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Newsstand: March 12, 2013

Which day of the week feels longer, Tuesday or Thursday? Our vote's on the former. In the news: A report for the city counters claims made my anti-poverty activists; one Richmond Hill teacher rejects her union's call to boycott extracurriculars; citizens have new powers to arrest ne'er-do-wells; and potential whistleblowers at York kept mum.

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An internal report prepared for city council contradicts activist assertions that Toronto has a shortage of shelter beds. The 22-page report by the City’s acting general manager for Shelter, Support and Housing Administration found that shelter beds are available each night in Toronto, and emergency spaces are available when needed. “Notwithstanding this evidence, there continue to be anecdotal reports that people seeking shelter are being told that no beds are available,” the report stated. Ontario Coalition Against Poverty activists camped in front of the mayor’s office last month, saying that bed shortages have contributed to deaths among the city’s homeless. OCAP countered the report by saying that available beds may not match the need in particular areas, for example when shelters serve only men or women.

One teacher in Richmond Hill wrote in an open letter to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario York Region president David Clegg that she intended to continue her extracurricular activities despite recommendations from the union that teachers withdraw voluntary duties as part of the continued protest against contracts imposed by the provincial government. ” I will attend monthly staff meetings. I will run my choir. I will plan field trips. I will attend meetings outside the instructional day, if I so choose,” Walter Scott Public School teacher Susan Beattie wrote in the letter, published in the Richmond Hill Liberal. Ontario public high-school teachers ended their boycott of voluntary activities late last month, but elementary teachers have continued theirs.

New powers of arrest for citizens came into effect in Canada yesterday, to mixed reactions. The Citizens’ Arrest and Self-defence Act allows for perpetrators to be caught within a reasonable amount of time, not only red-handed, after a crime. The law allows citizens to make an arrest when someone has committed a crime on their property or related to their possessions when an arrest by a cop is not feasible. The case of Toronto shopkeeper David Chen, who was charged and later acquitted after chasing down a shopkeeper, inspired the act. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association both criticized the new law, saying that its scope is too wide and people making citizens’ arrests could be endangered.

York University documents show that school staff were aware of fraud, but fear of reprisals kept them from reporting it to senior management. York didn’t have protections in place for whistleblowers in 2009, which kept allegations of abuse, harassment, bullying, and financial improprieties from being reported, according to university affidavits and an internal audit. The school has since launched a civil lawsuit against 25 individuals and companies for their alleged role in more than a million dollars in loses.

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