Garneau seeks Senate advice on rules, regs for future of driverless cars

By Joan Bryden

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Canada’s Senate, often accused of being an anachronism, is being asked to wrestle with the futuristic dream of driverless cars.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau wants the Senate’s transportation and communications committee to launch a study of the regulatory, policy and technical issues that need to be addressed so that Canada can safely and smoothly make the transition to self-driving vehicles a coming automotive revolution that’s already being road tested in Ontario and elsewhere.

His request for a Senate study is part of the Trudeau government’s attempt to recast the much-maligned upper house as an independent and valued institution that has an important parliamentary role to play.

It follows Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s creation of an arm’s-length advisory board to recommend non-partisan nominees for appointment to the Senate.

Among other things, Garneau says the committee should examine the potential for Canada to set standards for the development of automated cars that can operate safely on icy winter roads.The technology I’m talking about is not science fiction,” Garneau said during an appearance late Wednesday before the Senate committee.

“The technology I’m talking about is not science fiction,” Garneau said during an appearance late Wednesday before the Senate committee.

“It is in development today and has the potential to improve safety, efficiency and the environmental performance of transportation in Canada and other countries.”

Still, he said there are many questions that must be addressed, including the long-term impact on privacy, energy, land use, transportation demand and employment.

Garneau and Canadian Heritage Minister Melanie Joly were invited to appear Wednesday before the committee to discuss the mandate letters given to them by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when they took charge of their portfolios. Garneau took the opportunity to ask the committee to launch a driverless car study.

“I’m one of these people who believes that the Senate is part of Parliament, that has done some very serious and very important and groundbreaking studies and I want to engage with them in the most productive possible way,” Garneau said in an interview.

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to make driving safer, he said, noting that automated vehicles “don’t fall asleep, they don’t drink.” And they’re potentially more energy efficient because “there’s less of a heavy foot on the gas and heavy foot on the brake kind of driving.”

But there are also challenges, like ensuring vehicles have backups should their computer systems fail and figuring out how to replicate human judgment in unpredictable winter driving conditions.

Driverless vehicles will automatically keep a safe distance from other vehicles but, Garneau noted: “We in Canada have to make judgment calls in the winter time when we’re on icy roads and black ice. So that’s got to be part of it as well because they’re not all nice California roads.”

Moreover, Garneau said automated cars raise issues of liability and insurance, cyber security, to ensure that vehicles’ computer systems can’t be hacked, and privacy, to protect those who don’t want their whereabouts constantly tracked.

“There are rules and regulations that will have to be put in place that don’t exist at the moment.”

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FirstOnSite Restoration announces the launch of its new Western Canada branch in Victoria, B.C

FirstOnSite Victoria Branch Opening Post Slider

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new Western Canada branch in Victoria, British Columbia. The Victoria branch will serve residential, insurance and commercial customers in the Greater Victoria Region, and further strengthen our operational presence in the province.

The branch is prepared to handle any type of disaster, from residential incidents to commercial events and large-scale catastrophes, and we look forward to working with insurers and members of the community to help prepare for disasters, and to provide clean up and restoration services when necessary.

Press Release:

FirstOnSite Restoration, Canada’s largest independent disaster restoration company, is pleased to announce the launch of its new Western Canada branch in Victoria, British Columbia. The Victoria branch will serve residential, insurance and commercial customers in the Greater Victoria Region, further strengthening the firm’s operational presence in the province.“The expansion of FirstOnSite’s operations to Greater Victoria is in line with our company mission of providing unparalleled disaster restoration service across Canada,” said Joseph DeAngelis, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Western Region, FirstOnSite. “Through this launch, we intend to strengthen our client service capabilities in the BC region and further increase our ability to mobilize

“The expansion of FirstOnSite’s operations to Greater Victoria is in line with our company mission of providing unparalleled disaster restoration service across Canada,” said Joseph DeAngelis, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Western Region, FirstOnSite. “Through this launch, we intend to strengthen our client service capabilities in the BC region and further increase our ability to mobilize
quickly when it counts most – during time-sensitive disaster situations.”

The Victoria branch will be headed up by Daryl Horvath, who will serve as Project Manager and Branch Leader. Mr. Horvath has extensive leadership experience in the property restoration industry, beginning in 1969 working in his family property restoration business. He has a full complement of experience, beginning from production through to upper management, and is well respected in the Victoria community where he has earned a reputation for integrity. Mr. Horvath has also added to his industry knowledge through courses at the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration, Worksafe B.C., the Homeowner Protection Office and Camosun College. As Branch Leader, Mr. Horvath will be responsible for establishing the new branch, and managing overall branch operations.

“I look forward to leading branch operations in Victoria while working with a dedicated team of restoration professionals.” said Daryl Horvath, Project Manager and Branch Leader, FirstOnSite. “Our team will work hard to provide clients with the best possible service, each and every time.” The launch of FirstOnSite’s Victoria branch is part of a long-term company strategy of maximizing service and operational efficiency to better meet the evolving needs of clients.

To contact the branch directly, call 250-360-0277. Or, if you have an emergency, call our 24/7 emergency hotline at 1-877-778-6731.

About FirstOnSite

FirstOnSite Restoration is the leading Canadian disaster restoration company, providing remediation, restoration and reconstruction services nationwide, and for the US large loss and commercial market. FirstOnSite’s corporate structure is distinguished within the industry as it provides unequalled degrees of speed, scope and scale, including unmatched abilities to embrace innovations and technologies that help meet the unique needs of its customers. With over 1,100 employees, 39 locations, 24/7 emergency service and a commitment to customer service, FirstOnSite proudly serves the residential, commercial and industrial sectors.

FirstOnSite has been a recipient of the Deloitte Best Managed Company award since 2012 and is an approved vendor for many leading insurance companies and commercial clients. For more information visit: www.firstonsite.ca or call 1-877-778- 6731,

 

Pink Shirt Day focuses on the importance of Kindness

Since 2008, over $1.2 million has been raised for the cause through the sale of pink shirts and granted to non-profit organizations including Boys & Girls Clubs, Red Cross RespectED Violence Prevention Program, and Kids Help Phone. These programs teach children empathy, kindness and the importance of building healthy relationships – both with themselves and their peers.

The t-shirt design was created pro-bono by award-winning advertising agency ‘Rethink’ and states “Kindness is one size fits all”. Kindness is universal — a trait the CKNW Orphans’ Fund encourage everyone to express openly every day. The phrase “one size fits all” works for one simple reason: it stands for inclusive, both in clothing and in our everyday lives. We’re all gloriously different, but we all have the capacity to put kindness out into the world.

Coast Capital Savings, a large supporter and presenting sponsor of Pink Shirt Day, is passionate about the cause. “Our community promise is to help build a richer future for youth. One of the ways we do this is by supporting anti-bullying initiatives, like Pink Shirt Day, that teach kindness and respect, attributes that are important in helping to build belonging,” says Wendy Lachance, Director, Community Leadership.

Some fundraising campaigns are also running across the province in the month of February including pink cupcakes at Take Five Café, classes by donation on Pink Shirt Day at YYoga and more.

Net proceeds will benefit the CKNW Orphans’ Fund in support of anti-bullying programs in BC. For updates on CKNW Orphans’ Fund Pink Shirt Day, please visit www.pinkshirtday.ca, on Twitter @pinkshirtday, and on Facebook.

About Pink Shirt Day: In 2007, two Nova Scotia students decided to take action after witnessing a younger student being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school. The students bought 50 pink t-shirts and encouraged schoolmates to wear them and send a powerful message of solidarity to the bully. CKNW Orphan’s Fund was inspired by the story and to date have raised more than $1.2 million for anti-bullying programs in British Columbia with the sales of Pink Shirt Day T-Shirts.

About CKNW Orphans’ Fund: Dedicated to enhancing the lives of children with social, physical and mental challenges living in BC communities. We provide funding to both individual children and organizations for a variety of developmental needs, with an emphasis on therapies, educational bursaries, and specialized medical equipment.

Are you compliant with the anti-bullying laws?

Ontario, Manitoba, Québec and Saskatchewan have already introduced legislation against bullying and B.C. recently enacted Bill 14 [Workers Compensation Amendment Act] to address the effects of bullying at work.

Become compliant with existing laws. Complete ILScorp’s “Understanding Workplace Bullying & Tools for Safeguarding an Organization from Bullying Behaviour” courses.

With these anti-bullying courses you will:

  • determine whether a problem exists in a workplace
  • learn how to prevent incidents
  • gain tools for safeguarding your organization from bullying behaviour
  • develop a workplace bullying prevention program

This course is included free of charge as part of your ILS General CE Course Subscription. This course is General and Adjuster CE accredited, however, ILScorp recommends that all employees receive this training for law compliance.

Become an ILScorp group member

You want to claim what on your taxes?

Read more

Enjoy a safe and happy BC Family Day weekend this year!

On Monday, February 8, British Columbians will celebrate the fourth annual BC Family Day.

Communities throughout B.C. are celebrating the Family Day weekend from February 5 to 8, 2016. See what’s happening in your hometown!

BC Parks offers many ways for B.C. families to enjoy a fun and affordable Family Day.
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/visiting/bcfamilyday/

This mid-winter holiday offers families in all their diversity the chance to spend some extra time together. See our events listing for some of the special Family Day activities planned for this year.

Enjoy a safe and happy BC Family Day weekend this year!

The ILScorp offices will be closed Monday, Feb. 8 as we take some time to enjoy the long weekend. We’ll be back Tuesday morning, ready to take your calls, answer your questions and register you for online insurance programs. You can reach us from 8 a.m. – 5  p.m. Pacific Time.

You can also register for our insurance training programs online, anytime, at ILScorp.com

Stay up to date by liking us on Facebook or following @ilstv for insurance news and more on twitter.

*ILScorp’s office will be open on Monday, Feb. 15, which is a statutory holiday in AB, SK & ON.

And for insurance subscribers to the ILSTV insurance industry newsletter, your daily dose of Canadian insurance news returns to your inbox on Tuesday, Feb 16th.

Have a great long weekend, everyone!

Drones, dogs and DNA the latest weapons against invasive species

By Tamsyn Burgmann

THE CANADIAN PRESS

RICHMOND, B.C. _ Field technicians on the hunt for invasive species used to go on foot, by canoe or relied on satellite photographs taken from outer space.

But an ecologist who dispatched a drone to detect invaders in a British Columbia wildlife area is now recommending more remote-controlled robots do the difficult work.

“With a drone we’re looking at pixel sizes that are teeny tiny. The resolution is amazing. You can literally zoom in and see all the petals on that flower,” said Catherine Tarasoff, an adjunct professor at Thompson Rivers University.

“I’ve gotten past the steep learning curve and see the unlimited possibilities.”

Tarasoff trialled the unmanned aerial technology last June at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, an internationally protected wetland in south-central B.C.

The successful experiment was one of several cutting-edge advancements showcased in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday in the ongoing battle against invasive species. More than 150 specialists from across the province are gathered for three days to discuss emerging issues and learn about the latest techniques to apply in their own regions.

“There’s way more technology involved than there used to be,” said Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of B.C., which is hosting the forum. “We’re in a whole new world now.”

Wallin said technology has not only empowered the experts, but is making a dent by enlisting the public. For example, there are now smartphone apps that help identify and report what’s in your backyard.

The council hopes to persuade people to take preventative actions against spreading invasives as a new social norm, just like recycling, she said.

“Now I can give you tools, and without being an invasive species specialist, you can go and find out what is invasive and what to do,” she said, noting the strategies are also being disseminated over social media.

“You don’t need to know about mussels or spartina or milfoil, or anything like that.”

Prof. Tarasoff, who also runs her own consulting firm, ran the drone pilot project after she was approached by the wildlife area’s manager, who suggested she try the increasingly popular technology.

So she sent two students and the drone out for two days to map a vast region being consumed by the yellow flag iris, a plant considered one of the province’s worst invasives. The species with garden-flower appeal was used by landscapers all along the coast before ecologists realized it was swallowing aquatic environments and decimating habitats.

Tarasoff said the camera-mounted drone soared about 50 metres above to snap thousands of photos, which were stitched together into a massive final image. When viewed on a computer, she could move her mouse cursor over any spot to find out its GPS location. The data was handed over to experts tasked with weeding out the invader.

Drones could save money over the long-term and provide an alternative to dangerous, labour-intensive foraging, she said. Her next goal is to train a “smart drone” that can determine on its own which species must be photographed.

Other novel techniques gaining traction and reducing human error include sniffer dogs and DNA analysis, the forum heard.

Cindy Sawchuk, with Alberta’s environment and parks ministry, described using canines’ ultra-sensitive nose as a “game changer” for blocking the entry of zebra and quagga mussels on boats returning to the province after visiting foreign waters.

A double-blind trial that compared dogs to trained watercraft inspectors found the animals outperformed humans in every category, she said. Dogs detected mussel-fouled boats 100 per cent of the time, while the people only caught hitchhikers 75 per cent accurately.

Canada’s federal fisheries department is also getting on board with more sophisticated detection methods, said Davon Callander, who works at its Pacific Biological Station in Nanaimo, B.C.

She said that invasive species can now be detected in environmental DNA, which is found abundantly in any ecosystem.

“It really is as easy as going out and getting a litre of water,” she said, explaining how the samples are filtered for the “eDNA,” which is then amplified, sequenced and matched to species’ barcodes.

“Times are changing.”

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