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Businesses faced ruin from the pandemic. Then Canada came calling for vital supplies –



As the extent of the COVID-19 catastrophe became clear last spring, Toronto entrepreneur Marcus Fraser thought first of his family, then he thought of his friends, worried what this would mean for all of them.

“My third thought was, ‘Oh crap, I’m out of business,'” he said.

Fraser makes high-end clothing. He imports material from China and sells to retailers across North America.

In that instant, he knew retail sales were about to be decimated, international shipping would grind to a halt. But then, he imagined a path forward.

“I know how to do stuff; I know how to import things,” he said. “I know how to make things. And guess what, we need things.”

Fraser initially thought ‘oh crap, I’m out of business,’ then realized that his expertise in imports and garments could be of use. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

So, Fraser started hustling. Within days, he was scrambling to get a whole new line of products made and ready for what he assumed would be a wave of demand. He says there’s not that much difference between hooded sweatshirts and surgical gowns. 

“We just picked up and started making materials,” he said. “Gown contracts started to come in. Mask contracts started to come in and we just forged ahead.”

Today, his company has sold more than 300,000 gowns for use in hospitals across Ontario. He’s sold another 100,000 masks. He’s expanded too — landing a contract to put a series of vending machines in Toronto transit hubs to supply masks, PPE and what the machine bills as other “stay safe essentials.”

Fraser isn’t alone. Dozens of companies across Canada retooled their production lines to fill needs. Distilleries made hand sanitizer. Plastics companies made medical-testing equipment. Car companies made ventilators.

“This is probably the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever been part of,” said Flavio Volpe, head of the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association.

“I call it the largest peace-time mobilization of Canada’s industrial capacity.” 

He put out a call to his members in March. Plants had been shut down to prevent the spread of the virus. Volpe asked who would be willing to retool their assembly lines to make medical equipment. He called on people in his industry to “do our part and step up“.

He was overwhelmed by the response. Dozens of companies answered the call, which he says they should be immensely proud of.

Volpe says the great retooling of industrial capacity is a shining example of just how creative and how flexible Canadian companies really are.

“Canadians understand now better than they used to that there’s dignity in making things,” he said.

WATCH |  How automakers retooled to respond to pandemic needs:

Flavio Volpe, of the Automotive Parts Manufacturing Association says dozens of companies retooled their entire production lines to build life saving equipment. He calls it the biggest peacetime industrial mobilization in Canadian history. 0:59

Flexibility on display

Economists agree. The health of any economy can be measured in terms of productivity gains, in entrepreneurship and technological innovation. In report after report, Canada has lagged behind.

Bloomberg ranked Canada 22nd on its innovation index. Productivity rankings of G7 countries places Canada below the G7 average.

So, experts like Pedro Antunes, chief economist at the conference board of Canada, see the pivots companies made last spring as a hopeful example of what’s possible.

Workers at Mitchell Plastics, an auto parts company with a factory in Kitchener, Ont., have retooled their production line to make face shields for health care workers. The company can make about 18,000 a day. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

“For a lot of Canadians, myself included, I never would have thought we could see such a transition in manufacturing,” he said. Volpe says he always knew these companies could be responsive — and it was never just about keeping the businesses afloat.

“I think at their core, they want it to show everybody how committed they were to their workforce and the families that work for them and to their own families,” he said.

That’s not to say it’s all been smooth. Distillers, who had pivoted their operations to produce hand sanitizer and donated tens of thousands of litres, were disappointed when the federal government later signed agreements to buy it from larger suppliers — and not them.

Like other distillers, Tyler Dyck, president Craft Distiller’s Guild of B.C., pivoted from whiskey making to hand sanitizer in March, and donated thousands of litres. Then, the federal government signed agreements to buy sanitizer from larger suppliers. (Curtis Allen/CBC)

Fraser says he’s never worked this hard. He’s entered into a sector he once knew nothing about, selling an entirely new product line to an entirely new clientele. And after all that new business, he says he’s still just filling a giant COVID-sized hole in his books.

“As much as I’ll take the business,” he said, “all it’s doing is replacing business that isn’t there.”

And now, as the crisis drags into its tenth month, Fraser’s filled some of the bigger contracts. Work is starting to slow down again. That existential dread that comes with running a company is creeping back into his thoughts.

“Will we make it?” he asked. “I don’t know.”

But he does know he bought himself time, and maybe helped some people along the way. He used to joke that no one was curing cancer in the fashion industry. Nowadays, he’s not so sure.

“I don’t know if it saved somebody, but it certainly helped somebody.”

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life



Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon



Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 

Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 

Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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Your Education and Certificates Need to Align the Job Requirements



After your professional experience, your education/certifications (verified skills) will be the next section on your resume the reader will use to judge whether you go into the “to be interviewed” pile. 

Many job seekers apply to job postings knowing they don’t have the education/certification requirements. They believe their “experience” will compensate. With so many highly qualified job seekers now on the job market this is rarely the case. If your education/certifications align with the job requirements, the education section of your resume will play a critical part in setting you apart from all the “spray and pray” job seekers.

Suppose a job posting for a Director of Finance lists as a qualification “Canadian Accounting Designation (CPA).” You have a university degree and 15 years of experience managing a mid-size company’s finances, but no CPA—don’t bother applying. Job postings generate an influx of applicants. Undoubtedly there’ll be many applicants who possess a CPA applying. There’s also the employer’s ATS to consider, which likely has been programmed to scan for “CPA.”  

Education background information you should provide:

  • Degree/certification obtained 
  • School’s name
  • Location of school
  • Period of attendance
  • Relevant coursework
  • Honors, academic recognition, extracurricular activities, or organizations participation worth mentioning

When it comes to presenting your educational background keep your ego in check. You may have impressive education background; however, it may not be impressive for the job you’re vying for. Prioritize relevancy over perceived prestige.

Here’s my suggestion how to present your education/certificates (there’s no hard formatting rule):

BS Biomedical Science

University of Calgary, Calgary, AB — 09/1992 – 06/1996


  • Principles of Human Genetics
  • Organismal Biology
  • Principles and Mechanisms of Pharmacology
  • Advanced Bioinformatics

PMP® Certification

Ryerson University Continuing Education, Toronto, ON — 10/2001 – 04/2003


  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Leadership in Project Management
  • Project Cost and Procurement Management
  • Project Risk and Quality Management

As I’ve pointed out in previous columns— there’s no universal hiring methodology. No two hiring managers assess candidates the same way. Depending on the job requirements respective employers search for different things when it comes to a candidate’s education. Read the qualifications in the job posting carefully. Then present your education/credentials accordingly. Don’t hesitate to add/remove courses to better tie in your education towards the job. It’s for this reason I suggest you list courses, not just your degree/certification. Listing of courses is rarely done, doing so will give your resume a competitive advantage.

You’ll have noticed my examples indicated start and end dates. Many “career experts” advise against this. The thinking being dates, even just the graduation year, will give employer’s a sense of your age, which if your over 45 can hinder and prolong your job search. This advice is supposed to be a workaround to ageism. However, these same “career experts” unanimously agree employment dates (month/year) need to be indicated. To me, this is a mixed message.    

I believe in complete transparency from both sides of the hiring process. Full transparency ensures the likelihood of there being a solid fit for both parties. At some point, whether when the employer checks your digital footprint or interviews you, your interviewer will have a good indication of your age. Besides, not mentioning dates, which I call “obvious” information, is a red flag. 

If your age is a deal-breaker with an employer, they aren’t the employer for you. The job search advice I give most often: Seek employers who’ll most likely accept you, where you’ll feel you belong—look for your tribe.

Some professions, such as finance or healthcare, require specific certifications or degrees. In such cases, show you have the necessary “must-have” (a deal-breaker if you don’t) credentials by placing your education at the top of the page just below your contact information before your professional experience.

One last note: Often overlooked is education in progress. If relevant, this should be included in your resume. In this case, list pertinent courses and the month/year you intend to graduate.

Using suggestions in this and previous columns you are now able to create a resume that “WOWs.” Next week, I’m going to begin discussing cover letters. Yes, many hiring managers, like myself, do read cover letters, which have one purpose—to give the reader a reason to read your resume.


Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at

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