Peer mentors stress mental, physical health

I covered Sheridan’s peer mentor program for the Sun and was surprised at the effort being put into raising awareness about mental and physical health issues. Many people, especially busy college students, neglect their physical health and mental health does not even show up on their radar screen. The peer mentors are offering all kinds of assistance to students who want to learn how to approach eating, sleeping, drinking and sex in a safe and healthy way.

Whether we realize it or not, our health is more important than perhaps anything else in our lives, and it is encouraging to see peer mentors emphasizing it on campus. Knowledge is power and the more knowledge you acquire the better chance you have of making informed lifestyle decisions.

According to some studies one in five people suffer from a mental health issue. Unfortunately, most people who suspect they have a problem in that regard are too embarrassed to admit it or talk about it and thus don’t seek the help they need. Sheridan’s peer mentors are trying to combat taboos surrounding mental health with a new campaign called “stick it to stigma.” It’s a step in the right direction if you ask me.

Brandon Martinez

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Canadians more indebted, but able to pay it off: study

A study released by Equifax Canada, a credit monitoring firm, shows that Canadians’ consumer debt “rose 3.7 per cent in the third quarter to $507.1 billion from $489 billion a year earlier.” However, the overall delinquency rate (bills more than 90 days past due) dropped to a record low of 1.13 per cent, down from 1.22 per cent from last year. Consumer debt has risen to $1.36 billion, up from $1.3 billion last year. An expert said the new statistics show that Canadians have more control over their debt this year. The study revealed that people from Quebec had the lowest delinquency rates, while people from Eastern provinces had the highest. Seniors are accumulating debt at the highest rate, but have the lowest total amount of debt of any age group, according to the study.


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Canada-EU Free Trade Agreement

On Friday Oct. 18 Canadian PM Harper announced a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) at a press conference in Brussels. It is called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which promises to “eliminate thousands of tariffs, encourage foreign investment and promote movement of labour.” 98 percent of Canadian and EU tariffs are expected to be removed when the new agreement comes full circle. The deal won’t take affect until all 28 EU member states as well as all of Canada’s provincial governments approve the terms of the agreement. EU President Manuel Barroso said the deal would be fully implemented by 2015.

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Canada-US price gap

BMO Capital Markets released a report which suggests that although the price gap between Canadian and US products has narrowed, Canadians are still paying 10 percent more. That is a 4 percent drop from the price gap in May of 2012. Doug Porter, a BMO chief economist, says the gap is still above where it should be, and as a result Canadians are flocking across the border to get better deals. Porter’s random survey found that baby items cost 34 percent more in Canada, running shoes are 19 percent higher, and hardware prices are 14 percent above American ones. The report also found that Ottawa’s policy of cutting import tariffs on some items had little effect on the price gap. There is an $18 billion deficit in tourism in Canada, partly due to Canadians crossing the border to shop.

Full story here

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Sick Days Drain Canadian Economy

In 2011 Canadian workers took off an average of 9.3 sick days, which cost the Canadian economy $16.6 billion, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada. Experts say that this trend is expected to get worse as the Canadian workforce ages because older people are more susceptible to illness and other physical ailments. The report revealed some other interesting trends in absenteeism: Saskatchewan had the highest rate of abscences, followed by New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta; women took more days off than men; public sector workers took more time off than private sector workers; and union workers were absent more than non-unionized workers. The research predictably suggests that high-stress jobs tend to have more absenteeism. Creating a better work environment will help reduce the amount of absences, experts say.

Read the full story at CBC:

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World Economic Forum Rankings

On September 4, 2013, Tavia Grant of The Globe and Mail detailed the World Economic Forum’s annual list of the most competitive nations in the world economy. This year Canada ranked fourteen on the list, the same place as last year. Switzerland, Singapore, Finland, Germany and the United States comprised the top five of the list. Canada is apparently doing well in education as well as in financial and labour markets, but not so well in the areas of innovation and business sophistication. According to the WEF, innovation and strong institutions are what it takes to achieve economic success in these trying times for the world economy. The economic experts say that Canada could boost its competitiveness by focusing on innovation, which would include things such as research and development and the use of advanced technology by the government.

The full article can be read here:

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