Steinbach antique store finds century-old letter written by Vimy Ridge soldier – Winnipeg


The owner of a Manitoba antique store is looking to find a veteran’s family members after finding a 102-year-old letter from a soldier who fought at Vimy Ridge in the First World War.

Amanda Kehler, owner of Prairie Pickers Cafe in Steinbach, recently bought a box of old papers for $1 at an estate sale.

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Among a bunch of random papers, teaching certificates and the like, she was surprised to find a letter dated May 1917, penned by a Canadian soldier in a hospital in England.

Kehler said the handwritten note was to a woman in Selkirk, explaining that her brother had been killed at Vimy Ridge along with several other men. The author, Earl Sorel, wrote that the brother had saved him, after he was shot during what is now known as a historic battle.

Winnipeg man finds grandfather’s name at memorial decades after his death

Kehler said just reading the letter gave her chills. Reading something so personal, so raw, of a time so long ago.

“It was a pretty powerful letter,” she said.

“He was writing a girl back home in Selkirk Man., to let her know that her brother had passed away.”

Kehler posted her discovery on her Facebook page in the hope of finding someone who was related to either the writer, or the intended receiver, of the letter.

“I’d really like to reconnect it back to a family member, and if we can’t do that, we’ll donate it to a war museum,” Kehler told 680 CJOB on Thursday.

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What she really hopes is that she will be able to connect with a family member of Earl Sorel, the soldier that wrote the letter.

“It’s kind of sad that it is not in the family still.”

Kehler, who owns the antique shop with her husband, says she’s picked up lots of papers and random collections before, but the letter was a pretty moving find.

“We’re always out hunting for treasures and antiques to stock our shop with,” she said. “There are so many things people find in unlikely places.”

Long-lost war medals found in Regina in the 1960s, reunited with family in Toronto

She said she has had a number of offers from people wanting to buy the letter, but her real hope is to see it go to a meaningful place.

“To me, it doesn’t feel right to sell it. It’s such a huge part of our Canadian history, I think it should be with the family or a museum of some sort.”

Canadian War Museum photography exhibit depicts price paid in war by soldiers

And that could very well be what happens.

“We’re very close to finding out if there are any living relatives. The response has been overwhelming … I’m confident we’ll be able to find someone.”

Kehler said she has even heard from people as far away as England.

WATCH: Looking for the lost soldiers of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

As for why the letter has garnered such interest (she’s also been called upon to do media interviews from all over the country), Kehler suggested it was a matter of romance, of a sort.

“The art of letter writing is actually dying… you don’t sit down and script out a letter anymore, you hop on your phone and you shoot somebody a text or an email.”

The antique shop in Steinbach is hoping to deliver a letter written by an injured soldier, 100 years later.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Young families scrimp to own homes in Canada’s big cities, report finds


Young families in Canada’s big cities believe houses and condos will be a good investment over the next five years, and they are sacrificing their privacy, time and small pleasures to buy them, according to a report by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

The study is based on a survey of 1,743 families headed by adults aged 20 to 45. It found that millennials and generation Xers are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes, with 78 per cent expecting homes to match or outperform other financial investments over the next five years. In Toronto, that number rises to 83 per cent.

A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.
A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

But the biggest barrier to buying, cited by 33 per cent of families, is the expense of day-to-day living — groceries, rent and utilities. That’s a “concerning” trend, said Sotheby’s CEO Brad Henderson.

“Increasingly, it is the essentials in life that are absorbing most of everyone’s income,” Henderson said. “It speaks to trying to find more higher-paying jobs, more knowledge worker jobs that are able to afford, not just the necessities of life, but some of the things that make life even that much more pleasurable, like a home with multiple bedrooms for a growing family.”

The report is the second in a series of three based on a survey of families in which the adults were aged 20 to 45. Market research firm Mustel Group found 57 per cent of those households in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal were couples with at least one child, 35 per cent had no children, and 8 per cent were single-parent families.

Thakar shares an apartment with a cousin to save on rent, has a side job to earn income in his off-time and has refinanced a student loan. It will take him longer to pay off that debt, but he figures home prices are rising so quickly that it’s important to stash his cash now.

“If you’re not earning money, you’re spending money,” said Thakar, who owns a car but takes transit to his job downtown and questions the expense of a vehicle he doesn’t use much.

“I feel like being prudent at this time might set me up down the road.”

But Thakar expects he might need help from his family to afford a home and, even though he likes his privacy, he would consider a house with a rental unit to help carry the cost.

Among survey respondents, 51 per cent said they saved by cutting down on dining out, 45 per cent reduced their travel and vacation expenses, and 20 per cent delayed retirement savings.

Toronto families were most likely to reduce their car ownership (16 per cent), to freelance or pick up extra work (16 per cent) or to delay having children (15 per cent). Thirteen per cent of Toronto respondents moved in with family to save money, compared to only 5 per cent in Calgary and Montreal.

Henderson says the findings put the lie to the idea that millennials and generation X adults are “live-in-the-moment” people.

“We’re finding they’re acting not too dissimilar to the generations that came before them and forgoing the trips and eating out and all of the things that require additional money, in favour of buying a home for their family to live in,” he said.

When it comes to putting money down on a home, the survey found 71 per cent used personal savings and cash for a down payment. Although 52 per cent of the families relied on a gift or inheritance, those funds accounted for less than 30 per cent of their down payments. Thirty-one per cent borrowed from their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs).

Young adults have always saved and scrimped to buy homes but a greater proportion of income now goes to paying rent, leaving little for savings, said mortgage broker James Laird of CanWise Financial and online mortgage site Ratehub. It’s why so many young adults end up moving back in with parents.

“We’re seeing a decline in the percentage of young people able to purchase homes versus previous generations,” he said. But the desire hasn’t waned.

“Millennials could be the largest voter base in the federal election and this is the issue we all care about,” said Laird, 34.

He thinks longer amortizations — from 25 years to 30 for buyers with down payments of less than 20 per cent — would provide relief. “It’s a beautiful solution because they qualify for about 10 per cent more mortgage but their payment doesn’t change so they’re no more financially strapped,” said Laird.

Those who borrow from their RRSP still have to pay that money back. Laird said Ottawa should create a homebuyers plan that behaves the same — allowing first-time buyers to access $25,000 of their savings — without the requirement to repay the funds.

The Mustel survey was conducted online in August and September. A random sample of 1,743 is considered accurate within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski


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Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner finds doctors snooped in Humboldt Broncos patient records


Saskatchewan’s privacy commissioner has found eight people inappropriately gained access to electronic health records of 10 Humboldt Broncos team members involved in a bus crash last April.

Sixteen people were killed and 13 were injured in the crash between the junior hockey team’s bus and a semi trailer at a rural Saskatchewan intersection.

« Due to the high-profile nature of the crash, eHealth Saskatchewan understood the risk of snooping, » said a report from information and privacy commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski.

The report said the health agency began monitoring the profiles of the patients — which include lab results, medication information and chronic diseases — three days after the crash.

The wreckage of a fatal crash outside of Tisdale, Sask., is seen in April. A privacy report says medical records of crash victims were inappropriately accessed by people in the health care system. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

« Between April 9, 2018, and May 15, 2018, eHealth detected eight users of the viewer, mostly physicians, accessed without apparent authority the profiles of 10 patients. »

The report shows eHealth reported the breaches to the privacy commissioner on July 5.

Privacy commissioner ‘disappointed’

Kruzeniski said he’s disappointed that the seven doctors and an office manager inappropriately looked at the records.

« This has been a major tragedy in our province and I’m disappointed that people got tempted, » he said in an interview with The Canadian Press on Monday. « Now that it’s happened, it’s my job to work with others through education and legislative change [to] make the system work. »

His report, which has been posted online, detailed the privacy breaches.

In one case, an employee of a medical clinic examined the health information of three people involved in the collision.

The office manager admitted she consulted the records because « her family members had heard one of the individuals had died and she wanted to verify the information; she thought another individual was a patient … [and] she wanted to verify a detail that was reported by the media about one of the individuals. »

The report said the employee’s access to eHealth was suspended and she was given further training, but she has since resigned from her job.

Another case involved a doctor at a Humboldt clinic who viewed the records of two people, including one who was a patient prior to the crash.

« Dr. D wanted to know what injuries the individual sustained, if the individual received care or if it was an instant fatality, » said the report. « For the other individual, it explained Dr. D was concerned. »

3 emergency care doctors among those reviewing patient records

Other cases included three doctors who provided emergency care at the Nipawin Hospital and who reviewed patient records of those they treated.

« They believed they were in the individuals’ ‘circle of care, »‘ said the report.

The privacy commissioner said the province’s Health Information Protection Act does not address circles of care so the doctors were no longer authorized to access the records.

Another case saw a medical resident view the information of three patients because she wanted to get closure on the cases, which is not an acceptable reason.

During the monitoring period, two other medical residents were found to have looked at the records of one of the people involved in the crash when the residents were reviewing the records of dozens of patients with a particular illness.

Monthly privacy audits recommended

In his report, Kruzeniski has made a number of recommendations to eHealth — including that it conduct regular monthly audits for the next three years of the physicians who inappropriately gained accessed to information.

Kruzeniski also recommended that the organization comply with a need-to-know principle rather than a circle-of-care concept and that it develop a solution to force users of the system to regularly review their training.


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Many pregnant women don’t think cannabis is harmful, UBC study finds


A new report by researchers at the University of British Columbia has found that up to one-third of pregnant women believe it is safe to ingest cannabis during pregnancy.

The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, pored over data from six U.S. studies and found that some women considered cannabis safe because their health-care provider hadn’t communicated to them that it wasn’t.

Lead author Hamideh Bayrampour, assistant professor in the UBC department of family practice, said the study is important for public health officials to understand perceptions of cannabis use, especially since the drug became legal in Canada.

« What we looked at was perception, not actual risk, » Bayrampour said. 

When women were asked about their perception of general harm associated with cannabis use, 70 per cent of both pregnant and non-pregnant cannabis users responded that they perceived slight or no risk of harm.

In one study, when asked if they believed cannabis is harmful to a baby during pregnancy, 30 per cent of pregnant women responded « no. » When women were asked to identify substances most likely to harm the baby during pregnancy, 70 per cent chose alcohol, 16 per cent chose tobacco, while only two per cent chose cannabis.

« One of our review findings revealed that some people don’t consider cannabis to be a drug, » said Bayrampour.

Treat morning sickness

« With this in mind, it’s especially important for health-care providers to ask specific questions about cannabis use during pregnancy and breast feeding to help spark a productive conversation about the potential health impacts. »

The research found pregnant cannabis users were more likely to be under 25, unemployed, single and African American. Anxiety and depression were also associated with cannabis use while pregnant.

« Based on what we found, their motivation for use was … they wanted to treat their morning sickness, » Bayrampour said.

Health Canada requires cannabis companies to have warning labels on all their products. (

In an effort to get ahead of marijuana legalization in Canada last October, earlier in 2018 the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) warned pregnant and breastfeeding women that legal pot doesn’t mean safe pot.

The society says THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis, crosses the placenta into fetal tissue and can also accumulate in breast milk — whether from vaping, smoking, or eating.

Potential effects, according to the SOGC include:

  • Pre-term labour.
  • Low birth weight.
  • Lower IQ scores.
  • Impulsivity and hyperactivity in childhood.


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Stephen Harper says ‘a smart Canadian PM’ finds a way to get along with Trump – National


Former prime minister Stephen Harper says Canadian leaders have to find a way to get along with U.S. President Donald Trump because of Canada’s “overwhelming” dependence on the U.S. as an economic and geopolitical partner.

Harper made his remarks during a panel session with former British prime minister Tony Blair at the Raisina Dialogue, a geopolitical summit held in New Delhi and sponsored by the Indian government, on Tuesday.

“Every year, I would go to New York on business and [Trump] was on a list of people that asked to meet me but we never actually met,” Harper said when asked about his impressions of Trump. “But I know many of the people around him, I think I’ve got a pretty good picture.”

READ MORE: Trudeau says similarities between Scheer, Harper are worth ‘pointing out’

Without mentioning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by name, Harper said he believes it’s important that “a smart Canadian prime minister” gets a few things right when dealing with the American president.

“First of all, he establishes — to the best of his ability — a good personal relationship with the president of the United States, regardless of that president’s personality or political party,” said Harper.

“Secondly, a smart prime minister of Canada — because we can often be off the radar in Washington — goes out of his way to show when we are onside with the United States how we can be a useful partner in furthering the United States’ global role because that’s ultimately in our interests.

“If you do those two things correctly, that is the basis on which you can then respectfully disagree when you need to.”

WATCH: Trudeau responds to nationalism and social media comments aimed at Trump

Trump and some of his aides have hurled insults at Trudeau during testy trade talks over the past year.

Following the G7 summit last summer, Trump described Trudeau’s behaviour as “meek and mild” and accused Trudeau of making “false statements” at a press conference.

In the days that followed, Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow told CNN that Trudeau “stabbed us in the back,” while trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox News that there’s a “special place in hell” for Trudeau, who he accused of engaging in “bad-faith diplomacy.”

READ MORE: Timeline of Donald Trump’s war of words (and trade) with Justin Trudeau

Trump has occasionally used Trudeau’s first name derisively, slamming “Justin” in a series of tweets in the wake of the G7 summit.

In November, Trudeau used a press conference with Trump to encourage “Donald” to drop tariffs on steel and aluminum.

WATCH: Trudeau tells Trump that GM closures example of why steel tariffs creates economic barriers

Harper said at the summit that the majority of Canada’s trade is with the U.S. while Canada’s “security and values interests” are linked to America’s, making it important for the two countries to maintain a strong relationship.

The Conservative former prime minister also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and presented Modi with a copy of his new book.

The pair “exchanged views on developments in India-Canada relations, main global trends and cooperation among democracies,” Modi’s office said in a statement.

Harper also heaped praise on “my friend” Modi, calling him “the most significant leader of India since Independence.”

Harper’s visit to India comes three months after Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s trip to the South Asian country, which Scheer said he used to pitch Canadian oil and foreign policy cooperation to Modi.

READ MORE: Andrew Scheer pitches Canadian oil to Indian PM Narendra Modi, touts trade ties

It also comes less than a year after Trudeau’s troubled state visit to India.

Trudeau’s trip was marred by the invitation of convicted attempted murderer Jaspal Atwal to official events, with the National Security and Intelligence Committee issuing a report last month blaming several failings in the government’s vetting system for guest lists on foreign visits.

READ MORE: Security report on Justin Trudeau’s India trip finds serious ‘gaps’ in vetting process

Security sources told Global News’ Ottawa bureau chief Mercedes Stephenson that they believed the Prime Minister’s Office redacted the report to try and transfer the blame for security lapses to the RCMP, CSIS and other intelligence agencies.


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Price of pot is up since legalization, StatsCan finds


The price of pot has risen more than 17 per cent since it become legal for recreational use, according to Statistics Canada.

With more folks lighting up, and thorny supply issues in some provinces, the price has jumped to $8.02 per gram from $6.83.

Using an updated version of its crowdsourcing app, Statistics Canada collected price information prior to legalization Oct. 17, and compared it to the average price between that day and the end of 2018.

Of the 385 price quotes it used from that period, half of those purchases were from legal suppliers. 

Legal pot costs more. The average price for dried cannabis from a legal supplier was $9.70 per gram, compared to $6.51 from illegal suppliers.

David Clement said it’s not surprising that the price of pot has risen. The North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Centre, a consumer advocacy group that monitors regulatory policy around the globe, said there are two main factors pushing up cannabis costs — taxes and lack of competition.

The taxes and fees create prices that are high out of the gate, and then a lack of competition prevents those prices from being slowly pushed down.-David Clement, consumer advocate

Now that it’s legal, pot is now subject to provincial and federal taxes, plus all the fees and licensing costs imposed on producers that are passed on to end users, said Clement.

« It costs half a billion a year to enforce the rules and regulations in the Cannabis Act, so in order to generate the revenues to cover that they’ve implemented fees and licences on licensed producers. »

On top of that, access is restricted in the majority of provinces and territories to government-run retail and online shops only.

« The taxes and fees create prices that are high out of the gate, and then a lack of competition prevents those prices from being slowly pushed down, » Clement said.

More people using cannabis

The survey results also suggest that legalization has prompted more people to partake, as 7.7 per cent of respondents said they had purchased cannabis for the first time. About 61 per cent of the first-time buyers purchased from legal sources.

Although Statistics Canada cautions about drawing conclusions from the data given the small sample size, it also indicated men were more likely to purchase cannabis from a legal supplier than women, with 49.8 per cent of male respondents buying from legal producers compared with 41.6 per cent of female respondents.



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Audit finds flimsy accounting for travel, booze at Canadian UN mission


Canada’s diplomatic office at a UN agency in Montreal has been badly managed for years — and even managed to lose track of its alcohol and silverware.

« [T]he current method used to track alcohol consumed during hospitality events was not sufficiently reliable, » says a newly released audit of the Canadian mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

« The audit team also identified discrepancies in the crystal, chinaware dishes and cutlery inventories after performing a physical count. »

Transport Minister Marc Garneau was warned in March 2017 of problems at Canada’s mission to ICAO in Montreal. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The report says that most of the overtime and travel claims it sampled were not pre-approved, there was no proof that goods and services paid for were actually received, five hospitality claims disappeared entirely, silverware was never counted — and at least $6,000 in travel and hospitality spending wasn’t tracked at all.

« [I]t is difficult for the audit to determine why certain travel took place, » says the highly critical document.

The audit focused on operations between April 2014 and March 2017, a three-year period that followed intense lobbying in 2013 by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to keep the ICAO in Montreal.

The UN agency, which sets global standards for aviation safety and security, came into being in 1947 and has been located in Montreal ever since. According to one estimate, the agency’s 191 member countries are bringing some $120 million in economic benefits to the city each year.

Rival bid

A rival bid by Qatar in 2013 to host the agency in Doha beginning in 2016 was dropped in the face of intense lobbying by then-Foreign Affairs minister John Baird and others. That lobbying ensured the ICAO will stay put until at least 2036.

Canada’s small mission in Montreal, with eight permanent staff and three temporary positions, devotes about half its resources to host-state duties, including securing visas and even parking for ICAO member countries.

The Liberal government was alerted to problems at the Canadian mission sometime before March 2017, when a briefing note to Transport Minister Marc Garneau warned of major « shortcomings » and the need for a full audit. CBC News obtained the note under the Access to Information Act.

The auditors ended up delivering a scathing June 2018 report, citing « haphazard » communications, « confusion » about work responsibilities, « ad hoc » procedures, « insufficient training, » a « lack of documented procedures » and missing paperwork.

The mission’s annual budget – averaging $806,000 during the audit period, and $856,488 in 2017-18 – reserves about 10 per cent for hospitality and travel.

The funding was accounted for; however, the reporting was lacking.– Transport Canada spokesperson responding to an audit of the Canadian mission to ICAO in Montreal

Among other things, the report found the mission’s accounting for those funds was flawed, citing « weaknesses in the Mission’s management controls and oversight in the areas of budget planning and monitoring, expenditure approvals, inventory management and information management. »

A spokesperson for Transport Canada, which is primarily responsible for the operation of the ICAO mission, played down the findings, saying that « the funding was accounted for; however, the reporting was lacking. »

« There was no evidence of any items that went missing, including alcohol, » Sau Sau Liu added in an email.

Performance reviews

The audit does not refer to individuals at the mission. Asked whether any staff members have been reprimanded or terminated, Liu said only that the « lack of management oversight has been addressed through the completion of regular performance reviews required within the public service. »

On April 3, 2017, the Liberal government appointed career diplomat Martial Page as the new head of the ICAO mission to help sort out the mess.

Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, left, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, centre, and Jean-François Lisée, Quebec’s international relations minister, leave a ‘Team Montreal’ meeting at ICAO’s Montreal headquarters May 3, 2013. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

Transport Canada declined CBC’s request to interview Page, whose three-year appointment ends in 2020. But the department says the mission has since strengthened management control, implemented new strategic and operations plans and created an inventory system.

« Transport Canada and Global Affairs Canada will continue to monitor progress in the implementation of measures identified and will work with the Mission to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being used effectively, » said Liu.

The audit was conducted jointly with Global Affairs Canada, which provides support and advice to the mission.

Follow @DeanBeeby on Twitter


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Secret review finds several ‘issues’ with aborted prosecution of defence lawyer who alleged cover up


Prominent Toronto defence lawyer Marie Henein is calling on the government to release a report into how crown attorneys mishandled police misconduct allegations in a Brampton drug case that ended up with criminal lawyer Leora Shemesh in court facing charges.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada late Wednesday announced a review had been completed which identified several “structural, educational and process-related issues” in the matter, and that steps had been taken to address them “on a national basis.” The PPSC did not make that review public.

Defence lawyer Leora Shemesh, seen here in a Feb. 15, 2012, file photo, alleged federal prosecutors charged her with perjury and attempt to obstruct justice in an attempt to cover up for a lying police officer.
Defence lawyer Leora Shemesh, seen here in a Feb. 15, 2012, file photo, alleged federal prosecutors charged her with perjury and attempt to obstruct justice in an attempt to cover up for a lying police officer.  (Colin McConnell / Toronto Star)

“This is not, nor should it be, the stuff of secret inquiry or immune from scrutiny. The PPSC is a publicly funded body with clear obligations to the public,” Henein wrote in an email to the Star on Thursday.

“It is impossible for the public to know the nature of the problems investigated and how meaningful or sufficient the recommendations without meaningful disclosure of the report.”

Last summer, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) launched the internal probe after Henein, who was representing Shemesh, alleged federal prosecutors covered up for a lying officer in one of Shemesh’s drug cases in Brampton, and instead charged her with perjury and attempt to obstruct justice.

The Crown alleged Shemesh claimed she had a nanny cam video of a Peel police officer stealing money from her client, and then allegedly perjured herself by denying it when compelled to testify in court. The Crown alleged that delayed or impacted other proceedings.

After grilling prosecutors Robert Johnston, Surinder Aujla and Lois McKenzie about the way they handled the officer’s ultimate confession that he had stolen money, Henein brought an abuse of process pretrial motion asking the judge to stay Shemesh’s charges because her constitutional rights had been violated.

Instead, the Crown withdrew the charges laid in 2015 against Shemesh, saying there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

In its news release, the PPSC said it is putting in place “directives and guidelines to clarify procedures and requirements, and developing training to address identified gaps.” Prosecutors have received a “memorandum” outlining how they should “address allegations of misconduct by participants in the justice system.” The review was conducted by Robert Prior, a retired chief federal prosecutor with the PPSC’s British Columbia regional office.

Nathalie Houle, PPSC media relations adviser, told the Star in an email Thursday that “due to the specific nature of the report and the personal and internal details it contains, the PPSC is not releasing the report publicly.”

In a followup email, Houle wrote that the issues identified in the report included the “timely contact with the police regarding the allegations of police illegality, follow up on reporting of police misconduct by prosecutors, documentation of the steps taken on prosecution files, (and) deficiencies in the timeliness and extent of internal reporting, consultations, and in the development of a clear, comprehensive plan.”

Henein wrote in her email to the Star on Thursday that she is pleased there has been a review and constructive changes resulting, but “transparency and accountability minimally demands that the gaps be identified and the recommendations be made public.”

Shemesh, in a separate message, wrote “at least changes will be made and that education will ultimately always be key for those who hold positions of power. Those who hold the position of minister of justice ought to exercise that power reasonably, honourably and with true integrity.”

The Criminal Lawyers Association, representing more than 1,200 lawyers across Ontario, separately raised serious concerns about the conduct of three prosecutors in a complaint to the Law Society of Ontario, the legal profession’s regulatory body.

The complaint sent last fall alleged the prosecutors “set upon a course of action to mislead the court in order to cover up certain police officers’ malfeasance and protect their prosecutions.”

Complaints and investigations are confidential unless or until a matter results in regulatory proceedings, Law Society spokeswoman Susan Tonkin said.

The Law Society’s online directory indicates the three crown attorneys are not the subject of any disciplinary action.

Betsy Powell is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and courts. Follow her on Twitter: @powellbetsy


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Most Canadian employees are ready to quit their jobs, survey finds


Canadian employers may need to step up their game if they want to avoid costly staff turnover, a new survey suggests.

Research conducted by Nielson on behalf of human resources software company Ceridian found that nearly three quarters of respondents were either looking for work, or would consider jumping ship if approached with the right opportunity.

Among 1,001 Canadians and 1,000 Americans surveyed for the company’s annual Pulse of Talent report, 37 per cent said they were either actively or casually looking for a new job, and 36 per cent say they’d consider a new position if recruited.  

In November, the unemployment rate in Canada hit its lowest point since Statistics Canada started tracking that data 40 years ago. Given the particularly tight labour market for skilled workers, human resources experts say companies can’t afford to assume staff will stick around — even for a few years.

In fact, most of the employees surveyed said they knew within one year on a job whether or not they’d stay long-term.

Lisa Sterling, who heads up HR for Ceridian, said that means employers must act faster to work with junior employees on their career development and job satisfaction — things that naturally build loyalty.

Lisa Sterling, head of human resources for software company Ceridian, said employers risk losing staff if they don’t reach out to them early in their tenure to ensure there’s a clear path for their development and growth. (Ceridian)

Going for growth

Perhaps unsurprisingly, better pay was the reason cited most often for accepting a new job — but not by a landslide. After compensation, people were most likely to leave because they didn’t find their work interesting, followed closely by not feeling respected, and by lack of opportunity to take on new responsibilities.

Sterling says that doesn’t surprise her. « I think it’s absolutely imperative for organizations to have a significant structure around a growth philosophy. It’s incredibly important for people at any age to feel like they have growth and movement. »

Traditionally, employers target senior staff for promotions and opportunities to expand their portfolios of responsibility, she says. But that won’t cut it today.

Millennials do have a desire to do work that is interesting to them … I think they’re more willing to walk away than the generations that came before them. »– Lisa Sterling, Chief People and Culture Officer, Ceridian

« The expectations are different than even 10 years ago, » said Sterling. Raised by baby boomers, many of whom clocked long hours on the job, millennials don’t want to wait decades for work they find fulfilling.

« Millennials have a desire to do work that is interesting to them. Things that give them joy and satisfaction. I think they’re more willing to walk away than the generations that came before them. »

Sterling says that spirit is beginning to influence older workers, too. « It’s one of the positive things that we’re seeing from millennials — they’re driving this desire for meaning across the organization regardless of age. »

Beyond the corporate ladder

All of this requires employers to rethink the traditional career path in ways that don’t necessarily require somebody to move into management in order to grow in their role.

« The way work is evolving now, it’s more about continuing to have an expansion of your knowledge and your experience, » says Sterling. « It doesn’t always mean climbing a ladder. »

Employees of Klick Inc. on a monthly lunch-hour bus trip, this time to St. Lawrence Market in Toronto. (Klick Inc.)

Klick Inc., a Toronto-based technology and health marketing company, has won dozens of best-employer awards, including being named a Top 100 Best Places to Work in the Globe and Mail seven years running.

Executive vice-president Glenn Zujew said that’s because of the emphasis the company places on keeping staff happy both in and out of work. 

On the personal and professional growth side of things, the company has thousands of hours of curated online training content on its so-called Klick University — and not just for work-related tasks.

« You can learn how to DJ here; you can learn how to get your first mortgage. You can learn how to be a designer, » he says.

Investing in retention

Klick has a team entirely dedicated to making sure staff are happy, said Zujew. It runs monthly lunch-hour outings to visit local attractions, holds sessions that help staff adjust to new parenthood, organizes clubs that cater to various interests. It takes groups to football games and has even brought puppies into the office. On Father’s Day, it held a pickle-making workshop and on Mother’s Day a flower arranging class.

If a staffer is pulling long hours on a special project, said Zujew, « they’ll reach out to the family and make sure some Swiss Chalet is delivered to the home or a cleaning person is sent. » It’s a small investment with a big return in loyalty, he says.

« The cost to retrain somebody, to bring in a new employee and do all the onboarding is way greater than doing something like that. » 

Priyanka Mehandiratta, a Toronto-based human resources consultant, said employers are wise to take this kind of holistic approach to retention.

« Employees have a lot of choices now, » said Mehandiratta. « If the work doesn’t give you the satisfaction at the physiological level, you’re not going to do it for a long time. »

She says workplaces must cultivate an employee-friendly culture that’s inclusive and flexible. « If you’re stuck in an old-school model and still looking at when an employee is coming or leaving work, I don’t think you’re going to stay relevant. » 

In the end, it’s the employees who make the company and that’s the simple truth.– Priyanka Mehandiratta, HR consultant

Mehandiratta said employers can keep people happy by cultivating « a culture of feedback » so both staff and managers know how they’re doing.

« Listen to your employees, promote from within, train from within, » she said. When employees feel valued and heard, they’re more motivated to go above and beyond at work, said Mehandiratta.

« In the end, it’s the employees who make the company and that’s the simple truth. »  


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Nearly half of Canadians think paying rent is a waste of money, survey finds


It’s hard for Vanshika Dhawan not to think of the $1,400 a month she pays for her half of a shared two-bedroom apartment at Bloor and Church as wasted.

“It’s partially because I was raised to believe that renting was throwing money away. It extends from my parents’ generation,” says the 22-year-old grad student.

“There’s no investment involved in renting.”

But at the same time, saddled with student debt and spending so much on rent, she knows she can’t afford a down payment on anything in Toronto.

“It really isn’t a choice,” she said.

A new survey from real estate company Zoocasa found almost half of respondents across Canada feel like rent is a waste of money (46 per cent), despite the fact many find themselves unable to buy, caught in a Catch-22 between high rents and impossible home prices in an increasingly unaffordable market.

“We’re in a situation now, especially in Toronto and Vancouver,” where rent is so high, “that it doesn’t really make as much sense to stay renting if you don’t have to,” said Penelope Graham, managing editor at Zoocasa.

The survey results show Canadians still view home ownership more favourably, as it contributes to equity, “whereas rent is very much viewed as a sunk cost,” she said. At the same time, more people are forced to stay in the rental market for longer because buying is out of reach.

In Toronto the average detached home costs about $1.3 million, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, while the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is now over $2,000, say figures from market research firm Urbanation.

That leaves people like 27-year-old Fahd Pasha, who always saw owning a home as part of the “Canadian dream,” out of luck.

He’d like to buy something with his partner, and not just be making his landlord money. But even though they’re both working full time, it seems impossible.

“We think we make at least respectable incomes, (but) it’s not even qualified for even the most tiniest of one-bedroom condos in the city,” he said.

“You can go deep, deep, deep into debt or you just live a comfortable life and you accept the fact that it’s more likely than not it’s going to happen at a very late stage in your life or not happen at all.”

The Zoocasa survey also found 74 per cent of all respondents felt owning a home was an important milestone, and the top reason for renting, at 31 per cent, was not being able to afford a mortgage that meets their needs.

Sixty-six per cent of renters felt if current market conditions persist, buying their dream home will be out of reach.

And a whopping 71 per cent of those surveyed, 81 per cent of renters, said the federal government should do more to improve housing affordability.

“Clearly renters are feeling that more needs to be done to help them get into the market,” said Zoocasa’s Graham.

That’s something Dhawan would like to see. She wants to own a home if she has kids. If she chooses not to, she can see herself as a happy long-term renter, shaking the stigma against it she grew up with in favour of the freedom it offers.

But not if rents continue on such an unaffordable track.

Paul Kershaw, who heads up Generation Squeeze, a lobby group focusing on the struggles of young adults to pay for housing and child care, said renting is not “inherently a waste of money.”

Renters have more flexibility in their investments and can be more mobile because they’re not tied down to a property.

But the rising home prices that have far outpaced earnings and high rents have created a “vicious cycle,” where many renters feel trapped.

Kershaw is pushing to level the playing field for renters through a new campaign called We Rent.

This can be done through measures like a tax on homes over $1 million, or a special tax credit for renters, he said.

It’s intertwined with creating more supply, through things like adjusting zoning to allow more density in single family home neighbourhoods and buildings just for rentals.

“There’s so much more security for renters when there’s some vacancy out there,” Kershaw said.

“Because then landlords have to compete for them.”

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11


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