Posts Tagged "numbers"


Three teens plead guilty in St. Michael’s sex assault scandal

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Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto

Published Thursday, October 3, 2019 11:29AM EDT

Last Updated Thursday, October 3, 2019 11:57AM EDT

Three teenagers facing charges in a sexual assault scandal at St. Michael’s College School last year have pleaded guilty.

The teens pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon on Thursday morning inside a Toronto courtroom.

One of the three teenagers also pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.

In November of last year, six boys were charged in connection with the alleged sex assault of a student at the all-boys private school.

According to police, videos of the incident, which occurred inside a washroom at the school, began circulating between students and on social media.

A few months later, police said they were investigating two additional incidents. Eight students were expelled from school as a result and a seventh student was formally charged by police.

The students were each facing charges of sexual assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.

Charges against one of the seven students were withdrawn in August and the cases against two others have concluded, although Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General would not say at the time what the outcomes were of those cases.

The last student facing charges has a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 17.

The teenagers who pleaded guilty on Thursday are scheduled to attend a sentencing hearing on Nov. 14.

They cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

This is a developing news story. More to come.

With files from The Canadian Press


TransLink still losing millions to fare evaders but it’s not tracking numbers

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Three years after spending $200 million to install fare gates at its SkyTrain and Canada Line stations, TransLink hasn’t collected any data to show they are cutting down on fare evasion. Meanwhile, the number of tickets related to fare gate offences has barely slowed.

TransLink acknowledges it continues to lose revenue to fare evaders but hasn’t measured evasion since 2014, said spokeswoman Jillian Drews. She said TransLink is studying ways to track fare evasion including “manual counting using CCTV, broadening the use of automatic people counters and programming fare gates to count the number of times fare gate panels are forced.”

“There are a lot of smart people working on it,” said Drews, but they haven’t been able to estimate the number of fare dodgers because “they don’t tap in and out.”

“It’s ridiculous that they have put so much of our money into this and yet they don’t bother to check and actually monitor how well these gates are working,” said Kris Sims, B.C. director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“There is strong evidence our fare gates deter fare evaders,” said Drews, pointing out that annual fare revenue rose by $30 million for the first nine months the fare gates were operational on the SkyTrain and Canada lines from April to December 2016. The Evergreen extension to the Millennium Line opened in December 2016, which makes revenue comparisons difficult in the ensuing years.

Tampering with fare gates — including following a paying passenger through the gates without tapping a Compass card — has become such a problem that Transit Police have been given new powers to ticket that specific offence.

The tickets cover a wide range of offences but the “majority of these incidents are associated to officers’ active observations and enforcement … of the misuse of fare gates,” according to a report presented to the TransLink board in December by Transit Police.

Those violation tickets have climbed 23 per cent under the Provincial Transit Conduct Law banning fare gate misuse, while violations under the law banning other behaviour on or near TransLink property, including misusing an emergency exit, selling or trading proof of purchase, or obstructing or lying to a police officer are up 39 per cent. Each violation carries a fine of $173 for those ticketed.

Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said it was hoped once people saw they would be ticketed for gate crashing, the number of offences would drop.

But instead they went up: There were about 6,600 of the new violation tickets issued in 2016. That jumped to 14,000 in 2017 and 16,400 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of fines issued by Transit Police for fare evasion specifically has dropped the past two years. There were 23,400 fines for fare evasion in 2016, 19,000 in 2017 and 14,500 in 2018.

Drews said TransLink did 850,000 security checks last year for fares on buses and at bus loops.

In Toronto last week, the city’s auditor general released her audit on fare evasion on the Toronto Transit Commission and found it accounted for 5.4 per cent of total revenue, more than twice what the TTC estimated. She said TTC lost $60 million in revenue and that was “probably understated.” The TTC audit found fare evasion to be highest — 15 per cent — on streetcars, where there is unsupervised all-door boarding.

The TTC board chair called the evasion levels “critical” and “frustrating” and the mayor said he, too, was frustrated and mused about publicly shaming offenders.

The TTC accepted the auditor general’s 27 recommendations, including hiring 45 more fare inspectors, issuing more tickets (fines range between $235 and $435) and developing a public education campaign.

Warren Mirko, a communications consultant and regular user of public transit, said there may have been a drop at first, but “I see more and more people (illegally) going through the fare gates every day,” including students with knapsacks, people who appear homeless and even well-dressed people.

“When you see other people doing it and you see that nobody’s watching, why wouldn’t you do it?”

Stephen Rees, a former TransLink planner who has blogged extensively on fare evasion, said there will always be evaders.

“(The new gates) were supposed to eliminate it, but you just get a different kind because they get better at it,” he said.

But he said it’s not cost-effective to spend more to prevent it than it costs in losses, and if you increase the number of fare inspectors, it could intimidate and drive away paying users.

Rees said there are ways to track fare evasion, including viewing CCTV footage as the Toronto audit did, but he added, “What gets measured, gets improved. So by not measuring, you’re not required to improve it.”

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Inflated numbers on docs, nurse practitioners at urgent-care clinics

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The B.C. government’s throne speech contained misleading information about the number of doctors being hired for 10 urgent-care centres across the province.

“These new centres will come with 200 more family practice physicians, 200 nurse practitioners and 50 clinical pharmacists and other health-care providers,” the speech stated.

However, when questioned Wednesday about those inflated figures, the Ministry of Health acknowledged the speech “wrongly linked” 400 health professionals to the clinics, five of which have opened and five more that are slated to open by May.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Kristy Anderson said that while “some” of those nurses and doctors will be working at urgent-care facilities, the rest will form part of the government’s overall objective for its primary-care strategy. She couldn’t provide the number of nurses and doctors working now, or in future, at urgent-care centres.

The five clinics that have opened so far are in downtown Vancouver, Surrey, Kamloops, Quesnel and Langford. The government will not reveal where the next five will be.

As of today, there are about 6,600 family doctors (also called primary-care physicians or general practitioners) licensed and actively working in B.C. That’s about 200 more than last year, so the throne speech implied that the government was grabbing almost every new doctor for urgent-care centres, an unlikely scenario.

Similarly, there are 500 practising nurse practitioners (NPs) in B.C. and only 54 new NPs in the province in all of 2018, so for the throne speech to state that 200 will work in urgent-care facilities is a stretch.

Anderson said the government aims to staff urgent-care clinics with doctors who’ve recently completed their two-year, postgraduate specialty medical training (residencies) in family medicine. Such doctors don’t yet have a “panel” of patients, so working in urgent-care centres gives them an instant pool of patients and a team around them, including nurse practitioners and medical mentors, she said.

There are about 170 doctors who complete their residencies in family medicine each year in B.C., so if every one of them were to be snapped up by urgent-care centres, there would be no doctors to take over the many practices of retiring doctors.

Urgent-care centres have been a stated priority for Adrian Dix since he was appointed health minister. Last spring, the government said urgent-primary-care centres would be a new medical-service model intended to take pressure off hospital emergency departments. They are also designed to provide ongoing primary care — or link patients to such doctors. They all offer extended hours, weekends and evenings.

Until Wednesday, when Postmedia News challenged the ministry on figures in the throne speech, the government has been unwilling to share information about the business models of the government-sponsored clinics, despite numerous repeated requests for such info going back to last October. Instead, each time a new clinic has opened, like the one in Premier John Horgan’s riding, a news release containing few specifics has been issued.

(Late Tuesday, the ministry offered a briefing by senior officials but stipulated that all information was background only.)

Liberal health critic Norm Letnick said he found the throne speech not only short on substance in the health arena, but also “thin everywhere else too.”

Dr. Eric Cadesky, president of Doctors of B.C., said his understanding is that physicians being hired for such clinics are being paid through salaries or contracts rather than billing on a fee-for-service model. The contract-payment model is appealing to doctors who don’t want overhead costs and businesses to run. In that sense they’re better for “work-life balances.”

It’s unclear if the government is handing money over to clinics directly or if they’re channelling money through health authorities. In a few cases initial setup costs were about $2 million and annual operating costs per year are said to be up to about $4 million.

“Hopefully, these clinics will achieve their stated goal of providing after-hours care to patients as well as ongoing care for patients who are unattached (without a family doctor),” Cadesky said.

There are pros and cons to the urgent-care model, he said. On the plus side, they have labs, pharmacies, other health-providers like nurses and imaging facilities. But Cadesky said the potential unintended consequence of such centres is that they could siphon doctors away from full-service, cradle-to-grave, primary care clinics.

“Some doctors may choose to start off with this kind of model. It’s seen as less stressful and less costly than running a business, but we still need doctors working in private practices across the province,” he said, referring to ever-increasing rents for medical clinics and staff costs.

Doctors of B.C. is presently engaged in talks with the government on a new contract and one of the priorities for doctors is more money to “sustain” the independent, medical-clinic model, Cadesky said: “With the high cost of living and sky-high rents, it’s becoming more and more difficult to operate medical practices and to recruit staff.”

Dr. Afshin Khazei, medical director of the recently opened Vancouver City Centre urgent-care clinic at 1290 Hornby St., said that 14 doctors are on staff, including family doctors and emergency room specialists, but some work only part-time. While the clinic expects to eventually see 36,000 patients a year, volume so far during the “soft opening” has been lower. Next month, however, renovations to the second and third floors will be complete. On those floors, patients can get connected to up to 40 family doctors with offices there.

“That’s important because there are 18,000 in the downtown area who don’t have a family doctor,” he said.

The extended hours of the clinic are proving to be hugely beneficial. On Tuesday night, the urgent-care clinic offered measles vaccinations after public-health clinics closed at 4 p.m.

“We vaccinated six infants and 13 adults in a few hours last night,” Khazei said.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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