It's a busy time for Canadians offering aid and helping around the world in places including China, Myanmar, Kandahar (Afghanistan) and New Orleans.
The first of several medical teams assisting in earthquake-ravaged China left from Vancouver for Chengdu, the provincial capital of hardest-hit Sichuan province.
The doctors and paramedics are from the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams organization.
Canada has loaned its largest military aircraft, the C-17 cargo lifter, to the World Food Program to deliver helicopters and 2,000 emergency kits to Myanmar to assist stranded cyclone victims.
As well, the Canadian government has upped its support for relief efforts to $14-million in aid and is matching all private donations.
In Kandahar, a Canadian aid group is supporting a program teaching about 100 Afghan women to sew and start their own small businesses.
Initially, the Canadian aid organization Development Works hired the women to sew 1,200 vests and knapsacks for the Canadian International Development Agency.
In New Orleans, about 50 Canadians are helping to build houses in the Habitat for Humanity "Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project — Gulf Coast 2008."
The houses are being built across the city in areas hardest hit by flooding after Hurricane Katrina.
Bad PR for Hortons stores continues
More publicity trouble is brewing for Tim Hortons, Canada's largest coffee and doughnut shop, two weeks after a London, Ontario, store employee was fired for giving a child a free 16-cent Timbit.
A woman executive in Toronto ran afoul of a downtown Tim Hortons outlet after buying breakfast for a pregnant homeless woman.
An employee told her the woman wasn't welcome to eat inside as homeless people "make a mess."
Tim Hortons publicist Rachael Douglas said the woman has been disruptive there before and anyone "who poses a risk to a safe customer environment is not welcome in the stores."
A public outcry resulted in the London employee being quickly rehired after the incident involving a small round Timbit that resembles a doughnut hole.
News in brief
• Over time, Canada's paper currency is gradually losing the tiny bumps placed in the upper right corner that help the blind know the denomination. Tests are continuing with polymers that might last longer for the next series of bills to be issued in 2011. In the meantime, the Bank of Canada offers a device free of charge that reads the bill and indicates its denomination by tone, vibration or even voice.
• A student team from Ontario's University of Waterloo has developed a vehicle that is powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The team was among the winners in the four-year Challenge X competition sponsored by General Motors and the U.S. Department of Energy to create a fuel-efficient, safe and high-performance vehicle.
Facts and figures
Canada's commodity-linked currency moved higher against the U.S. dollar with rising world oil prices to 1.0118 U.S. on Friday. The U.S. greenback returns 98.84 cents Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
Higher gasoline and house prices and fewer auto sales incentives helped push Canada's inflation rate to 1.7 percent higher in April than a year ago.
The Bank of Canada interest rate is steady at 3 percent while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.
Canadian stock markets are higher, with the Toronto Exchange index at 14,674 on Friday while the TSX Venture Exchange was 2,695 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 3, 4, 7, 19, 28 and 32; bonus 6. (May 17) 5, 21, 35, 38, 47 and 48; bonus 45. Super 7: (May 16) 10, 14, 15, 34, 40, 43 and 45; bonus 28.
• Two Montreal police officers were found not guilty of assaulting Anne-Marie Peladeau, heiress to a Quebec publishing empire. Judge Martin Vauclair said legitimate force was used to detain Peladeau who bit, kicked and spat at the officers. The daughter of late media baron Pierre Peladeau pleaded guilty to theft, assaulting police, drug trafficking and obstructing justice.
• Alberta is revising building and fire codes for houses built in high-density neighborhoods. This is to try to prevent another fire, blamed on arson, like the one that destroyed 94 townhomes under construction in Edmonton last year. Slower-burning gypsum wallboard will now be required under vinyl siding instead of manufactured wood products.
• The cleanup continues in flood-ravaged New Brunswick as volunteers join homeowners along the banks of the Saint John River. Recent flooding left at least 1,500 houses and businesses damaged. Provincial disaster relief allows eligible homeowners up to $80,000 in compensation for essentials, less a $1,000 deductible.
Jim Fox can be reached at