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April 2010

April 23, 2021

India has more cell phones than toilets: study

We knew it when “text messanger's thumb” happened, and we damn sure knew it when there was “cell phone elbow,” an infliction so evidently serious CNN featured an entire story on the syndrome.

Yes, the world has gone nuts with mobile phones. We know this.

But our over-use of cell phones has always come with a sort of self-deprecating sentiment. A kind of “Oh, yeah, you can’t get enough of your CrackBerry, either” vibe, suggesting there’s at least a little humour behind our reliance on handheld devices.

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Most business owners don’t understand new HST rules

The Ontario government's decision to harmonize the federal and provincial sales tax into a single 13% tariff should do wonders for the underground economy, predicts Cyndee Todgham Cherniak, a tax lawyer with Lang Michener in Toronto who tracks the changes on The HST Blog.

The new tax, which will take effect in July and apply to a much wider array of goods and services – vitamins, gasoline, plane tickets and Christmas trees, to name just a few – is such that just about everyone is going to want to start paying cash again.

Not that every analyst agrees: No group is significantly worse off or better off as a result of the province's HST plan, claims Ernie Lightman, a University of Toronto economist who co-authored a recent report entitled Not a Tax Grab After All: A Second Look at Ontario's HST.

In fact, the vast majority of Ontarians will either be slightly better off or unaffected by the tax changes, he maintains.

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April 22, 2021

Who's right in the Labatt/Lakeport brewery mess?

If you watched any news broadcast from eastern Canada yesterday, chances are you saw the still-developing story about Labatt, Lakeport and some pissed off workers from the city of Hamilton.

Labatt, as you may have heard, has decided to move production of its locally produced Lakeport beer from the Hammer to London, Ont. The change to abandon its Hamilton brewery, where the beer has been made since 1992, will result in the loss of 143 jobs.

But the controversy, the real meat of the story, isn’t in the lay-offs. It’s in the corporate power-playing and the nasty realities of cutthroat business.

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April 21, 2021

Don't miss these frequently overlooked tax breaks

Worried about taxes? Then make sure you're making use of every deduction under the sun. And in the right order.

Does it make sense, for instance, to save up your eligible tax credits — like those for charitable donations — over several years and claim them all at once?

Unless they're not paying tax at all, the answer to that question is usually no, according to lawyer Adam Scherer, a partner at Soberman LLP in Toronto.

Waiting to claim them doesn't really help, no matter what your tax bracket is today or might be down the road, he tells Advisor, a how-to magazine for financial professionals. 

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April 20, 2021

Sports stars who've lost big-time endorsement cash

Much was made over a certain troubled golfer and his lost sponsorships earlier this year.

But we never really realized the effect of Tiger Woods’ endorsement crisis until he showed up at the Masters two weeks ago with a bag stripped of most brands and swatches.

Tiger, as you no doubt read, cost shareholders of the companies that endorse him as much as $12 billion when it was revealed he, um, couldn’t keep his ball on the fairway.

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April 19, 2021

Is placing a newspaper obituary way too expensive?

With at least two generations of Canadians still having no interest in Twitter or Facebook, the newspaper obituary remains an important, honoured tradition.

After all, that’s where the community turns when a loved one has passed. That’s where they find cherished memories, donation info and, most functionally, details about the visitation and funeral.

Yet no one ever talks about the price of placing a death notice, an ever-rising cost that prompted one critic to recently accuse newspapers of “price gouging” their mourning client base.

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April 18, 2021

Workers admit to being habitually late for work: Report

Does your morning routine typically involve hitting the snooze button and then scrambling to get out the door?

A new Careeerbuilder survey reveals that 16% of workers arrive late to work at least once a week. What's worse, almost one-in-ten admit to showing up late at least twice a week.

Actual reasons for being tardy vary from worker to worker, traffic is the main culprit with close to one-third (32%) of workers claiming it caused their tardiness. Nearly a quarter (24%) point to lack of sleep, while seven percent pin the blame on getting their kids ready for school or day care. 

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April 16, 2021

Schools now outsourcing grading of papers to Asia

As if North Americans didn’t live in outsourcing hell already …

In a world where cheap labour talks, contracting out work is part of life. Your TV wasn’t made here, nor is its tech support call centre likely located in this hemisphere.

And while Canadians curse their lack of employment, the devil’s advocate point of view on outsourcing is quite convincing: This isn’t charity. We’re running a business. If they can do it cheaper, why would we go anywhere else?

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College offers money-back guarantee on tuition

Community colleges have long provided an opportunity for both young and older adults to learn new job skills, often by attending part time.

Prospective students are turning away from some schools, however, in favour of more affordable options, forcing many colleges to work harder to justify their price of admission.

For instance, rather than imposing an across-the-board tuition increase, B.C.’s Okanagan College is targeting program areas where its tuition is below the average for similar size institutions.

But how about offering a money-back guarantee instead?

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April 15, 2021

Ryanair boss says he'll donate pay-to-pee profits to charity

1192087_airplane We promise, really, we’re not trying to slam you over the head with this Ryanair pay-to-pee story.

But after one article last Thursday and another earlier this week, this is like the consumer story that keeps on giving. It’s fascinating on top of baffling on top of mesmerizing.

Like clockwork, enigmatic Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary is back making headlines today. Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, the company boss displayed a “No, no, you got me all wrong!” demeanour Thursday, apparently backpedalling somewhat on his polarizing move to begin charging passengers to relieve themselves onboard the budget airline’s flights.

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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...