15. 11. 2018
Liberal cabinet meets in New Brunswick amid gloomy economic outlook

Liberal cabinet meets in New Brunswick amid gloomy economic outlook

SAINT ANDREWS, N.B. – The sinking price of oil hasn’t deterred the Liberal government from the ever-elusive goal of figuring out how to get Canadian energy to tidewater, says Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr.

Battered by the plunging price of crude, the market is now bracing for what experts predict will be a flood of Iranian oil after the United States and the European Union lifted economic sanctions against Iran.

Paired with the steady decline in the value of the Canadian dollar, the drop in commodity values has delivered a financial one-two punch to resource-rich provinces like Alberta.

WATCH: Trudeau says Canada’s economy has ‘under performed in the last decade’ 

“We’re looking for a sustainable way of getting our resources to tidewater. That’s been our position all along,” Carr said before a cabinet meeting Monday in the seaside tourist community of St. Andrews, N.B.

“We don’t control the price of oil. It’s an international situation. Commodity prices are at a low. It’s a reality that we’re having to deal with.”

WATCH: Morneau says Liberal plan ‘right approach’ facing gloomy economy

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    Canadians must be able to have confidence in whatever review process is ultimately approved, said Carr, who acknowledged the effect of the commodity crisis on families, investors and businesses.

    It’s one Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the government intends to address in its first budget, expected in March.

    “It’s important for us to continue to pay attention to the economy and we’re paying close attention, and with that we’ll be formulating our budget plans with that in mind,” Morneau said.

    The Liberals vowed during the election campaign not to run deficits of greater than $10 billion this year and next, largely on the back of billions in new infrastructure spending designed to act as economic stimulus.

    WATCH: Trudeau doesn’t answer whether Liberals are considering an early budget

    Rona Ambrose, the interim Conservative leader, urged the government to come up with policies to deal with lower energy prices and their economic fallout.

    “The government has been in office long enough to have a clear plan to deal with the current economic situation, but the sense of urgency from the Trudeau Liberals has been completely absent,” Ambrose said in a statement.

    The government is already trying to fast-track spending on approved projects waiting in the queue for federal dollars, and has heard concerns from provinces and local governments about capacity issues that may require the federal government to pick up more of the construction tab.

    Morneau said the government’s challenge now is to fund projects that are shovel-ready and meet the government’s long-term economic goals.

    WATCH: Trudeau says he is looking forward to engaging with western Canadians

    “If we find projects that are responsible, that can help us with long-term productivity, that are also ready now, we’d like to move forward.”

    Morneau is expected to give his cabinet colleagues an update on what he’s been hearing in budget consultations, what finance officials have forecasted for 2016 and what it could all mean for the federal budget.

    Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Sunday he was going to outline the framework for getting extra spending out the door quickly on public transit, “green” projects like water and wastewater facilities, and social infrastructure like daycares and affordable housing.

    The presentations are part of a cabinet retreat in New Brunswick to help the Liberals set the overarching goals for 2016 and lay the strategy the government will use to deal with issues facing the country.

    Cabinet ministers will have a full day of meetings today before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and a handful of ministers travel overseas to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

15. 11. 2018
5 ways to beat the winter blues and stay happy beyond ‘Blue Monday’

5 ways to beat the winter blues and stay happy beyond ‘Blue Monday’

The third Monday of January is not the most depressing day of the year, according to mental health professionals — despite what others might have you believe.

It was dubbed “Blue Monday” in 20015 by a travel company that wanted to encourage people to book winter escapes.

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    But it could be argued that people do have reason to feel a little blue this time of year. For one, the high of the holidays has worn off and been replaced by the harsh reality of your Christmas spending (and eating). Being in the depths of winter with seemingly no end in sight also doesn’t help.

    Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to get through the slump.

    1. Vitamin D and light therapy

    Up to 10 per cent of North Americans are said to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

    Experts have suggested the feeling of sadness associated with the disorder is partially due to a lack of Vitamin D, which is produced by natural light.

    “Vitamin D is what is called the sunshine hormone [or the] sunshine vitamin,” Dr. Venkat Gopalakrishnan, department head of pharmacology at the University of Saskatchewan, told Global News in December.

    People can boost their vitamin D levels by drinking milk, eating fatty fish or taking a supplement, he said.

    WATCH: Maintaining vitamin D levels key to battling seasonal depression

    One of the other most common treatments for SAD is light therapy, which involves the use of special lamps for about an hour a day to mimic the type of light a person receives on a sunny day.

    Tabletop units can range from about $70 to around $200.

    READ MORE: Light therapy benefits for non-seasonal depression as well: study

    2. Stay active

    If you’re one of those “January joiners” who resolved to get fit this year and have already fallen off the bandwagon, don’t worry.

    You still can (and should) get back to a workout routine. Any health professional will tell you that physical activity is not only great for your body, but also your mind.

    Exercise releases endorphins that can be a great stress-buster.

    And there are plenty of ways to work on your fitness this winter while enjoying the great outdoors.

    WATCH: January is the time of year that many people resolve to get fit but many people are also facing new financial realities. Here are some tips that won’t break the bank.

    3. Spend money on experiences, not things

    Psychology professor Tom Gilovich of Cornell University says you’ll be happier — and your happiness will last longer — if you spend your money on experiences (like travel and concerts), rather than things (like clothes and gadgets).

    He’s spent more than 12 years studying the subject.

    There’s a simple thought experiment Gilovich has used to demonstrate this. He asks his test subjects to think of the three best things and experiences they’ve ever purchased. Then he asks them to tell him about themselves.

    “People take their most significant experiences and embed them in their narratives much more than their material goods,” he said.

    “Ultimately, we are the sum total of our experiences.”

    Gilovich explained that we feel more connected with our loved ones when we share an experience with them.

    WATCH: It turns out owning that pair of Manolos is not going to help you be happier after all. A study shows people who spend money on experiences instead of things are much happier.

    4. Give unto others

    In addition to spending on experiences, research shows spending on others makes us feel good.

    “We tested this idea in poor countries where many of our participants reported having trouble meeting their basic needs,” Elizabeth Dunn, a UBC psychology professor, said in 2013.

    “And even in these relatively impoverished areas of the world we find people are happier when they spend money on others rather than themselves.”

    READ MORE: Happiness from giving to others may be a universal trait, say authors from UBC and Harvard

    There seems to be a biological explanation for it.

    “There is what’s called dopamine, which is a hormone and a neurotransmitter, that is released into your brain if you do help,” Alisha Sabourin, a Edmonton-based therapist, told Global News in 2014.

    Dopamine sends a surge of excitement to the brain, which reinforces the act of giving.

    The benefits can include decreased anxiety and blood pressure, along with an increased feeling of self-worth.

    Volunteering has been shown to be particularly good for people with depression, as it gets them out of the house and socializing.

    WATCH: Su-Ling Goh explains why it feels so good to give

    5. ‘Happy wife makes for a happy life’

    There may be some scientific proof to that cheesy line you always hear at weddings.

    A 70-year study out of Harvard suggested that the key to a long, healthy life is a happy marriage. Owning a puppy and hanging on to a group of good friends can help as well.

    A happy relationship is what kept the majority of the men in the study thriving. Only four of the 31 men who stayed single were still alive when the study wrapped up..

    Meanwhile, more than a third of those with companions were still alive even into their 90s.

    “The finding on happiness is that happiness is the wrong word. The right words for happiness are emotional intelligence, relationships, joy, connections and resilience,” George Vaillant, a Harvard psychiatrist who directed the study for 32 years, told the Daily Mail in 2012.

    READ MORE: How to improve your relationship

    If subjects didn’t have meaningful relationships, a pet dog often filled the void, the study noted.

    The animals are believed to help keep your immune system strong, while daily walks with pets get owners into the habit of regular exercise — which brings us back to tip number two.

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    If all the tips above fail you and you just need a little pick-me-up, there’s always comfort food.

    WATCH: Sometimes nothing beats the cozy comfort of a homecooked meal

    Watch below: If you’re feeling down today, you’re probably not alone as Monday was officially known as Blue Monday. It’s labelled as the most depressing day of the year but as Su-Ling Goh reports, there’s not a lot of evidence to support that claim.

    -With files from Global News

    Follow @TrishKozicka
15. 11. 2018
Nearly a third of millennials ‘not at all knowledgeable’ about RRSP savings: poll

Nearly a third of millennials ‘not at all knowledgeable’ about RRSP savings: poll

OTTAWA – Nearly a third of young Canadians admit they are “not at all knowledgeable” about retirement savings plans, according to a survey done for TD Bank.

The report also suggested that a large proportion of those aged 18 to 33 are uninformed about what registered retirement savings plans can and cannot be used for.

Only half of those surveyed knew that money in an RRSP could be used to help buy their first home, while just 28 per cent knew it could be used to help further their education later in life under the lifelong learning plan.

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    The survey also found that many young Canadians believed they could use RRSP savings to pay for many things that are not allowed.

    Sixty-four per cent were unaware that RRSP savings could not be used to make a charitable donation and 60 per cent mistakenly believed that they could be used to pay childcare expenses.

    Fifty-two per cent also incorrectly believed money in an RRSP could be used to finance a car and half wrongly thought it could be used to help buy a second home.

    Linda MacKay, senior vice-president for personal savings and investing at TD Canada Trust, said that the earlier people start saving for retirement, the better off they will be.

    “The interesting thing with millennials is they do prioritize retirement as important … but often don’t know how to get started or think their budget can accommodate it,” she said.

    MacKay said starting early, even if the amount is small, can make a significant difference.

    “No amount is too small,” she said.

    The online poll done by Environics Research for TD Bank surveyed 2,115 respondents aged 18 or older including 613 between 18 and 33 between Oct. 30 and Nov. 5, 2015.

    The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

15. 11. 2018
WhatsApp drops subscription fee to become entirely free

WhatsApp drops subscription fee to become entirely free

Popular messaging platform WhatsApp has announced it will drop its $0.99 subscription fee, making the platform free for its nearly one billion users worldwide.

In a blog post announcing the change, the company said it found a subscription-based service no longer worked for its users. Previously, users had free access to WhatsApp for one year after signing up for the service, but were charged $0.99 for every subsequent year. However, iPhone users who paid to download the app in the first place did not have to pay the yearly fee.

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“For many years, we’ve asked some people to pay a fee for using WhatsApp after their first year. As we’ve grown, we’ve found that this approach hasn’t worked well. Many WhatsApp users don’t have a debit or credit card number and they worried they’d lose access to their friends and family after their first year,” read a statement issued over the weekend.

“Over the next several weeks, we’ll remove fees from the different versions of our app and WhatsApp will no longer charge you for our service.”

READ MORE: Google reportedly working on an artificially intelligent messaging app

But the company has also promised not to inundate the platform with ads in order to generate more revenue. WhatsApp said it will instead start testing tools that allow users to communicate with businesses.

“That could mean communicating with your bank about whether a recent transaction was fraudulent, or with an airline about a delayed flight. We all get these messages elsewhere today – through text messages and phone calls – so we want to test new tools to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam,” said the company.

15. 11. 2018
Democratic primary candidates embrace Barack Obama legacy

Democratic primary candidates embrace Barack Obama legacy

WASHINGTON – Anyone playing a Barack Obama drinking game during the latest Democratic presidential debate could easily have wound up splattered on an emergency-room gurney by the final commercial break.

The president’s name came up 29 times Sunday – occasionally mentioned by the moderators, but usually by the candidates, and frequently in reverential tones.

The Democrats seeking to succeed Obama were smothering themselves in his record – not running away from it.

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An explanation for that could be condensed into two words: South Carolina. The state that hosted Sunday’s debate could prove pivotal in deciding the Democratic nominee; black voters will play a decisive role there; and Obama’s approval level is not only high among liberals but even higher among African-Americans at about 90 per cent.

Sen. Bernie Sanders took exception when one of his rivals pointed out that he’d once floated the idea of launching a primary challenge against the president in 2012 and had called him weak on progressive issues.

READ MORE: State of the Union under Obama, by numbers

“He and I are friends,” Sanders replied, pointing out that they’d campaigned for each other. The socialist senator also praised the president for his reluctance to deploy ground troops to the Middle East.

“We’ve worked together on many issues. We have some differences of opinion.”

Hillary Clinton had been drawing attention to Sanders’ past critiques of the president.

She and Obama may have been bitter rivals in 2008. But the electoral math today suggests she needs the voters who helped Obama beat her in that year’s South Carolina primary.

Clinton is in danger of losing one and possibly both of the first two nomination states – polls say she’s behind in New Hampshire, and running neck-and-neck in Iowa. The race then moves from those earlier, whiter states to the south, where the Democratic electorate includes more minorities.

Clinton still had a huge lead in South Carolina – 40 percentage points in the latest polls. And a rival strategist predicted Sunday that her southern firewall could prove impenetrable in the primaries.

READ MORE: Sharp exchanges in fourth Democratic primary debate

Republican organizer Karl Rove said the more left-wing Sanders could struggle as the campaign shifts from the north, away from his base of young white college kids.

“(In) South Carolina or Nevada, you get a lot more African-Americans, a lot more Latinos, and a lot fewer liberal wackos,” Rove told a Fox panel Sunday.

A Gallup poll last summer illustrated the two-part advantage Clinton held among African-American voters as the race got underway last summer: her popularity, and familiarity.

Clinton had an 80 per cent favorability rating among black respondents. Sanders was liked, among the few who knew him. But only 33 per cent of African-American respondents knew who he was entering the race, compared with 92 per cent who knew Clinton.

Sanders said he can overcome that name-recognition challenge.

“When the African-American community becomes familiar with my congressional record and with our agenda, and with our views on the economy, and criminal justice, just as the general population has become more supportive, so will the African American community, so will the Latino community,” Sanders said Sunday.

“We have the momentum, we’re on a path to a victory.”

Sunday’s debate was hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus, on the eve of the annual Martin Luther King holiday.

The most heated exchange involving Obama came when Sanders criticized Clinton for taking more than $600,000 in speaking fees from investment bank Goldman Sachs.

READ MORE: New York tabloid gives Ted Cruz the finger, tells GOP candidate to ‘Go back to Canada’

That prompted Clinton to reply that he’d criticized Obama for doing the same.

Clinton promised to preserve Obama’s health reform, and criticized Sanders’ plan to raise taxes to fund a single-payer health plan. Clinton called it one of the great achievements by Obama, the Democratic party, and the country.

She said she was proud to work with Obama on the Iran nuclear agreement when she was secretary of state; applauded the Obama administration for working with software companies on intelligence-gathering; and she passed on the moderators’ invitation to criticize him for threatening to use force against Syria’s dictator and then backing down.

The also-ran on stage, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, didn’t get much speaking time. In an early chance to address the crowd, O’Malley praised the president.

In his opening remarks, he credited Obama with preventing a second Great Depression. He also saluted the president for making the U.S. more energy independent, before expressing his view that the country could entirely phase out fossil fuels by 2050.