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Newsstand: April 21, 2014

Easter Monday! Where are we at with Jesus' resurrection today? It's hard to remember what happens on which day when you've stopped going to church. In the news: four fire trucks will be retiring from service, University of Toronto faculty are contemplating unionization, and a teen's case of homophobic discrimination will be heard by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

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Four Toronto fire trucks will be retired as of this morning, reports the CBC. The move comes as a result of cuts to the fire department’s budget. Frank Ramagnano, of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, said the department has had to deal with budget cuts despite adding 2,000 buildings and 300,000 people to its purview since amalgamation in 1998. Around 84 firefighters will be affected by the change but, as nearly 70 senior firefighters retired in early 2014 and left vacancies to be filled, none are expected to lose their jobs.

As negotiations continue without a resolution in sight, a “significant minority” of University of Toronto educators—both faculty and librarians—wants to see their faculty association unionize. U of T is one of the few research universities in Canada whose faculty is not unionized, and one of only three in Ontario—the other two are McMaster University and the University of Waterloo. Current talks are dealing with the terms of the U of T Faculty Association’s negotiating process with university administrators; the UTFA is arguing for the inclusion of things like academic restructuring. Since it’s not a certified trade union, the faculty association is limited in what it can negotiate for its members and cannot choose to go on strike. Still, at least while the current talks last, most faculty members don’t want to rock the boat or cause potential disruptions for students by unionizing.

Christopher Karas, the teen who alleges his Catholic high school subjected him to homophobic discrimination, will have his case heard by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. Karas says Mississauga’s École Secondaire Catholique Sainte-Famille dragged its feet for 20 months before approving the support group Karas wanted to start for gay students; that both a psychology and a religion teacher refused to discuss homosexuality as positive in different contexts; and that he was made to read a novel, Poison, that depicts violent homophobia. The school board disagrees with Karas’s allegations, but the tribunal has yet to hear them.

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