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Telecoms at CRTC, gendered products and dirty airplanes: CBC’s Marketplace consumer cheat sheet

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Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Telecom practices vs. CRTC

The CRTC has been hearing about issues consumers have with Canada’s telecom companies all week. It started with testimony from people who signed a contract for one price, only to have it changed months later. The hearing also included stories about how salespeople failed to give mystery shoppers key information about a new cellphone plan.

Gendered products pushback

Mansize Kleenex? Lady-friendly chips? These are just a few of the gendered products that recently received consumer backlash, leading a company to change its marketing plan. One marketing expert says firms that ignore these criticisms risk big losses because discussions about gender aren’t going away.

Products specifically targeting men or women have faced backlash in the last year and companies are starting to listen. (Dmitri Ma/Shutterstock)

Flu shot failure

Did last year’s flu shot fail you? You weren’t alone. Last year’s vaccine was only 17 per cent effective against the dominant flu strain. The good news is researchers have higher hopes this year. The Centers for Disease Control says the vaccine is a better match for the strains expected to dominate the 2018-2019 flu season. And a milder flu season is also being predicted.

Researchers have more confidence in the flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 season after the previous year’s batch wasn’t a good match for the most prevalent strains. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Loophole in fertility system

Patients of a low-cost fertility clinic in Calgary say Effortless IVF failed them. Some say their treatments were delayed, frustrating or didn’t happen at all. The clinic doesn’t have a full-time doctor and patients are concerned about the lack of oversight.

Some of the patients of a low-cost fertility clinic in Calgary are speaking about their frustrating experiences at the clinic. (Submitted by John Saunders)

WestJet’s discount airline Swoop cancelled 24 flights because of delayed approvals. The company is awaiting regulatory approval to operate in the U.S. and can’t fly there until until Oct. 27. 

A salmonella outbreak has hit five provinces. Health officials say 45 people have become sick in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec. Most of the people who were sick reported eating cucumbers, but other sources are still being considered.

Communities across Canada have been hit by rotating Canada Post strikes. The strikes started Monday when walkouts shut down operations in Victoria, Edmonton, Windsor, Ont., and Halifax. The government has brought in a mediator to try and reach an agreement with the postal workers union.

This week in recalls

Thousands of Ford Focus vehicles recalled because of fuel valve problems; These Shimano bike helmets don’t meet safety requirements; The wiring on these CB2 pendant lights could come loose, posing a fire and shock hazard; These dairy-free shreds could contain dairy;This stepper can increase pace without user input; A crack could cause fuel to leak and create a fire hazard with this riding mower; The buttons on the Zeagle sport buoyancy control device inflators could break; This mirror can separate from the wood backing causing a laceration hazard; Pieces of this flower rattle could break off and cause a choking hazard; This craft dough is incorrectly labelled as gluten free; This rust protection aerosol and automotive refinishing products don’t meet labelling standards.

Watch this week: Filthy flights

When you board a flight, do you ever wonder how clean it really is? From seat belts and tray tables, to bathrooms, and blankets, we swab and test three major airlines — Air Canada, WestJet and Porter. And we go beyond the surface to check the air quality too. Watch the episode to find out what is the dirtiest spot on a plane. 

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Real Estate

Couple from Toronto buys dream home in Mushaboom

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MUSHABOOM – A couple who lived and raised a family in downtown Toronto developed a five-year plan in 2015 to purchase their dream home.

In September they moved into the home – located on Malagash Island in Mushaboom on Nova Scotia’s stunning Eastern Shore – that met and exceeded their best dreams for their retirement.

The Camerons, Bruce and Tanya, decided in 2019 they would explore the Maritimes to see what real estate was available to become their potential retirement home. In the spring of 2020, during a global pandemic, the real estate boom hit their city, and they were hearing the same for Nova Scotia. Our province was their first-choice for attaining their desire for an entirely different lifestyle – away from the busyness of the city.

“We had $300,000 to $350,000 as a home value in mind to buy. Our semi-detached located off Danforth in Toronto was priced at $850,000. We wanted to come out ahead, so we would be secure in retirement,” Tanya said.

Their century-old home had prime location near the subway and GO Transit Line for a great 13-minute commute downtown.

“We enjoyed our community,” explains Bruce “… we had great neighbours, young children around and street parties – lots of social activity.”

Bruce says, “Our agent suggested a starting quote of $899,000. We did not do any renovations and only some staging. Fifty couples went through and we received four significant offers. Six days later we sold – with zero conditions – and a price of over a million dollars. We just requested a closing of September 2020 to get the kids off to school – which we got.”

The couple got more than they had anticipated.

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Real Estate

Rabobank Announces Leadership Changes in U.S., Canadian Offices

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NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Rabobank, the leading global food and agribusiness bank, has appointed two of its top executives, Tamira Treffers-Herrera and Robert Sinescu, to become Co-Heads of North American Client Coverage, positioning the Bank for future growth in the region.

Treffers-Herrera has also assumed the role of Vice Chairperson and Head of the Atlanta office, where she additionally oversees Rabobank Mexico, which is led by Eduardo Palacios. Sinescu is the Head of the Chicago office, and also oversees Rabobank Canada, led by Marc Drouin, who was recently appointed as Canada’s General Manager.

Treffers-Herrera and Sinescu report to David Bassett, Head of Wholesale Banking North America, the Bank’s corporate and investment banking business for the region based in New York.

“Both Tamira and Robert have a demonstrated history of strong leadership, operational excellence and passion for our clients,” Bassett said. “Their broad experience and deep sector expertise will be invaluable in delivering dynamic results for clients while accelerating our growth trajectory in North America.”

Each office will have an even greater focus on key Food & Agribusiness sectors and clients: The Chicago office will drive growth in sectors including Dairy, Farm Inputs and Grains & Oilseeds, which are also key areas of focus for the Canada office. The Atlanta office will focus heavily on sectors such as Animal Protein, Beverages, Sugar, and Supply Chains, which are important sectors in Mexico as well.

“Rabobank is fully committed to our clients throughout North America, and we believe our new sector-focused coverage will improve our ability to provide knowledge-based, value-added solutions that benefit our clients,” Bassett said.

Treffers-Herrera was most recently based in London as CEO of Rabobank’s European Region from 2016-2020, where she took the organization through Brexit. Prior to that, she worked in the Atlanta office from 2002-2016. During her tenure in Atlanta, Treffers-Herrera served as Global Sector Head – Consumer Food & Beverages, and prior to that she was a senior banker for a portfolio of large beverage and consumer foods clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky, a Master of Arts from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce and has studied at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and Harvard Business School.

Sinescu has been with Rabobank for over 21 years and was previously General Manager of Rabobank Canada, where he oversaw all operations, business development, commercial strategy and relationships with regulators. In addition, he continues to serve as CEO of Rabo Securities Canada Inc. Prior to Canada, he was a senior banker, Head of Corporate Banking, European Sector Head for Sugar, and a member of the Management Team for Rabobank France. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the Bucharest School of Business, a Master of Business Administration & Management and a Master of Science in Banking and Corporate Finance from Sorbonne University in Paris, and has studied at Brown University.

Drouin has worked with Rabobank’s Canadian team for more than nine years and most recently served as a senior banker, Head of Rabobank Canada’s AgVendor Program and a member of Rabobank Canada’s Management Team. He brings extensive wholesale banking experience within the Dairy, G&O, CPG and Supply Chain sectors. Drouin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University and a Master of Business Administration in International Finance, Marketing and Management from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

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Real Estate

Greybrook Realty Partners & Marlin Spring Brand Jointly Owned Asset Manager – Greyspring Apartments

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TORONTO, Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Greybrook Realty Partners and Marlin Spring are pleased to announce the new branding of their jointly owned investment and asset management firm, Greyspring Apartments. With a portfolio of more than 2,000 units and CAD$375 million in assets under management, Greyspring Apartments is focused on the acquisition and repositioning of multi-family assets throughout Canada.

The new name and branding is an important step in Greyspring’s evolution as an independent operating business. Formed in 2018 by long standing-partners Marlin Spring and Greybrook Realty Partners, Greyspring Apartments was established with the goal of building a leading asset management firm with a robust portfolio of residential rental real estate assets in primary and secondary markets across Canada.

Greyspring’s talented team of real estate, asset management and finance professionals is overseen and guided by the Management Board, whose members include Benjamin Bakst, CEO, Marlin Spring; Elliot Kazarnovksy, CFO, Marlin Spring; Sasha Cucuz, CEO, Greybrook Securities Inc.; Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Chris Salapoutis, President & COO, Greybrook Realty Partners; Ashi Mathur, President, Marlin Spring; and Karl Brady. In addition to his role on the Management Board, Karl Brady leads Greyspring Apartments as its President. 

“We are pleased to announce the official name and branding of a business we formed with our partners at Marlin Spring a few years ago,” said Peter Politis, CEO, Greybrook Realty Partners. “Greyspring has been diligently focused on the execution of strategic value-add programs across its portfolio that are improving the quality of housing for tenants and overall asset values. For Greybrook investors, expanding from our core business in real estate development to the value-add space through Greyspring, has allowed us to provide our clients with investment opportunities that diversify their real estate investment portfolios.”

“Marlin Spring and Greybrook have partnered on many residential real estate projects in recent years,” said Benjamin Bakst, CEO and Cofounder, Marlin Spring. “To a great extent, Greyspring illustrates our approach to partnerships. We believe in, and strive for, responsible growth through deepening our relationships with our trusted partners. With Greyspring, we’ve formalized our focus on providing better and more affordable living experiences for Canadians. This vision aligns with our mission to deliver exceptional real estate value to all our stakeholders with an uncompromising adherence to our core values.”

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