October 18, 2021

Should unpaid internships be allowed?

A backlash is brewing against the unpaid internship with many issues against this type of employment coming to light.

It's been recently discovered that if you're an unpaid intern in Ontario, you aren't protected by health and safety laws, according to the Toronto Star. While the provincial government is currently reviewing and reconsidering the law, there's no timeline on when any changes could be made.

This adds to a growing discontent expressed about unpaid internships. In Vancouver, there was a backlash against the Fairmont Waterfront hotel for offering an unpaid internship to bus tables. Another recent Toronto Star story showed that hospitality interns did the job of a cleaning lady during their internship. While two former Bell interns filed a complaint with allegations that the company broke labour laws when they weren't paid for the work they did.

Many young workers taken on unpaid internships with the number of them in Canada ranging from 100,000 to 300,000, according to the CBC. Young people have a tougher time landing a job, especially after the recession, and it's no wonder that they're trying any possible way to gain experience to jumpstart their careers.

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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 03, 2021

Dog owner reimbursed $500 after dog ate his bank notes

If your dog eats your money, don't fret, it's possible you'll be reimbursed. A Montana man waited six months before the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing sent him a cheque for the five $100 bills his dog scarfed down.

The golden retriever, Sundance, chowed down on his gourmet meal when the bills were stashed in the car's front seat compartment. Once the dog owner, Wayne Klinkel, realized the situation, he followed Sundance around with rubber gloves and plastic bags while waiting for Sundance's meal to pass through the dog's system. More pieces of the bills showed up once the snow melted.

It's a bit of an icky task, but Klinkel washed, dried and ironed the bills before sending them over to the U.S. Treasury. And it looks like his efforts paid off.

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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 16, 2021

Fewer Canadians living from paycheque to paycheque: report

Despite nagging concerns, Canadians' finances have actually improved in the past year, with fewer people living paycheque to paycheque and more even managing to put some money aside, according to a recent poll by the Canadian Payroll Association.

The survey suggests that 42% of Canadians would be in financial difficulty if their pay was delayed by even a week. And, while that's a grim statistic, it's actually the goods news. Last year, 47% said they were just making ends meet

Either way thiough, that's an alarming number of people who could be one car repair or dental bill away from financial disaster. The survey says 40% of employed Canadians are spending all of – or, in many cases, more than – their net pay.

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August 06, 2021

Which is preferable? Tipping by percentage or a flat rate?

While some people view tipping as an enforced wage subsidy, others see it as a reward for good service.

Either way, it's time to modify your approach, suggests Slate writer Brian Palmer, who feels the current practice is bad for both workers and consumers. And the factors that correlate most strongly to tip size have virtually nothing to do with the quality of service anyway, he maintains.

Credit card tips are larger than cash tips. Large parties with sizable bills leave disproportionately small tips. Plus, we tip servers more if they tell us their names or touch us on the arm

Instead, he suggests, tip a flat amount and announce your new tipping practice to your server as soon as you sit down.

"Virtually every other employee in America knows how much they’ll be paid up front, and somehow the man who sells me shoes and the woman who does my dry cleaning still manage to provide adequate service. I have no doubt waiters and waitresses are the same."

Is he on to something?

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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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July 09, 2021

Politicians' gold-plated pension plans need further trimming: report

Gold-plated pensions for British MPs could be scrapped under an overhaul of parliamentarians’ pay.

Pensions and juicy severance packages paid to ousted politicians have been branded a reminder of the ‘old, cushioned world of privilege’ by Sir Ian Kennedy, the chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

The watchdog is expected to unveil a scaling back of the ‘excessively generous’ pensions entitlements and golden goodbyes that many MPs enjoy as part of IPSA’s review of pay and expenses.

Might Canada be considering the same sort of move? They certainly should, maintains Gregory Thomas, federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Many federal politicians who decide to retire at the next election could easily walk away with millions of dollars from the lucrative parliamentary pension plan. And the CTF thinks that stinks.

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April 15, 2021

Wondering where to find the best place to work?

Wondering where your next job should take you? Google, Habanero and Royal LePage take top spots in this year’s 100 best places to work in Canada ranking.

The annual competition is based on years of research by the Great Place to Work Institute with input from more than 57,000 Canadian employees this time out.

The actual rankings are based on the culture of the organization that's modeled on the five dimensions found in the employee view of a great workplace.

On top of that, a culture audit helps identify gaps between the impact programs are intended to have and their actual influence on employees.

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February 13, 2022

Consider filing your taxes online this year

The internet is quickly becoming the perfect place for online shopping, dating and yes, even taxes.

As a matter of fact, more than 65 per cent of tax returns are now filed electronically. It's safe, secure, easy and convenient!

And with tax season being just around the corner, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) offers some handy tips to help you file your 2012 income tax online.

To get started, make sure you visit their website to learn about ways to help reduce your taxes. Then, gather all your receipts, information slips and a copy of last year's return to use as a guide. 

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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...