Archive | May, 2016

Aziz Ansari: TV’s new romantic

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Aziz Ansari: TV’s new romantic

By Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson

As people who shoot in New York, we know there’s no way to have an on-location show there that’s generic. It always ends up becoming specific. And on Netflix’s Master of None, you see New York through Aziz Ansari’s eyes. Each episode is its own little experience: the way Aziz talks about his ethnicity and career is so interesting, and the entertainment-industry world he writes about is hysterical and on point.

Our shows are really different; Aziz shows people in a slightly more settled phase of life. As Dev, an aspiring actor, Aziz is looking for love in a more openly sentimental way than we usually see on TV. It’s inspiring to see him experiment and break the mold. The episode “Mornings,” a time lapse of days Aziz’s character spends with his girlfriend, felt different from anything on TV; so did “Nashville,” where his foodie character missed a flight because he was buying barbecue sauce.

Aziz is obsessed with food too. When we went to Mission Chinese Food with him, we just let him order. We knew it would be good—and it was amazing.

Sundar Pichai: The Internet’s chief engineer

By Bill Nye

Sundar Pichai has helped change the world. Last summer he became the CEO of Google. You can look him up, er, I mean, you can Google him. He was the head guy on Google Drive. That’s the original term for “the cloud.” He worked on Google Chrome, Gmail and Android phones. A great many of us can’t tell which side of a street we’re on without checking Google Maps. He was born in Chennai, India, to a middle-class family, and discovered an aptitude for numbers when his family got its first telephone, a rotary, when he was 12.

He is an engineer. So is his wife. Engineers use science to solve problems and make things. Engineering applies a combination of logic and intuition to problem solving. It’s a way of thinking that leaves one well suited to run a company. We are all watching for what he produces next.

 

Raghuram Rajan: India’s prescient banker

By Rana Foroohar

Economic seers don’t come along too often, but Raghuram Rajan, the economist currently serving as the governor of the central bank of India, is one of them. While serving as the youngest chief economist of the IMF from 2003 to 2006, he predicted the subprime crisis that would lead to the Great Recession, standing up to critics like former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who labeled him a Luddite.

Since then, more and more of the economic establishment has come to share Rajan’s view that debt-fueled growth is just a saccharine substitute for the real thing. As he argued in his book Fault Lines, credit has become a palliative to address the deeper anxieties of downward mobility in the global middle class.

Debt hasn’t gone away since Rajan issued his warnings. In fact, it grew by $57 trillion from 2007 to 2014. But he steered India through the global crisis and fallout, playing a large role in making it one of the emerging-market stars of the moment.

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Ending child-care wait-list fees is a break for parents: Editorial

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

It’s bad enough that there are licensed child-care spots for less than 25 per cent of Ontario’s young children. But the fact that some child care facilities charge a wait-list fee only adds insult to injury for parents trying to navigate this competitive and complicated system.

It’s especially concerning for parents because there is no way of knowing where you stand on a wait-list, or even if some parents are paying more to jump the queue.

Finally, for parents putting their names on multiple wait-lists in an effort to secure a licensed spot — or any spot — for their child, it can be expensive.

Just ask Sara Ehrhardt, who estimates she and her spouse Glenn Gustafson have spent $400 on wait-list fees in their quest to secure a spot for their son, Clarence, in Toronto’s east end.

So it’s welcome news that the province posted regulations this week to ban child-care wait-list fees in licensed centres and homes by Sept. 1.

The new rules were introduced just three months after the Star reported on a petition to end the practice launched by two Toronto lawyers decrying wait list fees of $10 to $200 at some facilities.

Under the proposed new rules, licensed child-care centres and home daycare agencies would be required to develop a public wait-list policy that sets out the order in which children on the list are offered admission. Parents will be able to monitor their wait list status in a way that ensures confidentiality.

It’s all good news for parents seeking child-care spots. But the best news of all would be for the federal government to establish a universal child care network that would end the shortage of licensed spaces and immediately put a stop to wait-list fees.

Parents can only hope.

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Canada’s major telecoms set to leap in to 5G technology

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Canada’s major telecom operators are taking early steps toward the next great leap in wireless technology.

Bell, Rogers and Telus are all participating in a global effort to develop operating standards for fifth generation wireless networks, with Bell Canada, the nation’s largest telecommunications company, set to begin testing of the emerging architecture.

“Bell [has] built a reputation for broadband network leadership and we plan to be out front on 5G too,” said Mark Langton, a spokesman for Bell Canada parent, Montreal-based BCE Inc.

“We’ll begin 5G trials shortly and are involved in writing the 5G specs as a member of the Next Generation Mobile Networks consortium.”

Telus is partnering with third parties to research and test the evolving standards in a 5G Living Lab at the company’s Vancouver home base, while Toronto-based Rogers Communications is taking part in standards setting through the various industry bodies involved.

Rogers spokesperson Andrew Garas, however, noted that 5G isn’t a technology standard yet and likely won’t be for at least a couple of years adding that “we don’t have any details to share on future plans.” And while 5G remains in a conceptual phase, Canadian operators have a new impetus to act after the Ontario government in March announced a partnership with Chinese networking gear maker Huawei aimed at accelerating the development process in the interest of economic growth.

Participation in 5G development allows operators and equipment manufacturers input on specification requirements being codified for a network technology that aims to meet demand for digital content that is taxing the capacity of existing third-and fourth generation systems.

 

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Provincial Parks Free of Charge on July 15

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Ontario’s provincial parks will be open to the public free of charge on July 15 this year for all day-use visitors, as part of the world-wide Healthy Parks Healthy People movement.

Started in Australia, Healthy Parks Healthy People reinforces and encourages the connections between a healthy environment and a healthy society.

Many Ontario parks will be offering a number of fun activities on July 15, and throughout the year, including:

  • Yoga on the Beach at Killbear Provincial Park
  • Exploring the scenic shores of Lake Superior at Neys Provincial Park
  • Taking a guided hike around Kettle’s Lake at Awenda Provincial Park
  • Relaxing and rejuvenating with forest therapy and traditional healing at Quetico Provincial Park
  • Enjoying some games from the past with Pioneer Olympics at Inverhuron Provincial Park

Research shows access to nature and green space plays a vital role in physical and mental health, well-being and development. For example:

  • Playing in natural environments is essential to children’s development of observation, problem-solving, reasoning, creativity and imagination
  • Contact with nature has restorative properties, increasing energy and improving feelings of vitality and focus
  • Time outside lifts levels of Vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption and can help mitigate several diseases and mental health issues
  • Spending time outdoors is linked to increased work productivity and creativity, and decreased levels of stress and anxiety.

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NEW FEDELI BOOK REVEALS NEXT ENERGY SCANDAL

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

The Wynne Government could have gotten itself out of the multi-billion dollar Green Energy Investment Agreement, more commonly known as the Samsung deal, for no cost, Ontario PC Finance Critic Vic Fedeli revealed.

The revelation comes from newly uncovered documents from the Gas Plant Scandal and is detailed in Fedeli’s latest book, Focus on Finance 3.

“The government would like you to believe that there’s nothing it can do – or could have done – to mitigate skyrocketing hydro costs in Ontario. That’s simply not true,” said Fedeli.

A Treasury Board/Management Board of Cabinet Note dated March 26, 2013 noted the Korean Consortium missed “multiple milestone deadlines for Phase 2 and 3 construction projects,” and “this triggers the province’s ability to terminate the GEIA, without penalty, through existing termination clauses.” It further states that the savings to Ontario ratepayers if the foregone capacity was not reallocated would be about $30 a year on the average residential electricity bill, or two per cent.

The Energy Minister later claimed savings of $3.7 billion by renegotiating the deal, yet the Ministry’s own document states savings by foregoing final phases of the deal would have been $5.2 billion, Fedeli noted.

“That means the government left NO LESS THAN $1.5 billion on the table that could have helped reduce hydro costs in this province,” continued Fedeli. “That is another Gas Plant-sized scandal!”

“Given that Ontario has been producing surplus power and exporting it at losses in the billions of dollars in the past several years, the government missed a clear opportunity to save ratepayers considerable money,” added Fedeli.

“This government has no shame when it comes to scandals in the energy sector,” added Leader of the Official Opposition Patrick Brown. “We’ve seen time and time again that government mismanagement has meant that we have the highest industrial electricity rates in North America, and our electricity rates are increasing faster than any other state or province. This Liberal Government seems intent on making life more unaffordable for Ontario businesses and families.”

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Trudeau Proves Parliament Is Still An Alpha Male’s Show

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Last week, a House of Commons vote turned into a nerdy spoof on a WWE show. Political Smackdown! Every Wednesday on CPAC! Yes, I’m talking about #elbowgate, featuring an impatient Prime Minister Justin Trudeau marching across the floor to drag a stalling Tory whip to his seat, elbowing NDP member of Parliament Ruth Ellen Brosseau in the process.

The incident has dominated the news in Canada and even attracted international attention, with headlines such as: “Canadians Are Outraged That Justin Trudeau Elbowed Someone And Hasn’t Apologized Enough Yet.”

Because this is politics, the NDP has blown the incident all out of proportion, labelling an elbow to the chest “physical violence” and suggesting the outside world would “call it assault.” While it’s insulting to real victims to compare an accident to actual violence against women, Trudeau’s behaviour underlines a serious problem in politics: In 2016, Parliament is still an aggressive, alpha-male dominated environment unwelcoming to many women.

Too often the House of Commons feels more like a playground filled bad boy bullies than a place where intelligent adults make important decisions that shape this country. Trudeau, eager to pass a bill on medically-assisted death, essentially threw a temper tantrum on Wednesday. High on testosterone, he did what many high-powered men do when angry — take physical control of a situation. According to some MPs, he said “get the f– out of my way” as he stormed towards his target.

So much for sunny ways.

NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s reaction was just as macho: “What kind of man elbows a woman?” he shouted, eyeballs bulging, as other MPs stepped between the two men. “It’s pathetic. You’re pathetic!” Another question: What kind of man further escalates aggression in a misguided attempt to defend a woman’s honour?

A drunk man outside of a bar at 2 a.m., Mr. Mulcair, that’s who.

The sad fact is that this type of animalistic male aggression is commonplace in Parliament. Between this episode and the regular machismo behaviour, like yelling and chest-thumping, that characterizes parliamentary business, it’s no wonder women make up just a quarter of Canadian MPs.

During a panel discussion, Green Party leader Elizabeth May described Parliament as a “boys club” and said, “I’ve never worked in a workplace as male-dominated and testosterone-flooded as the House of Commons.” Even the decor is a reminder of male aggression. As Jane Taber points out in the Globe and Mail, a mace, an actual weapon, is used in the House to signify the Speaker’s authority and the government and opposition benches are separated by two sword lengths, historically designed to prevent rival MPs from, you know, stabbing one another.

Trudeau’s behaviour reinforces the idea that male anger trumps patience and deliberation. These seemingly isolated incidents of aggression have a cumulative effect. They create an environment where men feel entitled to act on their base instincts, which can lead to more serious misdemeanours than an elbow nudge.

Conservative MP Michelle Rempel recently wrote an opinion piece about how male colleagues have called her a “bitch,” told her to “look a bit more cheerful,” and grabbed her ass to “shock” her “into submission.” In 2014, Trudeau booted two Liberal MPs from caucus over allegations of sexual harassment made by NDP colleagues and in 2015, a Conservative senator was expelled from the Tory caucus after a teenage girl alleged they had an affair.

You don’t need to look hard for examples of male aggression in American politics either; they are enough to dissuade any woman from running for office. The sexual scandals of Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton are political folklore. Donald Trump has created an entire campaign based on his alpha maleness, and regularly uses his bully pulpit to degrade women. Even Bernie Sanders often resorts to shouting to make his point.

Justin Trudeau’s outburst was not assault, but it was a reminder that the political world is still rife with male aggression. Until the House of Commons becomes less like a wrestling ring, don’t expect to see gender parity in politics.

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Pakistan-US relationship under constraint – again

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

 The bilateral relations between the United States and Pakistan can be described as important and complex. Both want to maintain this relationship on positive lines but it experiences problems from time to time.

 The latest problem in their bilateral relations developed in the last week of April 2016, when the U.S. Congress declined the State Department proposal for contribution of $ 742 million towards the supply of eight F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The arrangement for the sale of eight F-16 aircraft proposed that Pakistan would contribute $ 270 million and the U.S. would provide $ 742 million towards this deal. The Congress conditioned the American contribution to definite actions by Pakistan against the militant groups that engage in violence in Afghanistan. These include the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqqni group.

 Within two week of this decision, the Congressional Committee also placed a restriction on military aid amounting $ 450 million for Pakistan for failing to take action against the Haqqani group. The Congress would require a statement from the Secretary of State that Pakistan was taking specific action against the Haqqani group if military aid or funding from Coalition Support Fund is to be released to Pakistan.

 The statement issued by the State Department has underlined the importance of the U.S. relations with Pakistan and it maintained that the decisions of the Congress would adversely affect U.S. relations with Pakistan. The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, was in Pakistan on May 18-19 and met with Pakistan’s Army Chief, the Interior Minister and the Finance Minister, emphasizing the importance of the relations between the two countries.

 Pakistan has expressed its disappointment on this decision but it has also talked about continuing with the relationship with the U.S. The fear is being expressed in Pakistan that the U.S. was gradually returning to the policy of the 1990s when it cut off all bilateral economic assistance, military sales and military training programs between the two countries by invoking the Pressler Amendment to its Foreign Assistance Act. More economic sanctions were applied on Pakistan after Pakistan exploded nuclear devises on May 28 and 30, 1998. These restrictions were lifted after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001, and Pakistan decided to join the U.S- led global effort to eliminate terrorism.

 The U.S. presence in Afghanistan has declined during the last two years. It will reduce some more troops by the end of December 2016. The Five-Year economic and social assistance program for Pakistan under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Law (2009) has come to an end. No new such law is expected to be passed by the Congress for continuing this aid. Therefore, economic assistance to Pakistan is bound to be reduced in 2016-2017. If military funding is not revived, the military sales and training programs will also suffer.

 The U.S. State Department and the White House are exploring ways to overcome the negative attitude of the Congress towards military sales and economic assistance to Pakistan.

 The U.S.-Pakistan relations have become a victim of a number of developments outside of Pakistan. The growing tension between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party against the backdrop of the forthcoming American presidential elections has partly contributed to the current impasse in the aid relationship. The Republican members who took the lead in criticizing Pakistani policies and placed restrictions on military sales and economic assistance to Pakistan viewed this as an opportunity to pressure the Obama Administration on foreign policy.

 The inability of the Afghan government and the U.S./NATO troops to control the Afghan Taliban violence in different parts of Afghanistan has led the U.S. and Afghanistan to take out their frustrations and anger on Pakistan. Both want Pakistan to take the lead in doing what they failed to achieve: elimination of Afghan Taliban and others fighting inside Afghanistan. They are talking about one type of movement across the Pakistan-Afghan border, that is, from Pakistan to Afghanistan. They want Pakistan to stop the movement of armed groups from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

 The other movement across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border includes the movement of militant groups from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The leadership of the Pakistani Taliban is based in Afghanistan, close to Pakistan border. These Pakistani Taliban and their affiliates are based in Afghanistan and they cross into Pakistani territory and engage in violence against the personnel of the security establishment. When Pakistan asks the Afghan government to take action against Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan government denies their presence in Afghanistan.

 The U.S. expects Pakistan to facilitate a dialogue between the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government. Pakistan is trying hard to bring the Afghan Taliban to the conference table. However, if Pakistan uses excessive violence against the Afghan Taliban, it will not be able to bring them to the talks.

 Both the U.S. and Pakistan continue to share the goal of elimination of terrorism. The difference is about the precise policies to achieve this goal. What should be done fist, who should be the first target. Currently, Pakistan’s priority is to focus on Pakistan Taliban and their affiliates that are undermining the Pakistani state. This policy is being pursued as a high priority. Currently, it is not interested in expanding the domain of conflict by targeting the Afghan Taliban located in Pakistan.

 The U.S. is able to build pressure on Pakistan because Pakistan relies on the U.S. for assistance for socio-economic development, military sales and military training. Pakistan needs to reduce its dependence on the U.S. The current U.S. restrictions on assistance to Pakistan have built strains on their relations but they are not going to abandon each other.

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Entrepreneurs from Seneca and Indian college win top honours in Dragons’ Den style competition

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Written by: Dimitri Perdicaris

Young entrepreneurs from Seneca College faced tough competition against students from India’s College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) during a Dragons Den style health care pitch challenge at Seneca’s Markham Campus last week.

CoEP’s Siddharth Telgote and Sufi Shahi’s Dreaming Leaf Co. earned second-place honours for their plan to purify drinking water in developing countries using banana and orange peels, tablets and kinetic energy.

“The experience provided us with networking opportunities and contacts who are willing to collaborate with us,” Telgote said.

Seneca entrepreneur Travis Clements-Khan took first-place honours for his pitch called Canary, a point-of-consumption device that allows users to detect potentially harmful allergens in food.

The competition placed three startups from Seneca’s Health Entrepreneurship and Lifestyle Innovation Xchange (HELIX) against two businesses founded by CoEP students. The competition was created following a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the City of Markham, Seneca and CoEP during the Premier’s February trade mission to India.

The goal of the competition was to support youth entrepreneurship while promoting a global view and exposure of the entrepreneurial ideas to potential venture capitalists and angel investors.

Each team presented a five-minute business pitch to a panel of judges, including representatives from ventureLAB, Ontario Centres of Excellence, control systems hardware company Quanser, and the City of Markham.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who attended the event, said he was impressed with each team’s aspirations to strengthen global health care.

“Our educational institutions and our cities have to work closely together, and in particular our youth have to work closely together,” Scarpitti said. “It’s great to witness moments like this when we can stare our future eye-to-eye and be inspired by what the future holds.”

All teams involved won a cash prize.

CoEP plans to host the next pitch competition in May 2017 in Pune, India.

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Nutritious Fasting Practices during Ramadan

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

By: Huda Rashid, Registered Dietitian

When we prepare for the month of Ramadan, we think of it as a time of reflection, doing good deeds and most importantly fasting. The word ‘fasting’ is often associated with the following words: ‘weight loss,’ ‘dehydration’ and ‘malnutrition.’ Did you know that it is possible to fast during this month and still meet your energy needs? Did you also know that while fasting during Ramadan, many Muslims actually end up gaining rather than losing weight? Fasting and meeting your nutritional needs may sound contradictory, but it can in fact be achieved by eating the proper foods during the morning and evening meals. You can also control weight gain during the month by not overindulging in high caloric foods after a long day of fasting! Here is some information on how to plan your meals for Ramadan.

This year Ramadan is in June and there will be long days of fasting so it is important to maintain optimal nutrition by eating nutrient dense foods & consuming the proper amounts of liquids during the suhoor and iftar meals. Fasting during Ramadan slows down metabolism in the body which means certain foods should be eaten to maintain your normal weight.

Many Muslims see no change in their weight and others may even gain weight. This weight gain is often caused by eating excessive amounts of high-fat fried foods such as pakoras & samosas, or high-fat high-sugar mithai (sweets).

It is very important to plan your meals carefully to ensure you are eating the right foods to get the nutrients your body needs to function properly.

SUHOOR (SEHRI)

The suhoor meal should be a nutritious meal consisting of complex carbohydrates containing fibre, since this will help to release energy into the body slowly, keeping you full throughout the day. Complex carbohydrates are found in grains and seeds, like wheat, bulgur, oats, quinoa, brown rice, beans & lentils. Avoid foods that are high in sugar such as breads made with white flour or white rice because these will be digested quickly and will not keep you full for long.

Your body will adjust to fasting in a couple of days but it will help to eat a well-balanced meal at suhoor. Do not binge in order to be full the entire day! A well balanced meal should include a plate divided into three portions. One third of your plate should be a source of protein such as large omega-3 eggs, PC® Plain 0% M.F. Greek Yogurt, nuts, seeds or peanut butter. One third of your plate should contain a source of complex carbohydrates; these are often foods containing whole grains such as the ones listed above. The last portion of your plate should consist of a fruit source such as a medium sized apple, banana, ½ cup of frozen mango chunks or ½ cup of berries. Don’t forget that frozen fruit is just as nutritious as fresh! Be sure to drink plenty of water at the suhoor meal and limit caffeine in drinks such as tea, coffee and pop since these cause faster water loss through urination. It is especially important to stay hydrated during the hot and lengthy summer days!

IDEAS FOR SUHOOR MEAL:

  • 1 Whole Wheat Pita with 1 tsp of margarine, 1 – 2 large omega-3 egg(s) or 2 Tbsp of peanut butter, one cup of 1% milk and 1 piece of fruit such as an apple or banana
  • 2-3 cups of water or more! Flavour with lemon, mint, lime, cucumber, watermelon or basil for additional flavor. Water helps you stay hydrated and assists with digestion of complex carbohydrates.

IFTAR

For the iftar meal, break this up into two separate meals. When it is time to break the fast, consume three to four dates or figs. These foods help raise blood sugar levels back to normal after a long day of fasting. They also contain fibre, potassium and magnesium; all essential nutrients that your body needs after a day of fasting. Add in a source of protein such as a handful of nuts or seeds which contain protein, fibre, magnesium and healthy monounsaturated fatty acids which can help lower cholesterol.

Include one cup of a mixed fruit salad flavoured with one teaspoon or less of chaat masala powder or dried mango powder and fresh mint. You can also include one cup of broth or soup. Eating fruit or soup and drinking milk or water will help re-hydrate and maintain mineral and water balance.

For the evening meal after prayers, choose foods such as whole grains, vegetables, meal & alternatives, fresh fruits and of course plenty of water! Try to avoid spicy foods when possible because these foods stimulate gastric secretion and may cause an uncomfortable feeling after fasting.

For this evening meal, portion your plate to make half of your plate vegetables, one quarter of your plate whole grains and the other quarter of your plate a source of protein from meat & alternatives. Include a serving of fruit and a serving of milk & alternatives to make it a balanced meal.

IDEAS FOR EVENING MEAL DURING RAMADAN:

Fruits and vegetables should be included in every dinner meal!

  • Include a simple mixed salad such as tabouli, which contains parsley, cucumber, red onion, and tomatoes.
  • Citrus fruits should be eaten to facilitate digestion and provide vitamin C

 

Protein sources include chicken, lean meat, fish, tofu, beans and lentils. These are a good source of protein, minerals, and vitamins.

  • Limit the sodium in pulses (beans & lentils) by using No Salt Added Dark Red Kidney Beans and Red Lentils

 

Grains should include whole grain foods such as Suraj Whole Wheat Roti or Arz Whole Wheat Pitas, brown rice or PC® Organics™ Quinoa

  • Look for whole grains because they are high in fibre, check the Nutrition Facts Table on the package for 4 g of fibre or more per serving

 

Milk and dairy products include milk, yogurt and cheese

  • Choose milk that is skim or 1%, and cheese that is less that 20% milk fat (M.F.) .Try making your own paneer at home using a 1% or 2% milk.

 

Drink 1-2 cups of water or coconut water to help with re-hydration.

Having balanced meals and adequate water at suhoor, iftar and evening meals will ensure you get the energy your body needs during the month of fasting!

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Telecommuting On The Rise As Companies Look To Save Money, Satisfy Employees

Posted on 27 May 2016 by admin

Like many Canadians, Carla Holub has gladly given up commuting for the ease and comfort of working from home.

The 41-year-old WestJet sales agent says she has no regrets since she made the change three years ago. Telecommuting affords her the time to take her children to dance lessons and hockey while reducing her lunch, coffee, gas and car insurance costs, she says.x

“It’s been a great switch,” she said from Calgary. “It just freed up a good two hours of my personal time being able to work from my home office.”

WestJet Airlines plans to establish a bilingual call centre in Moncton, N.B., but most of the 400 agents will work from home. They will join about 85 per cent of the airline’s 900 call centre workers in Calgary who since 2013 have shifted to fielding customer calls remotely.

Happier employees are more productive

The move has saved WestJet the cost of expanding its office to accommodate its growing staff, though that is partially offset by expenses to buy extra computers for employees so that they can work from home.

Spokesman Robert Palmer said the transition was mainly designed to respond to workers who desire a better work-life balance.

“From an employer’s perspective, generally speaking it makes for a happier employee and a happier employee is generally more productive,” he said.

The shift to telecommuting has accelerated since the 1990s growth of technology, said Sheryl Boswell, director of marketing for job website Monster Canada.

‘What seekers today demand’

She said most companies that allow employees to work from home are looking to build their businesses without added office expenses. They are also seeking access to a broader talent pool, she said.

“I think more employers are doing it because this is what seekers today demand,” said Boswell, who herself telecommutes two days a week.

More than 1.7 million paid employees — those not self-employed — worked from home in 2008 at least once a week, up almost 23 per cent from the 1.4 million in 2000, according to the latest Statistics Canada report on the subject in 2010.

Despite the increase, the proportion of paid employees working from home grew by just one percentage point to 11.2 per cent during the period. A faster pace of growth among self-employed pushed the total proportion of people working from home up two percentage points to 19 per cent in 2008.

Louise Howard is typical of those many self-employed home workers. The mother of children aged six and eight spends a few hours a day sewing clothing and accessories for children from her dining room that she sells online and to neighbourhood stores.

“It’s more a hobby that’s become a business by accident,” said the Montrealer, who says she makes about minimum wage for an average of three hours per day.

Monster Canada says nearly 5,000 home-based employment positions are currently listed on its website, up 18 per cent from last year. Available positions vary from customer service and sales representatives to tech support, finance and real estate services. The growth of social media has also pushed companies to hire writers to create content.

Telecommuting can also appeal to older workers, allowing businesses to adapt to changing demographics.

“It’s a weapon in a company’s arsenal to attract great employees,” said Robert Campbell, president of trade association ContactNB.

About 30 per cent of New Brunswick’s more than 100 call centres allow some form of telecommuting, Campbell said, adding that the workers have a range of jobs that include medical telecare, grief counselling, funeral planning and financial advice.

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