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High-tech car theft and talcum powder warning: 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. 

High-tech car theft on the rise

If you have a wireless key fob for your car, you might actually be helping thieves. That’s according to an automotive security specialist who says thieves can intercept and reroute their signals (even when they’re inside homes). The spike in car thefts in the Toronto area even prompted one dealership to ask Lexus to install tracking systems on all high-end SUVs.

In our April 2016 investigation, we went on the hunt for the mysterious device police believe thieves are using to steal your car.

Expensive veggies, cheaper meat

The latest study of food prices has good news for meat eaters and bad news for veggie lovers. Vegetable prices are projected to rise by 4-6 per cent, while meat prices are predicted to drop by three per cent and seafood prices by two per cent. Experts say a shift away from eating meat to a more plant-based diet is reducing demand, while vegetables are being identified as a “luxury item.”

Vegetable prices are projected to rise by 4-6 per cent, according to the Canada Food Price Report for 2019. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

Seniors restrained in long-term care

Do you know a senior living in a long-term care facility? A report released last week found the number of seniors kept in daily physical restraints in Newfoundland and Labrador (12.1 per cent) is twice the national average. One resident says her father felt he was “being punished” and that he was only freed when he had a visitor. Earlier this year, our hidden camera investigation revealed a spike in nursing home abuse and violence in Ontario.

Beware of talcum powder

If you’re stocking up on baby powder or other talc products, be careful where you use it. Health Canada is warning talcum powder could be a danger to your lungs and ovaries. The advisory focuses on the safety of talc products including cosmetics, baby, body, face and foot powders; diaper and rash creams; and genital antiperspirants and deodorants.

The Canadian government says breathing in talcum powder could lead to potentially serious respiratory effects, while exposure in the vaginal area may be associated with ovarian cancer. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

What else is going on?

A Montreal restaurant has been ordered to pay $15K in damages to a former hostess who was told she couldn’t wear cornrows at work. The Quebec Human Rights Commission said Lettia McNickle was the subject of racial discrimination by Madisons New York Grill & Bar in downtown Montreal.

Two B.C. high schools crack down on lunch delivery apps. The administration at Semiahmoo and Elgin Park secondary schools have imposed restrictions on apps like SkipTheDishes, as deliveries from local restaurants to the schools became more disruptive.

Quora says hackers stole information on as many as 100 million users. Users of the question-and-answer website were told they had been logged out and must re-enter a new password. The information hacked included personal information like names and email addresses.

This week in recalls

These packaged salads could be contaminated with Listeria; the aluminum hardware on these shower seats could corrode, posing a fall and laceration hazard; this avalanche airbag may not deploy when activated; this dark cocoa bar contains milk, which is not declared on the label; this coffee maker could overheat during use, posing a burn hazard; this drywall hoist could pose a risk of injury to the user; these pacifier clips could pose a choking hazard to young children; the front legs on this high chair could detach from the seat, posing a fall and injury hazard. 

Marketplace wants to hear from you

We want to hear about your experience with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb as a guest, host or neighbour. Email us at marketplace@cbc.ca. While we know these platforms are international, we are only focusing on Canadian stories right now.

It’s shopping season and we need your help. We’re on the hunt for Canada’s Worst Sale! Ever spotted a sale price higher than the original price? Items on sale all out of stock? Does the company use their pricing to make you believe you’re getting a better deal than you actually are? We want to hear about it! Send us your story at marketplace@cbc.ca.

You know those DNA tests? Ever order one online and get unexpected results? We want to hear about it. Send us a message at marketplace@cbc.ca.

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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021

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Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary

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Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market

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The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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