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Toll of dead, missing in Haiti rises for Canada, too

The death toll is rising, with 1,415 Canadians missing in the devastated Haiti earthquake zone.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon confirmed four Canadian deaths and the number of missing. An additional 50 Canadians have taken refuge at the Canadian Embassy compound in Port-au-Prince.

Mountie Sgt. Mark Gallagher was killed, and superintendent Doug Coates is missing. Both were serving with a U.N. mission on the island.

Georges Anglade, a founder of the University of Quebec at Montreal, his wife, Mireille, and nurse Yvonne Martin of Elmira, Ontario, also died. Among the missing is Serge Marcil, a former Quebec member of Parliament.

An estimated 6,000 Canadians live in Haiti, and there are about 100,000 Haitians who are residents of Canada.

Since Thursday, military aircraft have been returning with Canadians after ferrying emergency relief supplies and aid workers south.

The government has also temporarily waived its visa requirements to help reunify Haitians with family members in Canada.

Defense Minister Peter MacKay said more military search-and-rescue equipment and police personnel are on their way to the quake zone.

Immediately after the earthquake, Canada sent its Disaster Assistance Response Team to Haiti to assess the situation and help. Two Canadian warships left Halifax on Thursday with relief supplies and should arrive early in the week.

The government is matching aid donations from Canadians dollar for dollar to a maximum of $48.2 million.

Swine flu means many call in sick in Nov.

Canadian workers took almost 30 million hours of sick time in November as H1N1 flu took its toll.

Statistics Canada said 1.5 million people reported calling in sick because of the flu virus, with an average of 19.6 hours of work lost for each person.

It also boosted overtime work hours as 600,000 people put in 8.6 million extra hours to cover for flu absentees, the agency reported.

The highest flu-related absenteeism was in Newfoundland and Labrador at 14.2 percent, and the lowest was in Quebec at 7.6 percent.

News in brief

• The price of an "average" Canadian house, at $328,122, jumped by 19 percent last year over 2008. The Canadian Real Estate Association said sales were 72 percent higher last month compared with a year earlier. Low interest rates and home buyers wanting to save money before the July 1 introduction of "harmonized" sales taxes in Ontario and British Columbia helped fuel sales.

• Canwest Global Communications has asked its bankers to try to find a buyer for the Toronto-based National Post and other big-city dailies to raise about $900 million. The insolvent Winnipeg-based broadcaster and publisher reached a restructuring agreement with its creditors, mainly the banks that are owed the money. The plan keeps the newspaper assets in Canwest control while attempting to attract interested buyers.

Facts and figures

Canada's dollar is still on the rise, reaching 97.23 cents U.S. on Friday, while the U.S. greenback returned $1.0285 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.

The Bank of Canada key interest rate is steady at 0.25 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.

Stock markets are lower, with the Toronto exchange index at 11,712 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,588 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 26, 28, 30, 39, 40, 48; bonus 27. (Jan. 9) 7, 9, 10, 27, 28, 40; bonus 42. Lotto Max: (Jan. 8) 8, 17, 21, 23, 24, 28, 39; bonus 31.

Regional briefs

• Acknowledging it would be of benefit to working parents as well as their children's development, the Ontario government has launched its promised full-day kindergarten program. It will start in the fall, initially at selected schools that have the space for 4- and 5-year-olds in a program that's expected to cost about $500 million.

• A former student who took up residence at the University of Victoria in 1991 and hasn't taken a course in 12 years will have to move. Supreme Court Judge John Truscott said that the university can evict him under an updated tenancy agreement. Alkis Gerd'son challenged the eviction, saying he's being persecuted. He has filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal.

• Newfoundland's "screech-in" ceremony is a growing attraction for visitors. Bars offer shots of dark rum, and those who repeat a "Newfie" saying become "honorary Newfoundlanders." Rum came to the island centuries ago in trade with the West Indies for salt cod. It got its name from U.S. soldiers stationed in Newfoundland in World War II who let out a screech when they tossed back a straight shot.

Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com.

Toll of dead, missing in Haiti rises for Canada, too 01/16/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:08pm]
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