Federal government considers gender-neutral ID

The federal government wants to introduce personal identification with more options than just male or female — possibly adding a third option, for gender-neutral.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Toronto news station CP24 on Sunday that the government is considering following in Ontario’s footsteps with gender-neutral identification. Ontario announced last week that it would allow the use of a third gender indicator, “X”, for driver’s licences and health cards.

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    “It’s something we’re looking at federally, we’re just trying to figure out the best way to get around to doing it,” he said.

    Cameron Ahmad, press secretary for the PMO, confirmed to Global News that the government is considering this change as part of Bill C-16, which would add gender identity to the human rights code.

    “With regard to Bill C-16, we are conducting a review of all the circumstances in which the government requires or produces identity documents to ensure we do not to exclude people whose gender identity does not match the binary standard,” he wrote. “This could include neutrality in several situations.”

    Some countries, like Australia, Denmark and Bangladesh, already allow people to state their gender as “X” or “Other” on official government identification.

    With files from the Canadian Press

Ottawa girls’ lemonade stand shut down for not having permit

An Ottawa lemonade stand operated by two little girls was shut down on Sunday for not having the proper permits.

The lemonade stand, where seven-year-old Eliza Andrews and her five-year-old sister Adela were selling lemonade on Sunday, was shut down by an official from the National Capital Commission, according to a report by CBC News.

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    The girls were selling lemonade to passing cyclists on a median next to NCC-operated Colonel By Drive, a road that is closed to motorists on Sundays during the summer for “Sunday Bikedays”.

    The girls’ father, Kurtis Andrews, told CBC that although the NCC officer was polite, “I think that they need to relax a bit. I understand that they have to manage their properties but at the same time we’re talking about a five and seven-year-old raising money for camp.”

    According to the National Capital Commission Traffic and Property Regulations, “no person shall sell or offer or expose for sale any drink, goods or wares,” without written permission from the NCC.

    In an emailed statement, the NCC said it apologizes to the Andrews family for the inconvenience and met with them Monday “to see how we can support these two young entrepreneurs going forward.”

    “Given the location of the lemonade stand, the Conservation Officer acted in good faith in applying the federal land use rules in place,” wrote the NCC. “However, we believe the situation could have been handled differently. Children’s lemonade stands are a time-honoured summer tradition that contributes to a lively Capital and the NCC wants to encourage these activities whenever possible.”

Canada Post ‘extremely disappointed’ with union offer

Hope for a quick resolution to the labour battle between Canada Post and the union representing 50,000 of its workers seemed to dim on Monday as the Crown corporation released a blistering statement in response the union’s latest offer.

Canada Post said it was “extremely disappointed” in the response from the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) at the bargaining table in recent days.

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“Late Friday evening, CUPW tabled offers that would add at least $1 billion in new costs over the term of a new collective agreement while rejecting the Corporation’s approach to address the long-term issues with the employee pension plan,” said a statement released Monday morning.

Canada Post also accused the union of demanding the reversal of several changes that had already been agreed to in the last round of negotiations in 2012.

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In spite of the fact that the two sides appear to remain far apart on numerous points, talks are reportedly continuing in the hopes of negotiating a deal.

Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said the company has not given the required 72 hours’ notice of a lockout, nor has the union given notice of any job action. Both sides remain at the table and Hamilton said he hopes they can reach an agreement that is “affordable and reasonable.”

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Changes to employee pension plans have been a key sticking point. Canada Post made new contract proposals about a week ago, and the union presented a counter offer on Friday.

That offer included wage hikes and rejects Canada Post’s plan to have new employees get a pension plan that operates like an RRSP instead of the defined benefit plan for current employees that guarantees a set level of retirement benefits.

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Hamilton says Canada Post has expressed frustration over the union’s proposal, which he says “puts us in the exact opposite direction of where we need to be as a company.”

On Saturday, the union called the wage increase offer presented by Canada Post last week “an insult.”

If no deal is reached, the two sides are now in a position to either strike or begin a lockout, which could disrupt mail services to Canadians across the country as early as Thursday if a 72-hour notice is served today.

The deteriorating status of the negotiations has been aired publicly in a series of statements issued on websites and to the media over the last few weeks.

With files from the Canadian Press.

RCMP shoot at arson suspect who reportedly charged at them, SiRT investigating

RCMP say a 55-year-old man is in hospital after being shot by police officers who say they were threatened.

Authorities in the Annapolis County detachment were called to a home on Parker Mountain Road in Hillsburn, Nova Scotia, after receive reports of a man with a gun at about 1:15 a.m. Monday.

Police say they were looking for a suspect in an arson earlier that evening that burned a home and RV. Police say the homeowner’s truck was stolen as the suspect tried to flee.

The man reportedly drove toward officers in a threatening manner, at which point the officers on scene shot at him.

The suspect was arrested and taken to hospital suffering from what’s described as non-life-threatening injuries to his torso.

Neither officer was injured in the incident.

Officials say the RV at the home was intentionally set on fire, with the fire eventually spreading to the home.

The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) has been called to lead an investigation into the matter and are currently on the scene in Hillsburn.

SiRT confirms that the only gunfire came from RCMP officers, the suspect did not return fire.

Two firearms were used by police, investigators say.

SiRT is asking anyone who may have witnessed anything related to the incident, or who have any relevant information, to contact them at 902-424-2010 or 1-855-450-2010.

With files from Natasha Pace. 

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Here’s how you can pay off your mortgage faster

OTTAWA – When shopping for a mortgage, most Canadians focus on the interest and how much they can save with a lower rate.

But paying a few extra dollars every two weeks instead of the usual monthly payment or making an extra lump sum payment once a year can also save borrowers thousands in interest and shorten the time it takes to pay off a mortgage by years.

Wade Stayzer of Meridian Credit Union says homeowners need to understand of how much they can afford to pay and work from there.

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“You really need to understand your personal financial situation and what it is you’re trying to accomplish,” said Stayzer, Meridian’s vice-president of sales and service.

The rules governing how much borrowers can increase payments or put down in a lump sum vary depending on the mortgage contract, so it’s important to read the fine print.

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For those looking to pay off a mortgage faster and can afford it, Stayzer recommends increasing regular payments over saving up and making an annual lump sum payment.

“We all know that we’ll find things to do with money if it’s just sitting around waiting to do that,” he said.

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Meanwhile, accelerated bi-weekly payments are calculated by taking what the monthly payment would be and dividing it by two and then making that payment every two weeks.

The effect is that you make the equivalent of an extra monthly payment every year compared with 12 monthly payments. The change could save you thousands in interest costs and shorten the time it takes to repay your mortgage by years.

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Extra payments now might also serve as a cushion against future increases in mortgage payments if interest rates rise.

Omar Abouzaher, a regional vice-president at the Bank of Montreal, suggested that windfall gains from things like an increase in income or the end of another regular expense be used on the mortgage.

“If your kids are out of daycare or you get a promotion and you’re OK with your lifestyle, you’re OK with your cash flow, why not apply this extra money on your mortgage payments,” he said.

Abouzaher suggested another tactic could be to use your income tax refund to make an annual lump sum mortgage payment.

“This lump sum goes directly toward the principal and not towards the interest, so will allow you to save a lot of money in terms of interest,” he said.

With mortgage interest rates hovering near record lows, Stayzer noted that putting more money into investments rather than making extra mortgage payments may be tempting.

But, he says that choice will depend on your financial plan and risk tolerance.

“What’s going to help you sleep at night,” he said.

“I know people who are really comfortable with mortgage debt and people that are saying ‘I can’t wait to get this thing paid off.’”