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5 promises for families in 2018 Ontario budget

Christine Chubb | posted Thursday, Mar 29th, 2018

The Ontario Liberals have made various promises in the 2018 budget that are meant to help families. Here are the top five:

1) The new drug and dental program will reimburse 80 per cent up to $400 per single person, $600 per couple and $700 for a family of four with two children, of eligible prescription drug and dental expenses each year, for those without workplace health benefits or not covered by OHIP+ or other government programs. However, no details have been released on what will be covered under this new plan.

2) Child care is free for children aged two-and-a-half until they are eligible for kindergarten –- saving families approximately $17,000 on average. This starts in September 2020.

3) Free preschool starting in September 2020. This investment also includes about $1 billion over three years to support reduced fees and more subsidized spaces for infants and toddlers.

4) A $1.2-billion investment to improve access to mental health and addiction services for children, youth and adults. The investment is being made over three years across the province. That money includes publicly funded psychotherapy, housing for those finished addiction treatment and counselling, therapy and walk‐in clinic services in communities for up to 46,000 young people over the next four years. This will include targeted services for Indigenous, racialized and LGBTQI2S communities.

5) An increase of $2.3 billion over three years has been earmarked for a multi‐year plan to reform income security, including increasing income support, reducing the burden of complex rules and simplifying benefits for those accessing social assistance.

5 things about cannabis from Ontario’s provincial budget

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Mar 29th, 2018

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As the federal government moves to legalize marijuana for recreational users later this year, Ontario’s latest budget sheds light on the province’s approach to sales, distribution, enforcement and revenue expectations.

– The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, an LCBO subsidiary created to manage sales and distribution of recreational pot in the province, is not expecting to generate profits immediately after legalization. It is expecting an $8-million loss in 2017-2018, followed by a $40-million loss in 2018-19, largely due to initial startup costs to establish the retail network. By 2019-20, the province is forecasting OCRC net income of $35 million, followed by $100 million in net income by 2020-21.

– In a bid to crack down on the black market for marijuana in Ontario, the provincial government is creating a Cannabis Intelligence Co-ordination Centre to shut down illegal storefronts.

– The province will create a specialized legal team to support drug-impaired driving prosecutions. As well, it plans to fund sobriety field test training for police officers to help detect impaired drivers.

– Ontario will be providing municipalities with $40-million over the first two years of legalization to help with the costs of dealing with recreational pot. The Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund will be funded by Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis, at 75 per cent.

– Ontario plans to apply the full Harmonized Sales Tax, at 13 per cent, to off-reserve purchases of recreational cannabis by a Status Indian, band or band council, similar to tobacco and alcoholic beverages. However, medical cannabis purchased off-reserve from a licensed producer will be eligible for a rebate of the eight per cent provincial portion of the HST.

Peel police find missing autistic teen last seen in Toronto

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Mar 29th, 2018

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Peel Regional Police say a missing 15-year-old Brampton boy has been located.

Daniel Podlezsanski was last seen Wednesday afternoon around 2:10 p.m. in the area of Steeles Avenue and Keele Street in Toronto.

At the time police said Podlezsanski, who is autistic and non-verbal, may have been confused as he was not familiar with that area of Toronto.

Late Wednesday night, police said the teen was “fine and reunited with his family” while thanking the public for their assistance.

Transit advocates displeased with budget despite break on GO Transit fares

Michael Talbot | posted Thursday, Mar 29th, 2018

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Transit riders in the Greater Toronto Hamilton area had a keen eye on Wednesday’s budget looking for relief, financially or from staggering congestion.

And there was some good news for Go riders.

All GO Transit trips within Toronto will cost PRESTO card users just $3 per trip. In addition, PRESTO card users at stations such as Port Credit, Malton, Pickering, Ajax and Markham will also see fare reductions when taking GO Transit back and forth to Union Station.

Plus, all GO Transit trips under 10 kilometres will cost PRESTO card users just $3 per trip anywhere on the GO Network.

The province said it will work with municipalities to nominate potential priority transit projects, such as the Downtown Relief Line. But when it comes to how much the province would be willing to put up for the Relief Line, there were no concrete numbers. But a spokesperson says $2.2-billion has been put aside in capital funding. As well, the province says it continues to work with the city on the implementation of Mayor John Tory’s SmartTrack plan.

Transit advocacy group TTCriders said it wasn’t enough.

“New transit projects are welcome news, but years away. We need better service now,” said TTCriders Executive Director Shelagh Pizey-Allen in a release. “This budget fails to make the TTC more reliable and affordable.”

“Transit riders will be looking to all political parties to commit to fairly funding the TTC, to provide relief from overcrowding and unaffordable fares. Transit expansion must go hand-in-hand with funding for operations and maintenance,” Pizey-Allen said.

Toronto police charge 3 men after human trafficking investigation

The Canadian Press and News Staff | posted Thursday, Mar 29th, 2018

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Toronto police say they have charged three men following a human trafficking investigation.

Police allege a man coerced an 18-year-old woman into the sex trade in November 2017 with threats against her and her family, then sexually assaulted her numerous times, using a gun to intimidate her.

Officers say the woman was eventually able to escape and contact police.

Following an investigation, two men were arrested and face 23 charges between them.

Deion Cuvilie, 21, from Brampton is facing 18 charges, including sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault with a weapon, procuring a person to provide sexual services, unauthorized possession of a firearm and forcible confinement.

Nineteen-year-old Kristos Shepherd also from Brampton faces five gun possession-related charges in connection with the same investigation.

During the execution of search warrants officers seized a loaded Norenco 308 long-barreled rifle and a quantity of crack cocaine. A grey, 2016 Nissan Maxima was also seized.

Police say that while investigating the 18-year-old woman’s case, they found that a 17-year-old girl had also been forcibly confined and sexually assaulted on November 23 by an associate of the 21-year-old Brampton man.

Officers say that associate, 22-year-old  Kareemallah Muhammad from Toronto, has been charged with assault, sexual assault, forcible confinement and failure to comply with probation.

Police officer shot in Calgary, suspect found dead

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Mar 28th, 2018

Calgary Police Service's headquarters building in Calgary, Alta., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Calgary police say one of their officers shot in northeast end of the city is in stable condition at the hospital.

660 NEWS reports the suspect in the shooting has been found dead and the incident is now over.

The extent of the police officer’s injuries has not been released.

Police say they are not looking for anymore suspects at this time.

People in the area are now being allowed to leave their homes.

Proposed bylaw aims to deter bike thefts

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Mar 28th, 2018

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If you’re a cyclist in Toronto, you’re probably familiar with the anger and frustration of having bike parts parts or even your whole bike stolen.

One city Councillor is hoping to put a spoke in the wheel of bike thefts downtown.

Coun. Kristyn Wong Tam has proposed bylaw that would ban people from dismantling bikes in city parks, in hopes that it will deter “bike theft chains” that operate in the province.

“What we want to do is eliminate the opportunities of criminal activity, because those bike thieves are bringing those stolen bicycles into the parks and chopping up the parts and basically selling them,” she says.

In 2017, bike thefts jumped by 26 per cent compared to the previous year. More than 3700 bikes were reported stolen with many more likely going unreported.

Coun. Wong Tam says the details are still being worked out with city staff, but the bylaw will be enforced by the city. Penalties would likely include fines and escalate to park bans for repeat offenders.

If you happen to be changing a tire or doing a quick tune up however, the bylaw doesn’t apply. It’s specifically meant for repeat offenders.

But one bike shop owner says the bylaw may not make a significant dent in the soaring number of thefts.

“I think it might make a little difference, but it won’t make a major impact,” says Sean Killen, owner of Bikes and Wheels. “I think it’s going to still happen.”

Ali Sabbah who works at Bikes and Wheels says the bylaw needs to go a step further.

“It would be nice if there were some sort of bylaw implemented that maybe would prevent (stolen bikes) even from getting into my shop,” he says. “Then I’m not put in a situation where I have to discern whether or not it’s stolen or not stolen, or whether or not this person got his bike legitimately or by other means.”

Ultrasound technician charged with sexual assault

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Mar 28th, 2018

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Toronto police say a sonographer is facing charges of sexual assault after an alleged incident with a patient in November.

Police say the technician was conducting an ultrasound examination on a 48-year-old woman on Nov. 21 when he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

The alleged incident happened at BSA Diagnostics on 4002 Sheppard Avenue East.

Yury Romanov, 69, of Toronto is facing one charge of sexual assault.

Police believe there may be other alleged victims.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.

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