Nov 18

Food fraud: study shows Canadians fear risks

A majority of Canadian consumers are concerned that the foods they eat may be counterfeit, a new study by Dalhousie University says.

“The most popular one in Canada is misrepresentation,” said Sylvain Charlebois, dean of the faculty of management at Dalhousie University and Canada’s leading expert on food distribution, safety and security.

“If you’re selling an organic product, and it isn’t, or you’re selling a product that is local, and it’s not; those are the kind of food fraud cases we’re seeing,” Charlebois said.

Broadly speaking, food fraud includes the mislabelling of foods with regard to content, quality or origin. For instance, where salmon is sold by a retailer as wild, when it’s actually farmed; or if processed food is marked gluten free, when in fact it contains ingredients that would harm someone with celiac disease.

WATCH: Misrepresentation is the most common form of food fraud in Canada: Dalhousie professor

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In a new report titled “food fraud and risk perception”, Dalhousie researchers surveyed 1,088 Canadians over a three-week period in January. They asked respondents in English or French a range of questions about the food they eat and whether they’re concerned about it.

Among the key findings:

—respondents with a declared health condition, including allergies and intolerances, were more likely to be concerned about counterfeited food products coming from within Canada;

— older consumers were more likely to be concerned about food fraud in general;

—more educated consumers were concerned about the risks associated with imported food products.

Researchers found 63 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed when asked if they’re concerned that food products in Canada are being misrepresented.

When asked about food from overseas sources, 74 per cent of respondents showed significant concern that the food they were buying might not meet expectations.

WATCH: Criminal intent is the most difficult thing to prove when it comes to food fraud: Dalhousie professor

Finding food fraud is one thing — holding companies accountable is another.

“The biggest challenge when it comes to food fraud is to prove criminal intent,” said Charlebois, who said successful prosecutions are not frequent.

“You could actually surveil the entire system but to actually catch people in the act is very difficult to do,” Charlebois said.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) regulates food safety. In its survey, Dalhousie researchers found more than 56 per cent of respondents consider government regulators to be the most competent when it comes to protecting consumers from counterfeited or adulterated food products.

WATCH: People expect public regulators to correct food fraud: Dalhousie professor


“It is clear that people do expect public regulators to fix the problem when it comes to food fraud,” Charlebois told Global News.

Only 27 per cent of respondents said the food industry should be trusted to protect consumers.

“They are least likely to trust industry which is problematic, because if the industry doesn’t have the trust of consumers it becomes very challenging for them to grow their business,” said Charlebois.

So how can a consumer protect against being misinformed or defrauded?

Charlebois urges food shoppers to do their research and seek out consistent, reliable food providers and to know their prices. He warns people to be skeptical of fluctuating prices on food commodities—suggesting deep-discounts on food items, such as fis or meat, may not be such a good “deal” after all, but could reflect inferior foods being sold instead.

“The consumer, in the end, is the most effective police for the entire food system.”

WATCH: Consumer is the most important watchdog for the food industry: Dalhousie professor

Nov 18

Several US Jewish centres evacuated over bomb threats; Ivanka Trump calls for ‘religious tolerance’

MILWAUKEE, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Several Jewish community centres (JCC) across the United States were evacuated for a time on Monday after receiving bomb threats, the latest wave of threatened attacks against them this year, the national umbrella organization said.

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Some 11 centres including those in the Houston, Chicago and Milwaukee areas received phoned-in bomb threats that were later determined to be hoaxes, said David Posner, a director at JCC Association of North America who advises centres on security.

READ MORE: Jewish centres across US report second wave of bomb threats

No arrests were made and no one was injured. All of the centres returned to normal operations, Posner said in a statement.

The FBI was investigating the incidents, Posner said. Officials at the FBI were not immediately available for comment.

WATCH: FBI probing wave of fake bomb threats to U.S. Jewish centres in January

Officials at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee, received a bomb threat at 10:15 a.m. local time, the second such incident at the centre over the last three weeks, it said on 桑拿会所.

“Taking very cautious measures, we are sheltering in our gym, as has been recommended,” the Milwaukee JCC said in a text message sent to parents of children who attend the preschool at the centre, according to an NBC affiliate in Milwaukee.

The centre reopened two hours later, the centre said on 桑拿会所.

Monday’s incidents come after three waves of bomb threats in 2017. In all, 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province have been reported, according to the JCC Association of North America.

“We are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Posner said.

Jewish community centres typically offer after-school activities, fitness programs and various other services.

Over the weekend, the headstones at the graves of about 170 Jews were vandalized in the St. Louis area, the Washington Post reported.

On 桑拿会所, President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter, a convert to Judaism, called for “religious tolerance” in the wake of the reported bomb threats.

“America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance,” she said. “We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers.”

Trump converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, who is an Orthodox Jew.

Nov 18

Saskatchewan’s wholesale trade trends down in 2016

Saskatchewan’s merchants collected roughly $2.8 billion less in wholesale trade last year, compared to 2015, according to a Statistics Canada report released on Monday.

The decline from $26.535 billion in 2015 to $23.722 billion in 2016 represents a 10.6 per cent decrease, marking the largest drop Canada. Nation-wide, wholesale merchant sales were up in 2016 by 3.1 per cent.

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    READ MORE: Saskatchewan leads country in December 2016 manufacturing sales growth

    Saskatchewan statistics consultant and analyst Doug Elliott said the drop off is “not abnormal in the province unfortunately,” which has seen many economic indicators decline recently after years of growth.

    “I guess it’s alarming in the short term because it looks like maybe we’ll have another bad year in the coming year,” Elliott, who publishes Sask Trends Monitor, said in an interview Monday.

    “We have to remember that 2016 may have been a lot worse than 2015, but it was a lot better than five or ten years ago.”

    Elliott said he attributes much of 2016’s decrease to a drop in sale prices. It’s an assertion backed up the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, whose president said its members have seen the decline first hand.

    “The livestock and cattle sector saw a pretty significant drop off in their pricing this year, in some cases thirty to forty per cent,” Todd Lewis, the association’s president, said in an interview.

    READ MORE: Canada to drop out of top 20 economies by 2050: PwC report

    Canada’s farm product wholesale industry saw a 10.9 per cent decrease in sales in 2016, which largely affected the Prairie provinces. Lewis said it’s hard to predict what 2017 will bring, however his group is hopeful the market’s prices will rise.

    “We’ll see what the weather brings us and what the future holds,” Lewis said.

    As for the entire wholesale industry, Elliott said Saskatchewan will likely not see a large bounce back this year, especially if the province lays off public sector workers in its upcoming budget.

    “That [would] dampen consumer confidence, so there will be less money spent in the retail sector which will ricochet into the whole sale trade sector,” Elliott said.

    “If I had to guess I would suggest that 2017 is probably going to be another year like 2016 for the wholesalers, which is down from a year ago, but not the end of the world.”

    The province’s wholesale merchants will get their first look at the 2017 trend line when Statistics Canada releases January’s data in a month.

Sep 19

RCMP officer adopts dog after ‘brutal attack’ in northern Alberta

Two dogs who were tied up to the front porch of a home in Fort McKay, Alta. were attacked with a weapon by a neighbour, RCMP said.

Police went to a residence at 9 a.m. on Sunday after a report of a man attacking two dogs with a weapon.

“The dogs had been chained to the front porch of the owner’s residence,” RCMP said in a news release, “and would have had no way to escape the brutal attack.”

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The older dog did not require urgent medical attention. The younger dog – who is eight months old – needed surgery.

The owner, who was unable to continue caring for Carl the dog, transferred ownership to one of the responding officers, who wanted to make sure the eight-month-old dog was cared for.

When the officer took the puppy to the vet, they found out it had multiple skull fractures and had to have one eye removed.

Once Carl is well enough to be released from the vet, he will go home with the officer.

“Carl is still doing well,” Cpl. Erika Laird said. “I have heard he is settling in well.”

Brian Boucher, 36, from Fort McKay, has been arrested and charged with two counts of injuring an animal and one count of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.

His first court appearance is set for March 3 in Fort McMurray.

RCMP initially did not include Boucher’s age in their news release. On Wednesday, they added it in an updated release.

“The Wood Buffalo RCMP has received several reports from individuals who have online social media accounts with the names Brian Boucher,” Laird said. “All the individuals that have those accounts have contacted our office regarding threats they have been receiving online or harassing comments that they have been receiving.

“We are investigating them as they come in but we would like to encourage people to refrain from making threatening or bullying messages online regardless of who they are directed to.”

RCMP said reports of threats or harassment will be investigated and could result in Criminal Code charges.

“We are not releasing the details of those investigations right now,” Laird said. “We did just did begin them. We are cautioning people to stop before it gets any worse.”

Sep 19

‘Degrassi High’ reunion: Cast members joining together for Canada-wide ComiCon tour

The original cast of Degrassi High will be reuniting for the first time in 20 years at Toronto’s ComiCon.

So far, Pat Mastroianni (Joey Jeremiah), Stacie Mistysyn (Caitlin Ryan), Stefan Brogren (Snake “Archie” Simpson), Kirsten Bourne Kelly (Tessa Campanelli) and Dan Woods (Mr. Raditch) are confirmed to meet their fans.

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Degrassi has had a monumental impact on pop culture in Canada and there is no better way to celebrate this formative show than to reunite fans with some of their favourite, original cast members at this year’s event,” said Toronto ComiCon show director Andrew Moyes.

READ MORE: Drake distracts Chicago Bulls player during Raptors game, helps draw foul

Mastroianni wrote on the Degrassi Tour Facebook page to explain why some of the cast members are reuniting.

“Why are we doing this? It’s Degrassi Jr. High’s 30th anniversary on television and Canada’s 150th. We thought it would be a great way to celebrate both. For three decades, Degrassi has become large part of Canadian pop culture. It’s been an international calling card for Canadian identity,” Mastroianni wrote.

He also explained that the cast wanted a chance to thank “as many fans in as many cities possible and for making the show what it’s become.”

Recently, Mastroianni and Brogren stopped by Toronto’s CP24 to announce their tour.

“Well, in a nutshell, we’re doing a national classic cast Degrassi reunion tour. We’ll be appearing at comic conventions all across Canada for this year and we’re excited to be premiering at the Toronto ComiCon next month, and that’ll be our first classic cast reunion in a very, very long time,” Mastorianni shared.

READ MORE: ‘Degrassi: Next Class’ to debut in 2016

Brogren explained that when Mastroianni came to him with the idea of bringing the junior high cast back together, they focused on the 90-minute made-for-TV film School’s Out cast. Then the series resurrected as the incredibly successful Degrassi: The Next Generation (after the six-part documentary series entitled Degrassi Talks).

Mastroianni also mentioned they will be swapping out different characters for different cities once they check availability and book all their appearances.

The twosome were asked how often fans stop them when they’re out in public to take photos.

Brogren admitted that because he’s on Degrassi: The Next Generation and now a producer of Degrassi: Next Class, he gets stopped by mothers and their daughters “freaking out” at the same time.

“I’m either Snake to them or Mr. Simpson the principal,” he said, laughing.

READ MORE: Drake accused of ‘making it about himself’ after posting Obama meme

The Degrassi High reunion tour will be happening across Canada. The cast will be updating the reunion Facebook page once the conventions allow them to announce their reunion tours.

Toronto ComiCon takes over the south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from March 17-19, 2017.

For a complete list of guests, info and tickets, visit here.

Follow @KatieScottNews

Sep 19

UPDATE: City Council approves Vancouver’s new $8,000 logo design

UPDATE: City Council approved Vancouver’s new logo on Wednesday afternoon. Only two council members, George Affleck and Melissa DeGenova, opposed the new design. The new design will be rolled out digitally and onto new documents. Changes to the city’s six ‘welcome’ signs will have to wait since this year’s budget cannot accommodate the $25,000 (each) cost. 

The City of Vancouver may be getting a new look, at least when it comes to its official logo.

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City staff have commissioned a redesign of the existing logo to give the city a new visual identity that’s in line with the times.

A report filed by City staff says the City’s visual identity had not been updated in more than a decade, and a simpler visual identity will not only be more easily recognized and understood by those for whom English is not a first language, but can be more easily adapted for social media channels.

The report says the City identified the opportunity to refresh its visual identity in June 2016 in light of changing city demographics and evolving popular culture, including the increased reliance on social media for communication and keeping pace with change.

The new wordmark sticks to the same colour scheme, but looks a little more streamlined.

The current City of Vancouver logo (on the left) side by side with the proposed new wordmark (on the right).

City of Vancouver

The report says the company selected to design the new logo was the lowest bidder and total costs came in at under $8,000. It came up with a simplified wordmark, which, the report says, presents an “updated image of the City of Vancouver as a modern, innovative and highly desirable place to live and work.”

City staff are recommending a phased rollout of the new wordmark to gradually update City assets and other materials over the course of the year.

The City Council will be voting on the new logo on Wednesday.

Let us know what you think and vote in our poll below. 

Take Our Poll

Sep 19

Family of brain-damaged Edmonton girl suing dentist for $26.5M

UPDATE (March 1): A date for Dr. William Mather’s hearing has been set. The Alberta Dental Association and College said a hearing will take place before a tribunal Oct. 16 at 9 a.m. to determine if Mather is guilty of unprofessional conduct.

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The family of a five-year-old Edmonton girl who suffered brain damage after she was given a general anesthetic for a dental procedure is suing the dentist and his staff.

“Amber’s injuries are very severe and affect every aspect of her life,” the little girl’s father, Raman Athwal, said. “She needs help with daily activities and she needs constant monitoring, 24/7, someone for her care… That’s why we think that it’s very important to file a lawsuit to protect her future.”

On Sept. 7, 2016 Amber Athwal was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital after undergoing a dental procedure at the downtown office of Dr. William Mather.

Athwal went from being a healthy, functional then-four-year-old to being unable to talk, walk or recognize her parents.

READ MORE: Amber Athwal case compels Alberta mother to speak out about son’s dental death: ‘I don’t want him forgotten’

The statement of claim is seeking $26.5 million in damages from Mather and eight members of his staff.

“It has impacted us in every aspect,” Raman said. “We stopped working since the day it happened and we are always with Amber now at her bedside. We are helping her in her recovery, doing cognitive things. There are other factors, like our daughter, our little one, Amber’s sister is also affected. She’s emotionally stressed.

“She’s always wondering why Amber is not getting up and playing with her,” he said.

“And then the financial need comes… On top of our daily needs, we need money for Amber, for her equipment and lots of other things.

“We want her to recover fully and whatever her needs are, we want to fulfil them,” Raman said. “Whatever her treatment needs are, we don’t want the money thing to hinder that process or stop that process.”

The lawsuit claims Amber suffered “profound neurological injuries” after being deprived of oxygen. The lawsuit claims while in recovery, a nurse noticed Amber was not breathing, she did not have a heart rate and her oxygen saturation level was zero.

The lawsuit said a nurse noticed this about 20 minutes after the surgery ended and Amber was placed in recovery. The lawsuit claims about 15 minutes later, another person at the clinic called 911.

READ MORE: Dental sedation expert ‘frustrated beyond imagination’ over anesthesia rules

The statement of claim alleges no one in the office was making efforts to provide ventilation when EMS arrived five minutes later, when Amber was still unresponsive and not breathing. She was treated on scene and taken to the Stollery, where she was diagnosed with a hypoxic brain injury.

Amber Athwal and her little sister Anahat. March, 2016.

Supplied to Global News

Her father Raman Athwal said, after a dental exam, they were told by Dr. Mather that Amber could have a procedure done that day.

The family said the specialist asked if Amber ate breakfast and when told yes, they allege he said it was OK and put her under with a general anesthetic.

Amber spent just over a month in the Stollery before being transferred to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

Amber Athwal celebrated her 5th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017.

Courtesy, Raman Athwal

Last month, her father said at her fifth birthday, the little girl showed signs of some improvement: she was smiling, more responsive and could say a few words like “mama” and “papa.”

“She’s showing good recovery,” Raman said on Tuesday. “We see change in her everyday – in her body movement, in words she says – and we are very positive. Also, the doctors say that it’s showing good signs of recovery.”

READ MORE: Amber Athwal celebrates 5th birthday: ‘she was very happy’

In mid-November, Mather sent a letter to anesthesiologists seeking to hire one for his practice. In that letter, he said his patient was hooked up to blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm and oxygen monitors, and there was “nothing unusual or out of the ordinary in terms of the dental procedures that were performed.”

Mather’s statement said when the nurse noticed Amber was in distress, “CPR was initiated and paramedics were called.”

READ MORE: Edmonton dentist breaks silence after little girl suffers brain damage

The lawsuit claims Dr. Mather and his staff failed to exercise reasonable care when treating Amber and did not do their due diligence before putting her under. It also claims they should have known Amber should not have undergone anaesthesia because she had eaten breakfast.

According to the Mayo Clinic, general anesthesia can cause aspiration, which is when stomach contents are expelled into the lungs. It happens because general anaesthesia relaxes the muscles in the digestive tract and airway, therefore patients are usually told to refrain from eating for at least eight hours before their scheduled procedure.

READ MORE: Alberta dental association suspends single operator model for deep sedation, anesthesia

The downtown Edmonton office of dentist Dr. William Mather.

Kendra Slugoski, Global News

It’s not known if Amber’s brain damage was caused by aspiration or by another medical emergency, but her family was told back in November that the findings of an investigation into what happened will not be publicly released.

The family learned in November that Dr. Mather will be sent before a tribunal to determine if he is guilty of unprofessional conduct. The Alberta Dental Association & College (ADA&C) set the hearing for Oct. 16 at 9 a.m.

“There are many elements that need to be coordinated, such as availability of both parties, the hearing tribunal, witnesses and experts,” ADA&C communications director Sarah Van Tassel said.

“Under the Health Professions Act a hearing date is to be set within 90 days of the decision to go to a hearing. As soon as we have this information we will make it available,” she added.

READ MORE: Alberta Dental Association and College responds to Amber Athwal investigation

None of the claims in the lawsuit have been proven in court. The lawsuit names Mather, his business, a nurse, and seven other people as defendants. Several of the defendants are not named in the lawsuit, which claims the plaintiffs were unable to obtain their full identities, despite repeated requests.

The lawsuit is seeking at least $26.5 million in damages for medical costs and loss of income for Amber and her family. The lawsuit was filed on Feb. 10 in Edmonton.

Mather has 20 days to file a statement of defence. On Tuesday, the Court of Queen’s Bench did not have a statement of defence on file.

With files from Emily Mertz, Global News

Sep 19

$35M in upgrades coming to Moncton Hospital

Upgrades to the Moncton Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, maternity and newborn, and cardiac care units are getting a $35 million boost from the New Brunswick government.

The money, announced Tuesday, will go toward building separate units for each of the specialties.

This is the third announcement of major infrastructure funding for New Brunswick hospitals the government has made recently — totaling more than $320 million.

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READ MORE: $90M investment in Saint John hospital to improve efficiency: government

An estimated $200 million was announced Feb. 9 for the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, and $90 million was  announced that same week for the Saint John Regional Hospital.

When questioned on where the money for the hospital upgrades is coming from, Premier Brian Gallant said they are well thought out, important investments.

“We have no doubt that every single one of those dollars spent is a good investment. Health care is one of the most important things that we can give to the people of New Brunswick, we recognize that,” he said.

The upgrades, estimated to be finished by 2022, is aimed at offering more efficient, better quality “family-centred” care, the government said in a release.

“Your government knows New Brunswickers want a strong and vibrant health-care system,” Premier Brian Gallant said in the release. “The investments will help the Moncton Hospital provide health care to New Brunswickers and their families in state-of-the-art facilities.”

According to Horizon Health, the Moncton Hospital has several sub-specialties, including women and children’s services, oncology — which got a new $9.2-million clinic in 2014 — and neuroscience.

READ MORE: Moncton Hospital opens new, more ‘child-friendly’ pediatric clinic

“We place our patients and clients at the centre of our health delivery system in everything we do,” Horizon Health Network president and CEO Karen McGrath said in a release.

Aug 19

Saskatoon weather outlook: above freezing days coming to an end

Above freezing days come to an end as cooler air slides in.

Saskatoon Forecast


Saskatoon has stayed fairly mild under a deck of low cloud through the night, which allowed us to only fall back to around -1 with wind chill values in mid-minus single digits to start.

Cloudy skies continued into the day with temperatures rising above freezing by late morning.

The overcast conditions will stick around for the rest of the day with an afternoon high expected to be around +2.


Clouds will stick around tonight as we fall back a few degrees below freezing.


-9 is what it’ll feel like with wind chill tomorrow morning before we warm up to an afternoon high at or possibly just above the freezing mark.

That deck of cloud is expected to stick around the region on Wednesday as well with a slight chance of flurries during the day.

Scattered, isolated flurries are possible during the day on Wednesday across central Saskatchewan.

SkyTracker Weather


Predominantly cloudy skies will stick around for the rest of the week with a very slight chance of flurries both Thursday and Friday.

Cooler air will press in from the north, dropping daytime highs back into mid-minus single digits with morning lows pushing toward minus double digits.

Cooler air slides in from the north later this week and into the weekend.

SkyTracker Weather

Weekend Outlook

A disturbance could kick up a little bit of snow on Saturday as mostly cloudy skies linger into Sunday with a slight chance of flurries that day as well.

Temperatures will continue to fall as an arctic high pressure system slides by northeast of the city and keeps us cool with afternoon highs in mid-minus single digits and lows pushing into the minus teens.

Archie Adam took this Your Saskatchewan photo of an ice road near Fond-du-Lac:

Feb. 21: Archie Adam took this Your Saskatchewan photo of an ice road near Fond-du-Lac.

Archie Adam / Viewer Submitted

Saskatoon weather outlook is your source for Saskatoon’s most accurate forecast and is your one stop shop for all things weather for central and northern Saskatchewan with comprehensive, in depth analysis that you can only find here.

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Aug 19

What you need to consider before buying a home with family or friends

As Canadians adjust to hot housing markets and stagnating wages, there’s been increasing buzz around teaming up with friends or family to buy a home.

ChangSha Night Net


  • Canadian wages falling flat: Year-over-year, little change seen in pay

  • Surviving the slump: how to navigate today’s real estate market

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    About a third of Canadians would consider co-buying a home, according to a recent ReMax survey; Capital One research found that nearly half of millennials (46 per cent) would be open to buying a home with family or friends.

    READ MORE: Vancouver lawyer says more families joining forces to buy homes

    “With the cost of housing going steadily up, it’s become out of reach for many,” said Bill Whyte,  senior vice-president and chief member experience officer at Meridian Credit Union.”I think there are new generations that are coming in, looking at it differently.”

    Maridian has created a family or friends mortgage guide to help people through the process. Up to four names can be on the mortgage’s title, meaning four owners.

    “Here’s an opportunity to pool your resources together, pool your income and still potentially look at home ownership.”

    While combining funds with family or friends can result in more square footage, that bigger house comes with unique challenges said James Laird, president of CanWise financial and co-founder of RateHub长沙夜网.

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    Federal government hopes to bring stability to B.C.’s volatile housing market


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    “Economically speaking, more income makes homes easier to afford,” said Laird.

    “But you need to be careful that anyone you’re getting a mortgage with are people you think in the long term will be good financial partners for you.”

    Before signing on the dotted line along with three of your closest friends, here are some things to consider.

    Know all the costs

    Home ownership is more than just a mortgage payment.

    “It’s important to know all the costs of home ownership … go in with your eyes wide open because it’s much more than just principal and interest,” said Whyte. “Make sure you understand all the moving parts of home ownership.”

    You need to consider property tax, bills, repairs, upkeep, one-off expenses — the list goes on.

    Real estate trends 2017: Will Toronto prices catch up to Vancouver’s?

    “Determine how you will share the home,” said Whyte. “Is everybody equal partners in it, is everyone putting the same amount of money into it?”

    Be on the same page as your home-buying pals for household costs and emergencies. Will you all contribute to a contingency fund? Try DIY options or immediately call in an expert? These discussions should happen before the basement floods or furnace craps out.

    You’re on the hook 100%

    “Everyone’s on the hook for the mortgage in its entirety,” said Laird.

    If you buy a house with two friends and one can’t pay their share, it falls on the other title holders.

    “The remaining people are on the hook for that loan 100 per cent,” said Laird.

    READ MORE: CMHC issues ‘red’ warning for Canada’s housing market

    Make sure you’re partnering up with people who are dependable — before you’re left with a larger share of the loan.

    “This involves a fair amount of trust … if it is [with] friends, you should be thinking of them more as family because this is a very close relationship you’re entering into and it’s a long-term one as well.

    Get everything in writing

    Get an agreement in writing that includes everything from dealing with disagreements to plans for eventually selling the property, said Whyte.

    “What happens when you want to sell the house? Is there first right of refusal?”

    READ MORE: Numbers show it’s harder for millennials to buy a home than it was for their parents

    Should relationships fall apart or one person wants to get out of the mortgage, what are you going to do?

    “Even with the best intentions, sometimes things don’t work out and it could be for unforeseen circumstances so you’ve got to protect all parties as fairly and equitable as possible,” said Whyte.

    Be prepared for things to get messy, said Laird.

    “Whatever the nature of the relationship was entering, when you mix business and money with friendships and family then you’re risking those relationships for sure.”

Aug 19

RCMP looking for man after hate message written in snow outside Red Deer Islamic Center

Red Deer RCMP have released a photo, hoping to identify a man who was caught on camera writing a hate message in the snow outside the Red Deer Islamic Center on Sunday.

Mounties were called to investigate at about 7:30 a.m. Feb. 19.

They said a man approached the stairs to the centre and “wrote a hateful message in the snow, signing it ‘E.K.’”

ChangSha Night Net


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    RCMP said the building itself was not damaged. However, “public incitement of hatred is defined as everyone who, by communicating statements, promotes hatred against any identifiable group.”

    Therefore, the RCMP said the incident at the centre is considered a hate crime – “mischief to religious property under the Criminal Code of Canada.”

    The Criminal Code of Canada defines a hate crime as a crime motivated by hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

    READ MORE: #StopHateAB website tracks hate-related incidents in Alberta 

    A man can be seen on camera approaching and leaving from the north, RCMP said.

    The suspect is described as wearing a hooded sweater and ball cap under a jacket, light coloured pants and dark running shoes.

    Anyone with information on the incident or anyone who recognizes the man is asked to contact Red Deer RCMP at (403) 343-5575.

Aug 19

Satisfaction in NB hospitals rise, cleanliness needs improvement: report

Overall satisfaction by the public in New Brunswick hospitals has improved according to a report published by the New Brunswick Health Council on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Primary health improvement needed: N.B. health system report card

ChangSha Night Net

The council gathered information from more than 6,700 people in the province who had been discharged from a hospital between December 2015 and March 2016 and stayed at least one night as a medical, surgical or maternity patient at an acute care facility.  Responses were received from people who stayed in hospitals in both of the province’s regional health authorities.

Survey results showed 78.9 per cent of patients rated their hospital stay favourably, with respondents ranking the hospital between eight and 10 out of 10. The rate was higher than what the province saw in past surveys, with 75.9 per cent in 2010 and 75.4 per cent in 2013. The survey also found high ratings from patients who felt their safety was taken seriously – 81.8 per cent – and 72.5 per cent felt there was good communication with nurses.

The ranking patients gave to New Brunswick hospitals following their stay and the resulting favourability percentage. (Credit: New Brunswick Health Council)

Several key indicators were used in the survey, including language of service, pain control and safety. Sixteen indicators were used to produce the report, though 56 were used in total in the survey. For the 2016 survey, new indicators were also added which included admission process, discharge, and if patients felt helped by staying at the hospital.

“New Brunswickers use this survey to share their praise and concerns with our hospitals, said Stephane Robichaud, the NBHC’s CEO, in a release. “Improving health system performance by sharing their experiences, they support better health services for all of us.”

The report did show some issue however in terms of cleanliness, with about 52 per cent of survey respondents reporting they found both their hospital room and bathroom “always” clean. The rate was also a drop from previous survey results, where 59.6 per cent of people in 2010 and 53.2 per cent in 2013 reported clean rooms. By comparison, 30.4 per cent said rooms were usually clean while only 4.3 per cent said rooms were never kept clean.

How people ranked cleanliness in their New Brunswick hospital room and bathroom. (Credit: New Brunswick Health Council)

READ MORE: New Brunswick health network hears from public on patient experience

Patients also gave mixed reviews when it came to being “completely informed” about the admission process based on where they were admitted. Only 47 per cent of people said they were completely informed when being admitted in the emergency room, while 63.3 per cent being informed when admitted through planned or “other means.”

Other highlights of the report showed 61 per cent of patients got help as soon as they pressed the “call button” and more than 80 per cent of patients reported they always received service in their preferred language – 93.5 per cent when English was preferred and about 84 per cent when French was preferred.

An overall look at hospital experience by patients in New Brunswick in 2016. (Credit: New Brunswick Health Council)

Aug 19

Canada’s strangest laws: From witchcraft to blasphemy to sleigh bells

We like to think of our laws as a logical system, and at their best, they are.

On the other hand, some are like strange old houses that have been added to, tinkered with, repainted and adjusted over the years, according to the theories of past decades. In the house there are musty, long-closed rooms. We’re pretty sure you’d fall through the floor if you went in there, so nobody does. Over the years, it gets bigger and bigger. And if you stand back and look at it, the overall effect is pretty strange.

Here is a tour of nine of the oddest Canadian laws.

Selling (or buying) home brew? Get ready to break some rocks.

ChangSha Night Net

You can make your own beer, drink the beer you made, or give it to other people. You can’t sell it though, not legally.

But what happens if you do? On this point, the federal Excise Act takes a hard right turn into the 19th century. For the first offence, the unlucky culprit can be sentenced to three months with hard labour and for a second offence (after the offender gets out with a tan and an upper-body workout courtesy of Her Majesty) six months of hard labour.

Hard labour referred not to any work that could be done by inmates, but punitive, high-intensity work designed to be a punishment in itself. Sometimes it was useful work, like building roads, and sometimes it was meaningless, like filling and emptying wells, walking on a treadmill, or turning a heavy crank thousands of times a day.

“I question whether that form of punishment is ever going to be imposed,” says Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt. “There are obviously Charter implications that come into play. I think if anyone was sentenced to that, or if the Crown was seeking that, we would quickly see a challenge to those sections.”

It’s not clear when hard labour died out in Canada’s jails and prisons (convicts laboured in quarries in Kingston, Ont. until 1963.)

And it certainly isn’t clear what a modern provincial jail would do with a prisoner who arrived to serve a sentence with hard labour.

“Practically speaking, I don’t know how you would possibly do that,” says Toronto criminal lawyer Sean Robichaud. “I’m sure that anyone who was sentenced to anything like that, their lawyer would be obligated to challenge that on constitutional grounds. It wouldn’t pass, but that puts an unnecessary strain, and ridicule, on the justice system.”

(The Foreign Enlistment Act, passed hastily in the 1930s to discourage Canadians from fighting in the Spanish Civil War, still provides for sentences of up to two years with hard labour.)

Thou shalt not market Viagra 

Before sidenafil was discovered in the 1990s, there was no effective drug for male erectile dysfunction.

For centuries, an endless line of frauds and quacks claimed otherwise, and made money selling men an astonishing variety of cures, from snakes to strychnine. (One 19th-century doctor recommended cannabis.)

In that context, Parliament seemed to be protecting the gullible or desperate when it banned “advertis(ing) or publish(ing) an advertisement of any means, instructions, medicine, drug or article intended or represented as a method for restoring sexual virility” in a section of the Criminal Code titled “Offences Tending to Corrupt Morals“.

Real erectile dysfunction drugs, prescribed by real doctors and sold by real pharmacies, are here — but so, to this day, is the provision banning advertising them.

It’s a defence to argue that “the public good was served” by advertising an erectile dysfunction drug but, oddly, not a defence to argue that it actually works.

(A few paragraphs above, the Criminal Code bans ‘crime comics,’ the legacy of a moral panic in the 1950s.)

We are not alarmed

Queen Victoria endured a number of assassination attempts.

All were more or less ineffectual (ineffective, but also inept), but she must have found them alarming. Her subjects, loyally, created a new offence of “alarming Her Majesty,” which made its way into Canadian law, where it has remained ever since. It has never, ever been used.

The law resulted from an 1840 incident in which someone fired pistols loaded only with gunpowder at Queen Victoria.

But if something similar were to happen during a royal visit in modern Canada, mainstream criminal charges would easily cover the situation, Robichaud says.

“In being convicted of those regular types of charges — assault, threats, attempted murder, even — the penalties themselves are not going to be any less.”

Don’t pretend to practice witchcraft. (Practicing real witchcraft is fine.)

Who commits this offence? Anyone who fraudulently (our emphasis) “pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration,”  or “pretends from his skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner anything that is supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found.”

People are actually charged under this section more often than one might think (which is to say, ever.) A case comes up every few years, and one is winding through the Toronto courts now.

Looking closely at the problem, pretending to practice witchcraft is really just a form of fraud that targets superstitious people. Also, fraud carries more serious penalties, so it’s not clear why a Crown would ever proceed with a witchcraft charge.

The Criminal Code is cluttered with variations on offences that have been added over the years, when one simple, clear provision would do, Spratt argues.

“We have theft of cattle, theft from clam beds and a general theft. Why do we need to have those other provisions, and not just rely on the general provision?”

What is blasphemous libel? No one seems to know

We should all be sure not to commit blasphemous libel, since it’s against the law. But what is blasphemous libel? The Criminal Code doesn’t say.

Is it libel, with characteristics of blasphemy? Is it blasphemy, with characteristics of libel?

“I can’t tell you what it is,” Spratt says. “No lawyer alive today has had to deal with it.”

Nobody has been convicted of blasphemous libel since the 1920s; a charge against a Sault Ste. Marie movie theatre in 1980 for showing Monty Python’s Life of Brian was quickly stayed.

“These obscure statutes can be abused,” Robichaud warns. “We look at these and laugh, and say ‘What is blasphemous libel?’ and say that nobody has been prosecuted for the last hundred years on it, and sort of chuckle at it. But with something like that you may have a particular political movement get into power, and then they start prosecuting on these sorts of things. Then it’s no longer a joke, because that otherwise unused law can be used.”

Conscription if necessary 

Outside big cities, Canadians in the 19th century didn’t have much in the way of municipal governments.

They did have some civic problems to solve, though. One was organizing schools, and another was figuring out how to maintain roads.

One common way of keeping roads in order, in Ontario and the Maritimes, was a form of conscription called statute labour. Property owners were expected to work on the roads for a number of days that related to the value of their farms (the idea seems to have been that more successful farmers could afford to show up with a hired man or two.)

For nearly 50 years in Prince Edward Island, from 1853 to 1901, the right to vote was based on performing statute labour. It was widely accepted as a fair system. When a provincial government tried to abolish it in 1877, furious voters immediately threw them out.

Statute labour fell into disuse in the 20th century (apart from anything else, contractors were more efficient), and mostly laws changed to reflect that. PEI’s statute labour law was abolished in 1948, for example.

In Ontario, though the practice died out long ago, the law never went anywhere, and the Statute Labour Act is still on the books ready for use. On paper, property owners in rural townships are one council decision away from being sent out to fix the roads, shovels in hand.

Ontario’s Statute Labour Act is an interesting case study of what a really neglected law looks like. Some effort has gone into it in our lifetimes — measures are all in the metric system, for example.

On the other hand, dollar values haven’t been updated in many, many decades:

Owners of property worth less than $300 are liable to work for one day$3-500: Two days$5-700: Three days$7-900: Four daysFor every $300 over $900, one additional day

We’ve calculated this for you: owners of property worth anything over $108,900 are liable to work for free for the township for 365 days a year.

(On the other hand, you could pay the township a fee instead of working. That amount hasn’t been adjusted for inflation either — $3 a day.)

Jingle all the way

In Ontario, if you operate a sleigh “drawn by a horse or other animal” you need to attach at least two bells. Failing that, you can be fined, but not more than $5.

But who would ever have a sleigh without sleigh bells?

The Senate, bulwark of the propertied classes, sort of

When the Senate was conceived in 1867, its creators saw it as more or less a Canadian equivalent of the House of Lords. The upper house was supposed to stand for the interests of property and balance the “will of the mob” in the House of Commons.

The Constitution still requires senators to have at least $4,000 in real property, over and above debts, to be appointed. At the time it was a substantial amount of money, but it’s never been adjusted for inflation. Nobody who is likely to be appointed to the Senate today would have trouble showing that they owned at least $4,000 of property, since a tiny down payment on a tiny condo would qualify.

You would think.

In 1997, Peggy Butts, a nun who had taken a lifetime vow of poverty, was named to the Senate. (She gave her whole salary to charity.) To satisfy the property requirement, her religious order transferred a small piece of land to her name.

And last year, Nunavut senator Dennis Patterson pointed out that the property requirement excludes 83 per cent of people in that territory from being named to the Senate.

(A senator whose real property falls under the $4,000 mark — for example, a senator who decided to sell his house and rent an apartment instead — is automatically expelled. It’s not clear, however, whether a senator can be expelled for actual misconduct, or who has the authority to do it. Don Meredith resigned before the question could be settled.)

READ: Expelling Don Meredith from the Senate will be no easy task

Unlawful drilling

This has nothing to do with oil and gas, and everything to do with 19th-century authorities’ fear of rebellion. Section 70 of the Criminal Code gives Cabinet the power to prohibit groups of people from being “trained or drilled to the use of arms.” (Being trained or drilled to the use of arms is fine until Cabinet tells you to stop, interestingly.)

The provision, like many others, was copied straight from British law. It came out of the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, when depression and hunger plagued Britain. There were widespread calls for parliamentary reform, and thousands of people had marched for years in Wellington’s armies seemed to a nervous Parliament like they might be a basis for a British version of the French Revolution.

Canada has a modest history of armed revolt, of course. The rebels who drilled in 1837 with pikes and shotguns to follow William Lyon Mackenzie were breaking the Unlawful Drilling Act of 1819.

But might it be useful, maybe, to have a tool for dealing with groups who are preparing a violent rebellion?

“There’s no problem with having criminal prohibitions on situations that arise rarely,” Spratt says. “Many of these provisions are used rarely, and restraint should be used, but that doesn’t disqualify them from being in the Criminal Code.”

\’Rebels drilling in North York, 1837\’