Scammers targeting families of missing people; Mushroom therapy approvals stall: CBC's Marketplace cheat sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

Hamilton police say scammers are targeting families searching for missing loved ones. (CBC)

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Scammers targeting families of missing people, Hamilton police say

Allison General was wondering where her 28-year-old daughter, June, was when she received a chilling text message on her phone.

It was from someone who claimed they'd kidnapped June and would only give her up if General paid a ransom of $7,000. 

But after contacting police, she learned the message was fake. Her daughter was found safe and sound two days later.

According to Hamilton police, this isn't the first time a scammer has targeted a family with missing loved ones. 

"You're preying on vulnerable people at their worst moment.... It's unfortunate that it's out there like the CRA scams, the senior scams, the CEO scam. This is just another one," said Staff Sgt. Dave Oleniuk. Read more

Hamilton police say people should contact them if they receive suspicious messages. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Health Canada dragging feet on approving magic mushrooms for therapeutic use, patients and advocates say

In the past year, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu has granted several dozen exemptions to patients and even some therapists to use psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms, for treatment purposes. 

But some Canadians who believe they may benefit from using psilocybin say that they're still waiting to find out if they'll be granted an exception as well. 

A number of peer-reviewed studies have found that psilocybin has antidepressant effects and can allow patients, with the help of trained therapists, to confront fears and feelings that are otherwise too traumatic.

Patients granted an exemption typically take a one-time five-gram dose, enough to induce a full-on psychedelic experience, in tandem with planned therapy the day before, during and after the dose is taken. Read more

A vendor bags psilocybin mushrooms at a pop-up cannabis market in Los Angeles in May 2019. Though illegal in Canada since the 1970s, recent exemptions have been granted for its use in psychotherapy. (Richard Vogel/The Associated Press)

Disgraced fertility doctor agrees to $13M settlement with families

Families who claim disgraced Ottawa fertility doctor Norman Barwin used the wrong sperm — or even his own sperm — in the conception of at least 100 children could receive a portion of a multimillion-dollar payout after a judge certified a class-action lawsuit launched in 2016.

At a hearing on Wednesday, the Ontario Superior Court certified the class-action suit in the landmark case, which includes a negotiated proposed settlement worth $13.375 million. 

The class action has grown to 226 members, including former patients and children conceived through artificial insemination — 17 of whom have discovered Barwin is their biological father through DNA. 

The class-action agreement states the negotiated settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by Barwin, who "has denied and continues to deny all of the plaintiffs' claims in this action," according to the document certified Wednesday. Read more

WATCH | Fertility doctor has agreed to a proposed $13M settlement:

Fertility doctor agrees to multi-million settlement

3 months ago
A fertility doctor in Ottawa has agreed to a proposed $13-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging he used the wrong sperm — or even his own sperm — to conceive at least 100 children. 2:03

Travel is on the rise. But good luck finding a rental car

If you're double-vaccinated and looking to head to Cape Breton to see the Cabot Trail in the next few months, you may want to book a rental car well in advance.

Terry Smith, the CEO of Destination Cape Breton, said he was told that rental cars are sold out on the island through the end of August. 

The shortage of rental vehicles is a global problem right now, and with the world beginning to open up once more, car rental agencies that downsized during the pandemic are struggling to meet the demand. 

"Suppliers have had to park a lot of their equipment and didn't want a whole lot of inventory sitting around and doing nothing," said Gary Howard, a senior spokesperson for CAA Atlantic

Meanwhile, Smith said his organization is searching for other options to help people get around this summer.

"We're going to do our best, but Cape Breton is a destination where you do need some transportation for the most part to get around," he said. Read more

The Canadian Automobile Association says a temporary shortage is being reported in the car rental industry as a result of a recent downturn in the number of people travelling that forced them to cut back on inventory. (Destination Cape Breton)

What else is going on?

U.S. CDC calls for masks in areas of high COVID-19 transmission, even for fully vaccinated
Tuesday announcement reverses course from earlier public health recommendations.

Extreme drought in southern B.C. taking devastating toll on life in water and on land
With no rain in parts of southern B.C. since June, salmon, crops struggle to survive.

Washington's reasons for keeping border closed to Canadians still murky a week later
Former ambassador says U.S. simply may not be prepared to open its land border.

Cheese recalled for Listeria monocytogenes contamination
Cahill's brand of Original Irish Porter Cheese has been recalled.

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