News Briefs


Experts say masks still a top tool as Quebec considers prolonging mandate

mask on a green background

MONTREAL - As Quebec ponders bucking the Canadian trend by prolonging its mask mandate, experts say face coverings are still an effective tool to limit COVID-19 transmission.

Currently only Quebec, PEI and Nunavut still require masking in public places, with the latter two scheduled to end their mandates within the next week.

Quebec's interim public health director told Radio-Canada on Sunday that as the province battles a sixth wave of COVID-19, he is "seriously considering'' recommending that masking remain mandatory beyond the planned mid-April end.

Other provinces have resisted calls to prolong or reimpose public health restrictions, even as cases have risen in some parts of the country.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that his province, which has seen a one-week, 30% rise in hospitalizations, can manage what he described as a "little spike'' in COVID-19.

McGill chemistry professor and aerosols expert Parisa Ariya says that while masking cannot fully stop a COVID-19 wave, it remains one of the best defences to cut transmission and protect the wearer and those around them.

-The Canadian Press


Payment Source named Most Empowering Payment Solutions Enterprise in 2022 Canadian Business Awards

Payment Source was named Most Empowering Payment Solutions Enterprise in the 2022 Canadian Business Awards.

“We’re thrilled that our mission to provide payments choice, convenience and speed for all Canadians continues to be recognized through industry distinctions,” said Robert Hyde, CEO at Payment Source. “As payment preferences have been accelerated towards digital, our team is dedicated to providing alternative payment solutions that enable more equal opportunity for Canadians to engage in the economy to meet their daily needs.”

Commenting on the sixth annual Canadian Business Awards, awards coordinator, Steve Simpson, stated, “I am delighted to be a part of another successful run of the Canadian Business Awards program, and it has been a delight to liaise with all the winners of this year. I would like to congratulate them and wish them all the best for their future endeavours!”


Retail sales rose 3.2% in January amid Omicron surge: Statistics Canada

Large group of people gathered together in the shape of growing graph arrow

Retail sales rose 3.2% to $58.9 billion in January, even with public health restrictions in several parts of the country to deal with the Omicron surge in COVID-19 cases at the start of the year, Statistics Canada said Friday.

However, the agency said its early estimate for February suggested retail sales fell 0.5% for that month, though it cautioned the figure would be revised.

BMO economist Shelly Kaushik said retail sales, which fell in December, posted an impressive rebound in January, despite the persistent restrictions and pandemic concerns.

"Still, it looks like activity pulled back in February, likely with some diversion into services spending as restrictions loosened in that month," Kaushik wrote in a report.

"Overall, consumer demand remains robust, even as another month of strong inflation eroded some purchasing power."

Earlier this week, Statistics Canada said the annual inflation rate for February rose to 5.7% compared with a year-over-year rise in the consumer price index of 5.1% in January.

Statistics Canada said Friday retail sales were up in nine of the 11 subsectors it tracks.

The rise in January was led by an improvement at motor vehicle and parts dealers which gained 5.3% helped by a 5.5% increase at new car dealers and a 9.7% rise at used car dealers. Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged in January.

Excluding motor vehicle and parts dealers and gasoline stations, retail sales rose 2.9%.

Sales at building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers gained 8.9%, while sales at food and beverage stores rose 2.2%.

Clothing and clothing accessories stores saw sales fall 3.5%.

In volume terms, overall retail sales rose 2.9% in January.


Canadian Tire unveils $3.4 billion plan to improve customer experience, drive growth

Canadian Tire sign against a blue sky

Canadian Tire Corp. has announced a multi-billion dollar plan to improve customer service and bolster sales.

The retailer, which operates several banners including Canadian Tire, SportChek and Mark's, says the $3.4-billion investment will "bolster omnichannel capabilities'' and drive long-term growth.

The company says the investment will help improve customer experience across its online and brick-and-mortar stores while growing its loyalty program.

Canadian Tire says it will also strengthen its supply chain fulfilment infrastructure and automation and modernize its information technology infrastructure.

Chief executive Greg Hicks says the investments will improve customer experiences, create jobs and help drive local economies.

The announcement was made as Canadian Tire kicked off its virtual investor day, where the company's leadership team are expected to provide further details on the plan.

"The future will belong to retailers who can provide the most seamless experience across digital and physical channels,'' Hicks said during his opening remarks Thursday.

"We'll create a seamless omnichannel experience that is unified across our portfolio of retail banners, products and services.''


7-Eleven Japan pilots holographic self checkout kiosks

holographic check out.

7-Eleven Japan is running a pilot trial at six stores in Tokyo, using contactless self-checkout kiosks with holographic displays. 

The holographic displays are equipped with Neonode's Touch Sensor Modules, which make it possible to interact with the images projected by the holographic displays mid-air, in a similar way to a normal touch display. 

Demand for contactless shopping has surged during the coronavirus pandemic and these new holographic self-checkout kiosks tap into the trend, accepting only including credit cards, e-money cards and QR codes. Plus, they take up about 30% less space than existing cash registers, leaving more space for product displays.

"We are pleased and excited to see this initiative, where our technology is simplifying and enhancing the customer experience and making the interaction with the underlying device or system safer, more hygienic, and more convenient to use, which further emphasizes the importance of Neonode's contactless touch technology in the retail segment," said Urban Forssell, CEO of Neonode.


7-Eleven Canada relaunches the Big Bite hot dog

7-Eleven Big Bite hot dog

7-Eleven Canada is relaunching its Big Bite with a new 1/4 lbs hot dog from Schneiders and Big Bite Bar in its 600 branded stores.

The new Big Bite features a 100% all beef, all Canadian hot dog from Schneiders, a Canadian company founded in 1890. Big Bite fans will also have the option to customize their hot dog with more 13 toppings ranging from classic ketchup, mustard and relish to chili, nacho cheese, salsa, BBQ sauce, sauerkraut and more. 

“At 7-Eleven Canada, our winning formula is combining convenience and a broad assortment to provide choice, customization and a bit of fun. And this is no exception for our Big Bite,” says Norman Hower, VP & GM of 7-Eleven Canada. “We know Canadians are going to love the taste of the new Big Bite and the ability to fully customize their hot dog at the Big Bite Bar.”

Big Bite is available 24/7 on the grill at 7-Eleven locations, both for in-store visitors and delivery.