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Animal rights groups heading to court over Ontario's spring bear hunt pilot

TORONTO - Two animal rights groups are taking the Ontario government to court in an attempt to stop a spring bear hunt pilot program before it begins, alleging it amounts to animal cruelty. Animal Alliance of Canada and Zoocheck Canada say mother bears will be killed during the hunt, leaving their orphaned cubs to starve or be killed by predators. "The babies at this time are very small," said Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck Canada.

Technology, critical thinking, nutrition focus of new Ontario education spending

TORONTO - Ontario will be spending $150 million over the next three years to help students take advantage of new technology and prepare them for good jobs in the global economy. The Education Ministry says the money will pay for technology and learning tools such as digital tablets, netbooks, cameras, software and professional development for teachers. Officials say the focus will continue to be on reading, writing and math, while also placing a new emphasis on skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration and entrepreneurship.

Ontario NDP want ban on sales of Russian vodka

TORONTO - Watch out Russian booze lovers. Ontario's NDP wants the province's government-run liquor stores to suspend sales of Russian Standard vodka due to the international crisis in Ukraine. New Democrat Cheri DiNovo tabled a motion Thursday in response to Russia's seizure of Crimea. Finance Minister Charles Sousa says he'll consider it. Saskatchewan had looked at the idea, but nixed it last week. Premier Brad Wall said stores also carry a brand of Ukrainian vodka and customers can make their own choice on what they want to buy.

Report shows Ontario GDP to average 2.1 per cent growth over 20 years

TORONTO - A shrinking work force combined with an aging population will pose challenges for Ontario's economy, which is expected to grow at a slower rate than the national or U.S. average in the next two decades, according to a report released Wednesday. The report, released by Finance Minister Charles Sousa, predicts Ontario's real Gross Domestic Product will average 2.1 per cent growth between 2014 and 2035, compared with 2.2 per cent nationally, 2.4 per cent in the U.S. and 3.1 per cent globally.

Federal, Ontario governments sign deal to keep world-famous research area open

TORONTO - A world-famous research area in northwestern Ontario will remain open thanks to agreements between the provincial and federal governments and the Manitoba-based group that runs the facility. The Experimental Lakes Area was in danger of closing after the federal government said in 2012 that it was considering closing the area to save $2 million per year. The facility, located in a remote region about 50 kilometres southeast of Kenora, has been used since 1968 for scientific freshwater studies.

Federal, Ontario governments sign deal to keep world-famous research area open

TORONTO - A world-famous research area in northwestern Ontario will remain open thanks to agreements between the provincial and federal governments and the Manitoba-based group that runs the facility. The Experimental Lakes Area was in danger of closing after the federal government said in 2012 that it was considering closing the area to save $2 million per year. The facility, located in a remote region about 50 kilometres southeast of Kenora, has been used since 1968 for scientific freshwater studies.

Ontario inks framework agreement with First Nations in Ring of Fire region

TORONTO - The Ontario government says the signing of a framework agreement with First Nations in the mineral-rich Ring of Fire region is an important "first step" that will ensure they benefit from the proposed mineral development. The province says the plan with the nine Matawa-member First Nations allows the two sides to move forward with a negotiation process on a "community-based approach" to developing the mining project in northern Ontario.

NDP to back Ontario's minority Liberal government in two confidence votes

TORONTO - Ontario's opposition parties will have a dozen chances to defeat the minority Liberal government in a series of confidence votes today, but the NDP say they won't trigger an election, at least not for now. The Liberals surprised the opposition Monday by introducing two routine supply motions that are matters of confidence, and one requires 11 separate votes for different ministries. The New Democrats said they will not vote to defeat the Liberals on what are routine supply motions that essentially allow the government to pay the bills.

NDP agree to prop up Ontario minority Liberal government in two confidence votes

TORONTO - Ontario's New Democrats aren't ready to force a provincial election just yet, despite pleas from the Progressive Conservatives to stop propping up the minority Liberals. The Liberals face two confidence votes this week on routine housekeeping bills, but the NDP said it will help keep the government in power, at least until the vote on the spring budget. The Liberals introduced an Interim Supply motion, which allows the government to pay the bills in the fiscal year starting April 1, along with another motion known as the Concurrence of Estimates.

Ontario civil servants to pay half of retiree benefits premiums

TORONTO - The cash-strapped governing Liberals are going to require Ontario civil servants to pay more for their retirement benefits. The government says public sector employees retiring in 2017 and later will have to pay half of their benefits premiums for life, health, dental and vision coverage. Currently, the government pays 100 per cent of the premiums. It says it will also change the eligibility period for retiree benefits from 10 to 20 years for workers who are hired from Jan. 1, 2017 onward or who have less than a decade of pension credit by that time.
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