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Jays Josh Donaldson named American League MVP

The Canadian Press | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has been named the American League MVP.

Donaldson hit .297 with a league-best 123 runs batted in to help the Blue Jays to their first AL East title — and first playoff appearance — since 1993.

The 29-year-old beat Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout for the honours and joined 1987 winner George Bell as the only Blue Jays players to be named AL MVP.

“Enjoy the club, man,” Bell said in a video message sent out by the Blue Jays. “I’m glad for you, for your family and for Toronto Blue Jays fans.”

What was characterized as a close race leading up to Thursday’s announcement turned out to be an easy win for Donaldson, who took 23 first-place votes and seven second-place votes.

Toronto leaders sleep outside to raise awareness for homeless youth

CityNews | posted Friday, Nov 20th, 2015

It was a cold and sleepless night for some of the city’s top business and community leaders, but it was all for a good cause.

About 70 of Toronto’s top business and community leaders spent Thursday night sleeping outside Covenant House, near Yonge and Gerrard streets, with only sleeping bags and cardboard for comfort.

Now in its fourth year, the executive sleepout raises awareness and money for homeless youth at Covenant House.

This year’s goal was to raise $1 million. The total from Thursday night is not yet known but to date, the event has raised more than $2.5 million.

Among the people who took part were Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders, CFL commissioner Jeffrey Orridge, and Purolator president Patrick Nangle.

Covenant House is Canada’s largest homeless youth agency and serves as many as 250 youth a day. It has an annual operating budget of almost $23 million and relies on donations to cover about 80 per cent of that budget.

The toxic effects of workplace stress

Kathryn Hayward | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

There’s a particularly cold prickle of fear that pops up when work leaves you feeling overtired, overwhelmed and under siege. It might seep in during a meeting, when your left eyeball starts to throb, or it might hit you later, when it takes far too long to realize your work pass will not open the door to your house. It lurks in the back of your mind when you’re wondering where exactly your short-term memory went, and it most definitely trickles in during the loneliest moment of your third consecutive night of insomnia.

With this nagging sense of dread comes a question you don’t want to answer: What is your job actually doing to you?

Most likely, you brush it off and get back to work. A roiling gut, a racing heart, that weird knot of pain in your shoulder — aren’t they just the price of admission to being employed in this sluggish, recessionary economy? “People think that stress is a normal part of work and everybody experiences stress, so theyjust have to suck it up and get over it,” says Mark Henick, a program manager with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), who works with supervisors and employees across the country.

But as new research suggests, concerns that the modern workplace may be harmful to our health are well-founded. As dramatic as it may sound, work and the chronic stress that can come with it may be slowly killing us.

Related: Is your workplace killing you?

In a meta-analysis done earlier this year of 228 workplace studies, researchers from Harvard and Stanford found that workplace stress can be as toxic to the body as second-hand smoke. High job demands increase your odds of being diagnosed with a medical condition by 35 percent, and if you consistently work more than 40 hours a week (perhaps to meet those high demands), you are almost 20 percent more likely to die a premature death. Constant worry about losing your job, the meta-analysis found, raises the risk of developing poor health by 50 percent.

That’s not all: A review published in the Lancet in August showed if you work more than 55 hours a week, you are 33 percent more likely to have a stroke, while several studies confirm that long hours put you at a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems. And here’s some disconcerting news for anyone who checks email during meetings: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is created when we multi-task, can cause the dendrites in the brain’s nerve cells to atrophy, leading to memory problems. Then there are the proven elevated risks of diabetes, anxiety and depression. And let’s not even talk about the dangers of a sedentary workday.

Dr. David Posen, a physician based in Oakville, Ont., who began to specialize in stress management 30 years ago, has catalogued a list of more than 125 early warning signs of chronic stress. In addition to headaches and chest pain, they include cold hands, compulsive shopping, even excessive sarcasm. “We weren’t designed to have ongoing stress,” he says. “It’s like driving your car in fifth gear all the time — it’s just not going to be good for the motor.”

stressed workplace

It’s not that we’ve become lazier, less able to meet demands or more emotionally fragile than previous generations; workplace culture has changed, and when it comes to our health, not for the better. Posen has seen an uptick of stress in patients ever since the recession in the early ’90s, when, he says, “companies basically kept hiving off people and telling the so-called lucky survivors to do more with less, pick up the amount of work that other people had been doing.”

Demands have only increased since then, as companies try to keep up with the pace of technology and the pressures of globalization. And as more boomers retire, workplaces are experiencing catalyzing shifts in culture and values. A 2012 study from Carleton and Western Universities confirms that the feeling of work-hour creep is real, reporting that 60 percent of white-collar workers in Canada log more than 45 hours a week. (And 54 percent of them say they take home more work, amounting to another seven hours a week.) The study also found that 56 percent of respondents who work long hours at demanding jobs have partners who do the same. And if you’ve ever had to negotiate who will handle the daycare pickup or conjure up dinner, you know that two busy people means twice as much stress.

The very modern conveniences that were supposed to make our jobs easier have, of course, made it easier to work any time of day or night. It’s liberating to take care of some tasks from the cottage or send work emails while at the dog park — unless, that is, you’re no longer getting satisfaction from completing those extra tasks, and the stress is outweighing the benefits.

It’s easy to blame the boss, and it’s true that some could benefit from having a bit more compassion alongside their strategic vision and unrelenting drive. But we shoulder some of the responsibility too. Even in the absence of explicit expectations that you will check email or monitor social media on weekends, people will “fall into that because of their own desire,” says Dorothy Kudla, founder of a training and development company, Full Circle Connections, who has worked with hundreds of managers at companies from BlackBerry to Cineplex Odeon.

Related: How to be healthier at work with five easy tips

Human beings, by their very nature, want to be successful and add value, Kudla says. But in a workplace that is constantly changing and where the goalposts keep moving, resentment and burnout can easily set in. And that, in turn, can lead to anxiety, depression and, if employees have poor coping strategies, addiction issues. It may also increase employees’ risk of developing lifestyle-related illnesses such as diabetes or angina.

For employers, it’s a bit of a Catch-22. They want to drive innovation and productivity, but to do so, they may need to ask employees to do less or at least change the way they work, says Joel Goh, an assistant professor of business administration at Harvard Business School and one of the co-authors of the second-hand smoke study. “We need to think very carefully [about] not just what employers can do, what programs they can offer to mitigate stress, but what employers are doing to their employees in terms of stress.”

So what do you do? We’re told to prioritize and delegate. Work efficiently. Set goals. These are the motivational slogans of an autocratic boss who is herself a workaholic. But the thing is, no flextime policy will alleviate your tension headaches if you don’t solve the underlying issues of how you work.

You have to learn to “control your controllables,” says the CMHA’s Henick. “You can’t control how other people think or what other people do or the workload that other people are putting on you, but that’s that. You are in absolute control of your reactions.” (Tellingly, several of the experts consulted for this story requested that the interviews happen during regular hours, and they have a policy of not checking their email after 5 p.m.)

Posen exercises every day, and while he doesn’t expect his patients to adhere to his fitness routine, he does advise them to take better care of themselves. “When people are stressed out, they reach for something that will comfort them. The first things that they can think of are things like smoking, drinking, drugs and foods that are high in fat and sugar,” he says.

There is a big difference, however, between knowing your behaviour isn’t healthy and adopting better habits. Corporations have been trying to bridge that gap more aggressively in recent years by implementing wellness programs. While they are a positive step, these programs don’t address the root problems, Goh says. “With wellness programs, we are shifting everything to the employees. It’s like, ‘Well, if you are stressed, we’ll offer you counselling classes, we’ll give you free gym memberships and yoga classes so that you can deal with your stress and your unhealthy lifestyle on your own.’ ”

Despite the seemingly intractable problems in balancing what is good for business with what is good for our health, there is cause for optimism for the next generation. Workplaces are on the cusp of a major shift as boomers retire, and Kudla says she’s already seeing major changes in workplaces with younger staff. Unlike boomers, who tend to respect hierarchy and crave prestige, millennials prefer collaboration and seek out valuable experiences. And in the next few years, they will make up the majority of the workforce. Whereas boomers “were not necessarily willing to sacrifice promotion, millennials are not willing to sacrifice fulfillment,” Kudla says.

This quest for fulfillment may be the key. As Posen says, “When people are stressed, they don’t create as well, they don’t feel as engaged, they are distractible, they’re tired, and it’s costing the bottom line.” And the inverse is also true. If we are motivated, challenged and supported, not only will we be more productive — we’ll be healthier too.

Dr. David Posen’s tips for reducing job stress

1. Leave work an hour earlier. “Never in 30 years have I had a patient who couldn’t get the same amount of work done in less time when they took better care of themselves.”
2. Spend that extra hour after work wisely. Book time for exercise, seeing friends, napping or even just sitting near something you find beautiful.
3. Take a micro-break every 90 minutes. Research shows that’s the longest we can concentrate intensely on something. “The best thing you can do is get up and walk away.”
4. Get a better night’s rest. To do this, Posen advises patients to slowly wean themselves off caffeine.
5. Work out. Every bit helps. Exercise drains off excess stress energy, so it lowers cortisol in the body, which can help reduce anxiety.
6. Change the way you think. Modify unrealistic expectations and try to identify problematic patterns. “Type A people need to slow down, and people pleasers need to learn how to say no occasionally.” 

Suspected mastermind of Paris attacks killed in police raid

The Associated Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

The Belgian jihadi suspected of masterminding deadly attacks in Paris died along with his cousin in a police raid on a suburban apartment building, officials said Thursday.

Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins’ office said 27-year-old Abdelhamid Abaaoud was identified based on skin samples, but authorities did not know how he died.

His body was found in the apartment building targeted in the chaotic and bloody raid in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis on Wednesday.

Three police officials say a woman who died in the raid was Abaaoud’s cousin. One said Hasna Aitboulahcen is believed to have detonated a suicide vest after a brief conversation with police officers.

The official confirmed an audio recording, punctuated by gunshots, in which an officer asks: “Where is your boyfriend?” and she responded angrily: “He’s not my boyfriend!” Then loud bangs are heard.

The exact relationship between Abaaoud and Aitboulahcen was not clear.

The bodies recovered in the raid were badly mangled, with a part of Aitboulahcen’s spine landing on a police car, complicating formal identification, according to one of the officials.

The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to divulge details of the investigation.

Police launched the operation after receiving information from tapped phone calls, surveillance and tipoffs suggesting that Abaaoud was holed up there. Eight people were arrested in the raid.

Canada will do ‘more than its part’ to defeat ISIL, Trudeau says

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday at the APEC summit that the United States and Canada will “both soon to be signatories to the TPP.”

The 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership signed Oct. 5 was one of several topics Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Obama discussed during their first formal meeting since Trudeau took office earlier this month.

Obama’s comment to reporters following their meeting came a day after he made an impassioned pitch to the 12 TPP leaders – including Trudeau – to ratify the deal as quickly as possible.

The Liberal government has promised to consult with Canadians on the massive trade pact and put it to a vote in Parliament.

Trudeau and Obama also said they discussed terrorism, ISIL, the economy, the border, energy, climate, Syria, and refugees during their conversation.

Regarding ISIL, Trudeau told reporters that Canada will do “more than its part” and remain a strong member of the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Trudeau reiterated that Canada intends to withdraw its CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition bombing militants in Syria and Iraq and replace them with a more robust force of military trainers on the ground in Iraq.

The two leaders also discussed energy in the wake of the Obama’s rejection of Keystone XL pipeline earlier this month, saying he had environmental concerns about approving the transport of dirty oil from Alberta across the United States.

Asked how he might convince the United States to accept more of what Obama termed “dirty oil,” Trudeau replied that Canada’s environmental record “was not good in the past and we need to do better.”

Trudeau said he wanted to “reassure Canadians and others that we are serious about meeting our emissions reductions targets.”

Obama added that both countries will need to “rethink how we do energy.”

“Canada and U.S. are both important oil and gas producers, and we make no apologies but we need to shift from carbon intensive energy to other sources,” he said.

The U.S. president predicted oil prices would stay low for a while and this presented an opportunity for producers to diversify their business and for consumers to not to use more gas. He said the transition would be “messy”

On the refugee issue, Trudeau and Obama are on the same page on bringing Syrian refugees to their countries despite security concerns that have surfaced since the attacks in France last week that killed 129 people.

Obama reiterated that tourists pose more of a threat than refugees in the United States and are “heavily screened.”

Trudeau pledged during the recent federal election campaign that Canada would accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year

Obama also announced that Trudeau will pay his first visit to Washington, likely early in the new year, “so we can have a more extensive expanded bilateral.”

“I’m sure Michelle’s going to want to visit with Canada’s new first lady so we are going to be looking for a date for that to happen,” said Obama.

Trudeau said he looked forward to visiting the White House.

“I certainly know that my wife Sophie is going to very excited to hear about Michelle’s garden because she has started a vegetable garden as well in our backyard,” said Trudeau.

“It’s going to be a wonderful time of strengthening ties between our two countries both on the economic, on the security, on the engagement with the world and on the personal level.”

The 54-year-old president also told the story of his congratulatory phone call to Trudeau after his election win.

Obama told Trudeau he had no grey hair when he took office seven years ago.

“If you don’t want to grey like me you need to start dying it soon,” Obama recalled telling Trudeau.

Trudeau replied: “So young, and yet so cynical.”

Grocers Loblaw, Metro talk online shopping as both deliver stronger profits

David Friend, The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

Two of Canada’s largest grocers shed a little more light on their plans to make online shopping convenient, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they agree on the strategy.

Both Loblaw and Metro tackled the rising popularity of e-commerce shopping on Wednesday during their quarterly conference calls as the companies delivered stronger overall profits and revenues.

Pressure has been mounting for Canadian grocers to respond to evolving consumer habits that show more people are using their computers and smartphones to shop for lower prices and buy online.

With rare exceptions, grocery stores have been a laggard in this area, partly because for years consumer research showed minimal demand for online grocery options in Canada.

When Walmart and Amazon.ca charged into the largely untouched Canadian online grocery market, the priorities for big chains began to shift.

Loblaw has since rolled out its “click-and-collect” option at 30 stores in some regions of the country, including many parts of Ontario, as well as Edmonton, Vancouver and Kelowna, B.C.

The project lets customers order groceries online and then pick them up at the local store, similar to Walmart’s in-store “grab-and-go” lockers.

Loblaw president Galen Weston said he sees a chance to expand its pickup service beyond grocery stores and into the Shoppers Drug Mart chain, which the company also owns.

“I think it’s fair to say those points of convenience in the Shoppers Drug Mart network represent a meaningful opportunity for us,” he said.

But Weston isn’t as confident that store-to-door delivery is the future of his business at this point.

“Our conviction around click-and-collect is growing,” he added.

“The customer response … suggests this is a superior customer service proposition … but you know, there will be others with a different view and they can make their investment choices as they see fit.”

Next year, fellow grocer Metro Inc. will begin testing its own e-commerce project that could include in-store pickup or delivery. So far, the company has declined to offer any details.

In a call with analysts, Metro’s chief executive Eric La Fleche was reluctant to proclaim online shopping as the next step in how consumers buy their food.

“For a portion of the population, e-commerce might be the most convenient way to shop,” he said.

“We’ll see how big that demand is — and that market is — as it evolves. When the consumer is ready for that, we’ll be ready.”

On Wednesday, Loblaw and Metro posted higher quarterly results in what both companies characterized as a highly competitive market driven by discounts and promotions.

Loblaw Companies Ltd. (TSX:L) reported earnings rose nearly 17 per cent to $166 million, or 40 cents per share, for the third quarter.

Sales totalled $13.95 billion, up from $13.60 billion. Growth in same-store sales — stores that have been open more than a year — for the company’s food business was ahead 3.1 per cent, excluding its gas bar and the negative impact of a change in distribution model by a tobacco supplier.

Meanwhile, the company’s drug retail same-store sales growth, which includes Shoppers Drug Mart, was 4.9 per cent. Same-store pharmacy sales increased 3.5 per cent, while front store sales increased 6.2 per cent.

At Metro Inc. (TSX:MRU), earnings rose 14 per cent to $131.7 million or 52 cents per diluted share for what was its fourth quarter.

Sales grew to $2.83 billion from $2.71 billion in the same quarter last year. Same-store sales were up 3.4 per cent.

Follow @dj_friend on Twitter.

Yonge Street redesign will focus on pedestrians

Erin Criger | posted Thursday, Nov 19th, 2015

The world’s longest street could become a lot more friendlier to pedestrians.

The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area is proposing closing a stretch of Yonge Street from Queen to Gerrard streets because, overwhelmingly, Toronto residents say they want walkable neighbourhoods that make them feel connected.

“Forty two million people walk this street every year,” DYBIA executive director Mark Garner said Wednesday, and that number is only going to rise.

To accommodate that, Garner said, Yonge will go from four lanes to two. In place of car traffic will be green space, open patios, and wider sidewalks.

The Yonge Love report found that not only do Toronto residents want more space for pedestrians, a small percentage want cars gone completely. About 17 per cent of those surveyed think cars should stay off Yonge on the weekend.

Cameron Stannard, who manages the Silver Snail comic book shop on Yonge, has mixed feelings on the proposal.

“To have way more people walking up and down Yonge Street, they’re more likely to come into our store,” Stannard said.

However, if people are driving downtown, “they might take alternate routes. Parking is hard enough,” he said.

The city has already allocated $31 million for the project, and says Bay, Jarvis and Church could handle the extra load from the displaced cars.

The next step is to hire a design team. Click here to find out more on the project.

Internship opportunity at Breakfast Television – Winter 2015

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Nov 18th, 2015

Passionate about breaking news, lifestyle content, social media, and producing creative and engaging stories for television and online?

Breakfast Television is a three-and-a-half hour LIVE television news and lifestyle production and is looking for full-time production and digital interns for its Winter 2015 term (January through April). The successful applicant must be studying a relevant program, and the internship must be part of their school curriculum.

We’re looking for an individual who’s bright, creative, and energetic, with a passion for news- and lifestyle-themed content, plus the ability to hunt down the latest trends before they go viral! Knowledge of video production and editing would be considered a strong asset.

The position is a full-time, five-day-a-week program, running from 6 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday in our downtown Toronto studios.

Should you fulfill the requirements and wish to apply for the position, please forward your resume and cover letter, along with your placement officer’s name and contact info, to:

Please include ‘Internship‘ in the subject line.

Alternately, send a hard copy to:

City – Rogers Broadcasting Ltd.
Breakfast Television Internship Program
33 Dundas Street East
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1B8

If we are interested in following up with you, we will be in touch to set up an interview.

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