Tuesday January 19, 2021



Ontario universities create fellowship to increase diversity in engineering and technology

Six universities in Ontario have partnered to create a new fellowship to expand the pathways for Indigenous and Black students pursuing doctoral degrees in engineering to prepare for careers as professors and industry researchers. Announced yesterday, the Indigenous and Black Engineering and Technology (IBET) Momentum Fellowships address an urgent need to encourage and support the pursuit of graduate studies by under-represented groups. This lack of representation has hindered enrolment of Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and Black graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. The partnership includes the engineering and math faculties at the University of Waterloo, and the engineering faculties at McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Western University. The IBET Momentum Fellowships will include funding support, and work to provide access to networking and partnership opportunities. Partner universities will tailor their structure and features to support student experience at their institutions. more ...


Our "lost generation" of Canadian youth

Young people who graduate into a recession often take decades to recover - By Ken Coates

As we bid farewell to 2020, an annus horribilis if there ever was one, spare a thought or two for Canada’s youth. Hard as 2020 was on Canada a whole, young Canadians are paying big time for the unavoidable consequences of COVID-19. Many Canadian young people were supposed to be having the proverbial ‘time of their lives.’ Instead, they were (supposedly) in lock down at home, subject to many restrictions, and denied the social activities that were crucial rites of passage: parties, high school and university sports, dating, and the like. Goodness knows how many social events, outings, and fun activities were cancelled by public health regulations and the wise decisions to socially isolate. No doubt many young and fresh relationships fell by the wayside. The very young, struggling with grade school assignments at home, will effectively lose a full year of basic skills acquisition. This lost time is not easily made up, particularly for children under Grade 4. Wealthy and highly motivated parents will have found alternative instruction; the poor and marginalized are sure to fall further behind. more ...


Conrad family donation supports Kitchener’s bold vision to boost arts and creative industries

Last Friday, the City of Kitchener announced that the Manfred and Penny Conrad Family Foundation and Manfred and Penny Conrad have donated the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts facility to the City to support the performing arts in the community. This donation will allow the City to support and boost local artistic and creative talent and strengthen this robust sector that contributes significantly to the local economy and quality of life in the region. The 24,000 square foot performing arts facility is located in Downtown Kitchener at 36 King St. W., and is a key component of realising the City’s Make It Kitchener 2.0 vision for both a strong creative industries sector and a vibrant city. “Kitchener is extremely thankful to the Conrads and their foundation for this remarkable donation to our community. This cultural facility will play a pivotal role in continuing to build and transform both our downtown and Kitchener’s vibrant arts & cultural community,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “Our community recognizes the transformative power of the performing arts and how they add to the quality of life of our residents. As we all look forward to connecting with each other once again post-pandemic, this remarkable gift to the residents of Kitchener will enable us to ensure that our cultural sector is poised to flourish in the coming decades.” more ...


Debt Trap? Ontarians Taking Advantage of Low Interest Rates to Spend Beyond their Means

Three in ten say they have taken on more debt as a direct result of the pandemic; One quarter say debt keeps them awake at night worrying; One in five worrying how they’ll pay their bills or be able to afford essentials for their family; With interest rates low, six in ten feel that now is a good time to buy things that they otherwise might not be able to afford. Four in ten say they’re more relaxed about carrying debt.

As the pandemic-related economic turmoil and wage loss continues in Ontario, there are signs that some may be setting themselves up for a painful debt reckoning in the future. New research conducted by Ipsos finds that six in ten (63%) Ontarians feel that with interest rates low, now is a good time to buy things they otherwise might not be able to afford. Four in ten (44%) say that with current interest rates so low, they’re more relaxed about carrying debt than they usually are. “Those already cash-strapped, saddled with debt and struggling to navigate, risk being lulled into a debt trap,” cautions Caryl Newbery-Mitchell, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee with MNP LTD. “When individuals in financial trouble try to cope by taking on additional debt, the results can be disastrous. They end up trying to fill a hole by digging another one.” more ...


Sports Camps Canada and Subnation Media Bring Esports Camps To Waterloo Region This March

Sports Camps Canada has partnered with Subnation Media to bring competitive video gaming esports camps to the Waterloo Region.

The virtual Explore Waterloo Region esports camps will provide top level instruction to campers between the ages of 12-19, designed to help them improve their gaming abilities, while also building important life skills that extend beyond the game. Coaches are trained through Sports Camps Canada’s unique esports coaching certification program, which has been developed in partnership with Logitech, to enhance the educational and competitive experience for each of its campers. “As we continue to explore ways to deliver and support esports activities and programs within our region, I’m excited for our communities and educational institutions to be the first beneficiaries of the partnership between Sports Camps Canada and Subnation”, said Allister Scorgie (photo), Director of Sport Hosting at Explore Waterloo Region. “We’re excited to launch these esports camps this spring, and look forward to offering in-person options for visiting campers from across Canada in the future when it’s safe to do so.” more ...


Pandemic exposes weaknesses of government intervention

Governments boasted of having “Canadians backs” while failing to provide basic health services, rapid testing, comprehensive tracing, and the timely roll-out of vaccinations - By Philip Cross

2020 forever will be associated with the coronavirus sweeping Canada and the world. However, its impact on the economy was much greater than on our health. Far fewer people were stricken by the virus than the initial apocalyptic warnings from health care experts, while its impact on incomes, jobs and government deficits was larger and longer lasting than economists forecast last spring. Will the growth of government be sustained? It is a natural human tendency to predict the future by extrapolating a straight line from recent developments. Occasionally this works; the postwar liberal welfare state was birthed by massive state interventions in response to the Great Depression and the Second World War. Many analysts wishfully see a similar emergency-induced expansion of government during 2020 as signalling a permanent upturn in spending, on everything from green energy infrastructure to a guaranteed annual income. more ...

Food Supply

Why a convenience store giant wants to be a grocer

Couche-Tard has a reputation of generating value by polishing hidden gems in companies like Carrefour - By Sylvain Charlebois

We heard this week that Alimentation Couche-Tard is looking at acquiring European-based Carrefour, the seventh largest food retailer in the world. Buying a grocery chain would be a significant departure from what Couche-Tard is known for. A non-binding, friendly offer of $25 billion was sent to Carrefour. Couche-Tard is all about the convenience store economy. The Quebec-based company has achieved greatness by building a massive business out of a piece of the retail landscape that’s often overlooked or not taken seriously: convenience stores. Other than 7-Eleven, no company in the world has been as committed to the customers who are in between meetings or meals, or service people on their rounds. more ...


The World Needs to Wake Up to Long-Term Risks

The COVID-19 pandemic is increasing disparities and social fragmentation, in the next 3-5 years will threaten the economy, and in the next 5-10 years will weaken geopolitical stability

For the last 15 years the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report has been warning the world about the dangers of pandemics. In 2020, we saw the effects of ignoring preparation and ignoring long-term risks. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed millions of lives, but it also widened long-standing health, economic and digital disparities. Billions of caregivers, workers and students – especially minorities who were disadvantaged before the pandemic – are now at risk of missing pathways to the new and fairer societies that the recovery could unlock. According to the Global Risks Report 2021, released today, these developments may further impede the global cooperation needed to address long-term challenges such as environmental degradation. When it comes to technology access and digital skills, the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” risks widening and challenging social cohesion. This will particularly affect young people worldwide, as this group faces its second global crisis in a generation and could miss out altogether on opportunities in the next decade. more ...


How do social media and loss of sleep affect young people's mental health?

We’ve all done it – scrolled through our phones immediately before bedtime to read the latest news, only to wake up at 3 a.m. feeling anxious about all the things we’ve read. Then, having trouble falling back to sleep, we grab our phones again and distract ourselves with social media. The next day we wake up feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. But how exactly do social media and poor sleep influence our mental health? Researchers in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry are working to understand the relationship between sleep, social media and mental health among youth in two recently published papers. Associate professor Kelly Anderson (photo), PhD, looked specifically at the role of social media in the equation through a systematic review of previously published studies. more ...

Long Term Care

Covid-19 pokes the final hole in leaky long-term care boat

We cannot blame COVID-19 alone for the current LTC crisis - By Shawn Whatley

Nursing homes struggled long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Canada. Now, during the second wave, many front-line clinicians say our long-term care (LTC) system has all but collapsed. In the pre-COVID era, patients waited a median of 159 days to get a bed in Ontario, with some areas at 263 days. Thus, it was not uncommon for some patients to wait more than one year, and up to 2.5 years in some areas, if they stood at the long end of the wait-time curve. The Conference Board of Canada raised the alarm 20 years ago and predicted we will need 199,000 more LTC beds in Canada by 2035. Given chronic shortages, wait lists had grown by 78 per cent in Ontario, between 2011 and 2018, with 35,000 patients waiting. Ontario only had 78,000 beds pre-COVID, and they were all full. Premier Doug Ford promised 15,000 additional beds, in 2018, to help fix the crisis. more ...


Vaccine clinics continue based on availability of supply

Vaccines continues to be rolled out in the region based on the availability of supply. The recent announcement from Pfizer of a decrease in the Canadian allocation of vaccine has resulted in a need to rework the current vaccine clinic plan for the Grand River Hospital clinic. The reduction in supply is due to Pfizer retooling its production line so they are able to produce increased volumes of vaccine in the months ahead. The decision has been made to pause the GRH clinic until January 24 when it will resume delivering second doses. At this time, all second doses will be scheduled for between 25-28 days post the first dose which is consistent with Pfizer’s recommendations, and Health Canada guidance. Shirley Hilton, Deputy Chief for the Waterloo Regional Police Service and head of the Region of Waterloo COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force acknowledged, “We will continue to focus on administering doses to those in long-term care homes and high risk retirement homes through our mobile clinic team. Once our allocation is increased, we will be ready to fully resume our vaccination plan.” more ...

New Beginning

World Leaders to Meet During Davos Agenda in a Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust

More than 1,500 business, government and civil society leaders from over 70 countries will set the agenda for a critical year ahead and discuss how to catalyse impact in the rapidly advancing Fourth Industrial Revolution

The World Economic Forum Davos Agenda, taking place virtually on 25-29 January, will bring together the foremost leaders of the world to address the new global situation. Heads of state and government, chief executives and leaders from civil society will convene under the theme: A Crucial Year to Rebuild Trust. The meeting will focus on creating impact, rebuilding trust and shaping the policies and partnerships needed in 2021. “In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need to reset priorities and the urgency to reform systems have been growing stronger around the world,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Rebuilding trust and increasing global cooperation are crucial to fostering innovative and bold solutions to stem the pandemic and drive a robust recovery. This unique meeting will be an opportunity for leaders to outline their vision and address the most important issues of our time, such as the need to accelerate job creation and to protect the environment.” more ...

The Cloud

Cloud Contradiction: Despite Security Driving Cloud Adoption, Aptum Study Reveals It’s also the Main Barrier to Cloud Transformation

The Security and Compliance Barricade: Visibility, control and governance are holding back transformation

While 91 per cent of organizations were successful in increasing security as a result of adopting cloud services, it remains a top concern for many. This finding comes from part two of the four-part Cloud Impact Study from Aptum, the global hybrid multi-cloud managed service provider. The report, titled The Security and Compliance Barricade, identifies common security, compliance and governance challenges impacting organizations undergoing cloud transformation. The independent research reveals that more than half of survey respondents (51%) see security as the main driver behind cloud adoption. However, 38 per cent cite security and data protection as the primary barrier to cloud transformation. more ...


10,000 doses administered in Waterloo Region

Another milestone was reached last Friday with over 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered since clinics began in late December 2020.

Vaccines are being administered to priority groups in the first phase of a three-phased provincial distribution implementation plan. The first phase prioritizes health care workers, essential caregivers, long-term care home and retirement home residents, First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit adults. This announcement comes at a time when the region will temporarily pause the Grand River Hospital COVID-19 vaccination clinic in order to vaccinate as many long-term care and retirement home residents as possible with the current supply. The clinic was closed on Friday January 15, 2021, to Monday, January 18, 2021 and will reopen today Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Shirley Hilton, Deputy Chief for the Waterloo Regional Police Service and head of the Region of Waterloo COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force has said that with the recent ability to move the Pfizer vaccine, “the priority right now is to transfer the Pfizer vaccine to the mobile clinics so that vaccinations can continue in the mobile clinics with long-term care and retirement home residents being the priority.” more ...



Get creative for 31 minutes a day each day this January

Challenge your creativity this winter with Create 31. Get creative for 31 minutes a day for 31 days this January with prompts on Create Waterloo’s social media. Starting earlier this month, the City of Waterloo’s arts and culture team (Create Waterloo) launched a creativity campaign to get people creative for 31 minutes a day throughout January. At a time when most people are stuck at home and are limited on gathering, Create 31 aims to motivate and inspire around the home. People participating in Create 31 can do so with any skill level. The challenge encourages people to flex their creative muscles and challenge themselves to practice creative habits all month long. Simply spend 31 minutes per day engaging in a prompt delivered by local artists, influencers, businesses, political representatives, and more. Create 31 will give you ways to stay creative and active as we continue to stay home due to Covid-19. Creative challengers thus far have included Mayor Jaworsky and Amit from Good Co Productions, with more to come from locals like Ajoa from Four All Ice Cream and the band Onion Honey. more ...


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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