Newsstand: June 4, 2014




Newsstand: June 4, 2014

Provincial election debates—all lies, all the time. In the news: Lawsuits at the TCHC, Karen Stintz vows to prevent school playing fields from being sold off, Etobicoke is raining cash, and a massive privacy breach at Rouge Valley hospital.

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Like sand in an hourglass, so the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s reputation slips deeper into the mire. Statements of defence filed by the TCHC in the wrongful dismissal lawsuit brought on by former executives Lou Canton and Roman Mesec allege the two men fabricated more than $1 million in repair costs following a fire at 200 Wellesley Street East. Among the allegations against Canton and Mesec, TCHC claims the men—who both worked with the for-profit arm of the public housing agency, Housing Services Incorporated—padded insurance claims with fraudulent charges for work unrelated to the repairs at 200 Wellesley and overcharged for trades. Not so, say both Canton and Mesec—they allege that they were fired without cause, and are seeking $700,000 in damages. TCHC believes putting the agency’s insurance coverage in jeopardy with false claims was pretty good grounds for immediate termination, and as such is asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz says that if elected, she will work to protect school playing fields from being sold off by the Toronto District School Board. Stintz came down against the TDSB selling surplus land to generate revenue, saying the funding freeze placed on the school board by the province is forcing it to sell off land that could be used to benefit communities. Stintz’s plan to save the TDSB green space includes leveraging a mix of private-sector partnerships to upgrade fields in the city, while also creating more partnerships between schools and community programs who would like to use fields during after-school hours. Stintz claims that over the next 10 years her plan would double the number of fields available for recreation in Toronto. It would be glorious to see a breakdown of the math used in making that campaign promise, wouldn’t it?

The internet was a pretty bleak place until people started using it to give away free money via Twitter treasure hunts. Now it seems to be raining cash in the real world, too, as thousands of dollars mysteriously rained down on Etobicoke on Sunday. Police say at least eight people at the intersection of North Queen Street and Kipling Avenue helped themselves to the free money, with one honest woman turning the sum she collected in to police when she reported the incident. No one yet knows who let the money fly, but it’s a good bet that this guy had something to do with it. Or else maybe this guy?

A major privacy breach at Rouge Valley Centenary hospital that targeted new parents demonstrates how easy it is for people to profit from stealing personal information in the digital era. As many as 8,300 people who gave birth at the hospital between 2009 and 2013 had their personal information sold to companies selling Registered Education Savings Plans. According to a spokesperson for the hospital, the names and contact details of parents were sold to multiple companies by two staffers who no longer work for the hospital. While the hospital did not take the matter to police, the province’s privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, has launched a full investigation. Since learning of the privacy breach in October 2013, the hospital has restricted the number of employees who have access to private information. It also keeps records of the employees who do have access to it.