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TOPSTORIES

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    Whatever went wrong in the air off Australia’s west coast on Sunday, it started quickly and violently, and it did not stop for far too long.

    First, AirAsia X passengers told Perth Now and other outlets, there came a loud bang about 90 minutes into the flight to Kuala Lumpur. It woke some people up. Sophie Nicolas said it was an explosion on left wing, while Dave Parry remembered a strange smell wafting through the cabin.

    Then the shaking. Endless shaking, up and down the jet. “Like you were sitting on top of a washing machine,” a passenger told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    It lasted another 90 minutes, passengers reported — minutes full of tears, prayers and gallows humour as the rattling jet limped back toward Australia.

    Brenton Atkinson told the broadcasting station he looked out at the window and could see the engine rattling on the wing.

    Inside, seat backs shook like jello blocks. A deafening thud-thud-thud-thud soundtracks every cellphone video from the aisles. Some passenger gritted their teeth. Others just folded their hands and endured.

    A blade had sheared off an engine, the captain told passengers at one point, according to Perth Now.

    But AirAsia, which did not respond to the Washington Post, told Nine News Australia it had no reason to to think the plane had engine troubles — blaming the incident vaguely on a “technical issue.”

    A spokesperson for Perth airport said much the same to the Post: “There was a plane that discovered a technical issue and returned.”

    In any event, an early report from the loudspeaker could not have done much to reassure passengers. “Please listen to everything,” a man said. “Our survival depends on your co-operating. Hopefully everything will turn out for the best.”

    Those first minutes were among the worst, some passengers reported.

    “I was crying a lot,” Sophie Nicolas told Australia’s ABC. “A lot of people were crying, trying to call their moms and stuff. But we couldn’t really do anything. Just wait and trust the captain.”

    The captain asked everyone to pray, Nicolas told Perth Now. “I’ll be saying a prayer, too,” she recalled him saying.

    Less than three years ago, another AirAsia flight crashed into the Java Sea and killed everyone on board, the result of a faulty rudder control system. But if any of the passengers on Sunday’s flight remembered that, they did not recall it in their interviews.

    At the captain’s request, Perth Now reported, some passed the time keeping an eye on the left engine in case something else went wrong.

    After a while, a sense of quasi-normalcy returned to the jittery flight.

    In one video, a man casually walks down shaking aisles. In another, two Australian men grin for motion-blurred selfies.

    “Not great, not amazing,” says one, his voice muffled by the thumping. “We’re having 50 million beers when we get back.”

    As the plane rounded back on Australia, police stood by for a possible water landing, according to Nine News.

    For two full minutes of descent, CNN reported, passengers held the brace position — heads forward, unable to see if the plane was going to make it.

    When it did, a passenger told CNN, passengers erupted in applause and later shook the pilot’s hand.

    “I still arrive!!!” someone posted on Instagram. “Thank you God!!!”

    The shaking was over then. No one was reported injured. Now to wait for explanations.


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    GUATAPE, COLOMBIA—A tourist boat packed with about 160 passengers for the holiday weekend capsized Sunday on a reservoir near the Colombian city of Medellin, leaving at least six people dead and 31 missing, officials said.

    Rescuers including firefighters from nearby cities and air force pilots searched for survivors at the Guatape reservoir where El Almirante ferry sank. A flotilla of recreational boats and jet skis rushed to the scene, pulling people from the boat as it went down and avoiding an even deadlier tragedy.

    Dramatic videos circulating on social media show the turquoise and yellow trimmed party boat rocking back and forth as people crawled down from a fourth-floor roof as it sank into the water in a matter of a few minutes. Survivors described hearing a loud explosion near the men’s bathroom that knocked out the power a few minutes after it began its cruise around the giant lake. As water flooded on board, pressure built and people were sucked under by the sinking ship.

    “Those on the first and second floors sank immediately,” survivor Lorena Salazar told local media. “All we could do was scream and call for help ... it was completely chaotic.”

    Margarita Moncada, the head of the disaster response agency in Antioquia state, said that according to a preliminary report, 99 people were rescued and another 40 managed to find a way to shore on their own. Speaking to reporters from the reservoir, she said nine people had been killed and around 28 are still missing.

    But later Sunday President Juan Manuel Santos arrived to Guatape and said 122 people were either rescued or found their way to shore and were in mostly good condition. Six had died and another 31 were missing, he said. The discrepancies in the number of fatalities could not be immediately reconciled.

    It’s unclear what caused the boat to sink.

    Some people who witnessed the tragedy from the nearby shore said the boat appeared to be overloaded, but Santos said it was sailing well below capacity. None of the passengers were wearing a life vest. Complicating the search, there wasn’t even a passenger list.

    “Nobody really knows what happened,” said Santos, adding that naval officials were brought in to carry out an investigation.

    Carlos Espinosa, an independent journalist from Guatape, said about a month ago townspeople awoke to find the El Almirante filled with water and sinking at its dock, suggesting that perhaps the vessel wasn’t ready to return to the water.

    “What makes you angry is there are no controls by the government,” he said.

    As night fell, the usually festive town was silent as people began to register the magnitude of the loss. Among those huddled under the rain near the port looking for information about loved ones was Alberto Villegas, who was separated from a cousin and uncle in the mad rush to abandon the sinking ship.

    “All we ask is that they don’t give up the search,” Villegas said.

    Authorities were at a loss to say exactly how many people were on the boat and asked passengers or their loved ones to report to a rescue centre hastily set up along the shore. They also made a call for scuba divers to assist with the search.

    The reservoir surrounding the soaring rocky outcrop of El Penol is a popular weekend destination a little more than an hour from Medellin. It was especially busy Sunday as Colombians celebrated a long holiday weekend.


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    Sitting in circles in Trinity-Bellwoods Park with their bikes splayed out on the grass around them, the cyclists seemed excited and a little nervous. Some knew each other, some didn’t. For the vast majority, Saturday’s race was a first.

    Even the race’s organizers, Kiki Knox and Ashley Hurrle, were keyed up. It was a first for them, too — and for the city. Toronto has never had an alley cat race for women, transgender, femme, and gender nonconforming riders only, as far as they knew.

    Alley cats are DIY bike races that require cyclists to hit a certain number of checkpoints throughout the city before speeding to the finish — checkpoints that remain a secret until the race starts. The races are unsanctioned, meaning the streets are open to traffic. Alley cats are a test of urban navigation and street-riding savvy as well as speed, with a bit of scavenger hunt mixed in.

    “Races are dominated by fast guys,” said Knox. Professional bike couriers often compete in them, and the vibe can be intense, even aggressive, others say. “It’s male-dominated, and it looks closed off from the outside . . . (we) wanted to make it a much more open experience.”

    Knox and Hurrle began organizing the W.T.F. Alley Cat — Women, Trans, Femme-identifying — in March. Similar races have been organized in U.S. cities, but not in Toronto.

    “I talked to a lot of older couriers in the scene, and they said they’ve never heard of anything like this,” added Knox. “Ashley and I were so stoked. We were like, let’s do it. Let’s organize the first one. Especially one in time for Pride weekend.”

    As riders cycled up on Saturday evening, they exchanged a $10 registration fee for a spoke card, a laminated square with the race’s logo that would be tucked into the wheel and serve as a racing bib.

    At 6:30 p.m., Knox and Hurrle called everyone together. Thirty racers had signed up.

    Despite alley cats’ reputation for lawlessness, the duo began with an exhortation. “We don’t want anyone to have a bad time, or get hurt. Please ride safely, ride considerately.”

    The pair start passing out a printed sheet with a list of the eight checkpoints. Some hopped on their bikes immediately. Others huddled around maps, plotting out the ideal route. The checkpoints spanned the city, from Wychwood Barns to Corktown Common and the West Toronto Railpath to Liberty Village. The race would be about 30 kilometres depending on the route.

    .

    The final checkpoint — the finish line — was Bike Pirates, the volunteer-run, DIY workspace in Parkdale. At 7:30, cheers went up as three riders came into view, but they passed by shaking their heads. They still had another checkpoint to hit.

    Minutes later, three riders coasted to the door of the shop, flushed and sweaty. They dumped their manifests, shredded and soaked with sweat.

    “And you did it in a dress?!” one volunteer said to Amber Urbshas, who finished in first place. “So good.”

    Most of the riders worked in groups, helping each other out with routing and strategy. But this wasn’t a Little League game where everyone gets a trophy.

    “I was planning on going a little softer, but I’m too competitive,” said Urbshas.

    “It’s so nice to bike with a bunch of girls who are going super quickly. It feels really good,” said Lily Hansen-Gillis, a first-time racer who came in second.

    Close to 10 p.m., Knox and Hurrle handed out awards inside Bike Pirates. After the top three spots, prizes were handed out for the first single-speed bike, first geared bike, and first out-of-towner. There were awards for first first-timer, first mullet, and DFL — a colourful expression for dead last. The winners got prize bags filled with gear donated by the race’s more than 30 sponsors: bike shops, sex shops, pie stores, more.

    After a raffle dispensed with more donated loot, the night morphed into a general party.


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    Students about to enter their first year in Ryerson University’s midwifery program are scrambling to find alternate funding options after the Royal Bank of Canada cancelled a specialized loan program this month.

    Previously, students could borrow up to $80,000 against their projected earnings as midwives.

    Now, the bank won’t consider students’ future earning potential and requires them to have a co-signer.

    “Midwifery students have known about the RBC funding and relied on it for many years I think for those that need some support to get them through their schooling,” said Nicole Bennett, the director of Ryerson’s Midwifery Education Program.

    “It’s just one more barrier for people who don’t have a lot of financial means to enter into the profession and it saddens me,” she said.

    Read more:

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    Giving birth alone and far from home

    In a statement RBC spokesperson AJ Goodman said the change was made “to help midwifery students ensure they are taking on manageable loans while pursuing their career.”

    Goodman also explained that there is no set cap on the loans available under the bank’s standard student line of credit program.

    “If a student can support themselves at a higher threshold, then we will evaluate their application accordingly,” he said.

    Incoming student Monique Dupuy said she’s concerned some students now won’t be able to cover the costs of the program.

    “I think it’s suspect that it happens during this time of year when people are sort of scrambling to secure funding for the fall,” she added.

    RBC told both Dupuy and Linnea Rudachyk, another student who is relocating from Whitehorse, Yukon for the program, that they could still apply for the bank’s regular student line of credit, which is available to all undergraduate students, to help cover the cost of school.

    For some midwifery students, though, that might not be enough.

    Tuition alone can cost between $6,000 and $8,000 a year. Add in living costs, medical supplies, the cost of a possible relocation for clinical placements in the latter half of the four-year program and Rudachyk estimated it could cost her $100,000 to complete the program.

    Students are also not allowed to work while they’re completing unpaid clinical placements and they must have 24-hour access to a reliable car, adding to the costs.

    “I may be able to start the program, but I may not be able to complete it, it’s a huge barrier,” said Rudachyk, who was told she could borrow up to $30,000 under a standard student line of credit.

    It seems “very unfair” that specialized professional loans are available to students in chiropractic, physiotherapy, law and medical programs, but not midwifery, she said.

    RBC offers loans of up to $275,000 for medical students and up to $125,000 for law students without co-signors.

    Midwifery students are very likely to secure employment after graduation and have the potential to be earning $80,000 with a full care load, Bennett said.

    “My understanding was that this was a program for professional degrees and midwifery is absolutely a professional degree,” she said.

    While a number of banks offer larger loans for professional programs, Dupuy, Rudachyk, and Bennett said as far as they’re aware RBC was one of the only to offer something similar for midwifery students.

    CIBC, for instance, offers a Professional Edge line of credit for students in some programs, including medical, law, chiropractic, and nursing schools, but a spokesperson for the bank said midwifery students are eligible to apply for their Education Line of Credit.

    The limits available under the Education Line of Credit vary depending on the institution students will attend and offers different repayment options from the professional version.

    A spokesperson for TD said their bank offers “Student Lines of Credit for Bachelor of Health Sciences programs, which sometimes can include midwifery programs.” Midwifery is not listed on their website as one of the programs eligible for their professional student lines of credit.

    Elizabeth Brandeis, the president of the Association of Ontario Midwives, said losing access to RBC’s health sciences line of credit program feels like yet “another barrier,” for midwives, a profession that’s seeing increasing demand in Ontario.

    When the province regulated midwifery in 1994 there were just 60 midwives in the province, who attended fewer than 2 per cent of births.

    Today there are close to 900, who in 2015 provided care to more than 22,000 women and attended more than 15 per cent of the births in the province. Each year the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also provides funding for an additional 90 midwives in Ontario.

    But midwives still can’t accommodate between one-third and one-quarter of requests for their services.

    Despite the new challenges presented by the loan cancellation, both Rudachyk and Dupuy plan to pursue their studies. The program is highly competitive, admitting only 30 students a year from between 250 and 280 eligible applicants.

    Dupuy said her dad has offered to co-sign a regular student loan if the professional loan program isn’t reinstated, but she doesn’t plan on letting this fight go.

    Rudachyk shares her passion. She’s already filed a formal complaint with RBC, written to Ryerson’s program director, her member of Parliament, Larry Bagnell, and has spoken with the Community Midwifery Association of Yukon.


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    LCBO stores will be open for the Canada Day long weekend after the liquor control board and its worker’s union reached a tentative deal to avoid a strike.

    Ontario Public Service Employees Union and LCBO management announced the news 30 minutes after their 12:01 a.m. Monday deadline.

    Details of the agreement will not be disclosed until the union shares with the 8,000 unionized LCBO workers.

    OPSEU President Warren Thomas said the deal came as the result of the tireless efforts of union members.

    “I want to thank these workers for taking a stand against the negative impacts of precarious work, which is a sad fact of life for far too many workers today,” said Thomas.

    Details of the bargaining process and updates were under a “media blackout” that OPSEU says was imposed by a conciliator Saturday morning.

    The union’s bargaining team chair Denise Davis said they are unanimously recommending the deal to their members.

    “The deal we are looking at today is only possible because of the tireless work of OPSEU members across the province who built public support for our plan for a better LCBO,” said Davis, in a press release issued early Monday.

    The ratification date has not been set.

    LCBO workers, who have been without a contract since March 31, voted overwhelmingly in April in favour of giving the union a strike mandate.

    The union was asking for more certainty over scheduling and guarantees about full-time jobs. Eighty-four per cent of LCBO workers are part-time.

    “We do not want a strike ... we want a decent contract that addresses quality of life workplace issues at the LCBO,” said Thomas ahead of Sunday’s deadline.

    Thomas later said he was confident an agreement would be worked out.

    Most LCBO stores had extended hours this past week to maximize service for customers in anticipation of a potential strike.

    With files from The Canadian Press


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    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led thousands of revellers under a rain of glitter and colour at the Toronto’s Pride parade Sunday. This year’s march, which had a theme of inclusivity, had two conspicuous absences through most of the afternoon: uniformed police and Black Lives Matter (BLM), the activist group that disrupted last year’s march.

    BLM did show up toward the end of the parade, despite not being officially registered. Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” in all-black outfits as they raised their fists in the air near Yonge and College Sts., the same place where the group held up the parade last year.

    “May we never again have to mourn another life like that of Andrew Loku,” read one of the signs, referring to the fatal shooting of a black man by Toronto police in 2015.

    “Wherever they go, black folks will resist their presence,” activist Rodney Diverlus said of police.

    Tweets from BLM organizers said this year’s Pride parade was more inclusive and accessible because of their activism.

    Their protest did not bring a halt to the main parade, which had already passed.

    First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who walked alongside Trudeau at the front of the parade with a group of Indigenous activists close behind, was the first in his post to march in the Toronto Pride parade.

    “There were no closets in our teepees,” Bellegarde said earlier in the day, referring to the historic importance of two-spirited people to First Nations communities.

    “I feel the energy in the air,” said Bellegarde, dressed in a sky-blue shirt with rainbow stripes running across his shoulders and chest. He said he was excited to be at his first Pride parade: “The caring. The compassion. The love. The acceptance.”

    Trudeau was joined by his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and their children Xavier and Ella-Grace. Grégoire Trudeau waved a rainbow flag, one of the symbols of the LGBTQ community.

    “This is all about including people,” Trudeau — sporting a temporary rainbow maple leaf tattoo on his cheek — told media shortly before the parade began.

    “It’s all about how we celebrate the multiple layers of identities that make Canada extraordinary and strong, and today we celebrate with the entire LGBTQ community.”

    Trudeau also wished the crowd a happy “Pride Mubarak,” a play on words referring to the end-of-Ramadan celebrations happening in the Muslim community Sunday — celebrations Trudeau honoured with a pair of brightly coloured socks.

    Trudeau last year became the first sitting prime minister to march in the parade.

    Also joining this year’s march were Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory.

    Many in the roaring, rainbow-clad crowd perched on rooftops and ledges, cheering as each float went by.

    Jason and Daniel Northway-Frank, wearing blue T-shirts reading “dada” and “daddee,” have been coming to the parade since 1995. They said they come to honour friends and family.

    “It’s supportive of diversity,” Jason said.

    Pride organizers asked Toronto police not to march in uniform this year — one of BLM’s demands from the 2016 sit-in.

    Instead, dozens marched in uniform with members of the New York Police Department at the New York Pride parade Sunday.

    “It’s sad that we’re not able to actually march in the parade, but I understand the chief’s decision,” said acting superintendent Steve Molyneaux of the Toronto police’s 51 division. “We’re still here to police it and make sure it’s safe and make sure everyone has a good time.”

    BLM has argued that allowing uniformed officers at the parade could discourage marginalized communities from attending.

    “The police not in uniform is really significantly important, especially to people of colour,” said Tori Cress, an Anishinaabe activist who walked with the Indigenous march. “Those are things that we equate to violence historically.”

    At the Faith and Pride service before the parade, Rev. Brent Hawkes, senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, asked people to come together to celebrate their differences. Fat raindrops briefly fell from the rumbling, lightning-filled skies, sending people scrambling and ending the service early.

    “Inclusion is the core value in our community and as long as a group or a company supports LGBT equality, then in my opinion, welcome aboard,” he said.

    “Because I probably wear a uniform that represents the group that has done the most damage to the LGBT community — the Christian church,” he said. “So I would say don’t ban what’s offensive to some, reform it to the benefit of everyone.”

    Hawkes, who has led the service for more than 20 years, is due to retire at the end of the year.

    Around the corner from the main festivities on Church St., a crowd of about 100 gathered for an Indigenous opening ceremony called “the Spirit Within,” which was also interrupted by the brief downpour.

    The ceremony opened with a prayer by Ma-Nee Chacaby, a two-spirited person of the Beaver Clan from Thunder Bay.

    “We’re here just to walk,” Chacaby said. “To be visible. To show we’re proud to be who we are, especially the two-spirited people.”

    Bellegarde and Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett, who was decked out in a red top hat and rainbow ribbon skirt, also spoke at the ceremony, each touching on similar themes.

    It is important for First Nations to be represented at Pride because studies have shown that LGBTQ and two-spirited Indigenous people are subjected to more violence and oppression than others, Bellegarde said.

    “It’s all about acceptance.”

    Tory said he was excited to be at Pride, but touched on the controversies that hit the parade last year.

    “It’s a bit bittersweet because we have a few issues to address,” he said.

    More than 150 other groups, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Armed Forces, Google Canada, Metrolinx and Sick Kids hospital, participated in the parade. The theme for this year’s pride was the plus sign, representing inclusivity.

    With files from Star staff and The Canadian Press


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    The Federal Court has ordered Ottawa to reconsider dozens of immigration applications from rejected applicants from China who failed to disclose they hired the same unregistered consulting firm.

    In a decision released last week, Justice Richard Southcott ruled in favour of the 57 former clients of Beijing-based Flyabroad, saying immigration officials shouldn’t have rejected them without giving each a fair opportunity to respond to the concerns raised.

    “Immigration officials should crack down on ghost consultants, but what happened in this case is the government actually went after the clients,” said Wennie Lee, one of six lawyers for the applicants, who applied for permanent residence under the federal skilled workers class.

    “The whole point of the legislation (requiring disclosure) is to protect these individuals from falling into the traps of the ghost consultants. The court found it problematic how the government proceeded with this case.”

    In what was believed to be Canada’s biggest attempt to crack down on unlicensed consultants, sometimes called “ghost” consultants, operating abroad, Ottawa rejected en masse immigration applications filed from the address of Flyabroad over the last two years on the grounds of “misrepresentation.”

    None of the applicants declared the use of Flyabroad in the Immigration Department’s required authorization form, but their applications all included the return address belonging to the company and had other similarities, such as the labelling and style of some documents.

    In June 2015, the applicants received a “procedural fairness letter” from the department, accusing them of using the services of an unauthorized immigration representative. In response, some of the clients claimed they hired the company only for its translation and clerical services, but not immigration advice.

    In an email to the Star, Flyabroad spokesperson Zhang Hongxia said she felt sorry for what her former clients had endured because of what she called unruliness at the Immigration Department.

    “The immigration officers did not treat applicants respectfully or quote immigration law appropriately. Their attitude was really disappointing,” Zhang wrote.

    “I felt sorry for them since they themselves endured so much, costing so much both in human capital and to Canadian taxpayers. Everyone is a loser except for the lawyers.”

    In a previous note to the Star, Zhang said the services Flyabroad provides include translation, document preparation and notarization that are legal in Canada and China.

    Under Canadian laws, only lawyers in good standing and immigration consultants licensed with ICCRC, a national professional regulatory body for consultants, can offer immigration advice for a fee.

    A couple of applicants claimed in their defence they had “fallen prey to the fraudulent activities of a ghost consultant” and provided officials with a copy of the instructions and the template, as well as the contract that they signed with Flyabroad.

    Based on the applicants’ response to the fairness letters, officials at the Canadian visa post in Hong Kong concluded it’s more than likely the applicants misrepresented themselves by claiming they hired Flyabroad for translation and clerical help. Hence, each of the applicants was deemed inadmissible to Canada for five years.

    “Regardless of how closely a particular applicant’s procedural fairness response may mirror the template, or how compelling or untenable the officer’s determination that a particular applicant misrepresented his or her relationship with Flyabroad . . . each of the applicants was entitled to comment on the officer’s concerns before that determination and the inadmissibility finding were made,” wrote Justice Southcott.

    Southcott did not cite any wrongdoing on the part of Flyabroad.

    Neither did the judge clarify whether paid translation and courier services amount to providing immigration advice, or if applicants are obliged to disclose the use of ghost consultants.

    However, he did emphasize the prohibition against unauthorized consultants is an important matter and warned that an applicant using a ghost consultant “has an obligation to answer these inquiries truthfully.”

    Lawyer Matthew Jeffery, who represented some of the applicants, hoped immigration officials would not take the court decision as an invitation to pester applicants with the question of whether they used a ghost consultant and reject their applications if they are deemed not forthright.

    “Since the immigration minister’s own lawyers conceded that there is no obligation for an applicant to disclose this information, revealing that information should have no impact on the application,” said Jeffery. “But the concern remains that Justice Southcott’s decision does not make that sufficiently clear.”


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    LONDON—Prime Minister Theresa May struck a deal Monday with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to support her minority government and ensure passage of her legislative agenda later this week.

    As part of the deal, the government will provide funds to boost Northern Ireland’s economy, while investing in infrastructure, health and education. The package includes $1.27 billion of new funding and $638 million of previously announced funds.

    Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster said the agreement would “address the unique circumstances” of Northern Ireland. May said the two parties “share many values.”

    “We also share the desire to ensure a strong government, able to put through its program and provide for issues like the Brexit negotiations, but also national security issues,” May said. “So the agreement we have come to is a very, very good one.”

    May needs the deal to ensure the survival of her government after a disastrous election that left her Conservative Party without a majority in the House of Commons. But the money for Northern Ireland is certain to raise questions amid budget shortages

    Read more:

    U.K. and EU begin Brexit negotiations with both sides confident of ‘quick progress’

    Britain will rue Theresa May’s missed opportunity: MacDougall

    U.K.’s Boris Johnson says May is ‘the right person’ to continue amid calls for her resignation

    Lawmakers are seeking additional funding for the police and security services after recent extremist attacks, as well as more and better public housing following a highrise apartment fire that killed at least 79 people.

    Foster’s party had demanded tangible benefits in terms of jobs and investment for Northern Ireland before she would agree to support May’s government. The DUP has 10 seats in Parliament, enough to guarantee passage of the government’s agenda.

    The June 8 election gave May’s Conservatives the most seats, but not enough to automatically carry legislation, notably the thorny choices to come concerning Britain’s departure from the European Union.

    The leaders of Wales and Scotland were quick with their fury following the announcement about the Democratic Unionist Party partnership, wondering aloud why one part of the United Kingdom should get special treatment at the expense of the rest.

    Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted that any sense of fairness was “sacrificed on the altar of grubby DUP deal.” Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones tweeted that the deal “flies in the face of the commitment to build a more united country.”

    Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said the agreement might suit May’s wish to stay in power, but would do little for the country.

    “Where is the money for the Tory-DUP deal coming from?” the Labour leader asked. “And, will all parts of the U.K. receive the much-needed additional funding that Northern Ireland will get as part of the deal?”

    The money is going to address issues near and dear to the 1.8 million people of Northern Ireland. As part of the arrangement, funds will be earmarked to address a major traffic bottleneck involving three busy roads, as well as improving high-speed internet services.

    It also provides $255 million over two years to transform Northern Ireland’s health service, $127 million for immediate needs health and education. There will be $127 million over five years for poverty programs and $64 million for mental health.

    The Conservatives said the agreement “recognizes that Northern Ireland has unique circumstances within the United Kingdom, not least as a consequence of responding to challenges of the past.”

    But critics, including some Conservatives, have objected to any kind of alliance with the Democratic Unionists because of some of the party’s views, including its opposition to same-sex marriage and to abortion.

    Northern Ireland’s other political parties also have objected to a Conservative alliance with the DUP, as it jeopardizes the government’s pledge to be a neutral arbiter as part of the Good Friday agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian strife.

    The Conservatives said the government would continue to make decisions in the interest of all parties in Northern Ireland and work closely with the government of Ireland in implementing the Good Friday agreement.


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    The eastbound express lanes of Highway 401 approaching Highway 400 remain closed after a tractor trailer rolled over Monday morning.

    The truck tipped over onto a guard rail around 9 a.m. closing all eastbound lanes on the 401, said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt. The collector lanes have since been reopened, and traffic is being redirected to Black Creek Dr.

    “Traffic is heavy in all areas,” said Schmidt.

    Schmidt said the driver was taken to hospital with minor injuries. The truck was carrying paper rolls. Cleanup crews are currently on the scene.

    It wasn’t immediately clear how long the lanes would be closed.


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    Mariam Tadesse felt weak and had a dry mouth for a week before staff at a Toronto refugee shelter found out and urged the 12-year-old girl’s father to take her to a doctor.

    The father and daughter, newly arrived for asylum from Eritrea, were hesitant to seek medical help because they were still waiting for their interim health care coverage from the federal government to kick in — a process that can take weeks.

    By the time Mariam was taken to the Canadian Centre for Refugee & Immigrant Health, a community clinic in Scarborough for people without health care coverage, in early September, she was entering a coma. She suffered a diabetic attack and was immediately taken to a hospital, where she remained in intensive care for four days.

    “They arrived at 3 p.m. but the clinic opened at 5. The father was banging on the door with Mariam leaning against him. Her 9-year-old brother was there, too,” recalled Dr. Paul Caulford, who tended to the girl at the clinic.

    “Her life was at risk. She had a first onset of diabetes and would soon be in a diabetic coma. This can lead to brain injury and death.”

    Mariam is among a growing number of uninsured children Caulford’s clinic has seen in the last three years — one of many documented in a recent report released by the clinic.

    One in three refugee and immigrant patients seeking care at the clinic are a child or youth. The number of uninsured pediatric patients has gone up by 36 per cent in the last three years to more than 360 in 2016.

    Many of the clinic’s patients are refugees who have made asylum claims from within Canada and must go through a waiting period to get their federal interim health coverage (as opposed to those who make claims at ports of entry, who get immediate coverage). The clinic also treats undocumented migrants living underground and new immigrants and Canadians who must live in the province for three months before they’re eligible for OHIP.

    “In December, we began seeing a new refugee group, entering Canada from the United States with their parents and making refugee claims. It’s a new phenomenon. The numbers were high and the influx rapid,” said Caulford, who co-wrote the report with Sumathy Rahunathan.

    The clinic’s medical team treated more than 50 refugees from the U.S. between December 10 and January 7; of those, 35 were children and youth, all originally from Africa.

    “Some had severe frostbite. Some were pregnant, afraid if they gave birth in the U.S. Most crossed into Ontario from Buffalo hidden in the backs of trucks for fear they would be turned away,” said Caulford.

    Mariam, who has since been granted asylum with her father and brother, was grateful that her life was saved and she could go back to school.

    “We need to help other children like me who don’t have medical care or a doctor,” she said.

    Of the 814 uninsured pediatric patients seen by the clinic in the last three years, 32 per cent were without status and not eligible for any health coverage; a quarter encountered difficulties in getting doctors to treat them despite the Ottawa’s coverage for refugees; 24 per cent were permanent residents or Canadians returning from abroad or another province who had been in the province for less than the three months required to qualify for OHIP.

    While one-third of the children and youth patients were there for immunizations, 22 per cent suffered respiratory and infectious diseases and others needed treatment for rash, gastrointestinal problems and even female genital mutilation assessment.

    The study recommends Ottawa require Canadian physicians who bill public insurance programs to enrol with the interim health program, accept refugee patients and ensure all refugee claimants who are minors receive health coverage immediately when an asylum claim is made.

    “Will it take the death of a refugee child here for lack of care to get the policies changed for children to access health care?” asked Caulford.


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    Larry Beasley has madehis mark on the urban landscapes of Vancouver, Abu Dhabi, Dallas and Moscow. But his next challenge is to usher in one of Canada’s most important suburbs into the future.

    Beasley’s next stop is Brampton, Ontario.

    Brampton’s Chief Administrative Officer Harry Schlange has tasked Beasley to make the city “future-ready.” It’s a new idea that captures the burgeoning community’s desperate desire to transform their home into a world-leading city—desperate because Brampton’s population is set to grow from 600,000 to close to one million in the next 20 to 25 years.

    In this rapidly growing suburb, Beasley, who has been retained as an advisor to assist the city’s planning department, sees potential to dream big. Brampton has never had a master plan, so there is an opportunity to reinvent city centres and neighbourhood developments. More importantly, Brampton has one of the largest South Asian communities in the world outside of South Asia, but this diversity is, strangely, not visibly evident.

    “We’re looking for ways to be more disruptive in the ways we do things,” said Kevin Montgomery, Co-Chair of the Brampton Cycling Advisory. “We keep trying to find solutions to problems but it feels like we’re just trying to squeeze solutions into the same framework that’s creating the problem.”

    Residents of Brampton say that the city is long overdue for someone like Beasley to give the community some direction. The city still lacks both the alternative transportation infrastructure and business hubs of other large cities, despite being situated in between Toronto and Waterloo, in Ontario’s planned innovation corridor.

    Brampton also doesn’t have a university, or a well-defined white collar labour market for residents to work in, despite being home to one of the youngest demographics in the GTA. There is still no “downtown”— in fact, according to one resident, “The Rose Theatre has been struggling for a long time to get more people to come.” And the waiting lists for affordable housing in this rapidly growing city are unsustainably long.

    “Brampton is a big city but thinks like a small town,” said Harpreet Zingh, co-founder of Lab B, a startup incubator based in the city. “For so long, we’ve had unstrategic growth simply for the sake of growth.”

    In fact, after a series of failed attempts by city councillors—some of whom have served for decades—to provide solutions, most residents feel that city council was either not listening to their concerns, or simply didn’t care.

    “There has been a steady decline in the conduct, passion and professionalism of our councillors and people are beginning to lose hope that change is even possible,” said Denise Allard, a local artist and resident of 30 years.

    “Everybody is reading the same book, but not everyone is on the same chapter,” said Rick Evans, who has lived and worked in Brampton since the 1980s. “We all want a new Brampton, but some people think that Brampton is a great big suburban blob. And we’re not.”

    Beasley himself has found that the city lacks a sense of how it needs to change, but he is hopeful.

    “Brampton is in a generational kind of moment where they will convert from a bedroom community of a larger city to be an independent city of their own,” he said.

    Across Canada, suburbs like Brampton have struggled to get out of the shadow of the big core cities they are connected to, despite the fact that over 60 per cent of Canadians are choosing suburban living over the high-density downtown core. “Maybe Brampton will become a reference for other suburbs in Canada,” said Beasley.

    Logistically, however, according to Brampton City Councillor Martin Medeiros, Beasley’s vision will only be as good as council’s resolve to implement it. “A lot of good planning principles are undermined by political motives,” said Medeiros, “Certain projects that are not the right fit for the community get passed.”

    Beasley’s participation is important, said Medeiros, but he isn’t the key player in creating a stronger Brampton. “[Beasley’s] road map will only be as valuable as the determination and cooperation of everyone involved,” he said. A budget for the vision, said the councillor, will also help.

    Todd Letts, CEO of the Brampton Board of Trade, believes that Beasley is asking the right question: what can differentiate Brampton and distinguish it on the world stage? “If he’s able to bring an alignment of vision and better collaboration through his efforts, that’s a good thing for Brampton,” he said.

    To do this, over the next year, Beasley (who is based in Vancouver) and his team of six people will embark on six or so trips to Brampton, four days each, to engage in a “community-wide conversation” to learn “what would make their experience of their day-to-day life in Brampton more fulfilling?”

    Between July and November, there will be public outreach campaigns, which will then culminate in two big interactive, town-hall type sessions where, Beasley says, “we’ll craft their dream in front of them.” By May 2018, Brampton should have what Beasley calls a “chaotic document, rich with content” that will function as the city’s vision.

    The city of Mississauga embarked on a similar process a decade ago when it launched its Downtown Master plan to transform from a sprawling suburb into a dynamic cosmopolitan city. It has since created a strategic plan for stronger transit and better land-use policies after a series of consultations with community members and experts (including, incidentally, Beasley).

    “The whole process was about listening,” said Ed Sajecki, Mississauga’s Commissioner of Planning and Building. ‘It was a community-based vision that was led by a multidimensional multifaceted group of people.”

    As an outsider, Beasley knows he “cannot invent the dream of Brampton.” But he has the ability and experiences to convene an inquiry on what it should be and “make sure this dream does reach the future.”

    Beasley’s local partner in all this is Rob Elliot, Brampton’s new head of planning and the former Director of Development Services at the Region of Peel. Hired eight months after former Chief Planner Marilyn Ball’s departure, who was part of a major senior management restructuring under Schlange, Elliot says that it’s up to him and the rest of the organisation to implement Beasley’s vision.

    “It’s going to help us inform our formal planning documents, the master plans for transportation, recreation, and so forth, which are utilised to move into the next stage” said Elliot.

    Beasley’s vision will be a pivot for the city, says Elliot, towards the next stage in the city’s life. Both he and Schlange believe it will be a game-changer, especially when combined with the city’s plans to build a university, revitalize the Etobicoke Creek and develop public transit.

    Mayor Linda Jeffries is certain that Beasley will “disrupt the status quo” by “thinking bigger”—phrases echoed by residents and business owners alike in any conversation about Brampton’s future.

    “The thing about a dream is that it’s more aspirational and to some degree inspirational,” said Beasley.

    “I wish we had always had a vision in a place like this because from a social perspective I see how difficult it is for people to live and move around in the city,” said Zingh. “Yes, the best time was to start 20 years ago, but the second best time is now.”


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    WOODSTOCK, ONT.—A sentencing hearing begins today for Elizabeth Wettlaufer, the former nurse who pleaded guilty to the murders of eight elderly patients in southwestern Ontario.

    Wettlaufer, 50, has admitted to fatally injecting her victims with insulin at three long-term care facilities and a private home between 2007 and 2014, making her one of the most prolific serial killers in Canadian history.

    Friends and family of her victims are expected to read impact statements at the hearing.

    Convictions for first-degree murder trigger an automatic sentence of life in prison with no parole eligibility for 25 years.

    Wettlaufer also pleaded guilty to the attempted murders of four others and two charges of aggravated assault.

    The murder victims ranged in age from 75 to 96. Their friends and relatives told the Star they never suspected anything untoward about the deaths.

    The investigation into Wettlaufer began last September after she confessed to the killings to staff at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, who passed the information on to police.

    A registered nurse since 1995, Wettlaufer resigned a day after Woodstock police first received information about the crimes. She was formally arrested in late October.

    Prior to her arrest, Wettlaufer had lived a troubled life.

    She was an alcohol and opioid addict who had twice been to rehab. Her 10-year marriage ended in 2007, not long before she committed her first murder.

    Wettlaufer’s professional conduct is also under investigation by the College of Nurses of Ontario, the field’s regulatory body in the province.

    The college has come under pressure for its handling of the case, as Wettlaufer continued working after she was fired from Woodstock’s Caressant Care nursing home for a medication error in March 2014.

    Progressive Conservatives are also pressuring provincial Health Minister Eric Hoskins to launch a public inquiry into the matter. Hoskins has said the government is open to the idea, but that he planned to wait until after sentencing to avoid influencing Wettlaufer’s court case.

    With files from Star staff.


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    A man and two children are dead following a two-car collision late Sunday in Mississauga.

    Peel Regional police Const. Bancroft Wright said the crash happened shortly before 11 p.m. on Winston Churchill Blvd. near the Queen Elizabeth Way.

    Const. Harinder Sohi said two boys, aged 5 and 13, died while en route to hospital.

    Sohi said a 40-year-old Mississauga man died at the scene. He was the driver and only person in a Mazda that was driving southbound on Winston Churchill Blvd.

    Sohi said the Mazda crossed the centre line and crashed into a northbound Mercedes that was carrying five passengers.

    A 25-year-old female, who was the front passenger, remains in hospital in critical condition. A seven-year-old girl was taken to hospital in critical condition but she is now stable, said Sohi.

    The driver of the Mercedes, a 24-year-old male, suffered minor injuries and has been released from hospital.

    Winston Churchill Blvd. was closed between the QEW and North Sheridan Way following the crash for a police investigation. The road reopened just after 6 a.m.


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    Richard Kachkar, police death, Ryan Russell, Ontario Review Board, NCR, not criminally responsible

    The man found not criminally responsible for killing Toronto police Sgt. Ryan Russell with a snowplow will be able to travel to Hamilton to visit his daughter if he gets the prior approval of his doctor at the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.

    In a disposition order dated June 23, 2017, the Ontario Review Board granted Richard Kachkar’s request to be able to travel up to 150 km from the mental health facility in Whitby. No time limit was placed on the passes.

    While Kachkar remains under a detention order, he was permitted to move to supportive housing in the community on April 18. At his annual hearing earlier his month, a five-person panel heard Kachkar has been doing well since his release from the hospital where had been detained since the jury’s verdict in 2013.

    Though he remains “a serious risk to the public” due to the major mental illness he suffers from, he is deemed to be a “low risk of reoffending” under his current care which includes twice-daily checkups by mental health workers and injected medication biweekly, the panel heard.

    The board’s reasons for the disposition order have not yet been released.

    Kachkar remains banned from driving, cannot use alcohol or drugs, and must submit to random drug testing.

    After the hearing, Christine Russell, the widow of Sgt. Russell, said she remains fearful of Kachkar’s increasing freedoms and eventual release.

    She said she hopes “people don’t forget his crime . . . I hope that it haunts him for the rest of his life.”

    Kachkar ran barefoot from a homeless shelter and stole a snowplow in the early hours of Jan. 12, 2011, eventually running over Russell as the 35-year-old officer tried to intervene.

    At the hearing the panel heard Kachkar’s psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Pytyck, say it would be “very beneficial for (Kachkar) to have the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with his daughter.” She said it would not increase risk to the community since Kachkar has not shown any signs of instability.

    The hospital would communicate with Kachkar’s daughter prior to approving a trip, assess Kachkar’s mental heath and start off with just a one-night visit before granting longer passes, Pytyck said.


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    Doctors complain they are overworked and underpaid in an underfunded system.

    Society admires the dedication of individual doctors. But when the system itself is ailing, Ontario’s 36,000 physicians are endowed with no magical healing powers, nor any monopoly on remedies.

    As a lobby group fighting for the financial interests of its members, the Ontario Medical Association has been at war with the government — and itself — for years. Their default narrative is that the province undervalues their hard work, and that the budget is starved of cash.

    But which budget?

    The overall health-care budget of $54 billion, which soaks up roughly 42 per cent of the nearly $130 billion the government spends on programs every year?

    Or the nearly $12 billion budgeted for physician compensation every year?

    The latter figure is a leading indicator (and determinant) of how the overall health budget turns out (and up), because physicians inevitably play the role of gatekeeper: ordering tests, writing prescriptions, booking follow-up visits, referring patients to other specialists.

    It is a vital role, for which doctors are highly trained. But the idea that physician pay — not just the agreed fee, but the frequency of billings — should be uncontrolled, ungoverned, and unaccounted for by anyone other than doctors is unsustainable.

    And it is at the centre of the ongoing dispute between the government and the OMA, and within the OMA itself.

    On one side is the ministry of health, which is headed by doctors: Dr. Eric Hoskins and his deputy, Dr. Bob Bell. On the other side is the OMA, which is also run by doctors.

    After years of disagreement, the OMA’s executive finally reached a compromise with the government last summer that boosted the overall physician compensation envelope by 2.5 per cent a year (with a mechanism of clawbacks triggered if the budgeted amount was exceeded).

    But the OMA’s then-president, Dr. Virginia Walley, failed to win over the overall membership. Facing open rebellion, she resigned — to be replaced by a leading dissident, Dr. Nadia Alam (president-elect) and the current head, Dr. Shawn Whatley.

    The OMA membership and leadership is itself held hostage by members with the most affluence and influence — notably radiologists and ophthalmologists who are profiting from technological advances that allow them to bill faster, higher, than lesser-paid physicians. Attempts to renegotiate the relative gaps in the fee schedule animated last year’s revolt.

    That doctors of goodwill on opposite sides of the table — and even on the same side — keep disagreeing with one another is hardly surprising. There are no easy answers to the puzzle of a medicare system that remains our pride and joy but is stuck in time a half-century after its inception.

    We are only now taking belated baby steps toward pharmacare, and finally turning our minds — and money — to home care. Denticare — a key component of wellness — remains out of sight and mind. These are the competing pressures on a health-care budget that is imprisoned in the past, treating physicians like the independent contractors they insisted on remaining when a grand bargain was struck in the mid-1960s for universal health care.

    That means most physicians are still paid on a fee-for-service basis that takes little account of efficiencies, synergies, outcomes and volumes. It is a piecework system that remains cloaked in secrecy, because the OMA continues to oppose full transparency in disclosing who gets how much from OHIP every year.

    Ontario’s doctors argue that they are underpaid, despite being the best paid in Canada. They counter that per-patient fees are lower here, and that their total incomes are high only because their patient volumes are so high. But that is small consolation to a government trying to control costs, or at least reallocate them to get the biggest bang for the buck.

    No one doubts that individual doctors work hard. But in aggregate, Ontario needs a system that works smart, not just hard.

    A fee for service system that rewards patient volumes over patient vitals is dumb and dated. More than merely gatekeepers, doctors must be partners — and part of an overall system that is integrated and responsive.

    Former chief justice Warren Winkler, chosen as a mediator by both sides, warned in 2015 that they were on a “collision course.” The OMA rejected his recommendations summarily, which the government imposed unilaterally. Two years later, they are trying again, with another chief justice set to try mediation and arbitration if necessary.

    With nearly $12 billion distributed among more than 36,000 doctors, the stakes are high in lives and livelihoods. In sheer dollar volume the figure is comparable to the annual spending of a major national corporation or government operation, which no one would leave to its own devices.

    Doctors cannot be responsible for delivering all the efficiencies that must be found in the system, or to behave like customer service agents at an airport boarding gate. But at some point the government and the OMA will have to come together and acknowledge that if both sides want better patient outcomes, it’s more complicated than providing better pay for doctors.

    Martin Regg Cohn’s political column appears Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. mcohn@thestar.ca , Twitter: @reggcohn


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    WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans’ bill to erase major parts of the Affordable Care Act would cause an estimated 22 million more Americans to be uninsured in the coming decade — about one million fewer than similar legislation recently passed by the House, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

    The forecast issued Monday by Congress’ non-partisan budget scorekeepers also estimates that the Senate measure, drafted in secret mainly by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and aides, would reduce federal spending by $321 billion (U.S.) by 2026 — compared with $119 billion for the House’s version.

    Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

    The CBO’s analysis has been awaited as a crucial piece of evidence as McConnell, Ky., and other Republican leaders try to hurry a vote on the bill this week. But they are navigating an expanding minefield of resistance from their own party’s moderate and conservative wings, while Democrats are united against it.

    Several moderates have said they will decide whether they can support the Better Care Reconciliation Act based on how it will affect Americans who have gained coverage under the ACA during the past few years, while their conservative colleagues are focused on its impact on the federal deficit.

    The fresh figures come as U.S. President Donald Trump, in a sharp pivot from the praise he initially lavished on the House bill, is urging the Senate to provide Americans more generous help with health insurance. On Sunday, the president repeated during a Fox and Friends TV appearance a word he had used in a private White House lunch earlier this month with a group of GOP senators: that the House’s version is “mean.”

    The CBO has been regarded over its four-decade history as a source of neutral analyses devoid of political agenda. Its current director, Keith Hall, is a conservative economist who served in the administration of President George W. Bush and was appointed to his current role two years ago by a Republican Congress.

    Nevertheless, senior Trump aides have repeatedly sought to cast doubt on the budget office’s credibility. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on the March day that the budget office issued its cost estimate of a preliminary version of the House GOP’s health-care legislation.

    Read more:

    Four GOP senators oppose health bill that cuts coverage for millions, say it doesn’t go far enough

    As GOP prepares for Senate health care vote, Democrats criticize bill for ‘secrecy and speed’

    Trump reportedly tells senators House health bill is too ‘mean’: sources

    While they differ in important details, both the Senate GOP’s plan and the American Health Care Act narrowly passed by House Republicans in May share the goal of undoing central aspects of the sprawling health-care law enacted by a Democratic Congress seven years ago.

    Both bills would eliminate enforcement of the ACA’s mandate that most Americans carry health insurance, relying on subtler deterrents to keep people from dropping coverage. The House version would let insurers temporarily charge higher rates, while the Senate added a provision Monday that would let health plans freeze out customers for six months if they let their coverage lapse.

    In different ways, both would replace federal subsidies that help the vast majority of consumers buying coverage through ACA marketplaces, instead creating smaller tax credits that would provide greater assistance to younger adults while making insurance more expensive for people from middle age into their 60s.

    After two years, both also would end subsidies that now help about seven million lower-income people with ACA health plans afford deductibles and copays. And both would repeal an array of taxes that have helped to pay for the ACA’s benefits, including levies on health insurers and on wealthy Americans’ investment income.

    For the Senate bill, the CBO’s estimates of insurance coverage and federal spending are influenced by the fact that its forecast covers a 10-year window and the legislation’s most profound changes for the nation’s health-care system are tilted toward the latter part of that period.

    The bill would, for instance, leave in place the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid through 2020. After that, it would begin a three-year phase-out of the federal money that under the ACA has paid almost the entire cost of adding 11 million Americans to the program’s rolls in 31 states.

    That means the extra funding wouldn’t disappear until the mid-2020s — roughly when sharp new restrictions on federal payments for the entire Medicaid program would take effect.

    Over the weekend, the senior Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the CBO said in a tweet that he had asked the budget office to estimate the Senate bill’s effect on insurance coverage over a longer time horizon. “GOP is hiding the worst Medicaid cuts in years 11, 12, 13 and hoping CBO stays quiet,” wrote Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.


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    Air Miles is raising some of the recent daily limits imposed on redeeming miles for in-store purchases from retailers.

    The customer loyalty program says the new daily limit on Air Miles Cash redemptions, in most cases, has been raised to $100.

    Air Miles has set a different limit for in-store redemptions at Shell — capped at $60 per transaction.

    Read more:

    Air Miles lowers cap on in-store cash miles redemptions to $50

    Air Miles investigating after cash miles have been stolen from some members

    The new limits, effective Monday, are up from a $50 limit set in April.

    In-store redemptions of Air Miles Cash points were briefly stopped in March due to the discovery that some stolen cash miles had been used to make purchases.

    In April, some Air Miles collectors expressed frustration with the $50 limit because it was down from $750 prior to the suspension.

    The rewards program also angered many members last year with its proposal to void unused Air Miles after five years, only to abandon that plan weeks before it was to take effect.

    The back track on the five-year limit also provoked outcry from members who said they redeemed their miles thinking they were about to expire and wouldn’t if they had known Air Miles was going to walk back from that policy.


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    They came. They saw. They disrupted.

    Black Lives Matter, whose inspired protest against police in uniform last year brought Toronto Pride to a crashing halt and anti-Black racism among police to the forefront, found their message amplified across North America this year.

    Other chapters of the Black Lives Matter group protested Pride in various cities: in New York City — where about 100 of Toronto’s finest had made their way in a huff; in Seattle, where they staged a 30-minute protest — one minute for every year in the life of Charleena Lyles, recently killed by police; in Minneapolis, where they protested the death of Philando Castile, chanting “no justice no pride”; in Vancouver, where they staged a separate march altogether to honour queer-trans people of colour. Here, protesters also staged a die-in, in which five people lay down on the hot pavement and others drew chalk figures around them.

    In Toronto, where Pride comes during an inquest into the death of Andrew Loku, the mentally ill Black man killed by a police officer in 2015, the young activists showed up on Sunday after the parade had passed, not to put themselves front and centre, but to remind people they are still challenging anti-Black racism within Pride, within queer-trans communities.

    “Pride is actually ours. Queer and trans people of colour actually started this,” said BLM co-founder Rodney Diverlus. “We don’t need to register for a deadline, we don’t need to tell you we’re coming, we don’t need to pay money for a float. We’re just going to take up space.”

    Perhaps Diverlus should have said “reclaiming our space,” the space created by queer and trans people of colour, who played a major role in the Stonewall Riots 50 years ago this week. The series of riots, named after Stonewall Inn, a New York bar patronized by queer and trans people that was frequently and violently raided by police, were seen as the first major protests against police on behalf of LGBTQ people.

    Key among protesters were transgender community organizers such as the Latina Sylvia Rivera and Black transwomen Marsha P. Johnson and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, but those roles have been erased over time as the movement has been whitewashed.

    No doubt, Toronto is one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world. No doubt, Toronto police are heroes to many people, including gay people of colour. No doubt, BLM doesn’t speak for all Black people — no group ever speaks for all.

    Yet, liberation of some is not liberation of all. That’s not so difficult to grasp, is it? There are disparities in how we experience the police. You don’t have to hate the police to agree with BLM — it’s not a zero-sum game. However, there’s a reluctance to understand the unique cruelty of anti-blackness.

    Black Lives Matter was reviled as a hate group last year for protesting that lack of equal treatment, and making demands for more inclusivity. That demand already made an impact; Anu Radha Verma, a curator of brOWN/out, a Pride event focused on the South Asian gay community, publicly thanked BLM on CBC for making her Saturday event possible.

    Do you know who is a hate group? The KKK, about a dozen members of which turned up in full regalia to crash an LGBTQ parade in Florence, Ala., earlier this month.

    Which would you call hateful? Protesting against those who are the instruments of your oppression? Or stomping on the oppressed, when they rise to resist?

    What that resistance has made clear to some of us straight folks looking from the outside in, and perceiving the LGBTQ communities as a unified force of good, is that anti-Black racism exists everywhere, and the rainbow just covered up the streaks of racism within. Disagreeing with BLM does not make you racist, but being able to place how Black people experience police in your blind spot makes you privileged.

    For some gay people, their history or experience of discrimination doesn’t seem to have exempted them from discriminating against others.

    There was Darryl DePiano, the owner of iCandy, the Philadelphia gay bar whose audio recording calling Black queer men “ni-ni-ni-ni-n-word” was broadcast on loud speakers in April. There was the other gay bar in N.Y.C. where multiple complaints surfaced about people of colour being discriminated against and not being allowed in. (Rebar, the bar in question has denied that.) These are not isolated incidents.

    Pride is not about race, say those who have never been excluded — or targeted — on the basis of their skin colour. It’s about celebrating gay successes, they say. Except that acceptance and protection have not been extended to all people.

    How equal is equality, when it’s only for a few?

    Shree Paradkar tackles issues of race and gender. You can follow her @shreeparadkar


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    NEW YORK—Several potential jurors at the federal securities fraud trial of Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli were excused on Monday after telling the judge they couldn’t be impartial toward the flamboyant former pharmaceutical CEO because of his notoriety for raising the cost of a life-saving drug 5,000 per cent.

    At jury selection in a Brooklyn courtroom, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto questioned the potential jurors at sidebars out of earshot from Shkreli. One called him “the face of corporate greed,” another labelled him “the most hated man in America” and a third gestured as if wringing his neck.

    Yet another was sent home after confiding that when she saw Shkreli sitting at the defence table, “I said in my head, ‘That’s a snake.’ ”

    Opening statements could come as soon as Tuesday.

    Read more:Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli has Twitter account suspended for harassing female journalist

    Since his high-profile arrest in late 2015 when he was led into court in a grey hoodie, the 34-year-old Shkreli has been free on bail and free to speak his mind on social media in ways that could complicate his defence. He went on Twitter to label members of Congress “imbeciles” for demanding to know why his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis and HIV, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

    He took to YouTube for a series of lessons on chemistry and stock market analysis. His Twitter posts mocking a freelance journalist turned so creepy — one showed a fake photo of him canoodling with her — that his account was shut down. And on Facebook, he mused about the possibility of being “unjustly imprisoned.”

    Shkreli “travels to the beat of a very unique drummer,” exasperated-sounding defence attorney Benjamin Brafman said at a pretrial hearing this month.

    Columbia law professor John Coffee compared the situation to U.S. President Donald Trump’s unruly tweeting habits. “A lawyer can caution him,” he said. “But just like Trump, he doesn’t have to listen.”

    Though Shkreli’s notoriety came from Daraprim, the federal securities fraud case is unrelated. Prosecutors say that after Shkreli lost millions of dollars through bad trades through his side business hedge fund, he looted a second pharmaceutical company for $11 million to pay them back. The defence has argued that he had good intentions.

    “Everybody got paid back in this case,” his lawyer said. “Whatever else he did wrong, he ultimately made them whole.”

    The defence has floated the possibility that it would put Shkreli on the witness stand to try to highlight how he grew up in a working-class Albanian family in Brooklyn, taught himself chemistry, interned at a financial firm founded by CNBC’s Jim Cramer and struck out on his own to become a rising star in biotechnology startups. He wanted to develop new life-saving drugs after seeing “several classmates and other children he knew struck down by debilitating disease,” court papers say.

    Prosecutors call it a ploy to portray the boyish-looking Shkreli as “a Horatio Alger-like figure who, through hard work and intelligence, is in a position to do great things if only the jury would ignore the evidence and base its verdict on sympathy.” The real Shkreli was a con man often undone by his own mouth, they say.

    The government has cited claims by one of Shkreli’s former employees that Shkreli harassed his family in a dispute over shares of stock.

    “I hope to see you and your four children homeless and will do whatever I can to assure this,” Shkreli wrote the employee’s wife, according to court filings.


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    Drinkers, restaurant and bar owners are breathing a sigh of relief after an LCBO strike was averted early Monday when the liquor monopoly and its unionized employees reached a tentative contract agreement.

    So is Finance Minister Charles Sousa, now that the deal with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union has been struck.

    “This is good news for LCBO workers and for the people of our province,” he said in a statement.

    Some stores were open extended hours over the weekend as customers stocked up in preparation for a potential strike in advance of the Canada Day long weekend.

    Union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said OPSEU recommends liquor store workers, many of whom were concerned about being stuck as part-timers despite years with the company, ratify the deal once voting dates are set.

    “I think the members will find it to their satisfaction.”

    The union said it would not disclose details of the deal until they are shared with its 8,100 members at the liquor board across the province.

    Almost six out of seven LCBO workers are considered part-timers and the union highlighted this in television ads in the lead-up to a potential labour disruption.

    “I want to thank these workers for taking a stand against the negative impacts of precarious work, which is a sad fact of life for far too many workers today,” said Thomas.

    “Across Ontario, far too many people are stuck in low-wage, part-time, contract positions. We saw, over the course of these negotiations, that challenging that precariousness was an issue that resonated for many in the public.”

    The LCBO maintained that its wages are generous, with part-timers hitting more than $27 hourly at the top end of the pay scale.

    Premier Kathleen Wynne said last week that the LCBO would not be exempt from sweeping new labour reforms that would require employers to pay staff equal pay for equal work, whether they are full-time, part-time or temporary placements.

    “In principle, do I think that it’s a good idea for government to set an example in terms of good labour practice? Absolutely, absolutely,” she told reporters last week.


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