Monday, September 17, 2018

Health system fails to provide quality care for seniors

It's clear the status quo isn't meeting the needs of our aging population. So what can be done?

By Ruta Valaitis
and Maureen Markle-Reid
Despite having diabetes and arthritis, Verne was a thriving independent 72-year-old who lived at home with his wife when he had a stroke. He had excellent emergency care in the hospital and began his recovery there. But he didn't adjust well after arriving home. He started to show signs of depression and was at risk of re-hospitalization.
Verne feared he would have another stroke as he waited for follow-up appointments with neurology, physiotherapy and speech pathology. He had difficulty remembering to take his new medications and adapting to using a walker.
Ruta Valaitis
Ruta Valaitis
Transitioning home from hospital is challenging for older adults with multiple chronic conditions. Home-care services are often not available or inadequate. And followup care from doctors or specialists is too often infrequent or involves juggling multiple appointments over long wait periods.
Add to this the challenge of managing complex health conditions and the risks for depression and recurring poor health and hospitalization are high.
Unfortunately, Verne's experience is not uncommon.
The 2016 State of Seniors Health Care in Canada report from the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), highlights a key problem: our medicare system was established to deal largely with acute, episodic care for a relatively young population.
Today, our system struggles to care properly for patients managing multiple ongoing health issues. We know older adults with chronic conditions need more health services and have a higher risk of hospitalization compared to those with a single chronic condition.
Adults 65 years and older are the fastest growing age group in the country. In Ontario, 16.7 per cent, in British Columbia and Quebec 18.3 per cent, and in Nova Scotia 19.9 per cent of the population is 65 years or older.
Maureen Markle-Reid
Maureen Markle-Reid
Multiple chronic conditions among older adults are increasing. Approximately 75 to 80 per cent of Canadian seniors report having one or more chronic condition, such as diabetes, asthma, arthritis, high blood pressure, mood disorder and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Like Verne, these patients face several challenges in managing their conditions. A lack of care co-ordination amongst health professionals combined with low health literacy gets in the way. Their care is piecemeal and fragmented, with little focus on the patient and family as a whole. Limited financial resources to cover the costs of supplies, additional care and transportation also create barriers to self-management.
These seniors often experience loneliness. Their family caregivers often lack support. Managing multiple, often interacting medications is also difficult.
So what can be done? We asked seniors to find the answers.
As researchers with the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit at McMaster University, we're working with older adults with multiple chronic conditions and their family caregivers to promote optimal aging at home.
Community Assets Supporting Transitions (CAST) is a new hospital-to-home transitional care program in Sudbury, Burlington and Hamilton that aims to reduce depressive symptoms, improve patients' quality of life and self-management ability, and support family caregivers. CAST is delivered by registered nurses who support patients transitioning from hospital to home over a six-month period through in-home visits, telephone follow-up and care co-ordination.
There's also a community-based diabetes self-management program in Ontario, Quebec and P.E.I. that was developed for older adults with diabetes and multiple chronic conditions. The program includes monthly wellness sessions, and a series of home visits with a registered nurse and a registered dietitian. They work as a team with staff and volunteers from seniors centres or YMCAs to deliver a health promotion program for participants.
We've also been creating a new way of providing outpatient stroke rehabilitation services for older adults with stroke and multiple chronic conditions living in the community. We provide regular in-home visits for the patient and monthly interprofessional care conferences for the providers. We also developed a new web-based app, MyST (My Stroke Team), to support communication and collaboration among the interprofessional stroke team.
Clearly, the status quo isn't meeting the needs of our aging population and fails to provide quality care for seniors. Creating innovative pilot projects to improve the transition from hospital to home will help us provide a better system that's both more efficient and cost-effective, and will improve the standard of care to seniors like Verne.
Dr. Ruta Valaitis is a professor McMaster University School of Nursing, the Dorothy C. Hall Chair in Primary Health Care Nursing and co-scientific director of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit and a contributor with, which is based at the University of Winnipeg. Dr. Maureen Markle-Reid, is a professor McMaster University School of Nursing the Canada Research Chair in Person-Centred Interventions for Older Adults with Multimorbidity and their Caregivers and co-scientific director of the Aging, Community and Health Research Unit.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie -this classic homemade chicken pot pie is the ultimate comfort food! Learn how to make this easy chicken pot pie recipe and you’ll never buy a chicken pot pie again!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

One of the biggest offshore corporate tax-avoidance cases in Canada

Loblaws in $400M tax fight with CRA over claims it set up bogus offshore bank

Barbados transactions were designed to 'circumvent' the Income Tax Act, government alleges

A four-week-long Tax Court trial will weigh the government's claim that Loblaws took steps to have a Barbados-based subsidiary appear to be a foreign bank in order to avoid paying tax. (CBC)
A senior judge warned Loblaws and the federal government this morning that she would not look kindly on any further procedural delays in a $400-million battle the two sides are waging in Tax Court.
Loblaws and the government were in a Toronto courtroom in one of the biggest offshore corporate tax-avoidance cases in the country, with authorities alleging the grocery conglomerate set up a bogus foreign bank to avoid tax on hundreds of millions of dollars in investment income.
The case has been brewing since 2015 and is slated for a full trial in April — more than a year after the originally scheduled start date, due to a series of procedural squabbles.
"I do not want to have to adjourn this again," Associate Chief Justice Lucie Lamarre cautioned both sides on Wednesday. 
At stake for Loblaws is a huge potential tax bill: $404 million, including interest, penalties and provincial income tax, according to documents related to the case.
"These are all big numbers," said Peter Baek, a Toronto tax litigator and former senior CRA auditor experienced with offshore tax rules.  
Loblaws is facing scrutiny on other fronts as well, including its recent admission to a price-fixing scheme on the sale of bread in Canada, as well as revelations in the Paradise Papers exposing the company's use of offshore havens to shield profits.  

'Circumvent the rules'

The tax battle has its roots back in 1992, when Loblaws incorporated a regular offshore company in Barbados initially called just Loblaws Inc. A little over a year later, the subsidiary changed its name to Glenhuron Bank Ltd. and obtained a Barbados banking licence.
Loblaws funded Glenhuron Bank largely with money from other arms of its global grocery business. Glenhuron Bank then used the money to invest in financial derivatives including interest and currency swaps, earning hundreds of millions of dollars in income.
Normally, those profits could legally avoid income tax in Canada under an exemption for the investment earnings of Canadian-owned foreign banks.

The name of Glenhuron Bank Ltd., the Loblaws subsidiary at the centre of the trial, is listed on the directory at the CGI Tower in Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados, as seen on 13 December 2010. (CaribDigita/Wikimedia Commons)
But not so fast, auditors for the Canada Revenue Agency said as they reassessed the 2001 to 2010 tax filings of Glenhuron Bank's Canadian parent, another Loblaws subsidiary. They determined Glenhuron Bank, known as GBL, shouldn't qualify for the exception.
"GBL's activities did not constitute banking or a banking business," the government alleges in its court filings. "GBL was not in the business of providing financial services."
The filings claim Glenhuron Bank got its seed money from "the diversion" of more than $470 million US from other Loblaws entities, in the Netherlands and in Delaware. If that money had stayed in the hands of those entities, any earnings would have been taxed, the government claims.
What's more, the government alleges Loblaws deliberately swapped the name of its Barbados entity from Loblaws Inc. to Glenhuron Bank, and then applied for a banking licence, solely "to obtain tax benefits."
"The purposes of the series of transactions... were to have GBL appear to be a foreign bank in Barbados in order to circumvent" parts of the Income Tax Act, filings state.

CEO Galen Weston named

Loblaws denies all those claims, saying Glenhuron Bank legitimately qualifies as a regulated foreign bank under the Income Tax Act and the Bank Act.
"Glenhuron Bank was a regulated foreign bank that earned income outside of Canada. Canadian tax policy and law says that the income of regulated foreign banks is not taxable in Canada," the company said in a statement Tuesday evening. "Therefore, our position is that Glenhuron Bank's income was not taxable in Canada. The CRA disagrees."
The case is set for a three-week trial this spring, after more than a year of procedural wrangling.
The government at one point claimed that a vice-president at Loblaws parent company George Weston Ltd. "was unable or unwilling to answer many questions" during pre-trial discovery hearings. Later, a judge was brought in to referee during one of the discovery sessions — a rare but not entirely unusual step.
At another point, a judge "express[ed] alarm" during a pre-trial conference at the number of unresolved questions between the government and Loblaws, according to minutes in the court file.
Finally, in November, the government filed a motion demanding that Loblaws go to the top, to billionaire CEO Galen Weston Jr., to get answers to some of its pre-trial discovery questions about "the purpose for which GBL was established and the activities of GBL during the years at issue." The government ended up withdrawing its motion after Loblaws provided additional information.
Tax lawyer Baek said the back and forth is not surprising.
"I can see how, especially with the amount they're looking at here, there could be lots of procedural fighting."

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The theory underlying the Paleo diet is that agriculture and domesticated animals
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Monday, September 10, 2018

Why are consumers going meatless?

A strong economy gives us the time and money to think about the ethical, environmental and moral implications of our food choices

By Sylvain Charlebois
Senior Fellow
Atlantic Institute for Market Studies
Sylvain Charlebois
Sylvain Charlebois
It seems the pleasure of eating is being overpowered by values-based food consumption. And it's happening at an astonishing pace.
Vegetarianism and veganism are coming into their own, allowing more people to 'come out of the cupboard' to speak openly about and affirm their commitment to a self-imposed diet. They're doing it for animal welfare, the environment, health - whatever factor is deemed personally important.
But make no mistake, this trend is an indication that the economy is strong.
Human psychology shows us that consumers traditionally indulge, ironically perhaps, in times of uncertainty. Fear of food insecurity is very powerful. Consumers who lose their job, for example, often treat themselves to sweets and other unhealthy offerings, just to forget about their reality for a while.
But it appears that healthy eating habits are winning over indulgence.
And once long-term food security is achieved, even if it's based on pure optics, many things can change.
The food security concept recognizes the importance of food quality in a general sense, including food safety, nutrition and health, as well as the experiential aspects of food shopping and consumption. This is likely where our economic cycle is now.
Years ago, food conversations were about flavours, tastes and traditions. Today, we talk more about morals and values linked to how we consume food, simply because we can afford to.
Stock markets are on a tear and the unemployment rate is nearing an all-time low. Food is not just about survival; it's about making a socio-economic statement as much as a moral one. At some social gatherings, people can be made to feel as though eating meat is a crime.
In the past, consumers recognized that they had limited ability to influence the choices they were offered. They doubted that even collective action would work to change those choices. And they made little connection between threats to global food supply and their daily consumption practices.
That's all changed, thanks to the abundance of free time we now enjoy.
Most of our time is spent looking at a screen of some sort. Technological advances, coupled with our pursuit of convenience, have given us a lot more time to think differently about food. Grocery shopping and cooking take less time than the pre-industrial practices of hunting and harvesting. And ready-to-eat food means we save even more time, which we can spend on developing a philosophical attitude toward food consumption.
Technology makes our lives simple, and with simplicity comes greater coherent thought and enhanced self-awareness as a consumer, particularly as a food consumer.
In response, the industry is adapting quickly. McDonald's is offering Big Macs without the meat and, according to some sources, the Beyond Meat Burger campaign at A&W is a great success. We've also seen changes in packaging and labels to appeal to the increasing number of consumers who are rejecting the status quo.
But it all really comes down to the state of the economy.
The unemployment rate is incredibly low, and according to human resources giant Morneau Shepell, salaries should go up by an average of 2.6 per cent over the next 12 months.
More money in consumers' pockets will allow them to believe they can trade up, or perhaps sideways, when making food choices.
Also enticing to consumers is a weaker than expected food inflation rate across the country. Food inflation remains more than one per cent lower than the general inflation rate.
However, grocers are indicating that prices will increase due to U.S. tariffs. While the rationale of raising prices due to tariffs is highly disputable, when grocers use financial updates to let consumers know prices may go up, it's a sign. Loblaw and Metro have done it and it wouldn't be surprising if Sobeys follows suit. Food inflation should reach 2.0 to 2.5 per cent by year's end.
But even with higher food prices, the buoyant economy allows more of us to think about the ethical, environmental and moral implications of our food choices.
And we can afford to - for now.
Sylvain Charlebois is dean of the Faculty of Management and a professor in the Faculty of Agriculture at Dalhousie University, senior fellow with the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, and author of Food Safety, Risk Intelligence and Benchmarking, published by Wiley-Blackwell (2017).

Friday, August 31, 2018

New Gummy Multivitamin Bridges the Gap in Children's Diets

Simply Natural, a children's nutritional company, is bridging the gap in children's diets with a new gummy multivitamin, Simply Natural Nutritionals, featuring 13 essential vitamins and minerals.
AUSTIN, Texas, Aug. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Simply Natural, a children's nutritional company, is bridging the gap in children's diets with a new gummy multivitamin, Simply Natural Nutritionals, featuring 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Simply Natural Nutritionals is available nationwide at and for $15.99.

Manufactured at an organic & Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified facility in the United States, Simply Natural Nutritionals feature 30 percent less sugar than leading brands, are non-GMO, made with organic ingredients, and free of soy, nut, yeast, dairy, gelatin, salt, fish, egg, and gluten. Simple Natural's children's vitamins are specially formulated with:
  • Vitamin D3 to support bone and immune health
  • Vitamin A for eye support
  • Vitamins B6 & B12 for cell support and energy production
  • Vitamin C for immune support
  • Vitamin E to support heart health
  • Folic acid to support blood cell health
"When formulating our new children's multivitamin, we spent time researching what other multivitamins on the market were lacking and ensuring ours captured more of what children need for proper growth and development," said James Coccaro, Brand Director at Simply Naturals. "Our specially formulated multivitamin helps bridge the gap between picky eaters and balanced vitamin and mineral intake. Our vitamin tastes so good, we even have adults taking it."
Eating a balanced, nutritious diet is the best possible method for children to obtain essential nutrients according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Dietetic Association. But even so, five in six children are not fed enough nutritious food for their age, depriving them of the energy and nutrients they need at the most critical time in their physical and cognitive development, according to a new UNICEF report. To combat this, it is recommended parent's supplement their child's diet with multivitamins.
Simply Natural Nutritionals include three delicious flavors even the pickiest of eaters will enjoy – cherry, orange, and strawberry. Children ages 2-4 are recommended to take one multivitamin per day, while people aged 4 and older are recommended to take two per day. Each Simply Natural Nutritionals multivitamin is vegan friendly and has no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, fillers or high-fructose corn syrup.
For more information, visit

SOURCE Simply Natural

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Rowdy Prebiotic Foods Introduces Third Flavor in Prebiotic Energy Bar Line: Sunflower Butter N' Berries

Prebiotic energy bar company celebrates flavor containing no peanuts, making them great for school lunches. Company is offering shipping for no additional cost for last week of August.

RENO, Nev., Aug. 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- Reno based prebiotic energy bar company launched its third flavor, Sunflower Butter N' Berries in August. This peanut-free, prebiotic energy bar promotes gut health and provides lasting energy.

Rowdy Prebiotic Foods also carries popular flavors like Chocolate Coconut Cashew and Peanutty Dark Chocolate, all of which are prebiotic, low-glycemic and gluten free. To celebrate the launch of the latest peanut-free flavor, Sunflower Butter N' Berries, the company is offering shipping at no additional cost for all flavors through the end of August with code: AUGUSTFREESHIP.
Rowdy Prebiotic Bars are naturally sweetened with the Yacon root, a type of perennial daisy that has nourished cultures in South American diets for hundreds of years. Yacon root contains FOS, a gut-healthy sugar that acts like a fiber in the digestive system. The energy bars are schoolyard approved and have already gained a following with local ultra runners, triathletes and backpackers because of their simple, nutrient-dense ingredients and amazing flavor.

"We are a company committed to empowering people to improve digestive health so they can restore balance and get back to being themselves," said Founder, triathlete and avid hiker Kellie Lee. After Kellie experienced some health issues, she discovered many of these issues could be minimized with a diet that promoted gut health. Rowdy Prebiotic Foods was a product of her research and experimenting in the kitchen.

For more information about Rowdy Prebiotic Foods, head to
Rowdy Prebiotic Foods is the product of our lifelong mission to eat healthy, without skimping on taste. Rowdy means a lot of things: positivity, preparation, perseverance and the best prebiotic foods on the planet. Rowdy is for the doers, dreamers and the status-quo shakers. People like you who recognize the power of their ideas and put'em to work. People who see the value of time and pledge to never waste a moment. We're dedicated to designing good, clean energy that helps you stay active (or inspires you to get there!). We hope our products will provide the fuel and inspiration you need to get back to feeling good, so you can get back to getting rowdy.

SOURCE Rowdy Prebiotic Foods

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In a world of buzzword parenting, what's a parent to do?

Well-known risk factors undermine children's health and development, but there are protective factors you can employ

By Nicole Letourneau
Nicole Letourneau
Nicole Letourneau
Helicopter parenting. Tiger parenting. Free-range parenting. These are buzzwords we hear all the time that are supposed to describe the 'best' approaches for parents to take raising their children.
We all want the best for our children, and parents happily and eagerly adopt the latest, greatest advice. Even governments enact legislation that promotes one approach or another, like Utah did recently in passing legislation enabling parents to legally leave their children unsupervised to play outdoors or walk to school.
But do any of these parenting styles have ample evidence to support effectiveness as a parenting approach?
Most people might be surprised to find that the answer is: Not really.
Social scientists who study parenting rarely, if ever, use these buzzword concepts to categorize or characterize parenting approaches. When these scientists, like myself, want to predict what kind of parenting affects children's development, we consider very different variables.
So what really matters in parenting according to the evidence?
There are well-known risk factors that undermine children's health and development, and there are protective factors that promote children's health and development.
Risk factors include traumatic childhood experiences that parents themselves may have experienced in their own families, such as mental illness or addictions, family violence and low family income. These factors may prevent parents from engaging in consistent sensitive and responsive interactions with their children, which promotes children's optimal brain, cognitive and social-emotional development.
According to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, parental mental illness, addictions, family violence, child abuse and neglect are all considered to be "toxic" to children's development. This toxicity is observable at the cellular level - when children are exposed to these chronic stressors, in an attempt to cope, their bodies produce the stress hormone cortisol at persistently high levels.
In normal situations, cortisol levels would come down as the stressor passes and the child's body would recover. However, in chronically stressed children, the high cortisol levels remain over time, negatively impact a range of body and brain systems, and contribute to ill health over their lifetime.
But there's good news in the evidence, too. Research shows that these stressors are only toxic in the context of low levels of protective factors. In other words, kids may be able to weather trauma if they have the right environment and supports to thrive.
So what provides protective factors to children for healthy development?
Abundant research shows that healthy serve-and-return relationships - parent-child bonds characterized by high sensitivity and appropriate responsiveness - can buffer the impacts of trauma on children's health and development. When a child serves up a cue to indicate a need and their parent reliably responds, this builds trust and a healthy parent-child attachment. It also contributes to children's greater success and ease in peer and school relationships.
Also important are parental social supports - the networks that parents can depend on to help them out and support them emotionally. Supportive people can include friends or family or even professionals like health-care providers. These people are reliably there for the parent who needs information, advice, reassurance, caring and even help with household tasks, like chores or child care.
Over and over, it's been shown that social supports can buffer the impacts between toxic stressors, like maternal depression, on children's health and development. Social support is best thought of as reciprocal - a back and forth between people who care about each other and show it in tangible ways.
'Reflective function' is also a protective factor and describes both the ability to have insight into your own thoughts and feelings and the ability to envision what another person thinks and feels. It helps a parent understand what might underpin their child's behaviour - so valuable when parenting young children who may not be able to communicate their needs and wants clearly. Fortunately for parents, this important protective factor can be learned with practice.
These three protective factors are what most scientists study if they want to know or predict how children will develop.
Experts who study parenting and child development don't waste time with popular culture conceptions of best or worst parenting approaches. You can throw the buzzwords away, in other words.
Nicole Letourneau is the Alberta Children's Hospital chair in Parent-Infant Mental Health at the University of Calgary. She recently published What Kind of Parent Am I? Self-Surveys that Reveal the Impact of Toxic Stress and More (Dundurn) and is a contributor to, which is based at the University of Winnipeg.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Drug Store Opening Botox Clinics results in bad publicity for drug manufacturers

Wrinkle Injections: Injured by Botox – and fighting in court - Botox i...: As the controversial treatment hits the high street, JACQUI DEEVOY speaks to the victims who are set to sue two of its biggest manufacturers.
"The drug comes with risks but the severity seems to be underplayed by the companies manufacturing it and by those administering it. Since 2009 the US Food And Drug Administration (FDA) has required Botox to carry a “black box”, the strictest warning in the labelling of drugs or drug products.
It indicates that there’s reasonable evidence of an association of a serious hazard with the drug. There is no official warning attached to Botox or Dysport® in the UK or anywhere in Europe.
Since 2003 Allergan has been sued several times with claimants suffering droopy eyelids, numbness, headaches, swallowing and breathing problems, brain damage and death.
In 2011, Allergan was ordered to pay $212million (£166million) compensation to a Virginia man who suffered brain damage after using the drug to treat hand tremors. It was also fi ned $600million in 2010 for “misbranding”.
To date there have been no lawsuits in the UK, despite plenty of reports of adverse reactions to the drug.
Lawyer Stephen Fidler and the 24 victims want to change that. “A large file of papers proving, in our view, an offence of administration of a noxious substance, has been delivered to the City of London Police,” he says. “We understand that they are reviewing the matter.”
However, a spokesman for Allergan insists: “Patient safety is a priority for Allergan and we take any reports of side effects related to all of our products very seriously, however we cannot comment on specific cases. “Allergan believes that medical aesthetic injectable treatments are medical procedures and should only be carried out by a trained and qualified healthcare professional in an appropriate clinical environment.”
Ipsen was unavailable to comment."

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Jobs and careers in the 'fourth industrial revolution'

The fourth industrial revolution will have the greatest impact on routine tasks. A flexible, well-educated and suitably trained workforce will be critical

By Jock Finlayson
and Kristine St.-Laurent
Business Council of B.C.
The work world is being transformed by rapidly evolving digital technologies as we march into what many are calling the "fourth industrial revolution."
With disruptive technologies pushing the frontiers of automation, some of the comparative advantages humans traditionally have enjoyed relative to technology are eroding. Computers and learning-based algorithms have progressed beyond replacing repetitive, manual tasks with mechanical execution.
Jock Finlayson
Jock Finlayson
Now, recognizing patterns, providing diagnoses and communicating complex information - three activities once seen as within the purview of people - are increasingly performed by computers. Doctors, lawyers, accountants and other skilled professionals may eventually join the ranks of those whose jobs have been displaced or fundamentally altered by automation.
What does all of this portend for the future of employment?
In the job market, advances in technology are expected to have the greatest impact on tasks that are routine in nature. Such tasks aren't necessarily mundane but they're labelled routine because they could be fully automated in the foreseeable future.
Routine tasks are found in most occupations and constitute part of many kinds of work activity. Examples include mathematical calculations involved in accounting and financial analysis; organizing and disseminating information; the physical execution of repetitive work, such as driving; and some types of repeated research, such as that performed when filing a patent.
In thinking about how technology shapes the labour market, a key insight is that automation is both a substitute for and a complement to human capital and intelligence. The challenge for workers is to figure out where they can add value and/or perform tasks that can't be automated.
The quick displacement of vast numbers of jobs is unlikely in the near term. A recent report from the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that between three and 14 per cent of the global workforce will need to switch occupational categories by 2030. This points to gradual change.
Kristine St. Laurent
Kristine St. Laurent
Even today, when some worry that millions of truck drivers and bus operators are poised to lose their jobs, trucking companies across North America desperately struggle to hire new drivers. Self-driving cars are coming, but more slowly than many tech enthusiasts believe. Robots already play a significant role in the manufacturing and logistics industries and will continue to make inroads elsewhere.
The good news is that increased automation should boost economy-wide productivity. But it may also translate into reduced full-time employment and downward pressure on wages and benefits for some workers. The net result is likely to be a widening divide between those whose work and skills complement technology, versus those who end up at a disadvantage in the digital age. A legitimate concern for policy-makers is that more individuals will be trapped in a downward cycle of low-skilled, low-paying employment, with diminished opportunities to find or transition into careers that offer a decent income.
Historically, technological innovations have often disrupted existing industries, business models and jobs - but without dampening the aggregate demand for labour. Instead, new industries and occupations have developed to replace those that have shrunk in the face of technological advances. Today, however, some analysts fear the expanding digital economy could lead to a sharp contraction in overall employment, as machines and software increasingly replace human labour.
In truth, economists and tech analysts don't know how or exactly in what time frame the fourth industrial revolution will unfold. However, a flexible, well-educated and suitably trained workforce will be critical to meeting the demands of the labour market, regardless of the pace at which technology advances.
For government and industry, it makes sense to develop policies and programs to strengthen in-demand skills and enhance workers' ability to acquire new skills and knowledge. A greater focus on technical training generally also makes sense, as people will be needed to operate and maintain the machines and digital platforms that are expected to proliferate.
Digitized, computer-generated knowledge, products and services promise gains in productivity and the standard of living. But we must be alert to the risk that these trends will leave behind those unwilling or unable to adapt.
Jock Finlayson is executive vice-president of the Business Council of British Columbia. Kristine St.-Laurent is a senior policy analyst at the BCBC.