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Advocates say complainants should be able to opt out of publication bans

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Morrell Andrews fought in court to control the use of her own name last year when she hoped to speak publicly about her experience with sexual assault.

She won that fight. But she’s hoping nobody ever has to wage the same battle again.

Andrews is calling on the federal government to update laws around publication bans to better support victims who want to come forward and tell their stories.

In her own case, she said, the Crown prosecutor and judge did not ask her if she wanted to keep her name private, and she wasn’t made aware of a publication ban until the offender pleaded guilty and was being sentenced.

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“That’s when I found out that someone had decided for me that I should not have my identity published and would not be allowed to self-identify and talk about my experience,” she said.

Andrews said there’s “a million reasons” why someone would opt out of a publication ban. “And the women I speak with and work with have many, many reasons, but chief among them is to advocate for others and to fix a system that has hurt us all in similar ways.”

With politicians now taking up the issue in Ottawa, Andrews said she’s optimistic that her message is being heard and that there is cross-party support for change.

NDP MP Laurel Collins recently introduced a parliamentary petition calling for complainants in sexual assault cases to be given a choice on whether or not the court bans the publication of their names or identifying details.

“It’s just so essential that survivors have a say over what information they choose to share, and with whom,” said Collins.

A report by a parliamentary committee released earlier this month said judges almost always impose publication bans to protect the identity of complainants in sexual assaults, and acknowledged growing calls for victims to be consulted first.

The committee recommended that the government change the Criminal Code to allow victims of sexual crimes to opt out of the publication bans if they wish.

Collins said the bans remain an “incredibly important tool for survivors to protect their identity” and they should remain available.

“But so long as they are consulted first, survivors should always have the choice,” she said.

Advocates say they are hopeful that a change could come in the new year after Justice Minister David Lametti signalled earlier this month that the Liberal government would be open to amending the law.

“It is a discrete and relatively straightforward issue, and there seems to be support gaining traction,” said Roxana Parsa, a staff lawyer with the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund. “So we are feeling positive.”

Parsa said publication bans serve a purpose but “it’s really hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach.”

“A lot of survivors feel that this is really just a retraumatizing event, as it strips them of the power to speak about their own situation and to use their own voice,” she said. “The most important thing, we think, is the issue of choice and informed consent around publication bans, and that there needs to be more of a survivor-centred approach to addressing the issue.”

Andrews said cultural and societal attitudes towards sexual assault and gender-based violence have changed since publication bans were first widely used.

“There’s an understanding now that some people find it really empowering and important to speak out, because it contributes to their healing,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 19, 2022.

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Majority of Canadians support private options for health care, poll shows – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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As some provinces turn to the private sector to address pressures in the healthcare system, a new poll suggests more Canadians than ever are open to the idea of private delivery of healthcare.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News between Jan. 19 and Jan. 23, 2023, found 59 percent of the 1,001 adults surveyed expressed support for the private delivery of publicly-funded health services.

Sixty percent of respondents were also in favor of private health care for those who can afford it.

Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, says in the 30 years he has studied public opinion in Canada, he has never seen such a shift in support toward privatization.

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“This is the first time I can recall in which you actually got numbers like that, where you’d have a majority of Canadians saying they’re open to considering private methods of delivery,” he told Global News.

Until now, maintaining Canada’s public health-care system has been a “cornerstone” of Canadian politics and any mention of privatization has been met with strong resistance — even repulsion — and has elicited fears of moving toward an American-style system of access, he said.

But given that a vast majority of Canadians surveyed, 85 percent, now say they believe “drastic changes” are needed in the health system to meet the needs of the community, attitudes toward privatization appear to be shifting, Bricker said.

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4.2-magnitude earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., felt in southern Ontario

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An earthquake near Buffalo, N.Y., with a preliminary magnitude of 4.2, was “lightly felt” in parts of southern Ontario Monday morning, according to Earthquakes Canada.

“I woke up to it,” St. Catharines, Ont. resident Stephen Murdoch told CBC Hamilton.

Murdoch said his house shook around 6:15 a.m. ET.

“I felt what I guess you would consider a small jolt and continuous shaking …. about 15 to 20 seconds,” he said.

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The federal agency says it doesn’t expect any damage would come from the reported earthquake, but said as of roughly 8 a.m., there were more than 200 reports of people in southern Ontario feeling the rumble, including in Hamilton, the Greater Toronto Area and as far as Quinte West, Ont., near Belleville.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. says the earthquake occurred in West Seneca, N.Y. and labelled it a 3.8-magnitude quake some three kilometres beneath the surface.

Musician Rich Jones said he felt the rumble in Hamilton.

“My dog started barking and the bed was shaking for a few seconds. Never felt an earthquake here before. Wild,” Jones tweeted.

Earthquakes Canada last recorded an earthquake in Ontario in the Greater Sudbury area on Jan. 22, measuring 2.8 magnitude.

Earthquakes are generally caused by large segments of the earth’s crust, called tectonic plates, continuously shifting, according to Earthquakes Canada.

The Southern Great Lakes Seismic Zone has a low to moderate amount of seismicity when compared to the more active seismic zones to the east, along the Ottawa River and in Quebec.

“It’s an incredible event to live through … I can’t imagine the ones of greater magnitude,” Murdoch said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion at water coolers across Buffalo and southern Ontario in terms of what happened this morning.”

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Uber brings back ride share for Canada

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Uber has brought back its ride-sharing option in select Canadian cities — but under a new name. Officially launched this week, the company is calling UberX Share, its “most affordable option” for commuters who want to make “greener” and more “sustainable” choices.

Available across Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, the UberX Share will allow passengers to travel together and split their fares.

Previously known as UberPOOL, the service was paused in Toronto in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Uber said it’s been “working tirelessly to revamp the experience.”

“We know affordability plays a role when people are making decisions on how to get from point A to B,” said Michael van Hemmen, general manager of Uber Canada mobility, in a statement Sunday.

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“This new shared rides option will provide a more affordable and sustainable experience for riders and the cities we serve.”

How is UberX different than UberPOOL?

In the past, UberPOOL was known to sometime deviate from a direct route and take more time than public transit, but the company now argues the new feature will only add an average of six minutes to a trip when matched.

Riders will also receive an upfront discount of up to 20 per cent if they choose UberX Share.

“UberX Share provides a greener way to get from A to B, by moving more people with fewer cars to help your city avoid extra emissions and car travel by sharing your ride,” Uber said.

Click to play video: 'UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries'

UberEats indulges in high times, will make cannabis deliveries

When it comes to the drivers, the company says UberX Share will give them more choices while earning the same recommended rates with UberX Share as they would with UberX but with more riders on a trip.

“A shared trip is likely to be longer and that means a higher fare. There will be a $1 pickup incentive for the driver when picking up a second rider,” Uber added.

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