Category "News/Business"

Our relationship with our jobs is increasingly dysfunctional, and too many of us wear the amount of work we do as a badge of honour at the expense of our mental and physical well-being.

That’s Rahaf Harfoush’s take on modern life in her latest book, Hustle and Float, an unsparing look at working conditions and the changes being wrought by technology — with insight that sprang partly from her own experiences.

“Culturally, the rituals that we’ve developed around how we talk about work … it’s like, not just the job that we do, but how hard we work at it,” Harfoush says. “That goes counter to all of the actual things we need to do to be healthy and to be more creatively prosperous.”

While working on the book, she suffered her own disastrous episode of burnout.

“I was very much focused around this idea that I had to do more and more and more and more in order to reach this success, and for me what ended up happening was I ended up overworking.”

The result — insomnia, anxiety, hair loss — are symptoms familiar to anyone who has gone through sustained periods of overwork.

She says people need to question why the sheer amount of work we do is so thoroughly woven into our identities these days — and looms so large in how we measure our success.

Harfoush’s career has taken her all over the world, helping people understand how technology is changing our behaviour and society itself. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Harfoush is perhaps a perfect example of the kind of multicultural digital native this country incubates. The Damascus-born, Toronto-raised author and public speaker is based in Paris these days, but her work has taken her all over the world. Her mission: helping people understand the often hidden ways that technology is changing our behaviour, both as individuals and within the places we work.

Harfoush’s own drive for creative prosperity got a chance to flower, she says, when her parents — an engineer and an architect — decided to leave their home in Syria and move to Canada when she was just five.

“They came here with three suitcases, a family of five,” she says. “My mom didn’t speak any English. She worked in Tim Hortons.”

Life wasn’t easy at the beginning, but being in Canada gave her family opportunities they would not have had elsewhere, and they worked hard to take advantage of them. Today her father teaches at Harvard, her mother works in interior design.

Harfoush has built a career that’s grounded in understanding technology, the impact it has on people, and how they adapt their lives and behaviour around it.

Part of that expertise can be traced back to her work with Don Tapscott on Grown Up Digital, the follow-up to his groundbreaking look at the generation of “digital natives” entering the workforce. Through her research, Harfoush met Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook. And that connection led her to work as a volunteer on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“This was the first large-scale movement driven by tech,” she recalls.

“I was so moved by the willingness of all these young people to throw it all behind this campaign … people forget how much of a long-shot he was.”

Rahaf Harfoush holds up her election-night passes to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign headquarters. She worked as a volunteer on Obama’s campaign, which was heavily driven by social media. (Rahaf Harfoush)

The work she did on the campaign was a lesson in how people used technology and social media to build the real human connections that powered Obama’s grass-roots driven election victory. Harfoush kept a journal throughout this period, and it became her first book, Yes We Did.

A common theme in Harfoush’s research has been the potential that comes from putting people at the centre of technological advancements, and this formed the core of another book project, her New York Times bestseller The Decoded Company.

It was co-written with the leaders of a Toronto-based firm called Klick, the world’s largest independent health care marketing agency. The book defines a decoded company as a business of any size that puts people ahead of customers and profit, and uses data to unlock its employees’ potential. The Decoded Company is billed as, “a powerful guide to building a data-centric corporate culture that unleashes talent and improves engagement.”

In contrast, Hustle And Float is in many ways a cautionary tale.

The book details Harfoush’s realization, partly as a result of her own experience with burnout, that she is part of a generation of people who have stopped putting their most human needs first, allowing their work to dominate their identities.

Technology has made it possible to work non-stop, no matter where we are, and that has enabled jobs to influence and transform how people conduct their entire waking lives. She says people need to be conscious of that, and not be drawn in to the point where they drown in their work.

“I saw something on Instagram the other day that said if you’re not going where you want to be in your life … consider what you’re doing between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. This is the narrative that I want to fight against,” Harfoush says.

She adds that she’s not against working hard, dreaming big, and sacrificing some things to build a life and a career. But Harfoush says people also need to redefine, “this idea of what success looks like and what is required for us to get there. I think there’s definitely room for improvement.”

Burnout: Stress at Work

From how we think about our jobs, to where and when we do them, the stress of modern work is affecting Canadians in a lot of ways and across industries.

This week, CBC News and The National take a look at the forces behind this stress and the ways we can avoid burning out. We’ll examine new approaches to productivity and creativity, how we structure shift work, the mental health effects of telecommuting and what Canada can learn from other countries.

For more on our series “Burnout: Stress At Work,” watch The National and read more at

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Just before barbecue season ignites, Heinz ketchup has launched a new TV ad to woo Canadians. The commercial climaxes with the brand smothering a lonely plate of fries to the tune of What About Love by Heart.

But the ad may not be enough to win back the hearts of Canadians who left Heinz a few years ago, angered by its decision to move its ketchup manufacturing operations from Leamington, Ont., to the U.S.

Many defectors turned to a relative newcomer to the ketchup scene, French’s, which promised to use only Canadian-grown tomatoes. 

French’s customers have remained loyal, allowing the brand to take a bite out of Heinz’s stranglehold on the Canadian ketchup market — a notable feat, considering Heinz has been selling ketchup in Canada for more than a century.

“Condiments are intrinsically linked to attitudes and habits,” said Sylvain Charlebois, a professor at Halifax’s Dalhousie University who specializes in food distribution and policy. 

“What French’s has accomplished in recent years is unheard of.”

French’s sustained success islikely due to a combination of ingredients, including a spate of free publicity, as well as a Canadian-made ketchup that offers a taste and price consumers find palatable.

“The Canadian stuff only gets you so far,” said food industry analyst Kevin Grier. “Their product must be good enough to stick around.”

French’s ketchup — owned by U.S. food company McCormick — launched in Canada in late 2015. According to market research company Euromonitor, the brand quickly gained ground, and snagged 5.1 per cent of Canadian retail ketchup sales by 2018. It ranks as Heinz’s biggest competitor.

Heinz ketchup —  owned by U.S. food company Kraft Heinz — still held 77.5 per cent of the market share in 2018. But that’s a 6.2 per cent drop from 2015.

Presumably, French’s growth has come at Heinz’s expense.

How did French’s do it?

A year before it merged with Kraft in 2015, Heinz planted the seed for potential troubles when it sold its Leamington processing plant and moved its Canadian ketchup operations to the U.S.

Kraft Heinz told CBC News that the company never actually left Leamington, as the plant’s new owner still processes many products for Heinz — other than ketchup. Kraft Heinz said the value of those products, such as tomato juice, is worth four times the Canadian retail ketchup market.

“Kraft Heinz continues to be a proud Canadian employer,” spokesperson Montana Brisbin said in an email.

But that wasn’t the perception of many Canadians when Heinz pulled its ketchup production, leaving some Leamington tomato farmers without a customer. 

Heinz sold its processing plant in Leamington, Ont., in 2014 and moved its ketchup operations to the U.S. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press)

In December of 2015, French’s came to the rescue, pledging to make ketchup with Leamington tomatoes.The move led to prolonged free publicity for the brand — the kind that money can’t buy.

First, a Facebook post praising French’s, and detailing how Heinz ketchup had left Leamington, went viral, with more than a quarter of a million shares.

“[That] was the catalyst,”said Joanne Duguay, of Bathurst, N.B. At that time, she decided to abandon Heinz for French’s.

“It was shabby what they did to Canadian farmers. You just can’t do that and think that people are going to turn around and just say, ‘OK, not a problem.'”

After briefly pulling it in 2016, Loblaws returned French’s ketchup to its shelves following a public outcry. (CBC)

Then, grocery giant Loblaws stopped selling French’s ketchup in March 2016 due to “low” demand. The move sparked outrage from fans on social media, so the grocer quickly backtracked and the event made headlines. As a result, French’s became a household name.

“Loblaws did them the biggest favour, because it just caught on with Canadians,” said Beth Mouratidis, of Barrie, Ont., who learned about French’s commitment to Leamington at that time.

“French’s came along like a knight on a white horse and saved the day, and I wanted to support that.”

The brand got even more free publicity in 2017 when it started bottling its ketchup in Canada to make it a 100 per cent Canadian-made product.

French’s started bottling its ketchup at a plant in North York, Ont., in 2017. (Jacqueline Hansen/CBC)

To top it all off, when the federal government imposed retaliatory tariffs last year on some U.S. imports — including ketchup — French’s got a shout-out from the prime minister.

“We have ketchup made in Canada — called French’s ketchup — that’s just great,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last September, when discussing the tariffs at a Council on Foreign Relations event in New York.

“Obviously, when you have your brand mentioned by the prime minister, it’s certainly publicity you can’t buy,” said Charlebois.

Taste and price matter, too

While French’s has had ample opportunity to win over Canadians, the love-affair likely wouldn’t have lasted unless customers agreed with the taste and price.

“The combination of the quality and price is probably allowing it to hold its own,” said food industry analyst, Grier.

CBC News checked major grocers’ regular prices online for both brands and found they were comparable.

And French’s parent company, McCormick, insists its ketchup’s taste is key.

“Our continued success and increase in sales over the past three years is driven by its great taste and pride in being prepared and bottled in Canada,” said Cheryl Radisa, vice-president of marketing for McCormick Canada, in an email.

Fans like Duguay and Mouratidis said the ketchup tastes pretty much like Heinz — and they’re happy with that.

Kraft Heinz will launch a new product in Canada next month: Mayochup, a condiment that combines Heinz’s ketchup and mayonnaise. (Kraft Heinz)

And the battle is far from over. Kraft Heinz said it’s about to step up its ketchup advertising campaigns. And next month, it launches a new product in Canada: Mayochup — a blend of Heinz ketchup and mayonnaise.

Kraft Heinz also suggests its future up north looks bright: It said its Canadian ketchup sales have grown over the past six months and are now higher than they were a year ago. 

“Canadians continue to be incredibly passionate about Heinz ketchup,” said spokesperson, Brisbin.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Friday it is recalling more than 320,000 Dodge Dart compact cars in North America — including 20,117 in Canada — that could roll away because of a defective part that could allow the shift cable to detach from the transmission.

In addition to the Canadian cars, the recall covers about 298,000 U.S. vehicles, 3,400 in Mexico and about 900 outside of North America.

The Italian-American automaker said the recall covers 2013 through 2016 model year automatic transmission Dart cars and that the defect could prevent drivers from shifting vehicles into park.

Fiat Chrysler said it is not aware of any crashes or injuries related to the issue but has several thousand reports of related repairs to vehicles. The company said a cable bushing may degrade after prolonged exposure to high ambient heat and humidity.

The company said owners should make sure they shut off the vehicle and engage the parking brake. Fiat Chrysler said it will replace the transmission side shifter cable bushing, but did not say when repairs will be ready.

Fiat Chrysler ended production of the Dart in 2016.

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Leigh Mitchell left a traditional office job in September 2017, after finding the culture and work structure incompatible with raising her two busy kids, then 13 and eight.

With its tight deadlines and intense pressure to be physically present in the office, “I just didn’t feel like the culture there was good for working moms,” said Mitchell, who lives in Toronto. 

In addition, she said, it was an old-fashioned work environment — “nothing was on the cloud.” If one of her kids woke up sick on a school morning, Mitchell would still have to find a way to get into the office and put the files she needed onto a memory stick so she could work from home.

When she raised these issues with her boss, Mitchell was told she should just get used to buying rotisserie chickens for dinner and “find a grandmother or another older person that would maybe like to be around kids.”

“I don’t know where that Mary Poppins person exists that just magically wants to help out,” she said.

Leigh Mitchell has a 25-hour-per-week job working remotely from home as a website editor, and runs a network for self-employed women on the side. She finds it better suits her lifestyle than her former office job. (Jenny Jay)

Today, Mitchell has a 25-hour-per-week job working remotely from home as a website editor, and runs a network for self-employed women on the side. The mix is working much better, she said.

Mitchell is not alone among women who have left a job for family reasons. The difficulties of managing family and work life — child-care shortages, schools that let out hours before the end of the work day — continue to push disproportionate numbers of women out of the workforce compared to men.

In 2018, 15 per cent of women who left their jobs and are now out of the labour force did so for personal or family reasons, according to Statistics Canada. In comparison, only three per cent of men who left jobs did so for the same reason.

But labour market experts say more flexible workplace policies across the board — regardless of gender or family status — are a key part of stopping the economy from hemorrhaging qualified female workers.

If we were able to raise female participation to that of men, we could add over 1.3 million people to Canada’s labour force.– Emna Braham , senior economist, Labour Market Information Council

Emna Braham, senior economist at the Labour Market Information Council in Ottawa, said women’s labour force participation in Canada is about eight per cent lower than it is for men.

That gap might seem modest on first glance, she said, “but when you’re looking in a context of growing skills and labour shortages, that actually has a very important significance.”

“If we were able to raise female participation to that of men, we could add over 1.3 million people to Canada’s labour force.”

Given that women represent 57 per cent of all people graduating from university — according to Statistics Canada data from 2016, the most recent year available — their absence removes a highly educated cohort from the labour market at a time when there’s a shortage of skilled workers.

Of course, access to child care must improve as well. A Statistics Canada report released last week found that one third of parents with kids under six had difficulty finding child care

But alongside quality care for kids, a flexible work environment is a critical piece of the puzzle. 

“The literature on flexible work is a bit smaller, but we think it’s still something that’s very important,” said Braham. “Even if you have access to child care, it often entails flexibility from your employer to drop off and pick up your child.”

Without a range of flexible work options, workplaces “cannot help women reconcile what is unreconcilable.”

Flexibility benefits more than just moms

When employers offer more than just the standard 9-5 day in the office, it makes them appealing to more than just moms.

“We’re also in a context of millennials entering and developing in the workforce, and they have a very strong preference for flexible working arrangements,” said Braham.

Tara Dragon, an Edmonton-based human resources expert who founded flexible work organization Work Evolution, agrees. 

“Flexibility is something of value to people regardless of where they are in their career,” she said. 

“Lots has been studied about the millennials and how they like variety, but we also know that folks who are late in their careers — the ones with all of the experience and organizational history and knowledge — they don’t want to just stop working one day. They want to ease out just as some people would like to ease in at different points in their career.”

Flexible work includes things like part-time or off-peak hours, the option to work remotely and even short-duration contracts.

Toronto mom of two Jennifer Hargreaves said her own quest for work that would allow her to manage her load at home led her to found tellent — an online resource for women that provides access to flexible work opportunities as well as return-to-work programs for moms who’ve been out of the workforce for a while.

Jennifer Hargreaves founded tellent, a community and resource that helps connect women to flexible work arrangements, after finding herself carrying most of the responsibility for the care of her two children. (Andy Heics photo )

While working for a branding agency in London, Hargreaves was laid off when she was four months pregnant. Newly married and recently moved from contract to a full-time position, her bosses had taken the opportunity to say that the role “wouldn’t suit someone looking to have a family,” said Hargreaves. “Then I told them I was pregnant, and four days later I was out of there.”

When her family moved back to Canada in March 2014, Hargreaves was pregnant with her second child. Convinced that no one would hire a pregnant woman, and lacking a network of business contacts in Toronto, Hargreaves struggled to see how she could maintain a career.

Her husband, an investment banker who manages a team spread across New York, London and Montreal, travels frequently. “I thought, ‘Oh, well I guess this is my lot in life. I’m the mom — it’s my job to stay home.’

“But the problem with that is I love to work.”

Trust vs. accommodation

Too often, when flexibility is extended to a parent who needs to work from home because a child has a doctor’s appointment, or to leave early to make a summer camp pickup, workplaces treat these as accommodations — as though they’re doing the employee a favour, said Hargreaves.

“These companies don’t have a culture of trust; they have a culture of accommodation,” she said. In a culture of trust, managers understand that people will get their work done, regardless of whether they’re in the line of sight of their bosses between nine and five, she said. “If Joe is not at his desk, who cares?”

In October 2018, Amanda Munday founded a Toronto-based co-working space called The Workaround, which offers on-demand child care.

Co-working spaces are used by the self-employed, remote workers, small startups, creative professionals and anyone else who might need a workspace alternative to the home office or crowded coffee shop some or all of the time. They can also offer an opportunity for water-cooler conversation for those looking for an antidote to some of the isolating aspects of working from home.

The Workaround is a co-working space in Toronto that offers child care. (Amanda Munday)
Munday was inspired to start The Workaround as a result of her own challenges managing family and work responsibilities.

“I felt like a real outcast returning to tech as a parent,” said Munday. With meetings frequently held at 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. — incompatible with daycare drop-offs and pickups — she felt like “the whole infrastructure” wasn’t set up to help her succeed.

In order to keep the economy thriving … we need to shift our idea of what the workday looks like.– Amanda Munday , founder and CEO of The Workaround

Munday is clear to note that it’s not just women availing themselves of the co-working and child-care services at The Workaround. About 40 per cent of clients are dads.

“One tech executive father came in early on a Tuesday morning; his nanny had got called for jury duty,” said Munday. “We had never met them before, but he was able to utilize our emergency child care.”

Same-day child-care emergencies are par for the course with parenthood, and Munday said it makes good business sense for employers to offer things like flexible hours and remote working options — especially given the number of millennials becoming parents.

“We’ve got this boom of a workforce that’s moving into the parenting years. In order to keep the economy thriving, to address tech and new jobs, we need to support parents at work and we need to shift our idea of what the workday looks like.

“It’s not an HR issue, or a diversity and inclusion issue. It’s an economic issue about fiscal responsibility. It’s expensive to lose senior employees. It’s expensive to have a woman go on maternity leave and not come back.”

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Sears Holdings Corp. is suing its former chairman and largest shareholder Eddie Lampert, alleging the billionaire stripped the once iconic company of more than $2 billion US in assets.

The lawsuit, which was filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Southern District of New York, also names former Sears directors, including U.S. Treasury Steven Mnuchin as well as executives at Lampert’s hedge fund ESL.

Sears, which also operates Kmart, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October amid years of massive losses and sales drops. Lampert saved the company by acquiring the assets in a court-approved auction through an affiliate of ESL in February. Unsecured creditors had tried to block the sale, maintaining that Lampert was to blame for the company’s downfall.

Sears Canada went bankrupt in 2017, with many long-time employees losing part of their pensions and suppliers left unpaid. Lampert had sold off the company’s lucrative real estate and board members received bonuses.

The 110-page U.S. lawsuit cited sales or spinoffs of key assets that were allegedly used to line Lampert’s own pockets and that of his hedge fund. That includes the spinoff of Lands’ End in 2014 and Lampert’s real estate investment trust Seritage Growth created four years ago to extract revenue from Sears’ properties.

Lambert to fight lawsuit

“Altogether, Lampert caused more than $2 billion of assets to be transferred to himself and Sears’ other shareholders and beyond the reach of Sears’ creditors,” the suit stated.

ESL said it “vigorously” disputes the claims and calls them “baseless” and “fanciful” in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

“The debtors’ allegations are misleading or just flat wrong,” ESL said, adding that Sears received proceeds of more than $3 billion from the transactions, all of which were applied to reduce debt and fund operations.

“ESL was a constant source of financing for Sears Holdings for many years,” it said.

Lampert, who merged Sears and Kmart in 2005, steered Sears into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. The company’s corporate parent had 687 stores and 68,000 employees at the time of the bankruptcy filing. At its peak in 2012, its stores numbered 4,000. The approval of Lampert’s new business means roughly 425 stores and 45,000 jobs will be preserved.

Unsecured creditors, who rank at the bottom of the list to be paid, objected to Sears’ sale to Lampert, alleging falsified financial projections, excessive buybacks, and a spinoff of brands that stripped the business of key assets in a 100-plus page document filed in late January. It chronicled what it called a “tortured story of Sears.” That served as a preview of Wednesday’s lawsuit.

Before the sale, Lampert personally owned 31 per cent of the Sears’ outstanding stock, and his hedge fund has an 18.5 per cent stake, according to FactSet. He stepped down as CEO in October after serving in that role since 2013.

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American Media Inc. is selling its tabloid the National Enquirer for $100 million US to James Cohen, chief executive of Hudson News, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the agreement.

The National Enquirer had admitted to paying hush money to help U.S. President Donald Trump get elected and been accused of attempting to blackmail Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The weekly tabloid along with two sister publications will be purchased by the head of Hudson News known for its airport newsstands, the report said.

This comes a week after AMI had said it was looking at “strategic options” for the National Enquirer, as well as for the Globe and the National Examiner brands.

The sale is expected to reduce AMI’s debt to $355 million US, the Washington Post report said.

Last week, the New York Times reported that owners of the National Enquirer were in talks to sell the tabloid to the California billionaire Ronald Burkle.

According to media reports, Paul Pope, one of the heirs of the National Enquirer founder Generoso Pope Jr, had also been in the list of bidders.

On Tuesday, Pope, according to the New York Post, dropped his bid to buy the supermarket tabloid from American Media.

Over its 92-year history, the National Enquirer has enticed readers in supermarket checkout lines with sensational headlines and photos about celebrities. The tabloid’s website claims it reaches an audience of 5 million.

Earlier in February, Inc CEO Bezos accused the publication of trying to blackmail him with the threat of publishing intimate photos.

The National Enquirer and Hudson News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Toronto stock index closed at a record high Thursday, amid gains in health care, consumer and industrial stocks.

The TSX closed at 16,612, up 68 points, continuing the bull run that has seen it rise 15.8 per cent since the beginning of the year. The last high point in July 2018 was 16,567.

There was strong trading in cannabis stocks, including Canopy Growth, which rose eight per cent after making a deal to buy U.S.-based Acreage Holdings.

The market was also buoyed by strong retail sales figures, with Statistics Canada reporting sales rose 0.8 per cent in February, the first increase since October. E-commerce and new car sales were particularly strong.

Strength in oil prices contributed to the market ebullience, with the benchmark North American contract trading at $64.03 US a barrel after a decline in U.S. inventories and continued supply restraint from OPEC producers. 

Oil companies were gainers on the Toronto market. But Rogers Communications was down after disappointing earnings, and fears of a global slowdown kept a lid on the overall market..

Next week, the Bank of Canada will give its latest interest rate decision and revise its economic estimates. Many observers expect Gov. Stephen Poloz could remove all reference to future rate hikes, given signs that the economy will cool later in the year.

U.S. stocks also remained strong, after a jump in retail sales for February pointed to healthy consumer spending. Earnings have also been strong. The broad-based S&P index closed at 2,905, near its high of 2,903.

The Dow index was up 110 points to 26,570, up 14 per cent on the year.

Two newly-listed stocks, Pinterest and Zoom Media, contributed to momentum in the U.S. market.

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Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, is urging the financial sector and, in particular, central banks to play an increasing role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Writing in the Guardian in a piece co-authored by François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, he urged banks to find ways to protect their portfolios from the impact of climate change.

“As financial policymakers and prudential supervisors we cannot ignore the obvious physical risks before our eyes. Climate change is a global problem, which requires global solutions, in which the whole financial sector has a central role to play,” they wrote.

Fires, drought, flooding and other damage caused by climate change “negatively affect health, decrease productivity and destroy wealth,” they said, pointing to the five-fold increase in insured losses over the past three decades.

Banks also are at risk of holding assets that could drop in value catastrophically because they are overtaken in the transition to a lower-carbon economy.  

Group of central  banks make recommendations

The warning comes as Environment and Climate Change Canada warns that Canada is being disproportionately hit by the impact of climate change.

The Bank of Canada is a member, alongside the Bank of England, in the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS), a group of 18 central banks who have been studying what steps the financial system can take to provide leadership on climate change.

Its first policy report, just released, makes several recommendations:

  • Acknowledge that climate-related risks are a source of financial risk.
  • Develop new tools to analyze the long-term impact of climate change on investment.
  • Improve the quality of data used to make financial decisions that will contribute to a lower-carbon economy.
  • Scale up green finance and increase lending for low-carbon solutions.

“Carbon emissions have to decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital,” Carney, a former governor of the Bank of Canada, warns in the Guardian.

Risk to portfolios

He says central banks have to take the lead in developing data and hinted that companies should be required to adhere to a set of standard disclosure requirements around climate risk.

“First, to support the market and regulators in adequately assessing the risks and opportunities from climate change, robust and internationally consistent disclosure is vital. The market and policymakers must continue to work together to determine the most decision-useful metrics for climate-related financial disclosures,” he said.

Hedge funds such as BlackRock and large pension funds such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board already are pricing carbon risk into their portfolios. However the NGFS is urging all of the financial sector to start thinking about the risk to their portfolios.

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Brace yourself, BBMers: the company that runs the iconic messaging app invented by BlackBerry more than a decade ago is ending the free version of the service for consumers.

Indonesian media conglomerate Emtek partnered with Waterloo-based BlackBerry in 2016 to expand the company’s BBM messaging service to new customers, and add new functionality.

Invented in 2005, BBM — an acronym for BlackBerry Messenger — grew quickly to become the world’s most popular phone-to-phone messaging service, in the early days of smartphones. It was popular as a safer alternative to text messages because of its robust encryption.

But it was quickly eclipsed by services such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and many others, as BlackBerry’s lost dominance in smartphones trickled down to BBM.

As part of the deal, Emtek took over the running of the free consumer-oriented version of the service, while BlackBerry retained control of BBMe, its service for business customers.

“We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date,” Emtek said on Thursday in a blog post. “The technology industry however, is very fluid, and in spite of our substantial efforts, users have moved on to other platforms, while new users proved difficult to sign on.”

“Though we are sad to say goodbye, the time has come to sunset the BBM consumer service, and for us to move on,” the company said, adding that the service will be shut down as of May 31.

The decision brings an end to the consumer focused version of the app, but BlackBerry is trying to win over some of those users by opening up their enterprise service to individuals.

Starting today, anyone with an Apple or Android smartphone can download the BBMe app and use it for free for the first year. After that, there’s a fee of $2.50 US for six months of use, or $5 a year.

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Earth, meet Polo.

Polo Ralph Lauren on Thursday launched a version of its iconic polo shirt made entirely of recycled plastic bottles and dyed through a process that uses zero water.

David Lauren, the youngest son of the company’s founder and its chief innovation officer, told The Associated Press ahead of the announcement that the new shirt is part of a broader strategy of fresh environmental goals throughout the manufacturing process.

“Every day we’re learning about what’s happened with global warming and what’s happening all around the world, and our employees and our customers are really feeling that it’s time to step up and make a difference,” Lauren said.

12 bottles = 1 shirt

The Polo isn’t the first of its kind. Smaller brands around the world are using repurposed and recycled materials. In announcing Earth Polo, Ralph Lauren committed to removing at least 170 million bottles from landfills and oceans by 2025. The shirts are manufactured in Taiwan, where the bottles are collected. Each uses an average 12 bottles.

The shirts are produced in partnership with First Mile, an organization that collects the bottles turned into yarn and, ultimately, fabric. The new fibres will also be used for existing performance wear already made of polyfibres, which are popular for their ability to wick away moisture.

The Earth Polo went on sale Thursday, ahead of Monday’s Earth Day, at and retail stores around the world. It comes in styles for men and women in green, white, navy and light blue. The shirts are not more expensive than other Polos.

Ralph Lauren has taken on environmental initiatives over the years, but it’s putting into place a more significant strategy aimed at changing both its corporate culture and how it thinks about the clothes it produces. The effort includes a new supply chain and sustainability officer, Halide Alagoz, who said more details will be released in June.

“At the moment we’re refreshing our approach and framework around sustainability,” she said.

Fashion house looking to sustainable cotton

Among the company’s other goals: the use of 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton by 2025 and 100 per cent recyclable or sustainably sourced packaging materials by the same year.

Other fashion powerhouses are also getting more aggressive on the environment.

Late last year, Burberry and H&M were among fashion stakeholders to sign on to the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, launched at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, in Poland. The charter contains a vision to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Ralph Lauren is not a signatory but is exploring the call to action.

As for Earth Polo, a huge threat facing oceans today involves trillions of tiny plastic and chemical-covered non-plastic microfibres that flow from washing machines through drain water, placing smaller fish and other sea life, such as anemones, at risk. Alagoz said Ralph Lauren is working with experts who say the impact of turning a plastic bottle into recycled microfibre is “much less than that bottle ending up in the ocean.”

The broader question of biodegradability of such fibres remains unresolved. For Polo Earth, the story is about recycling and reusing, Lauren said.

“There’s so much out in the world that is not good for the environment. Whatever materials we can turn into threads, we’ll start looking at other opportunities,” he said. “Right now, we’re trying to make sure that what we produce is as good for the environment as possible, or at least helps clean up another problem. Are we creating a new problem? I think we’re creating solutions, or at least trying to find solutions.”

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