Canada column for Sunday, March 6/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
“Ugly” food can be a good thing, especially for shoppers seeking bargains as prices soar due to the weakened value of the Canadian dollar.
Weston’s Loblaw chain is expanding its “Naturally Imperfect” foods nationally after offering the “ugly” line of apples and potatoes in Ontario and Quebec.
After the successful test, the company is adding “unsightly” peppers, onions and mushrooms costing 30 percent less than their good-looking counterparts.
“Canadians are really looking for some options . . . and having greater accessibility to that healthy eating product of value,” said Dan Branson, Loblaw’s senior director of produce.
With the Canadian dollar slumping to 75 cents U.S. and factors such as the California drought, imported fresh fruit and vegetables have jumped 12.9 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively.
The less-than-perfect selections are now in Loblaw’s Real Canadian Superstore, Your Independent Grocer and most No Frills stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Real Canadian Superstores and Your Independent Grocer locations in the Atlantic provinces and the Yukon have also joined the program.
Canadian leaders have reached an agreement to work together on a plan to combat climate change.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the 13 provincial and territorial leaders at a meeting in Vancouver agreed to the first national consensus on pursuing a climate policy.
“The transition to a low-carbon economy will happen by a broad suite of measures, which will include pricing carbon,” Trudeau said.
As well as “carbon pricing mechanisms,” four working groups will examine adaptation and resilience, such as clean infrastructure spending, clean tech innovation and jobs, and climate mitigation strategies.
News in brief:
- Now that 25,920 Syrian refugees have been resettled by the government in Canada since last November, the thousands more expected this year will have to pay travel and health costs. Immigration officials have confirmed that future refugees brought in under private sponsorship must repay the costs of their airfare and medical exams. That would amount to about $1,000 for travel and several hundred dollars for health screening.
- U.S. healthcare services company McKesson Corp. has bought the Alberta-based chain of 470 Rexall Health stores for $3 billion. The U.S. company has been supplying 1,900 pharmacies in Canada and will now compete with Loblaw-owned Shoppers Drug Mart with 1,310 locations. McKesson bought the chain from Daryl Katz, owner of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 75.07 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.332 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Markets are higher, with the Toronto Stock Exchange index at 13,259 points and the TSX Venture index 563 points.
The average price of gas has risen to 89.5 cents a liter nationally or $3.31 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (March 2) 20, 27, 30, 32, 34 and 40; bonus 9. (Feb. 27) 4, 11, 20, 23, 41 and 45; bonus 22. Lotto Max: (Feb. 26) 6, 9, 22, 23, 36, 38 and 47; bonus 12.
- The Canadian real estate market remains hot, says Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. “Luxury home sales in Toronto and Vancouver will continue to defy gravity this spring," said Brad Henderson, Sotheby CEO. The weaker Canadian dollar has made real estate more attractive to domestic and foreign buyers, with a 63-percent jump in million-dollar-plus houses in Toronto and 23 percent in Vancouver.
- Technical problems continue to slow the rebuild of Bluenose II, Canada’s most-famous schooner in Nova Scotia. The replica of the original Grand Banks’ fishing schooner is now expected to cost $25 million. The original ship, with its image on the Canadian dime, sank off Haiti in 1946 after striking a reef.
- The generosity of a Waterloo, Ontario couple who took a homeless man to a Toronto Maple Leaf’s hockey game led to the man being found by relatives. Michelle Gingrich and Todd Brilhante invited Elwyn Murphy to see the game. Their photo of him was posted on Facebook and Victor Boudreau in Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia recognized his uncle and invited him to come home after 10 years away.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com