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2 women, 1 child rushed to hospital in Etobicoke

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2019

Three people, including a toddler, have been rushed to hospital in Etobicoke.

Emergency crews were called to a residential building near Lake Shore Boulevard and Long Branch Avenue just after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Once the uniform officers arrived on scene they were briefed by the paramedics and were advised that there were three occupants within one particular unit that were all in medical distress, showing the same symptoms,” Insp. Anthony Paoletta explained.

“The officers attended the unit with paramedics, first aid was initiated by the paramedics and they were all transported to local area hospitals where they are currently being examined by physicians.”

Police would not say what the two women and child were rushed to hospital for.

Paoletta said investigators will be going through the apartment to determine just what happened, as well as looking at security video and canvassing neighbours to see if there’s any information they could provide.

Police said this is not a criminal case at this time, but that it appears to involve a person in crisis. There is no concern for public safety.

Sarah McLachlan set to perform Canadian anthem as Raptors aim for title

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2019

Sarah McLachlan will sing Canada’s national anthem on Thursday as the Toronto Raptors attempt to win their first NBA championship.

The league has announced the Halifax-born singer-songwriter will perform O Canada prior to Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.

The American anthem will be sung by Pat Monahan of pop-rock act Train.

It is the last Warriors game at the Oakland, Calif., facility before the team moves to San Francisco. The Raptors lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.

Previous renditions of O Canada at the NBA Finals in Oakland have been met with mixed reviews.

Saskatchewan-born country singer Tenille Arts faced some backlash on social media after Game 3 as several people accused her of “butchering” the anthem by veering away from its familiar tune.

Walk Off the Earth, Burlington, Ont., band, divided audiences for Game 4 when the four members gathered around a triple-necked string instrument for an acoustic folk version of “O Canada.”

Longtime Toronto national anthem performer Doug Tranquada delivered the opening stanza to O Canada in Game 5 before letting fans at Scotiabank Arena take over on Monday night.

McLachlan, a Juno and Grammy winner, has a history of singing O Canada to usher in historic sports moments.

She performed the anthem at Canadian football team the BC Lions’ first game back at their newly refurbished home stadium in 2011. Two years later, she sang for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks home opener.

Government asks Supreme Court for urgent stay of solitary confinement ruling

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2019

Faced with the prospect that segregation is about to become illegal next week, the federal government has asked Canada’s top court for an urgent stay of an 18-month-old ruling that declared the practice unconstitutional because of its lack of meaningful oversight.

In a hand-delivered application on Tuesday, the Department of Justice tells the Supreme Court of Canada that it needs the stay for safety reasons.

“This motion is urgent, as administrative segregation is will no longer be available after June 17, 2019, regardless of the safety and security of inmates administratively segregated, other inmates or corrections staff in federal penitentiaries,” the government says. “If the extension is not granted … the safety and security interest of inmates and staff in penitentiaries will be in jeopardy.”

Administrative segregation allows correctional authorities to place inmates deemed a threat either to themselves or others in solitary confinement. However, Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco in December 2017 struck down parts of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act that allowed the practice.

Marrocco, who was critical of the lack of supervision, put his ruling on hold for one year to give the government time to remedy the situation. The government did not appeal the ruling but asked Ontario’s top court for more time to implement it.

In a scathing assessment of the government’s lack of action, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed to stay Marrocco’s ruling in December. The Appeal Court then reluctantly did so again in April, saying there would be no further extensions.

It also imposed a condition for the stay: Correctional Service Canada had to implement an independent review after a prisoner had spent five days in isolation. Ottawa now says it has been unable to comply with that order and the government is seeking leave to appeal the issue.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which pressed the fight against segregation, expressed dismay at the government’s tactics.

“Canada has had a year and a half to address its constitutionally defective statute,” said association lawyer Michael Rosenberg. “It has failed to do so. This meritless application for leave to appeal is an outrageous attempt to prolong the suffering of prisoners in solitary confinement and perpetuate an abhorrent practice that has been thoroughly denounced by our courts.”

The government has long maintained it was addressing the problems with administrative segregation through Bill C-83, which is currently before the Senate. Asked on Tuesday what would happen when the practice becomes illegal next week, the government had little to say.

“The minister has nothing further to add at this point,” a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale told The Canadian Press. “The government continues to review the implications of the rulings and is advancing Bill C-83 through the Parliamentary process.”

Critics have questioned whether the legislation will remedy the constitutional problems the courts have identified.

A spokeswoman for Correctional Service Canada said on Tuesday that prison authorities were “still examining the specifics of the ruling” and noted Bill C-83 was before Parliament but offered no details of what might happen next week.

“CSC will ensure that measures are in place to protect the safety of our staff, offenders and our institutions while being compliant with the law,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

The urgent request to the Supreme Court is similar to one it made in April, when, at the last minute, it sought more time to appeal another ruling from the Court of Appeal that declared any length of stay in isolation beyond 15 days to be cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional.

It’s not immediately clear when the high court will consider the new stay motion.

Expert panel recommends Canada implement single-payer pharmacare plan

News Staff | posted Thursday, Jun 13th, 2019

An expert panel is calling for the federal government to work with the provinces and territories to create a single-payer pharmacare plan to cover every Canadian.

Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s former health minister, released the findings in Ottawa, giving advice on how to address the country’s patchwork of private and public prescription-drug plans.

Canada has a variety of drug plans administered by provinces, mainly for children, seniors and people on social assistance. Other plans managed by the federal government cover other groups, such as Indigenous people and members of the military, while private insurance fills the gaps for some.

Hoskins’ council is recommending a new drug agency that would be responsible for developing a national list of prescription drugs, known as a formulary, beginning with common or so-called essential medicines by Jan. 1, 2022.

It also recommends that the initial formulary expand to a “fully comprehensive formulary” no later than Jan. 1, 2027.

Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor responded with a statement saying the government “will carefully review the council’s final report and its recommendations” and to work with provinces, territories, stakeholders and partners “as we consider next steps.”

“Our council has heard the stories of thousands of Canadians and listened to a wide range of perspectives,” Hoskins said in the report, entitled “A Prescription for Canada: Achieving Pharmacare for All.”

“The time for universal, single-payer, public pharmacare has come … Let’s complete the unfinished business of universal health care. That can be our promise, and our legacy, to each other and to all future generations.”

The council says universal, single-payer public pharmacare will provide access to prescription medications for all Canadians, including an estimated one in five Canadians who are either uninsured or underinsured.

“Despite everyone’s best efforts, the (current) system is fragmented, uneven, unequal and unfair,” the report says.

“The result is a non-system where too many people fall through the cracks. Not only does this lead to ill health, it also costs the health system billions of dollars in extra visits to physicians and hospitals when people’s health fails as a result of lack of access to medicines.”.

The report also calls for the federal government work with the provincial and territorial governments to begin to implement national pharmacare as soon as possible, with a new financing agreement to be developed jointly by governments and with Ottawa paying the incremental costs.

Canadians spent $34 billion on prescription medicines in 2018, the report says, adding drugs are the second-biggest expenditure in health care after hospitals.

“We spend even more on drugs than on doctors,” it says.

“On a per capita basis, only the United States and Switzerland pay more for prescription drugs. Yet for all that spending, there are huge gaps in coverage.”

The report recommends that payments for individuals be limited to $2 per prescription for essential medicines and $5 per prescription for all other drugs on the national formulary, with an annual limit of $100 per household.

It says those living with disabilities, people on social assistance and low-income seniors should be exempt from these fees, known as co-payments.

The plan, once implemented, will result in an estimated $5 billion in savings, the council said Wednesday, adding that savings for Canadians will be on average $350 per year.

In its last budget, the Liberal government pledged to create a new agency to buy drugs in bulk and cut Canadian medication costs as the first step toward a national drug plan.

The government also promised to spend $500 million a year, starting in 2022, on subsidizing drugs that treat rare diseases, which have few patients to split huge research and development costs.

It also said it intends to work with provinces, territories and other partners to develop the mandate for the national drug agency, with Health Canada to receive $35 million over four years starting in 2019-2020 to create an office to support the plan.

Man arrested after throwing corrosive substance at family

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 12th, 2019

A man has been arrested in connection with an assault on a family near Christie Pits Park last week.

Police say a man and a woman were walking with their infant baby in the area of Bloor Street West and Christie Street last Thursday when they were approached by a man on a bicycle just before 4:30 p.m.

Police say the cyclist threw a bottle containing a corrosive substance at the family, hitting them and causing minor injuries.

The cyclist fled the scene screaming and yelling, according to police.

Police say the cyclist was located and arrested on Sunday.

Massimo Ionno, 45, of Toronto is facing three counts of assault of with a weapon, three counts of public mischief and administering a noxious substance.

Oprah’s Toronto stop on live tour cancelled due to NBA Finals

News Staff | posted Wednesday, Jun 12th, 2019

Oprah Winfrey’s Toronto stop on her live tour “Your Path Made Clear” has been cancelled to clear a path for the NBA Finals.

Winfrey was scheduled to be at the Scotiabank Arena on Friday, June 14, but Live Nation Entertainment announced on Tuesday that the show was being cancelled to accommodate the ongoing NBA Finals between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors.

“Due to the ongoing NBA Finals schedule and continuing requirements for Scotiabank Arena by the NBA, we regret to announce that the “Your Path Made Clear” show on Friday, June 14, 2019 has been cancelled,” Live Nation announced.

“All tickets will be automatically refunded at point of purchase.”

The Raptors lost Game 5 on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena 105-106. Game 6 is scheduled for Thursday night at Oracle Arena, in Oakland. Should the series reach a deciding Game 7, it will take place in Toronto on Sunday.

The Raptors lead the best-of-seven finals 3-2.

Ex-slugger David Ortiz had counted on fans to protect him

Michael Weissenstein and Martin Jose Adames Alcantara, The Associated Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 12th, 2019

Beloved in his hometown, David Ortiz travelled the dangerous streets of Santo Domingo with little or no security, trusting in his fans to protect him.

Big Papi’s guard was down even at hotspots like the Dial Bar and Lounge, where the Dominican business and entertainment elite can cross paths with shadier figures in a country where fortunes are often made in drug smuggling and money laundering.

As the former Red Sox slugger lies in intensive care in Boston, recovering from the bullet fired into his back at the Dial on Sunday night, police are investigating what aspect of the national hero’s life made him the target of what appeared to be an assassination attempt.

Ortiz was so relaxed at the open-air hotspot Sunday that he had his back to the sidewalk as a gunman _ a passenger on a motorcycle _ got off the bike just before 9 p.m., approached the 43-year-old retired athlete and fired a single shot at close range before escaping.

Enraged fans captured the 25-year-old motorcyclist and beat him bloody before handing him over to police, but the gunman was still at large Tuesday.

Doctors in Santo Domingo removed Ortiz’s gallbladder and part of his intestines, and the former ballplayer was then flown to Boston for further treatment Monday night, undergoing two hours of exploratory surgery.

Ortiz’s wife, Tiffany, said in a statement that he was “stable, awake and resting comfortably” at Massachusetts General Hospital and was expected to remain there for several days.

The motorcyclist, Eddy Vladimir Feliz Garcia, who had a 2017 arrest for drug possession, was one of several people in custody as of Tuesday afternoon, a law-enforcement official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release details of the investigation.

A police car carrying Feliz Garcia drove up to a shipping container serving as a makeshift courtroom on Tuesday evening, and sat there for about a half-hour before driving off again. Court officials said the hearing had been delayed because Feliz Garcia’s charging documents had not arrived in time. However, they said he was expected back later.

His lawyer, Deivi Solano, said Feliz Garcia had no idea who he’d picked up and what was about to happen when he stopped to take a fare.

“He didn’t know what they were going to do. He’s a fan of David’s,” Solano said. He added that he expected Feliz Garcia would be charged as an accomplice to an attempted murder.

Ortiz has a six-bedroom, $6 million home in the wealthy Boston suburb of Weston, Massachusetts, that he shared with his wife and three children but has put the place up for sale. He visits his father and sister in Santo Domingo about six times a year, according to a close friend who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Ortiz stayed at his father’s apartment and was active on the social scene in the capital, hitting nightspots with a small group of friends that included TV personalities and Dominican reggaeton musicians, whom Ortiz would help by connecting them with established artists in the genre.

Ortiz couldn’t avoid running across unsavoury characters on the Santo Domingo social scene but kept his distance once he was warned about their shady backgrounds, the friend said.

“He may have spoken with them, but he didn’t know who they were,” the friend said. “He really kept away from that world.”

Police are investigating, however, whether some brief relationship formed in Santo Domingo set in motion a chain of events that led to the shooting, a second law enforcement official told the AP.

The official declined to provide further details about the type of relationship or other aspects of the rapidly developing investigation.

Ortiz felt completely secure in his hometown, the friend said, with adoring fans greeting him wherever he went.

“He felt protected by the people,” the friend said. “He is one of the most loved people in the Dominican Republic. He felt no fear despite the fact that there’s street crime here. Even the guys in the dangerous neighbourhoods respected him.”

Ortiz flew from Boston to Santo Domingo on May 5 to enrol his teenage son, a promising baseball talent, in one of the island’s grueling “academies” for future stars, the friend said. He also wanted to check on his foundation, which sponsors surgery for sick children, and sign a cigar-promotion deal.

On Sunday night, he went out with the reggaeton singer known as El Sujeto and baseball announcer and TV personality Jhoel Lopez to Dial, a bar and cafe that started as an arm of a luxury auto-detailing business across the street.

In recent years, Dial turned from a site where people relaxed as their cars were cleaned to a hotspot where Dominican celebrities eat and drink, often alongside people with fortunes of dubious origin.

Dial sits in a wealthy and relatively safe section of Santo Domingo, but the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s most dangerous countries.

The murder rate stands at 12.5 killings per 100,000 people, placing the Dominican Republic in the top 10 to 15% of the most violent countries in the world, according to the U.S. State Department.

There were 1,353 reported killings in 2018, compared with 1,561 in 2017 and 1,616 in 2016, the department said.

Last year, 2,145 people were wounded with guns, a slight decrease from 2017, according to the Dominican Republic’s Citizen Security Observatory.

An OSAC report said the Dominican Republic also faces serious problems with drug trafficking and money laundering, adding: “This situation is worse due to a lack of law enforcement resources, poorly paid and trained police officers and rampant corruption.”

This year, the government increased the maximum penalty to 40 years for those found guilty of kidnapping someone while brandishing an illegal weapon or killing someone while committing another crime.

Ontario wants anti-carbon tax gas pump stickers displayed by Aug. 30

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 12th, 2019

Ontario wants gas station operators to display mandatory anti-carbon tax stickers by the end of the summer – just as long weekend travellers fill up and before the federal election campaign gets underway.

A proposed regulation would set Aug. 30 as the day gas pumps will be required to have the stickers, which critics have slammed as political propaganda.

The proposal, which is open for comments until July 9, says the government is also developing enforcement plans, which could include an education campaign, written warnings, compliance orders and unspecified Provincial Offences Act charges.

Legislation making the stickers mandatory was included in the budget bill and comes with fines of up to $10,000 per day for gas station operators who don’t comply.

It will cost taxpayers approximately $5,000 to print 25,000 decals, but that does not cover the cost to distribute them to the province’s 3,200 gas stations. The stickers show that the federal carbon tax has added 4.4 cents a litre to the price of gasoline and that will rise to 11 cents per litre by 2022.

They do not mention carbon tax rebates. The tax is expected cost to a typical household $258 this year and $648 by 2022. The federal government had estimated the average rebate would be $300 in Ontario, but the Canada Revenue Agency said earlier this month the average payment was $203 in the province.

The Progressive Conservative government has said the stickers are about transparency.

Premier Doug Ford has said he is staying out of the upcoming federal election – set for Oct. 21 – but has often spoken about the carbon tax as an election issue, hopeful a Conservative government will axe it.

Ontario’s new regulatory proposal also sets out specific details of how the stickers would have to be displayed.

Gas stations would have to post an equal number of French and English stickers, upright, unobscured and “in a prominent location” within the top two-thirds of the side of the pump facing drivers.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce called on Energy Minister Greg Rickford in a letter several weeks ago to scrap the requirement.

“Our members – including gas station operators – have expressed concerns regarding the political nature of the stickers, viewing them as a violation of their rights and freedoms,” Rossi wrote.

“This initiative is an example of unnecessary red tape: it is both a new administrative burden and an increased cost to business thanks to the punitive and outsized fines for non-compliance.”

Ontario is one of four provinces, including Manitoba, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, where Ottawa imposed the tax because they opted not to impose their own pricing schemes on carbon emissions.

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