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Archive for February, 2019

24 February
Comments Off on 4 Saskatoon employers pledge to pay employees a living wage

4 Saskatoon employers pledge to pay employees a living wage

Four Saskatoon employers are pledging to pay their staff a living wage, becoming the first certified living wage employers in Saskatchewan.

Shift Development, the Better Good, United Way and Friedt Finishing have all joined the movement.

The companies are promising to pay their employees at least $16.80/hour, $5.90/hour more than the current minimum wage in the province.

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    READ MORE: Saskatchewan’s minimum wage going up 22 cents in October

    Officials said there are benefits to businesses willing to embrace this change.

    “We’ve seen a three-fold increase in our talent pool applications, so we’re hiring better people for the jobs that we have, our employee retention is longer,“ Cori Ramsay, communications officer at Integris Credit Union, said.

    “We’re not paying for huge amounts of turnover, hiring a new employee is a huge cost and if you can combat that by paying a living wage, that is something that will benefit you in the long-run as an employer.”

    READ MORE: Advocacy groups calling for an anti-poverty act to address poverty in Sask.

    Officials say by offering a living wage, company morale is better when employees aren’t financially stressed or looking for other jobs that will pay the bills.

    The Living Wage YXE Campaign said the calculations are based on the wage a family of four, with two full-time workers, needs to make to meet their basic needs in Saskatoon.

24 February
Comments Off on Lloydminster, North Battleford getting new CT scanners

Lloydminster, North Battleford getting new CT scanners

New CT scanners are in the works for both Lloydminster and North Battleford.

The Saskatchewan government announced on Wednesday it is providing $1.2 million, half the estimate cost, for the purchase of two new computed tomography (CT) scanners.

READ MORE: Access to MRIs improving in province: Saskatchewan government

The remaining funds will be matched by community foundations.

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    Saskatchewan Health Minister Jim Reiter said the investment will help improve access while reducing wait times.

    “Investments like this improve patient access to specialized medical imaging services at hospitals across Saskatchewan,” Reiter said in a statement.

    “We are putting patients first by providing enhanced care and safer equipment while helping reduce wait times.”

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan law allowing people to privately pay for MRIs kicks in

    Prairie North Health Region, which administers both Lloydminster Hospital and Battlefords Union Hospital, currently handles over 10,000 CT scans yearly.

    David Fan, the region’s CEO, said the upgrade is vital to both patients and health care providers.

    “CT services are an essential element of our health region’s medical imaging program,” Fan said.

    “Sustaining and upgrading these services with the purchase and installation of new, up-to-date equipment and technology is vital for our patients and our health care providers.”

    READ MORE: Saskatchewan uses cutting edge robotics to improve health care in remote regions

    Most of the local funds for the CT scanner in North Battleford were raised earlier this year during a radiothon for the Battlefords Union Hospital Foundation.

    Officials with the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation said plans are underway to raise the $600,000 needed for its share of the purchase of the CT scanner.

24 February
Comments Off on Taber, Alta. is one of Canada’s friendliest towns, according to a travel poll

Taber, Alta. is one of Canada’s friendliest towns, according to a travel poll

Taber, Alta. may be best known for its corn but now the town is known for its friendliness too. It’s the only centre in Alberta to crack Expedia’s Top 25 list of the Friendliest Communities (and towns) in Canada.

The news came as a shock to some locals.

“I can’t tell you why Taber ranked high on the list,” Sean Prummel said. “But, it reflects great on Taber.”

The list is based on Expedia user reviews for friendly hotel staff with welcoming attitudes.

Here are Expedia’s rankings:

    Carp, Ont.North Hatley, Que.Bayfield, Ont.Miscouche, PEIMalahat, B.C.Taber, Alta.Annapolis Royal, N.S.Quispamsis, N.B.Chemainus, B.C.Bancroft, Ont.

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Other Taber residents said it makes sense the Corn Capital of Canada ranked sixth on the list.

“It’s just the way we are,” Kim Thompson said. “It’s just the way Taber is.”

Taber gets high marks for Corn Fest, but Deputy Mayor Laura Ross-Giroux hopes the town will soon be recognized for more.

She hopes things like the pheasant festival, the new skate park and a new performing arts centre council is working towards building will become attractions.

“I think that the best of all things that could come from this list is that if we can encourage more people to move to our community, also just to come and visit us and see that we are a pretty good place,” Ross-Giroux said.

Canada is famous for being a friendly nation and the people of Taber are proud to help contribute to that reputation.

“We’ve known it all along,” the deputy mayor said. “This just kind of validates what we’ve already known.”

24 February
Comments Off on Electrical service in some Calgary homes may not be covered by insurance

Electrical service in some Calgary homes may not be covered by insurance

Hundreds of homeowners in Calgary may face unexpected bills to upgrade their old electrical lines.

Diane Staples and her husband live in a house built in 1971 with 60-amp electrical service.

They want to downsize and put their home up for sale, but a home inspector for a potential buyer said 60-amp wiring was outdated and no longer covered by home insurance.

“They had problems finding an insurance company that would cover it with the 60-amp service,” Staples said.

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“They phoned their broker and he said, ‘no way’ and they pretty much backed out. They may have been getting advice that wasn’t completely accurate.”

READ MORE: Alberta home insurance premiums could rise following Fort McMurray fire, says analyst

In the 1970s, building codes for new homes were updated to 100-amp service as appliances got bigger and people used more electricity. But electrical contractors say 60-amp service is still allowed.

“At the time this house was built, 60 amps was totally acceptable and it’s not that it’s become unsafe all of a sudden,” said Jesse Petersen, with Petersen’s Electrical Services.

“If you’re not overloading your 60-amp service, as long as all the equipment is still working properly, there’s nothing unsafe about it.”

Staples even had a City of Calgary inspector look at the house and he agreed.

A statement from the planning and building department says: “This is very common, however, we don’t see it as a safety issue … unless a house has expanded its electrical load. In this case a larger load may be required.”

However, not all insurance companies agree.

READ MORE: Check your insurance policy before renting out your home, experts say

Staples could only find four insurers that would cover 60-amp service, including her own. They charged a higher premium and set conditions based on square footage, the number of occupants and appliances, type of wiring, electrical load and the age of the home.

“I’m just a little bit irritated by insurance companies making their own rules.”

Staples has taken her house off the market and over the winter will spend between $3,000 to $5,000 to upgrade her electrical to 100-amp before trying to sell it again.

24 February
Comments Off on Free app helps families improve kids’ literacy with fun activity ideas

Free app helps families improve kids’ literacy with fun activity ideas

The Centre for Family Literacy has added even more activities to its free app Flit (families learning and interacting together) and it’s now available for both Apple and Android devices.

But using Flit doesn’t mean children are glued to tablets and smartphones. In fact, it means exactly the opposite. The app offers ideas for hands-on activities families can do together that incorporate literacy and numeracy.

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    “What the app actually does is talk about the day-to day things that you do with your children where you can, just by changing it up a bit, make it into something that’s teaching them about numbers or about words,” resource director Donna Lemieux said.

    Examples include counting socks when doing laundry, measuring ingredients while helping with a recipe, taking a walk and reading traffic signs or simply using food colouring to write words in the snow.

    “Fill a squeeze bottle full of coloured water and then go outside and you and your child can write in the snow,” Lemieux explained. “They could try to write their name.”

    Flit has a total of 116 activity suggestions that fall under eight categories: books, rhymes, games, crafts, writing, numbers, cooking and reading.

    READ MORE: Teaching children about financial literacy before the holidays 

    There’s also a section that explains how each activity strengthens literacy.

    “Maybe you’re going out for a walk with your child and maybe you’re reading the road signs to them and saying: ‘What does that sign say? That says stop. What does that mean?’ So you’re demonstrating to them that a lot of things that are in their daily lives – the words have meaning and they have a purpose,” Lemieux said.

    The app was developed in Edmonton with funding from TELUS Edmonton Community Board.

    It also marks a Canadian first.

    “A lot of the apps are more how you engage with the actual equipment – the tablet or the phone,” Lemieux said.

    “Ours is different in that it’s not that you hand the tablet or the phone to your child to interact; we want the parent and the child to be interacting. That’s the key and that’s what’s unique about ours.”

    Click here to download the free Android version of Flit. Click here to download Flit in iOS.

    Follow @Emily_Mertz