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Inflation: Food prices could improve, but still gouging Canadians

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While Canadians and people globally are coping with significant inflation and a rising cost of living, there is some good news on the horizon.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor in food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University and the senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, told CTV’s Your Morning that there are some improvements in the global supply chain and there could be a better outlook for food prices in 2023.

While next year may not be significantly “easier” than 2022, “when it comes to supply chains, things are much easier than just 12 months ago,” Charlebois said Thursday.

There’s also some good news looking at wheat futures, as of Thursday, they are down, he said.

Russia had initially pulled out of its grain deal with Ukraine amidst the war, that would have prevented Ukraine to export grain. Up to Wednesday, Russia had signalled it would pull out.

As Russia and Ukraine are very large grain producers, any shortage of exports would impact the prices of grain as it’s a global commodity, said Opher Baron, a professor of operations management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, in an interview with CTVNews.ca on Tuesday.

On Monday morning, wheat futures increased by close to six per cent on news that Russia would not allow grain to be exported out of Ukraine.

Russia reversed course on Wednesday, when it agreed to restore the agreement.

“Grains are flowing out of Ukraine, leaving some space for this year’s harvest,” Charlebois said.

“Barley prices are cheaper, they are lower, and for processers out there it will probably cost them less than predicted to buy the barley and the wheat,” said Charlebois.

But at the same time, the cost of agricultural production has increased in 2022 due to overall inflation. This also impacts the heightened costs around dairy products including milk and butter, he said.

“Dairy products are becoming more expensive already due to an increase we saw this year, more than 11 per cent,” he said.

“Feed, energy costs during the winter, dairy farmers have to heat barns, that’s a big expense…to capitalize their operation costs a lot of money,” he said. Rising interest rates have also put pressure on farmers, he explained.

Those dairy prices should level off by the spring of 2023 which will provide some relief for consumers, he said.

Before then, milk prices will be expected to go up again in on Feb 1., 2023 as the Canadian Dairy Commission said Tuesday that it has approved a 2.2 per cent increase, which adds up to just under two cents per litre, according to reporting from the Canadian Press.

Those hikes come after two price increases in 2022, which were 2.5 per cent in September and 8.4 per cent in February.

In response to rising food costs, the Competition Bureau of Canada announced in late October it was launching a study into grocery store competition to see how governments could combat price increases.

The competition agency said in its announcement that Canadians are seeing the fastest increases in food prices in 40 years, all impacted by extreme weather, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and supply chain disruptions.

The findings will be released in June 2023.

With files from CTVNews.ca’s Daniel Otis and Rachel Aiello

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Jade Eagleson, MacKenzie Porter, the Reklaws among leading CCMA nominees

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Jade Eagleson and MacKenzie Porter are the leading nominees at this year’s Canadian Country Music Association Awards.

The singer-songwriters each received six CCMA nods, including for entertainer of the year and album of the year.

Eagleson is also nominated for male artist of the year and songwriter of the year, while Porter will be vying for female artist of the year and video of the year trophies.

Porter is also co-hosting the CCMAs with U.S. country music star Thomas Rhett in Edmonton on Sept. 14, with the bash set to air on CTV.

Sibling duo the Reklaws and last year’s leading nominee Josh Ross are each nominated in five categories, including entertainer of the year.

Rounding out the list of top nominees are Owen Riegling, Dallas Smith and the High Valley band, with four nods each.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2024.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.



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Bissell Recalls 3.3 Million Steam Cleaners Due to Burn Hazard

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NEW YORK — Bissell is recalling approximately 3.3 million “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” across North America due to a burn hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada issued notices on Thursday detailing the risk, which has led to over 150 reported injuries.

The recall affects select models of the Bissell-branded steam cleaners, which can spew hot water or steam while in use or heating up. This malfunction poses a burn risk to users. Bissell has received 183 reports of hot water or steam expelling from the devices, including 157 minor burn injuries. Of these, 145 injuries occurred in the U.S. and 12 in Canada as of June 4, according to Health Canada.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the recalled steam cleaners. They should contact Bissell for either a refund or store credit. Impacted customers can choose between $60 (CA$82) in store credit or a $40 (CA$55) refund for each affected unit. Detailed instructions for identifying the recalled models, cutting the product cord, and uploading photos are available on Bissell’s website.

Bissell emphasized that “safety is our top priority,” and the company opted for a voluntary recall “out of an abundance of caution.”

The affected steam cleaners, manufactured in China, were sold at major retailers such as Target and Walmart, as well as online platforms including Bissell’s website and Amazon, from August 2008 through May 2024. About 3.2 million units were purchased in the U.S. and nearly 355,000 in Canada.

For more information on the recall and to register for a refund or store credit, consumers can visit Bissell’s website.

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Court Ruling on CRA Audit Condones Government Overreach, Says Leading Muslim Charity

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The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) has expressed strong disapproval of a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, claiming it allows the federal government to violate Charter rights with impunity. The court’s decision upheld a ruling that permits the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to continue its audit of MAC, a process the charity alleges is tainted by systemic bias and Islamophobia.

MAC, an organization that promotes community service, education, and youth empowerment, serves over 150,000 Canadians through its mosques, schools, and community centers. The association argues that the CRA’s audit infringes on their Charter rights, specifically the guarantees of equality, freedom of religion, expression, and association.

The association initially sought to halt the audit through the Ontario Superior Court, arguing that the audit process was fundamentally biased. However, Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen rejected their request last year, stating it was premature to intervene in the ongoing federal review. Koehnen acknowledged the validity of many of MAC’s arguments but emphasized that court involvement was inappropriate while the audit process was still active.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld Justice Koehnen’s decision, agreeing that the challenge was premature. The panel of judges found no error in the previous ruling, emphasizing the necessity of allowing the CRA’s internal processes to conclude before judicial intervention.

MAC’s representative, Sharaf Sharafeldin, criticized the decision, stating that the “prematurity principle” imposes significant legal and administrative burdens on charities. These costs, according to Sharafeldin, lead to financial hardship, reduced programs, and compromised charitable work, preventing effective challenges to Charter violations by the time the audit is completed.

In a statement, MAC highlighted that the decision disproportionately harms visible minorities and disadvantaged communities, who already suffer from systemic discrimination by government agencies.

The federal government has argued that the CRA’s selection of MAC for audit and subsequent review did not infringe upon Charter rights. The audit process includes potential internal appeals within the CRA, appeals to the Tax Court of Canada in the event of financial penalties, and to the Federal Court of Appeal if charitable status is revoked.

This ruling underscores the tension between government oversight and the protection of Charter rights, particularly for minority and disadvantaged communities. The outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for how charitable organizations can challenge perceived systemic bias and government overreach in Canada.

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