TDSB delays decision on provincial budget advisors

Posted By: James Moore · 12/5/2012 11:18:00 PM

Trustees at the Toronto District School Board still can't decide whether to let the province guide them in getting its financial house in order.

Education Minister Laurel Broten has offered to send a small team of financial experts to help.

Wednesday night's TDSB sub-committee meeting of about 15 trustees lasted 3-and-a-half hours.

Through that deliberation, all the trustees could decide was that they need more time to review and discuss an auditor's report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers that scrutinizes capital spending projects and maintenance costs.

The report was ordered in the summer after a Toronto Star investigation exposed ridiculous spending on things like electrical sockets and pencil sharpeners that cost $143.

TDSB Chair Chris Bolton says trustees are open to working with the province but they want the buck to stop with the Board's director of education.

"We believe that there's a real opportunity here to work with the Ministry," says Bolton....

Mother Charged in Drummondville Kids Deaths

Posted By: Dave Bradley · 12/5/2012 5:06:00 PM

The mother of three dead Quebec children was charged Wednesday with three counts of first-degree murder.

33 year old Sonia Blanchette, was arraigned in Drummondville three days after the children were found at her home.

Blanchette will undergo an evaluation to determine whether she is fit to face criminal charges. Her next court appearance is scheduled for December 14th.

She appeared unsteady and dazed as she shuffled into the courtroom, not making eye contact.

When she arrived at the courthouse in the back of an unmarked police cruiser, she kept her head low and her hood up.

Blanchette did not say a word during her arraignment. 

The children's father, Patrick Desautels, sat in the front row, surrounded by family. He did not say a word before entering or after leaving the courtroom.

Provincial police began questioning Blanchette following her release from hospital earlier on Wednesday.

The children's funeral will be ...

Girl Hit In Burlington

Posted By: Dave Bradley · 12/5/2012 4:52:00 PM

Halton Police are investigating after a 5 year old girl was struck by a vehicle near the Maplehurst Public School.

The girl reportedly suffered head injuries while a crossing guard also suffered minor injuries.

It happened in the area of Plains Road East and King Road in Burlington.

No word of any charges.

VIDEO: Minister Waits For TDSB Repsonse on Advisors

Posted By: Katie Franzios · 12/5/2012 3:51:00 PM

The TDSB has until five o'clock Wednesday to let the province know whether it will accept the province's help when it comes to its finances.

The Education Minister has offered to send in a team of advisors to guide the school board when it comes to crunching numbers after overspending on maintenance and renovations.

Laurel Broten  says she has priorities when it comes to how to move forward, namely, getting financing for the board's capital projects back on track.

Laurel Broten underlines there's some good advice the board can get from experts when it comes to its books and she says the funding freeze on new projects won't change until she sees some positive moves.

Earlier this year it was revealed TDSB was overpaying for maintenance, such as $143 to install a pencil sharpener.

AUDIO: University grads help Ontario college enrolment to all-time high

Posted By: James Moore · 12/5/2012 4:06:00 PM

There are more first-year students in Ontario's colleges than ever before.  Colleges Ontario says there are 123,000 first year students taking classes, which is up 5% over last year.

Colleges Ontario president Linda Franklin expects this trend to continue as university grads sign up for college to get hands-on skills and as more experienced workers temporarily exit the workforce to get re-trained for the changing job market.

"Enrolment of university grads has increased about 40 percent from just 5 years ago," says Franklin.

She adds that while some students take courses to learn a skilled trade, "lots of them come back to study communications, marketing or business."

Human Resources Consultant Dr. Rick Miner agrees with Franklin's assessment that having more students taking post-secondary courses is a good thing for the overall workforce but their new skills don't matter much if there are a lack jobs available for them when they ...

Councillors weigh in on Rob Ford's stay

Posted By: Siobhan Morris · 12/5/2012 4:10:00 PM

Rob Ford's allies on city council are applauding a judge's decision to let him stay on as mayor for now.

Ford will keep his job into 2013, through an appeal of the verdict in a conflict of interest case against him that has ordered him out of office.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong says Justice Gladys Pardu made the right decision.  Minnan-Wong's read is that most people believe that Ford should have his day in court & remain in his position until a decision is rendered.

The councillor says the legal fight has been an "unnecessary distraction" from the important decisions council has to make.

Karen Stintz says the stay allows council to enter into a period of calm.  She is hoping for quick decision in Ford's appeal which will be heard January 7th.

Councillor Doug Ford says the mayor wants to keep pushing his agenda.

But can he?  Councillor Shelley Carroll ...

UPDATE: ETFO Votes for Strike Action

Posted By: Katie Franzios · 12/5/2012 4:55:00 PM

The province's elementary teachers are upping the pressure on Queen's Park, with the threat of not only one-day strikes, but also a full-on walk out.

Elementary Teacher's Federation of Ontario (ETFO) reveals 92 per cent of union members who voted, are in favour of what they're calling one-day political protest.

Only 46,000 of 76,000 had their say in a three-day online vote.

ETFO is keeping details of one-day strikes to themselves for now, only saying they will start in school boards across the province next week. If the province uses Bill 115 - the legislated teacher contract framework - to end the strike action, the teachers can now walk out in this protest.

In a statement, union president Sam Hammond says the vote proves that it's the teachers who determine their actions, taking a shot at the education minister's comments about union leaders pulling the strings.

He says this vote ...

Man Charged with Murder in New York Subway Push

Posted By: Dave Bradley · 12/5/2012 1:24:00 PM

Police arrest a suspect Wednesday in the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks and photographed just before a
train struck him.

30 year old Naeem Davis, was taken into custody for questioning Tuesday after security video showed a man fitting the suspect's description working with street vendors near Rockefeller Center.

Police said Davis made statements implicating himself in Ki-Suck Han's death.

Davis was arrested on a murder charge. He was in custody, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

Witnesses told investigators they saw a man talking to himself Monday afternoon before he approached the 58-year-old Han of Queens at the Times Square station, got into an altercation with him and pushed him into the train's path.

The Post published a photo on its front page Tuesday of Han with his head turned toward the train, his arms reaching up but unable to ...

Jazz Pianist Dave Brubeck Dies

Posted By: Newstalk 1010 · 12/5/2012 12:23:00 PM

You may not know his name, but you've likely heard his music.

Legendary jazz pianist and composer, Dave Brubeck has died at the age of 91.

Brubeck was the man behind 'Take Five' and 'Blue Rondo a la Turk' passed away Wednesday morning, just one day shy of his 92nd birthday.

He died of heart failure, en route to a regular treatment with his cardiologist.

Brubeck had a career that spanned almost all American jazz since World War II. He formed The Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951 and was the first modern jazz musician to be pictured on the cover of Time magazine, on November 8th, 1954, and he helped define the swinging, smoky rhythms of 1950s and '60s club jazz.

The seminal album ``Time Out,'' released by the quartet in 1959, was the first ever million-selling jazz LP, and is still among the bestselling jazz albums of all time.


Suspected Human Smuggling Ring Busted

Posted By: Dave Bradley · 12/5/2012 11:53:00 AM

Five groups of recently arrived Romanian nationals are suspected by Canadian border officials of being part of a human
smuggling ring.

Eighty-five people who came in Canada over the last few months have now been classified as ``irregular arrivals.''

Forty have been arrested under newly enacted immigration laws that allow for the mandatory detention of those suspected to have arrived in Canada via smugglers.

The others couldn't be detained either because they were too young or came to Canada before the new laws went into effect in

Officials are expected to release more details about the suspected smuggling operation later today.

The designation of irregular arrival means that the individuals can't apply for permanent residence status for at least five years
or sponsor their families to come to Canada during that time.

(with files from Canadian Press)

UPDATE: Coalition Warns of Growing Healthcare Cuts

Posted By: Katie Franzios · 12/5/2012 3:35:00 PM

The province's health care watchdog says Ontario is seeing unprecedented cuts in the sector - and there may be more.

It's all outlined in the Ontario Health Coalition's new report, the Austerity Index.

It reveals a list of cuts across the province such as operating rooms, 100 hospital beds and outpatient clinics.

Using physiotherapy as an example, Coalition director Natalie Mehra says when people are pushed to private clinics, it could cost them hundreds of dollars a week out-of-pocket.

She says as the fiscal year goes on, she expects more cuts and growing deficits.

In Toronto, the report outlines closures to physiotherapy clinics at the Centre for Addition and Mental Health (CAMH) and Toronto East General Hospital, as well as to the outpatient mental health program at York Central. It underlines the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab Hospital and Toronto Rehab Institute each posted a deficit of around $1 million.

The ...

*UPDATE* Ford Granted A Stay

Posted By: Russ Courtney · 12/5/2012 5:19:00 PM

Mayor Rob Ford will remain in office, pending the outcome of his appeal, thanks to a stay of an earlier ruling.

The decision, made in a second floor courtroom at Osgoode Hall on Queen St. Tuesday, means the city's leadership situation remains stable until there's a decision in Mayor's appeal of a ruling in his conflict of interest case that order him out of office.

When a three judge panel rules on Ford's appeal in early January, the Mayor could end up being tossed out of office, or he could keep his job.

"I'm just very glad that I got the stay," says Mayor Rob Ford. "I can't wait for the appeal and I'm moving forward."

Ford, who will spend the holidays as Mayor, vowed to continue to work hard at city hall.

"Returning calls and meeting with people and running the city just like the people elected me to ...

Police Warn of Potential Sex Offender

Posted By: Amber Gero · 12/5/2012 10:33:00 AM

Toronto Police are warning people in the Weston Road and Jane area of the city of a potential sex predator at large. 

It was around 2 o’clock Tuesday afternoon at Portage Trail Community Junior School when a young female student went to the girls’ washroom.  Once inside, investigators say she was approached by a strange man.

“He then grabbed her by the lower leg and she fell as a result of that.  She tried several times to get back to her feet and when she was able to she ran to a nearby classroom and reported the incident.”said Toronto Police Constable Wendy Drummond.

A search was conducted of the school and the surrounding area, but the suspect was not located.  Investigators say they are still reviewing the school surveillance footage.

The suspect is described as a white man, approximately 30 years old, tall with a skinny build, full beard and ...

AUDIO: Australian Radio Station Crank Calls Duchess' Hospital

Posted By: Newstalk 1010 · 12/5/2012 8:19:00 AM

The British hospital treating the former Kate Middleton admitted it was victimized by a crank call in which information on the Duchess of Cambridge's condition was given to a woman impersonating Queen Elizabeth II.
King Edward VII's hospital acknowledged Wednesday that an Australian radio station made a hoax call to the hospital in the early hours Tuesday. A woman using the often mimicked voice of the monarch asked after the Duchess' health, and was told that Kate, who is being treated for morning sickness, "hasn't had any retching with me and she's been sleeping on and off.''
The hospital says the conversation was held with one of the nursing staff. Its telephone protocols are being reviewed.
The Australian 2DayFM placed the recording of the conversation on its website.

The DJ's have sinced apologize saying that they thought they'd be hung up on.

Latest NHL Labour Talks Going Well

Posted By: Michelle Rosa · 12/5/2012 5:50:00 AM

It was a sight not previously seen during the NHL lockout.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHLPA special counsel Steve Fehr were beside one another at a podium talking about the progress made during latest negotiations.

``In some ways I'd say it might be the best day we've had, which isn't too overly optimistic of a picture. There's still a lot of work to do and a lot to be done,'' Fehr said after the sides broke just before midnight on Tuesday. ``We will be back at it tomorrow morning.''

The latest talks involved 18 players and six team owners. Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby was there, along with Penguins owner Ron Burkle, and according to sources, those two were said to be strong voices in the room.

The two sides met for nearly eight hours (over two long sessions) before breaking up just before midnight. The same group is expected ...

Provincial Advisory Team Offers to Oversee TDSB Spending

Posted By: Michelle Rosa · 12/5/2012 6:06:00 AM

The province is staging an intervention of sorts.

A team of advisors has been sent in to help the Toronto District School Board with fixing its operations and reign in spending. The advisors would also oversee costs associated with building repairs and new projects that come along with full-day kindergarten.

According to the Globe, the board says it's committed to working with the ministry, but wants clarification on the role of this advisory team, and make sure that it's not a ministry takeover. That was written in a letter to the ministry, which was sent out Tuesday.

One trustee admits the board has shown a lack of leadership and accountability, and refers to the board, as a "rudderless boat."

The TDSB has undergone much criticism of its' $50-million debt. That includes renovations of a school building that's now $8.4-million over budget, and the contracting out of work which resulted in ...

Budget cuts to fire mean losing jobs and trucks

Posted By: Michelle Rosa · 12/5/2012 5:47:00 AM

City budget cuts are going to be taking a toll on the fire department.

Toronto fire will have to get rid of five fire trucks, and scrap 104 vacant jobs.  91 of those positions being on the frontline.

As of right now, we don't know which fire halls will have trucks taken away either.

Councillor Sarah Doucette wants the public to have their say on this, and has asked for the budget committee to hear deputations. Doucette adds, "neighbourhoods that are going to have reductions should be notified."

The budget they're being told to meet is $369-million, which is still $1-million less than 2012.

All city departments were told to keep their 2013 budgets at the same levels as 2012.

On December 10, the city will hear public submissions on the budget.

Rob Ford asks for a legal 'time-out'

Posted By: James Moore · 12/5/2012 6:08:00 AM

Wednesday is an important day in the mayor's fight to keep his job.

Before noon, a divisional court will hear Rob Ford’s request for the decision in his conflict of interest case to be stayed.

That effectively amounts to a temporary 'time-out' in the legal skirmish that could throw the mayor from office.

Lawyer John Mascarin of Toronto firm Aird & Berlis LLP expects the court to agree to the stay because Paul Magder, the man who filed the original conflict of interest complaint against the mayor has said he has no objections to such a move.

However, Mascarin says Rob Ford's legal team still has to convince a judge that he deserves a stay.

"The last thing you want to do is go in there and think it will be a slam dunk because you don't want the court to say 'you did not address this thing, or the ...

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