Feb 19

5 money-saving tips to help you avoid wedding day disasters

Planning a wedding is stressful enough without worrying about businesses that can’t deliver or potential scammers after your cash.

Leah Brownridge from the Better Business Bureau joined Global Calgary on Tuesday with details on five ways to protect your money and help prevent wedding-day disasters.

Finalize your guest list first

Sticking to a realistic budget is a key factor in preventing wedding-related stress.

According to Brownridge, the best way to set your budget is to first figure out your guest list.

ChangSha Night Net

“Once you finalize that, it should help you then determine the size of the venue, how many people you need to have food for, and so on.”

Wedding etiquette 101: your awkward questions answered

According to the BBB, Canadians spend an average of nearly $30,000 on their wedding.

Meet all of your vendors in person

Be sure to meet with caterers, DJs, photographers and other vendors in person to discuss your wishes in detail.

“If they are asking for full payment up front, that could be a red flag,” Brownridge said. “It’s a really risky investment and you want to make sure you’re not going to get caught paying for something when you don’t receive the service.”

Calgary wedding planner honoured by Vogue

You can check out reviews and complaints of potential vendors at bbb长沙夜网 before doing business with them.

Use a credit card to pay for everything

“We advise people to pay with a credit card wherever possible,” Brownridge said.

“If something goes wrong, you have should have some recourse through your credit card provider to dispute some charges if you don’t receive the service you’ve paid for.”

Calgary couple’s wedding photo captures moment before massive summer storm

In addition, the BBB warns against mailing a cheque or sending an email money transfer to someone you haven’t met.

Don’t just ask for references, call them

It’s not enough to simply ask potential vendors for references, you have to follow through and call them.

“Make sure they’re not fake references or even good friends of the service provider,” Brownridge said.

She advises asking if they were satisfied with the products or services.

Don’t give in to high-pressure sales

Don’t let high-pressure wedding planners or sales people push you around.

The BBB advises asking for written contracts that include timelines, prices and cancellation policies.

Calgary photographers locate mystery couple who got engaged in Banff

In addition, they suggest accounting for some delays in the process. It is better to schedule extra time than have something be delivered too late.

Feb 19

Ontario government closing in on balanced spring budget with $1.9B deficit: Sousa

TORONTO – Ontario’s deficit for this fiscal year is down to $1.9 billion, due in part to higher tax revenues, a hot housing market and the use of the province’s reserve.

The government had projected $4.3 billion in last year’s budget, and the lower deficit puts the government closer to presenting a balanced budget this spring.

ChangSha Night Net

Finance Minister Charles Sousa released the province’s third-quarter finances Tuesday and said Ontario’s real GDP grew by 0.7 per cent, led by business exports, consumer spending and real estate investments.

READ MORE: Ontario needs to make more health cuts to meet spending targets: budget watchdog

“Overall, these positive economic factors – more businesses succeeding, more people working, consumer confidence improving and exports rising, have had a positive effect on Ontario’s finances ahead of planned,” he said.

Ontario projects real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent in 2017, but said rising interest rates could weaken economic activity.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said no one lends any credence to the government “beating” its own deficit projections.

READ MORE: Financial Accountability Office warns of continued budget deficits in Ontario

“Everybody knows that the Liberals inflate their deficit target,” she said. “Then, when they get to the point where they have to make their announcement, lo and behold, they’ve achieved more than they said they were going to. So it’s a silly shell game.”

The finances show the government also used $600 million of the previously $1-billion reserve.

Progressive Conservative critic Vic Fedeli said the use of the reserve and one-time revenue from asset sales such as shares of Hydro One won’t mean truly eliminating the deficit.

“The government will attempt to artificially balance,” he said.

READ MORE: Ontario won’t be able to eliminate deficit in 2017, watchdog says

Expenses increased by $1.1 billion, spending that includes $106 million more to fund the Ontario Drug Benefit, nearly $100 million for additional stem cell transplant capacity, and $300 million so far toward an eight-per-cent rebate on electricity bills.

Changes to segregation policies in the correctional system and other justice reforms cost an additional $10 million, $6.5 million more went to wages for the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service and nearly $6 million went to mental health and suicide prevention programming for children and youth in First Nation communities.

Revenue was $2.5 billion higher than projected, with an extra $1 billion coming from corporate taxes, another $800 million from sales tax – largely due to house sales, which boosted HST revenue – about $730 million more from personal income tax and health tax, and more than $500 million above the 2016 budget projection from the land transfer tax.

Spending on interest on the province’s more than $300-billion debt was also $400 million lower than projected and the net-debt-to-GDP ratio has fallen to 38.3 per cent from 39.6 per cent.

Feb 19

Norovirus outbreak linked to BC oysters: What you need to know

British Columbia oysters have been linked to more than 200 cases of norovirus since late December, with illnesses reported in multiple provinces.

Investigation of the contamination is now being led by the Public Health Agency of Canada but the main question remains: how did the oysters become contaminated.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: 5 things you need to know about norovirus

The exact source of contamination has not yet been pinpointed but experts said there’s a good chance sewage was the culprit.

“The vehicle is usually contaminated water …. discharge of household waste, municipal waste, untreated into a water source,” said food safety expert Rick Holley, distinguished professor emeritus in food science at the University of Manitoba.

Oysters, along with clams and mussels, are filter feeders, meaning they filter their food out of the water around them.

“They pick up a lot of particulate nutrient material out of the water —; including algae, as well as these noroviruses that impact humans —; and concentrate them in their bodies. And then when we eat the mussels and the oysters without cooking them, we get sick.”

B.C. is Canada’s leading oyster producer, producing an average of 5,600 tonnes annually.

Oyster illness


Oyster illness


Over 200 sick after norovirus outbreak on two cruise ships


Health officials issue warning to only eat properly cooked oysters


Oysters 101: How to buy, prep and store oysters

Considering the number of illnesses, the current norovirus outbreak would be considered large scale, said Mark Samadhin, director of the outbreak management division, Public Health Agency of Canada.

“There’s no clarity yet on what’s been introducing norovirus to the oysters,” said Samadhin.

“Norovirus is an intestinal pathogen in humans, so when we see it in something like oysters, for instance, the general consideration there is somehow, some sort of sewage contamination may have happened.”

While Samadhin was careful to stress the link is not confirmed, past cases show that “when we see norovirus in oysters it’s usually some kind of a sign that the oysters have been contaminated with sewage.”

The suspect oysters came from multiple harvest sites; illnesses in B.C., Alberta and Ontario have been linked to the outbreak.

READ MORE: Interactive lookup tool: Find out if listeria-recalled food may be in your freezer

Holley, who is not involved with the investigation, suspects cross-contamination in holding tanks contributed to the widespread outbreak.

“You’ve got oysters in several different areas in the east and west coast of Vancouver Island causing the problems,” said Holley. “Now we know that the oysters are held in bulk in large communal tanks and it’s perhaps during distribution, after harvest, that provides an opportunity for the oysters to cross-contaminate each other.”

A problem first detected in December, Holley said it’s “frustrating” the outbreak has been going on for so long.

“It’s time for some pretty serious action.”

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans temporarily shut down four B.C. harvest sites, Samadhin said.

Moving forward, changes to filtration systems or water temperature of holding tanks could be looked at, Holley said. More importantly, he wants to see the contamination be prevented in the first place, by way of proper maintenance and upgrades to municipal water treatment facilities.

“The priorities need to be slightly changed in order to make sure these problems are stopped and they don’t recur in the future,” said Holley. “Because it will recur if we don’t make the proper investment in the systems to prevent discharge of sewage into water systems.”

Samadhin agreed these situations can provide learning opportunities.

“Any sort of foodborne outbreak, any sort of safety challenge or issue that we deal with I think is a good vehicle for prompting change,” said Samadhin.

Consumer caution

Consumers should always take caution when it comes to consuming any raw shellfish, Holley said, as risks certainly exist. But you don’t necessarily need to ban it from your diet.

“I certainly don’t want to make people paranoid.”

“When you take a look at the number of folks that consume raw oysters in North America and the number of cases [of illness] that occur in proportion is not all that large,” said Holley.

READ MORE: 5 things a Canadian food safety expert will never eat

Both experts said cooking oysters will greatly reduce the risk of illness, along with proper food handling.

Holley said those with underlying medical conditions should think twice before consuming raw shellfish.

“For other healthy individuals, you are increasing your risk of getting ill somewhat, but I think that for someone who really likes raw oysters it shouldn’t really stop you from eating them.”

Holley said people are taking just as much of a risk when eating pre-cut bagged salads.

Food contaminated with noroviruses often look, smell and taste normal. Norovirus rarely results in death, Holley said, but it is very “uncomfortable” and spreads rapidly.

Typical symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps; symptoms can also include low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches, headache and fatigue. Illness usually last for one to three days.

You are contagious while sick, and for as long as a few days to two weeks after recovery.

Feb 19

Leah Remini: Tom Cruise could ‘end’ Scientology if he wanted to

Tom Cruise, arguably the most famous Scientologist, has the power to “end” the controversial religion, says former member Leah Remini.

ChangSha Night Net

Appearing on Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, the King of Queens star said that Cruise’s unique position within the organization gives him special power, and most members consider him their “messiah.”

“[Cruise] could end this single-handedly,” Maher proposed.

“He could end this, correct,” Remini agreed, adding, “because they are saying he single-handedly is ‘clearing’ the planet, is changing the planet, so most Scientologists believe.”

READ MORE: 7 shocking things we learned from Leah Remini’s Scientology series

(“Clearing the planet” refers to the Scientologist goal of eliminating “body thetans,” or aliens inhabiting the planet.)

Remini claims that the rules are often bent for Cruise and other powerful members like actor John Travolta, but they’re still responsible for daily study, something every Scientologist must dedicate at least two hours to.

She went on to say that even the actor’s box-office failures  — like last year’s Jack Reacher — are explained away; members of the religion are told that “suppressive persons” (a.k.a. Scientology detractors) are responsible for Cruise’s flops.

WATCH BELOW: Tom Cruise credits Scientology for his success

“Scientologists believe that if he didn’t make [Reacher] a hit, it was because there were suppressive, evil people working against him, because he’s winning in life and clearing the planet,” she said to Maher.

Remini’s A&E docuseries, Scientology and the Aftermath, featured interviews with former Scientology members who told their stories of alleged abuse, trauma and family destruction. For her part, Remini came clean about her past and told eyebrow-raising tales about the inner workings of the religion.

In dozens of monologues peppered with s- and f-bombs, Remini also admits she was a victim of the Scientology “brainwashing,” saying that she was raised into it and didn’t know any differently. To this day, she still has difficulty acclimatizing to life outside the church, and she even questions her own day-to-day thought processes.

READ MORE: Leah Remini reportedly suing Church of Scientology for $1.5M

The series, she claims, was her apology for promoting Scientology in the public sphere, and the exposure of the church isn’t meant to be malicious, but rather a wake-up call to those considering it or “trapped” in the religion. The allegations made by Remini and the guests on Aftermath are shocking, and if proven true in a court of law, we could be witnessing the final death throes of Scientology.

You can watch Remini and Maher’s discussion in the video at the top of this story.

Follow @CJancelewicz

Feb 19

Loblaw resets all PC Plus customer passwords after security breach

PC Plus members across Canada have been forced to reset their passwords after a security breach that resulted in points being stolen from customer accounts.

Loblaw revealed nearly two weeks ago that a security breach allowed attackers to access individual member accounts. At the time, the company encouraged customers to beef up their passwords on the website, citing weak username and password combinations as a reason for the breach.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: PC Plus points stolen from customer accounts in security breach

“We are treating this as a breach as individual member accounts were accessed and points were stolen,” said Kevin Groh, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs and communications, in a statement.

Groh said the weak passwords were likely stolen from other sites and used to access PC Plus accounts.

Loblaw did not disclose how many user accounts were affected by the breach; however, on Tuesday, the company announced it had reset all user passwords as a precautionary measure.

READ MORE: Canadian Tire website breached, consumer accounts in question

“In order to better protect all members, we have reset all passwords. We require everyone to create a new password, including those who may have done so recently,” read the company’s website.

“Check your inbox for an email with a simple and quick reset link or follow the Forgot Password link after the Sign in button.”

Tips for creating secure passwords

Stay away from easy-to-guess passwords like “123456″ or “password” as well as easy to guess identifiers, like your dog’s name.

Numbers included in a password should never be something easy to guess based on the user. That means your age, the current year, or your address are not good choices. Similarly, the longer the password the better.

READ MORE: How to protect yourself from security breaches on social media sites

Passwords that use up to 10 uppercase and lowercase letters mixed with numbers are proven to be more secure – despite being hard to remember.

One tip is to construct a password from a sentence, mix in a few uppercase letters and a number – for example, “There is no place like home,” would become “tiNOplh62.”

And remember, try not to use the same password for any two accounts.

– With files from