A survey by Kanetix.ca shows 25% of drivers never review their policies—missing out on savings

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Yes, climate change is a crisis: surveys

The results are in.

After many people were buzzing about a new Angus Reid poll that concluded most Canadians believe the country faces a crisis due to a lack of pipelines, we did a few informal surveys of our ownto ask the public some questions that we felt had been left out.

Twenty-four hours later, we have received about 800 votes and have some overwhelming results.

We must admit that our tongues were firmly planted in our cheeks as we proceeded, but we believe that these issues are no laughing matter. And while our own poll wasn’t scientific, we’d challenge Angus Reid to do the same survey with our questions (we used a similar wording to what they used but changed the topic) and see what happens.

Now one question we didn’t ask was about how all of the issues surrounding pipelines relate to Indigenous rights, protected under the Constitution. We made a deliberate choice not to include it as a poll question because we don’t think that human rights are the sort of issue that should be decided based on a popularity contest.

In fact, history has shown us that rights need to be enshrined in our laws to protect the minority.

In the meantime, here are our results.

Out of 223 votes, 86 per cent of the respondents said that the Alberta Energy Regulator’s internal estimate of $260 billion in financial liabilities for the oilpatch is a “crisis.”

Out of 182 responses, a whopping 96 per cent said that a recent scientific assessment by the United Nations IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that said the world had only 12 years left to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change is a “crisis.”

Out of 193 responses, 89 per cent said that the Ontario government’s recent decisions to cancel green energy policies is a “crisis.”

And finally, out of 181 votes, 96 per cent said that the fact that large portions of Canada’s forests are at risk of dying off as climate change aggravates wildfires, droughts and infestations is a “crisis.”

Have we mentioned yet that the Insurance Bureau of Canada has just sent out some warnings about a new report that estimated severe weather caused $1.9 billion in insured damage in 2018?

“Climate change is costing Canadian taxpayers, governments and businesses billions of dollars each and every year,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president of federal affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in a statement. “We must take the necessary steps to limit these losses in the future. The cost of inaction is too high.”

Are the billions of dollars in losses from climate-related catastrophes a “crisis or not?”

Well, as Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips wrote on Twitter, this is the “Insurance Bureau of Canada, everybody.”

Read more here:


Canada needs a digital ID system, bankers association says

CTV News

The Canadian Bankers Association says Canada must create a digital identification system, potentially utilizing technology such as blockchain, biometrics and document review over a live video connection.

The association’s chief executive says moving away from a paper-based, face to face process towards a modern identification system of this kind is needed to “unlock the full potential” of the digital revolution that is underway.

Neil Parmenter added in his speech in Toronto today that the need for digital identification “will only grow more urgent” as Ottawa explores the possibilities of open banking, the payments system is modernized and blockchain and artificial intelligence move into “new frontiers.”

The Department of Finance last week officially launched its public consultation on the merits of open banking, a framework that would allow consumers and businesses to permit third parties such as fintechs to access their financial data to provide innovative services.

Parmenter says the CBA is calling for a “federated” model of digital identification which would create linkages between federal and provincial systems, which hold information such as social insurance and drivers’ licences, respectively.

He says this digital identification system, which the CBA previously outlined in a white paper, could make it possible to authenticate an individual’s identity electronically using multiple digital reference points from different systems.

Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Vancouver Sun | dtodd@postmedia.com

A business college at the University of Illinois has taken out an insurance policy against the potential catastrophic loss of revenue from high-fee-paying students from China.

Educators and social-media commentators are expressing fears the river of money flowing from Chinese students into Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia will dry up because of a brewing trade war and the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The government of China has said it has more than 600,000 students studying abroad, the vast majority of them in English-language countries. Highly desired Canada has more than 186,000 of them, according to China’s Toronto consulate (the federal government’s figure is slightly lower). That means China’s young people make up roughly one in three of all 500,000 international students in Canada.

Despite China’s ambassador to Canada last week hammering English-speaking countries as “arrogant” and rife with “white supremacy” for their defence of Meng’s arrest, there is no sign that China’s leaders are ready to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who reacted to Canada’s human rights comments last year by calling back most of the Saudi students in Canada.

“I don’t think the Chinese will be as petulant as the Saudis were, or as unsophisticated, although they may make more subtle changes over time,” Andrew Griffith, a migration researcher and former senior director in Canada’s Immigration Department, said.

Canada could even attract more Chinese students in the future in part because the number entering the U.S. appears to be flattening out, possibly because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about China and immigrants. That’s why Illinois business college dean Jeffrey Brown, realizing his school had become highly dependent on Chinese students’ money, took out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Canada hosts eight times more Chinese students per capita than the U.S., suggesting this country’s educational institutions are more dependent on, if not addicted to, their fees than U.S. colleges. Some higher-education researchers are calling the phenomenon “academic capitalism.”

It’s the expanding trend in English-language countries to make up for steadily eroding taxpayer funding of schools, colleges and universities by capitalizing on the full fees paid by students from mostly well-off families from around the world, with China providing by far the biggest group.

Some Canadian educators, and researchers like Mengwei Su and Laura Harrison of Ohio University, say the intense concentration of Chinese students in Western schools brings with it drawbacks, however, mainly for the students themselves.

Even though Western universities welcome Chinese students as “a particularly lucrative market,” Su and Harrison found many of the young Chinese struggle with English and integrating into Western culture — partly because they are ending up in classrooms and living situations dominated by other students from China.

“Seventy per cent of the students in my class are from China,” one Chinese student told the Ohio researchers, describing the sense of social segregation. “The class is not much different from that in our country,” said another Chinese pupil. One young woman from China opted to study in the Netherlands rather than North America, saying, “I want to avoid too many Chinese students.”

Against a backdrop in which the taxpayer-funded proportion of the operating budgets of B.C.’s public universities has drastically declined in recent decades, more than half the foreign undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, more than 2,700, now come from China.

The University of B.C. has 5,000 students from China, almost one third of its international student population. Scores of public high schools, colleges and two-room private language institutes also take in hefty fees from the roughly 50,000 Chinese students in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

The federal Liberal government is busily wooing more Chinese students, however. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is following the enthusiastic lead of former minister John McCallum and saying “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Hussen maintains international students in Canada, whose numbers have been recently jumping by roughly one quarter annually, funnel $11.6 billion a year into Canada’s economy, adding they also enhance “cultural exchange.” To make it easier for more Chinese students to jet across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, the Liberal government recently opened seven new visa centres in China. Hussen acknowledged such students can contribute to the housing and rental squeeze in cities such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver, particularly since many offshore parents buy Canadian homes for their offspring.

Western “higher education institutions are slowly evolving into a corporate-like enterprise that pursues monetary gains, at times eclipsing their educational mission,” write Su and Harrison, of Ohio University, echoing growing sentiment among scholars of higher education.

The Ohio researchers found a key financial problem is that some overseas recruiting “agents” are exploiting international students, with more than half the Chinese students they surveyed hiring these advisers to navigate their complicated route to the West.

The trouble with agents dominating the field of global education, according to Su and Harrison, is many are providing misinformation to students, steering them to inappropriate schools and not warning them about how difficult it will likely be to learn workable English. Many students get stuck in never-ending English-remediation classes.

To root out abuse and increase overseas families’ trust in such agents, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland have developed a code to regulate them, say Thompson Rivers University researchers Victoria Handford and Halying Li.

But Canada has not signed on to the protocol, which is designed to ensure the agents behave more ethically.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recruiting continues apace.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Semi-driving instructor says he’s been suspended for criticizing Sask. government

CBC News ·

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) has suspended the semi driving instructor who’s been one of the Crown corporation’s harshest critics since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Reg Lewis’ one-month suspension took effect Christmas Eve.

According to SGI documents, Lewis breached the Crown corporation’s code of conduct with his use of profanity and “instructional style.”

Lewis said the suspension forced him to cancel the training courses for more than a dozen students in a province already dealing with a massive driver shortage. Lewis estimates it will cost his small business more than $40,000 as his two trucks and fellow instructor sit idle.

The veteran Swift Current instructor notes there were no safety or competence issues. He says he’s being singled out and SGI is simply trying to silence its critics.

“I think SGI is trying to tell me that I should keep my mouth shut — that I shouldn’t be speaking up, that we’re in charge and you’d better damn well better do it our way or you’re going to lose your driving school,” Lewis said in an interview this week.

SGI said Lewis is mistaken.

“To claim that a suspension was motivated by anything else would be unequivocally false,” an SGI official said in an email Thursday.

Advocates have pressed to make semi driver training mandatory. It is required in Ontario, and will be this spring in Saskatchewan and Alberta. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Lewis said he was deeply affected by the April 6 crash between the Humboldt Broncos and a semi which left 16 people dead and 13 injured.

Lewis has dedicated his life to teaching truck safety since his own parents were killed in a collision with a semi more than 20 years ago. Following the crash, Lewis spoke publicly about the need for mandatory semi driver training.

At the time, Ontario was the only province that required semi drivers to take any training courses. In most provinces, passing a road and written exam allows drivers to take any sized truck in any conditions onto any road in Canada.

Shortly after the Broncos crash, Lewis blasted SGI and the Saskatchewan government for the lack of training. Fellow instructors, drivers, academics and Broncos’ family members agreed.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have since announced training will become mandatory this spring. Other provinces and the federal government are also considering it.

The driver of the semi in the Broncos crash pleaded guilty this week to 29 counts of dangerous driving. His sentencing hearing takes place later this month.

Swift Current driving instructor Reg Lewis takes a student in a semi during a recent training session. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Lewis supplied his suspension letter and roughly 30 other pages of SGI correspondence at the request of CBC News.

Some of the incidents cited by SGI date back to 2014. In one, Lewis yelled and “berated” a student who drove the semi over a curb as he rounded a corner.

When questioned at that time, Lewis supplied SGI with video evidence. SGI said the video “demonstrated multiple missed opportunities for instruction and the use of profanity.”

Another SGI document stated a student experienced the worst anxiety of his life this November after Lewis yelled at him to “Put the <expletive> clutch to the floor and put the <expletive> truck in gear.”

Some students said Lewis was overly negative. A dispute also arose when one student wanted to stop halfway through and asked for a refund to their prepaid, non-refundable fees.

In an email Thursday to CBC News, SGI officials said the Crown only issues suspensions after taking all other steps to address “serious and repeated concerns.” They noted Lewis had previously been put on probation, some of which predates his public criticism of SGI.

SGI said instructors can appeal suspensions to the Highway Traffic Board. Lewis did appeal unsuccessfully this month. Lewis said the broad definitions in the SGI code of conduct make a reversal nearly impossible.

Calls for mandatory semi driver training grew after 16 people were killed and 13 injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash with a semi. (Karen Pauls/CBC News )

Lewis said these and other allegations are a “joke.” He admitted to using the “f-word” for emphasis, but said it’s common language in trucking and many other industries.

“We’re all adults here. Sometimes, it happens,” he said.

As for yelling, Lewis said it’s necessary when someone drives on a sidewalk or requires immediate correction.

He said many students believe their payment entitles them to their licence and complain when he demands a higher skill level.

Lewis said there have never been issues with the quality of the training or his safety record. Other SGI officials praise his competence.

“I am pleased to report there were no substantive issues identified,” an SGI official wrote following a 2016 ride-along evaluation.

In June, another SGI evaluator asked Lewis to adjust his instructional style but told him, “Your dedication and passion for traffic safety is evident.”

Lewis will be back in business Jan. 24, but said the suspension could scare others who want to speak out on road safety issues.

“A long time ago I decided I don’t care who I upset,” he said. “Either you’re here to learn how to drive a truck or you’re not.”

Ontario Family Who Had Their Roof Destroyed By Falling Ice From An Airplane


An Ontario family was horrified when a huge block of ice fell through their ceiling and landed in their bedroom, only steps away from where they were sleeping. The block of ice was reportedly from an Air Canada plane traveling from Las Vegas to Toronto. The family has reached out to the Toronto airport, but according to them, Pearson Airport refuses to help the Ontario family who had their roof destroyed by falling ice from an airplane.

“The noise was enormous,” the victim, Carmela Caccavo told CityNews“I saw the big piece of ice and all the insulation. I started to panic”. She added that she could have been seriously hurt had it fallen just a few metres towards her bed. “I was lucky. It could have hit me on the head”. 

The chunk of ice falling into their home was not just frightening, but highly costly. The repairs will cost an estimated $20,000 and as of now, the family has to bear the entire cost. The damage is not covered by their insurance either.

According to CityNews, the ice is most likely to have dropped from an Air Canada Rouge flight due to arrive at Toronto Pearson Airport, based on flight path data. The family lives around 25 kilometres from the airport.

The family reached out to Pearson Airport, but according to them, the airport provided no help or remedy. “In the end, they said they couldn’t really do much,” Caccavo’s son, Michael said.

“They said they can’t find who was in the air (and) there are so many airports in the area. In the end, they just said to contact the insurance and have them deal with it … which is not satisfactory.” The family has said that the insurance does not cover these damages, meaning they would have to foot the $20,000 bill.  

Air Canada has responded to the incident and the airline has not taken responsibility. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told CityNews that the plane, which was a Boeing 767, “received regular maintenance and there were no signs of any issue that would create this situation”. 

As well, it is important to bear in mind that aircraft land every few minutes at YYZ (Pearson) so there are several planes operated by many airlines in the sky at any one time over Pearson,” said Fitzpatrick.

Ontario contractor Gerry Johnson confirmed that this was an issuethat was re-occurring. He was working to repair the hole in the Ontario family’s home and said it is the third time he’s seen damages that are from falling ice from airplanes. “It’s coming from the sky, guaranteed,” he told CityNews“Someone’s going to get killed.”

CityNews also reached out to other airlines, which also had arrivals at Pearson between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM to see anything similar had happened with their planes. WestJet responded to the accident and told CityNews it had no reported incidents. Other airlines have yet to comment.

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