Archive for September, 2019

Budget cuts forcing possible fee hikes at Northwood

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

One of the province’s largest long-term care facilities says its residents will feel the impact of provincial budget cuts.

Northwood says it’s considering increasing fees for services like wheelchair repairs, leaving vacancies in administration unfilled, and changing items on its grocery list to help absorb the one per cent budget cut the provincial Liberals announced in April.

ChangSha Night Net

READ MORE: Highlights from Nova Scotia Budget 2016

“This cut is very deep and it’s much more extreme than what we’ve seen in previous years,” Northwood president and CEO Janet Simm said.

The government’s April budget included a $3.1 million cut to long-term care facilities, while at the same time spending more money on home care. The cut hit 106 of the province’s 132 publicly funded nursing homes.

For Northwood, the across-the-board budget cut is especially difficult to manage for the organization’s food bill which is steadily going up, Simm said. To manage the rising cost of food with a declining budget, Northwood is considering limiting pricier produce like tomatoes.

“When you get cuts to food budgets the people who live in Northwood feel those things,” Simm said.

In an emailed statement the health department said it believes facilities can find “administrative efficiencies that will save money without impacting resident care.”

WATCH: Critics sound off on Nova Scotia budget

The seniors’ residence says it’s stretching its dollars further by partnering with other long-term care facilities, but it says there’s not a lot of slack left after the organization made changes following last year’s budget cuts.

Cuts for this year were announced after Northwood already had its budget in place, Simm said, and the late notice made it more difficult for the organization to adjust. For the first time in years it’s expecting to post a deficit.

Toronto father told to tear down $30K boat-shaped treehouse after application rejected

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

A Toronto father who built a $30,000 boat-shaped treehouse for his children was denied a stay of execution from the city and will see his labour of love torn down.

John Alpeza had his request denied at the Etobicoke-York Committee of Adjustment Thursday, after the family was hoping for exemptions from bylaws that found the tree house to be too tall and large for their property.

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“It’s a very, very sad day for kids and families —; and for people who want to do something special for their family and kids,” Alpeza said.

READ MORE: Toronto boat-shaped treehouse allowed to stay up for now

The city-appointed panel voted unanimously against granting all seven variances related to the size and positioning of the tree house the family was seeking.

The structure is 2.09 metres above the permitted limit, “While the lot coverage variance of 17.05 per cent greatly exceeds the permitted five per cent,” according to a letter sent by Ward 13 (Parkdale–High Park) Councillor Sarah Doucette.

“I’m so sad because my father worked so hard,” eight-year old Mateas Alpeza said.

“This is the worst day of my life,” added 10-year old Kristian Alpeza.

The family said they plan on continuing the fight, which began in April when they were notified that their structure ran afoul of city bylaws.

Children’s petition listing names of supporters of the Alpeza’s tree houses

Peter Kim / Digital Broadcast Journalist

“We’re not going to give up on our tree house and this is for all kids, that they have the right to get out and get away from video games,” said John Alpeza. “That’s the whole purpose behind this.”

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti has been a staunch supporter of the family since the tree house first made national news several months ago.

READ MORE: Toronto father fights city to keep $30K treehouse from being torn down

“I would say to those who are objecting to children playing, ‘Get a life,’” he told Global News.

Mammoliti  said he saw this as a dispute between two neighbours that the city should not have gotten involved in. He also noted the family has one final avenue of appeal: the Ontario Municipal Board.

“That’s going to cost them a ton of money,” he said.

WATCH: Father fighting city hall over $30,000 backyard treehouse

Doucette initially opposed the structure, but then suggested a compromise: lowering the tree house to meet height requirements in exchange for overlooking the lot coverage issue.

But turning a tree house into a fort wouldn’t be the same for the Alpeza kids.

City committee rejects application to keep boat-shaped tree house

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

John Alpeza’s $30,000 labour of love for his children was denied a stay of execution today at the Etobicoke-York Committee of Adjustment. The family was hoping for exemptions from bylaws that found the tree house to be too tall and large for their property.

“It’s a very, very sad day for kids and families – a for people want to do something special for their family and kids,” said John.

The city-appointed panel voted unanimously against granting seven variances related to the size and positioning of the tree house. According to the city the structure is 2.09 metres above the permitted limit, “while the lot coverage variance of 17.05% greatly exceeds the permitted 5%,” according to a letter sent by area councillor Sarah Doucette.

“I’m so sad because my father worked so hard,” said ??-year old Mateas Alpeza.

“This is the worst day of my life,” added ??-year old Kristian Alpeza

The family says they plan on continuing the fight which began in April when they were notified that their structure ran afoul of city bylaws.

“We’re not going to give up on our tree house and this is for all kids that they have right to, to get out there get away from video games. That’s the whole purpose behind this,” said John Alpeza.

Children’s petition listing names of supporters of the Alpeza’s tree houses

Peter Kim / Digital Broadcast Journalist

ChangSha Night Net

Councillor Mammolit has been a supporter of the tree house since it first made national news several months ago.

“I would say to those who are objecting to children playing, ‘get a life’” he told Global News.

He says he sees this as a dispute between two neighbours and that the city should not get involved.

Mammoliti says the city has one final avenue of appeal: the Ontario Municipal Board.

“That’s going to cost them a tonne of money,” he added. Local area councillor Sarah Doucette initially opposed the structure, but then suggested a compromise: lowering the tree house to meet height requirements and overlooking the lot coverage.

But turning a treehouse into a fort wouldn’t be the same for the alpeza kids.

 

Teens’ anti-bullying video gets support from Subban

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

MONTREAL —; For friends Cameron and Frank, growing up with disabilities hasn’t always been easy. They often feel different, but their new video project is out to prove that different can be wonderful.

“It was an idea I wanted to do for many years,” said 17-year-old Cameron Stoute. “We always hear that we’re not good enough, we get bullied because we have disabilities. And we wanted to show that it doesn’t define who we are, and that we are people too, and that we matter just as any body else would.”

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    READ MORE: Children’s book promotes tolerance and respect when it comes to bullying

    The initiative, called Project Worthy, will be a compilation of testimony from those who have suffered from society’s general misunderstanding of disabilities.

    “It’s good to let the message out,” said 16-year-old Frank Polidakis. “People need to hear, because bullying is not nice. It’s not right. We’re all equal, we’re all the same.”

    Before embarking on the project, the pair filmed a short promo video and posted it online.

    “We wanted to get people psyched about it,” said Cameron. “We wanted to see if we did this video, would people care? Or are we doing this for no reason?”

    As it turns out, people cared. The video has already been viewed thousands of times.

    “The fact that they’re doing it, not to get gratification, but they’re doing it because they feel that it’s the right thing to do, that’s why I’m so proud of them,” Frank’s mother, Sandra Ceide, told Global News.

    The promo video even made its way to none other than Montreal Canadiens star, P.K. Subban, who has featured Project Worthy on his website.

    “What this whole experience is doing for their self-esteem is just amazing,” said Glenda Bernstein, who works with the boys at Summit School. “It’s great for them.”

    READ MORE: Gone viral: Teacher uses two apples to explain bullying to kids

    Now, the teens are working hard to finish up their final product.

    “I think it’s going to touch so many people,” said Cameron’s mother, Sabrina Stoute. “People that have been bullied, people that haven’t been bullied, people who aren’t even aware of the impact that bullying has on our society.”

    While Cameron and Frank hope that Project Worthy will bring comfort to others, it has been therapeutic for them as well.

    “It’s so motivational to hear from other people who are going through the same thing that we are going through,” said Cameron. “We’re all just growing up as a community and we’re showing everybody that we’re worth something.”

    The final video is expected to be ready by next week. After that, the boys have plans to keep their message alive: Project Worthy is just the beginning.

The seven Duffy claims the Senate wants back

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

OTTAWA – The Senate says that seven expense claims totalling $16,995 which came up during Sen. Mike Duffy’s criminal trial weren’t eligible under the upper chamber’s spending rules. Here are the details of the seven claims the Senate wants Duffy to repay:

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1) Duffy paid $505.18 between November 2011 and March 2012 for a mobile data plan for a temporary worker in his office, Diane Scharf. The money came out of a consulting contract Duffy signed with a former acquaintance. Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt wrote in his ruling that the spending didn’t add any “new net cost to the Senate” because the money had already been allocated under the consulting contract. He said Scharf’s BlackBerry was a job-related expense and “was an appropriate expenditure.”

READ MORE: Mike Duffy legal woes end as Crown won’t appeal acquittal

2) Duffy paid $8 for photos of his son and daughter, but testified at trial that billing the cost to the Senate was unintentional. The money came out of a consulting contract Duffy signed with a former acquaintance.

3) Duffy paid $500 to a volunteer intern in his office, Ashley Cain, who did about 72 hours of work over a six-week period in 2010. Duffy testified that he believed it was within Senate rules to pay volunteers, and the money was an honorarium for her work. The money came out of a consulting contract Duffy signed with a former acquaintance. Vaillancourt said there was no criminal intent when Cain was paid “a modest stipend” and amounted to “an honest mistake on the part of Sen. Duffy.”

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Senator Mike Duffy goes back to work

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Legalities of the Mike Duffy trial

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Mike Duffy leaves courtroom after judge dismisses him of all charges



4) Duffy paid $300 to Jacqueline Lambert for makeup work as part of a 2010 appearance with then-prime minister Stephen Harper as part of the G8/G20 meeting. It was a last-second request when Harper’s office neglected to organize makeup necessary for a television appearance. The money came out of a consulting contract Duffy signed with a former acquaintance. In his ruling, Vaillancourt said the debate over whether the claim was appropriate was “best dealt in a non-criminal environment.”

5) Duffy paid $10,000 to his one-time personal trainer, Mike Croskery, as part of what he said was research to create a health promotion and fitness program tailored for seniors. The money came out of a consulting contract Duffy signed with a former acquaintance. Vaillancourt said Croskery was a consultant to Duffy, not a personal trainer, but that “it would have been preferable to have a formal contract” laying out the new relationship between the two.

READ MORE: Duffy’s expenses could still be examined by Auditor-General

6) Duffy paid Nils Ling $2,500 for a speech delivered at the 75th anniversary for the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. Duffy, who was on the Senate’s agriculture committee at the time of the speech, called it a “foundational speech,” which Vaillancourt said made it “an appropriate expense for Senate resources.” Duffy was paid $10,000 to deliver the speech; Vaillancourt said Senate funds shouldn’t be used for personal gain, but that Duffy didn’t have any criminal intent when he paid for the speech.

7) Duffy charged the Senate $3,142.48 for travel to Ottawa for a speech to the Building Owners and Managers Association of Ottawa. He was paid a $10,000 speaker’s fee. Vaillancourt said the speech was a personal matter for Duffy, but wasn’t convinced the expenses contained any criminality. He also said Duffy conducted enough Senate business during the trip to warrant reimbursement.