Monday July 11, 2022
Never wishy washy
If there's one thing we can all agree on, it's this. Linus commits.

Unlike his best friend Charlie Brown, who spends most of his time in 'undecided' territory, Linus knows who he is (philosopher, intellectual, and theologian) and what he wants (Miss Othmar). 

He credits most of his confidence to his security blanket. It goes wherever he goes and has more uses than a Swiss Army knife, including keep him warm on nights in the pumpkin patch. 

That's something graduate design student Mireille Steinhage knows all about. She's invented a solar-powered blanket made from conductive yarn as part of a project called People Power which is looking for ways to make renewable energy products more accessible and affordable.

We're pretty sure Linus will be excited about this one because, you know...

Happiness is a warm blanket ;)
Outage and outrage
Source: CBC/Rogers
As of yesterday, there were still people without internet access or an ability to connect to mobile networks, following Rogers' countrywide outage on Friday.

Company CEO Tony Staffieri issued an apology to the public on Saturday, accepting blame for the outage that cut access to phone and internet service for millions, shutdown Interac, and even interrupted 911 service.

"We've narrowed the cause to a network system failure following a maintenance update...that update caused some of the routers in our system to malfunction and that malfunction caused traffic overload."

The company didn't say just how many of its customers are still without internet or mobile access. It did, however, indicate there would be credits for customers who were affected.

Canadian industry minister Francois-Philipe Champagne announced yesterday that he plans to meet with Staffieri, along with other telcom leaders, to discuss ways to prevent this from happening again.

The outage has renewed pressure on the federal government to do something about the concentration of power held by so few telcom companies, including breaking them up into smaller companies.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh went as far as to call on the government to halt Rogers' merger with Shaw.
Premiers tackle nurse shortage
Source: Twitter/@CTVNews
Canada's premiers are meeting today and tomorrow in Victoria, B.C. to discuss the state of healthcare in the country.

The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians is sounding the alarm, saying that if anything should be discussed at these meetings, it's the crisis going on inside emergency rooms around the country.

ERs have been closing or restricting hours amid a staff shortage rocking the healthcare systems of every Canadian province.

The federal government currently contributes 22% of healthcare costs in the country. B.C. premier John Horgan, who chairs the Council of the Federation (official name for group of country's premiers), is calling on the feds to increase that contribution to 35%.

Horgan says this will allow for a major investment in replenishing the staffs of all healthcare sectors in every province.

At the same time, a big hurdle the sector faces in trying to staff up is the credentialing system, which is conducted at the provincial level, making it difficult for staff such as doctors and nurses to jump from province to province. This will be among the topics of discussion at today and tomorrow's meetings.
Tech industry layoffs
A wave of tech employees were laid off over the last several months as investors have become bearish on a market poised to enter a recession in the near future.

But in an industry reliant on highly specialized skill sets such as computer and software engineering, many laid off employees were able to land on their feet within one or two days.

Companies such as Netflix, Substack, Twitter, Wealthsimple, and Thinkific laid off hundreds of employees in Q2 of 2022, and while many found work right away, plenty are also stopping to take a breather.

Around two thirds of those laid off got right back on the horse, but in a labour market that nonetheless is still very favourable to employees, they've been empowered to ask potential employers for more.

It's especially favourable for workers in the digital space, which continues to grow rapidly as a source of commerce everywhere.

The Information and Communications Technology Council, a not-for-profit that consults on labour policy, released a report in 2019 saying Canada alone would have a demand for 193,000 digital-savvy employees by 2022, and would exceed 305,000 by next year.
Costs skyrocket as costs skyrocket
Toronto is in a housing crisis, even despite the Bank of Canada-driven downturn. Demand far outpaces supply, and it appears the crisis is about to be exacerbated by the city's development fees.

The cost developers must pay to take on new projects is re-evaluated every five years based on a standard formula. That formula is about to drive costs up by around 50% or tens of thousands of dollars, likely resulting in the cancellation of many developments.

“It is just completely wrong-headed. It’s almost as if there's some group that does not want housing supply, it's almost as if they want to stop growth in Toronto,” President of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario Richard Lyall told CP24 this week.

While criticism is often laid at the feet of developers for profiting off a housing crisis, the reality is that housing construction is a private enterprise, and in order for supply to be introduced into the market at a rate that will help cool the market, it has to be affordable for developers.

Toronto mayor John Tory is said to be receptive to amending the fee structure in order to keep housing starts on track.
Peaking your interest
Source: Google Maps
The economy continues to run white hot, and with inflation expectations beginning to become unanchored in Canada, Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem may go all in on Wednesday's rate hike.

Unanchored inflation expectations essentially mean Canadians don't believe that rising interest rates are going to do anything to slow inflation. One way of attempting to change their minds would be a rate hike of 75 basis points or even a full percentage point.

The problem is that a significant degree of what's driving inflation is truly out of the hands of Tiff Macklem and the Bank of Canada. Raising rates won't make Russia vacate Ukraine, nor will it unclog global supply chains.

At the same time, as has been discussed here several times, aggressively raising rates is almost definitely going to trigger a recession later this year or early next year, which would certainly put a damper on outsized consumer demand in the Canadian economy.

Macklem insists he can forge a soft landing with the BoC's monetary policy. Should he not be able to do that, many businesses and consumers at this point, according to recent BoC surveys, would trade the soft landing for any landing at all. 
Cementing our future
Source: Glenn Asakawa/CU Boulder
Two gigatons of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere every year through the production and use of cement alone. That's 2 trillion kilograms.

Imagine if we could erase that stat entirely at the drop of a dime? Now is that time, as researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have identified a way to make cement using living organisms – algae.

Professor Wil Srubar, lead researcher on the project, was on a trip to Thailand and it occurred to him that limestone — the base mineral in cement made of calcium carbonate — could potentially be cultivated naturally, in a way that doesn't involve the release of CO2 when it's incinerated during cement production.

Srubar discovered that algae can produce biogenic limestone, meaning the algae remove carbon dioxide, thus making it a perfect substitute for the limestone mined from quarries and responsible for so much carbon pollution.

The process of cement production from biogenic limestone is carbon negative, and could be a groundbreaking development in the fight against climate change, given the degree to which humanity produces cement annually.
Santana takes a break
Source: Twitter/@SantanaCarlos
The legendary Carlos Santana is taking a little breather from his tour after collapsing on stage last week due to heat exhaustion, and has postponed his next six shows.

“Carlos is doing well and is anxious to be back on stage soon. He just needs rest. Doctors have recommended that Mr. Santana gets rest to recuperate fully," said Michael Vrionis, Santana's tour manager.

A bit of scary moment to be sure. Santana was hospitalized for heat exhaustion and dehydration experienced during a show just outside of Detroit on Tuesday.

The man is force of nature, regardless. It's already impressive that he's even on tour at 74 and still bringin' his unique latin-meets-rock-n-roll one-of-a-kind guitar playing.

Let's not forget, this man played the first Woodstock. He's done it all, and will continue to do more. And just in case you were wondering, his show scheduled for Aug. 7th in Toronto is still a go ;)
The Charlie Brown-iest quiz
Ok Stakers, let's test your Peanuts knowledge! Take the quiz here...don't worry, we won't pull it away before you can take a shot ;)
Have a great day ahead Staker!

Today's edition was written by Michael Cowan and Maureen Norman
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