Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Canadians show their love for small business: RBC survey

Majority are willing to pay more to support
small business in their community

TORONTO, July 31, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - An overwhelming majority of Canadians (94 per cent) believe that small businesses play a critical role in the growth of the economy and almost nine-in-10 (88 per cent) view them as vital job creators, according to an RBC/Ipsos Reid survey.

"The success and vitality of Canadian small businesses have played an important part in Canada faring well through these difficult economic times," said Mike Michell, national director, Small Business, RBC. "It's great to see that most Canadians view small businesses as the lifeblood of their communities and are proud to give them their support."

In fact, 61 per cent of Canadians say they would pay more for a product or service in order to support a small business in their community and eight-in-10 (83 per cent) say they support small businesses in their community by doing business with them or promoting them. For those who show their loyalty, 72 per cent say the reason is simply that they like to support owners who live and do work in their community.

"This type of consumer insight can help small businesses find the success they're seeking," added Michell. "For example, small businesses should capitalize on local support by becoming more active in their community, highlighting their local roots and asking their best customers to promote them."

The RBC survey also found that, when it comes to deciding which small businesses Canadians would support in their community, three-in-four (73 per cent) said word of mouth referrals was a factor, 68 per cent said it was the location of the business, while visibility in the community was the determining factor for half (51 per cent).

About RBC/Ipsos Reid survey

These are the findings of an RBC/Ipsos Reid survey conducted from May 10 to 15, 2012. The survey was conducted online via Ipsos Reid's national I-Say Consumer Panel to 1,010 Canadians. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size and a 100 per cent response rate would have an estimated margin of error of ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had the entire population of adults in Canada been polled.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada (RY on TSX and NYSE) and its subsidiaries operate under the master brand name RBC. We are Canada's largest bank as measured by assets and market capitalization, and among the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management services, insurance, corporate and investment banking and investor services on a global basis. We employ approximately 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 15 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 51 other countries. For more information, please visit rbc.com.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Reminder: Whooping cough outbreak in Southwestern Ontario - Get fully immunized

FERGUS, Ontario July 26, 2012 - Health and Safety Watch - Government of Ontario reports that Dr. Arlene King, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, is reminding Ontarians to get immunized against pertussis, also known as whooping cough.

There have been recent outbreaks of pertussis in Southwestern Ontario with approximately 240 cases reported since November 2011.

Pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial disease that spreads from an infected person to others through coughing or sneezing. Symptoms are initially mild, and then develop into severe coughing fits. This cough can last for weeks and makes it hard for a child to eat, drink or even breathe. Pertussis can also cause prolonged cough illness in adolescents and adults.

Violent coughing can cause a person to vomit or stop breathing for a short period of time. Infants are at a greater risk of serious complications which include pneumonia, brain damage and seizures.

Recommended Actions:

...Immunization is the best defence against pertussis. Ontarians are advised to talk to their health care provider or call their local public health unit for more information about getting immunized.

...Pertussis vaccine is available as part of Ontario's publicly funded immunization program.

...Children should receive their full series of pertussis vaccine and a booster shot in their teen years to provide protection into adulthood.

...Adults, especially those who are in regular contact with children (such as day care workers, parents, and babysitters), are also encouraged to get immunized. It provides protection not only to the adult, but will also help to prevent the spread the infection to children and infants.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Prostate Cancer Canada Unveils Research Strategy

Movember funds provide opportunity to identify key research priorities in Canada

TORONTO, July 24, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) is pleased to announce the launch of its Research Strategy which outlines where to best allocate PCC research funds and funds raised by Movember for prostate cancer research. The strategy has identified three areas as priorities:

...Innovative Research
...Team Science
...Human Capacity Building

These areas will be addressed in the coming months through the launch of a new suite of research programs. Prostate Cancer Canada recognizes the Movember Foundation as the key funder of programs funded through this strategy and thanks all Canadians for supporting the cause during the month of November.

Through these three priorities, PCC is continuing in its commitment to fund only the most innovative prostate cancer research in order to develop new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat prostate cancer and better manage the issues experienced by men and their families as they go through their prostate cancer journey. There will also be a greater emphasis on collaboration through team science, building on the outstanding reputation of Canadian prostate cancer researchers in this area. Finally there will be a focus on ensuring we are able to attract the best people to prostate cancer research in Canada that will ultimately result in an increase in our ability as a country to generate new knowledge that will have both a local and global impact on the disease.

"Thanks to the success and generosity of Movember, we are able to prioritize and establish research programs that will advance the cause of prostate cancer," said Steve Jones, Prostate Cancer Canada's President and CEO. "We are now in a position to make a significant impact on the cause, treatment and cure of the disease while providing increased support for survivors and those living with prostate cancer."

PCC is focused on making meaningful and measurable investments in prostate cancer research that will have the greatest impact on the disease, develop innovative programs that build and sustain the research community and educate the next generation of prostate cancer research leaders.

"The implementation of this strategy will present opportunities for the advancement of prostate cancer that were never before possible," said Pete Bombaci, National Director, Movember Canada. "It's the dedication and passion of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas that helps to make this possible and it is continually inspiring others."

PCC will announce new research initiatives over the coming months as programs are implemented under this strategy. As well, PCC will also launch Movember-funded survivorship programs that will support those living with prostate cancer. For more information on the research strategy or prostate cancer, please visit prostatecancer.ca.

About Prostate Cancer Canada

Prostate Cancer Canada raises funds for the development of programs related to awareness and public education, advocacy, support of those affected, and research into the prevention, detection, treatment and cure of prostate cancer. For more information visit prostate cancer.ca or check their Twitter account at @ProstateCancerC or Facebook at Prostate Cancer Canada.

About Movember

Movember aims to forever change the face of men's health through the power of the moustache, by raising awareness and funds that will reduce the number of preventable male deaths by cancer. Since its inception as a charity event in 2004, over 2 million participants have raised almost $300 M for its causes, with official Movember campaigns taking place in ten countries. For more information please visit movember.com or @MovemberCA.

Monday, July 23, 2012

CIBC Poll: More than half of retired Canadians carrying debt

While retired Canadians carry less debt than the rest of the country they are less likely to make extra payments, which can lead to higher interest costs over time

TORONTO, July 23, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - A new CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) poll conducted by Harris/Decima reveals that nearly 60 percent of retired Canadians hold some form of debt. Although retired Canadians hold less debt than those still working, they are also less likely to be taking steps to accelerate their debt repayment. This suggests that retired Canadians may carry debt for longer than they anticipated in retirement, incurring higher interest costs and affecting cash flow.

Key Poll Findings:

...59 per cent of retired Canadians currently hold some form of debt compared to 76 per cent of all non-retired Canadians

...However, only 27 per cent of retired Canadians said they have made an extra lump sum payment towards their debt in the past 12 months, lower than the national average of 42 per cent of all non-retired Canadians

...Retired Canadians on average carry less debt than non-retired Canadians. On average, retired Canadians carry 1.65 debt products with a balance (including mortgages, lines of credit, loans and credit cards) compared to 2.64 products with a balance among non-retired Canadians

"While retired Canadians carry less debt than the national average, their debt could be stagnant and may end up costing them more in interest costs over a longer period of time," said Christina Kramer, Executive Vice President, Retail Distribution and Channel Strategy, CIBC. "You really have to think about the debt you are retiring with because the regular repayments you make will directly affect the discretionary income you have."

More difficult to pay down debt once you retire

Making the transition to retirement may mean adapting to living on a fixed income. In past CIBC research from the beginning of 2012, retired Canadians identified managing day-to-day expenses as their number one financial priority for this year.

Debt carried into retirement can affect retirement plans and cash flow, as the monthly payments must come from pension earnings or from retirement savings - both of which were intended to serve as retirement income.

"These poll results clearly illustrate the importance of having a good debt repayment strategy in all phases of life, particularly as you approach retirement" added Ms. Kramer. "While it's a good sign to see that Canadians have made some progress on debt reduction entering retirement, it's also clear that once you retire with debt, it can be harder to pay off your outstanding balances."

Additional Advice for Retired Canadians on Managing and Eliminating Debt:

To increase cash-flow and eliminate debt, Ms. Kramer offered the following debt management tips:

...Work with an advisor to structure your debt to minimize your overall interest costs by utilizing debt products that offer a lower interest rate and having a strategy to pay these balances down in a specific time frame

...While interest rates remain near historic lows, don't ignore the long term benefits of making small adjustments to your payment today. Setting your debt payment even slightly higher than your required payment can reduce your overall interest costs and help you become debt free faster

...Use free budgeting tools to help you stay on budget - CIBC CreditSmart available to CIBC credit card holders allows you to set customized budgets and receive spend alerts if you exceed your planned budget for the month, helping you stay on top of your everyday budgeting and saving

"There is a clear benefit to sitting down with an advisor and working through your debt management plan to help you achieve a sustainable and enjoyable retirement," added Ms. Kramer.

To learn more tips and try various debt repayment tools and calculators, visit the CIBC Advice Centre.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Preparation is key for a rewarding snowbird travel season

TORONTO, July 17, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Spending the winter in the sunny south sure beats contending with the ice and snow of our Canadian winters. If you are truly going to enjoy the fruits of the snowbird lifestyle experience, preparation is key. The most important consideration is your health and that of your loved ones.

Some people regard travel medical insurance as an added expense or luxury, but the Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) and its medical travel insurance provider Medipac International warn that even small, unexpected medical issues can lead to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

"Today, travelling without supplemental health insurance is akin to gambling with your life savings," said CSA president Bob Slack. "Provincial government health-insurance plans do not cover full medical expenses outside of Canada and 85-95% of any medical bills will usually be your responsibility."

Many people feel that they are adequately covered through their credit card or an employer benefit plan but, often, these have restrictive limits and conditions and should not be depended upon without a careful reading of the actual insurance policy.

The Canadian Snowbird Association urges all travelling Canadians to obtain travel medical insurance before leaving Canada. For the 20th consecutive year, the Canadian Snowbird Association has endorsed the travel medical insurance packages of Medipac International.

In order to assist their clients with budgeting and travel plans, Medipac offers an Early Bird discount and an opportunity to discuss any health issues for those wishing to take advantage of lower premium rates by purchasing in the summer.

Medipac also offers an easy payment schedule for their travel medical insurance and it is interest-free.

This year, everyone who purchases Medipac's Early Bird Travel Insurance® Program by August 13th will save 5%. No qualifiers and no exceptions…just take 5% off of the bottom line.

There's an additional claims-free discount of up to 10% for returning clients, and even clients who are new to Medipac can receive up to a 5% discount if they have been claims free for at least three years with their prior insurance company.

And "the icing on the cake" is Medipac's Loyalty Rewards Program. Medipac allows an additional discount on their premium rates of up to 7% for returning clients who enrol in their program year after year.

Snowbirds can enrol online, now, at www.medipac.com.

You can also call the Medipac office at 416-633-4722, that's 416-MEDIPAC, or toll-free at 1-888-MEDIPAC.

The Medipac Walk-in Centre at 180 Lesmill Road in Toronto is open from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.

Please remember that the Early Bird Travel Insurance® Program is only available until August 13th, so make your plans to enrol today.

The Canadian Snowbird Association is a 70,000-member, non-profit, non-partisan organization representing Canadian travellers from across the country. The CSA works in partnership with government and business to educate and advocate on behalf of all travelling Canadians, helping to ensure access to safe, healthy travel with no restrictions on freedom of movement.

Friday, July 13, 2012

University of Guelph Professor 'RARE' Play a Hit

GUELPH, Ontario July 12, 2012 - University of Guelph News Release - A new play by Judith Thompson, a University of Guelph professor and renowned Canadian playwright, is the biggest hit at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. RARE, which closes Saturday, was the first production invited to join the “Best of Fringe” festival to run Aug. 2 to 4.

This docudrama about Down syndrome features nine cast members aged 22 to 37, all with the disorder. They vary from experienced to novice actors. Reviewers have said the actors draw the audience into their lives and into a challenging discussion about the disorder. Up to 97 per cent of women with positive prenatal tests for Down syndrome terminate their pregnancies, according to statistics.

Written and directed by Thompson, the play has received rave reviews and was featured in a Globe and Mail article this month.

Several students and graduates in U of G theatre studies worked on the production.

The play’s remaining performances are Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2:15 p.m. at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre.

A respected playwright, director, screenwriter, actor and producer, Thompson writes complex and sometimes disturbing plays that give voice to human failings and accomplishments.

A faculty member in U of G’s School of English and Theatre Studies since 1992, Thompson won the 2009 Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. In 2008, she was the first Canadian to win the international Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She has been nominated twice for a Genie Award and for the Dora Mavor Moore Awards, was a finalist for the inaugural Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and won the Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award.

In 2011, Thompson, a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Drama, was featured in a CBC Radio series called “Winter Tales” for the 75th anniversary of the Governor General’s Awards and the CBC.

She was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for outstanding contributions in arts and writing in 2005.

She was also the subject of a book, The Masks of Judith Thompson, by U of G theatre studies professor Ric Knowles. Published by Playwrights Canada Press, the book contains articles and interviews offering insight into Thompson’s plays and her life as a playwright and professor.