TTC plans to hire dozens of fare inspectors to deter people from skipping out on paying

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The TTC is planning to hire additional fare inspectors and deploy them more widely across the transit network, a move the agency says is necessary to crack down on riders who skip out on paying but which critics warn could lead to increased discrimination against users who are low-income or people of colour.

In a proposed 2019 budget that will be discussed at a TTC board meeting Thursday, the transit agency outlined plans to hire 45 additional fare inspectors and 22 more transit enforcement officers.

The new hires would bring the total number of TTC fare inspectors to 113, and the number of enforcement officers to 73.

Inspectors are tasked with ensuring riders pay the proper fare, while enforcement officers, who are designated special constables and have limited police powers, patrol the system for security purposes, sometimes assisting in fare disputes.

The extra bodies would not only increase the TTC’s complement of officers, but allow the agency to start deploying fare inspectors on subways and buses. To date, inspectors have mostly patrolled streetcars, in part because since 2015 riders have been allowed to bypass vehicle operators and board at rear doors.

“The more inspectors we have, the more likely it is you’ll get caught and the more likely you are to pay a proper fare,” said agency spokesperson Stuart Green.

The estimated cost of the additional inspectors and enforcement officers, plus three new administrative and supervisory staff, is $4.5 million, according to the TTC.

Green said that cost is expected to be offset by additional fare revenue that increased enforcement activity would generate, adding ticket fines don’t directly benefit the transit agency because the money goes to the city, not the TTC.

However, not everyone is pleased with the TTC’s plan. Susan Bender of the Fair Fare Coalition advocacy group said she’s worried stepped up enforcement will mean “increased targeting and harassment of people from racialized communities and living on low income.”

In November, a young Black customer named Reece Maxwell-Crawford launched a lawsuit against the TTC alleging racial profiling and discrimination in relation to a Feb. 18, 2018 incident in which three transit officers violently pinned him to the ground outside a streetcar.

A TTC investigation into the incident found there was no evidence to support allegations of discrimination. The city ombudsman is reviewing the TTC’s investigation.

Bender also cited a separate incident in which three TTC officers were convicted in 2017 for participating in a scheme in which they falsified tickets to homeless people in order to skip out on work.

Bender argued the 10-cent fare increase the TTC is also proposing in the 2019 budget would already make it harder for low-income residents to use transit, and the $235 fine for fare evasion can be a huge financial burden. She said the transit agency should work to secure funding to improve service and lower fares instead of investing in more enforcement.

“I don’t think it should be a priority when we’re so critically underfunding our public transit system which so many people rely on. Fare enforcement and fare inspection which exacerbates the stress and lack of money that people have is not the way to go,” she said.

Butterfly Gopaul, a resident member of Jane Finch Action Against Poverty, said racialized community members already report feeling discriminated against by TTC officers. She said the agency investigation that found no evidence of discrimination in the Maxwell-Crawford case has further eroded trust.

“I think there’s a lot of fear, mistrust,” she said. “We see disproportionately racialized bodies, poorer communities being targeted across the city of Toronto.”

In response to those concerns, Green said fare inspectors are “professionals” who are “trained to inspect fare payment with all customers equally.”

According to the TTC, members of the transit enforcement unit must undergo training in mental health, diversity and inclusion.

Numbers provided by the TTC show the enforcement unit performed more than 3.5 million fare inspections in 2018, and wrote 14,030 tickets. They also issued 8,904 written warnings, and 32,139 verbal warnings.

Exactly how much revenue the TTC loses to fare evasion isn’t known. The agency has consistently cited figures that state it has a fare evasion rate of about 2 per cent, resulting in $20 million in forgone proceeds every year.

But that number was based on a 2011 internal audit that preceded major changes to fare operations such as all-door boarding on streetcars, allowing children 12 and younger to ride free, and the widespread adoption of the Presto card.

An internal TTC document dated February 2018 and obtained by the Star said those policy changes had “resulted in poor revenue control” on the system.

A study conducted in 2015 and 2016 determined the agency could be losing as much as $49 million a year to fare evasion. The TTC paid nearly $100,000 for the study but never made it public, and has since said its methodology was unsound. A copy was obtained by the Star.

Green said the agency is working to update its fare evasion estimates and will report to the TTC board in February.

“Evasion deprives the system of operating revenue that could be put toward service, which is why fare inspection is important regardless of the rate,” he said.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto-based reporter covering transportation. Reach him by email at bspurr@thestar.ca or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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Canada’s domestic spy agency looking to hire hackers and data scientists

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OTTAWA–Canada’s domestic spy agency is in the market for hackers.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) wants to hire a “network exploitation analyst” to assist the agency in “cyber investigative activities.”

CSIS is hiring for a “network exploitation analyst.” They build tools for the spy agency to carry out electronic snooping.
CSIS is hiring for a “network exploitation analyst.” They build tools for the spy agency to carry out electronic snooping.  (Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The successful candidate will be expected to build new tools for the spy agency to carry out electronic snooping, develop and maintain a database of “malware” exploits, and provide analysis of “technical artifacts,” according to the job posting.

CSIS, which investigates activities suspected of constituting threats to national security, can and routinely does rely on its sister agency, the Communication Security Establishment (CSE), for high-tech help with its espionage efforts. While CSE is focused on gathering foreign intelligence and is forbidden from spying on Canadians, it can assist domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies with their own investigations.

But one spy watcher said CSIS building up an in-house capability for cyber spying may have less to do with traditional espionage than with its new powers actually to disrupt threats to Canada.

Ronald Deibert, the director of Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, said he’s not surprised CSIS is in the market for hackers — state-sponsored hacking is on the rise, and the Liberal government’s new national security laws empower Canada’s spy agencies to take part.

But Deibert, one of Canada’s foremost cybersecurity researchers, told the Star that he has significant concerns about the agencies’ new electronic powers.

“While (Liberal national security bill) C-59 placed some limits and provided some clarity on what those disruption powers would entail, the prospect of CSIS hacking in any form should give everyone pause, especially because there is still a lot of uncertainty around what that mandate would allow,” Deibert said in an email.

“Practically speaking, CSIS hacking could include computer network interference in a foreign election process, compromising the integrity of important digital tools that Canadians rely on for everyday privacy and security, creating fake online personas and using them to spread disinformation and more.”

John Townsend, a spokesperson for the spy agency, said Bill C-59 gives the agency “clear legislative authority” for the collection and analysis of information not “directly or immediately” related to national security threats.

“Data acquisition and exploitation are key to modern national security investigations,” Townsend wrote in a statement. “CSIS has employed network exploitation analysts and data scientists for some time. Given our mandate and specific operational requirements, CSIS does not disclose details related to individual job functions.”

The agency is also hunting for data scientists to develop a new program to sift through massive amounts of information to glean useful intelligence, according to a separate job posting.

CSIS received a sharp rebuke in 2016 from Federal Court Justice Simon Noël over the agency’s Operational Data Analysis Centre, which for almost a decade retained and analyzed data on people who posed no threat to Canada’s national security.

While Noël ruled that CSIS lawfully collected the information during the course of their investigations, it was illegal to retain “third party” data indefinitely.

Bill C-59, which Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale introduced in 2017 but has yet to become law, set parameters around how the spy agency can access, collect and analyze “publicly-available data” for its investigations, but critics have suggested the powers are ill-defined and overly broad.

CSIS wants its new team of data scientists to “autonomously find, enrich, transform, interpret, and exploit data to create intelligence products.” So: find data sets, figure out how to “exploit” the information contained in them, and condense it into reports that the spies can stomach.

Deibert pointed to a larger, more philosophical question about Canada’s spies’ growing powers for electronic espionage: is this the kind of activity Canada wants to sanction?

“To the extent CSIS, CSE and other Canadian government agencies are players in this space, they will be contributing to this highly-profitable but extremely dangerous market for ‘digital weapons,’” Deibert said.

“By empowering CSIS to hack, in other words, Canada is helping to normalize a dangerously escalating arms race in cyberspace proven to cause demonstrable harm to businesses, governments, and civil society, including back here in Canada.”

Alex Boutilier is an Ottawa-based reporter covering national politics. Follow him on Twitter: @alexboutilier or reach him at 613-237-1441.

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Queen’s Gaels hire new football headcoach – Kingston

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The Queen’s Gaels have poached from their bitter rival, Western University, to hire their newest football head coach.

Queen’s announced Wednesday that Steve Snyder will take over the reigns of the football team during the 2019 season.


READ MORE:
Pat Sheahan leaves behind a legacy at Queen’s University

Snyder was the Western Mustangs offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, helping them to a Vanier Cup title during the 2017 season.

He’s only the fifth Gaels head coach in the past 70 years, taking over from Pat Sheahan who says he was relieved of his duties last month.

The Gaels have struggled recently, missing the OUA playoffs, twice in the last three years.

WATCH: Queen’s fires football coach Pat Sheahan






Snyder will be introduced to the media as well as Gael’s season ticket holders during a special edition of the ‘Quarterback Club’ lunch early next month.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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