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Canadians’ idea of ‘mainstream family’ vehicles changing, search data suggests

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Crossovers, SUVs and trucks are taking over as many consumers idea of a “mainstream family vehicle,” newly released search data from Canada’s biggest online auto marketplace suggests. 

Autotrader.ca published its annual list of the top 10 most-searched vehicle models on Saturday. For the fourth straight year, the Ford F-150 took top spot. The Honda CR-V and Toyota Rav4 were also among the top 10, at number seven and 10, respectively, for the first time. 

According to Michael Bettencourt, managing editor at the website, conspicuously missing from this year’s roundup were four-door sedans (except for the Honda Civic, which came in at number three) and minivans. Further, overall searches for minivans on the site reached a new low, accounting for only 2.58 per cent of all search traffic. 

Decreased searches for minivans and affordable four-door sedans coincides with a drop in sales, he pointed out. 

“Obviously, we’re seeing a shifting of the paradigm of what a mainstream family looks like,” Bettencourt said in a phone interview.

“It varies in extent across the country, but it is pan-Canadian trend we are looking at.”

Changing preferences

Bettencourt attributes the increase in SUV searches and corresponding sales to a number of factors, some more intuitive than others. First, auto manufacturers are building more SUVs, and in turn, are spending more and more money on marketing those vehicles. 

“With minivans, for example, it’s been going in the opposite direction. Fewer and fewer companies are making minivans, and those that are making them are increasingly shifting resources away from minivans,” Bettencourt explained. 

Then there is the fact that most SUV, crossover and truck models offer four-wheel or all-wheel drive — a feature present in a very limited number of minivan models.

Bettencourt also points to shifting demographics as a key driver of changing preferences among Canadians.

“With folks getting older, they are getting less and less mobile. With crossovers, SUVs and even trucks being a little bit higher than sedans, I think they are becoming a little bit easier to get in and out of for folks,” he said.

Of course, looking up a vehicle online and actually buying one are very different things. Bettencourt admits that while search data can be insightful, it doesn’t necessarily correlate with real purchases.

For example, the Ford Mustang was the runner-up among most-searched models, while the BMW 3 Series and the Porsche 911 — a vehicle that generally costs more than $100,000 brand new — also made the list. None of those three vehicles are among the best-selling models in Canada, Bettencourt pointed out.

“A lot of people do go on the site just to see what’s out there and do a little bit of dreaming,” he said.

The full list of Autotrader.ca’s most-searched vehicles in Canada is as follows:

  • Ford F-150.
  • Ford Mustang.
  • Honda Civic.
  • BMW 3 Series.
  • Jeep Wrangler.
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
  • Honda CR-V.
  • Porsche 911.
  • Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Toyota Rav4.

Regional differences

Autotrader.ca also examines differences in searches from province to province.

According to Bettencourt, Ontario represents an “outlier” in the data. Ontarians are “most interested in classics, performance and style,” said an accompanying news release issued with the list.

In Quebec, consumers seem to put greater emphasis of practicality and fuel efficiency than any other region in Canada. Luxury models were pushed off the Quebec list by searches for vehicles like the Toyota Corolla.

Conversely, searches for luxury models decreased considerably in both B.C. and Alberta.

Meanwhile, the release said, “the territories and Manitoba are definitely SUV and truck country.

“Nine out of 10 models searched in the territories and seven out of 10 in Manitoba were comprised of SUVs and trucks,” it said.

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Ottawa education workers still teaching special-ed students at schools want safety checks

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Some Ottawa educators say they are concerned about the safety of classrooms that remain open in schools for special-education students.

Ontario elementary and secondary students have been sent home to study virtually because of the dangers posed by rising rates of COVID-19. However, special-education classes are still operating at many bricks-and-mortar schools.

The special-education classes include students with physical and developmental disabilities, autism and behaviour problems. Some don’t wear masks and require close physical care.

Two unions representing teachers and educational assistants at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board have sent letters to Ottawa Public Health expressing their concerns.

It’s urgent that public health officials inspect classrooms to assess the safety of the special-ed classes, said a letter from the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which also represents the educational assistants who work with special-needs children.

“In the absence of reasons based on medical evidence to keep specialized systems classes open, we are unsure as to the safety of staff and students in these programs,” said the letter signed by president Stephanie Kirkey and other union executives.

The letter said staff agreed that students in specialized classes had difficulty with remote education and benefited most from in-person instruction.

“Our members care deeply about the students they work with and are not only concerned about their own health and safety, but also about that of their students, as they are often unable to abide by COVID safety protocols that include masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene, thus making it more likely that they could transmit the virus to one another,” the letter said.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has 1,286 elementary and secondary students in special-education classes attending in person at 87 schools, said spokesperson Darcy Knoll.

While final numbers were not available, Knoll said the board believed a large number of the special-education students were back in class on Friday at schools.

In-person classes for other elementary and secondary students are scheduled to resume Jan. 25.

The school boards provide PPE for educators in special-education classes as required, including surgical masks, face shields, gloves and gowns.

Several educators interviewed said they don’t understand why it has been deemed unsafe for students in mainstream classes to attend class, but not special-ed students.

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Ottawa sets record of 210 new COVID-19 cases following lag in data reporting

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Ottawa has now broken its daily record for new COVID-19 cases twice in 2021, with 210 new cases added on Friday amid a lag in data reports from earlier in the week.

The nation’s capital has now seen 10,960 cases of the novel coronavirus.

Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reports 977 active cases of the virus in Ottawa, a jump of more than 100 over Thursday’s figures.

One additional person has died in relation to COVID-19 in Ottawa, raising the city’s death toll in the pandemic to 395.

The record-setting case count comes a day after Ottawa reported a relatively low increase of 68 cases. Ontario’s COVID-19 system had meanwhile reported 164 new cases on Thursday.

OPH said Thursday that due to a large number of case reports coming in late Wednesday, the local system did not account for a large portion of cases. The health unit said it expects the discrepancy to be filled in the subsequent days.

Taken together, Thursday and Friday’s reports add 278 cases to Ottawa’s total, a daily average of 139 cases.

The new single-day record surpasses a benchmark set this past Sunday, when the city recorded 184 new cases.

Ontario also reported a new record of 4,249 cases on Friday, with roughly 450 of those cases added due to a lag in reporting in Toronto.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also continues to climb in Ottawa. OPH’s dashboard shows there are currently 24 people in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Three new coronavirus outbreaks were added to OPH’s dashboard on Friday. One outbreak affects a local shelter where one resident has tested positive for the virus, while the other two are traced to workplaces and private settings in the community.

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Ottawa family dealing with mould issue in apartment grateful for support

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OTTAWA — An Ottawa family, who has been dealing with mould in their south Ottawa apartment, is grateful for the support they have received from the community.

“I would like to say big very mighty, big thank you to everyone,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

Adeniyi lives with her three sons in a South Keys apartment. Her son Desmond turned to social media on Sunday to seek help for the family, saying they’ve been dealing with mould in their unit and it has taken too long to fix.

“I see my mom go through a struggle everyday; with three kids, it’s not easy,” says 16-year-old Desmond Adeniyi.

He setup a GoFundMe page to help the family raise money to move out. After gaining online attention and the story, which originally aired CTV News Ottawa on Tuesday, they have been able to raise over $30,000.

“Yes! I was surprised, a big surprise!” says Nofisat Adeniyi, “We are free from the mess that we’ve been going through.”

The family was so touched, they decided to pay it forward and donated $5,000 to another family in need, “A lady my son told me about,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

The recipient wants to remain anonymous, but when she found out from Adeniyi, “She was crying, she has three kids; I remember when I was, I can feel what she’s feeling – because I was once in those shoes.”

CTV News Ottawa did reach out to the property management company for an update on the mould. In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for COGIR Realty wrote:

“We respect the privacy of our residents and are unable to disclose any specific information regarding any of our residents. We can, however, let you know that we are working with the residents and are making every effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible,” said Cogir Real Estate

The giving did not stop at just cash donations. “When I saw the segment, the thing that struck me the most was how easily the situation can be resolved,” says mould removal expert Charlie Leduc with Mold Busters in Ottawa.

Leduc is not involved in the case, but appeared in the original story, and after seeing the mould on TV wanted to help.

“This isn’t something that we typically do, but given the circumstance and given the fact that this has gone on way too long, our company is willing to go in and do this work for free,” said Leduc.

The Adeniyi family may now have some options, and are grateful to the community for the support.

“Yes, It’s great news — you can see me smiling,” says Nofisat.

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