October 11, 2021

Swiss residents to vote on $2,800 monthly basic income

Switzerland is considering a basic income for adults to help tackle the growing worldwide issue of rising income inequality.

The country will hold a referendum vote after a grassroots group submitted a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. They're hoping to grant adults an unconditional income of 2,500 Swiss francs ($2,800), which could mean a nice, regular yearly cheque of $33,600 a year without having to work.

To kick off the call for a referendum, the group added a unique touch by delivering a truckload of eight million five-rappen coins, one meant for every resident in Switzerland, in front of a parliament building. A date still needs to be set for the vote.

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October 02, 2021

How would getting sick affect you financially?

Health care costs are top of mind these days as the U.S. government continues to squabble over just what ObamaCare will eventually look like and how it's supposed to protect more Americans from being bankrupted by overwhelming medical bills.

Of course, unlike our cousins across the border, Canadians aren’t supposed to get into financial trouble when they fall sick. But, according to one recent study, we do – repeatedly, it seems.

Among Canadians who have received a serious health diagnosis, or who have lived through a major accident, 40% admit that the aftermath caused them some degree of “financial hardship.”

What’s worse, more than half of those who’ve had a serious health event described at least one financial consequence. The list ranges from reduced savings (22%) to increased credit card or line of credit debt (22%) and even being forced to remortgage or sell the family home (5%).

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September 18, 2021

Government trims benefits for retired public servants

Hands off our benefits!

That’s the rallying cry being heard among retired public servants worried that the federal government is going to make good on its threat to reduce some of their retirement benefits

In its last budget, the government did announce that it intended to review retirees’ benefits, including pensions, health and dental care, and life insurance. And it's making good on its promise.

At issue right now is Treasury Board’s proposal to double the premiums that retired public servants pay for the public service health care plan while also limiting their eligibility to join the plan.

The government wants retirees to pick up half of the cost of contributions to the heavily subsidized health plan rather than the 25% they pay now. It also wants that the minimum years of service required to join to be extended to 10 years from the current two.

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September 05, 2021

Longer life expectancy poses threat to pension plans: report

New figures confirm that life expectancy in Canada has increased — a trend that poses a threat for pension plan sponsors and, ultimately, for plan members.

According to updated mortality tables recently released by the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, the life expectancy of a 60-year-old male today has increased by 2.9 years — from 24.4 to 27.3 years — compared to pension mortality tables currently in use.

The life expectancy of a 60-year-old woman has increased by 2.7 years — from 26.7 to 29.4 years.

All of which is good news, of course, unless you're the one who has to figure out how to pay for those extra golden years.

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September 03, 2021

Common law spouses not necessarily entitled to pension benefits

A recent court decision has created new worries for the 'married but not yet divorced' set.

The case in question involved a man who died prior to retirement, leaving behind both his long-time common law spouse, with whom he was living at the time of his death, and his first wife, to whom he was still legally married even though they lived apart.

The question was who should receive the man’s pension death benefit: his common law wife, his legal spouse or his designated beneficiaries?

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August 26, 2021

Canadians worry that aging boomers will overload health system

As the wave of baby boomers begin to retire, the strains of funding Canada’s health-care system will only grow over the next decade.

Combined with rising costs for most things in general, economists say health care spending, left unchecked, will become unsustainable.

So is it an wonder that so many Canadians worry about whether the country’s health system is ill-prepared to handle the needs of an aging population. 

Six in 10 Canadians lack confidence in the health system’s ability to care for Canada’s rapidly greying population, particularly those who already have experience with its approach to looking after seniors,  according to a recent study from the Canadian Medical Association.

Women, particularly those already caring for an elderly person, are among those least confident that hospitals and long-term care facilities can handle the demands of a population that's living longer than ever before.

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August 09, 2021

Employees fret about personal finances during work hours: report

In the same way many people can't leave work problems at the office, there are those who struggle to park their personal issues at home.

Workers dealing with personal problems often find their minds wandering, and don’t do their best work. And money issues seem to be at the top of that list of stressers.

Forty-four per cent of full-time employees worry about personal finances during work hours, according to research from Purchasing Power, an American provider of supplementary workplace benefits. And that exacts a big toll on both their health and productivity. 

"Stress over money takes both a mental and physical toll on workers, impacting health-related costs and reducing productivity by a significant number," says Richard Carrano, CEO of Purchasing Power. "Employees' financial problems become the employer's problems as well."

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August 02, 2021

The pros and cons of being a stay-at-home parent

According to the Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada (CCAAC), child care fees are typically the second highest cost to families next to housing.

Not only that, over 70 per cent of mothers are in the work force and yet there are only enough child care spaces for about 20 per cent of the families who need them.

Consider a single parent working at a job with minimum wage. The cost of child care far outweighs the income earned.

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July 18, 2021

Tips to reduce electricity consumption during a heat wave

Feelin' hot, hot, hot.

With the summer heat wave rolling across Canada there are some easy tips to reduce your electricity consumption and keep your cool.

To reduce the strain and drain on the electricity system, Canadians are urged to find ways to stay comfortable while using as little electricity as possible, particularly between the peak hours of 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

As we discovered in Ontario in August 2003, the huge strain on the electricity system resulted in a widespread blackout that lasted days for many.

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July 15, 2021

Canada needs to get it right on pension reforms

Policy-makers must start thinking "outside the box" to ensure Canada and Quebec Pension Plan (CPP/QPP) reforms will address projected gaps in future retirement income.

A new study from the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) reveals that these new reforms, as they stand, will be of little help to the next wave of Canadian retirees.

Michael Wolfson, former chief statistician, Statistics Canada, examines the impact of various options for CPP/QPP in the study Not-So-Modest Options for Expanding the CPP/QPP.

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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...