We did it; TGIF — Andrew from Narcity here. ☕
Off The Top: A former Toronto-area cop revealed how scammers are able to stealthily steal moolah from shoppers this holiday season by applying fake barcodes onto the back of gift cards. Of course, gift cards are inherently a scam; imagine giving a major corporation a binding, zero-interest loan upon which they can earn interest until you use/inevitably misplace your gift card? Outrageous.
In Case You Missed It
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has a message for those critical of his handling of the province's "More Homes Built Faster Act": shut up and move along. Ford's media availability at an announcement in Brampton on Wednesday included several shots at his colleagues in municipal politics, including Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who Ford accused of handing out fliers critical of the new legislation, according to Mira Nabulsi.
- Go Deeper: The act, known as Bill 23, is aimed at building 1.5 million more homes in the province over the next 10 years — but would significantly lessen the financial burden on developers to do so. That will create a revenue shortfall, ultimately resulting in service cuts and tax hikes, critics assert.
- Context: Bill 23 was passed last month during a window in which municipal councils in the province were not in session; as incoming councillors were not sworn in following October's elections, there were fewer formal avenues for municipal representatives — like those in Mississauga — to voice their dissent.
- In His Words: "We want to work collaboratively, cooperatively with you, but we need to get on board and start moving forward and stop the whining and complaining that I hear day in and day out," Ford said.
- READ THE FULL STORY HERE
You've probably seen them pop up on your social media timelines over the past week: your contacts' likenesses fantastically rendered in the style of oil paintings, Japanese anime or like a high-gloss video game character. By and large, they're the product of apps that use artificial intelligence to generate new, original images based on previous works of art. The viral spread of the tech is why the app Lensa is currently No. 1 in Canada on Google Play and the App Store. MTL Blog's Sofia Misenheimer helps us wrap our heads around the very strange and often jaw-dropping new tech.
- Counterpoint: However, AI-backed image generators are not without controversy. Namely, traditional artists feel the tech is undercutting both their livelihood and the artistic integrity of graphic design. Some artists have claimed that Lensa has essentially ripped off their work, feeding original pieces into their AI to generate new images without asking for their permission or crediting them.
- READ THE FULL STORY HERE
As of December 1, employees of federally regulated workplaces are entitled to 10 paid sick days per year, MTL Blog's Thomas MacDonald writes. The change applies to staff at Crown corporations as well as employers in federally regulated industries like banks, airlines, telecommunications and rail services. Interestingly, an employer can only ask for a doctor's note if the staffer uses five consecutive paid sick days. Here's what else you need to know.
- In His Words: "Ten days of paid sick leave means that more workers won’t have to choose between getting well and getting paid," said Minister of Labour Seamus O'Regan. "That's good for workers and their families, and it's good for business, too."
- By The Numbers: The announcement will impact an estimated 6% of the population — roughly 945,000 staff representing 19,000 employers.
- READ THE FULL STORY HERE
What Else You Need To Know Today
🏀 HOMEBOUND HOOPER
After 294 days unlawfully detained by Russian authorities, U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was finally freed on Thursday after President Joe Biden approved a prisoner swap, returning an arms dealer known as the "Merchant of Death" to the Russians. I tap into my former days as a sportswriter to break it down for you right here.
✏️ SCHOOL FOOL
A B.C. elementary school teacher was suspended for a day after a number of questionable decisions, including telling her Grade 2 class that she once bullied another student by smearing dog feces on their locker when she was a child herself and showing her young wards age-inappropriate films — including the R-rated slasher flick Halloween, Charlie Hart writes. Sounds like a lively syllabus.
🍸 BOOZE IT OR LOSE IT
If you're looking to stock up your home bar or pick up a spirited gift this holiday season, read this first. Brooke Houghton spoke with a 10-year LCBO vet about how to get the most out of a trip to Ontario's booziest retailer — like knowing how to interpret the in-store signage to know when prices are about to drop. Check out the five secret shopping tips here.
🖌️ PAINT IT BLACK
To commemorate the 70-year reign of the late Queen Elizabeth II, the Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a special $2 circulation coin, Lisa Belmonte reports. In lieu of the traditional silver-hued outer ring of the toonie, the special coin will feature a striking black ring. It's not the first time a splash of colour has been introduced to the usually monochromatic coins of late.
Three-time Olympic snowboard medalist Mark McMorris turns 29 years old today. Green Day drummer Tré Cool hits the half-century mark. Shark Tank QVC queen Lori Greiner turns 53. Amateur college admissions councillor Felicity Huffman is 60. Teen idol Donny Osmond is 65. Imagine being John Malkovich, who turns 69 today? Chicago Bears great Dick Butkus is 80. The Dame Judi Dench is 88. Game-changing comedian Redd Foxx was born on this day 100 years ago. The late Kirk Douglas was born on this day in 1916.
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Thanks for reading Narcity's Canada Morning Brief — the newsletter that couldn't come up with a sillier name than Dick Butkus if it tried.
Have a safe and relaxing weekend and I will see you back here on Monday!