Minutes of the Monthly Meeting held on June 14, 2010 at Queen’s Park.

Prepared by Neel Nanda, Secretary General of NEPMCC


Thomas S. Saras

Dr. Khan Khoda (Deshi TV)

Mohammad Bagher Samimi

Neel Nanda

Saad Alsafar

Muhammad Ali Bukhari

Suleyman Guven

Teshome Woldeamanuel

Adv Raddkivi

Asha Rajak

Parry Long

Riaz Hussain

Bahram Bahrami

Shaukat Malik

Shahidvl Islam Mintu

Lankathas Pathmanathan

Iosif Spataru

Mario Spataru

Maria Vieru

Viara Dimitrova

Hai-Tien Lin

Maia Cristea-Vieru

Ned Blair

Jubar Iny

Irene Keroglidiw

Hasan Yilmaz

Devag Haoatarian

Gerald Paul

Aaron Berhane

John Saraidaris

Dr. Mohammed Tajdolati

Luba Cherny

Sudana H. Donan

Ed Donan

Srimal Abeyewardene

Ranjit Wivks

Cjarles Devasagayam

Sophia Aggelonitis (Minister, Gov. of Ontario)

Natalie Quinn  (MCS)

Ahmed Shah Hotaki

Hermie Garcia

Mila Astroga Garcia

C. Denthi

P. Vijayaetchuj (Kathir Oli)

R.  Paul Raj

El. Phiolbert HK Magazine

Edwaurd Ginglo.



1.            Welcome Remarks by the chair.

2.            Minutes of the previous meeting.

3.            Presidents Report

4.            Presentation by Minister of Consumer Services, The Honourable Sophia Aggelontis

5.         New Business

6.            Adjournment


Welcome Remarks by the Chair:


M. Saras chaired the meeting and declared the meeting open.

Dr. Khan Khoda moved a motion to approve the agenda of the meeting. Muhammad Bukhari seconded it. The motion was carried.


Minutes of the previous meeting:

Suleiman Guven moved a motion to approve the minutes of the previous monthly meeting held of May 17, 2010 Hassan Zerehi seconded it. The motion was carried.


President’s Report/Discussions:


·            President Thomas Saras read a communication from the office of the Honourable John Wilkinson on the various criteria to qualify for exemption from HST for all ethnic publications. He clarified the doubts of all members regarding exemption criteria for HST.

·            Thomas Saras proposed to the council that NEPMCC would create a new department of auditing in order certify the circulation of its member newspapers. He would propose one of the members of NEPMCC to be the officer of oath, who would be authorized to certify the circulation.

·           The Board of Directors and the members , who attended this meeting, clarifies that no agency is appointed as their agent and that NEPMCC is the only true and official representative of the members of the ethnic media. Mr. Saras clarified this point to all members. He referred to a  misleading communication sent to some of the members by Multi Com.

·            Thomas Saras suggested to members of doing community survey highlighting issues facing their respective communities. There is government funding available for doing community based research.

·            Members were urged to put stories of Canadians helping their communities to integrate to Canadian society.

·           The Canada Day celebrations to be celebrated on July 2nd will honour Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario, for his generous exemption to the Ethnic Media from the HST.

·           Special Greek wine to be served during the Canada Day Celebration. $600 -$800 to be spent for Wine for the Canada Day dinner

·            Thomas Saras invited suggestions from members of the Council in honouring the Premier.

·           Motion: Irene Keroglidis moved a motion to present the Premier with a portrait along with a personalized plaque. Ahmed Shah Hotaki seconded it. The motion was carried.

·           Dr. Khan Khoda would donate samosas for the Canada Day celebration

·           President Thomas Saras informed the Council that payment has been made towards Word on the Street Festival.

·           CNE annual ethnic press festival would be held during the Labour Day weekend.


·           The President had a special word of mention for Asha Rajak for all her magnificent work she has done for the Council.

Presentation by Minister of Consumer Services, The Honourable Sophia Aggelontis:


·            President Thomas Saras introduced the honourble Minister to the members of the Council.


Minister of Consumer Services,  Honourable Sophia Aggelontis Address to NEPMCC:

“Thank you, Tom Saras ----NEPMCC President, for the kind introduction. Ladies and gentlemen it’s great to be here and to have this opportunity to address the board and members of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada. As print and electronic journalists ---- you play an important role in our country.  You educate and inform; engage and involve. As ethnic media and members of our diverse communities, you do so much more......Diversity..... this is what Ontario looks like. Through you, people all across this wonderfully diverse province of ours are able to learn what happening in the world and in their communities---- in a language they understand. There is no overstating the importance.  Like you, I Know this well. My Parents came to Canada from small towns in Greece in the early 1960s.  My mother came from a small area just outside of Sparta.  My father came from the southern tip of Greece. That was before most ethnic media outlets began. They settled in Toronto when they first arrived.  It was a neighbourhood full of Greek Immigrants.  And the main way for them to hear local news or gather information was through their close-knit Greek community. But before they learned English, it was an isolating and very lonely time. Today, newcomers   enjoy a different experience.  They can buy a newspaper or listen to TV or pick up information in any number of languages. You are at the heart of it all, and I thank you for that! Ontario’s ethnic media has responded to a simple fact: In this city alone, over 140 languages are spoken.  More than 30 per cent of Torontonians speak a language other than English or French at home.  We welcome more new Canadians every day. I look at Parliament and the Ontario Legislature and I see many ethnicities---it’s a beautiful mosaic. The ethnic media is now considered by many as the new mainstream. It’s an awesome responsibility.  Through your growing network, new Canadians and often second and third generation Canadians- are able to be better informed and aware. You encourage their engagement as Citizens....You help them to understand local issues...You Profile their rights in this province: their human rights, their civil rights, their legal rights....So tonight, I am here to discuss  their consumer rights---- one of my favourite subjects!---- so you and I together can help your audiences be smart consumers too


Consumer Protection

The Ministry of Consumer Services----which I am privileged to lead---has two major roles.  The first role is consumer protection and education.  The second role is overseeing the regulatory environment---the rules, basically –in certain industry sectors.  Our role is to provide a fair, safe and informed marketplace.  And our work touches Ontarians in their everyday lives, whether buying a car or renovating a house, or being able to trust in the safety of the elevators they ride or the stuffed toys they give their children. Quite simply: my ministry helps people.  That’s my number 1 goal. Let me give you an example.  Recently, a consumer complained to my Ministry about a cabinet company that was supposed to install kitchen cabinets.  The consumer entered a contact worth nearly $ 12,000 with the company and paid a deposit of $ 4,000 for kitchen cabinets to be installed in six weeks. The consumer removed all his existing kitchen cabinetry, and then waited for delivery of the new cabinets. After waiting for more than a month for delivery, the consumer finally decided to cancel the contract with the company.  He asked for a refund of his deposit.  He did receive a refund cheque----but it bounced! So the consumer complained to our Consumer protection Branch.  We investigated and laid charges.  And just last month, the contractor did plead guilty to all charges and fully paid back the money owed to the consumer.  He also received two years probation with the condition that he performs community service.  The company itself was fined a total of $ 17,500. Let me repeat that.  Not only did the contractor have to give a complete refund, but he also had to pay a big fine. We did what we are mandated to do.  We helped a consumer, and showed that it doesn’t pay to break the law in Ontario. Our Ministry helps people understand their consumer rights.  We provide information and help them determine if their complaint is valid.  We mediate between consumers and businesses, and conduct inspections and investigations on consumers’ behalf. Last year, the Consumer Protection Branch received about 55,000 enquiries and complaints from consumers across the province. I have visited these offices and we have people who have worked in this branch for over 25 years.  They are experts in what we do.  The complaints we receive range from harassment by collection agencies, to being sold a defective appliance, to billing disputes with phone companies. Through or involvement---goods were delivered, services were performed and problems were solved in hundreds of cases.  We won $83,000 in refunds for consumers in the first four months of this year alone. Let me share another recent case: Four separate homeowners paid deposits to the same construction company for renovation work.  In each instance, the work was stared--- then abandoned. The homeowners all turned to us when the company refused to refund their money. We investigated and again laid charges. The owner of the company was found guilty and served jail time.  He also was ordered to pay a large fine in addition to paying back all four victims.  Last year, Our Ministry undertook 316 compliance inspections and we laid 1,300 charges. This led to over half a million dollars in court ordered restitution, almost $ 400,000 in fines, and probation or jail time for several individuals. We protect consumer rights.  But we also understand that many Ontarians---including many in your audiences---- might not even know these protections exist.


Consumer Education

That’s where another critical role of our Ministry comes in: consumer education and outreach. Last year, in one key initiative, we distributed over 300,000 Smart Consumers Calendars.  You may be familiar with this great product which you can download from our website. These calendars are filled with useful tips about how to protect yourself from identity theft, how to recognize counterfeit money, what to remember when buying or selling a house.  Do you need a sample letter to cancel a contract?  It’s all right there in the calendar. This is a simple but effective way for people to have a wide range of consumer information at their fingertips.  And since the calendars are available in multiple languages including Spanish, Tamil, Punjabi and Chinese, we reach many new Ontarians. Also our Ministry delivers about 100 community events each year---- again for the purpose of educating consumers. For example, car purchases and repairs are consistently among the top 10 consumer complaints that we receive each year.  That’s why, this summer, the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council---one of the arm’s –length organizations our ministry works through----will be offering car---buying seminars to ensure people have all the information they need to properly buy or lease a car. There will be free, hour-long seminars held in libraries, community centres, malls and schools across the province.  These too will be delivered not just in English and French----but also in Italian, Arabic, Ukranian, Greek, Chinese, and several other languages. I was very happy with the media pick-up when we first announced the seminars----including in various ethnic publications like Ming Pao Sing Tao. Our Ministry regularly reaches out to Ontario consumers through the media. Broadly, we distribute articles that focus on consumer protection to newspapers across the province, including the ethnic media.  And that’s why I’m so pleased to be here tonight.  This is the vitally important role you play. We also reach out on targeted issues.  And you will see some of this type of information on our website.  For example, if we notice that consumers are having a lot of problems with hot water heater rentals, you will see it on our website.  That way we keep consumers as up-to-date as possible. Or, another example, spring is when homeowner’s thoughts turn to home renovations. So this past April, we proactively approached media across the province to help us help consumers to ensure their projects go smoothly.  There was a great response. As Minister, I sat down with several media outlets for interviews that specifically focused on helping consumers avoid such common complaints as poor workmanship or shady business practices by contractors. During the interviews, I also made sure to emphasize a point that I make when speaking to any group:    Our Ministry has a terrific website. And we have a great tool on that website----the Consumer Beware Database.  This Database Lists companies that consumers need to be aware of before they sign a contract.  And all a consumer has to do is type in the topic and a list of those companies will pop up.  It’s a great tool. By calling up our website---www.ontario.ca/consumerservices, Ontarians can find a huge amount of easy-to-understand information, including helpful videos and brochures.  The brochures are available in nine languages.  And we post consumer alerts. I have brought copies of DVDs with some information from our website that your audiences may find useful.  Regulatory Environment Our Ministry is fully committed to consumer protection and education.  This is complemented by second priority that I mentioned earlier. Through my ministry, the government establishes the legislation and regulations that govern a number of industry  sectors.  We oversee several arm’s-length organizations which are given responsibility for day-to-day enforcement in these industries.  The experts in these organization help promote public safety and enforce consumer protection. For example, I mentioned earlier the Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council and their upcoming car-buying seminars.OMVIC, as this organization better known, regulates new and used car dealers across the province. As well, most of you will have heard of the Real Estate Council of Ontario------ RECO.  As one of the ministry’s arm’s length organizations, it enforces a strict code of ethics for real estate brokers and agents. Then there’ the Travel Industry Council of Ontario------TICO.  It has many oversight responsibilities; including getting money back for consumers if they have booked a trip through an Ontario travel agent and the tour operator or airline goes bankrupt. Others make sure that amusement rides are safe, that electrical installations work, that home builders provide warranties on homes-----even that the integrity of Ontario wines is preserved. Our Ministry also overseas two Regulatory Agencies:  One that regulates Ontario’s liquor and gaming industries, and the other that you’ll be particularly aware of a s members of the media------The Ontario Film review Board, which provides the public with the information they need to make informed viewing choices.Day-By-Day, these organizations and agencies partner with our Ministry to make sure Ontarians are informed, safe and protected. Working Together so today, I invite you to stand with us as well. In order for Ontarians to be smart consumers----they need to have timely information and to understand their consumer rights. The National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada is in a unique position to help.  As Members, You are immersed in the full mosaic of Ontario’s multiculturalism.  You reach dozens of communities from Albanian to Greek to Vietnamese.  There is an opportunity for you to help people who do not speak English as a first language to get the information that they need. Ontarians enjoy some of the strongest consumer protections anywhere.  It’s one that all Ontarians deserve to hear.  We can do this best together. Certainly, as Minister, I am available for interviews---as are the many experts we have on consumer rights and protection across Ontario’s diverse sectors.  And our Ministry itself is a terrific resource. We can provide information to help you report on a myriad of issues--------from purchasing gym memberships, to obtaining estimates on car repair, to online shopping as well as everything we’ve discussed today and more. Together, we can make a difference. I look forward to working with the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada and the many dedicated members of Ontario’s ETHNIC media in the future. Together, we can help more consumers be smarter consumers. I would be glad to answer any questions”

Muhammad Ali Bukhari, Dr.Khan Khoda, Mehrub Rahman, Aaron Behrame, Suleman Guven, Gerald Paul, Srimal Abeyawardene and other members asked questions on a wide range of topics and the Honorable Minster candidly answered all of them.                                                                                                                      

President Thomas Saras invited the Minister for Canada Day dinner on July 2nd.

New Business:

Muhammad Bukhari wrote a letter to the Prime Minister about media crackdown in Bangladesh. He read out the letter and appealed the members for support. Many members gave their views on the topic. The matter was referred to Hermie Garcia to come out with the verdict. Hermie Garcia would hear from all parties concerned and review the matter thoroughly before giving his suggestions to the council on whether NEPMCC could support this issue.

Motion: Dr. Tajdolati proposed a motion prohibiting members to use organization’s name without the consent of the board of NEPMCC while communicating to any government official. Irene Keroglidis and John Saras seconded the motion. Dr. Khan Khoda voted against and Shahidul Islam Mintu abstained from voting. The motion declared past and carried.


New Members:

 TheCouncil welcomed the following member

                              Charles – Tamil Mirror monthly newspaper


Adjournment: John Saras moved a motion to adjourn the meeting, Dr. Khan Khoda seconded it. The motion was carried. The chair adjourned the meeting at 9 pm. The next meeting would take place on July 12, 2010