Category Archives: Community

Happy Victoria Day! But, why?


Happy Victoria Day!

Do you know why we celebrate “Victoria Day” or the “May 24 long weekend” here in Canada?  If not, then find comfort in the fact that you are not alone.

Tonight at dinner our kids asked us why we celebrate Victoria Day.

I took a shot and replied, “We celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.”

My wife looked over at me with that look on her face trying to determine if I was correct or feeding the kids a line of B.S.

I nodded that this was correct, and I continued to fill my kids brains full of fun facts about Victoria Day, Canada’s oldest state holiday dating back to 1845, in which Canadians celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday.

“Why Queen Victoria and not Queen Elizabeth?” who is our current Queen, was the next question.

Well, Queen Victoria was Canada’s sovereign at the time of Confederation all the way back in 1867.  In fact, the Fathers of Confederation would not have been able to create this new country without her royal assent.

Fairly significant, one would agree.

Queen Victoria is also credited with selecting Ottawa to be Canada’s capital, based on its location on the border of English-speaking Canada and French-speaking Canada and being far from the US border better protected in case the US attacked.

Queen Victoria died in 1901 and the Federal government make Victoria Day a National holiday to be observed on May 24th each year (unless the 24th was a Sunday, then the holiday would be observed on a Monday).  In fact, in 1952, the parliament changed the holiday to be the Monday before May 24th which is why in some years it is very early (like this year).

“So why do we not celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s birthday?”

Well, we do!  Since 1953, Victoria Day has been recognized as the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth II in Canada. (In England, it’s celebrated in June, even though she was actually born in April.)  Scotland also celebrates Victoria Day on the Monday before May 24th as well.

I also explained that Victoria Day also represents the day to begin planting vegetables and into the garden as the last frost occurs in early May.  It’s also the time of year that people head out to open cottages, and enjoy the outdoors.

Victoria Day has come to represent the start of summer, the opening of the garden and eating dinners outdoors.  How fireworks tie into this is a whole other story!

#Don’tDrink&Drive #WearLifeJacket #StaySafe

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Michelin Canada Proves Tires are VERY Important to Keep Our Families Safe!


I cannot imagine what I consider to be more important to me than the safety of my family.  With that in mind, I was made very aware the other day that the brand of tires I choose to put on my car can have a significant impact on how safe they are when they are in the car with me.

Even more incredible is that while I can make my car safer by having the correct tires on my vehicle, it can help by also alerting people that as the weather warms up, driving around with your winter tires still on your car is dangerous to everyone inside and outside your vehicle?

I’ve never used winter tires, so I was not aware.

Now I know.

Now we all know!

On April 14th, I was invited to attend an information session put on my Michelin Canada to learn about the perils of driving with winter tires on their car in warmer weather, and to see Michelin’s newest tire, the Premier LTX.  The session was at the Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, Ontario, and along with learning about winter tires, I was also educated about benefits of Michelin’s Premier LTX, and taken for a drive in a 2016 Kia Sorrento with these tires, in a variety of conditions.  To be more correct, I drove the vehicle with Michelin’s professional drivers who double as professional race car drivers competing all over the world.  These guys KNOW how to drive!

Let me begin by stating that I receive quite a lot of offers to experience, try, test and taste new products and while I would happily review and cover them all, my schedule – business and family priorities – do not allow the time for it all.  However, once I saw there would be an opportunity to speak with a professional driver about how to be a better driver, and to be honest, since I know very little about cars, I could not pass up this opportunity and I am thankful that I did not.

Upon my arrival, I met with Professional race car driver and Michelin driving expert Carl Nadeau, for a lively discussion with myself and Andrew Clarke, the Globe and Mail auto expert.  Nadeau encouraged us to get the word out to all Canadians to remain vigilant while driving this summer and reminds them of the importance of using tires adapted to the season: “As temperatures rise, some drivers don’t give a second thought to the state of their all-season or summer tires. Worse, some even decide to keep their winter tires on. With temperatures steadily above 7°C, winter tires decline in grip and control, requiring a much greater distance to come to a complete stop compared to all-season or summer tires. And the lack of traction and control only gets worse as temperatures rise.”

I certainly did not know that!

I asked the dumb question about the importance of having winter tires on a car because in my… 27 years driving a car, I have never had them.  I’m Canadian born and raised and thus learned to drive in the winter.  I see ice and laugh at it.  Do I really need winter tires?!?

“Yes” was the obvious response.

Then I learned about the tire… I know tires are rubber and have treads… That’s all.

Sylvaine Cuniberti the Marketing Director for Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. Explained the new Michelin tire and how it is different from any other tire available right now.  “The revolutionary MICHELIN® Premier™ LTX™  tire features the EverGrip™ tread, which evolves as it wears to prolong safety.”  In English (or French) as tires wear, they get bald, or the treads which hold them to the ground wear away and the car slips and slides in cold or wet.

So as the Michelin Premier LTX tires wear, the grooves get wider, so that the tire maintains it’s ability to provide traction and that means there tires stay as safe as they were when first purchased.

So smart!

Presently available to dealers for order, the MICHELIN® Premier™ LTX™ tire will be introduced to the general public as of June 1st and will initially be available in 30 sizes (from 16 to 22 inches) fitting a range of SUVs/CUVs/light trucks and utility vehicles such as the Ford Escape, Honda CRV, Toyota Rav4, and 2016 Kia Sorento among others.  To complete the Premier family expansion, the MICHELIN® Premier™ A/S will also be available in an additional 12 sizes (from 15 to 17 inches).

After the discussion, Mr. Nadeau gave us safety tips which I quickly jotted down while trying to visualize my own driving style and approach to my vehicle.

Michelin Canada encourages drivers to conduct proper safety checks and adhering to a few safe-driving tips.

Check Your Tires: After all, tires are the only part of your car that touch the road.

  • Check your tires for wear – Using the “Quarter Test’’, put the Quarter head first into your tread. The top part of the figurehead should be partially covered by the tread. If you can see the whole head, it’s time to replace the tire.
  • Check the air pressure – Tires can lose up to 1 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure every month. Use a proper pressure gauge to check pressure when tires are cold (before driving or three hours after driving). Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure that’s listed on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your car.  (My car has an electronic sensor which alerts me as to the amount of tire pressure each tire has compared to what it should have).

Other tips include, sitting straight up while driving – no leaning back – make sure your thumbs are inside the steering wheel for the best control, don’t hold the steering wheel in a death-grip, make sure you are far enough back from the brake pedal so that you can press it with your entire foot without having to extend your toes, or fully extend your leg in case of emergency.

More tips on safe driving, visit http://www.michelin.ca/tires-101/driving-and-safety-tips/driving-tips.page

Then I got to drive… Fast.  On tight turns.  I got to slam on the brakes with the car travelling over 60km/h and was shocked, yes shocked when the car just stopped.  No skidding or screeching, and there was no feeling that the car was still moving as I slammed my foot down.  The car just stopped.

It was unreal.

I tried in on curves, in wet conditions, and dry and time after time, the tires taught me a lesson.  They taught me that whatever tires I have on my car and not the right tires for my family.  They taught me that great tires DO make a difference and they taught me that I need to buy a set of winter tires for my car.

Michelin invited me to educate me, and they did far more than that.  They enlightened me, and I will no longer accept sub-par tires for my car, and that my family deserves better.

Thank you Michelin.

I was compensated for this post by getting the opportunity to learn to drive a car with incredible tires in all kinds of conditions and along with the safety tips, I will be a better driver on the road.  I also received a tire-shaped cooler to keep in my trunk.
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How I Explained Taxation to a Class of Kindergarten Students


How I explained taxes to children in a kindergarten classroom without having them lose focus or fall asleep on me:

 

Q: Do you know what a tax is?”

It’s something you have to pay.

Q: Why do we have to pay taxes?

We pay taxes for things we need.

We have to.

We pay taxes so poor people can have some money too.

Q: Any examples of things we need?  How about some examples of things we need that we all share.

1) Roads

2) Lights

3) Signs

4) Sidewalks

5) Playgrounds

6) Schools

7) Policewomen

8) Firemen

9) The trucks that come to take our garbage away.

10) Hospitals

11) Doctors

12) Food – Do taxes pay for food?

Not usually.

We have to pay for our own food. But taxes pay to make sure our food doesn’t make us sick.

Money we pay as taxes make sure we have clean water.

Q: Does anyone remember the ice storm, and when all those branches and trees fell on peoples houses and cars and all over the street?  Men and women had to come to take the branches away.  Taxes paid for that.”

Snack time – I brought cupcakes for the kids.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing is certain except (Hello Kitty) death and taxes,” and just as your children will gradually learn about (Hello Kitty) mortality, they will also find out about taxes and other financial issues.

There are taxes everywhere on almost everything to make sure that everyone has a chance to pay taxes and share.

Paying taxes is like this container of cupcakes.  This pile of cupcakes is the economy. This is the money that belongs to the whole country and everybody needs a piece – the schools, the street cleaners, the hospitals, and the TV stations.

Without their cupcake, the government can’t provide any of the things we need.

If we gave all of our cupcakes to the government we would have nothing left.  But taxes are like taking a little bit off – the wrapper, maybe – to give to the government while we keep the rest.  The government collects all the wrappers and uses them to keep all of us safe and healthy and helps us learn and grow…

Apart from enjoying a fun time, your kids will learn a very valuable financial lesson…sometimes you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

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Citizenship and Immigration Canada announce Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program


Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced Improvements to Canada’s Caregiver Program, formerly known solely as the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP), and the Canadian government hopes that these improvements will:

  • Result in faster processing at all stages of the program
  • Provide faster reunification of families in Canada
  • Create better career opportunities upon completion of the program, and
  • Establish better protection against potential workplace vulnerability and abuses

These reforms were put in place to address some key concerns of the old Live-In Caregiver program through the removal of the live-in requirement and increasing the processing time for permanent residence.   In the old program there actually were employers who felt that since the caregiver was living in their homes that they were available to work 24/7, and even questioned their caregivers who wanted to go out in the evening, or stay away on the weekends.

Another major problem with the old program was the lack of long-term opportunities for caregivers who, through talking to their peers, waited for their program requirements to end so that they no longer needed to live-in, and could demand a higher wage.  Often this was not a discussion between the employee and the employer and thus a job change was the often outcome.

The resulting job change often meant a higher salary, but in the same field, or with less hours, or with less “perks” like meals and living accommodations earned as the caregiver and the families bond over the years.  It’s usually a major step backwards when the caregivers should be leveraging their employers for their next step once their employment is no longer required.

In addition, CIC plans to reduce the backlog by admitting 30,000 permanent resident caregivers and their family members in 2015, an all-time high, and also a major change in direction from a government which has always publically stated that the Live-In Caregiver Program was not meant to be used for reunification.

CIC also announced that they will be dropping the live-in requirement for caregivers.  If employers and caregivers wish to agree to live-in arrangements, they can continue to do so.  In addition, caregivers currently in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) may choose to live out and later apply for permanent residence by applying for a regular work permit to replace their LCP-specific work permit.

On November 30th, 2014, the Canadian Government launched two new pathways for caregivers which will:

  • accept up to 5,500 applicants for permanent residence per year plus family members,
  • process these permanent residence applications with a 6-month service standard, and
  • accept applications from those already in the LCP queue who prefer one of the improved pathways

The 2 New Pathways:

1.  Caring for Children Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided child care in a home, either living in the home or not.

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a home childcare provider, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and language level of at least initial intermediate

2.  Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:  A pathway to permanent residence for caregivers who have provided care for the elderly or those with disabilities or chronic disease at higher skill levels in health facilities or in a home

Eligibility is based on:

  • Work experience – A minimum of 2 years of Canadian work experience as a registered nurse, registered psychiatric nurse, licensed practical nurse, nurse aide, orderly, patient service associate, home support worker or other similar occupation, with a work permit.
  • Human capital criteria – A 1-year completed Canadian post-secondary credential, or equivalent foreign credential, and an appropriate level of language proficiency to practice their occupation, ranging from initial intermediate to adequate intermediate

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What sort of work permit should I apply for if this is my first time as a caregiver in Canada and my employer applies for a Labour Market Impact Assessment after November 30, 2014?

A1: You will need to apply for a regular work permit, not a specific caregiver work permit.

You can live in your own home. If you and your employer have agreed that you will live in their home, this should be:

  • in your employment contract, and
  • noted in the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) request by your employer to Employment and Social Development Canada. Your employer will have to confirm that the accommodation they are providing meets acceptable standards before they get the LMIA.

Q2: I am working as a live-in caregiver but would like to move into my own home. Can I?

A2: To work as a caregiver on a live-out basis, your employer will need a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) and you will need to apply for a new work permit based on that LMIA. In addition, you would have to apply for permanent residence through the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway, and not through the Live-in Caregiver Program.

Q3: I have submitted an application for permanent residence through the Live-in Caregiver Program. Can I submit an application to either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathway as well?

A3: If you meet the requirements of either the Caring for Children or Caring for People with High Medical Needs pathways, you may submit another application for permanent residence, including providing the required information and processing fee.

Q4: I am already working as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A4: Yes. You may continue working as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence when you meet the work requirement. You do not need to switch to one of the new pathways.

If you choose to remain in the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will still be based on the requirements of that program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Q5: I just applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver. Will I be able to apply for permanent residence when I complete the work requirement?

A5: Yes. You may come to Canada to work as a live-in caregiver and apply for permanent residence based on the requirements of the Live-in Caregiver Program. This includes the requirement to live in the home of your employer.

If you choose to apply to the Caring for Children Pathway or the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway, your eligibility for permanent residence will be based on the requirements of those pathways.

Summary: What are the improvements to the Caregiver Program?

As of November 30th, 2014, the Caregiver Program includes two new pathways for permanent residence for foreign workers with experience as caregivers in Canada.

The two new pathways are:

  • Caring for Children
  • Caring for People with High Medical Needs

For both the Caring for Children Pathway and the Caring for People with High Medical Needs Pathway:

  • You do not need to live in the home of your employer to qualify for permanent residence.
  • You do need to work in Canada with a work permit in an eligible occupation for two years.
  • You do need to meet requirements for language ability and education.

In addition, the Live-in Caregiver Program pathway to permanent residence is still open for all live-in caregivers who:

  • have started working in Canada as a live-in caregiver, or
  • have applied for a work permit as a live-in caregiver, or
  • apply for their initial work permit based on an approved Labour Market Impact Assessment that had been submitted by the employer to Employment and Social Development Canada by November 30, 2014, and
  • complete the work requirement of the Live-in Caregiver Program.

All your questions, plus more, can be answered here; (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/index-featured-int.asp), on the government’s website.

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