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Canada ranks sixth on freedom index, says Fraser Institute study

The Canadian Press | posted Tuesday, Aug 18th, 2015

TORONTO – A new study suggests Canada ranks sixth out of 152 countries when it comes to human freedom while its southern neighbour is 20th.

The index, compiled by the Fraser Institute and public-policy think-tanks in Germany and the United States, uses 76 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedoms.

Hong Kong tops the rankings followed by Switzerland, Finland, Denmark and New Zealand rounding out the top five. Other notable countries are Australia in seventh place, the United Kingdom in the ninth position and Germany in 12th place.

The least free country in the index is Iran. The Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Yemen round out the bottom five.

According to the data, Canada scores well on security and safety, the rule of law and economic freedom which is based on personal choice, trade openness, freedom to compete, security of private property and judicial independence.

Study editor Fred McMahon says the goal of the index is to measure the degree to which people are free to enjoy classic civil liberties — freedom of speech, religion, individual economic choice, and association and assembly.

“We also look at the rule of law, which is essential for freedoms, as well as indicators of crime and violence, freedom of movement, limits on freedom due to sexual orientation, and women’s freedoms,” McMahon said.

As for the United States coming in at No. 20, McMahon says the data points to a “significant weakening of the rule of law” and an erosion of property rights and “an expansion of quasi-judicial regulations” over time.

Week of August 17, 2015

BT Toronto | posted Saturday, Aug 15th, 2015

Coming up on Breakfast Television this week:

Be sure to tune in Tuesday as fashion icon Jay Manuel stops by.

On Thursday, Icona Pop catches up with us.

And to end off the week Friday, we will be live at the CNE for the subway auditions.

Be sure to watch BT weekdays 5:30 to 9 a.m. on City, right here at BTtoronto.ca, or on our Breakfast Television mobile app for iOS and Android!

Best of BT Weekend: August 14, 2015

BT Toronto | posted Saturday, Aug 15th, 2015

Jose Bautista chats about The Bautista Family Education Fund and Jays Care

Jose Bautista will be swinging a golf club in support of The Bautista Family Education Fund.

Ladies from The man from U.N.C.L.E.

The leading ladies of the film chat about the movie.

Inside scoop with everything Blue Jays with Buck Martinez

Buck Martinez talks about the Blue Jays and their winning streak.

Road closures part and parcel of fun Toronto weekend events

CityNews | posted Friday, Aug 14th, 2015

As Toronto bids farewell to the Parapan Am Games on Saturday, there’s one last reminder of the games: road closures will be in place for the closing ceremony as well as for numerous festivals and events around town.

TTC riders will also face a late opening on a portion of Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) on Sunday, and a streetcar diversion on the 510 Spadina line all weekend long.

Road closures

Parapan Am closing ceremony
The closing ceremony at Nathan Phillips Square, which starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday, features musical performances and a hand-off to the 2019 Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

The following roads will be closed:

  • Bay Street from Queen to Dundas streets from 4 p.m. to midnight
  • Wellington Street from Church Street to University Avenue from 5 p.m. until midnight
  • Front Street from Church to Parliament streets from 5 p.m. until midnight
  • James and Albert streets from 4 p.m. to midnight
  • University Avenue northbound will be reduced to two lanes from Queen to Armoury streets from 8 a.m. to midnight

Those who live in the Pan Am Athletes Village area, near Cherry and Front streets, may encounter some traffic delays from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Wheels on the Danforth and Fun in the Park

Parts of Danforth Avenue and Danforth Road will be closed in both directions from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday:

  • Danforth Avenue from Byng to Leyton avenues
  • Danforth Avenue from Leyton to Warden avenues
  • Danforth Road from Landry to Danforth avenues

International Street Festival
The York-Eglinton event takes place on Saturday and Sunday.

Eglinton Avenue will be closed from Dufferin Street to Marlee Avenue from 2 a.m. on Saturday to 2 a.m. on Monday.

Festival of South Asia
The Indian bazaar will be held on Gerrard Street between Greenwood and Coxwell avenues on Saturday and Sunday.

Gerrard from Glenside to Coxwell avenues will be closed from 10 a.m. on Saturday to 2 a.m. on Monday.

Fusion of Taste

The festival, which features South Asian, Chinese, Thai and West Indian food, dance, art, tapestry and jewelry, takes place on Sunday at Albion Road and Islington Avenue in Etobicoke.

Islington from Albion Road to Wardlaw Crescent will be closed from 6 a.m. on Sunday to 1 a.m. on Monday.

Open Streets Toronto
A portion of Bloor and Yonge streets will become “paved parks” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, open to people who want to walk, dance, practice their sun salutations, skip, hula hoop, bike, and other fun activities.

Bloor Street from Spadina Avenue/Road to Parliament Street, and Yonge Street from Bloor to Queen streets will be closed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Motorists will be able to cross Bloor at Spadina, Avenue, Bay, Ted Rogers Way, and Church, Sherbourne and Parliament streets. Vehicles will be able to cross Yonge at College Street/Carlton Street, and Gerrard, Dundas, Shuter and Queen streets.

TTC closures

Line 1 late opening on Sunday

Subways won’t be running for most of Sunday on Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina) between St. Clair West and Lawrence West stations due to emergency repairs by Toronto Hydro.

The work is expected to take between 10-12 hours, and service won’t be up and running until around 4 p.m. Shuttle buses will be running.

Streetcar diversion

The 510 Spadina streetcars will be on diversion via College and Bathurst streets from 5 a.m. on Saturday to 5 a.m. on Monday for emergency streetcar track repairs in the tunnel leading to Spadina Station.

The streetcar platform will also be closed. Riders can board replacement buses inside the bus bay at street level.

5 things to do this weekend: Hot rods, samosas and Casa Loma escape game

CityNews | posted Friday, Aug 14th, 2015

As our regular series continues, we look at events happening in Toronto for a variety of ages and interests.

August 14-16, 2015

Escape from the Tower: Travel back in time to the year 1941 and become an undercover anti-submarine detective. Your mission: to find the coordinates of the enemies and escape from the Casa Loma tower in 60 minutes. The thrill of escape games is sweeping Toronto and this one is a mystery for a group of 12 people to solve. The event runs Wednesday to Sunday at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. escapecasaloma.com

Festival of South Asia:  Chicken tikka or aloo gobi? Samosas or pakoras? Why choose? Sample delicious dishes from more than 20 restaurants at the Festival of South Asia, and sip on a mango lassi while taking in culture, art and music. The festival runs Saturday and Sunday on Gerrard Street East between Greenwood and Coxwell avenues. 12 p.m. – 11 p.m. festivalofsouthasia.com

Parapan Am Games closing ceremony: It’s officially time to say goodbye to the Games and pass on the torch. The closing ceremony will take place in Nathan Philips Square on Saturday and the free party starts at 8 p.m. And there’s good news for selfie fans: The Toronto sign is sticking around. toronto2015.org

Open Streets Toronto: Imagine a Toronto without vehicles. Well, this Sunday a stretch of Bloor and Yonge streets will be closed off to cars and instead will be open to people who choose to walk, bike, jog, roller blade and even dance through the streets. The event is meant to encourage physical activity and healthy recreation, and it’s free! Open Streets Toronto runs along Bloor Street from the Annex to St. Jamestown and on Yonge Street between Bloor Street and Queen Street. Sunday. 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. openstreetsto.org

Wheels on the Danforth: If you prefer your Toronto with vehicles, this east-end event is for you. This Friday and Saturday classic vehicles, hot rods and motorcycles will all convene at the crossroad of Danforth Avenue and Danforth Road from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. And an exotic car display is being added to the schedule this year. wheelsonthedanforth.ca

If you have a suggestion, email us at torontoweb@citynews.ca or submit it online at CityNews.ca,680News.com and via our iPhone and iPad apps.

Internship opportunity at Breakfast Television – Fall 2015

BT Toronto | posted Thursday, Aug 13th, 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 Fall 2015 term (September to December). 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.

15 ways to save money on just about everything

Today's Parent | posted Tuesday, Aug 11th, 2015

Cassie Howard, the mastermind behind one of Canada’s top frugal-living websites, MrsJanuary.com, wasn’t alwaysmoney savvy. In 2006 she was actually drowning in credit card bills.

“I was 18 years old and in terrible debt and decided to start couponing—and blogging to share my money-saving experiences,” says Howard, a Vaughan, Ont., mom of two. “It wasn’t until after eliminating my debt that I realized I actually enjoyed saving money.”

Today she has a full-time gig blogging about deals and smart spending tricks, making her money through advertisements on her site and by writing sponsored posts. Over the past eight years, Howard and her husband have purchased a house, a new vehicle and enjoy annual family vacations.

“A lot of people think being frugal means you don’t spend money, but it’s about being wise with your money and using your resources to get the most bang for your buck,” says Howard.

Couponing and price matching at the grocery store are nothing new, but there are many lesser-known strategies to help trim the fat from your family’s budget.

1. Pay attention to sale cycles
Knowing when things go on sale over the course of the year will help you stock up when items are at their lowest prices. You just need to be aware of sale cycles. Bedding and linens typically go on sale in January. Find the best deals on frozen food in March and on cleaning supplies, paint and cookware in April. Pick up discounted party supplies and bottled water in May and craft supplies in July. August is known to see sales on large appliances, while October features deals on denim, toys and games. (For a detailed list, visit MrsJanuary.com.) And if you’re a frequent Amazon.cashopper, free price-watching sites like Camelcamelcamel will alert you to Amazon’s price drops via email or Twitter.

2. Create a stockpile, but don’t get crazy
You probably don’t need 50 bottles of laundry detergent, but always having a backup on hand will save you from dashing to the store for a full-price replacement when you run out. As you notice sales, replenish your stock.

3. DIY cleaners
Homemade detergents and cleaning products don’t contain harsh chemicals and are much more cost effective. Dartmouth, NS, resident Kelly Warren makes her own cleansers and detergents. “Vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, Borax and Castile soap are a lot cheaper than store-bought items and clean just as well,” she says.

4. Use cash-back services
Cash-back incentives are a great way to earn money on things you would buy anyway. “Checkout 51” is a Canadian app that issues rebates. Each week, the app sends out new offers and, if you buy those items, credits your account when you submit photos of your receipts. For example, an offer might be to save 50 cents on tomatoes, or $2 on two boxes of cereal. Once you’ve earned $20 in rebates, a cheque will be issued to the address you registered.

If online shopping is more your bag, Ebates.ca is your golden ticket. After creating a free account, visit Ebates and type in the online store where you’d like to shop. You’ll then be redirected and shop as usual, but you’ll earn a percentage of your purchase back. It’s an easy way to line your pocket and cheques are mailed out every three months.

Sign up for newsletters from your favourite sites to receive promo codes and deals. But beware; it’s a slippery slope when discount offers bombard your inbox. Stay strong, and only buy what you really need.

5. Get free stuff
It’s not always a gimmick—free stuff is totally within your grasp! And you don’t have to spend your days filling out surveys hoping to get samples; use store reward programs to earn points, then cash them in for things you need.

“Learn how to earn the maximum amount of points for the least amount of money,” says Howard. “I love the Optimum points program at Shoppers; it’s changed my life as a parent. When my kids were little I’d always get diapers for about 10 cents or less per diaper with manufacturer coupons and points. A lot of the time, you will find sale items are cheaper than at other stores, especially if you take into account the amount of points you receive on extra points days,” she says.

New on the Optimum scene? Here’s how it works: Whenever you buy something at Shoppers Drug Mart, you earn points by scanning your Optimum card. Some items have bonus points and some days you can earn up to 20 times the points. Shoppers’s newsletters have tailored deals and alert you to their Spend Your Points events, which happen several times per year. Points are redeemable in increments of $10, $30, $60, $85 and $170. If you’re saving for a big-ticket item, it’s best to redeem your points during the Spend Your Points events when points are worth more than face value.

PC Plus is another card that can be used at all of the President’s Choice banner stores, like No Frills, Loblaws and Real Canadian Superstore, to earn points that you can spend to buy groceries or anything in the store, including clothing and gift cards. Every time you scan your card, the system logs your items, then caters deals to those types of products. Load your offers each Friday and watch your points add up. PC points are redeemable in 20,000 increments or $20.

6. Buy nothing new
A fun money-saving challenge is to shop exclusively second-hand for pretty much everything, from your clothing to your kitchenware. Thrift stores like Value Village, Talize and Once Upon a Child are brimming with practical finds, like cooldecor and household items, toys and barely used brand-name clothing, including big-ticket items like snowsuits. If you have time to search, shelves are lined with heavily discounted books for kids and adults. Not your thing to sift through thrift shops? Go online to check out local mom-swap groups, Kijiji and Craigslist for gently used kids’ items.

Of course, there are deals to be had at big-box stores, too. If you do buy new, wait for end-of-season clearance sales and buy for next year. Also snoop around for guarantees. Walmart and Sears promise replacements if your child wears out their gear—boots, shoes, clothes, coats—before growing out of them.

7. Make things
If you have the time and patience, homemade anything will stretch your dollar. Why spend six dollars on a store-bought greeting card when your kids can make one (and it will be much more appreciated by the recipient). Have your childrencraft trinkets (look to Pinterest for swoon-worthy DIY inspiration) for relatives to combine a fun activity with a birthday gift. Michaels craft store is a great place to stock up on supplies, with their standard 40 percent off one item deal, and sometimes up to 30 percent off your whole purchase (check Michaels.com for offers). You might also be surprised at the array of crafting goodies at your local dollar store.

8. Family fun on the cheap
Schlepping the fam for a day of fun can get pricey. But in many regions, the local library is more than just a great resource for renting movies and borrowing books—some even offer passes for local attractions. In Toronto, a member with a valid library card can obtain a free family pass (two adults and up to five children) for attractions like the Royal Ontario Museum and the Toronto Zoo. Doled out on Saturday mornings, some branches offer passes on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have draws. Similarly, the Hamilton Public Library in Ontario offers a museum pass that can be checked out. Other libraries offer kids’ book clubs, play groups and lessons. Call your branch to see what it has to offer beyond storytime. Howard also suggests following attractions on Facebook. “They often have promotions to save you money.”

9. Adjust thermostat settings 
We all know that an unexpected household expense can creep up like a stealthy ninja and, if you’re just making ends meet on a good month, even something small can throw you into debt. To make more wiggle room in your budget, shave some money off your monthly bills by using a thermostat with a timer that will lower the heat or AC while you’re out of the house or asleep, and try setting your regular temperature a degree or two warmer or cooler than usual, depending on the season. Be sure to change your heating and AC filters regularly. A dusty filter makes for a less effective system and can ultimately shorten its lifespan.

10. Avoid phantom energy use
Unplug items like the toaster, coffee maker and device chargers when not in use—do a nightly sweep of your house to make sure you’ve unplugged or turned off any unnecessary lights, electronics and ceiling fans. If you’re going away for a few days, you could even unplug your stove and hot water tank (but not in the winter, or your pipes will freeze!). Little one afraid of the dark? Rather than leave an energy-sucking lamp on, try an energy-efficient nightlight that turns itself off.

11. Double-check your meter readings
Make sure you’re not being overcharged on your bills. Utility workers are human, so mistakes happen. If your meter reading is less than your bill reflects, call and have it rectified.

12. Repair seals and cracks
Drafty windows and doors can lead you to crank up the heat, but you can easily fill cracks or repair seals yourself with supplies and a little instruction from the staff at the hardware store. Or try making your own draft blocker by sewing a thin piece of fabric the length of your door into a tube shape and filling with kitty litter or sand. You’ll be amazed at how well it blocks under-door drafts.

13. Embrace bundling and ask for savings
When it comes to things like your phone, Internet and cable, bundling options or using family plans to share minutes are good money-saving strategies. Even calling to ask if better deals are available can lead to surprising savings (this is also true with your banking options and fees). Check your services and cancel any that you don’t use, such as voicemail, caller ID, call waiting or add-ons through text. You can even call your credit card company and ask if they can lower your interest rate. Often times they’ll oblige.

14. Couponing: The struggle is real
Coupons are often for sugar-filled processed foods; saving money on produce can be tougher. After becoming a vegan, Howard struggled with couponing. “A lot of vegan- and vegetarian-friendly companies don’t advertise. But I found that if you call and ask, the companies will send you coupons,” she says. And what about those coupons you won’t use? Leave them on store shelves. Chances are someone will benefit from them.

15. Save money with your phone
Read all about money-saving apps here.

A version of this article appeared in our March 2015 issue with the headline, “Living on the cheap”, p.49.

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