Joe Mimran reaffirms commitment to helping victims of Bangladesh tragedy

TORONTO – As the one-year anniversary of the fatal factory collapse in Bangladesh approaches, the creative director of Joe Fresh said the brand’s parent company remains committed to helping victims and families affected by the tragedy.

“There’s been a lot of work done with respect to that,” said Joe Mimran in an interview at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week on Wednesday.

“There’s about 40 brands that are involved, and I know about 15 of them have all committed so far.”

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  • Bangladesh factory collapse prompts reforms, but long-term impact uncertain

  • Loblaw commits financial aid to Bangladesh factory collapse victims

More than 1,100 people died in the April 24 tragedy at the illegally constructed Rana Plaza, making it the world’s worst garment industry accident. Items created for Joe Fresh were among those manufactured on-site, but a number of other clothing makers were also housed in the complex.

Last October, Joe Fresh brand owner Loblaw Companies Ltd. said it would provide short-term financial support to all workers or dependents of New Wave Style (which produced Joe Fresh items) and planned to join with British retailer Primark to provide financial assistance to workers of all retailers in the factory plaza.

Bob Chant, senior vice-president of corporate affairs and communications for Loblaw, told The Canadian Press in an interview last December that the company was proceeding with short-term compensation plans and had plans for long-term compensation as well.

Loblaw has also contributed $1 million to Save the Children Bangladesh and the Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed, in support of programming for workers in the garment industry.

The company also joined several retailers in signing a pact to improve fire and building safety in Bangladesh. The agreement requires that the companies conduct independent safety inspections, make their reports on factory conditions public and cover the costs for needed repairs.

The companies that agreed to the pact join two other retailers that signed the contract in 2012: PVH, which makes clothes under the Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and Izod labels, and German retailer Tchibo.

Mimran said he was proud of how his brand’s parent company had rallied around what was “a tragic situation.”

©2014The Canadian Press

What does a happy, confident stroke caregiver look like in Canada?

TORONTO – Having a stroke is a sudden event and often shakes up the family dynamic when your loved ones turn into full-time caregivers. But what does a happy, confident caregiver look like in Canada?

A new University of Toronto study paints a picture of a women looking after her spouse and usually older, at about 58 years old. She has good physical health and the person she’s looking after is typically recovering from a severe stroke and is dealing with memory problems or cognitive impairment.

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“I was most surprised that caregivers were happier when caring for a family member who survived a more severe stroke. But when a stroke is labelled mild, expectations are high and the issues are more subtle. That can cause more frustration because survivors of a mild stroke still have problems,” said Dr. Jill Cameron, lead author of the study.

READ MORE: Some Canadians misunderstanding stroke recovery process: report

Cameron and her team studied 399 family members who were looking after stroke survivors. For two years, the researchers followed up with the people who had turned into full-time caregivers.

Caregivers generally don’t get much time to prepare since stroke survivors could leave hospital and head home within just days or weeks.

READ MORE: 5 lifestyle changes to improve your heart’s health

Cameron said older caregivers tend to handle the situation better because they could be retired or working part-time.

“That might be one reason older caregivers are the most content,” she said. “They’re most likely to be retired and less likely to have to juggle responsibilities of a job and children along with providing post-stroke care.”

The research suggested happier caregivers also kept up with their own hobbies, and activities. They carved out a space for their individual time, which is key.

The study builds on previous research that suggested stroke patients’ health outcomes are influenced by their caregivers’ outlook. In that case, University of Kentucky researchers said stroke survivors and their spouse caregivers need to be treated together, “as a unit, not individually.”

“When the spouse has a high level of self-esteem and optimism, the patient has lower levels of depression,” said study author Dr. Misook Chung.

READ MORE: Stroke patients’ health outcomes influenced by spouse’s optimism

Yet the changes in a spouse caregiver’s outlook and its impact on the patient’s depression are often ignored, Chung said.

“Spouses often assist the survivor in their own care, while also trying to adapt to the changes in their own lives as a result of providing care,” said Chung.

They end up quitting their jobs, taking on their spouses’ responsibilities to keep the house running, or they’re juggling their kids too.

Cameron’s findings were published Thursday afternoon in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

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©2014Shaw Media

Migration to Alberta is exploding

It’s looking increasingly like Alberta isn’t just returning to the heady years of its last oil boom — it’s trumping them.

The latest piece of evidence comes in the form of inter-provincial population trends, or the number of people moving in and out of each province.

In 2013, the rest of the country (save Saskatchewan) witnessed an exodus of folks from their province of origin (see chart).

Where did they go? Virtually all to Alberta.

“A whopping 43,000 people flocked to Alberta last year,” BMO economist Robert Kavcic said in note published Thursday.

The surge in inter-provincial migration – the biggest in 23 years – bumped Alberta’s population up by 1.1 per cent, according to Kavcic.

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The demographic contrast between Alberta and the rest of the country is stark, but closely mirrors what’s happening on the jobs fronts (see second chart below).

READ MORE: Job growth has flatlined across the country — except in Alberta

Underpinning all this growth is – surprise – the oil and gas sector. And in the oil patch, job prospects are getting even brighter.

The Conference Board of Canada said in a report Thursday the sector is now “at the start of a slow pivot away from investment-fuelled growth” toward “more stable, export-driven growth going forward.”

Translation: It appears Big Oil is about to ramp up shipments of energy exports, which will boost job growth as more hands are required to get the job done.

One drag on this sunny outlook is the lack of infrastructure. Limited pipeline development poses a “significant downside risk” to the outlook, the Conference Board says.

But the board nevertheless expects the province to generate nearly 47,000 net new jobs which will push the province’s unemployment rate down to 4.4 per cent by the end of the year.

INFOGRAPHIC: February’s ‘disappointing’ jobs report

The national unemployement rate, meanwhile, is stuck at 7.0 per cent. In B.C., it’s 6.4 per cent, and in Ontario and Quebec, the rate is 7.8 and 8.7 per cent, respectively.

The population shift serves to underscore the “starkly different labour market conditions in different areas of the country,” BMO’s Kavcic said.

Inter-provincial migration patterns look an awful lot like job growth trends in Alberta, and elsewhere (chart above, BMO). 

Spring brings no end to wintry weather stats for Winnipeg – Winnipeg

WINNIPEG — The first day of spring is ushering in a change in the forecast, with snow on the way and temperatures falling well below seasonal  again.

Winnipeg has had a full helping of everything this winter.

The city has endured extreme cold, especially in the months of December and January. Normally the mean temperature for December would be around -13.2 C. This year it was -20.6 C, making it the sixth coldest December on record. The all-time coldest December was in 1879, when the mean temperature was -26 C.

The mean temperature for January was -20.1 C, still below normal but closer to the average (-16.4 C). This January on its own did not even crack the Top 50 for coldest Januarys.

February’s mean temperature of -20.0 C was just outside the top 20, ranking 21st for coldest on record and the coldest in 35 years. February’s normal mean temperature is -13.2 C.

Of course, snow has been another issue. Usually the total snowfall for the season is 114 centimetres. As of March 19, 151 cm has fallen in Winnipeg and this won’t be the last we’ll see of it. Even if you discount what is still to come in March, April and May usually add another 13 cm.

Greg MacKay illustrates the weather with these photos of his feet in his Winnipeg backyard on March 17 in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Submitted by Greg MacKay / Global News

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The last two winters have been summed up really well by Greg MacKay, one of our Global viewers. These three photos were all taken on March 17 of their respective year. In 2011-2012, we had 80.8 cm of snow. The 2012-13 snowfall total was the 14th biggest in recorded history, with 176.6 cm, and this year is not too far off.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski recalls the last time Winnipeg saw harsh winters back to back, in the 1990s: 1995-96 and 1996-97.

“Things never repeat exactly in the climate world, and I’m certainly not forecasting anything yet, but those two back-to-back snowy and cold winters of 1995-96 and 1996-97 were followed by a dry and very mild winter of 1997-98. One hopes that next winter will be much nicer,” he said.

The first day of spring could be the last day this March when the temperature goes above 0 C, with highs below -10 C forecast through the weekend and snow forecast for Thursday evening and Friday.

©2014Shaw Media

Fire destroys several homes in Devon

EDMONTON – A number of homes in Devon were either damaged or destroyed by fire Thursday morning.

Fire officials says three homes were destroyed, two of which were levelled by the blaze. Another home is partially standing, but the roof has been burned out.

There are no reports of injuries.

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“Before they got here, the top of our house, where the bedroom is, was starting to burn,” said Suzanne Cole. “By the time they got water on it,” she explained, her voice breaking, “it was pretty… far gone.”

Residents of Devon tell Global News a fire – that is believed to have started at one home – spread to at least two others.

“Family is safe and sound,” said Ivan Laing, whose rental home was affected. “That’s the only thing running through my mind: what it could have been. Well, this is a heck of a lot better than what it could have been.”

Laing said he thinks the fire started in his garage.

Neighbours said they heard a number of explosions, which fire crews believe may have been propane and vehicle tires exploded.

Some residents expressed concerns about the time it took for fire crews to arrive on scene.  However, officials say they were on scene within minutes of the call.

Damage has been estimated to be $2 million.

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