Thursday December 3, 2020



Deep Trekker Making Donations for a Cleaner Ocean in Honour of 10 Year Anniversary

Deep Trekker is donating a DTG3 ROV to Ghost Diving Foundation and matching customer donations up to $5,000 for Plastic Oceans

In honour of their 10th anniversary, leading Canadian submersible robotics company Deep Trekker is donating to two exceptional organizations working to better the health and cleanliness of the world’s oceans and lakes. “From our humble garage beginnings to sales in over 80 countries the last 10 years at Deep Trekker have been full of growth and constant innovation,” said Deep Trekker President Sam Macdonald (cover photo). “What better way to celebrate our underwater successes than to give back to organizations who are helping keep our lakes and oceans healthy.” Ghost Diving Foundation is a registered charity organization of volunteer technical divers specialized in the removal of ghost fishing gear and other marine debris. Lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing gear continues to trap and entangle wildlife leading to the unnecessary deaths of marine life. “We are thrilled to donate a DTG3 ROV to Ghost Diving Foundation. With the DTG3, Ghost Diving will have a tool that allows them to remove lost and discarded fishing gear quickly and conveniently while keeping their divers safe in treacherous conditions,” shared Macdonald. read more ...


$2 billion(!) payment to dairy farmers all about politics

The Trudeau government is raiding our pockets to send $36 from each of us to rich dairy farmers - By Sylvain Charlebois

Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau chose a Saturday, hours before a long-awaited federal economic update, to offer more non-COVID-19-related compensation to Canada’s supply-managed farmers. Eighty-one per cent of dairy farmers are located in Quebec and Ontario. Compensation was expected but how it was done was a little strange. Few in the industry knew what was going on before the announcement. And when giving money away, governments generally want as much press as possible. Not this time. It was done hours before Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s update on Canada’s dreadful deficit, due Monday. So one must wonder if these sums aren’t intended to be blended with other COVID-19-related expenditures. What’s $2 billion in funding when the deficit is over $400 billion? It’s just noise at this point and it all seemed strangely improvised. Egg and poultry farmers are getting what was expected: $691 million over several years. This is compensation for recent concessions the federal government made with Europe and Asia when trade deals were ratified. These sectors are highly integrated and competitive, so funds will be used wisely. read more ...


RCCAO calls on federal government to take immediate action to help municipalities

The Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (RCCAO) is pleased that the federal government has committed up to $100 billion over the next three years to help Canada’s economic recovery. However, immediate action is needed to ensure municipalities get help with their funding issues. “While the Fall Economic Statement indicates there will be some relief down the line, that help might come too late,” said RCCAO board chair Peter Smith. “Cities are in dire straits and, as a result of increased costs due to COVID-19, are being forced to raid their capital funds to balance their budgets. “It is imperative that the federal and provincial governments continue to work together to create financial certainty for municipalities sooner rather than later, otherwise over 40,000 workers will be out of work and looking for answers on why they are unemployed.” A report done for RCCAO by Prism Economics and Analysis shows a massive number of construction industry jobs are in jeopardy in 2021. The report, Averting a Crisis: The Need to Protect Ontario’s Infrastructure Investments, shows that 41,000 construction-related jobs will be lost if deferrals and cancellations continue based on an unprecedented 35-per-cent decline in government and institutional building permits. read more ...

PSW Growth

Partnership between Conestoga and ParaMed addresses health-care needs in eastern Ontario

Conestoga College and ParaMed are working in partnership to deliver training and help address the critical need for Personal Support Workers to serve the care needs of those in the Champlain region in eastern Ontario. “We greatly appreciate ParaMed’s commitment to supporting health-care education and training in the local community,” said Dr. Veronique Boscart (right), Executive Dean of Conestoga’s School of Health and Life Sciences. “We look forward to working in partnership to address the region’s care needs through this innovative education initiative. Beginning in January 2021, students will have to opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge required to launch their health-care careers through the completion of a 20-week PSW FAST-ONSITE program delivered online by Conestoga instructors, with clinical placements provided by local health-care organizations. read more ...

Vertical Gardening

Guelph's GoodLeaf Produce Gets Ontario Made Designation

Ontario-grown leafy greens provide fresh, healthy local food options all year long

GoodLeaf Farms entire product line of healthy, Ontario-grown leafy greens has been approved for the Ontario Made designation. Nutrient-dense microgreens and baby greens are harvested daily at GoodLeaf Farms’ innovative indoor vertical farm in Guelph, Ont., using sustainable practices and the latest technology. Because the farm is indoors, using specialized LED lighting to mimic the rays of the spring sun to optimize photosynthesis, the fully automated farm gives Ontario residents the chance to enjoy fresh local food year-round. “We are proud to grow and package our fresh microgreens and baby greens right here in Ontario,” says Jacquie Needham (photo), Accounts Manager with GoodLeaf Farms. “Ontario is a leader in agricultural innovation, and our farm leans heavily on innovation to offer what is often the only Ontario option in a mostly imported produce aisle, particularly during the winter.” read more ...


How do we get people to listen to expert advice?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us with alarming prevalence, the existence of people who simply refuse to listen to expert advice. When it comes to large groups who refuse to wear masks, or the potential for many people to refuse a vaccine – there are real and often dangerous consequences to grapple with. How do we combat this phenomenon? University of Waterloo psychology researcher Ethan Meyers talks about one method that might work. Why do people refuse to follow expert advice? This may reflect people’s tendency to be overconfident. As people tend to think they know more than they really do, they may fail to credit experts with possessing any specialized knowledge about a topic. For instance, if I (falsely) believe that I possess extensive knowledge about how COVID-19 spreads, I might not think that scientists or public health authorities know anything that I do not. If this is the case, then it might make sense why I wouldn’t listen to the experts. read more responses ...


PlantForm research partnership awarded NSERC Alliance grant to enable commercial-scale production of protein drugs

Grant supports U of Alberta scientist’s advancement of glycoengineering technology for plant-derived proteins

PlantForm Corporation and University of Alberta scientist Dr. Warren Wakarchuk have received an Alliance Grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) for research to enable commercial-scale production of effective, low-cost, plant-made protein drugs, including an antidote to chemical nerve agents. The Wakarchuk lab is a world leader in pioneering the use of enzymes to make or remodel glycans — complex chains of sugar molecules on proteins and the surface of cells that play a key role in regulating immune cell signalling and function. PlantForm’s plant-based manufacturing system for large-molecule protein drugs (biologics) requires glycan remodelling on proteins to effectively mimic human glycan structures to reduce the risk of rejection and to improve the circulating life time of the protein. The two-year project, supported by $184,000 from NSERC plus a $92,000 cash and in-kind investment by PlantForm, will focus on using in vitro glycan remodelling to improve the efficacy and serum half-life of butyrylcholinesterase (BuChE), a countermeasure for chemical nerve agents such as soman and sarin, made using PlantForm’s proprietary plant-based vivoXPRESS® platform. read more ...

Vaccine Rollout

Ontario Collaborates with Industry Experts to Plan the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Immunization Program will be the Largest Logistical Undertaking in a Generation; Ontario will be ready by December 31, 2020 to receive vaccines, with the first doses of vaccines expected to be made available in 2021.

The Ontario government is collaborating with leaders and experts in a wide variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, health care and logistics, to develop a plan for the safe and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. Partnerships across these sectors are critical as Ontario prepares to handle one of the largest vaccine rollouts in its history. "This is a massive undertaking and here in Ontario we are fortunate to have the health, industry and logistical expertise to get the job done," said Premier Ford. "To support our planning, I've been on the phone with the Prime Minister, my fellow Premiers, the vaccine manufacturers, distributors, storage experts, and the health care sector to make sure we can roll out this vaccine when ready as quickly and efficiently as possible. I will continue to press the federal government for more information on the status of these vaccines." Ontario will be leveraging the expertise and resources from both the public and private sectors, who already play an important role in supporting the storage, distribution, transportation, administration, tracking and monitoring of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in the province. These partnerships will be essential in supporting the province's large-scale logistical efforts for Ontario's COVID-19 vaccination program led by General Hillier. Distribution channels will depend on the details provided by the federal government about the requirements for specific vaccines, such as ultra-cold storage, timing of delivery, and priority populations for vaccination. read more ...


Manulife Bank's Janine Barry named to WXN Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada

Janine Barry (right), AVP, Digital Engagement, Manulife Bank has been recognized by the Women's Executive Network (WXN) as one of Canada's Most Powerful Women. The award recognizes the professional achievements of strong leaders across the country. Manulife is on a digital acceleration path, leveraging the powerful thought leadership it has across the organization to produce the best ideas. Barry has played an instrumental role in supporting the way Manulife Bank does business. She has been active in driving the organization's move to Agile delivery, pioneering and championing human-centered design (HCD), and acting as a thought leader to share her knowledge throughout the company. "Janine is an innovator who advocated for HCD and Agile before the methods became mainstays in the industry, understanding their benefits early," said Rick Lunny, President and CEO, Manulife Bank. "Together with her team, Janine is fueling the future of high-level user experiences for customers and putting Manulife Bank at the forefront of digital banking." On its path to become a digital, customer-centric leader, Manulife strives to accelerate ideas into execution by aiming to deliver quick, valuable and impactful experiences for customers and employees alike. read more ...


How Canada can cut global emissions and boost its economy

By Gwyn Morgan

What can Canada do to reduce global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions while creating substantial economic benefits? My October column explained why attempting to replace fossil-fuel-generated electricity with wind and solar energy is technically impossible and economically disastrous. Here’s another solution: Export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to replace coal-fuelled electricity generation. This will cut coal plant emissions in half while creating tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in economic benefits. The impact of replacing coal with natural gas is clearly illustrated south of the border, where it has helped drive down U.S. emissions by 14 per cent since 2005. Switching from coal to natural gas has also been a key driver of the European Union’s world-leading emissions reduction. read more ...


Study Proves Bits of DNA in Seawater Correlate to the Weight of Netted Fish

New tool will help census oceans from surface to seafloor, monitor fish, track shifting marine life due to climate change, around coral reefs, aquaculture or wind farms, oil rigs, and more; "eDNA makes the ocean a sea of biological information"

Humanity is a step closer to answering one of the most ancient of questions -- "how many fish in the sea?" -- thanks to newly-published proof that the amount of fish DNA collected in a water sample closely corresponds to kilos of fish captured in a trawl with nets.
In a breakthrough study, scientists report that floating bits of DNA found in small water samples reveal the relative biomass of fish in the sea roughly as well as a "gold standard" US state government trawl with nets. The researchers drew seawater samples during New Jersey government fish trawls and tested the water for fish DNA. Analysis of the water was able to reveal the relative abundance of fish with a 70% match in results between the two sampling methods. In addition to the great concordance between methods, the study found that each sampling method yielded information missed by the other. more ...


Cambridge Council endorse contribution from Hallman Construction Ltd. for new park

Monday night, Cambridge City Council endorsed a proposed contribution from Hallman Construction Ltd. (HCL) of up to $2.5 million towards a new community park within the soon-to-be developed Cambridge West subdivision; Westwood Village. “This is indeed exciting news for Cambridge,” said Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “HCL has a very successful local track record of community-building with a focus on child and youth wellbeing and we’re thrilled to welcome them on board for this project.” HCL and City staff have been collaboratively developing a concept design since the expression of interest earlier this year. The draft concept is for a community park and splashpad. The monetary contribution of between $2 - 2.5 million will provide funding for design, construction and six years of maintenance. The park will incorporate Council-approved Westwood Village design guidelines. HCL is one of four developers constructing the Westwood Village subdivision. read more ...


Most Canadian Companies Continue to Struggle to Realize Full Business Value from their Cloud Initiatives, Report Finds

One in four organizations are hindered by unexpected complications with cloud migrations

Despite years of focused effort, many Canadian enterprises are still struggling to realize the full value of their cloud investments, a new report from Accenture reveals. In its latest report, "Sky High Hopes: Navigating the Barriers to Maximizing Cloud Value," Accenture surveyed 750 senior business and IT professionals at large enterprises across 11 industries and 17 countries, including Canada. It found that just 34% of Canadian companies say they are achieving the full value expected on their cloud investments, compared to 37% of companies globally. While value realization has never been more important, 51% of Canadian business and IT leaders say they are "very satisfied" with their cloud outcomes, compared to 45% globally. Moreover, just 18% of Canadian businesses are completely confident that their organization's cloud migration initiatives will deliver the expected value at the expected time. Accenture's report highlights that, when businesses have gone more heavily into the cloud, outcomes are significantly better. Looking globally, 46% of high adopters report fully achieving their expected cloud benefits, compared to 36% of moderate adopters and 28% of low adopters. read more ...


City of Cambridge Council approves 2021 Budget: "Our City. Our Future."

Cambridge City Council approved the 2021 Budget and Business Plan this evening, concluding the 2021 Budget process. Council approved a property tax increase of 1.27 per cent, which is less than the forecasted cost of inflation, and represents $17.95/year for the average household. It is the lowest tax rate in the City of Cambridge in the last decade. Council also voted to keep water utility rates the same in 2021. “This is a sensible budget that reflects our current financial circumstances due to the unprecedented and challenging situation we have found ourselves in this year,” said Mayor Kathryn McGarry (right). “Throughout this process, our mission has been to lessen the tax burden on our residents and to support the road to economic recovery.” The 2021 capital portion of the budget represents a $70.9 million investment for new infrastructure and to support growth of the city, as well as the rehabilitation and replacement of existing infrastructure. The operating portion dedicates $124,736,000 million towards the daily costs of running city services, excluding water and sewer services. read more ...


UW President Hamdullahpur names President’s Community Impact Award winners

Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo (right), has named this year’s President’s Community Impact Award winners. Ambika Opal and Paul Parker will receive the Community Leader awards for their outstanding volunteerism and community outreach. Community organizations Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre and KW Legacy Leaders will receive the University Champion awards. Sanctuary Refugee Health Centre in recognition of the important research partnerships they have formed with Waterloo and KW Legacy Leaders in recognition of their support for students. “I learned at Waterloo to apply an innovative mindset to all aspects of my work, including community action and support,” said Opal, a board member at the Social Development Centre Waterloo Region and Reep Green Solutions, and an active volunteer at Reception House Waterloo Region. “I am honoured to receive this award and thank President Hamdullahpur for the chance to highlight some of the amazing work being done by the organizations that I am engaged with.” read more ...

Covid-19 Closures

ROW Medical Officer of Health issues follow-up orders for Affiliated Places of Worship and Parochial Schools

Orders were issued yesterday to close affiliated parochial schools and places of worship, effective immediately, as mentioned in the November 30 release regarding the Section 22 Class Order issued to the Old Order, Markham, Old Colony, and David Martin Mennonite communities in Waterloo Region. Public Health has worked with church leaders so that they were prepared to enact the requirements in these orders. Places of worship may be open to allow a gathering of no more than 10 people indoors or 25 outdoors for the purposes of a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony. Any decision to issue an order is not made lightly and the decision to issue these orders was made most reluctantly. Despite continual efforts in the last few weeks among health care partners, community partners, and community leaders and members working together to slow the spread, insufficient cooperation among a number of individuals with public health requirements (including the requirements to self-isolate, not attend work when sick, and identify high-risk contacts for Public Health) was putting these communities at a continual and growing risk and having a spillover effect into the broader population. read more ...

Future Child Care

Region of Waterloo to focus on its role as service system manager of child care and early learning

By late 2021, the Region of Waterloo will no longer operate its five licensed child care centres, as it focuses on its role as service system manager of child care and early learning. The Region will immediately implement a transition plan for the currently enrolled families. A plan to implement the funding redistribution to support the entire system more equitably will also be put in place. The decision was made at a special meeting of Regional Council on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. In making the decision, the Region recognized the vital importance of quality licensed child care in our community as well as the important role child care provides in workforce participation of parents, especially mothers. The Region also recognized that child care plays a vital role in the recovery of the local economy and that high quality child care outcomes is especially important for vulnerable children. The decision will allow the Region to invest system-wide, to ensure that a delicate child care system will be as stable as possible for all parents post-pandemic. As part of a comprehensive service review, KPMG spoke to funding inequities across the system, indicating that for the amount of funding the Region allocates to operate 200 of its own child care spaces, it could have supported another 350 to 791 licensed spaces operated by programs in the community.
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November 13 - December 20

Art$Pay & Farwell4Hire Together!

Get excited for incredible art from some of the region's most talented practitioners AND shop for a good cause! The Art$Pay artists are teaming up with Farwell4Hire and raising money for Cystic Fibrosis. This year Art$Pay is taking our Annual Member Show in a new direction - a unique two part event designed in response to the pandemic and with something for everyone. Part One will be totally virtual so you can enjoy the art from the comfort of your home. We’ll be turning the Art$Pay website homepage into a virtual shopping catalogue of our members’ original art, including an online silent auction and art picks from these well-known people in our community … more ...

December 5, 2020

Volunteerism During a Pandemic: International Volunteer Day 2020

The Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region is reaching out to thank volunteers as part of International Volunteer Day on December 5th while also hoping to encourage others who are willing and able to also consider doing so. “We are grateful to everyone who volunteers in our community” Jane Hennig (right) Executive Director Volunteer Action Centre Waterloo Region. “Our region is strong and resilient in a large part to the volunteers who contribute their time and skills to the many services and programs in our community”. December 5th is International Volunteer Day, a day that the UN has dedicated to appreciating volunteers since 1985. This year the theme “Together We Can” aims to thank volunteers for their actions and showcase the impact of volunteering during the COVID-19 crisis. read more ...


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