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Guest column: Long-term investment only way to resolve homeless and needy crisis – Windsor Star

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Have you ever found yourself walking along a walkway in Montreal, Toronto, Windsor or any city in Canada, where you come face to face with a person holding their hands out or a cup hoping for some change?

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How did you react? Ignore them, stare in disgust, feel sorry for them, but not donate to their cause of survival?

Don’t feel bad about your response. I believe ignoring those before you is often the top option taken by people, perhaps next followed by a limited drop of change that may buy them a coffee.

Feeling bad about what you do or did not do is both naturally human and conscience driven.

But I believe our Canadian cities have not done very well for the homeless and destitute of our society.

I do not mean Canadians have not spent large amounts of money to help these individuals because all levels of our governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars doing just that.

I suggest the empathy we have for these individuals has not been thought out very well — or at least not expanded to where support should have gone.

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We naturally react to problems before us. We recognize a challenge, possibly study it, then go to our experts and ask what should we do.

Well, we have reacted on this issue many times, gone to the “specialists” to be directed towards a quick, temporary “make us feel good” solution.

But what I feel is needed is a planned long-term response to this challenge.

The homeless, destitute, mentally ill and transient often make tent cities in our urban centres. We try to do much to assist them and dissuade them from staying in these areas.

After every attempt to assist them, almost inevitably our police are directed by political leaders to empty those parks. Sometimes violence and misunderstandings abound. Then the rich versus the poor becomes a rallying cry for the sector that cares for these people.

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Years ago, the Ontario government closed many mental health institutions throughout the province I feel creating part of the problem. Services and shelters are offered to people, but often not used by many.

I believe our governments either totally misunderstand these individuals or just don’t care enough. Shelters can be very crowded places to live, rules impossible to follow and violence happens often among clients.

The very stresses and mishaps that lead individuals to homelessness and mental problems becomes more pronounced.

The problem I feel is nearly every effort made by a government is intended to be temporary.

These issues need to be better thought out and then act. Long-term strategies are usually more effective and less costly over time. Let’s invest in people, don’t coddle them and offer trinkets of consolation.

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When it comes to homelessness, a multi-governmental effort must be made with direct ownership investments by municipal, provincial and federal governments to develop and build real affordable housing.

We have seen what private developers have to offer us — solutions that are never really affordable, always centred upon immediate profitability.

We must instead focus efforts upon our neighbours first and possible long-term profits later. Call upon our “specialists” to offer how and what affordable housing should look like for young, old, disadvantaged and disabled clients. Then find pre-existing governmental properties where building housing is an immediate asset.

When it comes to those mentally challenged I feel the most pronounced question has been what can we do for these clients?

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What indeed. First off we need to get many of these people off the street. In freezing winters staying outside can be suicidal. Police and medical teams should have powers to “arrest” if necessary those individuals truly in need of assistance. A firm protocol must be established where clients enter our programs.

Next steps should include an initial evaluation of the person’s situation, full evaluation of their medical and mental health, then placement to respectful accommodation with supervision.

If needed, a three-month program to assist initial addiction, mental and associated conditions. Then provide follow-up evaluations to each individual’s progress.

If more help is needed it should be provided. Multiple hiring of therapists, psychologists, specialty teachers, social workers and trades personnel newly graduating from our colleges and universities will be required. But instead of putting bandages upon each individual’s life we will put full investments into each and every one.

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Pathways to further education, personal development will be encouraged. Many of those without homes I feel will respond well to affordable housing that can be rented or owned in time.

Those that are unemployable due to their physical, developmental state in life can be given opportunities not based upon stereotypes. A person’s offered gifts and abilities will be used to our societal benefit.

If you were to compare the costs of maintaining these people as we have been doing for multiple generations and what the cost would be should we invest in long-term solutions for our neighbours in need, I believe there will be no doubt how we should proceed.

For those asking how are we going to afford these services and investments, I’d like to believe most Canadians would prefer investing in community/persons before investing in a thing. Governmental or public corporate bonds with good returns could also possibly be offered.

All these acts I believe could show the world that Canadians can and will stand above the rest as empathic innovators of what is humanly excellent.

Steven Kaszab is a resident in Bradford, Ontario, a community north of Toronto.

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BENEO announces investment in Chile and Belgium chicory root fiber facilities – DairyReporter.com

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The first step will see more than €30m ($34m) invested. The entire program will lead to a capacity increase of more than 40% of BENEO’s global chicory root fiber production to meet rising customer demand and drive further growth within the market. The work on both production sites is beginning in 2022.

Current market trends see a high demand in prebiotic chicory root fiber. Over the past four years, the number of new product launches containing chicory root fiber inulin has grown by 50% globally, with the market expected to reach $11.48bn by 2028. BENEO’s latest investment will allow for continued fulfillment of market needs within the food and feed industry.

Christoph Boettger, member of the executive board at BENEO, said, “BENEO’s chicory root fibers meet key consumer needs of today and we are convinced that they will continue to play a central role in healthy nutrition in the future. With increased capacity, BENEO continues to offer a secure supply to its customers and partners worldwide.”

Inulin and oligofructose from chicory root fiber are the only plant-based prebiotics. According to the International Scientific Association for Pro- and Prebiotics (ISAPP), they belong to the very few proven prebiotics. The use of chicory root fibers in product development allows manufacturers to respond to leading consumer trends such as digestive health and immunity, inner well-being, weight management, blood sugar management and bone health.

BENEO said having production sites in both the northern and southern hemispheres ensures a secure global supply of prebiotic chicory root fiber.

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Opinion: Ottawa must aim its fiscal powers at lagging business investment in the next phase of recovery – The Globe and Mail

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People navigate through Yorkdale Mall in search of Black Friday sales in Toronto on Nov. 26, 2021.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

In a prebudget consultation last winter, Bank of Nova Scotia chief economist Jean-François Perrault warned Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland that she was in danger of oversubsidizing labour at the expense of capital. Nine months further along an economic recovery that has become complicated by labour shortages, he’s stressing that point to her again.

“It’s certainly my view that [government policies] have favoured supporting the labour side versus the capital side in the pandemic. There’s no question,” he said in an interview this week.

“There needs to be something to turbo-charge Canadian investment.”

Mr. Perrault delivered that message to Ms. Freeland personally last week, as the Finance Minister met virtually with a panel of senior private-sector economists – the traditional consultation in advance of the government’s fall economic and fiscal update, promised for sometime in the next three weeks. This week’s third-quarter gross domestic product report from Statistics Canada underlines the point that the recovery is top-heavy on the consumer side, while business investment brings up the rear.

While real GDP (that is, excluding inflation) expanded at a brisk 5.4-per-cent annualized pace in the quarter, the main driver of that growth was household consumption, which surged nearly 18 per cent annualized. Business gross fixed capital formation, on the other hand, contracted nearly 18 per cent, its second consecutive quarterly decline. Since the start of the pandemic, household spending is up 2 per cent, in real terms; business investment in non-residential structures, machinery and equipment is down 11 per cent.

It’s not as if the private sector lacks the money. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce economist Benjamin Tal estimates that during the pandemic, the collective stockpile of corporate cash is about $175-billion higher than its prepandemic trend.

There are some encouraging indications – most notably, from the Bank of Canada’s fall Business Outlook Survey – that the private sector may be prepared to loosen its purse strings considerably. That quarterly report showed that capital spending intentions over the next 12 months are the highest in the 23-year history of the survey.

But the reality is that the government’s economic policies in the pandemic have done remarkably little to stimulate business investment, while delivering a great deal indeed to protect the labour market and support household incomes.

As the economy has recovered, that significantly tilted the scales in favour of hiring rather than capital spending. That may have contributed to the labour crunch many businesses and sectors are now experiencing.

“If we had somehow found a way to steer more dollars to encourage capital spending, as opposed to maintaining the labour force as it was, perhaps we wouldn’t have a million job vacancies now,” Mr. Perrault argued. “Perhaps firms would have taken the last 18 months to try and rethink, retool, invest, in a way that would make the expansion less labour-intensive.”

This certainly isn’t an issue unique to Canada. In a global economic outlook published Wednesday, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development worried that governments’ fiscal focus is still too much on emergency measures to lean against the impact of the pandemic, and not nearly enough on the building blocks for a strong recovery.

“We are more concerned by the use made of debt than its level,” OECD chief economist Laurence Boone wrote in the report. “It is time to refocus fiscal support on productive investment that will boost growth, including investment in education and physical infrastructure.”

For Canada, though, the solution must go beyond a refocusing of public spending over the next few years. It needs to include incentives to light a fire under business investment that was, frankly, a problem long before the pandemic came along. Crisis policies may have merely encouraged a long-standing tendency in our private sector to favour investments in labour over capital.

In the five years prior to the pandemic, total employment in this country rose 8 per cent. Over the same period, non-residential business investment, excluding inflation, fell 15 per cent.

Mr. Perrault suggested that the optimistic investment outlook in the Bank of Canada’s business survey masks the bigger picture: that Canada remains an underperformer relative to our global peers, even in this recovery.

“Canadian investment is probably going to rise less than a lot of our competitors this year; investment is rising everywhere,” he said. “The temptation is going to be to say things are improving … [but] if our relative investment continues to decline, then our competitiveness hurts, our productivity hurts.”

In a report this week, National Bank of Canada chief economist Stéfane Marion noted the country’s private non-residential capital stock – basically, all the physical structures, machinery and equipment owned by the private sector – actually declined last year, for the first time on record. While the pandemic was undoubtedly a contributing factor, growth has been generally trending downward for more than a decade.

“Whatever the cause of this lack of private investment, we must turn it around,” Mr. Marion said.

“Canada, as a small, open economy … must do a better job of growing its capital stock to take advantage of a highly successful immigration policy, and harness the productive power of a growing work force of highly skilled people.”

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Oil rises as investors focus on OPEC+ decision amid growing Omicron fears

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Oil prices rose on Thursday, recouping the previous day’s losses, as investors adjusted positions ahead of an OPEC+ decision over supply policy, but gains were capped amid fears the Omicron coronavirus variant will hurt fuel demand.

Brent crude futures rose 85 cents, or 1.2%, to $69.72 by 0402 GMT, having eased 0.5% in the previous session.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 85 cents, or 1.3%, to $66.42 a barrel, after a 0.9% drop on Wednesday.

“Investors unwound their positions ahead of the OPEC+ decision as oil prices have declined so fast and so much over the past week,” said Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.

Global oil prices have lost more than $10 a barrel since last Thursday, when news of Omicron shook investors.

“Market will be watching closely the producer group’s decision as well as comments from some of key members after the meeting to suggest their future policy,” Ueno said.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, together known as OPEC+, will likely decide on Thursday whether to release more oil into the market as previously planned or restrain supply.

Since August, the group has been adding an additional 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of output to global supply each month, as it gradually winds down record cuts agreed in 2020.

The new variant, though, has complicated the decision-making process, with some observers speculating OPEC+ could pause those additions in January in an attempt to slow supply growth.

“Oil prices climbed as some investors anticipate that OPEC+ will decide to maintain the current supply levels in January to cushion any damage on demand from the Omicron spread,” said Toshitaka Tazawa, an analyst at Fujitomi Securities Co Ltd.

Fears over the impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus rose after the first case was reported in the United States, and Japan’s central bank has warned of economic pain as countries respond with tighter containment measures.

U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk said President Joe Biden’s administration could adjust the timing of its planned release of strategic crude oil stockpiles if global energy prices drop substantially.

Gains in oil markets on Thursday were capped as the U.S. weekly inventory data showed U.S. crude stocks fell less than expected last week, while gasoline and distillate inventories rose much more than expected as demand weakened. [EIA/S]

Crude inventories fell by 910,000 barrels in the week to Nov. 26, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, compared with analyst expectations in a Reuters poll for a drop of 1.2 million barrels.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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