WASHINGTON — The maker of OxyContin has been cast as the chief villain in the nation’s opioid crisis. But newly released government figures suggest Purdue Pharma had plenty of help in flooding the U.S. with billions of pills even as overdose deaths were accelerating.Records kept by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration show that 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pills — the vast majority of them generics, not brand names — were shipped to U.S. pharmacies from 2006 to 2012.Critics of the pharmaceutical industry say the figures confirm it created the public health disaster. But the data also illustrates how complicated it could be for the courts to figure out who should be held accountable.Geoff Mulvihill And Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press read more

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An employee of regional carrier Piedmont Airlines has died in Charlotte after the baggage-hauling tug he was driving flipped, pinning him underneath.The accident Sunday night at Charlotte Douglas International Airport occurred on the ramp, an area restricted to planes and service vehicles. Airport officials said in a statement that the man was taken to a hospital, where he died.A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Labor said Monday that the agency has opened an investigation that is likely to take several months.American Airlines, which owns Piedmont, declined to identify the man. An airline spokeswoman said American was focusing on helping his family and co-workers.Piedmont operates many American Eagle flights in Charlotte, a major hub for American.The Associated Press read more

LOS ANGELES — Hoping to fend off the extinction of mountain lions and other species that require room to roam, transportation officials and conservationists will build a mostly privately funded wildlife crossing over a major Southern California highway.It will give big cats, coyotes, deer, lizards, snakes and other creatures a safe route to open space and better access to food and potential mates.The span along U.S. 101 will be only the second animal overpass in a state where tunnels are more common. Officials say it will be the first of its kind near a major metropolis and the largest in the world, stretching above 10 lanes of busy highway and a feeder road just 35 miles (56 kilometres) northwest of downtown LA.The $87 million bridge last month entered its final design phase. It’s on track for groundbreaking within two years and completion by 2023.___Follow Weber at https://twitter.com/WeberCMChristopher Weber, The Associated Press read more

TORONTO — A top Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan executive has been appointed by the United Nations to head the international organization’s staff pension fund.Ontario Teachers’ says Rosemarie McClean is leaving at the end of the year to become chief executive of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.McClean is the chief operating officer of enterprise operations at Ontario Teachers’ and has been with the pension fund for 33 years.Her departure comes as Ontario Teachers’ chief executive Ron Mock is set to retire at the end of the year.The pension plan says her final day at Ontario Teachers’ will be Dec. 31 and she will take on her new role at the UN on Jan. 1.The UN says the market value of its pension fund is US$67.4 billion, with investments in 102 countries and regions, according to its website.The Canadian Press read more

CALGARY — Discounts on Canadian crude oil widened to multi-year highs on Wednesday as oil and gas executives took turns at a conference pointing out Canada’s competitiveness gap in attracting energy investors.Prices for both Western Canada Select, an oilsands bitumen blend, and Edmonton Sweet crude oil, fell relative to New York-traded West Texas Intermediate because of a lack of pipeline capacity, growing production from the oilsands and a reduction in demand due to U.S. refinery maintenance shutdowns, said Tim Pickering, founder of price tracker Auspice Capital in Calgary.“All of those things have culminated into a system that is completely overloaded,” Pickering said.“Anything people can move out, they’re moving out, but we’ve basically just got the perfect storm.”‘Serious unintended consequences’: Climate change policies to cost oilpatch $25 billion over 10 yearsEncana to sell New Mexico assets to DJR Energy for close to $615 millionNatural gas sector poised for big boost if LNG Canada moves aheadHe said the WCS differential grew to as much as US$48 per barrel on Wednesday morning, the highest since at least 2011, and the Edmonton Sweet differential was at US$27.50 per barrel, a multi-year high that’s more than three times its typical size.On the sidelines of the Energy Roundtable conference in Calgary, meanwhile, CEO Kevin Neveu of Precision Drilling Corp. said the differentials are having an immediate chilling effect on companies’ ability to fund drilling budgets in Canada.“It’s proportionate to the cash flow. So if (a drilling customer) expected a netback of $50 Canadian or $55 or $60 and they’re only getting $45 or $50, they’ll adjust back to that outlook quickly, within the quarter,” he said.He said the drilling industry in Canada is headed for revenue this year in line with 2017, which was the second-worst year for drilling profitability after a disastrous 2016.Earlier, Doug Suttles, CEO of Encana Corp. said government policy is making Canada an uncompetitive place to drill for oil and gas.“Today, every well we drill in British Columbia, we pay over $100,000 in carbon tax just on the diesel used to drill and complete that well,” he said during a speech at the conference.“Those products are largely moving to markets in the United States. In the United States, we don’t pay a dollar of carbon tax.”Calgary-based Encana is focused on four major oil and gas plays, the Montney and Duvernay in Western Canada and the Eagle Ford and Permian in the southern United States.Suttles said Encana gets no credit for the clean-burning natural gas it produces, nor for the three B.C. gas plants it built that are powered by hydro electricity.He added it also won’t get credit if the gas is shipped in future to a hydro electricity-powered liquefied natural gas export terminal on the West Coast and on to Asia, where it may replace coal in producing electricity and cutting global emissions.Due to corporate tax cuts under U.S. President Donald Trump, Suttles pointed out Encana also pays higher income taxes in Canada than it does in the U.S.“As a Canadian, it’s easy to get really down,” said Ian Dundas, CEO of Enerplus Corp., a Calgary-based company with 90 per cent of its production in North Dakota and little in Canada.“We’ve let the Americans outcompete us and outregulate us and we find ourselves in this position.”He said the solution is to stop making the situation worse — citing Ottawa’s Bill C-69 to reform the National Energy Board and its proposed clean fuel standards as examples of that — and start coming up with ways to help Canadian companies compete with U.S. rivals.He added he hopes next year’s federal election encourages the public to discuss changes to national energy policies. read more

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia government says it’s already seeing positive results from the policies it put in place to address the housing crisis, but one expert says there’s still a long way to go.Housing Minister Selina Robinson says the government is seeing some high-end house prices starting to drop.“Right now we’ve got the speculation and empty home taxes, so part of what we need to do is monitor the impact that it has and continue to see what it does,” Robinson said in an interview Sunday.Luxury home sales drop 35% in Toronto and Vancouver, but millennials fuel rise in high-end condo salesB.C. to allow homeowner groups to fine defiant short-term rental hosts $1,000 a dayMixed-use developments make housing affordability worse — and residents more miserableBut Andy Yan, the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, says that while very expensive houses are starting to show a decline in price, the numbers haven’t translated to mid- and lower-level units.“Sixteen months is a little bit premature to know whether the polices are a success or failure,” Yan said, referring to the approximate time the NDP minority government has been in power.“But the softening of the market and cooling of the market is something that is definitely happening.”He said despite that softening, home ownership remains out of reach for many middle- and lower-income families.To tackle the issue, the provincial government is investing $7 billion on affordable housing over the next 10 years, and has developed a 30-point plan to increase affordability.However, Yan said some of the announcements made by the government are just that — announcements.“They are not actual shovels in the ground yet,” he said.While there is some actual construction going on, he said it’s still going to take years before the promises take the shape of homes that people can move into.“It will take a combination of supply and demand policies to really get us out of the housing crisis mess,” he said.Meantime, B.C. Premier John Horgan says the housing crisis didn’t happen overnight — and it won’t resolve overnight.Addressing attendees at a housing conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Horgan said the government will have to work with partners including Indigenous communities, transition housing and social justice advocates and women’s groups to resolve the crisis.Horgan said it’s not just affecting those who have small incomes, but is creeping into the middle-class too.He said his government is doing its best to ensure that critical work staff such as teachers, nurses and construction workers have houses so that they can build the economy.British Columbia should not be a place to fear because of unaffordable housing, Horgan said. read more

Port Dover’s history is being celebrated in May.The Port Dover Harbour Museum is hosting two presentations as part of May being Museum Month. The history of the Port Dover area and prohibition on the Great Lakes will be covered. Speakers are John Ayre and Geoff Bowden who will be presenting on “The Voyage of Dollier de Casson and Galinée 1669-1670” and “Bars, Booze, Bootleggers, and Blind Pigs,” respectively.On May 3 at 7 p.m., author John Ayre will share the voyage of two Sulpician priests, Dollier and Galinée, and their overwintering with seven companions in Port Dover 350 years ago. Galinée’s detailed journal and hand-drawn maps were the first recording by a European of the interconnectedness of Canada’s Great Lakes. John Ayre will recount their voyage as well as their encounters with the landscapes, animal life, and the Indigenous peoples in Canada over 300 years ago.On May 24 at 7 p.m. the second presentation, “Bars, Booze, Bootleggers, and Blind Pigs,” will be a look at Prohibition in Canada. Historian Geoff Bowden will cover how the Great Lakes became pathways for illegal distribution of alcohol in the 1920s. Lake Erie and the fishing boats of Port Dover played a role in getting alcohol across the border.The Port Dover Harbour Museum is bringing these presentations to eager audiences looking to learn more about the history of the Port Dover area as well as the north shore of Lake Erie.Admission is by donation and there is limited seating. To attend, visit the Port Dover Harbour Museum, 44 Harbour Street, Port Dover. For more information, call 519-583-2660 or email: portdover.museum@norfolkcounty.ca.May is Museum Month is a series of events that takes place annually across museums in Ontario. read more

Courtesy of Arriagada family / Saskatoon tjames@postmedia.comRelated Mauricio Arriagada’s sisters want anyone with information that could lead to an arrest in connection with his death to come forward. They shared family photos with the StarPhoenix. Mauricio Arriagada’s sisters believe his death was gang-related, so they fear being identified publicly.The 45-year-old was discovered mortally injured in a residential neighbourhood in Saskatoon’s Pleasant Hill area in early July. They miss him every day, and feel confident someone out there knows enough to help police get answers.“There is someone out there that knows who murdered our brother, they cannot get away with this. Justice needs to be served,” Arriagada’s sisters wrote in a message to a StarPhoenix reporter.First responders were unable to revive Arriagada after he was found in the 300 block of Avenue T South on July 5. His death was deemed a homicide the following day — one of 11 recorded in the city this year.No arrests have been made.Arriagada’s sisters say he enjoyed dancing, drawing and playing guitar, and was known for his sense of humour.Story continues belowThis advertisement has not loaded yet,but your article continues below.He turned 45 on July 1, just days before he was killed.He grew up in Lloydminster and later moved to northern Alberta, where he lived with another sister, working as a firefighter in the warmer months and as a labourer in winter. After five years, he moved back to Saskatchewan.Arriagada’s life took a turn about 20 years ago when tragedy struck: his first-born daughter was violently shaken while in the care of another man. She was nine months old. The man pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily harm and received a conditional sentence of two years less a day to be served in the community, the StarPhoenix reported in December 2001.Arriagada’s daughter was blinded by the assault. His sisters said she has the mental age of a six-month-old, requires a feeding tube and lives in a care home. She also has cerebral palsy.Their brother started using drugs after what happened to his child, one of his sisters said.“It spiralled, just the stress from it, not being able to care for her.”She doesn’t believe he ever received counselling, she said. His contact with his children was infrequent because of his struggles; when he was not using drugs, he was more involved in the children’s lives, she said.In a written statement, the two sisters described the difficulty Arriagada’s older children are having with their father’s death. They said his mother is grieving the loss of her son just a year and a half after her husband died. Arriagada was the fourth of five children.“He had four sisters by blood and a lot of other people who considered him their brother throughout their lives as he tended to have a soft heart and helped many when they were down on their luck,” they wrote.They want anyone with information about what happened to him to come forward. They believe someone will give Saskatoon police or Crime Stoppers the information needed to make an arrest, they said.“Our father always wanted him home, he has him home now, just not the way it was supposed to be.”  Saskatoon police investigating city’s eighth homicide of 2019 Police vow ‘no limit’ on resources to Pleasant Hill after violence, three homicides Pleasant Hill community association seeks action on boarded-up houses So far this year, Saskatoon has recorded 11 homicides and one suspicious death.When a death is classified as a homicide, that means someone is responsible for causing the death of someone else and evidence could lead investigators to lay a homicide-related charge — manslaughter, first- or second-degree murder.A death is classified as suspicious if evidence has not led investigators to lay a homicide-related charge; it may be reclassified as a homicide later on, if evidence arises that leads police to believe someone is responsible for the death.Police previously reported that nine homicides took place in Saskatoon in 2018, but in July 2019 they announced the number of homicides last year would be revised upwards by four, for a total of 13.In February 2019, Saskatoon city police become the first police service in Saskatchewan to lay manslaughter charges in connection with drug overdose deaths. Three men charged in 2018 with drug trafficking were charged in late February with four counts of manslaughter in connection with four deaths in March 2018. According to police, cocaine used by the four people who died was laced with fentanyl.Saskatoon police spokeswoman Julie Clark said a death would be reclassified as a homicide as soon as police lay a manslaughter charge. There was some confusion about how police should display the charges in their homicide numbers, since the laying of a homicide-related charge in connection with an overdose death was a first for them, she added.Statistics Canada continues to show eight 2018 homicides in its table of police-reported crimes in Saskatoon.The statistics agency calculates the number of homicides based on when the police service deemed a death a homicide. In an email, the agency said the four deaths that were determined in February to be homicides will be counted in Saskatoon’s 2019 homicide statistics.Statistics Canada did not respond to a request for clarification of the 2018 number, which appears to omit one other homicide recorded by city police. read more