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Payday loans a growing part of Ontario’s personal insolvencies, study finds

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Feb 13th, 2018

A study by a Toronto-based firm says the rate of insolvent borrowers using payday loans in Ontario has grown for the sixth consecutive year.

Insolvency trustee firm Hoyes Michalos & Associates says 31 per cent of insolvent borrowers used the loans in 2017, up from 27 per cent the year before.

The study suggests payday loans are a growing factor in personal insolvencies in Ontario, with struggling debtors are taking out fewer but larger loans despite recent changes to lower borrowing rates.

As of Jan. 1, 2017, the provincial government reduced the maximum amount lenders can charge for a payday loan to $18 for every $100 borrowed, down from $21 for each $100. Earlier this year, the rate was further reduced to $15.

Hoyes Michalos & Associates says they looked at 3,500 insolvency cases and found the average number of payday loans outstanding at the time of insolvency declined to 3.2 in 2017, but the average payday loan size was $1,095, an increase of 12.4 per cent from the year before.

In total, insolvent borrowers owed an average of $3,464 from all their payday loans, the study says, or $1.34 for every dollar of their monthly take-home pay.

Man stabbed in face at College Station in random attack: police

BT Toronto | posted Tuesday, Feb 13th, 2018

Police believe a stabbing that took place at College subway station on Monday afternoon was an unprovoked attack.

“By all accounts at this point it appears that it was … a random attack,” Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook told CityNews.

Douglas-Cook said police received a call around 12:40 p.m. on Monday for an altercation on the subway platform.

When officers arrived on scene they found the victim suffering a serious stab wound to the face. Police recovered an ice pick.

The victim was sent to hospital with serious but non life-threatening injuries while a suspect was apprehended after a brief foot chase with TTC officers.

A witness told CityNews it appeared that the stabbing took place on a subway train. “We seen some guy get off the train, there was a trail of blood,” said Justin Morency. “He just dropped to the floor, you could tell he got stabbing in the face.”

College Station was closed for several hours while police investigated, but has since reopened.

More than 500 scientists demand improved pollution laws in Canada

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

OTTAWA – When Miriam Diamond’s son was a competitive gymnast, she tried to get toxic flame retardants removed from the foam blocks and landing mats her son was exposed to for 20 hours or more every week.

Diamond, a professor of earth sciences at the University of Toronto, was able to show the concentration of the chemicals in the air and the dust in the gym, was 20 times higher than in the average home.

Europe and the United States recognized the chemicals were toxic. Canada, however, did not, and thus nobody would fund her attempts to get rid of the materials. Without a federal government toxic designation, nobody would listen to get them removed.

It is with that in mind that Diamond signed her name to a letter which will be sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today, asking him to seriously consider making changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that would put the onus on companies to show their products are safe before they’re ever put on the market.

Currently, Diamond says, chemicals can be approved for use based on relatively flimsy, sometimes even incomplete data, provided by the manufacturer.

“It always amazes me how little data can be submitted,” said Diamond.

The letter is signed by more than 540 scientists and doctors from across Canada, telling Trudeau this is a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to curb pollution, save lives, protect the environment, boost the economy and improve the quality of life for all Canadians.”

“Canada has a serious pollution problem that is a threat to both human health and the quality of our environment,” it says.

The act, known as CEPA, must be reviewed every five years and that was done in 2016 by the House of Commons environment committee, which then last year made 87 recommendations to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna. She said last fall she would notify the committee by June what actions will be taken as a result of the report.

The scientists are asking the government to focus on the most important of the recommendations, including prohibiting substances that are of “very high concern” unless a company can prove they can be used safely in specific circumstances. They also want the act to require assessments of substances to take into account cumulative affects of repeated exposures, as well as what is known as synergistic effects, or the impact that can be had from exposure to two or more substances at the same time.

They also want national, enforceable air quality standards.

Canada, says the letter, is the only industrialized country in the world without legally binding, and enforceable, air quality standards. Canada sets ambient air quality standards under CEPA, including objectives for substances like ozone and sulphur dioxide, but the standards are voluntary and don’t make mention of some of the most troubling pollutants like cadmium and benzene.

Diamond said there are standards at the provincial level, but they are very uneven and it shouldn’t be that someone in one province has less protection from polluted air than someone in another province.

— follow @mrabson on Twitter.

Canada’s Justine Dufour-Lapointe wins Olympic silver in women’s moguls

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Justine Dufour-Lapointe was anything but disappointed after losing her Olympic moguls title Sunday at the Pyeongchang Winter Games.

On the contrary, she believes her silver medal is worth more than the gold she won at the ’14 Sochi Games.

In the middle of a snowstorm, the youngest of the Dufour-Lapointe sisters made a quick and aggressive run to earn 78.56 points in the super-final. France’s Perrine Laffont captured the gold with 78.65 points.

Kazakhstan’s Yulia Galysheva won the bronze with 77.40 points.

“I feel like I’ve given everything I could,” said the emotional 23-year-old Canadian. “I gave my heart, my fire and the passion for my sport.

“I skied like a real tigress.”

The nine-hundredths gap that separated her from a second consecutive gold medal – which would’ve tied Dufour-Lapointe with Alexandre Bilodeau as the only ones to have successfully defended an Olympic moguls title (2010-2014) – didn’t seem to bother her.

In fact, the presence of her mother at the base of the slope was a victory in itself since only a year ago, Johane Dufour-Lapointe was sharing her cancer diagnosis with her daughters.

She is currently in remission, and will undergo a new series of tests upon her return home.

“I’m prouder of this medal than gold in Sochi, because I worked even harder to get there,” Justine Dufour-Lapointe said. “This was one of the most difficult years of my life, so no, I don’t want to be disappointed.

“This silver medal is worth more than that, it’s gold for me.”

The competition was especially difficult considering the heavy snow, which worsened as the evening progressed. As a result of the reduced visibility, super-final organizers decided to add a tree to the track to help participants find their bearings.

Regina’s Andi Naude, who was considered a medal hopeful, missed the landing of her first jump and did not complete her run.

Justine’s sister, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe, was eliminated in the first final after finishing 17th out of 20. Only the top-12 reached the small final.

Audrey Robichaud of Quebec City finished ninth overall.

A visibly emotional Chloe Dufour-Lapointe recognized she was “emptied” both physically and emotionally by the events of the past year, and suggested she may take some time off.

“It’s been a difficult year, and I’m a girl who’s very emotional in life,” the 26-year-old said. “I need a little mental break. I need to think of myself in order to come back stronger.

“You know, making ‘comebacks’ every time isn’t easy, but I’m the ‘resets’ pro,” she added with a laugh.

She said she hadn’t decided yet if she would end her season and would discuss the matter with her trainers in the following days.

“But I’m a person of feelings, and my feelings tell me I need to go home,” she said.

Far from being disappointed in her performance, Chloe Dufour-Lapointe said she was touched by the love showed by her family Sunday night.

“I’m really proud of my sister,” she said. “It’s a family medal, one we didn’t even think about a year ago.

“But everyone is here, healthy, and that’s the best gift in the world.”

Back in the crowd, her parents and family members, including older moguls-skiing sister Maxime, lacked the words to express their pride.

“Tonight was a relief,” said Johane, who is also the agent for her daughters. “Given the last year when I was seriously ill, I realized how much my daughters have been affected by this.

“The two of them (Justine and Chloe) said to me: ‘Mom, I gave everything, I have no more juice, I’m empty.’ I’m glad it’s over.”

Patrick Brown says he can disprove sexual misconduct allegations against him

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Patrick Brown says he can disprove allegations of sexual misconduct that led to his abrupt resignation as leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party late last month.

Brown said in a Facebook post Sunday that he has been investigating the allegations reported by CTV News last month. He said specific details of the accusations from two unnamed women, which date back to when he was a federal MP, contain discrepancies that prove their accounts are false.

Brown also alleged both of the accusers know CTV reporters socially, and that the broadcaster left out a contradicting account from a witness to one of the alleged incidents.

“CTV is aware of the claims made in Patrick Brown’s Facebook post (Sunday) and those reportedly made in his interview with the Toronto Sun. CTV News stands by its story,” Matthew Garrow, communications director for the broadcaster, said in a statement.

Brown, whose resignation came months before a spring election, said he will clear his name.

“The #metoo movement is important. I support it. I embrace it. My drive to public service includes creating a safer and more respectful world for women. The #metoo movement is too important to allow outrageous allegations like these to derail it,” he wrote.

The allegations reported by CTV have not been verified by The Canadian Press.

The broadcaster reported on Jan. 24 that one of the women, who is now 29, said she was still in high school when Brown allegedly asked her to perform oral sex on him.

CTV reported the alleged incident happened in Brown’s bedroom with the door closed, but Brown said in his Facebook post that at the time of the alleged incident, he lived in an open concept apartment and the bedroom didn’t have a door.

CTV also reported the second accuser was a university student working in Brown’s constituency office when he allegedly sexually assaulted her at his home after an event she helped organize.

Brown alleged in his post that the accuser actually tried to kiss him that night, while the woman he was seeing romantically was in another room.

“I stopped her immediately and offered to drive her home, which I did,” he wrote. “There are at least three witnesses, one of whom even spoke to CTV, that refute the details of her allegations.”

He said CTV left the witness’s account out of their report.

Raccoon caught after reportedly biting man in Scarborough

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Toronto police and the city’s animal services department say multiple raccoons have been rounded up by officers amid what they believe is a viral outbreak among animals that could be carrying a rabies-like infection.

The latest incident, in the city’s Scarborough area, saw a man being chased down and bitten by a raccoon on the street Sunday morning, according to police.

The raccoon that bit the man, as well as others that have been seen acting erratically in the past few days, have been taken for testing by animal services officials.

The Scarborough man told officers he believed the raccoon might have rabies, but Toronto Animal Services say it’s more likely the animal had distemper.

“It’s a virus found within the raccoon population and is highly contagious,” said Nicola Ware, a spokesperson for Toronto Animal Services.

“Deceased raccoons are routinely sent for testing. And to date, no raccoon from the Toronto area has tested positive for rabies.”

She said the city’s protocol directs staff to euthanize and test any raccoons that bite a member of the public, so they will know soon whether the Scarborough raccoon had distemper.

While there haven’t been any cases of rabies in Toronto, the Hamilton area has seen a steady increase in rabies cases among various animals in the past three years.

Linda Jacobson, a veterinarian at the Toronto Humane Society, said the latest figures she had seen indicate a substantial increase, but there haven’t been any cases of a human being infected with rabies.

Toronto police are still warning residents to be careful around the animals.

Jacobson said that an animal infected with rabies would display sudden changes in behaviour, would stagger and fall, have trouble eating or drinking and would make unusual sounds.

“Those are things that make you think of rabies, but rabies isn’t the only thing that causes those things,” said Jacobson, who said she had once seen an erratic raccoon that looked like it had rabies, but later tested positive for distemper.

In the event of a bite, Jacobson said you should immediately call your local public health unit, which would then explain the best course of action.

In the case of the man who was bitten in Scarborough, staff from Toronto’s animal services will corroborate his story and then decide to euthanize and test the animal for any infections.

Ware said that raccoons that have distemper are always euthanized, as it’s a fatal infection that causes a painful death for the animal.


Snowboarder Laurie Blouin comes back from injury to win Olympic silver

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Canadian snowboarder Laurie Blouin has won a silver medal in the women’s slopestyle at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Sporting a black eye after a nasty crash in training a few days ago, Blouin overcame high winds to nail a clean second run for 76.33 points.

The reigning world champion from Stoneham, Que., Blouin was second behind American Jamie Anderson, who scored 83.00 on her first run.

Enni Rukajarvi of Finland took bronze with a score of 73.91.

Brooke Voigt of Fort McMurray, Alta., finished 21st and Spencer O’Brien of Courtenay, B.C., was 22nd.

The start of the competition was delayed for about 75 minutes due to the conditions at windswept Phoenix Park.

High winds forced the cancellation of the qualification on Sunday. Organizers decided to instead allow all competitors direct entry into the final.

Blouin took a hard fall Friday when her board got stuck in a crack after she landed a double jump. She resumed full training Sunday.

Canada won two medals in the men’s slopestyle competition on Sunday. Max Parrot of Bromont, Que., won silver and Regina’s Mark McMorris took the bronze.

Canada wins first gold medal at Winter Olympics

The Canadian Press | posted Monday, Feb 12th, 2018

Canada has secured its first gold medal of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., clinched the top spot in the team figure skating competition after finishing third in the women’s free skate on Monday, before teammates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the ice dance segment of the event.

Daleman’s 137.14-point performance added eight points to Canada’s cumulative score, bringing it up to 63.

Olympic Athletes from Russia were second at 58 and the United States was third with 53. Daleman’s performance clinched gold because neither Russia or the U.S. could catch the Canadians once Virtue and Moir stepped on the ice.

Although the Canadian ice dancers could have taken it easy with gold a sure thing, Virtue and Moir put in a beautiful performance, taking the top spot in the free dance with 118.10 points. That brought the Canadians final score up to 73, well ahead of the competition.

Canada’s gold medal was set up by three-time world champion Patrick Chan earlier in the day. He placed first with a score of 179.75 in the men’s free program, keeping the veteran Canadian team in first place and setting the stage for Daleman.


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