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New air passenger protections kick in today

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Airline passengers have new rights starting today, as rules from the Canada Transportation Agency that have prompted backlash from industry and consumer advocates kick in.

The Air Passenger Protection Regulations require airlines to meet certain obligations, including clear communication to passengers about their rights and timely updates for delays or cancellations. Passengers will also be compensated up to $2,400 if they’re bumped from a flight.

In addition, passengers are now entitled to a certain standard of treatment when stuck on the tarmac. People will be allowed to leave the plane in certain situations if the delays exceed three hours — though that’s twice the time the Senate committee that studied the rules recommended.

Time spent on the tarmac became a huge point of contention when two planes were stranded for up to six hours on the tarmac at the Ottawa airport in 2017 due to bad weather. The passengers were kept on board with no air conditioning, food or water.

Air Transat was fined after the CTA found the airline broke its agreement with passengers. Transportation Minister Marc Garneau used the example to illustrate why the new bill of rights — then in the Senate — should be a priority.

Lost baggage procedures have also been updated to allow for compensation of up to $2,100. There are also clearer policies for transporting musical instruments.

The regulations will apply to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. Large airlines, those that have serviced two million passengers or more in the last two years, will have a slightly different regulatory regime than smaller airlines in some cases.

Smaller airlines, for example, will have to pay less compensation for delays or cancellations that are within the airline’s control but are not related to safety issues

Pushback from both sides

“We have recognized that when somebody buys a ticket to take a flight, particularly when they are buying it for the whole family, it’s a considerable expense,” said Transportation Minister Marc Garneau.

To mark the date, the CTA launched a website where passengers can lodge complaints.

The rules have been controversial among airlines and passenger advocates, and the government will have to fend off attempts to kill the rules in court.

The International Air Transport Association and several airlines are arguing the rules violate international agreements and Canada is overstepping its authority. It’s asking a federal court to invalidate the regulations.

While the airlines say the rules go too far, passenger rights experts say they don’t go far enough.

Air passenger rights taking effect on July 15 include compensation for travellers bumped from their flights. 3:09

Two advocates are also challenging the tarmac delay rules, saying they violate the charter rights of some Canadians with disabilities who may not be able to sit for extended periods.

Bob Brown, a disability rights advocate who is quadriplegic, says the rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk by up to 2,000 kilometres. The case is currently before the Federal Court of Appeal.

These are only some of the changes coming in. Starting in December, airlines will also have to adhere to standards about flight disruptions and seating passengers with children. Compensation for cancelled flights and delays are part of phase two of the rollout.

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All passengers safe as Montreal-bound Air Transat flight makes emergency stop in Paris

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More than 300 passengers resumed their journey to Montreal Sunday after their Air Transat flight from Italy had to make an emergency landing in France.

The airline says flight TS571 took off from Venice Saturday but had to make an emergency stop at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport due to a technical problem with a floor heating panel.

Spokeswoman Debbie Cabana says the landing went smoothly and the health of the passengers was not compromised.

The 310 passengers spent the night in Paris and departed for Montreal Sunday morning in a different aircraft.

Cabana says the passengers will be eligible for compensation.

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2 Stocks to Help You Canadians Retire Wealthy

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Young Canadian investors are facing retirement challenges.

Why?

Finding a good full-time job right out of college or university is not as easy as it was 20 years ago, as companies are less willing to spend the time and money to train people and prefer to hire more workers on contract. The gig economy has also expanded, meaning that more people are effectively self-employed, with no benefits.

When a full-time opportunity emerges, the benefits can vary significantly. Defined-benefit pension plans are becoming rare, and while defined-contribution plans can be generous, they shift risk from the company to the employee, as the payouts on retirement depend on the performance of the fund.

This is forcing Canadians to take more control of their retirement planning.

One popular strategy is to own top dividend stocks inside a self-directed RRSP and use the distributions to buy additional shares. Over time, the compounding process can create a substantial retirement fund and you can use the contributions to reduce your taxable income today.

Let’s take a look at two stocks that might be interesting RRSP picks right now.

Nutrien

Nutrien is the planet’s largest supplier of potash. It’s also a leading provider of nitrogen and phosphate. These commodities are all essential crop nutrients used by farmers to improve food production on their land.

Wholesale potash orders are negotiated each year with countries worldwide. China and India often set the bar for prices based on the agreements they secure with Nutrien’s marketing company Canpotex, and its competitors. Potash prices have improved in the past two years after experiencing an extended downturn.

Demand and global shipments are increasing, a trend that’s expected to continue as the world population is forecast to grow nearly 30% in the next 30 years.

Nutrien also has a retail division that sells seed and crop protection products to farmers. The business is growing through strategic acquisitions and Nutrien is investing in the development of digital solutions to help its customers manage their overall operations.

The fertilizer market undergo through periods of volatility, as has occurred in 2019 with record rainfall during the U.S. planting season affecting orders, but the long-term outlook for Nutrien is positive.

The company raised the dividend twice in the past year and the stock appears oversold today. Investors who buy now can pick up a 3.7% yield.

Bank of Nova Scotia

Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS)(NYSE:BNS) has invested billions of dollars over the past decade to build a large business in Latin America.

The primary focus is on the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Chile, Peru, and Colombia. The trade bloc allows the free movement of capital, goods, and labour among the members and provides an opportunity for Bank of Nova Scotia to capture business from both companies and consumers.

Firms that enter new markets require cash management services and Bank of Nova Scotia’s presence in all four of the core Pacific Alliance countries should give it an advantage. In addition, demand for loans and investment products will expand with the growing middle class.

Bank of Nova Scotia recently raised its dividend. The current payout provides a yield of 4.75%.

Is one more attractive?

Nutrien and Bank of Nova Scotia should both be solid buy-and-hold picks for a self-directed RRSP.

If you only buy one, I would probably make Nutrien the first choice right now. The stock appears oversold and the market might be underestimating the company’s potential to generate significant free cash flow when prices increase.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker owns shares of Nutrien. Nutrien and Bank of Nova Scotia are recommendations of Stock Advisor Canada.

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Street checks banned in Nova Scotia

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Nova Scotia’s justice minister says he will permanently ban street checks after a legal opinion co-authored by a former top judge found the Halifax police practice, which disproportionately targeted black males, is illegal.

“The decision that I’ve come to, based on a number of contributing factors, is we will move to make the moratorium to a permanent ban on street checks,” Justice Minister Mark Furey said Friday.

“It’s reasonable that any Nova Scotian is treated with respect and professionalism.”

Furey’s announcement comes after Michael MacDonald, a former chief justice of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, and Jennifer Taylor, a research lawyer, analyzed the controversial police practice of logging information about people they interacted with or observed.

They wrote in a review released Friday that street checks are not reasonably necessary for police to execute their duties.

“We have concluded that the common law does not empower the police to conduct street checks, because they are not reasonably necessary. They are therefore illegal,” the review says.

The practice came under the spotlight because of a CBC News investigation. That triggered a formal review by criminologist Scot Wortley that revealed black people were street checked at a rate six times higher than white people in Halifax.

‘Interfere with individual liberty’

The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission called on MacDonald to offer a legal opinion on street checks, which are different from another controversial practice known as carding.

Friday’s report says street checks are when an officer interacts with or observes someone, and then records personal or identifying information into a database.

“The Wortley report confirms that street checks interfere with individual liberty, and disproportionately affect Black Nova Scotians,” wrote MacDonald and Taylor.

They say street checks are not authorized under the Nova Scotia Police Act, and they also put an individual’s privacy rights in question.

Their review says under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadians have the right to simply walk down the street or spend time in public spaces anonymously. When police document those moments, they’re no longer private.

In April, Furey ordered a moratorium on random street checks.

“We are not aware of the police having any difficulty executing their duties during this time, without the ability to record street checks,” wrote MacDonald and Taylor.

‘Nobody believed us’

MacDonald and Taylor say police still have other tools available, including the ability to gather information at traffic stops or police inquiries into suspicious activity.

“If the police are legitimately concerned for someone’s personal health or safety, that would be an appropriate reason to stop them and ask some questions.”

For Lake Echo resident DeRico Symonds, who organized a large march against street checks in March, the announcement is “a huge win” that’s long overdue.

“The black community was saying, ‘This affected us.’ Nobody believed us. Then it took another white male to validate that,” he said, noting both MacDonald and Wortley are white.

“That it took this amount of effort is absolutely disappointing,” he said. “If folks don’t get their driveway shoveled in Halifax, it’s an uproar, it’s immediate action.”

‘Larger systemic issue’

Symonds intentionally put the hood of his jacket up while doing an interview with CBC News to pay homage to those who have been the target of street checks for wearing a hood.

“We have to look at the larger systemic issue,” he said of ongoing racism.

It’s a comment mirrored by the justice minister.

Furey said since the April moratorium, he’s had many meetings with members of the African-Nova Scotian community. Youth, in particular, are passionate about making change, he said.

“This is about systemic racism in Nova Scotia. We’ll have another continued discussion around that.”

Furey said Friday he will immediately tell police in the Halifax Regional Municipality that the ban is now permanent.

“I anticipate we’ll have continued co-operation,” he said of Halifax Regional Police and RCMP. “Street checks based on race are unacceptable.”

Furey said he hasn’t actually read the report, and was basing his comments on two briefings about its contents. He said he will spend the weekend reading the 92-page review himself.

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