Tuesday January 5, 2021


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MONITOR

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Aquisition

EMERGE Acquires truLOCAL, the Market Leader in Direct-to-Consumer, Meat Subscriptions for up to $16.8M

Marc Lafleurs truLOCAL is EMERGE's 5th acquisition, largest deal to date, and is expected to be immediately accretive to earnings; truLOCAL generated revenue of approximately $19.8 million (unaudited) in the twelve months ended December 31, 2020, representing over 130% growth year-over-year

EMERGE Commerce Ltd. announced that it has closed the acquisition of all the issued and outstanding shares of truLOCAL Inc. ("truLOCAL") effective December 31, 2020 (the "Transaction"). truLOCAL is a market leading, direct-to-consumer, locally sourced meat subscription service in Canada, with a growing presence in the US. truLOCAL was recently ranked as Canada's 14th fastest growing Company for 2017-2019 in Canada by the Globe and Mail (2020). The total purchase price for the Transaction is up to $16.8 million. The initial consideration payable by EMERGE in connection with the acquisition of truLOCAL consisted of the following: (i) $6.5 million paid in cash upon closing of the Transaction; and (ii) 4,666,667 common shares of EMERGE. Two years from the date of the Transaction, EMERGE will pay deferred cash consideration of $1.5 million so long as certain key employees, including Marc Lafleur, remain with truLOCAL. In addition, a contingent earn-out of up to $4.5 million may be payable based on overall operating performance of truLOCAL over a two year period following closing, with up to $1.5 million in cash in Year 1, and up to $1.5 million cash and up to $1.5 million in EMERGE shares(1) in Year 2. The Transaction was funded with cash on hand and drawing the final $3.0 million available from EMERGE's debt facility. more ...


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Entrepreneurship

Ontario Supporting Home-Based Food Businesses During COVID-19

Government providing entrepreneurs with a new “How to” guide

The Ontario government is supporting home-based food businesses by providing a guide on how to start a home-based food business, which includes an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator. To further support these entrepreneurs, the government has also made regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods. These supports are part of the government's continued efforts to help small, independent businesses succeed and contribute to Ontario communities during COVID-19. "For many local entrepreneurs, they start with a love of food and a cherished family recipe, whether it's grandma's apple pie or that new take on homegrown pickles, jams and preserves, and try and turn their passion into a successful business," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. "Our government applauds them for their vision and effort and we are doing everything we can to help them seize new opportunities without compromising Ontario's high standards for food safety." Low-risk foods are considered non-hazardous and do not require refrigeration. They include items such as baked goods, pickles, jams and preserves, chocolates, hard candies and brittles, fudge and toffees, granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds, and coffee beans and tea leaves. more ...


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Covid-19 Vaccine

Ontario Releases Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Framework will guide vaccine prioritization in future phases of the province’s implementation plan

The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province. The province continues to vaccinate vulnerable populations and those who care for them through Phase One of its three-phase implementation plan as additional vaccines become available. Details were provided today by COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force members Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario's Chief Coroner and Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response, and Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor at Western University. "This ethical framework is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Ontarians to be transparent," said General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. "We know that people are eager to get vaccinated and this framework helps ensure that we do it in an ethical, effective and compassionate way." Phase One of Ontario's three-phase vaccine implementation plan began on December 15, 2020 at two hospital sites, and increased to 17 additional sites the following week, with the delivery of 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses. With Health Canada's recent approval of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the province can expect about 50,000 additional doses before the end of the month. more ...


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Free Speech

Cancel culture leading to an exodus of universities' free-thinkers

Knowledge dies when starved of criticism - By Caitlin Rose Morgante

University administrators and student unions are tearing down something more important than statues. These self-appointed censors are dismantling the dialectic method bequeathed to us by Socrates and generations of scholars, triggering a brain drain away from academia. Neither arcane nor novel, the rigorous, timeless methodology at stake means examining, discussing, and arguing opposing ideas to learn and arrive at the truth. This has been a fundamental part of the progress in medicine, engineering, technology, law, democracy and justice that we enjoy. The ‘opposing ideas’ part is not an optional ingredient. Just as a candle’s flame starved of oxygen sputters and dies, so does the advancement of knowledge when starved of criticism. Open inquiry and free expression are no longer under threat; they are becoming extinct on campus.The Campus Freedom Index , published by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), has consistently tracked the rise of censorship at Canadian universities. The 2020 edition found “69 per cent of Canadian universities expressly commit themselves to the promotion, celebration, and/or appreciation of diversity and inclusion, while a mere 21 per cent bother with committing themselves to upholding free expression and open inquiry.”
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Vested Interest

Just the facts? Don’t count on fact-checkers

A closer look at almost every fact-checking organization shows a great deal of politics and vested interests involved - By Lee Harding

Fact-checking takes us past the spin and straight to the truth. Or maybe not. A closer look at almost every fact-checking organization shows a great deal of politics and vested interests involved. Years ago, I went to Snopes.com whenever someone sent me an email thread I wasn’t sure about. I even recommended to others that they do the same. As time went on, I became less confident of Snopes. Sometimes the conclusion they reached (true, partly true or false) didn’t match the evidence they laid out – especially when it had to do with right-wing politics. Snopes’ married co-founders, David and Barbara Mikkelson, divorced and had legal battles over their company. Disclosures in court led the Daily Mail to present the first meaningful scrutiny to the fact checkers themselves. As it turned out, there was plenty of disingenuousness. more ...


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Travel Post Pandemic

Asia Pacific Reigns in 2021 Henley Passport Index as Region Looks Set to Emerge First from Pandemic

As 2021 commences, the latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — provide fascinating insights into the future of travel freedom in a world that has been transformed by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Without taking temporary restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one position on the index, with passport holders able to access 191 destinations around the world visa-free. This marks the third consecutive year that Japan has held the top spot, either alone or jointly with Singapore. Asia Pacific (APAC) region countries’ dominance of the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — now seems firmly established. Singapore sits in 2nd position, with access to 190 destinations, and South Korea holds onto 3rd place alongside Germany, with both having a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 189. Slightly further down but still in the top 10, New Zealand is in 7th position, with visa-free access to 185 destinations, while Australia is in 8th position, with access to 184 destinations. The ascendance of APAC countries in the Henley Passport Index rankings is a relatively new phenomenon. Over the index’s 16-year history, the top spots were traditionally held by EU countries, the UK, or the US, and experts suggest that the APAC region’s position of strength will continue as it includes some of the first countries to begin the process of recovering from the pandemic. more ...


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Food

The slippery ethics of paying grocery executives bonuses

COVID-19 has made us realize that many people whose jobs are too important to be interrupted are the ones earning the least money - By Sylvain Charlebois

Almost everyone agrees that grocery store workers should earn better wages, especially during a pandemic. In Canada, their hourly rate hovers around $15 an hour. New hires get about $13 an hour, while the highest paid earn almost $50,000 annually, or about $25 an hour. In a high-volume, low-margin world, salaries are what they are. But it’s difficult to accept such salaries when executives are pocketing near-record bonuses. Metro announced recently that its top-paid executives shared $3.48 million in annual bonuses for the fiscal year ending in September, including $1.43 million for CEO Eric La Flèche. The bonuses represent an increase of three to five per cent from 2019. La Flèche is considered by many to be one of the best CEOs in the business and his leadership has resulted in numerous awards over the years, and even a few this year. Even if these bonuses are likely deserved, they come in the wake of multiple employee compensation program cancellations. more ...


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Vaccine Uptake

US and UK Are Optimistic Indicators for COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake

Some 13,500 adults in 15 countries were asked if they would take the vaccine and, if not, why; In every country, between 57% and 80% of those who say they would not take a COVID-19 vaccine mention being worried about the side effects

The number of people in the US and UK willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is rising, according to the latest World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey Global Attitudes on a COVID-19 Vaccine, conducted in the days following the first vaccinations in both countries. Since October, the proportion of those who “strongly agree” with the question If a vaccine for COVID-19 were available, I would get it is up significantly in the US (+9 points to 38%), and UK (+5 to 46%). It is also the first time since August when any country showed an uptick of five points or more in overall vaccination intent. Arnaud Bernaert, Head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum said: “As vaccinations rollout, it is encouraging to see confidence improve most in countries where vaccines are already made available. It is critical that governments and the private sector come together to build confidence and ensure that manufacturing capacity meets the global demand. COVID-19 is a global health crisis and global solutions are needed. We encourage cooperation between researchers and manufacturers and public funding arrangements that remove restrictions to vaccine access.” more ...


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Education

Spending on public schools in Ontario up nearly $2.8 billion in recent years, despite stagnant enrolment

Contrary to public perceptions, spending on public schooling in Ontario increased by 10.6 per cent or $2.8 billion between 2013-14 and 2017-18 despite enrolment only increasing by 0.2 per cent, finds a new study by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank. “Contrary to what we often hear, spending is on the rise in Ontario’s public school system,” said Tegan Hill, an economist with the Fraser Institute and co-author of Education Spending in Public Schools in Canada, 2021 Edition. Per student spending on public schools in Ontario continues to surpass the national average. After adjusting for inflation, spending per student on public schools increased 2.9 per cent, and in 2017/18 reached $14,394, more than the national average of $13,798 per student. By comparison, spending on public schools in Quebec was $12,430 per student that same year. more ...


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Trade

Since Canada established its agreement with the EU, the EU's nonsensical barriers have stood in the way of businesses trading internationally

By Jack Buckby

The United Kingdom is inching closer to the end of its transition period between leaving the European Union and officially dropping its trading relationship with the remaining 27 member states. As of Jan. 1, the U.K. will make its way in the world on its own, trading off the back of entirely new deals already made or being negotiated. Talks with the European Union have been going on for years, with no end in sight. As EU leaders continue to insist on de facto non-compete clauses with the U.K., stopping the British from offering better deals than their European counterparts to the rest of the world, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned British businesses to prepare for the dreaded “No deal” scenario. Johnson has warned the EU that he’s willing to walk away and implement an Australian-style trade deal that simply follows the rules of the World Trade Organization. For those who have watched European bureaucrats insist on crippling and unreasonable conditions during the years-long trade negotiations, it’s perhaps not surprising that discussions have been difficult. And for those who are familiar with the kind of bonkers trade regulations put in place by the European Union’s vast bureaucracy, it will come as no surprise that the U.K. doesn’t want to become a vassal state abiding by EU regulations for the sake of negligible trade benefits.more ...


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Demolition

Cambridges Chief Building Official issues Emergency Order to demolish former Preston Springs Hotel due to imminent public safety risk



The City’s Chief Building Official has exercised his authority under the Building Code Act to issue an Emergency Order to proceed with the demolition of the vacant building on Fountain Street to ensure public safety. “Due to the unsafe condition of the structure, approaching winter weather, and the ongoing challenges of securing the property from trespassers, there is an immediate risk to the community,” said Dennis Purcell, the City’s Chief Building Official. “Unfortunately, it has now come to a point where the structure is unsound and a threat to public safety. Anyone entering the building, including emergency or fire officials, could be placed in peril. Frankly, this is not a risk I am willing to take.” Under Section 15.10 of the Building Code Act, an Emergency Order, where there is immediate danger, may be made and extends powers to the Chief Building Official to take any measures necessary to terminate the danger. The building, known as the former Preston Springs Hotel and a designated heritage property under the Ontario Heritage Act, has been boarded up and vacant for over 25 years. The City has endeavored to work with several owners and multiple proposals to restore the troubled building but finding a solution has proved complicated and cost-prohibitive. more ...


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Next Steps

Many questions will linger post-pandemic

Now that vaccines have made it possible for the world to be free of COVID-19, what consequences of this plague can we look forward to - By Gerry Bowler

Pandemics have a way of changing the world. The Plague of Justinian hit the Mediterranean area in the 500s, not only killing millions but crucially weakening the Byzantine Empire and helping ruin its plans to reconquer western Europe from the barbarians. The Black Death of the 1300s wiped out over 100 million people in Europe and Asia. It sped the decline of the feudal system, engendered persecution of Jews, lepers and gypsies, and created a better economic life for the peasantry whose labour was now much more valuable. The Spanish flu of 1918-20 and its 50 million deaths helped the Allies defeat Germany in the First World War, increased government intervention in public health, and spurred the eugenics movement and the drive to rid society of its weakest members. Now that the development of vaccines has made it possible to dream of a world free from the threat of the COVID-19 epidemic, what consequences of this plague can we look forward to? more ...












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EVENTS

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Outdoors

City servicing three more trails for winter use

In recognition of reduced recreational opportunities due to COVID-19 this winter, the City of Waterloo is increasing services levels in an effort to provide three additional walking/hiking opportunities. Residents can use the trails and roadway networks at Mount Hope Cemetery, Parkview Cemetery and Bechtel Park Woodlot, and Clair Creek Trail (located between Sundew Drive and Columbia Forest Blvd at Erbsville Rd). Washroom facilities will be open at the Parkview Cemetery and Bechtel Park Woodlot location and will be accessible at the Manulife Centre daily from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.). Walkers/hikers are reminded to please maintain two metre physical distance when using trails and walkways throughout the city unless with members of the same household. Wearing a mask, even outdoors, is recommended. The cemetery locations both have relatively flat asphalt surfaces and benches to sit and rest when needed. The Clair Creek Trail is a longer (approximately 2 km), and more natural trail experience. more ...


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