Posted in Canada, family, money, Parenting, school

Children’s Drawing Contest: RESP Contribution Prize!


As schools partially reopened in parts of Canada, and as summer vacation closes in, children may (still) have some extra time on their hands.
Square One Insurance – serving BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario – have launched a children’s drawing contest where the winners will receive an RESP contribution of up to $1,500. 
RESP’s are great for many reasons, some being;
  • The federal government adds roughly 20% to RESP savings each year through the Canada Education Savings Grant (up to a lifetime max of $7200)
  • RESP savings grow tax free. You don’t have to pay tax on it
  • EAPs are taxable in the hands of the student – who should have much lower income
  • Friends and family can contribute to the RESP too
 

Contest Details

My Future Home Contest
It goes without saying, our children are the future. So, we’d like to see drawings of their dream future homes. The drawings can be as creative as possible; they don’t need to conform to current home standards.
Here’s how the contest works:
  1. Submit a drawing (with descriptions) to contest@squareoneinsurance.com by July 13th, 2020;
  2. 10 drawings will be selected and converted into professional illustrations by a graphic designer; then,
  3. The public will vote on the 10 drawings to decide the winners

Prizes

The 10 children whose drawings are selected will each receive $100 and a framed copy of their drawing converted into a professional illustration. The top three drawings as voted by the public will receive the following RESP contributions:
  • First place: $1,500
  • Second place: $500
  • Third place: $250
Full contest details can be found here; www.squareoneinsurance.com/my-future-home.
Terms of the contest can be found here, and include some of the following information:
The contest began June 22nd, 2020 and ends on Monday August 17th, 2020 at 11:59pm PST.

No purchase is necessary. Purchasing a home insurance policy from Square One does not increase the chances of winning.

Participants aged thirteen (13) and under on December 31, 2020 are eligible to enter.

The Contest is open to residents of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, or Saskatchewan.

Before being selected as a Finalist, consent by a legal guardian (“Guardian”) is required.

No family member of a Sponsor employee is eligible for entry.

 

Read the rest of the rules and regulations so that you’re child doesn’t submit a drawing which is not eligible for the contest. It’s NEVER too early to get a RESP started.

Get drawing and good luck!

Posted in Canada, Coffee, Community, Daddy, disaster, events, family, Food, health, Life, money, Parenting, politics, sleep, Toronto, travel

The Sound That a Record Makes When the Needle is Dragged Across it…


If you are of a certain vintage, you know what a record is, and you have hopefully seen a record player and would then know that sound a record makes when the needle is dragged across the record.

Sccccrrreeeeccchhhhhhhh.

Then silence, as the needle is lifted off the record.

That’s the sound that the sporting world make late last night with the word that the National Basketball Association (NBA) has cancelled the rest of their season effective last night after a player from the Utah Jazz tested positive for COVID-19.

At the moment the news broke, I have to admit, I sat up and took notice. It made me realize that this Pandemic was real and that we, as global citizens, need to step up and take notice.

Shortly after that cancellation, the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Lacrosse League (NLL) both followed suit and cancelled their seasons, although postponed is more likely the intended outcome.

Major League Soccer (MLS) is putting off games for a month.

By mid-afternoon on March 12th, 2020, the Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that they were postponing the start of the 2020 baseball season for at least a couple of weeks.

I hope that in the upcoming weeks, we can get more details about the virus, keep local people safe and keep travelers from spreading the virus. I’d make a comment about the severity of the virus but if our Prime Minister might have it (sigh) it just goes to show you that you have to be smart with your health and be careful of travelers.

I understand the fear – sort of – especially to those who are vulnerable due to age, health or underlying issues, but I don’t understand the stocking up on toilet paper. Just this afternoon, for example, I went to our local Loblaws location only to find hundreds of people in line buying toilet paper, canned soup, soda pop, and food items which do not quickly spoil such as onion.

I struck up a conversation with a couple in the line-up who had purchased 150 rolls of toilet paper, plus paper towels, cases of canned soup and a case of anti-bacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, soaps, and other such medical items.

I found out that they anticipated being quarantined into their home for a few weeks and thus needed to stock up.

I asked about the case of wipes, and sanitizer – thinking that if you’re self-quarantining in your own home and not letting people come and go, what exactly are you sanitizing?!?

With that realization, they removed the case from their cart and within seconds, it was grabbed by another family who already had a cart full of long-term supplies.

I don’t know.

I’m all for keeping my distance from people and not shaking hands, and I hope that others do the same. No more repeats of the guy sitting in the corner of McDonald’s coughing up a storm while everyone looks at him half in terror and half in wonder why he would come to a public place while sick.

He wasn’t sick.

He was choking.

I can’t wait until we can look back at this and move on back to life as we used to know it.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, family, government, Life, money, Recommends, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Introducing Personal Banker


In effort to provide you, the reader, with the truth about your tax arrears and dealings with the Canada Revenue Agency, it would be a disservice if I did not provide information about companies who can help in addition to companies who can harm.

Companies who can harm you want to be paid a lot of money, right away. They won’t tell you what they’re going to do, or how they are going to do it. They won’t give you a progress update, and they’ll advise you to NOT contact the CRA for fear of “screwing up their work.”

Who operates like that?

Scammers do.

Companies that operate like this are usually fronts for trustees and when you balk at paying, say, $5000.00 for their services, assume that you are broke and send you to their other business, the trustee, so that they can save you by having you file a Consumer Proposal, not a Bankrutcy.

Same shit, different pile.

In both cases, you’re trading a tax debt that you can deal with, for really bad credit.

But they get paid, and you… Well, you’re a statistic.

That approach does not sit well with me. Never has. Never will.

What works for me is looking at a tax debt / problem from every possible angle, and consider all approaches. Then, having that conversation with you so that we can resolve it together and to your benefit.

An Example

Some debts can be resolved through re-financing. I don’t do that. I do, however, work with a couple of mortgage brokers who take care of that service. They provide low interest rates, and can work with liens on properties. Why can they do this but other firms cannot? It’s because when a group of like-minded businesses work together and share their expertise around the CRA, it is the customer who wins!

Another Example

Other tax debts can be resolved through a filing, or re-filing of tax returns. Again, I do not do that, but I work with a couple of accountants who take care of that for you.

I don’t recommend bankruptcy or consumer proposals right away, however should the situation really warrant one, then I have a couple of firms that I could recommend.

The Truth!

In the process of helping someone with their tax matters, I always look at it in depth so that I can suggest the best plan of action for resolving it, and then let the Taxpayer decide the path they want to take. I don’t tell them what to do. I suggest the options, and provide the steps for them to take in each scenario. If they need my assistance, I’m here to help. If, not, then I’m a shoulder to cry on, or a person who listens.

Personal Banker

Recently, a firm called Personal Banker came onto my radar. I met with the owners and absolutely love what they do and how they do it. They, like myself and my network, put the interests of the Taxpayer first and foremost and provide a service far more valuable that one could imagine.

Again, that’s my opinion.

What I like about Personal Banker is that they perform a function which I strongly recommend in the majority of the tax debt cases, and that is to have their previous 10-years worth of tax returns reviewed to ensure that all the eligible credits have been taken.

This is the best way to reduce a tax debt! If there are missing credits, that you are entitled to and were missed for whatever reason, you have 10-years to apply them and either increase a refund or reduce a balance owing to the CRA. The experts at Personal Banker apply the credits, for a percentage of the findings, and you can either apply them to your tax debt, or take the money and run.

It’s brilliant.

It’s what I recommend to people with tax debts, whether personal, or business. Everyone can use a bit extra money, and especially if it’s available to you, and you just didn’t know.

What’s more brilliant is that this company operates Canada-wide, and are growing on a daily basis.

Don’t believe me? Check it out.

If you think that there might be tax credits that you have not claimed, visit their website, sign up and let them do the rest.

If you have not filed your personal tax returns, they can take care of that for you for a ridiculous low rate (I told them they are way too low, so take advantage now).

If you’ve used them before, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, family, government, Life, money, news, Parenting, politics, school, Toronto

Ontario Teachers Working to Rule and Strikes. Some Facts: Does this make sense to you?


I’m not going to lie, but I’m on the side of the government in this dispute.

Fact: The Conservative government was elected in the province of Ontario.

Fact: The teachers unions were not elected.

Fact: The government of Ontario makes the laws and policies for the province.

Fact: Teachers unions do NOT make laws or policies. Their mandate is to look after the interests of their membership.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look a bit closer at my bias against unions – I don’t hate unions – I just don’t feel that unions have their place in every single field of employment. Considering that unions were created to give workers a collective voice against employers, I’m not sure today’s employees are so hard done by that they need a collective voice. Especially in light of the pattern or wage increase after wage increase.

That being said… Do the teachers unions, and their actions of rotating strikes benefit their members?

Fact: No.

Let me explain.

Many moons ago, I worked for a federal government agency which went on strike 3 times in the 10 plus years that I was there. In each case it was because we did not have a contract. That never concerned me because I had a job, I was being paid, and for the most part, enjoyed my job.

After living through a couple of strikes, I came to realize that striking was more than just walking off the job and forcing the government to give us a raise. I had never walked a picket line, why would I?

That was until the 3rd strike, when I started to do some math.

I realized this:

Our union wanted a 1 1/2 percent wage increase. The government wanted to hold salaries at the same level because times were tough.

We walked off the job for the week. I checked in at the picket line to receive my $50/day “strike pay”. After a week the government and union reached an agreement and we received 1%.

But…

We lost more than 1% while on strike.

So we walked the picket line and lost money.

That doesn’t make sense, now does it…

So let’s look at the Ontario teachers and use some very round figures.

Fact: The average teacher salary in Ontario is $92,000 per year.

Fact: The average teacher makes $1,769.23 per week before taxes.

Fact: The average teacher makes $353.85 per day, before taxes.

Fact: If the union accepted the 1% pay increase, Ontario teachers would have received a raise of $920 per year.

That means if the Ontario teachers are off the job more than 3 times ($353.85 x 3 = $1,061.55), then they will lose money once the new agreement is signed, even if you add in the $50 strike pay per day.

That’s crazy, right?

Unions forcing their teachers to walk the picket line in order to lose money. The Ontario government should thank them.

But beyond the lack of fiscal responsibility, comes the issues of government funding, special needs funding, class sizes and online courses.

Let’s briefly look at those:

  1. Government funding. Fact: The Ontario Conservative party has spent more money on the public education system than the previous Liberal government. Based on the fact that teacher salaries increase every year, the government would have to cut a lot in order to spend less. But they have not. It’s akin to the Democrats in the US telling media sources that they were going to impeach the President of the US before the President had even taken office, the rhetoric began to fly in Ontario before the government even announced how much the education budget was going to be. Interesting bargaining / foreshadowing
  2. The Conservative government has spent more money on special needs education than any party before them. Listen to the unions and special interest groups and you would be led to believe otherwise. When presented with facts, such as total dollars spent, these groups just state that the information is not accurate. That’s a convenient argument.
  3. Class sizes. So this is a tough one because there are no studies which state a specific class size is the perfect class size. It’s up to the Minister of Education to determine and not the unions. Dare I be skeptical here and say that of course class sizes are too big for unions. That means more work. It would be so much better – possibly – if it were a 1-to-1 ratio, because that means more teachers and more teachers means more union dues, which means a more powerful union. It also means more money that unions can spend on ads attacking the government rather than on education which they claim to care so much about.
  4. Online courses. I understand why the unions are all over this one. It means at the outset, less teachers, which means less dues-paying members, which means less power for the union. It doesn’t have to be that way, but with teachers salaries always increasing, it’s not like they’re going to suddenly give themselves pay cuts, right?The fact here is that Ontario was spent into massive debt and deficit amounts thanks to the Liberal government. Everyone who elected the Conservatives did so knowing that they were going to have to tighten their belts. (This over-spending must be a Liberal strategy to ensure that they get re-elected). Apparently the teachers and unions are exempt from this, and forgetting that these are our tax dollars being spent on their wages. I don’t even have children in the public education system anymore, but I’m paying for their salaries.

With all of that being said, spend some time browsing the Internet for countries and cities who have push for more online courses and you will find educated, high-achieving communities taking advantage of technology and moving ahead of the pack.

Heck, I completed my MBA online, and would have benefited from having prior experience taking online courses. Every organization that I volunteer with requires me to take online courses. Why is this good for the rest of the world, but not good enough for Ontario? Because the teacher’s unions tell us it’s a bad thing???

None of that makes sense to me.

What does make sense is the fact that these unions have decided year-over-year to put their interests over those of the students that they claim to support. If they really felt that it was all about the students, then let them run for election under that platform and see how they do. If they win, great, give them a raise. If they lose, then no more putting self-serving interests over top of the students.

Just my two-cents worth.

Posted in Canada, Coffee, hockey, money, Parenting

Overheard


Overheard

I love when I have the opportunity to create a blog post entitled “Overheard”. It means I am in the right place and the right time, and I am able to quickly jot down conversations between random strangers from very public places, which are utter nonsense.

It’s been a while, but I have such a post.

The Location

I was just settling in to a local hockey arena, when I noticed that there were 2 guys not too far from me who looked quite suspicious. They were waiting for the rest of the group to leave, or looking for some privacy.  At first, I thought there was going to be a drug deal, or something illegal going down, so I placed my ear buds into my ears, flipped open my laptop, and pretended to be working while I listened to – what I thought was going to be – a sketchy transaction.

Little did I know, they wanted privacy to begin a conversation of absolute nonsense.

In fact, their conversation was so inaccurate that I really wanted to interject and correct them… But I couldn’t.

So I typed away on my laptop a bit quieter and I took down some of their brilliance.

The Conversation

“So I need to earn some more money and pay for all this hockey.”

“I’ve noticed there are a lot of Chinese kids playing – is it because they have billions of dollars and billions of citizens and they come to Canada to spend their money so they choose hockey because it’s the most expensive sport?”

“Yes.”

“So I need to compete or the entire NHL will be Chinese and there will be one else playing.”

“Right.”

“Or, I need to train these kids.”

“No.”

“You need to earn money and compete. You need to earn your money in Bitcoins.  Bitcoins are the future.  The Government is going to seize all the money.  They won’t print money anymore.  Every country is going to stop printing money.  Money is in the real estate.  Buy now, sell later.  It’s a conspiracy.”

“Like what’s going on in the US?”

“Yes. It’s a massive conspiracy to get money out of the hands of people.  Then the government will tell people what to spend and how much they can spend.  It will be like they’re controlling you.”

“We’re going to have to move to China to get away from it all. There will be room, because they are ALL moving here.”

“Is Trudeau Chinese?”

“No. He’s an Indian.  But not from India or Indiana.  From here.”

“Is Trump part-Chinese?”

“No, but I hear he likes coffee enemas…”

 

SILENCE

 

Then they whispered a bit more. People showed up.  I packed up and left.

Leave it to the words; Trump, coffee and enema to kill a conversation.