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Fruit, vegetable costs top Canadians' 2020 grocery concerns: survey – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Most Canadians are concerned about rising prices of vegetables, fruit and meat as the cost of basic groceries is expected to go up in 2020, a survey found.

The report, conducted by Angus Reid and released by Dalhousie University, surveyed 1,507 Canadians in early December. Sixty-nine per cent of respondents said they’re worried about vegetable prices, with another 60 per cent concerned about the cost of fruit, and 54 per cent concerned about how much they’re paying for meat.

Eighty-seven per cent of respondents agreed that food prices are rising faster than their household incomes. The most recent inflation rate, in October, was 1.9 per cent, compared with a 3.7 per cent rise in food prices this year. Vegetable prices alone rose a staggering 12 per cent in 2019.

A report by researchers from Dalhousie and the University of Guelph released earlier this month suggested that, next year, the typical family will pay an extra $487 for food.

Researchers described challenges related to climate change, such as droughts and forest fires, as “the elephant in the room” for 2020 grocery prices.

To save money, it may be time to consider stockpiling the freezer, according to Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of Dalhousie University’s Agri-Food Analytics Lab.

“So people, when they’re spending time on the periphery (of the grocery store), they’re exposed to high inflation rates. So the one thing I would recommend … is perhaps to go and visit that freezer aisle once in a while because (in) that freezer aisle, prices don’t fluctuate as much. Those products are somewhat immune to food inflation a little bit,” he said.

Canadians are increasingly concerned about cutting back on food waste too. The top food resolution among Canadians for 2020 was to cut back on waste, with fifty-three per cent of respondents making it a priority, followed by 46 per cent focusing on eating more fruits and vegetable. Another 44 per cent plan to cook more.

Charlebois called those results a surprise.

“We were expecting a different diet or cooking, but the number one choice by Canadians is actually to reduce food waste. And of course, if you reduce food waste, you will save money,” he said.

Shopping habits are set to change, too. Six in 10 respondents said they plan to eat out less – a plan Charlebois said isn’t entirely convinced Canadians will follow through on.

“I’m not sure if that’s going to happen because of our modern lifestyle. We travel, let’s face it, we do go out more,” he said.

The survey also found that 49 per cent of shoppers plan on using more flyers and coupons and looking for discounts, 41 per cent plan to buy in bulk, and another 31 per cent will focus on shopping for plant-based food.

With files from The Canadian Press

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China passes law to cut homework pressure on students

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China has passed an education law that seeks to cut the “twin pressures” of homework and off-site tutoring in core subjects, the official Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

Beijing has exercised a more assertive paternal hand this year, from tacking the addiction of youngsters to online games, deemed a form of “spiritual opium”, to clamping down on “blind” worship of internet celebrities.

China’s parliament said on Monday it would consider legislation to punish parents https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-drafts-law-punish-parents-childrens-bad-behaviour-2021-10-18 if their young children exhibit “very bad behaviour” or commit crimes.

The new law, which has not been published in full, makes local governments responsible for ensuring that the twin pressures are reduced and asks parents to arrange their children’s’ time to account for reasonable rest and exercise, thereby reducing pressure, said the agency, and avoiding overuse of the internet.

In recent months, the education ministry has limited gaming hours for minors, allowing them to play online for one hour on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.

It has also cut back on homework and banned after-school tutoring for major subjects during the weekend and holidays, concerned about the heavy academic burden on overwhelmed children.

 

(Reporting by Steven Bian and Engen Tham in Shanghai; Editing by William Mallard)

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Red Cross warns aid groups not enough to stave off Afghan humanitarian crisis

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The Red Cross on Friday urged the international community to engage with Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers, saying that aid groups on their own would be unable to stave off a humanitarian crisis.

Afghanistan has been plunged into crisis by the abrupt end of billions of dollars in foreign assistance following the collapse of the Western-backed government and return to power by the Taliban in August.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has since increased its efforts in the country while other organisations were also stepping up, Director General Robert Mardini said.

But he told Reuters that support from the international community, who had so far taken a cautious approach in engaging with the Taliban, was critical to providing basic services.

“Humanitarian organisations joining forces can only do so much. They can come up with temporary solutions.”

The United Nations on Thursday announced https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-sets-up-trust-fund-peoples-economy-afghanistan-2021-10-21 it had set up a fund to provide cash directly to Afghans, which Mardini said would solve the problem for three months.

“Afghanistan is a compounded crisis that is deteriorating by the day,” he said, citing decades of conflict compounded by the effects of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mardini said 30% of Afghanistan’s 39 million population were facing severe malnutrition and that 18 million people in the country need humanitarian assistance or protection.

The Taliban expelled many foreign aid groups when it was last in power from 1996-2001 but this time has said it welcomes foreign donors and will protect the rights of their staff.

But the hardline Islamists, facing criticism it has failed to protect rights, including access to education for girls, have also said aid should not be tied to conditions.

“No humanitarian organisation can compensate or replace the economy of a country,” Mardini said.

(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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Coronavirus: Non-essential travel advisory lifts – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canadians should carefully weigh any future decisions on taking foreign trips even though the federal government has lifted a global advisory asking them to avoid non-essential travel, health officials cautioned Friday.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the government would be providing more specific information about the severity of COVID-19 in various countries to help Canadians decide where they should consider travelling.

“The pandemic is very much alive. There are definitely still risks involved in travel,” Tam said Friday. She said it was too soon for the government to give a “blanket” recommendation on all travel, but said being fully vaccinated and assessing the level of the pandemic in any potential destination are key.

“Now is not the time to just freely go wherever.”

The government announced Thursday that it was lifting the global advisory asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country, but it was continuing to advise against travel on cruise ships.

The global travel advisory was put in place in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Dr. Howard Njoo, the deputy chief public health officer, said Friday that Canadians should ask themselves a series of questions before they plan to travel abroad.

Njoo urged Canadians assess the “epidemiological situation” of COVID-19 in any potential travel destination “because there is great variation between different countries and even within countries, as we’ve seen here in Canada.”

They should also look at the level of vaccination rates in those country “because that’s an indication of what community transmission in that region may be.”

Canadian travellers should also ask themselves what they actually want to do when they get to another country. “For example, if you’re going to go on solitary nature hikes, that’s one thing. But if you’re thinking of going on a cruise with a lot of people in an enclosed space, that’s another thing,” said Njoo.

Canadians should also weigh the “culture for individual protection measures” in where they are thinking of travelling, such as whether masks are commonly worn, or not, he said.

“We know that the situation is not the same in all parts of the world. There are regions in the world that are still suffering from the severe consequences of COVID-19,” he said.

The government of Canada’s website now shows advisories for each destination country, as it did prior to the pandemic.

It also urges Canadians to ensure they are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus before travelling abroad, and to stay informed of the COVID-19 situation at their destination.

The move comes as the federal government announced it had reached an agreement with the provinces on a new national vaccine passport for domestic and international travel.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that provinces and territories have agreed to adjust their own vaccine passports to give them the same look, feel and security measures based on the international standard for so-called Smart health cards.

Several have already started distributing proof-of-vaccination documents, including Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Canada opened its borders last month to non-essential international travellers who have received both doses of a Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccine, and to fully vaccinated travellers from the United States in August.

The U.S. government recently announced that its land borders will reopen to non-essential Canadian travellers on Nov. 8.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2021

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