Jul 16

Unexpected travel costs: How to stay on budget

Unexpected travel costs can put a dent in your vacation budget.

The thrill of finding a great hotel deal can turn sour if you get hit with extra fees. Case in point, the mandatory resort fee. Close to 750 hotels in the U.S. now charge this fixed rate.

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“It’s for what people expect. For the use of the gym, internet, the pool towels and you can’t get out of it,” says Claire Newell of Travel Best Bets. “If you’re booking a hotel room, ask if there is a resort fee, how much is it going to be and how it’s payable because usually it’s added on at the end of your stay.”

You may also want to think twice about ordering room service.

“Not only is the cost of the actual meal on your menu, but you also have to pay a mandatory tip, which is in the neighbourhood of around 20 per cent, and then the take-away tray fee which can be up to $25 on some menus,” says Newell.

If you have to rent a car, avoid the convenience of picking up the vehicle at the hotel or airport because it can be double the price.

What are the cheapest places for Canadians to fly? (Hint: not in Canada)

If you plan on eating on your flight, order online before takeoff.

“It’s cheaper to plan ahead for anything that’s four hours or less where you have to buy your meals onboard,” says Newell.

Depending on where you travel, you may have to pay an entry or departure fee, which is sometimes included in the price of the airfare.

“I would definitely check the Government of Canada website because they will have all that information on there. Be prepared,” says travel writer Joanne Sasvari.

She also cautions to watch your weight limit for baggage.

“If you are looking at a discount airline like Ryanair, their restrictions are quite different than a major international airline like Air Canada. So if you are paying for a cheap flight, chances are you are going to pay for it along the way.”

Jul 16

‘This is the only thing that is ours’: Weyburn, Sask. residents rally to keep KFC buffet

REGINA – The local KFC restaurant in Weyburn, SK  is no ordinary fast-food joint.

“We’ve had people in here from all over the world,” Front cashier Irene Gautier says.

For the past six years she’s been working at KFC, Gautier has  always been the first to greet customers and is proud to reveal the restaurant’s special ingredients.

“Weyburn is Weyburn, they’re the greatest people there is and they’re passionate about their buffet.” Gautier adds.

The beloved Weyburn KFC buffet, that includes a variety of food options

The Weyburn KFC buffet was the first to open among the Canadian franchises in 1988. However, since then almost all have been shuttered across the country and only two remain, one in Humbodlt, SK and the one in Weyburn.

“This is the only thing that is ours,” Gautier says.

For many fried-chicken lovers, the buffet is filled with fond memories.

“I was always excited when my parents told me we were coming to KFC and the buffet,” student Jaime Wagner says.

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However, unsavoury news came this week as rumours began swirling that the beloved buffet could be shutdown.

READ MORE: KFC confirms all-you-can-eat buffet in Weyburn, Sask. not closing – yet

“If we lose this, we lose people, we lose staff and that’s not good for community,” Gautier explains.

The news drew the attention of Canadian celebrities, the Premier and ironically even Health Minister Dustin Duncan who worked there as a teen.

“All things in moderation except when it comes to a buffet,” Dustin joked. “There’s been attempts over the years to try and kill our buffet in Weyburn and we’ll fight it one more time.”

That chance came Wednesday afternoon as dozens of residents held a sit-in rally as corporate executives came to town to tour the restaurant.

“YUM! [KFC Canada’s parent company] always told me that they’re always going to listen to the voice of the customer and this was a great opportunity for my customers to share their voice,” KFC Sask. regional manager Larie Semen says.

“The buffet is open and obviously I can’t guarantee it will be open forever but we appreciate all the support we are getting from the local community,” KFC Canada operations director Liann Free said.

For Gautier it’s a small short-term win for Weyburn, where a buffet is much more than just food, it’s community.

“That’s right, it is the community centre,” she said, tearing up.

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Jul 16

B.C. First Nations master carver Norman Tait dead at 75

VANCOUVER – Norman Tait, a Nisga’a First Nation artist whose work is displayed around the world, has died at the age of 75.

Tait was known for carving totems, but the self-taught artist’s work also includes masks, jewelry and photos.

He died of cancer in Vancouver on May 21, one day after his birthday.

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Valerie Tait, his oldest child, said in an interview Wednesday that her father’s totems are on display in many locations, including his Nisga’a home in northwest British Columbia, Chicago and Japan, and he even carved a pole for the Royal Family in London.

She said he was thrilled by the Royal commission.

“Especially when he was invited to go see her,” she said, referring to Queen Elizabeth.

The totem pole sits in Bushy Park, a royal park in London, and features at its base a killer whale, considered the monarch of the sea, and on the top, an eagle, the monarch of the air.

Norman Tait graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s millwright program in 1963 and later worked for the paper mill Skeena Cellulose in Prince Rupert, B.C.

He moved his family to Vancouver in 1971 and while waiting for millwright work, began to carve.

But Valerie Tait said there were no Nisga’a carvers alive to teach him how it was done.

“That’s when he started looking in all the museums. He said he went through every place that he could find within his reach to study the work, the masters.”

She said he soon began making more money carving than he did as a millwright.

Tait was the first person to have a solo exhibit at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology with 125 pieces, a show which his daughter said he was extremely proud of.

His work was featured in three books, and showcased in numerous exhibitions, performances and videos.

In 2012, he was presented with a British Columbia lifetime achievement award for his First Nations’ Art.

Valerie Tait said her dad’s legacy will be long lasting because of his unique style and through the many he taught to carve, including her son, his grandson, Kristopher.

She said her father hadn’t finished a piece for a while before his death.

“It really hurt to him have idle hands,” she said.

Norman Tait leaves behind his daughter, his son Micah, brothers and sisters, grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Jul 16

Preeceville, Sask. residents attend fiery debate on health care

REGINA – A group of more than 50 Preeceville, Sask. residents descended on the legislative building Wednesday to protest the upcoming closure of ER services in that town.

READ MORE: ER services to be suspended in Preeceville, Sask.

A fiery debate took place in question period as the opposition NDP slammed the Saskatchewan party in front of the concerned residents.

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“In 2005, [Preeceville] was assessed as needing a hospital,” NDP health critic Danielle Chartier said.

“They got a hospital and now it’s a bigger place, it serves not just Preeceville but a broader area and they need acute and emergency services there.”

The premier defended what the province has done to protect rural health care.

“We cannot force a doctor to stay, neither can we force doctors to locate to certain communities. What we can do is provide incentives [and] we’ve added to those bursaries,” Wall said.

According to the Saskatchewan government, the Rural Family Physician Incentive Program pays $120K over 5 years to recently graduated physicians who practice in a community of 10,000 people or less.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan getting better at convincing new doctors to stick around

However, talk of incentives are not quelling concerns for the residents affected most.

“Everybody in our whole community, surrounding area, they’ve fundraised huge dollars. $3.5 million was fundraised,” Preeceville resident Tammy Pantiuk said.

“We want it, we deserve it.”

Jun 15

Sam Kingshows there’s more to fight prep than just gym time

REGINA – Following a disappointing loss at Saturday Night Fights Round 10, Sam King is looking to get his first professional win on May 28, at Saturday Night Fights Round 11.

When King steps in the ring at the Turvey Centre he’ll be competing by himself, but mixed martial arts (MMA) is a team sport. King’s team extends beyond the gym, and there are many people that help get him ready for fight day.

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“One thing we always say down at Complete [MMA] is when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good you fight good, so that’s where this comes in,” King said in the barber’s chair at The Hair House on 13th.

King and his teammates from Complete regularly visit The Hair House where their barber, Tak, helps fulfill the “look good, feel good, fight good” mantra.

After his hair cut, King went to meet up with his friend and Saskatchewan Roughrider Plaza of Honour inductee, Scott Schultz.

“It’s good to have friends that have been [on the big stage], so if you ever have questions they’re there and they can answer it,” King explained.

“So you can go into your situation with more confidence.”

In addition to advice Schultz supplied King with some equipment that came in handy during his football days; an icing machine that takes the recovery benefits of an ice bath, and localizes it to a specific joint.

Supports like this can benefit any fighter, but one of the most important members of the team are the sponsors.

“It’s a cost in itself to be a fighter and as much help as you can get definitely benefits you,” King said.

Professional fighters are paid win or lose, but at King’s level the purse doesn’t pay the bills.

King has a number of sponsors, and in the case of his Popeye’s sponsorship, it also helps with his training and cutting weight down to 150 pounds.

“With dieting and really depleting your body it’s crucial to have supplements, so you’re getting the right amount of protein,” he explained.

Once the fight prep is complete outside the gym, it’s back to the physical work on cardio, technique, and sparring sessions.

On Saturday, King will be fighting an opponent his coach says mirrors him well, when he steps into the ring against Winnpeg’s Ryan Pang.

“He’s a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, like Sam. Their ground game is at a very high level, so it’s going to be a very competitive fight I believe,” AJ Scales said.

Pang enters the fight with a 1-0 pro record, and despite an undefeated amateur career King is 0-1 professionally.

He feels he beat himself back in November, gassing himself out trying to get a quick, highlight reel worthy knockout.

Learning from the loss, King says the audience will see a much more methodical tactician.

“Instead of searching for it, just wait for it and put myself in the position where the opportunity to finish him will appear.”

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Jun 15

Why you don’t have to give your smartphone to police at a crime scene

What are your rights if police want your smartphone or other device as evidence?

The actions of Vancouver Police Department officers are being questioned a day after a police-involved shooting near Hastings and Cassiar Streets.

READ MORE: Man arrested following police-involved shooting in Vancouver

“I need to take that as evidence, sir,” an officer says to a person with smartphone footage at the scene.

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“No, it’s mine. My property,” the man responds.

“Not anymore. This is under investigation, so I need to take that video as evidence,” responds the officer.

Not so, says the executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association.

“It’s totally your right to send them that footage afterwards, to send an email to the officer attending, but you don’t have to turn over your phone to the police,” Josh Paterson said.

He says that police can issue a warrant for a device, and are entitled to seize a witness’ cellphone for evidence on scene if they reasonably believe the footage would be deleted.

“We’re very concerned police may ask in a way that people don’t understand that they have a right to say no, and provide evidence in another way.”

Police also took an iPad from Debbie Gajdosik, though she consented to giving police her device.

“We wanted to do our civic duty,” she said.

But Gajdosik wanted to stay with her iPad so she could get it back that evening and that meant she ended up waiting three hours at VPD headquarters.

“After about one and a half hours, they told us we could leave, and I said, ‘I’m not leaving without my device.’ Getting it back proved to be a hassle,” she said.

Paterson says that if police officers want footage or photos from witnesses on scene, they should get their contact information, and ask them to email it later.

“This is your own personal belonging … it has personal details of your emails, your bank accounts, texts with your loved ones, all kinds of things that police have absolutely no right to have,” he said.

“There’s no question that police should not be confiscating people’s cellphones.”

Jun 15

Fort McMurray residents will return to community with access to health care thanks to unique facility

Early next month, residents displaced by a massive wildfire will return to Fort McMurray, although their community won’t be the same and still won’t be fully functional in terms of access to public services.

However, thanks to a unique facility put together in an incredibly short period of time, they will have access to a surprisingly wide range of health care services.

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  • Fort McMurray wildfire: Nickelback, Corb Lund, Randy Bachman among Fire Aid concert acts

  • Fort McMurray wildfire: Bank of Canada says Alberta wildfires will slow economic growth

  • Fort McMurray wildfire: ‘We expect weeks, if not months, fighting this fire’

  • ‘This keeps me busy’: Fort McMurray fire evacuee runs donation centre in Wandering River

  • Phased re-entry plan for oilsands camps near Fort McMurray begins

    Alberta Health Services (AHS) EMS Fleet Operations team set up a series of tent-like portable shelters, which now make up the Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre outside the Syncrude Sport and Wellness Centre.

    A 10-person team of AHS staff from Calgary and Edmonton created the series of Portable Isolation Containment Systems (PICS).

    READ MORE: Heroic measures praised during the Fort McMurray hospital evacuation

    The facility was needed after the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, Fort McMurray’s only hospital, was evacuated as the wildfire ripped through the community.

    READ MORE: ‘We got the job done’: Nurse describes Fort McMurray hospital evacuation

    The portable, inter-connected units offer clean air, clean water and enough space to deliver health care services in a community expected to face smoky conditions and a lack of clean water for some time yet.

    The facility is made up of four 20-by-40-foot rectangular shelters, five 20-by-20-foot octagon shelters and five hallways to connect the units. The facility also features a HEPA-filtered HVAC system, heating, air conditioning, a generator for power supply as well as interior lighting.

    A look at the temporary Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre.


    “The urgent care facility that we’ve set up over the last couple of weeks in Fort McMurray is working excellently,” David Mador, AHS’ vice president and medical director for northern Alberta, said. “We’re quite pleased with the functionality and we’ve been able to recreate a full-service emergency department.”

    According to AHS, the Urgent Care Centre is a crucial piece of infrastructure not only for when some evacuees return, but also in the interim because it provides health care access to first responders and people helping to rebuild the community in the wake of the disaster.

    “Despite the fact that the majority of the population had left Fort McMurray, we’re still left with a lot of people in the area requiring emergency services but we did not have a hospital and so from our perspective, it was critical that we create capacity to deliver urgent and emergent care to the folks that were there and to prepare for the return of people back into Fort McMurray if we couldn’t get back into the hospital in a prompt fashion,” Mador said.

    According to AHS, the Urgent Care Centre is capable of dealing with a significant number of health care demands with its emergency care, laboratory services, X-ray and CT-scan capabilities. It also has an operating room which can be used if life or limb-threatening conditions mean surgery needs to be completed before a patient can be transferred to hospital.

    A look at the temporary Fort McMurray Urgent Care Centre.


    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire: How to see if your power and natural gas are back on

    In most cases, however, patients who need a higher level of care will be transported to Edmonton by ground and air ambulance until Fort McMurray’s Northern Lights Regional Health Centre re-opens. Mador said 400 people are currently working to clean that hospital as well as recalibrate the HVAC system and restore utilities there. He hopes at least the emergency department and diagnostic imaging and lab area will be able to open around the time the first wave of residents return.

    READ MORE: Phased re-entry into Fort McMurray after wildfire to begin June 1

    The centre has more than 30 patient care spaces and has already treated nearly 200 patients since it opened on May 14. AHS said staffing will soon increase in order to allow the facility to care for as many as 150 patients per day.

    There are currently 27 staff members working at the facility.

    This is not the first time AHS has used the PICS system to put together a temporary health care facility. It was used as a temporary emergency department at Edmonton’s Grey Nuns Community Hospital when the permanent emergency department was being renovated, as a pediatric emergency department at Edmonton’s Stollery Children’s Hospital, as an assessment unit at Edmonton’s Royal Alexandra Hospital during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, and as an assessment unit during a measles outbreak in the South Zone in 2013.

Jun 15

No room for sexual misconduct on navy ships: commander

VICTORIA – The West Coast’s top-ranking naval officer says there’s no room for sexual misconduct on board his ships, and he’s on a mission to offer support and comfort to victims of abuse.

Rear Admiral Gilles Couturier said Wednesday in an interview with he won’t tolerate sexual misconduct offences in the Canadian Forces.

“The Chief of Defence Staff (Gen. Jonathan Vance) has said, ‘not in my Canadian Armed Forces,’” said Couturier. “I’ll say, ‘not in my navy.’ Those kind of people, again, are not the kind of image, the kind of folks I’m looking for. If they are predators, they don’t belong in my outfit. I’ll be as simple as that.”

WATCH: Number of military sexual misconduct investigations jump 30 per cent

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The commanding officer of Maritime Forces Pacific said military investigations of alleged sexual misconduct incidents have increased since the Canadian Armed Forces formed a crisis response centre last year at the Department of National Defence.

Couturier said the increase was expected after the military opened itself to hearing allegations.

“We like to think we made some progress as an organization, as an institution in the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Couturier.

“People believe they’ve got a better opportunity to make their case and we’ll listen. We’re telling them, ‘we’ll support you. Let us know what happened, and we’ll help you.”

Former Supreme Court of Canada justice Marie Deschamps delivered a report last year documenting what she described as a culture of sexual harassment in the military.

The Canadian Forces’ highest-ranking woman, Maj.-Gen. Christine Whitecross, dismissed reports last May that her work on a response to Deschamps’ review was being constrained by a top military directive to ignore certain recommendations.

Deschamps made 10 recommendations, including forming an independent complaints process for victims of sexual abuse.

Sajjan challenged on sexual misconduct in the military comment


Sajjan challenged on sexual misconduct in the military comment


Sajjan questions report on sexual misconduct in military


Vance explains why he’s pleased sexual misconduct numbers went up


Gen. Vance: Progress in sexual misconduct report ‘represents a start’

Couturier said he was stung by Deschamps’ report.

“I was hurt,” he said. “I felt I failed in some area. I’m very keen to make people not afraid to come out.”

He said he was particularly wounded by Deschamps’ finding that people in the navy fear reprisals if they come forward with their stories of sexual misconduct.

“People are scared the chain of command is going to affect their career,” said Couturier.

“My message to you and my message to everybody I talk to is that’s so far from the truth. If you have an issue come to us and we’ll help.”

He said stamping out sexual misconduct in the military remains a work in progress.

“We are not there yet, but we are much more open,” Couturier said. “We’re taking action to deal with what we’ve observed as a miss in our way of doing business.”

The naval officer said Canadian women should feel comfortable and safe embarking on careers in the navy.