McDonald’s Canada suspends use of temporary foreign workers

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:11:49 EDT

VICTORIA—McDonald’s Canada is putting its temporary foreign workers program on hold while a third party conducts an audit on its use of the plan.

Stung by recent criticism of its use of foreign workers, the restaurant chain’s vice-president of human resources Len Jillard says the firm needs to pause the program to prove to Canadians it is not abusing the program or its workers.

Jillard, in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press, says McDonald’s has already informed the federal government about its plans, including federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

In Winnipeg today, Kenney warned that employers who abuse the temporary foreign workers program could face fraud charges and possible jail time.

Three McDonald’s franchises in Victoria and a pizza restaurant in Weyburn, Saskatchewan are at the centre of program abuse allegations involving Canadian employees alleging foreign workers were given priority work status and in some cases took their jobs.

McDonald’s is in the process of taking full ownership of the three Victoria franchises from the Victoria operator who previously held an 80 per cent share in the three outlets.


Temporary foreign worker program may be beyond fixing: Tim HarperEND

Rival Palestinian factions agree to form interim unity government

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:58:58 EDT

Rivals Hamas and Fatah made a new attempt Wednesday to overcome the Palestinians’ political split, saying they would seek to form an interim unity government within five weeks, followed by general elections by December at the earliest.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, and Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah, an envoy of internationally backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Similar agreements were reached in principle in the past but never implemented. It was not clear how the new attempt announced Wednesday would succeed where previous ones failed, since the fundamental difficulties remain in place.

However, any agreement between Abbas and the Islamic militant Hamas was bound to add further complications to U.S. mediation efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel and the West consider Hamas a terror organization, in part because the group carried out scores of bombings and shootings that killed hundreds of Israelis over the past two decades. The group is sworn to Israel’s destruction.

Earlier Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Abbas of sabotaging peace efforts by seeking rapprochement with Hamas.

“So instead of moving into peace with Israel, he’s moving into peace with Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “He has to choose. Does he want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel? You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace, so far he hasn’t done so.”

Netanyahu and Abbas face a U.S.-set target date Tuesday for either reaching the outlines of a peace deal or an agreement to extend their talks. An outline is out of reach at this stage, and the two sides remain far apart on the terms of a possible extension.

Hamas seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. Both sides have become entrenched in their territories, setting up respective governments and their own security forces.

Abbas sent a delegation to Gaza this week for reconciliation talks with Hamas.

Haniyeh said during a news conference with al-Ahmed that “we agreed on a timetable to end the split.”

He said Abbas would now begin consultations on forming an interim government within five weeks. Presidential and parliamentary elections should be held on the same date, “at the earliest six months after forming the government.”


Palestinian president orders name changed to “state of Palestine”

UN recognizes state of Palestine

Mississauga mansion goes on auction block — again

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:48:14 EDT

It’s 18,000-square feet of French-inspired grandeur that just can’t seem to sell.

A Mississauga mansion at 2290 Saxony Ct. that supposedly sold last January for $6.2 million — less than it cost to build — is back on the auction block.

And this time it’s sharing the stage with an upscale neighbour, a resort-like, 9,000 square-foot home on prime Doulton Dr. whose owner is looking for some quick action after eight months on the Multiple Listings Service without a bite.

The deal for so-called Saxony Manor, which drew daylong lineups for the unusual auction last January 26, is on the verge of collapse. The buyer has been unable to come up with final financing. Their money is apparently tied up in overseas banks.

As a result, they stand to lose over $100,000 in deposits if another bidder emerges at this second, joint auction, planned for August 27 at 2 p.m. at Oakridge Public School in Mississauga.

The sale of the custom-built Doulton Ave. home was already in the works when the owner of Saxony Manor — a custom homebuilder who has a $5.2 million mortgage on the property, according to land registry records — asked to try a second auction.

In addition to the soaring glass, Doulton Ave. home, which sits on 1.5 acres of land overlooking the Credit River, auction house Ritchies will be selling off a Rolls-Royce, Birkin bags and Fabergé egg and fine jewelry.

“Both houses are different — one is modern and one is traditional, so they won’t compete with each other,” said veteran Mississauga realtor Sam McDadi, who originally listed both houses on the MLS. In the case of Saxony, he even had a previous deal back in late 2013 which also fell through.

“We just want to get this done. Both sellers are very motivated.”

Kashif Khan, managing director of Ritchies, who oversaw the January auction and will also oversee the joint auction, said some “hiccups” and “problems” are to be expected.

“My perspective is long term. I realize this house auction concept is new and novel for Canada and it will take a while to be accepted. It’s normal to have resistance and hiccups and problems when you’re trying to change the system.”

Railways ordered by federal government to stop using older tank cars

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:57:30 EDT

The federal government is pulling 5,000 older tank cars off the rails immediately as it adopts the major rail safety recommendations of the Transportation Safety Board.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says the least crash-resistant of the older tank cars must be removed from the rails immediately.

She says older tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol must be phased out or retrofitted within three years.

Rail carriers will also be required to prepare emergency response assistance plans for shipments of all petroleum products, including everything for crude oil to diesel.

Emergency response is to be improved across the country through a task force involving municipalities, first responders, railways and shippers.

The actions are the latest response to last summer's horrific derailment and fire in Lac-Mégantic that claimed 47 lives.

TCHC employee with Rob Ford ties got rapid promotion, big raise

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:30:00 EDT

Four years ago, Lisa-Joan Overholt was one of the campaign volunteers trying to get out the vote for Rob Ford.

Three years ago, she was a part-time constituency assistant for an Etobicoke councillor closely allied with Ford.

Last year, she made $112,923 as the Toronto Community Housing Corp.’s senior director of community safety and its council liaison.

Overholt’s rapid rise has been the subject of confusion and complaint within the TCHC. In a damning report on Tuesday, the city ombudsman cited her case as one of five especially “egregious” violations of human resources policies at the city-owned landlord.

The ombudsman determined that TCHC chief executive Gene Jones created a position for Overholt while she was working as executive assistant to Ford loyalist Vincent Crisanti, who had originally hired her on a part-time basis after the campaign.

The new TCHC job, at the “manager” level, was not advertised. Less than six months after Overholt was hired, she was promoted to a newly created senior director position, which did not even have a job description, and given a $30,000 raise.

Overholt thrived at TCHC after her late-campaign work for Ford despite a civilian police career that ended unhappily not long earlier — after she was accused of “sexual harassment,” “abuse of authority,” and other alleged misdeeds she has emphatically denied. City councillors have praised Overholt as diligent and effective in her role with the TCHC.

Before being hired at TCHC she got a reference from Ford’s then-aide Mark Towhey, according to two city hall sources. A separate city hall source recalled Overholt saying “the mayor vouched for her personally” to Jones. The Star has no evidence these endorsements had any bearing on her being hired or her later promotion.

Under her former name, Lisa Hunt, she had donated $785 to Ford’s campaign; she also donated $300 to Doug Ford’s council campaign. Overholt and the mayor’s chief of staff did not respond to requests for comment.

In announcing her promotion, the TCHC said “Lisa has deep knowledge and experience of City Hall.” She appears to have worked there for less than three years, after serving 22 years with the police.

Overholt is now responsible for two portfolios. As council liaison, she is the point person for councillors whose constituents have TCHC-related issues. As senior director of community safety, she is responsible for security at the TCHC’s 350 properties.

At the police, she worked as a supervisor in charge of security and 70 employees at the provincial courthouse in a Finch Ave. strip mall.

Her police career ended in turmoil. According to a 2009 arbitration report, the force told her it was going to fire her in response to complaints about “derogatory and/or inappropriate comments of a sexual nature,” “bullying and intimidation of employees,” and other issues.

An internal investigator found that only two of the accusations could be substantiated. But the investigator nonetheless claimed to have found “a disturbing pattern of unacceptable comments or conduct,” and the force said “the conduct is longstanding and appears to have escalated over time.”

Overholt offered “emphatic denials” and explanations. She also filed a grievance. The force later informed her that it had discovered “mitigating factors” and would suspend her, then demote her to a non-supervisory role, rather than firing her.

Overholt left the force after receiving an undisclosed amount of money in a grievance settlement, said a source familiar with the deal.

Councillors used to deal with local TCHC officials. Councillor Paula Fletcher said Jones’ new centralized system, led by Overholt, has been more efficient, and that Overholt has been “responsive” and “professional.” She said Overholt worked successfully to address a situation involving an abusive tenant.

“I couldn’t get any traction on this, and it was through Lisa being there and being able to get to the CEO and put the attention on it that we managed to solve this one,” Fletcher said.

Google Street View goes back in time

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:47:01 EDT

Want proof of Toronto’s remarkable development boom?

Beginning Wednesday, the Street View feature of Google Maps lets users go back in time, to view previous images of places from the search giant’s archives. If a location has been previously mapped and photographed by the company’s camera-laden vehicles, the new option will allow users to see how it has changed over time.

“Starting tomorrow (Wednesday) and rolling out gradually globally, you’ll be able to click on the top left hand corner of the Street View image, and you can see all the different years we have collected data,” says Aaron Brindle, Google Canada’s spokesperson.

Street View has been capturing ground-level images of cities since 2007, and became available for Toronto streets in 2009. For a Canadian example of the history function, Brindle says Lake Shore Blvd. and Fleet St. east of the Princes’ Gate is a great place to see how things have changed.

“This is my favourite Canadian example. For Lake Shore, it goes back to 2007 and over the years, you can see the condos going up,” says Brindle. “You can see amazing development in this part of Toronto that has been the focus of so much attention in terms of how Toronto has developed its waterfront.”

Such examples show how dramatically areas of the city have changed in just a few years. With the history function, you can also see a World Cup stadium being built in the Federal District in Brazil. Or the new World Trade Center project rising in New York City, which can also be viewed from several vantage points from around New York.

It works simply by clicking on the left-hand corner of the current Street View image, which will give a timeline of historical snapshots, if any are available.

Beyond development, Brindle says the feature can be used to see some of the effects of natural and man-made disasters and the rebuilding afterward, as in Fukushima, Japan, or the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

“I’m really curious to see what excites users about this and what they find,” he says.

Google Maps’ “Pegman,” the stick figure that you have to drag and drop to enable Street View, is also going to be given a fun makeover for Wednesday’s launch day.

“As part of an ‘Easter egg’ in the feature, Pegman is going to be dressed up as Doc Brown from Back to the Future,” says Brindle. “That’s gives you a sense of what we’re trying to achieve.”

Ontario NDP would hike corporate taxes to pay for transit

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:24:40 EDT

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says a New Democrat government would hike corporate income taxes to help pay for transit and introduce a guaranteed travel time for commuters in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.

Horwath, who has been under pressure for months now to take a stand on transit, finally delivered a plan Wednesday that also includes selling off Ontario’s shares in General Motors, which could net about $1.4-billion at current market prices.

“I wrote to the premier to today to say that the status quo just isn’t working . . . the government should start listening to the needs of commuters . . . they are tired of delays,” she told reporters at Queen’s Park.

“The corporate sector, which benefits from investments in transit, needs to be part of the solution. That is why today New Democrats are calling for a modest (increase),” said Horwath, who refused to say what that increase would be or how much it would bring in.

Howarth said at the top of the NDP agenda is the downtown Toronto relief line, followed by electrifying the Union Station to Pearson International Airport line and then the Scarborough subway or light rail transit.

“We want to make sure we are prioritizing in a way that makes sense. For example, we don’t see how we can build the Yonge line extension to Richmond Hill if we don’t build the capacity in downtown to accept that new ridership,” she said.

Horwath called for transit financing options put forward by the three parties to be submitted to Financial Accountability Office — when it is up and running — for review “to make sure we are getting the best value for taxpayers.”

The New Democrat plan also called for travel time guarantees with Horwath promising that some day she hopes commuter travel time will be cut by 30 minutes.

“People need a guarantee that investments will unlock gridlock and end delays,” she said.

Earlier this month, ‎Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a Liberal government would spend $29 billion over the next 10 years on transit and transportation — $15 billion for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area and $14 billion for the rest of the province.

Wynne said it would dedicate 7.5 cents per litre of the gas tax and the HST on fuel tax — totalling more than $1.3 billion annually — to build new transit, roads, highways and bridges.

“We need an aggressive and serious investment in transit right here in the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area),” she said, adding the money now goes into general government coffers.

Wynne said the plan also includes new so-called dedicated revenue tools, redirecting existing revenue and debt financing.

Bruce Arthur’s online chat: Live at 2 p.m.

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:55:57 EDT

Mobile users can click here to join in on sports columnist Bruce Arthur’s debut online chat. Get your questions in now so we can hit the ground running at 2 p.m.

Click here to read his first column for the Star.

Ron MacLean apologizes for French referee comments

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 09:06:09 EDT

Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean has apologized for setting off a social media firestorm following the Montreal-Tampa Bay game.

During the Canadiens 4-3 win over the Lightning, MacLean suggested a French-speaking referee should not have worked the game.

The comment apparently stemmed from a complaint by Lightning coach Jon Cooper who felt his team lost because of a bad call from a ref during Sunday’s Game 3 defeat.

MacLean suggested the NHL used a French referee to send a signal to the Florida team in the wake of Cooper’s complaint.

Later in the CBC broadcast, MacLean said he was sorry, adding it is “divisive any time you become about French and English in our country.”

He said he certainly didn’t intend to go down that path.

MacLean added that while he thought Francois St. Laurent “maybe shouldn’t have been put into Game 4, I’d have no problem with Game 5, 6 or 7.”

MacLean explained he wouldn’t send an Alberta referee in to do an Alberta game had an Alberta official been involved in a tough Game 3.

”It’s not about French Canadians, certainly not about French, and that’s what I kinda triggered and it’s easy to step into that kind of mistake.”

The Canadiens swept Tampa Bay in four games.

Related: NHL playoffs: Lightning stickhandle media better than they do Habs

NHL playoffs: Why Maple Leafs fans should root for Habs

Rogers-NHL deal: Where will the personalities wind up?

Don Cherry defends Ron MacLean

Rob Ford calls to eliminate ombudsman after scathing TCHC report released

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:19:22 EDT

On Tuesday morning, city ombudsman Fiona Crean released a scathing report that may cost Toronto Community Housing Corp. chief executive Gene Jones his job.

On Tuesday night, Mayor Rob Ford called again for the elimination of Crean’s job.


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As he did in 2012, when he was criticized by the city’s integrity commissioner, Ford argued that the positions of ombudsman, integrity commissioner, and lobbyist registrar should be merged in order to save money.

“(Crean) and the integrity commissioner, the lobbyist registrar -- those three accountability officers cost millions of dollars. And in Mississauga, they have one person doing three jobs. So I don’t think they’re needed. I think there might be one person that could do all three. I don’t know why we’re paying millions and millions of dollars to all three of these accountability officers,” Ford said in a call to the Newstalk 1010 show hosted by Toronto Sun columnist Joe Warmington.

Ford’s proposal has no chance of success; the provincial City of Toronto Act requires the city to have an ombudsman and integrity commissioner. And the mayor made the same factual error he made when attacking the watchdog officials in 2012: Mississauga does not have anyone doing the job of an ombudsman or lobbyist registrar at all, just a lawyer on retainer as integrity commissioner.

Crean sharply criticized Jones’s staffing practices, finding that he repeatedly violated TCHC policy in hiring and promoting employees. Ford, a vocal Jones supporter, said it is only fair for someone to study the number of staffers employed by the accountability officers.

“I’d like to see the integrity commissioner and all the staff they have - you’ll get a shock,” he said. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

In fact, the integrity commissioner employs only one person, an assistant. The total 2014 budget for the three accountability offices Ford opposes is about $3 million.

NYPD asks Twitter to share photos. Twitter responds with pics of police brutality

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 07:52:47 EDT

NEW YORK—A request by the New York City Police Department has backfired — in a very public way.

Its request that Twitter users share pictures of them posing with police officers has caused people to start sending in photos of police brutality.

The NYPD sent a tweet on Tuesday, saying it might feature the photographs on its Facebook page.

The responses soon turned ugly when Occupy Wall Street tweeted a photograph of cops battling protesters with the caption “changing hearts and minds one baton at a time.”

Other photos included an elderly man bloodied after being arrested for jaywalking.

Some respondents did send in the type of police-friendly photographs officials were hoping to get.

NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster says the uncensored and open dialogue was good for the city.

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton admitted that he was caught off guard by the harsh response but said he had no plans to abandon social media.

Experts questioned Wednesday how the NYPD didn’t anticipate the potential public relations debacle.

One said other large organizations have seen hashtags become “bashtags.”

Paramedics respond to ‘medical call’ at Stephen Harper’s house

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:20:03 EDT

OTTAWA—The RCMP is confirming that paramedics were called to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s residence Saturday night amidst media reports that an 18-year-old woman was severely intoxicated.

In a statement, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Lucy Shorey said an ambulance responded to 24 Sussex Dr. She did not describe the nature of the call but said that it did not involve Harper or his family.

“This was a medical call and not a police matter. It did not involve any of our protectees,” Shorey said in a statement.

A Quebec radio station reported that the emergency call involved an intoxicated 18-year-old woman, who was taken to hospital.

Harper’s son Ben is nearing his 18th birthday. Harper and wife Laureen also have a younger daughter, Rachel.

Jason MacDonald, Harper’s director of communications, declined to comment on the report and would not say whether Harper or his wife were home at the time of the incident.

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19.

Food crusader Mark Brand challenges Canadians to eat on a tight budget

Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:16:38 EDT

I’ve been waiting for Canada’s answer to Jamie Oliver to emerge — a chef entrepreneur with popular restaurants, great food, onscreen charisma, a social conscience and a mission.

He’s finally here.

His name is Mark Brand and he’s best known for a sandwich token program at his diner/butcher Save on Meats in the country’s poorest postal code.

Brand crusades for social justice through food with the mantra “feed, train, employ.”

He has a government contract to feed lunch to 576 marginalized people a day who live in “ single room occupancy hotels .” At Save On, he feeds up to 120 people a day the hot breakfast sandwiches they can swap for tokens handed out by the community. He trains people to cook from scratch and/or on extreme budgets. He hires “barrier employees.”

Brand is CEO of Save On Meats and founder of A Better Life Foundation. He also co-owns several popular, ever-changing restaurants, a pub, brewery, art gallery and apparel line/shop — and has done the requisite Tedx talk (on “the impact of an unconventional solution”). His screen credits include a reality show, documentary and docudrama.

He’s just 38.

If you haven’t heard of Brand yet, it’s only because he’s from Vancouver and micro-focuses on the impoverished Downtown Eastside. But he’s working to spread his social entrepreneur business model across Canada.

I meet Brand when he visits Toronto as the chef spokesperson for the Live Below The Line campaign that challenges people to eat and drink for $1.75 a day for five days from April 28 to May 2.

The goal is to create conversations about extreme poverty (and the 1.2 billion people around the world living in it), while also raising money in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Canadian wing of the campaign raised $110,000 last year. This year, organizers sent me a day’s worth of low-cost recipes and promised a chef to go with them.

I had no idea it would be Brand. I didn’t even recognize his name at first.

When he comes to the Star test kitchen to cook, I’ve already bought the groceries and semi-prepped the ingredients. I apologize for the not-so-fresh ginger that I dug out of the fridge.

“That’s what we’re talking about — working with stuff that’s close to off,” says a delighted Brand. “We will play and have a lot of fun.”

No need to be dour while eating on a budget. No need to be embarrassed that your ingredients aren’t at their peak, or that you bought them for a deep discount at the green grocer. You can still make delicious food.

Live Below the Line is an initiative of the Global Poverty Project , an international education and advocacy group that wants a world without extreme poverty by 2030. Brand got involved because he’s friends with Dominic Mishio , the project’s Canada country director.

What Brand is doing on a “hyper-local” level in six Vancouver blocks mirrors what the project is doing globally.

For the five-day challenge (which can actually be done anytime before June 30), people are urged to pool resources, buy in bulk, batch cook and build community.

In Toronto, a class of 13 high school students at the Ontario International College is urging fellow students to raise money. The students can’t do the challenge since it happens during exams, but two of their teachers have signed on.

Buying in bulk and gathering people to batch cook is what Brand does in Vancouver to stretch people’s buying power.

He often works with people who have “slim to nil” kitchen facilities and rely on induction burners, microwaves or crock pots.

“I can’t sing the praises of the crock pot enough,” he says.

It pains him that so many Canadians eat from boxes and cans and don’t know how to cook.

“Everything I do in business, and in the kitchen period, I believe, goes from 1940 to 1978,” admits Brand. “It’s the right way. It’s the old way.”

Born in Scotland, he lived in Tunisia, England, Calgary, Dartmouth, Nigeria, Australia and Asia before returning to Canada for health reasons and settling in Vancouver. He has chef friends here in Toronto and expects to visit often.

One of those friends is restaurateur Rodney Bowers , the owner of Hey! and Hey Meatball. They starred in Million Dollar Neighbourhood together, helping financially challenged residents of Bowmanville reign in their spending through things like cooking.

Bowers is working on a Toronto version of Brand’s sandwich token program.

In Vancouver, people buy the $2.25 tokens for fellow citizens in need, who in turn redeem them for a sandwich made from egg, sliced ham, real cheddar and homemade mayo on a fresh baked biscuit.

“When was the last time I was hungry?” muses Brand. “For us, it’s always so momentary — the 45 minutes you’re stuck in a car or you’re in a meeting or something.”

Not so Canadians living below the poverty line, often facing mental health and medical challenges along with drug/alcohol addictions.

It bothers Brand how “time has ruined a lot of the way we eat and we approach food.” Not enough people cook or know what real food is. People think restaurant food is exciting and home-cooked meals aren’t.

These are many of the same issues that Jamie Oliver has been tackling in England and the United States, with cookbooks for quick and healthy meals, restaurants with disadvantaged staff, charities, culinary activism and a campaign to improve school meals.

Brand, meanwhile, loves how the Live Below the Line challenge “creates unavailability” and puts a cap on spending.

The breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that we’re making are not his — they come from others who shared their dishes with the challenge — but he’s game to make them work.

There’s a breakfast smoothie, Asian noodle salad and a vegetarian stew. Brand’s particularly taken with the soup, which transforms potatoes, carrots, onion and yellow split peas into a substantial four-portion meal with little more than water, salt, pepper and cayenne.

“What we’re cooking here is absolutely legitimate,” he enthuses. “This is super nutritious compared to what you would be eating from a box or can.”

It takes about 45 minutes to make, but Brand’s pleased: “It’s starchy, but it’s tasty.”

He pulls together the Asian noodle dish in no time since it’s based on the kind of dried noodles that you pour boiling water over. He skips the fresh mint (“not the most accessible herb” for those on a budget) and slaps the cilantro stalks between his hands.

“It’s more of a cocktail technique,” says the former bartender. “I’m releasing the aroma so it agitates it.”

It takes Brand less than a minute to make the final dish, a breakfast smoothie made from spinach and peanut butter.

“Oh, that’s super tasty,” he says approvingly. “Spinach has so much flavour. Peanut butter and honey make it really tasty, and I like that you’re using water and aren’t required to get orange juice or apple juice.”

Brand hopes Canadians will embrace the challenge and feel, if only fleetingly, what people living with extreme poverty go through.

He hopes they’ll submit their recipes online. Above all, he hopes people will talk about poverty, hunger and — most importantly — home cooking.

GOT A GREAT FRUGAL-LIVING TIP? We’d love to hear your tips on how to save money on groceries, how to cook on a budget and more. Leave a comment in the comment section below or send us an email at



Created by Food Network Canada personality Roger Mooking for Live Below the Line.

2 cups (500 mL) spinach

½ banana

2 tbsp (30 mL) peanut butter

½ cup water

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice

½ tsp (2 mL) honey

4 ice cubes

In blender, combine spinach, banana, peanut butter, water, lemon, honey and ice cubes. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Makes 1.


Adapted from a recipe that Vicki Ravlich-Horan, editor of Nourish Magazine in New Zealand, shared with Live Below the Line.

6 oz. (170 g) thin Thai dried rice stick/vermicelli noodles (1/3 to ½ package)

1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced green or napa cabbage

1 carrot, peeled, cut in matchsticks

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped, peeled ginger

¼ cup (60 mL) fresh cilantro leaves


¼ cup (60 mL) lime juice

2 tbsp (30 mL) each: vegetable oil, fish sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce

2 tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar

Put noodles in large bowl. Pour boiling water over them to cover by several inches. Let stand 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; drain. Return to bowl. Add cabbage, carrots, celery, ginger and cilantro.

In medium bowl, whisk lime, oil, fish sauce, chili sauce and sugar. Pour over salad. Serve immediately, let stand at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate until chilled.

Makes 4 servings.


Adapted from a recipe that New Zealand chef Julie Le Clerc shared with Live Below the Line.

1 potato, peeled, chopped

1 carrot, peeled, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 cups (1L) water + more if needed

1-3/4 cup (435 mL) dried yellow split peas

Large pinch cayenne pepper

Salt + black pepper to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add potato, carrot and onion. Cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Add split peas and 4 cups (1L) water. Season with paprika, salt and pepper. Raise heat to high; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are soft and the mixture is a thick stew, about 40 minutes, adding water to thin to a soup if desired. Taste; adjust seasoning if desired.