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June 2010

June 23, 2021

Just one week to go before HST hike

Ontario's new Harmonized Sales Tax is just one week away.

What's interesting is that, unlike in B.C. where the backlash has been severe, most Ontario residents seem rather indifferent to the whole thing. Or maybe they just haven't done the math. 

While 83% of goods and services -- such as basic groceries, municipal transit and prescription drugs -- will remain untouched by the HST, the remainder will cost the average Ontario family $792 this year, according to a recent NDP study.

The figures, which do not include the one-time transition cheques that Ontarians received this month, suggest that only families with a combined income of less than $20,000 would come out ahead once the HST is in effect.

And that's not a lot of people.

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June 22, 2021

What if the oil spill happened in your hometown?

As if BP needed more bad PR …

If you’re like me, you’ve watched this BP oil spill story develop from a distance.

After all, how much can we really appreciate such a disaster from a nation away? We don’t live in the Gulf region. If we weren’t seeing pics of oil-drenched seagulls and darkened white sand beaches on the news, we’d have no way of gauging how big this thing really is.

Well, let’s add this map as Exhibit no. 5,642 in the “Useless-but-cool things on the Internet these days” category.

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Should affluent retirees still receive government benefits?

Those Canadians who’ve prepared for their retirement are going to be responsible for taking care of a “sizable” part of the population that didn’t get around to it, warns federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

And we’re talking about a lot of people.

According to a recent TD study, while more than 36 per cent of Canadians can't wait to stop working and enjoy life, another 30 per cent say that even thinking about saving for retirement makes their hearts pound because they don’t see how they can do it.

Which explains why, on average, over 50 per cent of Canadians’ retirement income comes from government transfers, according to a new report from Russell Investments Canada.

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June 21, 2021

Does Canada need another cigarette tax hike?

At a time when the HST is right around the corner for millions of Canadians, no one wants to hear about new taxes.

But a breaking story out of New York City is giving life to an age-old tax debate, and the issue doesn’t seem to care of its timing.

Out of the Big Apple today, lawmakers will soon vote on a new cigarette tax of an additional $1.60 per pack, a move that looks likely to make New York the first U.S. city to break the $5 tax hit per pack of smokes.

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June 18, 2021

Ford now the highest-quality car manufacturer

It wasn’t too long ago – maybe ten years, maybe five, maybe two – when people would’ve laughed had you said Ford made a quality car.

Perhaps it was a mix of things. Decades of lemons. A reputation that American manufacturers take nothing but shortcuts. Bumper stickers like this.

But maybe the turnaround is now complete for Ford, the one Big Three automaker that didn’t file for bankruptcy protection this past recession.

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Gifts: Thoughtful or a waste of money?

Upside_of_irrationality_cro From a standard economic perspective, gifts are a waste of money. Imagine that you invite me over for dinner one day and I decide to spend $50 on a bottle of wine. There are a bunch of problems:  To start, I am not sure what wine you would like the most.  And besides, maybe you’d prefer something else, like a book, a DVD, or a blender.  This means that the bottle of wine that cost me 50 dollars might be worth, at most, 25 dollars to you. 

If gift-giving were rational I would come to dinner and tell you, “Tom, thanks for inviting me for dinner. I was going to spend $50 on a bottle of wine, but realizing that this might provide you with only $25 of benefits, here is the cash instead and you can decide how best to spend it.”

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June 17, 2021

Workloads continue to head up sharply, study suggests

If it seems as if you’re working harder than you used to, it’s probably not your imagination. A majority of employees say their workloads have jumped sharply because of the global economic downturn.

79% of employees reported their workloads increased as a result of layoffs at their firm, according to a recent survey by staffing company Right Management. 56% per cent characterized that jump as being "a lot."

Employees at large organizations feel the heat more, with 68% saying their workloads have increased substantially compared to only 33% at small organizations.

Like it or not, most remaining employees have little other choice but to work harder. The current job market makes jumping ship for another position a more daunting undertaking than a few years ago.

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Despite spill, BP still not as unpopular as Goldman Sachs

As the Gulf of Mexico oil spill somehow continues to worsen, it’s no wonder the guys at BP aren’t exactly the most popular right now.

After all, with images like this, this and this floating around, their slip-up in the south is as brutal as they come.

Add to that a mismanaged clean-up effort and criticisms the company is trying to skirt the restoration bill, and BP’s 2010 is a recipe for hatred.

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June 16, 2021

Will Wal-Mart's banking push into Canada succeed?

Newly-licensed Wal-Mart Canada Bank may have started out with a rewards MasterCard this week, but the low-price retailing giant is really setting its sights on the big banks’ hold on other products such as loans and mortgages.

Good luck with that.

Canadian Tire tried the same thing but ending up selling its struggling mortgage portfolio to the National Bank last year. And Citbank just abandoned the Canadian mortgage business as well.

And while brands like President's Choice and ING do have a sliver of market share, it's going to be an uphill climb for the often-crticized discounter, despite its 318 stores and a deserved reputation as a category killer in other areas.

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June 15, 2021

Paying people to take their medicine

Mary Poppins notwithstanding, sometimes nothing helps the medicine go down. And when patients simply won't take their medication, it's a serious problem – not just for them, but for the health care system as well.

One-third to one-half of all patients do not take medication as prescribed, and up to one-quarter never fill prescriptions at all, reports the New York Times. And all that forgetfulness translates into a staggering toll on  already strained health care budgets.

That’s why doctors in Pennsylvania are exploring a new approach to try to improve compliance. The premise: Offering a bonus to help patients choke down their pills.

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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...