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April 2017

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Running helps Canadian singer Melissa Bel stay on a high note

Why do you run? Some people choose to run to loose weight or keep fit — all you need is a pair of shoes and an open road. But, there are many more benefits to running than simply overall health, just ask Canadian singer and songwriter Melissa Bel. In a phone interview, the Toronto native now living in Devon England talks about her music career and how running helps her both mentally and physically.

“It has been over a year now living in a rural village called Devon. It is a slower pace of life where everything closes at 5pm,” Bell says with a laugh. Despite missing the busy city life in Toronto, this Canadian pop soul artist finds running on country roads relaxing. “The city drives you to be busy. Having that balance is good,” she adds.

And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

When she isn’t doing media interviews or promoting her music, Bel is running. The movement helps inspire creativity and clears her mind. “I considered myself a casual runner and Devon is a beautiful place to run. It is a constant battle to run but it is the progress you can make it. I run one mile. Next day I will run two. It is therapeutic and is a good way to blow off steam,” she says.

“I originally started running to lose weight, tone up my legs, and improve my fitness. I’ve been an on-and-off runner for about six years, but recently have started to be more consistent with it. Possibly because the more mild UK climate makes it easier to run outside all year long. I’m actually thinking of doing my first-ever race in October, the 10 mile Great South Run (I have to stick to it now that I’ve said it on record!). I still run for the same reasons as when I started, but also to blow off steam, clear my mind, and challenge myself. It’s a bit meditative for me as well because it’s one of the rare times where I’m fully in the moment and not getting distracted by thoughts and worries. I’m fully focused on my breath and my strides.”

Bel is not working on any new music at the moment, but is rather promoting her recent album In the Light, which includes seven songs on the Extended Play. The album was released on Nov. 4 of last year.

This will be Bel’s fourth album and her music before was jazz and blues attracting fans in the 40’s and 60’s age groups and a huge following in Quebec. “My earlier albums were definitely more jazz and blues, with bits of pop, folk, soul and even rock,” she says. “I wanted to be more consistent as far as the genre of “In the Light”, and to be perfectly honest wanted a better shot at getting played on the radio. My goal with this album was to do something fresh and contemporary while incorporating my soul and blues influences. Hoping to gain some new fans while giving my existing ones something a bit different that they’ll still enjoy!”

On April 26th, Bel will be coming back to Canada. She will be in Toronto performing at the Cameron House.

 

www.runwithit.ca

Twitter: @ christineruns

Youtube – runwithitcb1

Rent control needed to control rising prices

Rent is at an all-time high in Toronto, with low vacancy rates and high prices. In other words, it is nearly impossible to find a home to rent in the current market.

The cost of renting a home in the city has increased above the rate of inflation, and the municipal and provincial governments are looking at ways to help control the price of rent. The Ontario government announced in March  it will consider substantial changes to rent-control rules due to tenants complaining about double-digit rent increases that are leaving people homeless. As the rules stand, only apartment buildings built before 1991 can have rent control and the government is now looking at changing that.

Ontario introduced rent controls in 1976 as a temporary measure to lower rent increases to the rate of inflation, and the NDP government offered a five-year rent control exemption to units in 1992 to encourage developers to build new units. The rules then became permanent. Instead, landlords can only raise rent by 1.5 per cent annually, but can apply for additional increases. Many stakeholders, including CIBC Capital Markets, are against re-implementing rent control because it previously reduced new construction of apartment buildings, and accelerated building deterioration that had rent control.

Rent control is being criticized because there is a concern that landlords won’t upkeep apartment rentals if they can’t lift the cost of rent, or that tenants will remain for longer. It is assumed that landlords will do the bare minimum to maintain an apartment and many rent-cost units fall into disrepair. Avoiding rent control because it would cause landlords to not maintain their property truly demonstrates how corrupt the rental market is. There should be a morally upright desire to fix units. Instead, avoiding certain rent control strategies because it is naturally expected landlords won’t upkeep their responsibilities proves how greedy and deplorable the apartment rental market can be.

The City of Toronto has decided to implement a new set of rules that will force landlords to track tenant complaints, respond quickly to repair requests, and provide pest control. The rules will come into effect on July 1 and is being widely celebrated by tenants in Toronto. The program will be enforced 12 months after launching and will apply to 3,500 buildings with three or more storeys of 10 or more units, resulting in 350,000 apartments. The rules indicate that emergency requests such as no water or heat must be handled in under 24 hours and a pest control situation must be dealt with in 72 hours. Landlords will also be forbidden from renting an apartment with a pest control problem.

Re-implementing rent control is a necessary in Toronto, especially with the new rules that have been implemented that would force landlords to upkeep their rental units. The cost of renting an apartment should be at par with the rate of inflation, because otherwise it is giving way to corruption and greed. It is commendable that the province and city are getting involved in rentals and will ultimately force landlords into a position to provide tenants with fair prices and liveable apartment units.

Would you try these vegetable masks?

Facial masks are refreshing and give your skin the rejuvenation it needs as the seasons change.

To shake things up and get away from buying a facial cream potentially full of chemicals, why not try a natural vegetable cream? Though imagining mashed up vegetables on your face is a bit gross, the result of treating yourself to a hydrating organic facial will be well worth smelling like tomato paste or garlic for a couple hours….or days.

Food Fresh Avocado Avocados Fruit Organic

Avocado Body Mask

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 tbsp sea salt
  • Two fresh lemons grated
  • ¼ cup coconut oil

Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. Apply to face for 10 to 15 minutes and rinse off. Refrigerate remainder and use every two to three days. Avocado is very hydrating and will leave your skin silky smooth.

Vegetables Carrots Basket Market

Carrot Facial Mask

  • 2-3 carrots
  • 4 tbsp honey

Cook carrots and mash with honey, and apply to your face. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse with a cool cloth. Carrots are great for the skin because of their Vitamin A content and they are hydrating.

Tomato Paste Facial

  • Tomato
  • Dash of water

Blend tomatoes until smooth, but not the consistency of juice. Apply to face and leave for 10 minutes and wipe dry. Tomatoes will regenerate the skin and give it a new glow.

Garlic Face Mask

  • ½ tbsp. corn flour and ½ tbsp. sandalwood powder
  • Squirt of Lemon juice
  • ½ tbsp garlic paste
  • Dash of almond milk

Mix all ingredients and add a dash of almond milk to make into a gooey dough. Apply to face and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse with cold water. Garlic is rich in Vitamins A, C, and E and protects the skin from sun rays.

Kale Face Mask

  • Two leaves of kale
  • Almond milk
  • ½ tsp honey

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and rub on face. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse. Kale contains a lot of hydrating nutrients and will leave the face feeling refreshed and moisturized.

Vegetable facial masks aren’t just fun to make, they are also a lot less expensive than the spa alternative. So, for your next girls night, why not try them out!

Would you try any of these veggie facials? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

Sit down Kendall Jenner

A member of the Kardashian clan has made headlines this week. And while that’s not particularly shocking, the video was taken down shortly after. What’s shocking, we should say, is Pepsi and Jenner’s inability to scan a situation for signs of ignorance and joining the (right) conversation. Because although conversations definitely started from the advertisement, it was certainly not because of the great, refreshing taste of the carbonated drink. And while it’s cute that Jenner tried to use her celebrity status to do something ‘woke’ for once, it missed the mark so bad she might as well hit the snooze button, take a nap – and try again. Sorry, babe.

Let’s set the scene. The advertisement is rather long. But within under 3 minutes, Pepsi managed to portray the glamorous life of protests and activism, in addition to find a solution to end various social justice issues- with a can of pop. The ad, however, seems like it is hopping on the bandwagon of participating in social justice as a trend. It raises a few issues surrounding protests, police brutality, and consumerism as a tool to incite world peace. Something’s different about this protest though. People are smiling. Music is playing in the background. The atmosphere is that of a summer street festival. Scenes of dance battles and a big kumbaya take place. Jenner, a model, is quick to abruptly end her photoshoot and join the protest – because it looked kinda ‘lit’.

What Pepsi and Jenner need to understand is this: protests are an avenue used to express frustration in a system that operates and benefits from racist, patriarchal ideology to say the least. They are used to demonstrate anger, hurt, and hope. The Coachella vibes in the commercial, however, reduces the function of a protest. It seems the solution of unity can be brought forth by offering the police a drink. Because it seems like nothing quenches the thirst of bringing about world peace like a can of pop.

Police brutality is not a new issue in society. It has been an ongoing issue for decades, but has become a trending topic due to various social media campaigns and hashtags. Jenner approaching the police with a can of Pepsi as a gesture of camaraderie evokes a narrative that working in unity can produce change. But it’s not that easy. A quick Google search will lead to images of gas masks, riots, and flames – quite the opposite of the vibe Pepsi went for. Let’s not forget the black and people of colour’s lives that were taken by the criminal justice system. Names such as Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and Michael Brown should come to mind. Not Kendall Jenner.

Image result for ieshia evans

Jenner’s walk to the line of officers resembles the image of the female protestor named Ieshia Evans standing proud confronting heavily armoured riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in response to Alton Sterling being shot by police last year. The recreation of this image has also made the rounds on social media, bringing forth the appropriation of the movement. This isn’t, however, the first time the family has been under the heat for appropriation. Often sporting corn-rolls and dating black men, the Jenner/Kardashian clan has always advocated for black culture- without speaking up for black rights.

Pepsi has since apologized to Kendall Jenner for involving her in their attempt to bring about world peace. We’re still waiting on Jenner to comment on the matter. After reading a script, making the decision to be a part of this ‘movement’, as well as knowing the full implications behind getting involved with Pepsi and their commercial, it’s not sure as to why an apology was in order. Rather, Kendall Jenner should sit down, do some research on what went wrong, and face the consequences of her actions, while issuing her own apology.

We’ll wait.

Woman of the Week: Jennifer Reynolds

Jennifer Reynolds, president and CEO of Women in Capital Markets (WCM), thinks there is an ingrained corporate and economic culture that is to blame for the lack of gender equality within the financial industry. The number of women in positions of power has stagnated, and in 2017, that isn’t a good thing.

“I think sometimes people aren’t aware that Canada has fallen behind in terms of women in senior roles, on boards for examples,” Reynolds said. “Our representation is 12 per cent. Europe has representation up to 30-40 per cent. We, as a country, have fallen really far behind.”

WCM is the largest network of professional women in the Canadian capital markets. This group of women try to educate younger generations in the finance industry to consider careers in capital markets and advocate for greater gender diversity on boards and senior management. The organization hosts over 80 events a year and leads a number of campaigns, both in-person and online.

Reynolds became involved with WCM in 2000 and started volunteering for the then-grassroots organization helping educate young high school girls about careers involving math. She also volunteered for the mentorship program.

“When I graduated in 1994, I thought our generation would be the one where women would have leadership roles in the economy,” she said.

Obviously, WCM had an influence on Reynolds because she remained an active member of the organization for 13 years before becoming the president and CEO. The organization is shaking things up a bit under Reynold’s leadership, trying not only educate young women as to the many opportunities in finance and capital markets, but also trying to involve men in the dialogue.

“Most of these initiatives was about women discussing diversity. It took us a long time to get here, but now we are getting there and we have to involve men in the discussion because they are in senior leadership roles and we need to have dialogue with them to encourage progress,” she said.  “We need to give them a voice and an opportunity to see what they can do personally.”

One of the WCM programs Reynolds is most proud of is Return to Bay Street, an award that helps women return to the workforce after a career break. Each award-winning woman will receive a minimum four-month long paid contract with a sponsoring financial institution, $5,000 towards an education program, access to a WCM mentor, as well as a one-year membership with WCM.

Return to Bay Street is in its sixth year and will be accepting applications until April 13, 2017.

“Too often for women, if you need to take a break, it’s hard to come back,” Reynolds said. “You fall off the track because people think your skills are stale. [Return to Bay Street] helps replenish the pipeline for senior leadership. It brings back senior talent.”

Reynolds studied economics and political science at McGill University with the intention of becoming a lawyer. She found herself enjoying her economics classes immensely, and after four years decided she was better off in business.

“I ended up, fortunately, getting to know some people in the investment industry … and it sounded like a great career — fast paced, opportunity to travel, rewarding,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds worked with the Bank of Montreal as director of capital markets for 10 years before moving on to work with WCM. She is also on the board of the Canadian Development Investment Corporation, a crown corporation that works for the federal minister of finance and is responsible for a number of initiatives.

Reynolds thoroughly enjoys working on the board. In addition to her role with the Canadian Development Investment Corporation, she is also the director on the board of Studio 190, an independent, Toronto-based theatre company.  For her, being on various boards allows her to explore different industries and be creative. It’s also a great way to diversify her network.

As Reynolds explains, every organization has a president and CEO that runs the business, but that person reports to a board, “a bunch of senior people with expertise who help guide strategic vision.” This can be everything from where the company should be heading to overseeing financial statements — it’s also why it’s so important that boards be gender diverse.

“So, what does it matter? It matters because I think women should be part of creating strategic missions of businesses and companies in Canada,” Reynolds said. “From a purely data and research perspective, studies that show if you have that gender diverse boards, it makes your business more profitable. But, you need that diversity on your board – and from a common sense perspective, if you are recruiting from 50 per cent of talent pool, you’ve got to be limiting yourself. You are not getting the best. It’s common sense.”

How do companies do that? Reynolds said it takes two steps. The first is to actually hire women in positions of power and the second is to change your business’ culture. It all starts with statistics, ensuring the company counts and measures everything. “How many women in each level of organization, how long does promotion take, wage gap at each level, then you will figure out what the problem is. Is it that your leadership team only brings forward candidates that are men and non-minority, for example,” Reynolds said.

“If you leave it to chance, it won’t happen. But, if I have anything to say about it, it’s going to change!”

 

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The Canadian Liberals are piping up about pot….finally

As it turns out, marijuana legalization in Canada is not up in smoke.

The Liberal government announced last week they will introduce legislation on April 20 to approve the legalization of marijuana — legislation they hope will be active for Canada Day 2018. This declaration follows a 106-page report released by theTask Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, which was assembled in June 2016. The task force was created to weed out any issues pertaining to legalization and has set guidelines on how to proceed to approving the product.

The report has an extensive set of recommendations for the Liberal government, including who will be able to sell it, buy it, and how much it will cost. The recommended age limit is 18, but can be set higher if the province chooses. The Canadian Medical Association had a problem with the age restriction and suggested it be raised because the teenage brain is still developing at 18, but ultimately the task force believed this would fail to adequately solve the issue of young adults smoking unregulated pot.

If this legislation is approved, the government would control and license producers, though people would be able to grow up to four plants in their own home. As described in the report, the plants would have a maximum mandatory height limit of 100 cm and would need ‘reasonable security measures to prevent theft and youth access, with oversight and approval by “local authorities”.

The restrictions of marijuana would be similar to the Tobacco Act in that it wouldn’t allow advertising or endorsements. The packaging would contain company name, strain name, price, amount of THC in the product and any warnings. There would also be a seed-to-sale tracking system implemented to avoid corruption of the market. The price of weed would have to be competitive with street prices and would be lower to invigorate people to buy legally-regulated marijuana.  The report also discussed the criminal penalties after legalization. Criminal punishment will remain for illicit production, trafficking or possession, and trafficking to youth. There is also an imposed limit of 30 grams on a person at any given time, and vape houses will require a permit.

People have been buzzing since the announcement and it has been met with varied opinions. The Liberals have been in hot water as of late with their millennial supporters who are feeling snubbed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to not carry through with his promise of electoral reform, and many sense this is the government’s way of winning back support. It will be interesting to see whether legalization of marijuana sways the vote in the favour of the Liberals with the election looming in the following year.

Being able to grow plants at home deserves attention as well. Several people would adhere to the rules of only having four plants, but it would be hard to monitor people who would potentially take advantage of growing at home, and may use it as an opportunity to sell recreationally. The information provided on licensing and which producers would receive approval is also vague. It is concerning to think of massive producers getting contracts and making pot that is full of additives and chemicals similar to tobacco. The task force did emphasize licensing smaller producers as well, but more transparent information should be provided to the public ahead of that decision.

The legalization of marijuana is a progressive and smart decision. It is positive to see the Liberals keep their promises and commit to following through with a controversial and important initiative. Taking weed off the streets will help people get high safely and will help normalize a fairly typical drug of choice. Canada is finally becoming a ‘chill’ nation, and July 1, 2018, will certainly be a very relaxed day for most Canadians celebrating the new legislation.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Hang up on your social media hang-out

Has social media made it easier to make friends, or is it even more difficult with our mobile devices in hand?

Technology has vastly changed the way younger generations make friends. With the overconsumption of various social media apps ranging from Facebook to Snapchat, the rules have changed on the how-to’s of finding your bestie.

There are many pros and cons of the social media world people live in today. There is a lot of accessibility, opportunity, and connection that can happen because of computers and cellphones. On the other hand, these positive developments in technology are also paired with pressure to constantly be plugged in and responsive, resulting in face to face interactions becoming less valued. Remember when people used to call a friend’s house and make plans in order to hang out? Now, it’s possible to have a Skype date with a friend across the world and watch a movie without leaving the comfort of your own home.

Though there are perks to social media, there are still some issues that need to be ironed out. Call me a skeptic, but I’m very hesitant about social media. There is something innately creepy about having your every breathing moment tracked online. It’s also clear that people are addicted to their phones. It also puts more pressure on friendships. If someone doesn’t answer immediately, it is quickly assumed that something is wrong (guilty as charged). This need for immediacy and instant gratification creates a lot of issues and useless drama. It is also anxiety provoking to be expected to be available at all times.

It is all too easy to hide behind the computer screen and utter disrespectful statements on a whim that would never fly in person. Social media’s accessibility has made people quicker to cut another person off permanently with the flick of a button. Being able to ‘block’ someone so easily or bully them online has caused a lot of hurt, and instigates more issues. I’d like to believe that most people are decent human beings, but online communication can turn even the kindest friend into a ruthless beast if an argument occurs over the interweb. The golden rule folks: if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, don’t say it online.

So far, I’ve only touched on the direct affects of social media on friendships, but there are also a a lot of unusual rules and social patterns developing. Instead of watching concerts, people are often too busy taking a video of themselves being “cool” or appearing “valued.” When people hang out in groups, oftentimes it feels like the other person isn’t there because of the phone they can’t tear their eyes from. And of course, there is the “don’t eat until I’ve taken three dozen photos for my Instagram” phase.

It is time to put down the phone or computer! Relying on social media to build and maintain friendships is not the way to go. Instead, try the good old-fashioned in person hang-out without phones. You will find yourself looking at the world in a whole new way without any distractions in your face. There is still hope for people to interact without a social media hang-up, all is not lost, but it is vital to put down your phone first.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

Tory hits back at province for transit and relief line funds

Early Tuesday morning, Toronto Mayor John Tory sent a letter and a list of budget recommendations to Ontario Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, calling on Ontario to become “a full partner in cost-sharing of major infrastructure investments going forward.”

The letter outlines Toronto’s infrastructure expectations given the province’s rejection of tolls. Tory said the province has an “obligation” to help the city pay for the maintenance of both the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway, in addition to helping pay for new lines in the transit network, like the Yonge Relief Line.

Tory’s budget recommendation included the approval of a new revenue tool — a levy on hotel and short-term accommodation. The city of Toronto needs legislative authority from the province in order to tax lodgings; however, it doesn’t want this tool to interfere with the funding already given to Tourism Toronto. Tory is proposing a four per cent tax on hotels and short-term accommodations like airbnb.

In addition to a revenue tool, Tory has outlined a list of recommended items the province should fund, including $820 million to help rehabilitate the Gardiner Expressway, $3.36 billion for the transit network plan, $863 million for Toronto Community Housing, and $50 million for child care subsidies.

These recommendations follow a public exchange by Tory and Ontario Minister of Transportation, Steven Del Duca on Monday, in which Tory told the media the province was not acting like a “full partner” in their commitment to build transit. Tory stood at the Bloor – Yonge subway platform and said the province needed to come up with a plan to help contribute to the relief line and other transit projects. He suggested the province, as well as the federal government, each contribute 40 per cent of the funds for the project. Toronto would then pay for the remaining 20 per cent.

Del Duca responded with his own press statement, saying the Ontario government has “always been a strong partner with Toronto city council” and that they were “not going to play political games with transit.” With words bolded and underlined, Del Duca mentioned the measly $150 million the provincial government has already pledged to the relief line and claimed to be a “stable provincial funding partner at the table” unlike the federal government.

The reality is that Toronto needs billions to develop its transit network — a network that will benefit residents throughout the GTHA as more people use public transportation instead of driving on already congested roadways. The refusal of the provincial government to allow Toronto to fund its own projects through revenue tools like tolls puts projects like the downtown relief line in jeopardy. Toronto’s growth and development is, effectively, at the mercy of Queen’s Park.

Tory understands this and is fighting back. He is trying to make it abundantly clear that if the province doesn’t allow Toronto to explore and use its own revenue tools, then it has to step up to the plate and help pay for these important projects.

There are universal benefits to developing Toronto’s transit network. It will help reduce carbon emissions as less people drive into the city. It will help connect the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area so that people can get from their home to work in a seamless manner. And it will help reduce congestion for those who have no choice but to use their car to get around.

Funding this network is a win-win scenario — and if the province is not going play politics with transit, they would see that.

Grilling: from revolution to togetherness

It’s almost here — yes, I’m talking about barbecue season. For most Canadians, this is a year-round phenomenon, but for the less brave or cold tolerant, the beginning of Spring usually means it’s grillin’ time!

Why all the excitement? Well, grilling is more than what sears on the grate. It’s the experiences lived, memories created and the friends and family brought together sharing the common love of great, grilled food. It’s for burgers and buddies and being social without the media.

That’s the passion of Weber!

Rewind to 1952, when a man named George Stephen, a sheet metal worker at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago who also happened to have a passion for grilling, sparked a backyard revolution in America with the invention of the first Weber Kettle charcoal grill. This first-of-its-kind covered kettle barbecue quickly gained a loyal audience with Stephen eventually buying out the company, changing the name to Weber-Stephen, and devoting all of his professional time to manufacturing and selling Weber kettle grills. But he didn’t stop there! In 1985, Weber again revolutionized outdoor grilling with the introduction of the Genesis gas grill, replacing grease-catching lava rock found in other gas grills with a unique Flavorizer system designed to eliminated flare-ups. The food drippings that hit the specially-angled hot Flavorizer bars are vaporized back into the foods for that great barbecue flavour. The juices that don’t vaporize are directed away from the burner tubes into a catch pan at the bottom of the grill making clean-up a breeze. Another revolutionary invention from Weber!

Thirty years later, Weber’s most loved grill just got better! The new, show-stopping Weber Genesis II line of gas grills has been thoughtfully and carefully designed to provide backyard chefs with the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.

Equipped with the new and innovative GS4 high performance grilling system—the heart of every grill in the line—Genesis II grills are available in 2, 3, 4 and 6 burners so there’s one to fit every lifestyle and budget, giving you more reasons to bring everyone together.

Explore the new Weber Genesis II here! 

Bluetooth technology takes the guesswork out of grilling

Genesis II grills also come equipped with something called iGrill 3, a cutting-edge Bluetooth thermometer that makes grilling easier, more convenient, and a whole lot smarter. It’s the perfect solution for the 84 per cent of backyard chefs who are afraid they will fail at the grill. The Weber iGrill 3 monitors the internal temperature of food from beginning to end, sending grilling data to your iOS or Android device and notifying you once your food has reached the perfect temperature. The Weber iGrill 3 is exclusively compatible with the new Weber Genesis II grills in that it fits in a water-resistant docking station positioned on the front of each grill. It includes two temperature probes, which can be adaptable to four probes so you can monitor almost anything you grill including steak, chicken, fish or roasts – giving you perfect results each and every time.

For charcoal lovers, the heat is on with new all-natural hardwood briquettes

“The charcoal segment continues to grow dramatically in Canada with 90 per cent of charcoal grillers saying they want charcoal that lasts longer while providing consistent heat,” said Patricia Larez, vice-president marketing, Weber-Stephen Canada.

The new Weber Briquettes do just that, outperforming other charcoal fuel on the market. Weber Briquettes provide consistent heat and are made from 100 per cent all natural hardwood. They do not include any unwanted chemical binders or fillers and they produce less ash.

They are also conveniently packaged in a weather-protected re-sealable bag that features a handy zip top to help protect charcoal from rain or snow.

Become a backyard hero!

If you are looking to upgrade your grill skills, look no further than the Weber Grill Academy, the first and only school of its kind dedicated to grilling. The Grill Academy, located in Vaughan, Ontario, offers regularly scheduled public grilling classes and is also available for special events. Whether it the “back to basics” approach to charcoal grilling, learning how to smoke the perfect brisket, or simply improving your technique at the gas grill, Weber Grill Expert and Celebrity Chef Michael P. Clive teaches a variety of classes that are sure to get you fired-up for grilling season. Classes are held year round and are always a great, hands-on, edutaining grilling experience.   Each class offers three hours of grilling instruction and when finished, you’ll eat your grilled creation and take home your leftovers!

Visit webercanada.ca for product information and to sign up to receive fresh off the grill news!

Affordable housing to recieve billions in federal budget

The federal budget is taking affordable housing seriously, with a new National Housing Strategy that wants to tackle Canada’s housing crisis.

The 2017 budget proposes to spend $11.2 billion over 11 years and will build safe and affordable housing across the country. In cities with high prices and a severe lack of affordable housing, like Toronto and Vancouver, this funding cannot come soon enough. The government’s proposed housing fund will be run by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) — the country’s public insurance program for mortgages. The CMHC will receive $5 billion over 11 years to work on several projects related to housing. Another $3.2 billion will be dedicated to affordable housing specifically and will use a multilateral investment framework, relying on private and public funding to get affordable housing projects up and running across the country.

Out of the $11.2 billion, $3 billion will be spent in the next three years and $20 million for this year.

The money budgeted falls short of what the big city mayors caucus asked for at their meeting in late 2016. They asked for a pledge of $12.6 billion, spread over eight years to solve the affordable housing crisis that are growing in Canada’s largest cities. Toronto specifically has $2.6 billion in repairs needed for Toronto Community Housing units on the brink of being closed down.

Mayor John Tory is asking that the province pitch in to the housing fund as well and fill the gap that the federal government cannot commit to. Affordable housing in Toronto needs a huge investment to repair current community housing units as well as provide more. There are 82,414 households on the waitlist in the city, most consisting of families and seniors, and with rising house costs people are desperate for somewhere to live.

All three levels of government ultimately need to work together to tackle the affordable housing crises popping up across Canada. The National Housing Strategy is a brave step and the commitment of billions of dollars will make headway to giving vulnerable parts of the population somewhere safe and healthy to live. Without a home, it is nearly impossible to escape the throes of poverty — finally it seems that Canada is realizing the importance of shelter in the Great White North. Let’s hope that investment is maintained!