Heartbleed CRA hacker heading to U.S. competition after judge lifts travel ban

LONDON, Ont. _ A judge has agreed to lift a travel ban imposed on a London, Ont., university student who pleaded guilty to mischief in connection to a major data breach at the Canada Revenue Agency in 2014.

The London Free Press reported Wednesday that Stephen Solis-Reyes, 21, who has been called the Heartbleed hacker, will be allowed to leave the country in September to compete in a computer programming competition in San Francisco.

The London judge told the computer whiz in court Wednesday the move is “exceedingly exceptional.”

“It means a lot, for sure,” Solis-Reyes told the newspaper outside the courthouse. “I think he is expecting big things from me. He’s expecting what I do in this competition is going to help society and help me in the future.”

The Western University student was invited to the competition in San Francisco after he was named as one of the 10 finalists in an international, IBM-sponsored computer programming competition, called Mastering the Mainframe, that drew 15,000 entries worldwide. If he finishes in the top two places in San Francisco, he will go to Las Vegas for two more days, the Free Press reported.

Solis-Reyes was convicted in May of four charges  two counts of mischief, unauthorized use of a computer and obstructing a police officer after he was able to steal 900 social insurance numbers from Canada Revenue Agency files. He said at the time he wanted to illustrate online vulnerability to the Heartbleed computer bug.

The agency’s website was shutdown for four days after the security breach and prompted the CRA to extend Canada’s tax-filing deadline.


Fort McMurray wildfire

By Marc Montgomery | CBC News

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) has released its preliminary report on damage claims from the Fort McMurray wildfire in northern Alberta.

The giant forest fire in western Canada was dubbed ‘the beast” because of its size, speed, the destruction caused and the difficulty in controlling and extinguishing it.

The fire burned into the town destroying well over two thousand homes and other buildings. Over 80,000 people were evacuated from the region.  The fire moved so quickly people were driving out of town even as flames towered about both sides of the highway.

Insurance claims so far amount to C$3.58 billion. This is a new record for damage claims and is  more than twice as much as the previous mostly costly natural disasters, the flooding in Calgary and southern Alberta in 2013 with claims of $1.78 billion.

Claims from that massive flood could have been much higher except that many homes and businesses were not covered for overland flooding. However, the provincial and federal governments paid some 4-billion dollars for a variety of uninsured losses.

One of the other major disasters with insurance claims over a billion dollars was the ice storm in 1998 affecting eastern Ontario, southern Quebec, and parts of New Brunswick. That storm resulted in insurance claims of $1.6 billion (in 1998 dollars)

“This wildfire, and the damage it caused, is more alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity in Canada,” said Don Forgeron, President and CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada

The wildfire claims include more than 27,000 personal property claims; with the average claim of $81,000. There are also more than 12,000 auto insurance claims, averaging $15,000 per claim. In addition, there are more than 5,000 commercial insurance claims that average over $250,000 per claim.

Climate change causing more disasters

“In recent times, wildfires and flooding have turned extreme and at times tragic,” said Forgeron. ” We must build a more resilient country to better protect those affected by the very real impacts of our changing climate. By taking action now, we can minimise costs to taxpayers and better equip homeowners for the risks and challenges that lie ahead.”

He added more needs to be done in consideration of climate changes including the way homes are built, especially in fire and flood-prone areas.IBC vice-president Bill Adams said, “ultimately, what we are seeing is that our climate is changing. And the long-term trends are directly the result of some of those dynamics”.

Beyond the costs of insurance claims, there are other economic losses from the fire. This includes well over a billion dollars in lost oil production. Then of course, there is the intangible losses in terms of irreplaceable personal items, lost wages and jobs, and the emotional toll on individuals and families.

However, as in previous cases, public funds to pay for firefighting and evacuee relief, police services, and other associated services could push the cost to the public purse into the billions.The total cost has yet to be determined, but the federal government has already announced a $300-million cash injection as part of its Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements programme.

50 Insane Facts About Canada

50 Insane Facts About Canada

Source: The Huffington Post Canada

50 Insane Facts About Canada (INFOGRAPHIC)

It’s our home and native land, but did you know Canada’s also home to 2.4 million caribou and 15,500 of the world’s 25,000 polar bears?

If not, there’s a strong possibility the rest of Cheapflight.ca’sinsane facts about Canada might surprise you. Consider it a collection of lesser known tidbits of Canadiana that are as diverse as the country itself.

Ranging on topics like people, food and drinks, laws and the country’s other oddities, these facts could be fun for travellers to keep in their back pocket the next time they’re swapping surprising trivia with other globe-trotters.

Speaking of globe trotters, just be sure to not confuse basketball as a sport a Canadian invented in the United States . Other small quibbles with info include the fact that Nunavut no longer has polar bear license plates and that Canada was totally a country until 1982 — that’s just the year the country switched from the British North American Act to its own constitution Canada.com points out.

Here’s another fun fact for you: despite being an infographic about Canada’s lesser-known tidbits, the piece was designed by NeoMam Studios in Manchester, U.K.,according to Where.ca.

So much for being made in Canada.

Take a gander at the infographic below to see what other quirks and quarks the Great White North is home to.


By the Numbers: 2015 WSIB Statistical Report Now Available

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) today released its By the Numbers: 2015 WSIB Statistical Report. The report highlights trends in injuries, illnesses, recovery and return to work in Ontario’s overall prevention system and industry sectors.

An important channel for providing open and accessible WSIB data and information, By the Numbers is updated annually with data and information about health and safety in Ontario’s workplaces.

“The 2015 By the Numbers report shows clearly that the vast majority of injured workers are recovering and returning to work within a month, and that is encouraging news,” said Thomas Teahen, WSIB President and CEO. “We are proud to be able to help injured workers resume their lives, support their families and loved ones, and participate in their communities.”

Among the statistics featured in the 2015 By the Numbers:

  • WSIB Return to Work staff made more than 21,000 visits to Ontario workplaces in 2015, and more than 91 per cent of injured workers were off loss-of-earnings benefits within one month of Return to Work staff involvement.
  • The WSIB served more than 5.3 million workers and more than 300,000 employers, registered almost 230,000 claims, and issued$2.58 billion in benefit payments.
  • The overall lost-time injury (LTI) rate in 2015 was less than one per cent in 2015, continuing a decade-long trend of Ontario having among the lowest LTI rates of any jurisdiction in Canada.


This year, the By the Numbers website has an innovative new feature called Report Builder. This self-service tool lets users easily choose and customize the WSIB information they need for building their own unique reports. For the first time in its history, By the Numbers includes occupational disease claims statistics, the subject of this year’s Focus chapter.

By the Numbers and the Report Builder are available now at wsibstatistics.ca.

SOURCE Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

More Canadians plan to rent out their cottages or cabins to help finance ownership

More Canadians plan to rent out their cottages or cabins to help finance ownership

Press Release:

2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report

As real estate prices rise, many Canadians are looking for alternative ways to finance their dreams of cottage and cabin ownership. In a recent survey of RE/MAX agents and brokers, more than half reported seeing an increase in buyers who planned to rent out their property full- or part-time. In a separate survey of Canadians, conducted by Leger, nearly 60 per cent agreed that due to the emergence of popular, user-driven vacation rental websites, it is easier for an owner to rent out an investment property today versus five years ago. The same survey found that millennials are most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the last year.

“Young Canadians are sustaining demand for access to recreational properties,” said Pamela Alexander, CEO and Regional Owner,North America, RE/MAX INTEGRA. “This provides an opportunity for buyers to finance their second homes, and we are seeing this most notably in high demand areas such as Grand Bend, Ontario, Tofino, B.C., and Quebec’s Eastern Townships.”

In most of the regions that reported an increase in buyers planning to rent out their properties, demand is driven primarily by families and retirees, rather than investors. Retirees were reported as being key drivers of demand in 83 per cent of regions surveyed, and 53 per cent of regions reported an increase in retiree buyers this year compared to last year.

“As the large demographic of Baby Boomers retires, we are seeing sellers who benefitted from significant price appreciation in cities like Vancouver and Toronto putting that equity into recreational markets, which is causing prices to increase in those regions,” saidElton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. “Some buyers who may still be five or 10 years away from retirement are taking the opportunity to enter those markets now, renting out their property until they are ready to retire.”

This effect has been especially pronounced in British Columbia, where significant price increases in the Lower Mainland are encouraging buyers to invest in regions such as the Okanagan and the Gulf Islands.

Low dollar boosting Canadian recreational regions

The low Canadian dollar is having a positive effect on Canada’s recreational property markets. Canadians, mainly Baby Boomers, who bought properties in the U.S. when U.S. real estate prices were comparably low are selling them at a profit and investing in Canadian recreational markets. The low dollar is also encouraging Canadians to vacation within the country rather than going abroad, putting their money into vacation rentals closer to home.

Some regions, particularly established recreational destinations with international reputations such as Whistler, the Muskokas and Mont Tremblant, are seeing foreign buyers, primarily from the U.S., return to those markets. Cape Breton Island, which recently made international news when a website “Cape Breton If Donald Trump Wins” gained the attention of high-profile news media, has seen increased interest from prospective U.S. buyers this year due to the publicity boost, combined with favourable exchange rates.

Canadians looking for a little peace and quiet

In a survey of Canadians, 94 per cent said that when thinking about spending a weekend at a cottage or cabin, a quiet atmosphere was rated as an important feature, followed closely by privacy (91%). Peace and quiet ranked above sandy beaches (75%), access to water (75%) and outdoor activities (74%). This was true for Canadians in all age groups and across all regions.

When considering purchasing a recreational property, it is important for buyers to take into account their personal priorities and preferences, as well as factors such as location, traffic and amenities. For example, buyers who value quiet and privacy over water access may find a short walk or drive to the beach is a better option than a waterfront property. An experienced real estate agent with local expertise can help prospective buyers know all the options within their budget and make an informed choice.

For the full 2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report including data and pricing chart, click here.

2015/2016 and 2014/2015 Median Prices (Large Markets)


Housing Type

2014/2015 Median Price

2015/2016 Median Price

Year-over-year (%)





















100 Mile House





100 Mile House





South Okanagan





South Okanagan










Qu’Appelle Valley





Parry Sound and Georgian Bay





Parry Sound and Georgian Bay





Grand Bend area




















Peterborough and Kawarthas (East)





Prince Edward Island





*Median price decrease in Whistler attributed to increased sales of fractional ownership properties. Average price for all property types in Whistler increased.


Key Findings from 2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report Omnibus Survey

  • 81% of Canadians have spent time at a cottage or cabin
    • BC: 78%
    • Alberta: 70%
    • Manitoba/Saskatchewan: 88%
    • Ontario: 86%
    • Quebec: 74%
    • Atlantic: 89%
  • Millennials (18-34) are most likely to have spent time at a cottage or cabin in the past year, compared with Canadians in other age groups
  • 58% of Canadians agree that online vacation rental services have made it easier to rent out an investment property versus five years ago
  • More than half of Canadians agree that a recreational property is a good financial investment
  • Features and amenities rated most important when thinking of a weekend at a cottage or cabin:
    • Canadians:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 94%
  2. Privacy: 91%
  3. Sandy beaches: 75%
  4. Water access: 75%
    • British Columbians:
  1. Privacy: 89%
  2. Quiet atmosphere: 88%
  3. Sandy beaches: 75%
  4. Outdoor activities: 75%
    • Albertans:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 96%
  2. Privacy: 94%
  3. Sandy beaches: 81%
  4. Outdoor activities: 77%
    • Manitobans/Saskatchewanians:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 91%
  2. Privacy: 87%
  3. Swimming: 82%
  4. Sandy beaches: 81%
    • Ontarians:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 93%
  2. Privacy: 92%
  3. Swimming: 80%
  4. Sandy beaches: 79%
    • Quebecers:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 97%
  2. Privacy: 91%
  3. Water access: 77%
  4. Sandy beaches: 68%
    • Atlantic Canadians:
  1. Quiet atmosphere: 97%
  2. Privacy: 89%
  3. Outdoor activities: 76%
  4. Sandy beaches: 64%


SOURCE RE/MAX OntarioAtlantic Canada For more information about RE/MAX INTEGRA, visit www.remaxintegra.com.

For more information about RE/MAX, to search home listings or find an agent in your community, please visit www.remax.ca.


2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Broker and Agent Survey 

The 2016 RE/MAX Recreational Property Broker and Agent Survey measures year-over-year median prices, listings and sales for waterfront, non-waterfront, ski-in and water access housing types in key recreational property regions. In addition to providing data from local boards and brokerages, brokers and agents are surveyed on trends, local development and features.

About Leger 

Leger is the largest Canadian-owned full-service market research firm. An online survey of 1576 Canadians was conducted between May 24 and May 26, 2016, using LegerWeb. Leger’s online panel has more than 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

OPP Issues Another Warning About the Canada Revenue Scam

opp logo270The Meaford Independent

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) has been regularly warning the public with regards to the various scams that seem to be reoccurring throughout the province on a daily basis. With the date for filing income tax returns behind us, and some Ontarians having recently received a tax return, one scam in particular that is continuing to catch many off-guard is the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam.

In the CRA scam, criminals will attempt to extort money from their victims by telephone, mail, text message or email, after they have received a fraudulent communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal information such as a social insurance number, credit card number, bank account number, or passport number.

Fraudsters impersonate the real CRA and are either phishing for your identification or asking that outstanding taxes be paid by a money service business or by pre-paid debit/credit cards. They may insist that the receiver of the call provide personal information so that they can receive a refund or a benefit payment. Cases of fraudulent communication could also involve threatening or coercive language to scare individuals into paying fictitious debt to the CRA. Other communications urge taxpayers to visit a fake CRA website where the taxpayer is then asked to verify their identity by entering personal information. These are scams and taxpayers should never respond to these fraudulent communications nor click on any of the links provided. Calls such as these are even being received on personal and work related telecommunications devices.

Here are some warning signs:

  • Urgency– The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
  • Fear– The scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear.
  • Request for Money Transfer– Money is usually requested to be sent by a money transfer company such as Money Gram, Western Union or even through your own financial institution.

To avoid becoming a victim, police advise you to first check with another family member or trusted friend to verify the information BEFORE sending money or providing credit card information by phone or e-mail.

If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of the Emergency Scam or someone posing as a Canada Revenue Agency official, hang up and contact your local police service. You can also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or online at https://www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm

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