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    Durham police Chief Paul Martin announced Monday a new policy to ensure Ontario’s police watchdog is called in to investigate serious injuries caused by an officer in his region — regardless of whether the cop was from his force or off duty.

    The move comes in the wake of criticism over his force’s handling of what he calls the “disturbing” alleged assault on a Black teen by a Toronto cop in Whitby.

    “There may be criticism about what we are doing. That’s OK,” Martin said in a statement, which he read out at the civilian police board meeting in Whitby.

    “We’re not doing it to be popular. We are doing it because it is the right thing to do for our community.”

    Read more:

    Toronto, Durham police accused of covering up Dafonte Miller assault case

    Police under fire for failing to notify SIU of Black man’s injuries

    Family describes final days of 15-year-old shot by Peel police

    Calling the status quo “inadequate,” Martin said the new policy dictates that if a cop from another service is involved in an interaction in which a civilian was seriously injured, Durham will call in the watchdog — despite that task technically falling to the officer’s employer.

    “Let me be absolutely clear: From here on in, if a conflict between one of our citizens and a police officer takes place in our community, and the incident meets the criteria for calling in the (SIU), then I will do so,” Martin said. Up to 2,000 officers from other Ontario police services are believed to live in the Durham area.

    Martin said in cases where it’s not clear whether the injuries are severe enough to trigger the SIU’s mandate — the watchdog investigates only those injuries it deems serious — he will err on the side of caution and notify the watchdog regardless.

    Durham’s move comes amid controversy over police handling of the beating of 19-year-old Dafonte Miller, who is alleged to have been beaten by off-duty Toronto police officer Michael Theriault and his brother, Christian Theriault, in December. The teen suffered injuries, including such severe damage to an eye it will have to be surgically removed.

    Both Theriaults are charged with aggravated assault and assault with a weapon in connection to Miller’s injuries. They also both face public mischief charges for allegedly misleading investigators on the day of the incident.

    The criminal charges against the Theriault brothers were laid in July, eight months after the alleged assault. The delay was the result of both Toronto and Durham police failing to notify the SIU of Miller’s injuries.

    The police watchdog was notified of Miller’s injuries in April, only after the SIU was informed by Miller’s lawyer, Julian Falconer.

    Martin explained that Durham did not notify the SIU because it was Toronto’s job to do as Theriault’s employer, a decision he says was in line with established procedures but that failed to “ensure the public trust.”

    In fact, on the night of the incident, Durham investigators charged Miller with assault with a weapon, theft under $5,000 and possession of a small amount of marijuana, charges later withdrawn by the Crown.

    Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders has said that Toronto police did not contact the SIU because they did not believe there were grounds to do so because they understood that Michael Theriault had not identified himself as a police officer. (The SIU typically only investigates off-duty police officers if they invoke their status as officers during an interaction that resulted in serious injury, death, or allegations of sexual assault.)

    Falconer, however, alleges Michael Theriault identified himself as a police officer when he asked what Miller and his friends were doing right before the brothers’ alleged beating of Miller.

    In an interview Monday, Falconer said he was pleased by Martin’s change in policy, calling it an acknowledgement of the “serious disservice and injustice suffered by Dafonte at the hands of Durham police.”

    But he noted it did not explain why, on the night of the incident, Durham officers “blindly accepted” the Theriault brothers’ version of events and charged Miller. That includes what Falconer alleges was Durham police’s failure to interview two witnesses about how Miller came to be injured. “Something was seriously rotten in this case,” Falconer said.

    Martin said he could not comment on the specifics of the incident because of the ongoing court case.

    Durham is believed to be the first police service to formally develop a procedure to notify the SIU about cases involving a police officer from another service, Martin told reporters Monday. The chief said he has informed other police chiefs in the province and acknowledged there “may be criticism.”

    Joe Couto, a spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said Martin briefed its president, Waterloo police chief Bryan Larkin, on the new policy and said it will be discussed at an executive meeting next week.

    Couto noted that new provincial legislation expected this fall — stemming from the review on police oversight by Court of Appeal Justice Michael Tulloch — “will help our services be effective and consistent in dealing with these types of unfortunate incidents.”

    Among Tulloch’s recommendations is that the province clarify the rules around when police services must notify the SIU and officers’ duty to co-operate with the investigation.

    “So the real need here is for the province to clarify so we can better serve,” Couto said.

    Asked if Saunders would consider adopting Durham’s police policy in Toronto, spokesperson Mark Pugash said the chief “will consider anything that enhances transparency and accountability.”

    Toronto police chair Andy Pringle told the Star on Monday that he’d already asked Saunders to adopt a similar procedure, a request made “almost right away” upon learning about the Miller case. Pringle said any time there’s doubt about whether the SIU should be called in, he believes Toronto should “just do it.”

    Pringle said the ball is now in Saunders’s court and “it’s up to him to come back with a policy.”

    “I don’t know when he’s going to come back, maybe at the next board meeting — I haven’t asked him when he’s going to come back on that,” Pringle said Monday.

    Asked about the status of the independent review of Toronto police actions in the case, Pringle told the Star that the Waterloo Regional Police — called in to perform the mandatory internal review conducted after every SIU investigation — has been temporarily stopped.

    Instead, Pringle said the Ministry of the Attorney General recently called Saunders asking him to “put that on hold, because they want to take it over.”

    Pringle said he doesn’t know how this development will affect the time frame on the internal review, the results of which are supposed to be brought to the police board within 30 days of the SIU notifying Toronto of the results of its probe.

    No further information about the ministry investigation was available by deadline Monday night.


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    Durham police said they’re treating the discovery of a woman’s torso – found floating near Oshawa Harbour last night – as suspicious.

    Const. George Tudos said the torso was found in Lake Ontario by a fisherman at around 8:30 p.m. Monday evening.

    Police said in a release on Tuesday that officers found “signs of trauma” on the torso at the scene.

    Tudos added that the homicide unit has been called in to investigate.

    The Coroner’s office has been called in.

    According to police, the torso will undergo a post-mortem examination in Toronto on Tuesday.


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    A man who said he was frustrated at frequent movie shootings at a neighbouring house in Riverdale was arrested Monday afternoon after loud music blaring from his radio disrupted the latest production there.

    Two speakers and an amplifier was set up in his backyard where a radio was blasting in the direction of 450 Pape Ave. during the production of the HBO movie Fahrenheit 451, starring Michael B. Jordan and Scarborough-born YouTube star Lilly Singh.

    Nick Shcherban was charged with mischief — interfere with property, public mischief, criminal harassment and causing a disturbance. He will have a bail hearing Tuesday morning.

    Shcherban said in an interview earlier on Monday that 450 Pape is exclusively and constantly used for filming movies, commercials, and having photo shoots, causing disruptions like excessive noise and blocking access to a TTC bus stop.

    Shcherban said he has twice been offered to be put up in a hotel during production as compensation but rejected it both times. He said the offers were short notice, and on one occasion he needed his daughter to stay at home after surgery.

    Originally built by William Harris in the 1880s, the majestic-looking home at 450 Pape Ave. was bought by the Salvation Army in 1930 and used as a home for single mothers for 75 years. In 2010, the building received heritage designation.

    The property is owned by Riverdale Mansion Ltd. and Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. It was purchased by Eracon Holdings (Pape) Ltd. in May 2015 for $2,300,000.

    Alex Marrero, a partner in Eracon Holdings, forwarded to the Star emails showing that Shcherban has asked for thousands of dollars in compensation for filming next door.

    “I feel very bad that this happened to him,” said Marrero, who said his company uses the profits from renting out 450 Pape to film companies to pay taxes on the place which is currently unoccupied.

    “He says we’ve filmed 25 movies (this past year). I wish, the city would never give the permits.”

    In the past year, Marrero said three films and one commercial were shot on the property.

    Shcherban contacted the Star to complain about the latest production after he also protested the filming of It, a horror film based on a Stephen King novel that was on location for 42 days at that house last year.

    Both the Star and Toronto police received complaints during the audible protest from his backyard.

    When Shcherban concluded his interview with the Star, a police officer approached him to discuss a noise complaint against him. Shcherban told the officer that they would need a warrant to do anything about it, and within 30 minutes, three detectives appeared at his door, warrant in hand.

    It took more than 15 minutes for Shcherban to respond to the detectives after receiving multiple warnings that his door would be broken down if necessary.

    He was escorted out of his home and into a police car, as the film crew watched the dramatic scene.

    “Serves him right,” said a film crew member who witnessed the arrest. “We’ve put billions into the Toronto film industry in the last decade.”

    In March, Eracon Holdings’ proposal to convert the heritage building into a 28-unit apartment building was approved.

    “Last year, it was horrendous,” said Vida Jan, a Riverdale resident referring to the filming of It.

    Jan said that large air conditioning units caused significant noise pollution.

    “It’s kind of a blight on the neighbourhood,” Jan said, adding that “squirrels and raccoons use it as a refuge.”

    While Jan supports Shcherban’s cause, she said the Fahrenheit 451 crew has been “extremely quiet” so far.

    “I had to leave today,” Jan said of the audio protest. “I’m looking after my granddaughter, and it wasn’t the film crew that was making the noise. I had to leave, I said ‘I can’t put her down for a nap here.’ ”

    Shcherban said his complaints have been ignored by Mayor John Tory and Ward 30 councillor Paula Fletcher.

    Tory’s office released a statement late Monday night.

    “The mayor has worked hard to make sure the growth of Toronto’s film and television industry happens in a way that is respectful of our neighbourhoods and residents. City staff confirm that in this particular case the film company did engage the local community to get support/approval for the late night filming. Staff inform us that all production activity and parking is confined to private property and all filming was interior filming.”


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    A Hamilton judge who wore a pro-Donald Trump Make America Great Again hat to court has been suspended for 30 days without pay.

    A four-member discipline panel of the Ontario Judicial Council also ordered Tuesday that Ontario Court Justice Bernd Zabel be reprimanded.

    He has not been hearing cases since December.

    The panel heard last month that 81 complaints had been filed against Zabel, who wore the hat briefly to court the morning after the U.S. election.

    He also said in court that it “pissed off the rest of the judges because they all voted for Hillary, so I was the only Trump supporter up there but that’s okay.”

    Zabel later apologized, saying the hat was an attempt at humour, and that he is not a Trump supporter.

    He told the discipline hearing last month that what he meant by his comments in court was that all the other judges thought Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, but he was the only one who correctly predicted Trump.

    More to come.


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    There’s nothing quite like Nicolas Cage operating at full enthusiasm, and when it comes to his pitch-black new horror-satire Mom and Dad— about adults suddenly becoming overwhelmed with murderous rage towards their offspring — he’s beaming with appropriately manic parental pride.

    Breezing into a Toronto cafe this week in a cowboy hat the morning after a triumphant Midnight Madness premiere— during which a vocal crowd of his worshippers whooped every time he popped onscreen — Cage was in an infectiously ebullient mood. Today was going to be a great day, he predicted, “because I get to talk about a movie I actually love.”

    Indeed, 12 hours after his film’s midnight debut, Cage was still moonstruck.

    In fact, the moment he sat down he turned to co-star Selma Blair and began bombarding her with kudos — “I can’t take my eyes off of her. True story. Bacall but beyond. Iconic. I’m scared of her right now. I’m being honest.”

    When writer-director Brian Taylor joins the table, he isn’t spared such praise either. He could only shake his head gratefully as Cage said he deserved a place alongside filmmaking greats Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Francis Ford Coppola.

    “He’s in the hierarchy,” Cage raved. “Can I be so bold? I’m his (Toshiro) Mifune, he’s my (Akira) Kurosawa. I would do anything for that motherf---er. He’s a genius. He knows where to put the camera.”

    Improbably, Cage’s enthusiasm was equalled the night before by a raucous Toronto International Film Festival crowd that couldn’t have been more ideally suited for Taylor’s gleefully unhinged roller-coaster of an ash-black comedy, in which Cage and Blair’s loveless suburban stasis is suddenly interrupted by a worldwide hysteria that inexplicably renders parents singularly obsessed with murdering their children.

    Before long, they’re descending upon their teen daughter and adolescent son (Anne Winters and Zackary Arthur) wielding electric handsaws and meat tenderizers.

    Before the film’s Toronto International Film Festival debut, Cage had only seen a rough cut about a year ago.

    “I liked it, but I thought it needed work. Then I saw it last night and I was like: ‘F--- yeah.’ It was badass. S--- was off the hook,” raved Cage, who first worked with Taylor on what he calls the “misunderstood” Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. “I told (Taylor): You did it. You broke ground. We had Blair Witch, that broke ground, you just broke ground. There’s never been a movie like this.

    “Top three movies I’ve made in the last 10 years,” he continued, unprompted. “1. Mom and Dad. 2. Drive Angry. 3. Joe. OK? He comes first.”

    Taylor introduced the film by telling the crowd that “this movie has mental problems, and if you’re seeing it, then you also have mental problems.” And the director, who presided over the stylish Crank films with longtime partner Mark Neveldine, concedes he couldn’t really trust himself to know where the line should be in a film about adults brutalizing kids.

    “There were some times watching the movie back where we were like: we should’ve killed more kids there,” he said with a laugh.

    “Is it so weird that I don’t think it’s mental?” wondered Blair, who had only the most fleeting concerns about the film. “Not much shocks me. I’m totally past it but you do go: ‘Ooh, I’m a mom in this.’ I’m always thought of as a little odd anyhow, and I try to put on a conservative front in my life because I’m so spooky to people.”

    “You might get a few dirty looks from the other moms at school,” Taylor said.

    “Or looks of acknowledgment,” she replied wryly.

    Cage, of course, had no concerns at all about throwing himself into the gonzo flick with wild-hearted commitment. He recalls Taylor telling him at some point that the film might piss people off. Cage’s response? “It had better.”

    “When I read it — I’ve always been a punk rocker, Vampire’s Kiss, punk rock, I’ve always been a fan of the Sex Pistols,” said Cage, whose left hand was decorated with thick, colourful rings. “I’m always looking to break that envelope, tear the space-time envelope — how can I rock you? How can I shock you? That’s who I am. And I read this script, I said: Brian, we’re making this movie.”

    Where Blair grounds the movie with a nuanced but still demented-when-necessary portrayal, Cage — not renowned for his restraint — lets completely loose in a performance that seems winkingly designed to be the stuff dream memes are made of.

    “To get really geeky, Cage is — you know Cyclops in the X-Men, he’s got that visor he puts on and when he takes it off, he’ll take out 10 buildings? That’s trying to direct Nick,” Taylor said. “You always know that power’s there.”

    Well, it’s not easy to steer a conversation with an energized Cage either, but it’s exhilarating to be along for the ride. He drops juicy nuggets of detail then briskly moves on without further explanation. Asked whether he and Blair had crossed paths over the years, he turns to her in a conciliatory manner.

    “Selma and I . . . what do you want to say?” he asks her as she laughs. “She lived in my house. Is that OK?”

    “Many moons ago, yes,” she agrees, noting that they’d nevertheless gotten to know each other only recently. “We’ll leave it at that.”

    Later, he finishes another rave review of Blair’s performance with a gloriously unexpected non-sequitur.

    “She’s bringing the Golden Age back,” he said. “I’m serious. And I am wearing Charles Bronson’s hat.”

    Really?

    “Dude. Oh my God.”

    He pops his hat off and offers it across the table, pointing to the inscription: “Inspired by Charles Bronson’s hat in Once Upon a Time in the West, custom-made for Nicolas Cage.”

    “So this is the first time Charlie and I have been together. We should have made a movie together,” he mused. “Anyway, I’m getting a little verklempt. What else can we talk about?”


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    On Sunday night, during the NDP’s eighth and final debate in the campaign to replace Tom Mulcair, leadership hopeful Jagmeet Singh introduced to many Canadians the concept of chardi kala.

    Chardi kala is an important principle in Sikhism, which Singh learned from his mother. “It’s the idea of maintaining optimism in the face of adversity,” he said.

    That certainly came in handy the previous night when a heckler confronted him at a campaign rally accusing him of supporting Sharia law and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The woman, Jennifer Bush, a supporter of the anti-Islamic group Rise Canada (no surprise), claimed later at an annual Ford fest (no surprise) that – surprise! — she knew Singh was not Muslim but was questioning his policies. She also claimed: “I’m not racist.”

    Excuse me while I barf.

    Now that’s pretty far from chardi kala. Then again, I am not on a stage trying to set an example for my supporters.

    Singh was.

    His “love and courage” reaction has since gone viral. He has been heaped with praise for taking the moral high ground, for inspiring people, and for showing his true mettle.

    Read more:

    Heckler at NDP Jagmeet Singh event demonstrates why minorities are deterred from politics, prof says

    New book on Canadian racism firmly refutes ‘We’re not as bad as the U.S.’ sentiment: Paradkar

    L’Oréal’s firing of Munroe Bergdorf boiled down to one word: Paradkar

    The reality is what choice did Singh have?

    Imagine if he’d asked for her to be taken off stage.

    Imagine if he’d challenged her (surely leading to a shouting match).

    Imagine if he had used humour to defuse the situation.

    Imagine if he did what a Canadian journalist suggested, and said, “I’m not Muslim.”

    He would have been castigated for being high-handed, aggressive, not taking racism seriously or tacitly agreeing that the attack was warranted on Muslims.

    Singh stated he didn’t clarify that he was not Muslim because he rejected the premise of the argument. “I didn’t answer the question because my response to Islamophobia has never been ‘I’m not Muslim.’ It has always been and will be that ‘hate is wrong,’ ” he said in a statement released on social media on Saturday.

    We’ve seen this before.

    Back in 2008, when Barack Obama was a presidential hopeful, the Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell lamented to NBC his party members’ suggestions that Obama was Muslim, as if it was a smear, because of his middle name, Hussein.

    “Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian,” Powell said. “But the really right answer is: ‘What if he is?’ ”

    Turning the other cheek is supposed to be the Christian, or in this case, Sikh, thing to do. Yet, it’s an expectation unfailingly placed on racialized and Indigenous people who face the dual burden of facing the attack and then having their reaction unduly scrutinized with any perceived slight used to indict their communities.

    Were a Justin Trudeau or Stephen Harper in Singh’s place, their reactions, too, would be dissected, but they would not be seen as reflective of all white people.

    The heckling incident was not Singh’s first brush with overt racism.

    “You know, growing up as a brown-skinned, turbanned man, I’ve faced things like this before,” he said. Yet, his reaction has to pass standards set by those who’ve never experienced racism.

    For eight years, Obama balanced a tight rope of not appearing weak but also not showing anger lest he be branded with the ‘angry Black man’ stereotype. Donald Trump, meanwhile, can go off the rails and not worry about representing all white people.

    Anger expressed by white people is passion. The same emotion from a Black man or a turbaned man is a threat.

    The position that calm forgiveness occupies on the moral high ground is indisputable. Some people may find it helps them heal and move forward.

    But it’s important to acknowledge that it does nothing to end racism; on the contrary, it is the reaction that placates white comfort by leaving undisrupted the self-image of niceness and innocence.

    All that the automatic expectation of forgiveness does is draw a tight boundary around expressions of pain and stifle the voices of those struggling to be heard.

    Shree Paradkar writes about discrimination and identity. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


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    Calling the rise in temporary work “alarming,” Ontario’s labour minister is promising changes to legislation that will encourage companies “to return to the day when they hired people full time.”

    “We looked at a number of avenues … to change” the reliance on temporary workers, Kevin Flynn said at Queen’s Park on Monday, following revelations in a Star investigation showing how temporary agencies have proliferated across the province, giving workers no job security and little training. Statistics show temp workers are also more likely to be injured in the workplace.

    “People in Ontario expect to have full-time work if they want it … what we are saying is that if you are doing the same job in the province of Ontario, there is no justification for any differential you should be paid by the company.”

    Read more:

    I went undercover in a Toronto factory where a temp worker died. Here's what I found

    One year after this temp agency worker died at Fiera Foods, family is still searching for answers

    Ontario must toughen law to protect temporary workers: Editorial

    The Ontario government’s Bill 148, which has passed first reading and gone out for consultation this summer, addresses some concerns around temporary work, including pay, scheduling and unionization.

    One area left unaddressed by the proposed legislation is the fact that if a temp worker is injured on the job, their agency, not the workplace where they were actually injured, is liable to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. This, critics argue, is one of the biggest incentives for companies to use temporary help agencies in the first place.

    Flynn said his ministry is looking into the issue.

    One option that was considered — but dismissed — was to limit the number of such employees in any one workplace because it “seemed like it would be a bureaucratic nightmare. We figure we’d get right to where the issue is — that we take away the incentive to use temporary help agencies, to stop the flourishing of this business. We believe that is far more effective.”

    If workers hired by a company or brought in temporarily are making the same hourly rate, “there is no incentive … to go through an agency.”

    “Right now, you’ll have somebody that is making $20 an hour standing next to somebody who is making $12 an hour, doing essentially the same work. We just say that’s not on in the province of Ontario, and the way we plan to address that is by the equal pay provisions.”

    Research commissioned by the Ontario government found that temp workers are vulnerable and among the most “precariously employed of all workers.”

    The Star’s Sara Mojtehedzadeh went undercover at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery in North York that has racked up numerous health and safety infractions and where a worker died last year.

    She and investigative reporter Brendan Kennedy found that temporary agencies have increased by 20 per cent in Ontario in just the past 10 years — with 1,700 now in Greater Toronto. Companies use them to lower costs and reduce their responsibilities for employees. Firms also avoid full liability — and cut their insurance premiums — at the workers’ compensation board for accidents that occur on the job because the responsibility is transferred to the temp agency.

    It is unclear how equal pay provisions would change things at Fiera Foods, where Mojtehedzadeh found almost every worker she met on an assembly line was temporary and had been brought in through an agency.

    Temporary agencies themselves are not the problem, Flynn said, as “they’ve existed for years and some of them do an incredible job and some people make an awful lot of money working for temp agencies. What we are concerned about is the proliferation of temporary help agencies taking the place of what is essentially full-time employment.”

    He said the Star’s investigation “was a clear indication that there’s a problem out there that needs to be solved.”

    “We’ve known that for some time in the Ministry of Labour, these are the problems we go out an investigate on a daily basis, so I think (the stories) injected a bit of reality in the situation in a way we couldn’t do at the Ministry of Labour. Reading it on the front page of a large newspaper I think really did help.”

    The province’s ultimate goal is to “take any financial incentive to use a temporary help agency unless it’s a legitimate need,” he said.

    “We’re going to make it equal for somebody to hire somebody either through an agency or as a full-time employee.”

    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the Liberal government has twice tried to improve the lives of temporary workers over the past 14 years “and they’ve failed miserably. So then we see the horror stories that we’ve heard about, the loss of life … this has been the regime in Ontario for 14 years now. It’s not acceptable and the New Democrats made commitments before the Liberals even brought Bill 148 forward around making sure that every worker in the province is paid the same.

    “So if temp agencies still exist, they’re going to have to exist in a different way than to utilize low wages as a way to incent employers to use their services.”

    Ontario PC finance critic Vic Fedeli said, “Everybody in Ontario wants to know that there are full-time opportunities available and that you can work in a safe environment,” he said. “I think everybody strives towards that.”


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    Increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour could cost 50,000 jobs, warns Ontario’s independent fiscal watchdog.

    The Financial Accountability Office on Tuesday released a six-page assessment of the Liberal government’s forthcoming hike to the $11.40-an-hour wage, which will jump to $14 in January and $15 in 2019.

    “On net, the FAO estimates that Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase will result in a loss of approximately 50,000 jobs (0.7 per cent of total employment), with job losses concentrated among teens and young adults,” the office said.

    “The higher minimum wage will increase payroll costs for Ontario businesses, leading to some job losses for lower income workers,” it continued, echoing the concerns of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

    “At the same time, higher labour income and household spending will boost economic activity leading to some offsetting job gains.”

    The FAO estimates the number of minimum wage workers will climb from about 520,000 to 1.6 million by 2019.

    “As well, under a $15 minimum wage, adults and those with full-time jobs would represent the majority of minimum wage workers,” it said.

    “By comparison, under the current minimum wage of $11.40 per hour, teens and young adults and those with part-time jobs account for the majority of minimum wage workers.”

    The non-partisan office noted “there is evidence to suggest that the job losses could be larger” than 50,000.

    That’s because “Ontario’s proposed minimum wage increase is both larger and more rapid than past experience, providing businesses with a greater incentive to reduce costs more aggressively.”

    But the FAO cautioned that its analysis “did not consider other potential non-economic benefits of a minimum wage increase, including improving workers’ well-being and health outcomes.”

    In a statement, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn noted Ontario’s economy is growing and can absorb the higher wages.

    “Our economy created more than 30,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate is sitting at 5.7 per cent, the lowest level in more than a decade,” said Flynn.

    “Thanks to our strong economy, we’re now in a position to move forward with positive changes for workers in Ontario. We know the cost of doing nothing is simply too high — too high for workers and too high for our economy,” he said.

    “Many leading economists share this belief. Studies written over the past number of years — including work done by the OECD, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — lay out the long-term benefits of higher wages for low-income workers, as well as the economic benefits that come with alleviating this problem.”

    Flynn argued that “low wages are bad for the economy.”

    “We don’t believe that anyone in Ontario who works full time should be struggling to pay their rent, put food on their tables or care for their families — especially when the provincial economy is doing so well.”


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    A man has pled guilty to taking part in a dramatic 2016 bank robbery and hostage-taking in Etobicoke, but the identity and whereabouts of his accomplice remain a mystery.

    Boris Rajkovic, 32, admitted in court Monday to kidnapping an employee of a TD Bank, forcing her and a co-worker to open the bank’s vault, taking the two women with him as he left the bank to prevent the police from firing at him, and firing his own weapon in the direction of police, before officers shot him.

    He pled guilty to kidnapping while using a firearm, robbery with a firearm, uttering a death threat, discharging a firearm with intent to resist arrest, possession of a firearm with ammunition and unauthorized possession of a firearm. Rajkovic still faces 14 charges, including impersonating a peace officer, disguise with intent to commit an offence and several weapons-related crimes. It is unclear what will happen with those outstanding charges.

    Crown Attorney Michael Wilson laid out the sequence of events surrounding the robbery on Monday, as Rajkovic stood in the accused’s box wearing a loose, black button-up shirt and black pants, his brown hair pulled back into a bun. Rajkovic agreed that the majority of Wilson’s narrative was accurate.

    A TD Bank employee had just gotten into her car before work, around 7 a.m. on Feb. 20, 2016, when a man wearing a police hat approached her and identified himself as an officer conducting an investigation in the area, Wilson said. Rajkovic got into the car while the woman spoke to the man pretending to be a police officer.

    Rajkovic showed the woman a gun and ordered her to drive to the bank, saying he would kill her and her family if she didn’t cooperate.

    The woman drove Rajkovic to the bank, at Kipling Ave. and The Queensway. They were followed by Rajkovic’s accomplice, who communicated with him using a two-way radio. The bank employee told Rajkovic that a coworker was expecting her to call in. Rajkovic told the woman to call her co-worker and say she was bringing a “trainee” with her.

    When they arrived at the bank, Rajkovic ordered the woman and her coworker, at gunpoint, to open the vault and disarm the alarm. He took “a quantity of cash” from the vault but the bank’s “duress” alarm was activated and police were dispatched to the scene.

    Rajkovic’s accomplice told him, over the two-way radio, that police were on their way. Seeing the police outside, Rajkovic took the two women with him as he tried to escape.

    The Crown said Rajkovic held a gun to the head of one of the women, but Rajkovic said in court Monday that he disputes that part of the story.

    Contrary to police statements about the incident, he was not using the women as a shield – he simply brought the women along because he thought officers would refrain from shooting at him if the women were near him, Rajkovic added. Rajkovic eventually let go of the women, who ran toward the police officers.

    Rajkovic then pointed his gun in the direction of the police and fired. Five police officers fired back, hitting Rajkovic with at least one bullet.

    He was placed under arrest, then taken to St. Michael’s hospital for treatment of an abdominal wound.

    Rajkovic’s accomplice escaped in a car. He is still at large. Authorities do not know who he is.

    The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, reported that it was unclear whether Rajkovic or an officer fired first, but absolved the police of any wrongdoing in the incident.

    “It was clear that ... the risk of serious bodily harm or death to the officers or civilians would have been substantially increased had the officers not returned fire,” SIU Director Tony Loparco wrote in an investigation report.

    Rajkovic is scheduled to return to court on Nov. 14 for sentencing.


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    On Tuesday, Apple Inc. chief executive officer Tim Cook will take the stage for the first time in the Steve Jobs Theater at its new campus. The location represents a new chapter for the world’s most valuable technology company, and the event will usher in a new era for the iPhone.

    For the first time, Apple plans to unveil three phones, including a premium model that will cast a halo over the rest of the line, and perhaps over the rest of the smartphone industry.

    The devices will not only be exciting for customers, but for investors as well. The iPhone represents about two-thirds of Apple’s sales, making it critical to the bottom line. The launch means a strong holiday quarter that could also include more sales of other Apple products.

    The entire business relies on the gadget: It serves as remote control for the Apple TV box and upcoming HomePod speaker; it’s currently tied to the Apple Watch, syncs with the iPad and Mac, and is home to services like Siri, Maps, and Apple Music. 

    Beyond the iPhone, the company is also planning a version of the Apple Watch that connects to wireless networks and an upgraded Apple TV.

    In recent years, Apple has experimented with cheaper models in a bid to sell more phones in emerging markets where it’s often an also-ran. The gambit has had mixed results, and Apple now mostly positions its smartphone as a near-luxury product. That strategy is being tested as never before because the premium iPhone X will for the first time break the $1,000 price barrier in the U.S., which could be too rich for many consumers.

    There’s little question the new trio of phones will sell briskly, but competition is increasing at home and abroad. According to Counterpoint Research, Chinese phone maker Huawei has surpassed Apple as the second largest smartphone brand after Samsung.

    For its part, the South Korean company has launched its own trio of well-received phones this year, the Note 8, Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S8+. Google is expected to announce new versions of its Pixel phones in October, while Chinese phone maker Xiaomi announced its Mix Mi 2 smartphone this week with an all-screen design that shares some characteristics with the iPhone X.

    Apple is also preparing important software updates for all of its platforms – iOS, watchOS, macOS, and tvOS – and is likely to showcase some features from those on Tuesday.

    Here’s what to expect:

    iPhone 

    Apple is planning to unveil three iPhones, including two that are upgrades to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus called the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus and a premium model called the iPhone X. 

    The most obvious change – so your friends know you have the latest gadget: It’s an all-new look that drops the bezels around the display. Almost the entire front of the phone will be screen save for a cutout at the top for the earpiece, selfie camera, and sensors. The sides will be a continuous stainless steel band and the back will be made of glass – like the iPhone 4 from 2010. Look for the rear cameras to be vertically, not horizontally aligned, for better augmented reality apps.

    With no bezels and no borders on the top and bottom, the focus will be on the new screen: an OLED display that more accurately reproduces colours and makes content much crisper.

    You’ll be able to see more texts, videos and website information without scrolling down because the screen will be taller than the one on the iPhone 7 Plus. Expect the whole screen to be slightly larger than the one on the iPhone 7 Plus (5.5 inches), but because of the lack of bezels, the phone’s overall size will be closer to the smaller iPhone 7.

    The screen will also feature “True Tone” technology, a sensor that allows the screen to change temperature based on the environment, according to leaked software code. 

    A decade after debuting the home button as the main physical control on the device, Apple is removing it for the premium model. In its place: A thin virtual bar that can be dragged up to launch features like multitasking and close apps.

    Also gone is the fingerprint scanner. Introduced with the iPhone 5s in 2013, the Touch ID feature in the home button let iPhone users unlock their devices in a split second. It also authenticated Apple Pay transactions and approved downloads from the App Store.

    In place of Touch ID there’ll be a 3-D facial recognition scanner for unlocking the phone. It’ll aptly be called Face ID, according to the leaked code. It’s designed to scan your features within a few hundred milliseconds and can work even if the device is laying flat on a table. The sensor would also be used to authenticate payments and launch secure apps, Bloomberg reported. It will work in the dark, too. 

    This is a new feature to the iPhone, but one that’s been on competing smartphones for a number of years. You’ll be able to lay the iPhone on a charging pad instead of plugging it into a charging cable. 

    Apple will flex its semiconductor-design muscles yet again with a new chip for the iPhone likely to be dubbed the A11. The component is said to be based on a 10 nanometer manufacturing process, which means it will be more efficient so your iPhone battery will last longer. The company has also been working on a dedicated AI chip.

    As usual, the iPhone will ship with new software. This time around it’s called iOS 11. Key additions include a redesigned Control Center, support for augmented reality apps, Apple Pay support in iMessage, maps for inside airports and malls, and a dedicated app for managing files. The 3-D sensor will also scan your face and apply your facial expressions to new animated emoji in iMessage.

    The other two models are expected to look similar to the current iPhones, but will have a faster processor and potentially glass backs to also support inductive charging. 

    Apple Watch 

    The Apple Watch is set to see a much-needed upgrade that partly frees the device from the iPhone.

    Cellular Data:  The most significant new hardware feature will be a wireless option that handles fast LTE data. You’ll be able to leave your new iPhone behind because this version of the Apple Watch can connect to cellular data networks. Imagine loading directions in maps on your wrist and streaming music while on a walk through those wireless AirPods earphones. You’ll also be able to make phone calls with your iPhone’s number.

    The Apple Watch will look physically similar to prior models, but will be offered in at least two new colours: a grey ceramic and a coat of gold called “blush gold.”

    Apple is continuing to make significant changes to the Apple Watch’s software on an annual basis. This year, as previewed at the June developers conference, the company is rolling out a new Siri-powered watch face that can preview your day, improvements to the Workout and Apple Music apps, and support for connecting to gym equipment. Apple is also adding its News app to the device along with the ability to send and receive money from contacts via Apple Pay.

    Apple TV  

    Set to debut is the first update to the set-top box since its overhaul in 2015.

    The main upgrade will be support for 4K video, a standard with much higher resolution. Of course, this will require a new 4K TV. Apple has been in talks with popular video streaming apps, TV studios, and movie studios about supplying 4K content for the box.

    To go along with 4K, Apple is planning to support HDR video playback as well. This standard shows video with much more vivid colours. 

    The updated box will feature a faster processor to handle the higher-resolution video. 


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    ST. JOHN’S, NL—As the federal cabinet sat down to work through priorities for the fall parliamentary sitting, it got an earful from Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier about a controversial tax proposal.

    Premier Dwight Ball, the provincial Liberal leader, told reporters the federal Liberal government needs to clearly explain its understanding of the “consequences” of its proposal to change the way incorporated small businesses and professionals can shift income around to lower their tax rate.

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    The proposal has outraged the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and many physician groups who view the tax advantages of incorporation as part of their compensation package, and a way to save for retirement.

    “What we’re asking for is consideration of the impacts of the changes to taxation. I’ve heard this from all provinces, I’ve heard it from small businesses, I’ve heard it from physicians throughout Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Ball.

    “I want to make sure that we have enough physicians, enough health care providers,” he said. “We need to have those professionals available to us to deliver health care services. We also need vibrant small businesses, companies that are strong to actually create employment throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.”

    This two-day gathering is the first cabinet meeting since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau heard similar concerns expressed by MPs across the country at last week’s caucus retreat in Kelowna, B.C.

    A source with knowledge of the caucus discussions said not all MPs who spoke out communicated opposition but several, in fact, supported the changes.

    Trudeau and his ministers have been billing the planned changes as part of a “tax fairness” agenda they campaigned on, and insist they are only targeting loopholes that high-income earners take advantage of—not middle-class small business owners and professionals.

    Finance Minister Bill Morneau declined to take questions on his way into hear Ball’s presentation. Morneau is expected to tout signs the Canadian economy is growing faster than expected, with strong economic output and employment creation numbers that will help the Liberal government tackle the deficit that ballooned beyond levels promised during the 2015 campaign.

    The other pressing agenda for the Liberal government is the status of negotiations to rewrite the North American free trade pact.

    U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton briefed ministers on the NAFTA talks, and trade positions that are hardening in the U.S. including Boeing’s trade challenge to Canada’s Bombardier over the sale of its C-series planes to Delta Airlines.

    The U.S. Administration is investigating Boeing’s complaint that the Canadian and Quebec governments provide unfair subsidies to its aerospace rival Bombardier. MacNaughton told reporters here he doesn’t understand the Boeing’s beef given that Boeing wasn’t even in that competition.

    Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross is taking the Boeing complaint seriously, despite Canada’s hints that it jeopardizes Ottawa’s planned purchase of Super Hornet jets from Boeing.

    Canada’s approach to the NAFTA is the subject of a growing attack by the Conservatives, who suggest the Liberal government is wasting its time pressing for inclusion in the main deal of enforceable guarantees for gender equality and Indigenous rights.

    The NAFTA talks are to resume in Ottawa in late September with battle lines more clearly drawn after two rounds of negotiations concluded last week in Mexico City.

    Other issues bubbling on the government’s agenda include its handling of the influx of asylum seekers, and its efforts to toughen environmental assessments.

    TransCanada Corp. has asked to suspend for 30 days its application to build a proposed Energy East pipeline to transport crude oil from Alberta and Saskatchewan to refineries in Saint John, N.B. and other parts of eastern Canada. The company cited the government’s “significant” move to assess the impact of the project on upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions.

    The federal Liberal government is quick to point out that it has approved other energy projects even after assessing such rules, with one official suggesting the real factor in the company’s decision is market conditions.

    Four ministers will provide an update Tuesday on the status of relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma that struck the Caribbean and American coastal states.

    International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada is still assessing the needs in the region. She admitted the government could have communicated better with Canadians “but I can assure you we were following the situation closely. We are in contact with the families, those who contacted us.”

    Bibeau said it’s up to Canadian travellers to check government websites before travelling, and “should always register for the government to know where we are in case of emergency.” And if they don’t, she said, it’s up to family members to let the government know where their relatives are.

    “This will help us to follow up.” In all, she said, “all the Canadians who wanted to come back” from Turks and Caicos and Saint-Martin island had returned on government-chartered commercial flights, with 691 arriving back in Toronto over the weekend and Monday.

    The cabinet retreat kicked off with an invitation-only event Monday on the 16th anniversary of the Sept. 11th terror attacks in the U.S.

    Trudeau celebrated the warm welcome Canadians gave stranded American plane passengers that day.

    But it was his government’s handling of stranded Canadians in the Caribbean that are dogging his government.

    Trudeau suggested his government has been all over the unfolding crisis, as he acknowledged the generosity of Canadians celebrated in the musical Come From Away now playing on Broadway.

    “We’re all glued to our phones and TV screens thinking about folks facing an awful lot of weather further south as Hurricane Irma barrels through up the Florida coast, and people have been struggling for the past week. I know the stories, and there are a number of them, of people reaching out helping each other through difficult times and saving each other in difficult situations, and we’re very much engaged as well.”

    “It’s these times...that we see what is in the core of each and every one of us,” said Trudeau. “It happened in Gander (on 9/11) and we’re celebrating it, and certainly in surrounding communities” as well, he said.


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    Most people know what a U-turn is when they see one, but if you asked the province of Ontario for a definition of the manoeuvre, it wouldn’t have an answer.

    Brampton resident Michael Robinson realized this in September 2015when he was on his way to pick up his wife from her job at Wal-Mart, driving north on Sunforest Dr. He turned left into a driveway, reversed his car and proceeded south — a standard three-point turn.

    Robinson was pulled over by a Peel Region police officer for disobeying a “No U-turn” sign and given a ticket.

    But is a three-point turn also a U-turn? The police say yes, even though the Ontario Highway Traffic Act does not offer a clear definition of a U-turn or a three-point turn.

    Robinson disagreed so he fought the ticket in court.

    A three-point turn, Robinson argued in court, is a series of manoeuvres, while a U-turn is one continuous motion.

    “It does not take rocket science and a higher education to understand the shape of a U in our alphabet,” Robinson told the Star in an interview. “Unfortunately the vagueness and ambiguity within our laws allows different interpretations . . . The goal is about road safety. I believe that I practised very good road manners and safety.”

    The officer who pulled him over testified that Robinson did a U-turn because his vehicle did not fully leave the roadway during the three-point turn.

    Neither argument was central to the verdict.

    On Aug. 18, Robinson was found guilty of disobeying a sign.

    Section 143 of the Highway Traffic Act refers to a U-turn as a turn “so as to proceed in the opposite direction,” and that was what led to Robinson’s charge.

    Justice of the Peace Richard Quon heard the case and produced a 42-page ruling, which concluded: “A three-point turn as a driving manoeuvre is not defined in the Highway Traffic Act . . . and as such, a three-point turn for the purposes of the Highway Traffic Act is not legally distinct from a U-turn manoeuvre.

    “The defendant’s turns and driving manoeuvre . . . constitute a U-turn manoeuvre within the meaning of the Highway Traffic Act, since their purpose had been to facilitate the motor vehicle turning around to proceed in the opposite direction.”

    Robinson said that he was given two demerit points, but the usual fine of $85 was waived.

    The Ministry of Transportation told the Star “(Robinson) was charged with changing the direction of travel . . . regardless of the matter in which the change was executed. This type of manoeuvre was prohibited at the location.”

    Jordan Donich, a traffic lawyer at Donich Law in Toronto who wasn’t part of the case, told the Star that a driver’s intent to turn around is more important than the manoeuvre itself.

    “How ridiculous would it be if all someone would need to get around an illegal U-turn would be to stop two or three times along the way?” Donich asked. “The U-turn is there not necessarily to prevent a U-turn necessarily, it’s because it’s unsafe to make a 180 and proceed the other way . . . it’s not so much about the manner in how you turn.”

    Donich said that the absence of a definition of a U-turn is intentional.

    “They want to have liberal interpretation of your behaviour. If it’s too clearly defined, people can then create a conduct that may not fit the definition and get off free.”

    Daniel Slovak, a paralegal at Traffic Ticket Knights in Markham, also agreed with the ruling.

    “He was trying complete something illegal by maneuvering in a different way, he should have been in a little bit more creative,” Slovak said. “I would have pulled into the driveway. I would count, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi.”

    Robinson is still frustrated by the decision.

    “It was based not on constitutional or charter law but a vague common law practice of favouring breach ‘intent of the law,’ ” Robinson said. “Had I the time or funds I would pursue it further.

    “In the end the little guy suffers. Those who are unaware just go on paying fines.”


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    OTTAWA—The U.S. State Department has told Congress that it has no concerns about the potential sale of 18 Super Hornet fighter jets to Canada, with a price tag estimated at $5.23 billion U.S. ($6.4 billion Canadian).

    The figure includes weapons, spare parts, training, software and other costs associated with putting the jets into service, but does not appear to include long-term maintenance and support.

    The State Department says selling the Super Hornets to Canada would contribute to the U.S. government’s foreign policy and national security objectives.

    It also says the sale would improve Canada’s ability to meet current and future threats and that the Canadian military would have no problems absorbing the new aircraft.

    Congress now has a chance to review the potential sale.

    But the Canadian government’s plan to buy the jets has been thrown into limbo because of a bitter trade dispute between Boeing, the U.S. aerospace giant that makes the Super Hornets, and Montreal-based Bombardier.

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    Apple held one of its biggest launch events in years, introducing new versions of the iPhone, Apple TV and Apple Watch, to bolster its product lines.

    In the lead-up to the event, which was the first event to be held in the new Steve Jobs theatre at the company’s new state-of-the art headquarters, there was much speculation about what would be announced. And just as in previous years, many of the leaks turned out to be true.

    Here’s a rundown of what is new, and what potential customers can expect from the company’s updated product line:

    What’s the new iPhone X all about? Calling it “the future of the smartphone,” Apple debuted the much hyped 10th anniversary product, the iPhone X is coming with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display and facial-recognition software that will let you unlock it just by looking at it. The new phone can be used with Apple Pay and some third-party apps.

    What else is new? Coming in silver and grey, the biggest change is that it won’t have a home button.

    It will also have two 12 megapixel cameras, as well as the company’s new portrait-lighting feature which promises better selfies.

    Much of the time spent on the new product at the launch featured the facial-recognition software. This is a feature that has been available on Samsung phones since last year.

    How much will I have to fork out to get one? It will be the most expensive iPhone ever starting at — are you sitting down? — $1,319 in Canada, for the 64GB configuration.

    When can I get the new phone? Preorders start October 27 and the phones are scheduled to be available November 3.

    What are Animojis? One of the fun additions is the creation of animated emojis, or Animojis, where users can speak and have digital characters move as they did.

    Are there other versions of the phone? In addition to the iPhone X, the company is releasing an iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, which look similar to the iPhone 7s but have a new glass design and a new faster processor, the A11 Bionic. They also have new speakers, which are 25 per cent louder than the previous generation. They will be available in silver grey and a new gold finish. The iPhone 8 with 64 GB starts at $929. Pre-orders start on September 15 and will be available a week later, on September 22.

    Apple also touted its new operating system, iOS 11, will be available on September 19.

    What’s up with the Apple Watch Series 3? The latest edition of the Apple Watch will have a new OS, and will become an even better heart-rate monitor. But the big add is cellular capability; the watch will have more functionality without being tethered to the iPhone. Siri will now be able to talk on it. The watch still has the same design, which is a surprise, and comes with a processor that is 70 per cent faster.

    Listening to music on a watch? Yes, for the first time, Apple Watch will support streaming music, and let users listen on the go without their phone.

    How much is the new watch? In Canada, Bell will be the provider in Series 3 with cellular, and it starts at $519. The non-cellular version will also be available and start at $429.

    What’s up with Apple TV? Apple TV 4K was announced, and will support both Dolby Vision and HDR10, competing formats for High Dynamic Range, which show vibrant colours on Ultra HD screens. It also has a new A10X chip, which is more than twice as fast as the previous version. In the U.S., there will be live sports and local news. It is unknown if this kind of content will be available in Canada. Apple TV 4K starts at $229 for 32GB or $249 for 64GB.

    Wireless charging? Really? In another first for Apple, Apple products will support wireless charging, made possible with support from Qi Charging and the fact that the new products will have glass in front and at the back.

    The company also announced a new wireless charging pad, AirPower, that will be able to charge the new phones and watches and even AirPods, the company’s wireless earbuds, if the consumer buys a new special case for them. The AirPower pad is coming out sometime in 2018.


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    NDP Leader Andrea Horwath pressed the Liberal government Tuesday about the growth of temporary work in Ontario and how proposed changes to labour laws don’t do enough to protect workers from “shady” companies.

    Citing a recent investigation by the Star — in which a reporter spent a month working undercover as a temp worker inside a North York food factory — Horwath said existing laws allow workers to be exploited by temp agencies and the changes the government is proposing will not fix the problem.

    “Too many shady companies contract out risky work to temp agencies, because our laws are written so that if a temporary employee is hurt on the job, the company isn’t held fully responsible,” Horwath said during question period. “Our laws make it easy for unscrupulous employers, unscrupulous companies, to save money by hiring temporary workers and allowing them to get hurt, instead of investing in permanent employees and training them properly.”

    The Star found that the number of temp agency offices opening across Ontario has increased by 20 per cent in the last decade. There are now more than 1,700 operating in the GTA alone.

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    Among the advantages for companies that use temp agencies is that when a temp worker is hurt on the job, their agency — not the workplace where the injury occurred — assumes liability at the worker’s compensation board. This saves the company money on insurance premiums.

    Bill 148, the government’s “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act” — which, if successful, will increase the minimum wage to $15 — includes some measures to improve working conditions for temp agency workers.

    It will ensure they are paid the same as permanent employees doing “substantially similar” work, for example, and make it easier for them to unionize. But the bill does not directly address injury liability, which is one of the most significant financial incentives to use temp agencies in the first place.

    “That’s a gaping hole and this is an opportunity to close that hole,” Horwath added in a phone interview with the Star.

    The proposed legislation, which had its second reading in the Legislature on Tuesday, also doesn’t include any caps on how many temp agency workers a company can hire, or time limits on how long they can be made to work in the same job at the same workplace as a “temp.”

    Speaking Tuesday at a conference at Ryerson University, Premier Kathleen Wynne said her government was “fully intending” to explore amendments to the bill, which will return to committee hearings after second reading.

    “My hope would be that we can find ways to strengthen it for sure.”

    Responding for the Liberals in the legislature on Tuesday, Labour Minister Kevin Flynn told Horwath that the government is “as concerned as you are” about the “growth” of temp agencies.

    Flynn pointed out the ways in which the proposed legislation helps temp workers, and added that the ministry will be beefing up its enforcement capability by hiring 173 new employment standards inspectors “to go out and proactively inspect premises, perhaps like the one that was mentioned in the Star.”

    Traditionally associated with casual office work, statistics obtained by the Star show that the majority of temps are now working in non-clerical sectors, such as manufacturing and construction.

    Temp workers are also more likely to be injured on the job. Last year, non-clerical temps suffered more than twice as many injuries as non-temps doing similar work, according to Workplace Safety Insurance Board data analyzed by the Star.

    Academic research suggests that the higher injury rates are due to the fact that temps receive less training, while companies also assign them riskier work.

    As part of a year-long investigation into the rise of temp work, the Star sent a reporter to work undercover as a low-wage temp worker at Fiera Foods, an industrial bakery that mass produces bread products for major grocery stores and fast-food chains. She received just five minutes of safety training before stepping onto the factory floor. She was also paid in cash, at a payday lender, without any documentation or deductions.

    Last year, 23-year-old temp worker Amina Diaby was killed while working at Fiera Foods when her hijab was pulled into a machine, strangling her.

    Horwath said the Star’s stories showed the “squalid and dangerous conditions” faced by many workers, including Diaby.

    “There’s no way that anybody should go to work in the morning and be fearful that they’re not going to come home at night.”


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    Metrolinx will undertake a “thorough and comprehensive” review of two proposed new GO Transit stations, after a Star investigation revealed that the provincial transportation ministry pressured the arm’s-length agency into approving the stops.

    However, critics are already slamming the review as inadequate because while it will make recommendations about whether Metrolinx should proceed with the controversial stations, the agency hasn’t committed to examining the role that political interference played in the stops’ approval.

    One of the proposed stations, Kirby, is in the Vaughan riding represented by Ontario Liberal Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca. The other, Lawrence East in Scarborough, is part of Mayor John Tory’s “SmartTrack” plan.

    Documents obtained through a freedom of information request show that in June 2016 the Metrolinx board voted in secret not to build the two stations, which were not supported by studies the agency had commissioned. The board then reconvened in public and endorsed them after Del Duca’s ministry intervened.

    The Kirby station is estimated to cost about $100 million to build, while the price tag for Lawrence East is estimated at $23 million.

    In a letter Metrolinx posted online Tuesday afternoon, board chair Rob Prichard said he had directed agency management to “initiate a thorough and comprehensive review of all the relevant analyses and information” for both stations.

    According to the letter, which was addressed to Del Duca and dated Sept. 8, as part of the review Metrolinx will gather updated information about the stops including submissions from the cities of Vaughan and Toronto on proposed land-use changes around the station sites, population and jobs projections, local transit plans, “and any other relevant information.”

    Hours before Metrolinx released the letter, Del Duca, refused to elaborate on what role if any he played in pressuring Metrolinx into approving the stations last year, saying he wouldn’t comment on “historical details.”

    Appearing at an unrelated news conference in Burlington, Ont., the minister said the important thing is that Metrolinx won’t move forward with the stops unless further analysis determines they’re warranted.

    “Metrolinx will not enter into any contractual obligations or spend any money until they’re satisfied that both Lawrence East and Kirby are justified,” Del Duca said.

    “If the Metrolinx management and board are satisfied that they are justified, they’ll go forward. . . if the evidence isn’t there, the stations won’t go forward.”

    Business cases commissioned by Metrolinx before the board vote determined that both Kirby and Lawrence East would cause a net loss of ridership on the GO network, because they wouldn’t attract enough new riders to offset the number of passengers who would stop taking transit due to the longer travel time the additional stations would cause.

    A report prepared for Metrolinx by a consultant firm in June 2016 recommended against building the stations, as did initial drafts of agency board reports.

    The documents obtained by the Star show that the board met behind closed doors on June 15, 2016, and voted not to go ahead with the stops, but a day later Del Duca’s ministry sent the agency draft press releases indicating he intended to announce stations that the board hadn’t approved.

    The press releases shocked Metrolinx officials. After discussions between agency leaders and ministry staff however, Metrolinx’s board reconvened in public on June 28, 2016, and approved the two stops as part of a list of 12 new stations under GO Transit’s $13.5-billion regional express rail expansion plan.

    Board reports were rewritten to support the two stations. Metrolinx didn’t release business cases for the new stops it had considered until almost nine months after the vote. The agency never published the consultant report that recommended against Kirby and Lawrence East, but the Star obtained a copy.

    On Tuesday Del Duca was asked whether he had directed Metrolinx leaders to approve the two stations.

    “I was given an opportunity to provide my input, I provided my input with respect to those decisions,” he replied, echoing statements he made to the Star in June.

    He did not explain why his ministry drafted press releases that showed he planned to announce stations Metrolinx hadn’t approved.

    “You’re focused on the historical details, I’m focused on the go forward,” he told a reporter.

    The minister evaded the question when asked whether the approval of the two stations was free from political influence.

    “I think on a go-forward basis what the most important thing for us to recognize is that Metrolinx is going to make sure they’re satisfied that both Lawrence East and Kirby are justified based on the analysis that they’re going to do,” he replied.

    Progressive Conservative transportation critic Michael Harris called on Del Duca to “come clean” about his role in the stations’ approval. He accused Metrolinx and the Liberal government of “running away” from the issue by supporting the review, which he predicted wouldn’t get to the bottom of why the stations were endorsed despite not being supported by the reports.

    “I don’t have confidence or faith in either the minister’s office or Metrolinx to be honest and transparent with taxpayers on how this decision was made,” said Harris, who is the MPP for Kitchener-Conestoga.

    “We all know at the end of the day, as we’ve seen with this decision, that the Metrolinx board is unfortunately at the beck and call of the minister for political decisions.”

    Harris has asked the provincial auditor general to conduct a “full value for money audit” of the two stops.

    According to Prichard’s letter, Metrolinx management will report back with recommendations stemming from the review in time for the board’s February 2018 meeting. Prichard wrote that Del Duca has confirmed that he will “respect and support whatever conclusion the board reaches.”

    The province is expected to enter into contracts for new GO Transit stations in the spring of next year.

    A spokesperson for Tory said his office welcomes the review.

    “City staff have recommended Lawrence East as a stop for SmartTrack and as an important part of the Scarborough transit network plan. City Council has voted to move ahead with SmartTrack and the province has endorsed this plan,” wrote Don Peat in an email.


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    The journey from their hurricane-ravaged home in Houston was frightening for 39 rescue dogs, some refusing to eat or leave their cages for fresh air when the four-van convoy took breaks on its way back to Toronto.

    For volunteers, the hardest part of the trip wasn’t unloading the dogs for walks, cleaning up soiled crates or the more than 24 hours of driving.

    It was saying goodbye.

    “Just having three grown men, sitting in a van, bawling their eyes out was something that I was not going to forget any time soon,” said Curtis Cluett, a volunteer.

    Cluett and eight other volunteers from Redemption Paws, a Toronto-based, non-for-profit organization, parted with the dogs on Monday morning after a weekend rescue trip.

    The volunteers arrived in Texas on Friday to help animal rescue and sanctuary organizations like Hot Mess Pooches find a new home for some of its dogs in the wake of the hurricane.

    “It was controlled chaos to say the least,” Cluett said. The shelter received an additional 15 to 20 dogs after word of the Redemption Dogs’ trip spread, but the volunteers were only able to safely transport an additional two Rat Terriers.

    “All of these dogs were very loved,” Cluett said. “It was hard seeing these people who cared so deeply about their pets having to give them up.”

    The exchange process took volunteers about four hours. First, they unloaded the humanitarian supplies brought down from Toronto, and then filled up the vans. Poodles, a cockapoo, Great Danes, three Dalmatians (one of which had its eyes surgically removed following an infection), Chihuahuas, husky mixes, and other pups wagged their ways into dog crates, and hit the road.

    Nicole Simone, founder of Redemption Dogs, said the organization has already received over 2,000 informal requests for adoption from all over Canada.

    “It’s a bit crazy,” she said, adding that she’s gotten calls late at night inquiring about adoption. Simone said four dogs will be available for adoption at a time, and the applications are now available on the organization’s website, where people can also make donations to support future rescue missions.

    They have raised about $29,000 so far, and may embark on another journey to Houston or provide animal rescue relief related to Hurricane Irma.

    As for the Houston mission, Simone said Redemption Dogs made a promise to the shelters that they would continue caring for the dogs, which will mean restricting adoption applications to the GTA to facilitate check-ins.

    “After somebody adopts the dog we’ll be checking in regularly via home or email, and we expect people to keep in touch for the rest of the dog’s life,” she said. Being there to support the animal after adoption, if needed, is part of the organization’s philosophy of ethical rescue.

    For now, the dogs are being housed at the OSPCA headquarters in Stouffville, after the organization stepped in and offered to help out with veterinary checks. There is a mandatory 10-day quarantine period for international rescues before they are put up for adoption, Simone said.

    “It’s hard knowing that these dogs are going to be basically alone for the next 10 days,” said Cluett, reminiscing on dogs like Luke and Leia, a black Labrador pair, or Gabriel, who had all the volunteers head over heels.

    “I think that this is one of the most important things I’ve ever done.”

    With files from Bryann Aguilar


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    After a few impatient drivers zip past students who haven’t cleared the intersection, a white Dodge Ram turns left onto Wilson Ave. in front of Pierre Laporte Middle School, blowing through a red light.

    It’s been less than 20 minutes since the final bell, and Principal Paolo Peloso has already witnessed at least three drivers making dangerous manoeuvres at an intersection bustling with students.

    “Even this morning, I was out there again and I saw two girls crossing . . . and a car just zooms in front. They had to stop in order to avoid being hit,” Peloso said.

    The school of about 400 students applied to have a crossing guard before summer holiday. It’s one of at least 49 schools waiting for an assessment by Toronto Police, who administer the crossing guard program.

    Peloso and Vice-Principal Arlene Wheeler have made a point of coming out to monitor before- and after-school traffic at Wilson Ave. and Julian Rd., just west of Keele St. The area has seen an influx of traffic now that construction is complete at the new Humber River Hospital, located across the street from the school, on the south side of Wilson Ave.

    Last Friday, on only the fourth day of the new school year, a Grade 7 student was struck by a car about two kilometres west of Pierre Laporte while crossing Wilson Ave. on her way to school.

    The school sent a letter to parents informing them of the incident, but some parents had already voiced concerns about the intersection to Peloso last school year.

    Though the student was not seriously injured, Peloso believes the incident underscores the need to have a crossing guard at the intersection as soon as possible.

    “We don’t want to wait until somebody gets hurt,” Peloso said.

    Because the school only runs three buses, most students take transit or get picked up by parents. Peloso said the hospital’s opening has increased TTC traffic on Wilson Ave., including a new stop in front of the school, which is more convenient for students.

    Councillor Maria Augimeri, of Ward 9 York Centre, has worked with Pierre Laporte and other schools in her ward on getting crossing guards, and said she believes the program should be administered by the city.

    Toronto Police have been running the program since 1947. According to the 2017 police budget, it costs $8.59 million to administer the program.

    Const. Derrick Martin, a school crossing guard co-ordinator with Toronto Police Traffic Services, said the city will be taking over the program “very soon.”

    Applications for a school crossing guard are currently received by the office of the police chief and then sent out to the divisions, which then conduct a daylong traffic assessment. These assessments are done in the order the applications are received and not triaged based on public safety, Martin told the Star. At Pierre Laporte, this assessment is slated for the beginning of 2018.

    “This is typical,” said Martin of the wait time for a guard. “All the requests usually come around the beginning of the school year and then they taper off.”

    There are about 600 to 700 crossing guards who are usually paid to work three hours a day, and cover the morning, after-school and lunch hours. The guards are hired and trained by police, and considered civilian employees.

    When crossing guards are absent from duty, police officers are dispatched to fill in.

    “The community welcomed the GTA’s largest hospital into our ward knowing that we would have some challenges,” Councillor Augimeri said. She credits Peloso and Wheeler, the “dynamic duo” at Pierre Laporte, for making safety a priority as they await a decision on a crossing guard.

    “They are the most outstanding staff I’ve ever witnessed,” she said.


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    The most popular college and university programs are business, administration and law — but all the jobs are in engineering and information technology, says a new international report on education.

    Following trends in the 30-plus other developed nations included by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), about 29 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students are taking business and law, and about 11 per cent engineering, manufacturing and construction.

    While overall, university graduates still have much higher employment rates and earn more, engineering and information and computer technology sectors have the highest employment rates, the report says.

    “(Post-secondary) enrolment is expanding rapidly, with very strong returns for individuals and taxpayers, but new evidence shows that universities can fail to offer, and individuals fail to pursue, the fields of study that promise the greatest labour-market opportunities,” said the OECD in a written release.

    Read more:

    One-third of Ontario college and university students receive free tuition grants

    Ottawa to students: We will pay companies to give you a work placement

    Ontarians fear job skills outdated, survey finds

    Its report “finds that business, administration and law are the most popular careers in countries surveyed, chosen by around one in four students. This compares to 16 per cent in engineering, construction and manufacturing, and less than 5 per cent of students study information and communication technologies, despite graduates in these subjects having the highest employment rate on average across OECD countries, exceeding 90 per cent in about a third of them.”

    Deb Matthews, Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development, said the OECD report is further evidence that college and university “remains a worthwhile investment for students for their future” and noted the government’s new student aid program that provides students from lower-income homes with free tuition — they receive more in non-repayable grants than they have to pay in fees.

    “Post-secondary education and training is a key pillar of Ontario’s economic strategy; seven out of every 10 new jobs created in Ontario are expected to require post-secondary education or training,” she said in a written statement to the Star.

    “However, we know there is more to be done to prepare students with the skills they need for a changing economy, and that work must be done in collaboration with post-secondary institutions. We are working together with colleges and universities … to set the foundation for broader post-secondary education system transformation, including in areas like experiential learning, teaching quality and economic development.”

    Another report released Tuesday found Ontario workers need to be better equipped to face the changing job market. The report, by the Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, also urged that students not only learn “broader skill sets,” but for post-secondary institutions to make sure they get input from employers to help shape programming.

    Meanwhile, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has warned that Ontarians are worried about their outdated job skills, saying what workers are trained for doesn’t necessarily match what employers are looking for.


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    John Tory has stripped one of his deputy mayors of the title after he endorsed Doug Ford for mayor in 2018.

    On Tuesday, Councillor Vincent Crisanti, who represents Ward 1 (Etobicoke North) said he was backing Doug Ford in the coming election, leveling a major blow in a campaign that has not yet begun officially.

    The move prompted Tory to oust him.

    “I thank Councillor Crisanti for his time in this position,” read an emailed statement from Tory. “But, based on his words and actions over the past few days, he has clearly stated he does not support my administration and intends to campaign for another candidate who has an approach that I believe will take the city backwards.”

    Tory named rookie councillor Stephen Holyday (Ward 3 Etobicoke Centre) as Crisanti’s replacement, calling him a “strong voice for Etobicoke.”

    Crisanti, a long-time ally of the Fords, told the Star Tory called him Tuesday to tell him his role as deputy mayor had been revoked.

    “We had a very civil discussion,” Crisanti said. “I made it very clear with John that I was prepared to continue to serve . . . but clearly John doesn’t feel comfortable with that and I can understand that, too.”

    The councillor’s allegiances came into question after he appeared centre stage at the annual Ford family BBQ, dubbed “Ford Fest,” held at Ford’s mother’s home in Etobicoke on Friday.

    “Wow! Let me say this: if anyone doubts the power of Ford Nation, come here tonight,” Crisanti told the crowd Friday. “I’m honoured to be here tonight. I’m honoured to always support Ford Fest, and here we are supporting the Ford family any way we can. I was thinking to myself about Rob Ford. Rob Ford is with us. He is everywhere tonight. I had such a great, very close relationship with Rob. I was first elected in 2010 with the support of Rob Ford and I’m here today because of the Fords.”

    On Monday, Tory was asked whether a deputy mayor could support a different mayoral contender.

    “I would expect they wouldn’t, to be frank,” Tory told reporters. “When that appointment is made, I think it carries with it the expectation that you’re an important part of the team.”

    Tory named four deputy mayors in 2014. North York Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong wields the official powers of deputy mayor, while the appointments of Crisanti, Scarborough Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker and the late downtown councillor Pam McConnell were largely symbolic. The appointments followed a campaign promise of uniting a city, often divided along urban and suburban lines, under the banner of “One Toronto.”

    As deputy mayors, the four have represented Tory at various functions and — with the exception of McConnell — have been largely loyal to Tory within the council chamber on major policy votes.

    Crisanti came to city hall under Rob Ford’s administration with the mayor’s support, beating incumbent Suzan Hall after two unsuccessful attempts in 2000 and 2003.

    He supported the Fords in important moves including ousting former TTC CEO Gary Webster when he opposed the push to extend the Sheppard subway and on failed votes such as the one held on a possible downtown casino.

    “We have a very great relationship. We always have,” Crisanti said of the Fords.

    The 2018 campaign does not start until May 1, when the nomination period begins.

    Ford declared his intentions to launch a rematch with Tory, who has always promised to run for a second term, at Ford Fest on Friday.

    With files from David Rider and Emily Mathieu


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