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Fight Over Province’s Tomato Production Grows Ugly: Wells



And here Kathleen Wynne thought the Hydro file was her biggest headache.

The premier should cast her gaze down toward the soon-to-be-sunny climes of Ontario’s tomato growing region while there’s still some slim chance a bloody red mess can be put right.

The marketing board has been fired. A trustee has been named. Allegations of racial bias are flying. The happy outcome in the wake of Heinz packing up in Leamington seems a distant memory. A group of farmers has filed a statement of claim against Thomas Canning seeking $2.9 million for breach of contract. It’s ugly.

Readers of this column recall the fracas last summer when the province’s Farm Products Marketing Commission announced changes to Regulation 440, calling an end to the tomato price contracts negotiated by the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers (OPVG).

That move lit a firestorm among tomato growers who feared an imbalance of pricing power in favour of processors. In August, it looked as though the Wynne government at least understood that the lack of transparency and consultation around effectively killing the marketing board in an instant reflected badly. Agriculture Minister Jeff Leal called a halt to the unravelling and in an interview with the Star said all-party engagement was paramount. “This really is a partnership between producers, processors and ultimately the consumers of Ontario who appreciate high-quality food on their table each and every day,” he said.

Leal ordered the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission to undertake what he described as a thorough economic analysis of the proposal. Angry growers expressed relief that there would at least be due process. That analysis has yet to land.

Fast forward to last week and what the ministry of agriculture describes as an “impasse” in negotiations between OPVG and the three processors chosen to negotiate terms of this year’s contract: Conagra, Sun-Brite Foods and Highbury Canco, the company that took over tomato processing in the old Heinz plant.

On Friday the OPVG board was turfed and ordered to clear out. Former agriculture minister Elmer Buchanan has been appointed trustee for the growers group. “It is apparent that the industry has reached a critical point where it appears that rational and constructive dialogue amongst stakeholders is no longer possible,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Greg Meredith said in a note to members.

“The impasse was that the processors did not come to the table,” says Dave Epp at Lycoland Farms. “All three did not come on the final day,” on March 1, the tomato deadline. “Highbury, who was driving this agenda, did not participate at all.”

Highbury CEO Sam Diab confirms that he did not bring his company to the table. “It was not an impasse in negotiations,” Diab says. “There were no negotiations between us and the OPVG.” Diab goes on to describe what he says have been ongoing challenges with OPVG, a “deteriorating relationship” that culminated in Highbury requesting “an organization we could negotiate with without fear or bias.”

That bias, Diab believes, is made apparent in a February email sent to one grower that refers to the tomato profits being earned by “Wynne’s East Indian friends,” which has been taken to mean Highbury co-owner Pradeep Sood. “When we received a copy of that letter, what it did for me is to put together all the pieces and all of the things we’ve been dealing with for the last three years,” Diab says. “A lot of the treatment that in my opinion was biased toward us. . . We wrote a letter to the minister’s office and asked for some help to fund a solution where we could negotiate our requirements without having to work through this board.”

Those allegations are serious. Yet a wholesale rout of the board seems unusual. “The agenda here is not the 2017 season,” Dave Epp says. “The agenda here is to remove orderly marketing, remove collective bargaining from producers.”

Some of those producers are still hurting from last year when, as it’s alleged in a statement of claim filed Monday, Thomas Canning, a processor based in Maidstone, accepted only a portion of contracted tomatoes, leaving a group of farmers badly out of pocket. Bill Thomas, company CEO, could not be reached for comment. In 2014, Thomas Canning received $3 million in provincial funding to help it pursue a global expansion strategy.

That’s a key point. The premier has made her intent known to boost the brand and profile of Ontario agriculture. That’s not going to happen, at least not well, unless all parties are working together.

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Beauty Week is back at Hudson’s Bay in Toronto and it’s time to get glam



Beauty enthusiasts rejoice! Beauty Week at Hudson’s Bay is back in Toronto for another year. It’s time to stock up on all of your fall essentials and, maybe discover some new ones. 

From Friday, August 18 to Sunday, August 27, you can expect a truly elevated beauty experience in-store with incredible special offers, limited-time gifts, and exciting activations. 

If you’re a diehard beauty lover, you’ll already know that Hudson’s Bay is the place to shop thanks to its extensive range of over 195 skin and makeup brands from both luxury labels and masstige brands — including Tata Harper, Estée Lauder, YSL, Nars Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, and so much more.

Throughout The Bay’s Beauty Week, visitors can take in some at-counter activations and interactive expert-led tutorials, where there will be chances to get makeup touch-ups from top-tier brands, try a spritz of the most alluring fragrances, and sample tons of new products.

This year’s Beauty Week highlight is the ‘Best in Beauty’ tote, a meticulously-curated selection of 30 deluxe samples from an array of top-tier brands like Dr. Barbara Sturm and Shiseido spanning skincare, fragrance, and makeup — all in a super sleek bag.

The tote, which is valued at over $300, is retailing for just $39 and is a fantastic way to explore new products (without breaking the bank). However, there is a limited quantity, so if you want to get your hands on one, you’ll need to be fast.

Wondering exactly what Beauty Week’s free gifts with purchases entail? If you spend over $95 at Lancôme, you will receive a six-piece set valued at $130. Or, you can get an Estée Lauder gift valued at $170 with purchases over $80. (And that’s just to name a few.)

If you’re a Hudson’s Bay Rewards member, you’ll also get $20 in Hudson’s Bay rewards when you spend over $100 on beauty.

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The Canadian Armed Forces are hiring for several non-combat military jobs



The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have several non-combat jobs, some of which do not require a college degree or past work experience.

Life in the forces has several benefits, such as paid education plans (college, university and graduate-level programs), 20 paid vacation days, health and dental coverage for you and your family, maternity and paternal leave, and pension plans. You can learn more about the benefits in detail here.

And to make it easier to gauge if you qualify, the listings also include related civilian jobs to see if it’s your ideal role.

Financial services administrator

Related civilian jobs: Financial records entry clerk, financial manager, accounting technician, bookkeeper, budget officer, cashier clerk, business planner technician, and verification manager.

Description: You’ll help budget resources for all military activities besides providing financial assistance.

Education: You need to have completed Grade 10.

Duties: As a financial services administrator, you’ll be responsible for bookkeeping and managing budgets. You’ll also provide support in accounts payable and accounts receivable.

Work environment: Those in this role work at CAF bases, on ships or overseas. You might also be expected to help special operation units, recruiting offices, schools, and medical organizations.

Postal clerk

Related civilian jobs: Mail clerk, mail sorter.

Description: You’ll provide postal services to members and their families at bases and establishments.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: As the postal clerk, you’ll handle mail duties.

Work environment: Besides a postal office, you may work on a ship or a mobile postal van. You might be expected to serve with Royal Canadian Navy, the Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and abroad.

Dental technician

Related civilian jobs: Dental assistant, dental hygienist.

Description: You’ll be helping dental officers provide dental services to CAF members, their families, and dependents.

Education: Level II dental assisting diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board (NDAEB) certificate.

Duties: Those in this role will be responsible for various responsibilities, including disinfection and sterilization of dental equipment, applying rubber dams, placing cavity liners, and controlling bleeding. In addition, you’ll assist in laboratory procedures like creating casts, custom trays, and mouthguards.

Work environment: This role will require you to work in a military dental clinic, a Mobile Dental Clinic, an Air Transportable Dental System, or onboard a ship. You might be expected to work on a base in Canada or other operations in other parts of the world.

Human resources administrator

Related civilian jobs: Records administrator, data entry supervisor, receptionist, office manager, executive assistant, payroll clerk, and information management technician.

Description: Provide administrative and general human resources support.

Education: Grade 10. No previous work experience or related career skills are required.

Duties: In addition to human resources administration and services, you’ll be handling pay and allowances, managing automated pay systems, and maintaining personnel records.

Work environment: HR administrators work at all CAF bases in Canada. They also work on ships and overseas to support the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, or Royal Canadian Air Force operations.

Medical assistant

Related civilian jobs: Emergency medical responder, ambulance and first aid attendant, registered nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and hospital orderly.

Description: Successful candidates will help treat the sick and injured in CAF units. You’ll be assisting and supporting nursing and medical officers.

Education: Minimum of Grade 11 biology, Grade 10 physics or chemistry, and Grade 10 math.

Duties: You’ll provide initial care and essential life support treatments in trauma cases. You’ll help with health assessments (hearing and vision tests, perform basic lab procedures, etc.) and initiate and manage medical records and reports. You’ll also be expected to provide support and first aid during training exercises.

Work environment: Medical assistants may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Army as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Those in this role are exposed to the same risks as the forces they support.

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Porter’s new loyalty program promises to match Air Canada’s Aeroplan status



Porter Airlines is once again stirring the pot among Canadian airline rivals, now going after Air Canada’s Aeroplan members by offering to match their loyalty status to an equivalent of their own.

The beloved airline, which recently ranked as having the best cabin service in North America, challenged the competition for the second time this year, after previously deploying a similar tactic against WestJet in the spring. 

Earlier in April, Porter presented customers with a limited-time offer to match the loyalty status of WestJet’s patrons with VIPorter levels.

Now, they’re offering Aeroplan members to seamlessly transition to an equivalent VIPorter Avid Traveller status based on their existing membership tier.

Members can then take advantage of an array of travel perks that come with flying Porter, including seat selection, baggage, and flight changes.

For those currently holding an Aeroplan membership, there are two ways to acquire the Avid Traveller status for the rest of 2023:

Status-Based Match:
  • Aeroplan 25K members = VIPorter Venture
  • Aeroplan 35K members = VIPorter Ascent
  • Aeroplan 50K, 75K, and Super Elite = VIPorter First
Flight Segments-Based Match:
  • 5 flight segments = VIPorter Passport
  • 8 segments = VIPorter Venture
  • 17 segments = VIPorter Ascent
  • 28 or more segments = VIPorter First

Members will have to first submit their applications on Porter’s website. Registration will remain open until September 6, 2023.

In order to maintain their membership level through 2024, customers will have until the end of 2023 to reach the following reduced qualifying spend (QS) targets:

  • Passport = $500 in QS
  • Venture = $750 in QS
  • Ascent = $1500 in QS
  • First = $2500 in QS

Over the past year, Porter has launched an aggressive expansion strategy, including everything from introducing longer flights on newly-purchased jet planes flying out of Toronto Pearson, free WiFi, and a new all-inclusive economy experience.

With Canadians losing both Swoop and Sunwing as WestJet incorporates both into their mainline business, Porter’s direct competition is welcome to keep prices competitive.

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