No plans to bring back English signs at Lachute hospital – Montreal


Christopher Skeete, the MNA responsible for relations with English-speaking Quebecers, says the province will stand its ground when it comes to bilingual signage at a Lachute hospital.

“I think the premier was quite clear in his statements that we’re going to be supporting the decision that happened there,” said Skeete.

“But at the same token, we should never forget this has no incidence on services that are being rendered to the English-speaking population.”

READ MORE: Quebec language watchdog tells Lachute hospital its English signs must go

Earlier this month, a decision from the Lachute hospital caused an uproar.

After a meeting from the Office québécoise de la langue française (OQLF), the hospital decided to remove English-language signage from its facility.

READ MORE: Quebec premier backs order telling Lachute hospital to ditch English signs

The Quebec Community Groups Network (QCGN) believes the government is being too strict with their interpretation of the province’s French-language charter.

“If their idea is that an extremely literal, narrow and a historical — in other words, not what Parti Québécois governments have done — more strict application of Bill 101 is their way of going then they cannot at the same time argue that they are respecting our right to access English-speaking services,” said QCGN president Geoffrey Chambers.

While the possibility of bringing back the English signs to the hospital seems to be slim — Skeete says there are ongoing conversations internally on how to apply the language law going forward.

READ MORE: Controversy over Lachute hospital’s removal of English signage continues

“I do think that we need to rethink our positions in terms of how we apply law 101 in certain instances,” said Skeete.

“But at the same token, that doesn’t negate our obligations to follow the laws of Quebec.”

As for the hospital and the surrounding communities, they say they’re going to make the best out of a bad situation.

Elected officials in the lower Laurentians are working on a temporary solution. They would like to see more English signs inside the hospital to compensate for the loss on the outside.

“We have six French mayors, three English and we were all in favour of finding a way to move forward and improve services so the people here understand that it’s not a local issue,” said Scott Pearce, mayor of the Township of Gore.

“We just got caught up in the meat grinder which is the bureaucracy of a Quebec government.”

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


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‘Support your sisters’: Protest signs from Women’s Marches across Canada – National


Braving the cold, thousands across the country took part in the third annual international Women’s March on Saturday to advocate for women’s rights and gender equality.

Attendees marched to demand advancement on issues like gender-based violence, discrimination, reproductive rights and racism.

WATCH BELOW: Gloria Steinem speaks at 2019 Women’s March in New York City

The movement, which started in the U.S. following Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, held marches in Canadian cities including Toronto, Calgary, Regina, Montreal and Vancouver.

Participants came prepared with homemade signs, some denouncing government policy, some sharing messages of empowerment and support.

Here are some of the most notable posters seen at the Canadian Women’s Marches.

Participants highlighted the need for women’s movements to be inclusive and diverse.

Many addressed one of the march’s main themes of ending violence against women.

Some marched for women’s reproductive health.

READ MORE: Women’s march in California cancelled by organizers for being ‘overwhelmingly white’

Others held signs honouring powerful women.

READ MORE: How the Women’s March splintered into rival protest groups

Many drew attention to the ongoing fight for women’s rights.

People marched in solidarity.

Is the controversial Gillette commercial good for business?

And many were inspired by the cold.

READ MORE: ‘RISE’: Women being seen and heard in their industries

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


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Canadian economy was resilient in 2018, but troubling signs ahead


The Canadian economy entered 2018 on an unexpectedly impressive run, and will begin 2019 on a healthy note. But signs of weakness have raised a key question: How long before the good times end?

Through much of 2018, Canada’s unemployment rate hovered near a 40-year low and job creation remained strong as the evidence pointed to an economy going at close to full tilt.

The handoff was a good one, too — the country had posted three per cent growth for all of 2017, largely thanks to strong household spending. We’ll have to wait a little for the final numbers, but forecasters say 2018 has likely delivered still-sturdy growth of about two per cent.

But as 2019 approaches, there are worries the solid economic expansion is starting to show its age.

Last month, the federal government’s fall economic statement projected two per cent growth again for 2019, but many predict the number will likely come in lower following a recent drop in oil prices.

Jittery markets, uncertain U.S. outlook

In addition to the pullback in crude prices, experts point to jitters in the financial markets, predictions the American economy — a key contributor to Canadian growth — will start to cool off and the United Kingdom’s difficult divorce from the European Union, which could ripple across the global economy.

There’s also potential for an even bigger threat: an escalation of the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

On trade, Canada made it through a year filled with significant uncertainty, including the difficult negotiation and signing of an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Many of the trade unknowns, however, will carry over into the new year. The road to NAFTA 2.0’s ratification could bring more drama, punishing American steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place and the clash of superpowers between Canada’s two biggest trading partners continues to play out.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signed the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement in November, but uncertainties surrounded the so-called new NAFTA. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

« There are always reflections around the cyclical downturns that happen and, as I’ve said, the impacts of a trade war between China and the United States could have significant impacts on the global economy — negative impacts on the global economy, » Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a recent interview with The Canadian Press.

« We have to make sure that we are prepared for rough waters if we encounter them. »

Rising rates, high household debt

In Canada, potential trouble spots include the combination of high household debt, rising interest rates and slowing wage growth that’s been « terrible » for about half a year following a good pickup early in 2018, said Matt Stewart, director of economics for the Conference Board of Canada.

Higher interest rates, Stewart added, have delivered a hit to household spending, which has been the primary driver of Canada’s good economic fortunes.

« It’s been a long time since we’ve had a recession, » Stewart said. « As of yet, I think most of the news is still positive, but there is a growing amount of risks. »

A new home being built in North Vancouver on June 12. There are questions whether the current ebullient economy can continue. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

With overburdened consumers expected to take a breather, business investment is seen as the next critical source of growth. But Stewart said the transition has yet to materialize because investment has underperformed, likely due to competitiveness concerns. Businesses aren’t sure whether Canada’s the best place to put their money.

In an effort to boost investment, Ottawa announced billions of dollars worth of corporate tax incentives in its fall statement. Taxpayers will have to wait and see if the federal changes will be enough to encourage more companies to invest in Canada.

Craig Alexander, chief economist of Deloitte, said the economy will continue to have healthy growth in 2019, but noted it’s due for some moderation.

Late stages of business cycle

« We are in the late stages of a business cycle, » he said. « That doesn’t mean that a recession is around the corner, but we need to recognize that we’re 10 years into an economic recovery, expansion. Business cycles are typically eight to 10 years long. »

Alexander said markets are probably overreacting to the possibility that another downturn could be almost upon us. He thinks the more likely case is that growth will continue to slow.

The economy’s evolution will have different impacts depending where one lives, he added.

For example, the energy sector faces big challenges.

Part of it comes from the recent plunge in oil prices, but there’s also been an extra discount on the price of western Canadian crude caused by transportation bottlenecks out of the Alberta oilpatch.

« This is sad news for Alberta, » Alexander said. « They’ve only barely recovered from the last recession. »

Shell’s Groundbirch project is producing gas in northeast B.C. Uncertainty over oil and gas prices is affecting the outlook for the economy. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

Ottawa offered assistance this month in the form of a $1.6-billion aid package to support oil and gas companies.

Alberta, however, wants federal help to move its oil to new markets.

Loss of GM plant

Ontario’s industrial sector will also face a big hurdle in 2019. General Motors has announced plans to shutter its plant in Oshawa later in the year, a move that would put 2,500 people out of work and inflict economic pain on the region.

Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter said Canada already took a small step back in 2018 — and he expects growth to slow further.

« Just looking at financial markets, there’s obviously a lot of concern that we are getting to a late stage of the [economic] cycle, » Porter said. « We don’t believe that recession risks are especially high at this point, but we do think the North American economy will cool in 2019. »


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Parties looking for signs of pre-election trends in Ontario byelection tonight


The Liberals are looking for signs of growth in tonight’s federal byelection in Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes as they attempt to reclaim a seat that has not been held by a Liberal since before the 2004 federal elections.

There are five candidates vying for office, including Michael Barrett for the Conservatives, Liberal Mary Jean McFall, New Democrat Michelle Taylor and Lorraine Rekmans​ for the Green Party.

Conservative Gord Brown held the riding between 2004 — when he snatched it away from the Liberals, who had held the riding since 1988 — and his death earlier this year.

Barrett, the Conservative candidate, was elected councillor for the village of Spencerville and surrounding area in the municipality of Edwardsburgh/Cardinal in 2014.

He said the Liberals broke their promises to deliver infrastructure investment and a balanced budget in 2019, and pledged that a Conservative government would « bring real investment back to Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes. »

McFall, the Liberal candidate, is the former chief of staff to Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay. She ran for the Liberals in the riding in the 2015 general election, narrowly losing with 41 per cent of the vote to Brown’s 47 per cent.

McFall said she will seek to bolster federal investments in her riding and stand up for local farmers and producers if she wins.

Taylor for the NDP promised she would be an accountable representative standing up for veterans, farmers and small business owners.

The Green Party candidate, Lorraine Rekmans, has been the party’s indigenous affairs critic since 2008. She told CBC that while the biggest issue facing her riding is climate change, she’d also pursue affordable housing, poverty relief and health care issues if she is elected.


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William Nylander signs 6-year extension with Maple Leafs at deadline


William Nylander’s contract impasse has finally come to an end.

The restricted free agent signed a six-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, just before the 5 p.m. ET deadline. The Leafs announced that the extension will pay Nylander an average of $6.9 million US per year from the second to sixth years and $10.2 million this season.

The agreement brings an end to nearly five months of negotiations between first-year general manager Kyle Dubas and Nylander’s representatives, agent Lewis Gross and his father Michael, who played for seven NHL teams and was traded five times in his career.

« I need to look out for myself and make the decisions me and my agent believe are the correct ones, » Nylander told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in early October. « I need to think long-term. It’s my future we’re talking about here. »

Forward Mike Peca was the most recent player to sit out an entire season due to a contract dispute, missing the 2000-01 campaign with the Buffalo Sabres at age 26.

As the Nylander signing deadline approached, it’s believed the Maple Leafs were willing to let it pass rather than meet the player’s reported demand of a long-term deal with an annual average value in the $8 million range.

Dubas, whose offer was said to be around $6 million, seemed to have the leverage in talks, given the team’s impressive 18-8-0 record this season and the emergence of 22-year-old winger Kasperi Kapanen, the former fourth-liner who replaced Nylander on the right side on a line with Auston Matthews earlier this season.

Nylander’s arrival after sitting out 26 games may or may not mean the end of Kapanen’s time skating alongside Matthews, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday after sitting over a month with an injured left shoulder. Kapanen and Nylander have been best friends and roommates since joining the Toronto Marlies, the Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, during the 2015-16 season.

Several players step up

« Everyone wants Willie to be here, » Kapanen told reporters in October. « He’s a big part of the team. He brings a lot of energy and a lot of offence to our team. »

In recent weeks, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has watched as others have stepped up to fill the scoring void – namely Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau and Andreas Johansson – after John Tavares, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner and Matthews handled the bulk of scoring early on.

Dubas stated weeks ago he wasn’t worried about getting Nylander signed and insisted he wasn’t shopping the talented Swede to any of the league’s other 30 teams. However, he did have assistant GMs Brandon Pridham and Laurence Gilman in tow during the team’s recent road trip through Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes had been linked to Nylander trade rumours.

Nylander is coming off back-to-back 61-point seasons. In 185 NHL regular-season games, he was scored 48 goals and 135 points. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Kadri, who has scored 32 goals in each of the last two seasons, had to wait until the eve of training camp in September 2013 before signing his two-year, $5.8-million bridge deal on the heels of an 18-goal, 44-point performance in the lockout-shortened campaign.

« It’s a little bit stressful, » Kadri, who inked a six-year, $27-million extension in April 2016, told Sportsnet in September. « It’s not the easiest thing to go through. [Nylander] is a great player, he’s a great teammate and we love to have him around. »

Hometown discount?

Nylander has 48 goals and 135 points in 185 NHL regular-season games. During the stalemate, his on-ice contributions were often compared to Winnipeg’s Nik Ehlers ($6 million AAV) and fellow forward David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins ($6.7 million).

Ehlers scored 60 points in his age-21 season and signed for seven years and $42 million while Pastrnak, who played with Nylander as teenagers in Sweden, recorded 80 points at 21.

In early October, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said the team’s young players should consider accepting less money to provide the best chance for the franchise to win its first Stanley Cup since 1967.

Matthews and Marner are pending RFAs but Dubas has made it clear they, along with Nylander, would spend the prime years of their NHL career in Toronto, no matter the term of their contracts.

Many expect Matthews to command a salary similar to Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid’s $12.5 million AAV while Marner, the Leafs’ top point-getter this season with 36 in 26 games, may ask for something in the range of Jack Eichel’s $10 million AAV as the Sabres standout has 32 points in 27 contests.


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Man found without vital signs after car runs into ditch in Mississauga


A man is in serious condition after a car ran off the road into a ditch in Mississauga on Tuesday morning.

Peel Paramedics responded to a call at 12:56 a.m. near Courtneypark Dr. and Highway 410 and found a man without vital signs. He was rushed to a trauma centre.

A description of the male has not yet been released.

Stefanie Marotta is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @StefanieMarotta


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Trilingual border signs now include Mohawk language in Cornwall, Ont.


The border crossing at Cornwall, Ont. now has trilingual signage featuring messages in Mohawk alongside English and French — part of a collaborative effort to foster reconciliation with First Nations.

It’s the first port of entry in Canada with signage in the Mohawk language and is « representative of ongoing efforts by the CBSA to work in partnership and respect with Indigenous communities, » says a news release from the Canada Border Services Agency.

Last year, more than 1.5 million travellers were processed at the Cornwall crossing, and more than one million of them were residents of the Mohawk communities of St. Regis and Akwesasne.

Abram Benedict, grand chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, said Mohawk is the first language for many residents and elders in the community.

« The use of our language on the signage at the port of entry is an acknowledgement of daily users of the crossing, and the fact that the port is on traditional Akwesasne lands, » he said in a statement. « We wish to continue to advance our partnership with CBSA in order to meet the needs of Akwesasronon. »

CBSA president John Ossowski praised the new signs.

« Our relationship with the Akwesasne community is important and the new signage is but one step on the CBSA path towards reconciliation, » he said in a statement.

The Iqaluit port of entry also has signage in English, French and two Inuit dialects.


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Flashing danger signs all over Ford’s social assistance review


There were more than 914,000 visits to Toronto food banks last year. While that’s down slightly from the year before, it’s a significant increase over the last decade — and more than double what it was when the Mike Harris government took an axe to welfare.

What happened after Harris slashed welfare rates and introduced workfare is particularly relevant now that another Progressive Conservative government is promising to overhaul social assistance, as early as this week.

The Daily Bread Food Bank’s latest report shows a long-trend of rising food bank use.
The Daily Bread Food Bank’s latest report shows a long-trend of rising food bank use.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star)

In the Harris era, the government spoke about the rising costs of the system and the need to get people back to work. And nasty references were made to mothers on welfare spending money on beer and how the poor could economize by haggling over dented cans of tuna at the grocery store.

This time around, Social Services Minister Lisa MacLeod is taking great pains to stick to a more compassionate-sounding message. Indeed, she has said “our government is very compassionate” and knows well that these programs serve “Ontario’s most vulnerable.”

Still, the Ford government does seem to be heading to rather the same place: There are people on welfare who should be working and we’re going to make that happen.

Few disagree with the principle that people who are able to work are better off working than collecting a welfare cheque. The challenge has always been finding the best way to support people who wind up on social assistance because of a crisis in their life and help them get back on their feet.

Nearly a million people are living in households sustained by Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, and MacLeod would like them to believe that over the past 100 days she has landed on the solution to “lift” them all up.

Based on her low-key review of social assistance the government now has a plan to help those who can work get jobs and provide “broader supports” for those on disability support, she says. There’s no need to be afraid of what’s coming and everyone will be “pleasantly surprised.”

But the Ford government’s early moves suggest there is plenty of cause for concern.

It has already cut the planned 3-per-cent increase in social assistance payments in half; scrapped the basic income pilot project that was investigating whether there’s a better way to lift people out of poverty; and stopped a series of necessary changes to social assistance rules that would have made life better for people while they’re on welfare and made it easier for them to get off it.

Making someone who can’t pay the rent and put food on the table now even poorer, as the government has done, does not help prepare them for a job. And the fact that MacLeod has defended those moves as “compassionate” is yet more reason to be worried about what she’ll come out with next.

The minister also seems perfectly content to gloss right over the fact that many of today’s jobs don’t actually lift people out of poverty. And the series of retrograde changes that her government made to labour laws, specifically designed to benefit workers in low-paid precarious jobs, has only made that situation worse.

As the Daily Bread Food Bank’s latest annual report notes, the social assistance reforms in 1995 set “in motion a hunger crisis that continues today.”

Under 15 years of Liberal governments some improvements were made, but nothing came even close to compensating for the 21-per-cent cuts to rates under Harris and the effect of years of inflation. Ontario’s poorest are worse off today than they were before Harris reformed the system, claiming “the status quo is not working very well for them.”

Now they’re facing another Progressive Conservative government that claims the system isn’t working for them and also promises change is coming.

Little wonder they’re concerned. We all should be.


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Premier unveils ‘open for business’ signs as Ontario’s unemployment rate remains low


As Premier Doug Ford unveiled the first of his “open for business” border-crossing signs in Sarnia, Statistics Canada revealed Ontario unemployment continues to hover near its lowest rate in a generation.

“Doesn’t that sign look beautiful?” Ford said Friday of the “Welcome to Ontario: Open For Business” signage near the Blue Water Bridge to Michigan.

Signs like this will be going up along Ontario’s border with the United States. The first one went up in Sarnia on Nov. 2, 2018.
Signs like this will be going up along Ontario’s border with the United States. The first one went up in Sarnia on Nov. 2, 2018.  (Julie Jocsak / The St. Catharines Standard)

“You’ve been hearing for months that we’re going to put signs right across every single border in Ontario to tell the world, especially our great neighbours to the south, that Ontario is open for business,” said the premier, who was elected in June.

There will eventually be signs placed at all 18 of the province’s land crossings with American states, but Ford’s government is still calculating the price tag for the initiative.

NDP MPP Catherine Fife (Waterloo) said the job numbers underscore the fact that the signs are a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“We’ve seen this government stumbling along,” Fife told reporters at Queen’s Park.

Ford’s announcement came the same morning as Statistics Canada’s monthly jobs survey revealed last month’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 per cent, a decrease of 0.3 percentage points since September.

“While employment was little changed in Ontario, there were fewer people looking for work, lowering the unemployment rate … On a year-over-year basis, employment in the province rose by 83,000 due to more full-time work,” said Statistics Canada.

That’s a 1.2 per cent increase in employment since this time last year.

The premier also touted his repeal of the previous Liberal government’s labour reforms that would have increased the $14-an-hour minimum wage to $15 in January and given employees two paid sick days and other workplace protections.

“That was just hurdle after hurdle for small businesses, medium businesses, large businesses,” said Ford, a wealthy businessman who previously ran his family’s label-printing company.

“We’re getting rid of as many regulations as possible,” he said.

But Fife warned that his cuts will force workers to “make tough choices.”

“Without paid sick days, they’ll have to choose between taking their kid to the doctor when she’s sick, or keeping the day’s pay she needs to care for her family,” she said.

“Ontarians who work hard deserve more respect than that.”

Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie


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