Distracted Driving Needs To Be Stopped



About this time last year, my blog post titled, It Is Time To Criminalize Distracted Driving, advocated that more severe legislation should be introduced to punish distracted drivers who text or talk on the cell phone and take their eyes off the road. Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has said last September that distracted driving is a big problem and promised to raise the issue with his provincial counterparts.

Yesterday, the Transportation Minister of Ontario, Steven Del Duca, announced at a news conference that the Ontario government will bring in higher fines for distracted drivers and drivers who do not yield to pedestrians. It will also introduce a new offence of careless driving causing bodily harm, with penalties that would include a licence suspension of up to five years, a fine of up to $50,000 and even jail time of as much as two years. This is very good news because even though it may still not be severe enough to a lot of people who have lost their loved ones in accidents involving distracted drivers, at least, it will send a loud message to motorists about the need to be alert at all times when they are in charge behind the wheel.

Other changes in the Ontario government proposal included drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians will face a maximum $1,000 fine and four demerit points. Distracted drivers will face a licence suspension of three days – a first in Canada – and a maximum fine of $1,000 and escalating penalties for further offences. Minister Del Duca said the plan will reach the legislature for approval some time in the fall.

Upon approval, the new Ontario law against distracted driving would be one of the strictest in the entire country. With the exception of Nunavut, every province and territory in Canada has legislation against using a cell phone while driving. Penalties range from three to five demerit points and fines from $100 to $1,000, depending on the province or the territory.

However, according to CTV News, a majority of Canadians believe that technology is the best way to stop drivers from being distracted by the phones in a new poll conducted by insurance company Aviva Canada. The poll found that 78 percent of Canadians believe only technology that stops people from texting and using other phone functions while driving will make our roads safer, not police crackdowns or peer pressure. Such technology would look like the Do Not Disturb While Driving feature on the newest Apple mobile device operating system iOS 11.

Today, more people die on Canadian roads from distracted driving than impaired driving. According to the RCMP, four out of five collisions occur when a driver has their eyes off the road for just three seconds. According to a Globe and Mail report by Oliver Moore, over the past five years, more than 450 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in motor vehicle collisions in five most populous cities of Ontario and on roads patrolled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Last year, Moore calculated that the number of pedestrians killed in Toronto from 2011 to 2016 was greater than the number of fatal shootings. The Ontario Transportation Ministry says in its news release that on average, one person is killed on the roads of Ontario every 17 hours. In 2014, pedestrians and cyclists made up approximately 25 percent of road fatalities in the province. Many of these deaths are, of course, avoidable.

Kudos to the Ontario government for taking prompt action, but I still believe that the province needs to adopt the textalizer tests as proposed by the New York State legislature to have police digitally scan the phone of distracted drivers to see whether they were texting or posting on Facebook while driving. Most of the victims run down by motorists were older pedestrians or cyclists. As a society, we need to protect the most vulnerable by introducing more severe laws such as permanently suspending  the licences of distracted drivers and longer jail terms. But the recent proposed legislation by the Ontario Transport Minister is a solid first step to change the attitudes of drivers.

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Wellness Travel Popular Among Boomers

Bullhead Lake-hikers-mountain-L

I recently conducted an interview with a freelance journalist who was drafting an article on the latest boomer-travel trends for publication in a newsletter for Manulife Financial. I told her that wellness and slow travel will become a major trend for this demographic for the next decade or so.

According to the Canadian Tourism Research Institute (CTRI), an offshoot of the not-for-profit Conference Board of Canada, baby boomers will be the main pleasure-travel market over the next 10 years, spending more than CDN$35 billion annually. Because boomers are healthier and living longer than their parents, they want to maintain their good health to enjoy life and their new-found freedom after retirement. This explains why they want wellness and fitness programs, not only in their daily lives, but also when they travel.

Research by the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) confirms that wellness is one of the world`s fastest-growing, most resilient markets – clocking double-digit growth while the global economy shrank by -3.6 percent. According to data released by GWI in October 2016, the global wellness industry grew 10.6 percent in the last two years, from a US$3.36 trillion market in 2013 to US$3.72 trillion in 2015. Among the 10 wellness sectors analyzed, fitness and mind-body (+21 percent), and wellness tourism (+14 percent) were among the top five fastest-growing from 2013 to 2015. Wellness tourism now accounts for 15.6 percent of total tourism revenues – amounting to almost one in six of total tourist dollars spent. One of the major contributors to this growth is the baby boomers who are seeking experiences rooted in meaning, purpose, authenticity and nature.

Wellness incorporates fitness, mental and physical health improvement, as well as eating healthy. Over the past decade, boomers are looking for healthy hotels, wholistic cruises, hiking, cycling, mindfulness and yoga retreats, medical tourism and more. Everyday commitments, particularly for those who are still working, prevent boomers from participating in fitness activities or attaining health goals. So, vacations focusing on wellness – adventure, exercise, self-improvement or volunteerism – become more and more compelling.

I always remind people that due to the almost 20-year-gap between the youngest Canadian boomers born in 1966 to the oldest ones born in 1947, we cannot lump all boomers together. For the younger boomers, who are probably still working, exercise, fitness and cycling vacations may be more appealing. According to Forbes Magazine, slow-travel programs that bring people to national parks and forests for one- or two-week guided backpacking adventures seem to be an ideal exercise and fitness vacation for younger boomers who want to unplug, de-stress and recharge. Canada`s Fitz and Fowell based in Montreal and Cycle Treks in Victoria, B.C., also offer cycling tours, whale watching, culinary tours or a seaside trek.

For the older boomers, also called leading-edge boomers, mindfulness or yoga retreats may be the way to go. The Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California, which also houses the Chopra Center  for Wellbeing, helps groups incorporate wellness into their workplace and personal lives. Mindfulness, offered by Miraval Resort and Spa in Tucson, Arizona, includes programs that cover healthy lifestyle changes, self-discovery and transformation. Apart from spas, more and more hotels are joining the wellness bandwagon. Westin Hotels recently launched a US$15 million well-being campaign for both employees and guests to smile and listen more, worry less and sleep better.

Although cruise lines have recently begun to lure millennial travellers, boomers remain their most stalwart customers. Celebrity Cruises emphasizes on well-being centred on mind, body and spirit. The cruise line has a special program dedicated to seven different types of yoga. Passengers can also enjoy other fitness classes such as Pilates, indoor cycling as well as personal training focusing on blood pressure, bone health and more. With the current huge interest in ballroom dancing, cruise lines such as Cunard and Crystal receive accolades on their devotion to ballroom dancing. Professionals teach waltz, tango, samba and other dances during the day, and passengers can practice their moves at themed formal balls held in the evenings. Crystal also provides gentlemen hosts present on every cruise to make sure single ladies do not turn into wallflowers.

Oceania, Regent Seven Seas and Cunard`s Queen Mary 2 all integrate the Canyon Ranch Spa dining menu on board. Each cruise line offers the specialty spa cuisines in select restaurants throughout their ships. The menu includes organic foods and dishes high in protein, fibre and healthy fats, as well as vegetarian options.

In addition to ocean cruise vacations, leading-edge boomers are also increasingly attracted to river cruises which offer slow and leisurely travel. A Rhine or Danube river cruise offers passengers cycling tours through the countryside and cities, or even encourages cruisers to  ride along the river, catching up with the ship in the next port. River cruises also offer culinary cooking classes which can include a visit to the local market with the chef, shopping for fresh seafood and produce at ports of call.

Last, but not least, solo travel has become a growing trend. Whether they have just lost a loved one or going through a divorce, boomers refuse to stop travelling. According to Visa`s Global Travel Intention Study 2015, the number of affluent adults, who vacation on their own, has more than doubled to 32 percent, up from 14 percent in 2013. Travel companies, cruise lines and the wellness industry are already adjusting their travel offers to better accommodate solo travellers.

With longer lifespans and a greater emphasis on health and fitness, boomers will continue to be interested in wellness travel for many more years to come. Marketers and the travel industry stand to win big if they pay greater attention to and focus more efforts on offering new and meaningful experiences for this affluent demographic.



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Carole King Musical Pulls Boomers’ Heart Strings

Photo from mirivish.com

Photo Credit: mirvish.com

Beautiful:The Carole King Musical, from the Mirvish Productions, has been a huge success for a variety of reasons. It’s a musical tracing the career of Carole King, and endorsed by the iconic singer of the 70s herself. King is a musician whom most boomers love and the musical, featuring a lot of her songs from the Tapestry album, understandably pulls the heart strings and, therefore, the purse strings of the boomer theatre-goers.

The musical is currently touring Toronto after garnering seven Tony-Award nominations and winning two of them (Best Featured Actor in a Musical and Best Sound Design) in 2014, and following a year-long tour in the U.S. After Toronto, two simultaneous tours will take place in the U.K. and Australia. The musical also won three Drama Desk Awards in 2014 and a Grammy Award in 2015. Adapted from the book on the early life and career of Carole King by Douglas McGrath, Beautiful is a substantial work of art featuring not only great music, but a witty and funny dialogue, and outstanding orchestrations. It’s a musical that makes boomers laugh, reminisce and sing along. For boomers like me, who didn’t know much about the singer in the 70s except to appreciate her songs, the musical told a story of how a young musician went through her early life of love, success, heartbreaks, motherhood and friendships.

For the Toronto audience, it’s particularly heartwarming to see the homecoming of Chilina Kennedy, the lead Canadian actress from Oromocto, New Brunswick, who plays King. Kennedy, who replaced the Tony-Award winner Jesse Mueller in Broadway’s Beautiful in March 2015, had to take a leave of absence from New York City to perform in Toronto. The young actress has a rich theatrical pedigree on both sides of the border having spent three seasons at both The Stratford Festival and Shaw Festival in Ontario. She also starred in a touring production of Mamma Mia and played Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. Playing opposite Kennedy is another Canadian, Liam Tobin, who hailed from St. John’s Newfoundland. Tobin plays King’s first handsome and talented husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, probably the second most important character in the musical.

Entertainment production companies have recently been paying a lot of attention to boomer audiences. The Desert Trip Music Festival last year, which featured The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young and The Who (average age 72), was a resounding success. Goldenvoice, a division of AEG Worldwide, produced this event as well as the renowned Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each spring in Indio, California. Unlike Coachella, which targeted mainly millennials and GenXers, the Desert Trip Festival was geared to the moneyed-boomer crowd with attractions such as US$10,000 tents, vintage shops, galley space, a pinball-machine arcade and an organic farmers market. It would be interesting to see whether they have enough boomer musicians to do an annual roster for The Desert Trip!

As posted before on this blog, Casino Rama and Fallsview Casino in Ontario have also been featuring big-name boomer musicians to lure the mature crowd. Upcoming shows include performers like Kiss, Donny and Marie Osmond, Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Paul Anka, Engelbert Humperdinck and Buddy Guy. Similarly, going through the list of scheduled events at Fallsview Casino is like a stroll on memory lane, featuring bands such as Air Supply, America, Creedence Clearwater Revisited (instead of Revival), and KC and the Sunshine Band.

In the world of entertainment, producers have definitely been targeting at and marketing to the boomers. Even Steve Coogan, the British screenwriter and filmmaker who is famous for his “Trip” travelogues, has just turned 50 and joined the league of boomers. His latest film, The Trip to Spain, is full of self-deprecating humour about insecurities and aging. We boomers obviously look forward to seeing more quality and inspiring entertainment coming our way. Unfortunately, Beautiful‘s extended run in Toronto will end on September 3. In the meantime, we are anticipating another musical, the revival of The King and I – undoubtedly another popular hit with boomer audiences – which will be in a Mirvish theatre next summer.

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Aging Population A Blessing Instead Of A Burden


It’s encouraging to see that The Economist has been focusing more on the positive aspects of aging populations in the last few years. As recently as three years ago in April 2014, the publication has dedicated a cover story to “A Billion Shades of Grey,” advocating changes in government policies to help accommodate the aging population. But the tone of that cover issue was more doom and gloom than positive – the concern about economic stagnation caused by the huge wave of baby boomers’ retirement was loud and clear in that story.

Then, in the April 9, 2016 edition of The Economist, the tone has become more positive with the article titled, “Older Consumers Will Reshape The Business Landscape.” The article advocated that companies should speed up in targeting this expanding “grey” market and cited examples of businesses around the world with innovative ideas appealing to older consumers. I’ve also echoed this view with my blog post last year titled, “Marketers Gradually Understand Potential Of Boomers.

So I read with great delight the Special Report on The Economics Of Longevity in the July 8-14, 2017 issue of The Economist again. The report has basically argued that “if employers, businesses and financial services adapt to make far more of such people (the older population), big economic benefits for everyone could follow.” Employers need to change their attitudes towards older employees – ageist recruitment practices need to be discarded and corporate cultures have to change. Instead of reducing productivity and, therefore, hurting the economy, academics have found that older people in multi-generation teams tend to boost the productivity of those around them, and such mixed teams perform better than younger, single-generation ones.

The publication also argued that the second thing that needs to happen is for the benefits of longer, healthier lives to be spread much more equitably. There is currently too much of a gap between the rich and the poor among the older generation, and the best way to resolve this issue is for governments to invest in public health, offer universal access to healthcare and provide high-quality education for everyone. Although the report cited Canada as a good example of a country that manages to attach great importance to such matters, we see and read Canadian media reports everyday that lament how the older generation has not saved enough and cannot afford to retire.

I believe there is a third thing that needs to change: the marketing community and the media need to direct their energy and attention to the greying population. Over the last decade, there has been lacklustre progress in marketing to older people because this is not perceived as sexy. Young people continue to dominate marketing departments and think that the best place for the old is out of sight, out of mind. Although change is in the air, it is not happening fast enough. From aging rockers such as The Rolling Stones who can still fill huge concert arenas; to recent retirees who take on second careers as giggers and entrepreneurs; to older consumers who display young and active tastes in adventure travel and dating websites, “the new old” is defying old age and refusing to disappear into their sunset years.

In fact, The Economist is asking for a new branding of those over 65 but not yet elderly. The youngest Canadian boomers turn 51 and the oldest turn 70 this year. I used to call those people aged 65-70 “leading-edge boomers” and the younger ones “trailing-edge boomers”. But, perhaps, the marketing community can put their heads together and start coining a sexier term. Don’t call this group seniors although they are technically senior citizens. Baby boomers are starting to retire in large numbers in better health and with more money to spend than any previous generations. We feel much younger than our parents did at their age, and most of us have no intention of quietly disappearing from the world. The sooner the market can respond to this huge opportunity, the better our economy will be.

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Increase In Cancer Rates Shocks Canadians


A new report released last month by the Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada, predicted that almost one in every two Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and one in four Canadians will die from the disease. The charitable organization indicated that the latest statistics show that cancer is now the leading cause of death in Canada.

According to the Society’s epidemiologist and one of the report’s authors, Dr. Leah Smith, currently every year there is an increase in the number of cancer cases in Canada. “So between now and 2030, for example, we expect to continue to see a dramatic increase in the number of cancers diagnosed in Canada. The lifetime risk (an individual’s likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives) for Canadian men is 49 percent, while it sits at 45 percent for women.

Dr. Smith also said that these statistics are a reflection of the aging and growing population. “About 90 percent of all the cancers that we expect to be diagnosed in 2017 will be among Canadians 50 years of age and older.” About 45 percent of those cases will occur in people aged 70 and older, said Dr. Smith, noting that as more people move into old age, the number of cancer cases will rise.

The Cancer Society’s report also showed that lung cancer is the most commonly-diagnosed cancer overall, making up 14 percent of all diagnoses, followed by colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Lung cancer is also the leading cause of cancer deaths among Canadians. Of the four top cancer killers, pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate at only eight percent. It’s anticipated to be the third-leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada.

Canadians, both young and old, were shocked to hear this bad news. According to a report by Global News, the numbers seem shocking and alarming but it’s reminding Canadians how many people will be touched by cancer. The Cancer Society also said that it takes a huge toll on individuals who have a cancer diagnosis, on their loved ones and on the healthcare system.

In the past three years, I’ve lost at least three boomer friends to cancer. In spite of the sobering statistics, the good news is that overall cancer survival rates have increased: in the 1940s, only 25 percent of Canadians survived their diagnoses, but now 60 percent do. Some cancers, like thyroid and testicular, have five-year survival rates of over 90 percent.

What can we do to reduce our risk of cancer? In addition to regular check-ups and cancer screens, we can focus on a healthier lifestyle by avoiding tobacco, excessive drinking, eating well, exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight and practising sun safety.

We can only do our best because unfortunately some cancers are just unavoidable. According to a new research at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, only about 42 percent of cancers are preventable. Using health records from 69 countries, the scientists of this study concluded that 66 percent of cancer-causing genetic mutations arise from the “bad luck” of a healthy dividing cell making a random mistake when it copies its DNA. About 29 percent are due to the environment and the remaining five percent are due to heredity. These numbers also vary depending on the type of cancer, the authors of this research found. At least 60 percent of mutations triggering skin and lung cancer are due to the environment, they calculate, compared with 15 percent or less in prostate, bone, brain and breast cancers. The bad news is that most mutations arise naturally and there is nothing people can do. The causes of cancer are complex and until more breakthrough research results tell us more, let’s try to maintain a healthy lifestyle and live life to its fullest.

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