Posts Tagged ‘maple ridge’

First off… What is a Super Visa?

This a special visa granted to foreign parents or grandparents of Canadian citizens (or permanent residents) which allows them to visit with their family here in Canada for up to two years without needing to renew.  A Super Visa is valid up to tens years.

So why would I be blogging about this?

Well, one of the requirements is proof of private Canadian medical insurance. At Manion & Associates we can help you acquire private medical insurance.

Who is eligible for a parent and grandparent super visa?

To be eligible for the super visa, applicants must be the parents and grandparents of Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Dependents of parents and grandparents are not eligible for the super visa. However, they can apply for a regular visitor visa. The super visa applicants must also be found admissible to Canada and meet some other conditions.

Visa officers consider several factors before deciding whether an applicant is admissible. Officers must believe the applicant is a genuine visitor to Canada who will leave by choice at the end of the visit. Among the things the officer might consider are the following:

  1. The person’s ties to his or her home country;
  2. The purpose of the visit;
  3. The person’s family and financial situation;
  4. The overall economic and political stability of the home country; and
  5. Invitations from Canadian hosts.

The parent or grandparent must also do the following:

  1. Provide a letter promising financial support from their child or grandchild in Canada who has a minimum income;
  2. Prove he or she has Canadian medical insurance for at least one year to cover the time he or she will be in Canada; and
  3. Complete an immigration medical examination.

In regards to the medical insurance, we can help!

 

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Why are employees leaving free pension money on the table? – The Globe and Mail.

Fred Vettese is the chief actuary at Morneau Shepell, a human resources and actuarial consulting services firm.

Canadians are forgoing as much as $3-billion annually by not taking full advantage of employer matching contributions within their company defined contribution (DC) pension plans, according to a recent Sun Life Financial report. One has to wonder why employees would pass up free money when there are no strings attached.

Employees in most DC plans have the option of contributing extra, and if they do, the employer makes a matching contribution on their behalf. Sometimes it is a partial match, such as 50 cents for every dollar contributed by the employee, and sometimes it is a full match. Employers offer contribution matching to encourage employees to save more for retirement.

To gain some insight into why a significant percentage of DC participants balk at contributing more, I analyzed data from a number of DC pension plans for which Morneau Shepell does record-keeping. My investigation, which encompassed tens of thousands of employee records, turned up the following:

  • About one third of participants in a given plan do not make an optional contribution, even if it is 100 per cent matched by the employer.
  • Up to two thirds will not make an optional contribution if the basic required contribution they are already making is high, such as 4 per cent of pay or more.
  • One would expect older employees to contribute more since they will get their hands on the employer’s money sooner. But it turns out the impact of age is quite minimal, especially if we correct for salary differences. In some groups, a fifth of the employees in their 50s do not make optional contributions.
  • Salary level has a big impact on optional contribution rates but only up to the average national wage level – the low $50,000s. In one case, nearly half of employees in their mid-40s who were earning under $50,000 opted not to contribute versus only 18 per cent of employees in the same age group who were earning over $50,000.
  • In plans where the range of optional contribution rates is limited, the employee’s decision is practically binary. The vast majority either contribute enough to earn the maximum employer matching or they contribute nothing. This suggests that deciding how much to contribute is not based on ability to pay or on perceived retirement income needs, but rather on whether or not one understands the idea behind the optional matching.

What is noteworthy is that many of the employees who elect not to make optional contributions to their DC plans still contribute to their own Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs). According to Statistics Canada data, over half of the participants in pension plans, including DC plans, also contribute to RRSPs. A rough estimate is that several hundred thousand DC plan participants are forgoing employer matching contributions in their DC plans and instead make personal RRSP contributions that are not matched.

Read the rest of the article here…

Why are employees leaving free pension money on the table? – The Globe and Mail.

How to transfer cottage ownership – and reduce the tax bite

TIM CESTNICK

Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Jun. 11 2014, 5:38 PM EDT

Last updated Thursday, Jun. 12 2014, 2:21 PM EDT

 

Cottage memories are like none other.

If you’re visiting a friend’s cottage this summer, here are a few tips that will be sure to create lasting memories for everyone: Bring four very large suitcases (store one in each bedroom if necessary), bring at least two dogs (those with digestive problems are best), start a fire (preferably outside the cottage, and big enough to burn a picnic table), roast marshmallows (bring those mini ones with toothpicks and see who can stand the heat) and scare the kids (ghost stories to give them nightmares for three days can add to the fun).

How to transfer cottage ownership – and reduce the tax bite – The Globe and Mail.

What is critical illness insurance?

Answer: Critical illness insurance is a form of health insurance that provides a lump-sum payment should you become seriously ill.

What are the types of illnesses covered by critical illness insurance?

Answer: Although they differ from company to company, typical illnesses and diseases covered by critical illness insurance may include:

  1. cancer
  2. heart attack
  3. stroke
  4. blindness
  5. Alzheimer’s
  6. multiple sclerosis
  7. organ transplants
  8. kidney failure
  9. paralysis

Coverage can also vary according to the degree of severity of, or conditions associated with, an illness or disease. For example, if you are diagnosed with a type of cancer that is treatable and that results in minimal “down time”, you may not be eligible to make a claim. Coverage cannot be purchased for a pre-existing condition or illness. It is important to ask your insurance representative to provide you with a complete explanation of your coverage.

Do I need critical illness insurance?

Answer: Almost certainly, Yes! The risk of suffering a critical illness or disability is unbelievably high.  Calculate your risk here.  You should also consider your personal circumstances and the added financial strain that could be brought about by dealing with a serious illness or disease. Public and private health insurance plans typically do not provide coverage for day-to-day living expenses such as travel to and from treatments, home care and child care.

How much does it cost?

Answer: Generally, the younger and healthier you are, the lower the premium (cost). However, the cost varies depending on your age, medical condition, the amount of coverage, the number of illnesses covered by the policy, and the insurance company. When shopping for a critical illness plan, you should consider your income, financial obligations, dependants  and health care needs.

How can I make a claim?

Answer:You can make a claim if a physician, licensed to practice medicine in Canada and specializing in your particular illness, diagnoses you with a critical illness or disease covered by your policy. Generally, a lump-sum benefit payment will be made to you 30 days after the claim has been approved. There are no restrictions on how you use the money. Once your claim is paid, your critical illness insurance policy ceases.

What if I never make a claim?

Answer: If you die for a reason not covered by the critical illness policy, the premiums you paid may be refunded to your named beneficiary. Some plans will return the premium or a portion of the premiums paid during the life of the policy if the policy matures and no claim has been paid.

Is long-term care insurance the same as critical illness insurance?

Answer: No. Long-term care insurance provides for personal care on a long-term basis if you need supervision or assistance with daily living activities due to a chronic illness, disabling condition or cognitive impairment. Long-term care policies generally reimburse, up to a specified limit, the expenses incurred for various types of care, such as nursing home or home health care; or they pay a pre-determined benefit amount on a daily or monthly basis.

Is disability insurance the same as critical illness insurance?

Answer: No. Disability insurance, also known as “income replacement” insurance, provides a monthly income replacement benefit if you become disabled and can no longer perform the normal duties of your work. Generally, the benefit is limited to a percentage of your regular income and ceases once you earn an income or you no longer meet the definition of disability in the contract.  Unlike critical illness insurance which provides the full policy benefit in a lump sum payment on diagnosis of a critical illness, long-term disability policies may have a waiting period from the onset of disability. Unlike critical illness benefits, long-term disability benefits may be affected by other income you receive or by your full recovery from the illness.

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7 COMMON HOME SECURITY MISTAKES

If you and the guy who wants to steal your television sat down to shoot the breeze, what would you ask him?

The chance to pick a burglar’s brain could certainly give you some ideas for home security upgrades, but it’s not a very common opportunity. So, we created some fictional burglar monologues (based on real research). Listen up, because over two million burglaries occur each year in the United States (one every 15 seconds)! Here are a few things your neighborhood thief doesn’t want you to know.

If you’re already convinced that your home could use some extra security, here are seven effective ways to protect your house:

1. Ladders are awesome.

Every time I see a ladder hiding behind a shed or leaning against a house, my heart does a little jig. Do you know how easy it is to crawl through a second-story window with a ladder? Plus, you probably aren’t stressed about locking your second-story window when your front door is dead-bolted.

Takeaway: Keep all of your windows and doors locked tight when you’re out of the house, and hide the ladder in your garage or in a shed when it’s not in use!

2. Your trash reads like a catalog.

Where did your brand-new flat screen’s box go? That’s right – it went in the trash. So I can dig through your trash and find out exactly what’s in your house. It’s easy as pie to know which homes to hit up – especially around the holidays!

Takeaway: Never leave boxes of expensive items on the curb. If possible, take them directly to a trash center.

3. Newspaper piles are a dead giveaway.

Who lets newspapers pile up and their mailbox overflow? People on vacay, that’s who. A house that’s obviously empty is a house I’m going to think pretty seriously about robbing.

Takeaway: Before you leave for vacation, call the post office and ask to them to hold your mail during the dates that you’re away. You’ll be able to pick it up when you’re back in town. If you enjoy cracking open a newspaper in the morning and have The Times delivered every day, call the paper and have it halted while you’re gone.

4. Untrimmed bushes and dark areas are perfect hiding spots.

The more overgrown your bushes are, the more likely I’ll want to hide in them – especially if they’re near windows! No motion detectors to set off exterior lights? Even better! That way, I can case your home and you won’t notice me.

Takeaway: Make sure your bushes and trees are neatly trimmed so they don’t double as hiding spots! It may also be worth installing outdoor motion activated lightnear exterior doors and windows for some added security.

5. Nothing beats an alarm system with a view.

Whether it’s through a window or from a reflection, I really love being able to see your alarm system. That way, I can tell if it’s armed and know exactly what I’m getting myself into. You’d be surprised how many mirrors have helped me out!

Takeaway: If your alarm system is visible through a window, make sure you use blinds or shades to cover it up when you leave or go to sleep. If it’s noticeable in a mirror’s reflection, move that mirror!

6. Burglars use Facebook, too.

When you brag about your awesome trip to Cancun on Facebook, I may not like your status, but I definitely like the fact that I know your house is empty!

Takeaway: It’s tempting to post images of your amazing trip in real time, or update your status about how much fun you’re having in a foreign country, but it’s safer to wait until after you’ve returned home.

7. Dark houses attract bad people.

If a house’s lights are off for several days in a row, it’s a dead giveaway that people aren’t home. I like to give it a few days just in case, but if no lights come on, I get ready to roll!

Takeaway: To make your house seem lived in, install a timer in some rooms that will turn lights on and off during different times of the day. Burglars know that it’s common to leave lights on, so they will be more cautious if they see changing lights. If you need to buy a timer, we like this 7-day random vacation timer by GE (it’s less than $20).

10 Tips for Shopping at a Thrift

One of the best ways to live a frugal lifestyle is to make shopping at a thrift store part of your regular shopping regimen. Thrift stores feature items that have been used before. This can include anything from dishes to clothing to books to furniture to toys. These used items are often in reasonably good condition, and can be found at very low prices. Shopping at a thrift store can be a great way to save money, while acquiring items that you need.

Here are 10 tips that can help you better shop at a thrift store:

  1. Show up on stocking days: Many thrift stores have a particular day of the week that they put out new merchandise. Find out what that day is, and show up then to get first pick of the latest deals.
  2. Search for quality: This is especially true with clothing. You might be surprised at the name brand, high quality items some people are happy to part with. Keep your eyes open for items you know are of good quality.
  3. Make a list: You want to be prepared with a list. Even though impulse buying at the thrift store is probably not as bad as when you are paying full price on an impulse purchase, those little surprises can add up. Be sure that you know what you want, and make a plan for what to buy.
  4. Return until you find what you want: Don’t assume that the thrift store is a bust if you don’t find what you are looking for on your first excursion. Check back over time, looking for what you want. Chances are that, eventually, you will find what you are looking for.
  5. Watch for sales: Even thrift stores have sales. Some offer “fill a bag” promotions, “clearance” sales at the end of the season and other sales. This is a great way find even deeper discounts on thrift store merchandise. And, while thrift store shopping works well without coupons, you can also look for thrift store coupons for bigger savings.
  6. Shop during the week: Weekend shoppers are out in force from Friday evening until Sunday evening. Avoid the crowds and avoid competition for the best finds by visiting the thrift store during the week.
  7. Ask about store credit: Some thrift stores only accept donations, but others also accept consignment items and will give you store credit for what you bring in. Find out about the policies at your local second hand store of choice. If you can get store credit for what you bring in, that can be a great way to save a little more.
  8. Be careful about overdoing it: It can be very tempting to go a little crazy at the thrift store, buying several things at once. Stick to your plan, though. If you only need three dress shirts, don’t go nuts and buy 10 or 11. Remember that a frugal lifestyle is about moderation.
  9. Plan to take awhile: A trip to the thrift store is likely to take awhile, since you will probably have to dig around a little. Be prepared to take around an hour — or more. This means that perhaps you leave the kids at home for a serious trip to the thrift store.
  10. Don’t forget to donate!: Finally, you want the thrift store to keep going. If if you don’t get store credit, you should still donate some of your unneeded items as well. Keep the cycle going, and provide great deals for others, just as they are providing them for you.

via 10 Tips for Shopping at a Thrift Store.

H&R Block has offered their top 10 tax myths:

Maternity leave income is not taxable. “You are required to report your EI benefits as income. In most cases, Service Canada withholds less than the lowest tax rate so you may have tax obligations at the end of the year.

RRSP contributions do not have to be reported if I do not use the deduction. “Even if you are not claiming a deduction for the contributions you made in the year, you are still required to record the fact that you made them. So all your contributions from March 2, 2012 until March 1, 2013 should be recorded on your 2012 tax return.”

Tips are not considered income. “Servers and others working in the hospitality industry are required to record and report their tips on their tax return. For servers, tips may be as much as 200-400 per cent of their income.”

Students get refunds on their tuition. “In order to receive a tax refund, you need to have overpaid your income tax during the year. If a student does not have taxable income, they cannot use their tuition and education credits on their return. They have the option to transfer up to $5,000 to a parent, grandparent or spouse or they can carry forward credits to use in future year.”

Mothers are required to claim the children first. “The lower income spouse is required to claim childcare expenses whether it is the mother or father. Either parent can claim the child tax credit.”

I earned less than $10,000 so I do not have to file a tax return. “Even if you did not earn more than the $10,822 personal amount, filing a tax return may trigger benefits like the quarterly GST/HST payment. And if you had tax withheld, you should receive a refund.”

I can claim a flat rate amount for my business mileage. “Self-employed Canadians are required to keep a logbook to calculate the auto expenses for their business.”

Child support is a tax deduction. “Unless your agreement is dated before May 1, 1997, child support payments are reported on your tax return but they are not a deduction or included in income.”

If I work outside of the country, I do not need to file a tax return. “The Canadian tax system is based on residency. If you are emigrating, you should indicate your date of exit on your last tax return. If you are working outside of the country but have substantial residential ties to Canada still, you will be required to file a Canadian tax return.”

Mortgage interest is a tax deduction. “Only self-employed Canadians who work from home are allowed to claim a percentage of their mortgage insurance as a business expense. The tax benefit of owning a home comes when you sell. Every Canadian receives a capital gains exemption on the sales of their principal residence.”

http://www.hrblock.ca/documents/TS13%20Media%20Advisory%20Tax%20Myths.pdf

 

John Kay On The Market

Prof. Kay doesn’t pull any punches when discussing the worst flaws of the market, the financial sector or the euro zone.

On the often-expressed industry view that people just need to better understand how the financial sector works:

“I do not know what is under the bonnet of my car and I do not want to know. … Nor do I want to read large volumes of disclosures about what’s under the bonnet of my car every time I sit behind the wheel. What I want is the confidence … that the combination of a modest amount of regulation together with a manufacturer’s concern for his reputation means that … I can expect that most of the time it will do more or less what I want it to do. That’s very far from being the kind of comfort which people can today bring to their purchase of financial services.”

Everyday on the news we are reminded that the Canadian health care system is in a state of crisis.  Those who have family or friends on long-term care waiting lists or in a facility already,know that the situation is becoming desperate.  The shortage of long-term care beds is so severe hospital beds, already in short supply, are occupied by those awaiting transfers to long term care facilities. Often that wait can last years.  Even 20 years ago when my great grandfather waited for placement in suitable facility given he had Alzheimer’s, the wait was over a year.  That was 30 years ago, today the situation is far far worst!

With growing pressure from an ageing population, the system simply cannot handle the increasing burden. Consider this:

  • In 1900, 7% of all adults were over age 65
  • Currently, 17% are over age 65
  • By 2020, over 23% will be over 65
  • The number of Canadians aged 80 and over will double in the next 20 years – and triple in the next 40 years
  • The number of seniors in Canada has increased by one million in the last decade
  • By the year 2036, it is expected that there will be between 4.6 million and 5.1 million seniors with disabilities
  • By 2020, there will be as many seniors as children!

Currently we are spending $4.1 billion each year on Alzheimer’s and dementia. In 20 years, the number of seniors afflicted with some form of dementia will more than double, to 750,000.  With an ageing population comes the increasing costs.

Our medical system is already unable to deal with this. Even in general, the system is overburdened.  Have you had wait in an Emergency Room lately?  How about wait for an appointment with a specialist?  Or how about the dreaded surgical wait list?  Do to the increased demand and pressures there has been a shift towards “less costly” community-based care and a dramatically increase in the demand for home care.  At the same time the average number of home care hours you might have received a few years ago has dropped from over 20 hours per week to just 2-4 hours per week!

Again, those of us who have elderly parents and friends might be forgiven for feeling somewhat cynical about the current debate surrounding two-tier medical services. When it comes to long- term care for our loved ones, it is readily apparent that a two-tier system is already well entrenched. In short, the services are available, if you can write the cheque.

So…what are the chances that you will need long term care? It’s true, we are living longer – in fact, in 1996, life expectancy at age 65 was 18.4 years, 5 more than in 1941. But the other side of the coin is that of those 18 years, on average, 9 are relatively healthy, and the other years include 3 years each of slight, moderate, and severe disability. In fact, it is estimated that at least 40% of all people over 65 will need some form of long-term health care services.

Traditionally, we have counted on the government to provide for our medical needs, but when it comes to long-term care, you can expect the following from our medical system:

  • Long waits, up to three or four years just to get into a facility,
  • Outdated and overcrowded facilities,
  • An annual financial assessment, to determine the level of subsidy received,
  • No choice of location, both in terms of which facility and which community! (You could end up in a town awy from friends and family)
  • Reduced services.

The combination of high cost for private home care or facility care and public care or financial assistants being based on an analysis of your financial means… You could find your retirement savings liquidated in a few short years.  Consider the following:

  • Current home care costs about $30 per hour, and up to $50 per hour for some services
  • Even a government facility will cost you from $750 to $1500 per month, in addition to the subsidy
  • Private facilities range from $2500 to $7000+ per month! And don’t forget, this is the cost per person, not per couple.

There is an option to help protect your choices and your finances.  Long-term care insurance covers virtually all of the expenses of long-term care, either in your own home or in a facility, for periods ranging from a few years to lifetime coverage.

Those of us involved in financial planning, long-term care insurance may be the most important financial tools available to Canadians.   Long term care insurance may be the only option to protection us from the loss of our lifestyle, our independence, and our control over our health and finances.

As I once heard it so eloquently put , “Most people want to choose where they go, instead of having to go where they are taken…”

How do you determine the amount long term care insurance you need, given the future is so unpredictable?  Simply buy as much as you can afford.  The demand for and costs of are going to increase and increase a lot!