I was already on, all I saw was a big ball of fire,” Gallant said.

Schmidt said the crash sent fuel “rolling down the highway.”

“People were running for their lives to not be encompassed by the moving fire that was on the highway,” he said.

Firefighters let the fuel burn itself out for two and a half hours before tackling any remaining hot spots, Schmidt said. Crews from eight fire departments responded to the crash.

The cause of the collision is still under investigation, but Hawkes appeared to be laying the blame on the transport truck’s driver.

“You can see that the highway is a straight stretch of highway, you can see that it’s downhill, there’s really no excuse for that transport truck to continue at the speeds that they did and impact the vehicles that were in the queue,” he said. “And as a result of that we have the devastation that you’re all well aware of.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne expressed her condolences to the victims’ families, calling the accident “a horrible, horrible tragedy.”

“We will in the aftermath of this collision, obviously we will look at what happened, we will be advised on whether there’s more that could have been done to prevent such a crash,” she said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also tweeted his condolences.

“Absolutely devastating news from southern Ontario,” he wrote. “My thoughts are with those who lost a loved one in the horrific crash on Highway 400.”

Provincial police said last week that since Jan. 1, they have tracked more than 5,000 transport truck-related collisions that have left 67 people dead.

The Ontario Trucking Association has said the industry is committed to road safety, noting that there has been a 66 per cent decrease in the fatality rate from large truck collisions between 1995 and 2014 despite a 75 per cent rise in large truck vehicle registrations.

With files from Paola Loriggio and Michelle McQuigge in Toronto

Ontario to introduce legislation to sell, distribute marijuana

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 1st, 2017

A man lights a marijuana joint as he participates in the 4/20 protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 20, 2015. The federal government appears ready to take a hands-off approach as provinces begin rolling out how they plan to police the sale and use of marijuana once it becomes legal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ontario is set to introduce legislation today that would regulate the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana.

The province was the first to announce detailed plans last month for cannabis once the federal government makes it legal in July 2018.

The drug will be sold in up to 150 stores run by the Ontario Liquor Control Board – separate from outlets selling alcohol – and illegal dispensaries will be shut down.

Sales will be limited to those 19 and older, and consumption of marijuana will not be allowed in public spaces or workplaces.

The government has been coy on potential pricing, saying decisions will be made after more details come from the federal government, but that the aim is stay away from overly expensive prices that fuel illegal sales.

Municipalities in Ontario will find out in the coming weeks where the government wants to locate the first batch of cannabis stores, but the finance minister says none will be near schools.

Condo renters need more protection from scammers: NDP

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Nov 1st, 2017

Construction cranes are seen in Toronto on Wednesday, July 5, 2017. Canada Revenue Agency is analyzing 2,810 transactions involving cases of pre-construction condominium flipping in Toronto to determine whether audits need to be carried out to find tax evaders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Some in Queens Park are calling for more protection for prospective renters against fraud as the average cost to rent a one-bedroom apartment recently topped $2,000 a month in Toronto.

This comes after at least two dozen people, mostly international students, came forward to CityNews, claiming they paid thousands of dollars in rent to a man to rent a suite he did not own.

“It’s an unfair situation for renters,” said NDP leader Andrea Horwath. “Their recourse is lacking. We need to look at what we can do because many of these folks are very vulnerable. Let’s face it. First and last month’s rent can be quite a substantial amount of money.”

Bum Joon Kim, 39, was arrested in a parking lot on Monday and now faces 21 charges in connection to an alleged rental scam.

Last week, two international students from Japan told CityNews they separately handed over thousands of dollars in rent to the same man, for the same Front Street condo.

One of the students handed over $5,600 in rent while the other paid nearly $8,000. According to the students, the man purporting to be the landlord, Kim, gave different reasons for why he needed the cash up front.

Homebuyers who put down large down payments are protected by law by paying a real estate brokerage that in turns holds the money in trust.

There’s also Tarion, mandatory insurance that builders in Ontario must provide under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. The maximum coverage available for new homes and condominium units is $300,000 — if there’s any instance of fraud or delays in closing or occupancy.

Mark Weisleder, a real estate lawyer and author, says the only way for renters to protect themselves is by avoiding online sites like Kijiji and Padmapper and going through a real estate agent instead.

“Beware of the internet stuff,” Weisleder says. “(Renters) have to make sure that they are dealing with a licensed real estate brokerage because then the money is paid to the brokerage in trust and it’s protected.”

Tenants do have the option to go through the Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board, an entity that can make legally-binding orders of repayment, but often these battles end up in small claims court, a drawn-out process that can take months.

 

By the numbers: real estate and rental listings on Kijiji

  • Canadian real estate listings at any given time: 466,000
  • Canadian rental ads at any given time: roughly 250,000
  • Toronto apartments and condos for rent (last 30 days): 21,733
  • Toronto houses for rent: 13,682
  • Listings for rooms for rent and roommates in Toronto: 19,148
  • Number of Toronto ads deleted (marked as “sold”): 7,039
  • Average duration of these ads: 12 days

 

Tips for protecting buyers and renters:

Research other properties in the area to gauge if the property is priced appropriately for the market. Does the price seem realistic for the number of bedrooms and location? Keep in mind that if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

Watch out for overly flowery descriptions and extensive lists of features as these are often signs of a realtor marketing a property, and not that of a landlord trying to rent out a house or apartment. Another warning sign is descriptions of repairs like the roof or furnace, as that is not relevant to renters, only buyers. These are often copied from other real estate sites by scammers to appear as descriptive as possible.

Be careful of ads that ask for responses that include age, occupation, income, gender and more personal information such as bank or social insurance card number; these can often be attempts by scammers to store information.

Source: Kijiji

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