Putting face masks to the test; The fight for airline refunds: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet

CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need from the week.

Consumer and health news you need from the week

An image shows leakage from an ill-fitting mask during Marketplace’s lab test at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. (CBC)

Miss something this week? Don't panic. CBC's Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

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We tested over 20 different masks. Here's what will protect you  — and what will leave you vulnerable

By now, we're all used to wearing masks while we're out and about. But as the pandemic wears on, there's still some uncertainty about what masks work best. Is the one you're using any good? Fear not ... Marketplace is on the case. We tested more than two dozen masks and found that thread count is a strong factor to ensuring adequate protection. But valve masks, neck-gaiters and bandanas are among the face coverings not recommended. Read more

If airlines want a bailout they'll have to refund customers, Ottawa says

Thousands of Canadians have been fighting for refunds for air travel cancelled due to the pandemic, and many of them haven't had much luck. But that could now change. Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced earlier this week that "before we spend one penny of taxpayer money on airlines, we will ensure Canadians get their refunds." If the airlines want a bailout then they'll likely have to co-operate. Read more

This visually impaired senior racked up a $13K cellphone bill. He says that doesn't make sense

When Willie Guerard and his wife, Yvonne, purchased a phone at Walmart earlier this year, they said the employee told them there would be a $200 limit on the account and if usage charges went above that, the phone would be cut off. Instead, they were hit with a shocking $13,000 phone bill. "People were just giving me the runaround," said Guerard, who lives in Amherstburg, Ont., and is visually impaired. "When they see an old man at 80-years-old, they figure I lost my marbles and was incapable of doing anything."

But Virgin Mobile disputes this claim and says that Guerard consented to reinstate data and was notified when he hit $300 and $500 in overages. Yet after reviewing his account, the company says it will now be substantially reducing his bill. Read more

Willie Guerard says he was told to pay the balance after speaking with someone at Virgin Mobile about an expensive cellphone bill. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Here's how businesses and schools are dealing with airborne COVID-19 and preparing for a winter indoors

It's no secret that we're facing a long winter this year, and new guidance about how COVID-19 spreads has schools and businesses scrambling to make sure their spaces are as safe as possible. That's because while scientists initially believed the virus spreads primarily through heavy droplets from a sneeze or a cough, which quickly fall to the ground, newer research has shown that airborne transmission also exists. One important factor to curbing the virus? Good ventilation. Read more

Rethinking ventilation to deal with airborne COVID-19

1 year ago
As aerosol transmission of COVID-19 becomes more widely acknowledged, schools and businesses are looking for new ventilation solutions to guard against it. 8:00

What else is going on?

His father was to be checked hourly at his long-term care home. Instead, he died and wasn't found for 6 hours Extendicare Halton Hills says it regularly updates procedures "to reflect the advice of ministry inspectors."

Investigation into B.C. therapist uncovers 4th dubious degree
Susannah-Joy Schuilenberg was told to turn in professional designations for breaching ethics code. In 2017, Marketplace investigated diploma mills and found that hundreds of Canadians could have a fake degree. 

Indie booksellers thriving during pandemic thanks to new ways of connecting with customers
In Amazon's shadow, local bookstores get creative with book-and-wine deliveries, virtual book clubs and more.

These Isagenix energy bars may be unsafe due to overfortification of vitamins
The products have been sold through internet sales and potentially through independent representatives.

The Ring Video Doorbell (2nd Gen) has been recalled due to a fire hazard
The video doorbell's battery can overheat when the incorrect screws are used for installation.

These Salsa bicycles have been recalled due to a fall hazard
Consumers should immediately stop using the bicycle and contact the place of purchase for an inspection and free replacement fork.

This wind-up bath toy has been recalled due to a choking hazard
Consumers should immediately stop using the toy and return to any Toys "R" Us Canada store for a full refund.

These Philips Hue outdoor power supply units have been recalled due to an electric shock risk
Consumers should immediately switch off the power on the recalled product and contact Philips to receive a replacement power supply unit.

This week on Marketplace

Testing Face Masks & Airline Refunds

1 year ago
We test over 20 different masks and reveal which are the most effective at keeping you safe from COVID-19 and which masks you should avoid. PLUS, how to get a refund on your cancelled flights. 22:30

There is no doubt about it, since the beginning of the pandemic, the messaging about masks has been mixed. While it's clear now that almost any mask is better than no mask at all in protecting others, our latest Marketplace investigation has found that some masks are better at protecting you.

We put more than two dozen consumer masks through a rigorous test, and it turns out, some consumer products do almost as good a job at filtering out potentially harmful, virus carrying particles as the gold standard when it comes to masks — the N95.

We will demystify the mask for you, breaking down what you need to know when it comes to fit and fabric. We'll tell you what you need to look for when you're out shopping for your next mask and which ones to avoid. 

Plus, the fight for flight refunds continues for COVID-19 related cancellations. 

How can you get your money back? And how are the airlines responding? We've been following this story for months and we've got the latest developments. 

- Charlsie Agro and the Marketplace team

Marketplace needs your help

Have you seen a product claiming to cure COVID that seems too good to be true? Maybe a miracle cure that has you asking questions? We want to hear about it. Email us at

Do you think you may have problems with mold, dust or just poor indoor air quality? If you are an active family interested in a free home inspection in Southern Ontario — and you are ready to be on TV — we want to hear from you! Send details about your home including the location, type of home and any air quality concerns to

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