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‘They kill jobs’: Meet Canadians who refuse to use self-checkout machines

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Tom Eburne and his wife, Peggy, are self-checkout virgins. They refuse to use the machines, determined to keep cashiers employed.

“We will resist as long as we can,” said Tom Eburne, who lives in Chilliwack, B.C. “I think any job loss is a step backwards.”

A new Dalhousie University grocery shopping study found that out of 1,053 Canadians surveyed in October, slightly more than one-quarter said they never use self-checkout at the grocery store — not even for a small purchase.

A new Dalhousie University grocery shopping study found that 26.7 per cent of respondents said they never use self-checkout at the grocery store. (CBC)

Last week, CBC News reported on the survey’s findings that more than half of respondents only use the machines occasionally. The poll’s margin of error is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The story unleashed a flood of comments. Although the survey didn’t investigate shoppers’ motivations, many self-checkout abstainers informed CBC News that their main mission is to keep cashiers employed.

However, in the age of automation, these people face an uphill battle.

Dan Morris, of Brockville, Ont., says he always avoids self-checkout at stores. (Submitted by Dan Morris)

Dan Morris in Brockville, Ont., says he always opts for a cashier, and is wary about the growth of self-checkout in stores. 

“They’re trying to basically herd everyone in, get everyone used to the self-checkouts to continuously cut down on staff,” he said.

“Machines don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay into the pension plan.”

The self-checkout resistance has even sparked petitions and memes on Facebook. A widely shared Canadian one tells shoppers to “never use a self checkout” because “they kill jobs.”

Can’t stop automation

But as technology advances, it may get harder to opt for the cashier line. 

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Future of Jobs report, cashier jobs, along with occupations such as bank teller and payroll clerk, are “expected to become increasingly redundant” over the next four years.

The reason: these “routine-based” jobs are more susceptible to being replaced by advancing technologies.

Retailers are also apt to buy in because technologies that automate jobs cut labour costs.

“To kind of cling to an old model just because it involves workers is not something that companies and others are set up to do,” said Sean Mullin, executive director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Ryerson University in Toronto. 

Over the past year and a half, grocer Metro and retail giant Loblaw announced they would increase their self-checkouts in select stores to help offset minimum wage increases in some provinces. 

Along with rising labour costs, physical retailers also face stiff competition from online shopping sites. The brick-and-mortar landscape is already riddled with casualties such as the now defunct Sears Canada and Toys “R” Us in the U.S. 

A cashier-less future?

Many major retailers offer a mix of cashiers and self-checkout machines, but that could shift as some experiment with a cashier-less format.

Last month, Walmart opened its first Sam’s Club Now in Texas, a cashier-less store where shoppers can only buy items using an app that scans purchases on their mobile phone.

The store still has employees, called “member hosts,” who offer in-store assistance.

Walmart recently opened a new cashier-less store in Texas where shoppers scan and pay for their purchases via their smartphone. (Walmart)

Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its cashier-less concept — Amazon Go. In this physical store, customers take what they want and walk out, thanks to technology that detects when products are removed from store shelves. Customers are billed via their Amazon accounts.

Amazon has opened only seven locations in the U.S. so far, but if the retailer widely expands its concept, other companies will likely have to offer something similar to compete.

“It’ll be hard for companies to not adopt this type of technology,” said Mullin.

Other jobs will appear

But it’s not supposed to be all doom and gloom. Historically, when technological innovations make certain jobs obsolete, they often generate new types of positions. 

The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2022, 75 million jobs worldwide may be lost due to automation. However, it suggests that they could be more than offset by the emergence of 133 million new jobs.

But the question remains what type of jobs will emerge and if workers in less-skilled occupations can make the transition.

“There’s people that are maybe 60-plus years old. They don’t have the skills or the time to really retrain themselves,” said Morris.

At Amazon Go customers can take what they want without checking out thanks to technology that detects when products are removed from store shelves. (Amazon)

Amazon Go currently needs to fill more than 300 positions — but many of them involve high-tech skills such as software development.

To adapt to the effects of automation, the World Economic Forum says businesses and governments will need to adopt “proactive, strategic and targeted efforts” to help redeploy workers.

“The challenge will be the transition,” said Mullin.

Back in Chilliwack, the Eburnes acknowledge resistance may be futile in their campaign to abstain from self-checkout to protect cashier jobs.

Nevertheless, they say they’ll keep up their efforts — on principle.

“Maybe the little bit we do makes no difference at all,” said Peggy Eburne. “But we like to stand by what we believe in.”

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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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