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Cheaper data plans and air passenger bill of rights: CBC’s Marketplace consumer cheat sheet





Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

Want this in your inbox? Get the Marketplace newsletter every Friday.

Are cheaper data plans finally here?

Does $30 a month for one gigabyte of data sound like a deal? Canada’s big three telcos have each agreed to offer at least one plan at that price. The CRTC came to the agreement with Bell, Rogers and Telus after ordering the companies to fill the need for low-cost data-only plans. Critics have said the plans telcos originally proposed fail to meet the data needs of low-income people in Canada.

Going green this Christmas

It turns out the season of giving is also the worst time for the environment. It’s estimated that Canadians toss out 25 per cent more trash over the holidays. But there are ways to have a greener Christmas. Some tips include opting for the plainest wrapping paper, reusing bows and ribbons and avoiding glitter.

A lot of the products Canadians buy over Christmas will wind up in the trash. (Shutterstock)

Call for medical implants registry

Is your medical device registered? A growing number of countries are promising to do better to track devices like pacemakers and artificial hips after CBC’s Implant Files investigation. The international series (including our story on breast implants) revealed that tens of thousands of medical devices were approved for sale with little scientific evidence. In Canada there is only a registry for replacement joints and even that is not mandatory in all provinces. Advocates are now calling for that to change.

Facebook knows a lot about you

Even more than you think. A new report in the New York Times alleges Facebook gave some companies, including the Royal Bank of Canada, access to users’ private messages without their consent. RBC disputes the reporting, but it raises questions about how much information Facebook gets from your account, including your activity outside the platform.

The New York Times reported that Facebook gave some companies more extensive access to users’ personal data than it has previously revealed. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

Lost baggage? You could be entitled to compensation

But only if Canada’s proposed passenger bill of rights passes. The federal government just tabled the legislation. Regulations would include compensation for lost luggage and between $400 and $1,000 for delays, depending on why and how long you’re left waiting. One consumer advocate says the new bill of rights is missing an ombudsperson to review passenger complaints.

Transport Canada’s new regulations would establish a sliding scale of compensation for flight delays. (Luke MacGregor/Reuters)

What else is going on?

A new survey says most Canadian employees are ready to quit their jobs. Among 1,001 Canadians and 1,000 Americans surveyed, 37 per cent said they were either actively or casually looking for a new job, and another 36 per cent said they’d consider a new position if recruited.

You should use cash to buy legal cannabis, according to Canada’s privacy watchdog. Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien says avoiding using credit cards will prevent the collection of personal information. Some Canadians have been barred for life from entering the United States after admitting to using cannabis.

Health Canada is taking steps to restrict the amount of alcohol allowed in sugary premixed drinks. The agency says the drinks are becoming a growing risk to public health, especially for young people.

This week in recalls

These cauliflower, red leaf lettuce and green leaf lettuce products could be contaminated with E. coli; these newborn snowsuits could pose a choking hazard; this pre-lit artificial pine tree with white lights could pose a fire hazard; this concentrated cleaner has a child-resistant cap that may not function as required; this fabric book could pose a choking hazard for small children; this bedside fire alarm and clock could fail to operate and fully alert consumers to a fire; these wooden toy planes in red and blue could pose a choking hazard to young children; these fish fryers could pose a burn hazard; these baby girls’ running shoes have a hook and loop fastener that may detach and could pose a choking hazard for young children; this propane conversion kit could pose a risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

Marketplace wants to hear from you

We want to hear about your experience with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb as a guest, host or neighbour. Email us at While we know these platforms are international, we are focusing only on Canadian stories right now.

It’s shopping season and we need your help. We’re on the hunt for Canada’s worst sale! Ever spotted a sale price higher than the original price? Items on sale all out of stock? Does the company use their pricing to make you believe you’re getting a better deal than you actually are? We want to hear about it! Send us your story at


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Future of Ottawa: Coffee with Francis Bueckert





Francis Bueckert: When it comes to the current landscape of coffee-roasting companies and independent cafes in Ottawa, I think we are at a really interesting moment in time. There are more local roasters that are doing artisanal small-batch production—with more attention to the quality and origin of the beans.

With larger corporations such as Starbucks closing locations, it has opened a bit of space for local players to grow. We have been lucky to work with many folks in the coffee-roasting community, and we have found that there is a willingness to collaborate among different coffee roasters. For example, when Cloudforest started back in 2014, we were roasting our coffee at Happy Goat and it was the expertise of their head roaster Hans that helped me learn how to roast. Other companies such as Brown Bag Coffee have also lent a hand when we needed extra roasting capacity. There are others, such as Lulo, Mighty Valley Coffee, Bluebarn, The Artery, and Little Victories that are also part of the growing local coffee community. It’s small roasters like these who have shown me what a coffee community can look like, and that we can help to elevate each other, rather than being locked in competition.

If you care to make a prediction… What’s happening to the local café industry in 2021?

We believe that there is hope and that 2021 can be a big pivot year for small roasters and cafes.

This year will not be ideal from a business point of view. However, it could create a shift in people’s attitude toward where they get their coffee. We are holding out hope that people will support the roasters and cafes that are local to help them economically survive what is in all reality a very difficult time.

It all depends on where consumers decide to go this year. People are starting to recognize that supporting large corporations at this moment will be at the cost of the local roasters and cafes. There is the growing realization that a future where there is only Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks would be pretty bleak. So we have an opportunity this year to support the kind of local businesses that we want to see thrive.

In your wildest dreams, what will the landscape for local coffee roasters and cafés look like in your lifetime?

In my wildest dreams, all of the coffee roasters and cafés would be locally owned and independent. They would all be focused on direct trade and artisanal coffee. Each different coffee roaster and café would know exactly where their coffee came from. Ideally, each company would be a partnership between the farmers who grow the beans and the people here selling them. There would be a focus on how to cooperate and collaborate with the farmers in the countries of origin to share the benefits around. We would all work together and share orders of cups, lids, and other packaging so that we could get better bulk pricing. In this way, we would make our local coffee community so efficient that the large corporate coffee companies wouldn’t even be able to compete.

We would also like to see people use coffee as a way to create social good. For example, we started Cloudforest as a way of helping support farmers in Ecuador who were taking a stand against large mining companies. This remote community stood up to protect their environment, so that they could have clean drinking water and soil for the next generation. They started an organic coffee cooperative to help show that there are other models of development, and we are doing our part year after year to help support their vision. They have a vision of development that does not include mass deforestation and contamination, and organic coffee is a key (among others) to show that another way forward is possible.

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Special events in the Ottawa Valley dominate annual OVTA tourism awards





The Ottawa Valley Tourist Association hopes that its annual tourism awards will provide a little sunshine during what is a dark time for local tourism operators because of the pandemic.

The Ottawa Valley Tourism Awards are presented annually by the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association (OVTA) to individuals, businesses, and events that recognize the importance of working together for the growth of the local tourism industry, as well as offering exceptional visitor experiences.

“After a year that saw a lot of businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry being challenged like never before, the annual Ottawa Valley Tourism Awards represent a bit of light on the horizon” said Chris Hinsperger, co-owner of the Bonnechere Caves.

The Ottawa Valley Tourist Association’s (OVTA) Awards Committee co-chairpersons, Meghan James and Chris Hinsperger, said they were very pleased with the recent nominations received, especially in the Special Events category. Submissions were received for The Farm to Fork Dinner Series at the Whitewater Inn; Light up the Valley; The Eganville Curling Clubs’ Rock the Rings; The Ontario Festival of Small Halls ; The Bonnechere Caves On-line Underground Concert Series; The Opeongo Nordic Ski Clubs’ Ski Loppet; The Tour de Bonnechere — Ghost de Tour 2020; and The Bonnechere Caves Rock ‘n Roll Parking Lot Picnic.

“During a time when communities were challenged, it is nice to see that people still made an effort to get together and celebrate, albeit under certain conditions. It just shows the creativity and resiliency of our tourism Community here in the valley” said Meghan James, director of sales at the Pembroke Best Western.

There are three Award categories: The Marilyn Alexander Tourism Champion Award, The Business of Distinction and The Special Event of the Year.

Hinsperger, is excited about this year’s awards.

“During this pandemic the hospitality and tourism industry was the first to be hit, was the hardest hit and will be the last of our industries to fully recover. As Valley entrepreneurs we owe it to ourselves, to our businesses and to our communities to be an active part of that recovery. Our livelihood and economic recovery depends on our efforts. And we will get back to welcoming people from all over the world to share a little bit of the place we are privileged to call home. This awards process leaves myself and others fully optimistic about our positive outcomes.”

Award winners will be announced at the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association’s virtual annual general meeting on Monday, May 31.

The OVTA is the destination marketing organization for the Upper Ottawa Valley and proudly represents more than 200 tourism businesses, comprised of attractions and outfitters, accommodation, food, beverage and retail establishments, artists and galleries, municipalities, as well as media and industry suppliers. The OVTA is supported by the County of Renfrew, Renfrew County municipalities and the City of Pembroke.

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Future of Ottawa: Farming with Jeremy Colbeck





Jeremy Colbeck: Well first, let’s talk about what we mean by farming. Although farms, and farming as an occupation, are in decline across Canada, they are still a major part of our rural landscape. That’s even more true for a strange city like Ottawa which includes a LOT of rural areas and whose urban boundary takes, what, three hours to cross? About 40 per cent of the rural land in Ottawa is farmland. Most of that farming is corn and soybean cash-crop, as well as some dairy and livestock farming. That’s mostly conventional farming (the kind that is profitable but not exactly where you take your kids on a Saturday).

There are also a lot of agri-tourism businesses in Ottawa, which give you that oh-so-good Saturday spot for family donkey-petting and apple-picking. And it’s totally understandable from a business perspective, but sometimes surprising to find out, that even though they grow some of the Christmas trees they sell, they might also be reselling some that come from much larger farms far away. The farmland around Ottawa is also inflated in price because of its proximity to the city, where it is in demand by would-be hobby farmers—folks who want to do some farming on their property in their spare time but make their money (to subsidize their small-scale farming habit) elsewhere. Unfortunately, many of these properties will have large mansions built on them, which will then make them completely unaffordable for the average farmer

There’s also a segment of small-to-medium-sized Ottawa farms that grow “premium” (artisanal, unique, extra-fresh, ecologically- or organically-grown etc…) products that they sell directly to local eaters via farmers’ markets or other direct marketing channels, including on-farm stores and farm stands. That’s where BeetBox fits in.

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