Take control of your holiday calendar, stress-free

Most people, when asked, are able to quickly list the stressors they face heading into the holidays. Some wear this list like a badge of honour and are motivated by it. Others collapse under its weight. Consider for a moment the stressor at the top of your holiday list: Is it the pace, or the financial stretch that accompanies the season? The loneliness, or the impending arrival of a difficult visitor that triggers anxiety? Changes in diet, exercise routine and sleep habits can also throw you off your game. So can the eggnog.

What if there were an instant solution to your stress? What if this solution magically arrived at your doorstep tomorrow morning, instantly eliminating No. 1 on your stress list? How would that change things for you?,” wrote Dr. Dwight Chapin, Health Advisor, for The Globe and Mail on December 4, 2015.

Chapin continued, “An estimated 80 to 90 per cent of all disease is strongly influenced by stress.

70 to 90 per cent of family doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.

To give you a better sense of the power stress has over the body, it drives somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,500 biochemical reactions within fractions of seconds of you facing the stress. Neurotransmitters are activated, hormones are released and nutrients are metabolized. You likely know this as the “fight or flight” stress response.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

10,000 Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada by Dec. 31

“A surge of Syrian refugees will land in Canada at the height of the holiday season, causing logistical challenges for welcoming parties but giving the asylum seekers a quick taste of the country’s giving spirit, Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

Details of the operation continue to evolve, but federal officials remain confident that 10,000 Syrian refugees will arrive in Canada by Dec. 31, with the large majority of them landing in the last 10 days of the year. The government has brought in three planeloads of refugees over the past week, but the operation is set to increase, with two to four planes landing in Toronto and Montreal every day.

The next planned flight will leave Beirut for Toronto on Dec. 18, while a detailed schedule of daily departures will be announced in coming days,” wrote Daniel Leblanc for The Globe and Mail on Wednesday December 16, 2015.

Leblanc continued, “The government still needs to bring in nearly 9,000 refugees over a two-week period to meet its target of 10,000 by the end of the month. Of those, 6,500 will be sponsored by individuals and groups, while 3,500 will be sponsored by the government.

The government has increased its capacity to conduct health screenings from 600 a week to 800 a day, federal officials said at a briefing. Overall, the officials said they are on their way to identifying a total of 25,000 refugees by the end of the year, who will be brought in by the end of February.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Will oil woes continue to threaten Canada’s economy in 2016?

“Oil prices sank to their lowest level in nearly seven years, threatening fresh pain for Canada’s economy.

Benchmark West Texas intermediate tumbled nearly 6 per cent to $37.65 (U.S.) a barrel, its lowest since February, 2009, as world markets digested the move by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to avoid setting new production quotas for its member states. The drop in oil prices triggered major falls in both the Canadian dollar and the stock market. For Canada’s economy and government finances, oil’s woes threaten to jeopardize hopes for a slow climb from an economic contraction as resource-sector incomes dwindle beyond the point where the new promised federal infrastructure spending can reverse such a blow,” wrote Jeffrey Jones and David Parkinson for The Globe and Mail on Monday December 7, 2015.

Jones and Parkinson continued, “Canada’s economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.3 per cent in the third quarter, reversing small economic contractions in the first and second quarters. But some economists have speculated that fourth-quarter growth could come in at less than 1 per cent, in light of the renewed drag from oil. It’s particularly bad news for the economy of Alberta, centre of the country’s energy industry, which suffered a recession this year and has seen its unemployment rate spike to 7 per cent from 4.5 per cent at the start of the year.

Oil’s struggles mean more suffering for the Canadian dollar. It fell .84 of a cent to 74 cents (U.S.) on Monday, its lowest since June of 2004. Energy products represented roughly a quarter of Canada’s exports last year, and oil’s slump has been the key factor in the loonie’s 21-per-cent nosedive against its U.S. counterpart since the middle of 2014.

The cheap dollar has helped propel exports in non-energy goods this year, making them considerably more price-competitive for foreign buyers, but the loss of income for the energy industry has starved the economy of crucial business investment, especially in capital-intensive resource sectors.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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