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Women in precarious job situations vulnerable to workplace harassment

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A Toronto legal clinic dedicated to female victims of violence now has some extra financial backing to advocate for women facing harassment and coercion in the workplace due to their precarious job status.

The Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which uses its legal might to advocate for women’s rights, is one of seven agencies benefiting from an extra infusion of funding — $1.5 million — from United Way Greater Toronto over three years as part of the United Way’s effort to tackle a range of community challenges linked to poverty.

Amanda Dale is the executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic. The clinic offers various help and advice for women in difficult situations and those who have been victims of violence.
Amanda Dale is the executive director of the Barbra Schlifer Clinic. The clinic offers various help and advice for women in difficult situations and those who have been victims of violence.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star)

The cash allocations, being pulled from the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign account, are being divvied up among community agencies spearheading initiatives tailored toward taking on a broad scope of community issues: from youth homelessness, to supporting LGBTQ2S survivors of violence and affordable housing.

Barbra Schlifer is charged with the women’s issues file, and the clinic’s executive director, Amanda Dale, said the $300,000 earmarked over three years will go a long way to fuelling a campaign against workplace harassment, which comes on the heels of a surging #MeToo movement.

“The United Way’s tone-setting study — Getting Left Behind — shows that those who are stuck in the labour system at low levels of compensation are racialized women with precarious work,” Dale said. “In our experience, women in those jobs are more prone to harassment, coercion and sexual violence.”

Since #MeToo began, Barbra Schlifer’s has seen an 84 per cent hike in its overall request for services.

Dale speculates a key driver in the spike “is the overall climate in being able to finally speak out.”

The number of women seeking a variety of assistance jumped to 7,000 in March 2018 from 4,700 in the fiscal year ending March 2017.

“One of the notable areas of growth is specifically from women in precarious work situations who are being harassed and coerced,” Dale said.

“We know that it’s likely these women are mostly racialized and the situations they are in make the usual legal protections of limited value,” Dale said. “That is, when you are most vulnerable to losing work, and the consequences of doing so are dire, challenging your boss through the usual legal means is much harder.”

Barbra Schlifer’s project will stir up advocacy aimed at curtailing sexual assault, harassment and coercion in the workplace by launching research, focus groups and a public campaign.

“We will convene a table of common purpose first, and then select a prone industry (like restaurants or hotel or cleaning work) and with our partners devise outreach and legal information,” she said.

In addition, Dale and her team will “also work with affected women to devise some scaled policy or legal reform to specific areas that trap women (this may be in immigration, municipal bylaw or labour codes) to reform,” Dale said.

She emphasized that while the #metoo movement is gaining strength, the reality for many women has not improved and the number of precariously employed women requesting law-related help has increased.

Dale has rallied some extra support.

“We therefore decided to work in partnership with other community agencies serving at-risk groups of women to consult women themselves, as well as their trusted community supports (including our own ancillary services), to devise outreach that can gather creative and safer ideas for intervention over time,” she said.

She said women in need of safer intervention strategies include those with tenuous immigration status, women in non-unionized jobs and females working in part-time or temporary roles, and they may be fearful about repercussion of filing complaints about harassment in the workplace.

In many cases, taking a legal route to fight those battles, unfortunately, “can cause more harm than good,” she said. “We need to find more creative ways to assist them.”

Barbra Schlifer has recently dedicated much of her efforts toward legal reforms to labour, housing and criminal laws for sexual abuse survivors.

“This project will build on this as well as our role as front line adviser and work with other United Way funded service providers to build support pathways for these vulnerable workers,” she said.

The project envisions several phases over the three-year duration including data gathering, coalition building, a support an outreach phase — culminating with a service and system change phase.

Daniele Zanotti, president and CEO of United Way Greater Toronto, said the $1.5 million earmarked for the program is on top of the funds already allocated in 2018 to the selected agencies.

Tortstar President and CEO John Boynton and publisher of The Toronto Star(left) and Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way Greater Toronto at the Toronto Star cheque presentation representing Star employee donations.
Tortstar President and CEO John Boynton and publisher of The Toronto Star(left) and Daniele Zanotti, CEO of United Way Greater Toronto at the Toronto Star cheque presentation representing Star employee donations.  (Vince Talotta)

“To reduce poverty we’re going to need to address some of the deeper systemic barriers in a new way,” Zanotti said of the driving force behind the additional help being doled out. The aim is to foster collaboration between lead agencies and other groups to work in tandem in taking on the issues.

Barbra Schlifer has now brought together groups like the Centre for Research and Education, Osgoode Law School, The Equal Pay Coalition and UNIFOR Women’s Rights division, partners they have worked with on past initiatives.

“It not only diversifies who’s at the table, but solutions and how we’re going to address it,” he said.

United Way raised $105 million in 2017, surpassing its largest goal ever. The money raised was then dispensed to 270 agencies — to address needs such as food insecurity, homelessness, mental health, seniors programs and domestic violence — across Toronto and Peel regions. This year’s campaign goal is $110 million, with final amount raised to be announced Feb. 7.

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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