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El Gordo fever: Spain enthralled by annual Christmas lottery

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BARCELONA, Spain — Those holding ticket number 03347 struck it rich Saturday when they won the top prize in Spain’s famous Christmas lottery.

The lottery, known as El Gordo, or “The Fat One,” dished out 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in prize money this year. The top prize for a winning ticket was 400,000 euros ($455,000), but there were many smaller prizes.

“Here the people are celebrating a lot, it’s the first time that the top prize for the Christmas lottery has fallen here,” Luis Soriano, owner of a bar that sold some top-prize tickets in the eastern town of Ontinyent, told the Europa Press news agency.

Other lotteries have bigger individual top prizes but El Gordo, held each Dec. 22, is ranked as the world’s biggest in terms of total prize money.

Multiple people picked the top winning number across Spain, spreading the 680 million euros ($773 million) distributed for it to 46 of the country’s 50 provinces.

“Where are those who said we were jinxed, after we have brought so much good luck?” said Jose Gomez, the manager of a lottery office in Cuenca, which also sold tickets for the biggest prize.

Individuals or groups of friends or colleagues buy the El Gordo lottery tickets, which cost 20 euros ($23) each, months in advance.

Following the lottery draw has become a winter holiday tradition in Spain, with people glued to television sets, radios or the internet, where newspaper websites give a running commentary.

Children from Madrid’s San Ildefonso school called out the lottery prizes Saturday on a nationally televised draw at Madrid’s Teatro Real opera house. The tiny wooden balls corresponding to the top prize rolled down chutes from two huge round cages and were called out by young girls three hours into the gala.

The focus then shifted to jubilant images of the winners, who were popping open bottles of cava and celebrating in lottery offices, bars or in the street.

Spain established its national lottery as a charity in 1763, during the reign of King Carlos III. Its objective later became to shore up state coffers.

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LIFESTYLES

Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

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Top environment official urges Canadians to back Ottawa’s ambitious plans to tackle plastic trash

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The second in command at the federal Environment Ministry challenged Canadians to continue to speak up about the problem of plastic pollution and push elected officials, scientists and businesses to do more.

Quebec MP Peter Schiefke, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, made the comments online at Vancouver’s annual zero waste conference on Friday.

He said most Canadians want solutions to curb the tens of thousands of tonnes of plastic garbage that ends up as litter each year on the country’s beaches, parks, lakes and in the stomachs of animals. 

“Making sure that message is heard with industry stakeholders, elected officials and make sure that they are constantly putting pressure on it … so we notice that this is something that Canadians want, the backing of Canadians to go and undertake these huge challenges,” he said.

Schiefke filled in for  Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson at the last minute after Wilkinson was called away to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass one of the most expensive fares in Canada

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OTTAWA — OC Transpo’s monthly bus pass is one of the most expensive passes in Canada, and transit riders are facing another 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares on New Year’s Day.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Transit Commission meeting on the 2021 budget, CTV News Ottawa looked at the cost of a monthly adult bus pass at transit services across Canada. Ottawa ranks behind the TTC in Toronto, Mississauga’s “MiWay”, Brampton Transit and Vancouver “TransLink” Zone 2 access to the suburbs for most expensive transit fares in Canada.

The cost of an OC Transpo adult monthly bus pass is currently $119.50 a month.

The 2021 City of Ottawa budget includes a proposed 2.5 per cent hike in transit fares. If approved, an adult monthly transit pass will increase $3 to $122.50, while a youth pass will increase $2.25 to $94.50 a month.  The cost of an adult single-ride cash fare would rise a nickel to $3.65.

The TTC is the most expensive transit service in Canada, charging $156 a month for an adult fare. MiWay charges $135 a month, and the cost of an adult monthly pass with Brampton Transit is $128.

Metro Vancouver’s transportation network “TransLink” has three fare zones. The monthly bus pass cost for “Zone 1”, which covers Vancouver, is $97 for adults. The “Zone 2” fare, which covers Vancouver and the suburbs of Richmond and Burnaby, is $131 a month.

Edmonton Transit Service, which includes a Light Rail System with 18 stations on two different lines, charges $97 a month for an adult monthly bus pass.

An adult monthly bus pass in Calgary costs $109 a month.

The survey by CTV News Ottawa of transit fares across Canada shows Gatineau has higher transit fares than Montreal and Quebec City. The STO charges $99 a month.

A monthly adult bus pass costs $88.50 in Montreal and $89.50 in Quebec City.

The cheapest adult monthly bus fare is in Charlottetown, at $58.50 a month. A monthly bus pass in Whitehorse costs $62 a month.

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