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Vol. 34 No. 03 March 2014

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MARCH 2014

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Compare these features and buy your next barbecue grill with confidence



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Vol. 34 No. 03

March 2014

Automotive.............................................................................................................................17 Consumer Information.........................................................................................................20 Environment & Nature..........................................................................................................24 Finance & Business................................................................................................................25 Food & Nutrition....................................................................................................................28 Health & Safety......................................................................................................................30 Home & Garden.......................................................................................................................3 Human Rights.........................................................................................................................35 Lifestyles.................................................................................................................................35 Personal Finance....................................................................................................................37 Pets...........................................................................................................................................44 Technology.............................................................................................................................45 Travel & Destination..............................................................................................................46

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HOME & GARDEN Compare these features and buy your next barbecue grill with confidence (433 words + 1 photo)

(NC) If this is the year to replace your old barbecue, it helps to be prepared before walking into a local shop to look at all the options. For starters, the experts at Broil King took a few minutes to outline the basics when it comes to buying a new barbecue. An expanded version of this is available at, but here’s a snapshot: Most people go through the same ritual when shopping for a barbecue. Open the lid, gauge the weight, spin a knob, give the barbecue the shake test. But what does that tell you? The real magic happens inside the barbecue. The burners, vapourizers, and cooking grids are crucial to producing great grilled meals. Nearly everyone considers the size of the grilling surface plus features like the side burner, rotisserie, storage and more. And yet, the most common reason people replace a barbecue is poor cooking performance, so it is those features that need to be assessed. Start with the engine of the barbecue and work your way out, as follows: The Burner System

A good burner system will provide even heat and precise temperature control for great performance. Multiple individual burners give you greater control, but not all burners extend to fill the cook box, leaving cold spots at the edges. When shopping, look for a grill that offers full coverage and is designed to ensure an even flame from one end of the burner to the other. The Vapourizer This is the essence of barbecue – juices from food hit a hot surface and vapourize − providing that signature ‘barbecue’ flavour. A good vapourizer system should fully cover the cook box, allowing vapourization to occur everywhere. Take a look at the stainless steel Flav-R-Wave system, by Broil King. It offers full coverage, and is designengineered to maximize vapourization and reduce flare-up for ideal cooking results. Cooking Grids There are many options to consider here, but stainless steel and cast iron lead the way. With either type of cooking grid, the heavier − the better.

Easily feed a crowd with delicious smoky barbecue (NC) When it comes to authentic ‘southern barbecue’, low and slow is the name of the game, say grilling specialists at Broil King. Allow yourself plenty of time with this pork shoulder recipe. Use low temperatures and allow the meat to rest before shredding. Additional recipes and grilling tips are available at www.broilkingbbq. com. Smoked Pulled Pork Ingredients 6-8 pound pork shoulder 3 tbsp. yellow mustard 2-3 handfuls of wood chips - soaked Rub 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup chili powder 1/3 cup paprika 1/4 cup celery salt 1/4 cup garlic powder 1/4 cup onion salt 1/4 cup black pepper 1/4 cup white pepper 1 tbsp. dry mustard 1 tbsp. 5-spice powder 1 tbsp. dry ginger

Stainless steel is easy to look after, just brush it clean and you’re good to go. Cast iron offers top level cooking performance and searing power, and applying a small amount of cooking oil before grilling both protects the grids and keeps your food from sticking. The best cast iron grids will create worldclass sear marks on any grilled food. Remember that most barbecues will give you enough size with bells and whistles, but finding a cooking system that is built for years of exceptional performance is something that will pay dividends in the long run.

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Mop (an authentic basting tool) 2 cups apple juice 1 cup apple cider vinegar 1 cup water 4 tbsp. barbecue rub (from above) Boil for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, cool overnight Finishing Touches 2 cups barbecue sauce Directions Prepare rub, mop and barbecue sauce the night before. Rub pork shoulder with yellow mustard, cover with rub, and let rest for half an hour before placing on your barbecue. Set your barbecue for indirect grilling at 225°F. In a gas barbecue, use a smoker box for your wood chips; for charcoal barbecues, place a handful of soaked wood chips on the surface of the charcoal. Place the pork shoulder on the barbecue, close the lid. Begin coating with apple juice mop an hour into the cooking process and continue to baste every half hour. Leave pork on grill until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 185°-190° F. This could take from 6 to 10 hours, depending on weather conditions.

Monitor the internal temperature of the pork using a meat thermometer. Once it has reached a temperature remove it from the barbecue, wrap it tightly in foil and allow it to rest for at least an hour before pulling. Do not skip this step, as it is the final step in allowing the connective tissue to completely break down, resulting in tender, moist pork. Shred using pork claws or a meat fork. Mix with barbecue sauce and enjoy. Important Preparation Tips: • Purchase a pork shoulder with a nice fat cap. There is a lot of flavour and moisture there, so leave it on. • Keep the cooking temperature inside the barbecue constant at approximately 225°F. • Take the guess work out of grilling by using a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the meat.

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HOME & GARDEN A guide to grilling with wood and smoke (NC) Slow smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket are staples of the traditional ‘southern barbecue’. The deep smoky flavours and fall-off-the-bone tenderness are hallmarks of the low-and-slow cooking technique. Originally, open pit fires were used for the slow cooking process at low temperatures, but now, a backyard chef can achieve the smoky flavour with a smoker box, wood chips, and a gas barbecue. Here, the grilling experts at Broil King offer these helpful tips for adding smoky flavour to your next backyard meal: • Wood chips should be soaked in water for at least an hour before using. Drain them and add them to a stainless steel or cast iron smoker box.

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• Fill the smoker box two-thirds with chips and place the box on either the heat plate above the burner or on the cooking grids. • Add wood chips 5 – 10 minutes before putting your meat on the grill. Raw meats take on smoky flavours much better than even slightly cooked meats. Having a smoky environment to start will enhance and deepen flavours. • Smoked meats will have a deep pink ring on the outside – this indicates how deep the smoke has penetrated your meat. • Hickory is probably the most famous smoking hardwood. It imparts a strong hearty flavour to meats and is used mostly to smoke pork shoulders and ribs.

Signs that show you’re ready to buy a home (NC) If the thought of the reawakening real estate market excites you, you may be ready to buy a home. Aspiring homeowners will need to have a few things locked down before taking the plunge. “Above all else, homeownership needs to make sense financially,” says Phil Dorner, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “Market conditions, mortgage rates, investment opportunities – all of these factors are important, but they should not be the only reasons for buying a home.” According to Dorner, you’ll know you’re ready to buy a home when: You’re familiar with the market – You’ve discussed options with your Realtor and you’re familiar with home prices in the neighbourhoods you’re considering. You know how much you can afford – You’ve worked out how much is required for the down payment and closing costs, as well as

• Mesquite is also one of the most popular woods, it is sweeter and more delicate than hickory, and is a perfect complement to richly flavoured meats such as beef, duck or lamb. • Apple has a sweet, mild flavour and is used mostly with pork and game, but can be used for poultry as well. Find a wood flavor pairing guide and delicious recipes at

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monthly mortgage payments and other expenses like utilities, insurance, property taxes and maintenance. You have the money for a down payment – You have at least five per cent of the property value saved and ready to put towards a down payment. You have a reliable income – You have consistent cash flow to cover monthly expenses. You have emergency savings – If your income is unexpectedly interrupted, you’ll be able to make your mortgage payments. Your debts are under control – Your debt-toincome ratio is where it needs to be in order to secure a mortgage through a lender. Your credit history is in good shape – You’ve spent the last several months, or years, building or perfecting your credit in order to help secure a lower interest rate on your mortgage resulting in a lower monthly payment.

You are prepared for the responsibility – You are familiar with all of the maintenance that a home requires and you’re prepared to deal with it. “If you checked all or most of these points, you may be ready to buy a home,” says Dorner. “It’s a big step, but it’s also an enjoyable and extremely rewarding one.” More information is available at www.

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March 2014

HOME & GARDEN Property planning advice for the retirement boom (NC) Things are looking up for Canadian boomers. Compared to the generation that precedes them, they are healthier, living longer and many will work past the age of 65. This changes how retirees need to should look at their retirement property. “Accessibility tops the list of considerations for retiring homebuyers, followed by amenities, size, finances, and of course, location,” says Phil Dorner, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “A retirement property should be able to change with you and also fit with your lifestyle. You’ll want to consult with your Realtor on a few things before acting on your next move.” Here are some considerations: Property type – If customizing a house to include things like elevators and supportive equipment is simply too cost prohibitive, condos are an excellent option. They are almost

universally accessible, come at various price points, in a host of locations. On the other hand, many house owners are accustomed to a lot of space and a yard, so moving to a condo can be a big adjustment. Location and amenities – Think about what you need to be socially and physically active now and in the future. The closer you are to the services you rely on, the better. Know what your transportation options are – this will help when you can’t drive yourself or others are not available to take you. Maintenance – A big yard will require work in the spring and summer months, while a sidewalk in front of your home will require snow removal in the winter. Will you be prepared to handle the demands of a house or will you be able to afford services that will help you with these responsibilities?

You’ve decided to sell your home – now what? (NC) The home selling season is about to heat up. If you’ve decided to enter the market, you’re in good company, says Phil Dorner, president of the Ontario Real Estate Association. “Spring tends to see an increase in real estate listings, but it also brings out the buyers,” Dorner explains. “In order to achieve the best possible results, careful planning and know-how are required in the home selling process.” Here is a simplified breakdown of some of the steps involved in selling a home: Consult an expert – A Realtor will help you set a price, develop a marketing plan, make your home more ‘saleable’, and act on your behalf during negotiations to ensure your interests are protected. Set a price – Choosing the appropriate list price for your home can lead to a timely sale, so it’s important to get it right the first time. The price should be realistic – neither too high nor too low.

Adaptability – Look for a home that can adapt to your changes. For instance, having a main floor space that could be turned into a bedroom if required is a good idea. “Considering your needs now and in the future will lead to a long and happy stay in the new home,” says Dorner. More information is available at www.

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Prepare your home – The house should be clean and clutter free. If necessary, hire a professional stager to help make a notable first impression and enhance its appeal. Everything in your home should be in working order – make repairs where necessary. Market your home – A marketing plan may include holding ‘open houses’, advertising and most importantly, networking. Your Realtor will relay information about your home to a vast network of potential homebuyers in your market. Receive an offer – Once you receive an offer you can either, accept, reject or “sign back” or “counter” the offer. Negotiate the sale – Most offers require some negotiating. Once both parties have agreed on the terms of the sale, the next step will be preparing a contract. Close the sale – At the “closing” meeting, ownership of the property is legally transferred

Help improve child safety in the home (NC)— Safety is a concern for everyone, especially parents. An important part of raising children is careful supervision of their activities in the home. Parents need to be aware of their children’s surroundings at all times in order to anticipate and prevent potential injury. Here are few tips from Sally Morse, designer and creative director of the window fashions company Hunter Douglas, which offers a wide variety of products that eliminate window covering lift cords or substantially reduce access to them:

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to the buyer. Your lawyer will assist you in the legal transfer. “Once you’ve closed, prepare to vacate your home and make a list of all the items you will need to turn over to the new owners,” says Dorner. “Finally, celebrate.” More information is available



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• Position cribs and beds away from windows. • Use safety straps on chests of draws and TVs (depending on the age of your child). • Make sure all area rugs have anti-slip padding. • Use window guards. • Use door stops to help prevent doors from fully closing and any fingers from being squashed. • Don’t have any toys or objects small enough that they can pass through a toilet paper cardboard roll. • Use cordless window coverings.

More information is available online at www.

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HOME & GARDEN Take years off your home – without aging yourself (NC) – Crow’s feet? Slather on wrinkle cream. Grey hairs? Get thee to a beauty salon. When it comes to beauty issues, we fight with all our might to fix them. Shouldn’t this be the same with our home? Often it gets a little down at the heels – the floors, furniture, and interior architecture – and we haven’t noticed, let alone done anything about it. Not to worry, says designer Sally Morse, the director of creative services for Hunter Douglas, a leading window fashions manufacturer. “There are dozens of ways to update your house that are neither difficult nor time-consuming.” Here are a few of Sally’s best suggestions: The world is at your feet Flooring is the anchor of any design scheme, and changing it instantly creates a more up-todate appearance. Replace wall-to-wall carpeting, which looks dated, with shiny hardwood or polished concrete. Throw down a faux cowhide or two if you feel a little “warmth” is needed. Dress the windows up…or down The key to modernizing window treatments is to make changes that not only look good, but allow the window to perform more efficiently. Have you had mini-blinds since the 1960s? Consider exchanging them for versatile Vignette Modern Roman Shades for a more formal, yet still leisurely aspect. Making your window treatment upgrade even more current, Hunter Douglas offers a free Platinum App that allows to you control its

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motorized products by shade, room, time, or activity with a mere tap on your Apple device. If draperies grace the windows, spiff them up with an interesting trim, maybe shells or glass beads. Of course, layers of fabric alone rarely give you all the functional benefits of a covering that combines blinds or shades. Fresh-faced Kitchens are among the first rooms to show their age. One way to fix them up is to reface cabinet doors. There are a variety of stylish facades available that are installed over existing frames for a perfect fit and enhanced functionality, and you can customize many details too, from drawer glides to ornamental accents. The good kind of mold Many older homes lack molding, a polished detail that gives any room the designer touch. “When it comes to selecting the motif, think about the overall feel of the room,” advises Sally. “For example, you wouldn’t want molding à la Palace of Versailles in an airy loft, nor something plain in a palatial salon. They should complement each other.” Look for everything from rosettes to encircle a ceiling’s hanging light fixture to attractive baseboards and trim for ceilings, doors and windows. Your own special touch Just as you accessorize your wardrobe to suit your lifestyle, do the same with your home. Oldfashioned bedside table left over from childhood?

Replace it with a clean-lined chair or stool with a flat, wide seat, marvelous for holding a small lamp, clock and water glass. Vi c t o r i a n - e r a bathroom? Paint the claw-footed tub, and slipcover a chair with terrycloth to match – very spa-like and fun. Were you willed a set of damask-upholstered, gilded chairs from the 1800s? Make them ‘yours’ by recovering them with something chic and unusual like zebra print or faux leather. “There’s nothing like changing the décor to update an entire house.” says Morse. “And be brave. Unlike a real facelift, much of what you do in your home can be easily and inexpensively changed again if need be.” More information is available online at www. Photo caption: Two different styles of Hunter Douglas Vignette Modern Roman Shades bring updated beauty and much-needed light control to the living room featured above. The light wood floors and fresh coat of paint also help take the years off the home (top right).

Tap into your light preference to get a better night’s sleep (NC)— Every person falls into one of two categories when it comes to sleep environments, according to home décor expert, Karl Lohnes. The first type is categorized as a “cave person”, one who needs window fashions that make the room pitch black in the morning. The second type is a “cloud person”, one who needs light to come through in the morning in order to wake up. Lohnes offers the following tips on how to decorate your bedroom in order to get a good night’s sleep based on your light preferences: If you are a “cave person,” you should use rich paint colours, deeper-toned bedding and dark-stained furniture to create a more intimate space. Two fabulous colourways like chocolate brown and blue are an ideal combination for the base colours. The brown can set the tone of the room while the lighter blue can serve as a striking contrast. Go darker on the walls and add accessories with darker accents. Examples include a prominent lamp with a tan shade and a black base, throw pillows in dark blue, gold and

black and an accent rug with black trim and muted colours in the centre. If you are a “cloud person,” use light, reflective colours, wood tones and artwork to keep the bedroom bright and airy. Accent the room with bright and airy accessories, including a lamp with a white or cream shade and a golden base, a vivid turquoise throw pillow and a rug with warm colours surrounded by cream trim. Remember, says Lohnes, if you are a “cave person,” the best window fashions are those that block out light. If you are a “cloud person,” you need something that will let light filter through and allow you to wake up to light coming into the room so that you are not woken up and agitated by it. One shade for all Did you know, there is now a product that works for both cloud and cave people? The new Silhouette A Deux window shadings deliver translucency and room-darkening all in one product, Lohnes points out.

Retailers also tell us that Silhouette shadings beautifully soften and diffuse the light with their sheer facings and fabric vanes. This new design pairs a variety of trendforward fabrics and a room-darkening roller shade. The back roller shade operates independently of the Silhouette shading and can be positioned to provide as much or as little light as desired. With these tips, a good night’s sleep is just a wink away. More information is available online at www. Photo caption: Silhouette A Deux window shadings from Hunter Douglas dress a bedroom above fit for a “cave person.”

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March 2014

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HOME & GARDEN How to refresh your home quickly this spring (NC) This spring, channel all the new-found positive energy into your home, as well as into yourself. Designer Sally Morse, the director of creative services for window fashions company, Hunter Douglas, gives us her favourite four tips – and some of them will surely strike home: 1. Declutter and Organize Kids’ toys collecting dust? Overflowing closets? Take spring cleaning to the next level and organize your home now so you can spend the upcoming summer months outdoors where you really want to be. Inject the tranquility of the spring season into your life by making your home not only more beautiful, but more organized as well. Remember the old adage: A place for everything and everything in its place. Next, don’t let closet clutter intimidate you. Set aside a few hours when you won’t feel rushed and take everything out, filling large, labeled trash bags with items destined for the dumpster – anything stained or beyond repair – and those that you want to give to charity and friends. Put foldables in bureaus and armoires. Treat yourself to padded hangers and suddenly, getting dressed is a pleasure, a chore no more. What is the best complement for a to-diefor closet? An equally chic bedroom. Consider Alustra Duette Architella shades in a subtle metallic sheen fabric, trés moderne, or perhaps something romantic and delicate like Luminette Privacy Sheers, which feature a sheer face fabric with rotating fabric vanes behind. Both come in

room-darkening options. 2. Save Energy and Money Spring weather can be fickle. March is supposed to go in like a lion and out like a lamb, but everyone knows Mother Nature has a mind of her own. The ups and downs of spring can take a toll on electric bills, so this year, make a change. The new Duette Architella Trielle honeycomb shade is a great energy-saving investment. With five insulating air pockets, it can help reduce heat loss through the window by up to 45 percent and solar heat gain by up to 80 percent. You can also see if any of your light fixtures can use LED bulbs; they’re ingenious and many are equipped with automatic turn-off, an easy energysaver. 3. Easily Embrace the Sun Some of the best things about spring are the sunny days we’ve been missing all winter long. No more waking up in darkness each morning – and this spring make it a point to truly rise and shine. You can do it with digital technology. Did you know that the Hunter Douglas Platinum App is the first shade-control, mobile app? And it is available as a free download with no service fees. With a quick tap on the screen, you can set your

Decorate to stimulate all five senses (NC)—Good decorating takes all of our senses into account – sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Are all these in play at chez vous? To get started, designer Sally Morse, the director of creative services for leading manufacturer, Hunter Douglas, gives us her top tips on how to create a home that’s both stimulating to the senses and stylish as well. First, Morse suggests scoping out every room to see if a little tweaking might be in order. Here, it’s important to keep a critical eye and take into account the details you may have previously overlooked. See Walk into a room and ask yourself if your eyes are happy with what they see? Are they bored with the room’s blandness or agitated because there are so many colours and patterns mixed together? Incorporate neutrals or add a pop of colour as needed. One way to enhance any visuals in your room is with complementing shades and the perfect lighting. Morse points out that light control has never looked so chic. In the Hunter Douglas line, for example, the Design Studio Roman Shades are available in hundreds of fabrics in a gamut of solids, textures, stripes, paisleys, damasks, florals, geometric and leaf patterns to suit any style.

(636 words + 2 photo) window coverings to raise or lower at preset times. Imagine waking up with ideal sunlight without having to leave the comfort of your bed – a perfect way to start the day. 4. Put a spring in Your Step Take a cue from this cute saying and apply it to your home in creative, fun ways. Be they small – new bed and bath linens or painting the front door a cheery colour, or more lofty projects such as installing new carpet or redecorating an entire room − you deserve them. One quick way to enhance the appearance of any room, no matter the décor, is with window dressings, and there are a vast number from which to choose. More information, including the window fashions mentioned above, is available online at Photo captions: Duette Architella Trielle honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas can help reduce heat loss through windows by up to 45 percent (top right). The Hunter Douglas Platinum App allows you to pre-set your window dressings to precise positions by shade, room, time of day or even activity (middle right).

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Hear If there’s a babbling brook outside, is the furniture positioned so guests can enjoy it? If your home is surrounded by tooting horns and loud passersby, can you sit far from the windows so the noise is muted? Another nice touch is subtle, soothing instrumental music in the background. Taste Taste is a funny one. What it means in home design is that your décor should reflect the people who live there, says Morse. The important thing is that the look is ‘you’ and reflects your ‘taste’. When someone walks in, there should be no question in their mind who lives there. Placing out tasty treats is one of the most welcoming gestures; opt for individually wrapped hard candies with pretty foils for an added touch. Or, try colourfully coated chocolates. Smell Smell is easy, but it must be refined. From flowers and plants to sea grass rugs and aromatic candles, there are many ways to give a room just

the right amount of fragrance. If you have a garden outside your window, leave it open a crack to let the aroma waft in. Touch Touch is last, and includes everything from the texture of a velvet-upholstered hassock to the smooth lines of a modern sculpture to a window shade, like Vignette Modern Roman Shades with wave-like folds that beg to be stroked. More information is available online at www. Photo Captions: Hunter Douglas Design Studio Roman Shades pull together the various colours used in this bedroom for a harmonious look. Fabric: Seaside, colour: Waterfall (top right). Alustra Vignette Modern Roman Shades from Hunter Douglas add light control and privacy with softness to this living room (bottom right).

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HOME & GARDEN Improve indoor air quality for a healthier home (NC) Poor indoor air quality and toxins within your home can have a detrimental effect on your health and that of your family. The Environmental Protection Agency says that the repercussions can lead to immediate and long-term health effects such as irritation, fatigue, asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever, all of which can hinder the quality of life. Homeowners concerned about their health can consider effective solutions that not only improve the indoor air quality but also the overall comfort of their home. Insulation professionals suggest assessment of the insulation since older houses (commonly insulated with traditional insulation materials) are regarded as hotbeds for the three Ms – moisture, mould and mildew.

Older, more traditional insulation materials such as fibreglass, wool and cellulose typically soak up moisture – whether rain, ice or snow – like a sponge impacting the stability and performance of the building. It can also lead to mould growth and mildew. In the right conditions, mould and fungus can grow, releasing spores into the atmosphere leading occupants to breathe in the toxins. A study by the University of Otago in New Zealand found that all children hospitalized during winter months had correlations in their living conditions regarding air quality. In almost a third of cases, dampness was a significant issue while almost a quarter of cases were impacted by mould. Instead, using a modern insulation solution can help significantly to improve the indoor air quality

Fortify your house against weather extremes (NC) Snow, blizzards, Arctic winds and damaging ice storms have wreaked havoc across the country during the long winter months, so are you sure your home will protect you from the elements all year long? There is no time like spring to make this assessment. Begin by inspecting the insulation, experts say. Upgrading the quality is your best defense for all seasonal changes and the most advanced is spray foam insulation. This innovative material will help mitigate heating and cooling cost increases and provide a return on investment while reducing your overall impact on the environment. Here’s a little guidance: Increase Insulation – While boosting your home’s insulation R-value can help enhance comfort, air sealing your home with an all-in-one spray foam insulation product can actually help

of any home. Take a look for example at a brand called, Icynene. As a one-step air seal and insulation material, this product helps protect the indoors from moisture and mould growth and it stops pollutants and toxins from penetrating the home to create a healthier and positive living for all. More information can be found at

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generate more efficiency. Take a look at a leading brand called, Icynene. Its high R-value and airsealing properties can reduce heating and cooling bills as well as provide better temperature control all year round. Replace Underperforming Insulation – Traditional insulation materials such as fibreglass and cellulose tend to settle over time compromising their performance. Building professionals will typically suggest that homeowners replace underperforming insulation with a material that stays in place and performs optimally throughout the year. Plus, removing older insulation material helps reduce the risk of mould growth and mildew within the home. Shrink HVAC Needs – By increasing your home’s energy efficiency and using an air-sealing and insulating material like spray foam insulation,

5 signs that point to poor home insulation (NC) Most homeowners do not notice the red flags that say the insulation is failing to provide optimal comfort throughout the year. The inability to properly heat and cool your house, maintain even temperatures, and create a positive, healthy living space can hinder one’s health as well as their bank balance. There are five signs every homeowner should consider when assessing insulation performance, as follows: Older Construction – Homes more than 30 years old tend to use outdated insulation materials such as fibreglass and cellulose that are unable to provide consistent insulating value. Gaps left by inconsistent coverage or settling mean that the conditioned air escapes the home, forcing heating and cooling equipment to overcompensate for such losses, causing bills to skyrocket. Window Condensation – If homeowners notice water vapour accumulating on window panes, linoleum or concrete surfaces, chances are that the insulation is unable to help regulate temperature

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homeowners can run their furnace or air-conditioner less often thereby reducing their impact on the environment and reducing their monthly costs by as much as half. In fact, homeowners may even be able to install a smaller unit and cut costs further. More information can be found online at www.

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throughout. Additionally, the accumulation of moisture can lead to the potential for mould and mildew which, in turn, can cause health issues for occupants. Drafts – Cold spots and drafts are a direct result of inadequate insulation protection. The gaps and cracks left exposed by traditional insulation materials can equate to the size of a basketball. When combined, these gaps allow cooler air to flow through the walls and create drafts. Thermostat Fluctuation – Like older homes and drafts, a fluctuating thermostat means conditioned air is escaping your home and the furnace or airconditioner is trying to compensate. Homes that are unable to hold heat are often lacking adequate insulation. HVAC Trouble – An overworked furnace or air-conditioner will wear more quickly than a system that operates at optimal levels, as a result, homeowners may find themselves need to replace the unit sooner than expected.

Homeowners can take active steps to combat problems caused by poor insulation by investing in updated materials. Spray foam insulation, like that available from Icynene, both insulates and airseals the home to provide year round comfort while reducing energy consumption. This highquality insulation provides immediate and longterm return on investment, allowing you and your family to save money and live comfortably. More information can be found at

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March 2014

HOME & GARDEN 6 questions to ask when selecting insulation (NC) Nowadays, homeowners are presented with an eclectic range of home improvement options, both traditional and green, all of which can boost the value of the investment. Whether building a new house or renovating an existing property, it is daunting to fully understand which products provide true value. While television home renovation personalities will promote the latest and greatest, it’s wise for homeowners to assess their individual needs, what they want to achieve, and understand the options that can be delivered over the short and long-term. Taking time to evaluate the products on the market is an important step to save headaches in the long run. The same can be said for insulation products. Although hidden behind the walls and forgotten by many, insulation is one of the key areas where an investment in a quality product can boost both the value and comfort in the home. From traditional products like fibreglass and cellulose, to modern

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technologies like the spray foam insulation, it can be confusing if you are unsure what to look for. Here are six key questions homeowners should ask themselves and their contractor when making their selection: How well does the insulation control air leakage that can account for up to 40% of a building’s energy loss? Can the insulation create an air barrier without the use of extra finishing materials such as tape, gaskets, plastic wrap and labour? How well does the insulation reduce air leakage in hard-to-insulate areas such as rim joists, cathedral ceilings, crawlspaces and garages without extra materials? Is the insulation a qualified air barrier that minimizes air infiltration to help keep out allergens, dust and other pollutants? Will the insulation maintain consistent performance at the rated R-value through the life of the building, or will it sag/settle over time,

Easy green upgrades can increase the property value (NC) With the big push for environmental and energy conservation, homeowners are being presented with a wide range of options and initiatives for greener living. Not only do these solutions help save the planet, but they also help us save money. The most valuable ‘green home’ improvements are able to facilitate reduced utility bills, as well as provide year round comfort to occupants. Your home’s envelope, or the exterior-facing surfaces of the building, is typically regarded as the weakest link since it is constantly exposed to the elements like battling back the cold, reflecting the sun, guarding against rain, and pushing back the wind. It’s important that your house can accomplish all these tasks (and more) without turning up the thermostat and without the need to constantly repair lost shingles, loose boards and damaged siding. Reinforcing from the inside can have a

(NC) Aside from replacing light bulbs and buying energy-rated appliances, any homeowner that is serious about money-saving efficiency is assessing their entire house. It’s estimated that heating and cooling accounts for as much as 62 percent of a Canadian home’s annual energy consumption. In many cases, the amount of air escaping from cracks and gaps in the building envelope can have a significant impact on the overall efficiency of the heating and cooling system. Escaping air means the furnace or air-conditioner must work overtime to compensate and to maintain a comfortable living temperature. This results in high energy use and of course, high bills. Consider the quality of the insulation. While some homeowners may think simply layering

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strong positive impact on how green and earthfriendly a home can become. One area of the building envelope that can be boosted is the insulation. While traditional insulation materials provide thermal comfort, they fall behind on air-sealing and on their ability to create a greener home. Spray foam insulation is an advanced alternative that can eliminate heating and cooling problems while reducing a reliance on energy consumption. Leading brand, Icynene, explains how this is achieved: Sprayed as a liquid, spray foam insulation expands to fill all the spaces inside a wall cavity providing a total seal of all surfaces and reinforcing the integrity of the building. This modern alternative creates a barrier that leads to significant savings over the long term – both in terms of energy consumption and HVAC bills. Spray foam insulation has been known to provide

Boost your home’s energy efficiency

creating gaps and voids? Can the insulation help control sound around plumbing, between rooms, street noise? Spray foam insulation is the answer to these questions. Leading product, Icynene, explains: The advanced material gives homeowners longterm performance reassurance and adds significant value to their home. Spray foam insulation acts as an insulating and air-sealing material that can cut heating and cooling costs by half as well as help improve indoor air quality. More information can be found at

homeowners as much as a 50 percent saving on their monthly heating and cooling bills due to its ability to airseal and insulate in one step. With this kind of green living, homeowners are doing their part in creating a greener planet and reducing their carbon footprint. More information can be found at www.icynene. com.

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more insulation on top of existing insulation will do the trick, typically these traditional insulation types are unable to provide a thorough air seal or promote better heating and cooling efficiency. In fact, all the small gaps left behind by regular insulation materials (like fibreglass) can add up quickly. One consideration is replacing traditional insulation with high-performance spray foam insulation, which air-seals and insulates to stop air leakage from occurring. This allows homeowners to reduce energy consumption, effectively control their indoor environments and live greener. Leading brand, Icynene explains: When installed, spray foam insulation expands to completely seal a home’s walls, floors and ceilings to prevent air leakage. Insulation experts

from Icynene note that quality spray foam insulation can noticeably reduce heating and cooling costs, in some cases by up to 50 percent. More information can be found at

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HOME & GARDEN How much is my stuff worth? (NC) Most of us might be surprised to learn the actual value of our accumulated belongings—and this could leave us vulnerable in the event of loss, theft or damage. Taking a home inventory is a major first step. “You probably have a rough idea of how much your home is worth, as well as how much you have saved,” says Ryan Michel, spokesperson for Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “But do you know how much all of your belongings are worth? If you have made any significant purchases since you last checked your home insurance it’s important that your policy reflects that.” Most insurance policies have a limit on how much they will cover if household items are lost, stolen or damaged. More expensive things like jewelry, electronics, or sporting equipment may

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only be covered up to a certain value and could require additional coverage. By creating a home inventory, it will be easy to keep track of how much money your possessions are worth and how much insurance you need to cover them. A home inventory checklist to help you get organized is available at learningcentre. Here are a few helpful tips to get you started: • Take on one room at a time. • Make a note of valuable items. • Take photos, write down serial numbers and collect original receipts, if possible. • Organize items into categories. • Check that these items are covered by your personal insurance policy, if necessary by sharing your inventory with your insurance company.

Moving? Don’t forget to pack your insurance (NC) Moving doesn’t happen every day and this makes it a stressful experience when trying to remember all of the requirements, big and small. Protecting one’s belongings with insurance, for example, is often overlooked and it could lead to unforeseen costs if any of our valuables are lost or damaged. “Insurance may be the last thing on your mind during a move,” says Ryan Michel, spokesperson for Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “But you need to make sure your items are protected both in transit, and when you arrive.” It’s important to consider whether your insurance will protect you at both your current residence and new residence, and whether your policy covers your items while they’re on the move. If you’re considering moving some items to temporary storage for a period of time, remember that

(NC) Annual spring cleaning is routine throughout the house – and now with the frequency of weather extremes, we are also advised to inspect for damage. Weight from heavy snow and ice, for example, can have an effect on the slope of your yard or the effectiveness of your outdoor pipes and drains. “Many of us are thankful when spring weather finally arrives, but we shouldn’t forget that winter wear-and-tear might only become evident once the ice has melted,” says Ryan Michel, spokesperson for Allstate Insurance Company of Canada. “We recommend that homeowners check the outside of their homes in early spring for any issues in the making.”

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coverage provided by these facilities is limited and your items may only be protected for 30 days. It’s best to ask your personal insurance provider about what to do in specific circumstances. If you’re moving in the near future, consider these tips from Allstate Canada: • Set up your home insurance in advance so that you are protected as soon as you take possession of your new home. You might also need to consider insuring your home during the final stages of construction. • Make a checklist of all your belongings. Note both the condition and value of each item and even take photos if you can. • If you are using professional movers, confirm the company has insurance in case your belongings are damaged during the move.

Inspect your home for damage

• Store a copy of your list and photos in a safe separate location, either in a safety deposit box, or with your insurance company. If you find a difference between what you’re covered for and what you now own, call your insurance provider. Updating your policy to ensure you’re properly protected is easy and can save you money if the unexpected happens.

• As you’re unpacking, check that items have not been lost or damaged. If they have, contact your insurance company right away. Additional advice is available at w w w. a l l s t a t e . c a / learningcentre.

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Michel offers these tips for conducting an outdoor assessment of your home: • Check your roof, chimney, foundation, skylights and vents for cracks that could cause leaks and other issues. • Inspect your gutters, which may have cracked in the cold weather or become clogged with debris. • Make sure your downspouts are directing water away from the foundation of your home. • Take an inventory of pipes in crawl spaces that could freeze and burst next winter if left without insulation. “It’s important to maintain the condition of your home,” says Michel. “Your annual spring clean is the perfect time to identify and make smaller

repairs before any issue becomes a major concern.” If you find that your home has been damaged, be sure to contact your insurance agent as you begin the process of making repairs. More information can be found at learningcentre.

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March 2014

HOME & GARDEN New law will protect us from aggressive door-to-door sales (NC)—Aggressive and deceptive door-to-door water heater sales tactics have become a growing problem in many Ontario communities. New legislation in Ontario passed at the end of 2013 will bring greater consumer protection from misleading door-to-door sales practices for water heater rentals once regulations have been put in place. The Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2013 does the following: • Doubles the existing 10-day cooling-off period to 20-days and bans the delivery and installation of water heaters during this period. • Provides new consumer protection when the rules are not followed. • Allows for rules requiring companies to confirm sales by making scripted and recorded telephone calls to the customer. While these legislative changes will enhance consumer protection, they are currently not in effect and consumers should still remain mindful of misleading door-to-door sales practices,

especially when the deal sounds too good to be true. When approached by a door-to-door water heater salesperson, EnerCare Inc., a leading provider of energy efficient products, recommends some dos and don’ts to better protect yourself. Do: • Get additional expert opinions or estimates from your water heater provider, when door-todoor salespeople assert that a replacement product is needed, • Ask the salesperson for contact information and a copy of their sales materials and contract to review before you make any decision. Be wary if the salesperson is hesitant to leave behind such information. • If you feel pressured or threatened, ask the salesperson to leave. • Always ask the salesperson for identification and which company they represent. Many consumers are unaware that government agencies and organizations, such as Direct Energy, do

Don’t let water heater salespeople get your blood boiling (NC)—With 2,240 government complaints and inquiries about companies offering water heaters, door-to-door water heater sales are a growing problem in Ontario. Water heater rental sales have been the second highest consumer complaint received by Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer Services for the past four years. Many consumers are unaware that government agencies and organizations such as Direct Energy do not promote the exchange of water heaters doorto-door, and as a result, are in some cases entering into contracts with salespeople claiming to be from such organizations. New legislation passed at the end of 2013 will enhance protection for Ontario consumers by seeking to curb misleading door-todoor sales practices, once regulations have been put in place. Among other things, the new legislation:

• Doubles the existing 10-day cooling-off period to 20 days and bans the delivery and installation of water heaters during this period. • Provides new consumer protection when the rules are not followed. • Allows for rules requiring companies to confirm sales by making scripted and recorded telephone calls to the customer. As this new legislation is not yet in effect, John Macdonald, the CEO of EnerCare Inc. reminds us to remain vigilant against misleading door-to-door sales practices and to never sign a contract at the door without a thorough review. EnerCare, a leading provider of energy efficient products, suggests that individuals look out for potential warning signs, such as claims from the salesperson like: • It’s time to upgrade your current water heater. • We’re from your current water heater provider, utility or local municipality.

not promote the exchange of water heaters door-todoor. Don’t: • Don’t let the salesperson into your home. • Don’t show the salesperson your existing contract, monthly bills or any personal information. • Don’t sign a contract until you have read it carefully and understand it thoroughly. • Don’t be fooled by “too good to be true” offers. You can learn more about how to better protect yourself at

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

(336 words + 1 photo, Ont Only) • Government regulations say your plastic venting system for your water heater needs to be replaced due to safety reasons. • Our water heaters are more efficient than the one you have in your home. • We can replace your old water heater free of charge. • We need to see your current bill. More information is available at www.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

You will soon be protected from the water heater sales pitch (NC)—Consumers in Ontario will soon be able to rest assured that their rights against door-to-door water rental salespeople are better protected. The Stronger Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, which passed at the end of 2013 (but is not currently in effect), combats aggressive doorto-door sales by providing new rules to curb misleading sales practices. The new legislation doubles the existing 10day cooling-off period to 20 days; bans the delivery and installation of water heaters during the new 20-day cooling-off period; provides new consumer protection when the rules are not followed, such as requiring the supplier to reimburse the customer for all cancellation, return

or removal fees; and gives enhanced authority to make regulations governing supplier conduct and agreement content. This includes a requirement that companies confirm sales by making scripted and recorded verification calls to the customer. “This is a great step forward in enhancing consumer protection rights against misleading door-to-door water heater sales,” says John Macdonald, the CEO of EnerCare Inc., a leading provider of energy efficient products. “Consumers should take the time to review any proposed contract and learn about the provider before signing anything at the door. Always ask if this contract is too good to be true and whether this company will

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be around in a few years if a problem arises with their water heater.” More information is available at www. FactsBeforeYouAct. ca.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

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HOME & GARDEN Now you can paint outside in cool temperatures (NC) After the deep freeze of winter, you may find the exterior of your home a little worse for the weather. The wear and tear of subzero temperatures and lashings of snow and ice can leave rain gutters broken, sidings warped, or paint cracked and faded. With spring just on the horizon, now is the time to consider some rejuvenation. Conventional wisdom, and the odd bad experience, tell us that exterior painting should be reserved for only the most ideal conditions like moderate temperatures no lower than 10ºC and calm weather. In Canada, this can limit our painting season to mere months. The good news is that the latest innovations in paint making technology mean there are formulas on the market now designed to work in temperatures as low as 2ºC – and leaders in this field like Canadian company, Para Paints, has released a line of low-temperature products that lengthen and improve our outdoor painting options.

While homeowners should still refrain from planning outdoor painting when rain or strong winds are forecasted, this breakthrough in paint technology allows for an early spring head start. “Our Ultra Exterior Low-Temperature formula is well suited to exterior trims, doors, fences and siding with great durability and washability,” says Garry Belfall, the senior brand manager at Para Paints. Ideal for shoulder season projects, he points out that the paint boasts superior moisture, mildew and fade resistance which is key in ensuring a long lasting and professional looking finish. “These low-temperature paints were formulated specifically to protect your home from the realities of the harsh Canadian winters,” he adds. Once you’ve got the right tools, how about the look? Why not try a trendy combination of rich charcoal shades like Nouveau Art mixed with a taupe coloured trim and translucent cedar stain accents? Belfall says that this simple but

Spring Décor Trends: Bring the beach house home

(NC) Why wait any longer for the full colour of spring? While the trees thaw and the sun is shining earlier in the mornings, most of us admit we are eager for more. So why not a fresh coat of paint inside your home? It might just be the quickest way of banishing the winter doldrums to give you a fresh start to spring. Though do-it-yourself painting is one of the least expensive options to spruce up your home, choosing the right colour palette can be a daunting and nerve-wracking task. Not all homeowners have access to a professional designer’s eye, so for ease with choosing colours, Para Paints has released what they call their Colour Trend Palette Postcards for 2014. This tool is formatted as a handy passport and all of the trends evoke a sense of escape from the icy cold winter. One palette, or colour trend destination is called Beach House, which suggests leading with a

(317 words + 1 photo) sophisticated palette will create an inviting atmosphere perfect for entertaining guests outdoors throughout the warm months ahead. Photo: Mississauga exterior Photo Caption: The latest trends in exterior painting feature dark grey’s like Para Paints’ Nouveau Art (P5207-73D), along with Comfortable Chinos (P5223-34), mixed with translucent cedar stain from TimberCare.

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cheerful and sunny yellow, like Para’s chosen colour of the year, Plantain Chips (PF52), and matching it with grey neutrals. Adding accent colours of bright blues and greens provides the perfect complement to create an overall seaside inspired room. Another tropical option can be found in Island Escape, a palette built around Tahitian Pearl (PF65), a dark and vivid South Sea teal. This colour made a strong showing last year and continues into 2014, especially when paired with bright berry shades and vibrant oranges, while offset with a neutral white. These newest palettes provide the inspiration for refreshed and rejuvenated rooms without the guesswork of choosing complementary colours. ”It can be expensive to completely redo a room, so the trick is to find a starting point for a colour refresh in your existing décor scheme,” says Garry Belfall, the senior brand manager at Para Paints. “The 2014 Colour Trend Palette Postcards

are designed to help people see how vibrant colours and complementary neutrals can work together.” It can be as simple as switching out one or two of your colour choices from an accent wall, rug, or even couch cushions. It can make a world of a difference. Photo: Beach House Photo caption: This Beach House inspired room features Para Paints’ Plantain Chips (PF52) on the wall, Carrara (PF53) on the wainscoting and Cobalt Ice (PF67) on table.

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March 2014

HOME & GARDEN Spotlight the floor in your décor (NC) Think about the first thing you notice when stepping into a room. Do you glance at the floor like most of us? This would make the floor in any décor imperative to that first impression. While keeping up with the trends can be expensive, there are new and emerging ideas that can help homeowners make meaningful changes without breaking the bank. Armed with ideas and the right tools, a newly painted floor could be the most affordable – and the easiest – décor update this spring. One of the decorating trends emerging in 2014 is the pattern design. A number of companies have been developing durable and long lasting floor paints, including a new hybrid called “FloorGuard”. Canadian manufacturer, Para Paints, tells us that it features the durability of an oil base, but gives you the easy, water cleanup of a latex paint. “It is a premium quality, low VOC, high-gloss floor paint which is perfect for heavily trafficked areas,” says Gary Belfall, senior brand manager and spokesperson for the company.

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With the sophistication of these new floor paints, consumers are becoming more creative with their décor ideas, whether it’s implementing the highly coveted chevron pattern made popular in fashion, or using over-sized stencils (which can be made from large pieces of cardboard) to create a custom look. “Finding inspiration has never been easier thanks to social media,” Belfall points out. “So as you begin, invest a little time in following the Pinterest boards of your favourite decorators and companies – including Para Paints, which has some beautiful ideas for painting your way to a new look – from the floor up.”

Sidebar Tips For Perfectly Painted Wood Floors Take a look at this checklist, courtesy of Para Paints: • Remove all carpet and nails. • Patch holes with wood filler and repair all broken/rotten areas. • Sand down the surface so it is ready to be primed. • To fully cover the wood knots, apply a coat of appropriate primer directly overtop so they won’t bleed through the final layer of paint. • Once all of the knots are covered, lightly sand them and prime the entire surface. • Use a paint roller to cover large surfaces. Smaller paintbrushes can run the risk of the paint not applying evenly and it takes longer. • Make sure your floors are completely dry before removing painter’s tape or stencils.

Expand downstairs to maximize space and energy efficiency (NC) With house prices on the rise, finishing a basement is the latest trend in the real estate market. More and more homeowners are enjoying the perks of additional living space, a reduction in heating and cooling costs, a healthier home – and if done right, a more desirable home when selling. A finished basement can be used for virtually anything and may offer multipurpose spaces the entire family can enjoy. Common uses include additional storage, media room, craft room, guest suite, workshop, or gym. A little extra room can give a growing family space to breathe and provide convenience for everyday life. An unfinished basement can be a source of energy loss. By finishing your basement, you can

expect to see savings on your heating and cooling costs. Industry experts recommend finishing the space with the proper framing, insulation and vapour barrier to guarantee a cozy and inviting space. Insulation plays a key role in the comfort of your newly renovated space and although hidden within your walls, it will make sure your space stays cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Retailers suggest using a stone wool insulation, such as Roxul. This recommendation is also fire resistant, water repellent, and is resistant to mold, mildew, rote and bacterial growth – making your space healthy and safe. An added benefit to expanding downstairs with a finished basement is the instant marketability.

Spring into a finished basement for added space (NC) After a winter of hibernation, the spring is a perfect time to begin renovation projects that will impact your home’s overall energy efficiency and save you money. An unfinished basement can be a major source of energy loss costing you more on your heating and cooling bills. Finishing your basement is a renovation project that will keep your house cool in the coming summer months and reduce energy consumption. By simply finishing the space with wall and floor coverings, you will notice a difference on your energy bills. A renovated basement offers more

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Many buyers now demand a well-finished basement to give them extra space. Although you may not immediately recoup the financial costs prior to selling, you will stand out among the rest.

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than additional storage and living space. It can provide room for a growing family or a space where you can retreat for some privacy. Insulation is a key component in making your basement look and feel comfortable, inviting and dry. For the best results, install a rigid board insulation (like Roxul ComfortBoard IS) against the concrete foundation before you stud the wall. The board is mechanically fastened or adhered to the concrete foundation wall, preventing thermal bridging through the studs, offering a higher R-value and better thermal performance.

It will ensure your basement is not a source of energy loss, but rather an inviting space all year round.

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HOME & GARDEN Finished basements save energy and deliver more living space

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(NC) By finishing your basement, you can gain more living space while reducing the amount of energy loss from downstairs. Basements that are not fully finished typically do not have insulated walls or covered flooring. This can result in heat loss and cause your furnace to work overtime. A renovated basement offers more than additional storage space. It can provide a lot of extra room for a growing family, such as space for a gym, home theatre, office, guest suite, or a playroom for the kids. To ensure a comfortable and inviting basement, there are a few project components to consider: • Insulation will make sure your space is warm and comfortable. For the best results, install a

stone wool insulation product, a measure that can be done easily with the Roxul ComfortBoard IS. This combo is mechanically fastened or adhered to the concrete foundation wall, offering you a higher R-value and better acoustics. • Drywall will help define the space and make it feel like a part of your home. If you haven’t tackled drywall before, consider hiring a pro to ensure your walls are seamless. • Flooring should be water sealed and covered with an insulated material. There are many products on the market, but consider laying padding before carpet or in-floor heating before tiles.

• Personalize it with finishing touches. Select furniture that can fit down a typically steep staircase and choose items that complement the rest of your home’s décor.

Quebec residents can get cash back for renovations

New tax credit in Quebec encourages home renovations

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(NC) Quebec’s new EcoRenov tax credit is a great opportunity for homeowners to get a little cash back on their renovation projects. Don’t delay, this ‘go green’ tax credit is temporary and applies only to home renos from now until November 1, 2014. At the top of the list of recognized eco-friendly renovations is the insulation of the roof, exterior walls, foundations and exposed floors – all spots in a house that can be sources of energy loss. But not all insulations are created equal and the EcoRenov program requires using products with low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and those that are certified Greenguard or an EcoLogo environmental choice. Retailers suggest a mineral wool insulation (such as Roxul ComfortBatt and Safe n’ Sound insulation) which meet all the criteria for the tax credit program. The management at Roxul says this insulation is easily available, and not only will it Roxul insulation will not only help earn you some money back when taking on a home renovation, but it will also ensure your home stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. More information about the new Quebec EcoRenov tax credit is available at revenuquebec. ca.

(NC) With the prices of homes continuing to be on the rise, many people are choosing to renovate rather than move. In many situations, it can be less expensive than purchasing a new home and with new programs such as Quebec’s EcoRenov tax credit rebate, a reno may not cost as much as you think. Insulation is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to conserve energy. Many spaces in a home can be sources of energy loss, and with homes aging, insulation can sag over time. At the top of the new EcoRenov program is the recommendation to insulate the roof, exterior walls, foundations and exposed floors. By insulating or upgrading this aspect of your home, you can expect to see savings on your heating and cooling costs. Under the EcoRenov program, the choice of insulation is imperative to receiving the tax credit. The specifications require you to select an insulation that has low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and those that are certified Greenguard, or an EcoLogo environmental choice. Industry experts suggest looking at insulations that meet the criteria of the EcoRenov program, but that also offer added benefits. The best on

the market are fire resistant, water repellent, resistant to mold, mildew, rot and bacterial growth, and are made from natural stone and recycled material. Retailers tell us that a widely available product that offers all of these added benefits is Roxul mineral wool insulation. This highly efficient material (which includes ComfortBatt and Safe n’ Sound insulation) is also a popular contractor choice since it is easy to work with, does not sag over time and will keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Homeowners interested in learning more about the new Quebec tax credit program may visit

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March 2014

HOME & GARDEN Are you ready for an emergency? (NC) Unexpected emergencies occur time and again in communities and cities across the country. These events have the potential to put you and your home at risk. There are ways, however, to reduce the risks from natural events, from technological or environmental accidents, and from humancaused incidents. “Over the years, various emergency situations including hurricanes, flooding, blackouts, and accidents have impacted Canadians and the homes we own,” says Steve Gray, a broker with Royal LePage Kelowna. “However, you can prepare and follow up after such emergencies in a variety of ways to reduce the impact on both you and your investment.” Gray advises taking these steps: Check your insurance. Adequate insurance coverage can help you replace what’s lost, and cover your expenses if you are forced to leave

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your home during an emergency. Discuss your needs with an insurance representative. Prepare your home emergency kit. Your emergency kit should include enough food, water and supplies to meet your needs for at least three days. In addition, it should include copies of important documents related to your home insurance, financial/banking information and medical prescriptions. Also be sure to include in your kit clothing and supplies required should you and your pets be evacuated from your home. Following an emergency, check your home for damaged utilities. If you smell natural gas – which is odourless in its raw form, although a smell, like rotten eggs is added for your safety – vacate the premises and call your natural gas provider immediately. If you see damaged or frayed electrical wires, or detect a water leak, contact your utility provider immediately. Turn off

Modern neutrals can clinch the home sale (NC) A fresh coat of paint can work wonders to update the look and feel of your home. That’s one reason why taking up the brush and roller is often a recommended upgrade when selling. And when it comes to colour, more often than not, your real estate agent will recommend neutral hues. “The reason we recommend neutrals is that we want prospective homebuyers to picture themselves living in the home,” says Carla Bouchard, a broker with Royal LePage Metro. “A pallet that is too strong may not be to everyone’s taste – and yet today’s neutrals are giving us many more options beyond the typical beige.” Bouchard points out that neutrals today have a lighter touch with a slight shift toward pastels. These colours are popping up in textiles, counter tops and carpets, and can be a great compliment

(NC) Start at the top, if you’re looking to reduce your heating and cooling costs—and the top is in your attic. “If your home is more than 30 years old, chances are your attic insulation could use some bolstering,” says Carlo Racioppo, a broker at Royal LePage Realty Plus in Mississauga, Ontario. “On any list of energy upgrades, tackling the attic first allows you to start the work anytime with minimal disruption to your home and family.” Racioppo suggests kicking off the process with an energy audit. You can check for governmentsanctioned energy rebates that apply within your province and in order to qualify an energy audit

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to furnishings and art. She recommends the following tactics to choose paint colours to rejuvenate your surroundings and do the heavy lifting should you decide to sell your home: Select a shade drawn from prominently displayed artwork, accessory or furnishings. Doing so will ensure that your home is one step closer to ‘show time’ if and when you decide to sell. Consider adjacent rooms. Think about how your chosen colour will interact with adjacent rooms. Strive for complimentary hues from a colour wheel to provide natural flow from room to room. Consider what time of day the room will be most often used. While you may be tempted to paint a basement room a bright sunny yellow, if

Tackle your attic for energy savings

the main fuse box/ breaker panel or water at the main valve where the water pipe enters your home. Be sure to use home generators with caution and only outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Do not use charcoal or gas barbecues or camping equipment indoors. While facing an emergency in your community comes with challenges, preparing for such an event can help you and your family to cope with the situation more effectively and to ward off potential additional setbacks. More information is available at

the room is to be used most often in the evening, hues of blue, green or gray may be more appropriate. Bring home a paint sample or oversized paint chip. Make an informed choice and consider how it looks in your room, and under various lighting conditions, before you commit. More information on enhancing and preparing your home for sale can be found at www.

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is required. The assessment will determine the current R-value of your attic’s existing insulation, along with other metrics throughout the home. R-values indicate the insulation effectiveness; the higher the number the more effective it is. Next, determine what type of insulation is best. Generally, blown-in spray foam insulation is best for attics as this method will cover all surfaces, including the rafters. This option is quick and easy to install through the services of a specialized contractor. However, if you’re looking to do the job yourself, batt insulation is an economical option, with many products to choose from, including some made from recycled materials.

If you choose batt insulation, be sure to cut and fit each batt properly to achieve the greatest R-value. More information on increasing the value and comfort of your home is available at www.

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AUTOMOTIVE 10 tips to negotiate a used car purchase (NC) You’ve found a vehicle that is right for you, and you’re ready to talk with the seller about a potential agreement. When it comes to negotiating the price, the key is to settle on a deal that will benefit both parties. Here are some things you should keep in mind before you commit: Do your research. Check out the Canadian Black Book, use the value finder tool on, or check out listing sites and classified ads to see what the average price of that vehicle is. Take into account other factors that influence the selling price. You’ll want to consider: age, mileage, the wear and tear both inside and out, how well it was cared for, any flaws or mechanical issues, the car’s accessories and added features, and any upgrades that have been made. Get the CarProof report. This will tell you if the vehicle has ever been in accident, if there are any outstanding liens on the car and it will give you insight into the registration and branding history. If the report does reveal a prior accident or

damage, check to make sure the vehicle has been properly fixed. This can also be a negotiation point with the seller. Take the car for a pre-purchase inspection. Get an independent, licensed mechanic to give the vehicle a detailed inspection. Bring the CarProof report with you as you’ll want to verify that any accident damage has been repaired. Know your budget. Before going to the sales office or meeting with a private seller, determine what amount is the highest price you’re willing to pay for that particular vehicle. Have confidence in your offer. When you make your offer to the seller, say it with confidence. Be assertive and state the offer in a way that shows you’re serious. Be respectful. Don’t give a lowball offer – you’ll risk insulting the seller and they probably won’t want to negotiate with you any further. Check your emotions. When you’re bartering back and forth with the seller, don’t get angry,

How to avoid used car fraud (NC) When you’re buying a used car, you want to know that the seller of the vehicle is someone you can trust. Asking the right questions and seeking out the right information will not only help you learn more about the vehicle, but it can also help you avoid scams or used car fraud. Here are 10 tips to make sure you find a great car: • Always question a deal that seems too good to be true. • Don’t do business with a seller who won’t meet face-to-face. Take caution if they’ll only talk with you by phone or email. • Be wary of dealing with a private seller who has numerous cars listed for sale at the same time. They could be a curbsider – an unlicensed individual, dealer or retailer who buys up vehicles and instead of registering them under their own name, posts the same vehicles for sale with a mark-up. The curbsider might hide major issues in order to make a quick, profitable sale. • Purchase a CarProof vehicle history report for a detailed Canadian and U.S. history of the vehicle along with registration details and lien information. This report will also contain

(464 words + 1 photo) pushy or arrogant and take caution if you find the seller acting this way. Keep in mind that the goal of the negotiating process is to find a fair price that you both can be happy with. Don’t rush the decision. If the seller makes a counteroffer and you’d like to think about it, that’s okay. However, know that the seller may have other potential buyers and you could risk losing out on the car if you wait. Be prepared to walk away. There are plenty of options out there when it comes to buying a used car. Don’t get too attached to the vehicle if you and the seller can’t come to a deal.

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registration and odometer details and will tell you if the vehicle is actively reported as stolen. • Ask the seller for proof of identity and check that the seller’s name and address matches up with the information on the actual vehicle registration form. Verify the vehicle identification number (VIN) and the car’s details with the registration form, insurance slips and with the CarProof report. One way curbsiders commit used vehicle fraud is by falsifying these details. • When you get the opportunity to check out the vehicle, give both the inside and the outside a thorough inspection to make sure it’s consistent with the condition that the seller is advertising. Take a good look at the odometer, checking to ensure that all the numbers line up and there’s no evidence of sabotage, like scratches and cracks in and around the area. Rolling back the odometer is a sneaky way to hide a vehicle’s high mileage. • Don’t rush the test drive – it could take up to 30 minutes to accurately gauge how well the vehicle is running.

• Take the vehicle for a pre-purchase inspection to a place of your choosing. If the seller insists on using one specific facility, this could be a red flag. Many curbsiders team up with someone who will look the other way when doing inspections or they’ll misrepresent the vehicle’s current condition. • Don’t pay before you get the vehicle and be wary if the seller demands cash only. If the seller requests a third-party escrow service, investigate the service to make sure it’s legitimate and secure, as many online escrow sites are fraudulent. • Don’t let yourself be rushed into a decision to buy the vehicle. Take your time to ask questions and make an informed decision.

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AUTOMOTIVE How to prepare your car to attract buyers (NC) When selling a used car, you want to make sure your vehicle stands out from the crowd. After all, you only get one chance at a great first impression. By taking the time to prep your car ahead of time, you can showcase all that your car has to offer and attract more potential buyers. Here are five tips to get your car primed and ready to sell: Fix what is necessary: If you’ve been putting off making small repairs to your vehicle, now is the time to invest a little money. Replace broken taillights, old wipers, burnt out interior lights and fill in windshield chips. Pay attention to the lights that pop-up on your dashboard when you start your car. Did you forget to reset your oil change indicator or does your ‘check engine’ light always come on? You will want to resolve a warning light because this could be an immediate red flag for a shopper. Visit your mechanic: It’s a good idea to take your car to a mechanic for a quick inspection before you hang up the For Sale sign. He or she will be able to tell you if there are any issues

that require your attention. If your mechanic does find serious problems, then you’ll want to weigh the cost and benefits of fixing this – will it help you make the sale or does it make more sense to sell the vehicle as is? Compile your records: Interested car shoppers will want to know how well the vehicle was maintained and serviced while it was under your ownership. Gather together any records or receipts so they can easily be presented if someone asks to see them. Include the vehicle history report: Include a CarProof vehicle history report as part of the vehicle selling process. This report will let shoppers know that you’re an open and honest seller who is willing to give them all the details in order to ensure a great used car buying transaction. If your car is parked and for sale where the public can see it, post your CarProof report in the window so interested buyers can see the history of the vehicle. Scrub the outside and the inside: Take your vehicle to the car wash and give the exterior a deep clean. On the inside, vacuum under

Clever tips for finding the right used car online (NC) It’s true that the Internet is a great place to research and shop for used vehicles. Online classified sites connect buyers to more sellers than ever before and dealerships also post their inventory online. This means you don’t have to visit the car lot until you’ve narrowed down your search. Here are tips to help you find a great used car online: Research the vehicles you’re interested in. The Internet is the perfect resource to learn more about a car, to watch videos, and to read reviews. You’ll get insight into how a vehicle performs, you can learn about the pros and cons of a vehicle and you’ll see how the car stands up over time. This initial research will give you a great idea as to the type of vehicle that will best suit your lifestyle, your family and your budget. Visit different websites to comparison shop. If you’re interested in a certain make and model, check out local dealer websites, visit manufacturer sites and browse classified sites like Kijiji Autos

(494 words + 1 photo) and in between the seats, clean out the cupholders and the glove box. Wipe around all the knobs, switches and the gearshift, and give the dashboard a good wash. Get rid of any window or bumper stickers or personal touches you’ve added to the car. If you’re driving the car while trying to sell it, keep up on regular maintenance and don’t let crumbs or dirt pile up. These tips will help to ensure that you sell your vehicle quickly – and for the right price – and will result in a great experience for both you and the buyer.

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and AutoTrader to see what’s available in terms of features and pricing. Discover the cost of owning and driving a vehicle. The CAA has an online Driving Costs Calculator that lets you input your province and the vehicle you’re interested in and the tool then calculates the fixed costs, variable costs and the environmental costs of that vehicle based on your driving habits and the current fuel price. The tool also allows you to save by comparing vehicles. Contact the dealer or seller with questions. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of vehicles, you’ll probably have questions that you’ll want to ask the seller in terms of how the car was maintained, any mechanical problems and the reasons for selling. Most sellers are open to communicating by email and this can be a great way to ask some initial questions so that you can determine whether or not you want to see the vehicle in person. Get the CarProof report. If you’ve settled on a used car or want to check a few vehicles on your shortlist, be sure to see a CarProof vehicle history

report before you commit. This report will give you important details about a vehicle’s history so you can make an informed purchase decision. Many classified sites will allow the seller to post the report on the vehicle listing or you can request that the seller provide you with one if it’s not already available. CarProof offers a free Used Car Buying Guide online that you can download for free. It is filled with tips including how to take a vehicle for a test drive, what questions you should ask before you buy, plus advice on how to negotiate with the seller, and more.

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March 2014

AUTOMOTIVE Tips for getting the best price for your car (NC) Everyone wants the best price possible when selling their car. To do this, it’s important that you know what your vehicle is worth in the current market – and you will also want to practise how to up-sell the car’s great features and benefits. Here are some useful tips to help you sell your vehicle for a great price: Price it right – Start with the Canadian Black Book, use the value finder tool on, or look at online classified sites and classified ads to see the average price of your make and model. Take into account other factors that influence your selling price like age, mileage, wear and tear, maintenance, the car’s accessories, added features or updates, physical flaws and mechanical issues. Once you’ve decided on a price point, know your bottom line. Buyers expect that there will be some room for price negotiations – have you left space for this in your price? Write the perfect ad – If you’re posting your vehicle for sale online or offline, your ad needs to be easy-to-read, professional and eye-catching. This is your chance to convince the car shopper

The anatomy of braking

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that your car is the one for them. The ad needs to contain all the important information – year, make, model, price, features – and should also highlight what’s unique or special about your car. Take great photos – Always provide a photo in your ads. Listings with pictures of the vehicle attract more attention as it gives the car shopper a better idea of what you’re selling and can help validate the price. You’ll want to make sure that the photographs are clear, easy-to-see and show off your vehicle’s best side. Share the vehicle’s history – A CarProof vehicle history report can confirm that the vehicle has never been in an accident and can create trust between you and the buyer. If the vehicle has been in an accident, then the report allows you to be transparent and gives you the chance to explain exactly what was repaired. Knowing the vehicle’s past can also give the buyer more confidence in your asking price. Highlight your car’s best assets – When it comes time to meet with a buyer, know which areas of the car you want to bring to their attention. You

might want to talk about the car’s low mileage, the options inside, or the new tires that you just put on – think about what adds value to the car. Trust your price and be prepared to back it up with clear reasons and selling points. Re-evaluate if needed – If you can’t find a buyer and your vehicle has been on the market longer than you were hoping, you might want to re-evaluate your strategy. To get more leads, maybe you need to rework your ads to make your vehicle more appealing. If your price is scaring everyone away, perhaps you should come down a little so that it’s more in line with the market.

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(NC) Every driver on the road knows the heartstopping feeling of slamming on the brakes to avoid a collision. Yet few drivers know just how quickly the brain has to react, or just how important the vehicle’s brakes and tires are in this split-second process. It’s an instantaneous, threepart reaction ending with a complete stop. Here’s how it all works: Your Brain In one brief moment, the brain sends sensory data to the amygdala (this complex set of neurons works to process emotional reactions and even controls the memory), which jumps into action prompting the driver to hit the brakes. Your Brakes When the foot hits the brake pedal with all its force it initiates the hydraulic brake system which uses fluids to apply enough friction to the brake pads to stop the vehicle.

Your Tires Once the brakes are engaged, it is the sole responsibility of the tires to get the job done and keep the driver out of harm’s way. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that the proper tires are in place. Just remember that all tires are not created equal. “Maximum braking power requires the highest possible amount of friction between the tire and the road,” says Bill Hume, vice president of Hankook Tire Canada. “This level of friction is dependent on both the rubber and the temperature. The softer the rubber, the greater the grip to the asphalt, resulting in increased stopping power.” Hume says in the ultra high performance category, touring tires like the Ventus S1 noble2 are ideal for the warmer months. They are larger, wider, and made up of new silica tread compound that will

Tires can never be assessed too often (NC) Long before the backyard rinks thaw and the snow banks melt, eager Canadian drivers begin planning their spring road trips. Garage doors will soon open, ready to tackle the warm weather and the open road. “Before you leave the driveway, be sure to outfit your car with the tires that best suit your vehicle and driving needs,” says Bill Hume, vice president of Hankook Tire Canada. “Just like you wouldn’t wear winter boots to the beach, or sandals to the gym, you need to think about your tires as the tool that gets you where you want to go this spring.” Hume offers a handy overview of prime choices in the Hankook line: The Commuter You drive an ‘everyday-chariot’ and spend more time in the front seat of your car than you do on your couch. Comfort and convenience is on par with safety and performance when it comes to

resist breakdown in warmer temperatures. And for improved traction on those rainsoaked spring days, he points to the Aqua Hydro Block design to repel water away from the tires. More information is available at www.

Photo Caption: The Ventus S1 noble2 is an ultrahigh performance tire engineered to repel rain and provide optimal traction in wet weather.

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your priorities. A high performance, all-season tire with center rib block and multi-sipe design, providing excellent traction on a rainsoaked or dry road. The Family SUV You’re transporting precious cargo and you need to know that you’re travelling on the most dependable tires available. High quality touring tires like the Dynapro HT will guarantee longer tread wear, optimal traction and the low noise levels needed for a family vehicle. The Road Warrior For that high performance vehicle, you need an ultra-high performance tire. The Ventus S1

noble2 features advanced compounds that provide superior handling. Hello Saturday. More information is available at www.

www.newscanada. com Photo Caption: The Hankook Dynapro HT (left) is perfect for your family’s SUV. The Hankook Optimo H725 (right) is the all-season tire that will get you where you’re going safely on rain-soaked or dry roads.

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AUTOMOTIVE Is your spare tire in good working order? (NC) There is nothing drivers dread more than the sound of rubber flapping on asphalt. Typically, the first reaction to a flat tire is disbelief, followed by annoyance and then a quick phone call to a towing company. But what happens when there is no phone signal and no tow truck in sight? Emily Chung, a licensed mechanic, and the brand ambassador for Hankook Tire Canada, gives us five easy steps to changing a flat for a spare: 1 – Look ahead Most car manufacturers include with the vehicle all the essential tools needed to change a tire. Inspect that the equipment is not only where it should be, but also that it’s in good working order - before you need it. Not sure what you need? Here’s a quick check list: a spare tire, a diamond jack, a tire iron, a pair of gloves and a flashlight. 2 – Get loose You need to do a little prep before you get to work. Start by loosening the lug nuts. These small pieces of metal keep tires attached to the car so

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they’re typically screwed on very tightly. You’re going to need a tire iron and a little elbow grease to get this done. 3 – Lift it up Here’s where the heavy lifting takes place, but luckily not by you. Place the diamond jack under the frame of the vehicle. Many new vehicles have a designated slot for this, so take some time to ensure the jack is secured. Begin by twisting the lever and continue until the vehicle is high enough that the tire can be easily removed. You don’t need to get under the vehicle at any point in this process. 4 – Make the switch Remove the loosened lug nuts and slide the flat off. Lift the spare onto the vehicle and align the holes of the rims with the bolts of the tire. Position the tire into place and begin to screw on the lug nuts with your hands as far as you can. Next, lower the vehicle to the ground and remove the jack. Once the vehicle has been lowered, use the tire iron to tighten the bolts in a diagonal pattern as tightly as possible without stripping the thread.

5 – Change it up “Spare tires are not meant to be a permanent replacement,” says Chung. “They’re typically smaller and less equipped to deal with the demands of the road. So you only want to use the spare to get you to your mechanic or auto shop in order to get your all-season tires back on.” More information can be found at www. Photo Caption: Spare tires are not meant to be a permanent replacement. Head to your local dealership or garage and get your all-season tires back on as soon as the weather warms up.

CONSUMER INFORMATION The Little Black Book of Scams is a mustread (73 words) (NC) Take the time to get informed; it may keep you from getting taken by fraudsters. This March, as part of Fraud Prevention Month, download a copy of The Little Black Book of Scams at www. It’s filled with clean little secrets for protecting yourself, your family, your identity and your cash as well as stamping out scammers.

Carbon monoxide safety gets a national focus (282 words + 2 photo)

(NC)— The retired Ontario firefighter who lost his niece, her husband and their two children in a horrific carbon monoxide accident is pledging to once again take his safety crusade on the road. John Gignac, who co-founded the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education in 2009 to honour the memory of his family members, cites achievements in 2013 as having re-energized his desire to spread the word. “Last year both the Yukon and Ontario governments passed laws to make CO alarms mandatory in homes with gas-fired appliances, wood and gas fireplaces, as well as attached garages and carports,” says Gignac. “That’s a fantastic step forward in preventing carbon monoxide deaths and injuries. But laws or no laws, it is education and awareness that are required in every city and town in every province. And so I will be doing my best to warn all Canadians about this silent killer.” Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer because humans cannot smell, taste or see it. It

can come from everyday heating systems and appliances that use gas as a source of fuel and if devices are not working properly, or venting is cracked or blocked, CO can seep back into a home with devastating results. “My niece and her family did not have a CO alarm when carbon monoxide from their gas fireplace came back into their house because of a blocked chimney vent,” Gignac tells us. “So my message to others is: Have your systems checked each year by a licensed technician; Make yourself aware of the sources and symptoms of CO poisoning; and Above all else, install a CSAapproved CO alarm outside your bedrooms.” More information about this topic is available at Photo caption: Carbon monoxide alarms with continuous display can warn you of the presence of the deadly gas

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March 2014

CONSUMER INFORMATION Spring forward to a safer home (NC)— Every spring safety officials urge us to change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms when we change our clocks to Daylight Saving Time. We depend on them for early warning of fire and exposure to the deadly gas, so it’s important that alarms are working at all times. But there is one more step that homeowners need to take to ensure that their family is truly protected: Check the age of those alarms and replace any that are past their prime. “Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms stand guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Carol Heller of Kidde Canada, the country’s leading home fire safety company. “So it makes sense that eventually they need to be replaced.” But how often? Fire safety organizations across North America say that smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years and carbon monoxide

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alarms every seven to 10 years, depending on the brand. Experts stress that checking the age of your alarms before you install fresh batteries is essential, because you don’t want to put new batteries into outdated alarms. Heller adds, “It is also important to know that all alarms need replacing, whether they are battery powered or hardwired.” Consider these additional safety reminders: 1. Install smoke alarms on every storey of your home and inside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. 2. Never take down an alarm or remove its batteries because of a nuisance alarm caused by cooking. Instead, install a photoelectric smoke alarm near the kitchen as they dramatically reduce false alarms. 3. If you have gas devices or appliances, a wood or gas fireplace, or an attached garage or carport

you need to install at least one CSAapproved carbon monoxide alarm. The best location is near bedrooms – never install in a furnace room. CO alarms with continuous displays are most popular as they warn you before harmful levels are reached. More ways to keep your family safe can be found online at Photo caption: All smoke alarms must be replaced every 10 years whether hardwired or battery powered

Be prepared, take precautions when dealing with severe weather (NC)— Mother Nature reminded Canadians just who is boss, as she recently unleashed severe or atypical weather right across the country. Whether it was unexpected volumes of snow, ice storms and high winds, or just freezing temperatures, one thing was clear: how we prepare for and endure severe weather can literally mean life or death. The following checklist can help keep your family safe. It is provided by home safety expert Carol Heller of Kidde Canada, a leading home fire safety company. If the power goes out, never use a barbecue as a source of heat or run gas generators indoors or in a garage…even if the garage door is open. Carbon monoxide fumes can pass through the walls of

your home and expose your family to the invisible and deadly gas. Make sure all hardwired or plug-in smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have battery backup. This will keep them operating if you lose power. Otherwise you are not protected. After extended power outages, replace the backup battery in your alarms in case the extended use drained it completely. All gas-fired devices must be vented, so be sure to clear outdoor vents of deep snow or other debris. If you use candles to provide light, make sure that they are contained in glass jars well away from flammable materials such as drapes and

No need to change batteries in newest smoke alarms (NC)— Keeping your family safe just got a whole lot easier. A new line of ‘worry-free’ smoke alarms addresses the most common complaints about current devices, namely: “They go off when I cook; They chirp in the middle of the night when the battery needs changing; I don’t know which alarm to install where; and, I’m not sure when to replace them.” Based on consumer research, leading home fire safety company Kidde developed new models that substantially reduce nuisance alarms by using “intelligent” photoelectric technology. This new technology is deemed to be better at determining if smoke is from a real fire or another source. As well, new product packaging clearly suggests

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table cloths. And extinguish them when you go to bed. The website www.safeathome. ca also offers more family safety tips. Photo caption: Make sure your alarms have battery backup in case of power outages during storms  

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where to install each model. And, alarms will now chirp near the end of their 10-year lifespan, reminding you it’s time to replace them. But the loudest kudos from consumers and firefighters relate to the 10-year sealed lithium batteries built into the “worry-free” alarms. They cannot be removed and most importantly, they never need to be changed for the entire lifespan of the alarm. “Consumers spoke and we listened,” says Carol Heller, a home fire safety expert for Kidde. “Homeowners love the convenience of never having to replace batteries and they appreciate the money that they save. The new line includes carbon monoxide alarms too.”

More information and family safety tips are found at www.safeathome. ca. Photo caption: Kidde “Worry-Free” alarms have 10-year sealed batteries that never need changing.

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CONSUMER INFORMATION How to avoid getting scammed by fraudsters (NC) Every year, Canadians lose millions of dollars to scam artists who bombard them with online, mail, door-to-door and telephone scams. Fraudsters are cunning, heartless fast talkers who show no mercy when it comes to conning people into handing over their hard-earned money. They target people of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds and incomes and lure people into paying for fake lotteries, Internet scams, get-rich-quick schemes and miracle health or weight loss programs. One of the most heartbreaking scams, known as emergency scams, target grandparents and play upon their emotions to rob them of their money. The typical emergency scam involves a grandparent receiving a call from a scammer pretending to be one of his or her grandchildren. Callers go on to say they are in some kind of trouble and need money immediately. They claim to have been in a car accident, to be having trouble returning from a foreign country or to need bail money. They ask you not to tell anyone and then ask you to wire some money through a money

Been victimized by scam artists? Report it right away (194 words)

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transfer company. Often, victims don’t verify the information until after the money is sent. If someone calls or approaches you for money, think twice before handing over a dime. The Competition Bureau suggests some ways to protect yourself. Cut them out and place them near your phone or computer to protect everyone in your home. Protect your identity at all times. Only give out personal information when you can absolutely trust the person you are talking to. Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust. Never send money or pay any fee to claim a prize or lottery winnings and never wire money to someone whose identity you cannot confirm. Never give your credit card or banking information over the phone unless you know the person. Ask for identification and be assertive. For doorto-door salespeople, demand to see identification and send them away if you’re not comfortable.

Beware of text scams or spam e-mail. Never reply to spam e-mail or text messages from people or organizations you have never heard of. Legitimate banks would never ask for account information in an e-mail or text. Beware of free downloads and requests for passwords. A “free” game, application or trial offer that requires a credit card number can lead to charges you didn’t expect. Downloading suspicious content can harm your computer and compromise your identity. Choose uncommon passwords and change them regularly. March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. To learn more about fraud, what you can do to protect yourself and how you can report a scam, go to or call 1-888-495-8501, visit the bureau at fraud or call 1 800 348 5358.

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(NC) If you think you’ve spotted a scam or have been targeted by a scam, whether in person, on the phone, by text, e-mail or on the Internet, you must report it right away. The only way to stop these sophisticated con artists is to report their crimes to the authorities. There are a number of government and law enforcement agencies in Canada that you can contact for advice and to make a report. This type of reporting goes a long way to helping you and others from being ripped off by ruthless scam operators. The best agency to contact depends on where you live. The two main national bodies are the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at www. and the Competition Bureau at or 1 800 348 5358. To find a list of other ways you can report a scam, read pages 29 and 30 of The Little Black Book of Scams produced by the Competition Bureau at or order a copy at 1-800-O-Canada. March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, so do your part by reporting suspicious activity you think authorities should know about. The actions you take today will prevent others from becoming victims tomorrow.

(NC) Fraud artists can be ruthless when it comes to devising new ways to rip people off and it appears social media and networking sites are the latest crime scenes. Anything and everything is up for grabs and no one is immune from these devious fraudsters. March is Fraud Prevention Month and government and law enforcement agencies across Canada are reminding Canadians to be on the lookout for scams that are sometimes disguised as shortened web addresses, friendly chats, text messages, free downloads or invitations to view photos of yourself taken at a wild party. Think of these things as bait to get you to “click and compromise” your finances or your identity. The bottom line is sites that attract a large number of visitors are also likely to attract the criminal element. With that in mind, be vigilant about who you communicate with online, how

you verify their identity and what they are asking you to do. Never click on suspicious links or share personal or financial information unless you absolutely trust the person on the other end. Canadians lose millions of dollars every year from these kinds of vicious attacks, so be on the lookout at all times. If you or someone you know has fallen prey to an online scam, you must report it to the authorities. Doing so helps the next person from experiencing the same invasion of privacy and loss of money. To find a list of ways you can report a scam and learn more about Fraud Prevention Month, visit, call the bureau at 1 800 348 5358, visit www. or call 1-888-495-8501.

The Little Black Book of Scams is a mustread (73 words) (NC) Take the time to get informed; it may keep you from getting taken by fraudsters. This March, as part of Fraud Prevention Month, download a copy of The Little Black Book of Scams at www. It’s filled with clean little secrets for protecting yourself, your family, your identity and your cash as well as stamping out scammers.

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March 2014

CONSUMER INFORMATION Lives can be ruined by fraud: protect yourself with these tips (NC) Recognize it. Report it. Stop it. Those three sentences represent the theme for Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, and an action plan of sorts for all Canadians. The public awareness campaign is run by government and law enforcement agencies to help empower consumers against fraud schemes that stop at nothing to steal your money or your identity. Every year, millions of Canadians fall prey to all kinds of scams—everything from fake lotteries and telephone schemes to health and medical scams that prey on human suffering by offering magic weight loss pills and miracle cures for serious illnesses. “By recognizing scams and reporting them, consumers and businesses can protect themselves and assist in the fight against fraud. We work with our partners to educate Canadians during Fraud Prevention Month and throughout the year to combat fraudulent activity,” says John Pecman, commissioner of the Competition Bureau.

The Competition Bureau is reminding consumers of some simple tips to avoid being scammed, whether it is over the Internet, over the phone, by mail or in person: Beware of offers that seem “too good to be true”. Be vigilant when evaluating ads, whether for a job, a product or service offered online, over the phone or in print. Know who you are dealing with. Be wary of any unsolicited phone calls, e mails, text messages or letters from unknown sources. Before sending money or giving credit card or bank account details, be sure you understand what you are agreeing to. Research the company, the individuals, the product or the offer and verify any contact and company details. It is also important to keep these tips in mind: A “free” trial offer that requires a credit card number often leads to charges you didn’t expect

– if finding and understanding the terms and conditions is difficult, think twice. Trustworthy businesses almost never contact you or visit your home unannounced to ask for personal details, banking or financial information. They will not do so by e-mail, phone or text message. Legitimate lottery and sweepstakes administrators never charge fees to deliver a prize. Sending money using a money-transfer outlet, also called “wiring” money, is like sending cash – you have no protection against loss. Testimonials can appear quite believable by using so-called “satisfied customers”, “celebrities”, or “experts”. To report a scam or learn more about Fraud Prevention Month, visit www.competitionbureau. or call 1 800 348 5358, www. or call 1-888-495-8501.

Building a business is hard: losing it to fraud is devastating (NC) Scam artists would love to get their hands on your hard-earned money and that of your employees. Developing an anti-fraud action plan is a must-do for any business at risk for falling prey to online, telephone or door-to-door scam artists, which these days is just about every business. The Competition Bureau is encouraging businesses to join the fight against fraud this March as part of Fraud Prevention Month. Being proactive and aware of the dangers will not only help stop fraud – it will also protect your bottom line. In a nutshell, here’s your anti-fraud plan. Be sure to share it with your employees: Recognize it: Fraudsters are sophisticated and creative, so questioning the legitimacy of every

inquiry – no matter how official it may appear to be – is a good policy to have in place. Be ever vigilant and on the lookout. Scammers are finding new and innovative ways every day to rip people off so be suspicious of any deals that sound too good to be true, especially ones online. Telemarketers are getting some tough competition from social media and Internet scammers. Report it: It’s important to have trained and vigilant staff who are cautious and who know how to recognize and report suspected fraudulent activity. Fraudulent or suspicious activity can be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at or 1-888-495-8501 or the Competition Bureau at www.competitionbureau. or 1-800-348-5358.

Beware of weight loss and other health scams (NC) Some people would do anything to lose weight—even hand over their precious, hardearned money to fraudsters promising them their dream come true. This March, as part of Fraud Prevention Month, government and law enforcement agencies are warning consumers against health and medical scams that prey on human suffering. These scams offer solutions or cures where none exist or promise to simplify complex health treatments. What to look for

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Stop it: The Fraud Awareness for Commercial Targets (FACT) campaign is an outreach and education initiative of the Competition Bureau that provides businesses and not-for-profit organizations with the facts necessary to avoid becoming victims of fraud, which costs them millions of dollars annually. The bureau’s website, at fraud, has complete details outlining the FACT campaign, along with information about Fraud Prevention Month and other initiatives, including the Canadian edition of the Little Black Book of Scams, a must-read for every Canadian business owner.

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Watch for any references to miracle cures, weight loss schemes or online pharmacies. Some weight loss scams even promise weight loss “while you sleep.” But remember, there are no magic pills, miracle cures or quick and dirty options for serious conditions or rapid weight loss. Never commit to anything under pressure. Never trust unsubstantiated claims about medicines, supplements or other treatments. Always consult your health care professional.

Check for published studies, reports or materials to verify the accuracy of the promoters. Ask yourself: if there really is a miracle cure for this, wouldn’t my health care provider have told me about it? There are more fraud prevention tips and information about reporting a scam at www., 1-888-495-8501, or 1 800 348 5358.

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CONSUMER INFORMATION Fraud: Recognize it. Report it. Stop it. (NC) Fraud is a crime that threatens every Canadian, regardless of education, income or age. It comes in a variety of sizes and forms, including imitating well-known brands or family members in trouble, e-mail messages, false representations via telemarketing, identity theft, counterfeiting and more. Everyone is at risk for these ruthless criminals and those who fall prey feel the devastating

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effects long after they experience the unlawful transaction. Even the savviest consumer can get caught up in the moment and be swept away by sophisticated scam artists who make a living conning consumers and businesses out of their hard-earned money. This March is Fraud Prevention Month across Canada and the Competition Bureau is inviting Canadians to learn more by participating in

activities online and in communities throughout the month. There are online quizzes, downloadables, tool kits and a fabulous, must-read publication called The Little Black Book of Scams, which has every scam you can imagine, tips for reporting scams and ways to arm yourself. You can download the book at www.competitionbureau.

ENVIRONMENT & NATURE Spring cleaning: Good For your home and the environment (NC) Ontario households will soon embark on the annual tradition of spring cleaning. Organizing your basement or garage is a great way to free up space. While cleaning out your home, it is important to remember cardboard, plastic, cans and glass can be recycled. But this does not necessarily mean tossing these items in the Blue Box. Returning wine, spirits and cooler containers to The Beer Store for your deposit refund not only benefits your wallet; it prevents unnecessary items from entering landfills. “The glass and cardboard collected is used by Ontario manufacturers, reducing the cost of manufacturing locally and its environmental impacts. It’s a win-win situation that we’re proud to make possible,” says Ted Moroz, President of the Beer Store. Since 2007, all containers over 100 mL sold through the LCBO and Ontario winery, distillery and brewery retail stores (including glass bottles,

aluminum cans, tetra pak wine cartons, plastic liquor bottles and chill packs) carry a 10- or 20cent deposit. And they all can be returned to The Beer Store. In 2012-13, over 302 million – or about 80 per cent - containers were returned through the Ontario Deposit Return Program, which is funded by the LCBO. But that means almost 75 million containers still ended up in a landfill or the Blue Box. While the Blue Box effectively recovers recyclable material, the deposit-return system allows for source separation of container types to ensure a higher quality of recyclable materials. For example, glass bottles are separated by colour, which ensures all glass is recycled into high-value products like new bottles or fibreglass. And it frees up space in the Blue Box, allowing municipalities to expand their recycling programs, so more packaging overall is diverted from landfills.

“The Ontario Deposit Return Program has had great success across the province. By taking an active role, the people of Ontario are not only contributing to a dynamic and innovative business climate but helping to protect the environment for present and future generations,” says Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance. These financial and environmental benefits should make cleaning out the garage a little more appealing.

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Ontario continues recycling leadership with new milestone (NC) Ontarians have always been at the forefront of the recycling industry and leaders in environmental awareness. Ontario was the first place in the world to implement a curbside Blue Box program for household recyclables. Our recycling leadership continues with a significant milestone soon to be achieved. The Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP) for wine, spirits and cooler containers, funded by the LCBO, will soon mark the two billionth container returned to The Beer Store since the program began in 2007. “The Ontario Deposit Return Program has had great success across the province. By taking an active role, the people of Ontario are not only contributing to a dynamic and innovative business climate but helping to protect the environment for present and future generations,” says Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance. Containers over 100 mL sold through the LCBO and Ontario winery, distillery and brewery retail

stores (including glass bottles, aluminum cans, tetra pak wine cartons, plastic liquor bottles and chill packs) carry a 10- or 20-cent deposit. And they all can be returned to the Beer Store for a refund. In 2012-13, over 302 million – or about 80 per cent - containers were returned. But that means almost 75 million containers still ended up in a landfill or the Blue Box. While the Blue Box effectively recovers recyclable material, the deposit-return system allows for source separation of container types to ensure a higher quality of recyclable materials. For example, glass bottles are separated by colour, which ensures all glass is recycled into high-value products like new bottles or fibreglass. And it frees up space in the Blue Box, allowing municipalities to expand their recycling programs, so more packaging overall is diverted from landfills. “Ontario consumers’ participation, in both the ODRP and our program for beer containers,

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ensures hundreds of thousands of tonnes of glass and cardboard can be used by Ontario manufacturers, reducing the cost of manufacturing locally and its environmental impacts, while helping to create local jobs,” says Ted Moroz, President of the Beer Store. With results like these, it’s no wonder Ontario residents are such keen recyclers.

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ENVIRONMENT & NATURE Ontarians look to make 2014 a record year for environmental care (334 words + 1 photo Ont Only)

(NC) Ontarians have always been environmentally conscious. Our dedication to the environment is exemplified by the success of the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP).Ontarians are on track to return a record number of wine, spirits and cooler containers to the Beer Store this year through the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP). As a result, 2014 will see the two billionth container returned since this program began in 2007. Under ODRP, which is funded by the LCBO, all containers over 100 mL sold through the LCBO and Ontario winery, distillery and brewery retail stores (including glass bottles, aluminum cans, tetra pak wine cartons, plastic liquor bottles and chill packs) carry a 10- or 20-cent deposit. And they all can be returned to The Beer Store for a refund. In 2012-13, over 302 million – or about 80 per cent - containers were returned. But that means

almost 75 million containers still ended up in a landfill or the Blue Box. While the Blue Box effectively recovers recyclable material, the deposit-return system allows for source separation of container types to ensure a higher quality of recyclable materials. For example, glass bottles are separated by colour, which ensures all glass is recycled into high-value products like new bottles or fibreglass. And it frees up space in the Blue Box that allows municipalities to expand their recycling programs, meaning more packaging overall can be diverted from Ontario’s landfills. Together, these deposit return programs represent Canada’s largest beverage container collection system. The materials collected through these programs support Ontario manufacturing, as well as hundreds of local jobs, and reduce manufacturing costs and associated environmental impacts.

“The Ontario Deposit Return Program has had great success across the province. By taking an active role, the people of Ontario are not only contributing to a dynamic and innovative business climate but helping to protect the environment for present and future generations,” says Charles Sousa, Ontario’s Minister of Finance. Strong incentives for all of us to make 2014 a banner year for recycling in Ontario.

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FINANCE & BUSINESS Home-based businesses

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(NC) Being able to work at home is a dream for many people, but there are a few things you should consider before deciding to start a homebased business. Depending on the amount of space you require and on the nature of your business, it may be a very good option to locate your business in your own home. Consider the many factors involved to be sure that working from home is the best choice for you. Benefits: • Cheaper than renting • Set your own hours of work • Put as much time as you want into the business Challenges: • Not a lot of room for expansion of the business • Legal and health restrictions, if your business is in an apartment or home • Interruptions from family and friends Before diving in, start your research with the free business services offered by Canada Business Ontario, available by calling 1-888-576-4444

or visiting http://Canada Business Ontario provides information on business basics, regulations, government financing options, sample business plans and free secondary market research. Quick Tips: • Pick a home business idea that interests you, and where there is a need in your area. • Designate a specific area of your home or apartment that is away from the mainstream of your home activities. • Check both provincial and federal regulations for health, safety and taxation regulations before you start. • Make sure you are available to your clients by keeping a consistent schedule or using other approaches to get back to them quickly. Starting a home-based business may be demanding, but with the right information and

proper planning, you can make your dream a reality. Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit,, or contact us by email at or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

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FINANCE & BUSINESS How to find your niche market (NC) Part of being an entrepreneur is having the ability to innovate and to adapt to changes in the marketplace, particularly when it comes to understanding the demographics of your prime customers. Great ideas will come to life by offering new products and services, or by delivering them in new ways. As with any major undertaking, you will need to do your research first to determine which group of people you want to reach and how to get their attention. Consider the following guiding questions: • Is there a group of potential customers with similar wants or needs? • Is the market big enough to support my business? • Who is my competition, and are they currently serving that same market? • Can I adapt my products and services to address the market’s needs, and still be profitable?

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The best way to learn more about your potential customers is to conduct some market research to find out first-hand what they want. Let’s say you work in the healthcare field and have learned that a growing number of people are looking for mobile services, or personalized care at home. You might decide to expand your service offerings, or start a new business aimed at meeting a particular set of needs for this area. If you keep an eye on emerging social trends, or changes in demographics like an aging population, you can get in on the ground floor, or adapt accordingly. Once you’ve determined who you want to reach, you can focus on adjusting or developing a marketing plan. You have heard what the market has to say; now it’s your turn to reach out to them. Think about the language and tone you use, and the way you present yourself to them. Perform some test marketing and seek feedback. You can also start your research with free business services by contacting Canada Business Ontario at 1-888-576-4444 and accessing the

Canada Business Network website at canadabusiness. for more business information. Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit,, or contact us by email at or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

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Get a new perspective on your business with reverse mentoring (277 words + 1 photo, Ont Only)

(NC) Are you looking for guidance? Ready to learn new skills? If so, reverse mentoring might be right for you. Traditionally, mentors are older and more experienced than their mentees. Reverse mentoring uses a different approach: younger or less experienced employees act as mentors to the older or more experienced employees or business owners. For example, a recent graduate may not have many years of experience, but as a mentor, they will be able to share the latest advances in their field of study. A reverse mentor could also help you successfully tap into new ways of doing business like using social media to reach your customers, recruiting younger employees, or introducing new technologies to the workplace. A successful reverse mentoring program could help you:

• Tap into your employees’ energy and creativity; • Become more tech-savvy; • Boost employee engagement and commitment; • Give your junior employees valuable experience; • Foster cross-generational knowledge sharing; • Identify future leaders.

• Set clear goals and identify areas where the mentee is seeking guidance; • Keep an open mind and be ready to share your thoughts, ideas, questions, and concerns; • Make sure that both parties are comfortable with their roles.

1-888-5764444, or online at canadabusiness. Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit,, or contact us by email at or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

Additional resources are available free of charge from Canada Business Ontario at

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If a reverse mentoring relationship is right for you, these tips can help you make it work:

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March 2014

FINANCE & BUSINESS Are you new to Canada and new to business? (NC) As a newcomer to Canada, you may be considering ways to start your own business. This can be exciting, but it can also be demanding. When you are new to Canada, knowing what is involved and finding the right information is important. Here are some tips that can help make your business vision a reality: Start with a plan Business planning is important for anyone starting a business. This is a written document that describes your business and shows potential investors or lenders that your idea has the potential to succeed. It also helps you plan for the future growth and development of your business. Canada Business Ontario offers a free Business Plan Guide that is available in over 10 different languages. Determine what is involved To complete your business plan, it is important to understand the start-up requirements. Licensing, registration and tax accounts may be needed before you can open your doors. To determine what steps will apply to your specific idea make

sure you have a clear understanding of what the business will be. Many of the requirements will be based on the individual choices you make about your business type, location and structure. Get the right information Finding the right information can involve a lot of time and research. Canada Business Ontario is there to help make it easier for you. This Government of Canada service offers information on federal and provincial business programs, services and regulations—all at no charge. The Business Guide for Newcomers to Canada is designed to help entrepreneurs who are new to Canada learn about starting a business. The guides are free of charge and business information is available in English or French, by calling 1-888576-4444. You can also contact them for access to free secondary market research. Starting a business in Canada can be both rewarding and challenging no matter where you come from. Some of the most successful Canadian

Know when your business is ready to export (NC) Are you thinking of exporting your product or service? Make sure you have the right exporting plan in place first. Start by asking yourself the following: Does your company have the capacity to handle the extra demand exporting will entail? Before you develop relationships with overseas buyers, your company should have a developed, systematic means of responding to customer inquiries here at home. You’ll also need culturally-sensitive marketing skills, and ways of handling language barriers and different monetary systems. Ask yourself whether you have the resources to research and target your market. Have you researched that market, to learn whether your product can compete? If you were to find a buyer, could you obtain enough capital or lines of credit to produce

Financing your business?

(NC) Are you trying to finance your business? If so, consider these key factors: Your Financial Investment Be prepared to invest your own capital into your business. Most financing ventures, including government financing programs, will need to see a portion of investment coming from you. Your Credit Rating Lenders will consider your personal finances when you apply for a loan. While it may not be the only factor, most lenders will look at your credit rating as an indicator of how you have repaid financing in the past. Keep on top of your credit

(383 words + 1 photo, Ont Only) c o m p a n i e s were started by newcomers. It all begins with a vision, planning and the right information. Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit,, or contact us by email at or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

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the product or service, and ship it overseas in a reasonable timeframe? If you’ve never exported before, be sure to find advisors, to learn the legal and tax implications of exporting. If you are active in an industrial, scientific, literary or artistic field, you’ll also want to consult with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office of Industry Canada. Exporting can be complex, but there are many government services to help you along the way. By calling Canada Business Ontario at 1-888576-4444, you’ll reach specially-trained business information officers ready to answer questions in English or French, weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Canada Business Ontario provides free government information for small businesses in Ontario. Visit to find out more.

Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit,, or contact us by email at or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

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(223 words + 1 photo, Ont Only) and, if needed, take the necessary steps to improve your credit to make you more attractive to lenders. Your Business Plan A business plan is one of the first things most lenders will want to see. Show lenders how you plan to implement your business and convince them that you will succeed. Free services to help you with business planning, access to information on financing and an array of other business topics, are offered through Canada Business Ontario. Call them at 1-888-576-4444 or visit Canada Business Ontario is a program within the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For further

information on federal economic development programs and services for southern Ontario please visit, FedDevOntario., or contact us by email at info@ FedDevOntario. or call toll free, 1-866-593-5505.

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FOOD AND NUTRITION Arancini di Funghi (Mushroom Risotto Balls) by The Brunette Baker (303 words + 1 photo, Ont Only) (NC) Ingredients

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter and 1 tablespoon canola oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook for several minutes until translucent. Add in uncooked Arborio rice and stir, allowing butter and oil to completely coat the rice. Sauté for a couple minutes or until rice begins to release a nutty aroma. Add white wine and stir until the rice has completely absorbed the liquid. Add the mushrooms and a cup of hot broth, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed. Continue this process until the rice takes on a creamy consistency and the starches begin to release. Rice should be al dente; tender, but firm to the bite. Add butter, cheese, and salt; stir until melted. Refrigerate risotto for several hours or overnight for best results.

1 cup Arborio Rice ½ cup finely chopped onion 1 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 tablespoon canola oil 3-4 cups chicken broth ½ cup dry white wine 2 tablespoons unsalted butter ¼ cup Pecorino cheese, shredded Sea salt, to taste Frying: 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs 15-20 ½-inch cubes mozzarella cheese Canola oil, for frying Method To make risotto:

To make risotto balls: With dampened hands, form risotto into 1 or 2 inch balls, depending how large you would like

Recycle, Reduce and Reuse with Mushrooms (NC) It has always been said that in order to preserve the environment for future generations, we should recycle, reduce and reuse. Did you know when you buy fresh Canadian mushrooms you are helping to recycle, reduce and reuse? That’s right. Mushrooms have been around for millions of years. When in their natural environment, mushrooms recycle, reduce and reuse forest waste materials. That is precisely what modern farmers do on mushroom farms. Recycle: Canadian mushroom farmers convert agricultural wastes, from wheat and corn fields, horse stables, and poultry barns, into a nutritious food and a valuable soil conditioner. Every year, mushroom growers in Canada recycle at least 245,000 tons of wheat straw, 4,500 tons of stable bedding and 128,000 tons of poultry litter to grow

them. Stuff a cube of mozzarella inside, squeeze firmly, and then roll in breadcrumbs. In a deep saucepan, fill pan with enough canola oil to cover risotto balls and heat to 365ºF. Place balls into hot oil, two at a time, frying until they turn golden brown and cooked throughout – about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove from oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve warm with a side of marinara sauce. More delicious mushroom recipes are available online at

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white button, brown and portabella mushrooms. Mushroom farmers also use a lot of water, not only in the composting process, but also to clean and wash the mushroom growing and packing rooms. Most of that water is captured and recycled during the composting process. Any water that is released to the environment is purified through settling beds or man-made wetlands. Reduce: When mushroom farmers use agricultural byproducts they reduce the volume of wastes that, otherwise, may contaminate the environment. If it wasn’t for the mushroom farmers these byproducts might be burned or sent to landfills. Reuse: After the mushrooms have been harvested, the spent mushroom substrate is removed from the growing rooms, sterilized, and

sold to landscapers, market gardeners, orchards, flower growers, parks and gardeners as a valuable soil fertilizer/ conditioner. Mushrooms really are green! Plus, they are good to eat and good for you. To learn more about the mushroom farming visit Mushrooms Canada at

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Whole Grain Ricotta Mushroom Tart with Tomatoes by Gourmandelle (197 words + 1 photo, Ont Only) (NC) Ingredients For the dough: 150g whole wheat flour 50g cold butter 1/4 glass of ice cold water sea salt For the filling: 2 cups sliced button mushrooms 2 eggs, beaten 1 cup ricotta cheese 1 onion, chopped a bunch of dill, chopped 2 tsps dry thyme 3 tomatoes salt and pepper, to taste

Method Add all dough ingredients in your food processor. The dough should have an elastic consistency. If it’s sticky add more flour. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Heat some oil in a large pan. Add onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms, dry thyme, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Cover with a lid. Remove from heat and add 2 beaten eggs, 1 cup of ricotta cheese, chopped dill, chopped tomatoes. You can slice one of the tomatoes and keep it for the final garnish step. Blend all together. Heat the oven at 392F.

Press the dough in a flat round disk and place it in the greased tart form. Add the filling. Garnish with tomato slices. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve hot with sour cream on top! More delicious mushroom recipes are available online at

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March 2014

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HEALTH & SAFETY Canadian cold watch: Ancient practice to relieve sinus congestion making modern comeback (282 words) (NC) Cold season has descended in full force, and Canadians are looking for ways to relieve those nasty sinus symptoms. But one of the hottest new trends this year is…well, ancient. The neti pot, an Ayurvedic remedy that uses a salt water nasal rinse to clear out the sinuses, is a natural way to relieve sinus symptoms that is both safe* and effective. And with high-profile champions like Oprah and Dr. Oz, this nasal congestion solution is making a comeback in a big way. So what’s all the buzz about? Dr. Jeffrey Werger, Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist)

at the Markham Stouffville Hospital, and lecturer at the University of Toronto explains. “We brush our teeth, clean our ears, wash our skin…why don’t we cleanse our nose and sinuses, which are vulnerable to infection?” says Dr. Werger. “A healthy human produces up to one litre of mucous per day in our nose and sinuses. And particles of bacteria, dust and viruses – everything that we inhale – gets trapped in the mucous. Nasal rinses like NetiRinse™ are a great way to clear out that mucous.” And it’s no wonder the practice is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, because the neti pot may

be rooted in ancient yogi traditions, but modern science supports it. Studies have shown that patients who use nasal irrigation see a decrease in nasal congestion and discharge, postnasal drip and sneezing.* “Sinus congestion can be extremely uncomfortable,” says Dr. Werger. “My patients often find that nasal irrigation really helps to unblock the sinuses and relieve their discomfort, so they can breathe a little easier.” *When used as directed.

The inside scoop on sinus infections - and how to relieve them (NC) Many Canadians can relate to the pain and discomfort of a sinus infection – but while many pay a visit to their doctor to help manage their infection, they may not be getting the treatment they need. Because while antibiotics are prescribed for up to 90 per cent of sinus infections, only two to 10 per cent of sinus infections are bacterial, and can actually benefit from antibiotics. “Antibiotics are widely over-prescribed for sinus infections – even though in most cases they won’t do any good,” says Dr. Jeffrey Werger, Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist) at the Markham Stouffville Hospital, and lecturer at the University of Toronto.

So what should Canadians do to manage sinus infection symptoms? Dr. Werger suggests nasal irrigation – using a salt water nasal rinse to clear out the sinuses in combination with a nasal steroid spray. “I often recommend that my patients try nasal irrigation with something like NetiRinse to relieve their sinus symptoms,” says Dr. Werger. “It is a safe, effective way to relieve congestion – to clear out the mucous so they can breathe a little easier. My patients often say that they also love how clean their sinuses feel afterward.” “Bacteria, viral particles and dust can accumulate in the mucous of the sinuses. Nasal irrigation helps clear some of it out. I’ve used it myself,” he adds.

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Nasal irrigation not only helps relieve sinus congestion, but can also help alleviate sinus symptoms of allergic rhinitis and fungal sinusitis. “This very simple practice of nasal irrigation really has tremendous benefits for sinus health,” says Dr. Werger. “With cold season upon us, viral sinus infections are top of our minds, but it has great value all year round to relieve sinus symptoms of allergies and all types of sinus infections.” Sources: Infectious Diseases Society of America. http://www.idsociety. org/2012_Rhinosinusitis_Guidelines/

Conquering congestion in kids (and the whole) family this cold season (NC) Every year millions of Canadians fall prey to the common cold, suffering through stuffy noses, sinus congestion, and sore throats. Children are especially susceptible - they catch twice as many colds as adults, and often develop complications like ear infections. There are few options to help relieve their symptoms – OTC cough and cold medications cannot be used in children under the age of six. But there is an effective natural-source alternative to vanquish nasal congestion: nasal rinses, like hydraSense, are gaining popularity as modern science has proven that it is a safe•, effective and side effect-free way to relieve congestion in adults, children and even babies. Studies have even shown that daily use even helps prevent colds. “The common cold is, unfortunately, an unpleasant staple of Canadians winters,” said Dr. Yvonne Chan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery at University of Toronto, and Otolaryngologist at Trillium Health Centre and

Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. “There is no cure and Canadians are increasingly seeking natural ways to relieve their symptoms. Nasal rinses are a great way to help prevent the common cold and relieve congestion for the whole family.” The common cold hits children hard – the average Canadian child will catch five to seven colds per year. But some nasal rinses are safe*to use on babies and young children, so it’s an effective way to relieve congestion in these youngest cold sufferers – great news for mom looking for a way to relieve her little one’s stuffy nose. Not only do nasal rinses offer relief from nasal and sinus symptoms, it also helps prevent illness – studies have shown that children on daily preventive nasal irrigation have fewer coughs, sore throats and congestion and get sick half as often as children not using the rinses. They also miss half as many school days and have three times less illness-related complications. “Canadians are constantly exposed to nasty viruses in the cold season,” said Dr. Chan. “But if you use a nasal rinse like hydraSense regularly, it

can actually help prevent colds from taking hold in the first place.” * When used as indicated. Sources: Ng et al. Why the common cold and flu matter: A look at prevention. http:// cccep%201065-2011-341-I-P%20Dec-Jan%20 2012.pdf. Accessed June 28, 2013. The Common Cold - Symptoms. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic. com/health/common-cold/DS00056/ DSECTION=symptoms Accessed July 9, 2013 Rabago et al. Saline Nasal Irrigation for Upper Respiratory Conditions. American Family Physician. Volume 80, Number 10. November 15, 2009 Slapak et al., Efficacy of isotonic nasal wash (seawater) in the treatment and prevention of rhinitis in children. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2008 Jan;134(1):67-74. doi: 10.1001/ archoto.2007.19. pubmed/18209140 Accessed July 10, 2013

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March 2014

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HEALTH & SAFETY Small changes can make a big difference to your heart health (NC) More Canadians than ever are surviving heart attacks and strokes, even though these events are serious and can be life-threatening. In fact, the death rate from cardiovascular disease has declined more than 75 per cent over the past 60 years, and last year alone this resulted in 165,000 survivors. But there is still cause for concern. According to a new report from theHeart and Stroke Foundation, not all survivors are able to make the healthy changes needed to make the best recovery possible and help avoid another event. Based on a poll of 2,000 survivors and their loved ones, survivors report success with eating healthier, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption. However, many survivors report that they struggle to maintain a healthy weight, to be physically active and to reduce stress. “After going through a major event like a heart attack, it may be daunting to think about making many changes all at once,” says Dr. Beth Abramson, spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and author of Heart Health for Canadians. “What people don’t realize is that small

changes over time can make a big difference. This can be as simple as choosing a piece of fruit over a sugary or salty snack, or getting off the bus a few stops early to walk a bit more.” Here are some tips that can help everyone – whether they are living with cardiovascular disease or not – get started on a healthier path: Let the Food Guide guide you. Follow Canada’s Food Guide and ensure that half your plate is vegetables, one quarter meat or alternatives such as beans, lentils or tofu, and one quarter grains such as rice or pasta. Add in a glass of milk or some yogurt and fruit. Planning makes perfect. Plan your meals each week and make a list before heading to the grocery store. Cook healthy meals in bigger batches and freeze them. Accept all substitutes. Use healthier fats, for example olive oil instead of butter. Use fresh or dried herbs, spices, flavoured vinegars or lemon juice instead of salt to enhance flavour. In baking, cut down on the fat content by using fruit sauce and replace white flour with whole wheat.

Heart-smart tips for a healthy ticker (NC) Over the last 60 years the death rate from heart disease and stroke has declined by more than 75 per cent, and now the vast majority of Canadians who have a heart attack, or stroke, will survive. The even better news is that up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented. There are healthy behaviours all Canadians can adopt that can help to prevent a heart attack or stroke in the first place and can help survivors avoid another incident. The following tips can help all Canadians make health last:

Find what moves you. No need to go to a gym, just do whatever you enjoy – any activity can have a positive impact. And remember, if you are pressed for time, you can work in activity in 10-minute bouts. Mix it up. Try new foods such as a new fruit or vegetable each time you shop, and choose a new recipe to try each week. Vary your exercise as well: yard work one day, an exercise class the next, and a ski or bike ride after that. Play in the park with the kids or take a walk with a friend or neighbour. For more information, or to donate online, visit

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Eat a healthy diet. Follow the recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide, including eating between five and 10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Be physically active. Try to get 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week – that’s less than half an hour a day. Be smoke free. Manage stress. Identify the source of your stress, talk to friends and family, and take time for yourself. Limit alcohol consumption. Women should limit themselves to no more than two drinks a day, to a

Ask The Expert: What to do after surviving a heart attack (NC) Each year, about 70,000 heart attacks happen in Canada. Fortunately, in more than 90 per cent of cases, the person will survive. Dr. Beth Abramson, Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson and author of Heart Health for Canadians, sheds light on what survivors should keep in mind as they enter this next stage in their life. Q: My husband recently had a heart attack and I’m worried it could happen again. What can we do to help prevent another incident? A: Once you’ve had a heart attack you are at increased risk for another. Which is why it’s even more important to take your medication and make some lifestyle changes. Adopting healthy behaviours can help lower your husband’s risk and help you make healthy changes at the same time. These include exercising regularly (at least 150 minutes each week), eating a healthy diet (five to

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10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day) and reducing stress. Being smoke free is also really important as is limiting alcohol consumption. Take these changes one step at a time. Also, a cardiac rehabilitation program can help your husband recover to the best extent possible and support him to adopt and maintain healthy changes. Rehabilitation makes survivors feel better and improves their quality of life. Taking advantage of these programs when available is essential because they are shown to improve participants’ health and to lower mortality by as much as 25 per cent. If he has not been sent on to a cardiac rehabilitation program ask your doctor to do so. Thanks to medical developments over the past 60 years, we are making progress and reducing the odds of serious problems in people who

weekly maximum of 10, and men to three drinks a day, to a weekly maximum of 15. For more tips on healthy living or to make a donation, visit

(362 words + 1 photo) suffer a heart attack. Advances in prevention, surgical procedures and drug therapies have helped make this possible – many of which were supported by research funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation has committed more than $1.39 billion to heart and stroke research, and helped create the 165,000 survivors of heart disease and stroke who went home to their families last year. To learn more visit

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HEALTH & SAFETY Sexually transmitted infections are more prevalent in youth (NC) Text this—young people are experiencing the highest rates of some sexually transmitted infections in Canada and passing them on through all forms of unprotected sex, not just intercourse. Canadian youth may be unaware or are ignoring warnings that many sexually transmitted infections can be prevented by taking precautions such as wearing condoms or avoiding sex with infected partners. As a result, youth and young adults experience high rates of sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus and especially chlamydia. After a period of decline, chlamydia rates have risen steadily since 1997. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than half of all reported cases of chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada, are diagnosed in youth aged 15 to 24. In 2010, 80 per cent of all reported chlamydia cases were diagnosed in Canadians under 30. Many youth take steps to prevent unplanned pregnancies, but may not consider themselves at risk for sexually transmitted infections. Condoms

are the only contraceptive that protect individuals from both unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Many infected individuals have no signs or symptoms and can unknowingly transmit their infections through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex. If left undiagnosed and untreated, these infections can lead to long term consequences for both men and women including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, arthritis, meningitis or pneumonia and even some cancers. The only way to diagnose infections is to get tested. The good news is that many sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, can be treated and cured. If you or someone you know is concerned about sexually transmitted infections, there are things you can do to take control and keep yourself healthy. • The best protection against sexually transmitted infections is to avoid sex altogether. • If you are having sex, condoms should be used each time. Make sure the condom is not a novelty condom, or made from lambskin.

Chlamydia rates are highest among youth (NC) More than half of all reported cases of chlamydia, the most common sexually transmitted infection in Canada, are diagnosed in youth aged 15 to 24. The reported rate of chlamydia is almost twice as high in women as men. Of particular concern is that both young women and men seem unaware of the long-term health consequences of sexually transmitted infections such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, HIV and certain cancers Symptoms of chlamydia

• Condoms come in a variety of styles and sizes. Try several different kinds before having sex to be sure you are using the one most comfortable for you. • Condoms with spermicide such as nonoxynol-9 are not recommended because the spermicide can irritate the fragile skin of the vagina and rectum and increase the risk of acquiring an infection. • Ask your healthcare provider or visit your local sexual health clinic for more information on how to protect yourself or for a sexually transmitted infections test. • Sexually transmitted infections will not show up in blood or urine tests ordered for other conditions and these specific tests are not part of routine check-ups unless you ask for them to be included, so be proactive. Making sure you are free from infection by using protection, getting tested and talking openly with your partners about sex is a big part of good sexual health.

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can be short-lived or non-existent, meaning people may not know they are infected. And while many youth take steps to prevent unplanned pregnancies, they may be forgetting to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections. Unless those who are sexually active take precautions and seek testing, they will remain at risk. If you are having unprotected sex, you can reduce your risk of getting a sexually transmitted

5 ways to prevent sexually transmitted infections (NC) According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the highest reported rates of some sexually transmitted infections are in young people. However, cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are increasing among both younger and older Canadians. The increases may be due in part to better testing and screening as well as an inconsistent use of safer sex methods among sexually active people. If you are sexually active, you can reduce your risk, by following these five safer sex methods: Discuss sex openly with your partner. Talk about using protection and getting tested. Even if you’re in a monogamous relationship or have had multiple monogamous relationships in a row, that’s no guarantee against infection. If you’re not comfortable enough to talk about sex, you may want to rethink having sex.

infection by using condoms, or refraining from sex altogether and getting tested. Be proactive about your sexual health and talk to your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic. Make sure you ask to be tested specifically for sexually transmitted infections as they aren’t tested for in routine blood and urine tests.

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Use condoms consistently and correctly. The major advantage to condom use is that condoms give you dual protection against both unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Condoms, used consistently and correctly, are the best barrier against infection, especially condoms without the spermicide nonoxynol -9, which can cause irritation that may increase your chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection. Get tested. Get tested for sexually transmitted infections if you are sexually active. Be specific. Tell your health care provider you want a sexually transmitted infection test as routine blood work and urine tests don’t check for these types of infections. Talk to your health care provider or local sexual health clinic. Inquire about safer sex methods such as using non-spermicidal or nonlambskin condoms. If you’re diagnosed and

treated for a sexually transmitted infection, be sure to follow your health care provider’s treatment and follow-up recommendations. You can easily be re-infected if your partner is not treated as well. Make informed decisions. Learn as much as you can about the signs, symptoms, testing, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections. Remember, many sexually transmitted infections have no signs or symptoms, so if you are sexually active, the only way to know for sure if you or your partner has an infection is for you both to get tested. While, some infections such as gonorrhea are showing antibiotic resistance and treatment failure, the good news is that many sexually transmitted infections, including chlamydia, can be treated and cured.

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March 2014

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HEALTH & SAFETY Gonorrhea and infectious syphilis rates are rising in Canada (NC) Despite warnings from health experts to avoid unprotected sex, Canadians continue to be at risk for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhea and infectious syphilis. While chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted infection reported in Canada, gonorrhea has been steadily increasing since 1997, after a period of decline. In recent years, gonorrhea rates began to level off, however, increasing reports of antibiotic resistance and treatment failure in gonorrhea are raising concerns that rates may soon begin to rise again. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, gonorrhea is now the second most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in Canada with a 53 per cent increase

in cases between 2001 and 2010, especially in northern parts of the country. People under 30 accounted for more than 70 per cent of all cases of gonorrhea in 2010. Infectious syphilis is also on the rise, with outbreaks occurring mainly among men who have sex with men. Although men aged 30 to 39 have the highest rates in Canada, recent increases among younger men aged 20 to 24 are also of concern. Sexually transmitted infections can have serious consequences if left untreated among both men and women such as pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, arthritis or certain types of cancer and can result in blindness or pneumonia in newborns. All sexually active Canadians, young and old,

Even baby boomers should practice safer sex (NC) Sex is sex is sex. When it comes to sexually transmitted infections, age is not a protective factor. Even middle-aged and older Canadians should be careful when having unprotected sex. Baby boomers who may be re-entering the dating scene again after losing a partner to death or divorce may be at particular risk. Sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and infectious syphilis are rising in Canada, which means all Canadians, even older adults, should take precautions when having sex. While most sexually transmitted infections can be treated and cured, some infections, such as certain strains of gonorrhea are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, yet another reason to have smarter, safer sex.

(NC) • Chlamydia is a sexually transmitted infection that can be passed through vaginal, anal and oral sex as well as from mother to child during childbirth. • Most infected individuals will have no signs or symptoms of chlamydia infection. • It’s estimated that more than 50 per cent of infected males and 70 per cent of infected females have no symptoms and are unaware of their condition. The only way to know for sure whether you have chlamydia is by visiting your health care provider or local sexual health clinic and getting

even those in monogamous relationships, should consider seeking testing for sexually transmitted infections from their healthcare provider or local sexual health. Also, don’t get so caught up in preventing pregnancy that you forget about protecting against sexually transmitted infections. Use a condom for vaginal or anal sex, and a dental dam for oral sex. Remember the bottom line – while there are ways to reduce your risk, the only way to completely protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy is by refraining from sex altogether.

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According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, reported rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea and infectious syphilis have increased significantly among middle aged and older adults over the past decade. The increase could be due to a combination of factors—that many baby boomers don’t use condoms as they are not worried about an unplanned pregnancy; are not aware that condoms also protect against sexually transmitted infections; that baby boomers may have and transmit sexually transmitted infections; that unprotected oral, vaginal and anal sex are all risk factors for becoming infected; that having sex in one monogamous relationship after another is no guarantee of protection, and finally, that testing

Fast facts about chlamydia in Canada

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for sexually transmitted infections is less invasive and more reliable these days. No matter what age you are, you can reduce your chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection by avoiding high risk behaviours, taking precautions and most of all getting tested. Abstaining from sex is the only way to completely protect yourself from a sexually transmitted infection. Be proactive about your sexual health and talk to your doctor or visit your local sexual health clinic. Make sure you ask to be tested specifically for sexually transmitted infections as they aren’t tested for in routine blood and urine tests.

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tested. Make sure you ask to be tested specifically for sexually transmitted infections as they aren’t tested for in routine blood and urine tests. • Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics. • Left untreated, chlamydia can have lasting consequences for both men and women including infertility, arthritis, meningitis, or pelvic inflammatory disease as well as pneumonia and eye infections in newborns. • Chlamydia can be prevented by consistently using condoms during sex or by avoiding sexual activity with others.

• Chlamydia is the most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in Canada with rates rising 72 per cent between 2001 and 2010. • Young women aged 15 to 24 and young men aged 20 to 24 are most affected. • In 2010, 81.7 per cent of infections reported among the young population involved those younger than 30 years of age.

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HEALTH & SAFETY Gonorrhea – an ounce of prevention (NC) In Canada and around the world, there have been recent reports that some strains of gonorrhea are becoming increasingly resistant to treatment. These reports are raising concerns that this once easy to treat infection could soon become incurable. In 2012, the World Health Organization issued an alert warning of an impending threat of an untreatable form of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. Canadians should pay attention to these warnings. In Canada, gonorrhea has been making a comeback since 1997 after more than a decade of decline: it is now the second most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in Canada, after chlamydia. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, between 2001 and 2010, the number of gonorrhea cases almost doubled, with rates increasing in men by almost 40 per cent, and in women by 77 per cent. The increase in rates is due to several factors including more precise tests and decreasing levels

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of knowledge among Canadians about the risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections, safer sex practices such as consistent condom use, and the importance of getting tested. Because many infected individuals will have no signs or symptoms they can unknowingly transmit their infections through unprotected vaginal, anal and oral sex. Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if you have a sexually transmitted infection. Undiagnosed and untreated gonorrhea can lead to an increased risk of contracting or transmitting other sexually transmitted infections as well as a host of other serious long term health consequences for both men and women including infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ectopic pregnancy. Canadians of all ages who have unprotected sex are at risk for getting a sexually transmitted infection, including gonorrhea. To reduce your risk of getting or passing on a sexually transmitted

infection, use a condom consistently and correctly when engaging in sexual activity. Be proactive about your sexual health and see your doctor or local sexual health clinic for testing. Be sure you ask to be tested specifically for sexually transmitted infections as they aren’t tested for in routine blood and urine tests. The Public Health Agency of Canada has issued new testing and treatment recommendations to help ensure that gonorrhea is treated with effective antibiotics. If you are diagnosed and treated for a sexually transmitted infection, complete all recommended treatment and follow-up testing to ensure any infection is cured. The fact that some strains of gonorrhea are becoming resistant to treatment is just another reason to have smarter, safer sex.

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March 2014

HUMAN RIGHTS 9 tips to help you raise money for your favourite charity (NC)—Making a donation to a charity is a true act of generosity that millions of Canadians do each year. But raising money for your favourite charity by holding a fundraising event can be more fun and even more rewarding. Here are nine tips to get you started. • Keep it fun and simple: Remember: you need to make sure that both you and your participants enjoy the event, so keep it simple and make sure that you add an element of fun, whether it’s special decoration, a tote bag for each participant or guest, or a special theme. • Share the load—get team support: Turn to friends to help share ideas and workload. Brainstorming at the beginning may give you some new ideas and help give a unique twist to your event. Make sure that you break down the work among your team and delegate so that you are not overstretched. Again, sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that work the best. Your goal is to work towards your ambitious fundraising goal and aim to beat it. • Plan for the ‘what ifs?’: If you are planning to hold an event outdoors, or if you are relying on

a local celebrity as a guest of honour, make sure you think of a few possible alternatives if it starts raining or if your celebrity doesn’t show up. This is the key to successful event planning. • Timing is everything: Check your community calendar to make sure there are no important community events and fundraisers on the day that you are planning your event. You might want to check with other community or regional nonprofit organizations. Try to pick the date that will bring in optimal attendance. • Watch the dollars: Keep your costs down by getting items donated. Many grocery stores or restaurants will donate food or other items to your event. Very often events do not raise money as a result of overspending. • Take stock: If your event is a large one, make sure you assign a reliable volunteer to collect all the money and send it back to your charity within 30 days of the event taking place. • A warm ‘thank you’ goes a long way: Always remember to thank your guests or anyone who has donated towards your fundraising efforts.

(440 words + 1 photo) • Tell your charity about your event: Once you choose how you’d like to raise money for your favourite charity, make sure to tell the charity about your event. • Check out your favourite charity’s website for ideas: Many charities’ websites offer advice on how to raise money. For example, the human rights charity Amnesty International lists events and ideas at Photo Caption: Friends enjoying a dinner party that raised money for a human rights charity. Organizing a charity fundraising event can be fun and rewarding.

LIFESTYLES Awareness and action part of the Amnesty International Book Club (167 words)

How writing a will could save your family heartache making modern comeback (296 words)

(NC)—Thousands of Canadians belong to book clubs—they offer a chance to read good books and discuss compelling themes with other interested readers. This year, there is a new kind of book club you can join, which will give you a chance to directly impact the lives of other people in a positive way. The human rights organization Amnesty International has launched a book club that combines all the enjoyment of a regular book club along with the opportunity to take action on a human rights case that relates to the content of the book you have just read. So far this year, members of the Amnesty international Book Club have read Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden and Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. If you’re interested in joining a different kind of book club and getting a free discussion guide and human rights action case every month, write to Amnesty International Book Club, 1992 Yonge Street, #314, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 1Z7 or call toll free at 1-800-266-3789.

(NC)—Eva Gabrielsson was the long-term partner of the hugely successful Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Eva and Stieg were together 30 years. But when Larsson died, Eva inherited nothing. Why? Because Stieg Larsson died intestate—he died without a will. It is estimated that Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy books have sold over 70 million copies worldwide, generating many millions of dollars of income. But because Eva and Stieg never married, Eva received nothing from his estate, which went to Stieg’s father and brother. This is just one example of the kind of complication that can arise when you die without writing a will. Although your estate might not be the same size as Larsson’s fortune, not writing a will could leave a legacy of trouble for your loved ones. There are many good reasons to make writing a will a priority.

For one thing, you will know that your loved ones are taken care of according to your wishes. You can make gifts of certain items (a painting perhaps, or a piece of jewelry) to specific family members who would treasure them most. And writing a will allows you to outline any preferences you might have for your own funeral. You can also use your will to ensure that a portion of your estate goes to the charities you care most about like an animal shelter, local hospital or a human rights charity such as Amnesty International. If writing a will is still on your to-do list, there’s no better time to act than now for the simple reason that writing a will can bring you real peace of mind. A free information package on wills is available from Amnesty International at 312 Laurier Avenue East, Suite 250, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 1H9.

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LIFESTYLES Is your small business vulnerable to fraud? (NC) Organizations of all sizes are susceptible to fraud and scams, but it’s the small and medium businesses that are the most vulnerable. According to Canadian accounting associations, SMBs represent the most important employment sector in the country, constituting 99.7% of all business establishments and two thirds of the private workforce, making them a prime target. Their limited ability to allocate resources to prevention and detection means that fraudulent activity can usually go unnoticed until a high price has already been paid. “Another factor that makes small businesses susceptible to fraud is the limited overall knowledge that they have on the subject” notes François Ramsay, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Affairs and General Counsel for Yellow Pages Group. “ The majority of SMBs aren’t aware of the different ways they could become victims of internal and external fraud, which makes it difficult for them to identify the chinks in their armour and to ensure prevention, detection, and appropriate response measures.” To help increase awareness, Ramsay identifies some of the most common and other notso-obvious types of fraud that exploit small businesses. Employee Fraud: Unfortunately, studies have shown that even trusted employees, who don’t fit the stereotypical profile of a thief, can engage in fraud-related conduct. If they have easy access

to funds in a company that lacks appropriate control systems in the accounting and inventory departments, employees may give in to the temptation to take company resources when faced with personal financial stress and the right opportunity. Impersonators: Some scammers send pretender invoices or try to pass themselves off as legitimate businesses that you usually deal with. SMBs may receive bills for print and online listings or advertisement which they did not order or authorize. Other order forms or invoices that seem to come from well-known supplierscould actually be from fraudsters who have made very subtle changes to that company’s logo and name, hoping that you won’t notice and that you will pay the invoice. Start-ups are especially vulnerable to illegitimate companies claiming to represent the government by offering them funding programs which are hard to understand. Cyber Fraud: Most small business owners are aware of malicious software that poses online security threats. Spyware, malware, and trojan horses are all designed to gain access to sensitive information stored on your computer by tricking you to click a link or visit a fake website. Even social media platforms are potential risks with links sent by a direct message from fans’ and friends’ accounts. But fewer people know about mobile phone scams. Text messages and missed calls coming from numbers you don’t recognize

Is your small business cyber-safe? (NC) With the increasing use of mobile devices and the prominence of social media in our lives, cyber crime poses serious security risks, especially for small businesses. In 2013 alone, cyber crime has cost Canadians $3 billion (in USD) according to a recent Norton report. “Being cyber safe is a practice that should be part of a company’s regular operations,” says Paul T. Ryan, Chief Technology Officer for Yellow Pages Group, a company that provides digital media and marketing solutions to Canada’s small businesses. “Small business owners may believe that they are too small to be targeted by cyber criminals, but the fact is that they’re a huge target because of their often less robust security systems.” Ryan suggests implementing a few security measures for small businesses that are looking to protect themselves against cyber fraud: • Tablets and smartphones are great tools for sales teams but, because of their size, they are a target for both theft and fraud. Always protect your devices with a password, frequently back-up your data, and install security, encryption, and locator

(598 words + 1 photo) can charge a premium rate when you call or answer back. Small companies who rely most on their mobile phone for business are prime targets. Identity theft: Scammers are assuming business identities in order to steal company assets, such as client lists, credit card information, and business relationships. Confidential electronic information and paper document thefts can be committed in the most mundane way, when computers are not properly password protected or files are left out in the open. Some businesses also do not take proper steps to safely destroy sensitive data, making dumpster-diving and hacking into company networks easy ways to access information. Once businesses have identified their areas of vulnerability to fraud, they can then start taking periodic assessments of risks and developing a simple response plan to guide staff and management in cases when fraud is detected. More information on this topic is available online at

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apps to protect sensitive business information. Most importantly, don’t access private information on free Wi-Fi networks, as they often aren’t very secure. • With the growing use of mobile comes the move to cloud computing. It’s great for data storage, as well as for marketing and sales, but this means that you’re storing your data online, outside your business and sometimes outside the country. Protect yourself by using a service that allows you to encrypt information before uploading or sharing and by only giving access to a limited number of people in your organization. Don’t forget to do your research before choosing a service provider; read their legal terms, know where your data is being stored, and make sure their service fits your security needs. • Social media sites provide another marketing tool for small businesses to reach their potential customers, but they’re also easy targets for hackers looking to get access to private business information. If you’re using social media to promote your business, select only a small number

of individuals who can post on your company’s behalf. Also, it’s important to use the site’s privacy controls, ignore requests for sensitive business information, and continue to be on the lookout for spam posts. For small businesses, cyber crime continues to be a very real threat. Ultimately, cyber safety must become the responsibility of all members of an organization, and with the implementation of simple security measures, the high cost of falling victim to this kind of fraud can often be prevented. More information on this topic is available online at

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March 2014

PERSONAL FINANCE Staying warm and safe all year-long (NC) The ice storm that hit Southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes made it difficult for thousands to stay warm and safe this past holiday season. Some residents found refuge in warming centres, while others decided to hunker down in their cold and dark homes. A few lucky families huddled together into one room that thankfully had a fireplace or wood-burning stove. If the difficulties of the winter so far has you thinking about investing in a fireplace or wood-burning stove, the experts from Desjardins Insurance have some suggestions on how you can protect your loved-ones and your home from damage and loss: Fire prevention: • Equip your home with smoke detectors. If they are well located and maintained, they can save your life. Clean them regularly and replace the batteries twice a year, typically in March and November when the clocks are reset. Also consider equipping your home with a fire alarm system connected to a remote monitoring center. • Place one or more fire extinguishers in locations that all family members can easily access and be sure they know how to use them properly.

• Maintain your furnace and hot water heater on a regular basis. This should also include replacing your furnace filter every 90 days. • Hire a professional to clean your furnace and/or fireplace chimney regularly to prevent creosote build-up. Also make sure that your flue vents are in good working order. • If you regularly use a fireplace or stove, only burn well-seasoned wood or special fire logs. Burning other material like cardboard, garbage and plastics will bring chemicals into your home and will create dangerous buildup in your chimney. • When starting your fire, only use matches and open the damper. This should remain open until your fire is well out and cool. • While your fire burns, put up a screen to keep kids and pets away from the flame, and to keep the logs and embers in the fireplace. • Once your fire is out and cooled, keep the ashes in a metal container until they’re cold enough to throw out. CO2 Protection: • Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colourless gas that is produced by burning fuels. Because it can’t be detected by regular means,

Making your retirement savings last (NC) Congratulations, you’ve made it to retirement. After scrimping and saving through your working years, you can now enjoy the fruits of your labour — just make sure you spend it wisely and make it last. The financial experts from Desjardins Group have some tips to help you get started. Supplemental pension plan (SPP) • Also known as a corporate pension fund, it allows you to receive either an immediate or a deferred pension, based on the typical retirement age. The most appropriate decision about this depends on whether: • You’re eligible for a retirement pension without an actuarial reduction, don’t hesitate–choose the immediate annuity. • The pension is reduced by a fixed rate of less than a 6% penalty per year of early payment, immediate annuities are often more advantageous. • The pension is reduced by 6% per year; the two choices are generally equivalent. It is also a good idea to find out if the deferred pension will be indexed between the time of the request and the start of the payments. Canada Pension Plan (CPP)

(470 words + 1 photo) this gas can make you ill or can kill you. • As evidenced by the recent ice storm, make sure your home is equipped with a carbon monoxide detector with a battery back-up. These alarms are affordable and can be found in most hardware stores. • To prevent a CO2 leak, make sure that there is proper air circulation in your home, never use your BBQ inside and if your house has a connected garage, never run your car with the garage door closed. For more information on how you and your family can stay protected, visit Desjardins Insurance at www.desjardinsgeneralinsurance. com.

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If you have contributed enough, you can request your retirement pension when you turn 60 or wait until you’re 65. If you’re unsure on the best choice for you, your financial advisor can show you the benefits of retiring early, at 65 or later. Old age security pension (OASP) This pension is payable at the age of 65, and there is no benefit in not requesting it. It should be noted that as soon as your gross personal income (including the OASP) exceeds $69,000, you may be required to repay a portion of your pension benefits. Registered retirement income fund (RRIF) Starting at 71 years of age, you must convert your RRSPs to RRIFs. If possible, try to limit your withdrawals to the mandatory minimum to conserve your registered capital. Life income fund (LIF) Because the life income fund has withdrawal constraints (ceilings that cannot be exceeded), it is generally best to withdraw the maximum possible from the LIF before withdrawing from your other registered savings plans. To ensure your success, be sure to discuss these points with your financial advisor:

• Have another look at your investor profile to verify your level of tolerance for risk as well as your comfort level with certain investments • Realistically evaluate the lifestyle you wish to maintain, also taking into account your desire to leave an inheritance to loved ones • Think about splitting your income and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) with your spouse to reduce the amount you pay in taxes • Be mindful of the taxation level of your investment income • Avoid unnecessary debt by making a budget and sticking to it For more retirement planning tips and calculators, visit Desjardins Group at

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PERSONAL FINANCE A money-saving secret the Taxman doesn’t want you to know (NC) Want to know a secret? There’s another taxfree way to save for retirement that the Taxman doesn’t really want you to know. It’s called universal life insurance, a special financial security portfolio that gives you life and health insurance coverage and a tax-deferred saving component. We spoke with the individual insurance experts from Desjardins Insurance to learn more: What makes this product special? It’s attractive because it allows you to reduce your tax burden by moving some of your taxable money and sheltering it within the universal life policy. Your money grows more efficiently allowing you to achieve an earlier retirement. This is especially effective if you tend to maximize your annual RRSP contribution. It’s like moving your coins from a pocket with a hole in it to one with no hole. Universal Life is very flexible and totally conforms to your needs because you can add or remove features and increase or decrease premiums at any time. So how does it work? The individual designs the portfolio based on their current personal and/or family priorities. They may choose from a variety of insurances including term, whole life and/or critical illness. The monthly minimum deposit covers the cost of the insurance and anything above this will

accumulate in a tax advantaged savings account. If the insured person becomes sick or disabled, there is an option to have the cost of the insurance or the full monthly deposit paid by the insurance company. This then establishes a self-completing insurance-savings plan. How can I invest my money under the savings component? There are a lot of investment options available. For example, you can choose between guaranteed deposits or index funds. These funds can be accessed anytime, barring any restrictions attached to the investment type, making this an ideal emergency or retirement fund. Another bonus is that the client can choose to increase or decrease their monthly investment at any time as long as the cost of insurance remains covered. How does this product shield me from paying taxes? Basically, the taxes are deferred. Let’s do a comparison between an RRSP and a Universal Life withdrawal. During your retirement, if you were to withdraw $10,000 from your RRSP, you are required to pay tax at the source. For argument sake, let’s say it’s $2,000 leaving you with $8,000. However, withdrawals from a universal policy are taxed differently. If you take out $10,000, you could end up not paying any tax at all depending

Turn a dream into a financial opportunity (NC) For years, Janet loved her job as an office manager for a medium-sized company. She had really earned her boss’ trust and the respect of the entire team, but something was lacking. She just stopped feeling the spark and now wanted to try something new. Perhaps a yoga retreat in BC or she might pursue a fine arts degree in England, just for kicks. All she knew is that she desperately needed a change. Taking a long sabbatical from ordinary life is all well and good if you happened to win the lottery, but what if you’re a mere mortal with family responsibilities? You can’t just throw everything away when you might still be carrying mortgage debt. So how does one begin to plan a year or two away from the daily grind? The financial planning experts from Desjardins Insurance suggest that allowing yourself to dream big is the first step towards successfully achieving it. Failing to plan is planning to fail Basically it starts with a financial conversation between spouses, parents and children — it

on how you arrange your withdrawals. If you a s s i g n e d beneficiaries to your RRSP account and Universal Life policy, the funds would again be taxed differently at the time of your death. For example, your beneficiaries would not receive the full RRSP amount because it would be taxed at the source. However, your beneficiaries would receive the entire insurance payout tax-free, less any amounts borrowed during your retirement. For more information about universal life insurance, visit Desjardins Insurance at www.

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might not be easy at first because often a positive net worth reflects back to a positive self-worth. But it is possible to help Janet and her family find a way to save for this new change and to still stay financially viable at the same time. The most important part of the conversation is setting goals and developing a plan to reach those goals. In fact, you may need to create three different plans that address your financial, insurance and retirement goals. Important differences While financial, insurance and retirement planning each focus on money management, they each address different issues and objectives. Financial planning is the most comprehensive of the three. It helps to determine how you can best meet your life goals through the proper management of your financial affairs. Everyone’s goals are different based on their age, values and objectives. And these goals change over time as your life circumstances change. The key is to take into account all relevant aspects of your financial

situation — The Big Picture — and to find the best way to help you succeed. The sense of freedom Janet feels now is due in large part to the planning she did before leaving her job. In the not-too-distant future, she’ll return to work, stronger and wiser for having taken the time she needed to think things through. To learn more about personal financial planning to help you reach your goals, visit the Life Events section on the Desjardins Insurance website at www.

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Get your tax refund faster with direct deposit (NC) Imagine waking up to find your income tax refund has been deposited into your bank account automatically—no waiting for a cheque, no walking to the mail box and no driving to the bank. With direct deposit for tax refunds and other federal payments, that scenario can be yours. The federal government is increasing its use of direct deposit by phasing out federal government cheques by April 2016. The sooner you enrol, the faster you can start getting your money. Direct deposit applies to all federal government payments such as income tax refunds, GST/HST tax credits, Child Tax Benefits, Universal Child Care Benefits and Old Age Security payments.

There are three ways to enrol for direct deposit: • You can visit, the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Account site or use your Service Canada My Account to sign up. • You can visit your bank where an agent can help you fill out a form. Most banks can provide enrolment forms. • You may also receive an enrolment form with your cheques from time to time. If you need help filling out the form or would like to order one, call 1-800-O-Canada. In order to direct a payment to your bank account, you’ll need to provide your banking information or a void cheque. If you don’t have cheques, or

The fastest, easiest way to get your tax refund (NC) Waiting for that precious income tax refund cheque to come in the mail? The federal government is reminding Canadians this tax season to enrol for direct deposit to get their money faster and more conveniently. Almost half of all Canadians who receive income tax refunds have enrolled in the program while the other half could easily get their refunds that much faster just by signing up. Only about 46 percent of all income tax refunds are issued electronically in Canada while 90 percent of pension payments are made through direct deposit. In an effort to help all Canadians access their federal government payments faster and more conveniently, the federal government is encouraging everyone to sign up for direct deposit before paper cheques are eliminated in April 2016.

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Direct deposit applies to all federal payments, including income tax refunds, GST/HST credits, Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance. There are three ways you can enrol: • You can visit, the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Account site or use your Service Canada My Account to sign up. • You can visit your bank where an agent can help you fill out a form. Most banks can provide enrolment forms. • You may also receive an enrolment form with your cheques from time to time. If you need help filling out the form or would like to order one, call 1-800-O-Canada. Enrolling in direct deposit is also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. The federal

How to enroll in direct deposit for federal cheques (NC) Enrolling in direct deposit for payment of your federal government benefits such as Employment Insurance, Universal Child Care Benefit, Old Age Security and income tax refunds is safe, secure, easy and convenient. All you have to do is fill out a form at your bank or financial institution, online at or by calling 1-800-O-Canada to request a form be sent to you in the mail. Be sure to have all your

the account you choose isn’t a chequing account, you can obtain the information by visiting any branch of your bank.

government estimates 32,000 trees a year will be saved by eliminating paper cheques and greenhouse gas emissions will be lowered as well by eliminating transportation needs associated with mailing cheques.

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banking information handy when filling out the form. The federal government is phasing out cheques in favour of direct deposit by April 2016 to reduce printing and mailing costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Why wait until the last minute to start benefiting from the program? Enrol now and start receiving your payments faster and more securely.

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PERSONAL FINANCE Five reasons to sign up for federal direct deposit (NC) The federal government is slowly phasing out cheques for payments such as income tax refunds, the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance in favour of direct deposit. The transition will be complete by 2016 so the time to enrol is now. Here are five reasons to consider switching from paper cheques to direct deposit: • Convenience – Your payment is deposited quickly so there’s no waiting for the cheque in the mail or going to the bank to make a deposit. Your payment will be deposited automatically, which makes your financial planning that much easier. • Reliability – Your payment will always be on time and the money and interest you earn will be available right away.

Direct deposit saves paper and trees

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• Security – There is virtually no risk of your payment being lost or stolen. If you subscribe to online banking, you can even check your balance from home, your mobile device or a public computer. • Savings to the taxpayer – Direct deposit actually saves Canadian taxpayers’ money, since there are fewer cheques to print and mail. The cost of producing a cheque is approximately 83 cents while a direct deposit payment costs about 11 cents. The savings can be invested in other government programs such as health and education programs for children or others that may benefit the economy such as building bridges which in turn will create more jobs. With fewer cheques to print and mail, the government will save millions of taxpayer dollars every year.

• Environmental. Phasing out cheques will save approximately 32,000 trees a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions coming from vehicles delivering the cheques across Canada. Canadians can sign up for direct deposit at their bank or financial institution, online at www. or by requesting an enrolment form by phone at 1-800-O-Canada.

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(NC) Did you know that by signing up for direct deposit of federal government payments such as your income tax refund, GST/ HST credits, Canada Pension Plan , Old Age Security, Child Tax Benefit and other federal benefits, you’ll be helping to save approximately 32,000 trees a year and lowering greenhouse gas emissions? Talk about reducing your carbon footprint. To sign up for direct deposit visit The federal government is phasing out cheques by April 2016 in favour of direct deposit. Already more than 80 percent of Canadians have signed up for the program.

(NC) The federal government is once again offering Canadians faster and greener tax refunds this year through its paperless direct deposit program. Direct deposit, which allows Canadians to have their tax refunds and other federal payments deposited into their bank accounts, makes a lot of sense environmentally; after all, it will save more than 32,000 trees a year, lowers printing and production costs and reduces greenhouse gases caused by the transportation of cheques across Canada. The cost to produce a cheque is approximately 83 cents while a direct deposit payment costs about 11 cents. One thing to note, however, is that cheques will only be issued under exceptional circumstances, for example when Canadians do not have access to a financial institution because they live in a remote location. Ottawa issues more than 300 million payments annually for everything from tax

refunds to old age security; more than 80 percent of recipients have already signed up for direct deposit. The federal government is phasing out federal government cheques by April 2016. The initiative is expected to save the Canadian government approximately $17.4M per year starting in 2014. You can find more information about how to enrol for direct deposit at www.

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PERSONAL FINANCE Canadians are in love with direct deposit (NC) Forget about walking down the lane or driving to the post office to pick up your federal benefit cheque. The majority of Canadians now receive their federal payments electronically through direct deposit into their bank accounts. Four out of five Canadians—parents, seniors, veterans, students, businesses and Aboriginal people—have enrolled in direct deposit, the federal program to eliminate paper cheques by the year 2016. More than 90 percent of pensioners currently receive their Canada Pension Plan or Old Age Security payments through direct deposit while 95 percent of current or retired federal government employees receive electronic payments. There are some holdouts such as those receiving GST/HST credits (only 54.8 percent are enrolled in direct deposit) and Canadians waiting for their income tax refunds (only 43.9 percent are enrolled). Perhaps the holdouts are concerned

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about reliability or security or are simply unaware of the direct deposit program. If enrolling in direct deposit is on your list of things to do this spring, consider these benefits and you may just find yourself signing up today: • Direct deposit is safer and more secure than paper cheques. • The payments cannot be lost or stolen. • The processing time is faster and more reliable. • There is no need to wait for the mail or visit a bank. You can still go to the bank to pay your bills in person and update your pass book if you like. • Payments are deposited directly to your bank account so money is available even if you have moved or are away on business or holidays. • Your payments will not be affected by delays in postal delivery. • You can reduce your carbon footprint by supporting a program that will save 32,000

10 federal payments you can receive via direct deposit (NC) More than 80 percent of Canadians who receive federal government payments have enrolled in the direct deposit program. The federal government is phasing out cheques in favour of direct deposit by 2016 so it’s a good idea to enrol in the program now to start receiving your money faster and more securely. Here are 10 federal payments that are eligible for direct deposit: Personal • Old Age Security • Canada Pension Plan • Child Tax Benefit • Universal Child Care Benefit • Employment Insurance • GST/HST credits • Income tax refunds Business • Income tax refunds • GST rebates • Accounts payable

Not sure if direct deposit is for you? Consider these benefits from Public Works and Government Services Canada, the federal department that is administering the program: • Direct deposit is safer and more secure than paper cheques. • The payments cannot be lost or stolen. • The processing time is faster and more reliable. • There is no need to wait for the mail or visit a bank. • Payments are deposited directly to your bank account so money is available even if you have moved or are away on business or holidays. • Your payments will not be affected by delays in postal delivery. • You can reduce your carbon footprint by supporting a program that will save 32,000 trees a year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating transportation of cheques. • As a taxpayer, you will benefit from the $17.4M a year reduction in printing and mailing costs. Direct deposit is great for all sectors of our society including seniors, students, veterans, people with disabilities and Aboriginal people.

trees a year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating transportation of cheques. • As a taxpayer, you will benefit from the $17.4M a year reduction in printing and mailing costs. You can find more information about how to enrol for direct deposit at www.directdeposit.

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In a country the size of Canada, with our vast geography and unreliable climate, programs such as direct deposit go a long way to making life easier for all of us. Those who live far away from banks or financial institutions may want to investigate the direct deposit program in greater detail, which you can do by visiting or calling 1-800-O-Canada.

Deadline to enrol in federal direct deposit looming (NC) The deadline to enrol in direct deposit for federal government payments such as income tax refunds, Old Age Security and Employment Insurance is April 2016. More than 80 percent of Canadians who receive payments have already enrolled with the remainder still receiving their cheques by mail. The federal government is encouraging all recipients to enrol for direct deposit as soon as possible so they can start receiving their

money faster and more conveniently. Unlike online or Internet banking that requires a computer; direct deposit simply means your payments are made directly into your bank account. To sign up for direct deposit, simply visit or your bank or financial institution. You can also order an enrolment form by calling 1-800-O-Canada.

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PERSONAL FINANCE Women live longer so be sure to plan for it (NC) If you’re a woman born in the 1950s, two things are likely on your mind today. One, the prospects of retirement, and two, if you’re living with a male partner who is the same age or older, you are facing the probability of outliving him. According to Statistics Canada, the life expectancy of a female at birth in the 1950s was five years longer than a male at birth. No wonder women are constantly advised to save and invest funds aimed at a longer retirement. Good advice, even though it is easier said than done. “There are other options if you envision yourself alone and haven’t saved enough,” says Arthur Krzycki, a director with HomEquity Bank. “Instead of selling your house for the needed cash, why not stay in it and receive payments based

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on its real estate value? Accessing the equity in your home with a reverse mortgage like the CHIP Home Income Plan is a clever way to create a cash flow for the comfort and quality you deserve.” Krzycki explains how CHIP works: If you’re aged 55 and over, you can convert up to 50 per cent of your home equity into tax-free cash. Unlike other loans on the market, you are not required to service the interest, or repay the principal until you choose to move or sell. You also have the option to take a lump sum to pay off your debts, or for home repairs and modifications. Or you can schedule monthly advances to enhance your cash flow on a regular basis. Some homeowners do both.

“This financial tool can also make your savings last longer,” Krzycki continued. “For example, using a reverse mortgage to provide additional cash income could help you delay the need for your non-registered investments. Or if your savings are in a RRIF, an alternate source of cash would prevent you from withdrawing money above the annual minimum. Both of these strategies will likely have tax implications, so be sure to work with a financial advisor for solutions that fit your needs.” Additional information is also available online at

Retiring singles benefit from innovative financial options (NC) The grass often looks greener on the other side, but for those living life solo there is a constant irritation. The lifestyle is free, but chances are your income is not as green as you would like it to be. Did you know that, on average, a married man makes more money than a single man in the same age bracket? And this is generally the same for women. According to Statistics Canada, the income of a married person is, on average, greater than income of unattached individuals. This disadvantage has obvious implications for both your lifestyle and for a financially secure retirement. Smaller income means fewer dollars to save, although innovative strategies can turn this around for retirement.

“Single people do own homes,” points out Arthur Krzycki, a director with HomEquity Bank. “This means that a cash flow can be arranged with a reverse mortgage. Instead of selling your house for the needed income, stay in it and receive payments based on its real estate value.” Krzycki says the popular CHIP Home Income Plan works like this: If you’re aged 55 and over, you can convert up to 50 per cent of your home equity into tax-free cash. Unlike other loans on the market, you are not required to service the interest, or repay the principal until you choose to move or sell. You also have the option to take a lump sum to pay off your debts, or for home repairs and

Home-sweet-home spells equity (NC) Your financial picture for retirement may be much better than it seems. Most people think of their RRSPs, RRIFs, and government benefits as a retirement nest-egg, but as Canadians are living longer and staying more active, the strategy of using the home as part of retirement planning is a sound solution to achieving financial goals. Better yet, a house is also a nest egg that can be tapped while you’re still living in it. Owning property adds substantially to your financial base – and indeed owning a house can even deliver value-added surprises. “Did you know that by accessing the equity in your home, your traditional investments like RRSPs and RRIFs can be made to last longer?” explains Arthur Krzycki, a director with HomEquity Bank. “Leave those funds untouched

(329 words) modifications. Or you can schedule monthly advances to enhance your cash flow on a regular basis. Some homeowners do both. “Just picture how much easier it will be to keep up with home maintenance, repair costs, property taxes and insurance premiums if you had an extra $500 or so every month,” says Krzycki. “It means you can make any other savings stretch farther.” A financial advisor or a mortgage broker can give you more details – and additional information is also available online at

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for as long as possible and tap into the value of your house. This strategy may also give you more flexibility with tax planning if you use the tax-free cash from your home instead of adding to your taxable income.” Krzycki points out that stocks and bonds that are invested for longer periods stand the best chance of increasing in value – and increasing your wealth. “Instead, you could take some cash out of your home without having to sell it,” he continued, “and there are a number of ways to do this. A line of credit is a popular short-term source of cash, but if you want a longer-term solution, a reverse mortgage like the CHIP Home Income Plan might provide you with added benefits.” Here are the details: If you’re aged 55 and over, you can convert up to 50 per cent of your home equity into tax-free cash.

Unlike other loans on the market, you are not required to service the interest, or repay the principal until you choose to move or sell. You also have the option to take a lump sum to pay off your debts, or for home repairs and modifications. “Or you can schedule monthly advances,” Krzycki explained. “Some homeowners do both creating a perfect source to supplement monthly cash flow, finance the purchase of a vehicle, medical devices and other necessities, or for pleasure pursuits like travel.” A financial advisor or a mortgage broker can give you more details – and additional information is also available online at

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PERSONAL FINANCE How to beer-proof your budget (NC) It may be that time of year for green beer and cheer, but beware, money and alcohol don’t mix. That online shopping spree with a glass of wine or suds in hand may have seemed like a great idea at the time, but now, along with the credit card statement, often comes buyer’s remorse. Mixing shopping and alcohol can lead to blown budgets, credit card abuse, and even identity theft. Alcohol knocks down our inhibitions, making us more impulsive and less able to stand up to temptation. We tend to spend more money after a drink or two. Retailers recognize this and send “happy hour” marketing emails, or they launch online sales later at night to catch the post-bar crowd. To guard against such practices, it’s worth noting that March 15th is Consumer Rights Day, the perfect time to develop your skills as a smart consumer. Here are some tips to “booze proof” your budget and to avoid waking up with a spending hangover: Leave credit cards at home or in another room. If you know you’ll be sipping a little, leaving the cards at home can help remove the temptation to spend more than you have. The

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simple act of having to walk to another room may be enough to deter (or at least give you time to reconsider) the purchase. Make a list and stick to it. If you do have shopping to do, make a list of things you need to purchase. Put the price of the items on the list for that extra reminder of your budget. That way, even if you do have a little extra holiday “glow” while making purchases, they’re ones you have already included in your budget. Shop first. If you are meeting friends to do some shopping and socializing, and you know there will be alcohol involved, get the shopping done first. Then relax and enjoy a social drink without worrying about waking up to find out you’re the proud owner of a new cashmere sweater that looks alarmingly similar to one you already own, or a leather recliner for your man-cave that you don’t recall purchasing. Don’t auto-save passwords on your computer or cell phone. If you have to type your password in 3 or 4 times before getting it right, it could be a good reminder that now might not be the best time to be making purchases. Not keeping

yourself logged in, or unchecking that “remember me” option, can help avoid filling up your online shopping cart with items and being able to conveniently check out with one click. Keep receipts. Always keep your receipts. If you do wake up with a regrettable purchase, you may be able to return the item under the store’s return policy. But remember, a store does not have to take it back just because you changed your mind. Each store sets their own return policy, so know the details before you make a purchase. More information about smart spending, budgeting and preventing buyer’s remorse is available on the Financial and Consumer Service Commission’s website at

PETS The benefits of pet ownership is a two-way street (NC) There’s nothing like having a furry friend to change your outlook on life. Pet owners get it. Our pets pick us up when we’re down, help us relax when things get stressful, and make us laugh with all the goofy things they do. Even when they wreck the lawn, or eat a favourite shoe, we love them just the same. “I believe that having a pet helps us lead richer, fuller lives – emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually,” says veterinarian, Dr. Debbie Stoewen, who is also the care and empathy officer at Pets Plus Us. “Our pets see us for who we truly are, without judgment – and that’s a powerful thing.” Pets Plus Us is a pet owner community and healthcare insurance provider focused on empowering and informing responsible pet ownership and pet health

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Dr. Stoewen points out that pets aren’t just good for pet owners, they’re good for our communities too. “Pets are great ‘community builders’ and have a special way of connecting people. When someone sees you out with your pet, it’s much more likely that they’ll stop and talk with you.” Here are just a few more ways this can change your life: • Pets can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure, all good for the heart; • Having a dog that needs a daily walk can motivate you to stay active; • Pets can teach important life lessons to your children, like learning the responsibility of caring for other living creatures; • In a world where technology has allowed us to become more disconnected from direct

contact with others, caring for a pet reinforces our natural empathy and strengthens our emotional connection; • Pets offer unconditional love and companionship, in a way that many human relationships can’t; • Pets can help with loneliness, especially for seniors and others who live independently. For all the benefits we receive, it’s also important for us to protect them as well, especially in the case of their medical needs. Today, the financial burden can be reduced substantially with insurance coverage – and more information on this is available at

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March 2014

TECHNOLOGY 3 tips for a stress-free connected workplace (NC) Does your workplace stress you out? It may not be the everyday tasks, projects and deadlines, but rather the physical environment. Maybe your desk is too messy, or your colleagues are too loud. Perhaps your boss is always looking over your shoulder, the dated technology gives you anxiety, or you can’t stand the fluorescent lights. If any of these resonate with you, there’s a good chance that your physical workplace is affecting your attitude and performance. According to the recent Connected Workplace Report, commissioned by Rogers Communications and conducted by Harris-Decima, 76 per cent of Canadians believe technology helps them to be more efficient and productive at their job. And, 30 per cent of respondents report that staying connected to their work with mobile technology helps them to enjoy a healthier work/life balance. Creating a stress free environment for you and your team can pay off big time. Whether you are an executive, manager, or team member, you can

have an impact on the stress level of your coworkers by using technology and other techniques. Here are three ways to do this every day of the week: Keep your workspace clean and organized. Clear all the clutter around your desk. Put work in progress neatly in one location. File away completed projects, and do an assessment of what you really need to keep. Determine if you can digitize any of your printed documents. Recycle or shred anything that you do not need a copy of. Ensure your office and desk set up is comfortable. Place your computer directly in front of you with your keyboard and mouse in a comfortable position – your lower arms should rest at a comfortable angle. Think ergonomics – you should have a desk chair that is adjustable and provides proper back support. This will alleviate both physical and mental stress. Use technology. Modern technology has changed the way we do business. Smooth collaboration between employees, partners, suppliers, and customers is a sure-fire way to boost efficiency

Roam worry-free on your Spring Break (NC) Travel is more fun, seamless, and secure with the use of a smartphone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s traipsing along the French Riviera during Spring Break or catching some rays in Cancun, students, families, and couples alike are using this technology to stay in touch, access maps, and find the tastiest local fare. Be reminded, that when you take your device outside of Canada, you roam on another carrier’s network and this service is not included in your regular monthly fees. However, roaming is now much easier and affordable. Follow these three tips to stay connected while travelling – without spending more than you plan to: Manage usage to avoid surprises There are many simple ways to track data usage while travelling. Use your device’s built-in data

while also reducing stress. There are numerous tools that allow people to collaborate and share from anywhere, like interactive calendaring, videoconferencing, Microsoft’s Office 365 and the Rogers One Number app are two examples. Be a good communicator. Poor communication often causes confusion, leading to stress in the office. If those around you aren’t communicating well, ask questions, make suggestions and do whatever else you can to improve the situation. Sixty per cent of those surveyed believe that smartphones and tablets have a positive effect on workplace communication. To stay productive on the move, workers need to be able to quickly and easily reach the people and information they need. With file sharing tools and mobile worker solutions and devices, it is easy to work outside the office and still enjoy safe access to the business network. More information is available at com.

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tracker or download a free version from the app store. Some carriers even offer services and tools to help you keep tabs on your spending. Rogers sends customers real-time data usage alerts and on-demand notifications at no extra charge so you know exactly what to expect on your monthly bill. Also, be sure to close any apps that may be running in the background that may use data. Plan ahead Before you go, check your past billing statements to find your average daily talk, text and data usage. Multiply by the number of days you’ll be away to help you choose the right roaming package for your trip. If you like to send photos, use maps, social media or stream music, the U.S. and International Travel Packs from Rogers offer

What are your technology predictions? (NC) There is no denying that Canadians are avidly connected to technology. Did you know that on average, most of us keep our smartphones within reach for 70 per cent of the day? Canadians also have avid imaginations when it comes to future technology predictions, according to a recent report commissioned by Rogers Communications and conducted by HarrisDecima. The report reveals the emergence of a Device Generation in Canada, or ‘Generation D’. Gen D’ers are optimistic about the future of technology, and live life through ‘always-on’ internet and connected devices. On average, 52 per cent have a smartphone or tablet that is loaded with 25 apps. Communicating online is the norm for this highly connected generation. In fact, one quarter, or 25 per cent

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enough data to let you use your smartphone just as you would at home. Take advantage of secure Wi-Fi A secure Wi-Fi connection can’t replace the convenience of a carrier’s always-on network, but it can be handy when you want to stream video or share large files. Before connecting to a Wi-Fi network, confirm its name with the hotel concierge, coffee shop or airport employee. Some hackers create fake Wi-Fi hotspots in an attempt to steal your personal information. If you’re logging into online accounts or sending personal information, it’s best to connect to a carrier’s secure network. Additional tips on roaming worry-free, plus a calculator to estimate your data needs, are available online at

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admitted to Tweeting or Facebooking someone while in the same room. Furthermore, Canadians envision a world where technology will unleash a connected reality. Over a third (39%) of the survey respondents said they believe that virtual communication will replace face-to-face interactions and 50 per cent expect to chat exclusively through text, social media and email via smartphones in the next five years. Canadians expect the smartphones of 2019 will have retina scanners (53%), built-in projectors (25%), augmented reality (46%) and 3D screens (33%). Here are a few more findings: Connected concierge: Over a third (39%) expect apps to become their butler, to draw baths, cut the lawn, vacuum and even do their laundry in the future. An app a day could keep the doctor away: Over half (52%) believe apps will connect them to

physicians and 31 per cent think apps will even predict life threatening health issues. Steer clear: A majority (84%) believe that cars will anticipate accidents and provide weather alerts in the future. Cut the plastic and tap into purchases: By 2019, over half (61%) of Canadians expect to throw out their physical wallets, to be replaced with mobile wallets that include credit and debit cards, and personal ID. Future TV viewers expect to sit in the director’s chair: In the future, almost half (49%) will take to social media to alter a show’s plot by voting in real-time. For more of the report’s findings, an in-depth infographic is available at: rogers-innovation-report-infographic-2013/.

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TRAVEL & DESTINATIONS Put the books down and pack your bags (NC) March Break is a great time to relax and recharge before the final stretch of the school year. Before taking off for your adventures, there is one last thing that you should study: how to breeze through airport screening. To help you pass the security checkpoint exam, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) offers these useful lessons: At home • Pick a comfortable travelling outfit. Refrain from wearing shoes with metal arches and belts with a metal buckle. • Make sure all liquids exceeding 100 ml are packed into your checked baggage. Travel-size containers (100 ml or less) can be brought in

carry-on bags. They need to be put in a 1-litre resealable clear bag. • Ice skates are the only winter sports item that is allowed in your carry-on baggage. For bigger items, like snowboards, skis and hockey sticks, you will have to include them with your checked baggage. • Pack your butane curling iron in your checked baggage. Electric blow-dryers, other curling irons and flat irons are permitted in your carry-on. At the airport • Be ready to present your boarding pass to the screening officer. • Put sunglasses and everything in your jacket pockets and put your jacket in a bin before you go through the metal detector.

Airport security preparation for families (NC) March Break is a perfect time to skedaddle from the cold and take a well-deserved family vacation. Unfortunately, the idea of making happy memories can quickly shatter if you are unprepared for airport screening. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) suggests these helpful tips and tricks when traveling with kids so that your airport screening experience is a walk in the park: At home • Make sure you and your family wear comfortable clothing with no metal straps or buttons. Ensure that outerwear is easy to take off; this will save you a lot of time since it will need to be removed for screening. • Pack all liquids 100 ml or less together in a clear and re-sealable plastic bag. Place the plastic

• Remove laptop computers from their cases and place them in a bin. • Keep other electronic equipment in your carry-on baggage. Additional travel tips can be found online at, or mobile at You can also follow the organization on Twitter, @catsa_gc.

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bag somewhere that is easily accessible in your carry-on since you will need to take it out for screening. • Note that all liquids that exceed 100 ml must be placed in your checked baggage, unless you are travelling with a child under the age of two. Baby food, formula, milk, water and juice are acceptable to pack in your carry-on. • Carry snacks in your carry-on to keep your kids smiling. Make sure that these are solid foods (like fruits and chocolate). • Pack toys in your carry-on to keep the kids entertained. At the airport • Arrive early at the airport. This is crucial especially at peak periods. • Use the Family/Special Needs screening line.

Airport screening made easy for seniors (NC) Lack of preparation for airport screening has the potential to cause unwanted concerns. If you haven’t travelled in a long time and fear the security checkpoint, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has the following tips to alleviate your stress and make your experience more enjoyable: At home • Dress in comfortable clothes. If you choose to wear jewellery, keep it limited. • Make sure that outerwear, belts and shoes are easy-to-remove, and avoid metal snaps or buttons. • Pack liquids of 100 ml or less and keep them together in a 1-litre transparent and re-sealable plastic bag. • Ensure that all your prescription medications in your carry-on baggage are clearly labelled with your name. • Note that it is permitted to carry essential nonprescription medications such as cough syrup, eye drops, contact lens solutions, rash creams, gel

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• Do not leave your baby in a stroller on the x-ray belt. Hold your child in your arms as you pass through the metal detector. • Inform the screening officer if you require any assistance. Additional travel tips can be found online at, or mobile at You can also follow the organization on Twitter, @catsa_ gc.

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pills, etc. in containers larger than 100 ml in your carry-on. Please give these to the screening officer separately. • It is acceptable for diabetics to bring juice or carbohydrate gel packs as well as their medication and necessary equipment. • Seek approval from the air carrier before packing medical defibrillators and small oxygen or air cylinders in carry-on baggage. At the airport • Arrive early at the airport – especially at peak periods. • Ask your airline in advance if you require any specific assistance. • Have your boarding pass ready to present to the screening officer. • Wheelchairs, walkers, prosthetic devices and any other equipment are allowed at the security checkpoint. • Bring a note from your doctor if you have prosthetic joint replacements since they could

potentially set off the metal detector. • Use the Family/ Special Needs lane if you have mobility issues, and let the screening officer know of your level of ability. Consult your doctor before flying if you have any concerns about your safety going through the metal detectors. Other methods of screening can be used as an alternative. Additional tips are available online at www., or on the mobile site, and on Twitter @catsa_gc.

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March 2014

TRAVEL & DESTINATIONS Valuable airport security tips for March Break (NC) The long awaited March Break is upon us. Whether you are escaping the freezing cold or heading for the slopes, it is best to start your trek on the right foot. Since this is one of the peak times to travel, fleeing from avoidable predicaments of airport security is crucial to get you on your way. The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has these tips to ensure security screening is a breeze: At home • Put on comfortable clothes for the big travel day. Avoid large metallic accessories such as metal buckles or shoes with metal arches. • Pack all liquids, aerosols and gels that exceed 100 ml into your checked baggage. If you are packing liquids 100 ml or less in your carry-on,

place them together in a clear and re-sealable 1-litre plastic bag. • Note that it is acceptable to carry essential nonprescription medications such as cough syrup, eye drops, and contact lens solutions in containers larger than 100ml in your carry-on. Please give these to the screening officer to check separately. At the airport • Be prepared and have your boarding pass out and ready to show to the screening officer. • Transfer the content of your pants pockets in your jacket or carry-on bag. • Place your jacket in a bin. • Place your laptop into a bin. Make sure it is removed from its carry-case. All other electronic equipment may be kept in your carry-on.

Travel insurance tips for March Break (NC) A getaway at this time of year can be just what you need to relax, recharge, and melt away the stress of your daily routines. But travel can also be a source of stress, especially if, after all the planning, investment, and anticipation, your trip doesn’t go as planned. RSA, a leading provider of insurance to Canadians, reminds us that being prepared and protected provides peace of mind so that you can make the most of your March Break holiday. The first step is to make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance policy before you go. Without insurance, you run the risk of shouldering significant out of pocket expenses if something goes awry. Even in the event of relatively minor mishaps and ailments, it pays to have insurance coverage and assistance. In fact, colds, stomach bugs and flus can be quite common reasons for travel insurance claims.

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So, what if something does happen on your travels? Would you know what to do? Say your four-year-old comes down with an ear infection while on vacation in Florida. What questions would cross your mind? Would they include: where’s the nearest doctor? what documentation will they need from me? how much will an examination and prescription medication all cost? how do I report my travel insurance claim? Here are some things to consider when filing a claim: • Keep your insurance wallet card close by so you can quickly access the toll-free emergency number. • If you think you need to report a claim or require assistance, contact your insurance provider as soon as possible. This can save time in processing

Are you protected from unexpected travel expenses? (NC) Plenty of Canadians will be holidaying outside the country this March Break, a welcome respite from work, school and the late winter chill. While you’re enjoying some fun and sun in a far-off location, remember that back in Canada, winter can still pack a wallop even this late in the season. That means weather can disrupt air travel. “Unfortunately, sometimes insurance is overlooked by people who are caught up in the excitement of an upcoming trip,” says Erin Finn, the director of underwriting for travel at RSA, a leading insurer in Canada. “Don’t leave it until the eleventh hour to think about travel insurance. Take some time in advance of your departure to look into what coverage you already have and whether you need more, so that you and your family are protected.” What happens, for example, if your flight home is cancelled? It pays to be prepared and have the right travel insurance, so that if your return is delayed beyond your control, you can go back to the beach and relax knowing you’re covered,

• Advise the screening officer if any assistance is required throughout the security screening. Additional travel tips can be found online at, or mobile at m.catsa. You can also follow the organization on Twitter, @catsa_gc.

rather than stress over the added costs and risks of an extended stay. If weather impacts your travel plans, the first step is to contact your travel agent or airline to find out if the flights will be rescheduled without penalties. Also, call your insurance provider to notify them of a potential claim. Here are some other things to consider: • In addition to adequate medical coverage, get a policy with trip interruption and cancellation coverage, so a cancelled flight or unexpected return home in the middle of your holiday doesn’t leave you with significant out-of-pocket expenses. • Be sure your insurance provider offers 24-7 emergency telephone service from anywhere in the world that you might be, and keep that number with you while travelling, so that you know exactly who to call, day or night, should you need to ask for assistance or make a claim. • If your return date is unexpectedly delayed, ensure that you still have medical coverage in place. Many policies afford automatic extensions

the claim. There is also usually a limited period of time in which to report claims. • Have original documents, like medical reports and receipts, on hand if they are available. Even if you are still awaiting documentation, notify your insurance company so that a claim can be opened. • If you call the emergency assistance number, they should be able to advise you as to what to do next, the location of the nearest recommended clinic, and other helpful information. • They may also be able to arrange direct payment of your medical expenses. If not, you will need to pay up front and submit bills for reimbursement when you return home. RSA also advises anyone planning a trip to talk to a travel insurance expert who can help you review your coverage needs. More information is available at

(461 words) of a few extra days in certain circumstances. But check with your insurance provider, as you may need to arrange to extend coverage. After all, the last thing you’d want is to fall ill while stranded and discover your coverage expired after your initial return date. • Find out how much your insurance policy will reimburse you for the cost of additional accommodations if your return is delayed beyond your control. Many policies contain maximum allowable amounts. Remember, weather events are not always covered by airlines, or by travel insurance policies, as terms and conditions vary from policy to policy. So, it is always best to check what coverage your policy provides and to consult a trusted insurance provider for guidance.

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News Canada: March 2014  
News Canada: March 2014  

The March 2014 issue of News Canada.