The Circle Of Life: According to a 5-year-old girl


The circle of life according to a 5-year-old girl:

Life.

Death.

Zombie.

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Finally! It Might Be Safe To Pick Up The Phone Again: CRTC Fines Duct Cleaning Companies.


Canadians… You know how it goes, right?

Ring

Ring

Ring.

“Hello”.

“Hi, do you need your ducts cleaned?”

Then you, a) curse at them.  b) Tell them you have no ducts.  C) Ask to speak to a manager or D) Hang up.

But they call back.  Over and over again.  Day-in.  Day-out.

Each and every time they call you, the person on the other end of the line is named John Smith, but you know it’s a company from overseas, usually India, and all you want is for them to stop calling you.

Well, on March 25th, 2015 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that 4 air duct cleaning companies paid a total of $55,000 as part of a settlement following violations for unsolicited phone calls to potential customers.

This happened because people like you and I took the time to complain to the CRTC about violations made under the “Do Not Call” list which bans unsolicited business offers via phone.  As a result of these complaints, the CRTC launched an investigation into 9 Toronto-area duct cleaning companies.

In addition to the $55,000 paid by 4 companies, the CRTC also announced that they have issued notices of violation accompanied by monetary penalties totalling $94,000 for 5 more companies.

“We are pleased to report that four of the nine companies cooperated with the investigations and have voluntarily ceased making unsolicited telemarketing calls to Canadians,” the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer Manon Bombardier said in a statement.

The list of companies that have paid, and how much, is as follows:

  • Bridge Home Services Inc. – $6,000
  • Cambridge Heating Services – $23,000
  • HR Home Services – $3,000
  • Top Line Air Duct Cleaning Inc. – $23,000

The following 5 companies were issued a notice of violation and an administrative monetary penalty, and now have 30 days to respond to the CRTC:

  • Aqua Duct Cleaning Services – $9,000
  • Goodlife Home Services Inc. – $16,000
  • Kareem Duct Cleaning – $15,000
  • N. Bro Transport Inc. – $14,000
  • Toronto Breeze Air Duct Cleaning Services Inc. – $40,000

All nine companies used  foreign call centres to make the unauthorized calls, and the CRTC says it sent warning letters to seven call centres located in Pakistan, India and the U.S.

“The CRTC reminds telemarketers that it is their responsibility to adhere to the rules, whether they make the calls themselves or through a third party in Canada or abroad,” the regulator said in a release.

Since being implemented in 2008, more than 12.8 million Canadians have signed up to be on the Do Not Call list. The CRTC says Canadians can register their numbers, verify whether a number is on the List or file a complaint about a telemarketer by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visiting www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca.

So far, the CRTC has issued monetary penalties worth over $6 million and other penalties worth $741,000 for violations to the list.

Now I can answer my phone again!

 

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Apparently I Neglected To Educate My Children About St. Patrick’s Day!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day!St Patricks Day

I have never tried McDonald’s Shamrock shake probably because I keep hearing it might taste a little like cough syrup, or something like that.

I realized this morning while listening to ” Stu Jeffries $1000 Dollar Minute” on Boom 97.3FM that today was March 17th and that means St. Patrick’s Day!  All the questions were St. Patrick’s Day related and my kids looked at me quite perplexed as the quiz went on, because I think they knew the “Lucky Charms” question and that was it.

“Today is St. Patrick’s Day!” I proclaimed.

“Yeah?”

“So?”

“What does that mean?”, were the responses.

Oops.  I thought as I realized that we’ve really never spoken about St. Patrick’s Day – at least not recently – and when we reconvened at dinner time I had better have an explanation more significant that my note about the Shamrock shake.

So here, is the “Coles Notes” version of why St. Patrick’s Day matters and why we celebrate it, with some fun facts thrown in for the curious kids:

 

  • St. Patrick’s Day is an annual feast day celebrating the patron saint Patrick for whom the day is named after.
  • Saint Patrick was not born Irish, but became an integral part of the Irish heritage through his service across Ireland of the 5th century.
  • Patrick was either Scottish or English, his real name was though to be Maewyn Succat and Patricius was his Romanicized name until it became Patrick.
  • St. Patrick’s Day is the national holiday of Ireland.
  • On the religious side, St. Patrick, is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people.
  • Many believe St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland, but truth be told, Ireland never actually had snakes, and many now believe that “snakes” actually represented the serpent symbolism of the Druids of that time and place.
  • Many, many people – Irish or not – wear the colour green today.
  • An interesting Irish tradition which I chose to mention after your day at school has finished, is to pinch anyone who is not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day.
  • St. Patrick’s Day was first observed in Boston by Irish immigrants in 1737.  I believe the Chicago river is turned green today by a dye which lasts 2-4 days.
  • The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in the US was held in New York, of course, in 1766.  The Toronto St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on Sunday March 15th.
  • The common symbols of St. Patrick’s Day are the shamrock, pot-of-gold andleprechans.
    • Three is Ireland’s magic number and the three petals that make up the shamrock are supposed to bring good luck.
    • The three leaves also represent the Trinity in the Christian religion.
    • The leprechaun is a small Irish fairy who is dressed like a shoemaker, with pointed shoes and hat and he wears a leather apron.
    • Leprechauns are supposed to be unfriendly little men who lives alone in the forest, spending all of their time making shoes and guarding their treasures.
    • If someone catches a leprechaun, he will be forced to tell where he hides all his pots of gold. However, the leprechaun must be watched at all times. If his captor looks away, the leprechaun will vanish along with his treasure.
  • Envy, while green, is not welcomed on St. Paddy’s Day.
  • Today is the only day that I willingly change my last name, “Orlans” to “O’lans”.
  • Tonight we’re going to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day not by drinking green beer, or by wearing green PJ’s but by eating all of our green veggies!  Yum.
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Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block


For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at www.hrblock.ca.

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!

 

This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

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