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…

 

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Monday Musings of The Urban Daddy: Toronto Traffic SUCKS!


Happy Monday!

How was your weekend?  Have to drive anywhere in the City?  I did… It was not fun, and quite frustrating…

What the heck is going on in my City?

City Construction

This is the view from the stop light heading north from the downtown core.  The right lane, as you can see, is blocked.  The right lane has been blocked for a while, during the construction of this building, but the other northbound lane was closed so that stuff could be dropped off / picked up from the right lane.

It boggles my mind and makes me really angry that the City;

  1. Allows developers to take out an entire lane of traffic to help them with their construction for as long as they need to take.  The same annoyance is occurring at Bathurst Street, just south of St. Clair Avenue.
  2. Allow builders to build to the capacity where they cannot do so on their own space that they need to use City streets.
  3. With the addition of bike lanes, parking restrictions and general congestion, that this is even allowed to happen.

Yes, this rant is a real one, and comes from a resident of the City who pays taxes… Lots of taxes, and has to struggle to drive in the city because lanes are closed, construction is taking WAY too long, the Eglinton LRT is dragging along and the roads are AWFUL.

I’ve had 7 flat tires since the LRT construction has begun.

You want pot holes and shitty roads?

Forget the odd pothole that pops up here and there.  Try living around the LRT construction where your only access to the main streets are via roads which should have been torn up and paved over years ago.

In our area, for example, near Allen Road and Eglinton Avenue, the only ways out are Glen Cedar Road – which is an absolute disaster, or to the West, heading towards Oakwood, the roads are worse.

Where is the compensation coming from the developers for taking up our roads, so we can drive where we need to go?

Where is the compensation from the City for either picking terrible contractors, or for not doing their jobs and keeping our roads safe so I don’t have to keep repairing my tires from driving on these roads?  My dealership told me that if my car keeps driving on these roads for a couple more years, the car will be a write off.  The potholes, bumpy and buckling roads and vibrations from these horrid streets are shaking my car apart.

But hey, we’ve got bike lanes, one way streets, no cars on King Street and the Gardiner is falling apart.

Toronto City Council really messed this up… Big time.

Hey Council… You want to put a giant park over the railway tracks in the downtown core?  Before you do that, move the tracks, add a driving tunnel, add a subway or LRT, and then once you’ve used that space to the max, then bury it and put a park on top.  Then above the park, put a bicycle path – enclosed or covered or not – where bikes can shoot across the city and not interfere with traffic and visa versa.

It’s not rocket science…

It has to get done.

Speed it up, make it safe, and remember that there are cars who have to drive in the city.  By pretending that by adding a LRT line I’m going to stop using my car – that I pay lots of fees to the city for, if an exercise in nonsense.  I’m not going to all of a sudden pack my kids and their sports equipment and them and hop onto the subway to take them to their games and practices.

It’s not practical, and is never going to happen.

 

In other Toronto-news:

The Toronto Rock Lacrosse team is the BEST game in town that no one goes to see.  These games should be sold out!  Best game in town!  The Rock destroyed the 1st place New England Black Wolves 21-9 in front of just 9,125 fans at the Air Canada Centre.

As a LONG time season ticket holder, I’d like to see more fans venture down to the ACC to take advantage of a great event.   Coincidentally, the Rock play the Calgary Roughnecks Saturday February 3rd at 7pm at the ACC.

 

The Royal Rumble was last night.

The Grammys were last night.

The NHL All-Star game was yesterday.

 

Great time of year to be a fan.

As long as you’re not driving.

 

Oh, and we take the subway to the Rock games… Convenient, cheap and reliable.  Good thing the games are at the ACC, or we’d drive.

 

 

 

Happy New Year! How Did 2017 Go? You Tell Me…


Happy New Year!  We, at The Urban Daddy sincerely hope that this year is the best year ever and that it is filled with fun, family, health, happiness, wealth, prosperity and PEACE!

While in the process of clearing off an old computer, I came across my family plan for 2017.  I’m going to post it below and after reading it, you tell me if you think that the year was a success, OR, if I need to rename it “Happy New Year 2018” and try again.

Did you set family goals for the year?  Or does that get done in September before school?

Do you then use January 1st as a re-boot?

 

Here is what I presented to my 3 children on January 1st, 2017.

Welcome to 2017!

Kids, you have left us no choice but to institute this new policy in our household. Your mother and I are tired of picking up after all of you, and asking you to do the same things over and over again.  We don’t like buying you new things because you treat everything you have very poorly.  You all have the ability to change this, but you have never had the reason to… Until now!

Each of you have complained that we don’t like doing things that you want to do, and that is also going to change this year because as a family, we will be doing more together inside and outside the house.

You have 2 options. Read them below and let’s see which one we like and want to start following.

Option 1.

Starting at 12:01.01 am on January 1st, 2017, your parents will no longer be making your lunches, driving you to programs, buying you toys, or taking you to and from school.  We will not be allowing you to watch TV, use electronics or listen to your music devices until these following conditions are all met each and every day.

Conditions;

  • Make your beds in the morning
  • Brush your teeth in the morning and at night
  • Clean up after yourselves after each and every meal – not just putting things on the counter or in the sink, but in the dishwasher, or washed, dried and away.
  • Not leave any food out
  • Put away all of your clean clothes
  • Placed dirty clothes in your hamper the right side out
  • Only be allowed to eat at the kitchen table
  • Leave the kitchen table and your eating area spotless once you have finished
  • Hang your towels on the back of the door in your bathroom once you have used it
  • Hang your jackets in the closet when you get home, not on the railing, not on the floor in the closet, but hung properly
  • Complete ALL of your homework assigned to you which is due the next day
  • Be responsible from taking your lunch box from your school bag, empty it – put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or wash, dry and put them away. Any uneaten food must be put in the appropriate place
  • Not hit one another
  • Not yell at one another
  • Not swear at all. Ever
  • Be respectful to your parents.

 

If you fail to do any 3 of these in a week, you will forfeit anything that you consider “fun” and will be given extra school work to compensate for your lack of interest in being a contributing member of this family.

 

Option 2.

Help out more around the house. It’s your house too, not just ours.  Don’t fight as much with each other and respect each other’s belongings.  Be kind to others, be kind to yourselves, and make sure if you don’t know / are not sure / confused / uneasy or uncomfortable with anything that is said, done to you, near you or around you, or to others, to ask us or tell us.

Lie to us and it’s over. Tell us the truth and we can deal with consequences.

We want others to see how wonderful each of you are.

Hugs are a must

We’re not perfect either but we are your parents. We have the key / password / ability to allow you to have fun, or be miserable.  We think you might want fair and fun over option 1 and feeling like a prisoner.

Happy New Year!

 

 

How was our year?  Better than 2016.  🙂

Holidays, Money and a few last minute ideas…


I hate to break it to you but the holidays are here, and for many of us this means spending far too much money on gifts our kids and families really don’t need. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-gifting, I just don’t like having to buy gifts as a result of socially constructed consumer norms (to be addressed in a future post). That said, I’m a mom of 5-year-old twins and explaining what a social construct is will result in the consumption of far, far too many bottles of wine so I’m opting for conforming – at least to a certain extent.

Everyone knows the holidays are about family, friends, spending time together and sharing the love and,  if you’ve done your job well, your kids know this well. Ya know what else kids know? Holidays = presents! So, since I’m buying into the holiday crap, I’m at least going to do it in a way that doesn’t put my family into peril. Peril? yes, peril.

The holidays are expensive. If you’re not careful, the parental guilt that inevitably comes with the knowledge you can’t get your kids everything they want could put your family into a negative financial situation that’s difficult to recoup from.

“No, you can’t have the Nintendo, doll house, race car and Barbie… many kids don’t even receive gifts during the holidays…we’ve very fortunate to have everything that we do… when I was your age I got a matchstick for Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanza…” Sound familiar? As parents, we want to give our kids the world and everything in it. We also don’t want to raise assholes. And this principle is what often alleviates that guilt I was talking about earlier. Now, we’re not just trying to save money, we’re teaching our kids a valuable lesson, right?

I dunno about you, but I still feel like total shit when I can’t get my kids what they want or, more to the point, what I want to get them. That said, DON’T GO INTO DEBT FOR THE HOLIDAYS. IT’S NOT WORTH IT. Yes, like a crack addict, you’ll get that initial high of being the ‘best parent ever’, but come January you’re going to crash and it’s gonna be ugly. (Please trust me on this, I watch people do it every day, let alone every year, it’s the line of work I’m in.) So, how do you avoid this scenario? Here are my 5 top tips I use to financially survive the holidays:

Tip 1 – Everyone loves photo gifts. Sign up for all of the online photo-gift sites and throughout the year they send great freebies, ranging from mugs to calendars to bags and prints.  You pay the shipping (which isn’t cheap but it’s far cheaper than paying for a gift and shipping) and that’s it!

Tip 2 – Shops the sales before the ‘sales’.  If you’re like my husband and don’t plan all that far in advance for gift giving then wait until September to take advantage of the back to school sales for toys, home stuff, clothing, make up etc. they often end up being cheaper than all of the sales that are currently out right now.

Tip 3 – THE DOLLAR STORE IS YOUR FRIEND. There is absolutely no good reason to spend five times the amount of money on a brand name toy or game when you can get the exact same one at the dollar store? They’re all made in China so why spend $20 instead of $4 for a logo? For the record, half of my son’s gifts are from Dollarama (no, they didn’t pay me to endorse them, I’m just a big fan)

Tip 4 – New does not mean better. I just bought half of my daughter’s gifts from kijiji, craigs list and Facebook market (again, no endorsement). If the toys are in good condition then who gives a crap about the plastic package? This way, you’re saving yourself some $ and giving Mother Nature a hand!

Tip 5 – It doesn’t have to be fancy. My kids are getting books, markers and fun earmuffs as gifts. They’ll love it because it’s all about the delivery. I’m in my 30’s and I still love getting this stuff as gifts, but maybe that’s just me.

I hope these tips help ease your guilt and keep enough money in the bank to pay the bills at the end of the month.

Now for some examples of the aforementioned tips. (Disclaimer, I received all of these products as free samples, but you can bet your ass you’ll know if I didn’t like something about them.)

Books:

But I don’t Eat Ants is a super cute story for picky eaters and their parents. Not to spoil it, the lesson for parents goes back to tip #5: it’s all about the delivery! The final line of the book confused my kids a bit but  it was a fun story for all and every time I make tortellini they laugh hysterically yelling “TORTELLINITOTALLINI!”

Finding Gobi is one of the best feel good books for young kids that I’ve come across in a long while. The first time I heard the story Gobiwas on CBC and the publisher blindly reached out a couple of weeks later. I wanted to see if the story I heard on the news was accurately depicted in the book and how they were going to adapt it for young kids.  Much to my surprise it was really well written, succinct and colourful, which is key for young kids. They also sent over the novel version which I didn’t have a chance to read but my friend’s son, who’s 8, said it was a great book – why would he lie, right?

Home:

I was never a coffee drinker and figured it was dumb to get one of the single cup machines for tea since they always tasted so diluted, so I never bought any of the ones on the market. I have seen the light thanks to the Keurig that was sent to us. It has a new ‘strong’ brew option which actually allows tea to taste likcoffeee tea!  I also like that it doesn’t take up all that much counter space. The machine is also pretty tough, which I realized as I used pliers to pry the wrong K-Cup that I jammed in, out of the machine (don’t judge, I was running on 2hrs sleep!)

Random fun things:

Cozyphones are a super cute alternative to headphones, with the bonus of keeping your munchkins’ ears toasty. I’m hoping they come outcozyphones with a version that can be worn in summer since these are fleece. Regardless, the kids look freaking adorable in them and love wearing them around the apartment.

Sigma Beauty reached out and sent over a bunch of items from their new Creme De Couture line. I was pretty hesitant to include makeup in a gift guide since I reallymakeup don’t wear much unless I’m out for an event and because isn’t all makeup basically the same? Evidently not! According to my makeup-wearing friends quality varies drastically. So I figured I’d try a bit myself and share some with my mom (avid makeup wearer). I have to say I was shocked at how much I liked it! The colours are super vibrant and the Liquid Lipstick stays on the whole night (hubby can attest to that!). My next thought was that it must be super expensive since it’s pretty good quality but again I was pleasantly surprised! All in all, I really liked the products and I wear a bit more makeup these days. I hope these help in your last-minute shopping frenzy and I wish you good luck!!!

The Urban Daddy and Urban Twin Mommy would like to wish you all a very happy holiday season, filled with love and light. May the year ahead be filled with happiness, health and success (in whatever form that means to you!).

XOXO

 

 

Words of Wisdom for Parents


Out of the mouths of babes;

“Running shoes are very important, as are smoke detectors in houses.”

Yes.

Yes they are…