Posted in Canada, Community, government, politics, Weed

Poof! Marijuana is now legal in Canada, and…


On October 17th, 2018, on the one year anniversary of the death of Tragically Hip front man Gord Downey, the Federal Liberal Government – under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – has legalized recreational marijuana in Canada.

And…

People cheered.

People smoked.

People were concerned

Some people didn’t really care

…and people like me were REALLY, REALLY happy and excited!

Why am I so excited?

You see I have never touched the stuff, and likely never will.  I have no interest.  I don’t pass judgment on others (much), and if someone wanted to smoke up pre-legalization, I would only ask that they 1) Don’t do it in front of children, and 2) Don’t do it where I have to smell it.

After growing up with parents smoking cigarettes in the house, I have developed a very strong dislike of the smell of cigarettes (and other strong odors such as, weed, strong smelling colognes and some perfumes).

But what makes me really happy is that now that marijuana is legal in Canada, it is being taxed which means everyone who buys it is contributing to the Canadian economy.  Yes, a lot of that tax money will be earmarked for weed-related education and health care, but certainly, the more that buy and consume safely, the more money the government will have and then hopefully that means the less taxes that we’ll have to pay.

What have I been smoking?

Think about it…

On the first day of legalization, reports indicated that here in Ontario where the only legal way to purchase pot is through the Ontario Cannabis website, the average purchase was $50 per transaction which means 13% HST was added to the price, or an additional $6.50.

In the first hour that the site was open there were around 1000 orders.  The site opened at 12:01am, so from 12:01am to 1am, Ontarians contributed $6500 in tax dollars to the Canadian economy.

Now, lets assume that there were 1000 purchases an hour in Ontario throughout the rest of the day, then the Ontario contribution to the economy on day 1 of legalization was around $156,000.

Extending that projection across the country, and we’re looking at an additional $1,560,000 in tax revenue PER DAY!

If this trend continues throughout the year, the Canadian government can net upwards of $560 million dollars in tax revenue!

Sure the Federal debt is now at 1-trillion dollars and under the Liberals they project a $20-billion deficit for the 2018, so those weed sales had better be on the low end to justify legalization.

So we have to either change governments, or buy a LOT of weed / weed-related products (available in 2019) before we can balance the Federal budget, and from there we could see a significant reduction in the debt in about 1000-years…

Have to start somewhere, eh?

 

 

 

Posted in Baby Boy, Baby girl, Canada, Caregiver, Daddy, family, government, Happy Wife = Happy Life, Life, news, Parenting, politics, The Urban Daddy, urbandaddyblog

Federal Budget: Paternity Leave, The Urban Daddy on CTV!


Yesterday was the 3rd Federal Liberal budget and if you paid any attention to the news leading up to the budget, you would have heard that this was going to be a “gender” budget, as our Prime Minister and Finance Minister hope to save Canadian “Peoplekind”,

What made it a “gender” budget was the inclusion of policies aimed to equalize pay between men and women and adopting a paternity leave benefit program which was implemented in Quebec just over 10-years-ago.

As a father of 3 children, I was lucky to have the opportunity to take parental leave with 2 of my three kids.  I was working for the Canada Revenue Agency, and the CRA topped up my salary from the 66% which I would have received while on EI, to 93% of my salary.

Who wouldn’t take advantage of this opportunity to support his spouse, bond with his children and help out with everything that comes with children, which is why I took 9-months with our first child, 4-months with our second child, and by the time our third child rolled around, I was in the private sector and took just one day.

So who better to speak on the government’s policy than me, right?

I was on the CTV News Network, live, in the morning with Marcia McMillan, and then in the evening, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks interviewed my wife and I for a well done piece on what worked and what didn’t with regard to paternity benefits.

Watch the clip here; CTV Parental Leave The Urban Daddy

It was my first foray into TV – I have been on the radio quite a lot to discuss tax-issues – and I really liked it (except for the way I looked in the evening interview – exhausted!)

Here is how I feel about the Liberals intention vs plan of action; They talk a great game but always seem to fall short, with an ultimate cost to the taxpayers, for their plans.

They said that providing fathers to take 5-weeks off would lure more women into the workforce.

???

There were no new day care spots made available, nor any changes to the Live-In Caregiver program, so it left my wife and I puzzled as to how this was going to lure women into the work force.

Is it possible that behind this message was a belief that men don’t do anything around the household and that if, in 5-weeks – with them being home, changing diapers, cooking meals and keeping the house clean – men will realize they can help out at home, thus lessening the burden on women?

I think that’s a stretch, to say the least, but for $1.2 billion dollars – and starting in June 2019 – men will be able to take 5-weeks off with their partners to help, support and bond.  It’s certainly better than nothing.

It doesn’t change the stereotype that men don’t do paternity leave.

It doesn’t change the hesitation of some firms to hire woman who are in their child-bearing years.

It does make the Liberals look hip, and cool.

I just hope the last point wasn’t the motivation behind this initiative…

 

Posted in Canada, Community, government, politics, The Urban Daddy

JT’s 1st Liberal Budget Overview, 2016.


On October 20th, 2015, I wrote a blog post about the election of the Liberal Party of Canada and predicted a whole lot of stuff about their first budget.  The link to that post is here.

I couldn’t help but want to peek back and see how I did and to be perfectly honest, I was pretty darn close on a couple of issues.  First off, however, here is a brief overview of the Liberal budget unveiled last night.

 

After a decade of Conservative rule and fiscal restraint, the new Liberal government delivered a budget with billion-dollar spending increases which will add more than $100 billion to the federal debt over the next five years as Finance Minister Bill Morneau plunges Ottawa back into the red.

Projected budget deficits stemming from this budget are;

$5.4 billion in 2015-2016

$29.4 billion in 2016-17

$29 billion in 2017-18

$22.8 billion in 2018-19

$17.7 billion in 2019-20

$14.3 billion in 2020-21.

I’ll tell you this… The rich are not going to be the only ones paying down that massive debt starting in 3 years, if these figures are accurate. The Liberals might have gotten elected saying that they want to increase taxes on the “1%” but that is never the true story, nor the script they follow.

Recall that during last year’s election campaign, the Liberals promised “modest deficits” of no more than $10 billion over the course of their mandate and there was a promise to balance the books by 2019-20.

Oops. That was a big lie.

Well, I guess the joke is on us, after all. Trudeau has learned from his Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne that if you don’t call a tax increase “tax”, then people will be okay.  This Liberal budget left out 2 key words, “deficit” and “spending” were nowhere to be found – much like the commitment to balance the budget.  The word “Investment,” on the other hand, was used instead.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) panned the budget, as did NDP leader Tom Mulcair for the missed promises and the reckless spending. Plunging the country into debt only means more taxes for everyone, but here are the wins and losses from the budget in a touch more detail.

The Liberals also made a commitment to review the efficiency of the overall tax system. – try to make the tax system easier.  That’s not going to happen either, wait and see. Instead, they’ll hire more CRA auditors and go after more unpaid taxes.

The budget already broke their promise about keeping taxes for small business down.

The budget increases child benefits – the new Canada Child Benefit will provide a maximum annual benefit of up to $6,400 per child under the age of 6 and up to $5,400 per child for those 6-17-years-old. Families who earn less that $30,000 per year will receive the maximum benefit.

While spending on Public Transit is a good spend, it’s spending nonetheless and the Liberals will spend $3.4 billion of your taxpayer dollars to fund up to 50% of the cost of transit with 44% of that being spent in Ontario, $27,35% in Quebec, 13.63% in BC and 10.28% in Alberta.

Under the Harper government last 3-years in office, federal spending was held to an average increase of 0.4% per year. Under this Liberal budget, the next 3-years will see a spending increase of 6.3% per year.

Spending, er, Investments, include:

$8.4 billion over five years to help indigenous communities, including $2 billion on water and wastewater systems in First Nations and $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on reserves. I’m good with this as it totally should have been spent ages ago.

$10 billion more over two years for a new Canada Child Benefit – mentioned above – in order to absorb and replace both the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit.

$6.6 billion over two years for infrastructure, less than the $10 billion promised in the Liberal election platform.

$3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit for single seniors, and restore the old age security eligibility age to 65 from 67.

$2 billion over three years for a new strategic investment fund for infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities.

$2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund, beginning in 2017-18.

So, even though the Conservatives managed the economy quite well during the previous economic uncertainty as Canada performed better than all G7 nations, it was somehow all Harper’s fault.

Now the new Sheriff in town, Sheriff Drama Teacher, is spending like crazy and while it might be great for those receiving the money, it’s going to be an interesting conversation in 2-3 years when the Liberals are planning to reduce the deficit and still hope to get re-elected, because there are only a few ways to reduce deficits and that is to cut spending or raise taxes (or both).

Check out my blog post… I wasn’t too far off.

Posted in government, Life, politics

Will the Liberal Budget increase Capital Gains tax from 50% to 66.67% or 75%?


In the days before the Federal budget is revealed, rumours continue to swirl that the Liberals are going to raise taxes in a roundabout way, by reducing the tax break Canadians receive from capital gains.

In the 2007 Federal budget, the Conservatives increased the lifetime capital gains exemption 50% to $750,000, which means that the first $750,000 of the sale price of each shareholders company “Shares” will have a capital gain which is exempt from all income taxes.  The rate has changed over the years, so its’ not without reason to believe it might change again, especially in light of the money the Liberals promised to spend.

Currently, under the Income Tax Act, 50% of capital gains, on everything from property to stocks and mutual funds, are taxed.  The effective tax rate is therefore half of the marginal tax rate.  In some provinces, the current capital gains rate means tax of more than 25% on investments for high income investors.

Speculation is that the Liberals might move that taxable amount to 2/3’rds or 75% while they pay for all their election promises, and then eventually returning that to 50% near election time to encourage voter support.

With capital gains being taxed less heavily than dividends, there is little incentive for business owners to take cash out of their business and pay the taxes via dividends when they can just sell the company, pay the capital gain, and then start again.

The Liberals want to be more friendly to small business owners and the middle class, it will be interesting to see if they change this rate in the budget since they did not mention this in their election campaign.

A change of this magnitude might trigger an asset sale, or cool the real estate market for people who buy assets, then flip them within a short-term period of time, realizing a gain on the sale.

 

Posted in news, politics

Ontarians Open Your Wallets… Wide! Liberal Budget 2016.


Nine years, Ontario has elected Liberal governments and for nine years, the taxpayers in this once mighty province are facing a budget whiledeeply in debt.

In fact, when the Ontario Liberals unveil their budget today, it’s going to include some really fancy talking and no mention of increasing taxes, yet it’s the only way they can eliminate the deficit and put a stop to the massive debt.

How massive is the debt?

Ontario has the largest debt of any sub-national government in the world!

The world!

Taxpayers pay an astounding $11-billion dollars a year on interest on the debt. Think about how many unions could be paid off with those funds, gas plants moved or documents shredded…

The Wynne Liberals will likely blame the Ontario Conservatives, or the Federal Conservatives, but they have already started to leak the “tax” increases coming down the pipe for Ontarians, including 4.3 cents to the price of a litre of gas plus an increase of $5/month to our natural gas bill – in order to protect the environment, no less…

Where the rest of the “savings” come from is unknown at this time, however, healthcare and education are likely to take a big hit.

Additionally, while it’s great that grocery stores are able to sell wine, the Liberals are likely to set a new minimum price for that bottle through this budget and add additional taxes on top of it.

Here is a recap of the “highlights” of the budget:

  • Ontario’s net debt will hit $308 billion in 2016-17.
  • Ontario’s debt is the largest of any sub-national jurisdiction in the world
  • Ontario taxpayers are paying $11.8 billion in interest payments per year
  • Interest on Ontario’s debt is going to increase to $13.1 billion by 2018-19
  • University and college tuition will be free for students from families with incomes of $50,000 or less.
  • More than half of students from families with incomes under $83,000 will receive non-repayable grants (which exceed the cost of an average tuition).
  • A carton if cigarettes will increase by $3.00, effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
  • Taxes on tobacco rise at the rate of inflation each year over the next five years.
  • The minimum price for a bottle of wine rises to $7.95.
  • The LCBO will be increasing their mark-up on wine to compensate for the fact consumers can purchase them at grocery stores, so in June there will be a 2% hike, followed by 2% hikes in 2017 and 2018 with a 1% hike in 2019.
  • There will also be annual increases of about 10 cents in the tax on wine sold in private retail outlets, increasing from 16.1 cents to 20.1 cents over four years
  • The $30 fee for Drive Clean vehicle emissions tests will be eliminated in 2017-18 – not the test – just the out of pocket cost which taxpayers will be paying to the tune of $60 million/year.
  • Hospitals will get their first funding increase in five years, up $345 million, plus $12 billion over 10 years in capital grants for about three dozen major hospital projects
  • The threshold for seniors to be eligible for cheaper drugs rises from $16,018 to $19,300.
  • The Liberals have committed $333 million over five years to redesign and improve autism services.

 

So as the Liberals promised, the Liberals shall deliver.  Spend, spend, debt, deficit, spend…  To the highest debt in the world.

The Conservatives are going to have a huge headache cleaning this mess up in 3 years!