Crosscountry: Canada at a glance — November 2014

A new study warns that Burger King’s proposed takeover of Tim Hortons could mean major cost cutting and mass layoffs. Plus, a Montreal firm develops an app to help people improve their information processing skills.


Double double trouble

Burger King’s proposed takeover of Tim Hortons is a bad deal that is likely to have "overwhelmingly negative consequences" for Canadians, says a study by the Ottawa-based Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The CCPA has no problem with Burger King, but with its private equity owner, 3G Capital. In its 30-year history of takeovers, this firm has been an aggressive cost-slasher. It has "a well-established post-takeover playbook of cost cutting and mass layoffs, and the billions in new debt to finance the acquisition will create enormous pressure for changes at Tim Hortons," says CCPA senior economist David Macdonald.

At the time of writing, the deal had been cleared by the Competition Bureau, but was still awaiting approval under the Investment Canada Act.


Brain train

Neuro Ludus logo 

Who ever said you cannot teach your brain new tricks? Montreal-based Compétences-Skills R&D Inc. has come out with an app that it calls a "scientifically designed cognitive skills augmentation brain training game."

The game, called Neuro-Ludus, is meant to help people improve their analytical and information processing skills — skills that are considered essential in the information age.

Neuro-Ludus draws on discoveries in gaming and mobile technology as well as recent research in neuroplasticity that shows the brain is not hard-wired, as was previously thought. Instead, it is soft-wired and can be modified with proper training and experience. In the game, the player has to confront some primitive bacteria that have attacked the brain and threaten to erode the superiority of the human race. Neuro-Ludus is free from iTunes, Google Play and online at


Save it for a rainy day

Living in the moment is fine — until the moment brings an unexpected expense. A recent CIBC poll finds that 46% of Canadians had to deal with emergencies or unexpected events in the past year, and 74% of them did not have enough emergency funds to cover the costs.

Almost a third (29%) of those with no specially earmarked savings turned to family, friends or a financial institution or dipped into their credit to cover the expenses. Those who had no access to such funds either adjusted their household budget (18%) or used savings put away for other purposes (14%).


Doors to adore


Is it a coat? Is it a shirt? No, it’s a door — a designer door from Jean-Claude Poitras, Montreal’s well-known multidisciplinary designer.

Millette Doors hopes to get a step up on the competition by launching an exclusive series of inner doors created by Poitras, whom it describes as "the designer of timeless creations that bespeak his long-standing flair for blending the traditional and the innovative with style and panache." The partnership was initiated by Vitre-Art, a Montreal-based manufacturer of stained glass windows.