Ontario: Child Benefit Won’t be Clawed Back from Families on Social Assistance

Update:

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Ontario won’t claw back money from families on welfare when Ottawa’s new child benefit payments begin in July.  All vulnerable children must be supported and looked after.

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Ontario families on social assistance will not face provincial clawbacks when the new Canada Child Benefit kicks in on July 1, government officials confirmed Friday.

As a result, almost 260,000 children in families who rely on Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program will benefit from the full amount of their federal child benefit payment.

The new program replaces the current child benefit and supplement as well as the taxable Universal Child Care Benefit with a single non-taxable benefit.

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Ontario’s Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek. She said putting the full amount of the Canada Child Benefit in the hands of families instead of clawing it back to subsidize existing provincial programs is a crucial way of helping vulnerable children and families.

The average Canadian family is expected to receive an additional $2,300 a year under the new initiative.

Families with incomes below $30,000 will receive the maximum benefit of $6,400 annually per child under age 6 and $5,400 for each child age 6 to 17. The vast majority of Ontario families receiving social assistance will receive these maximum amounts, officials said.

The extra money will not affect eligibility for child-care subsidies, the province’s dental program for low-income children, rent-geared-to-income subsidies or portable housing benefits, they added.

“I am proud that Ontario has taken action to make these important changes, and that we are working with the federal government to fight child poverty,” Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek said in a statement.

“Putting the full amount of the Canada Child Benefit in the hands of families instead of clawing it back to subsidize existing provincial programs is a crucial way to help the most vulnerable children and families in our province.” she added.

Canada's Parliment. The Trudeau government promised to look after families before being elected in October. In March 2016 he delivered his first budget and a new tax-free Canada child benefit was announced beginning on July 1, 2016. The Liberals believe that the Canada Child Benefit will pull about 300,000 children out of poverty. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Canada’s Parliment. The Trudeau government promised to look after families before being elected in October. In March 2016 he delivered his first budget and a new tax-free Canada child benefit was announced beginning on July 1, 2016. The Liberals believe that the Canada Child Benefit will pull about 300,000 children out of poverty, some 50,000 of them in the GTA.  photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Anti-poverty groups criticized Ontario and other provinces for clawing back benefits from families on social assistance under Ottawa’s national child benefit supplement, introduced in 1998. They urged Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to prohibit the practice when the Canada Child Benefit is introduced.

Although the new program has no such prohibitions, Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told the Star earlier this month that he was not aware of any province or territory planning to claw back the benefit from families on welfare.

Anti-poverty advocates praised Ontario’s announcement.

“Ontario’s decisive action to prevent clawbacks on the new Canada Child Benefit will ensure that the most vulnerable families in our province receive a much needed income security boost,” said Pedro Barata of the Toronto and York Region United Way.

“This is a great example of how different levels of government can work together to fight poverty and drive tangible results that will be good for our communities.”

 

Toronto: TTC to Permanently Eliminate All Sunday-Only Bus/Streetcar Stops

Update:

TTC streetcars. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19.
TTC streetcars. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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By Father’s Day, All Sunday-Only Bus/Streetcar Stops will be permanently eliminated.

TTC Bus. By Father's Day, all Sunday-only bus stops will be gone. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
TTC Bus. By Father’s Day, all Sunday-only bus stops will be gone. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

TTC service improvements and changes

As of June 19, 2016, several services changes will take effect and include: new or improved services, permanent service changes, discontinuation of routes, removal of Sunday-only bus stops, and removal of streetcar stops. View all Service Changes.

Often streetcars bunch up and passengers enter and exit both the front and rear doors of streetcars.
Often streetcars bunch up and passengers enter and exit both the front and rear doors of streetcars. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

New/Improved service

Permanent Service Changes

  • 24D Victoria Park – Branch discontinued
  • 35 Jane – Routing change
  • 172 Cherry Street – Route discontinued
  • 224 Victoria Park North – Route discontinued

Removal of Sunday-only bus stops

TTC is removing all remaining 28 Sunday-only bus stops by June 19. Last year, the TTC removed all 41 Sunday-only streetcar stops in the city. Sunday stops, which were established in the 1920’s to reduce walking distance to nearby churches, are, at an average of about 125 metres away, too close to existing adjacent regular stops — transportation best practices state that bus stops should be 300 to 400 metres apart. The TTC is removing the stops for safety reasons as well, as none are located at signalized intersections or crosswalks.

Removal/relocation of streetcar stops

To improve pedestrian safety and customer journey times, the TTC is also removing 13 streetcar stops by June 19 and relocating another 28 stops along Broadview Avenue, Dundas Street West, Gerrard Street East, Kingston Road, King Street East, King Street West, McCaul Street, Queen Street East and Queen Street West this year.

TTC is constantly making changes in an effort to make this public transit system safer and more efficient. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
TTC is constantly making changes in an effort to make this public transit system safer and more efficient. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

42% of Canadian jobs at high risk of being affected by automation, new study suggests

Update:

This May 2016 photo shows an Otto driverless truck at a garage in San Francisco. A new report suggests technology and computers could put 42 per cent of Canadian jobs at risk in the next two decades.
Driverless tractor trailers are being developed in San Francisco. A new report suggests technology and computers could put 42 per cent of Canadian jobs at risk in the next two decades. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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More than 40 per cent of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being replaced by technology and computers in the next two decades, according to a new report out Wednesday.

The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Toronto’s Ryerson University said in its report that automation previously has been restricted to routine, manual tasks. However, breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and advanced robotics now means that automation is moving into “cognitive, non-routine tasks and occupations, such as driving and conducting job interviews.”

The report said the top five occupations — in terms of number of people employed in them — facing a high risk of automation are:

  1. Retail salesperson.
  2. Administrative assistant.
  3. Food counter attendant.
  4. Cashier.
  5. Transport truck driver.

The institute put a 70 per cent or higher probability that “high risk” jobs will be affected by automation over the next 10 to 20 years, and it said workers in the most susceptible jobs typically earn less and have lower education levels than the rest of the Canadian labour force.

“We don’t believe that all of these jobs will be lost,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute, in a release. “Many will be restructured, and new jobs will be created as the nature of occupations change due to the impact of technology and computerization.”

Jobs deemed to be at a low risk of being affected by automation — having a less than 30 per cent chance — are linked to high skill levels and higher earnings, such as management and jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The top five low risk occupation, by employment, are

  1. Retail and wholesale trade managers.
  2. Registered nurses.
  3. Elementary and kindergarten teacher.
  4. Early childhood educators and assistant.
  5. Secondary school teachers.

 Retail salesperson. Administrative assistant. Food counter attendant. Cashier. Transport truck driver.

The report said the top five occupations (in terms of number of people employed in them) facing a high risk of automation are: 1. Retail salesperson, 2. Administrative assistant, 3. Food Counter attendant, 4. Cashier and 5. Transport truck driver. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The Brookfield Institute’s report said low-risk occupations are projected to produce nearly 712,000 new jobs, absent automation, between 2014 and 2024, while high-risk occupation are expected to add 396,000 over that same time frame.

On a provincial basis, Ontario has the lowest proportion — 41.1 per cent — of jobs at high risk of automation, while P.E.I. has the highest with over 45 per cent of jobs at high risk of automation over the next 10 to 20 years.

The institute also said workers in the jobs deemed at high risk in the study are disproportionately between 15 and 24 years, while workers in lower risk jobs tend to be “prime-aged workers,” between 25 and 54.

“Canada’s younger and, to a lesser extent, older populations are more likely to be vulnerable to the effects of automation,” the study said.

“We hope these findings can help contribute to an important debate about how Canada should prepare for the effects of automation and computerization on our labour force,”  Mullin said.

The institute suggested that more study is needed into high-risk occupations to determine their ability to withstand automation and technology-based restructuring.

Toronto's TTC Subway.
“I owe, I owe. It’s off to work we go”. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Paralyzed man testifies in P.E.I. bike crash trial

Update: see previous post – June 14, 2016 Driver on trial for P.E.I. crash involving cyclist

Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman and cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday.
Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman and cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday. (CBC)

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Cyclist Alan Stanley said it was a ‘beautiful day’ before accident happened

Alan Stanley was seated in his wheelchair in the witness stand Wednesday as he testified in Charlottetown Provincial Court about the crash involving his bicycle and a car last August.

“It was a beautiful summer day,” he said as testimony began.  “We were near the end of the ride when it happened. We’d gone about 90 kilometres.”

Stanley was headed south on Brackley Point Road in Charlottetown with a group of about 20 or 30 cyclists on Aug. 1, 2015, when his bike collided with an on-coming car that was making a left turn.

Bicycle accident
The scene Aug. 1, 2015, on Brackley Point Road where cyclist Alan Stanley collided with a vehicle. (Charlottetown Police)

Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, 26, of Saint John, N.B., has pleaded not guilty to making an unsafe turn, under the Highway Traffic Act.

Often led the pack

Wednesday morning, a fellow cyclist testified Stanley was one of the fastest riders in their group, and often led the pack.

She also testified Stanley “broke the rules of the road” once in a while, such as exceeding the speed limit or going through stop signs.

Bicycle
Alan Stanley’s bicycle, foreground, after the crash on Aug. 1, 2015, that left him paralyzed. (Charlottetown Police)

“But only when there were no cars in sight and it was safe,” she testified.

The court also examined speed data downloaded from a GPS one of the cyclists had on his bike.

40 km per hour

That data shows the cyclists were coasting downhill at about 40 kilometres per hour just before the crash took place.

The speed limit was 50.

Drivers have testified traffic was heavy and moving slowly.

The cyclists were using the south-bound bike lane on Brackley Point Road.

Stanley has filed a civil suit against the driver.

The driver has filed a statement of defence claiming he is not at fault.

Driver on trial for P.E.I. crash involving cyclist

Update:

Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of N.B., and former cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday.
Accused Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of N.B., and former cyclist Alan Stanley attended provincial court in Charlottetown Tuesday. (CBC)

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Paralyzed cyclist to testify at trial

A cyclist who was paralyzed after his bike and a car collided last year will testify at a two-day trial that started today in P.E.I. provincial court in Charlottetown.

Alan Stanley, 60, has been paralyzed since the crash on August 1, 2015 on Brackley Point Road in Charlottetown.

Stanley is among seven prosecution witnesses slated to testify at the trial of the car driver involved in the crash.

The driver, Jordan Arsenault-Loeman, of Saint John, N.B., has pleaded not guilty to making an unsafe turn, an infraction under the Highway Traffic Act.

The defence contends Arsenault-Loeman did no wrong — traffic was heavy and cars were moving slowly.

Stanley was with a group of 20 or 30 cyclists coming down a hill in the bike lane on Brackley Point Road, by the Sherwood Business Centre.

Arsenault-Loeman’s lawyer argues the bicycles were simply going too fast so his client can’t be at fault.

Witnesses testify

Two witnesses to the crash testified Tuesday morning, describing a scene of busy traffic that sunny Saturday afternoon.

Both testified the driver was in the northbound lane, and was making a left turn when the crash took place.

They testified the car was moving slowly.

“Nothing out of the ordinary,” one of them testified.

The cyclist was heading south in the bike lane on Brackley Point Road.

He was with several riders who were travelling next to the curb spread out at varying intervals, as one witness described it.

‘Knew it wasn’t good’

Under cross examination, the witnesses testified the bicycles were moving fast.

“I thought it must be a race,” one witness testified, “judging by their speed and how many there was.”

The other witness testified the bicycles were moving faster than the cars on the road.

“As the car made the left, I heard a crash,” one witness testified. “Then I saw the cyclist lying on his back. I knew it wasn’t good.”

The trial is scheduled to run two days.