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Your Toronto 2014 Issue Navigator

How the candidates compare on some of the city's biggest issues.

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Newsstand: February 18, 2014

So. More snow. But at least Roll Up the Rim is back at Tim Hortons. Here's to another year of free cookies and donuts! In the news: protect your cell, because people want to steal it; more problems for Trillium Health after doctors allegedly deny a woman access to cancer treatment; naloxone kits are saving lives in Toronto; and a veteran city councillor calls it quits.

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A Toronto Star investigation reveals that over 30,000 cellphones have been reported stolen to Toronto Police in almost a decade. According to available data, there were 3,190 cellphone thefts in 2013—a huge increase from the 840 reported in 2004. The report also distinguishes between thefts, which are categorically non-violent, and robberies, which are thefts with violent acts. Unfortunately, there is zero consolation in that distinction, since robberies have also spiked in the last decade by over 300 per cent. It appears that teenagers are likely targets for both thefts and robberies, and nearly a fifth of all cellphones are stolen in the city’s downtown core. The most high-theft area is from Spadina Avenue to east of Yonge Street, travelling south down from Bloor Street to the waterfront. While it may be a dramatic increase, cellphone theft isn’t just a domestic problem. A New York Post report from November 2013 states that one in three robberies within the United States involves phones. So to paraphrase the immortal words of Antoine Dodson…hide your iPhone, hide your BlackBerry. Except, really, who steals a BlackBerry anymore?

When Angeliki Kourouclis’ mother Kelemua Esayase came to visit her from Ethiopia in 2012, she did not look well. Prepped with travel insurance, Kourouclis anticipated that her mother would receive medical treatment in Ontario without any trouble. She says that she was wrong. When Esayase was admitted to Trillium Health Centres for testing, Kourouclis says she made it clear that she would pay for all medical expenses, but even so doctors seemed reluctant to treat her mother. It took months for a doctor to eventually diagnose Esayase with advanced-stage ovarian cancer. To complicate matters, Kourouclis says that her mother’s first CT scan results were improperly read by radiologist Ivo Slezic, whose cases were recently reviewed by Trillium due to widespread errors in his diagnostic work. Kourouclis was eventually forced to drive 16 hours with her mother to Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where doctors operated within days after she confirmed she would pay for the procedure—but it made no difference on her long-term prognosis, as the cancer had spread to her liver. So far, Trillium has not commented on Esayase’s case, specifically.

A Toronto Public Health drug harm-reduction program called Preventing Overdose in Toronto (POINT) says it has distributed 1,000 naloxone kits to current or former drug users since 2011, and prevented 120 opioid overdoses in the city. While it is controversial, POINT says the program helps administer a life-saving dose of naloxone—which can reverse heroin or other opioid overdoses—at critical moments, giving health-care professionals more time to respond to drug-related medical emergencies. While the program is preventing some fatalities, deaths from opioid overdoses have been rising steadily in Toronto since 2002.

Finally, with all the excitement of Family Day long weekend, it kind of fell under the radar that city councillor Mike Del Grande (Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt) announced he will not seek re-election this fall. The former budget chief and 11-year councillor says that he has simply lost the joie de vivre for his work, which—let’s face it—is entirely understandable. We salute Del Grande for, at the very least, having a profile on his City of Toronto website page that makes him sound like one of the more interesting people at City Hall—and embraces a questionable approach to capitalization.

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