TSX closes at a new record high

North American equity markets enjoyed a solid end of the week, with the benchmark indexes in Canada and the United States closing at record highs.

On Bay Street, the S&P/TSX composite index gained 111.82 points on Friday to close at 15,729.12. That topped the previous record close set back on Sept. 3, 2014, when the index hit 15,657.

Friday’s gains were broad-based, led by stocks in the energy, materials and financial sectors.

Oil prices gained after the Paris-based International Energy Agency lifted its demand forecast and said oil cartel OPEC is sticking to its pledge to cut production. The March contract for light sweet crude oil closed at $53.86 US a barrel, for a gain of 86 cents from Thursday’s close.

The TSX was also buoyed in general by strong Canadian jobs numbers released Friday that show the job market is on its best six-month run in 15 years.

The major U.S. market indexes were also flying high, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump revealed his administration is planning a “phenomenal” tax reform package that would likely ease the burden on most businesses.

“No one wants to miss a large pop when that news does come out,” said Uriel Cohen, founder of Alpine Global in New York.

All three of the major U.S. indexes broke the all-time records they set on Thursday.

 The Dow Jones industrial average gained 96.97 points to 20,269.37 and the S&P 500 advanced 8.23 points to 2,316.10. The Nasdaq composite index rose 18.95 points to 5,734.13 for its fourth consecutive day of all-time highs.

The Canadian dollar added 0.32 of a U.S. cent to end the week at 76.42 cents US.

TSX hits record intraday high above 15,700

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s benchmark index is at its highest level ever, going above 15,700 early in the trading day on Friday.

The S&P/TSX composite index gained more than 100 points on Friday, enough to eclipse it’s previous intraday high of  15,685 set Sept. 3, 2014, when the record close was 15,657. Canada’s benchmark stock index is on track to break that record Friday.

The gains are broad-based, as all 10 of the index’s subsectors are higher, but the main catalyst is the energy sector, which gained one per cent on Friday.

Oil prices gained after the Paris-based International Energy Agency lifted its demand forecast and said oil cartel OPEC is sticking to its pledge to cut production. 

The TSX was also buoyed in general by strong Canadian jobs numbers released Friday that show the job market is on its best six-month run in 15 years.

The major U.S. market indexes were also flying high, a day after U.S. President Donald Trump revealed his administration is planning a “phenomenal” tax reform package that would likely ease the burden on most businesses.

“No one wants to miss a large pop when that news does come out,” said Uriel Cohen, founder of Alpine Global in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 58.16 points at 20,230.56, while the S&P 500 rose 4.79 points at 2,312.66. The Nasdaq composite index was up 6.53 points at 5,721.71.

2 dead after small plane crashes near Brunkild, southwest of Winnipeg

Two men from Winkler, Man., are dead after a small plane crashed in southern Manitoba, RCMP say.

“As a community, we are heartbroken by the tragedy and we will continue to support these families and upholding them in prayer,” Winkler Mayor Martin Harder said.

RCMP were called at 8:50 p.m. CT after reports of an overdue aircraft that took off from St. Andrews Airport just after 6:30 p.m. CT and was heading for Winkler.

RCMP from Carman and Headingley searched for a Cessna 185 using snowmobiles amid weather conditions that made for poor visibility.

At about 1:05 a.m. CT on Friday, RCMP investigators and Canadian Armed Forces search-and-rescue crews found the wreckage in a field off Highway 305 near Brunkild, Man., about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

The pilot and a passenger, aged 60 and 41, were found dead.

RAW: Plane crash scene near Brunkild1:16

“Our concern obviously right now is for the families,” Winkler Coun. Henry Siemens said. “Our hearts ache for them and it’s a very difficult time.”

The single-engine Cessna aircraft was built in the 1980s and is registered to Arty’s Air Service Ltd. based in Winkler, about 100 km southwest of Winnipeg. The family owned business provides “aerial application [services], chemical and seed retail as well as agronomy services,” according to its website.

An employee at Arty’s Air Service refused to comment.

Bright lights in sky

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Alana Schlichting.

She pulled over on Highway 305 on her drive home Friday just after 1 a.m. after seeing orange flashes of light just over the horizon.

Alana Schlichting, Brunkild plane crash witness

Alana Schlichting was driving home when she witnessed what looked like flares and light falling from the sky off of Highway 305 near Brunkild. (Alana Schlichting)

“I honestly thought I was seeing things,” she said. “It was really confusing … it looked like bright lights falling from the sky.”

Wind and blowing snow obscured the view, but over the course of an hour, Schlichting counted 13 orange flare-like lights off in the distance.

CBC Manitoba meteorologist John Sauder said visibility conditions southwest of Winnipeg were already deteriorating by the time the plane would’ve departed from St. Andrews Airport Thursday at about 6:30 p.m.

“It was so windy out here I almost couldn’t drive home. It was horrible conditions last night,” said Schlichting.

Investigation continues

Tim Reimer, deputy fire chief for the city of Morden, said Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner dispatched Morden emergency crews to the area of Sanford, Man., just before midnight Thursday.

RCMP investigate crash near Brunkild

RCMP investigators remained at the scene for hours Friday morning, and used snowmobiles to reach the plane in the middle of a field. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

By the time they arrived at the Sanford fire department, about 30 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, they were told RCMP had completed the investigation.

“[RCMP] had been conducting the search prior to our arrival. The search had been completed by the time we got there,” Reimer added.

The Transportation Safety Board and RCMP continue to investigate.

Map of Brunkild, Sanford and Winnipeg, Man.

Search-and-rescue crews located the plane in a field off Highway 305, about 50 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. (CBC News Graphics)

2 dead in small plane crash near Brunkild southwest of Winnipeg

Two men from Winkler, Man., are dead after a small plane crash in southern Manitoba, RCMP say.

A TSB spokesperson said the agency has sent investigators out to the scene.

Tim Reimer, deputy fire chief for the city of Morden, said Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner dispatched Morden emergency crews to the area of Sanford, Man., just before midnight Thursday.

Investigators at scene of Brunkild plane crash

RCMP investigators remained at the scene for hours Friday morning. (Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC)

By the time they arrived at the Sanford fire department, about 30 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, they were told RCMP had completed the investigation.

“[RCMP] had been conducting the search prior to our arrival. The search had been completed by the time we got there,” Reimer added.

Brunkild is about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

Map of Sanford, Brunkild and Winnipeg

Brunkild is about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. (Google Maps)

Small plane crashes near Brunkild southwest of Winnipeg

A small plane crashed Thursday near Brunkild, Man., about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said the agency has sent investigators out to the scene but wouldn’t provide any other details about injuries, the size of the plane or the time of crash.

Tim Reimer, deputy fire chief for the city of Morden, said Manitoba’s Office of the Fire Commissioner dispatched Morden emergency crews to the area of Sanford, Man., just before midnight Thursday.

By the time they arrived at the Sanford fire department, about 30 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, they were told RCMP had completed their investigation.

RCMP “had been conducting the search prior to our arrival. The search had been completed by the time we got there,” Reimer said.

Map of Sanford, Brunkild and Winnipeg

Brunkild is about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg. (Google Maps)

Plane crashes near Brunkild southwest of Winnipeg

A plane has crashed near Brunkild, Man., the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says.

A TSB spokesperson said the agency has sent investigators out to the scene but wouldn’t provide any other details about injuries, the size of the plane or the time of crash.

Brunkild is about 45 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg.

More to come

Flying tractor-trailer wheel kills van driver on Ottawa highway

A man is dead after a dual wheel fell off a tractor-trailer on a highway in Ottawa early this morning, then struck a cargo van with enough force to peel back the van’s roof.

A tractor-trailer was heading west just before 6 a.m. ET on Highway 417 near the Carling Avenue overpass when a dual wheel fell off it.

The dual wheel bounced over the highway median and struck a white cargo van heading in the opposite direction, tearing off most of its roof, according to OPP Const. Guy Prevost.

Two other vehicles that swerved to avoid the cargo van were involved in a minor crash.

The 50-year-old man driving the cargo van was pronounced dead at the scene, Ottawa paramedics said. His identity is not being released pending the notification of relatives.

The driver of one of the other vehicles suffered a minor injury and did not need to be taken to hospital.

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder and was later escorted off the highway by police.

OPP are investigating.

Ottawa crash Highway 417 fatal dual wheel collision Feb 10 2017

The dual wheel that fell off the transport-truck ended up lying against the eastbound shoulder of the Ottawa highway. (CBC)

Fatal crash Highway 417 tractor-trailer parked Feb 10 2017

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder. (CBC)

Highway 417 fatal crash traffic backed up Carling Feb 10 2017

Motorists were being diverted off the highway’s eastbound lanes at Maitland Avenue and allowed to get back on at Kirkwood Avenue. (CBC)

Man dead after dual wheel flies off tractor-trailer on Ottawa highway

A man is dead after a dual wheel fell off a tractor-trailer on Highway 417 near Carling Avenue early Friday morning, then struck a van with enough force to peel back the vehicle’s roof.

All the highway’s eastbound lanes are closed. Motorists are forced to leave the highway at Maitland Avenue and can get back on at Kirkwood Avenue.

The crash happened just before 6 a.m. A tractor-trailer was heading west when the dual wheel fell off it, striking a white cargo van heading in the opposite direction and tearing off the roof, according to OPP Const. Guy Prevost.

Two other vehicles that swerved to avoid the van were involved in a minor crash.

The man driving the van was pronounced dead at the scene, Ottawa paramedics said. The driver of one of the other vehicles suffered a minor injury and did not need to be taken to hospital.

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder.

OPP are investigating.

Ottawa crash Highway 417 fatal dual wheel collision Feb 10 2017

The dual wheel that fell off the transport-truck is seen lying against the eastbound shoulder of the highway. (CBC)

Fatal crash Highway 417 tractor-trailer parked Feb 10 2017

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder. (CBC)

Highway 417 fatal crash traffic backed up Carling Feb 10 2017

Motorists are being diverted off the highway’s eastbound lanes at Maitland Avenue and are allowed to get back on at Kirkwood Avenue. (CBC)

Man dead after dual wheel falls off tractor-trailer on Ottawa highway

A man is dead after a dual wheel fell off a tractor-trailer on Highway 417 near Carling Avenue early Friday morning, then struck a van with enough force that the roof was torn off.

All the highway’s eastbound lanes are closed. Motorists are forced to leave the highway at Maitland Avenue and can get back on at Kirkwood Avenue.

The crash happened just before 6 a.m. A tractor-trailer was heading west when the dual wheel fell off it, striking a white cargo van heading in the opposite direction and tearing off the roof, according to OPP Const. Guy Prevost.

Two other vehicles that swerved to avoid the van were involved in a minor crash.

The man driving the van was pronounced dead at the scene, Ottawa paramedics said. The driver of one of the other vehicles suffered a minor injury and did not need to be taken to hospital.

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder.

OPP are investigating.

Ottawa crash Highway 417 fatal dual wheel collision Feb 10 2017

The dual wheel that fell off the transport-truck is seen lying against the eastbound shoulder of the highway. (CBC)

Fatal crash Highway 417 tractor-trailer parked Feb 10 2017

The tractor-trailer came to a stop on the westbound shoulder. (CBC)

Highway 417 fatal crash traffic backed up Carling Feb 10 2017

Motorists are being diverted off the highway’s eastbound lanes at Maitland Avenue and are allowed to get back on at Kirkwood Avenue. (CBC)

‘Absolutely deplorable’: binge drinking, injuries on organized student trips

It is supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for teens — and the Toronto-based youth travel company running the excursions promises they will be safe and supervised.

To parents, S-Trip’s spring break and grad trips offer the chance for their teens to have fun, explore local culture and volunteer in countries like Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

And they often pay a steep markup, sometimes double the holiday’s actual cost.

But a CBC Marketplace investigation reveals the reality is very different, with underage binge drinking and hard partying. And often the staff — sometimes only a few years older than the students themselves — don’t do much to stop the party.

“Hey, we want some pussy. Hey, we want some pussy,” S-Trip staff members chant with students, arms linked, on the beach.

Another staff member leads a game where students pass a ball from person to person, without using their hands. “This may be a first for some of you, but you’re going to have balls on your tits,” the staffer says.

CBC Marketplace: S-Trip vs. YouTube0:43

Much of the behaviour is documented on social media in dozens of videos uploaded by the students themselves. Clips show students chugging liquor, drunkenly climbing trees and wrestling on balconies. Some are grabbing girls or drawing on their breasts.

“It’s absolutely deplorable what they allow on these trips,” says one former S-Trip leader, who quit because the behaviour made him so uncomfortable.

The staff member spoke with Marketplace on condition of anonymity, saying the contract he signed with S-Trip prohibits him from speaking publicly about the trips.

In response to the Marketplace investigation, the company says it is reviewing its policies, doubling the amount of training required by staff and doubling the number of staff for its summer 2017 trips.

Rules disregarded

Student Trip was founded in 1976 by two high school teachers. In 2001, the company changed its name to S-Trip and began expanding, opening offices in the Dominican Republic and Boston.

For three years’ running starting in 2011, S-Trip was named one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada by Canadian Business magazine, selling thousands of vacations to teens each year.

S-Trip drinking

While S-Trip’s marketing materials emphasize safety, supervision and the opportunities to volunteer and experience a different culture, multiple YouTube videos depict binge drinking and hard partying. (YouTube)

S-Trip markets the trips as more than just a vacation — it’s all about the overall experience and the trips come at a premium price as a result.

Marketplace checked how much you’d pay if you independently booked the same resort for the same dates. The S-Trip price was often double.

A trip to one Cuban resort last July, for example, would have cost less than $1,000 per person if booked through a popular travel website. Going with S-Trip, however, was $1,955 per student.

S-Trip says students vacationing with the company are governed by a strict code of conduct that must be signed by all young travellers and their parents. A video on the company website shows S-Trip’s CEO saying that if students break the rules, they will be sent home.

Code-of-conduct questions

But Marketplace visited one of the resorts during an S-Trip holiday and found the code of conduct was often disregarded. For example, quiet hours are supposed to begin at 10 p.m., but Marketplace producers found that is also when the official S-Trip party began.

“The guys here are dicks,” one student told Marketplace. “They all try to get you drunk and then they just take advantage of you.”

While alcohol is permitted for students 18 and older — the legal drinking age in Cuba — Marketplace found students of all ages were often drunk. And other rules, such as those requiring students to be sober while swimming in the pool or ocean, were not enforced.

S-Trip website

S-Trip said that the behaviour documented by Marketplace would be ‘grounds to dismiss staff and send home travellers.’ (Marketplace)

These vacations are, first and foremost, party trips, the former S-Trip trip leader says.

“It’s shocking that more students aren’t harmed or at least come forward about some of the things that they do or see while on these trips,” he says, calling the S-Trip code of conduct “a farce.”

“It’s a lie to make money. Bottom line.”

During the trip he worked on, the former leader said staff members were told not to intervene in some cases of underage drinking. He said he also saw staff make inappropriate comments about young girls and encourage them to engage in sexually charged behaviour.

While S-Trip’s marketing material states the company carefully screens “travel veterans that have backgrounds like teaching, coaching, student leadership, event planning and our own past travellers,” the former trip leader says he and other staffers were formally considered volunteers and paid only a modest honorarium.

First-time trip leaders are paid $150 for the week, although their flights and accommodations are covered, according to a staff manual acquired by Marketplace.

Teen travel ‘uniquely challenging’: S-Trip

S-Trip declined an on-camera interview with Marketplace but said in emailed statements that “the conduct identified by CBC Marketplace is of extreme concern to us.”

The behaviour documented by Marketplace, the company says, would be “grounds to dismiss staff and send home travellers.”

S-Trip pool

While alcohol is permitted for students 18 and older, Marketplace found students of all ages were often drunk. And other rules, such as those requiring students to be sober while swimming in the pool or the ocean, were not enforced. (YouTube)

S-Trip also said it has launched a review of its policies, is doubling the training hours required by staff and is doubling the number of staff per trip for summer 2017.

“The overwhelming majority of our travellers comply with the code of conduct and have a fun and safe experience. Similarly, our staff are conscientious, highly trained, subjected to careful reviews and, in nearly all instances, provide excellent support and service to travellers,” the statement says.

“Nevertheless, designing and supervising trips for travellers in this age group can be uniquely challenging. Misconduct and mistakes do occur. We try to be honest and direct about that fact — with our staff, with travellers and with their parents.”

Two per cent of students get warnings, the company says, and one in 600 get sent home.

Injuries and lawsuits

Heavy drinking on S-Trip holidays has got students in trouble before.

In 2011, a 17-year-old student was drunk during a party when he fell two storeys from a hotel balcony in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He hit the concrete and suffered a traumatic brain injury.

A lawsuit filed in 2013 alleges that while the student was too young to be legally permitted alcohol at the resort, there was little supervision and nothing to prevent him from freely obtaining alcohol.

S-Trip dark room

Some principals have sent letters to parents, warning that S-Trip vacations are not school sanctioned. (YouTube)

The case is ongoing, though S-Trip said in a statement to Marketplace that it has since introduced additional protocols concerning balcony safety. At the Cuban resort, Marketplace saw stickers on balcony doors advising students to exercise caution.

In another lawsuit, a 17-year-old student, also too young to be drinking based on S-Trip’s rules, fell into a large hole while drunk, slicing open her leg. That case is currently in mediation, S-Trip says.

‘Virtually no adult supervision’

Some high school principals have tried to raise a red flag for parents who might think S-Trip holidays are either associated with or endorsed by their schools.

“A number of serious issues are brought to my attention each and every year,” one principal’s letter to parents reads. “Students will not be supervised by my staff … in any way. I want to repeat that this is not a school trip. Students have virtually no adult supervision.

“Please exercise caution.”