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Ikea to cut about 100 jobs in Canada as it adjusts to customer behaviour changes

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 22nd, 2018

Swedish home furnishings giant Ikea says about 100 jobs in Canada could be impacted over two years as it adjusts to changing customer behaviour.

The retailer expects to cut 7,500 jobs worldwide as addresses urbanization, new technology and digitalization that are changing the way customers live and shop.

Ikea says the cutbacks will allow it to focus “on its e-commerce platform, to better meet the needs of its customers and be more convenient and affordable to many more people.”

“In addition, to ensure we are fit for long-term growth, we’re looking closely at all areas of the business, including how we are structured as a company,” the company said in a news release.

While new roles will be created across the Canadian network, it says some jobs will be “relocated, changed or removed.”

Of the 100 employees to be impacted, up to 50 at its Canadian national service office may be redundant, it said.

The retailer says it will explore new store formats, enhance the in-store experience, invest in its digital experience, improve its service and optimize its distribution networks.

That includes opening stores in city centres to complement its larger locations. The company is opening stores in 30 major city centres around the world to diversify its reach, but Canadian plans weren’t immediately available.

Ikea Canada employs 6,300 people across the country.

With files from The Associated Press

Ontario government set to lay out details of social assistance reform plan

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Nov 22nd, 2018

The Ontario government is set to lay out its plans to reform the province’s social assistance program, just months after it moved to cancel a basic income pilot project.

A pair of Progressive Conservative cabinet ministers will introduce the plan at Queen’s Park on Thursday afternoon.

The government announced in July it was “winding down” a pilot project that provided payments to 4,000 low-income earners in cities such as Hamilton, Brantford, Thunder Bay and Lindsay.

At the time, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod called the program, launched by the Liberals in 2017 and set to run for three years, a “disincentive to get people back to work.”

Anti-poverty advocates denounced the move, with one group pledging to defend against what it called Premier Doug Ford’s “war on the poor.”

The Tories also said they were cutting a planned three per cent increase in social assistance to 1.5 per cent.

Record-breaking cold hits Toronto

NEWS STAFF | posted Thursday, Nov 22nd, 2018

The frigid air has gripped Toronto, making it the coldest November 22 on record in the city.

On Thursday morning, the temperature dropped to -13 C — breaking the record of -12.4 set on this date in 1989. Add in the windchill and it felt like -20 C at one point.

The city’s first extreme cold weather alert of the not-yet-arrived winter season remains in effect. It was issued on Wednesday.

During an extreme cold weather alert, the city activates various services to help get the homeless and other vulnerable residents inside, including a warming centre at Metro Hall.

It will remain cold throughout the day as the cold wind persists. The temperature will rise to -6 C but the windchill will be near -10 for the afternoon.

But the cold won’t last forever. By Friday, the temperature will be near 3 C.

Cash to help Ontario municipalities with legal pot to flow in January: Fedeli

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2018

The Ontario government will start distributing millions in funding in January to help municipalities cover costs associated with legalizing recreational cannabis.

In a letter to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli says $15 million will first be split among the province’s municipalities at the start of the new year, with funding allocated on a per household basis and all communities receiving at least $5,000.

An additional $15 million will then go to municipalities that agree to host cannabis retail stores within their boundaries.

The Progressive Conservative government has given communities until Jan. 22 to decide whether they want to opt out of hosting the stores, which are expected to start operating in April.

Fedeli says the province will set aside an additional $10 million as a contingency fund to deal with any “unforeseen circumstances” related to marijuana legalization that municipalities might encounter.

He says the funds for municipalities can only be used for a prescribed set of circumstances including heightened enforcement, increased response to public inquiries, increased paramedic or fire services and by-law or policy development.

“Our government is committed to respecting taxpayers and their hard-earned money,” Fedeli said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press. “We believe municipalities have an obligation to do likewise.”

Fedeli also said that if Ontario’s portion of the federal excise tax on recreational marijuana exceeds $100 million, the province will give half of the surplus to municipalities that have not opted out of hosting stores.

The federal government legalized recreational cannabis on Oct. 17. In Ontario, a government-run online store is currently the only way to purchase recreational pot.

Man wanted in several random attacks across Toronto

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2018

A 35-year-old man is wanted in connection with several random attacks across Toronto, dating back to 2017.

One of the first alleged attacks happened on October 29 of this year in Thorncliffe Park.

Police say a man and woman were travelling in their car when they pulled to the side of the road to check for direction.

A man pulled up alongside them and allegedly took out a flare, handgun, and long-bladed knife before yelling at them and making threats. He fled the scene after the victims began recording the exchange.

The next two alleged attacks happened on Friday around 4 p.m. in East Danforth.

A 26-year-old man was walking his dog in Merrill Bridge Road Park when a the suspect began to allegedly chase him around with a sledgehammer. The victim was not injured.

Just 15 minutes later, Police were called to Danforth and Moberly Avenues after a man approached a 42-year-old woman standing on the corner with a sledgehammer and shouted at her. He got back into his car and fled.

Police believe the same man is also responsible for an incident that occurred in May of 2017 on the Don Valley Parkway near Lawrence Avenue East.

The suspect was driving erratically when a motorcyclist pulled up next to him. They got into an exchange and the man allegedly intentionally swerved into the motorcyclist, striking him. It’s also alleged the man drove over the victim before fleeing the scene.

Jourdain Durrant, of Toronto is wanted for all of these incidents and is believe to be armed, violent, erratic and dangerous.

He’s described as 6 feet tall, with a slim build and blond/reddish hair. He also has a short blond/reddish beard.

If you see him, you are asked to contact 9-1-1 immediately.

Doug Ford says he has no national political ambitions

SHAWN JEFFORDS, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2018

Ontario Premier Doug Ford isn’t mulling a run for the prime minister’s office.

The Progressive Conservative leader, who has launched repeated attacks on Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, said Tuesday that he had no national political ambitions and is committed to leading the province.

“I’m zoned in on this province, nothing else,” the premier told reporters. “Not federally, nothing but fixing the financial mess that we inherited.”

Ford was asked about his political aspirations after he called on Trudeau, ahead of Wednesday’s federal fall economic update, to stop a plan to impose a carbon tax on provinces without their own carbon pricing system.

The premier has been working actively to build a national coalition of provincial leaders to fight the carbon tax, recently meeting with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and Alberta Conservative Leader Jason Kenney to discuss the issue.

Ontario has also launched a legal challenge against the tax, which is likely to feature prominently in next year’s federal election campaign.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, has faced questions about whether Ford was overshadowing him on matters of importance to the national Conservative cause — inquiries he has shrugged off by saying he and Ford have common goals.

The federal minister of intergovernmental affairs has suggested, however, that Ford has significant influence over Scheer.

Ford, who took power in June, said Tuesday that he was open to working with Trudeau as long as the prime minister wanted to work with him.

“I’m not gunning for him,” the premier said. “He has his differences. I have mine. At the end of the day we want to do the best thing for Ontario and I think we’ll come to a good conclusion here.”

Ford struck a decidedly more combative tone over the weekend, when he and Scheer addressed a Progressive Conservative policy convention.

“We’re putting the prime minister on notice,” Ford said during a speech at the convention. “We’ve already taken (Former Liberal Premier) Kathleen Wynne’s hands out of your pockets. And Justin Trudeau, you’re next.”

Ontario’s interim Liberal leader, John Fraser, said Tuesday that Ford’s criticism of the federal government has diverted attention away from addressing the needs of Ontario’s health and education systems.

“If he said no, he said no,” Fraser said of Ford’s political aspirations. “It just took him awhile to say that. The thing is the government needs to focus on building up things for family.”

Male stabbed after on-stage brawl during Pusha-T show at Danforth Music Hall

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2018

A male was stabbed following an on-stage brawl at Tuesday night’s Pusha-T show at Danforth Music Hall and is in critical condition, police say.

The male was at the concert and was stabbed either inside or outside of the venue and collapsed outside. His friends took him to hospital and he underwent surgery overnight. Police are not sure if he was involved in the brawl that broke out on stage.

Several people stormed the stage just after 10 p.m. during the show and a fight broke out. That fight cleared the hall. During the exit, police say, more fights broke out and five people were injured. Paramedics took two of those people to hospital with minor injuries. The other three weren’t seriously injured and left without being treated.

Toronto police confirmed performers were attacked on stage. Rapper Pusha T was performing but it has not been confirmed if he was one of the people injured.

tweet was posted to a verified Twitter account that seems to be associated with the rapper (the handle is @PUSHA_T) earl y Wednesday morning saying “That’s not Pusha-T getting punished on stage.”

Around 1,400 people were in attendance and police were on the scene for crowd control.

Danforth Avenue was blocked from Broadview Avenue to Playter Boulevard as police investigate, but it has since reopened.

No one has been taken into custody at this point.


Canadians, Americans are warned: Don’t eat romaine lettuce

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2018

Health officials in the U.S. and Canada told people on Tuesday to stop eating romaine lettuce because of a new E. coli outbreak.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it is working with officials in Canada on the outbreak, which has sickened 32 people in 11 states and 18 people in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.

The strain identified is different than the one linked to romaine earlier this year but appears similar to last year’s outbreak linked to leafy greens.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the agency doesn’t have enough information to ask suppliers for a recall, but he suggested that supermarkets and restaurants should withdraw romaine until the source of the contamination can be identified.

The contaminated lettuce is likely still on the market, Gottlieb told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday.

He said FDA wanted to issue a warning before people gathered for Thanksgiving meals, where the potential for exposure could increase.

“We did feel some pressure to draw conclusions as quickly as we could,” he said.

Most romaine sold this time of year is grown in California, Gottlieb said. The romaine lettuce linked to the E. coli outbreak earlier this year was from Yuma, Arizona. That outbreak, which sickened about 200 people and killed five, was blamed on tainted irrigation water.

No deaths have been reported in the current outbreak, but 13 people in the U.S. and six in Canada have been hospitalized. The last reported U.S. illness was on Oct. 31, while and the most recent illness in Canada was early this month.

Tracing the source of contaminated lettuce can be difficult because it’s often repackaged by middlemen, said Sarah Sorscher, deputy director of regulatory affairs at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. That can mean the entire industry becomes implicated in outbreaks, even if not all products are contaminated.

“One of the problems with produce is that it can be very hard to trace back,” she said.

She said washing contaminated lettuce won’t ensure that harmful germs are killed.

Infections from E. coli can cause symptoms including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Most people recover within a week, but some illnesses can last longer and be more severe.

Health officials have also been reminding people to properly handle and cook their Thanksgiving birds amid a widespread salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey. Last week, Hormel recalled some packages of Jennie-O ground turkey that regulators were able to tie to an illness.

But unlike with romaine lettuce, regulators are not warning people to avoid turkey. Salmonella is not prohibited in raw meat and poultry, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which overseas raw meat, said cooking should kill any salmonella.

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