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Coalition says Sask. government has no business in selling liquor

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by
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REGINA – With the province in the midst of developing a new policy for liquor sales, a coalition of groups are calling for an equal playing field.

“From the taxpayer’s point of view, we don’t think the government should be involved in selling liquor. They’re not very good at it, so give up already,” said Todd MacKay, the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

CTF along with Restaurants Canada and the Saskatchewan Hotels and Hospitality Association are launching a petition.

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They made the announcement at a local Brewpub in downtown Regina.

The coalition is hoping to sway the province for fairness in pricing, selection and regulation for all liquor retailers, including rural franchises, off-sales, full-line private stores and government stores.

They say the current system is broken and that a new one is needed.

“In an ideal world the Alberta model would be our first choice. But it really comes down to that fairness and equality in pricing. And if government stores are going to continue then fine, but what we’re looking for is a level playing field on pricing,” said Dwayne Marling, VP for Restaurants Canada Manitoba-Saskatchewan.

The group says their preference for an Alberta style free-market system will result in customers being the big winners.

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©2015

Derek Saretzky out of medically-induced coma after suicide attempt: source

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by
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CALGARY – The man accused in a horrific murder of a two-year-old girl and her father in Blairmore, Alta. last week had come out of a medically-induced coma and was speaking as of Friday afternoon, a source told Global News.

Derek James Saretzky, 22, had been rushed to hospital in medical distress on Wednesday, and remained in a medically-induced coma Thursday.

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Saretzky faces two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Terry Blanchette, 27, and his two-year-old daughter, Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.

On Thursday, Alberta Justice confirmed an incident occurred on Wednesday involving an inmate in Lethbridge.

“The inmate from the Lethbridge Correctional Centre who was taken to hospital in medical distress yesterday continues to receive care in hospital,” said spokesperson Michelle Davio, in an emailed statement to Global News.

Officials won’t confirm the name of the inmate or their current condition citing privacy reasons, however, sources told Global News Saretzky is in a Lethbridge hospital after a suicide attempt. Officials said when an incident such as this occurs, a thorough review is conducted and action is taken to prevent it from happening again, which could include changes to policies and procedures or enhanced training.

Saretzky’s lawyer, Peter Northcott, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Watch below: The prime suspect in the murder of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette is in critical care in hospital. Paul Haysom reports.

Global News has learned Saretzky was by himself in the shower when he attempted suicide. He was found in medical distress by guards, and transported to Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge for medical treatment.

The families of Terry and Hailey provided a statement to the Saretzky family Wednesday, writing they don’t condone the “vile and malicious epithets” being directed at the family.

“We find it abhorrent. It’s important that you know we bear you no ill will. And, we pray that you too find the path away from this tragedy toward peace and understanding.”

The Blairmore, Alta. man was taken into custody last Tuesday afternoon and charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of committing indignity to a human body.

READ MORE: What we know about Derek Saretzky

His arrest followed the discovery of 27-year-old Blanchette’s body in a Blairmore home Monday morning, and the abduction of Hailey. The young girl’s remains were found last Tuesday.

READ MORE: Timeline of the abduction and murder of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette

Police have said Saretzky was an “acquaintance” of Blanchette, but refused to elaborate on the nature of the relationship.

Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, said she and Saretzky were friends, but haven’t been in touch for years.

“We were just close friends and I haven’t talked to him in three years. I haven’t talked to him at all. … When I knew him, he was a great kid.”

READ MORE: ‘She was my baby’ – Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette’s mother Cheyenne breaks down 

Watch below: Global’s ongoing coverage in the case of Derek Saretzky

Derek Saretzky attempted to hang himself in jail shower

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Derek Saretzky attempted to hang himself in jail shower

01:42

Derek Saretzky said to be clinging to life after suicide attempt

01:41

Blairmore residents react to news Derek Saretzky attempted suicide




With files from Global’s Nancy Hixt and Kim Tams

©2015

10 arrests linked to slave investigation, Indonesia threatens to sink Thai ship

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by
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WATCH ABOVE: Burmese fisherman Myint Naing was tricked as a young man into slavery on a Thai fishing boat in Indonesia, and spent the next 22 years either at sea or hiding in the jungle. John Hadden reports.

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SABANG, Indonesia – The Thai captain of a seized cargo ship carrying an estimated $2 million worth of seafood has been arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of illegal fishing, in the latest development linked to an Associated Press investigation that uncovered a slave island earlier this year. At least one other crew member is still under scrutiny.

The massive Thai-owned Silver Sea 2 was first identified by AP in July through a high-resolution photo taken from space, showing slave-caught fish being loaded onto the refrigerated vessel in Papua New Guinea’s waters. The AP then tracked the ship through its satellite beacon and informed Indonesian authorities when it crossed into their waters on its way home to Thailand.

READ MORE: 22 years a slave: Fisherman survives beating, shackling, years in jungle

Friday’s arrest is one of 10 made in Indonesia and Thailand since the investigation tied the catch of migrant workers forced to fish to the supply chains of major U.S. food sellers and pet food companies six months ago. As a result, more than 2,000 men from Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos have been identified or sent home, a multi-million dollar Thai-Indonesian fishing business has been shut down, class action lawsuits have been filed and new laws have been introduced.

Touring the Silver Sea 2 on Friday, Indonesian Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said she believed the frozen fish filling up its holds came from eastern Indonesia’s Arafura Sea, where foreign fishing vessels are banned. She also said authorities are looking further into evidence that suggests the ship may be linked to the human trafficking ring described by AP. The Silver Sea 2 is accused of receiving illegally-caught fish at sea and turning off its satellite beacon, and the remaining 16 crew members will be deported.

Pudjiastuti said she hoped anyone found guilty would face harsh punishment as a deterrent, and the vessel may be destroyed. Indonesia has already blown up dozens of smaller foreign boats accused of illegal fishing. The 2,285-ton ship is now at a naval base in Sabang in the country’s far northwestern tip.

READ MORE: More than 2,000 enslaved fisherman rescued in 6 months

“If the court decides it should be confiscated, then we will sink it,” she said.

Silver Sea Reefer Co., which owns Silver Sea 2, maintains it has done nothing wrong.

Thailand’s fishing industry, worth $7 billion a year in exports, relies on tens of thousands of poor migrant labourers who come seeking jobs mainly from neighbouring countries. They often are tricked, sold or kidnapped and put onto boats sent to distant foreign waters to poach fish. Refrigerated cargo ships are used to pick up seafood and sometimes transport new slaves, although no victims of trafficking were found on the Silver Sea 2.

Late last year, AP journalists saw slave-caught fish being loaded onto another reefer owned by Silver Sea in the Indonesian island village of Benjina, where men were found locked in a cage for asking to go home. In written surveys conducted with nearly 400 slaves who later were rescued, several also told AP they were trafficked to Indonesia from Thailand aboard Silver Sea ships, including Silver Sea 2.

READ MORE: How to help fishermen rescued from slavery at sea in SE Asia

The high-resolution photo taken from space for AP by U.S.-based commercial satellite imagery company DigitalGlobe showed the Silver Sea 2 in Papua New Guinea with its holds open and a trawler tethered to each side, loading fish. Analysts identified the smaller boats as among those that fled Benjina earlier this year, crewed by enslaved men who said they were routinely beaten and forced to work nearly nonstop with little or no pay. Another Thai cargo ship was also impounded in Papua New Guinea after eight trafficking victims were found on board.

The AP’s work was entered into the U.S. congressional record for a hearing, after links were made to the supply chains of American companies such as Wal-Mart, Sysco, Kroger, Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. The businesses have all said they strongly condemn labour abuse and have taken steps to prevent it. Congress is scheduled to discuss the AP findings again later this month.

—-
Mason reported from Jakarta, Indonesia and McDowell from
Singapore. Associated Press videographer Vasapa Wanichwethin
contributed to this report from Bangkok.
—-

©2015The Associated Press

Alberta municipal affairs minister calls relief program ‘a disaster’, promises changes

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by
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CALGARY – Alberta’s municipal affairs minister says the province’s disaster recovery program is a “disaster in and of itself” and there will eventually be changes.

Deron Bilous was responding to a resolution backed by delegates at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association calling for an external review of the program.

The issue was brought forward by High River Coun. Bruce Masterman, who says the problems his town encountered during major flooding in 2013 are not unique.

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READ MORE: Premier Prentice pledges $20 million to fast-track flood claims from 2013 

He says there are nearly 1,400 open files in the province from the disaster and more than half of them are from High River residents.

READ MORE: Million-dollar flood-damaged homes still standing as anniversary nears 

The resolution, approved by 91 per cent of delegates, calls for a review to speed up completion of outstanding files and improve the program for the future.

Bilous said the government has been looking at disaster relief and there will be an announcement from the environment minister, but no date has been set.

©2015

Economic downturn in Alberta prompts increase in online job scams

Posted on: May 29th, 2019 by
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CALGARY – As more people look for work in Alberta, they turn to online job resources like Monster杭州丝足 and Kijiji, but scammers advertising phony jobs are also trolling the Internet for desperate victims.

Amy Haydu is on disability income and has been looking for part-time work online.

She posted an ad for babysitting, and was contacted by an organization that called itself Coast Consulting to be a customer care analyst.

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“It was pretty professional,” said Haydu. “I was to go to banks, restaurants and stores and basically see how clean the place is and if they’re following protocol.”

She exchanged emails with the company and they sent a cheque for $2,800 to cover her salary and expenses. The company also sent instructions to wire money to another company for a computer.

“I was to send $1,500 to get my new MacBook 3 with all the right programming on it so I could better do my work.”

She deposited the cheque in the bank, but because of her fixed income could only withdraw $600. The rest of the money was put on a five-day hold.

After the five days, she was told it was counterfeit, and now has to pay back the $600.

Online job scams are rampant, according to Leah Brownridge with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Southern Alberta.

“If you’re being approached by an employer that’s not in your area or your city, that is a red flag. You have to ask yourself, ‘why would they be approaching me if I don’t even live there?’ And if you can’t contact that individual by phone or go see them in person, that’s a red flag too,” said Brownridge.

The other warning sign is that victims are often sent a cheque and asked to wire money.

Brownridge said if you’re not sure, get all their contact information and investigate the “company” on your own time.

“Check with BBB. Do your own Internet search, make sure the address checks out, call the number, see who you’re talking to. Even do a basic image search if they have a picture on their website; make sure it’s legit.”

Haydu said she feels lucky the bank has given her six months to pay them back, and wants to warn others before they lose even more than she did.

©2015

Spinal Muscular Atrophy: Son’s illness inspires Calgary family to help find a cure

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by
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CALGARY – Alex Starratt is a bubbly, chatty seven-year-old who loves Star Wars and sports.

“His favourite team is the Calgary Flames,” his father Mark said before Alex jumped in, adding, “… and the Roughnecks!”

The second grader enjoys playing sports too, focusing on activities he can do even though illness has made many aspects of life very difficult.

“Alex was diagnosed just before his third birthday with Spinal Muscular Atrophy,” said his mom Jennifer Hayes Starratt.

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“He’s missing a gene that produces a protein and because of that he suffers from muscle weakness and muscle wasting.”

It means Alex is unable to walk on his own and struggles with fine motor skills because of weakness in his arms. SMA is a progressive disease, meaning it could one day also impact his ability to cough or swallow. It’s also a genetic disease. After Alex was diagnosed, his parents learned they were both genetic carriers.

“Those (first) few months were very hard,” Mark said. “When we came out of what I call ‘a dark period’ we decided that we wanted to do something not only to help kids like Alex but people all over the country.”

To do that, Mark and Jennifer formed the Starratt Family Foundation, a non-profit group working to advance education and research for all kinds of neuromuscular diseases, including Muscular Dystrophy and ALS.

“A lot of these diseases have no treatments,” said Mark. “A lot of these diseases have no cures.”

In just a few short years, the foundation has already raised tens of thousands of dollars in support of research at the University of Calgary, but the family is looking to do more. Next month, they’ll host the first “Touching a Nerve” Gala, with hopes that money raised will help make a difference for the thousands of Canadians who suffer from these incurable diseases.

“I think that when it comes to neuromuscular diseases, because we’re seeing so many things in terms of drug trials, in terms of genetic therapies, in terms of other physical therapies…we feel like we’re close.”

The “Touching a Nerve” Gala happens Saturday, Oct. 3. For more information and tickets, click here.

©2015

Child poised for surgery in U.S., despite being denied OHIP funding

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by
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TORONTO — A three year old boy from Guelph, now has a surgery date set in the U.S., thanks to an outpouring of community support.

Bentley Mitchell has cerebral palsy and currently needs a walker to get around. SDR surgery, offered in St. Louis Children’s Hospital, could help him walk independently.

Bentley was the guest of honour at Granite Homes annual golf tournament in Guelph, Ont.

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READ MORE: Families fighting for childrens’ surgery rejected by OHIP

The tournament donated nearly $35,000 raised by participants to Bentley.

His parents had been working for months to raise $125,000 for the surgery and related costs. They have now met their goal.

“It’s been amazing the support we’ve had. You can’t even put into words how touching it is,” said Chad Mitchell, Bentley’s father.

In contrast, the Ontario government has failed to help when it should have, according to the family.

SDR is covered by OHIP, provided an Ontario specialist signs a form declaring the surgery is appropriate for the patient.

The Mitchells said no specialist would agree to even see Mitchell to assess him, let alone sign the forms.

A half dozen other families interviewed by Global News said they had the same experience.

READ MORE: Outpouring of support after Global News story about boy who needs surgery

The government denies there is a problem getting the children assessed for SDR surgery.

Without a specialist, Bentley’s OHIP application was rejected.

“It’s really upsetting. to have your government say, ‘It’s okay, we will let others pay for you to have this surgery done,’” said Melissa Mitchell, Bentley’s mother.

The family said they are still going ahead and appealing the decision, in part, for other families in the same position.

“It’s our duty to carry this forward, so we are going to continue that fight,” said Bentley’s father.

READ MORE: Ontario family raising $100,000 for surgery so 3-year-old boy can walk

But with the likelihood of victory slim, they’ve been pushing ahead with fundraising — and they had a major boost in July.

Following Global News coverage of Bentley’s story, Obsidian Group donated over $40,000 from their summer golf tournament to his cause.

That donation, ongoing fundraising and the money from Granite Homes’ Golf Tournament has allowed the Mitchells to reach their goal.

“It’s amazing to see him in his little cart and hopefully in another year he will be walking by himself, that’s the dream,” said Mark Godman, Co-Owner of Granite Homes.

Bentley’s parents said the negative experience they’ve had with the government has been outweighed by the compassion of family, friends and strangers.

“I’ve had a hard time putting these thoughts into words, but I can’t thank people enough,” said Mitchell. “This means everything to Bentley.”

He added that Bentley is too young to remember such generosity, so they will never stop telling him about all the people who helped change his life.

Bentley’s surgery is scheduled for Dec. 15.

©2015

B.C. leaders get on board rail-safety lobby

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by
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VANCOUVER – In the days after a train laden with crude oil exploded and burned in a small Quebec town, killing 47 people, the city of New Westminster, B.C., took inventory of the safeguards for its four railways.

“We realized there really wasn’t anything in place,” said Coun. Chuck Puchmayr. “A disaster of that nature would be even more devastating than it was in Lac-Megantic.”

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Puchmayr and other local politicians in British Columbia are banding together with 165 elected leaders from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to pressure federal governments in both countries to overhaul antiquated railway laws.

The American-led Safe Energy Leadership Alliance is lobbying for new protections from train accidents in Canada and the United States.

The group’s chairman is Seattle-based King County Executive Dow Constantine, who said a united front is the only way cities can oppose the influence of the coal and oil industries. He said national governments wield almost all authority over the matter.

READ MORE: White Rock mayor says they need to know what’s in containers shipped by rail

“The sobering conclusion is that although we can try to mitigate the damage from a fire and explosion … there’s very little we can actually do to put the fire out,” Constantine told reporters on Friday, before meeting with members in New Westminster.

“We are looking to raise the profile of these issues so we can raise awareness among those who can actually do something to help.”

Safety and the environment are shared concerns among politicians in B.C., Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and California, he said. Other problems include traffic congestion, fossil fuels displacing locally produced goods for transport, and the impact of coal dust on human health.

“I was quite blown away to find out how coastal this issue is,” said Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer, who emphasized the alliance is not debating resource extraction.

Coal producers don’t care about borders, they’re just looking for a terminal to bring it to market, she said.

Canadian railway rules have hardly changed since they were written a century ago, when trains moved through sparsely populated land that only later would become cities, Reimer added.

Policy-makers didn’t predict that hazardous materials like coal and oil would be hauled right through centres of hundreds of communities when passing the original Rail Act of 1903, she said.

READ MORE: British Columbians fear expanding coal industry poses health hazards

Communities were stripped of the right to regulate or legislate the operation of railways in that act, and Reimer said officials are worried they won’t be able to mitigate emergencies involving hazardous materials.

Transport Canada says only 500 cars of crude oil were shipped by rail in 2009, but that number jumped to 160,000 in 2013. Those loads combine with 400,000 more shipped in the U.S. in the same year, because North America’s railways are interconnected, the agency said.

“We need information, we need proper planning, we need the co-ordination, we need the communications infrastructure and frankly we need the money,” Reimer said.

She pointed to several small-scale disasters in the region since January 2014, including a coal train derailment in Burnaby, an oil spill in Vancouver’s harbour, and a chemical fire at its port.

Watch: Who was to blame for a 2014 train derailment in Burnaby and are we doing enough about train safety?

A related resolution was passed unanimously Friday at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention. Delegates called for provincial and federal governments to expand risk assessment and response planning for a proposed thermal-coal-export terminal in Surrey, B.C.

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Why isn’t climate change a bigger part of this election?

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by
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The economy, jobs, and immigration have loomed large in the federal election campaign. But where’s the environment?

While each party has presented policies seeking to address climate change, they haven’t faced much scrutiny, said Jennifer Winter at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

“I think the environment is really a secondary, even a tertiary issue in this election compared to the economy,” she said.

READ MORE: Minority rights, niqab, Senate among hot topics in French leaders’ debate

Winter examined each party’s climate policy and found them all short on details, which she says creates uncertainty among consumers and industry.

“People like to know what the tank of gas will cost and businesses like to know how much they’ll have to pay,” she said.

Extended video: Jennifer Winter on climate change and the election

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The Green Party is the only one that identifies climate change as the biggest challenge Canada has ever faced, promising to eliminate fossil fuel use by mid-century.

Conservatives favour a sector-by-sector approach to lowering emissions, and in May announced their goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Conservative government has been criticized in the past for not meeting its own target to reduce emission by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The NDP is pledging to implement a price on carbon through a pan-Canadian cap-and-trade system. But the party has yet to release details about what the cap would be and how much it would cost.

Liberals say they’ll set emissions targets and work with provinces to figure out how to meet them. The party hasn’t released any specific timelines, other than to promise to meet with provinces within ninety days of the U.N conference on climate change in Paris in December.

READ MORE: Reality Check: Elizabeth May debates the crisis in Syria and fighting ISIS

John Bennet, national spokesperson for the Sierra Club says the devil will be in the details.

“It’s really not the titles of it, it’s really what the target is and what the government is prepared to do to achieve it,” he said. “Is it prepared to face off with provinces that don’t want to do it?”

Provinces such as B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are pursuing their own policies to address climate change.

But the next Prime Minister has to be willing to lay down the law for more reluctant regions, Bennett said.

“Last time, under Kyoto, it was provincial feet-dragging that prevented us from going forward,” he said. “We can’t have a federal government that’s asking the provinces to act.”

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says her government will negotiate with whichever party forms the next federal government.

“Whether we’ll be able to meet everyone’s criteria, everyone’s standards, remains to be seen,” Notley said.

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©2015

Bringing divorce into the 21st century

Posted on: April 29th, 2019 by
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SASKATOON – An Oakland, Calif. family law firm will soon be bringing divorce to the digital world. The site, 杭州夜生活separate.us, walks subscribers through a step-by-step guide on how to get divorced and is literally the “Turbotax” version for calling it quits.

“That would be more relevant to cookie cutter divorces which don’t exist,” said Tracy Kendel-Amendt with Fairway Divorce Solutions in Saskatoon.

“The one thing with submitting documents and just assuming everything is done, one party might be getting forced into an agreement that they’re actually not comfortable signing.”

READ MORE: When a wedding is called off but the financial burden isn’t

Once launched, the website will allow people to handle their own matters without having to completely rely on lawyers, by getting one step ahead with paperwork.

Tracey Kendel-Amendt, Fairway Divorce Solutions.

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“Lots of times, people will come in here, they know exactly how they want to divide their assets, their liabilities and we just ensure that all tax implications are covered,” added Kendel-Amendt

“Everything is included and that everything is fair.”

According to Kendel-Amendt while a couple may have done their due diligence to part ways, more often than not there are still crucial details missing where follow-up is necessary.

Plus, sometimes a couple does require a third-party to get the ball rolling, say experts.

“Lots of times the spouses are saying the exact same thing as each other but they’re just not hearing each other correctly so mediators help them with that communication to help get a fair and equitable division,” said Kendel-Amendt.

Is there a pile of paperwork when it comes to a divorce?  Absolutely, said Mark Galambos, an associate lawyer with WMCZ Lawyers of Saskatoon.

Galambos, who specializes in family law, expects even more if you have children, property or spousal support to take into consideration. Which is why he’s not completely sold on the online version of preparing documents for divorce.

“It’s more efficient if I can speak with them about their specific fact scenario that applies to their specific issues.”

According to Galambos, divorce lawyers in Saskatoon charge anywhere from $150 to $650 an hour. On the low-end of things a simple consent divorce will cost $1,500 up to $100,000 and beyond.

“There’s a real range of how much it costs but none of it is cheap.”

Expenses that could surge if you fill out forms or petitions inaccurately as part of your first step to separating from your spouse.

“You don’t want to start the process with a confusing scenario, you want to start off knowing exactly what you need so the rest of it goes smoothly otherwise the rest of it might go off the rails and it becomes more expensive than it has to be.”

©2015