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John Dunsworth, known as Jim Lahey on the Trailer Park Boys, dies

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 17th, 2017

Actor John Dunsworth, best known for playing Jim Lahey in the comedy series “Trailer Park Boys,” has died. He was 71.

The news was confirmed in a statement posted on his Twitter feed Monday evening.

“With heavy and broken hearts the family of John F. Dunsworth would like to let people know that our amazing husband, father and grandfather John Dunsworth has passed away,” the statement said.

“John left this world peacefully after a short and unexpected illness. The family would like to request that our privacy is respected during this time of grief.”

Dunsworth, originally from Bridgewater, N.S., is known for his portrayal of Mr. Lahey on the “Trailer Park Boys,” a frequently drunk former police officer turned trailer park supervisor.

But Dunsworth was also involved in community theatre for decades.

Condolences for the revered actor were pouring in on social media Monday evening.

American comedian Tom Arnold wrote on Twitter: “So sad. RIP John Dunsworth. One of the finest men and most brilliant actors I’ve ever had the honour to work with.”

Fans were recalling some of his most notorious moments on the “Trailer Park Boys,” including when Mr. Lahey declared: “I am the liquor.”

Airbus shakes up industry with majority stake in Bombardier CSeries program

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 17th, 2017

European aircraft giant Airbus Group is shaking up the global airline business by buying a majority stake in Bombardier’s CSeries program and assembling the plane in the U.S. to avoid import duties.

The two aircraft manufacturers announced the partnership Monday evening, weeks after the United States announced 300 per cent preliminary duties on exports of the aircraft following a complaint from Airbus rival Boeing.

The partnership is expected to result in significant CSeries production costs savings by leveraging Airbus’s global supply chain expertise, but the company won’t be paying any money for the acquired stake or absorb Bombardier’s large debt.

Airbus will acquire a 50.01 per cent interest in the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership, which manufactures and sells the plane in exchange for access to Airbus’s sales, logistics, procurement and support expertise.

Bombardier will own 31 per cent and the Quebec government’s investment agency will hold 19 per cent, down from 49.5 per cent when it invested US$1 billion in the program.

Airbus can buy out Bombardier after 7.5 years and the Quebec government in 2023.

Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said Airbus is the perfect partner.

“Combining the CSeries with Airbus’s global scale creates a remarkable business, and together we will take the CSeries program to new heights,” he said in a conference call.

He said the partnership should more than double the value of the CSeries program by accelerating sales momentum.

“It brings certainty to the future of the program so it increases the level of confidence that the aircraft is there to stay, which means that we will increase volume.”

The way the federal government sees it, the Airbus takeover gives the CSeries a real chance at not just surviving, but making it big, said a government source.

Although there will be debate over the “symbolism” of a Canadian product now being controlled by a European company, the alternatives were not promising, given Bombardier’s financial and trade challenges.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump spoke by phone Monday about the aerospace spat, the softwood lumber dispute, and their unexpected consequences.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders called the partnership a “win-win for everybody.”

“Our partnership will accelerate the commercial success and it will ensure that the program comes into a position to realize its full potential,” he said from Europe.

The company is taking out ads in Canadian newspapers on Tuesday that end with “Thank you Canada … for welcoming us to our newest home.”

Enders said the partnership will secure industrial operations in Canada, Britain and China, and bring new jobs to the U.S.

Unlike when talks between the companies failed a few years ago, Enders said the CSeries is certified and recognized by customers as a great plane that can expand its narrowbody product line. He noted that Airbus hasn’t made an A319 the size of the CSeries for years.

With this deal, Canada would become Airbus’s fifth home country and first outside Europe.

The CSeries headquarters and main assembly line will remain in the Montreal area, but a second production line for the 100- to 150-seat plane will be set up at Airbus’s facility in Alabama to meet demand from U.S. customers and avoid duties.

Airbus has promised to maintain 100 per cent of those employed Mirabel, Que., and to keep production at the Mirabel plant, where production will be ramped up far beyond its current rate.

The union representing many Bombardier workers said its too early to celebrate even though Airbus’ stake could strengthen the CSeries.

“It is a sad day that a high-tech Canadian treasure is ending up in European control, but we can take some satisfaction that the CSeries is getting some needed stability,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.

“The attempt to weaken Bombardier has pushed it to join with one of its competitors, which should not have had needed to happen,” Dias said. “Ultimately, the U.S. actions have created a stronger Bombardier.”

Even though talks began in August, months after Boeing challenged government subsidies to Bombardier, Enders said the partnership wasn’t motivated by the trade dispute.

“It was motivated by the clear recognition that the stars were kind of all aligned this time,” he said.

Bellemare added the companies aren’t circumventing anything by joining forces. He added that Delta Air Lines is prepared to wait for delivery of its planes to avoid duties.

“When you produce an aircraft in the U.S. it is not subject to any import duties under the current U.S. rules.”

Even though some assembly work will be done in the United States, Bellemare believes more jobs will be created in Quebec because Airbus will help to augment sales.

The big losers are Boeing and Brazil’s Embraer, said industry analyst Chris Murray of AltaCorp Capital.

“Certainly this makes a much, much stronger program and certainly more competitive against anything Boeing would want to offer,” he said.

Boeing described the partnership as a “questionable deal between two heavily state-subsidized competitors to skirt the recent findings of the U.S. government.”

“Our position remains that everyone should play by the same rules for free and fair trade to work,” spokesman Dan Curran said in a statement.

Quebec economy, science and innovation Minister Dominique Anglade said the strategic partnership will ensure the sustainability of the CSeries and consolidate Quebec’s aerospace cluster.

“In the current context, the partnership with Airbus is, for us, the best solution to ensure the maintenance and creation of jobs in this strategic sector of the Quebec economy,” she stated in a news release.

Federal Minister Navdeep Bains said the government will review the deal under the Investment Canada Act due to the significant proposed investments in Canada by non-Canadians.

“On the surface, Bombardier’s new proposed partnership with Airbus on this aircraft would help position the CSeries for success by combining excellence in innovation with increased market access and an unrivalled global salesforce,” he stated in a separate news release.

Ontario bill seeks to ban mandatory high heels as part of uniforms

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 17th, 2017

An Ontario Liberal is introducing a bill Tuesday that would ban the province’s employers from requiring women to wear high heels at work.

The private member’s bill from Cristina Martins would amend the Occupational Health and Safety Act to protect workers from being required to wear unsafe footwear as part of dress and uniform codes.

The current footwear protections under the act deal more with industrial workplaces as well as health care facilities, with regulations to protect against specific hazards and foot injuries.

The president of the Ontario Podiatric Medical Association says wearing high heels causes a higher incidence of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injury than those who do not wear high heels.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission issued a policy paper last year on gender-specific dress codes, saying women who work in restaurants and bars should not be forced to wear high heels, short skirts and low-cut tops.

Earlier this year, British Columbia banned mandatory high heels in the workplace.

Auditor general set to report on Ontario’s 25 per cent hydro bill cuts

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Oct 17th, 2017

Ontario’s auditor general is set to report today on the Liberal government’s 25 per cent cuts to hydro bills, which came after increasing anger over rising prices.

It’s safe to say auditor general Bonnie Lysyk’s report will not be a favourable one, as she has indicated it is titled, “The Fair Hydro Plan: Concerns About Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Value for Money.”

The hydro plan lowers time-of-use rates by removing from bills a portion of the global adjustment, a charge consumers pay for above-market rates to power producers, and for the next 10 years, a new entity overseen by Ontario Power Generation will take on debt to pay that difference.

Ontario’s financial watchdog has said that plan means hydro customers will be paying a net $21 billion over the next three decades to get short-term savings.

Lysyk has also previously said having OPG manage that means there will be no impact on the province’s net debt – currently at about $312 billion – and she has suggested it may have been structured that way on purpose.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault has said OPG has expertise in managing hydro-related debt.

Federal law to improve accessibility planned for spring

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

The federal minister responsible for crafting Canada’s first national accessibility legislation says the law should be ready by next spring and should benefit not only people with disabilities, but also their caregivers.

Kent Hehr says the timeline for the new law has shifted slightly since he took over the portfolio for sport and persons with disabilities in a recent cabinet shuffle.

The legislation, which is highly anticipated by Canada’s disabled community, was originally set to be unveiled either late this year or early 2018.

Hehr says he is up-to-speed on past consultation efforts and is moving ahead with future ones. He hopes to table the legislation before the House of Commons by next spring.

Hehr says he intends to focus on the issues disabled Canadians identified as priorities during an eight-month consultation process, including high unemployment levels and accessibility of federally run buildings and services.

But Hehr says his own experience as a quadriplegic has made him particularly keen to ensure that caregivers’ needs are also addressed through the new bill.

Hehr, who has used a wheelchair since being struck by a bullet while witnessing a drive-by shooting 27 years ago, said he has personally witnessed the essential role caregivers play and wants to be certain their contributions are never overlooked.

“I rely a tremendous amount on my mom, my girlfriend, my sister, as well as my caregiver … without their help, their assistance, their contributions to my life, I simply could not do the job I’ve been entrusted to do,” Hehr said in an interview with the Canadian Press. “I understand, first-hand, that they have to be part of this mix.”

Hehr did not disclose details of what caregiver benefits might entail, but said the legislation was part of a government-wide approach to removing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from fully participating in society.

Hehr’s reflections on caregivers came as good news to at least one advocacy group representing their interests.

Disabled groups from coast to coast have made it clear that Canadians have lofty expectations of the federal legislation, which they maintain is long overdue to bring Canada in line with countries such as the United States.

In a report released to Carla Qualtrough, Hehr’s predecessor on the file, Canadians laid out six areas of focus for the new bill.

Those who took part in consultations wanted to see laws that would help lower unemployment rates that hover around 50 per cent for those with disabilities, reduce the number of buildings inaccessible to those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and remove accessibility barriers for the country’s air, rail, ferry and bus transportation systems.

Those consulted also named government program and service delivery as another key area of focus.

There was also a desire for an independent body to make sure the new law has teeth.

Hehr, who served as Veterans Affairs minister before taking over from Qualtrough in August, said the new law will address these priorities but declined to offer concrete details at this point.

Joanne Bertrand of the Ontario Caregiver Coalition said the group’s voice had not been included in consultation efforts to date, adding there are myriad ways in which federal legislation could make life easier for those providing support to disabled people.

New laws, she suggested, could make it easier and less expensive to travel with a disabled person.

The legislation could also put measures in place at banks, which would fall under the purview of the new laws.

Bertrand suggested caregivers often act as substitute decision-makers for disabled loved ones, saying existing systems make it very difficult to carry out those duties effectively.

“I think it’s very important that there be an awareness by employees in various businesses and organizations that substitute decision-makers are not only representing, but expressing the wishes of the people that they are the decision-maker for,” she said.

Bertrand said the health care sector as a whole is moving towards treating patients and caregivers as a unit and addressing the needs of each, adding she hopes the federal government will follow suit.

Disability rights advocates, too, welcomed news of caregiver inclusion in the pending law.

“It’s something that’s been missing for awhile,” said Marcia Yale, a visually-impaired activist who has been involved in soliciting input on the legislation. “No one gets compensated for human work or for doing the right thing.”

The proposed legislation would govern areas that fall under federal jurisdiction, such as banks, telecommunications, and interprovincial transportation.

Ontario college faculty go on strike

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

Faculty at 24 Ontario colleges went on strike late Sunday, affecting more than 500,000 students.

The Ontario Public Services Employees Union says the two sides couldn’t resolve their differences by a strike deadline of 12:01 a.m. Monday.

“There was really nothing left that we could put forward, nothing more coming from the employer,” Nicole Zwiers, a member of the union bargaining team.

The faculty regrets the effect on students, but many understand the issues at play, said Zwiers.

“It’s always a case that there is always a high degree of upset, which is absolutely understandable,”said Zwiers in an interview Sunday night. “I think that many of our students are indicating to us that they understand the issues that we’re facing.”

There was no indication on when talks might resume said Zwiers, but the union remained optimistic.

The College Employer Council, which bargains for the colleges, called the strike completely unnecessary.

“We should have had a deal based on our final offer. It is comparable to, or better than, recent public-sector settlements with teachers, college support staff, hospital professionals, and Ontario public servants — most of which were negotiated by OPSEU,” said Sonia Del Missier, a spokeswoman for the council, in a statement.

The union’s demands would have added more than $250 million in annual costs, the council said.

The union presented a proposal Saturday night that called for the number of full time faculty to match the number of faculty members on contract.

It also called for improvements in job security and for faculty to have a stronger voice in academic decision making.

The strike involves more than 12,000 professors, instructors, counsellors, and librarians.

Strike ends at Toronto’s Pearson airport

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

Striking ground crews at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport have accepted a tentative contract.

Employees at Swissport voted 63 per cent in favour of the new agreement reached earlier this month and will return to work on Wednesday.

The Teamsters, which represents the workers, says the three-year deal contains minor improvements on wages, benefits and scheduling.

The 700 ramp equipment operators, baggage handlers, cabin cleaners, and other ground crew workers went on strike July 27.

The workers had complained about pay and benefits cuts, scheduling issues, and what their union called a lack of respect from Swissport managers.

The company services 30 airlines at the airport, including Air Transat, Sunwing Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. Air Canada and WestJet are not serviced by the company.

Man manages to escape after hydro pole falls on car in Vaughan

CityNews | posted Monday, Oct 16th, 2017

A man says he does not remember how he escaped from his car after a hydro pole collapsed and fell on it due to heavy winds in Vaughan on Sunday afternoon.

The man, identified only as AJ, told CityNews he was driving slowly down Rutherford Road due to heavy rain and wind. He could see trees swaying back and forth and then spotted the pole starting to fall south of Islington Avenue. He tried avoiding it, but it landed on his car and smashed through the windshield.Pole-on-car-Stefano-Gallucci-Islington-and-Rutherford-e1508101003849-878x494

AJ says he “blacked out” and does not remember getting out of the car or how he escaped with live hydro wires surrounding his vehicle. He took himself to hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Several damaged trees and hydro poles were reported across Toronto and the GTA after gusty winds blew through the city on Sunday afternoon. A wind warning previously issued by Environment Canada ended around 4:15 p.m.

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