February 22nd, 2024

In the news for today: StatCan to report on job numbers, more Canadians are using AI

By The Canadian Press on February 9, 2024.

A general view of the Honda CRV production line is shown during a tour of a Honda manufacturing plant in Alliston, Ont., Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Statistics Canada is set to release January job numbers this morning, with economists forecasting a 10,000 job bump.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

StatCan to release January jobs report

Statistics Canada is set to release January job numbers this morning.

RBC says it expects Canadian employers added 10,000 jobs last month, which won’t be enough to keep the unemployment rate from rising amid population growth.

The bank says the unemployment rate likely rose to 5.9 per cent, up from 5.8 per cent in December.

Canada’s labour market has cooled significantly over the last year as high interest rates have weighed on the economy.

Economists expect this trend to continue in 2024, which could push the unemployment rate even higher.

30% of Canadians using AI tools: poll

Despite worries artificial intelligence lacks empathy and could be coming to steal their jobs, a growing number of Canadians are turning to AI tools, a new poll suggests.

Thirty per cent of Canadians now use artificial intelligence tools, the Leger poll suggested, up from 25 per cent a year ago, though two-thirds of respondents said the prospect of having them in their lives is scary.

The poll of 1,614 Canadians shows a distinct divide between how younger and older people view AI – 58 per cent of those 18 to 34 reported using AI tools, compared to just 13 per cent of those 55 and older.

Christian Bourque, executive vice-president of Leger, said the number of people who have been exposed to or interacted with AI is probably higher than reported, because some individuals may not be aware they’re using it. A website might have a chatbot introduce themselves as Dave, for example – and the user may not realize Dave isn’t a real person.

From farm to flyer: global pressures on groceries

Over the past year, the CEOs of Canada’s biggest grocery chains have become familiar faces to lawmakers studying food prices.

Executives have faced questions from MPs and battled accusations of profiteering as their earnings rise.

But experts say the main factors that have driven grocery prices up over the past couple of years are global.

“The supply chains we have depended on for many decades now have come under massive stresses over the last five years – COVID, conflict, climate change being the most notable examples of big global macro stresses – and that is translated into broad-based inflation for all goods across the global economy,” said Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at the University of Guelph.

Consumers are acutely aware of increases in food costs because other costs, especially housing, are also skyrocketing, said Fraser, and so food prices have become emblematic of a wider problem.

Police chief’s apology missing key pieces: experts

A southwestern Ontario police chief’s apology this week for the time it took to lay sexual assault charges against five professional hockey players marked an important step in acknowledging harm but lacked key elements needed to demonstrate full accountability and rebuild trust, experts say.

In a news conference that drew national attention Monday, London, Ont., police Chief Thai Truong apologized to a complainant and her family on behalf of the force for taking nearly six years to charge five then-members of Canada’s 2018 world junior hockey team.

Shannon Moore, a professor at Brock University whose research focuses on restorative justice and trauma-informed policy, practice and pedagogy, says while the chief did well to acknowledge the delay and that the harm it caused goes “far beyond” the complainant, and appeared sincere in expressing his regret, “there are many more pieces that are needed” in order to help repair some of the harm done.

An effective apology needs to reflect the “whole truth of the harm caused,” and that goes beyond just the time it took to lay charges, Moore said. “It’s also what happened to just lead to this delay ““ what actions weren’t taken, which actions were taken.”

Progressive groups excluded from Chinatown parade

Progressive and LGBTQ+ groups say they’ve been excluded from Vancouver’s Lunar New Year parade in Chinatown this weekend, with one of their representatives saying they were told it was because of a ban on “political activism.”

Chinatown Together, organized by community activist Melody Ma, and LGBTQ+ group Lunar New Year For All say their applications to march in the Spring Festival Parade on Sunday were rejected by the committee that runs the event.

The parade marks the year of the dragon, which starts on Saturday.

Ma posted a letter on social media that she says came from the parade’s organizers, telling her that approval of Chinatown Together’s participation had been rescinded because “political activism finds no place within the spirit of the event.”

The letter dated Feb. 3 says the parade is “dedicated to a sense of unity” and is intentionally distanced from religious or political affiliations.

Canadian brands hope to score with Swift fans

Most Canadian companies locked in their Super Bowl ad space long before anyone knew the Kansas City Chiefs would make it to the final match, but experts say many of those brands will be looking to score big with the audience drawn in by the team’s most famous fan: Taylor Swift.

The American pop star has been in the spotlight at Kansas City’s NFL games since she first cheered on her tight end boyfriend Travis Kelce against the Chicago Bears in September. Many of her fans have since become rabid football watchers, attributing Swift with getting them into the game.

Those fans represent a lucrative opportunity for brands to branch out beyond their typical targets – men between the ages of 18 and 35 – and reach tween, teen, Gen Z and millennial women, who tend to drive most decisions around which goods households buy, marketing experts say.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 9, 2024

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