Thursday February 25, 2021


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MONITOR

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Pub Notes

exchangemagazine.com to retire, Publisher to focus on other projects

To all of ExchangeMagazine.com's valued readers, important advertisers and amazing contributors, 31 years is a long time working in the same department

Last year, in the Q3 and Q4 Print Editions of Exchange Magazine, I hinted at some significant changes to come. In the Q4 edition I announced that the print edition, the one that has been published by Exchange Business Communications. Inc. and distributed by Canada Post over the last 38 years, was being shuttered.
Today comes another announcement. Effective immediately, exchangemagazine.com will be retiring from the aggregate business and economic development news and distribution side of publishing. As publisher, I will be focusing on other, dare I say, "more enjoyable pursuits" while playing around with digital media and the various social media platforms that will continue to develop and change the way we interact. Starting next week, subscribers will no longer receive Exchange's Tuesday and Thursday edition. In fact, there will be no more editions at all. As a result, subscribers, some dating back to 2007, will no longer receive Exchange Magazine's Tuesday and Thursday Edition via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or FaceBook.
more ...


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Survey

The next new vehicle purchase for nearly 70 per cent of Canadians will be an electric model

Infrastructure investment needed to accelerate adoption of EVs in Canada as concerns persist over battery life and range

Seven in 10 Canadians (68 per cent) who plan to buy a new vehicle within the next five years are likely to buy an electric vehicle (EV), either pure or hybrid, although the lack of a robust charging infrastructure, battery life and range and the purchase price remain persistent concerns, finds a new survey by KPMG in Canada. "Canada's automotive industry is nearing the tipping point, with nearly 70 per cent of Canadians indicating that they're looking to buy an electric vehicle not in a decade's time but in the next five years," says Peter Hatges, Partner, National Sector Leader, Automotive, KPMG in Canada. "Our poll research illustrates huge consumer demand in Canada for EVs, putting the onus on manufacturers and governments alike to shift gears not only to meet the expected surge in EV sales but to invest heavily in the necessary infrastructure." Key Survey Findings:


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Rollout Study

Human rights law provides transparent, fair framework for vaccine allocations

As governments around the world grapple with how to fairly allocate COVID-19 vaccines for maximum protection against the pandemic, an international research team proposes that existing human rights law should act as a guide for politicians and policymakers. Western University’s Maxwell Smith (right), an expert in public health ethics co-authored a new study promoting a human rights approach to vaccine distribution that considers social vulnerability along with medical needs in decision-making. The study was led by University of Warwick law professor Sharifah Sekalala. “National vaccine rollouts should take into account these overlapping vulnerabilities,” said Smith, a professor in Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences and co-director of the university’s Health Ethics, Law, and Policy (HELP) Lab. As a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, Smith helped to develop Ontario’s Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution, a blueprint emphasizing that all levels of government have a legal obligation to take preventative steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and treat people without discrimination.


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Remote Axeman

Toronto Star Consults U of G Downsizing Researcher

Dr. Nita Chhinzer (photo), a professor in the Department of Management in U of G’s Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics, spoke to the Toronto Star about the downsides of video-call layoffs. The article noted that several Canadian corporations have recently laid off employees en masse through short and largely impersonal video conference calls. Chhinzer said while conference calls can be the easiest way for companies to conduct layoffs in the age of remote work, the experience is isolating for employees and deprives them of the opportunity to understand the reasons for their termination. “It’s extremely isolating, being laid off at home. We don’t get to meet face-to-face and discuss what happened, we don’t get the same kind of warnings to help us prepare for negative organizational events,” she said. “….It’s depersonalized and ignores our need for more of a back-and-forth.”


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Environment

World's First Experimental Study links Dog Waste to Environmental Pollution

Canada’s fight against harmful pollutants to the environment is going to the dogs – literally.

The first-ever scientific study on the impact of dog feces on urban fish populations, completed by Kitchener-based Biotactic Fisheries Research and Monitoring, has linked the consequence of dog waste on fish survival, weight, and behaviour. Creek Chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) from the Grand River watershed were used because of the species’ known tolerance to poor water. The findings are alarming. Reduced foraging efficiency, decreased reproductive development, and increased vulnerability to predators mean surviving populations are experiencing overall diminished health and fitness. This may have repercussions on the future of the country’s wild fish population … and put Canadians in some serious doo-doo. “This is ground-breaking research,” says Bernard Melloul (photo), Chairman and Founder of Melloul-Blamey Construction, which funded the study. “It removes any uncertainty about the theoretical link between dog waste and water quality, and the possible harm this has on marine life.”


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Education

New program to create huge increase in PSW training at Ontario's colleges

The new accelerated training program for personal support workers (PSWs) announced today by the provincial government will produce a huge increase in the PSW training at Ontario's colleges. "This is a major step in filling the demand for more personal support workers," said Linda Franklin, the president and CEO of Colleges Ontario. "This will strengthen the quality of care throughout Ontario and bolster the fight against COVID-19." The Ontario government announced funding today for an accelerated program that will cover students' tuition and other expenses. The accelerated program starts April 5 and allows participants to graduate with full credentials within six months. The program will begin accepting applications in early March. The added enrolment is expected to result in over 8,000 PSW graduates by this fall. The accelerated program allows students to fulfil the program requirements more quickly by increasing the number of study hours per week.


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Water

U of G Researcher Partners With Local Company to Study Drinking Well Water

A One Health researcher at the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is leading a US$3.6-million study focused on reducing preventable waterborne disease in residential drinking well water. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health in the United States. Dr. Heather Murphy, who recently joined OVC’s Department of Pathobiology as a Canada Research Chair in One Health, will explore illness-causing microbes in residential well water in southeastern Pennsylvania, the impacts on families with young children and the effectiveness of home water treatment systems. The study is called the Wells and Enteric disease Transmission (WET) Trial. Murphy heads the Water, Health and Applied Microbiology Laboratory (WHAM Lab), which is split between OVC and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Public Health at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the study is taking place.


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Rollout Registration

Phase One pre-registration system for COVID-19 Vaccine launches in Waterloo Region

High-priority groups can now pre-register for COVID-19 vaccination in Waterloo Region. Those identified as part of Phase One of the province’s vaccination roll-out plan, including Adults 80+, are encouraged to register to be contacted for a vaccine appointment. Appointments are for as early as this week, and will continue based on vaccine availability.


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AI

U of T researchers train AI to read difficult-to-decipher medieval texts

Researchers at U of T and at University College, London are training software, called Transkribus, to read and transcribe hand-written Latin, which is often full of strange spellings, hyphenations and abbreviations - by Rachel Lott

In a move that could transform manuscript studies, University of Toronto researchers have partnered with a team in the United Kingdom to develop a program that can read and transcribe the handwritten Latin found in 13th-century legal manuscripts. While scholars have been making digital images of these manuscripts for years, transcribing and comparing these texts is painstaking and tedious work that can take years or even decades to complete. That's because medieval handwriting can often look crabbed and unintelligible, with non-standardized spellings, hyphenations, abbreviations, calligraphic flourishes and any number of distinct “hands.” But machine-reading software called Transkribus promises to change the field. Using artificial intelligence (AI), the software can theoretically be trained to read any type of handwriting, in any language – and Michael Gervers (photo), a professor of medieval social and economic history at U of T Scarborough, says it could eventually be applied across medieval studies.


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Economic Prosperity

ICF Names the Smart21 Communities of 2021

Communities from eight nations, including Vietnam and the United Kingdom, named this year:
At the conclusion of a virtual conference hosted by the Township of Langley and the City of Maple Ridge in British Columbia, Canada, and in a simultaneous global announcement online from its New York City headquarters, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named the world’s Smart21 Communities of 2021. Selection of this group of regions, cities and towns begins the think tank’s annual nine-month process which will conclude when ICF names the 2021 Intelligent Community of the Year in October 2021 at the ICF Summit. Each has applied the six principles of the ICF Method to begin building inclusive economic prosperity, social health and cultural richness, which together make a community strong and resilient. Most have been working on their programs for several years.


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Budgets

Perplexing Budgets Overstate Financial Pain of Cities

Budget debate anxiety over cities’ fiscal health tells a misleading story, according to a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In fact, Canada’s biggest municipalities were in robust health in the run-up to 2020. The 31 largest by population tallied an aggregate surplus of over $10 billion in 2019. In “Puzzling Plans and Surprise Surpluses: Canada’s Cities Need More Transparent Budgets,” William B.P. Robson and Miles Wu look at the annual budgetary projections for spending and the bottom line in the 31 municipalities over a decade (2010 to 2019) and compare them to the results reported in those municipalities’ year-end financial statements. Their financial statements reveal that Canada’s biggest cities and municipalities ran large surpluses, with Toronto leading the pack with a $1.6 billion surplus, followed by Calgary at $1.3 billion. Montreal’s surplus was $884 million, and Ottawa’s $860 million.


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Budget

Interest costs reach $12.5 billion in Ontario, $1.8 billion more than the government will spend on post-secondary education

The Ontario government will spend more on interest costs in 2020-21 than post-secondary education, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan, Canadian public policy think-tank. “Interest must be paid on government debt, and the more money governments spend on interest payments the less money is available for the programs and services that matter to Ontarians,” said Steve Lafleur, a senior policy analyst at the Fraser Institute and author of Federal and Provincial Debt Interest Costs for Canadians. The study finds that taxpayers across Canada will pay a total of $49.6 billion—or about $4 billion a month—in interest payments for the federal and provincial debts this year alone.


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No Idlers

Kitchener continues to ‘change for the good’ with new anti-idling bylaw

In keeping with the City’s strategic vision to create a healthy and livable community, Kitchener council has passed a new anti-idling bylaw, requiring motorists to turn off their engines after 3 consecutive minutes of idling, unless in traffic. The new bylaw is just one of several actions taken by the City as part of its Community Climate Action Plan to achieve its goal of 80 per cent reduction in community-level greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “Each of us has a role to play in building a healthier and more sustainable future for our City,” said Councillor Margaret Johnson. “Idling creates unnecessary air pollution, emitting more than 40 hazardous pollutants into the air we breathe. Shutting off your engine, instead of idling, is one small step that has a big impact on our community, making it safer and more livable now and for future generations.” The bylaw, which is now in effect, makes exceptions for extreme weather conditions when the ambient temperatures inside a vehicle are above 27 degrees Celsius or below 5 degrees Celsius.


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