Women Need To Better Prepare For Retirement


Just on the heels of International Women’s Day, a report from the U.S. National Institute on Retirement Security indicated that across all age groups, women have considerably less income in retirement than men. For women aged 65 and above, their income is typically 25 percent lower than that of men. As men and women age, the gap widens to 44 percent by age 80. As a result, women were 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older, while women aged 75 to 79 were three times more likely to fall below the poverty level than men the same age.

This finding is neither surprising nor difficult to understand. In the U.S., working women, on average, earn less than their male counterparts, so they have less money to save for retirement. According to the Economic Policy Institute, American women’s media wage is 80 percent of men’s. Many women also take time off to raise children or care for an aging relative, which gives them fewer years to contribute to a retirement plan.

Canada’s situation is no better. According to new data from Statistics Canada released last week to mark International Women’s Day, Canadian women earned 87 cents an hour for every dollar made by men in 2015. The data, which reflects the hourly earnings of Canadians aged 25 to 54, shows the gender wage gap has shrunk by 10 cents since 1981, when female workers earned 77 cents for each dollar earned by men.

According to Statistics Canada, the ratio has improved, in part, due to rising educational attainment by women. In 2015, 35.1 percent of Canadian women had university degrees, compared to 13.7 percent in 1990. But even education does not completely erase that earnings gap. “Even when they had a university degree above the bachelor’s level, women earned an average of 90 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2015,” wrote Statistics Canada analyst Melissa Moyser in her report. “Women are overrepresented in low-paying occupations and underrepresented in high-paying ones.”

Like their U.S. counterparts, Canadian women are also more likely to work part time (18.9 percent for women and 5.5 percent for men), often because they are caring for their children. When measured by annual wages, Canadian women earned 74 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2015.

According to the U.S. Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement, known as Wiser, a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s financial education and advocacy, financial problems in retirement and senior debt arise with insufficient income as a result of lower lifetime earnings and less in savings, costs of family caregiving and divorce. Moreover, women often choose to save for a child’s education over their own retirement, for example, or work in a family business for no pay. Women also live longer than men (81.2 years vs 76.4 years) according to statistics from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In Canada, women have an average life expectancy of 84 years vs 79 years of men in 2012, according to a report on the Health Status of Canadians 2016 by the Chief Public Health Officer. Living longer and needing more money for the extra years for health care, medical expenses and long-term care needs creates serious problems for women. Running out of money in retirement and managing the rising costs of health insurance remain the top worries for women, according to a new study, “Women, Money and Power,” from the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America.

The Allianz study also found that many women reported uncertainty about their financial decisions. Sixty-one percent of women wished they had more confidence in their financial decision making, and 63 percent wished they knew more about financial planning and investing.

For older women, the good news in terms of financial well-being is that a large fraction of women are working in full-time jobs past their 60s and even into their 70s, according to a study, “Women Working Longer: Facts and Some Explanations,” by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, Harvard University economists. The New York Times reported that the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by the end of this decade, about 20 percent of women over 65 will be in the labour force.

The same pattern is appearing in Canada as well. According to research released on March 9 by RBC Economics, the labour force participation rates of older Canadian women have increased, with a record 32 percent of women aged 55 and older taking part in the labour force in 2016.

Working longer makes it possible to enhance their retirement accounts and avoid tapping into them for living expenses. Employer-based health insurance also provides a security blanket for women who are working beyond retirement years. The extra years of earnings at an older age also mean that they could eventually retire with a bigger Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) amount.

For financial planners and marketers of financial institutions, the opportunity obviously lies in targeting more women clients and helping them make strategic financial decisions and better prepare for retirement. Women are often the CFO of the household. It’s about time that they take care of their own financial needs and security now.


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Federal Government Needs To Speed Up On Universal Drugs Plan

Photo Credit: Evidence Network

Photo Credit: Evidence Network

Two years ago, I posted an article on this blog entitled “Time To Introduce Universal Drugs Plan Is Now,” saying that the Federal Government seemed to be dragging their feet at the introduction of a national pharmacare program for Canada. With the advent of our nation’s 150th birthday this year, very little has been done.

Canada is the only industrialized country with universal health insurance that does not offer universal prescription drug coverage. Statistics show that one in 10 Canadians cannot afford to pay for their medications. When people do not take the drugs they need, there is a cost to health and to medicare when our hospitals are already overwhelmed.

Now, an official study has just come out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) which concluded that Canadians and private drug plan sponsors could save more than $4 billion a year if the federal government adopted universal coverage for a group of commonly prescribed essential medicines. The Globe and Mail reported that the study used economic modelling to determine the government would have to spend an estimated $1.2 million a year to provide universal coverage for 117 essential medicines, which accounted for 44 percent of the prescriptions filled in Canada in 2015. Individuals and private plans would save close to $4.3 billion if such a system were introduced, according to the economic modelling used in the study.

The rationale is that the government would be able to use bulk purchasing power, which is why it would cost so much less to cover the cost of those essential medicines – drugs that are deemed necessary for public health – than it would be for individuals and private drug plans. The drugs include those used to treat some heart conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, anaphylaxis and migraines.

Not surprisingly, the federal government is facing increasing pressure to address the rising cost of prescription drugs, but has not committed to a national pharmacare program. The researchers of the study found Canada pays substantially more than Sweden, New Zealand and the U.S. Veteran Affairs drug program for the same generic medications. According to Dr. Steve Morgan, one of the study’s authors, and a professor at the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia, the benefit of having a universal plan is to make sure that nobody is left out in the cold. An earlier research authored by Dr. Morgan found many Canadians don’t take their prescribed medication because they can’t afford the cost.  He found that one in eight Canadians aged between 55 and 64 falls into this category.

One possible reason why the federal government has not yet made a commitment to national pharmacare could be concerns about whether it should cover the cost of all medicines, even those that are expensive or prone to inappropriate prescribing. But this latest study recommended that the government undertake a universal drug program based on an evidence-based list of essential medicines as defined by the World Health Organization.

Ontario’s Health Minister Eric Hoskins has been taking an initiative in leading a crusade to make universal pharmacare happen in Canada sooner rather than later. Two years ago, he seemed to be targeting Canada’s 150th birthday this year as the most ideal date to launch a universal drug plan. But, so far, it does not look very likely that this will happen! In a January interview with the CBC, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said she plans to bring in new rules that would force drug companies to lower the price of brand-name drugs and will work to help lower the price of generic drugs. But relying on drug companies’ initiatives will not entirely solve the problem and will take a very long time. As Dr. Morgan said, this latest CMAJ study clearly show that some sort of universal drug coverage is the best solution and would benefit Canadians without a massive price increase. The Trudeau government needs to show some leadership and take some urgent action as Canada’s population continues to age rapidly.

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Immigrants Slow Aging Of Workforce

Photo Credit: McNeill Life

Photo Credit: McNeill Life

Amidst the turmoil and confusion created by Donald Trump’s travel ban of people entering the U.S.A. from seven Muslim-majority countries (the ban is now temporarily blocked), there are many who argue that immigration will actually help the U.S. economically and, therefore, make America greater!

According to The New York Times, the report on immigration, released last fall by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, concluded that immigration to the U.S. from 1990 to 2010, both legal and illegal, produced net benefits worth US$50 billion a year to the native population. Immigrants are, in general, younger and are, therefore, slowing the aging of the work force. Low-skilled immigrants may increase the labour supply of high-skilled natives, for example, by providing cheap child care and releasing mothers to work.

The National Academies report also indicated that 26 million foreigners in the American labour market added some US$2 trillion to the American economy last year. Some economists have also estimated that allowing free-border movement of labour could more than double the world’s gross domestic product. The New York Times further reported that it’s been estimated that the newcomers who arrived in the U.S. from 1990 to 2010 reduced the wages of American-born high school dropouts over the long term by 3.1 percent – or some US$900 a year.

Canada recognized the benefits of immigration a long time ago. A Statistics Canada study estimates that nearly half of the population will likely be immigrants or children of immigrants by 2036, up from 38.2 percent in 2011. Unlike our neighbour south of the border, Canada has maintained or increased its immigration levels throughout the years. In the year to last July, the nation received the highest number of newcomers since comparable record-keeping began. The Globe and Mail reported that newcomers have accounted for a growing share of Canada’s population since the 1990’s, and analysts predict that the only growth in the country’s labour force will be from immigration. Statscan said that the share of immigrants in the population in 2036 could be almost twice as high as in 1871.

More people will belong to a visible minority group. In the next two decades, the share of the working-age population (aged 15 to 64) who are members of a visible minority will reach up to 40 percent, from 19.6 percent in 2011. The report said that this share will grow in all parts of the country, with South Asians being the largest group followed by Chinese. In some cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg, visible minorities could become the majority. The total share of immigrants in Canada’s population is expected to reach up to 30 percent, which would be the highest share since 1871. Our country already has one of the highest shares of foreign-born people in the developed world.

The latest Census numbers released by Statscan earlier this week showed a total of 35,151,728 people living in Canada on the day of the Census, May 10, 2016. Over the five years since the previous Census, the population grew at a rate of one percent a year, or five percent over all since 2011. In spite of the oil patch’s economic downturn, the Prairie region and British Columbia are continuing to add people – mostly immigrants – faster than the rest of the country, while eastern regions are slipping behind.

Canada is the fastest-growing country in the G7 group of industrialized nations, as it has been for the past 15 years, a rate of annual growth of one percent, which exceeds the growth rates in the U.S. and Britain, among others. We rank eighth in the G20, behind countries such as Turkey, South Africa, Mexico and Australia. The main reason for our country’s steady growth is our commitment to relatively high levels of immigration. Statscan said that roughly two-thirds of Canada’s population increase is due to international migration, the amount by which the number of new immigrants exceeds the number of people who leave Canada. The other third stems from “natural growth,” the difference between the rates of deaths and births. Projections show that Canada could reach the point at which migration accounts for nearly all population growth some time after 2050. In other words, by then, the annual number of deaths would exceed births – just like what Germany, Italy and Japan are currently experiencing!

There are too many myths floating around in Canada about immigrants, ranging from them being low-skilled workers to them having difficulty integrating into the labour force. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s 2013 International Migration Outlook, these myths were all debunked. The OECD found that employment for foreign-born Canadian citizens had gone up since 2008, while it has stalled for native-born citizens. The employment rate for Canadian immigrants in 2012 was the third highest in the OECD. This shows that immigrants are quickly integrating into the labour force and contributing to the country’s economy.

More than 50 percent of Canadian immigrants are also highly educated, putting Canada at the top among OECD countries. Also, a significant number of the almost 100,000 foreign students visiting Canada each year decide to stay after getting a degree from one of our renowned universities. Many other immigrants are also drawn to Canada attracted by job prospects and the openness and inclusiveness for which this country is known.

According to Clement Gignac, Vice-Chairman of the World Economic Forum Council on Competitiveness, who wrote in The Globe and Mail, “Canada has gone to great lengths to liberalize its labour market, and it is paying off. Canada’s labour market now offers a great deal of mobility to its workers – it is quite easy to move from Montreal to Toronto, Calgary or Vancouver (and vice versa).”

He also noted that a large percentage of every province’s immigrants are in the 20-44 age group, meaning that the benefits of household formation are spread all across Canada. This also helps explain why the housing market in Canada has been so resilient during the past five years.

Immigration has been, and will continue to be, the key to Canada’s prosperity. Let’s hope President Trump can eventually learn a few lessons from us!

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Canada Should Adopt Toronto’s Seniors Safety Zones Nationwide

Photo Credit: AM640

Photo Credit: AM640

Mayor John Tory’s announcement of the creation of Seniors Safety Zones at 12 intersections in Toronto earlier this month was a laudable move. This plan was a response to statistics that showed an overwhelming majority of pedestrians killed on Toronto’s streets last year were older adults. According to police data released the first week of January, 37 of the 43 pedestrians killed last year were 55 or older. The Toronto Star reported that 2016 was the deadliest year for pedestrians more than a decade, and also the worst year for older pedestrian deaths over that time.

The Seniors Safety Zones created for the 12 earmarked intersections includes a reduction in the speed limit from 50 to 40 kilometres per hour and an extension of the amount of walking time given to pedestrians in the intersection. There will also be new Seniors Safety signs warning drivers to slow down and watch for seniors and updated paint on the pavement. Red light cameras are also being installed. The 12 spots were chosen because history has shown seniors to be at risk. Most of these locations are outside the city core – the only downtown location is where Dundas intersects with Spadina – and many are on high-speed suburban arterials that pose great risk to pedestrians. Among them is the intersection of Eglinton and Midland Avenues, where two pedestrians were killed in 2016. These spots will be redone within the first quarter of this year.

As well as the seniors zones, the city is planning to add 76 red-light cameras, roughly doubling the number currently in place. The Globe and Mail pointed out that the planned locations are a mix of downtown and suburban sites and include some spots notorious for cars blocking the intersection, endangering pedestrians and impeding vehicle traffic. The city says that serious collisions at spots that currently have these cameras are down 60 percent since they were put in place. According to Mr. Tory, he would be happy if the cameras generate no revenue, because it would indicate drivers are being more safe. City staff are aiming to have the cameras operational within the first three months of the year.

The city also announced the creation of a new website for the road safety plan, which will allow residents to track its progress and view data on traffic collisions. The road safety plan, which is the city’s first such strategy, will be executed over five years. Other safety measures include installing accessible pedestrian signals at 20 intersections, making geometric safety improvements at 13 locations, performing 14 road safety audits, speed reductions on 32 corridors, and expanding the “watch your speed” program.

Toronto’s innovation to ensure road safety originated from the Vision Zero Initiative of Sweden in 1997. The Swedish initiative can be summarized in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has been very successful and road deaths in Stockholm are now at low levels not seen since the 1950’s.

Edmonton was actually the first Canadian city which officially adopted Vision Zero in 2015. In 2006, there were 8,246 people injured and killed in collisions on Edmonton streets. The city responded by creating the first municipal Office of Traffic Safety in North America that year. According to the city’s website, “in spite of the population growth since then, in 2015, there were 3,837 people injured or killed, a decrease of 53.5 percent.” With Vision Zero, Edmonton plans to save lives and eliminate serious injuries through the application of a Safe System, evidence-based approach and the 5 E’s of traffic safety: engineering, education, enforcement, engagement and evaluation.

A year ago, 10 American cities have been chosen to model Vision Zero strategy in the U.S.: Austin, Boston, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. These cities brought together transportation, police and public health officials as well as representatives from mayors’ offices. This network of public officials shares best practices and develops common strategies for eliminating traffic deaths.

New York City, in particular, should be a role model for Toronto. Under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership, New York has become one of the first North American cities to truly embrace Vision Zero. The centrepiece of the city’s program is a 10-year, US$1.2 billion capital plan to redesign the city’s streets with safety in mind. The city has lowered its default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 (40 km/h) in 2014, redesigned collision-prone intersections, added new speed cameras and made it a criminal offence for drivers to fail to yield to pedestrians. The results were immediate. The number of pedestrian deaths dropped from 180 in 2013 – a record high – to 139 in 2014 – a record low, according to city data. Pedestrian fatalities dropped to 134 in 2015, making it the safest year on New York City streets since record-keeping began in 1910.

New York City also has a Safe Streets for Seniors program which studies crash data, and then develops and implements mitigation measures to improve the safety of seniors and other pedestrians, as well as all road users in the city. Since launching the program in 2008, the city has addressed senior pedestrian safety issues in 25 Senior Pedestrian Focus Areas (SPFAs) in the five boroughs. The SPFAs were selected based on the density of senior pedestrian (aged 65+) crashes resulting in fatalities or severe injuries in a five-year period. Since the program began, annual senior pedestrian fatalities have decreased 10 percent citywide, from 58 senior fatalities in 2008 to 52 in 2015.

Since Vision Zero began in Sweden in 1997, the country now has the lowest rate of traffic fatalities in the world. More recently, Vision Zero has been adopted by Australia and England in addition to the U.S. cities mentioned above. In January last year, Canada adopted Vision Zero as a federal strategy in principle. With Edmonton and Toronto  now in full gear, more Canadian cities from coast to coast should join the initiative, particularly in ensuring the safety of senior pedestrians in light of the nation’s aging population.

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Top 10 Good News To Come

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen

Photo Credit: Ottawa Citizen

2016 was full of bad news, so let’s hope the new year is going to bring more good tidings, particularly for us boomers! Based on some of the developments last year, here are my anticipated top 10 good news for the new year:

  1. Canada Continues to Be The Shining Light Of the World: Canada graced the October 29 cover and feature story of The Economist magazine last year. The publication said that our nation is uniquely fortunate in many ways – but its liberalism and tolerance hold lessons for other Western countries and went on to explain why Canada is still at ease with openness. Under Justin Trudeau’s leadership, we might not be perfect, but Canada will continue to be a champion of immigration, open trade and the fight against climate change. For 2017, I have to quote retired Global TV journalist, Tom Clark, as he said farewell to his career on December 31, “For all of our troubles, all of our scandals and disagreements, we should try to keep things in perspective. In global terms, our problems are small. Our country works better than most, perhaps better than any other. We should always aim higher. But let’s remember how blessed we really are.”
  2. Canada officially kicked off our 150th Anniversary of the Confederation on December 31: In addition to a special commemorative 150th Anniversary coin series produced by the Royal Canadian Mint, there will be numerous special celebratory events and festivities in local communities and urban centres across the country throughout the year. Under the umbrella theme of “Diversity, Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the Environment and Youth,” the Department of Canadian Heritage has budgeted $180 million for a variety of initiatives across the country and $20 million for special events such as the New Year’s Eve party on Parliament Hill.. According to a recent government-commissioned poll, nearly nine in 10 respondents expressed a lot of pride in being Canadian, and they felt strongly attached to their country. Nearly the same number said they would visit a national park in 2017 or attend a Canada 150 event. But, as of last summer, few had heard much about what the government was doing to celebrate. Looks like the government has a lot of marketing and promotion work to do on upcoming celebrations.
  3. From brain drain to brain gain for Canada in a Trump presidency: Canada’s tech firms are hoping Donald Trump will help keep Canadian graduates from skipping town for Silicon Valley and perhaps lure some of the talented expats who have gone south for work. According to CTV News, Canadian companies large and small have quietly bemoaned the exodus of talent for decades, and agencies like Communitech and the City of Toronto have been trying to woo them back. That’s why billboards have been placed on well-travelled Route 101 in Silicon Valley promoting “GoNorthCanada.ca,” a website extolling the values of tech jobs in Ontario. Communitech said that the site has seen spikes since Trump’s victory. “People are reaching out and letting us know they are ready to come home,” said Communitech’s vice-president Heather Galt. With the growth of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry and the important research role that Canada has been playing, the nation can further benefit from a brain gain. Last year, Google has announced that it is investing $4.5 million in the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, the latest sign of Google’s growing interest in AI. As part of the deal, Google will open an AI research group in Montreal. The company believes the city has the potential to become a “super-cluster” of machine learning knowledge. Some large companies have also recently moved their AI divisions to Toronto, including Thomson Reuters and General Motors, with the intention of hiring hundreds of data scientists. According to The Globe and Mail, many of Canada’s largest companies have also stated a desire to hire thousands more data scientists in the coming years. Demand for talent already outstrips supply, and the gap will only grow. Now is the opportune time for Canadian AI companies to spread their recruitment net wider to include the U.S. so that we can benefit from a larger pool of AI research talents.
  4. The Paris climate change agreement was signed by 194 countries and ratified by 121 members, including the U.S. and China, by the end of last year: In spite of what Donald Trump said, it would not be easy for him to repeal this accord. With the enforcement of this agreement, nearly 200 governments will become obliged to meet emissions-cutting pledges made before the deal. The agreement would also commit the countries to aspire to keep temperatures below 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The agreement went into effect on November 4, 2016, which means that 2017 will see a lot of countries starting to move in the direction of reducing greenhouse gases. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau and most of the premiers (except for Saskatchewan and Manitoba) signed a historic pan-Canadian framework last month to fight climate change and meet the country’s 2030 emissions reduction targets.
  5. Self-Driving cars from science fiction to science fact: after the first series of successful pilot-tests of self-driving vehicles in both the U.S. and Canada last year, these autonomous cars will hit the street in larger numbers in 2017. Last month, Alphabet, the owners of Google, spun off the research and development of self-driving technology into a separate company with the name of Waymo. The company has partnered with Chrysler to develop self-driving Pacific Hybrid minivans. Test units will hit the road over the next several months. According to technology news website Dice.com, expect Uber and Tesla to speed up with making their autonomous-driving offerings as advanced as possible in 2017. This development will drastically improve the quality of lives for aging populations across North America.
  6. On the health front, 2017 will be a breakthrough year for the fight against Ebola. An Ebola vaccine developed by Canadian researchers and considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be the first effective treatment against the virus has already started a new phase of clinical trials. The vaccine’s safety and effectiveness were tested on volunteers infected with HIV, starting in Ottawa and Montreal last November, and followed by trials in the new year in Senegal and Burkina Faso. According to the principal investigator Cecile Tremblay, “It is particularly important to study the effectiveness of this Ebola vaccine in vulnerable populations, such as those living with HIV. These populations can often be most at-risk during outbreaks, because of their compromised immune systems.” The Ebola vaccine, originally developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, provided blanket protection in a field trial in Guinea in 2015. Health Minister Jane Philpott said that the next phase of clinical trials in 2017 is an important milestone in the development of the world’s first proven, effective vaccine against the Ebola virus.
  7. A revolutionary blood test that can detect cancer can become part of an annual physical in five years. Liquid biopsies, as the blood tests are known, can give physicians a telltale sign of the presence of the disease in almost all types of cancer mutations. For cancer patients undergoing treatment, liquid biopsies could spare them some of the painful, expensive and risky tissue tumor biopsies and reduce reliance on CT scans, which must be limited because of the danger posed by overexposure to radiation. Medical experts say that the liquid biopsy has come a long way in the past year and a half. According to CNBC, doctors and medical researchers are excited by the prospect that liquid biopsies would be a way to help people already fighting the disease. The new year will bring even more research and development in cancer centres across the U.S. on how a non-invasive blood test could be appropriate in many cases to identify the DNA mutation driving cancer forward.
  8. New eye drops can dissolve cataracts with no need for surgery. We’ve all read about a new study that used eye drops to shrink cataracts in dogs may have made an important step in overcoming them. According to Professor Kang Zhang, from the University of California San Diego, whose research team developed the eye drops, this new drug could play an important role in the prevention of cataracts in those showing early signs. Although at this stage eye drops have the potential to overcome a number of limitations of surgery, they won’t be able to replace it yet. According to Dr. Manuel Datiles, a senior investigator and attending ophthalmologist at the U.S. National Eye Institute in the National Institutes of Health, eye drops will become key in treating cataracts, as surgery will not be able to cope with the growing needs of the world’s aging population. The new year will also bring more research and development to investigate whether there can be more medical breakthroughs in this area.
  9. On the arts and culture front, we could not have asked for a better year than 2017 when Canadian musicians took the Grammy nominations by storm and two Canuck male lead actors were nominated for the Golden Globe Awards. After a year of Canadian dominance on the international music scene, Drake, Justin Bieber and The Weeknd were nominated for many categories in the 2017 Grammy Awards. Drake leads with a whopping eight nominations while Bieber fares well with four. Other Canucks on the list include R&B singer Tory Lanez, Vancouver-formed and now Brooklyn-based duo Bob Moses, jazz musician and composer Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Toronto-based record producer Nineteen85, and the renowned classical music conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin in the Best Opera Recording category. We all look forward to awards night on February 12 when we will see how much hardware these artists will bring home! On the big screen, two Canucks will go head-to-head in the best actor category for a musical or comedy. Ryan Gosling, from London, Ontario, was nominated for his lead role in La La Land while Vancouver-native Ryan Reynolds is also up for his comedic performance in Deadpool. (Gosling eventually took home the Golden Globe and will, almost for sure, be nominated for a Best Actor Oscar!)
  10. Canada tops The New York Times‘s 52 Places To Go in 2017. On January 4, The New York Times put Canada number one on its annual list of places to go in the new year. According to the publication, Canada has it all – from cosmopolitan cities to barely explored natural wonders and everything in between. It also mentioned that all of the country’s more than 200 national parks and historic sites are offering free admission through our 150th Anniversary year, “from the turquoise lakes and mountain peaks of Banff in Alberta to the rolling dunes and red sandstone cliffs of Prince Edward Island along the Atlantic Coast to the newest reserve, the glacial-rounded Mealy Mountains in Labrador.” Looks like Tourism Canada did a better job in marketing our country as a travel destination to our neighbours down south than to fellow Canadians!

With all these good news, let’s move forward into the future with more positive thinking and cast away all the bad news of 2016. A new year is always a new beginning with new hope!

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