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‘Please help us’: Note in Tesco Christmas card alleges forced labour, report says – Global News

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The U.K.-based grocery chain Tesco said it halted production at a factory in China on Sunday after a British newspaper reported the factory used forced labour to produce charity Christmas cards for the supermarket.

Tesco said it also launched an investigation of the Chinese supplier it hired to make the holiday cards, Zheijiang Yunguang Printing, after the Sunday Times raised questions about the factory’s labour practices.

The newspaper said the potentially problematic province of the cards came to light when a 6-year-old girl in south London found a card in her box already had a message written inside.


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It read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison China forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organization.”

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The writer asked whoever received the note to contact Peter Humphrey, a former British journalist who was detained in China while working as a corporate investigator and spent time at the same Shanghai prison.

Florence Widdicombe, 6, poses with a Tesco Christmas card from the same pack as a card she found containing a message from a Chinese prisoner, in London, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.

Florence Widdicombe, 6, poses with a Tesco Christmas card from the same pack as a card she found containing a message from a Chinese prisoner, in London, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019.


(Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)

The London girl’s father, Ben Widdicombe, said Sunday they at first thought the message was a “prank.”

“On reflection, we realized it was actually potentially quite a serious thing,” Widdicombe said. “So I felt very shocked, but also a responsibility to pass it on to Peter Humphrey as the author asked me to do.”


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He said the message was eye opening: “It hits home there are injustices in the world and difficult situations that we know about and read about each and every day.”

Widdicombe said finding the message shortly before Christmas was poignant and that he told his daughter, Florence, what it might mean.

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Toronto rally calls on feds to address human rights violations in China


Toronto rally calls on feds to address human rights violations in China

“We explained that the person who wrote it was a prisoner in China and that the person felt the prison guards were being mean, making them do work, they felt really sad,” the father said.

Humphrey told the BBC he thinks he knows who wrote the message. He said he won’t identify the person for fear the inmate would face retribution.


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Humphrey said he was “pretty sure” it was put inside the card by a group of prisoners as a collective request for help.

Tesco said it was “shocked” by the discovery and would never allow prison labour in its supply chain.

The company says it donates 300,000 pounds ($390,000) annually to the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK from the sale of its Christmas cards.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto

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A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.

New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.

Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.

In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.

Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.

That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.

“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”

The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.

In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.

“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”

While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”

The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.

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Commuters face GO transit cancellations, possible strike – CityNews

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Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.

The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.

The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.

However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.

Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.

“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.

The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.

The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.

As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.

“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”

The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.

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