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Pandemic isolation sees booming demand for pets — and for businesses that cater to them –



All those new pet photos you’ve been seeing on social media don’t lie. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted booming demand for pets from Canadians feeling isolated after months of social distancing. And that’s meant big opportunities for a slew of Canadian companies that cater to that craving for companionship.

Daniela Amorim and Arlin Lincoln of Toronto are among those who joined the craze, adopting a four-month-old Boston terrier after the first lockdown in March. They described it as a very “2020 decision,” giving in to a longtime impulse to fetch themselves a fido to fuss over. 

Their puppy, Riley, has been everything they’d hoped for, and has quickly become the ideal companion for the pair’s current circumstances working from home.

“She forces us to get out of the house, too, and be a little bit more active, so it kind of just made sense for us,” Amorim told CBC News in an interview.

While the couple loves the companionship, free time isn’t the only thing they’re spending on Riley.

“We’re going to Petsmart pretty much every week, and then local dog stores and then puppy training … she’s the biggest expenditure,” Amorim said. “But we don’t mind. It’s weird. We’re just happy to have her.”

Two factors driving sales

Scott Arsenault runs the pet store chain Ren’s Pets, with 32 locations across Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In an interview from the company’s store in Mississauga, Ont., he said he is definitely seeing far stronger sales than usual this year.

Arsenault said even the dark days of March and April saw strong sales in stores, as existing pet owners loaded up on supplies. He said sales remained strong through the summer for two main reasons: more first-time pet owners, and higher sales to existing customers.

Scott Arsenault, president of Ren’s Pets, says sales of pet food have been booming. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

With many pet owners spending more time at home these days, they are also spending more money on toys and treats for their pets who are home all day, too.

“They’re spending more time, they’re learning more about them, more treats, more training, more games, more toys,” he said. “So this whole pet craze is kind of twofold: more pets, and people are spending more time with their pets.”

WATCH | Ren’s Pets president on the pandemic’s impact on sales:

Company president Scott Arsenault explains why sales at his chain of pet stores across Ontario have been booming during the pandemic. 0:37

Across Canada, sales are up in the pet category by about five per cent in 2020 compared to last year. That may not sound like much, but, as Maryland-based market research firm Packaged Facts put it, for a mature industry, it’s actually “quite robust.”

“It reflects a high rate of pet acquisition in 2020 and it’s the kind of growth rate in a large and mature market that has made the pet industry a darling,” research director David Sprinkle said in an interview.

Canadians spent more than $5.7 billion on their pets this year, an increase of about $300 million compared to 2019, according to German market data firm Statista. And that figure is projected to grow by more than $100 million next year, too. More than a third of all Canadian households now have a dog, and 40 per cent now have a cat, Statista says. Both figures are up from last year.

More than just food and toys

All those pets don’t just need food and toys, many also require training classes. And that segment of the market is having trouble keeping up with demand.

Andre Yeu, founder and head trainer of When Hounds Fly dog training school in Toronto, says his business has never been so busy.

“We have to turn away a lot of people week after week,” he said in an interview. “We just simply don’t have enough classes or instructors or spots for all the people that are trying to get their puppy into classes.”

(Yeu spoke to CBC News prior to the current lockdown in Ontario that shut all non-essential businesses, including his own. He plans to reopen safely once regulations allow it.)

Andre Yeu, founder and head trainer at obedience school When Hounds Fly, says he expects to increase classes by almost a third next year and that still won’t be enough to keep up with demand. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

He would love to expand, but it takes time to properly train someone to be an instructor, so he can’t just start offering more classes overnight.

He said he hopes to expand the number of spaces in classes by about a third next year, but even that will be just a drop in the bucket compared to the “hundreds” of requests for dog-training classes he’s currently seeing every week.

WATCH | The challenges of meeting growing demand for dog training:

Dog trainer Andre Yeu says he can’t ramp his business up fast enough to meet demand for obedience classes. 0:32

Amorim and Lincoln managed to get a spot in one of the school’s classes. And while they have some anxiety over what may happen if and when they’re no longer able to work from home and have to leave Riley alone there during the day, for now, they have no regrets about their decision to turn their duo into a trio and give Riley the happy home she deserves.

“It’s been a pretty dull year, and it’s something that gets us excited,” Lincoln said. “I think it’s been kind of a highlight of the year.”

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AIB agrees to life and pensions joint-venture with Canada Life



Allied Irish Banks on Wednesday said it would form a joint venture with Canada life as it seeks to plug gaps in its life, savings and wealth products.

The joint venture will be equally owned by Canada Life, a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc.

“The move to create this joint venture is aligned with AIB’s stated ambition to complete its customerproduct suite and diversify income,” AIB said in a statement.

“Through this strategic initiative AIB intends to offer customers a range of life protection, pensions, savings and investment options enhanced by integrated digital solutions withcontinued access to our qualified financial advisors.”

The Irish lender highlighted Canada Life’s “deep experience” of the Irish bancassurance market through Irish Life Assurance, which is also a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco.

AIB currently operates under a tied agency distribution agreement with Irish Life, and will enter into a new distribution agreement with the new joint venture company.

Chief Executive Colin Hunt highlighted the need to plug gaps in AIB’s life, savings and wealth products when he set out the bank’s medium-term targets last December.

AIB expects its equity investment in the joint venture will be around 90 million euros ($107.51 million), equating to around 10bps of CET1.($1 = 0.8372 euros)

(Reporting by Graham Fahy;Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Interac: Canada’s Latest Payment Solution Phenomenon



Few can argue that digital payment methods aren’t central to modern-day society. In recent times, increasing numbers of payment solutions have come to the forefront, offering consumers more choice regarding their transaction preferences. Canada, in particular, has embraced a wide-ranging selection of secure, forward-thinking options. Of those available throughout the country, Interac has piqued the interests of local consumers the most. So, let’s look at why this payment solution is an especially popular option throughout Canada. 

Usable Across Various Markets 

It speaks volumes about Interac’s versatility in that it’s usable across a variety of different industries. Since being founded in 1984, the Canadian interbank network has become integral to numerous markets, including local air travel. Air Canada, which has been operating since 1937, has expanded their accepted payment methods, and now passengers can pay for their flights using Interac. According to the airline’s official website, the Interac Online service lets consumers pay for their tickets via the internet directly from their bank account. 

Not only that, but Interac is also available at Walmart. In November 2020, the two organizations partnered together to expand in-store and online payment options. Walmart has adapted well to the digital trend, with American Banker reporting that they’ve opened Interac Flash sale points throughout their stores. 

Source: Unsplash

Aside from the above, Interac has also taken the digital world by storm. Following its rapid rise to prominence, the solution has also altered the online casino industry, with platforms like Genesis Casino now accepting the transaction type. The provider, which features Interac Canadian casino options, uses the popular payment method to enhance transaction speeds of deposits and withdrawals, as well as security. Players can use Interac Online and Interac e-Transfer to make deposits or withdrawals from their desktops or mobiles as the platform is fully optimized. 

A Reflection of Modern-Day Society 

In recent times, Interac recorded a 55 percent increase in transactions between April and August 2020 compared to the same period the previous year, as per BNN Bloomberg. These figures somewhat reflect the current state of e-Commerce and modern consumerism. Following the rise of Interac and other payment methods, it’s now less troublesome for consumers to complete in-store and online purchases. 

Source: PxHere

There’s an ever-growing perception that land-based businesses need to adapt within the digital era and accept forward-thinking payment methods. According to Cision, Interac is of utmost importance to the Canadian economy, and a year-on-year increase in Interac Debit payments of 333 percent reflects that. Not only that, but Interac e-Transfer payments are growing at 52 percent each year. This Interac-oriented trend appears unlikely to fade over the coming years, with the network being selected as the country’s provider for a new real-time payment system, as per Lexology. 

Consumer Habits are Changing 

There can be no doubt that consumerism has changed drastically over the past decade. The popularity of Interac suggests that a cashless future may be on the horizon, with increasing numbers of shoppers enjoying the security of online payment methods. While it’s currently unclear if that will happen, Interac appears to be prevalent for the long run.

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Your Education and Certificates Need to Align the Job Requirements



After your professional experience, your education/certifications (verified skills) will be the next section on your resume the reader will use to judge whether you go into the “to be interviewed” pile. 

Many job seekers apply to job postings knowing they don’t have the education/certification requirements. They believe their “experience” will compensate. With so many highly qualified job seekers now on the job market this is rarely the case. If your education/certifications align with the job requirements, the education section of your resume will play a critical part in setting you apart from all the “spray and pray” job seekers.

Suppose a job posting for a Director of Finance lists as a qualification “Canadian Accounting Designation (CPA).” You have a university degree and 15 years of experience managing a mid-size company’s finances, but no CPA—don’t bother applying. Job postings generate an influx of applicants. Undoubtedly there’ll be many applicants who possess a CPA applying. There’s also the employer’s ATS to consider, which likely has been programmed to scan for “CPA.”  

Education background information you should provide:

  • Degree/certification obtained 
  • School’s name
  • Location of school
  • Period of attendance
  • Relevant coursework
  • Honors, academic recognition, extracurricular activities, or organizations participation worth mentioning

When it comes to presenting your educational background keep your ego in check. You may have impressive education background; however, it may not be impressive for the job you’re vying for. Prioritize relevancy over perceived prestige.

Here’s my suggestion how to present your education/certificates (there’s no hard formatting rule):

BS Biomedical Science

University of Calgary, Calgary, AB — 09/1992 – 06/1996


  • Principles of Human Genetics
  • Organismal Biology
  • Principles and Mechanisms of Pharmacology
  • Advanced Bioinformatics

PMP® Certification

Ryerson University Continuing Education, Toronto, ON — 10/2001 – 04/2003


  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Leadership in Project Management
  • Project Cost and Procurement Management
  • Project Risk and Quality Management

As I’ve pointed out in previous columns— there’s no universal hiring methodology. No two hiring managers assess candidates the same way. Depending on the job requirements respective employers search for different things when it comes to a candidate’s education. Read the qualifications in the job posting carefully. Then present your education/credentials accordingly. Don’t hesitate to add/remove courses to better tie in your education towards the job. It’s for this reason I suggest you list courses, not just your degree/certification. Listing of courses is rarely done, doing so will give your resume a competitive advantage.

You’ll have noticed my examples indicated start and end dates. Many “career experts” advise against this. The thinking being dates, even just the graduation year, will give employer’s a sense of your age, which if your over 45 can hinder and prolong your job search. This advice is supposed to be a workaround to ageism. However, these same “career experts” unanimously agree employment dates (month/year) need to be indicated. To me, this is a mixed message.    

I believe in complete transparency from both sides of the hiring process. Full transparency ensures the likelihood of there being a solid fit for both parties. At some point, whether when the employer checks your digital footprint or interviews you, your interviewer will have a good indication of your age. Besides, not mentioning dates, which I call “obvious” information, is a red flag. 

If your age is a deal-breaker with an employer, they aren’t the employer for you. The job search advice I give most often: Seek employers who’ll most likely accept you, where you’ll feel you belong—look for your tribe.

Some professions, such as finance or healthcare, require specific certifications or degrees. In such cases, show you have the necessary “must-have” (a deal-breaker if you don’t) credentials by placing your education at the top of the page just below your contact information before your professional experience.

One last note: Often overlooked is education in progress. If relevant, this should be included in your resume. In this case, list pertinent courses and the month/year you intend to graduate.

Using suggestions in this and previous columns you are now able to create a resume that “WOWs.” Next week, I’m going to begin discussing cover letters. Yes, many hiring managers, like myself, do read cover letters, which have one purpose—to give the reader a reason to read your resume.


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

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