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Hwy. 404 reopens after multi-vehicle crash in Aurora

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Aug 24th, 2017

Highway 404 has reopened in Aurora after a crash on Aug. 24, 2017. CITYNEWS
Two people are in hospital after a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 404 in Aurora.

The crash happened just south of Aurora Road, before midnight on Wednesday.

The highway has since reopened.

It’s not yet known how seriously the people were hurt, or how many vehicles were involved.

Highway 404 has reopened in Aurora after a crash on Aug. 24, 2017. CITYNEWS

Weapons still found in Ontario jails despite millions spent on body scanners

CRISTINA HOWORUN | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

Despite spending millions on high-tech body scanners, weapons are still being found in Ontario jails.

On Monday, a correctional officer working at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) was sent to hospital after he was slashed three times, allegedly by an inmate with a ceramic knife.

“We’re lucky he’s able to recover at home,” OPSEU Local 368 president Chris Butsch explained.

“A few inches either way and it could’ve been a major artery.”

Butsch said the correctional officer received 24 stitches.

To see graphic images of the injuries click here and here.

This isn’t the first time a correctional officer has been injured with these types of blades since a body scanner was installed at the Lindsay-area jail last October.

“Another (correctional officer) was stabbed back in the winter with a similar knife,” Butsch said.

And it isn’t just a problem at one jail.

“We are finding ceramic blades almost daily, and a lot of other things too,” said Ryan Graham, acting president at Maplehurst Correctional Complex’s OPSEU Local 234.

About a dozen provincial institutions have body scanners on site.

The SecurPASS whole body X-ray security imaging system is supposed to detect ceramic knives, which are gaining in popularity in Ontario jails, as well as drugs and pills.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced the installation to big fanfare in May 2016. It cost about $10 million to have the machines installed at all 26 provincial institutions.

“It was such a newsworthy item, but when it came to implementing them, it’s been like pulling teeth,” Graham explained.

A CityNews investigation in January revealed a litany of problems with the installed machines — primarily that staff hadn’t been trained to use them and that months after their delivery, they were sitting unplugged, gathering dust.

Since then, training has been implemented and the machines are being used — but they aren’t catching the contraband that made its way into the jails years ago.

“I pushed for institutional search from day one,” explains OPSEU’s Chad Oldfield.

“And from day one we were told, it’s not going to happen because of cost and the impact on operations and the impact on inmates.”

Jails that have the scanners only search incoming inmates — not those that are already in the institution.

“The scanners have been great,” Oldfield said. “But there’s that whole aspect of the contraband that was in the institution since prior to the scanner, and the employer has turned a blind eye to it.”

Several sources confirmed that institution-wide searches of cells and inmate living areas has not happened at any jail where scanners are installed.

“Adult institutional policy and procedures says once a month the entire jail must be searched, but that never ever happens,” a correctional officer from Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre told CityNews.

“Managers that say otherwise are just fudging the reports.”

A letter written in December 2016 from former Correctional Services Minister David Orazietti to union leadership read, “The ministry is moving forward with a pilot project at the Maplehurst Correctional Complex to conduct a full institution search, including a full body scan of all existing inmates.”

That was supposed to start in early 2017 and be followed at all other jails. It didn’t happen.

“The local administrators at Maplehurst pushed back and said, ‘There’s no way.’ They said it cost too much money and would take too much time,” explained Oldfield.

“We created a joint committee with management and came up with a blueprint that would make the search more efficient and then we got the run-around. It was in legal, then it was on the superintendent’s desk, then it was back in legal. The administration just had no appetite for it.”

Oldfield said there have been several inmate-on-inmate assaults using these types of weapons since the scanner’s installation.

“The biggest problem was that there was a change in minister,” Oldfied said.

After months of inaction by the ministry, Monte Visselmeyer, chair of OPSEU’s corrections caucus, said the union put forth another option.

“We suggested we look at Toronto East (Detention Centre) for a search pilot project. It has a smaller inmate population,” he said. “But we are still waiting for upper corporate levels to agree.”

“In order to establish a baseline standard of safety for correctional staff and inmates across the province, all institutions that are scheduled to implement scanners or are currently using body scanners must conduct an institution-wide search using the body scanner,” Oldfield said.

“We need to actually see what’s already in the heart of the jail, not just what the new admissions are bringing in.”

CityNews is still waiting for comment from the ministry, as well as Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde, with regards to institution-wide searches.

In a brief statement, ministry spokesman Andrew Morrison confirmed Monday’s attack on the correctional officer.

“Approximately 10 inmates in a unit at the Central East Correctional Centre caused a disturbance yesterday,” Morrison wrote. “During efforts by correctional staff to secure the inmates in the unit, one staff member was injured. The officer was sent to hospital, treated for injuries and released.”

On Tuesday, staff at CECC were told that an intuition-wide search will take place.

“It’s sad that it took a (correctional officer) getting slashed for us to get it,” explained Butsch.

Letter From Minister by CityNewsToronto on Scribd



More women with young children depending on women’s shelters, putting strain on resources

AMANDA FERGUSON | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

Women’s shelters across the city say more women are seeking refuge with young children in tow, putting a strain on resources.

Nellie’s, a shelter in Toronto’s east end, says 14 of their 36 beds are currently occupied by children, and the majority of those are toddlers.

Ingrid Graham, the shelter’s manager of development, says diapers are so in demand, the cost is coming out of their already-stretched food budget.

“The more babies, the more money we’re putting towards buying diapers, baby formula and baby wipes,” Graham said. “All the help we can get can help us stretch our budget a little further.”

Click here for more information on donating to Nellie’s Shelter.

Interval House, Canada’s oldest shelter for women escaping abusive situations, is also noticing a similar trend. Nineteen of their 36 beds are currently being occupied by children.

“Within the last few years, women with younger children are coming to Interval House,” says Paul Del Cid, Interval’s residential program manager. “We actually had a child born here last week. We find more woman are getting ready to leave an abusive relationship, so that’s why there are younger kids here.”

Click here for more information on donating to Interval House.

The province told CityNews it’s committed to investing in Violence Against Women (VAW) agencies.

“In 2016-17, the Ministry of Community and Social Services (MCSS) invested $148 million in Violence Against Women services, which is a 54 per cent increase since 2003, at this time, approximately 10,900 women and 6,700 children were served at VAW shelters,” a government spokesperson said in an email.

“In 2015-2016, we invested $147M in VAW services, and at this time, approximately 10,770 women and 6,920 children were served at VAW shelters.

“The ministry funds more than 2,000 beds dedicated for use by women and their children.”

“No woman who is in crisis and needs shelter is turned away – a bed will be found for her and her children.”

Ontario tweaks labour reform bill, but no changes to minimum wage hike

ALLISON JONES, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne takes part in the closing press conference of the Meeting of First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders in Ottawa on Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
A major Ontario labour reform bill is being tweaked but so far is seeing no significant changes to key parts, including a controversial phase-in of a $15 minimum wage, leaving concerned businesses looking to a relief package promised by the premier.

The Liberal government’s legislation includes equal pay for part-time workers, increased vacation entitlements and expanded personal emergency leave, but the centrepiece is an increase in the minimum wage. It is currently set to rise from $11.60 in October to $14 in January, and $15 in 2019.

Businesses have said a 32 per cent increase in less than 18 months will be tough to absorb, and have called for a slower rise.

But the government made no changes to that timeline in the first round of amendments at a Liberal-dominated committee this week, and also voted down almost every change proposed by the NDP, such as giving all workers five paid sick days and eliminating minimum wage exemptions for servers.

There will be another chance to make changes to the bill, after second reading expected next month, and business groups say they’ll continue to press for amendments.

They’re also eager, however, for the government to unveil a package of offsets to help businesses cope with increased costs the labour bill will bring. Premier Kathleen Wynne has promised it will come in the fall.

“We know that there are small businesses, particularly some mom and pop businesses in our communities, that are going to have a challenge going through that transition,” she said earlier this month.

Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid has said a break for small businesses will come “likely on the tax side.”

That’s in addition to already planned burden reductions such as cutting administrative costs, streamlining compliance for small businesses, and increasing small businesses’ share of government procurement, Duguid said.

Jeff Leal, the minister responsible for small business, has said Ontario is eyeing the example of Manitoba, which has a zero tax rate for small businesses on the first $450,000 of active income.

Wynne has also mentioned that restaurant owners in particular have cited fees they pay to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario as an issue, and that businesses have said “training dollars are a challenge to find.”

While much of the government’s talk about the offset package has focused on small businesses, large ones have said the minimum wage increase will hurt them as well.

Metro Inc. estimates the wage increase will cost about $45 million to $50 million next year and is accelerating its study of automation. Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) has estimated a $190-million hit next year from higher minimum wages in Ontario and Alberta. Magna International has warned that higher costs could affect its business investments in the province.

Offsets should be across the board, said Karl Baldauf of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“Small businesses have tighter margins than large businesses, but that being said, large businesses will accommodate this type of hit in a way that will be detrimental to jobs, in a way that will be detrimental to economic growth in this province, and I can’t understand how any provincial government would want to enable that to take place,” he said.

Offsets also need to come sooner rather than later, as businesses are planning now for 2018 and if a package comes in November, that is too late, Baldauf said.

“Businesses will have started to increase costs, they will have started to let people go, they will have stopped hiring people that they might have hired because they’re planning now under the presumption there is no offset.”

The Keep Ontario Working Coalition, which includes the chamber, last week released an economic analysis that it commissioned showing the labour reforms would put 185,000 jobs at risk. Baldauf said the government needs to address the problem through a combination of offsets, delays and amendments to the labour bill.

The minimum wage hike does, however, have support as well. During the first round of committee hearings, many labour and other left-leaning groups cheered the increase, saying it addresses income disparity and stimulates the economy. A group of economists also wrote a letter last month in support of a $15 minimum wage.

The changes the government did make to the bill this week include providing an unpaid sexual assault/domestic violence leave of up to 17 weeks, where in the original bill it was lumped in with 10 days of personal emergency leave.

A few amendments were made to scheduling provisions, as well. If a shift is cancelled within 48 hours of its start, employers must pay three hours’ wages, but a new amendment was added to exempt weather-dependent work.

If an employee gets less than 96 hours’ notice of a shift, they can refuse it, but an exemption was created for work that is needed to deal with an emergency or to remedy or mitigate a risk to public safety.

Related stories:

Metro CEO: grocery industry will be pressured by Ontario minimum wage hike

Business groups raise concerns about Ontario’s planned labour reforms

Wynne promises unspecified relief for businesses amid planned minimum wage hikes

Trudeau’s panda cuddle is now a butter sculpture

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

A butter sculpture of Justin Trudeau and the panda cubs by David Salazar, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout
It was an adorable moment from 2016 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau snuggling with the Toronto Zoo panda cubs.

And now you can see it again … in butter form.

It’s all a part of the CNE’s annual butter sculpture exhibit.

David Salazar, this year’s lead sculpture, said several other iconic Toronto moments have been carved out for all to see.

“The theme that we have this year is infamous Toronto animals that have gone viral in the news media – such as Trudeau with the panda bears, the Ikea monkey, the high park Capybaras…,” he explained.

Justin Trudeau and Darwin the Ikea Monkey are just two of the CNE's butter sculptures, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout

Because of its size, the creation of the Trudeau statue will continue throughout the duration of the CNE. Salazar said that by the time it’s all finished, 2,700 pounds of butter will have been used.

Justin Trudeau and the Toronto Zoo panda cubs sculpted in butter, Aug. 22, 2017. CNE/Handout

The butter sculptures are an annual tradition at The Ex and are always a big hit with guests but this year’s Trudeau statue has drawn international attention to the event.

The story has been picked up by Time Magazine, Cosmo and The Mirror in the U.K.

In previous years, other prominent Canadians have been honoured with a butter likeness including astronaut Chris Hadfield, Mayor Rob Ford and the infamous #DeadRaccoonTO.

Toronto psychiatrist loses licence over relationship with former patient

PAOLA LORIGGIO, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

Two-day discipline hearing for psychiatrist Dr. Nagi Ghabbour on Feb. 21, 2017. TORONTO STAR/Getty Images/Steve Russell
A Toronto psychiatrist has lost his licence to practise after becoming romantically involved with a former patient less than a month after their professional relationship ended.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario says Dr. Nagi Ghabbour failed to respond to the woman’s escalating feelings for him while she was his patient and “clearly did not recognize his own part in it.”

The regulatory body says Ghabbour, 55, should have known how to manage the situation but instead chose to “pursue his own romantic needs.”

An agreed statement of facts shows the woman, who was married and had young children, sought treatment from him for anxiety and depression stemming from her work and marital difficulties.

The document says the woman announced she no longer wanted to be his patient about a year later amid concerns from her family over her relationship with — and her own romantic feelings for — the psychiatrist.

It says they started to date within a few weeks and began a sexual relationship the following month. They now live together and plan to marry once her divorce is finalized, the document says.

While licence revocation is a more severe penalty than typically imposed for this type of case, Ghabbour’s misconduct was egregious and a lengthy suspension would not address the public’s or the college’s concerns, the disciplinary committee wrote in its decision.

“While Dr. Ghabbour’s case is not a case of sexual abuse of a patient, rather, professional misconduct in that he started a sexual relationship too soon after termination, the very nature of the relationship, the profound vulnerability of this specific patient and Dr. Ghabbour’s lack of insight into the egregiousness of the misconduct, led the committee to decide that revocation is the only suitable penalty to fully protect the public,” it said.

Ghabbour can apply for reinstatement in a year, which the committee said should give him an opportunity to show that he has learned how to prevent the same issues from arising again.

He also faces a reprimand and has been ordered to pay $11,000 to cover the costs of the two-day hearing.

The college’s current guidelines say that when treatment involves significant psychotherapy, sexual involvement is likely inappropriate any time after the end of the patient-doctor relationship.

The agreed statement of facts says the woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, began to see Ghabbour at the suggestion of her uncle. It says Ghabbour, who worked in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Program at St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Toronto, agreed to take her on as a patient.

He initially diagnosed her with adjustment disorder, with depressed mood and anxiety, and a high likelihood of depressive disorder, the document says. He later noted that she discussed suicidal ideation.

After roughly five months of treatment, the woman “began experiencing and expressing strong romantic feelings” towards Ghabbour, which was reflected in his notes, the document says.

Ghabbour documented that on separate occasions, she kissed him on the cheek, hugged him and mentioned that she wanted a physical bond with him, it says. Another note mentioned “transference,” a term that describes the unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another, often a therapist.

Meanwhile, the woman’s marriage was deteriorating and she told Ghabbour she wanted a separation while she considered filing for divorce, the statement of facts says.

The woman’s mother voiced concerns about their growing closeness and threatened to lodge a complaint with the college, the document says. Ghabbour’s notes suggest he was not worried about possible repercussions, it says.

“He testified, and had charted, that he did not feel he had anything to worry about should her family members complain about him as he was doing nothing wrong,” it reads.

Almost a year into treatment, the woman told Ghabbour she no longer wanted to be his patient due to her romantic feelings for him, the document says. His last note on her case was dated about a month later, saying the file should be closed.

The disciplinary committee found that note to be “self-serving and disingenuous,” saying it did not believe a psychotherapeutic relationship could be adequately severed in this fashion.

“When there is a deep intimate one-sided exchange of personal information as occurs in ongoing psychotherapy, this inherently sets up a deep trust in the doctor by the patient,” the committee wrote.

“This trust causes a great vulnerability in the patient and an exceptional power imbalance of lasting and enduring impact.”

One week into negotiations, Trump says he’ll ‘probably’ cancel NAFTA

ALEXANDER PANETTA, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Aug 23rd, 2017

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Air Force One at Hagerstown Regional Airport in Hagerstown, Md., on Aug. 18, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Donald Trump has threatened to blow up NAFTA less than one week into the renegotiation of the trade agreement, providing an early indication that the upcoming talks might occur under a cloud of menace.

The president’s threat itself is no surprise. A common topic of hallway chatter at last week’s first round of talks last week was just when he might deploy that withdrawal threat, which many view as his principal source of negotiating leverage.

The only surprise is how quickly it came.

“Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal,” Trump told a campaign-style rally in Arizona late Tuesday night. “Because we have been so badly taken advantage of. They have made such great deals – both of the countries, but in particular Mexico – that I don’t think we can make a deal.”

“So I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point.”

He repeated it: “I told you from the first day, we will renegotiate NAFTA or we will terminate NAFTA. I personally don’t think you can make a deal without termination but we’ll see what happens. You’re in good hands, I can tell you.”

He’s made the threat numerous times, but this is the first time he’s done it since Canada, the U.S. and Mexico began talks last week.

Mexico’s foreign minister shrugged it off as a leverage play: “No surprise: we’re in a negotiation,” Luis Videgaray tweeted in response. “Mexico will remain at the table with calmness, firmness, and in the national interest.”

Related stories:

It was Canada’s big prize: Is Chapter 19 still worth fighting for in new NAFTA?

Great deal of negotiation’ still required after first round of NAFTA talks

Jobs, supply chain, growth: Why autos are such an important part of NAFTA

Insiders say they expect him to keep making these threats. It’s his main source of power to force the other countries to reach an agreement. One well-connected Washington lobbyist at last week’s talks said he was convinced the threat was coming: “Almost 100 per cent.”

The former deputy trade czar under Barack Obama said it’s an obvious move and he thinks the president made it too early. In an interview several weeks ago, Robert Holleyman said it was a serious tactical error when Trump made the threat in April.

He said Canada and Mexico gained valuable insight that will render Trump’s threats less powerful at the negotiating table: in April, the U.S. Congress pushed back against him, the business community fumed, and his own cabinet members pleaded against it.

“It was, at a minimum, terrible timing,” said Holleyman, Obama’s deputy United States Trade Representative.

“You do that at the 11th hour in the negotiation – not at the throat-clearing stage … I suspect President Trump will be unable to play that card again. And if he does play it, it won’t be as strong as it would’ve been… The Canadians and Mexicans will say, ‘You… will face a huge backlash in your own Congress.’”

That episode in April underscored the complexity of ending NAFTA.

Without the support of Congress, a president might withdraw the U.S. from the international agreement, but he could not singlehandedly wave away the law on the U.S. books that implemented NAFTA.

An international economic law professor and former State Department lawyer said he believes it would ultimately end up in court. And he said U.S. courts would ultimately conclude that the president can’t rip up NAFTA without congressional support.

That’s because the president can’t just erase the 1994 NAFTA Implementation Act passed by Congress. Only Congress can pass laws. In addition, the U.S. Constitution makes clear that Congress has power over international commerce.

“If the president were to rip up NAFTA, and then sort of jack tariffs way up, I think somebody would be able to come in and say… ‘You’re actually violating U.S. domestic law,’” said Tim Meyer, a Vanderbilt professor, former government lawyer, and onetime clerk for Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump appointed to the Supreme Court.

“I think courts are going to be sympathetic to the idea that the president can’t ignore the legislation that implements these trade agreements. Congress has not repealed that legislation, and they’ve given no indication they intend to.”

That being said, several observers suggest a presidential attempt to withdraw could set up a legal and political tug of war with Congress over the setting of new tariff schedules – and that would foster economic uncertainty.

Record $417M award in lawsuit linking baby powder to cancer

MICHAEL BALSAMO. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Tuesday, Aug 22nd, 2017

baby powder
In May, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay a multi- million dollar settlement to a South Dakota woman who blamed her ovarian cancer on years of baby powder use. PHOTO: The Associated Press
A Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a hospitalized woman who claimed in a lawsuit that the talc in the company’s iconic baby powder causes ovarian cancer when applied regularly for feminine hygiene.

The verdict in the lawsuit brought by the California woman, Eva Echeverria, marks the largest sum awarded in a series of talcum powder lawsuit verdicts against Johnson & Johnson in courts around the U.S.

Echeverria alleged Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn consumers about talcum powder’s potential cancer risks. She used the company’s baby powder on a daily basis beginning in the 1950s until 2016 and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007, according to court papers.

Echeverria developed ovarian cancer as a “proximate result of the unreasonably dangerous and defective nature of talcum powder,” she said in her lawsuit.

Echeverria’s attorney, Mark Robinson, said his client is undergoing cancer treatment while hospitalized and told him she hoped the verdict would lead Johnson & Johnson to put additional warnings on its products.

“Mrs. Echeverria is dying from this ovarian cancer and she said to me all she wanted to do was to help the other women throughout the whole country who have ovarian cancer for using Johnson & Johnson for 20 and 30 years,” Robinson said.

“She really didn’t want sympathy,” he added. “She just wanted to get a message out to help these other women.”

The jury’s award included $68 million in compensatory damages and $340 million in punitive damages, Robinson said. The evidence in the case included internal documents from several decades that “showed the jury that Johnson & Johnson knew about the risks of talc and ovarian cancer,” Robinson said.

“Johnson & Johnson had many warning bells over a 30 year period but failed to warn the women who were buying its product,” he said.

Johnson & Johnson spokeswoman Carol Goodrich said in a statement that the company will appeal the jury’s decision. She says while the company sympathizes with women suffering from ovarian cancer that scientific evidence supports the safety of Johnson’s baby powder.

The verdict came after a St. Louis, Missouri jury in May awarded $110.5 million to a Virginia woman who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012.

She had blamed her illness on her use of the company’s talcum powder-containing products for more than 40 years.

Besides that case, three other trials in St. Louis had similar outcomes last year – with juries awarding damages of $72 million, $70.1 million and $55 million, for a combined total of $307.6 million.

Another St. Louis jury in March rejected the claims of a Tennessee woman with ovarian and uterine cancer who blamed talcum powder for her cancers.

Two similar cases in New Jersey were thrown out by a judge who said the plaintiffs’ lawyers did not presented reliable evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.

More than 1,000 other people have filed similar lawsuits. Some who won their lawsuits won much lower amounts, illustrating how juries have wide latitude in awarding monetary damages.

Johnson & Johnson is preparing to defend itself and its baby powder at upcoming trials in the U.S., Goodrich said.

Associated Press writer Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this report.

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