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In today's Morning Brief, Enterprise Rent-A-Car customers say they were told many weeks after renting vehicles that they’re on the hook for damages, for which they say they’re not responsible.

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Enterprise dings woman who rented truck on sunny day more than $5,500 for hail damage

Keli Chick never expected a one-day rental from Enterprise Rent-A-Car to turn into a year-long battle over a damage claim for more than $5,500.

Her fight with the biggest car rental company in North America began when she rented a truck in Dawson Creek, B.C., on Dec. 29, 2020 and drove it to Red Deer, Alta., the next morning — a seven-hour trip. 

The skies were blue and the sun was shining, so Chick says she was more than a little surprised when a letter from Enterprise's damage recovery department arrived six weeks later, saying she was on the hook for $5,578, due to hail damage.

"I was pretty shocked," said Chick. "I had to read it a few times just because it was so out there. I thought, 'This cannot be possible.'"

Go Public has heard from about a dozen other Enterprise customers who say they, too, were told long after their rental period was over that they were responsible for various repairs costing thousands of dollars.

WATCH | Woman charged more than $5,500 for hail damage on rented truck: 

Rental company charges customer for hail damage | Go Public

5 months ago
Duration 1:52

 

A consumer advocate and lawyer, who is an expert on contract law, says car rental companies have to inform customers of damage in a timely manner — and can't just tell them they have to foot the bill for repairs.

"The onus is on the rental car company to prove their allegations," said Daniel Tsai, who teaches consumer and business law at Ryerson University in Toronto. "If they say that you've caused the damage, they actually have to provide some evidence."

Enterprise spokesperson Lisa Martini told Go Public that the company's terms and conditions spell out that customers are responsible for damage caused by an "act of God," which includes hail. If they don't have insurance that cost becomes an out-of-pocket expense.

Similar clauses exist in agreements for the three companies that account for an estimated 95 per cent of all car rentals in Canada: Enterprise (which owns National and Alamo), Avis (which owns Budget) and Hertz (which owns Dollar and Thrifty).

After Go Public requested an interview with Enterprise, the company dropped its claim against Chick. Read more on this story here.

Welcome back

(Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

A teacher offers a traditional welcome to a student upon her arrival at a school in Mumbai, India, today. Schools there reopened after a closure aimed at curbing  the spread of COVID-19.

In brief

Hundreds of truckers set off from British Columbia to Ottawa on Sunday to protest a federal vaccine mandate despite the urging of the country's largest trucking federation to comply. The protest has been dubbed the "Freedom Rally" against the federal mandate for cross-border truckers, which went into effect on Jan. 15. Canadian truck drivers now need to be fully vaccinated if they want to avoid a two-week quarantine and pre-arrival molecular test for COVID-19 before crossing into Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and the American Trucking Associations say up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular trips across the Canada-U.S. border are likely to be sidelined as a result of the vaccine mandate. The CTA, a federation of the country's carriers, owner-operators and industry suppliers, released a statement on Saturday strongly disapproving of the protest. The statement says that the CTA's members should hold an organized protest on Parliament Hill instead of disrupting public roadways and border crossings for over a week. Read more on this story here.

The Canada Border Services Agency has big plans for technological innovations to speed travellers through airports and the border. The introduction of the new ArriveCan app set the stage for a new system that has been introduced already at the Toronto and Vancouver airports. The system allows travellers returning to Canada to voluntarily send their customs declarations to CBSA before their plane even lands. Some of the technological innovations the CBSA has in the works will be less visible to travellers. The agency wants to increase its use of data analytics to help officers distinguish between low-risk individuals who cross the border frequently and those who pose a higher risk. It is also hoping that data analytics can help it detect trends and patterns that can help officers flag people who might be smuggling drugs or guns into Canada. Privacy experts say the agency must ensure that the information is being stored securely — and travellers need to know how their information is going to be used. Read the full story here

Would-be immigrants around the world are seeking information about a Canadian immigration officer who has left their applications largely untouched for years. They wonder if the person is still working, assigned to their case or even exists. Several permanent residency applicants told CBC News they've been assigned to an officer they know only as "DM10032" at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). They all live outside of Canada, applied in 2019, and their files have been largely stuck since March 2020. Applications are processed at both the Ottawa visa office and in Sydney, N.S. Applicants who spoke to CBC News say they know dozens of others under DM10032 and have rallied together online for moral support. They describe their experience as agonizing and traumatic, unable to make critical life decisions as they wait with limited communication from Canada's immigration department while others' applications are processed faster. Before the pandemic, the whole process was estimated to take about six months. CBC News's questions to IRCC about DM10032 have not yet been answered. Read more here.

A former employee of the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is suing the Canadian agency for $320,000, claiming he was "publicly humiliated" when he was constructively dismissed for being "too much on the side of the community." The NWMO is a non-profit agency funded by the nuclear industry. Its goal is to find a willing host community for the country's growing stockpile of nuclear waste. Paul Austin, 62, was a relationship manager for the NWMO in South Bruce, Ont., from May 2012 until he considered himself to be constructively dismissed in August 2021, according to court filings. His job, says the statement of claim, was to be the "primary contact' with the NWMO in South Bruce, acting as a "trusted adviser, co-ordinator of resources" and "guide" to local town and band council officials "through the siting process." Court filings for the plaintiff said senior leaders within the NWMO started to become "overly involved" on a local level in the summer of 2020, undermining Austin's work. None of the allegations have been tested in court. Read the full story here.

Time and research have shown that COVID-19 has quite a knack for wreaking havoc on the human body under the right conditions. So what will that mean for the long-term health of millions of people who've been infected — months, years or even decades down the road? The ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to spread throughout the body is largely tied to the spike proteins on its surface, which bind to ACE2 — a protein on the surface of various types of human cells — like a key into a lock. That means the virus can reach far beyond the respiratory tract, causing inflammation wherever it spreads. "We've already shown this virus, even in the acute stage, does have impact on the brain and on our central organs like the heart, and pancreas and areas where other viral infections have caused longer-term inflammatory changes that have led to chronic disease," said Dr. Cory Neudorf, the public health, health systems and social policy impacts pillar co-lead for CoVaRR-Net, a team of Canadian researchers who banded together during the pandemic. "I wouldn't be at all surprised if we see more chronic diseases due to COVID in the years to come." Read more on this story here.

WATCH | Doctors search to solve long COVID as patients fight to recover: 

Doctors search to solve long COVID as patients fight to recover

7 months ago
Duration 6:14



The ECHL acted swiftly on Sunday, suspending defenceman Jacob Panetta indefinitely, pending a hearing, for an apparent racist gesture toward opponent and fellow Canadian Jordan Subban of the South Carolina Stingrays during Saturday night's game. The Jacksonville Icemen later released Panetta, a 26-year-old from Belleville, Ont., who was in his second season with the team. "To be clear, our core values as an ownership group include … zero tolerance for racism or any other forms of hate against any group," Icemen chief executive officer Andy Kaufmann said in a statement. "We apologize to anyone who was offended and look forward to beginning the process of healing together as one." Video of the incident 23 seconds into overtime in the Florida city shows Panetta appearing to raise his arms toward his side while looking at Subban, also a defenceman and a Toronto native. Read the full story here.

WATCH | Jacob Panetta cut from team after apparent racist gesture: 

Jacob Panetta released from U.S. team after alleged racist taunt against Jordan Subban

5 months ago
Duration 2:11

 

Now for some good news to start your Monday: COVID-19 is not funny, but a Prince Edward Island man has proven that our conversations about it can be. Keenan Costain has found a way to get a laugh out of it — imitating conversations that a lot of Island parents have had in recent weeks. Costain has taken to TikTok to do videos about what he thinks a typical P.E.I. mom might say to another over the phone about the current situation. He calls it The Mom Series. "Didja hear? Yeesss! Another week of these kids. I'm gonna lose it," the moms say, lamenting the situation with online learning. A computer technician by day, Costain said he just thought people needed a laugh, particularly after the latest round of restrictions. "I think it's all just some fun humour," he said. "It's good to get some laughter in." Read more about Costain's videos

First Person: The Prairies are rich with the collective memories of the Black people who came before us

Their care for community can be traced through the earth of their garden, to their hands, to their table, to us, writes Cheryl Foggo, a multiple-award-winning playwright, author and filmmaker. Read her piece here. This column is part of our Black on the Prairies: Place series. You can read more stories from it here.

Front Burner: Halifax reimagines its relationship with the police

A Halifax committee tasked with defining what it means to defund the police has released its final report: a 219-page document that recommends numerous reforms and reimagines our communities' relationships with law enforcement. 

Last week, committee chairperson El Jones presented the report to Halifax's Board of Police Commissioners. While the document doesn't recommend a specific amount of money to be cut, it takes an in-depth look at shifting some responsibilities away from police — namely sexual assault reporting and responses to mental health crises.

Today, Jones walks us through the report's rethink on how to keep our communities safe and examines the common ground between supporters and opponents of defunding.

Today in history: January 24

1952: Longtime diplomat Vincent Massey is appointed the first Canadian-born governor general.

1978: A crippled Soviet satellite, Kosmos 954, with a nuclear reactor aboard, re-enters Earth's atmosphere and disintegrates over the Northwest Territories. Debris from the satellite was found scattered near the eastern tip of Great Slave Lake. The Soviet Union later paid $3 million to cover the cleanup costs.

1984: Apple Computer introduces the Macintosh PC.

1995: O.J. Simpson's murder trial opens in Los Angeles. He was found not guilty in the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, ending a sensational trial that had riveted the American public. Simpson was later found liable in a civil trial.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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