JUNE 4, 2006 (STAR) LIVING IN CANADA By Mel Tobias - The Canadian Council on Social Development documented findings about Canadian families. Here are some revealing insights published by Ottawa Citizens:

• It cost approximately $166,700 to raise a child from birth to age 18 in Canada.

• Fewer babies are being born between 1994 and 2003. The number of births dropped 14 percent to 331,522 from 385,114.

• Motherhood is now delayed. About 20 years ago, only one-quarter of women giving birth were over the age of 40. By 2003, almost half or 48 percent were aged 30 or older.

• Children most likely to live in poverty are aboriginal, recent immigrants, members of visible minorities, and those with some form of disability.

• There are fewer marriages. In 2003, there were 145,000, down by 9 percent from 1994.

• The number of divorces is declining, down by 10 percent from 1984. The Canadian divorce rate peaked at 41 percent in 1986.

• Significantly, more children live with common-law parents. Children in Quebec were much more likely to live with common-law parents.

• The gap between the rich and poor remains wide and full-time work does not guarantee being out of the poverty trap.

Vancouver has more people who walk to work than anywhere else in Canada and North America with the exception of New York City. And the proportion of Vancouverites commuting by bicycle has doubled in 10 years (3 percent cycle to work and 17 percent walk to work).

Meanwhile, the transit system has tripled its passengers to go to school at the University of British Columbia. It is for these reasons why Vancouver has been labeled as North America’s "greenest" city as it tries to control the trend to more cars and lessen heavy traffic.

Vancouver has already exceeded the goals it had for 2021 when it comes to reducing car trips and promoting cycling and walking, a move that many environmentalists and planners claim is vital in order to reduce pollution and create more livable cities.

The Ministry of Tourism in Toronto reported the decline of visiting Americans to the city by about 16 percent or 520,000 fewer US residents. Hopefully, they will be replaced by international tourists. The reasons for the decline can be attributed to a still tense international climate, rising gas prices and the strong Canadian dollar. The lingering issue whether passports will be needed to cross Canada-US border is another contributing factor.

It’s nice to see the low-budget, digitally-shot movie "Cavite" which is an excellent political thriller set in Cavite finally got an excellent art house booking in Seattle’s Varsity theater. Ian Gamanzon who is US-based, starred, co-wrote and co-directed this commendable little movie with a giant punch. It won the major prize in the 2006 Independent Spirit Awards. It is a realistic, harsh look at the Philippines today … dangerous, poverty-stricken and quite lawless.

The forthcoming Vancouver International Jazz Festival is getting as popular as the one in Montreal. The 2005 edition lineup of talents has raised the quality once again by showcasing homegrown talents as well as international artists in the league of Tony Bennett, Paquito D’Rivera, Sheila Jordan, Pink Martini and McCoy Tyner to name a few.

Also headlined is Rumba Calzada, headed by Fil-Can composer/bandleader Raphael "Rabby" Geronimo. His style of latin music blends salsa, jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms that create a toe-tapping and soul-moving Caribbean musical fusion. Rumba Calzada was nominated for a Juno Award last year.

According to the results of the Canadian Gaming Association survey, most Canadians think gambling is a fun and acceptable form of entertainment and people usually stick to a fixed budget when they gamble. The survey also revealed that the public believes that 33 percent of all gamblers are problem gamblers.

Here’s an excellent business opportunity from British Columbia — Canadian cosmetics. B.C. is already known worldwide for its natural beauty, now it is getting known in different parts of Asia for its natural beauty products. Many local cosmetics companies claim that 20 percent to 30 percent of their sales are from South Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan. More on this next week.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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