Young families scrimp to own homes in Canada’s big cities, report finds

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Young families in Canada’s big cities believe houses and condos will be a good investment over the next five years, and they are sacrificing their privacy, time and small pleasures to buy them, according to a report by Sotheby’s International Realty Canada.

The study is based on a survey of 1,743 families headed by adults aged 20 to 45. It found that millennials and generation Xers are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes, with 78 per cent expecting homes to match or outperform other financial investments over the next five years. In Toronto, that number rises to 83 per cent.

A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.
A new study found that young families in Canada are delaying both retirement savings and paying off credit card and student debt in order to afford homes.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO)

But the biggest barrier to buying, cited by 33 per cent of families, is the expense of day-to-day living — groceries, rent and utilities. That’s a “concerning” trend, said Sotheby’s CEO Brad Henderson.

“Increasingly, it is the essentials in life that are absorbing most of everyone’s income,” Henderson said. “It speaks to trying to find more higher-paying jobs, more knowledge worker jobs that are able to afford, not just the necessities of life, but some of the things that make life even that much more pleasurable, like a home with multiple bedrooms for a growing family.”

The report is the second in a series of three based on a survey of families in which the adults were aged 20 to 45. Market research firm Mustel Group found 57 per cent of those households in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal were couples with at least one child, 35 per cent had no children, and 8 per cent were single-parent families.

Thakar shares an apartment with a cousin to save on rent, has a side job to earn income in his off-time and has refinanced a student loan. It will take him longer to pay off that debt, but he figures home prices are rising so quickly that it’s important to stash his cash now.

“If you’re not earning money, you’re spending money,” said Thakar, who owns a car but takes transit to his job downtown and questions the expense of a vehicle he doesn’t use much.

“I feel like being prudent at this time might set me up down the road.”

But Thakar expects he might need help from his family to afford a home and, even though he likes his privacy, he would consider a house with a rental unit to help carry the cost.

Among survey respondents, 51 per cent said they saved by cutting down on dining out, 45 per cent reduced their travel and vacation expenses, and 20 per cent delayed retirement savings.

Toronto families were most likely to reduce their car ownership (16 per cent), to freelance or pick up extra work (16 per cent) or to delay having children (15 per cent). Thirteen per cent of Toronto respondents moved in with family to save money, compared to only 5 per cent in Calgary and Montreal.

Henderson says the findings put the lie to the idea that millennials and generation X adults are “live-in-the-moment” people.

“We’re finding they’re acting not too dissimilar to the generations that came before them and forgoing the trips and eating out and all of the things that require additional money, in favour of buying a home for their family to live in,” he said.

When it comes to putting money down on a home, the survey found 71 per cent used personal savings and cash for a down payment. Although 52 per cent of the families relied on a gift or inheritance, those funds accounted for less than 30 per cent of their down payments. Thirty-one per cent borrowed from their registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs).

Young adults have always saved and scrimped to buy homes but a greater proportion of income now goes to paying rent, leaving little for savings, said mortgage broker James Laird of CanWise Financial and online mortgage site Ratehub. It’s why so many young adults end up moving back in with parents.

“We’re seeing a decline in the percentage of young people able to purchase homes versus previous generations,” he said. But the desire hasn’t waned.

“Millennials could be the largest voter base in the federal election and this is the issue we all care about,” said Laird, 34.

He thinks longer amortizations — from 25 years to 30 for buyers with down payments of less than 20 per cent — would provide relief. “It’s a beautiful solution because they qualify for about 10 per cent more mortgage but their payment doesn’t change so they’re no more financially strapped,” said Laird.

Those who borrow from their RRSP still have to pay that money back. Laird said Ottawa should create a homebuyers plan that behaves the same — allowing first-time buyers to access $25,000 of their savings — without the requirement to repay the funds.

The Mustel survey was conducted online in August and September. A random sample of 1,743 is considered accurate within 2.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Tess Kalinowski is a Toronto-based reporter covering real estate. Follow her on Twitter: @tesskalinowski

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Kingston mayor turns to city’s brightest young minds as part of innovation challenge – Kingston

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Kingston’s mayor turned to some of the city’s brightest minds on Friday to come up with innovative ideas for improving the city.

Teams of post-secondary students pitched their concepts, addressing topics that ranged from long-term care to reducing carbon emissions.

The Mayor’s Innovation Challenge is a partnership between the city and its three major post-secondary institutions: Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and the Royal Military College.

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The competition calls on students to come up with innovative proposals that address identified challenges facing the City of Kingston.

“This is really a picture of how we harness the incredible talents we have in our post-secondary institutions and how we can tap into that in our community,” said Mayor Bryan Paterson.


READ MORE:
‘This was not small’: Queen’s University professor pinpoints frost quake

Teams of three students were asked to focus on four challenges during the one-day event. Nine teams made presentations on topics such as how to leverage emerging technologies to create a smart city, engaging residents who deal with social isolation and loneliness in long-term care, revitalizing public spaces and reducing carbon emissions.

One group of Queen’s University students — Zoe Mitz, Jesse Mastrangelo and Andrew Farley — pitched and hope to develop an app specifically targeted at seniors dealing with social isolation.

“They can learn about each other, see names and faces and relate them to each other and plan activities, make new friends and connections and actually get out of their rooms and be social,” explained Mitz.

If the group were to win, these young entrepreneurs would engage the help of seniors to make the app user-friendly for its target audience.

“The reason tech, for a long time, hasn’t been the most usable for seniors is the fact that things are not made for them,” said Mastrangelo.

“The fact that we are going to start from scratch, from the ground up and bring seniors onto our team and build it with them, that’s the big differentiating factor for us.”


READ MORE:
St. Lawrence College opens new Student Life and Innovation Centre

Two teams will be chosen as winners of the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. Winners of the competition will receive a paid four-month internship as well as a grant of seed capital for their ideas.

“Ultimately, how do we retain talent? We talk a lot about how do we find jobs and opportunities for young people here so this is exactly the forum where we could be creating new businesses and new startups and new ideas we can run with as a city,” said Paterson.

Based on the ideas presented, the mayor says it won’t be easy to select the winners.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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A third of Toronto’s young adults live with their parents. Here’s how Bloor West compares to the Bridle Path, and more

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Twenty-six-year-old Ian Sinclair has found the perfect basement apartment in the west end.

It’s close to transit, with its own entrance. He even gets along well with his landlords, who happen to be his parents.

“Essentially I’m their basement tenant but not paying rent,” says Sinclair, who works full-time in the public sector. He moved back into the house he grew up in near Runnymede Station after graduating university in 2017.

“I definitely feel fortunate and privileged,” he says of his situation. “I have many friends from school whose parents aren’t from the city so they didn’t have a choice.”

As Toronto’s housing crisis continues, experts are seeing a new divide taking hold among the younger generation: those who can live with their parents — and save for a down payment — and those who can’t.

The highest percentage is found in one of the city’s wealthiest communities, Bridle Path-Sunnybrook-York Mills, where a whopping 75 per cent of young adults are sticking with mom and dad.

“I see living with parents as a form of privilege,” says University of Waterloo assistant professor Nancy Worth, who studied the issue in a 2017 report called GenY at Home.

Worth said living at home is also increasingly being seen as a smart financial move that sets younger people up for success, rather than the old stereotype of the “lazy millennial” trapped in their parent’s basement delaying adulthood.

“It’s sort of introducing a kind of inequality within a generation, rather than just across a generation.”

The trend is not only about money, Worth says, as many boomer parents and millennial kids have a closer relationship than previous generations. Precarious work also pushes people back home, as it’s hard to lock into a 30-year mortgage or even a yearlong lease on a six month contract.

But without affordable housing options for younger people, it’s the family who steps up, and that impacts who is able to then save and buy future real estate, she says.

“If you can’t give your kids $50,000 but you can give them their room back, especially in your large single family home, you’re essentially giving them a savings of rent which can be quite significant in a place like Toronto.”

In the Bridle Path, notoriously one of Toronto’s toniest addresses, adult children living with their parents just makes sense in terms of “pure square footage,” says Barry Cohen, owner of ReMax Barry Cohen Homes Inc., who sells homes in the area.

“It’s quite common through the Bridle Path because the homes are so large and extravagant,” he said, noting there are even a few multi-generational homes in the neighbourhood, with features such as separate entrances, designed for grandma and grandpa as well as mom and dad and adult kids, Cohen notes.

“Why not live in the lap of luxury?”

The lowest rates of young adults living at home are in neighbourhoods along the waterfront and financial district, like Niagara (4 per cent), and the Bay Street corridor (7 per cent), where smaller, newer, condo units make multi-generational living crowded.

“You’re in 450, 500 square feet, you don’t have room for parents, you don’t have room for a cat,” says Nora Spinks, chief executive officer at the Vanier Institute of the Family, with a laugh.

In a city where the average detached home costs about $1.3 million, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board, and the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is now more than $2,000, say figures from market research firm Urbanation, cost is the biggest factor for many.

It certainly was for Sinclair, who’s saving the “tens of thousands of dollars a year on rent, at least,” for a future down payment, by living with his parents in the west end.

But there are other reasons for living with mom and dad, such as taking care of a sick parent, or coming from a culture where it’s more accepted, says Spinks.

Amani Tarud, 24, who grew up in Chile and has Middle Eastern heritage, says it’s normal and even encouraged for young single people to live with their parents there.

“It’s a very North American ideal that you have to leave once you turn 18,” she says.

Tarud lives in a two-bedroom apartment near Yonge and Eglinton with her mom, twin teenage sisters and the family dog. She graduated from the University of Toronto last June but is sticking around as long as she can to save a nest egg for rent and work on paying off her student loan. Even though it means sharing a bedroom with her mom.

“Does it get in the way of social and romantic life a little bit? Yeah sure, but it’s not terrible by any means at all.”

Tarud, who is working in child and respite care, says a place of her own would be way out of reach financially. And there are perks such as being able to take care of each other when they get sick.

“If I have to live with a roommate it might as well be here, because at least it’s someone that I get along with,” she says.

Urban planner Cheryll Case lived with her parents in the Etobicoke neighbourhood of Kingsview Village The Westway (where 49 per cent of single adults aged 20 to 34 do the same) for a year after graduating from Ryerson University.

She too feels lucky she was able to save up “a good cushion” for rent before moving into a townhouse with her boyfriend and a roommate.

But, she notes, there are many neighbourhoods where if you want to remain in the area the only real choice is to stay in the house you grew up in, because of a lack of affordable housing.

Building more “missing middle” units across the city, lowrise apartments and townhomes that are a more affordable alternative to the two extremes of highrises and single detached homes, would help with supply issues, she says.

“It’s a great privilege to live with your parents and you save money, but it’s a great privilege to be able to live on your own if you so choose,” she says.

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

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Free prescriptions for many children and young adults in Ontario set to end in March

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Free taxpayer-funded prescriptions to children and young adults under 25 will end in March if they have private insurance coverage.

The looming change in the OHIP+ pharmacare program, expected to save $250 million a year, was first announced in late June as Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives took power but the time frame for implementation remained a mystery until now.

Changes to Ontario’s OHIP+ pharmacare program will impact children and young adults covered under private insurance plans. Drugs will still be free for those without insurance.
Changes to Ontario’s OHIP+ pharmacare program will impact children and young adults covered under private insurance plans. Drugs will still be free for those without insurance.  (NICOLE CRAINE / NYT)

“The government is fixing OHIP+ by focusing benefits on those who need them the most,” said a notice posted online on a government website this week putting the proposal out for public comment until the end of January.

Sources said the government hopes to have the necessary systems in place with insurers and pharmacies by late March.

Under the new plan, children and young adults will continue to get free prescriptions if they or their parents do not have private health insurance coverage.

Otherwise, private insurance plans become the “first payer” for prescription medicines.

At issue is how pharmacists will be able to verify whether customers under 25 have private coverage, or deductibles or co-payments.

The Ontario Pharmacists Association said it supports the initiative and is eager to have a smooth, streamlined process to make sure children and young adults get the medicines they need without snags.

“There’s still some technical issues and IT system issues to work out,” Allen Malek, the association’s executive vice-president and chief pharmacy officer, told the Star on Friday.

At drug stores, pharmacists will ask customers if they have insurance and check their coverage online. But pharmacists are concerned about the complications of performing a “policing” function on behalf of the government.

“It puts us at a risk we cannot necessarily protect against,” said Malek, concerned some customers, whose insurance plans require them to cover some of their drug costs through co-pays or deductibles, may say they do not have insurance to avoid paying anything.

The association is concerned the government will make pharmacies liable for the costs if it’s later discovered the customer had private insurance.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office would not specify how the system would be made fail-safe, other than to say “our government is broadly engaging with employers, pharmacies and insurance companies as part of our efforts to ensure a smooth transition and implementation.”

New Democrat MPP and health critic France Gelinas (Nickel Belt) said the change will be more costly to administer and prone to complications.

“This patchwork system is the most likely to have big cracks for people to fall through, especially since, right now, the government has no sure way to figure out which children have or have not been put back on their parent’s private insurance plans.”

The Green party questioned the promised cost savings, saying Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has put them as low as $100 million and as high as $300 million at different times.

“They have been playing fast and loose with the numbers,” said a statement from the office of Green Leader Mike Schreiner, MPP for Guelph.

About 4,400 medications are eligible under the pharmacare plan launched a year ago by the previous Liberal government.

In his fall economic statement, Fedeli estimated the move will save “at least” $250 million.

“The government promised that it would find efficiencies while ensuring that vital public services are affordable and sustainable, now and in the years to come,” he wrote.

Ford has promised to find $6 billion in annual spending cuts in a bid to eliminate a provincial deficit the government pegs at $14.5 billion.

Drugs covered under OHIP+ are the same ones used in the Ontario Drug Benefit Program for seniors and people on social assistance.

Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1

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Located safe: young First Nation teen reported missing from North Okanagan – Okanagan

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UPDATE: RCMP said 14-year-old Haven “Jack” Williams has been located safe.

ORIGINAL STORY: A 14-year-old Spallumcheen girl has been missing since Sunday, Dec. 30, and RCMP are asking for help finding her.

Haven “Jack” Williams disappearance is out of character, according to police.

“Police are very concerned for Haven’s health and well-being,” RCMP said on Wednesday.

Williams is described as having:

  • Black hair
  • Is of medium build
  • A height of five-foot-six

Anyone with information about the teen’s whereabouts is urged to contact local police of by leaving an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or by leaving a tip online at www.nokscrimestoppers.com.

 

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Santa Fund reaches $1.7M goal, thanks to donors who put smiles on young faces at Christmas

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We did it.

Hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors came together to make a little bit of Christmas magic for underprivileged kids across the Toronto area.

Thanks to Star readers’ overwhelming generosity, 45,000 vulnerable kids woke up on Christmas morning with a box of gifts under their tree.

With your donations, our intrepid volunteers helped prepare and distribute the boxes across five cities, braving wind and snow, traffic and parking, to deliver what for many children is the only present they’ll receive this year.

“I am thrilled with the overwhelming community response we have received from across the Toronto area,” Torstar President and Toronto Star Publisher John Boynton said. “It makes me proud to know that residents have come together once again, all in the spirit of Santa Claus. Thank you to all our generous supporters who have helped put a smile on the faces of more than 45,000 young kids at Christmas.”

“Now that we’ve accomplished our goal, we can look forward to a wonderful new year knowing that we put a smile on thousands of children’s faces this Christmas,” said the Santa Claus Fund’s director, Barbara Mrozek.

Mrozek relates how she received a note from a woman attending the fund’s annual Christmas concert that described how the donor had been “a proud recipient” of the Star box when she was a child. Growing up poor in Kensington Market, she and the other kids who got the boxes would trade the gifts.

“I never realized it then, but the Star box was more than a box filled with goodies,” Ellen Trotman wrote in the note. “It was something to look forward to and more importantly, it brought the community that much closer. Brought it to care. It created an opportunity to get to know those kids you probably never played with or even offered a passing hello.

“Unless you lived it, you have no idea what effect the Star box had on people’s lives and community. So, no. It wasn’t just a box. It was everything good that only happens at Christmas.”

One hundred per cent of the more than $1.7 million raised has gone toward warm clothing, small toys, books, cookies and dental hygiene items for thousands of children from newborns to age 12 in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Ajax and Pickering.

To everyone who donated their time or money, on behalf of everyone at the Star, thank you — and we can’t wait to do this again next year.

Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauen

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John Mackey: ‘We Were Just a Bunch of Young Hippies Selling Food to Other Hippies’ | Healthyish

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In Entrepreneurs Run the World, we get advice and insight from game-changing entrepreneurs with big ideas. This week we talked to John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market.

Most corporate success stories paint a picture of the selfless grind—long nights in the office and time-spent with loved ones forgone for the greater good of The Company. But on any given weeknight, at least these days, you’ll find John Mackey at home in his kitchen cooking a vegan dinner for his wife; steaming vegetables and whipping up some kind of nutty sauce, most likely.

“To be fair, our office is on top of one of our flagship stores in Austin,” says Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. But the point is, after 40 years slinging good food, his heart is still behind the movement he pioneered. “It’s not just the hours spent working,” he says. “It’s about purpose for me.”

The day I met Mackey on the Whole Foods Gowanus roof, some 90,000 of his employees had just received a significant pay rise. It’s thanks, he says, to adopting Amazon’s notorious operating efficiencies. (Mackey sold Whole Foods to Amazon for $13.7 billion in 2017, and has since lowered prices twice storewide.)

But regardless of a healthy cash-out for Mackey, he says the chain he helped start out of an old Victorian house in Austin had humble beginnings. “We weren’t MBA students with a strategic plan that we were trying to execute,” he explains. “We were basically a bunch of young hippies selling food to other hippies.”

Here, we chat with Mackey about building something from nothing, finding and following your higher purpose, the old-fashioned power of learning on the job, and the 50-cent breakfast he swears by.

What motivated you to start Whole Foods?

When I was about 23, I moved into this vegetarian housing co-op in Austin. I wasn’t a vegetarian when I moved in; I was just interested in all things counterculture and I thought I’d meet some really cool people in a vegetarian co-op.

Did you meet any interesting people there?

I actually met my ex-girlfriend, Renee, there. We were together five years and she was one of the co-founders of Whole Foods. But when I moved into the co-op, I got interested in all things natural and organic. I learned how to cook, and became the food buyer for the co-op.

How did that formalize into something bigger?

I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d found the purpose of my life. I got super turned on about it, very enthusiastic, and I went to work for a small natural food store in Austin. I came home one day to the co-op and said to Renee, « What do you think about opening up our own store? » And she thought that was the coolest idea.

Wow. What if she had rejected the idea?

I often wonder. Whole Foods might not exist.

What came next?

We opened the first store, called Safer Way, inside an old Victorian house. We had the store on the first floor, and a café on the second floor, and Renee and I lived on the third floor. We were very idealistic, so it was strictly vegetarian. Even our cat was vegetarian. We didn’t sell sugar. We didn’t sell white flour. We didn’t sell alcohol. We didn’t even sell coffee or tea. And the result of that was we just didn’t do very much business. [Laughs.]

What did you learn from that experience?

We realized that we needed to open a bigger store that would be accessible to more people. So we merged with another natural food store back in 1980 and moved into a much bigger location. It was 10,500 square feet in the heart of Austin but only about a half a mile from Safer Way. And we sold meat and seafood and coffee and alcohol.

Did you feel like you were compromising on your personal values by making those changes?

No. After two years of being in the wilderness, what we were hearing from customers over and over again, was, « I’d shop here more if you sold this. » I realized, in an unsophisticated way, that we were not meeting people where they were. I was ready to open it up.

Was that an important business lesson?

In business, you have to meet the market where you find it, not where you think it ought to be. If you want to be in business and you just want to do your own thing and ignore everybody, you’re probably going to fail. You’ve got to evolve. And you’ve got to adapt to the marketplace that you find.

So what happened after you opened that first store in 1980?

Within a few months it was the highest volume natural foods store in the United States. It just exploded.

Were there any hiccups?

We built our store in a hundred-year flood zone. I was told, « Look, if you’re in the hundred-year flood zone, about once every hundred years there’s going to be a flood that’s going to put your store under water. » And I calculated it. I was like, “Once in a hundred years, those are pretty good odds.” But in fact, nine months after we opened the store, Austin had its worst flood in 70 years. And our store was completely under water. Renee closed that night and she literally had to swim out. We were able to rebuild but realized we were better off in another store. So we opened a second and third pretty quickly.

Did you ever raise any money?

Eventually, in 1989, we raised enough venture capital money to get us to California. The reality is that venture capital was not well developed in the mid to late ’80s. We sold 34 percent of the company for 4.5 million dollars. That original valuation of 8 or 9 million would probably have been over $100 million today.

So, after opening a bunch of stores in California, did you run out of money?

Yeah. The investors wanted to do another round of VC financing but that would have given them control of the business, and I really didn’t like the venture capitalists. Their goals were not synced up with ours long-term. And I knew they really wanted to secretly get rid of me because I was an outspoken hippie and argued with them all the time. So I got rid of them by taking the company public in ’92.

Could you ever have imagined when you started out, that Whole Foods Market would become this prolific?

I’m pretty sure when I was in my twenties, if somebody had said, “This is your destiny,” I would have run away. It would have been way too scary.

How did you learn to deal with that fear?

You grow into things. You grow as a leader. You grow as a person. Things you didn’t think you were capable of, you become capable of as you get more experience. And Whole Foods has been through so much good and bad over the years. I’ve learned a lot. Plus, I’m very fortunate to have an amazing team—Whole Foods has always attracted really talented people to work with us. I always say, “You’re no better than your team.”

So, you’ve been in this business for 40 years. I don’t know many people that stay in something for so long. Why?

It’s the purpose of my life. I’m very clear on my own higher purpose in life—what I’m here doing—and I haven’t finished with it yet. I’m getting older so there will come a time when it’s done, but not yet.

How is your recent cookbook a reflection of that purpose?

Just imagine for a moment that you know how to solve the healthcare crisis. You know how to help people lose weight. You know how to reverse Type 2 diabetes. You know how to reverse heart disease. You know how to prevent, for most people, ever having cancer. I felt I could help, and this was a bucket list thing. I had to write this book. I had an ethical obligation to write this book.

If you could only choose three favorite recipes from the book, what would they be?

Okay, the pesto linguine with lots of greens is a good starter. You can make that really quickly. The pesto is not going to have Parmesan cheese in it, but it’s going to have nutritional yeast instead. Another one is my one-pot veggie loaded chili. The chili is such a powerful flavor that the vegetables take that flavor on. I consider those really good for people who are trying to make this transition to eating more vegetables. And my third is literally any of the smoothies.

What are your own kitchen essentials?

A selection of herbs and spices, for sure. Because they can make anything taste pretty good. I’m always going to have whole grains and dried beans because they’ll store really well. And starchy vegetables—I really love sweet potatoes.

Being vegan, what about any ‘replacement’ products?

Kite Hill cream cheese is the best.

What’s your go to breakfast?

I generally have one of two breakfasts. When it’s cold, I’m cooking up steel cut oats, which I soak overnight. I travel with a little mini rice cooker. So I put my steel cut oats in before I go to bed, and then when I get up in the morning, I flip the switch. I have it with unsweetened almond milk and a little bit of raisins and blueberries.

People must laugh at this.

[Laughs.] Yeah, but how much does it cost? It costs about 50 cents. And it’s super, super delicious and healthy. I never get tired of it. But most of the time Austin has warm weather, so probably nine months of the year I’m making smoothies in the morning.

Are you an almond or a peanut butter person?

The honest truth is that I use almond butter more often because I think it’s healthier. But I really like peanut butter.

How do you stay active?

I bicycle and swim, but mostly I love to hike. I’m a long-distance hiker. I’ve hiked the Appalachian trail twice. And my wife’s a yoga teacher. So I do some yoga. But definitely not to her standards.

Over the years have you had anyone, a mentor or a friend or family member, give you some advice that has stuck with you? That you find yourself coming back to?

The single best piece of advice that my father gave to me is to “follow your heart.” That has stuck with me, and I’ve built my life around this piece of advice. Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. Most people choose security and want to be safe. But life’s too short to do anything but what you’re really passionate about.

So, if it’s not money, how did you define success all these years?

I don’t measure it. I don’t think about it. America is somewhat obsessed with success. It’s very interested in fame and money and power. I’m not driven by those things.

Buy it: The Whole Foods Cookbook: 120 Delicious and Healthy Plant-Centered Recipes, $18 .

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Study gives scientists unprecedented data on young Atlantic salmon in East Coast rivers

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A 14-year tracking study is giving scientists an unprecedented range of data on young Atlantic salmon in four major East Coast rivers.

The iconic species is famous for drawing anglers to the region, but researchers wanted to know more about their juvenile survival rates.

The findings, by the Atlantic Salmon Federation in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ocean Tracking Network, are in a paper published Thursday in the ICES Journal of Marine Science.

READ: Number of wild Atlantic salmon drops for second straight year

“The study started just due to interest and a lack of understanding as to how these fish are behaving and their survival as they are migrating downstream,” said Jason Daniels, a research scientist with the federation and report co-author.

“Acoustic telemetry has allowed us to have a bit of a window into what’s going on.”

The complex technical study tracked more than 2,800 juvenile wild Atlantic salmon, known as smolt, from populations in four rivers that empty into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. They include the Southwest Miramichi, Northwest Miramichi, and Restigouche rivers in New Brunswick and the Cascapedia River in Quebec.

Smolt were collected each spring as they made their way downriver and were tagged with small acoustic transmitters that monitored migration speed and survival rates.

“Across the 14 years of study survival estimates varied without trends for the population of the Chaleur Bay, but declined for the populations migrating through Miramichi Bay,” the study report says.

WATCH: Halt on commercial salmon fishing in Greenland to help grow shrinking North American population






The collected data indicated that fish survival depended on factors such as smolt size, distance travelled to open water, the conditions encountered, and the presence of predators.

“There was a positive size-dependent probability of survival through the freshwater and estuary areas,” says the study. “The odds of survival of a 16 centimetre smolt were 1.5 to 1.7 times higher than for a 13.5 centimetre smolt length at tagging.”

Survival rates for smolt tagged in the Restigouche and Cascapedia through their shared estuary Chaleur Bay fluctuated from year-to-year but remained relatively high – 67 to 95 per cent over the 14-year period.

Those rates were initially similar for smolt leaving the Southwest and Northwest Miramichi rivers and into Miramichi Bay, but that changed in 2010 when a “pronounced downward trend” began with survival rates fluctuating between 28 and 82 per cent.

The drop in survival rates on the Miramichi was attributed to a rise in the population of the predatory striped bass population. The spawning population of striped bass in the river increased from about 15,000 at the beginning of the study to about 300,000 by 2016.

“The spawning period overlaps in timing with the downstream smolt migration,” says the report. “Atlantic salmon smolts have been identified in stomachs of striped bass sampled from the Miramichi.”

READ MORE: Conservation group says no wild Atlantic salmon detected at site in N.B. river

Other factors affecting the smolt survival estimates may include water chemistry in the Northwest Miramichi watershed and changing experimental conditions.

Daniels said the higher mortality numbers for the Northwest Miramichi are a cause for concern given that the average return rate of smolts to the river is around two to three per cent.

“When you see 80 to 90 per cent of those smolts disappearing just in the estuary before they even get to the ocean, you really scratch your head and wonder how you are going to see three or four per cent of those smolts make it back as adults,” he said.

The study confirmed that most mortality takes place in the first few days or weeks after smolt leave fresh water. However, the researchers said fish survival improves as the smolt move offshore.

“The estuary is where the majority of the mortality seems to be occurring,” said Daniels. “These fish have lived their entire lives in a freshwater environment and they are undergoing a lot of different physiological changes, so they are already in a state where they are stressed out.”

Aside from adapting to a saltwater environment, he said they also have to deal with another set of predators, so the results really aren’t that surprising.

“Being able to study multiple rivers at once across multiple years allows you to see these trends and compare them to rivers that don’t have the same types of pressures,” said Daniels. “You can see the relative impact some of these pressures may be having on particular populations of salmon.”

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Why these young men feel ‘guilty until proven innocent’ in Toronto

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Whenever blue and red flashing lights appear in Randell Adjei’s rear-view mirror, he said he gets a queasy feeling.

The 27-year-old community leader said he’s been randomly checked near his home in Scarborough, Ont., so frequently that he can’t recall a single positive experience with Toronto police.

Last time he was pulled over, he said he was told the officer wanted to make sure he was carrying insurance, even though he hadn’t done anything wrong. 

« I feel like I’m violated, » Adjei said.

« I can’t travel in my own community without being stopped or without feeling like I’m a suspect. »

Adjei is not alone. 

Similar experiences are expected to be documented in an unprecedented report by the Ontario Human Rights Commission on Monday detailing findings from an extensive inquiry into allegations of racial profiling and discrimination by the Toronto Police Service.

Even though there are restrictions on street checks, Randell Adjei said the practice continues. The 27-year-old community leader from Scarborough, Ont., said he and other people in his neighbourhood are randomly stopped by Toronto police and asked for identification. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

The study will include police statistics from 2010 to 2017 about stop and question practices, use of force and arrests in various offence categories, such as simple drug possession and failure to comply with bail conditions. 

Fitting the description

Toronto police will not comment until the report is published, but they said they welcome the findings and are working to address the issue of implicit bias. 

Like Adjei, Louis Mensah, 28, said he gets what he describes as a « bubbling » feeling in the pit of his stomach at the sight of police cruisers. 

« You’re guilty until proven innocent, which is so weird, » Mensah said.

« You haven’t even talked to me. I haven’t opened my mouth. You don’t know how educated I am. »

Ebenzer Oteng talks on stage during a public speaking event on Dec. 8 in Toronto. The 27-year-old said community members have a role to play in mending relations with police, including saying « Hi » to officers. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

As a student studying at York University, Mensah said he was knocked to the ground by police because he fit the description of a suspect.

« They paint a picture of how the ideal criminal looks, » Mensah said.

« I’m always in a hoodie, sweats and I’m a big guy. If you see me walking down the street in all black, you’re thinking what is this guy up to? It just sucks. »

Solutions involve police and communities

Even though the practice of arbitrary police street checks has been restricted, some young men said they still feel targeted. 

« Personally, I don’t feel like I’ve really been served and protected by the police, » Adjei said.

« There’s this fear that I think has been embedded in my community. »

Instead of feeling innocent until proven guilty, Louis Mensah said he usually feels guilty until proven innocent whenever he is stopped by police. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Even though they have had many negative experiences, they don’t call the situation hopeless. 

The young men shared possible solutions before taking to the stage on Saturday at a public speaking event. 

« There’s some great cops, » said Ebenezer Oteng, a 27-year-old who grew up in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood. 

« I could be driving, bumping my music, look at an officer and I bump my head and they bump back. It’s a respect thing. »

Tolu Atkinson, 26, said he was given a Slurpee coupon by a police officer in Vancouver for wearing safety equipment while he skateboarded as a child. The experience remains a good memory. He hopes police forces across the country can adopt similar positive practices. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

But Oteng admits not everyone feels comfortable even saying « Hi » to officers due to fears of getting pulled over, which is something he would like to see changed from both sides. 

Youth mentoring

Jeffrey Saah, 28, said he has been stopped by police multiple times, and thinks the practice of carding should be flipped on its head. 

« If police are supposed to be public servants, then they should almost be like mentors to people in the community, » Saah said.

« Maybe they should have a case load of five to 10 youth or more, where they actually go to them. They actually speak to them. They actually go to events with them. »

The young men embrace on Dec. 8 to lend each other support at a public speaking event. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

Tolu Atkinson, 26, wants to see more police outreach work. 

When he was a child, he said he was given a Slurpee coupon by a police officer in Vancouver because he rode his skateboard with safety gear.

« That was a positive experience with police that needs to be implemented more often, » Atkinson said.

« That type of experience should be amplified and projected. »

Who gets to serve?

Atkinson said he would like to see more officers of diverse backgrounds so people feel reflected in their police forces. 

Adjei agrees, but thinks communities should get a say in the hiring process. 

« If you’re going to serve somebody, you got to understand the youth in the community, you got to understand the elders in the community, the dynamics, » Adjei said. 

« The best thing to do is to get to know people so that way when they see you in your uniform, it’s not a fear. It’s more I know why you’re coming into my community. »

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Reality check: Study says the more young people vape, the less they smoke – National

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A new study has shown that as the number of young people who vape or use e-cigarettes grows, the amount of them who smoke has gone down.

The study, done by Georgetown University Medical Center and published in the Tobacco Control journal, looked at data of children in Grade 10 and 12 between 2013-2017 and found that when vaping became popular in 2014, the rate of youth who smoke dropped at least twice as much as previous years.

“This finding is important because it indicates the [U.S.] experienced a major reduction in youth and young adult cigarette smoking when vaping became more popular,” study author David Levy said in a release.

“Vaping has had a positive effect on reducing cigarette smoking. On a population level, any effect that vaping may have had act as a gateway to cigarette smoking during the time frame examined appears to be small relative to the effects of vaping leading to less smoking,” Levy says.


READ MORE:
Canadian study shows teens who use e-cigarettes linked to later tobacco smoking

But Robert Schwartz, University of Toronto professor and executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, warns that while there may be an association, there’s no way to tell if the drop in smoking was directly caused by the increase in vaping.

“They’ve found an association; as vaping has gone up smoking has gone down,” he explained. “That doesn’t mean that vaping has caused a decrease in smoking.

“Does it mean that people who vape are not picking up smoking? I don’t know if we can actually tell that from this study.”

The correlation is much different from previous data: a 2017 study of more than 44,000 high school students in Ontario and Alberta showed a “strong and robust” linkage between so-called vaping and subsequent tobacco use.

WATCH: Study says e-cigarettes lead many teens to tobacco






But Levy explained to Global News that it’s hard to know whether or not a high schooler who smokes did so because they tried vaping first.

“If they would have smoked anyway, we shouldn’t be as alarmed about vaping, but unfortunately that kind of thing is hard to tease out,” he said.

“So what we’re doing is looking at what’s been happening overall with smoking and vaping.”

“Any effect that vaping may have had act as a gateway to cigarette smoking during the time frame examined appears to be small relative to the effects of vaping leading to less smoking,” he explained.

Levy also explained that “the trends indicate, at worst, that vaping didn’t increase smoking, and at best, they might have drastically reduced smoking.”

He also said more data would be needed on other outside effects — such as government policies or anti-smoking campaigns — so he would like to look over more years before drawing firm conclusions.


Is Vaping better than smoking?

A 2017 study from the U.K found people who swapped out smoking for e-cigarettes for at least six months had “much lower” levels of toxic and cancer-causing substances in their body.

But there are still many unknown factors when using e-cigarettes, including the fact that e-juices are not regulated by Health Canada.

And Schwartz says long-term vaping is still going to lead to respiratory and heart disease.

WATCH: E-cigarettes increase risk of heart attacks






“We know there’s substantial evidence that vaping leads to dependence on e-cigarettes,” Schwartz explained. “this is a big concern, because vaping is not benign.”

For smokers, it’s better to switch to vaping, but for non-smokers it’s better to not vape or smoke at all.

He also said in his recent studies, he’s seen that people who vape have no intention of stopping.


READ MORE:
Do e-cigarettes harm or help? New report reveals the impacts they have on health

According to Health Canada’s website, vaping can expose people to various other substances, depending on the device they use.

“In some cases, vaping liquid containers have enough nicotine to be poisonous to young children,” the website reads. “Children must be prevented from getting vaping liquid and vaping product safety is regulated by Health Canada.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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