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Toronto police ‘work to rule’ amidst 911 response time ‘crisis,’ union boss said

AVERY HAINES | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

Frontline Toronto police officers have been quietly “working to rule” for the past month, and it appears to be putting pressure on how long it takes for officers to respond to calls.

Union boss Mike McCormack read through random dates from 911 dispatch to CityNews on Thursday. From suicide threats and domestic violence to gun calls, in many cases it took hours before a unit was sent to the scene.

As an example, McCormack said one person waited more than two days for an officer to come to their home after calling 911.

“Somebody was so aggravated they waited 55 hours to report a break and enter that they walked into the police station to report it. And it’s not that it’s just happening in an isolated area. This is across the city,” he said.

McCormack said the issues are caused by staffing shortages and a deployment re-organization.

However, he acknowledged a frontline “slow-down” is playing out as well due to low morale. He said the service is about to undergo its biggest transformation in decades.

“They’re frustrated at the lack of staffing, the lack of information around the transformation task force,” McCormack explained.

“We’ve advised our members on the street to make sure they don’t jeopardize their safety or public safety… we want them not to be going from call to call, not to be taking short cuts because it could have an impact on their safety, public safety. So when we look at that we will take any appropriate action to take care of our members and to take care of public safety.”

The union said a survey of its members found almost 70 per cent of officers agree morale is suffering and 93 per cent believe police are under-resourced.

But Mayor John Tory said the upcoming transformation has to happen in order to modernize the police service.

“I’m committed to modernizing the Toronto Police Service so we continue to be the safest major city in North America,” Tory said in a statement.

“A shift schedule that hasn’t changed in 35 years doesn’t help us effectively deploy our police service. I can’t understand why the police association doesn’t want to even discuss changing that 35-year-old schedule because I believe frontline officers are looking for change.”

In a statement, the Director of Corporate Communications for Toronto Police Services told CityNews, “we experienced one of the busiest 36-hour periods in recent memory.”

“The public would expect us to deal with the most serious calls, and get to the less serious calls as soon as we could. That is what we did.”

Markham man accused of defrauding women in online romance scam

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

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Randolph Aquino allegedly defrauded three women in a romance scam, Aug. 3, 2017. TORONTO POLICE SERVICE/Handout
Toronto police are trying to track down a Markham man suspected of defrauding three women of more than $1,000,000 in a romance scam.

It’s alleged Randolph Aquino contacted women on dating websites that included Match.com, Ourtime.com and Chemistry.com.

The victims were misled into believing they were involved in a relationship with a wealthy person who was in trouble in a foreign country and needed cash.

They wired the money into a business account with the name “Tresa Group Ltd.”

Investigators believe Aquino may have fled to the Philippines.

He is described as 46 years old, clean-shaven, five-foot-seven,180 pounds with short hair. He dresses well and describes himself as a professional in the financial services industry.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 416-808-7300.

Toronto police create dedicated bike lane enforcement unit

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

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The Toronto Police Service is cracking down on drivers who park in bike lanes.

The Parking Enforcement Unit has announced it will be permanently assigning three officers to oversee the city’s bicycle lane network.

The three officers will work Monday to Friday and will be using social media to assist them in finding and ticketing anyone parking in the bike lanes.

Regular duty parking enforcement officers will also continue to patrol the bicycle lanes for infractions.

Last year, Toronto police wrote 7,285 bike lane tickets. During the first seven months of 2017, police issued almost 5,000 tickets.

Ontario women get free access to abortion pill as of Aug. 10

THE CANADIAN PRESS AND NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

This Sept. 22, 2010 photo shows bottles of the abortion-inducing drug RU-486 in Des Moines, Iowa, which Planned Parenthood of the Heartland clinic doctors can remotely prescribe using a telemedicine terminal. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
The abortion-inducing drug RU-486 is shown in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sept. 22, 2010. (AP photo/Charlie Neibergall) 

Women in Ontario will be able to get an abortion pill for free with a prescription as of Aug. 10.

Mifegymiso, an alternative to surgical abortion, is a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol.

It can be used to terminate pregnancies at an early stage, up to seven weeks from the start of a woman’s last menstrual period.

The window can be up to nine weeks. The drug can be used for a pregnancy with a “gestational age up to 49 days as measured from the first day of the Last Menstrual Period (LMP) in a presumed 28-day cycle,” according to a Government of Canada website.

The Ontario government says it will be available next Thursday at participating pharmacies for women with a valid health card and prescription.

“The commitment to publicly funding Mifegymiso means women across Ontario will have fair and equal access to safe abortion without payment, judgment or exception,” Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women, said in a statement on Thursday.

Dr. Eric Hoskins, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said Queen’s Park is “safeguarding women’s right to choose … making it easier to access health care where and when they need it.”

However, one pro-life group says it’s that ‘when-and-where’ – as well as the entire issue of abortion – that has them concerned.

“We have great concerns about the abortion pill. It’s a type of procedure which interferes with the natural process of motherhood,” Diane Watts, a researcher at REAL Women, told CityNews on Thursday.

“There may be complications. To assume that if you’re in the country, away from a medical doctor or from a hospital, everything’s going to go extremely well is a bit of a stretch,” Watts said, adding that women could be “left on their own to deal with this situation, which could take days, which could be painful, which could be traumatic.”

Health Canada’s website says that there are already procedures in place for physician oversight.

The pill can only be dispensed by a physician. While the patient does not have to take the pill in front of their doctor, “anyone using the drug is required to attend appointments at a medical clinic at certain stages in treatment.” There can be complications, the government warns, and it is estimated that up to one in 20 women who use this drug will require a follow-up surgical procedure because their pregnancy is not successfully terminated.

New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it hopes to do so.

Related links:

The abortion pill vs the morning-after pill: What’s the difference?

Health Canada fact sheet on Mifegymiso

What’s the difference between the morning-after pill and the abortion pill? (Planned Parenthood)


Related stories:

Counter-protesters target controversial anti-abortion demonstrators at Ryerson

Alberta latest province to cover the cost of abortion pill Mifegymiso

Ontario making abortion pill Mifegymiso free for all who need it

Leaside day camp operator charged in child porn investigation

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Aug 4th, 2017

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Christopher MacDonald, who owns and operates AFTERFOUR day camp in Leaside, is facing numerous charges related to an online child porn investigation (Linkedin)
A 32-year-old day camp operator is facing numerous charges in a child pornography investigation.

Police say they searched a home in the Bayview and Moore Avenue area on Thursday following an online investigation into the trading of child sexual abuse material between April 2017 and May 2017.

Christopher MacDonald has been charged with two counts of accessing child pornography, two counts of possessing child pornography and one count each of making child pornography available and making child pornography.

CityNews has learned that MacDonald has owned and operated AFTERFOUR, a day camp in Leaside for children between the ages of 6 and 14 for the last four years. However, police say they have no information at this time that any of the children he works with at the camp are involved in this case.

A statement posted on the camp’s website attributed to Attila “Gabriel” Branyiczky says he intends to keep the camp open and running and any requests for refunds will be dealt with.

The cheapest week to travel this summer

Barry Choi | posted Thursday, Aug 3rd, 2017

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Labour Day is just around the corner, and if you haven’t made any travel plans yet, you might be surprised to learn that there’s still some time to score some wicked deals. KAYAK, the world’s leading travel search engine has analyzed their data and have found that the week of August 28th is the cheapest week for Canadians to travel this summer when prices are 17% lower compared to the rest of the season.

Not only is this week ideal for lower fares, but it’s great since most travellers would have returned home from their trips which mean fewer crowds that you’ll need to deal with. The median prices listed below are based on coach, round trip flights with Canadian origin cities searched on KAYAK. Here’s a look at the top 10 cheapest destinations for Canadians to travel to during the week of Aug. 28:

Washington, DC

Median airfare – $173

Some Canadians may be avoiding Washington, DC for political reasons, but that would be a mistake. The city is one of America’s greatest and features plenty of free attractions including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. If you’re looking to save a bit of money on hotels, stay in Arlington where prices are cheaper and take the train to get into the city.

Victoria, B.C.

Median airfare – $188

With its blend of traditional beauty and modern amenities, Victoria is no hidden gem, but that’s okay. The inner harbour is a great place to get to know the city where gardens and architecture greet you. If you’re lucky, you may run into the city’s most famous local, Darth Fiddler. Yes, that would be Darth Vader yielding a fiddle instead of a lightsaber. For something more serious, head to the B.C. Buildings of Parliament where free guided tours are available.

New York City

Median airfare – $191

It may be cheap to get to New York City, but hotel prices can set you back quite a bit. To help you offset your costs, consider picking up a CityPASS that will give you discounted admission to six attractions. Food can be rather inexpensive with Halal Cart Guys charging $8 for their famous chicken platter while $1 slices at 2 Bros Pizza may be the best deal in the city. Even if you decide to splurge, that’s okay since the Canadian dollar has gone up in value recently.

Chicago

Median airfare – $191

If you haven’t been to Chicago, what are you waiting for? The city has some of the best architecture in the world that is best viewed from the river. Even though the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise will set you back USD $46, it’ll be worth it since you’ll learn all about the city in 90-minutes. Alternatively, you can book a free tour through the Chicago greeter program that connects you with a local guide.

Boston

Median airfare is $197

With history, art, and sports, Boston is a city that is suitable for all. History buffs will want to follow the freedom trail that takes you to 16 historic landmarks. If you’re into art, the Museum of Fine Arts has more than 450,000 works of art, while the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum houses a smaller and more intimate collection. Fenway Park is home to the Red Sox and one of the oldest ballparks in the game.

Montreal

Median airfare – $199

Montreal is celebrating is 375th birthday this year, and you better believe the city is still celebrating. The best thing to do in the city is to explore the various neighbourhoods. Old Montreal’s historic buildings and horse-drawn carriages will make you think that you’ve stepped back in time. The port area mainly attracts tourists but is still a lot of fun. For something a bit different, head up to Plateau/Mile End where St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagels are found.

Philadelphia 

Median airfare – $201

Philadelphia may have been made famous by Rocky, but these days the city is known for its food. No, I’m not talking about cheesesteaks, Italian beef sandwiches at the Reading Terminal Market are what the locals prefer. Top Chef contestant, Sylva Senat’s new restaurant, Maison 208 is set to open any day now and is sure to be a popular place. Okay, if you’re a Rocky fan, head to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and dash up the stairs.

Dallas

Median airfare – $201

Dallas is a huge city, so there are two things to keep in mind. Get familiar with public transportation or ride sharing and book a hotel that’s central such as the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. When you’re ready to see the city, head to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science that is both impressive on the inside and out. For 360-degree views of the city, head over to the Reunion Tower GeO-Deck. CityPASS is also available in Dallas which will help you save on attraction tickets.

Toronto

Median airfare – $209

The CN Tower may be Toronto’s most recognizable attraction, but the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square is easily more popular. Head to the sign at any hour, and you’ll find people snapping pictures among the letters. One could argue that food has now also become a popular attraction in the city. How could you not enjoy a bowl of bibimbap in Koreatown or have some gelato in Little Italy? Need a break from the city? Take a ferry to the Toronto islands and relax for the day.

Calgary

Median airfare – $213

Many people fly to Calgary just as a means to get to the Canadian Rockies, but spend some time in the city, and you won’t be disappointed. The recently opened Studio Bell at the National Music Centre has been getting rave reviews and stands out in the East Village. Down the street from the Studio Bell is the Glenbow Museum where you can learn about Canadian history. Foodies will be happy to hear that Calgary’s food scene has exploded over the years with tasty food available all over the city.

This originally appeared on MoneyWeHave.com and has been republished with permission.

Barry Choi is a personal finance and budget travel expert at Moneywehave.com.

Everything you need to know about bug spray ingredients

WING SZE TANG | posted Thursday, Aug 3rd, 2017

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PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

Nothing kills our chill-out-in-nature vibe faster than becoming an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitos, ticks and other bloodsuckers. And beyond the maddening itchiness, insect bites can pass along serious disease too—even if you’re not somewhere tropical.

“While Canada does not have local transmission of insect-borne killers like malaria and dengue, there are infectious diseases spread by insects here that can ruin your summer,” says Dr. David Fisman, professor of epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, pointing to West Nile virus (from infected mosquitoes) and Lyme disease (via deer ticks).

So how can you get bugs to buzz off without dousing your family’s skin in irritating chemicals? Here’s what you should know about insect repellents—the good, the bad and the useless.

muskol insect repellent and off! familycare insect repellent

TRY MUSKOL INSECT REPELLENT PUMP SPRAY, $9, WELL.CA, OR OFF! FAMILYCARE INSECT REPELLENT SMOOTH & DRY, $9, WALMART.CA

DEET
Invented for the US military in the ’40s, DEET still ranks most effective. In a study testing 16 bug repellents on particularly game volunteers, published in 2002 in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), DEET-based repellents fared best, giving “complete protection for the longest duration.” DEET’s side effects—some minor (skin/eye irritation), others scary (seizures and other neurological symptoms)—make a lot of people leery. But serious reactions are very rare; they’re typically linked to repeatedly applying way too much or ingesting it. Even the Environmental Working Group says, “DEET is generally safer than many people assume.”

care plus anti-insect spray

CARE PLUS ANTI-INSECT 20% ICARIDIN SPRAY, $14, MEC.CA

Picaridin (A.K.A. icaridin)
Harder to find than DEET but considered a solid alternative, picaridin is a synthetic ingredient approved by Health Canada in 2012. It’s similar to a compound found in the black pepper plant. Picaridin is thought to be almost as potent as DEET, without the same pitfalls: it doesn’t irritate the skin and eyes, it’s not stinky and it doesn’t come with a “potentially toxic” rep. In the US, where it’s been sold for longer than in Canada, a recent study found no reported cases of major side effects.

natrapel insect repellent

TRY NATRAPEL INSECT REPELLENT, $6, MEC.CA

Oil of lemon eucalyptus
If you want something botanically based, oil of lemon eucalyptus is pretty much the only option with serious scientific credibility. The ingredient’s active compound is p-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD); look for it on the label. Don’t confuse this ingredient with unrefined lemon eucalyptus essential oil—it’s not the same thing. A new study of 11 bug repellents, published this year in the Journal of Insect Science, ranked sprays with DEET and PMD as the most effective at keeping mosquitos at bay. Other research has found that oil of lemon eucalyptus is on par with low-concentration DEET (in other words, it doesn’t last as long as high-concentration DEET, but it still offers protection).

biteblocker extreme pump spray and citronella insect repellent spray

TRY BITEBLOCKER XTREME SPORTSMAN PUMP SPRAY, $8, HOMS.COM OR DRUIDE CITRONELLA INSECT REPELLENT SPRAY LOTION, $15, WELL.CA

Other plant oils (eg., soybean and citronella)
Despite being pitched as safer-for-you bug repellents, other plant oils provide protection that’s murky at best. Some might do the job for a short while (sometimes repelling for mere minutes)—if they work at all. An old NEJM study found that a soybean oil–based product curbed bites for about 1.5 hours. But a more recent study in the Journal of Insect Science observed that two natural bug sprays (one with soybean oil plus geraniol, and one with citronella) had “little or no” effect on deterring mosquitos. So if you’re relying on these ingredients? Use them where there’s no risk of catching anything serious.

Read more:

The best ways to protect your kids from bug bites this summer
Ask Dr. Dina: Are insect repellents with DEET safe for kids?
Myths and facts about mosquito bites

Pregnant doctor delivers baby just hours before giving birth herself

CHRISTINE SHEPHERD | posted Thursday, Aug 3rd, 2017

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PHOTO: WKYT

A pregnant OB/GYN in Frankfort, Kentucky is already claiming the title of supermom for helping deliver a baby just hours before giving birth herself. Amanda Hess was preparing to be induced when she discovered that a patient of hers, Leah Halliday Johnson, was also in labour at the same hospital.

Hess came to the rescue of fully dilated Johnson in the absence of her on-call doctor, who was on his way back to the hospital after leaving for a break. Hess and her husband heard Johnson’s screams and the mom-to-be knew she had to step in to help deliver the baby in distress with no time to spare.

“I just put on another gown to cover up my backside and put on some boots over my shoes to keep from getting any fluid and all that stuff on me, and went down to her room and I knew her,” said the doctor in an interview with WKYT, a Kentucky news station.

Johnson was relieved to see a familiar face and move the birthing process along. There was no stopping the expectant mother who was ready to push and meet her bundle of joy. A few hours after delivering Johnson’s baby, Hess gave birth to her own baby girl.

“I love doing what I do. I love taking care of mothers and babies,” said Hess. “Most doctors are always thinking of their patients, even when they’re a patient themselves.” A nice idea, but we think she’s probably being a bit too humble.

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