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Another winter storm brewing in the GTA, to arrive Tuesday

NEWS STAFF | posted Monday, Feb 11th, 2019

The GTA is bracing for another winter storm, with the potential for heavy snow, freezing rain and ice pellets accompanied by gusting winds.

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the region that includes Toronto, calling for 15-20 centimetres of snow and ice accumulations.

The national weather agency said the snow will start early Tuesday morning, which will then mix with or change to ice pellets later in the day. There is also a risk of freezing rain.

Since the high on Tuesday will be near 0 C, the type of precipitation will depend on the temperature.

With the wind gusting to 80 km/h, the blowing snow will add to the treacherous driving conditions.

The storm system is expected to leave the region by Wednesday.

Facts and figures about potholes in Toronto

NEWS STAFF | posted Friday, Feb 8th, 2019

The roller-coaster temperatures over the past couple of weeks have created ideal conditions for the potholes that have been appearing on roads around Toronto. Here are some facts and figures about how the city handles the problem.

By the numbers

$25: Cost to repair each pothole

$4 million to $5 million: Annual budget for repairing potholes in Toronto

15-20 minutes: The amount of time it takes to repair one pothole

4: Number of days after receiving a report the city aims to have a pothole repaired

25: Number of city crews out repairing potholes on a typical day

About potholes

Potholes are created when water penetrates the top layer of asphalt through cracks in the road. After the moisture freezes and expands, sections of the pavement are forced up. The weight of vehicles going over these sections breaks the pavement, forcing the asphalt out.

Potholes are more frequent in the spring, after the freeze-thaw cycle, but they happen at other times of the year.

The city has crews in each district which respond to potholes reported to 311 and another crew that patrols each district looking for potholes.

Much like plowing and salting, when there is a large number of potholes that need to be repaired, the city triages based on size and prioritizes repairs on expressways and arterial roads first.

Repairing potholes is an affordable way to maintain roads. City crews routinely monitor road conditions and identify areas that need repairs.

Road users and business owners can help by reporting potholes online, by calling or emailing 311 or by using the 311 online app

To repair, crews place asphalt and rake it into the pothole. Then they tamp down the asphalt and smooth it out until the road surface is improved.

Source: City of Toronto

Canada to host Venezuela summit to support anti-Maduro forces: Freeland

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jan 29th, 2019

Canada will host a meeting of Western Hemisphere countries next Monday to see what can be done to ease the crisis in Venezuela.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed on Parliament Hill today that the meeting of the Lima Group will be in Ottawa.

She says Canada needs to play a leading role in the Lima Group, which includes more than a dozen countries in the Americas, minus the United States, because the crisis in Venezuela is unfolding in Canada’s global backyard.

The group has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president, saying President Nicolas Maduro’s continuing dictatorial rule is creating an economic and humanitarian crisis that has swelled beyond his country’s borders.

Freeland praised the role of Canadian diplomats in Caracas, who helped get the country’s opposition parties to coalesce behind 35-year-old Guaido.

The Canadian Press interviewed senior Canadian government officials who have described Canada’s role in aiding democratic forces to help rescue the once oil-rich country from the economic and political spiral that has forced three million Venezuelans from their homes.

Should Toronto wards be allowed to ban cannabis dispensaries?

DILSHAD BURMAN | posted Thursday, Dec 13th, 2018

Since recreational cannabis became legal in October, individual provinces and municipalities have been working to iron out the finer details of what the new regime will look like in their jurisdictions.

In Ontario, municipalities have until January 22 to decide whether or not they will permit the sale of cannabis at privately-owned retail stores in their communities.

Markham announced its intention to opt out of selling cannabis back in August and council confirmed the decision with a vote Wednesday. The City of Mississauga also announced Wednesday that it is choosing to opt out of having cannabis retail stores in the city.

In Toronto, some city councillors want the choice to be further individualized, by giving each city ward the option to choose whether cannabis dispensaries can operate within their boundaries.

Scarborough-Agincourt councillor Jim Karygiannis says he will introduce the motion at Thursday’s council meeting.

“If municipalities are permitted to ‘opt out’, then wards, which are the size of many of these municipalities, should also have that option,” Karygiannis said in a statement issued Wednesday.

First-time Toronto councillor Mike Colle has also stated that his first order of business is to ensure Toronto has a say on where cannabis stores are allowed to set up shop.

“We have no say. I’m worried about these shops opening up everywhere — next to libraries, playgrounds, mental health facilities. We have to have a say in where these retail outlets go,” he told CityNews last week.

Mayor John Tory says he feels Toronto should allow cannabis stores in the city, but agrees that more municipal control is needed over where they are allowed to operate.

“I think it is better for us to opt in because it leaves less control in the hands of organized crime and other people who presently control that market, but better that we should have a degree of ability to regulate it to a closer extent so that we can protect neighbourhoods and families,” he said at a Heritage Toronto event Wednesday.

Tory also said he has expressed his concerns in the past and wants the City of Toronto to have “greater latitude to regulate, within the context of the provincial rules, the location of cannabis stores.” However, he admits that it likely involves a change to provincial law, which he does not see as forthcoming.

Referring to Coun. Karygiannis’ motion, Tory said it will be a tough-sell to the province.

“That is something that is also, I think, going to be a difficult proposition to sell to the province of Ontario. I think they’ve already said that they have a negative reaction to that,” he said, while adding that he hopes the province will listen to their suggestions.

The motion is set to be debated in city council on Thursday.

Internship opportunity at Breakfast Television – Winter 2019

BT Toronto | posted Monday, Nov 26th, 2018

Passionate about breaking news, lifestyle content, social media, and producing creative and engaging stories for television and online?

Breakfast Television is a three-and-a-half hour LIVE television news and lifestyle production and is looking for a full-time digital and production intern for its Winter 2019 term (January through April). The successful applicant must be studying a relevant program, and the internship must be part of their school curriculum.

We’re looking for an individual who’s bright, creative, and energetic, with a passion for news- and lifestyle-themed content, plus the ability to hunt down the latest trends before they go viral! Knowledge of video production and editing would be considered a strong asset.

The position is a full-time, five-day-a-week program, running from 6 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday in our downtown Toronto studios.

Should you fulfill the requirements and wish to apply for the position, please forward your resume and cover letter, along with your placement officer’s name and contact info, to:

Please include ‘Internship‘ in the subject line.

Alternately, send a hard copy to:

Citytv – Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.
Breakfast Television Internship Program
33 Dundas Street East
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1B8

If we are interested in following up with you, we will be in touch to set up an interview.

Supply managed farmers to get compensation as a result of trade deal

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Oct 2nd, 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the new trade deal with the United States and Mexico is a good one for Canada that protects the agricultural supply management system and staves off threatened auto tariffs.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, Trudeau says the revamped NAFTA deal — renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — is successful in maintaining fairness and balance between Canada and the U.S., a trading partner 10 times its size.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says all farmers in supply management systems will be fairly compensated for the additional market access being given to trading partners in the deal.

However, she says the amount and type of compensation will be worked out in coming months while Canada, the United States and Mexico all work to ratify the agreement reached late Sunday.

Both Freeland and Trudeau say it’s important to remember that when the negotiations began over a year ago the U.S. aim was to dismantle supply management entirely, and Canada did not let that happen.

Trudeau noticeably did not mention U.S. President Donald Trump in his opening remarks, saying only in answer to a direct question that the relationship with the president has been challenging during the course of negotiations.

Air Canada says mobile app breach may affect up to 20,000 customers

CHRISTOPHER REYNOLDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Aug 30th, 2018

Some 20,000 Air Canada customers woke up Wednesday to learn their personal information may have been compromised after a breach in the airline’s mobile app, which prompted a lock-down on all 1.7 million accounts until their passwords could be changed.

Air Canada said it detected unusual login activity between Aug. 22 and Aug. 24 and tried to block the hacking attempt, locking the app accounts as an additional measure, according to a notice on its website.

Mobile app users received an email Wednesday morning alerting them as to whether their account had been affected.

The app stores basic information including a user’s name, email and phone number.

Any credit card data is encrypted and would be protected from a breach, Air Canada said.

But Aeroplan numbers, passport numbers, birth dates, nationalities and countries of residence could have been accessed if users saved them in their account profile, the company said.

Air Canada declined to respond to questions, referring The Canadian Press to its website.

The risk of a third party obtaining a passport in someone else’s name is low if the user still has their passport and supporting documents, according to the federal government.

Users can reactivate their account along stricter password guidelines by following instructions emailed to them or prompts when logging in.

Some users reported problems with the process on social media, likely due to the volume of customers trying to unlock their account.

Air Canada advised anyone looking to access the app to keep trying.

In March, the airline said some customers who booked hotels through its former travel partner Orbitz may have had their personal data stolen.

Nearly 2,300 bookings through Air Canada hotel options could have been involved in a data breach of hundreds of thousands of records that Orbitz reported earlier this year, Air Canada said.

The Expedia-owned travel website operator, whose platform Air Canada no longer uses, disclosed on March 20 that hackers may have accessed personal information from about 880,000 payment cards in 2016.

Reports of CRA extortion scam on the rise

News Staff | posted Thursday, Aug 30th, 2018

“These scammers are very threatening. They’re very direct. They entice that fear.”

Stores including pharmacy chain Rexall have started posting warnings about scams involving gift cards as reports about the fraud continue to mount.

Fraudsters pretending to be the Canada Revenue Agency(CRA) have been calling unwitting consumers and telling them they owe money from a past tax return. The consumers are told they will incur additional fees, face jail time or be deported if they fail to pay the sum — by wire transfer, pre-paid credit cards, gift cards or bitcoin.

“It’s one of the biggest scams out there right now,” said Jessica Gunson of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), a federal agency jointly managed by the RCMP, the Competition Bureau, and the OPP.

“These scammers are very threatening. They’re very direct. They entice that fear. They just want that person to have that knee-jerk reaction. They don’t want to give them time to think about it. They don’t want them to talk to anyone else.”

When scammers receive gift cards, they generally resell them for cheaper, Gunson said. They may sell a $100 iTunes gift card for $80, for example.

In October 2016, investigators traced the fraudsters to call centres in India, arresting dozens.

Almost immediately, the CAFC noticed a “huge decrease” in calls about the CRA extortion scam. Since that time, however, the reports have steadily increased.

Last year, the agency received more than 10,000 complaints about that particular fraud, and 688 people reported being swindled out of $2.7 million. But already in the first six months of this year, the number of reported victims has surpassed the 2017 total. The CAFC said 764 victims of the extortion scam handed over $3.6 million to fraudsters from January to June.

The real number is likely much higher as it’s estimated less than five per cent of fraud is reported to the CAFC.

Gunson said she has seen convenience stores and pharmacies in Ontario taking preventive measures.

“Retailers have become very good and very vigilant in alerting customers that may be buying or asking for a stack of cards,” she said.

In April 2016, the manager of a Metro grocery store in Brampton intervened when a man tried to buy 42 iTunes gift cards at once. The manager called police who, after assessing the situation, told the man he was being scammed.

And several Rexall stores in downtown Toronto have posted signs on their gift card display warning customers who are being pressured to buy gift cards.

The notices mention the CRA will never use aggressive language or tone, ask for prepaid credit or gift cars or threaten arrest. They include a link to the CRA’s fraud prevention website.

Here are some more tips from the CAFC about how to avoid scams by phone and email.

How to protect yourself from scammers

  • The CRA will use registered mail to contact consumers.
  • Contact the CRA to confirm you owe back taxes or are entitled to a refund.
  • Never provide personal information on inbound phone calls. Ask who is calling, document information and do your homework.
  • The CRA would never request payment by money service business, iTunes gift cards or bitcoin.
  • For more information about fraud scams involving the CRA, visit the agency’s fraud prevention website.
  • If you’ve shared personal information, contact Equifax and Trans Union to place fraud alerts on your account.
  • If you’ve shared banking information with the scammers, contact your financial institution to place alerts on your account.
  • If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti‐Fraud Centre at 1‐888‐495‐8501 or report it online at antifraudcentre.ca.
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