Happy 42nd Birthday to Me. 42 Facts about The Urban Daddy.


Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, February 21st, is my birthday. It’s actually been my birthday since 1971, and I’m not posting this to solicit birthday greetings so please do not feel obligated to do so, but I realized this morning during my drive into the office that in the 8-years that I have been blogging, and the over 1100 blog posts between The Urban Daddy, Intaxicating, and Daddy Knows Sports (which I’m not using anymore) that I have shared very little about myself. So today, in honour of my birthday I have decided to open up my kimono and reveal 42 facts about myself to shed some light into who exactly has been writing these (long) posts for so many years.

So please sit back, enjoy, there is no need to take notes, and for those of you who actually know me, there are some things here that you will not have known and for total strangers who come by frequently, I hope you will still come back. LOL.

42 things about The Urban Daddy.

42. I am not in any way affiliated with UrbanDaddy.com, although many people “like” me on Facebook for this reason, then realize I’m a Canadian Daddy blogger, and they run the other way. That site, for the record, is not a “Daddy” and while it is “Urban”, it is not an “Urban Daddy”. I am.

41. I have a full-time job outside of being a parent, husband, etc. I have been working for 18-years in the taxation industry here in Toronto. I worked at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)for almost 11 years, then I joined the private sector and have moved from a Manager, to an AVP, and now the Managing Director at Tax Solutions Canada, where this great organization of professionals help people who have tax problems work with the CRA.

40. I am a level-3 CGA, but stopped taking courses when my father, who was a CA, gave me some advice.  He said, “Son.  Why are you doing this to yourself?  You’re terrible at this.  Pick a different course of study… Please.”  So I enrolled into graduate school 3 days after our first child Linus was born, and completed my MBA 3-years later.

39.  I was a typical 80’s kid, growing up.  Overweight, bad skin, big plastic-framed glasses and a mullet.  Thankfully I grew out of it.

38.  In middle school I carried my baseball glove everywhere and was too busy with sports to do my school-work.  I told my mother I was going to quit school to be come a professional soccer player – yet I was never good at soccer.  I was also the kid who showed leadership in everything I did yet struggled in school.  When I applied myself I excelled.  I earned 50’s through grade 8, 70’s in high-school, 75 (B+) through University and 85-90’s (A/A+) in Grad school.

37.  I was bullied as a child in public school.  In middle school I was picked on for being Jewish.  In Hebrew school, I was bullied for being over-weight.

36.  After high-school, I lost 50lbs and found my voice.

35.  After our second child, Stewie was born – he was such a difficult child for the first 10-months of his life that I herniated a disc in my back carrying him all the time.  I asked my physiotherapist to please allow me to tie my shoes on my own.  She got me into shape and one year later I ran a 5k race in 33-minutes (without stopping).

34.  I tend to be a little right-wing in my political views, but fiscally conservative, not right-wing extreme in any way.  I’m pro-choice – A woman should decide what she wants to do with her body.  I believe marriage is for anyone and everyone, if they want to, and I don’t care who you marry, or sleep with.  I believe no one deserves to carry guns unless they are protecting people and you have the right to free speech and practice whatever religion you want, until you either insult someone else, or try to convert them to your beliefs.  Like my mother used to say, “Look at your own plate.”  Don’t look at what I’m eating or how I’m eating it.  Mind your own peas.

33.  I’m left-handed and actually started a left-handed club while at University to help get left-handed desks in some of the lecture halls where they were all the way on the left-side of the room.  Personally, I needed to sit front-middle, so I could see.

32.  I have never tried drugs.  Ever.  Not a puff of anything.  That being said, I do think that certain drugs should be legal and taxed.  Take the criminal element away and increase revenues.

31.  I see people as human-beings on one giant planet.  I don’t see race, or colour and I was really embarrassed when working at the CRA where I delivered a lot of training and we had a new employee from West Africa with a VERY heavy accent and I could not for the life of me understand him.  I was devastated.  He kept asking questions and I couldn’t understand him.  That was over 10-years ago, but it stays with me.

30.  I’m a terrible friend.  I never learned what it means to be a good friend and I don’t have any friends from when I was young.  Certainly makes it challenging as an adult, however, we’re meeting lots of great parents through school events.

29.  My voice is a little on the higher-pitched side and I used to mumble sometimes when I spoke very quickly, but I am also just under 6 feet tall and 225lbs, so no slouch at all.  I used to deepen my voice when I answered my phone at the government so people wouldn’t call me Mrs.  I even had a guy tell me he was coming to see me at the Tax Office so he could “kick the shit out of me” because I sounded like a “weak, little man”.  He came.  I greeted him in the meeting room, and he was about 6ft2, 350lbs, but when he saw me he apologized for his actions and within 5 minutes being in the meeting room, he was bawling his eyes out talking about his tax problem.  It’s unfortunate that people feel violence is the best solution.

28.  I have no tattoos, but I have my ear pierced.  I wanted to pierce it so badly when I was 14 but my mother said no, and it wasn’t until my wife convinced me to do it at age 30 when I finally did it.  Now, at my age, I’m not so sure I want or need it…

27.  I’m a great defensive driver.  I let cars out, I wave thank you, I don’t cut cars off and I do the speed limit.  But if you piss me off, Karma will box you in and I’ll be on one side laughing to myself while you stew.

26.  I say “bless you” when someone sneezes.  Anyone.  Anywhere.

25.  I love Canadian music.

24.  My musical influences were Queen and the Police when I was young.  Then Def Leppard, Platinum Blonde, Bon Jovi, STP, Soundgarden, Green Day all the way through Rob Zombie, Saliva, etc.  I like my music loud, hard, with a great beat and no screaming.  I’m also awesome on SongPop.  All genres, any year.  Challenge me!  I dare you.

23.  I support the Canadian Armed Forces – I prefer if there were no wars – but there are bad dudes everywhere and we need our troops to keep us safe.

22.  I’m in awe of my wife for so many reasons including the way she runs our household and has led the raising of our children.  She’s been supportive of all of us and sadly I have not taken her out enough.  She needs so time away from the house, the kids and the responsibilities.  She certainly earned it.

21.  I’m in awe of my children.  They fascinate me.  They’re smart, good-looking, friendly and they laugh a lot.  I find myself looking at them, staring at them amazed at how they are developing and hoping they can stay that happy forever.  They have no idea how nasty the world can be and unless we can create a nasty laser to zap away all the scumbags, they’re going to need to be watched over to make sure they stay safe while they find their way in the world.  Oh, and at 8, 6 and 3, I have a little time.

20.  I am externally motivated so I seek confirmation that I’m doing a good job / staying on track often.  I’ve learned to read the signs so I don’t annoy.  If you want to help me you can “like” The Urban Daddy on Facebook or follow this blog (or follow The Urban Daddy on Twitter).

19.  The glass is half-full.  Always.

18.  My favourite number and the number of my ball-hockey jersey.  I’ve played ball-hockey in a league (not floor hockey in a gym, but ball hockey in an arena – no ice and running) for 23 years and I’m getting better and better each year.  I’m shocked at the improvement, but loving it.

17.  I hate to lose more than I like to win.  In everything I do.  My ball-hockey team was 0-62 before we won a game and it felt okay to win, but when we lose I’m pissed.  That goes to everything I do.  Success and winning is great, but the other side really gets me going.

16.  I used to have no sense of direction whatsoever until my wife taught me how to navigate my way out of a wet paper bag.  Once, in France for our honeymoon, it was getting dark and we were in the countryside driving on a dirt road surrounded by lavender and sunflowers.  I was beginning to worried that we would need to sleep in the car but my wife made me stop, she got out of the car and pointed off to her right, and within 10 minutes we were at the B&B we had booked.  I have no idea how she knew to go that way, but she gets it and I’ve been learning from the pro.

15.  Nice guys do finish last, and after being sick of being passed over and left behind, I’ve brought in a little bad ass / I don’t give a f*ck attitude and it’s helped me tremendously with my confidence and getting things done.  I no longer take sh*t, but I’m still really polite and kind to service people no matter the place or the service.  They’re people too, and deserve to be treated with respect.  But when I have a task to get done for myself, my family or a client, look out.  I play to win.

14.  I’ve realized you cannot pick your neighbours, your family or your nose.  You get what you get and you don’t be upset.  Plus, I’m big into forgive and forget.  I’m just hoping others are too.

13.  I am passionate about things and sometimes that passion can get confused with a lack of patience.  If I know I am right, I will do whatever I have to do to get others on my side and go that way.  I had a keychain as a kid that read; “Diplomacy.  The ability to tell someone to go to hell and make sure they will enjoy the trip.”

12.  I don’t like clutter and sometimes in my odd way to keep my personal space in order, I line up things, like shoes, to keep them neat.  I might be a little OCD on that side.

11.  My father passed away 10 years ago, and my grandfather 8 years ago, right after we went on a vacation to Poland to visit his birth place.  I actually have someone right now who is not speaking to me because “[I] don’t know what it’s like to lose a father.”  I’m not upset.  I feel for them because they said something in a time of grieving which was factually incorrect and one day they’ll realize it and I’ll forgive and forget.  Life’s too short.

10.  I love coffee.  Flavoured coffee, actually, and have been compiling a list of the best coffee in Toronto for 3 years.  My last ranking reached McDonald’s Canada, Tim Horton’s, Country Style and Starbucks Canada.  These brands have amazing marketing and social media practices.

9.  I had bells palsy as a child, which resulted in paralysis of half of my face for almost a year.  I was lucky I recovered 98% of my functioning and only have the slightest sign of the virus when I’m tired.  The left part of my lip is ever so slightly higher than the right side.

8.  I have always had body-issues from being a solid shaped child and for the longest time I refused to take off my shirt to swim even though I love swimming and even though when I was running and going to the gym at lunchtime.  I have been in pretty good shape since the end of high-school.  I will never ever be that 150lb skinny guy.  As it is, my shoulders and back are so big that I need a larger shirt / jacket to fit my shape.  When I was 13-years-old, I fit into a size 56 jacket.  I was in a 42 pant (maybe more – as high as a 48, I’ve blocked this from my memory), but now I’m a size 36 pant and a 46 tall jacket.

7.  I was asked to contribute my thoughts to the OHIP4IVF awareness campaign and realized that I have found a cause that I strongly believe in.  Now I just need to help convince the government the same thing…

6.  I once asked then Toronto Blue Jays General Manager J.P. Riccardi for a tryout with the Jays, at a breakfast with the Blue Jays function.  He must have thought I was nuts, but he asked me this; “Do you have any experience?  Have you ever played ball?”  I replied, “No. But I’m left-handed, I’ve been clocked as fast as 88mph and I’m deadly accurate with a baseball.”  He then thought about it and said to me, “The day I sign a 38-year-old pitcher is the day I need to start looking for a new job.”  Sure enough 3 weeks later he signed a left-handed 38-year-old pitcher from Japan with a career 5.38 era.  Not long after he was looking for a new job.

5.  I did some fundraising for Karen Stintz when she was just getting elected, and we raised a ton of cash to help her out.  She was very appreciative and good to the community.  I hope she can find her way again and help lead the right-wing on Toronto City Council move some stuff through.

4.  After sponsoring 4 nannies over 8-years through the Canadian Live-In Caregiver program – and helping them settle in Canada once they fulfilled the terms and conditions of the program, I dubbed myself an expert on the CLICP.  I regularly post about it and get contributing articles from others in the industry.  As a matter of fact, readers from the Philippines are the 3rd most popular readers to visit here daily – after Canada and the US.

3.  I used to be horrible with money until my wife (probably fiancée back then) taught me a great lesson about impulse purchases.  She froze my credit card and debit card in a block of ice so when I needed it to make an impulse purchase, she said I could do that but I would need the ice to melt on it’s own first.  And by the time the ice melted I didn’t want or need that purchase.  The cards actually stayed in the freezer for almost 7 months while I got my spending under control.  Now… I’m very good with it.

2.  I, um, err, Ahhh, I… Fine.  I like wrestling.  It’s like a male soap opera with strong guys and girls in it.  I like the music, it makes me laugh and and I’m impressed with their athleticism.  Plus, my kids love it.  My daughter wants to be Kane when she grows up.

1.  I made it through the entire day without telling anyone – not one person – that today was my birthday, except the 2500 people who follow this blog, mind you.  This was a first for me, who usually tells anyone and everyone.  Now I feel better.

Honourable mention:  I love escargots, but hate bamboo shoots and water chestnuts…

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Things You Need to Know When Hiring a Live-Out Caregiver in Canada


So you do not want to have a live-in caregiver through the Canadian live-in caregiver program, and decide instead to go the live-out route.  Well below are some things you will need to know when hiring a live-out caregiver in Canada.

1. If you are thinking about circumventing the rules and paying your nanny cash, remember this is a lose-lose situation.  First of all, if the government catches you not only will they assess you and make you pay the amounts which should have been paid to the CRA, such as paying tax, contributing to the Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, and buying workplace insurance, but they will make you pay the employee portion as well.  In addition, you lose the $7,000 deduction on your taxes, and your nanny loses her right to collect Employment Insurance if she gets laid off.

What usually happens in that case is the nanny gets laid off, tries to collect EI, is informed by HRSDC that she is not entitled because she has not been paying into the plan at which point she provides records of payments and then the government is looking for you.  Yes, it is more difficult to do but it also rarely ends well.

2.  Make sure you have a HRSDC approved labour contract clearly spelling out the details of the job, much as you would sign with your employer.  It’s all the same.  They’re generally categorized as domestic workers and they have rights to feedback, clearly defined breaks, details around pay, vacation, overtime, expectations, roles and responsibilities.  Long gone thankfully are the days where potential employers feel that Canada is better than Hong Kong so it’s okay to stretch working hours, responsibilities or ignore breaks.  Getting an agreed upon contract creates good relations between you and outlines exactly everything which can keep you from getting in trouble down the road.

3.  What do I need to know about paying my nanny?  Well, as the employer, nannies are not self-employed, you have to treat them in a manner in which you would want to be treated and that means with respect.  You negotiate the contract and if there are issues with performance, you have to address them in a respectful manner, much in the same way your employee has venues to complain about your treatment, including suing you for wrongful dismissal.

This step-by-step guide to payroll deductions should help getting you on the way and around the fear of the CRA;

Step 1 – Call 1.866.959.5525, the Canada Revenue Agency business help line, follow the prompts for payroll / source deductions accounts and ask the customer services representative for a business (or BN) number.

Step 2 – You have the BN set up in your name, so now you need the information on your one employee, your nanny.  Gather from her on the contract her full name, SIN and live-out address.  You’ll need this later…

Step 3 – Next you will need to figure out how much you will need to remit to the CRA each month.  You can do this by entering the amount you have paid your nanny into the CRA payroll calculator; http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/pyrll/tbls-eng.html.  The calculator breaks down how much you will need to remit for taxes, EI and CPP.  This link also provides other information on being an employer, rights and responsibilities.  Read this if you have time or need something to help you get to sleep.

Step 4 – Monthly remittance of the held back funds (deductions of source pay).  By the 15th of month you will be filling out the remittance voucher sent to you from the CRA – unless you sign up to remit online (check My Account).  You remit on the 15th for the previous month, so on June 15th you are remitting for May 1st to 31st.  On the form you need the gross pay, net pay, EI, CPP, month remitting for, number of employees and tax withheld.  For me, the quickest is to take that to the bank on the 15th (16th if the 15th is a Sunday, 17th if the 15th is a Saturday, and 18th if the Monday is a holiday and the 15th is the Saturday.  The bank stamps the form, takes the funds from my account and takes the remittance voucher.  Done.

Step 5 – Keep the copy of the remittance voucher with the bank stamp in a file as you’ll need it when filing your personal income taxes (T1) each year and providing your nanny a T4 by February 28th of the following year.

4. Most often asked questions surround legal obligations, such as; when ending a contract with your nanny, if she gets sick, falls pregnant or gives notice.  First off, be sure that the contract with your nanny establishes the length of notice needed if one of you wants to end your working relationship. Any penalties for not meeting that notice period should be spelled out in your contract too.  As for the other things, just put your self in her shoes and change the employer from you to a large firm.  Would your employer allow you to take short-term disability time off or long-term disability time off?  Absolutely!  By law they are required to and the same goes for your caregiver.  If she falls pregnant you cannot fire her for the same reasons.  If you need help, seek an employment lawyer.

But with all that being said, if the separation is mutually agreed upon, remember you will need to provide your nanny with a Record of Employment (ROE) within 8 days of her last day of work.  Don’t wait!  This is a controlled form to prevent EI fraud, so reach out to Service Canada right away and they will send you a kit with the details on how to do this.

5.  Where can I get a contract?  I recommend Googling “HRSDC approved nanny contract.”  It will lead you to complete the key sections of  the contract which cause the most headaches down the road, specifically; Overtime, training, duties she cannot legally perform for me, tracking of expenses – petty cash, and holiday pay.

 

I hope this provides some insight and helps clear up some lingering issues around what to do with live-out caregivers in Canada.  All in all, just remember to treat your employee with the same respect you would want to be treated as an employee.  Karma’s a bitch!

Getting Started with the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program


I receive quite a few emails and comments each week on the Canadian Live-In Caregiver Program (LCP) and the majority of them surround how to participate in the program, from the perspective of a potential foreign worker and from potential employers.

I try to be very up front and honed when I discuss this topic – especially when I say that I do recommend the use of a nanny agency – as the rules and regulations have been getting more and more specific and with that more and more complicated over the years.  The Conservative government has put measures in place to make it less desirable for foreign workers to abuse the system and have absolutely clamped down on abusive employers.  The government has also tightened up requirements on nanny agencies making sure they have immigration consultants on their staff as well as an immigration lawyer.  If anyone is going to be able to get the caregivers over to Canada properly and navigate through the rules, it’s an agency.

With all this tightening, we are left with two very clear facts;

1.  You have to have money to hire a live in caregiver.  The government has been known to reject single parents with income of less than $70,000.00 per year and couples with a combined income of less than $100,000.00 per year, as reported on their personal taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).  They ask for a copy of your previous 2 years’ notices of assessment (NOA’s) to ensure you are telling the truth.

The main reason behind the minimum salary requirements is quite simple.  Too many nannies came forward complaining at having not been paid and / or were being paid much less than minimum wage.  The government is trying to change people’s perspectives through the LCP that these people (mainly women) are foreign workers, not nannies, and as such, the employers will be less likely to take advantage of then re: wages, working conditions, tasks, hours, vacation time, etc.  Companies who abuse their foreign workforce get sued.

The downfall of the high salary requirement for employers obviously is that a single mom, for example, who needs to get out into the workforce to provide for her family cannot afford to hire a nanny through the program and instead resorts to daycare or hiring a nanny under the table, which generally means being paid in cash.  Cash is great for not paying taxes and not having to perform the monthly remittance to the government however without an official record trail of being employed in Canada and paying into the system, when that caregiver finds themselves unemployed, they are not eligible to claim EI and are forced to take a low paying job somewhere else in order to keep the income flowing.  If they are in the LCP, they are not getting credit for time served.

2. The  second thing this tightening of screws does, is it pushes any potential employer towards a nanny agency in order to ensure they complete the paperwork and get through all the new requirements.  When we sponsored our first nanny – over 7 years ago – there were only two pages of paperwork required and through our agency, The Wee Care Placement Agency, http://www.weecareplacement.ca/, we jointly completed the paperwork and went through the next steps together.  I spoke to the government, they asked the questions I was now expecting and I gave them the answers they needed to hear to know we needed a nanny and would treat them with respect and in the same way we expect them to treat our kids.

It’s an intimidating process to say the least, at least it was back in 2004 when we started sponsoring nannies, and it’s been getting that much more complicated as we continued sponsoring nannies once our nannies completed the program and went off into the workforce.

Nowadays, the documentation needed is upwards of 18 pages long, and the requirement to advertise on the job bank is also quite specific, let alone figuring out the logistics around the paying for the ticket of this potential nanny to come to Canada – hoping they will stay with you, or that you mesh together…  It’s not so easy anymore to do on your own.  One mistake or omission could set back your nannies anticipated arrival by days, weeks, months or worse, permanently and land you on the banned employer list.

It’s also easier when going through an agency to find out why a nanny coming from the Philippines needs a year and proof of travel being paid for, while a nanny coming from Hong Kong can be here in half that time.  Most agencies also provide a guarantee so if you do sponsor through them and the nanny bails or you find they do not mesh with your family, you have 3 months to sort this out,

An additional bonus to having an agency on your side is as a resource to ask when you are unsure of overtime amounts to be paid or duties which can and cannot be performed, or about how to address performance issues, or vacation request, sick requests or open permits.  I called Wee Care to discuss the newest regulations and it helped me write this post.  It was money well spent back in 2004 and we continue to have a relationship to this day.

So if I was being asked again to provide my thoughts on how to move forward through the LCP, my advice would be to speak to an agency.  It’s worth every penny and you’ll keep going back over and over again.  As a matter of fact, in the 7 years which we have sponsored 4 nannies we have done them all through Wee Care and for us the program suited our needs it got to the point where they knew what kind of caregiver we needed and they brought us a couple to meet and interview along our guidelines and one remains with us.

But you do not hae to take my word for it.  Read up on the guidelines online at the CRA and Immigration Canada websites on what is required, then you too will probably come to the realization that you will need an agency to assist you though this process.

Good luck.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them here and if I cannot answer them, I will forward them along to the amazing folks at Wee Care for their expert opinions.

Thursday Thirteen – Taxation Related


As a taxation professional, it was only a matter of time before I posted a Thursday Thirteen that was taxation related.  I have a timely post this week around tax season – Canadian style – however some of it crosses the globe.If you ever want to read more taxation information or read my thoughts on managing, you can do so at www.intaxicating.wordpress.com.

But in the meantime, with tax filing season fast approaching, here are the 13 things you need to know before you file your 2011 tax returns;

13.  Contrary to popular belief of those on the left and those silly “Occupy” folks, in Canada (and the US), the top 10% of Canadian earners pay half of all personal income taxes, while the half of earners with the lowest income pay less than a tenth (1/10th) of the total. So those in the driver’s seat, the high and middle-income earners, they DO have some choice as to how much they want to spend and how much they plan to save, so by spending less, they pay less consumption taxes, less property tax, less gasoline tax, and other taxes and user fees – bank fees, late fees. interest on credit cards, etc., 

12.  Regardless of where you are and what you do, you really should file a tax return.  Canadian reporting is voluntary in certain conditions, but be sure before you pass on filing.  The CRA has a great list of when you need to file and why you should file right here;  http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/ncm-tx/flng-blgtns/menu-eng.html

11. You have the option to defer the paying of taxes, in some cases, when you save for retirement inside a RRSP / IRA or any other form of registered retirement savings plan.  In these plans, you defer payment of income taxes until later in life.  There are taxes assessed, when you withdraw the money after you have reached a certain age, usually 65-years-old, but those tax rates are probably lower than you would be paying now, if you have above-average income.

If your income is below average, you may be better off to pay taxes now and save in a tax-free savings account (TFSA).

If you save for your family inside a registered education savings plan or a registered disability savings plan, there will be a deferral of taxes on interest earnings, other investment returns and government grants. Then the child or other relative will likely pay little or no taxes on those savings.

10. Before you file make sure you have all your slips.  Amending sucks and looking for them last-minute can cause a lot of stress.  Trust me on that one.

9.  Make sure the government has correct information for you – address, name, direct deposit because you want your refund and if they audit you, they might not be re-assessing you, but rather they may be looking for an additional copy of a receipt they lost in the processing of 20 million tax returns.  Get to it and get to it quickly.  Do not ignore government mail and not open it.  Open it and action it..

8.. File this one electronically – but keep your receipts handy for audit and verification purposes.  It’s quick, you may get your money earlier and you’re saving trees,  My kids say thank you..

7.  If you owe money, do not write a note and attach it to your return, but contact the government and make a payment arrangement and honor it.  When your paper return comes into the processing centres, the processors, who are usually temporary hires to help the CRA get through the tax season, rip of cheques and process them right away, then they tear off any unnecessary paperwork and send the returns to a data processing group.  So if you include a piece of paper or maybe gold glittery powder, it’s in the classified waste bin right away.,

6. Think before you bitch – A third of all income in Canada is paid in taxes. But before you consider moving out of the country, consider that the Canadian tax burden is less than that of 19 other developed nations.  We, as Canadians only pay more taxes than 10 developed nations.

5. Why all the taxes?  Where does this tax revenue go?  With the tax revenue, 62% of it goes to pay for health care, education and social assistance, including unemployment benefits.  The rest, a measley 38% goes for everything else we need, like infrastructure, social programs, etc.  Not such a bad deal afterall, eh?

4. Not everything is taxed, here are some examples – There is no tax on a winning Lottery tickets, on scholarships, inheritances, gifts, the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to the taxable Old Age Security (OAS) pension, Canada Child Tax Benefit cheques or child support payments after a divorce.  You pay no tax on at least the first $9,000 of waged earnings or $40,000 of income per year if you receive only eligible corporate dividends and $18,000 if you receive only capital gains.

3. On the flip side, some high-tax items – The income tax rate on income beyond $127,021 a year in 2010 was 46.4%. Taxes on cigarettes in Ontario was 63.5%; alcohol, 52.7%; and regular gasoline, around 36%.

2. The HST effect – The combined 13% federal and Ontario sales tax, the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) has boosted the incentive to conserve energy, because provincial sales tax did not apply to energy before July 1, 2011 – Thank you Dalton! – So you will save more if you choose a compact, well-insulated home close to your job and buy fuel-efficient vehicles – like my hybrid vehicle – appliances, lighting – get those halogen, CFC-free bulbs, and furnaces.

1. Tax relief opportunities – Numerous tax breaks and benefits aim to encourage you to better yourself or the economy, such as seek higher education, earn high grades, raise children, move closer to a job, belong to a professional group, take public transit, make charitable and political donations, invest in companies, start a small business, and save for retirement.  So get cracking. 

There are some easy wins here and some clear opportunities to save money and where we are all letting money slip through out fingers.

But whatever you do, get it there on time!  No point in paying the government a late filing penalty of $400.00 for your procrastination.

 Income Taxes By County

Dalton McGuinty’s Immigration Platform is not so new afterall…


So, the Liberals election platform has been “leaked” and boy is Dalton lucky that he doesn’t have to defend this mind-boggling promise.  You see, the Liberals somehow think that offering employes a $10,000 credit to hire new immigrants is going to stimulate the economy, keep Ontario out of a recession and help build a brighter future for everyone.

Wait a minute…

Are the Liberals aware that this already exists and is a gigantic failure.  Are the Liberals also aware that they cannot appeal to the public to vote Liberal so that the Conservatives won’t dominate all three levels of government.  They Libs are months away from being destroyed much like the Federal Liberal party was until Jack Layton’s untimely – and very sad – death making them relevant again.  With Happy Jack removed as the figurehead of this party, supporters will see them for what they really are… A pro-union, spend, spend, spend party who will bankrupt the country within 5 years.  The Liberals have always been 3 things;

  1. Somewhat central and therefore deemed to be a safe choice
  2. Corrupt
  3. Cocky (or is that confident) enough to know that they can win any riding at any time with whomever they parachute in, or appoint to run.  It’s that arrogance that helped in their destruction in the last Federal election and Dalton’s been drinking from that same red drink.

But before I begin, I want to make clear that the views contained in this post are not meant to be negative to those people who currently working in any level of government, nor are they the fault of anyone working there.  They individuals are wonderful people who want to eke out a living as you and I do.  It’s the bureaucrats who put these policies in place, not the worker-bee’s.

Back to Dalton’s brain-storm: 

The concept of “encouraging” employers to hire certain segments of the working population is nothing new to Ontario, nor Canada.  All levels of government already employ this tactic.  I worked for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for over 10 years in many progressive positions, so I’ve seen it all.  The CRA went through its own affirmative action / negative discrimination and I witnessed first hand how new immigrants were sought out, hired for positions which not all of them were 100% qualified for and I saw how other employees reacted – people of all nationalities – to this policy.

I saw a lot of inexperienced, unqualified people bring their very strong work ethic but lack of Canadian business acumen to the government and I won’t lie to you, there were some serious language short comings as a result.  Dealing with the public and having language issues is frustrating for everyone, the worker, the levels of management and the taxpayers.  Getting things done sometimes took twice as long and often times work was re-worked to make it clearer.   I recall one recently promoted manager referring to her staff as being “all babies, who need to grow up”.  I remember sitting with her an explaining the way government operates and her telling me that it didn’t matter how she liked to manage or how she managed back home, that if she continued to push the envelope and make people work harder, that they would fight back and file grievances against her.  She did not listen and the backlash was long and furious.

At its worst, this policy saw promotion opportunities closed to most of the current workforce and productivity declined as much as motivation did.  I even recall when 2 “white guys” were given temporary 6-month promotions and all the staff were shocked and talking about how unfair it was considering the need to hire up in order to meet quotas… It was terrible.  Instead of focussing on work, staff were concerned with who was going to get the next promotion and who deserved the next promotion.  Many management positions were filled based on criteria other than merit and for me, the straw that broke the camels back was upon completion of my MBA when not one, nor 2, but 7 management positions were filled while I sat there waiting for my opportunity.  With only the director of the office with a MBA I sought out an answer and was told point-blank that I would not be given an opportunity and I should leave.  So I did.  Picked up my ass off the chair one day, walked out of the office and never ever went back. 

I worked with some brilliant people who were also never given a chance to show their worth.  They came from all walks of life, but whenever there was a quota to be filled or a cash incentive lurking in the bushes, people were hired, transferred and promoted to benefit financially and stay in the good graces of senior management instead of based on who will help the organization move forward. 

I heard a Liberal spokesperson on the news today explaining that the Conservative have this all wrong.  It’s not about encouraging employers to hire new immigrants to positions which they are “qualified” for in order to receive a cash incentive, but it is about getting new immigrants who are qualified into jobs… First…

Pot.

Kettle.

So I think the Liberals need to take a step back, speak to some of their government workers and see how well this incentive has worked at all levels before they go shooting off their mouths about how they think the province needs to be run.

It needs to be run conservatively!

As an aside, I recall Finance Minister Dwight Duncan speaking at the Canadian Tax foundation annual conference luncheon about the HST and how no other provincial leader had the balls to bring in the HST because it would have cost them votes, but while the recession was on, that was a good time to increase taxes…

I shook my head then and I shake it now.

As a result of initiatives like this one, certain government jobs are closed off for large segments of the population.  The government went from being a great place to work, with little pressure and amazing benefits – for some – to a giant bureaucratic mess which has lost sight of it’s true objective – serving the public. 

So I encourage you to send a message to the Liberal party, right to Dalton McGuinty himself that if he wants to keep Ontario prosperous he should not tax us more, he should not fool with the employment pool, and that he should find ways to keep people working – lower payroll taxes, lower minimum wage… Oops.  That ship already sailed on them. 

I’m ready to welcome Premier Hudek.

Are you?