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Canadian truckers protest vaccine mandates by blocking bridges – Reuters

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Horn-blaring demonstrations demanding an end to Canadian COVID-19 vaccine mandates for cross-border truck drivers have caused gridlock in the capital Ottawa since late January.

Over the last two weeks, the demonstrations have morphed into a wider protest against COVID restrictions and the Canadian government. They have spread globally, with copycat protests springing up in Australia, New Zealand and France, while truckers in the United States have said they are planning similar demonstrations.

The White House warned on Feb. 9 that protesters blocking the border crossings risk hurting the auto industry.

Canada sends 75% of its goods exports to the United States. The Ambassador Bridge, a key supply route for the U.S. auto industry in Detroit, has been shut for inbound Canada traffic since the night of Feb. 7. The bridge usually handles 8,000 trucks a day, representing a quarter of all cross-border trade, or about C$500 million ($393.6 million) per day.

At Coutts, Alberta, protesters have disrupted cross-border traffic for more than a week. The Coutts crossing sees C$44 million per day in two-way trade, said David MacLean, vice-president of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

The protests were disrupting jobs and the economy’s supply chain and “must end before further damage occurs,” Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Minister, Bill Blair, told reporters in a press briefing.

A recent poll found 62% of Canadians surveyed oppose the “Freedom Convoy.” Canadians have largely followed the government’s health measures and nearly 79% of the eligible population has taken two doses of the vaccine.

But sentiment ranges widely, as it does about government response to COVID-19 itself. Some Canadians support the protests, saying they are tired of government over-reach, while others are alarmed that police have been unwilling or unable to end unlawful blockades.

Protesters say they are peaceful but some waved Confederate flags and were reported to have swastikas in the occupation’s early days. Some Ottawa residents say they were harassed.

Police have generally avoided mass arrests and aggressive efforts to clear blockades, and Alberta police said they were unable to find local tow-truck operators willing to assist them.

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Stock markets sell off as inflation fears settle in – CBC News

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Stock markets were a sea of red on Wednesday as financial results from major retailers suggested they’re having a hard time dealing with stubbornly high inflation.

The S&P 500 was down by more than four per cent, its worst one-day showing since June 2020 as investors reacted to troubling signs that consumers are slowing their spending in the face of high prices.

Shares in Target shed more than 25 per cent of their value after the retailer said its profit was cut in half because of higher costs and supply chain problems. It was the worst day for Target’s shares since Black Monday in 1987, and it came a day after rival Walmart painted a similar picture the day before.

Walmart’s shares fell by more than 11 per cent on Tuesday and another seven per cent on Wednesday, after the retailer warned of lower profits to come due to higher costs for transportation and wages, as well as supply chain issues. Tuesday’s sell-off was also the biggest one-day plunge in Walmart shares since 1987.

That gloom coming from two cost-conscious retailers sparked investor fears that if they are having problems navigating high inflation, many others must be, too.

“The strength of the consumer will be tested as both Walmart and Target signal rising pricing pressures are not easing,” analyst Edward Moya with foreign exchange firm Oanda said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed almost 1,200 points or more than three per cent and the technology focused Nasdaq lost more than 500 points or more than four per cent.

Since the start of the year, the Dow is down by 14 per cent, the S&P by 18 per cent and the Nasdaq by 28 per cent, data from Bloomberg shows.

“Stocks are crumbling after Wall Street worries about economic growth after hearing a chorus of concerns of higher prices that won’t be easing anytime soon,” Moya said.

Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that the country’s inflation rate ticked upwards again last month, to a new 31-year high of 6.8 per cent.

While the Toronto Stock Exchange fared better than its U.S. counterparts, it wasn’t immune to the sell-off, losing 389  points, or about two per cent, to close as just over 20,100 points late in the trading day. The benchmark Canadian index has lost about seven per cent of its value since the start of the year, and has been mostly lower of late since topping out at over 22,000 points in April.

“It’s a really rough day out there for stock markets,” Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said in an interview with CBC News.

“The retailers in particular are starting to get squeezed between rising costs and softening demand,” he said. “We’ve just been seeing a stampede for the exits across stock markets today.”

Tech shares hit hard

Technology shares, which soared earlier in the pandemic as the world went increasingly digital and online due to COVID-19 lockdowns, continue to get hammered.

Apple shares lost six per cent to trade at their lowest level since October. Amazon shares lost seven per cent and the shares are now trading where they were in April 2020. Netflix lost another seven per cent and now trade at their lowest level since 2018.

Canadian tech companies also sold off, with shares in e-commerce firm Shopify, payment processing company Lightspeed and BlackBerry all off by about three per cent.

Cieszynski said the sell-off in technology shares makes sense, because the sector “tends to benefit … when investors are feeling confident and when investors are willing to take on risk.”

“At a time when investors are are retrenching, turning away from risk and going more defensive, [technology] tends to underperform,” he said.

Bitcoin dips below $30,000

Bitcoin was no exception as the world’s largest cryptocurrency continued its plunge, losing another five per cent to trade below $30,000 US for the first time since 2021.

“The speculative cryptocurrency excesses of 2021 may mark a similar fate for risk assets, as when the internet bubble burst in 2000,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone said.

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Inflation: Four grocery shopping tips to save you money – CTV News

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Canadians continue to feel the pressure of inflation as the rising cost of food is forcing many to rethink their shopping choices as a way to cut back on spending.

On Wednesday, Canada’s inflation rate hit 6.8 per cent, in comparison to March’s 6.7 per cent. The latest increase is largely due to the rising cost of food and shelter, with prices at the grocery store reaching a 9.7 per cent increase since April 2021.

“It’s certainly taxing Canadians,” associate professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics Stuart Smyth told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.

“Every time you go to the grocery store it seems like one of the staples that you buy on a weekly basis has gone up another couple of per cent,” he said.

Nonetheless, there are still ways consumers can shop strategically and look for wiggle room within their budgets. 

Check for unit pricing and sales

Checking for sales and discounted items is a no-brainer when shopping, however what can be overlooked is checking for unit pricing.

Personal finance expert Kerry Taylor says shoppers should look at unit pricing, which measures the amount of product per item, since shrinkflation is happening as inflation rates spike.

“Shrinkflation is when you’re buying an item for the same price but at a smaller portion size,” Taylor told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday.

By comparing unit pricing, shoppers are able to pinpoint where they might be spending more on groceries so in turn they can search for options that carry more product and last longer to avoid extra spending.

Taylor says checking for unit pricing between brands is especially important since some normally affordable brands might actually be more expensive depending on the quantity of product.

“It’s really sneaky because you can’t really tell. So you need to be on the lookout for shrinkflation because you could be overspending money on an item and not even realize it,” she said.

Non-perishable items have an extended shelf life so Taylor recommends stocking up on any products a household uses the most if the price is right.

Additionally, checking for sales doesn’t necessarily mean having to switch grocery stores.

Canadian food retailer Loblaws reported earlier this month that their discounted stores including No Frills and Maxi saw an increase in customers. However, Taylor says it’s important to only visit stores that are accessible since spending time and money on travelling to the next grocery store could end up costing you more.

“Ask yourself, is this a good use of time to save a dollar here and there? Or is it more worth your time to figure out how to use the ingredients you have in-house to the best of your ability,” she said.  

Finding alternatives and homemade meals

While nearly all food prices in stores have shot up, Canadians are still recommended to look for alternative items for their meals. Taylor says she was shocked to find the eight-pack of canned lentil soup she often buys went from $9 to $14.99 at her local grocery store.

“These are all the base ingredients that we use to build meals when we’re on a very, very tight budget and they have all gone up, so it’s frustrating,” she said.

Among the products that spiked in price the most included fresh fruits and vegetables. Pasta saw an increase of 19.6 per cent from April 2021, according to statistics Canada.

As an alternative, Taylor says she switched to purchasing a bag of lentils to make at home. A ritual she is now practicing more often as she says cutting back on packaged foods and take-out could help soothe costs.

“It’s always a hard one but there’s lots of fun recipes out there that include ingredients like cans of tomatoes, beans, so you can make something quick and nutritious.”

Cut back on food waste

Unlike inflation, food waste is something Canadians can control and can use to avoid the repeated cycle of over-spending on food for it to only end up in the compost.

“Canadians waste just over $1,000 a year per household which is about $92 a month, $21 a week or $3 a day,” Taylor said.

To avoid food waste, Taylor recommends gathering any leftover ingredients from meals into one bowl and taking one day of the week to use all those ingredients in a simple recipe that can be paired with any carbohydrate.

“Think, can you possibly expand this tossed away food with rice or a wrap? Can you add a sauce to it to make it more delicious? Maybe you can make it in an omelette or a stir fry?” she said.

Keep items necessary to you

Lastly, Taylor says Canadians do not have to completely cut off all products they deemed necessary.

“If buying certain products at the grocery store means a lot to you and enhances your life and makes you happy then you should go for those items and look at where you can cut elsewhere in your life,” she said.

In order to keep any items deemed essential, Taylor recommends looking at other expenses that hold less value which could be streaming services, old automated credit payments or the frequency of online shopping.

“There’s an opportunity cost to every dollar we spend and we just have to make these tough decisions but look at your budget, look at what you can cut or add.” 

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Does ‘Networking’ Make You Sweat?

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Opportunities are all around you—the caveat is they’re attached to people. Therefore, (stay with me) the people you spend time with determines the opportunities you’re made aware of.

Building the right relationships—networking—is critical for your job hunts (You’ll be conducting a few throughout your career.) and your career trajectory. It’s not an overstatement to say, “relationships are everything.”

Those who take their career seriously are in constant networking mode. Networkers land the plumb jobs that aren’t advertised, they tap into where most job openings exist, the hidden job market. People who don’t network as part of their job search and career management activities either refuse to understand the value of networking or aren’t as serious about their job search/career as they claim they are.

You can either be networking (creating and maintaining relationships), or you can be an outsider looking in; it’s entirely up to you. Ask yourself: Who’s more likely to be hired, a stranger the hiring manager doesn’t know, someone they’re familiar with, or a referral?

I don’t think in terms of “I’m networking.” Instead, I prepared my ego by telling myself, “I’m just meeting people. Whatever happens, happens.” No expectations. No agenda. Because of this mental preparation, meeting new people has become second nature for me.

When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t think, “What can I get?” Instead, I ask myself, “How can I help this person?” This mind flip is a game-changer. Now I’m not nervous, breaking into a cold sweat. I’m looking at how I can help my new acquaintance, such as introducing them to someone they may benefit from meeting. Unlike most people, I view networking as offering help rather than trying to obtain help. This reverse approach eliminates “networking anxiety.”

Focusing on how you can help a person is my first tip for making meeting new people less intimidating. My second tip, especially for those wishing to become comfortable with networking, is to practice networking with the right crowd. This tip is a spin on what I tell all job seekers, Search for your tribe!

Being personable is much easier when you feel comfortable, so start where you feel most at ease. Identify groups and communities with members whom you share a common interest with. Commonalities build relationships. Therefore, it makes sense to begin your networking efforts where there’s already a commonality.

Have you ever been to a classic car show or a sporting event and found yourself conversing with a stranger about the 1970 Ford Mustang Mach 1 you both are admiring or the triple play that just occurred? Commonality created the conversation. Whether it’s a classic car show, baseball game, rock concert, an art gallery opening, or a packed restaurant, you, along with everyone in attendance share a common interest.

Once you’re able to sustain a conversation beyond “That Stang’s a beauty!” and “What a great play!” you can start diversifying your networking opportunities, keeping in mind to focus on looking for commonalities.

“One should not focus on the differences between people but look for commonality and similarity.” – Theodore Levitt (German-American economist, 1925 – 2006)

Television host Larry King once said, “I never learned anything while I was talking.” How will you know what you can do for someone if you’re the one doing all the talking? You can’t. Ask questions and be genuinely curious. (e.g., How long have you been with your company? What’s the culture like? What trends do you see emerging in the next few years? How has the pandemic challenged your business?) Then ask more questions to gather more information. This is how you build relationships—leveraging the fact people love talking about themselves.

Showing interest is a massive gesture to anyone you meet.

There are endless opportunities to interact with people. A few months back, during an elevator ride, I learned my neighbor on my condo floor worked was the HR Director for a large publishing house. Good to know! Every time you talk to someone, you learn something new. Everyone you meet is someone you can help and someone who could be of assistance to you in some way, if not today, possibly down the road. As I mentioned earlier, meeting new people is easier when you look to give instead of taking.

I’m sure you’ve heard, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” The second part of this statement is especially true. When it comes to opening doors, it’s often “who you know.”

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

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