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Man arrested for attempted murder in 2018 assault case

News Staff | posted Friday, May 24th, 2019

Toronto police have made an arrest in connection with a serious assault dating back to July 2018.

Police were called to the area of King Street East and Church Street and July 30.

When officers arrived they found a 22-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl unconscious in a park. Both had life-altering injuries.

Police arrested a 44-year-old man on Thursday and charged him with two counts of attempted murder, aggravated assault and four counts of failure to comply with probation.

Stefan John Ryan of no fixed address was scheduled to appear in court the same day.

Investigators believe there may be more alleged victims and are appealing to them to come forward.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact police.

Police locate mother of baby boy found outside Sutton fire hall

News Staff | posted Friday, May 24th, 2019

York regional police say they have located the mother of a newborn baby boy who was found outside a fire station in Sutton early last Tuesday morning.

Police say the mother is safe and in good health, but they would not comment on the mother’s age or her mental state at the time that the baby was abandoned, and that includes whether or not postpartum depression may have been a factor.

Police say no charges have been laid at this point but would not deny that charges could be laid in the future.

The baby was found in the grass beside Georgina Fire Station 16, wearing a blue knit toque and wrapped in a grey scarf, between 2:30 a.m. and 3 a.m.

He was in good health and is currently in the care of the York Region Children’s Aid Society.

Man facing 16 charges in child exploitation investigation

News Staff | posted Friday, May 24th, 2019

A Toronto man is facing multiple charges in connection with a child exploitation investigation, police said Thursday.

Police allege a man sexually abused a child and recorded the abuse over a period of three years, from January 2007 to December 2010. In addition the man allegedly accessed and possessed images depicting the sexual exploitation of children from January 2007 to May of this year.

Police executed a search warrant in the Rathburn Road and The East Mall area on May 1 and thereafter, arrested 51-year-old man.

Dean Vallotton is facing a total of 16 charges: two counts of sexual interference, five counts of sexual exploitation, six counts of sexual assault and one count each of making, accessing and possessing child pornography.

He is scheduled to appear in court on June 3.

Police believe there may be additional alleged victims.

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

Canada seeing spike in temporary visas as migrant worker advocates raise alarm

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press | posted Friday, May 24th, 2019

Applications for temporary resident visas issued to visitors, students and temporary workers in Canada have more than quadrupled since 2015, stretching the Immigration Department’s ability to process them, according to a federal report.

The Immigration Department’s annual plan shows that in the fiscal year that ended March 2018, officials issued more than 5.7 million temporary visas and electronic travel authorizations, an increase from the 1.3 million issued two years earlier.

Federal officials say the surge is due in part to an increase in international tourism in Canada — something the federal government has been trying hard to achieve.

“The promotion of tourism to Canada and strengthening people-to-people ties has been a part of Minister (Ahmed) Hussen’s message when travelling abroad,” said Hursh Jaswal, a spokesman for the immigration minister.

“As a government we have promoted tourism across the globe through various ministries … At IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) we have also focused on tourism through our ‘apply early’ campaign and promoting how to apply as a visitor through our social media channels.”

Numbers provided by the department show more than 1.3 million visitor visas were issued in 2018 — a 45-per-cent increase over 2015, for one category of entry permit.

This figure does not include the number of electronic travel authorizations, known as eTAs, issued to tourists during that same period, under a streamlined process for low-risk temporary visitors from certain countries, including the United States. As of Sept. 30, 2018, more than 9.9 million eTAs had been issued since 2015.

The spike in demand for temporary visas has created logistical challenges for the department in processing applications. To help with this, 17 new overseas visa-application centres have been opened and there are plans for further expansions this year.

Updated technology is also allowing visa offices to move applications around digitally to be processed at visa offices that aren’t as busy.

But the rise in demand is also setting off alarms with advocates for temporary workers and international students.

The Migrant Workers Alliance for Change says the numbers highlight Canada’s increasing reliance on migrant workers who don’t have the same rights and protections as other immigrants.

Syed Hussan, co-ordinator with the alliance, says migrant workers and students should be given permanent status upon arrival in Canada.

“We have a multi-tiered immigration system where people are coming into the country with non-permanent-resident status on arrival, and that lack of permanent-resident status is tied to limited access to rights and services,” he said.

Migrant farm workers, for example, are not allowed to unionize, do not make minimum wage and are not paid overtime. There have also been a number of documented cases across the country of these workers facing labour exploitation, human-rights abuses and squalid housing situations.

International students also face barriers in Canada, Hussan said.

His group is presenting a petition with over 50,000 signatures to Hussen’s constituency office on Friday highlighting the case of one international student facing deportation because he exceeded the maximum number of hours he was allowed to work in a week.

Jobandeep Sandhu, an international student from India, was arrested and handed over to immigration enforcement after Ontario police discovered he had been working as a commercial truck driver longer than the 20-hour weekly maximum permitted for international students studying in a public post-secondary institution.

“What is happening to me is happening to a lot of people. International students don’t get the same labour rights that everyone else gets. There is a broader structural issue in our laws that limit these rights to only a few.” Sandhu wrote on his petition page.

Hussan, the migrant-workers’ advocate, says this case is just one example of many in which temporary workers and students are not afforded the same basic rights available to all other newcomers to Canada.

“They need to have the same rights as every other immigrant in the country and that is status on arrival. Otherwise we will have these stories of exploitation and abuse, and I can tell you so many.”

More cuts will be needed to balance provincial budget: FAO

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

If the Ford government wants to hit is spending targets then be prepared for more cuts.

That’s the verdict from the independent Financial Accountability Office which says $900-million has already been trimmed from the provincial deficit over last year. But if the province plans to balance the budget by 2022-23, it will need to find another $6-billion in spending cuts.

“Given the outlook for modest revenue gains, the government’s plan for balancing the budget relies on restraining the growth in program spending to historic lows,” the FAO’s Peter Weltman says in its executive summary.

The FAO said the government’s plans will see it hold program spending growth to one per cent on average over the next five years – meaning spending on public services would be reduced by $1,100 per person during that time.

Such a level of restraint hasn’t been seen since the mid-1990s, when former Tory premier Mike Harris was in office, the FAO said.

At that time, from 1992-93 to 1998-99, spending growth was constricted to 0.3 per cent. Harris’s years in office were marked by an agenda of cuts, service reforms and municipal amalgamations in order to reduce the province’s deficit and lower taxes.

Spending growth was at its highest during Bob Rae’s NDP government from 1989-90 to 1992-93 – at 10.2 per cent – as that government grappled with a deep recession.

The previous Liberal government held spending growth to 1.4 per cent in the period after the last recession from 2010-11 to 2016-17. But spending growth jumped to 6.8 per cent during the final two years of former Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne’s term in 2016-17 to 2018-19.

The FAO is also warning of slower economic growth, saying revenues are projected to increase just 3.2 per cent per year which is down from the previous gains of 4.2 per cent over the last five years.

It also says factors like increasing interest rates, high household debt and trade uncertainty could negatively impact the government’s plans.

“If Ontario’s economic performance is worse than expected, or if the government is unable to meet its spending targets, it is unlikely the government would be able to meet its commitment of balancing the budget and also implement the new provisional measures assumed in the budget plan,” concludes the FAO.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the FAO’s report shows the government’s plan to address the deficit is working.

“(The FAO) confirmed that our government’s measured, thoughtful and responsible path to balance is credible and the plan laid out in Budget 2019 will put the province on a sustainable footing,” he said in a statement.

But NDP finance critic Sandy Shaw said the watchdog’s report shows that the restrained provincial spending will hurt Ontario residents.

“It’s clear that Doug Ford’s deep cuts are already costing us,” she said. “We’ve seen this already and clearly with this report things are only going to get worse for Ontario.”

Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said the report shows the Ford government needs to re-evaluate its spending priorities and should not be planning to hand out a pre-election tax cut at the same time that it constrains program spending.

While the Ford government has touted that it has found 8 per cent in savings, the FAO’s Peter Weltman says as of today they’ve only been able to identify half that number.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

WestJet pilot eyes burned by green laser light while flying to Orlando

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

A WestJet pilot flying from Newfoundland to Orlando International Airport had his eyes burned by a green laser light, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration officials said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an email that the WestJet Airlines aircraft was about 40 kilometres from the airport when the laser light hit the pilot. The flight landed safely a short time later, and the pilot was placed on medical leave, which is routine in such cases.

The airline said in a statement that the incident took place Saturday but gave few details, citing privacy concerns.

“Any pilot who reports being struck by a laser is required for safety and health reasons to have an ophthalmology evaluation,” spokeswoman Morgan Bell said in an email.

Bell said laser incidents pose a “serious concern” for crew and aircraft safety and are immediately reported to local authorities for investigation.

“Pilots are extremely focused during all phases of flight, but especially during take-off and landing, when most laser incidents occur,” she said.

“When any sort of light enters the flight deck, pilots are trained to look away and maintain focus but they must also remain vigilant with respect to their surroundings and monitor the apron prior to landing.”

The FAA is investigating the incident. The agency said it had notified the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a deputy to a central Florida address pinpointed as a possible source of the light.

The sheriff’s office said no one at the location had any knowledge of the incident and said they don’t have a laser pointer.

Last year, the Canadian government announced strict new measures to ban most high-powered lasers around airports and in the country’s three largest cities due to the dangers they pose when aimed at aircraft.

The interim measures bar anyone from possessing a battery-operated hand-held laser over one milliwatts outside a private residence without a legitimate purpose, such as for work or education.

The rules apply to municipalities in the greater Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver areas, as well as within 10 kilometres of any Canadian airport or heliport.

Penalties for those convicted of deliberately targeting aircraft include fines of up to $100,000, five years in prison, or both, though the government has acknowledged that prosecutions are rare given the difficulty of catching people in the act.

However, the new rules also allow investigators to hand out fines of up to $5,000 for anyone caught with a hand-held laser in a prohibited zone without a reason. Corporations can face up to $25,000.

Transport Canada reported 379 incidents of lasers pointed at planes in 2017, most of which occurred in Ontario and Quebec.

Three women launch lawsuit alleging sexual assault by Correctional Service guard

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Three women who say they were sexually assaulted by a prison guard have launched a lawsuit against the federal correctional service.

The alleged assaults are said to have happened at the Nova Institution for Women, located in Truro, N.S.

Nova is one of six federal facilities for women across Canada.

In response to the lawsuit, the director of advocacy and legal issues for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Savannah Gentile, is calling the women “incredibly brave.”

Halifax lawyer Mike Dull says two of the three women are still serving time, adding that police were called in within the last two months and a criminal investigation is underway.

A spokesperson for the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the government cannot comment on court cases, but says the minister expects the Correctional Service of Canada to ensure all allegations of sexual assault are thoroughly investigated.

Man has life-threatening injuries after being struck by sanitation truck downtown

News Staff | posted Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

A man has been rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries after he was struck by a sanitation truck on Wednesday afternoon in downtown Toronto.

The man was struck near Richmond Street West and Augusta Avenue.

In a tweet, police said he was unconscious when emergency crews arrived.

No further details were immediately available.

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