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March, 2019

UPDATED: Huge smart meter refund coming

REGINA – SaskPower has reached an agreement to recover the money blown on the smart meter fiasco.

The Crown utility announced Tuesday the manufacturer, Sensus Corp., will be refunding $24 million to provincial coffers, and also coughing up an additional $18 million credit.

If Sensus chooses not to design and test an improved smart meter in the next three years, that credit will also turn into a refund.

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In July, the province ordered SaskPower to remove all 105,000 smart meters installed on Saskatchewan homes after at least nine fires were connected to the devices.

SaskPower says it’s still committed to smart grid technology, and Sensus plans to invest $5 million in developing a meter that will work in Saskatchewan.

Robert Watson, SaskPower president and CEO, defended the decision to stick with Sensus as its smart meter manufacturer, saying the company has a strong reputation.

“We are committed to developing a smart grid that will serve the unique needs to our province and support our unprecedented economic growth,” SaskPower President and CEO Robert Watson said.

“A smart grid will bring significant benefits to our customers, including faster restoration of service following an outage, reduced carbon emissions and more timely and accurate billing.”

Critics say the government is putting too much faith into one company.

“To have your hands tied to one supplier, one provider, is a very weak position,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon.

SaskPower says its new agreement will allow another supplier’s smart meter model to function on the network developed by Sensus, which continues to be developed in order to service new SaskEnergy gas modules.

SaskPower is continuing to remove all the smart meters that have already been installed and expects to have all of the smart meters removed by the end of this year.

Broadway League backs down, agrees to honour Joan Rivers

NEW YORK – The Broadway League, which represents theatre owners and producers, has reversed itself and will ask theatres to dim their lights in honour of Joan Rivers.

The league had said Monday that Rivers did not meet the criteria for the honour, triggering a controversy when several theatre owners said they would turn off their marquee lights Tuesday anyway. An online petition was launched and several celebrities came out in favour of granting the honour.

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The league changed course Tuesday afternoon, saying the lights would dim at 6:45 p.m. for one minute.

“Joan Rivers loved Broadway and we loved her,” Charlotte St. Martin, the league’s executive director, said in a statement. “Due to the outpouring of love and respect for Joan Rivers from our community and from her friends and fans worldwide, the marquees of Broadway theatres in New York will be dimmed in her memory tonight.”

Rivers, who died Thursday at 81, was known primarily as a TV actress and comedian, though she was seen as a champion of Broadway and off-Broadway shows and earned a Tony Award nomination.

Before the league’s reversal, 10 theatres — out of 40 — were set to break with the league and dim their lights.

Theater producer Tom D’Angora had started an online petition asking the league to reverse its decision.

“I promise you, the majority of the community wants to thank and honour her,” said D’Angora, who has produced the off-Broadway shows NEWSical and Naked Boys Singing. ”She did so much. She was such an outspoken champion.”

“I can’t believe we can be denied the last chance to show respect and thank her. I also think if you watch her interviews and documentaries, this would hurt her feelings,” he added. “Plus, how hard is it to hit a dimmer switch?”

A spokeswoman for the Rivers family said they were in mourning and didn’t want to comment.

The controversy triggered the creation of the 桑拿会所 hashtags #dimthelightsforJoan and #Dim4Joan. Celebrities including Cyndi Lauper, Harvey Fierstein and Donna Murphy came out in favour of the honour.

Rivers wrote and starred in the 1971 quick-to-close Fun City, was in Neil Simon’s Broadway Bound in 1988, and wrote and starred in Sally Marr … and Her Escorts in 1994, where she earned her Tony nod.

Some celebrities who have been recently granted the honour include Philip Seymour Hoffman and James Gandolfini, whose TV and film careers often overshadowed their theatre contributions.

Broadway stars came out in force for Rivers’ funeral on Sunday, including Audra McDonald, who sang “Smile,” and Hugh Jackman, who sang “Quiet Please, There’s a Lady On Stage.” In attendance were theatre stars such as Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming and Tommy Tune.

©2014The Associated Press

Children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond backs teachers in labour dispute – BC

Another children’s singer and songwriter is throwing her support behind the teachers in the ongoing labour dispute.

Award-winning musician Charlotte Diamond has been a children’s entertainer for decades.

She says before she delved into the music industry, she was a teacher for over 15 years and knows firsthand what teachers are going through.

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“I know the conditions that I worked under,” she says. “It is much more demanding for teachers. When you do not have enough support from school counsellors, librarians and specialist teachers, children fall by the wayside.”

69-year-old Diamond says her family is directly affected. Her grandson is in grade 2 and is out of school. Her son’s girlfriend is also a school counsellor and is on a picket line right now.

Diamond is in favour of binding arbitration to help resolve the dispute. On Monday, BC Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker said union’s members would take the vote on the issue on Wednesday, but education minister Peter Fassbender has vehemently denied any possibility of binding arbitration to end the dispute.

Diamond says if that fails, she wants to see the two parties go back to working with someone like Vince Ready to resolve the crisis.

She says the education system is struggling and more funding is needed.

“I am appealing to the rest of the province to put pressure on the government, so that they will free up more funds to supply the needs of our teachers.”

Last month, another children’s entertainer, Raffi Cavoukian, also weighed in on the dispute.

Cavoukian fired back at B.C. Premier Christy Clark after she tweeted that a deal with the BCTF has to be affordable for taxpayers.

Cavoukian also tweeted to say “government is playing politics with B.C. kids’ basic right to education.” He says parents deserve an apology and a resolution to the strike.

Diamond says she is adding her voice to help get things moving along.

“It seems to me that if we do not speak out, things will not change, and we cannot leave this in an entrenched position. Something has to be done.”

Transit union sheds light on stolen Saskatoon bus, labour talks – Saskatoon

Watch above: ATU 615 president Jim Yakubowski discusses a stolen bus and the current labour talks at Saskatoon Transit

SASKATOON – The city’s transit union is shedding a little more light on what happened before a bus was stolen by a nine-year-old boy on Saturday morning.

Speaking on Global Saskatoon’s Morning News, ATU 615 president Jim Yakubowski says the stolen bus was one of two left running by a maintenance crew member.

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“Both buses were started,” said Yakubowski. “The maintenance individual went to move one bus inside, essentially put it on the hoist, but by the time he got back the youngster had already come and stole the bus.”

He said it’s not normal practice to leave buses running outside in summer, although it happens in winter because there is not enough room in the bus barns for the whole fleet.

“The odds of it happening again would still exist,” he said.

“It’s not the first time a bus has been stolen from the bus barns.”

Yakubowski said it was unfortunate so many things happened at once – the stolen bus, a fire on another bus Friday, and a week where some transit routes did not have buses because of a shortage of mechanics to keep the fleet operating at full strength.

“It’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances that everything seemed to come all at once.”

He added the union has emailed the city to ask for contract talks to begin again. The city’s latest contract offer was soundly rejected by the union, and so far no new talks are scheduled.

Yakubowski said the pension plan for transit employees and wages are both significant issues, and he said transit drivers are still “at the bottom” compared to other cities in Western Canada.

The union has been without a contract since 2012.

For its part, the City of Saskatoon says it has been successful at getting more buses on the road this week.

The city says its offer to the union is competitive, and would put operators very close to Regina, and 65 cents an hour behind Winnipeg.

The city also says there is a $7 million deficit in the pension fund for transit, and says changes need to be made.

5 ways to stay hydrated this summer — besides drinking water – National

With warmer weather, it’s almost a no-brainer: water is essential to avoid dehydration.

But Vancouver-based registered dietitian Desiree Nielsen says hydration isn’t just about fluids — there are several ways to make sure you are hydrated all day.

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“The foods you eat also contribute to your hydration status,” she tells Global News. “If you consume a lot of meat or baked goods like muffins and crackers, you will require more water to stay hydrated. If you eat more fruits and vegetables, which are mostly water, you will require less water to stay hydrated.”

READ MORE: Skin Hydration with Joy McCarthy

Fluids in the summertime

And the season, in particular, is also important, she adds. As temperatures rise, we lose more water through sweating and even more so when we are active.

“The average person definitely should consider upping their fluid intake in the summer … but the standard ‘eight glasses of water a day’ isn’t the best guideline as hydration is very individualized,” she says.

WATCH: Hydrating beverages

Your body size, diet, the temperature and your activity level all determine how much fluid you need to stay hydrated. “The best, most individualized way to judge hydration? Your pee should be pale in colour. If it is dark yellow, you need more fluid.”

Anar Allidina, a registered dietitian based in Toronto, says water also carries heat away from our internal organs. She notes the weather change is also a good time to take note of how much water or other fluids you are drinking during the day.

READ MORE: Report says ‘clean eating’ isn’t always healthy, but here’s how to do it right”

Dangers of dehydration

And not getting enough water also poses health risks. Mild dehydration, Allidina adds, can contribute to fatigue, difficulty concentrating, confusion, and irritability. “Dehydration can also cause headaches,” she says.

READ MORE: What’s the new kale? The latest trends in healthy food

Nielsen adds dehydration can also be very serious and if you are feeling any symptoms, talk to a doctor right away.

“Dehydration can decrease blood volume and blood pressure that could cause you to feel faint and decrease oxygen supply to your cells,” she says. “Electrolyte imbalances caused by water loss could impact muscle contractions with dangerous results, particularly in older people. And for those of us enjoying fun in the sun, dehydration can lead to heat stroke.”

Below, Allidina and Nielsen share their top tips on staying hydrated all summer long — besides just drinking a glass of H2O.

Hydrating fruits

Nielsen says fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, watermelon, citrus fruits and leafy greens like spinach, are great sources of water. She adds drinking more green juices and smoothies during the summer also helps. Allidina adds zucchini, in particular, is about 95 per cent water.

Infused water

Sometimes, your plain glass of water just needs a kick. Try flavouring your water with things like herbs, fruit, or a tiny splash of fruit juice, Nielsen says.

Coconut water

Allidina says coconut water is refreshing and filled with natural electrolytes. “Coconut water contains sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. A great choice especially if you are spending a lot of time outdoors,” she adds. However, you should be mindful and avoid drinks with more than eight grams of sugar.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds have the ability to absorb 30 times their weight in water, Allidina adds, so try soaking 1/2 a cup to make yourself a chia seed pudding topped with fruit.

Iced herbal decaffeinated teas

Allidina says there are so many great flavours of herbal and fruit infused teas available in the summer. Again, make sure you are avoiding teas loaded with added sugar.

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