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Published: Sun, 22 Apr 2018 22:43:58 EDT

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Immigration to Ontario increasing after prolonged slumpImmigration to Ontario increasing after prolonged slump

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:32:48 EDT

Ontario is seeing a resurgence as the destination for immigrants after a more than decade-long slump in its share of newcomers to Canada. The number of permanent residents settling in the province has rebounded to 111,925, or 39 per cent of the 286,480 new arrivals to Canada last year, from a low of 95,828, or 36.8 per cent of the 260,411 in 2014. In the past, more than half of newcomers settled in Ontario.The vast majority of Ontario’s newcomers — 85,500 in 2017 — settled in the Greater Toronto Area, which saw an increase of 5.4 per cent from two years earlier. This past January alone, Ontario received 10,870 new permanent residents, up 48.6 per cent from 7,315 in the same period last year. Greater Toronto’s share was 8,600, 57.2 per cent higher than January 2017. Experts said the immigration bump in the GTA and Ontario appears to be due to the economic downturn in Alberta, which saw immigrant arrivals drop to 42,100 last year from 49,200 in 2016, with its national share declining to 14.7 per cent from 16.3 per cent. The recent slump for Alberta comes after a decade in which its share of immigrants shot up dramatically, from less than 10 per cent in the past. B.C.’s immigration share has stabilized at around 13.5 per cent in the past three years after a steady decline from its peak of 17.8 per cent a decade ago. Quebec, which selects its own immigrants, had exactly the same share of the pie, at 18.3 per cent, last year as it did in 2008. Immigration to the rest of the country adds up to just under 15 per cent of the total. “Ontario, especially Greater Toronto, is again the place to go to for new immigrants. Both Alberta and British Columbia are not doing so well,” said Jack Jedwab of the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration. “In Alberta, the economy is bad. In B.C., it is hard to find an affordable place to live. In Greater Toronto, it is still the historical magnet for immigrant settlement.” Ontario’s dominance as Canada’s immigration hub had been under threat under the former federal Conservative government, as the province saw its share of immigration falling significantly from its peak of 53.6 per cent in 2005, when 140,528 of the 262,243 new arrivals settled in the province.In the years after that, the Stephen Harper government pushed for the regionalization of immigration in an attempt to encourage newcomers to settle outside of the big three immigration gateway cities: Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.The goal was to spread the economic benefits and population diversity evenly across Canada, and alleviate the pressure of immigrant settlement on big cities’ infrastructure.Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, said the Tory government introduced new criteria to limit skilled immigration to applicants in specific occupations only.While Ontario’s broad economic base can use any type of skilled immigrants, the occupational limitation favoured immigrants with sought-after skills in the oilpatch in Alberta, she said.Then in the Harper government’s final year, in 2015, Ottawa introduced the Express Entry system that shifted away from specific occupation criteria to a model that now focuses on attracting immigrants with Canadian education credentials and job experience.“Ontario was disadvantaged under the old system and the surge of immigration we are seeing now is partially the unexpected result of Express Entry,” said Douglas.When Ontario saw the first signs of an immigration surge in 2016 — to 110,025 newcomers, from 103,610 the year before — Douglas said most observers believed it could be a one-time spike due to Canada’s massive resettlement of Syrian refugees, the bulk of whom were sponsored to come to the province. “Now, we are anticipating this trend to continue,” she noted.Sara Amash, a spokesperson for Ontario Immigration Minister Laura Albanese, said the government is not surprised immigrants choose the province because it rem[...]


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Duelling daycare plans pit Liberals against NDP in battle for parent votesDuelling daycare plans pit Liberals against NDP in battle for parent votesDuelling daycare plans pit Liberals against NDP in battle for parent votes

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 14:12:46 EDT

Teacher Carrie Schoemer stayed home for nearly two years after her son was born because she was unable to find affordable licensed child care in her neighbourhood.Amanda Munday was only able to go back to work in 2015 because her mother took early retirement to help with child care.But the east-Toronto parents’ frustration over the acute lack of licensed care and punishing costs topping $2,000 a month may soon be over.Last week, Ontario’s NDP joined the Liberals in making child care a cornerstone of their platform in the June 7 provincial election.“These two parties understand that creating licensed child-care spaces at affordable prices is critical for women and families in my neighbourhood and across Ontario,” says Schoemer, who finally got a toddler spot for 2-year-old Julian last fall.“Child care is an election issue for our family, no question,” says Munday. “We are not card-carrying members of any political party, so this will be a deciding issue for us. We are watching very closely what all the parties are saying.”The Progressive Conservatives have yet to weigh in, although a spokesperson said the party would make “an announcement on this very important issue in the coming weeks.”So far, duelling daycare platforms in Ontario pit the NDP’s $12-a-day scheme for kids under 4 against the Liberals’ promise of free child care for kids age 2 1/2 to kindergarten.The NDP would start with infants and toddlers in 2019-20 and add kids 2 1/2 and older the following year. It would be free for families earning less than $40,000 a year and cost an average of $12 a day for most others. The richest parents would pay the full cost, although party officials could not provide income thresholds.Within five years, annual provincial funding would spike to more than $5.4 billion from about $1.6 billion today, making child care the largest single investment in the NDP platform, unveiled Monday.The Liberals, who released their plan in a pre-budget announcement in March, would begin with free child care for kids age 2-1/2 to kindergarten and more fee subsidies for infant and toddler care, starting in 2020. Within three years, annual provincial funding would jump to $3.3 billion, according to the budget, which does not forecast spending beyond 2020-21. While the two-page NDP plan sounds good, University of Toronto economics professor Gordon Cleveland says it is “completely unrealistic.”Cleveland, who was hired by the provincial government last summer to research how to make child care affordable in Ontario, says more than 160,000 infants and toddlers would flood the licensed child-care system if fees dropped to $12 a day or less.And yet, there are just 60,000 licensed spaces for this age group across the province, he notes. In the third year of an NDP mandate, demand for preschool spaces would exceed 181,000, far more than the current 106,000-space supply, according to Cleveland’s 322-page analysis, released last month.“The NDP plan would result in huge space shortages and long waiting lists, rather than affordable child care,” Cleveland says.That is why he recommended starting with preschoolers, a plan the Liberals embraced in their March 28 budget.“Our analysis shows that concentrating first on one age group — 2-1/2 to 4 years — and doing it right would be a much better way to build a system of affordable child-care services for families,” Cleveland says. “This information was available to the NDP, and they have chosen to ignore it.”In Quebec, where universal, $5-a-day child care was rolled out over four years in the late 1990s, the government was forced to use home daycares, for-profit centres and undertrained staff to meet demand, Cleveland notes.“The lesson from Quebec is that creating a quality system takes time,” he says.NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says if she were premier, her government would address parents’ most desperate need — infant and toddler[...]


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Dave Feschuk: Wizards rally to tie series with uncomfortable RaptorsDave Feschuk: Wizards rally to tie series with uncomfortable Raptors

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 20:50:51 EDT

WASHINGTON—In the lead-up to Sunday’s Raptors-Wizards Game 4, Toronto coach Dwane Casey posed a rhetorical question for public consumption.“How do we respond?” the coach wondered.The Raptors had been run off the Capital One Arena floor in a Game 3 loss, dropping their first game of the series in a turnover-rife shambles of a contest that saw Toronto’s players, veterans and youngsters alike, lose their cool in the face of Washington’s timely injection of physicality.“How do you respond when someone is up in your chest and trying to make you feel uncomfortable?” Casey said. “You’ve got to do it.”Maybe Casey’s team will respond more favourably in the friendly environs of the Air Canada Centre. As it was, the Raptors capped a forgettable trip to the U.S. capital with a second straight loss, 106-98, to leave their best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2. For the second straight game the Raptors saw an early lead undone by careless turnovers and unforced mistakes. For the second straight game, the Wizards got a big performance from Bradley Beal to vault themselves back into the series. Even after Beal fouled out with 4:58 to play — after he scored 31 points on 19 field-goal attempts — the Wizards got it over the finish line. John Wall inserted a dagger, making one of his floating mid-range jump shots to put the Wizards up 102-96 with 58 seconds to play. Wall, for whom the Raptors have yet to find an antidote, finished with 25 points and 14 assists.Yet again, Toronto’s vaunted depth failed to show itself, leaving all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to carry far more of the load than they did en route to 59 regular-season wins. DeRozan responded to a steady diet of single coverage with a big game, scoring 35 points and getting to the free-throw line 18 times. Lowry, meanwhile, scored 19 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range. But Toronto’s other starters were less effective. And Toronto’s bench, which averaged 42 points a game during the regular season, contributed just 22 points. C.J. Miles was 0-for-3 from three-point range. Delon Wright had just seven points on seven shots.For a while, it looked like the Raptors might assert their status as the East’s No. 1 seed with an easy statement victory over the No. 8 underdogs. But despite taking double-digit leads in the first and third quarters, sloppy offence and lax defence helped the Wizards back into the game. With Toronto leading 54-40 in the moments after halftime, the home team reeled off a 40-point third quarter to head into the final frame tied 80-80.Casey had kept his pre-game demands awfully simple. He urged his team to bring a “mindset of physicality” to the hardwood. He suggested his team be “stronger with the ball.” He wanted sharper work, “both mentally and physically.” Wizards coach Scott Brooks concurred: “Both teams should have an edge … You don’t want one or both teams not to play with passion. That’s no fun to coach and no fun to watch … Within the rules, you have to be physical. No one is out there to hurt anybody.”“Bottom line just play harder,” Casey said before the game. “I didn’t think we brought our hard-play game the other night and that lent itself to turnovers, soft passes, and you can’t do that against a team like the Wizards.”Still, there’s a fine line between intensely playing on the edge of what’s legal and finding yourself out of control. And as much as Casey tossed in a reminder that his team not “get frantic,” both the Raptors and Wizards frequently found themselves avoiding the common-sense play in the search for home-run swings gone awry. Maybe it was the push for “edge” and “physicality” that brought us a game that was, for long stretches, decidedly ugly.The Raptors were aggressive from the get-go, opening up an 11-point lea[...]


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Aging Quebec church looks to salad for salvationAging Quebec church looks to salad for salvationAging Quebec church looks to salad for salvationAging Quebec church looks to salad for salvationAging Quebec church looks to salad for salvation

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 17:36:48 EDT

MONTREAL—For much of the past 166 years, the silver-spired church in St-Pacôme, Que., has been nourishing souls.But over the next few months, the church will be decommissioned and transformed for a new, secular mission: nourishing people’s stomachs.The past decade has been a struggle for the church in the town of 1,700 people, which is 150 kilometres northeast of Quebec City. Attendance at the weekly mass is down to 40 people, said Lisette Lévesque, president of the parish council. The demand for baptisms is drying up. Weddings are nearly unheard of. The only steady services are funerals for the aging population. But the reckoning came a little over a year ago when the church’s furnace blew. The price tag for repairs forced congregants to crowd into a smaller space within their heavenly white house of prayer for several months to cut down on heating costs. It brought them to a realization facing communities all across the province. They would have to let the building — in need of $400,000 worth of work on the foundations, the roof, the windows and the doors — slip from their grasp.“We have no choice but to try and innovate,” Lévesque said. “Our priest said it’s almost like a gift falling from the sky to have an offer like the one we had.”They found a potential saviour for their church just 450 metres down the road.Inno-3B was founded in 2014 with the idea of employing the relatively new trend of vertical farming in far-flung areas to cut reliance on imported vegetables. The original plan was to supply hydroponic growing towers to the north, giving mining towns and First Nations a year-round source of produce. The company was also working on a “living vegetable” system for grocery stores, whereby customers would harvest their own fresh lettuce and herbs.They are now focused on selling and servicing the 10-metre towers to food suppliers and restaurant chains, betting they will opt for fresh local food over vegetables farmed and flown in from halfway around the world.To demonstrate the product, company founder Martin Brault needed a place with sufficient height, which was difficult to find in the small town.“At one point, there was a call from the church council asking what they could do about their church,” said Nathan De Baets, a company spokesperson. “That’s when he got the idea. There is height, it’s close, we wouldn’t have to move the employees and it would repurpose the church.”The excess heat from the LED lighting used to grow the vegetables would heat the building, which they also plan to turn into a community kitchen, a co-working space and a smaller area where locals can still gather for a weekly religious service.Many communities are not so lucky.Read more:Quebec congregations rally as Catholic church plans more closuresQuebec’s Religious Heritage Council spent $10 million to subsidize projects to repair, stabilize and upgrade more than 50 culturally significant churches last year. But the legacy of the Catholic Church in Quebec is a landscape of spires and crosses stretching from one end of the province to the other. With church attendance down, those impressive buildings must find a new vocation or face the wrecking ball.The diocese of St-Jérôme, 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal, is expected to announce in mid-June how many of its 58 churches it intends to shut down. Heritage buffs fear the shuttering of a 235-year-old church in nearby St-Eustache that bears the scars of an attack by British forces during the 1837 Lower Canada Rebellion. Church officials say those pleas should be heard by a higher power: the provincial government.“Our mission is not to manage heritage buildings. It’s to announce the words of Jesus Christ,” Msgr. Martin Tremblay, vicar-general of the diocese, recently told Le Devoir.In Quebec City, an expert committee is looking at how best to spend $3[...]


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Mother of Kaden Young thanks community after body found in Grand RiverMother of Kaden Young thanks community after body found in Grand RiverMother of Kaden Young thanks community after body found in Grand RiverMother of Kaden Young thanks community after body found in Grand River

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 08:41:07 EDT

The mother of 3-year-old Kaden Young says the search for her son is over, two months after he was swept from her arms and into the Grand River. A fisherman spotted a body in the river near Orangeville at around 3 p.m. Saturday and called the Ontario Provincial Police. Multiple police units and a forensic squad worked to remove the body from the water. OPP Const. Paul Nancekivell told the Star he was hesitant about releasing the identity of the child until police knew for sure, but on Sunday morning Michelle Hanson, Kaden’s mother, posted to a Facebook group thanking the community for their support. “We are wanting to thank everyone that has helped in the efforts to bring our son Kaden home. It has been a long extremely draining two months of searching and now has finally come to an end,” said the post.Hanson said funeral arrangements are now being finalized.On Feb. 21, Hanson was driving with Kaden when she accidentally missed a road-closure sign and her minivan was swept off the washed-out road and into the fast-moving river during a flood. She managed to free herself and Kaden from the vehicle, but the force of the water wrenched the boy from her arms.Family members said Hanson hadn’t seen the road-closure sign due to dark and foggy conditions. It was about 1 a.m. when the vehicle hit the water.Nancekivell told the Star a fisherman found the body under the County Rd. 26 bridge that goes over the Grand River in Belwood — about 14 kilometres away from where Kaden was pulled into the water. Nancekivell said the body was found in a cluster of trees and shrubs where a Canada goose was nesting near the shore. An autopsy will be conducted in Toronto on Monday.A steady stream of visitors, both local and from further a field, came to Belwood bridge on Sunday afternoon to remember the little boy whose disappearance touched so many people.Tributes including bouquets of flowers, blue ribbons and stuffed animals with messages saying “We love you Kaden,” were tied to poles and the guardrail on the bridge.“Two long gruelling months, involving hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, the first couple of weeks there were 4-500 volunteers a day, even through the March break we had hundreds of people a day, which was amazing,” Nancekivell said of the search. “It really rallied the community together. People showed up with excavators, boats. Any equipment we needed, we got it.”“It is very emotional for them,” Nancekivell said. “People have been searching a long time, and to come out everyday and still have that drive, and to want to carry on.”Nancekivell added that crisis counsellors have been made available to the many people involved, including the fisherman who found the body.“It’s been tough on our officers,” he added. “They’ve been out here a long time, a lot of pressure; people saying why haven’t you found him.”Nancekivell said he was there the day Kaden went missing and the river was raging. “(People had) stuff in their backyard, patio sets, flying down the river. Tremendously strong current, the river was up 10-15 feet in that area.”This quiet community was obviously touched by the tragedy and many stopped to pay their respects.“We heard the news, and for it to happen to someone so young,” says Lucy Devido, from Toronto, who was out for a drive in the area.Nancekivell said he found a little bit of hope in the fact there was a goose nesting near where the body was found, and officers had to be careful with it when removing the body from the water.“Despite the tragedy, it’s a reminder of the power of mother nature,” he saidRichard Croft, a co-ordinator who helped organize the daily searches, said in a Facebook Live video he was returning to his day job after spending the last two months trying to find Kaden.“We have completed our search, and I just wan[...]


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Cut taxes for Ontario businesses, Board of Trade urges Cut taxes for Ontario businesses, Board of Trade urges

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 22:26:33 EDT

One of the Greater Toronto Area’s most influential business groups is urging Ontario’s political parties to cut taxes to help companies be more competitive.In a new pre-election report to be released Monday, the Toronto Region Board of Trade says that “while Ontario consistently ranks as one of the best places to live, we don’t rank as highly in the cost of doing business.”“Businesses benefit from Ontario’s diverse and educated workforce, but face barriers due to housing affordability, rising electricity prices and poor (research and development) investment,” says the eight-page study.“The recent government decision to sharply increase the minimum wage over a very short time and raise payroll taxes only increases the pressure to keep costs down, particularly for small businesses.”Jan De Silva, the board’s president and CEO, said Ontario is “falling behind in key areas where the government makes, or influences, policy, notably labour costs, housing affordability and energy prices.”With Ontario voters headed to the polls on June 7, De Silva said whatever party forms the next government should harmonize and cut provincial property taxes on businesses.That would eliminate the different rates paid in municipalities across the province as well as “free up more funds for employment and investment” and help businesses better compete against U.S. states that are lowering corporate taxes, the report said.Ontario Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Rocco Rossi said his organization is “advocating that the next provincial government reduce the overall tax burden on business.”“The (Toronto Region Board of Trade’s) call for a return to provincial business property tax reduction and harmonization is a smart way for Ontario to strengthen its competitive advantage.”Read more: Ontario businesses lack confidence in future, survey findsOpinion | David Olive: What would a Premier Doug Ford mean for Ontario’s economy?Opinion | Martin Regg Cohn: Wage wars, trade wars, and virtual economic realityAccording to the report, Toronto has among the highest business property tax rates in Canada — ahead of Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Halifax, St. John’s, Winnipeg and Saskatoon, but lower than Saint John and Charlottetown.“To deliver fair and inclusive growth, we need to create the conditions for our companies to succeed. This requires a renewed focus on the cost of doing business,” the study says.“Avoiding uncompetitive policies and cutting property taxes for businesses will protect existing enterprises and increase investor confidence in Ontario,” it continues.“Greater stability and investment, particularly in uncertain global economic times, allows for a stronger economy in which everyone benefits.”The report compared Ontario to 14 other Canadian and American jurisdictions on 18 indicators, such as housing affordability, population growth, median age, labour force participation rate and the level of women in the workforce.“Ontario’s overall ranking is a middling ‘C’ grade, reflecting some strengths, but revealing several areas that require improvement,” it says.The province ranked behind Minnesota, Texas and Indiana and was tied with Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and Quebec.But Ontario was ahead of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, and South Carolina, thanks to “a diverse and skilled workforce, providing a talented pool of workers for businesses.”“Combined with high general and female participation rates, the labour force is the strength of our province,” the report says.Lowering the province’s grade — in the business lobby’s view — was a “costly minimum wage,” at $14 an hour.That rate is scheduled to increase to $15 next Jan. 1 if t[...]


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Grounds for a brouhaha?: Keurig, Toronto spar over whether coffee pods belong in blue binGrounds for a brouhaha?: Keurig, Toronto spar over whether coffee pods belong in blue bin

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:41:17 EDT

Keurig Canada wants to tell every Torontonian they can put Keurig coffee “pods” in blue bins with paper, empty jars and other city-approved recyclables.The City of Toronto wants every Torontonian to absolutely not do that and has told Keurig so. The java giant is nonetheless unleashing a public education campaign with advertising, social media and grocery store demonstrations on how Canadians can blue-bin the wee plastic cups.The pod press comes at a delicate time for a Toronto recycling program on the ropes, which has plummeting revenues amid China and other recycling nations increasingly refusing to buy waste sullied by contaminants including coffee grounds.Stakes are also high for Keurig Green Mountain Inc., which revolutionized home, office and hotel room coffemaking with push-down-brew machines. The Vermont-based company introduced polypropylene pods amid public anger at billions of its old “K-Cups” flooding landfills.Jim McKay, the city official in charge of recycling, is “extremely concerned” by Keurig’s blitz given that 140 tonnes of pods from various firms already hit Toronto blue bins yearly. Other Canadian cities, most of which don’t recycle coffee pods, can also expect a surge in them.“Part of the problem we have with recycling generally is there’s mixed messages out there and it’s just confusing the consumer and the resident,” McKay said in an interview. “They’re advertising within the city limits that (Keurig coffee pods are) recyclable when they’re actually not recyclable within the city limits. It’s misinformation at this point.“We’re committed to continuing working with them and trying to find a solution, but telling people something is recyclable when it’s not accepted in the recycling program is just making the (contamination) problem worse right now.”In an interview from Montreal, Keurig Canada spokeswoman Cynthia Shanks insists the new pods, easily readied for recycling by coffee drinkers, will be recycled by Canada Fibers Ltd., the company contracted to process Toronto recyclables.“If consumers are peeling (foil tops) and emptying their coffee pods (into green bins) and then put their plastic pod in the recycling bin empty, it will be recycled in Toronto and it won’t add any cost or contamination ...,” for the city, Shanks said.“The ad campaign reflects our commitment to effective consumer education while also speaking to the financial investment that we’re willing to make to ensure that we drive true behavioural change and a positive impact on the environment.”Keurig-funded tests at Canada Fiber’s facility found most cleaned pods made it through the sorting system and could be bundled and sold with other “No. 5” plastics, she said.Canada Fibers directed questions to McKay, who did not dispute completely clean K-Cups in blue bins could escape a costly side trip to landfill. He said there are other factors why Toronto — not corporations — must control what joins the city’s recycling stream.All recycling costs Toronto money and there’s no budget to start subsidizing coffee pods, he said.McKay is skeptical Torontonians will clean pods enough to make them recyclable. He cites five steps including removing a paper filter and rinsing. A Financial Post columnist determined seven steps are required.Most importantly, McKay said, Toronto can’t afford coffee grounds worsening a rate of non-recyclables in bins already rising past 25 per cent. Further contamination, under terms of the city’s contract with Canada Fibers, could cost city taxpayers millions more dollars per year.“Organic material left in the pod will contaminate other waste in the bin. We’re already having problems with mixed paper and this could make more of it not sellable,” he said.“We simply cannot afford to take the risk of further increasing the contamination,” McKay said, adding audits of Toronto blue-[...]


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They thought he was hiding: The story behind the Tamil migrant believed to be Bruce McArthur’s eighth victimThey thought he was hiding: The story behind the Tamil migrant believed to be Bruce McArthur’s eighth victim

Fri, 20 Apr 2018 19:54:19 EDT

Kajendthiran Shanmuganathan knew from the moment he saw the photograph.He’d first met the man on the grounds of a Sri Lankan elementary school. Years later, they shared arduous days aboard a rickety cargo ship on a perilous journey to Canada.To much of the world, the man in the unsettling photograph — bearded, with unkempt hair, partially shut eyes and slightly parted lips — was nameless. As the image circulated for weeks on the news and in social media, he was known for the singular dark fact of when it was captured: after his death.Read more:Toronto police name eighth victim of alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur10 questions about the Bruce McArthur investigationKey dates in the investigation into alleged serial killer Bruce McArthurInvestigators had, reluctantly, released the image in a last resort effort to learn his name, believing he was yet another of Bruce McArthur’s victims. Word came through police sources that it was among a cache of photos of dead men found in McArthur’s possession. (Because of the nature of the photograph, the Star has chosen not to publish it.)The unfolding investigation into the 66-year-old accused killer had already revealed the dismembered remains of men now believed to be his victims. They were buried in planters at a Toronto home linked to McArthur through his landscaping work. The release of the dead man’s photograph added another grisly dimension, his face symbolizing untold horror.But to Shanmuganathan, it invoked memories of camping, playing cricket, volunteering in local temples in their coastal Sri Lankan hometown of Jaffna and seemingly endless days together on the MV Sun Sea ship as two young men among the nearly 500 Tamil asylum seekers landing on Canadian shores in 2010, and later, the time they spent imprisoned in a maximum detention facility in Vancouver.When the man’s image flashed on the news just last week, he knew. “It was Kirushnakumar.” Days later, police would charge McArthur with an eighth count of first-degree murder in the death of Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, a Tamil-speaking refugee. He was never reported missing by his family because he was undocumented. They had assumed he’d gone into hiding. Alongside a name, the dead man in the photograph now has a story. At a quiet intersection on Kachcheri Nallur Rd., just past the railway trucks, there’s a large white banner on the wall outside a Jaffna district government building announcing Kanagaratnam’s death to the city. With the address of his family home and a prayer, it features an older image of him bordered by a wreath of golden ribbons.In this photo, he has a moustache and goatee, not a beard. His eyes are open, lips pursed, hair neatly combed. Inside his family home, a framed version has been placed at the centre of the living room on a table covered by a white sheet, surrounded by flower petals and candles. Family members and friends visit from all over the country, praying for a man they haven’t seen in eight years.Every day, some 50 or 60 people arrive, most of them responding to his death on the news. They remember him as quiet, kind and charitable man, dutiful to his family and his faith.Born on April 2, 1978, Kanagaratnam was the fourth child of six siblings, four boys and two girls. Shanmuganathan said he was “an active kid,” always participating in community events and school functions. As he grew up, he worked in the family-run jewelry store.Suthakaran Thanigasalam, Kanagaratnam’s maternal cousin in Jaffna, was the first to hear the news of his death from cousins in Toronto. Kanagaratnam had lived with them for a brief period, he told the Star. He heard from them the night of April 13, on the eve of Tamil New Year’s Day. He and Kanagaratnam’s two older siblings didn’t tell his elderly parents until th[...]


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Ontario PCs won’t say if they would shift recycling costs to businessesOntario PCs won’t say if they would shift recycling costs to businesses

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:53:19 EDT

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Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are not committing to continue a Liberal program that shifts the cost and responsibility for recycling waste on to the companies that produced it.

Amid concerns over the future of Toronto’s blue bin program, the Star asked the opposition parties if they would forge ahead with the Liberals’ Bill 151, now delayed amid “stakeholder consultations,” to shift the cost of recycling away from municipalities.

Currently municipalities share the cost with industry, through Stewardship Ontario, but each must administer what amounts to a patchwork of provincewide recycling programs. In British Columbia, industry funded non-profit agency Recycle BC administers a blue bin program that has standard provincewide collection and a dramatically lower rate of contamination — non-recyclables including food waste being binned.

Melissa Lantsman, a PC spokeswoman, said the governing Liberals are “all talk” when it comes to recycling and “Ontario has some of the worst waste diversion rates in the entire country.”

“When it comes to waste diversion the only thing this government does is waste tax dollars, and divert money away from your pocketbook,” she said in an email.

The Star asked her twice, starting April 12, what a government led by PC Leader Doug Ford would do differently than the Liberals, and if his government would shift the cost and burden to producers.

Lantsman did not respond.

The NDP supports Bill 151 and would add timelines to ensure producers start paying all recycling costs as soon as possible, the party’s environment critic, MPP Peter Tabuns, said in an email.

“The Wynne Liberals have been dragging their heels on this issue, just as they have been dragging their heels for years on legislation to replace the old Waste Diversion Act, while blue box costs paid by municipalities kept going up and consumers were getting stuck with unfair Eco Fees,” Tabuns said.

“The government needs to pick up the pace, and work with municipalities and producers to enable a timely and smooth transition ... that puts the public interest first.”

Mark Badger of Canada Fibers stands in front of raw recycling material at their materials recovery facility. Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are not committing to continue a Liberal program that shifts the cost and responsibility for recycling waste on to the companies that produced it.


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Judge lambastes Legal Aid for supporting woman who married ex-boyfriend after his brain injury, then spent years fighting his family in courtJudge lambastes Legal Aid for supporting woman who married ex-boyfriend after his brain injury, then spent years fighting his family in courtJudge lambastes Legal Aid for supporting woman who married ex-boyfriend after his brain injury, then spent years fighting his family in courtJudge lambastes Legal Aid for supporting woman who married ex-boyfriend after his brain injury, then spent years fighting his family in court

Sat, 21 Apr 2018 18:10:31 EDT

A woman who surreptitiously married her ex-boyfriend after he suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury spent six years fighting his family in court — paid for by Ontario’s taxpayer-funded legal aid system.Now, in a landmark decision, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward J. Koke has ruled that Legal Aid’s ongoing support of Kathleen Anne Worrod was an “abuse of process” that undermined the public interest and wasted precious judicial resources meant for low-income Ontarians.Worrod’s case forced the family of Muskoka landscaper Kim Kevin Hunt, 57, to needlessly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of its own money on legal bills, the judge said, ruling that Worrod and Legal Aid are now on the hook.It is the first time that Legal Aid Ontario has been ordered to pay costs in a losing case it funded. Justice Koke ordered $385,279.54 be reimbursed to Hunt’s family to help offset the expense of their court fight.Hunt’s sons started legal action against Worrod in 2012 to have her secretive marriage to their father voided, saying he did not have the mental capacity to consent. She fought back, saying she wanted to stay married and claimed ownership of his house.Half of the $385,000 must be paid by Legal Aid. The judge said Worrod is responsible for the other half, but noted that she has no assets and works at a Tim Hortons in British Columbia so is unlikely to pay.“If there was ever a case which cries out for full recovery costs against a respondent this is it,” Koke wrote in his April 17 decision. “Ms. Worrod’s marriage to Mr. Hunt was arranged through trickery and deceit.”Legal Aid said it is not liable for costs, typically paid by legal losers to the winners. A Legal Aid Ontario spokesperson said it considers itself a “funder” of legal services, not a lawyer or “party,” to be held liable.“We are currently considering our options in terms of next steps with regard to this case,” said a spokesperson for Legal Aid, which is funded by both the provincial and federal governments. “Legal Aid Ontario has a process when it comes to approving financing for legal aid certificates, with various checkpoints along the way. This process was followed in this recent case,” he said, adding that Worrod’s side of the case cost less than $25,000.Koke criticized Legal Aid for placing a lien on Hunt’s home in Worrod’s name in 2012, saying it should have known then that Hunt was a “vulnerable person” because a certificate protecting the title to his farmhouse was already registered by the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee. The certificate is a form of protection to block anyone from using his asset while Hunt remained vulnerable. “Legal Aid would have been aware that it was dealing with a vulnerable individual,” Koke said.As well, Koke said, Legal Aid funding paid for an expert report in 2015 that found Hunt was intellectually incapable of making independent decisions. That finding, the judge said, should have triggered Legal Aid to stop supporting the case. Worrod’s defence at the trial was built on the premise that Hunt was capable of consenting to marriage.Koke said Legal Aid failed to “properly and conscientiously” monitor the “meritless” case against Hunt.Worrod could not be reached for comment on this story.In his decision, Koke said, “Clearly, on the date of marriage Mr. Hunt did not have the mental capacity to consent to marriage. Ms. Worrod’s actions were careless and self-serving to the extreme.”Though Hunt was the victim of a growing problem called “predatory marriage,” this case was unique because the predator had the financial backing of a government-[...]


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B.C. school boards target Toronto in hopes of wooing Ontario teachers B.C. school boards target Toronto in hopes of wooing Ontario teachers

Sun, 22 Apr 2018 15:23:46 EDT

Ashley Brunette spent her first decade as a certified Ontario teacher moving to wherever the jobs were. And that meant far from her Kitchener home.Brunette, 39, taught phys. ed and special education in small-town Manitoba, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and at a Montessori school in Toronto. She coached sports and volunteered and like many in her cohort, travelled the globe to find work amid a teacher surplus in Ontario.After a year back home supply teaching and with no prospects of a full-time position, she wondered whether it was time for a new career.“It’s incredibly frustrating for me as a qualified teacher with 10 years experience,” she says.So it was a big relief Friday when Brunette found herself in demand — by British Columbia school boards who descended on Toronto hoping to lure Ontario teachers west. Facing a teacher shortage, 19 B.C. school districts created buzz at a major teacher job fair, bearing promises of opportunity, job security, and even financial incentives.“It feels good,” sighed Brunette, following sales pitches from the province’s two largest boards before heading off to interviews with two other school districts hoping to woo her.The EdTalent Spring Job Fair, largest of its kind in the country attended by more than 3,500 job-seekers, always features boards from across the country, says Mark Laurie, president of ApplytoEducation, which produces software used in the hiring and application process and hosts the semi-annual event.But this year the attention generated by the B.C. contingent, which matched Ontario with 19 school boards participating, was inescapable. The Vancouver District School Board arrived with a splash, in the form of a press release describing mountains, ocean and its “desperate need of teachers.”As an extra incentive the board is offering $1,500 in moving expenses as well as temporary home stays for anyone willing to relocate.“Failure to fill (teaching positions) has been a challenge across lots of boards in B.C.,” Cheryl Douglas, manager of recruitment and retention at the Vancouver board, said in a phone interview.As in other provinces, French immersion teachers are in the most demand, she says, and can expect to get permanent positions in a matter of weeks at some B.C. boards.The Vancouver board, second-largest in the province behind nearby Surrey, hired 600 teachers last year, including from Ontario, and Douglas predicts the hiring frenzy to continue for another couple of years.Want to move to the interior and embrace the outdoors? That’s what the school district in Quesnel is offering — along with tuition for permanent teachers who want to earn a Master’s degree, says Perry Lofstrom, director of human resources for instructors.The B.C. recruiting drive, extending across Canada and internationally, was sparked by a Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2016 that restored smaller class sizes and boosted funding for British Columbia public schools. That led to a teacher hiring blitz in order to meet the new requirements, which has resulted in more than 2,000 hires, and still hundreds more positions to fill.With Ontario facing a glut of English-language teachers for the past decade, the western boards are hoping to entice new teachers’ college graduates or experienced teachers seeking job security, and relief from the 6 a.m. phone calls that come with supply teaching.In Ontario, English-language teachers can be on supply lists for years before getting a full-time job.But in Vancouver, new hires can land “continuous contract” positions almost immediately in high-needs categories. French immersion teachers are the primary target as B.C. struggles to maintain its existing programs. And most qualified candidates [...]


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