Thursday February 11, 2021


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MONITOR

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LoRaWAN

eleven-x and Mistall Partner to Provide New Smart Parking Solution for Increased Compliance Revenues and Optimized Guidance

Solution Combines LoRaWAN®-Based Sensors with Image Processing Enabling Highest Accuracy, Real-Time Parking Space Status Monitoring in Any Location

eleven-x, a global leader providing complete, wireless IoT solutions including smart parking and the patent-pending SPS-X sensor, and Mistall, a leading image processing and parking monitoring provider, are pleased to announce a partnership to deploy their new TruSens smart parking solution. Developed to empower cities, campuses and parking organizations of all types to make data-driven, evidence-based decisions and increase revenues, TruSens also enables a superior customer experience by offering real-time stall availability eliminating wasteful searches, reducing congestion and improving environmental sustainability through reduced GHG emissions. Even prior to the pandemic, parking has been a pain point for cities, campuses and other organizations in terms of budgets, land use and the driver/community experience. While it may be too early at this point to comprehend the full impact of the pandemic, it is clear there has been a tremendous effect on revenues and transportation patterns. As the world emerges from the pandemic, the need is clear for accurate data to make informed decisions when it comes to implementing pricing programs and infrastructure planning to meet the needs of what the “new normal” is for parking.


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Health Hub

Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation takes part in new Healthy Communities Initiative

$1.3 Million in funding available in the South Western Ontario HUB to transform public spaces in response to COVID-19

On Tuesday the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation announced they will be part of an initiative to provide $1.3 Million across South Western Ontario to transform public spaces in response to COVID. This funding is part of the Government of Canada’s new $31 Million Healthy Communities Initiative. This investment by the federal government will support community-led organizations in developing local, small-scale infrastructure projects that respond to the immediate needs arising from COVID-19, while building towards a more pandemic-resilient future. The South Western Ontario HUB is being co-led by Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, London Community Foundation and WindsorEssex Community Foundation, in partnership with Aylmer Area Community Foundation, Sarnia Community Foundation and Sunset Community Foundation supported by Centre Wellington Community Foundation and Dufferin Community Foundation.


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Q&A

Why do we look for loopholes in COVID-19 restrictions?

Is it human nature to break the rules? Are people just sick of COVID-19 restrictions?

UW spoke to Professor Christine Purdon, a registered psychologist, about why it is that some people are not following Public Health guidelines and COVID-19 precautions. Why do people not follow public health rules even though they know they should? First, I am not sure people always agree that they should follow the rules. Some people mistrust the rules, some people feel the rules are too strict, and others think that following the rules causes more harm than following them saves. If people do agree in principle with the rules, they may find themselves able to rationalize breaking them. For example, if they really would like a change of scenery and could go to a cottage, they may tell themselves that they can still follow the spirit of the rules by not stopping on the way to the cottage and bringing all of their groceries with them, so they won’t be in contact with anyone. What they may be overlooking is that the probability of not needing to stop either to or from the cottage is low, and that the probability of needing something from a store is high – we all forget something important, like milk or bread, and when we get to the cottage, we may find we need a new shovel, or ice melt.


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Transit

City of Kitchener welcomes landmark recovery-supporting federal transit investment

Early in the day yesterday, ahead of the meeting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was joined by Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna and Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson to announce a significant federal investment in public transit. This investment of almost $15 billion for public transit over the next eight years includes permanent funding of $3 billion per year for Canadian communities beginning in 2026-27. “Public transit is critical to livable and competitive cities and regions, today and in the future, and today’s landmark investment in permanent transit funding will be key to Canada’s post-COVID recovery,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, who is a member of the Big City Mayors’ Caucus. “FCM’s BCMC has been calling for significant, predictable, and long-term funding for public transit, and today’s announcement demonstrates exactly the kind of bold federal leadership and accelerated funding required for the economic growth of cities like Kitchener and regions like Waterloo.”


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Audio Content

Waze Welcomes Audible to its Audio Player Program

The leading creator and provider of premium audio storytelling is teaming up with Waze to give drivers the perfect book for every trip

Waze, the platform bringing together communities on and off the road, announced this week that Audible has joined its Audio Player Program, giving drivers a way to fill time in the car with meaning, learning, art and storytelling. Audible on Waze offers drivers with an Audible membership easy access to its catalogue of more than 600,000 Audible Originals, audiobooks, podcasts, and other audio programs. So whether riding with the kids, road tripping, or heading home from work, there's an Audible title to accompany every drive. “We are very excited to kick off 2021 by welcoming Audible into the Audio Player family,” said Adam Fried, Head of Global Partnerships at Waze. “Audible is such a beloved brand with a huge catalogue of content and we’re thrilled to be able to bring it straight to their drives. Our users have already driven over 100 billion kilometers while listening to content from streaming services on our Audio Player, and we can’t wait to bring this experience to even more users thanks to our collaboration with Audible.”


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Air Travel

Flair Airlines expands with eight new destinations across Canada

Air network will expand beginning on May 1st as service is added to Ottawa, ON; Waterloo Region, ON; Halifax, NS; and Saint John, NB.

ULCC to bring low fare air travel to 18 cities by August, filling voids left by legacy carriers and ensuring affordable travel options are available for Canadians. Alberta's Flair Airlines, Canada’s only independent ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC), is expanding service and will bring low fare air travel to 18 Canadian destinations by summer. Service to four of the new destinations will begin in May with more added in the coming months as non-essential travel within Canada safely restarts.


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Collective Bargaining

Over 40 Ontario unions take next steps in lawsuit against Ontario government’s wage restraint legislation

A Coalition of over 40 Ontario unions has formally filed evidence in a lawsuit to repeal legislation which severely limits wage and benefit increases for public sector workers, a move the Coalition says violates bargaining rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “We have always believed that the Ford government’s attack on collective bargaining is a serious interference with the constitutionally-protected right to collective bargaining, which has repeatedly been affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada”, said Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), “the COVID-19 pandemic has further demonstrated the outrageousness of Ford’s attack on public sector workers who have been relied upon to combat this crisis.” The Coalition, representing approximately 270,000 employees, has taken the significant step of a lawsuit due to the detrimental impact of Bill 124 on those employed in the broader public sector. The 14 volume, 4,500-pages of evidence filed on January 29 outlines these impacts.


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Help Wanted

COVID Highlights Acute Shortage of Healthcare Workers

COVID-19 highlights a shortage of nurses and doctors in Canada that dates from before the crisis and hampers patient access to healthcare, says a new report from the C.D. Howe Institute. In “Help Wanted: How to Address Labour Shortages in Healthcare and Improve Patient Access,” Rosalie Wyonch evaluates factors contributing to healthcare labour shortages and investigates the inter-relationships between access to health services, the number of healthcare providers, compensation rates and migration patterns. “To address a pandemic,” said Wyonch, “preserving and maintaining the healthcare system’s capacity is critical. Healthcare workers are the front line of defence against the worst consequences of a deadly global pandemic. In addition, they are at increased risk of being exposed to the virus. This makes it more important than ever to ensure Canada’s healthcare labour supply is sufficient.”


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Future Energy

Indigenous engagement charts positive course for oil and gas industry

Environmentalists only support Indigenous peoples when the First Nations and Métis adopt strong environmentalist positions - By Ken Coates

Much as opponents of Canadian oil and gas production hate to admit it, the future of the industry appears to be set. Construction on the Coastal GasLink pipeline to Kitimat, B.C., continues. Work on the Trans Mountain pipeline is well advanced. The Canadian portion of Enbridge’s Line 3 is essentially finished. Protests killed the Northern Gateway project several years ago and new U.S. President Joe Biden has done the same to the Keystone XL pipeline to the U.S. Recent developments also make clear that Indigenous peoples will be major players in the future of the Canadian energy sector. With support from the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corp., Alberta First Nations recently invested in a new $1.5-billion natural gas power plant. The same fund provided $1 billion in capital for investment in the Keystone XL.


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Strategy

New strategies for when a pandemic becomes endemic

What governments have done in response to COVID-19 has been remarkably injurious to humanity’s general health - By Ken Green

Recent pronouncements by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggest its view of COVID-19 is evolving from a pandemic threat that’s novel and spreading to an endemic threat that has established itself as just another new contestant in the vast ecosystem of organisms that interact periodically with humans. This suggests a need to change strategy. After all, what one might do to repel a threat that is new, identifiable, perhaps preventable and coming from outside the body is probably not useful in attempting to manage a threat that has settled in for the duration; is both inside of us and all around us; is largely invisible; is ever-changing; and is driven by forces beyond humanity and its control. From a biological perspective, one could argue that it was foolish for our health authorities to have assumed that the course of COVID-19 would end any differently than in the establishment of an endemic presence in human existence. There were virtually no rational grounds for that assumption either in theory or practice. Smallpox, which had fairly unusual characteristics that made it amenable to prevention by vaccination, has been the one exception to the rule.


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Pharmacare

Canada’s actuaries offer win-win framework for prescription drugs

In a statement released yesterday, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) adds its voice to the debate on pharmacare in Canada.

The CIA believes that all Canadians should have access to affordable prescription drugs. However, rather than implement an entirely new single-payer system, Canada’s actuaries urge the government to build a framework that harnesses successes from both private insurance and provincial/territorial programs to focus on meeting the immediate needs of Canadians without coverage. “Implementing drug coverage for all Canadians is about more than affordable medicines,” says Michel St-Germain, FCIA, President of the CIA. “This is about filling a gap in our health system that can contribute to improvements in healthy life expectancy, improved worker productivity, longer labour force participation, and more economic growth.” The CIA’s proposed framework includes a cooperative overseeing body with representatives from the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, the insurance industry, and other experts. It would establish a national formulary, negotiate drug prices on behalf of all public and private plans across Canada, and explore optimal evidence-based prescribing and public health alternatives to pharmaceuticals.


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Death of Communication

Truth, lies and the insidious rise of "misinformation"

Political debate has become sanctimonious lecturing, with one side refusing to accept even the possibility that they might be wrong - By Jack Buckby

Before 2016, ‘misinformation’ was just another word in the dictionary. As soon as it became clear that Donald Trump’s straight-shooting presidential campaign was serious, and that he would likely become the Republican nominee, ‘misinformation’ became a strategy. Anything that left Trump’s mouth that media pundits or Democrats considered distasteful, or even just phrased in a way a typical politician wouldn’t usually phrase it, became misinformation. What was posited as a battle against lies became a bitter ideological war that threw out convention and smeared roughly half of the population – not just in the United States but across the West – as dedicated and shameless purveyors of falsehoods.


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Economy

Canada’s economic performance heading into COVID recession was weakest of last five pre-recession periods

Canada’s economy was the weakest entering the COVID-recession compared to the last five pre-recession or economic slowdown periods, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan, Canadian public policy think-tank. “Canada’s economy, whether measured by growth in income or business investment, or the strength of our labour markets, was the weakest in the four years (2016-19) leading up to the COVID-recession relative to the four previous comparative periods,” said Jason Clemens, executive vice president of the Fraser Institute and co-author of Comparing Economic Performance in Five Pre-recession Periods. The study compares numerous economic indicators relating to income growth, labour markets and business investment for the last five pre-recessionary periods: 1986-1989, 1997-2000, 2005-2008, 2011-2014, and 2016-2019.


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Environment

Funding available for community environmental projects

Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Region of Waterloo Community Environmental Fund. The application deadline is March 5, 2021.

Established in 2011, the Fund provides grants to assist community members and organizations carry out projects that protect, promote, and enhance our natural environment - and will help the community transition to a low-carbon, resilient future. Grants will be available for environmental stewardship and sustainability projects that: (click on headline for more)

Wilfrid Laurier University is set to host a four-week virtual user experience (UX) design challenge that will see university and college students from across Canada tackle problems related to climate change for the chance to win $8,500 in cash prizes. Design for Change will challenge students to develop and design solutions to help transform social behaviour toward greener and more sustainable practices. From March 1 to 27, students can participate in workshops and will have access to mentorship from industry leaders as they work on their design. Students can participate alone, in pairs, or teams of three and no prior UX experience is required. “UX design is all about creating solutions to complex problems and doing so from a human-centred perspective,” said Abby Goodrum, Laurier's User Experience Design program coordinator. “I'm hoping that students taking part in this design challenge will not only come away with new skills but also the ability to create innovative user-centred designs that can have a real impact on the environment and global climate change.” more ...


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Moving Forward

Grand River Film Festival to Celebrate Digitally

The festival will deliver its 14th season of programming as a virtual, at-home experience

Waterloo Region’s longest running film festival will celebrate its 14th season as a newly formatted at-home virtual experience. The Grand River Film Festival (GRFF) is introducing the virtual festival experience, GRFF@Home, in May 2021 as a continuation of its annual film festival programming. “For GRFF, a virtual festival is a brave new world. But it has become the reality for festivals across the country and around the world, and the options available to us are quite impressive,” says Michael Clarke, Programming Chair. The virtual festival, GRFF@Home, will include an expanded selection of films available for online streaming. Viewers can expect interactive activities, such as live events and Q&As, allowing patrons to enjoy a variety of festival content from the comfort of their home. “Despite the challenges COVID-19 has erected, GRFF sees opportunities for more varied engagements with the film loving community,” says GRFF Chair, Paul Tortolo. more ...


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