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Fuss over free treat sees Canadian single mom fired, rehired

A single mother is back at work after a public uproar when she was fired by Canada's iconic Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut chain for giving a fussy child a free treat.

Head office tried to avert a publicity nightmare by swiftly rehiring Nicole Lilliman of London, Ontario, after the media frenzy that pushed major news stories off the front pages.

Lilliman, 27, a mother of four, was fired for giving away a Timbit, a doughy confection resembling the hole of a donut.

The woman, who earns $9.05 an hour, said she gave the Timbit to the child of a regular customer who was "having a tough day."

To make matters worse with boycott-threatening Canadians who accuse Hortons of being hard hearted, district manager Nicole Mitchell said employees "aren't allowed to give out free products and that's the bottom line."

But she said a Timbit is given free for a pet in a car at the drive-up windows.

Lilliman was given her job back at another store and received an apology for the action that was "not appropriate nor grounds for dismissal," the company said.

Hortons, which recently raised prices, reported net income of $61.8-million, up 4.3 percent, in the first quarter.

"We sincerely apologize to our customers for this unfortunate incident," it said in a statement.

Pension rules eased

The Canadian government is relaxing rules for seniors and those in financial need to access their pension accounts, including locked-in Registered Retirement Savings Plans.

Existing rules placed "too many limits" on withdrawals, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.

The changes allow people 55 and older with holdings of up to $22,450 in federally regulated locked-in funds to wind up their accounts or convert to tax-deferred savings plans.

They can also convert on a one-time basis 50 percent of their life income funds into a tax-deferred savings account with no maximum limit.

Those with "financial hardships" will be able to withdraw up to $22,450 this year, with the maximum increasing in the future.

News in brief

• It cost taxpayers $82,727 for a private jet to return Brenda Martin to Canada from a Mexican prison, government figures show. Public pressure resulted in the government moving Martin home to await parole after she spent two years in prison without a trial over her alleged involvement in an Internet investment scheme run by her former boss.

• A Via Rail passenger train heading for Toronto from Vancouver was placed under quarantine Friday in Foleyet, Ontario, after a woman passenger died and others reported flu-like symptoms. Ten passengers were taken to a hospital in Timmins from among about 250 people on the train.

• A honeymooning British Columbia couple injured in a fiery bus crash in Egypt has been returned home. Richard and Jennifer El Adam were burned and she had her left arm amputated when the tour bus rolled and caught fire near the Suez Canal.

Facts and figures

Signs of a slowing economy were noted as Canada's jobless rate edged up 0.1 percent to 6.1 percent for last month, although 19,200 new jobs were created.

Canada's dollar advanced to 99.30 cents U.S. Friday while the U.S. dollar returned $1.0070 Canadian, before bank exchanges fees.

The Bank of Canada interest rate remains at 3 percent while the prime lending rate is 4.75 percent.

Canadian stock markets are higher, with the Toronto Exchange index at 14,542 points and the TSX Venture Exchange 2,546 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 13, 22, 29, 33, 46 and 49; bonus 18. (May 3) 3, 6, 15, 27, 40 and 44; bonus 41. Super 7: (May 2) 4, 11, 20, 25, 32, 40 and 43; bonus 23.

Regional briefs

• Three seniors were killed in an apartment fire in North Vancouver. The blaze on the third floor killed Annetta Meester, 80, Rita Phillips, 78, who collapsed in the lobby from dense smoke, and Ilse Dragossy, 84. Fire officials said the origin of the blaze was "suspicious."

• All 320 of Prince Edward Island's school buses were taken out of service Thursday for inspection after 20 of the older models failed safety inspections. The provincial government said it is expected enough buses will pass inspection so that service can be resumed on Monday.

• Floodwaters are receding after causing heavy damage along New Brunswick's St. John River. More than 1,000 people have applied to the province for disaster relief.

• Saskatchewan nurses have voted 77 percent in favor of going on strike to back contract demands. Health Minister Don McMorris said he is hopeful the vote will encourage progress in negotiations to reach a settlement without a strike.

Jim Fox can be reached at

Fuss over free treat sees Canadian single mom fired, rehired 05/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 1:58pm]
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