Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Travel tips from the Canada Border Services Agency

MONTREAL, December 21, 2010 /Canada NewsWire Telbec/ - With the coming of the winter season, many residents of Canada will travel by air for their vacations. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) makes every effort to effectively process the volume of international arrivals at airports. The travel tips below will assist travellers to take appropriate action before their departure, and to be aware of requirements to facilitate their return to Canada.

Proper identification

Make sure that you are carrying proper identification for yourself and any children travelling with you so you can prove that you have the legal right or authorization to enter Canada upon your return. While a passport is not mandatory for entry into Canada, it is the only document that is universally accepted..

Travelling with children - authorization letter

It is strongly recommended that any adults, who are not the parents or legal guardians of children with whom they are travelling, have a letter authorizing them to take the children outside the country. The letter should include addresses and telephone numbers where the parents or legal guardian can be reached. Divorced/separated parents who share custody of their children should carry copies of legal custody documents.

Personal exemptions

When you return to Canada, be prepared to pay the GST and provincial tax on your purchases, and customs duties on some items. Declare all your purchases and have receipts readily available. After an absence of seven days, you are entitled to CAN$750 duty- and tax-free.

One of the following amounts of alcohol can be imported free of duty and taxes (if you have been away at least 48 hours)

1.5 litres of wine (53 ounces)
1.14 litres of alcohol (40 ounces)
a combination of wine and liquor not exceeding a total of 1.14 litres (40 ounces)
24 cans or bottles of beer or ale (355-millilitre or 12 ounces each with a maximum of 8.5 litres)

One of the following amounts of tobacco can be imported free of duty and taxes (if you have been away at least 48 hours)

200 cigarettes (1 carton)
50 cigars or cigarillos
200 grams (7 ounces) of manufactured tobacco
200 tobacco sticks.

Food products

Canada has complex requirements, restrictions and limits on the importation of meat, eggs, dairy products, honey, fresh fruits and vegetables, and other food products from all over the world. For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

Plants and animals

Plants are potential carriers of insects and disease. For this reason, border services officers control the entry into Canada of plants, soil, sand or all other material in which vegetation or plants are rooted or wrapped. For more information, visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Web site at www.inspection.gc.ca.

For more information, visit the CBSA Web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca or contact the Border Information Service at 1-800-461-9999.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Travelling this holiday season? TICO Travel Tips

TORONTO, December 20, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ -The Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) suggests you keep the following in mind:

...Always book with an Ontario registered travel agency. Whether in person, by telephone or over the Internet, purchasing your travel services from a TICO-registered travel agency means you are covered by Ontario's travel consumer protection provisions. Check to see if your travel agency is registered by going to www.tico.ca and using the Travel Agency Search feature.

...Get a Receipt. Your Ontario travel agency is required to provide you a receipt and invoice for all payments, even when you pay with cash. Always retain original documents such as receipts, invoices, returned cheques and credit card slips. These are your proof of purchase, should you need them down the road.

...Do research and ask questions. Part of the fun of a vacation lies in making plans, so get involved. The Internet can be a great resource for information as can your TICO-registered travel agency. Remember that different standards of living and practices may exist outside of Canada , so ask questions and research your destination to help you make the best decision.

...Purchase travel insurance. Travel insurance is always recommended. Ontario travel agencies are required to advise about the availability of trip cancellation insurance and out-of-province health insurance at the time of booking.

...Know the terms and conditions of your booking. Whether in person or online, always read and understand the Terms and Conditions of the travel services being purchased. Pay close attention to items relating to cancellation, changes to bookings and refunds.

...Passports and Visas Your Ontario travel agent is required to disclose the travel documentation required for each person travelling. Avoid disappointment and prepare your travel documentation ahead of time and ensure your passport is valid well beyond the date of your expected return.

...Make copies. In case of loss or theft, make copies of your passport details, visa, insurance policy, airline tickets and credit card numbers. Carry one copy in a place different than the originals while travelling and leave a copy with someone at home.

...Dates, Times and Flight Numbers. Contact the airline the day before your flight leaves to confirm departure times and how early you need to arrive at the airport. Call before you leave home to make sure your flight is on time.

The Travel Industry Council of Ontario administers the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002 as well as an industry-financed Compensation Fund.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

State of emergency in southwest Ontario highlights need for winter survival kit - Insurance Bureau of Canada

TORONTO, December 14, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - Heavy snow stranding hundreds of drivers in southwest Ontario has caused a state of emergency, emphasizing the importance of preparing a winter survival kit before driving, says Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC).

Treacherous Driving Conditions

"Winter storms can cause treacherous driving conditions as the people stranded on Highway 402 in Ontario have experienced", says James Geuzebroek, Acting Vice President, Communications, Insurance Bureau of Canada. "It's essential to be prepared when driving in these conditions. Check the weather before you leave, make sure your vehicle is fully maintained and pack a winter survival kit," he added.

What to Pack in a Winter Survival Kit?

...Sand and shovel

...Road map and compass or GPS unit

...Extra clothing, footwear and blanket

...Emergency food pack

...Ice scraper and booster cables


...First aid kit

For more ideas on what to include in a survival kit and tips on driving safely in winter, please visit ibc.ca.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Picture Painting Chimp Earns Fame, But Not Freedom

from TreeHugger.com
by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

For most of his 27 years, Jimmy the chimpanzee has been kept under lock and key, allowed only to dream of the world beyond the confines of his enclosure at a small zoo in Rio de Janeiro. With no companion and little to do to pass the time, Jimmy had become understandably depressed -- that is, until he discovered the joy of painting. But despite receiving national acclaim for his uncanny artistic ability, and becoming a household name in Brazil, the results of Jimmy's latest bid for a better life may add a little gloom to his palette.

If Jimmy's art leans towards the abstract, it could be for his limited exposure to the beauty of a natural landscape. From birth until age three, the chimpanzee toured with a circus troupe where he endured untold stresses at the hands of people infamously more interested in profits than the humane treatment of their animals. And Jimmy isn't the only one with a difficult past; Several residents at the zoo where Jimmy lives were found abandoned by bankrupt circus owners.

For the last 10 years, Jimmy has lived by himself in an enclosure at the poorly funded Niteroi zoo, in Rio de Janeiro. Despite the economic hardships, his keepers did their best to keep his spirits up offering games, sugary snacks, and even a TV to the chimp -- but none of these things could cure Jimmy's loneliness and depression quite like one particular pastime. Six months ago, his trainer brought him a canvas, a few brushes, and some paints -- allowing Jimmy to discover his love of painting. And, boy, can he paint... read more story at TreeHugger.com

Saturday, 4 December 2010

New survey reveals more than half of Ontarians feel music enhances everything they do

A surprise TTC musical makes for melodic morning commute as TVO launches Music Week

TORONTO, December 2, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - A surprise live musical in Toronto subway stations during morning rush hour yesterday kept TTC riders humming just as new insights from TVO reveal that Ontarians are willing to make sacrifices to keep music as a vital component of daily life. Almost half (47 per cent) would give up beer or wine, and four in 10 (36 per cent) would forsake their cell phones for a month in order to keep the music playing. TVO joined in an Angus Reid Strategies poll to gauge the importance of music in the lives of Ontarians in an effort to raise awareness for Music Week, which begins on December 5th.

The impromptu performances by an undercover professional chorus aimed to inspire, delight and entertain unsuspecting audiences and help to demonstrate the positive influence music has on the daily life of Ontarians.

"These new insights from Ontarians and the response we saw from commuters during our surprise live performances tell us that music is not just an important part of daily life, but it inspires conversation," says Steve Rayment, Director of Marketing, TVO. "Interestingly, Ontarians told us that music, more than any other art form, has had the most influence on their learning and this is the driving force behind TVO's Music Week, and TVO's goal to inform, inspire and encourage all Ontarians to fully engage with the world around them."

In an effort to engage people in a new and compelling way, TVO enlisted a 30-person professional chorus, who were disguised as commuters to hand deliver a memorable musical message by infiltrating subways and surrounding TTC riders with song. Vocalists and street percussionists spontaneously performed renditions of Stevie Wonder's classic, Superstition, as a human experiment to explore music and what it means to so many people.

The power of music

The power of music to enlighten, empower and heal is evident in TVO's Music Week line-up, which includes the world premiere of Listen to This, on December 8. In this inspiring documentary, filmmaker Juan Baquero documents a unique song-writing class at Firgrove Public School in Toronto's Jane-Finch area that uses music to build self-esteem in inner-city kids. The program was created by jazz pianist Thompson Egbo-Egbo who, along with three other musicians, works with students one-on-one to help them open up about what's going on in their lives and work towards achieving a positive goal.

As the subjects of Listen to This may attest, TVO's survey revealed that younger generation Ontarians, aged 18 to 34, are more inclined to believe in the extent to which music is a powerful social and cultural influence. More than half (54 per cent) believe music has the power to inspire trends in pop culture, while 50 per cent think it informs us about other cultures and more than four in 10 (42 per cent) believe it's a catalyst for change.

Similarly, the notion that music is intrinsically tied to the spirit of youth is captured beautifully in the TVO documentary Young @ Heart, which profiles an unorthodox chorus of senior citizens who channel a youthful passion in their interpretation of edgy and influential rock from the modern era. Featuring songs from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, The Clash and Radiohead, Young @ Heart, has inspired audiences young and old around the world.

"Music is a powerful cultural and social influence, and this notion is explored through a variety of engaging programs to air during TVO's Music Week," says Rayment. "We hope that these programs will not just delight and entertain, but will also inspire and fuel conversation around the integral role that music plays in all our lives."

Encore performance: music and memory

It's no surprise that music is on the minds of Ontarians. 91 per cent say they always or sometimes get music stuck in their heads. But, music is also a powerful tool for Ontarians to unlock memories and past experiences. Seven in 10 believe music is important in their ability to recall past experiences or relationships, even more so with women (75 per cent).

These results may inspire yet another conversation among Ontarians: if music helps to unlock memories, then what are Ontarians destined to forget without the aid of music to remind them?

About TVO Music Week: December 5 to 11

Music Week starts the month off on an up beat with a number of documentaries, current affairs programs and films that will have audiences tapping their toes and looking at the art and science of music in new ways.

Featured programming includes:

Young @ Heart, Canadian premiere on December 5, encores December 6 and 31
Music of the Brain, North American premiere December 7, encore December 9
Listen to This, world premiere December 8, encores December 12 and 31

For more Music Week listings and program previews, visit http://smr.newswire.ca/en/tvo/tvo-december-2010-highlights

About TVO

TVO is Ontario's public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. Celebrating 40 years in 2010, TVO's vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and supported by thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.

Where to find TVO
Cable channel 2 (channel may vary in some areas), Rogers HD channel 580, Bell TV channel 265, Shaw Direct channel 353.

About the survey

Methodology: From November 15 to November 16, 2010, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey among 808 randomly selected Ontarian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.5%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Ontario. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

TVO Music Week: survey results at a glance

What would Ontarians sacrifice for a month to keep the music playing?

...Almost half of Ontarians (47 per cent) would give up wine or beer for music.

...Women are even more likely, with 56 per cent saying they'd give up wine or beer for music.

...45 per cent of Ontarians would give up their daily newspaper, this number is significantly higher (58 per cent) among 18 to 34 year olds.

...Almost four in 10 Ontarians (36 per cent) would give up their cell phone for music
16 per cent of Ontarians would sacrifice sex for music.

Music enhances life:

More than half of Ontarians (52 per cent) said that music enhances everything they do, be it exercising, home or school work, spending an evening out on the town or watching tv/movies.
This is even truer amongst younger generation Ontarians. Fifty-five per cent of Ontarians aged 18 to 34 believe music enhances everything they do; and seven in 10 think it enhances exercise.

Music and the mind:

...Seven in 10 Ontarians said music is important in their ability to recall past experiences or relationships. Even more so with women (75 per cent).

...91 per cent of Ontarians always/sometimes get a song stuck in their head. For most, it's typically a song frequently played on radio (62 per cent).

...Of all art forms, music has the most influence on learning amongst Ontarians. 48 per cent ranked music the number one influence.

Music and community:

...70 per cent of Ontarians believe music unites people through shared tastes or experiences.

...Half of Ontario women said music is an important cultural influence because it can be created by anyone, regardless of ability.

...61 per cent of GTA respondents believe that music's cultural/social importance lies in its ability to demonstrate creativity.

...More than half of young Ontarians, aged 18 to 34 (54 per cent), believe music has the power to inspire trends in pop culture, while 50 per cent think it informs us about other cultures and more than four in 10 (42 per cent) believe it's a catalyst for change.