Federal transit windfall for Spadina subway?

The Ontario government is expecting a $1-billion windfall from Ottawa that will help extend the Spadina subway line and improve transportation throughout Greater Toronto, reported the Toronto Star April 26. It said Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered the good news in a confidential four-page letter on March 24 to provincial Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

Flaherty wrote that as part of the new Conservative government’s “collaborative management of the federation,” the provinces and territories would receive additional funding of $3.3 billion from the massive federal surplus run up last year. Word of the new cash from Ottawa comes on the heels of Duncan’s March 23 provincial budget that included $1.2 billion for infrastructure, including $670 million toward the $2-billion extension of the Spadina line from Downsview station through York University and north of Steeles Avenue into Vaughan.

Glendon conference on French immersion notes increasing demand

The advantages of speaking French were at the heart of the ninth annual French for the Future conference at York’s Glendon campus April 25, reported the Toronto Star April 26. While there was plenty of talk about the employment benefits and better understanding of Canada that comes with fluency in our other official language, the 150 high school students on hand were quick to talk about how much fun it is. While short on specific figures, conference organizers and officials with Toronto’s school boards said demand for French immersion and extended French programs is growing even as overall enrolment in their schools is declining. The Toronto Sun also wrote about the conference, noting that it was sponsored by its parent company Québecor.

Graduate student Corriero inspires net generation

As a young girl, Jennifer Corriero (BA ’03) dreamed of visiting the countries she learned about through stamp collecting, reported the Toronto Sun April 26. Today, she’s doing all that and more. As co-founder of TakingITGlobal (TIG), an online community for youth, she has travelled far and wide in her bid to help bridge cultural differences. Along the way, the York University student was crowned by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader (2005) and Global Leader for Tomorrow (2002). She has also become poster girl for the “Net Generation”, consulting for companies such as Microsoft and Xerox.

“Technology can be a tool of empowerment for young people,” Corriero says. “It’s about increasing ways they can use it for social purposes … as they become more aware of global issues and their own communities.” Corriero is pursuing her master’s degree in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies in the area of “Youth Engagement and Capacity Building Across Cultures” – a program she designed herself. Her interdisciplinary undergraduate degree, completed at York, combined her interest in business, communications, technology and culture.

Bay Street embraces sustainability reporting, says Wheeler

When David Wheeler was part of The Body Shop’s senior management team in the 1990s, the company was winning international accolades for the transparency of its reporting, not just on financial performance, but also on environmental and social responsibility issues, reported the Toronto Star April 22. Yet, as Wheeler reflects on where sustainability efforts are today, Earth Day, he wonders whether the focus should change.

“Good reporting is no substitute for good performance,” says Wheeler, now a sustainability and business strategy professor at York’s Schulich School of Business. “What emerged in the 1990s, and what has been further reinforced today, is companies getting on the bandwagon for [sustainability] reporting.” Wheeler wonders whether during his tenure at The Body Shop, a natural-based cosmetics maker owned by L’Oréal of France, he should have spent more time flagging the importance of the triple bottom line with consumers instead of focusing on other reporting.

Sustainability reports can be a public relations exercise, says Barry Colbert, senior research fellow at York’s Institute for Research in Innovation and Sustainability. “But at least it’s a public record and companies need to live up to that.”

Milevsky offers small consolation to those with locked-in mortgages

It was just one-quarter of a percentage point but yesterday’s Bank of Canada interest rate increase cost Canadian homeowners with mortgages about $50-million, reported the National Post April 26. Moshe Milevsky, finance professor in York’s Schulich School of Business who has done a historical study on the pros and cons of locking in rates, said the arguments haven’t really changed. He found consumers benefited 88 per cent of the time by not locking in their mortgage over the past 50 years.

“It’s definitely a small insurance premium. It doesn’t change the statistical fact that over the long run that floating rate will be a better deal,” said Milevsky. “There are two things you have to get right here [if you lock in]. It’s not just that the floating rate will increase but that the fixed rate could go down. You could lock in and long-term rates could go down.” He believes consumers should approach their debt on the basis of their own financial needs, not speculating where interest rates are going. “It’s your own personal liabilities. If you are on a fixed salary you might want to lock. If your income and revenue might go up and you have flexibility you might want a floating rate,” said Milevsky.

Burke calls employee buyout for over-35s ‘unique’

Telecom giant LM Ericsson AB is offering buyouts to up to 1,000 of its employees in Sweden, a voluntary package that is only being offered to employees between the ages of 35 and 50, reported the Vancouver Sun April 26. The initiative is meant to clear the way for younger workers. Ericsson also announced plans to hire 900 new employees – only those under 30 need apply – over the next three years. It’s a unique move, said Professor Ronald Burke, who teaches organizational behaviour at York’s Schulich School of Business. “Clearly, it’s rare to have a company even think along those lines,” he said.