8 Sep 2011

Canada’s economic competitiveness slips

Canada suffered a bit of a setback recently, as a new report from the Conference Board of Canada indicates the country fell two spots to 12th overall in global competitiveness rankings.The rankings are based upon the responses from 14,000 business leaders in 142 countries and their assessment of how business friendly the variety of economies were.While Canada's competitiveness score this year mirrored previous years', other nations showed marked improvement, particularly developing nations."Canada should not be satisfied with its 12th place ranking," said Michael Bloom, vice president of organizational effectiveness and learning at the Conference Board. "Businesses continue to underperform in using our peoples' skills and knowledge to generate new or improved products, processes or services."Canada's areas of strength included its health systems, labor market and primary education system.For the third-straight year, Switzerland had the highest competitiveness ranking. Other leading nations were Singapore, Finland Sweden and the United States.The effectiveness of business operations often relies on having the resources available to…

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7 Sep 2011

People continue to flock to Toronto, as the latest housing report from the Toronto Real Estate Board indicates home sales were swift last month.According to the TREB, in August, more than 7,500 properties were sold in the GTA, a rise of 24 percent in year-over-year sales. Last year during the same 31-day period, just under 6,100 homes were purchased.While sales increased, the ability to afford a home in the GTA did not, as the report indicated the average home sold for $451,663 – a price hike of 10 percent when compared to August 2010.Richard Silver, president of the TREB, said home affordability could be aided, however, with the removal of the land transfer tax, which officials are not expected to…

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6 Sep 2011

While global economic uncertainty grips much of the world, a majority of Canadians don't think they'll lose their jobs as a result, according to a new survey.Fifty-one percent of Canadians said they are confident they will have their job for at least the remainder of the year, a Bank of Montreal Labor Day poll recently reported.Michael Gregory, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets, said that the country's economy has the weathered the world's financial crisis well."The Canadian labour market has performed admirably, recovering all the jobs lost during the recessing by January," said Gregory. "The unemployment rate is currently 7.2 per cent compared to a recession-high of 8.7 per cent."Also commenting on the study was BMO's president of commercial banking,…

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2 Sep 2011

With the arrival of Labor Day, Ontarians everywhere will be having one last hurrah this weekend as the summer of 2011 draws to a close. With many parties taking place on the province's variety of lakes, Ontario Power Generation and the Ontario Provincial Police urge locals to celebrate responsibly and safely."Ontario's waterways are a great place to enjoy the holiday weekend if you are prepared," said Larry Beechey, who heads the OPP's traffic safety and operational support division. "Wear your personal floatation device, particularly in smaller boats, and don't mix your boating with alcohol."To make sure Ontarians practice safe boating and driving habits, the OPP said it will maintain a high presence of heavily trafficked highways, lakes and rivers.John Murphy,…

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1 Sep 2011

A new poll indicates that employees are generally unimpressed with companies, both large and small, and state they need to do more for their workers.The survey, conducted by Harris/Decima, found that of 1,000 Canadian twenty-somethings and baby boomers polled the two age groups had a great deal in common. For instance, among both generations, more than one in three agree that younger workers are not utilized to their fullest potential. In addition, one in three baby boomers and twenty-somethings also believe small and large businesses lack vision and could be more productive.Peter Gilfillan, senior vice president of international sales for the company that funded the study, Monster Canada, said businesses need to do more if they want to grow."We know…

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26 Aug 2011

As much of the year 2011 has shown – in North America and many other continents as well – environmental disasters can occur anywhere and at anytime. Thus, it's important to know what items to keep in storage should there be an emergency. To help, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has put together a list of things property owners may want to move to their storage unit so they don't cause serious damage when a storm approaches. For instance, in windy conditions that can result from tornadoes and hurricanes, the source says homeowners should be sure to bring all outdoor furniture, decorations and lawn equipment into a safely sheltered area, as they may become projectiles. In addition to moving things…

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25 Aug 2011

A new survey reveals where some of Canadians' longest commutes are located. And according to the poll, Toronto tops the list.Statistics Canada reports that among full-time workers in Canada, Toronto-area drivers tend to get stuck in traffic jams most often at 29 percent, followed by Montreal and Vancouver at 26 percent and 25 percent, respectively.The report also detailed the average commute time for Canadians. At 33 minutes, Toronto travellers had the longest average.Despite the long travel times, the survey also found that workers were generally unconcerned with their length. For instance, 85 percent of commuters said they were satisfied with the commute period, with 15 percent being dissatisfied.In addition, the survey detailed the modes in which Canadians travelled. At 82…

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24 Aug 2011

Despite being 500 miles away from the epicenter of the earthquake that recently hit Virginia, Toronto felt the 5.8 magnitude temblor, according to reports.The quake reportedly hit Mineral, Virginia, around 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23, and a number of major cities reported feeling the after effects shortly thereafter."It was a shallow earthquake, literally almost right at the surface," said CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles. "That means the energy is a little more focused. Instead of travelling up and out, the path of the quake just radiates outwards."A resident of Niagara Falls told the news source the tremors from the quake lasted roughly two minutes. Many buildings across the city and in others along the East Coast of the U.S. were…

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23 Aug 2011

Told the Toronto Blue Jays plan to overhaul its uniforms for the 2012 season, three clothing designers from the city were asked by the Toronto Sun recently to come up with a new style for the team.Designers Shawn Hewson, Christopher Bates and Michael Budman each took a whack at creating a new look for the team by providing the newspaper with sketches for the entire outfit – pants, jersey, socks, cleats and hat."My concept was to have the maple leaf be fairly prominent but also done in a tasteful, fashion kind of way," Bates told the paper. Budman stated his drawing revealed a more classic, old-school look, while Hewson said his sketch was a throwback to the team's original uniforms.One…

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22 Aug 2011

While graffiti on building walls is nothing new to the world of public art, spray-painting abandoned bicycles scattered throughout Toronto has become the latest trend in chic city art, reports say.The Good Bike Project began after one Toronto woman spotted a months-long abandoned bike and decided to turn the trashed item into art by giving it a neon pink coat of spray paint. Since that one bike was painted, numerous other forsaken bikes have become the focus of beautification by locals.While some citizens don't like the bright, refurbished bicycle – and others like it around the city – many are enthused by the initiative."Ninety-nine per cent of the reaction has been really, really positive," Vanessa Nicholas, who helped form the…

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19 Aug 2011

Fans of sea life in Toronto will get to see a variety of creatures in person, as construction of a new aquarium recently commenced.According to reports, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, located in front of the CN Tower, began construction this month. The $130 million project is expected to create roughly 600 jobs and $50 million in revenues, CityNews reports.Also, more than 13,000 fresh and salt water creatures will reside at the aquarium, which will have roughly 5.7-million litres of water."There are two things that are good" about the aquarium, Jim Pattison, President of Ripley's Entertainment, told the source. "It's a good tourist opportunity, certainly. But I think even more importantly it's a really nice asset for the families of the…

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18 Aug 2011

Balloon artists, clowns, dances and other festivities recently took place at the fifth annual BuskerFest Children's Picnic in Toronto, at which more than 500 children from area camps spent the day, the Toronto Sun reports.Additionally, the kids, their parents and other guests were treated to free food from St. Lawrenece Market, according to the newspaper."This is a fun assignment because you get to meet all the kids and I love this neighbourhood," auxilary officer Terry Birkett, who patrolled the event, told the paper. "It is so interesting and dynamic."The picnic is a precursor to the 12th Annual BunkerFest – the largest North American festival, according to event entertainment director Mackenzie Muldoon – which runs in the city from August 25…

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17 Aug 2011

With public exposure to food trucks increasing throughout North America, it was only a matter of time before the craze for the movable feasts came to the Toronto area and other major Canadian metros, reports say.According to Yahoo Canada, many residents of Toronto, Vancouver and Edmonton, among other Canadian cities, have shown they are content with the limited number of food trucks conducting business in their communities.Zane Caplansky, a food truck owner who does business in Toronto, told the National Post that people all over the city enjoy his food – and at all times of the day."The licence is restrictive and arbitrary, but when we showed up on Ossington at two in the morning and people started clapping, you…

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16 Aug 2011

Homebuying activity in Toronto last month mimicked the national trend, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. In other words, home sales were stable in July when compared to June.According to the CREA, the July national sales-to-new listings ratio was 51.8 percent, a moderate change compared to 52.3 percent in June.On a year-over-year basis, actual sales activity rose 12.3 percent in July. Through the first seven months of the year, approximately 284,537 homes have changed hands, which is 1.6 percent lower through the same period in 2010.Gary Morse, CREA president, said the report indicates real estate is a worthwhile investment for Canadians."Mortgage interest rates are low and keeping home affordability within reach, making it an excellent time for buyers to…

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16 Aug 2011

Some of Canada's major corporations are expected to see revenues fall in the second half of the year, according to the latest report issued by the Conference Board of Canada.Based on the CBC's Leading Indicator of Industry Profitability index, earnings will falll for the first time in more than a year.Lin Ai, an economist with with the CBC, said Canadian businesses are being affected by global instability in countries' financial markets."The dismal economic recovery south of the border, as well as supply-chain disruptions linked to the Japanese earthquake and the dampening effects of rising inflation on consumer spending have all contributed to the deteriorating profitability outlook," said Ai.While most of the losses are believed to affect the manufacturing sector, the…

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15 Aug 2011

At Jiffy Self-Storage, we put a premium on making sure our renters' belongings are secure. And we do it to avoid what happened to the tenants of two storage unit facilities in the U.S.According to the Gaylord Herald Times, 60 storage units were broken into by thieves on August 10 in Gaylord, Michigan.In an interview with the paper, Joe FitzGerald, the town's police chief, said he and his fellow officers have been trying to get in touch with the owners of the units to get an idea of what's been stolen.Robert Krupa, a state trooper investigating the break-in of a separate storage facility, told the source jewelry and a Moped had been taken from one of the units.Officers believe the…

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12 Aug 2011

Due to rising gas prices and the popularity of bike sharing programs, more Torontonians are driving to various destinations on two wheels instead of four. But according to the Ontario Medical Association, the province isn't as bicycle-friendly as it should be.The OMA is urging the provincial government to enact policies that will help make cycling safer for everyone, as it will encourage more people to take advantage of an ideal form of exercise."Two-thirds of Canadians are inactive, putting them at greater risk of chronic disease," said Stewart Kennedy, president of the OMA. "Cycling is a great a way to stay fit and a way for people of all ages to add essential physical activity to their daily lives and improve…

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12 Aug 2011

Christmas may be more than four months away, but it's never too early to start thinking about how to deck the halls. Thus, if Torontonians are thinking about heading to the western half of the country for a visit, or to go on vacation, they may want to consider stopping at one of Canada's largest gift shows.The Canadian Gift and Tableware Association recently announced there will be 530 craft exhibitors at the Alberta Gift Show, which will be held at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Expecting more than 13,000 people to be in attendance, the CGTA says visitors will have the upper hand on decorating, as the latest furnishings will be on display. There will also be a number of innovative…

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11 Aug 2011

A new study is detailing the amenities Canadian business owners and travellers prefer when deciding on what hotel to stay in.According to the Canadian Hotel Food and Beverage Consumer Trend Report, having a wide variety of dining and food service options at a hotel is a particular draw for long-distance Canadian commuters."Darren Tristano, executive vice-president for the company that performed the study, Technomic, said Canadians put a premium on practicality and expedience."Many consumers are looking for a convenient and relaxing dining experience after a day of travel or before a day of meetings," said Tristano. "Providing them with a variety of quality food service options on premise drives traffic and enhances the guest experience.The survey also detailed what food service…

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