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Report warns of education-skills gap unless post-secondary system changes

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 30th, 2017

Brennan Hall, University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. HANDOUT
A CIBC economics report warns that Canada’s post-secondary institutions need to change their ways to begin producing enough graduates with the right skills to drive future economic growth.

Authors Benjamin Tal and Royce Mendes say a new CIBC online poll shows students are becoming more pragmatic in choosing careers where their skills will be needed.

The survey shows there has been about a 30-per-cent rise in university enrolments in high-paying careers such as business and the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) in the decade leading up to 2015.

But it adds those programs have seen fee inflation that’s almost double the pace of other courses, leaving students with far greater levels of debt as they enter the workforce.

The CIBC study also suggests that Canada’s post-secondary system isn’t flexible enough and forces students to choose between university and college.

It points out that while Ontario offers 45 joint college/university programs, only eight per cent of Canadian students are enrolled in such a dual system.

“The cost of that mismatch (between education availability and need) is already visible in both disappointing youth employment conditions and the rising share of Canadians earning below average incomes,” the report concludes.

“Those vulnerabilities will be fully exposed in the next economic downturn. The time to act is now.”

CIBC bases its study on an online poll conducted between July 27 and Aug. 2 among 1,506 full- or part-time students in Canada.

The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

Air Canada Centre changing name to Scotiabank Arena next summer

CHRIS JOHNSTON, SPORTSNET | posted Wednesday, Aug 30th, 2017

The home of the Maple Leafs and Raptors is getting a new name.

Air Canada Centre will become Scotiabank Arena when a 20-year agreement between the bank and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment takes effect next July 1.

“It will be a change,” said Dave Hopkinson, MLSE’s chief commercial officer. “It will be a change to the landscape of Toronto.”

The building has only had one moniker since opening its doors in 1999. The sides declined to reveal the financial aspects of their agreement, but it’s safe to assume its worth astronomically more than the $30-million Air Canada paid on the original 20-year deal.

Recent naming rights for Citi Field in New York and Barclays Center in Brooklyn sold for $20-million per year, according to a report in the New York Times.

Scotiabank has deep ties in hockey. In addition to being a longtime NHL partner, the bank has naming rights to Scotiabank Hometown Hockey, Scotiabank Wednesday Night Hockey, Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada and the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

They’ve also had a prior relationship with the Leafs and jumped at the opportunity to expand their arrangement.

“There’s obviously the brand value of just the consumer being aware of it,” said John Doig, Scotiabank’s vice-president and chief marketing officer. “But where it really makes a difference for us is when we earn our way into the activation and relevance. We don’t sell hockey sticks and skates so as a bank we have to be making sure every day that we’re working very hard to be relevant.

“It has to be way more than a name on the side of the building; this can’t be a logo at centre ice and nothing else around it in the community.”

Several companies expressed interest in acquiring the naming rights from MLSE, but Scotiabank had provisions in its deal to take priority if they ever became available.

The building will continue to be known as Air Canada Centre throughout the coming NHL and NBA seasons.

Western Louisiana in crosshairs as Harvey moves back to land


Residents of Cypress Lake Drive use boats to transport others and retrieve items from flooded homes in Moss Bluff, La., on Aug. 29, 2017. (Rick Hickman/American Press via AP)
Western Louisiana residents braced for more wind and water early Wednesday as Tropical Storm Harvey made its second landfall after dumping record rainfall on Texas.

The storm came ashore just west of Cameron, La., bringing maximum sustained winds near 72 km/h, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Harvey had lingered over Texas for days before meandering back into the Gulf of Mexico.

Forecasters say another 13 to 25 centimetres of rain could fall in western Louisiana.

“We are starting to get down to the end of the tunnel of all this rain,” meteorologist Roger Erickson said.

Erickson warns that some coastal rivers won’t be able to drain effectively because Harvey’s winds are pushing in storm surge, aggravating flooding in areas already drenched by more than 51 centimetres of rain. Gusts up to 80 km/h are predicted for coastal areas and up to 65 km/h in Lake Charles and along the Interstate 10 corridor.

Cameron Parish’s Office of Emergency Preparedness said a curfew was in effect until the threat had passed and checkpoints have been set up at entry points into evacuated areas.

State offices in 28 parishes and most Baton Rouge area schools won’t open Wednesday in anticipation of possible severe weather. Gov. John Bel Edwards urged people to remain alert but said the state is responding well to less severe conditions in its own borders.

“You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at us, but with the people in this room, I’m confident we can handle it,” he told local and state officials during a visit Tuesday to Lake Charles, which is near the Texas border.

Edwards said Louisiana also has offered to shelter storm victims from Texas. He said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer.

Harvey’s devastating flooding brought back tough memories in New Orleans as Tuesday marked the 12th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Mitch Landrieu opened his Tuesday news conference with a moment of silence for Katrina victims and words of support for Harvey’s victims in Texas and southwest Louisiana.

“We’ve got to save our house,” New Orleans resident Israel Freeman said as he loaded sandbags for his mother’s home into his Cadillac. “She already went through Katrina. She built her house back up. We just had a flood about two, three weeks ago. She just recovered from that.”

Bradley Morris lives in a ground-level house in New Orleans and was “preparing for the worst.”

“There’s plenty of puddling and stuff already,” he said, “so I just assume that we’re probably going to get a taste of what we had a couple weeks ago.”

Landrieu urged residents to stay home Tuesday because of the threat of potential high water. Some New Orleans neighbourhoods flooded earlier this month during a deluge that exposed problems with the city’s pump and drainage system. On Tuesday, rains flooded a few of the city’s streets, but not to the same extent.

New Orleans officials planned to reopen government buildings and public schools Wednesday, a day after they were shut down amid fears of flooding rain from Harvey.

“The weather outlook got a little bit better for us,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. He cautioned however, that a change in the forecast could mean a change in plans.

About 500 people were evacuated in southwest Louisiana’s most populous parish early Tuesday, as a heavy band of rain pushed waterways out of their banks, Calcasieu Parish spokesman Tom Hoefer said. He said as many as 5,000 parish residents were affected by the flooding, but not all of those people have flooded homes. Some are just cut off by flooded roads.

Evacuations continued Tuesday in some rural areas outside Lake Charles, with authorities working to empty a flood-prone subdivision near the town of Iowa. Officials in Acadia Parish advised residents near the Mermentau River and Bayou Nezpique to leave.

Family members and authorities in Texas have reported at least 18 deaths from the storm. No Harvey-related deaths were immediately reported in Louisiana, according to a spokesman for Edwards.

Associated Press writers Stacey Plaisance, Kevin McGill, Janet McConnaughey and Jeff Martin contributed to this story.

Canadian airlines cancel scores of flights due to Hurricane Harvey

ROSS MAROWITS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 30th, 2017

Rescue boats fill a flooded street as flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise on Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/David J. Phillip
Canada’s two largest airlines have cancelled scores of flights, affecting thousands of passengers, due to the massive hurricane that has flooded parts of Texas.

Calgary-based WestJet says 25 flights between Calgary and Houston have been cancelled since Friday, impacting travel plans for 1,400 passengers.

It says aircraft are positioned to resume service when the situation on the ground has improved.

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport says on its website that it should reopen for commercial traffic on Thursday at noon local time.

WestJet says it is tentatively planning to operate one flight that day and one on Friday. Extra flight segments will be added over the weekend to help transport passengers.

Air Canada has cancelled several flights between Houston and airports in Montreal and Toronto. It wouldn’t provide details about the number of passengers affected.

The Montreal-based carrier (TSX:AC) says in a website advisory that customers who purchased tickets directly with the airline for flights between Saturday and Sept. 5 to Houston, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and San Antonio International Airport can change their flights free of charge until Sept. 20.

Passengers who purchased tickets through Aeroplan or Air Canada Vacations should contact them directly.

Hurricane Harvey has dumped a record 49.32 inches of rain on Texas.

America’s fourth-largest city has been paralyzed by the storm that arrived as a Category 4 hurricane. Forecasters expect it will head back inland east of Houston sometime Wednesday then head north and lose its strength.

Related stories:

Guelph men drive to Houston to sister forced from home by flooding

Two Quebec women among the many affected by Texas flooding

Gasoline future prices jump in Harvey’s wake due to refinery disruptions

SUV smashes into Etobicoke townhome, man accused of impaired driving

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 30th, 2017

One man is in custody after an SUV slammed into an Etobicoke home on Aug. 30, 2017. CITYNEWS
Toronto police are investigating after the driver of an SUV smashed into a townhome early on Wednesday morning.

The driver apparently lost control of his vehicle, bounced off the curb, struck a small tree, and then crashed into the home, sending bricks onto the lawn.

It happened at the corner of Albion Road and Silverstone Drive, west of Martin Grove Road, just after midnight.

There were people home at the time, but none of them were injured.

The driver had minor injuries. He’s also accused of impaired driving and drug possession.

Kenya bans plastic bags, may fine violators up to $38,000

TOM ODULA, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 29th, 2017

A woman leaves a grocery store Friday, May 15, 2015 in Montreal. The city has begun consultations on wether to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
A ban on plastic bags came into force Monday in Kenya and those found violating the new regulation could be receive maximum fines of $38,000 or a four-year jail term.

The ban applies to the use, manufacture, and importation of plastic shopping bags and gives a minimum fine of about $19,000 or up to a year imprisonment, according to the government. Exemptions were made for manufacturers producing plastic bags for industrial use.

A spot check showed many people and shops in the capital city, Nairobi, still packaging goods in plastic bags. But most supermarkets chains had stopped giving out the bags and were selling cloth bags instead

Vehicles were being stopped at road blocks for bag checks.

Similar bans have been implemented in other African countries such as Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi.

Activist Boniface Mwangi has appealed to the Kenyan government to reduce the penalties, saying they are overly punitive and will mainly affect poor citizens who cannot afford to bribe their way to freedom.

“So if you’re rich, you can get away with anything, but if you’re poor, don’t use plastic bags from 28th August or you will go to jail,” he said in a Facebook posting.

In the slums of Nairobi, plastic bags are not only used to pack food and store clothes, but also as mobile toilets, he said.

“When you rent a house there, it doesn’t come with a toilet and so every time you need to use a toilet, you have to pay,” Mwangi said. “If you’re a family, using the toilet becomes an expensive affair.”

Some 100 million plastic bags are handed out every year in Kenya by supermarkets alone, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

Thin plastic shopping bags litter Nairobi’s streets and contribute to towering piles at dump sites. The Kenyan government says the bags harm the environment, block sewers and don’t decompose.

Some Kenyan manufacturers have said the ban will cost jobs, but Environment Minister Judi Wakhungu last week said more jobs will be created from making bags from environment-friendly materials.

Plastic bags have long been identified as a major cause of environmental damage and health problems, killing birds, fish and other animals that mistake them for food, said the U.N. environment agency. The bags also provide breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carry malaria and dengue fever.

Ontario to create French-language university

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 29th, 2017

The Ontario Legislative Building is seen on June 29, 2010. BENSON KUA
A French-language university is one step closer to reality in Ontario as the Liberal government says it will introduce legislation to create one.

The provincial government is accepting key recommendations from a report by the French-language University Planning Board.

The location isn’t yet determined, but the university would be intended to serve central and southwestern Ontario, the areas with the fastest growing Francophone populations.

Ontario is home to 611,500 Francophones.

Advanced Education Minister Deb Matthews calls the announcement a tremendous step forward, saying it will provide access to high-quality French-language university education.

The government says the university would be the first of its kind in the province, though there are currently two publicly funded French-language colleges and nine universities at which students can study in French.

Francophone Affairs Minister Marie-France Lalonde says Francophone culture and the French language have always been essential to Ontario’s identity and prosperity.

Hillary Clinton book tour stopping in Toronto

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 29th, 2017

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks to supporters during a “Get out the vote,” rally held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 in downtown Tampa, Fla. (Andres Leiva/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Hillary Clinton is stopping in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to promote her upcoming book “What Happened.”

Her publisher Simon and Schuster says the book is Clinton’s “most personal memoir yet” with revelations including her thoughts and feelings during last year’s failed U.S. presidential bid.

The 15-city speaking tour is being billed as a “detailed and surprisingly funny” look at her journey, the process of writing the book, and her plans for the future.

Clinton is scheduled to visit Toronto, the second stop on her tour, on Sept. 28 at the Enercare Centre.

She is booked for the Palais des Congres de Montreal on Oct. 23 and the Vancouver Convention Centre on Dec. 13.

“What Happened” is due Sept. 12.

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