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Dollar store products often contain toxic chemicals, report finds

An Environmental Defence analysis looked into products being sold at dollar stores, including Dollarama and Dollar Tree, and found that one in four items tested positive for substances managed under the Environmental Protection Act.

Some of those items included headphones with high levels of lead and BPA lined food cans.

But while many of the report’s findings were within allowable limits, Environmental Defence says those limits need to be more strict.

The solder within one set of earbuds, for instance, had 3,000 times the legal limit of lead allowed on accessible portions. But the solder is not covered by the regulations, a gap Environmental Defence insists must be closed.

Cassie Barker, toxics manager for Environmental Defence, said internal lead can still be exposed if products break or wear down.

“The way that kids use products, and you know they break things and so that internal [lead] quickly becomes external lead,” she said. 

Dollarama said that because the products meet Canadian regulations, they’re safe to use “for their intended purposes.” 

Dollar Tree said that a similar study released in the U.S. two years ago prompted the company to remove 17 chemicals from its products. Read more

Environmental Defence provided its report to the companies whose stores it visited, including Dollar Tree and Dollarama. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

New luxury tax might be more trouble than it’s worth, critics say

As of Thursday, buyers of luxury cars and personal planes worth over $100,000, and boats with price tags over $250,000 will now be slapped with an additional 10 to 20 per cent luxury tax.

The tax is expected to raise $163-million in new revenue each year. 

But Don Drummond, a former federal assistant deputy minister of fiscal policy and a former chief economist for TD Bank, warns the tax could be easy to circumvent.

“Whatever you define as the threshold for a boat or whatever luxury good it is, somebody will do something to get around it,” Drummond said. 

Federal officials, meanwhile, continue to defend the tax.

“It is great for Canadians to be prosperous,” said Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday. “I also think that people who are doing really, really well should feel comfortable supporting everybody else.” Read more

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Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minster Chrystia Freeland defended the luxury tax during an ongoing tour of Alberta on Wednesday. (Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)

He can’t find a family doctor. Now, he’s offering a $5K reward

Gary Shuster’s a big believer in public health care. But after losing his family doctor and being unable to find a new one, the Vancouver man is now offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can help him end his search.

Critics will be quick to point out the cash bounty undermines the very system he claims to support. But as someone living with a rare metabolic disorder, Shuster said he had no other option.

The 55-year-old lives with CPT2 deficiency, a muscle-attacking disease which can be triggered by stress, anxiety and infection, leading to severe cramping, cognitive impairment and muscle weakness. Regular monitoring by a doctor familiar with CPT2 deficiency is important in controlling it.

“I have young kids, and if something were to happen to me, it would really be a disaster for them,” said the father of three. “As a responsible parent, I have to take steps to make sure that I stay healthy.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, two people had responded to his ad. Both said they were not interested in the $5,000 reward. Read more

A man in a black patterned shirt stands beneath an overpass in Vancouver.
Gary Shuster is offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who can connect him to a family doctor in Vancouver. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

What else is going on?

York Public Health advises throwing out 2 products as part of probe into Markham restaurant poisonings
Health agency believes products may be contaminated with highly toxic forms of aconite.

Bank of Canada refutes ‘printing money’ misinformation on Twitter
Central bank has recently been using social media to engage the public on the economy.

Most doctors took financial hit in 1st year of COVID, but top earners did just fine
One in four high-billing physicians received federal wage subsidy, CBC analysis finds.

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