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‘Unruly passenger’ arrested after Air Canada flight returns to Toronto

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 3rd, 2017

An Air Canada airplane is framed the window on another plane at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Dec. 30, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
An Air Canada flight was flown back to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on Wednesday night due to an “unruly passenger.”

Peel regional police say a flight attendant was assaulted during an incident on board the aircraft and suffered minor injuries.

The flight was bound for Budapest, Hungary, and a police spokesman says he believes the plane was as far east as Nova Scotia when the pilot turned around and flew back to Toronto.

The unidentified passenger was arrested once back at Pearson and police say he is expected to appear in court on Thursday to face an assault charge.

There was no immediate information about the man’s age or nationality.

Stem cell trial shows promising results for children with autism

MIKE VISSER AND AMANDA FERGUSON | posted Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2017

An innovative stem cell trial taking place at Duke University in North Carolina is giving hope to parents of children with autism, including one young Toronto family.

Noah Barcolos was two years old when he was diagnosed with autism.

Two years later, he’s one of 180 children taking part in the second phase of a study at the Durham, North Carolina school. The goal of the clinical trial is to see whether a transfusion of the child’s own umbilical cord blood packed with stem cells can help treat autism.

“Noah has mostly been in his own world,” according to his mom, Sammy Barcolos. “He likes to play around the kids rather than interact with them.”

But since taking part in the trial, Noah’s parents say the difference has been remarkable.

“He gets upset. We got more eye contract, interaction, facial expressions,” said Noah’s dad, Michael. “Now he makes the expressions at the right moments,” said Sammy. “He’s also calling me mommy. He’s never done that.”

Noah isn’t the only child in the trial to show progress.

“Generally we saw behaviours improve at 6 months compared to their baseline study,” Doctor Joanne Kurtzberg told CNN.

Kurtzberg is one of the lead researchers in the study. Phase one saw more than two-thirds of the children show behavioural and speech improvements.

Her early hypothesis is that certain immune cells within the cord blood are crossing the blood-barrier and altering brain connectivity.

Phase two is currently underway and it’s unknown when the findings will be released publicly.

Some autism specialists are cautioning parents that the trial results are premature, and Kurtzberg is among those encouraging caution.

“We don’t know whether this therapy will be curative for autism. But I am hopeful it will be curative in the long run.”

But for Michael Barcolos, even the tiniest changes provide hope.

“Everyone wants the same thing – an equal chance for their child. To have an equal chance at life.”

No easy solution to delivery trucks parking in bike lanes

FAIZA AMIN | posted Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2017

One week after Canada’s biggest postal delivery service vowed to crack down on employees parking illegally in bike lanes, Canada Post delivery vehicles continue to break the rules of the road.

One employee says parking on the job has become more daunting and finding spots to park is almost impossible, especially in the downtown core.

“It’s really challenging, you have to follow the rules of the road first of all and you’re not allowed to park in bike lanes, and there’s pretty much bike lanes everywhere,” said the employee who didn’t want to be identified.

In areas where parking is scarce, these employees are sometimes expected to park several blocks away, making the delivery that much more challenging.

“You’re carrying things, you’re carrying heavy boxes, and something has to be done about that,” she said. “If we can’t deliver safe to a store because of a parking situation, we can’t deliver and that’s a major problem.”

CityNews cameras drove throughout the downtown core Tuesday afternoon, and found dozens of delivery trucks, not just Canada Post, parked illegally. Among them, were UPS vehicles and other unmarked vehicles blocking traffic. The city says these vehicles are by far the biggest parking offenders in Toronto.

Last year saw over 2.2 million tickets issued to vehicles on Toronto’s roads.



So far this year, the Parking Enforcement Unit alone has handed out 1.16 million tickets.

But there are some challenges that come with enforcing.

According to the city, getting a tow truck that can remove bigger vehicles downtown in a timely fashion is difficult.

Canada Post says its delivery agents face parking challenges every day, and the company is working alongside the city and others to find long-term solutions to address the issue.

“Our employees are expected to follow the traffic laws when serving customers, which includes no-stopping zones,” a Canada Post spokesperson said in an email statement. “We talk to our employees regularly about safety. If there is an issue, customers should contact us so that we can investigate and address it.”

UPS says it is currently working on developing a range of solutions that address parking challenges in cities like Toronto.

“UPS continues to work diligently with the City of Toronto as well as stakeholder groups in urban areas to find parking solutions that comply with the law and allow our drivers to deliver to residents and businesses across the city. This is a priority for us and the Canadian Couriers and Logistics Association (CCLA),” said a spokesperson in an email statement.

“One of the CCLA’s proposed solutions with municipalities is establishing additional Courier Parking Zones, which are strategically located areas in the city where delivery vehicles would have exclusive access to park in order to continue completing deliveries on a timely basis.”

The postal service company says another easy solution for Canadians is to have packages shipped or dropped off at UPS Access Point locations, instead of being delivered straight to someone’s home.

Haliburton County officials upset after man trademarks name of county itself

SALMAAN FAROOQUI, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2017

The logo for the County of Haliburton, taken from haliburtoncounty.ca on Aug. 1, 2017.
Officials in an Ontario community say they’re exploring all options to overturn a local man’s trademark of their county’s name.

Michael Stinson caused a stir among government officials in Haliburton County last week when they learned he had successfully trademarked the name Haliburton.

Stinson says he never intended to deceive or harm anyone, and explains that he trademarked the name so others couldn’t “tarnish” the name of the community.

Trademarking is a process that gives a person exclusive use of a brand name, and protects the brand from misuse by others.

The Canadian government’s web page on trademarking says names and words that represent a geographic location are not allowed to be trademarked, but Stinson’s application was approved.

Haliburton County’s chief administrative officer, Mike Rutter, says he’s not sure how the trademark could have been allowed.

Rutter says he first became aware of the issue when the county’s chamber of commerce started receiving complaints.

“We received a call from our local chamber of commerce that Mr. Stinson was attending businesses and advising people that they would owe him money if they were using the name Haliburton,” Rutter says.

Haliburton Coun. Murray Fearrey says he contacted the federal department that handles trademark issues and was told the only option to resolve the matter would be for the county to take legal action.

“I’m upset that we would even have to even think about spending taxpayer dollars on something that should never have happened, as a result of some civil servant making a mistake,” says Fearrey. “I can’t believe there isn’t a political process (instead), because if you pass legislation there’s always a way to amend it or rescind it.”

Fearrey says he hopes that the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development – which is responsible for trademarking – can sort out the issue so that the county doesn’t have to start a long legal process.

A spokesperson from the ministry did not respond to questions.

Local politicians say they’re mainly concerned that other locals who sell merchandise with the name “Haliburton” on it could be asked for commission as a result of Stinson’s trademark.

“No one should be able to profit or even restrict the use of the name of a community,” says Fearrey. “We don’t feel that that’s right or that’s fair to our other citizens at all.”

Stinson says, however, that while he’s approached some local businesses about his trademark, he hasn’t received any fees so far.

He says he hopes to work with local officials on the matter and wants to make Haliburton “a big brand name with the co-operation of the county.”

“I’m optimistic that we can all meet and discuss these issues at hand in a timely matter, whether it’s the county of Haliburton, our MP, and our chamber of commerce,” he says.

But local politicians say they aren’t ready to compromise.

Both Fearrey and Rutter, as well as the federal MP in the area, say that the main goal of any talks would be for the trademark to be retracted.

Walmart Canada scraps online pickup fee in latest shot across grocery bow

DAN HEALING, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2017

A sign at a Laval, Que., Walmart store is shown on Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Walmart Canada is eliminating the pickup fee from its online grocery service as it braces for increasing competition in a business where profit margins are already razor thin. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Walmart Canada is eliminating the pickup fee from its online grocery service as it braces for increasing competition in a business where profit margins are already razor thin.

The retail giant said Tuesday it is cancelling the $2.97 charge for customers who order groceries online and pick them up in stores.

Although the fee was modest, the company’s internal studies indicated it was a barrier preventing some people from using their online grocery pickup service, said Daryl Porter, vice-president of online grocery for Walmart Canada.

“Even though it’s a small dollar amount, it means something,” Porter said.

“We want to remove that fee and give people a better chance to try it.”

The service launched in Ottawa in July 2015, about a year after Loblaw rolled out a similar program in the Toronto area.

Walmart Canada has since expanded it to the Greater Toronto Area, Calgary and Edmonton, and Porter said there are plans to bring it to a fifth market that will be unveiled in about a month.

The announcement Tuesday comes against the backdrop of Amazon’s US$13.7-billion deal to buy Whole Foods, an acquisition that some industry observers say will upend the supermarket sector in North America.

“There is a lot of activity happening out there in the industry but this is something we wanted to do even before the Amazon announcement,” Porter said.

Walmart Canada introduced groceries in its stores in 2006 and they are now available in about three-quarters of its 411 stores.

Related stories:

Walmart removes baby onesie that raised ire of Indigenous activist

Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a $13.7B deal

A new platform for Whole Foods? How deal could upend grocery

Toronto ranked number 1 city in Canada for bed bugs

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 2nd, 2017

A bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Toronto often finds itself perched at the top of various best-of lists. In recent years The Big Smoke has been voted one of the top cities to live and work in the world, with the some of the best restaurants in the country.

But there’s little to brag about when it comes to the latest list we’ve topped. According to pest control provider, Orkin Canada, we’re number one when it comes to bed bugs.

Toronto topped all Canadian cities when it came to the number of commercial and residential bed bug treatments carried out by Orkin.

Here’s the top 10:

  • Toronto
  • Winnipeg
  • Vancouver
  • Ottawa
  • St. John’s
  • Edmonton
  • Halifax
  • Sudbury
  • Scarborough
  • Calgary


The dubious honour may not come as a surprise to some. Bed bugs have been spotted in Toronto Public Library books, on the TTC, and in numerous rental and vacation properties. According to the bed bug registry, there are currently 2270 reports for the critters across the city.

Here’s some helpful tips for homeowners and vacationers trying to stay bed-bug free: (Source: Orkin Canada)

  • Inspect thoroughly the beds, soft furnishings and framed pictures – look for insects, blood stains, dead bugs and eggs
  • Keep all your luggage elevated and away from soft furnishings
  • When returning home, leave your luggage in the garage and put all clothing in the dryer at the highest appropriate temperature for at least 15 minutes

Animal cruelty investigation underway into Ontario property overrun by cats

LIAM CASEY, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

Ontario’s animal welfare organization says a hoarding issue may have contributed to a situation at an abandoned rural property where local rescue groups say they’ve found dozens of cats, both dead and alive.

The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it is in the midst of an animal cruelty probe, which began in December, involving a home and a barn in Beamsville, Ont., in the Niagara Region.

No charges have been laid in the case but the OSPCA said it has been working with a woman who they said used to rent the home on the property.

“It did appear to be a hoarding situation,” spokeswoman Alison Cross said Monday. “We were there, feeding animals, going back daily, addressing any concerns of animals that might have been appearing – they are roaming outside, so it’s not easy to find them all.”

The woman who lived on the property may also have been collecting dead animals “from roadkill and other things,” and putting them in barrels that have been found at the site, Cross said.

Local animal rescue organizations recently became involved in efforts to care for cats found alive on the property.

Pam Huson, who runs the Beamsville 4Paw Rescue, said the animal control organization in the area asked her and several other rescue groups on July 19 for help dealing with the situation.

“It was a nightmare,” she said, noting that cats had overrun the property.

Huson said her organization saved about 70 cats from the site and another group, Project Save A Cat’s Life, said it rescued about 30 cats.

The groups also found dozens of dead felines, Huson said.

The dead cats were found inside the home near windows and doors, which were riddled with scratch marks, Huson said.

“The stench was so awful that we were throwing up,” Huson said.

The groups also found the bodies of dead cats inside rain barrels on the property, Huson said.

“We followed the flies and the maggots and the birds and the stench and that led us to the barrels,” she said. “It was shocking.”

In all, Huson said rescue groups have counted 153 dead cats and four dead dogs found on the property so far.

The OSPCA said it was concerned that the rescue groups may have tampered with evidence in its investigation.

“We recognize the passion behind the rescue groups wanting to help the animals, but when it comes to an investigation there is a process that has to be followed, or else you can jeopardize the investigation,” Cross said.

She said the OSPCA was still waiting for evidence from the rescue groups on the number of cats, alive and dead, found at the site.

Huson said, however, that she has offered all of her evidence from the property, from photographs to veterinary reports to her own accounts, to OSPCA investigators who handling the case.

The cats that have been rescued from the property are doing well after being treated for a variety of illnesses and injuries, she said, and are healing in foster homes.

“They’re happy, they’re cuddly,” she said. “After the long weekend, we’re going to have an adopt-a-thon.”

Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with naloxone kits

CRISTINA HOWORUN AND NEWS STAFF | posted Tuesday, Aug 1st, 2017

As the city deals with a weekend surge in Fentanyl related overdoses, Toronto firefighters will soon be equipped with life-saving naloxone kits.

Deputy Fire Chief Jim Jessop told CityNews they’ve been looking at the issue for some time now and have started to put the wheels in motion.

Naloxone is a powerful medication used to block the effects of opioids, especially in overdose.

Mayor John Tory confirmed these plans while speaking with the media on Monday.

“We have plans afoot to have our firefighters have naloxone kits available to them which help again in instances in which they’re the first responders that arrive first on the scene of an overdose,” Tory said.

Approximately 2900 firefighters will have to undergo medically-supervised training. Jessop estimates the cost for initially equipping firefighting apparatuses and stations will be about $40,000.

This comes after a startling weekend surge of overdoses on Toronto streets.

Since Thursday, 27 overdose cases have been reported and Toronto Police confirm four deaths are Fentanyl related.

Police believe a batch of heroin laced with Fentanyl is to blame for the deaths.

The spike in overdoses prompted police to issue a public safety alert on Saturday.

Tory said he’s “deeply troubled” by the recent spike in deaths and overdoses.

“It’s a very, very perplexing and troubling problem. It’s such a tragedy to see this number of people dying and to see this number of people having overdoses that they’re experiencing without losing their lives,” the mayor said.

Jessop said firefighters are often the first at the scene when responding to overdose calls.

Toronto paramedics have been equipped with naloxone kits since 2015.

Toronto police currently do not carry the drug but Tory said he’s willing to reconsider that should medical and emergency officials consider it a necessary step to save lives.

“If they think that a broader distribution beyond the expansion that we’re about to undertake to firefighters and beyond of course the paramedics who already have it … if they think it’s going to make a significant improvement in our ability to stop these deaths, then I am willing to look at it,” Tory said.

Police spokesperson Mark Pugash has previously said police don’t carry naloxone kits because paramedics are equipped and respond to the same calls.

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