Tag Archives: Canada

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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May The Fourth Be With You! May the 4th be with you! Star Wars Day 2015.


It doesn’t matter how you like to spell it, or whether you only say it to family and friends or write it on a cheque as I did this afternoon, but today is May the 4th, and I wish all my readers the same greeting today, “May the 4th be with you!”

In light of the upcoming Star Wars movies which appear to be a bit darker, slicker and with less animation and more actual robots, I have already found a lot more activity today on the Internet, in my Facebook feed and in the secret groups that I visit but am never allowed to talk about.

It’s been such a great day thus far – and yes, the force IS with me today – that I took my Jedi mind tricks with me to my kids school where I was the “celebrity” reader today.  (It’s called that, not just for an appearance by The Urban Daddy).

I read the kids a bit from a wonderful book called “Vader’s Little Princess” by Jeffrey Brown, and from “Kids are Weird”, also by Jeffrey Brown.  They were given to me for Father’s Day last year by the amazing folks at Indigo Books @chaptersindigo.

I picked the age appropriate pieces mainly from “Vader’s Little Princess” and with some cool voices and a lot of improvising, I entertained a class of SK’s for 20-25 minutes.

I ended by reminding the kids that Darth Vader is evil, because he hates and that they need to be nice to everyone, especially their teachers, parents and classmates, and that they need to be good to the planet, eat healthy food, exercise and say please and thank you.

I ended by saying; “The Force strong in you is it. Good you shall be. Nice you are.  Force be with you today it is, hmmph.”

The kids said I nailed my Yoda impression, but I felt it sounded like Cookie Monster.

Happy Star Wars Day Everyone!

May the 4th (Force) be with you!

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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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Finally! It Might Be Safe To Pick Up The Phone Again: CRTC Fines Duct Cleaning Companies.


Canadians… You know how it goes, right?

Ring

Ring

Ring.

“Hello”.

“Hi, do you need your ducts cleaned?”

Then you, a) curse at them.  b) Tell them you have no ducts.  C) Ask to speak to a manager or D) Hang up.

But they call back.  Over and over again.  Day-in.  Day-out.

Each and every time they call you, the person on the other end of the line is named John Smith, but you know it’s a company from overseas, usually India, and all you want is for them to stop calling you.

Well, on March 25th, 2015 the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that 4 air duct cleaning companies paid a total of $55,000 as part of a settlement following violations for unsolicited phone calls to potential customers.

This happened because people like you and I took the time to complain to the CRTC about violations made under the “Do Not Call” list which bans unsolicited business offers via phone.  As a result of these complaints, the CRTC launched an investigation into 9 Toronto-area duct cleaning companies.

In addition to the $55,000 paid by 4 companies, the CRTC also announced that they have issued notices of violation accompanied by monetary penalties totalling $94,000 for 5 more companies.

“We are pleased to report that four of the nine companies cooperated with the investigations and have voluntarily ceased making unsolicited telemarketing calls to Canadians,” the CRTC’s chief compliance and enforcement officer Manon Bombardier said in a statement.

The list of companies that have paid, and how much, is as follows:

  • Bridge Home Services Inc. – $6,000
  • Cambridge Heating Services – $23,000
  • HR Home Services – $3,000
  • Top Line Air Duct Cleaning Inc. – $23,000

The following 5 companies were issued a notice of violation and an administrative monetary penalty, and now have 30 days to respond to the CRTC:

  • Aqua Duct Cleaning Services – $9,000
  • Goodlife Home Services Inc. – $16,000
  • Kareem Duct Cleaning – $15,000
  • N. Bro Transport Inc. – $14,000
  • Toronto Breeze Air Duct Cleaning Services Inc. – $40,000

All nine companies used  foreign call centres to make the unauthorized calls, and the CRTC says it sent warning letters to seven call centres located in Pakistan, India and the U.S.

“The CRTC reminds telemarketers that it is their responsibility to adhere to the rules, whether they make the calls themselves or through a third party in Canada or abroad,” the regulator said in a release.

Since being implemented in 2008, more than 12.8 million Canadians have signed up to be on the Do Not Call list. The CRTC says Canadians can register their numbers, verify whether a number is on the List or file a complaint about a telemarketer by calling 1-866-580-DNCL (3625) or visiting www.lnnte-dncl.gc.ca.

So far, the CRTC has issued monetary penalties worth over $6 million and other penalties worth $741,000 for violations to the list.

Now I can answer my phone again!

 

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Canadians! With Tax Time Coming, Think About Getting Your Refunds Right Away With H&R Block


For those of you who are not familiar with The Urban Daddy, you should know that I started writing this blog back in 2004, the year my first child was born.  At that time, I was working for the Canadian Government, in the Tax Department, for Revenue Canada (later to be known as the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, then the Canada Revenue Agency).

I worked for the CRA for almost 11 years before leaving for a role in the private sector, and it has now been 18-years that I have been working with taxes in some form or another.  Currently, I run a company called inTAXicating, and maintain a blog which helps people who have problems with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) – usually collection-related matters.

I know taxes.

I do not, however, prepare taxes.  I let the professionals do that.

There has been a myth in the tax / accounting industry that any firm who promises to guarantee maximum refunds, quickly and easily and that offers it without cost (100% free), MUST be a scam or MUST be providing lower quality work and I can tell you that could not be further from the truth! 

I have found in my 18-year tax career that the majority of issues people have with their tax returns are on returns they have completed themselves, either because they do not know the Income Tax Act, or the Excise Tax Act, or because the thought of doing their own return is so daunting that they put it off and put it off until it causes them huge problems.

When the calendar turns January 1st, people start to stress about taxes!  The April 30th filing deadline for everyone except self-employed Canadians and their families comes very quickly, and those who are self-employed (and their spouse / common-law partner) find their June 15th filing deadline comes even faster.  Especially if their owed money to the CRA which should have been paid by April 30th.

Why add more stress?  Especially if you want to complete the return yourself…

H&R Block offers such a simple process it’s crazy that people would not file their returns on time, but for those do-it-yourself (DIY) folks, H&R Block has just the solution for you.  On March 3rd, 2015 Canada’s trusted leader in tax preparation announced FREE online tax filing software is now available for all of Canada’s 26 million tax filers.

H&R Block Online Tax Software is completely free (absolutely no hidden costs) and is an online Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tax filing solution.  H&R Block Online Tax Software’s intuitive process walks users through their tax return with a highly personalized step-by-step interview process which ensures absolutely nothing is missed, and any errors are detected automatically – offering piece-of-mind for the filer – and not leaving you at the mercy of your accountant and their knowledge or schedule.

How many of you get all of your paperwork together, make that appointment to see your accountant who you see only at tax time, and then you drop off your paperwork, and pay the bill once you have been advised that you have been filed.

Without a face-to-face opportunity to discuss your situation you might be missing deductions or tax credits.  No body knows your tax situation better than you do.  If you follow the easy to navigate online tax solution that H&R Block offers, you can see what you can claim, and how it impacts your refund or balance, putting you in the drivers seat.

H&R Block’s tax solution is optimized for any digital device so filers can switch seamlessly from their computer to their phone or their tablet and back, anytime and anywhere. Filers are assured the maximum possible refund with H&R Block’s Maximum Refund Guarantee and 100% Accuracy Guarantee. The Refund-O-Meter™ enables users to see their refunds calculated as they complete the process in real-time.

An added bonus is that free support is offered throughout the filing process with access to H&R Block tax experts via phone, chat or email, and to simplify the process, new filers will be able to import data directly from competitors’ tax software.

Of course, the offering is available in both National languages, and DIY tax filers can seamlessly switch between French and English, or from one family member to another.

The H&R Block Online Tax Software is available at www.hrblock.ca.

Just make sure to file on time!  Even one-day late results in penalties!

 

This post is a sponsored post, I am being compensated for writing this post, and I would not be writing about H&R Block if I did not believe in the product, the services and the quality of ,not only the work done by H&R Block, but also the quality of information H&R Block provides to Canadians at tax time and all year round.  There is a reason why they have been around for 50-years!

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