Ontario announced plan to increase minimum wage to $15/hr

Photographer: Negative Space

Photographer: Negative Space

“Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has announced a plan to increase the provincial minimum wage to $15 an hour by Jan. 1, 2019,” wrote CBC News on May 30, 2017.

CBC News continued, “The increase would be phased in over the next 18 months, rising to $14 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018, and then to $15 the following January. 

After that, it will rise annually with inflation. 

“People are working longer, jobs are less secure, benefits are harder to come by and protections are fewer and fewer,” said Wynne. “In a time of change like this, when the very nature of work is being transformed, we need to make certain that our workers are treated fairly.” 

Currently, Ontario’s minimum wage is $11.40 an hour.

Across Canada, the current minimum ranges from $10.72 in Saskatchewan to $13 in Nunavut. Alberta became the first province to pass a $15 hourly wage in September 2016, but it doesn’t go into effect until October 2018.

The wage increase is part of a larger piece of proposed legislation: The Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which aims to better protect part-time or contract workers. 

Among the proposed changes are the requirement that after five years with the same employer, the minimum vacation entitlement for workers would rise to three weeks per year.”

Read the full article here. 



Would a 10% mortgage hike sink homeowners?

Photographer: NeONBRAND

Photographer: NeONBRAND

“Almost three quarters of Canadian homeowners would have difficulty paying their mortgage every month if their payments increased by as little as 10 per cent, a new survey from Manulife Bank suggests,” wrote CBC News on May 23, 2017.

CBC News continued, “The bank polled 2,098 homeowners — between the ages of 20 to 69 with household incomes of $50,000 or higher — online in the first two weeks of February.

Because they aren’t randomized samples, polling experts say online polls don’t have a margin of error, but the survey nonetheless highlights just how tight the budgets are for many Canadians.

Fourteen per cent of respondents to Manulife’s survey said they wouldn’t be able to withstand any increase in their monthly payments, while 38 per cent of those polled said they could withstand a payment hike of between one and five per cent before having difficulty. An additional 20 per cent said they could stomach a hike of between six and 10 per cent before feeling the pinch.”

Read the full article here.  

How parents can talk to their children about violent attacks

Photographer: Caleb Woods

Photographer: Caleb Woods

“Parents dealing with how to talk to their children about violent incidents like the attack Monday night in Manchester, England, after Ariana Grande’s concert first need to reassure them that they are safe, psychologists suggest,” wrote CBC News on May 23, 2017.

CBC News continued, “The first question children usually ask during violent world events is whether they’re in danger, said Dr. Sandra Mendlowitz, a psychologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

“You need to tell the truth,” Mendlowitz said in a CBC News Facebook Live. “You need to tell it in a way that’s developmentally appropriate.”

We live with uncertainty every day and Monday’s event is unusual, Mendlowitz said. 

“If it happened all the time, people wouldn’t be on Twitter so much.” 

The instantaneous nature of social media and the fact that we live in a complicated world are part of what’s changed, Mendlowitz said. 

“We cannot live our lives in fear,” she stressed. 

Rather, Mendlowitz suggested turning the event into something positive, such as :

  • Writing letters of support to affected families.
  • Collecting donations.
  • Talking about what to do if you can’t reach each other by cellphone. “

Read the full article here.  

What if Canada’s real estate market crashes?

Photographer: Binyamin Mellish

Photographer: Binyamin Mellish

“It’s the question lingering behind every headline. It’s whispered among homeowners, would-be buyers and sellers, economists and policy-makers. What actually happens if Canadian real estate prices crash?,” wrote Peter Armstrong for CBC News on May 16, 2017.

Armstrong continued, “On the one hand, a crash might be good for some Canadians already priced out of the market. And even a dramatic 40 per cent drop in prices would set homeowners in markets like Toronto or Vancouver back, what, two or three years?

But there are broader concerns for the market and the economy itself that could prove devastating.

Home prices are notoriously off the charts. Everyone from the governor of the Bank of Canada to the chatty guy in your local cafe has said, repeatedly, that this increase in prices is not sustainable. But what that means, precisely, is vague.

The latest numbers from the Canadian Real Estate Association show the average home price in Canada climbed by 10 per cent to $559,317 in April. Notably, the number of sales in Toronto’s red-hot market fell by almost seven per cent but prices continued to rise.”

Read the full article here.  

High debt and soaring house prices could be bad news for Canadian banks

Photographer: Negative Space

Photographer: Negative Space

“Moody’s says high debt levels and soaring house prices could be bad news for Canada’s big banks, and has downgraded their credit rating as a result,” wrote Pete Evans for CBC News on May 11, 2017.

Evans continued, “Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, National Bank of Canada and Royal Bank of Canada all saw their credit ratings cut by one notch late Wednesday.

Moody’s cited a “more challenging operating environment for banks in Canada for the remainder of 2017 and beyond.”

“Today’s downgrade of the Canadian banks reflects our ongoing concerns that expanding levels of private-sector debt could weaken asset quality in the future,” Moody’s vice-president David Beattie said. 

High consumer debt a concern

“Continued growth in Canadian consumer debt and elevated housing prices leaves consumers, and Canadian banks, more vulnerable to downside risks facing the Canadian economy than in the past.”

Moody’s noted Canada’s record-high debt-to-income ratio of 167 per cent as cause for concern, and said debt levels are now beyond the usual risk models in place to determine whether businesses could withstand a crisis.”

Read the full article here.  

Canada labeled as a ‘safe-haven’ for money laundering

Photographer: Ivars Krutainis

Photographer: Ivars Krutainis

“The discovery of $2 million sent to Canadians from a suspected money-laundering network designed to hide dirty Russian money highlights the weaknesses of a financial intelligence system with too many loopholes and not enough teeth, say experts,” wrote Jennifer Fowler and Diana Swain for CBC News on May 11, 2017.

Fowler and Swain continued, “International banking documents provided to CBC News reveal 30 Canadian companies and individuals received dozens of payments between 2008 and 2013 from accounts in Cyprus and Lithuania.

The accounts are suspected to belong to an international web of companies created to obscure the movement of hundreds of millions of dollars connected to elaborate Russian tax frauds.

The revelation is no surprise to Denis Meunier, former deputy director of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Ottawa’s financial intelligence watchdog, who says Canada is the ideal place to wash illicit funds.”

Read the full article here.  

Support on Ontario’s basic income pilot program

“One might assume that the Ontario Liberal government’s pilot project to provide a guaranteed basic income would be roundly dismissed by those on the political and economic right as yet another government-led social welfare scheme doomed to failure,” wrote Mark Gollom for CBC News on April 25, 2017.

Gollom continued, “But the policy has adherents among some free-market economists and libertarian thinkers who believe this type of program is the most efficient way to provide assistance to the poor.

“If you accept the idea that there’s going to be some sort of redistribution taking place in our system, then you want to do it in the most transparent and efficient way possible,” said Michael Tanner, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. “And you want it to actually benefit people. And our current welfare system does neither.”

In the U.S., all levels of government combined spend over $1 trillion a year on at least 126 anti-poverty programs, Tanner wrote in a piece for the Cato Institute in 2015. Yet these programs, he said, are doing little “to help the poor get out of poverty or become self-sufficient.”

“We spend a lot of money and get very little bang for the buck,” he said.

On Monday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the province is launching a three-year pilot project to provide up to $17,000 to 4,000 low-income residents of Hamilton, Lindsay and Thunder Bay. The current welfare system in Ontario is designed to provide financial relief to low-income individuals, provided they are attempting to look for work or will take part in activities to help them find a job.”

Read the full article here.  


Reducing risk of heart disease

Photographer: Alona Kraft

Photographer: Alona Kraft

“The belief that saturated fat in foods such as butter, cheese and meat clogs arteries is “just plain wrong,” a group of cardiologists say in a new editorial. 

Instead, the focus should be on eating a Mediterranean-style diet, taking a brisk walk daily and minimizing stress, they say,” wrote CBC News on April 25, 2017.

CBC News continued, “After decades of thinking that cutting saturated fat in the diet was associated with lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and death, doctors and researchers now realize there is no association in healthy adults.

Even in people with established heart disease, reducing saturated fat alone doesn’t reduce heart attacks, says British cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, of Lister Hospital, and an adviser to the U.K. national obesity forum.”

Read the full article here.  

Photographer: Sylwia Bartyzel

Photographer: Sylwia Bartyzel



Marijuana users treated as non-smokers by two major life insurance companies

Photographer: Yousef Espanioly

Photographer: Yousef Espanioly

“In a sign of marijuana’s growing normalization in Canada, two major life insurance companies have decided to treat cannabis users as non-smokers, reversing a long-standing policy and offering many of them far cheaper premiums.

Like their competitors, Sun Life and BMO Insurance have for years classified anyone who disclosed using marijuana – either recreationally or for medical purposes – as a smoker, saddling them with charges that could be triple those of non-smokers,” wrote Tom Blackwell for The National Post on May 29, 2016.

Blackwell continued, “But in memos released over the last week, the companies say the latest research on the drug’s health impacts convinced them to change that approach.

Sun Life’s new policy applies to all marijuana consumers who do not also smoke tobacco; BMO’s is more limited, benefiting recreational dabblers who smoke up to two “marijuana cigarettes” per week.

“In our industry, we keep up to date with medical studies and companies update their underwriting guidelines accordingly,” Sun Life said in a statement Friday. “As a result, people who use marijuana are now assessed … at non-smoker rates, unless they also use tobacco.”

The change comes as cannabis is increasingly accepted as a medicine for various ailments, and the federal government prepares to legalize recreational possession as well.”

Read the full article here.

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