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Junk food sales ban in Canadian schools having a positive effect: study

MICHAEL MACDONALD, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Monday, Jun 26th, 2017

Vending machine snack foods
In Canada’s ongoing battle against childhood obesity, one simple weapon appears to be working.

Over the past 12 years, six provinces have banned junk food from schools, and a new study says the measure is having a positive impact on student health.

“It’s a small step in the right direction,” said Philip Leonard, a health economist at the University of New Brunswick. “Combined with other policies of this type, you can hope to see real difference over time.”

Leonard looked at the Body Mass Index (BMI) of 153,000 Canadians, aged 12 to 25, during an eight-year period. Within that sample, compiled from the annual Canadian Community Health Survey, more than 22,000 youths had been banned from buying junk food at school for at least one year.

His research revealed that for each year a student was exposed to a junk food ban, there was a corresponding 0.05 decline in their BMI, a value derived from height and weight.

As a result, the students banned from making junk food purchases at school for five or more years were, on average, about two pounds lighter than students who did not face a ban.

That may not sound like a big difference, but the findings send a strong message, said Leonard, a researcher with the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training.

“You wouldn’t expect that a ban like this would suddenly change a whole bunch of overweight kids into dramatically healthy kids … (But) the main message is that these types of policies are going down the right track.”

The study also found there was a bigger impact on females, though Leonard said it’s not clear what is behind that finding.

As well, younger students showed the most positive results. That probably stems from the fact that older students have more opportunities to leave their schools to forage for food.

“When you’re in high school and you’ve got your driver’s licence at 16, you can drive to McDonald’s or just walk to the convenience store,” Leonard said.

In October 2005, New Brunswick became the first province to impose a junk food ban inside its schools. Under its Policy 711, the Department of Education eliminated all foods from a so-called “minimum nutrition” list.

Prince Edward Island followed suit later that year. Nova Scotia and Quebec did the same in 2007, followed by British Columbia in 2008 and Ontario in 2011.

Despite the positive results, Leonard said junk food bans, on their own, won’t be enough to reverse the troubling trends associated with childhood obesity.

“It’s a huge problem,” he said. “We’re not going to solve it with one little policy change. But, this policy change did make a difference, so it makes sense to look at others.”

Using World Health Organization standards, Statistics Canada says close to one third –31.5 per cent – of Canadian children and youth were classified as overweight or obese between 2009 to 2011.

The federal Health Department has said it plans to update dietary guidelines by the end of 2018 that will reflect the most up-to-date scientific evidence on diet and health. Other initiatives include updated nutrition labels on pre-packaged foods and restricting marketing to children.

Flood watch in effect for Toronto, GO Transit diverting

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Jun 23rd, 2017

he Bayview Extension between King and River streets is flooded on June 23, 2017. CITYNEWS
A flood watch is in effect for Toronto, and GO Transit trains are diverting because of high water levels.

Toronto and Region Conservation (TRC) said Friday that areas of the Greater Toronto Area have already received 20-40 millimetres of rain by 6:30 a.m.

“Environment Canada advises that another system is approaching the GTA from the northwest that could bring another 20-25mm of rainfall with the possibility of thunderstorms to occur starting around 7 a.m. or 8 a.m.,” the TRC said.

The Richmond Hill track is closed, GO Transit said on Friday morning.

“Flash flooding from last night’s rain has caused partial flooding on your line which has resulted in an area of track being closed. As a result, service on your line will be impacted,” GO said in a statement.

Passengers at the Old Cummer and Oriole GO stations may use their GO tickets or Presto Card on the TTC at a staffed entrance at the Finch, Sheppard or Leslie subway stations, GO said.

The diversions will add 30 to 45 minutes to the morning commute.

Teen boy killed in west-end stabbing

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Jun 23rd, 2017

Toronto police investigate a stabbing at the Galleria Mall on June 23, 2017, that left a teenage boy dead. CITYNEWS/Bertram Dandy
A teenage boy is dead after he was stabbed outside a mall in the city’s west end on Friday.

Emergency crews were called to the parking lot of Galleria Mall at Dufferin and Dupont streets just before 12:30 a.m.

He was rushed to hospital where he later died.

Police say the teen was stabbed behind the mall. He was found near a clothes donation bin.

Paramedics initially said the boy was 16 years old. However, police say they don’t know the victim’s age because he wasn’t carried any identification on him.

A male and female were arrested, police say. Their ages are not known, and police have not said what charges they are facing.

It was one of four stabbings that took place in the GTA in the past 12 hours.

Stolen Dawson City ‘sour toe’ returned to its rightful owner

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 23rd, 2017

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell smiles as he holds a sourtoe cocktail glass of Yukon Jack Whiskey at the Sourdough Saloon in Dawson City, Yukon, Wednesday, June 5, 2002. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
A mummified human toe that is the key ingredient in a strange drinking ritual in Dawson City is back where it belongs.

RCMP in the Yukon city say the shrivelled, brown toe that was stolen last weekend has been returned to its rightful owner.

The toe, which is used in the Downtown Hotel’s popular “sourtoe cocktail,” had vanished on Saturday after being added to a drink at the hotel bar.

RCMP say they received a call on Tuesday afternoon from the alleged thief, who said he had mailed the toe to the hotel.

He also said he had called the hotel to say the toe was on its way and offered a verbal apology.

The package, containing both the toe and a letter of apology, arrived Thursday and was opened by an RCMP officer, who said the toe was believed to be in “good condition.” The RCMP say charges are not expected to be laid.

Hotel manager Geri Colbourne said a couple had arrived late Saturday and requested the unique drink but the waitress was called away after pouring two shots. The toe was gone when she returned.

According to tradition, drinkers must allow the toe to touch their lips in order to join the Sourtoe Cocktail Club.

Related stories:

Yukon’s Sourtoe Cocktail still available but theft of one toe tough to swallow

TTC driver becomes first to fail random drug test

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Jun 23rd, 2017

File photo of a TTC sign. CITYNEWS.
For the first time since it introduced random drug testing, a TTC driver has failed a test.

TTC spokesperson Brad Ross confirmed the test was carried out on Saturday and the transit commission was only notified of the positive test on Wednesday.

It’s not known what kind of TTC vehicle the employee was operating or what substance they tested positive for.

The unidentified employee has been suspended with pay pending a disciplinary hearing.

Since the TTC began random drug testing on May 8, more than 300 TTC staff have been tested with a total of eight employees have tested positive for banned substances – two for alcohol and six for drugs.

Ross also confirmed that TTC CEO Andy Byford’s name was recently pulled for a random test and his result came back negative.

70 per cent of Ontarians disapprove of Premier Wynne: poll

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 22nd, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne THE CANADIAN PRESS
A majority of Ontarians disapprove of Premier Kathleen Wynne, according to a new poll which measures national and provincial approval ratings of Canada’s premiers.

The Mainstreet/Postmedia poll finds Wynne has the lowest approval of all 10 provincial premiers, both on a national and provincial level.

Seventy per cent of those surveyed in Ontario disapprove of Wynne while nationally, 48 percent disapprove of her. That is just slightly ahead of Quebec premier Philippe Couillard at 47 percent.

Ironically Couillard, along with Alberta premier Rachel Notley, enjoys the highest approval rating nationally, at 45 percent.

The poll also finds Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s approval rating is at 54 percent across Canada. His strongest support comes from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec while he scored the lowest in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Related stories:

Wynne disappointed with New York’s Buy American agreement on steel
Ontario’s Liberals ‘stealing’ NDP’s ideas again, says Horwath
Ontario looks at ways to make child care more affordable

Sears Canada files for creditor protection, cutting 2,900 jobs

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 22nd, 2017

A Sears Canada outlet is seen in Saint-Eustache, Que., on June 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Sears Canada Inc. plans to close 59 locations and cut approximately 2,900 jobs as part of its plan to restructure its business under court protection from creditors.

The struggling retailer says it will close 20 full-line locations, plus 15 Sears Home stores, 10 Sears Outlet stores and 14 Sears Hometown locations.

The company was granted an initial order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) on Thursday.

The struggling retailer has piled up losses and seen its stock dive, losing more than 80 per cent of its value in the last year, despite efforts to reinvent itself at a time when more Canadians are shirking bricks-and-mortar in favour of online shopping.

It has also gone through several leadership changes in recent years.

The company, which was founded as a mail-order business in 1952, warned just last week there was “significant doubt” about its future and that it could be sold or restructured.

The CCAA is a federal law that gives businesses a chance to operate under court supervision while working out a plan with bond holders, landlords, suppliers and other creditors.

“The brand reinvention work Sears Canada has begun requires a long-term effort,” Sears Canada said in a statement.

“But the continued liquidity pressures facing the company as well as legacy components of its business are preventing it from making further progress and from restructuring its legacy assets and businesses outside of a CCAA proceeding.”

Sears Canada said if the Ontario Superior Court of Justice grants it creditor protection, it will try to complete its restructuring and aim to exit protection as soon as possible this year.

Its announcement didn’t elaborate on what it expects to do to restructure its business.

Headquartered in Toronto, Sears Canada has 94 department stores, 23 Sears Home stores and 10 outlets.

Related stories:

Sears Canada raises doubt about ability to continue

Sears Canada shares plunge on report that it’s preparing to seek court protection

Summer bylaw enforcement includes off-leash dogs: City of Toronto

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Jun 22nd, 2017


There will be more bylaw officers in the parks this summer, a city spokesperson said Wednesday, but that’s not unusual.

Every summer there are more bylaw officers in the parks, “enforcing and educating residents about all of the bylaws,” Tammy Robbinson told CityNews in an email.

In the past, the city has cracked down on dog owners who don’t keep their dogs on a leash. Dogs must be on a leash, except in designated “off-leash” areas. This summer, bylaw officers will “remind residents about what the rules are … and remind them that not everyone loves dogs and we have to share public spaces.”

In 2016, there were 1283 complaints about dogs not being properly leashed, leading to 127 charges.

So far this year, there have been 652 complaints, leading to 49 charges. The fine for breaking the law is $360.

In 2014, Toronto focused its efforts on education, advising residents that dogs were to remain tethered to their owners at all times except when on the owner’s personal property or in a designated off-leash zone. The city investigated 829 reports of dog handlers violating that law and laid 161 charges that year.

In 2015, the city conducted an “enforcement blitz” that was considered unusual in Canada.

Click here to find an off-leash dog park in your area.

With files from The Canadian Press

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