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Celebrating Lunar New Year with Breakfast Television!

Kyle Mack | posted Thursday, Jan 23rd, 2020

Celebrating Lunar New Year with Breakfast Television!

Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world! In China, you’ll hear it being called chunjie (春节), or the Spring Festival. Chinese New Year is an opportunity to celebrate spring and mark the end of the coldest days.

The celebration begins on the first full moon of the Lunar calendar and ends 15 days later. The origins of the holiday are thousands of years old and have hundreds of legends relating to the celebration and festivities. According to the 2020 Chinese horoscope, the Lunar New Year starts on Saturday, January 25th and ends on February 11th, 2021.

2020 marks the year of The Rat! The Rat is the first sign from the 12 animals cycle of the Chinese Astrology, and for this reason, 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals. The Metal Rat Year is going to be a strong, prosperous, and lucky year for almost all Chinese zodiac signs. The Year of the Boar (2019) was thus fundamentally about completion, self-care and balance, while the Year of the Rat (2020) is expected to be more about progression and starting a new project with great energy, astrologers say.

Those who fall under the year of the rat are born in the below years:

1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032.

What characteristics make up a rat?

Rats are clever, quick thinkers, successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life! Rats are considered hardworking, resourceful and incredibly thrifty.



Want to celebrate Lunar New Year? Celebrations can be found in several places in the GTA!




TTC outlines plan for spending billions on new trains, buses and improvements

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jan 23rd, 2020

The TTC says it plans to spend almost $5 billion on capacity improvements such as new subway trains and buses to address current and future growth.

A report to be considered by the TTC Board next Monday outlines how the transit agency plans to spend the bulk of the new money over the next decade, most of which will be collected through the City’s Building Fund as part of an overall property tax increase.

An additional $167 million is expected to be collected by a one-time increase in the Federal Gas Tax.

The report says $3.09 billion will be allocated to subway state of good repair which includes new tracks and switches and the installation of the automatic train control signalling system on Line 2, Bloor-Yonge.

Another $1.14 billion will be allocated to the purchase of 80 new subway trains, 60 new streetcars, 1,575 buses and 525 Wheel-trans vehicles.

Mayor John Tory says the report builds on the investments the city has made over the last five years.

“The 2020 budget includes the most significant investment in upgrading our transit system in the city’s history. It helps raise the approximately $5 billion that the City of Toronto needs to invest in new subways, new subway signal systems, new buses, new streetcars, and station upgrades as our share of the almost $30 billion transit expansion agreement with the province.”

TTC Chair Jaye Robinson says the additional capital funding will be used to finance a “once-in-a-generation, transformative subway infrastructure program” necessary to meet the needs of the city’s growing population.

“A majority of the additional capital funds must be committed to the maintenance, repair and improvement projects required to keep our subway running. As we saw this morning on Line 2, issues with our subway infrastructure can lead to significant delays for riders who rely on our system to get where they need to go.”

The plan still needs to be approved by TTC before its goes in front of City Council for its approval as part of the 2020 budget process.

China shuts city of millions to stop spread of deadly virus


China closed off a city of more than 11 million people Thursday in an unprecedented effort to try to contain a deadly new viral illness that has sickened hundreds and spread to other cities and countries amid the Lunar New Year travel rush.

Police, SWAT teams and paramilitary troops guarded the Wuhan’s train station, where metal barriers blocked the entrances at 10 a.m. sharp. Only travellers holding tickets for the last trains were allowed to enter, with those booked for later trains being turned away. Virtually everyone at the scene was wearing masks, news website The Paper’s live broadcast showed.

Normally bustling streets, shopping malls, restaurants and other public spaces in Wuhan were eerily quiet. Social media users posted that movie theatres were cancelling showings and complained that food vendors were exploiting the situation with huge price increases on fresh produce.

Images of the city posted online following the closure showed long lines and empty shelves at supermarkets as residents stocked up for what could be weeks of relative isolation.

“To my knowledge, trying to contain a city of 11 million people is new to science,” Gauden Galea, the World Health Organization’s representative in China, told The Associated Press in an interview at the WHO’s Beijing office. “It has not been tried before as a public health measure. We cannot at this stage say it will or it will not work.”

Local authorities have demanded all residents wear masks in public places and urged government staff to wear them at work and for shopkeepers to post signs for their visitors, Xinhua news agency quoted a government notice as saying.

Train stations, the airport, subways, ferries and long-distance shuttle buses were stopped in the city, an industrial and transportation hub in central China’s Hubei province. Xinhua cited the city’s anti-virus task force as saying the measures were taken in an attempt to “effectively cut off the virus spread, resolutely curb the outbreak and guarantee the people’s health and safety.”

Measures similar to those enacted in Wuhan were being taken at nearby cities in Hubei province, with public transport suspended and theatres, internet cafes and other entertainment centres closed beginning Friday, according to state media reports. That stands to prevent travel by millions more Chinese, potentially increasing the economic costs of the outbreak considerably.

Cake Liu left Wuhan last Friday after visiting her boyfriend there. She said everything was normal then, before human-to-human transmission of the virus was confirmed. But things have changed rapidly.

“(My boyfriend) didn’t sleep much yesterday. He disinfected his house and stocked up on instant noodles,” Liu said. “He’s not really going out. If he does he wears a mask.”

The illnesses from a newly identified coronavirus first appeared last month in Wuhan, and the vast majority of mainland China’s 571 cases have been in the city. Other cases have been reported in the Thailand, the United States, Japan and South Korea. One case was confirmed Thursday in Hong Kong after one was earlier confirmed in Macao. Most cases outside China were people from Wuhan or who had recently travelled there.

A total of 17 people have died, all of them in and around Wuhan. Their average age was 73, with the oldest 89 and the youngest 48.

The significant increase in illnesses reported just this week come as millions of Chinese travel for the Lunar New Year, one of the world’s largest annual migrations of people. Chinese are expected to take an estimated three-billion trips during the 40-day spike in travel.

While state broadcaster CCTV has largely ignored the outbreak to emphasize traditional observances of the festival, reports have filtered in of events such as temple fairs being cancelled in cities including Beijing.

Analysts have predicted the reported cases will continue to multiply.

“Even if (the number of cases) are in the thousands, this would not surprise us,” the WHO’s Galea said, adding, however, that the number of cases is not an indicator of the outbreak’s severity, so long as the mortality rate remains low.

The coronavirus family includes the common cold as well as viruses that cause more serious illnesses, such as the SARS outbreak that spread from China to more than a dozen countries in 2002-2003 and killed about 800 people, and Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome, which developed from camels.

China is keen to avoid repeating mistakes with its handling of SARS. For months, even after the illness had spread around the world, China parked patients in hotels and drove them around in ambulances to conceal the true number of cases and avoid WHO experts.

In the current outbreak, China has been credited with sharing information rapidly, and President Xi Jinping has emphasized that as a priority.

“Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels must put people’s lives and health first,” Xi said Monday. “It is necessary to release epidemic information in a timely manner and deepen international co-operation.”

Health authorities were taking extraordinary measures to prevent additional person-to-person transmissions, placing those suspected to be infected in plastic tubes and wheeled boxes where air passed through filters.

The first cases in the Wuhan outbreak were connected to people who worked at or visited a seafood market, which has since been closed for an investigation. Experts suspect the virus was first transmitted from wild animals but the virus also may be mutating. Mutations can make it deadlier or more contagious.

WHO plans another meeting of scientific experts Thursday on whether to recommend declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, which it defines as an “extraordinary event” that constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a co-ordinated international response.

Many countries are screening travellers from China for illness, especially those arriving from Wuhan. North Korea has banned foreign tourists, a step it also took during the SARS outbreak and in recent years due to Ebola. Most foreigners going to North Korea are Chinese or travel there through neighbouring China.

Associated Press researcher Shanshan Wang in Shanghai contributed to this report.

Domestic violence numbers rising across the GTA: police

MEREDITH BOND AND FAIZA AMIN | posted Thursday, Jan 23rd, 2020

After a record number of family or intimate partner homicides in Peel region last year, 28-year-old Heeral Patel became the first homicide victim of 2020 in Peel, and investigators named her ex-husband, a suspect. He later was found dead and police say his death is not being investigated.

Her death is part of a troubling trend in the GTA, where some police forces say more women have been killed by their domestic partners last year compared to previous years.

In 2019, the five police forces across the GTA received over 47,000 domestic-related calls.

Toronto police Superintendent Pauline Gray said there was definitely a rise in their numbers and it’s become a concern for them.

She added they don’t believe this is entirely reflective of the problem either, saying some victims don’t report their attackers.

“There are many possibly survivors who don’t look like what we thought, so we’re changing our approach to make sure all communities are getting information when it comes to domestic violence, or intimate partner violence,” said Supt. Gray.

Family and intimate partner violence by the numbers

Of the 31 homicides in Peel Region last year, 13 were domestic fatalities, the highest number to date. There were a total of 18,377 reports, including 10,818 intimate partner calls where 3,107 charges were laid. Of the 7,519 family violence calls, 963 charges were laid.

That’s approximately 50 calls a day spread out over five divisions.

Toronto police were called to 20,355 calls where the initial call type was labeled as domestic or domestic assault. They arrested over 4,483 people and 10,065 charges were laid in 2019.

Eight women were murdered by domestic partners in Toronto, up from three in 2018 and 0 in 2017.

In York region, police responded to 5,700 domestic-related incidents and 1,700 charges were laid. Of those charges, one was for first-degree murder, another for manslaughter and three were attempted murder. More than 1,200 of the charges were for assault.

York’s numbers relate only to intimate partner violence so their homicide numbers do not include the alleged killing of a mother, grandmother and sister by a 23-year-old man in Markham. He is facing four charges of first-degree murder, including the alleged killing of his father.

Durham Region had no domestic fatalities in 2019, but responded to 6,687 calls that were “domestic in nature.” Of those calls, 1,110 were violent in nature, majority of which were assaults while 13 per cent involved criminal harassment.

Halton police responded to 3,613 intimate partner domestic incidents, which resulted in 842 arrests and 1,548 criminal charges.

The Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH) keeps a database of media reports of woman who have been murdered since 1990. According to their data, 37 women and children were murdered between Nov. 25, 2018 and Nov. 25, 2019.

In half of those murders, a male intimate partner was identified as the suspect and in another 30 per cent, a male family member (primarily a son) was identified as the suspect.

The average age of female victims has also grown, rising from 41 in 2016 to 53 in 2019.

Where can women get help?

The numbers of domestic violence are startling, but even worse are the resources available to those who experience intimate partner violence. Those numbers paint a picture of a problem that is outgrowing a system that experts say is already at capacity.

NISA Homes provides six transitional homes, including two in the GTA, for women and children who are immigrants, newcomers, or Muslim women across the country.

Yasmine Youssef, who oversees the homes, said in the month of December last year, they helped the same amount of women they helped in all of 2016. In 2016, they received 127 calls for help and in 2019, they received 980.

The number of women they have sheltered has also spiked from 43 in 2015 to 230 last year.

Youssef attributes this to growing awareness as more people are finding out about their services, including those from a population that faces barriers when trying to access life-saving resources.

“For immigrants and refugees, the first place they go is their religious center or closely after their community center. If the information isn’t available there, they don’t know how to access it,” said Youssef.

She adds finding counselling for women is also difficult, sometimes the wait times are six months to a year. “A lot of times they reach out for help before they need to leave their homes. And if they’re not given that help property, it escalates.”

NISA homes also has a wait list of women unable to find shelter elsewhere in Canada. “Most of the time they will either go couch-surfing or go back to their abusive partners,” said Youssef.

Shelter Voices, an annual survey that gives a snapshot of the demand for transition houses and shelters in Canada, states that nearly 80 per cent of women and kids who need space are turned away.

There are a range of barriers for women who are looking to leave a violent situation, as told by Ontario Association of Interval and Transition Houses (OAITH), who have called for a more streamlined system accessible to people looking to leave their abuser.

Executive Director of OAITH Marlene Ham said “we need a system that’s more responsive and aligned with another to provide support that she may need.”

The telephone service, 211, is also a 24-hour helpline and website that can connect people to community and government social services in over 150 languages.

Peel police working on a solution

Peel Regional Police recently launched a pilot project in 21 Division where uniformed police officers who respond to reports of domestic violence calls will then pass the file onto a group three core investigators of domestic violence.

“It’ll pinpoint and streamline how we can better use this particular initiative at our divisions to support these calls in order to support these types of calls,” said Peel police Const. Heather Cannon. “We’re looking to do this region wide.”

They are also distributing pamphlets in five different languages which provides details on what resources are available for victims of family or intimate partner violence.


Woman critically injured in North York stabbing

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Jan 23rd, 2020

A woman has suffered life-threatening injuries in a stabbing near York University.

Police say they were called to the area of Assiniboine Road and Evelyn Wiggins Drive just after 10 p.m.

Reports from the scene indicate the stabbing may have happened on a foot path leading away from one of the university’s parking lots.

A victim was located and rushed to a trauma centre by paramedics.

Police are searching for a male suspect who was seen fleeing the area armed with a knife.

He’s described as Asian, five-foot-11 with a slim build. He was last seen wearing a black jacket, pants and a hoodie with a backpack.

There has been no word on if the victim is a student at the university.

Police are unable to say if this was just a random attack.

Teen charged in Scarborough shooting that killed 15-year-old boy

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Jan 22nd, 2020

A 15-year-old suspect has been charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of another 15-year-old in Scarborough.

Police responded to a call for the sound of multiple gunshots in the Markham and Ellesmere roads area near Woburn Collegiate Institute shortly after class let out at 3 p.m. Monday.

A teenager was located with gunshot wounds in the area. He was taken to a trauma centre in life-threatening condition and was later pronounced dead.

The victim has been identified as Safiullah Khosrawi of Toronto. He was a student at Woburn Collegiate Institute.

The suspect, who was arrested at the scene, is also a 15-year-old student at Woburn. He is known to police and has been charged with second-degree murder. He appeared in court at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Homicide Det. Sgt. Andy Singh said it’s too early in the investigation to say if Khosrawi was the intended target in the shooting, but said, “nothing in the victim’s background of who he is indicates as to why this occurred to him. However, we have a lot more evidence to go through.”

He said they have also spoken with the Khosrawi’s family and they described him as a “quiet, nice young man who attended school on a regular basis” and added they are completely distraught and shocked at the loss of their son.

Police believe there are multiple witnesses who have yet to come forward as the shooting happened in broad daylight amid lots of pedestrian traffic.

Singh also urged anyone who has cellphone or dash cam footage to release it to police, either on their website or anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

Rookie MPs share their thoughts on new role

CRISTINA HOWORUN | posted Wednesday, Jan 22nd, 2020

Adam van Koeverden is used to being on top.

The world champion and Olympic gold medalist in kayaking is no stranger to being front and centre, but now finds himself navigating entirely new waters from the backbench.

Van Koeverden was elected to parliament on Oct. 21, capturing a highly coveted seat from the Conservatives Deputy Leader Lisa Raitt in Milton. He’s traded in his paddle for Parliament and a few new roles: Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport).

“It’s great to be part of something bigger than yourself,” van Koeverden said from his new constituency office. His walls are still bare, and there’s no outside sign and no relics of his days as an Olympian. Right now, decorating his office isn’t his priority; it’s learning his new job.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m comfortable with that,” he said. “I like learning. I’m coach-able, as I tell my fellow MPs.”

“I wouldn’t say that the workload is the most difficult, but I would say that its all the things I don’t know, that I don’t know I’m not doing. I recognize that there’s no way in this job, or in any job, to be 100 per cent every day,” van Koeverden added.

“You can’t achieve perfection every day. I didn’t as an athlete, I didn’t as a manager, I didn’t as a broadcaster and being okay with that as a politician is important too.”

While van Koeverden is no stranger to public speaking, he said standing up in the House for the first time was “surreal.”

“It’s a lot different than any other public speaking that I’ve done. Even standing up in the Rogers Centre during a baseball game where I threw a pitch once, there were a lot of people in the stadium but I wasn’t nervous like I was in the House of Commons for the first time.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Maninder Sidhu, the newly elected Member of Parliament for Brampton-East. The customs broker-turned-politician called his first experiences in Parliament “humbling.”















“I had some anxiety, standing up for the first time in the House and asking a question to the honourable Prime Minister was a bit intimidating,” said Sidhu during a tour of a Brampton business. “I had a bit of jitters, but it was nice to stand up and have a voice in the House.”

A father of two children under three years old, he said the biggest challenge he’s faced so far is balancing family life in Brampton and parliamentary life 400 kilometres away in Ottawa. “It’s definitely a difficult balance to overcome. I used to read bedtime stories to my three-year-old every night, and now that can’t always happen. It’s definitely a challenge, but I’m honoured to be (there).”

Sidhu spends a lot of time in the riding visiting different community groups, meeting with individual constituents and small business owners. When CityNews caught up with him, he was meeting a young entrepreneur who opened a bustling barber shop in the riding, employing a half dozen youth.

Brampton-East is the youngest riding in Ontario with a median resident age of just 32.6 years old.

“What I’m trying to do is be an advocate for youth,” Sidhu, who isn’t that far off the average age of his constituents, said.

He said he has been pushing the Summer Jobs program, which subsidizes youth salaries for businesses and not-for-profits who may not have otherwise hired summer students. Sidhu said it’s an important way to get youth experience, but also to encourage them to bring their skills to the area.

Sidhu hasn’t lost the hustle that helped him build a successful customs brokerage firm almost straight out of university. He said he takes a lot of that to the Hill.

“People think it’s a nine-to-five job, but sometimes I leave the house at 7 [a.m.] and don’t get home until after 11 [p.m.]. Sure, there are some shorter days, but it’s very rewarding and I’m very lucky to have such a supportive wife,” Sidhu said. “Because without that support system none of this would happen.”

Sidhu — like van Koeverden — is getting used to life lived out of a suitcase and both rookies are excited for what 2020 may bring.

“Being a representative is really, really enjoyable,” van Koeverden said. “I loved representing Canada at the Olympics for four games, and I enjoyed my work as a broadcaster and this (being an MP) is a little bit of everything, and I’m enjoying it.”

FAQ: What to know about the viral outbreak in China

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jan 22nd, 2020

Health authorities are closely watching an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new virus that originated in China. Governments are stepping up surveillance of airline passengers from central China and taking other steps to try to control the outbreak.

Here’s what you should know about the illness:


Scientists have identified it as a new coronavirus. The name comes from the Latin word for crowns or halos, which coronaviruses resemble under a microscope. The coronavirus family has many types that affect people. Some cause the common cold while others originating in bats, camels and other animals have evolved into more severe illnesses such as SARS — severe acute respiratory syndrome — or MERS — Middle East respiratory syndrome.


The first cases appeared last month in Wuhan, a city in central China’s Hubei province. Many of the first people infected had visited or worked at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, which has since been closed for an investigation. Chinese health officials say they believe the illness first spread from animals to people. They now say it can spread between people.


China has identified 440 cases and nine deaths, most of the illnesses and all of the deaths in Hubei province. Cases have also been confirmed in Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Taiwan. The outbreak coincides with China’s busiest travel season as people visit their families or go abroad for the Lunar New Year holiday. That travel rush is expected to spread the disease more widely.


Common symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever. Shortness of breath, chills and body aches are associated with more dangerous kinds of coronavirus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In serious cases, the virus can cause pneumonia.


There is a test to identify the virus, but no vaccine to prevent an infection. Patients with the virus have been isolated in hospitals or homes to prevent spreading it. The symptoms are treated with pain and fever medication, and people are advised to drink plenty of liquids and rest while they recover.


Many coronaviruses can spread through coughing or sneezing, or by touching an infected person. Scientists believe the new virus can spread from person to person in close contact through the respiratory tract.


So far, the virus appears less dangerous and infectious than SARS, which also started in China in 2002-03 and killed about 800 people. However, viruses can mutate into more dangerous and contagious forms, and it’s too early to say what will happen with this one.

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