Winter storm brings snow, rain, wind & cold to Eastern, Central Canada

A powerful winter storm that brought heavy rain and snow to much of Eastern and Central Canada has closed schools, flooded streets, knocked out power and is forcing school buses to stay off the roads in Toronto today as temperatures plummet.

Weather warnings remained in place in much of the region, cautioning that Sunday’s nasty storm system could deliver a one-two punch as plunging temperatures cause slush, pooling water and any precipitation to flash freeze.

Schools in much of New Brunswick were closed today, and some offices and universities were delaying their openings following rains that left some streets in areas like Saint John submerged under ice-clogged waters.

Several Toronto school boards, including the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board, decided to cancel bus service out of concerns that frigid temperatures could delay travel and put students at risk as they wait for pickup.

NB Power reported about 3,000 customers were without electricity, while Nova Scotia Power said about 34 outages were affecting just over 1,100 customers.

Environment Canada was forecasting flurries and ice pellets or freezing rain in New Brunswick this morning changing to snow in the afternoon with winds gusting to 40 km/h, and wind chill temperatures as low as minus 50 Celsius.

Wind and rainfall warnings have been posted in central Nova Scotia, while in Prince Edward Island a flash freeze warning has been issued with rain showers expected to change to flurries early in the afternoon.

Newfoundland is dealing with wind and rainfall warnings, with 20 millimetres of precipitation forecast for the south coast, along with 50 km/h winds gusting to 80 and even 100 km/h in some areas.

In Quebec and Ontario the snow has largely stopped falling, but extreme cold warnings remain in place with wind chills expected to drop to almost minus 40 in Toronto.

Montreal and Ottawa are looking at daytime highs of just minus 15 to 17 with icy wind chills as low as minus 40 where exposed skin can suffer frostbite in just minutes.

Sunday’s snow storm caused some flight cancellations at airports across the affected regions, and in Montreal they even cancelled a festival dedicated to snow.

The city said it was suspending the Fete des Neiges due to the snowy, windy and cold weather as well as the dangerous conditions on Quebec’s roads.

A survey by Kanetix.ca shows 25% of drivers never review their policies—missing out on savings

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56% of CDN’s would switch insurance providers for a savings of $150 or more

A majority of Canadians would consider switching insurance providers for a savings of $150 or more according to a Kanetix.ca survey today. With car insurance rates on the rise, this may be the incentive Canadians require to take a closer look at their policies and compare rates for potential savings. The survey also found that while 57 per cent of Canadians review their insurance policy once per year, an astounding 27 per cent never review their policy relying solely on their broker/agent.

“A lot can happen over the course of a year that can translate into significant savings on your existing insurance policies,” said Janine White, VP of marketplaces and strategy at Kanetix.ca.  “For example, if you installed winter tires this season for the first time you could save up to 5 per cent off your auto insurance premium. This example also highlights why it’s so important to update your insurance company regularly because the savings can be realized as soon as you make the changes, instead of waiting until renewal time.”

Other common lifestyle activities that may help Canadians save money on home, automobile or life insurance premiums include changing your daily commute, upgrading or installing a home alarm system or anti-theft device (if your vehicle doesn’t already have one), paying off a mortgage, and even quitting smoking.

“Another way to save money is to bundle several insurance policies with one provider because it may make you eligible for the multi-line discount.  Plus, you’ll be able to manage all your policies more easily with one point of contact,” said White.  “And, of course, shopping around is likely the best way to save on your coverage. At minimum, you should be putting your current premiums to the test each year. It’s an easy way to potentially save hundreds of dollars in a matter of minutes.”

The survey also reveals:

  • Only 13% of Canadians would be motivated to shop for a new policy driven by lifestyle changes (new car, moving or home renovations)
  • The youngest respondents were more likely to switch or shop online for a savings of $50$99 (59 per cent for 18-24, compared to 18 per cent for 25+)
  • 1 in 2 Canadians said they would be comfortable purchasing their insurance online (52 per cent)
  • Men (57 per cent) would feel much more comfortable transacting online vs women (46 per cent)
  • Over half of all respondents said they review all or parts of their insurance policy coverage once a year (57 per cent)

The Kanetix.ca survey, was conducted by Forum Research between December 5 and December 7, 2018, and polled 812 respondents across Canada. The sample’s age ranged from 18 to 72+ years old. The survey results are considered accurate to within +/- 4%.

About Kanetix.ca

Kanetix.ca publishes rates from 50+ insurance providers, more than any other comparison platform in Canada so that users can find the best insurance rates for them. Use our site to find the best rates on Auto, Home, Tenant, Travel and Commercial Insurance.

SOURCE kanetix.ca

Automobile Insurance Premiums, Highest in Canada

BY My Cowichan Valley Now

The first Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce luncheon of 2019 provided a bleak look into the future of auto insurance premiums in our province.

The Vice President of the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Pacific Division, Aaron Sutherland made a presentation to those in attendance and highlighted that because ICBC has a monopoly, drivers aren’t going to get any breaks on their premiums any time soon.

“Government is bringing in many important solutions, things like a minor injury cap, things that are going to start driving down the cost curve at ICBC, but unfortunately for drivers,  it isn’t going to do anything for their pocketbook,” said Sutherland. “The price they (drivers) are paying is expected to keep going up, we’ve seen this again with the latest ICBC rate increase. It’s clear today, we need to start looking outside of ICBC for these solutions.”

We live in the most expensive province in the country with regard to auto insurance premiums and those costs are going to keep trending in the wrong direction.

Sutherland said creating a competitive marketplace is key to eventually start seeing some savings.

“We need to look at best practices from across the country and across North America. One of those best practices is that perhaps we need to start looking outside of ICBC for solutions, bringing a competitive marketplace to BC, giving drivers the choice they deserve and the opportunity to shop around for their insurance.”

ICBC doesn’t share data with other insurance companies in what Sutherland calls ‘a data-driven industry.’

The challenge is to create a competitive market, so ICBC has to share its data.

 

Study finds more than half of food produced in Canada wasted

By Bob Weber

THE CANADIAN PRESS

More than half the food produced in Canada is wasted and the average kitchen tosses out hundreds of dollars worth of edibles every year, says a study researchers are calling the first of its kind.

“It’s a lot of food,” said Lori Nikkel of Second Harvest, the Toronto-based group working to reduce food waste that commissioned the study.

“We waste more food than we consume.”

The study released Thursday is the world’s first to measure food waste using data from industry and other sources instead of estimates, said Martin Gooch of Value Chain Management International, which conducted the study.

Value Chain works with agriculture, aquaculture, marine and food industries to make them more profitable.

“What we did was actually go to industry and (said), ‘Give us primary data,”’ Gooch said.  “This is the first time anywhere in the world that anyone’s gone out and got primary data that connects production with consumers.”

Results were checked with industry experts.

“At every point in the process, we ground-truthed it,” said Gooch.  “We’re confident our results are conservative.”

Previous work has suggested that Canadians waste almost 400 kilograms of food per person, one of the world’s highest totals. The new work adds considerable detail to that figure.

Apples rot in the grass for lack of harvest workers. Surplus milk is flushed. Thousands of hectares of produce are plowed after cancelled orders.

The report, funded largely by the Walmart Foundation, concludes 58 per cent of Canadian food production is wasted.

That includes unavoidable waste such as animal bones. But a solid one-third of the waste  more than 11 million tonnes could be recovered.

The report says the value of usable groceries that wind up in landfills or other disposal sites is almost $50 billion. That’s more than half the amount Canadians spend on food every year and is enough to feed every Canadian for five months.

As well, it says avoidable food waste in Canada produces more than 22 million tonnes of climate-changing carbon dioxide emissions.

The report says processing and manufacturing are the largest sources of avoidable waste, accounting for 43 per cent of it. Produce that doesn’t meet exacting grading standards, inaccurate market forecasts and inefficient processes are all part of the problem.

So are date codes which remove perfectly healthy food from the market.

“Best-before doesn’t mean awful-after,” said Nikkel.

Canadian kitchens are also conspicuous wastrels, responsible for 21 per cent of avoidable waste. That’s about $1,700 per household in a country in which four million people struggle for regular meals.

Hospitals, restaurants and institutions contribute 13 per cent of avoidable food waste. Retail outlets are close behind at 12 per cent.

Farmers waste only six per cent of the usable food they produce. Distributors waste even less at five per cent.

The report details many ways waste could be cut. Better co-ordination between farmer and processor, changes to crop insurance, clearer date codes, improved safety assessments for donated food and liability reform could all help keep nutrition out of the garbage and on somebody’s plate.

Even avoiding bulk buys that result in excess being tossed away would help, said Nikkel.

Canadians should change their attitude toward food, she added.

“We’ve cheapened it so much that it doesn’t have value any more. It would horrify our grandparents.

Homeowners falling behind growing threat of climate-related catastrophe

By 

Canadians aren’t keeping up with the need to protect their homes against catastrophic events made more common by climate change, says a coast-to-coast study from the University of Waterloo.

“Homeowners can do a lot themselves to reduce risk of flooding,” said Natalia Moudrak, study co-author and researcher at the university’s climate adaptation centre.

Climatologists have long warned that extreme weather, including floods, will become more common as temperatures warm.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada reports that insurance payouts from extreme weather have more than doubled every five to 10 years since the 1980s.

The Waterloo study reports that property and casualty payouts averaged about $405 million a year from 1983 to 2008. Since then, payouts have more than quadrupled to $1.8 billion, mostly from flooding.

That’s not inflated by rising real estate values.

“All of this data is corrected for inflation and it’s corrected for wealth creation,” said co-author David Feltmate Thursday. “This is an actual increase in the amount of money being paid out.”

At the same time, the study found a large number of Canadians are vulnerable to flooding. It concluded about 1.7 million households representing about 20 per cent of Canada’s population are at risk.

Repairs can be expensive. The average cost to homeowners for flood damage in the Greater Toronto Area is estimated at $43,000.

And for some, insurance is out of reach.

“Increasingly,” said Feltmate, “people cannot get insurance for their homes because they have experienced one or more floods or they live in an area that’s designated high-risk and the premiums that the insurers would have to charge are off the charts.”

At the same time, householders aren’t doing everything they can to protect themselves and their homes — even when subsidies are available for measures such as sump pumps.

“The uptake for these subsidies is quite low,” said Moudrak. “On average across Canada, the uptake on these subsidies is below 10 per cent, even in the really bad flood-prone areas.”

That’s partly because many of the programs are confusing and difficult to apply for, said Feltmate, although he added municipalities are fixing those problems.

The report points out easy and inexpensive ways to make homes more flood-proof.

Installing a sump pump with backup power is one of the best moves, it says. Backwater valves can prevent nasty backflows from overloaded sewer systems from surging into basements.

The report recommends walking around a house during a rain to see how and where water is draining, then regrading areas where moisture pools near foundations. And leaves should be prevented from plugging street drains.

“Homeowners need to take a more active role in protecting themselves,” Moudrak said.

The report also looks at municipalities. Feltmate said communities are taking steps to adapt to new weather coming with a shifting climate, but the rate of change is outpacing efforts.

“We have an adaptation deficit growing in Canada right now,” he said.

Money laid out ahead of time pays off, said Feltmate. The study suggests every dollar spent on preparing for a flood or other weather catastrophe saves between $3 and $12 in cleanup costs.

“It’s a lot cheaper not to have the problem,” he said.

 

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