Ford government considering allowing weed cafes in Ontario
Cannabis loungers or weed cafes are potentially going to be opening up in Ontario as the province continues to push for an open cannabis market, according to City News Toronto.
The Ford government says that its ultimate goal is for an open market approach to cannabis. For now, however, the PCs say a supply shortage forced the government to start off using a lottery system for limited retail licences. There are no expected changes to the cannabis framework at this time, however the Progressive Conservatives said that the most recent consultation is to understand potential decisions to create an open market in the future.
The Ontario teachers strike has been going on for a while, and the teachers’ unions continue to escalate the situation.
Ontario’s four largest teachers’ unions will be staging a one-day strike across the province on Feb. 21 if there is not an agreement reached with the provincial government. The four teachers unions involved in the strike are the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association, and the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens.
Rotating strikes have been going on in my neighbourhood in the past few weeks. I have driven by these demonstrations.
Some people honk their horns or cheer to show support for the teachers. I do not honk my horn or cheer. I roll down the window of the vehicle I am in and make some blunt comments.
“Quit complaining!” I shout at the crowds of teachers. “You have the best part-time jobs in the world!”
Ontario’s teachers should not be striking, because they already have amazing jobs.
Ontario’s teachers receive fantastic health and dental insurance. This health and dental insurance allows teachers to avoid paying certain health care costs.
The ETFO Benefits Plan Guide says Ontario’s public elementary school teachers receive health insurance that includes up to $12,000 for fertility drugs per lifetime, two pairs of custom orthopedic shoes per benefit year, and up to $1,000 for massage therapy if a doctor’s note is provided. Their dental insurance covers 100 percent of dental check ups, x-rays, and fillings, 100 percent of root canals and related services, and 50 percent of child and adult orthodontics.
Vacation time is abundant for Ontario’s teachers. They have eight weeks off for summer vacation, two weeks for winter break, and one week for March break.
This vacation time applies to new employees. Can you name any other jobs that receive 11 weeks of vacation time when employees first start?
One reason why Ontario’s teachers are striking is salary. The Ontario government hopes to provide a one percent pay raise per year for the next three years, but teachers want two percent. Teachers should not be complaining, because they already make a substantive amount of money.
The Toronto District School Board’s salary grid shows that effective August 31, 2019, more experienced teachers can make $73,071 to $100,034 per year.
A poll done by Campaign Research found that the majority of Ontarians are opposed to giving teachers a two percent pay raise.
Ontario’s teachers have a pension. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) said that teachers are eligible to retire with an unreduced pension when their age and qualifying years equal 85 years old or when they turn 65 years old. This means that a teacher who started working at 25 could retire by 55 if they work for 30 years.
Statistics Canada reported that the average age of retirees in Canada in 2019 was 64.3 years old, so teachers can afford to retire earlier than most people.
Their pensions are cushiony. The OTPP said that until a teacher turns 65 years old, his or her pension is calculated by multiplying two percent, the amount of years worked, and the average salary of their best five years. A teacher who worked for 30 years and earned an average of $85,000 in their best five years would earn a pension of $51,000 per year.
There are teachers who claim that they are striking to help students. However, if these teachers are passionate about supporting students, why were they not striking during the summer?
Premier Doug Ford was right when he said that there is a pattern when the teachers go on strike.
“They went on strike under Bob Rae, they went on strike under Mike Harris, they went on strike under Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne,” said Ford at a press conference in April 2019. “They strike under every single government that’s in there.”
Ontario’s teachers and students belong in the classroom. Striking is unproductive and selfish–it’s not for the kids.
Companies are starting to develop medical treatments from psychedelic drugs such as LSD, ketamine and magic mushrooms. Mind Medicine Inc. is running clinical trials with psychedelic based drugs, according to Bloomberg.
“Our ambition is to be one of the first publicly listed neuro-pharmaceutical companies developing psychedelic medicines,” said JR Rahn, the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive. The company is currently gearing up to list on Canadian stock exchanges, pending final approvals. Mind Medicine Inc. is hoping to list on Toronto’s NEO Exchange by the first week of March.
While it may seem like a bit of a stretch for people to accept the idea of a company working with psychedelic drugs like MDMA and psilocybin, many Canadians quickly became comfortable with the legal use of cannabis since October 2018.
Companies have been experimenting at a growing rate with clinical trials of psychedelic treatments for mental health issues such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and curing addiction to other drugs such as nicotine and heroin.
The US Food and Drug Administration recently granted certain companies a legal way to conduct research on otherwise illegal drugs which will open the door to public listings.
Ronan Levy is the executive chairman of Field Trip Psychedelics Inc. and his company is building a network of clinics that will focus on ketamine-enhanced psychotherapy. The first clinic will open in Toronto as early as next month with more clinics to open in New York City in Los Angeles.
The work that these psychedelic companies are doing is legal in the U.S. because they aren’t using cannabis and that allows for “greater opportunity to access growth capital from private investors in the U.S. who may not touch cannabis,” Levy said.
It’s worth noting that this will be an industry separate from cannabis, which can only grow so large due to the substance’s illegality in the US The cannabis industry has also recently seen stock prices collapse amid slower sales in Canada as of late.
“I think that the psychedelics industry could be much bigger than the cannabis industry because it’s going to attract institutional capital and already is starting to,” Rahn said. “It’s also going to be a more concentrated space because the barriers to entry are much higher.”
Two protestors have been charged after they allegedly dumped a load of manure on the sidewalk in front of Doug Ford’s constituency office in Etobicoke, according to CTV News.
The incident itself occurred on Dec. 22, as two men were recorded shovelling manure from a pickup truck in front of Ford’s office.
It later turned out that Extinction Rebellion organized the protest—saying that they were upset by the Progressive Conservative government’s environmental policy.
An Instagram post showed Extinction Rebellion taking credit for the incident, saying “from killing Hamilton’s LRT to the (expensive!) cancelling of clean energy projects to his attempts to open the Greenbelt for development, it’s clear the premier is putting our children’s future in danger.”
“We think that’s bullsh*t,” they added. In the post, they also used a photograph of the manure and an eco-radical with a shovel.
Two Hamilton residents have been charged in relation to this incident. Cameron Topp, 49, and Dennis Alvey, 55, were charged with mischief under $5,000.
Kenny Shim is the Spokesperson and Chief Operating Director of the Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association (OKBA).
On Feb. 3 a Globe and Mail story suggested that the Ontario government was about to introduce new regulations to ban most flavoured vaping products from convenience stores–while allowing specialty vape stores to continue selling hundreds of them. If true, this policy change is unfounded, unfair, and harmful to thousands of Ontario’s C-store owner-operators.
The health of our young people is at the heart of this issue, so it’s critical that any new policy is done right.
According to the Centres of Disease Control & Prevention in the US the recent rash of vape-related deaths and hospitalizations have largely been attributed to vitamin E acetate added to open-pod systems. Convenience stores typically DO NOT carry these products, while every vape shop does. C-stores sell a small range of flavoured vaping products, including tobacco and mint, and a limited range of flavoured closed-pod systems to encourage smokers to transition away from cigarettes. Vape shops on the other hand often sell hundreds of different flavours in conjunction with open-pod systems that users can modify to change concentration levels.
Of youth surveyed in Health Canada’s 2017 Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, 49 percent admitted trying a vape reported they borrowed, shared or bought it from a friend. Twenty-three percent admitted purchasing their vapes from a vape shop, but only 12 percent claimed they purchased their vape from a convenience store.
Banning flavours from C-stores will not curb youth usage; if flavoured vapes remain available in vape shops and online, youth who want them will figure out a way to get them–convenience stores are not the problem!
C-store operator’s livelihood depends on their ability to responsibly sell various age-restricted products. In Ontario this includes tobacco, lottery and in some locations (where stores operate LCBO Convenience Outlets), beverage alcohol. Convenience stores have proven to be responsible and trusted government-partners over the last several decades. Recent government statistics show C-store compliance rate in checking ID is over 96 percent! Meanwhile, current stats on the diligence of vape shops is not widely available. A recent Health Canada letter to vaping retailers stated that more than 80 percent of vape stores inspected were in violation of the Tobacco & Vaping Products Act. Convenience store associations are working hard to ensure none of their members sell age-restricted products to minors, and that ID is always requested, regardless of how old the customer looks.
If Health Canada’s most recent Tobacco/Alcohol & Drugs survey confirms that twice as many minors admitted purchasing their vapes from vape stores over convenience stores, why is the government not banning these products across all retail channels?
With a strong track record of not selling to kids–C-stores have earned the right to fair treatment.
The Ontario Korean Businessmen’s Association (OKBA) supports any initiative to protect public health, particularly youth, but strongly opposes measures that single out convenience store owners as irresponsible and untrustworthy. The proposed policy to ban flavoured vape sales from C-stores implies a complete lack of trust in thousands of hardworking entrepreneurs, who are otherwise considered capable of responsibly selling tobacco, lottery and beverage alcohol (through LCBO Convenience Outlets), not to mention the direct government-removal of a current revenue stream from these legal retail products.
The Ontario Government needs to consider the facts before introducing potential regulations that could harm convenience stores–both financially and reputationally.
The OKBA and its members were very pleased with the Ford government’s attitude towards making Ontario “Open for Business” and look forward to regulations around vaping retail that are fair for all stakeholders.