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.

Target Corporation Announces Plans to Discontinue Canadian Operations… Immediately!


MINNEAPOLIS — January 15, 2015target

Today Target Corporation announced that it plans to discontinue operating stores in Canada through its indirect wholly-owned subsidiary, Target Canada Co. and an application for protection under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) has been made to protect Target Canada from it’s creditors.

I’m shocked, and sad.

With 133 stores across the country and around 18,000 employees many saw this news coming, and now that it has arrived, it’s still left many with their mouths open in shock.

According to Target’s press release, and to ensure fair treatment of their Canadian employees, Target Corporation has asked the courts to approve a contribution of $70 million (Canadian) into an Employee Trust which would provide nearly all Target Canada-based employees a minimum of 16 weeks of compensation, including wages and benefits coverage for employees who are not required for the full wind-down period.

Target Canada stores will remain open during the liquidation process, which is expected to begin immediately.  Speculation is that as stock is sold, stores will continue to close until there are few left with merchandise which will be either sold off or returned to Target’s inventory.

One of the leading factors behind this decision is the $5.4 billion of pre-tax losses in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone.

Additional factors leading to this decision include the poor introduction into the Canadian market after much excitement, when locations chosen were poor, shelves empty and prices much higher than prices in US Target locations or in rival Wal-Mart stores (which entered Canada nearly 20 years ago).

It will cost Target Corporation between $500 million to $600 million to leave Canada (less the sale of any real estate assets) and this is not expected to have any impact on US operations nor should any customers south of the border see an increase in prices to cover these costs.

With the departure of this big box brand, it will be difficult to see what could replace Target in the locations it held.  With K-Mart and Zellers, Simpsons, Woolco, Eatons and Sears leaving Canada it could spell the end of the this business model.  I did, however, notice on a recent trip through Western New York, that many malls had replaced their big box retailers with activities like mini-golfing and go-karting and they were packed with people.

Having had the opportunity to meet and become friends with some of Target Canada’s management team, I can say that this is a very sad day for us not only having to say goodbye to a business which failed in Canada, but to some really great people who tried their hardest to make it work.

See you in Minny!

What Is In Your Child’s Hockey Bag?


I’m new to the concept of being a “hockey parent”.

A year ago my son could not even skate, and today he’s in a Learn To Play hockey league and he’s doing just fine, thank you very much.  For a child who doesn’t like to watch hockey, or know much about the sport, he has become the complete opposite of me, who was a diehard hockey fan, but never played the sport.

Growing up in the Great White North, I never really learned to skate and I never played ice hockey as one would expect every Canadian man, woman and child would have.  At all.  No organized hockey, no shiny, I’m not sure if I was even on ice with a stick and puck more than once or twice in my entire life until I turned 20 and decided to help coach a kids ice hockey team (at 5am and 6am on Sunday mornings).

I helped teach the kids to be better hockey players – skill-wise, understanding the game and reminding them to be nice on the ice and not to play dirty or take short-cuts, and they taught me to skate.  I had taken and completed my level-one Coaching Theory Certification for a Canadian Coaching Certification, and I liked the coaching which I did for 6 years until other things came along.

Fast forward to the children, and to my chagrin, my kids never took an interest in the sport so I was off the hook… Until last year.

Now, we happily take him to his practice / game and he loves it. (Although I still can’t get him to watch hockey on TV, or to call he puck a puck and not a ball).

But over the last couple of weeks he’s forgotten things in his hockey bag – neck guard one week, then his hockey pants the following week – so I made him write down the contents of his bag so he won’t forget anything  from now on, and this is what I got:

Top of the page “Hockey”

Underneath the title started the list;

“helmet”

“Jersey”

“Neck g” (guard?!?)

“Chest pad” (Looks like it was a chess pad first)

“Skates”

“Jok” (giggle – Jock)

“Socks”

“elbow p”

“leg Protect” (or shin pads)

“gloves”

“pants”

Nice!

I added the water bottle, towel, skate towel, and pj’s to wear underneath).  I also told him for the umpteenth time that in Grade 3 we had to pick French names for French class, and since my name, Warren, doesn’t really have a cool French name, I wanted “Guy” for Guy Lafleur, but my best friend – a HUGE Canadiens fan – chose Guy so I got Jacques.  Jacques Strappe was name French name for the next 2 years… UGH.

Oh, and he scored last game.  Could not have been more proud!  Of him and for him.

#3

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.

Funny Comment About The “True Heroes of Christmas”


At a friend’s home during the holidays, a young, non-Jewish woman commented that her parents always told her this about Christmas:

“The real heroes at Christmas-time are the Jewish kids who never told you that Santa Claus was not real.”

That brought a smile to my face, as one of those kids who knew that secret and to this day, will never spoil the surprise, and neither will my kids!

The Tooth Fairy, on the other hand… Different story!

Hope whatever you celebrated, that it was wonderful!

Christmukkah

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