July 10, 2021

Healthy minds at work

There is a high cost to mental health issues.

Not only for those who suffer personally, but in the workplace with lost productivity due to mental illness.

Allan Ebedes, President and CEO at Excellence Canada, says, "A safe and healthy workplace is the product of committed leadership and strategic planning.

"In every organization, people are our most valuable resource and it is the joint responsibility of employers and employees to foster healthy minds and to safeguard them."

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June 19, 2021

Medicare needs to cover full cost of prescription drugs: report

Canada's is the only universal health care system in the developed world that doesn't provide universal coverage for prescription medications, the C.D Howe Institute reports.

Nationwide, only 44 per cent of total drug expenditures are covered by provincial benefit programs - compared with 90 per cent of hospital costs and 99 per cent of all other medical costs.

While provincial drug benefit programs help some patients with portions of their prescription drug costs, the picture across the country remains fragmented, leaving the majority of costs to be financed out-of-pocket and through private insurance.

And employers continue to balk at just how much that's likely to cost them, particularly when one considers the existing system's built-in inefficiencies. 

But extending additional coverage to drugs, which account for roughly 16 per cent of Canada's health costs, would burden the system even further, critics argue

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June 18, 2021

Is not hiring smokers actually good for business?

There’s been a lot of rumbling recently over the legalities and ethics of employers implementing “no smokers” hiring policies as a means of promoting a healthy work environment and trimming group insurance premiums.

Estimates suggest that employees who smoke cost on average $3,396 more per year than non-smokers in lost productivity, higher absenteeism, and increased insurance.

At one Ottawa high-tech company, not only is there absolutely no smoking on company time, but employees aren't allowed to smoke in their off hours either.

“We drink. We swear. We don’t fucking smoke,” the company proudly declares on its values pages. Light up, and you can expect to hear about it pretty quickly. 

Larger corporations are following suit, it seems. In the US, a number of healthcare companies have instituted no-smoking policies as part of their recruiting strategies, with some going as far as to announce that they would concurrently implement nicotine testing as part of their hiring process.

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May 16, 2021

Canadians losing sleep over finances

1034045_56715244Life happens.

And with it, so do unforeseen hardships.

That's why it is always good to be proactive and have a plan.

A new report by BMO Wealth Institute reveals that while many Canadians have a financial plan in place, very few have considered what would happen if unexpected life events arose that could cause financial hardships.

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March 27, 2021

How much are your employee benefits actually worth?

Although they vary sharply across companies, employee benefits are designed to add value to an overall compensation package. Typically, they include things like vacation time, sick days, health and drug plans, disability benefits, life insurance, and retirement plans.

If you're lucky, they might also include items like a car or gas allowance, child-care, employee discounts, education assistance, legal assistance, gym memberships, etc.

But many people find it difficult to place a value on their benefits, preferring instead to focus on salary since it's immediate and tangible.

After all, you can't eat benefits and who says you'll even need glasses down the road?

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February 09, 2022

Tax tips for those 65 and older

Tax season doesn't have to be -- well, taxing.

If you're 65 or older, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has some tips on benefits and credits designed just for seniors.

For instance, if you were 65 or older on December 31, 2021 and your net income was less than $78,684 you can claim an age amount of up to $6,720.

You may also claim a pension income amount up to $2,000 if you reported eligible pension, superannuation or annuity payments on your income tax return. As well, if you're receiving a pension you may be entitled to pension income splitting with your spouse or common-law partner of up to 50 per cent of your eligible pension income.

Your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) deductible contributions can also help reduce your income tax. You have until December 31 of the year you turn 71 to contribute to your RRSP.

Other tax breaks that are worth looking into include the Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP); Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit that helps people with modest incomes offset all or part of the GST/HST they pay; Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB); a disability amount; public transit amount; and medical expenses that you may qualify for.

If you're computer and web savvy you may also file your your income tax online through the CRA. The online service enables you to file your income tax and benefit returns, make a payment, sign up for direct deposit and track your refund. All you need is your Social Insurance Number and date of birth to access the system.

The agency also offers a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program to assist those with modest incomes or simple tax situations.

Remember...the deadline to file your Personal Income Tax is April 30, 2013. Those who are self-employed have until June 15 unless they have a balance owed and then the deadline is April 30, 2013.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

Will you be filing your taxes online this year?


January 10, 2022

Does being single require that different a financial plan?

It’s tough being single … at least when it comes to money.

Most financial plans tend to centre on milestones that have a lot more to do with couples than singles: Get married. Merge your financial lives. Buy a house. Have a child. Buy some insurance. Start saving for university — it’s a pretty traditional pattern.

But not everyone fits that template. What about those that don't have children? What about those that aren't married or otherwise attached?

Many singles are spenders, not savers, because they often don’t feel the same pressure to save as those with with children. After all, no kids means no university or wedding costs. But there are other financial pressures — not the least of which is having to juggle day to day expenses on one income, rather than two.

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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...