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Ottawa to ban e-cigarette ads in bid to curb youth vaping use – The Globe and Mail

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The federal government is planning to ban e-cigarette promotions from convenience stores, public transit and all social-media platforms in response to a major rise in teen vaping and fears of health risks.

But the proposed new rules it announced on Thursday do not restrict the sale of flavoured e-cigarette products.

The move comes in response to months of increasing pressure to crack down on the vaping industry, which heavily promotes its products in stores, other public places and online. Social media are rife with ads and promotions from vaping companies.

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A recent Globe and Mail investigation found that many e-cigarette companies use Instagram, Facebook and other platforms to post about their products and sponsor product giveaways, and hire paid influencers. Many of those activities, such as the use of influencers, are already illegal under current federal vaping rules, and health organizations said a blanket advertising ban would be necessary.

The plan announced on Thursday is the first new measure to address the rise in youth vaping. Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed Health Minister Patty Hajdu in her mandate letter to restrict vaping promotions and look at “additional measures.”

Ottawa now faces pressure to regulate e-cigarette flavours. Members of Canada’s vaping industry oppose a ban or restrictions on flavours, saying they are an essential component in attracting existing adult smokers. But health organizations cite flavours as the key driver of youth vaping, and say rules designed to stop the promotion of candy, dessert and other varieties that could appeal to teens aren’t working.

New figures released by Health Canada on Thursday show the number of students in Grades 7 to 12 who say they vaped in the past month doubled in 2018-19 compared with 2016-17. One in five students reported vaping in the previous 30 days, the new survey said.

Rob Cunningham, senior policy analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society, said the new measures are strong and that the ban on social-media ads would help curb ads aimed at young people.

“They will have a significant impact to reduce youth exposure to vaping promotions and, as a result, reduce youth vaping,” Mr. Cunningham said.

Under the proposed changes, vaping promotions would be permitted only in specialty vape shops for adults. Online promotions would also be limited to websites that restrict access to minors, although it’s unclear how this would be enforced. The new rules are subject to a 30-day comment period, after which the government can finalize them.

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Flory Doucas, co-director of the Quebec Coalition for Tobacco Control, said she was encouraged by the crackdown on promotions. But she questioned why the government didn’t also regulate flavoured e-cigarettes.

“How much more time is required for this?” she said.

Ms. Hajdu’s office said new rules are expected in the coming months on flavoured e-cigarette products and nicotine concentrations.

Eric Gagnon, head of corporate and regulatory affairs with Imperial Tobacco Canada Ltd., said the government “needs to find a way to at least allow a dialogue with adult smokers.” Mr. Gagnon said the company wants to be able to indicate on e-cigarette products that they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Health Canada is considering whether to allow e-cigarette companies to use such claims.

He added that banning e-cigarette flavours would be “ridiculous” because adults want them, too.

In an e-mailed statement, Juul Labs Canada said it “supports Health Canada’s efforts to strike the right regulatory balance” for keeping products away from youth.

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Darryl Tempest, executive director of the Canadian Vaping Association, which represents specialty vape shops, said the organization supports the advertising restrictions. But he added that he doesn’t think flavoured products should be banned, saying they are not responsible for youth uptake and that many adult smokers like them.

A recent survey conducted by Smoke-Free Nova Scotia found 96 per cent of 16- to 18-year-olds who vaped said they preferred flavoured products. Nearly half of the 16- to 24-year-olds surveyed said they would likely stop vaping if flavours were eliminated.

Enforcement of the new rules could pose a challenge. In a letter sent on Thursday to the vaping industry and posted on its website, Health Canada said a recent enforcement blitz found more than 80 per cent of specialty vape shops sell and promote products in ways that violate federal rules.

The most common infractions include promoting flavours that could appeal to young people, including candy or desserts, and the use of testimonials or endorsements. Federal law defines testimonials as the use of people, animals or characters.

Inspectors seized more than 80,000 units of non-complaint products, the letter said.

“This level of non-compliance is unacceptable,” wrote Krista Locke, director-general of the consumer products and controlled substances directorate at Health Canada.

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Vaping-related illnesses have been in the spotlight recently amid accusations the makers of the products are targeting them at youth. Dr. James MacKillop outlines some strategies to use at home in conversations with your children about vaping. MacKillop is the director of the Peter Boris Centre For Addictions Research and co-director of the Michael G. Degroote Centre For Medicinal Cannabis Research. The Globe and Mail (staff)

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RBC warns house price correction could be deepest in decades | CTV News – CTV News Toronto

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A housing correction, which has already led to four consecutive months of price declines in the previously overheated Greater Toronto Area market, could end up becoming “one of the deepest of the past half a century,” a new report from RBC warns.

New data released by the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) last week revealed that the average benchmark price for a home in the GTA fell six per cent month-over-month in July to $1,074,754.

Sales were also down a staggering 47 per cent from July, 2021.

In a report published on Aug. 4, RBC Senior Economist Robert Hogue said recent data from real estate boards underlines that higher interest rates are beginning to take a “huge toll” on the market.

Hogue said that with further hikes to come, prices will likely continue to slide in the coming months.

That prediction, it should be noted, goes against a report from Royal LePage last month which painted a rosier forecast for sellers in which values would more or less holding for the rest of the year following some declines in the second quarter.

“Our expectations for further hikes by the Bank of Canada—another 75 basis points to go in the overnight rate by the fall— will keep chilling the market in the months ahead,” Hogue said. “We expect the downturn to intensify and spread further as buyers take a wait-and-see approach while ascertaining the impact of higher lending rates. Canada’s least affordable markets Vancouver and Toronto, and their surrounding regions, are most at risk in light of their excessively stretched affordability and outsized price gains during the pandemic.”

The Bank of Canada has hiked the overnight lending rate by 225 basis points since March and has warned that further hikes will be necessary given that inflation remains at a near 40-year high.

In his report, Hogue pointed out that the housing correction “now runs far and wide across Canada” but he said that it is particularly pronounced in the costlier markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

In fact, Hogue said that housing resale activity in Toronto is at its slowest pace in 13 years, outside of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stockpile of available homes is also up 58 per cent from a year ago, he noted.

“With more options to choose from and higher interest rates shrinking their purchasing budgets, buyers are able to extract meaningful price concessions from sellers,” he said, pointing out that the average price of a home in the GTA is down 13 per cent from March. “We expect buyers to remain on the defensive in the months ahead as they deal with rising interest rates and poor affordability.”

While Hogue did say that condos in the City of Toronto are likely to remain “relatively more resilient” he said that prices elsewhere will continue to fall for the time being, especially in the 905 belt “where property values soared during the pandemic.”

The July data from TRREB suggested that the average price of a home in the GTA was still up one per cent from July, 2021.

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Commuters face GO transit cancellations, possible strike – CityNews

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Canada Revenue Agency plans email blitz to get Canadians to cash outstanding cheques worth $1.4-billion – The Globe and Mail

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The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is planning a massive e-mail notification campaign to reach Canadians across the country who have uncashed cheques worth a net $1.4-billion.

The e-mail notifications will target recipients of the Canada child benefit and related provincial and territorial programs, as well as recipients of the GST/HST credits and the Alberta Energy Tax Refund.

The CRA said it plans to send approximately 25,000 e-mails in August, another 25,000 in November and a further 25,000 e-mails by May, 2023.

However, even without receiving an e-mail notification, the agency said a taxpayer can check if they have a cheque by logging into My Account, a secure portal on its website to check if they have an uncashed cheque over a period of six months. It added that representatives can also view uncashed cheques of their clients.

Each year, the CRA said it issues millions of payments to Canadian taxpayers in the form of refund benefits. These payments are issued by either direct deposit or by cheque.

“Over time, payments can remain uncashed for various reasons, such as the taxpayer misplacing the cheque or even a change of address which did not allow for delivery,” the agency said in a statement.

The CRA said since the e-mail notification initiative was first launched in February, 2020, about two million uncashed cheques valued at $802-million were redeemed by May 31, 2022.

The average amount per uncashed cheque is $158 with some of them dating as far back as 1998, the agency said.

As of May, 2022, there were an estimated 8.9 million uncashed cheques with the CRA. In May, 2019, about five million Canadians had an estimated 7.6 million uncashed cheques.

“As government cheques never expire or stale date, the CRA cannot void the original cheque and re-issue a new one unless requested by the taxpayer,” the statement read. “These upcoming e-notifications are to encourage taxpayers to cash any cheques they have in their possession.”

The agency said taxpayers can register for the direct deposit option on its website to receive payments directly into their bank accounts.

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