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Monday, January 9, 2017

Drunken pilot incident leads to government airline safety review



   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 8/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   The Canadian government is reviewing airline safety after a Sunwing Airlines pilot was arrested after being so drunk he passed out in the cockpit.
   Members of the flight crew said they noticed the pilot behaving oddly after boarding a Sunwing flight in Calgary last weekend.
   It was to fly to Cancun, Mexico by way of Regina and Winnipeg with 99 passengers and six crewmembers onboard.
   Pilot Miroslav Gronych, from Slovakia on a work visa in Canada, was arrested for being three times over the legal driving limit for alcohol consumption, police said.
   In Canada, it is against the law for pilots to consume any alcohol within eight hours of flying and individual airlines often have stricter rules.
   Sunwing’s Jacqueline Grossman said the airline has zero tolerance on drinking within 12 hours of duty.
   Transport Minister Marc Garneau told commercial air carriers he is “very concerned” about the incident and wants them to outline and confirm their safety protocols.
   “There is the need to ensure that protocols are up to date and are being implemented with all the required resources, including measures designed to confirm pilots’ fitness to fly,” he said.

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   Walmart and Visa have ended a six-month disagreement over credit card fees at its Canadian stores.
   The retailer is again accepting Visa cards in all its stores after reaching a deal on fees charged by the credit card company. No details were given.
   Walmart stopped taking Visa cards in Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario last July and threatened to extend the ban across Canada, seeking lower fees.
   It said it was paying more than $100 million a year for the service, far more than for other cards or payment methods.
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   News in brief:
   - Tens of thousands of customers were without power in parts of Quebec at mid-week after a storm brought freezing rain and snow across much of the province. Ice accumulated on tree branches and wooden poles, causing them to fall and take down power lines. The hardest hit regions were the Outaouais, the Laurentians and the western part of the Monteregie.
   - Investigators have concluded a massive gas explosion that destroyed a house and damaged 70 others in Mississauga, west of Toronto, last June was a double suicide. The residents of the house, Robert Nadler and wife Diane Page, were found dead among the debris. Police said the house’s natural gas line had been dismantled, leading to the explosion.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has risen to 75.54 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.323 Canadian, before exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,505 points while the TSX Venture index is at 790 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has risen to $1.14 a liter or $4.33 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Jan. 4) 2, 11, 13, 23, 35 and 48; bonus 30. (Dec. 31) 3, 5, 14, 18, 26 and 28; bonus 40. Lotto Max (Dec. 30) 5, 10, 14, 19, 31, 33 and 47; bonus 27.

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   Regional briefs:
   - The British Columbia government is making $50 million available to immediately hire about 1,100 teachers as ordered by the Supreme Court. A law that blocked the B.C. Teachers’ Federation from bargaining class sizes was ruled unconstitutional, ending a 14-year legal battle. There is also $100 million in a “learning improvement fund” for teachers and education assistants.
   - A shortage of real estate listings and low interest rates pushed the average price of a house sold in the Greater Toronto Area to $730,472 last month, up 20 percent from a year ago. The record high reported by the Toronto Real Estate Board contrasted with a 2.2-percent price drop to $897,600 on average in the last six months in Greater Vancouver.
   - Moosehead Breweries cites costs in scrapping plans to build a small-batch brewery on the waterfront in Saint John, New Brunswick. The company, with a large brewery in the city and Hop City Brewing in Brampton, Ontario, is now developing “alternate plans,” said CEO Andrew Oland.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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