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18Aug

Dark web detectives and cannabis sommeliers: Here are some jobs that could exist in the future | CBC News

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What do a dark web detective, cannabis sommelier and therapist hairdresser have in common?

They’re all on a list of professions that workplace experts say could exist by the year 2030.

In a report called Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship — a policy institute set up to help Canadians navigate the innovation economy — brings together insights into the future of work gleaned from workshops held across the country.

The report coming out Monday is part of a bigger project called Employment in 2030. This deep dive into the future of work will culminate next year with a strategic forecast into which skills will be most important in the Canadian labour market in the coming decade.

Held in six locations and attended by more than 120 experts, the workshop asked attendees to address the serious business of assessing future demand for various regionally appropriate occupations, providing data that will be used to inform research for that final report, due out in winter 2020.

But as part of an imaginative exercise geared at exploring the complex ways technological, social and environmental trends will intersect to create new kinds of jobs, the experts also came up with a list of would-be professions — some more fanciful than others — that today’s kids just might aspire to be when they grow up.

‘New opportunities’

Sarah Doyle, director of policy and research at the Brookfield Institute, is careful to note that these aren’t data-backed findings or predictions, but rather a compelling and playful way to look at how work may evolve. 

“It was interesting getting a sense of how experts thought different trends might interact to produce new opportunities, and where they thought there might be different demand and interest from consumers in particular kinds of products and services,” Doyle said.

Brookfield Institute’s previous Employment in 2030 publication, reported on by CBC News in April, documented 31 trends that have implications for the world of work.

These range from disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, to issues like resource scarcity and the loneliness that stems from connecting digitally instead of face to face.

Our connected-but-disconnected lives could, theoretically, bring about the advent of “wisdom services” for school kids adept at communicating on smartphones and game servers but short on real-world coping skills, said Brookfield economist Diana Rivera, project lead for Employment in 2030.

“Participants felt that kids, in particular, were getting worse at interactions and at knowing how to deal with certain situations.” As a result, schools could morph the usual guidance counselling, which typically centres around helping teens pick classes and career paths, into a more holistic form of mentorship, she said.

Diana Rivera is an economist with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, and the lead on a project called Employment in 2030. Rivera said factors such as climate change, automation and data privacy issues could intersect in ways we’ve never thought about to create new kinds of work in the future. (Brookfield Institute)

 

And from the time-honoured tradition of sharing one’s troubles with your bartender or hair stylist, sprung the idea of the therapist hairdresser, one who could marry a haircut or blowout with a form of counselling.

Rivera said she found the therapist hairdresser discussions “really fascinating, especially in the age of Queer Eye,” referring to the popular makeover TV show that’s as much about examining your wounded psyche as it is your dated wardrobe.

Given hairdressing conferences already offer sessions in conflict resolution and counselling, “explicitly signalling that ability to offer a more holistic service could become much more prevalent or important,” she said.

“There’s a high level of trust when you sit in that chair, so that’s already a barrier that they’ve already overcome. Given the right training, [stylists are] in a really great position to really offer some powerful advice.”

Dark web detectives and personal data bodyguards

Also related to our connected world, new professions could emerge based on demand for services that range from protecting our data to unearthing questionable activity online. One such example noted in the report: dark web detective.

These investigators could assist police by digging around in the dark web’s criminal underworlds, or be hired as private investigators to plumb a political opponent’s secrets.  

“There are people who are very skilled at finding information, so monetizing that, I don’t think, is beyond the realm of possibility,” said Rivera.

Likewise, the report notes there could emerge a need for personal data bodyguards who protect clients’ personal data against hacking and interference from corporations or governments.

That’s not so far-fetched, said Lisa Kearney, founder and CEO of Women CyberSecurity Society, a non-profit that supports women and girls interested in cybersecurity careers. Demand for people to work in Canada’s cybersecurity industry is expected to reach 28,000 workers by 2021.

Consult your cannabis sommelier?

Just as we tap into the expertise of wine, beer and even water sommeliers to find out what’s good to drink, experts on the Brookfield panels felt it won’t be long before there’s money to be made as an expert on the best varieties of cannabis to consume.

Having help to find flavour profiles that suit your personal tastes could make sense as cannabis continues to become more widely available following legalization last year, said Rivera.

The legalization of recreational marijuana consumption could lead to the rise of experts who advise consumers on cannabis products they might enjoy. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

In fact, as pot shops open in the provinces and territories where bricks-and-mortar sales are permitted, cannabis connoisseurs have already been finding work.

“I think there’s a whole country waiting to see what’s good in that space that doesn’t necessarily have that exposure. That whole sector just opened up and it can create a lot of possibility.”

Some other imagined jobs of the future noted in the report include:

  • Virtual stylists who use virtual-reality technology to show clients how various hair and wardrobe styles would suit them, or even how a new sectional would look in their living room. 
  • Mobility facilitators who help address the aging population’s mobility and accessibility needs.
  • Resource/energy diplomats who help broker resource deals during times of international conflict, whether those stem from resource scarcity, or other geopolitical issues.
  • Consumption reduction consultants who help governments, businesses and even individuals to reduce their resource consumption.

Thinking beyond tech changes

Steven Tobin, executive director of the Ottawa-based Labour Market Information Council, a non-profit that helps Canadians access information about the changing job market, said the exercise is useful as a way to consider how forces beyond technology will continue to impact the world of work.

“These changes, be they population aging, climate change or technological developments, are happening simultaneously and interacting with one another.” 

Brookfield’s Sarah Doyle echoes that sentiment. “I think a lot of the conversation about the future of work has been captured by a focus on how automation might lead to job change or job loss … but it’s not the only thing that’s happening.”

19Nov

Canada Post pitches ‘cooling off period’ that would shelve strike until February

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Canada Post has proposed a “cooling-off period” with its largest union that would see rotating strikes put on hold through the holiday season while the two sides work with a government-appointed mediator to end the dispute.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers has staged rotating strikes since the middle of October.

The union rejected the company’s latest offer over the weekend, which means the rotating strikes are on track to roll out in several locations on Monday, including Edmonton, Kitchener, Ont., and Kelowna, B.C.

While rejecting the company’s latest offer on Sunday, the union representing 42,000 urban employees and 8,000 rural and suburban carriers called on the government to appoint a mediator to assist the parties to negotiate a new collective agreement.

On Monday morning the carrier signalled it, too, is open to mediation, but with one proviso: it wants the union to agree to a “cooling-off period” that would extend until the end of January, during which time they would work with a government-appointed mediator that both sides get to sign off on in advance.

“If agreements have not been reached by January 31, the mediator would submit recommendations for settlement,” Canada Post said Monday. “If they are not adopted by the parties, binding arbitration would be introduced.”

As an incentive, the postal carrier has offered a special payment of up to $1,000 for every unionized employee if there’s no further job action between now and the end of the proposed cooling-off period. But that, too, comes with a catch: the mail service says its offer is only valid until 5 p.m. ET on Monday.

Canada Post workers have been on rotating strikes for the past month. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

“Canada Post is making this proposal in a spirit of co-operation and in hope of delivering the holidays to Canadians and avoiding the significant financial and economic damage that would be felt if rotating strikes continued,” the carrier said.

Dispute over pay and working conditions

The union’s latest offer proposes:

  • A 2.9 per cent annual wage increase.
  • Double-time pay for working a sixth or seventh day.
  • New wage advancements for temporary workers, based on working 1,000 hours in a fiscal year.
  • Injury pay at 80 per cent of regular salary.
  • Improvements to the company’s short-term disability plan.

The offer from Canada Post that the union rejected over the weekend proposed:

  • A two per cent annual wage increase (plus a signing bonus of up to $1,000.)
  • Overtime pay for working more than 40 hours.
  • 500 new full-time positions over three years.
  • The creation of a $10-million health and safety fund to address worker concerns.

Last week, Canada Post asked postal services from other countries to stop shipping parcels to Canada because they would only add to the backlog of items that are sitting in trucks, waiting to be delivered.

The carrier said that as of last Friday, there were more than 600 truckloads full of undelivered items piling up at various facilities across the country.


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4Nov

Canadian Tire tells wife of ailing customer to pay his $18,000 debt, despite credit card insurance

by admin

Almost 30 years ago, George Graves signed up for a Mastercard at his local Canadian Tire store. He was also sold insurance on that credit card, designed to help with payments in the event a cardholder loses their job, becomes disabled or gets sick.

“My husband paid for Credit Protector insurance all these years in case something bad should happen,” says his 72-year old wife, Jolante Graves.

“Now it’s happened, and the company doesn’t want to live up to … expectations.”

George Graves suffered a stroke in February and was diagnosed with vascular dementia. (Submitted by Jolante Graves)

George Graves, 84, a farrier from Addison, Ont., had a stroke in February that put him in long-term care and quickly led to vascular dementia.

“I thought we’d be OK because of his credit card insurance,” his wife told Go Public.

It’s estimated that millions of Canadians pay for insurance on their credit cards.

But financial experts say the product is pricey, carries numerous conditions to qualify for coverage and often doesn’t pay out. In many cases, the insurance will only cover the minimum monthly payment — not the entire balance.

“Credit card protection is fantastic for the banker, usually horrible for the consumer,” says personal finance expert Kerry Taylor, from Vernon, B.C.

In the months following her husband’s stroke, Jolante Graves says he became unable to recognize her and couldn’t read or write.

She says employees from Canadian Tire Bank repeatedly phoned her at home, demanding she pay her spouse’s outstanding credit card bill, which was about $17,000. She had not co-signed for the credit card, and had no obligation to pay it off.

“They have been evasive, rude and unkind,” Graves wrote in an email to Go Public. “This is causing me a lot of distress.”

Graves says she told them her husband had dementia, and was unable to file a claim on his own, but because the policy was in her husband’s name, she was told by bank officials that they could only deal with him.

In July, a letter arrived from Canadian Tire Bank, saying her husband’s overdue account was being “escalated to our Credit Recoveries Department,” and demanded immediate payment.

George Graves died four weeks ago.

Canadian Tire settles

Two days after Go Public contacted Canadian Tire Bank, a spokesperson phoned Jolante Graves and apologized for the harassing phone calls.

He also said that although her husband would have to make the insurance claim, he was willing to erase the debt — which had grown to over $18,000 — if she agreed to keep the deal confidential. 

She signed a confidentiality agreement, but CBC had already interviewed her.

Canadian Tire turned down a Go Public request for an interview, and instead emailed a statement, saying, “We take any concern raised by our customers seriously and in this particular case, we were able to quickly resolve the matter.”

Watch CBC‘s investigative consumer programMarketplace (8 p.m. Friday on CBC-TV) as they take hidden cameras into the big banks to reveal how customers get pitched credit card balance protection insurance.

Go Public asked how much George Graves had paid in credit card insurance over the years — a recent Mastercard statement from Canadian Tire Bank showed that he was paying about $105 a month for insurance.

A bank spokesperson declined to say how much Graves had paid in premiums “for privacy reasons,” but in a letter to Jolante Graves, a senior representative wrote, “the amount of creditor insurance premiums paid was far less than the amount of debt that Canadian Tire Bank has forgiven.”

He also wrote that Canadian Tire “has processes in place” to make customers “aware of how their credit protection insurance coverage could apply” and that these processes were followed.

Coverage ‘extremely narrow’

Taylor has examined the fine print on insurance contracts for a number of credit cards, and says she’d never buy such a product.

“It generally doesn’t help the consumer,” says Taylor. “It’s just an expensive product that they’re adding to their debt load and the premiums are extremely high.”

Canadian Tire charges $1.10 per $100 balance a month for its Credit Protector product (which decreases to 59 cents per $100 when the cardholder turns 80). That means that the average customer with a monthly balance of $2,500, who doesn’t get the discount, pays $27.50 a month for insurance, or $330 a year, plus taxes.

Personal finance expert Kerry Taylor says people are better off getting good life and disability insurance, instead of paying for pricey credit card balance protection. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Taylor says what policies actually cover is “extremely narrow.”

Often people who buy credit card protection think they have unemployment coverage, but learn they don’t qualify because many insurance companies require the cardholder to be working for one employer for a minimum of 25 hours a week.

“If you’re someone like me in the gig economy, I’m not going to be covered, because I have multiple jobs and none of them add up to 25 hours a week,” says Taylor.

George Graves did not qualify for unemployment coverage through his credit card insurance because as a farrier, he did not have one employer for 25 hours a week. (Submitted by Jolante Graves)

George Graves didn’t qualify for unemployment coverage.

He was still working as a farrier, shaping and fitting horses with shoes, when he was sold the insurance on his credit card, but he didn’t have one employer for 25 hours a week.

His wife also couldn’t collect on the life insurance included in the coverage, because that stops paying out at age 80.

“With a standard life insurance or disability policy, someone is going to ask you questions about your health, your age, your gender, what kind of work you do and so on,” says Taylor.

“It’s all on paper, so they can figure out what your risk is for making a claim, and charge the correct premium. That underwriting doesn’t exist with credit card insurance.”

Taylor says people get better protection if they pay for life and disability insurance.

“Get the underwriting,” she says, “so you know if your illness will be covered or not.”

She also recommends people create their own emergency fund.

“That way, if you get sick or injured, you can cover your minimum monthly payments yourself,” says Taylor. 

‘People don’t understand how it works’

“A credit card is a high interest product, initially meant for safety and convenience,” says Scott Hannah, president of the Credit Counselling Society. “They’re not designed to carry a long-term balance, that’s the problem.”

Scott Hannah of the Credit Counselling Society says people with crippling credit card debt often cut up their cards when they come in for debt counselling. (Dillon Hodgin/CBC)

He says counsellors at his office often hear from people who get into credit card debt and are surprised to learn the insurance they’ve been paying for doesn’t cover them.

“It’s not until they hit financial trouble that they find out they never qualified to begin with,” says Hannah, noting that many consumers don’t read the fine print before they sign up for credit card protection plans.

‘He would be devastated’

George Graves died unaware of the controversy that surrounded his outstanding credit card debt.

“I’m glad he never knew,” says his wife. “He would be devastated. He bought that insurance for peace of mind.”

She’s glad Canadian Tire settled the dispute over her husband’s Mastercard, but says the retailer has lost her as a customer.

“They will never see me set foot in their blasted store again,” says Graves. “If I want to buy something, I’ll go somewhere else.”

— With files from Enza Uda

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