Pay Day
  • Gender and sexual orientation can both influence what someone sees on their paycheque. (Thinkstock)Gender and sexual orientation can both influence what someone sees on their paycheque. (Thinkstock)

    Canada’s wage gap has been well established. Researchers have uncovered wage disparities based on gender, race, immigration status and visible minority identities. But until now, little attention has been given to the relationship between wages and sexual orientation.

    Nicole Denier and Sean Waite aim to change that. In their report, “Gay Pay for Straight Work: Mechanisms Generating Disadvantage” published in Gender and Society, the two McGill University Ph.D. candidates set out to understand in the economic lives of gay and lesbian Canadian.

    Their initial findings match findings in other areas of the world: gay men make less money than straight men, and lesbians earn more than straight women. Denier and Waite wanted to take things further, though. By comparing the earnings of lesbians to heterosexual men, they found a hierarchy, where straight men earn the most, followed by gay men, lesbians, and finally straight women.

    For many, the apparent benefits of being a lesbian in the

    Read More »from Gay men make less than straight men, but lesbians out-earn straight women, study finds
  • Procrastinating Canadians breathed a sigh of relief when the Canada Revenue Agency announced that the tax-filing deadline this year has been pushed back to May 5. That means that those who owe money have a little more time to earn interest on their dollars.

    It’s not the first time the CRA has flubbed up.

    This year’s blunder arose because of human error. Someone at the CRA inadvertently sent out an email indicating the deadline was May 5. In fact, that was last year’s deadline, which was extended after the Heartbleed bug forced a five-day shutdown of its electronic services.

    “Talk about proof of the need to proofread your emails before sending them out,” says H&R Block senior tax analyst Caroline Battista of this year’s mistake. “It’s an extension for the second year in a row, but I would not encourage people to get used to the idea, nor would I encourage people who were procrastinating till April 30 to wait until the 4th of May to get their paper work in order. Use this time instead of

    Read More »from Canada Revenue Agency’s blunder this year not its first
  • The results are in: if you work as a floor assembler, you have the lousiest entry-level job out there.

    That’s according to WalletHub’s 2015 Entry-Level Jobs Report, which looks at the first-timer employment landscape by comparing 109 different types of entry-level positions based on 11 key metrics, such as starting salary, industry growth rate, and injury rate.

    For high-school students getting ready to graduate, here are the top 10 jobs that will make you wish you stayed in school.

    Floor assembler: The median annual salary is $35,467, according to The job involves simple, routine, and repetitive tasks involving physical labour and the use of hand and power tools, all while working under close supervision. Ominous note: “Primary job functions do not typically require exercising independent judgment,” says in its job description.

    Sheetmetal mechanic: Plan on spending your days setting up and operating machines such as drill presses, punch presses, shears, bending

    Read More »from The worst entry-level jobs in 2015
  • Generation X and Y are advised not to bank on the wealth built up by their Baby Boomer parents to get by later in life. A new survey shows the money may not come.

    HSBC’s latest global retirement survey says Canadians are among the most likely to spend their money before they die, and are the least likely to financially support their adult children.

    It shows 27 per cent of Canadian respondents think it’s better to blow all of their money while they’re still alive, and let their children fend for themselves. That’s compared to a global average of 21 per cent, among the 15 countries surveyed, who felt it was better to spend their money and let the next generation create its own wealth.

    Only 7 per cent of Canadians felt it was best to save as much as possible to pass along to their kids. The other two-thirds plan to save some for the next generation, but also spend more on themselves too.

    The survey also shows just 11 per cent of Canadians close to retirement plan to support their adult

    Read More »from Canadians more likely to burn through retirement savings: HSBC
  • Meds by mail (Thinkstock/Ackab)Meds by mail (Thinkstock/Ackab)

    A mother in Britain is mourning the loss of her 21-year-old daughter after the woman consumed diet pills she’d purchased online.

    Eloise Aimee Parry accidentally overdosed on pills that contained the toxic ingredient dinitrophenol (DNP). A lethal dose is two tablets; Parry had taken eight.

    The tragedy prompted police to remind people about the dangers of buying slimming pills or other medicines or supplements over the Internet.  “Substances from unregistered websites could put your health at risk, as they could be extremely harmful, out of date, or fake,” Chief Inspector Jennifer Mattinson told the Guardian.  

    Diet pills are just one item to avoid buying online. Here are a few other products that you’re better off buying at a bricks-and-mortar store after consulting a qualified health professional.

    Prescription drugs without a prescription

    There are legitimate pharmacies out there, but also many that are not. Referred to as rogue websites, they may sell controlled substances such as

    Read More »from Buyer beware: The most dangerous products to order online
  • The flag of Canada at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.The flag of Canada at Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

    When Mehmet Gulec looks back on the days and weeks following his family’s arrival in Canada from Turkey in December 2013, he says he’s still amazed by everything the foursome overcame in fleeing their homeland. It wasn’t just the severe ice storm that hit Burlington, Ontario, three days after they landed there that they found challenging. So too was getting settled in their new country with extremely limited means.

    “We came – four people – with $1,000 Canadian cash,” Gulec says of his wife and two sons. “We survived, and when I turn back even myself I cannot understand how we did it. It was because we were not alone: Canadians are unbelievable people.”

    Gulec, who worked for 20 years as a production manager in the automotive industry in Turkey, says several organizations helped the family get established, including the Centre for Skills Development & Training, which offers a program called Enhanced Language Training to help immigrants who are beginning their careers in Canada. Gulec is

    Read More »from New immigrants to Canada face unexpected costs
  • Canadians are reluctant to give up cash in their portfolios and see home ownership as the best investment, according to a newly released investor sentiment survey from Manulife Financial.

    The survey shows Canadians are more conservative than Americans in their investments, which makes sense given the difference in economic growth outlooks between the two nations. Canada’s economic growth is picking up, but not as quickly as many economists expect, research shows, while the U.S. economy is rebounding more strongly. Canada’s main stock index has also underperformed the main U.S. indexes over the past year.

    About one-third (34 per cent) of Canadians surveyed by Manulife said now is a good time to hold on to cash, compared to 13 per cent of Americans. Canadians aren’t avoiding equities, but the survey shows only 44 per cent said it was a good time to invest in stocks, compared to 60 per cent of Americans.

    The results are similar to a survey Manulife released earlier this year showing 

    Read More »from Canadians continue to see home ownership as the best investment: survey
  • Taxes aren’t fun to deal with at the best of times, but you may find yourself even more irked if you get a T4 amendment in the mail.

    The good news is that it’s not uncommon to receive such a notice.

    “Amended T4s are generally sent out to correct errors,” says James Bell, director of Tax Solutions Canada, who worked at the Canada Revenue Agency for 22 years before starting his company in 2013. Those errors are on behalf of the employer, which means there’s nothing you can do to prevent getting one.

    “T4s get amended because of an oversight on the part of the employer,” Bell says. “It’s a routine occurrence,” he adds. “It happens all the time.”

    Reasons a “Statement of Remuneration Paid” could be amended are wide-ranging; examples include improper classification of an amount (such as the under- or over-reporting of income), improper calculation of benefits to employees who participate in a stock-purchase plan, or the lack of inclusion of other taxable benefits or an incorrect tally of those

    Read More »from Tax error? What to do when you have to refile
  • Strong markets have given Canadians high hopes for their portfolios, but a new study suggests investors might be prone to making knee-jerk decisions in the face of a market disruption, such as a sharp drop in the price of oil that takes a bite out of their holdings.

    According to Paris-based asset management giant Natixis, 54 per cent of respondents worry about further declines in the price of the commodity. But even with that awareness, investors also seem rather, ahem, optimistic about their future overall returns in the current market.

    The study shows investors believe they need an average annual return of 9.3 per cent over and above inflation to cover their costs in retirement, and that 80 per cent believe this goal is achievable. Eighty-seven per cent, meanwhile, expect their returns this year will be the same or stronger than last year.

    At the same time, however, 60 per cent say they struggle to avoid making emotional decisions during market shocks.

    According to Natixis, what this

    Read More »from Canadian investors have high expectations, but may be prone to panic: study
  • Forget wrinkles and sagging skin, running out of money in retirement is one of the biggest fears working women have these days, and it’s not completely irrational, experts say.

    So-called “bag lady syndrome,” or becoming pathetic like Cate Blanchett’s character in the film Blue Jasmine, is more of a fear for women because they earn less than men, live longer than men and usually spend more time out of the workforce then men while caring for children and elderly parents. 

    That combination curbs their earning power over the years, especially when they likely need to stretch out their savings longer than most men.

    “Women of all economic walks of life have a shared fear – and that’s the fear running out of money,” says Caroline Dabu, vice president and head of the BMO Wealth Planning Group.

    She cites statistics showing 80 per cent of men die married, while 80 per cent of women die single. Divorce is also on the rise, and more women are choosing to be single.

    “The incidents of women spending

    Read More »from Lower earnings, longevity put Canadian women at risk for ‘bag lady syndrome’
  • People look at boards displaying flight information in Barcelona's airport, August 8, 2014. (Reuters)People look at boards displaying flight information in Barcelona's airport, August 8, 2014. (Reuters)

    It’s become a common refrain among travellers trying to book flights on points: they can’t get seats because airplanes are all packed or because of blackout dates.

    Two Aeroplan members recently went to CBC’s Go Public after finding it nearly impossible to use their points to book certain flights. Toronto’s Michael Finkelstein, who’s been collecting points since 1992, told the public broadcaster he tried using his miles to book a trip for himself and his wife to Europe. He started looking in February of this year; nothing was available until March 2016.

    Finkelstein claimed that a supervisor told him that the company has grown so much that it can’t get the space allocation from airlines, thereby finding itself unable to meet customer demand.

    Ian Gill from Huntingdon, Que., meanwhile, complained that he couldn’t find business class seats 11 months in advance and that the Aeroplan fees associated with an Air Canada flight  were exorbitant.

    With more than 80 travel reward credit cards

    Read More »from Canada’s best travel rewards credit cards
  • With the Conservatives looking to double the Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution in the upcoming budget, Canadians will be able to sock away more money that can grow without incurring additional tax. So that’s great, right?

    Well, there are costs, too.

    Finance Minister Joe Oliver suggested in a memo to the Conservative caucus on Tuesday that the upcoming budget will include a doubling of the current annual TFSA limit from $5,500 to $11,000.

    Sounds great if you’ve got the money to sock away. But keep in mind, there’s no free lunch. If someone’s benefiting, someone else is getting stung, and with any policy announced in an election year, sometimes it’s the same people on both ends of the stick.

    A TFSA increase would be good for …

    So who will benefit? Well, investors will (duh). At least, investors who are already maxing out their current TFSA space and are looking to put in more. Remember, a TFSA lets you invests money that then grows without incurring either capital gains tax or

    Read More »from TFSA limits likely to double; should we be happy?
  • If you have a health condition—whether it’s physical or mental—are you obligated to tell your boss? And is your employer ever required to know about your medical issues?

    The questions raise all sorts of issues, touching on everything from employment law to human rights. And while the answers are not black-and-white, there are some generalities when it comes to the need to divulge illness or disability in the workplace.

    For starters, your medical information is private.

    “The privacy of someone’s medical records is deeply enshrined in all of our legal obligations,” says Fred Wynne, a lawyer at Vancouver’s Hamilton Howell Bain and Gould Employment Lawyers. “Disclosure has got to come from the employee; it’s got to be authorized.”

    However, Wynne says that employees often choose to divulge their medical status to their employer because they’re aware that there are certain benefits from doing so, such as protection from discrimination under human rights laws.

    “In my experience, most

    Read More »from Mental health dilemma: What employees need to disclose
  • With so many tax-related computer programs out there, filing your own income taxes doesn’t have to be complicated. But not even the most sophisticated software can prevent people from making the kind of dumb mistakes—or from telling little lies—that raise a red flag with the Canada Revenue Agency.  

    Here’s a look at common blunders that tend to trigger assessments or audits.

    Extra zeros:

    There’s a big difference between claiming $15,350 on meals and entertainment for business expenses and $1,530.

    “Accounting firms received an email from CRA last week about taxpayers adding extra zeros, resulting in huge tax liabilities,” says Christian Stewart, certified general accountant and founder of North Vancouver’s Stewart & Associates. Be sure to triple-check your return before filing.

    Fibbing about a pastime being a business:

    “Taxpayers will often claim a hobby business on their tax return, reporting losses year after year,” Stewart says. “Common ones would be an artist who never sells a

    Read More »from Common tax blunders likely to trigger an audit
  • A pharmacist pours Truvada pills back into the bottle at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010. (Getty Images)A pharmacist pours Truvada pills back into the bottle at Jack's Pharmacy on November 23, 2010. (Getty Images)

    One of the least-used tax credits is also one of the murkiest. By not claiming certain health-care costs via the Medical ExpenseTax Credit, Canadians could be losing big dollars.

    “The opportunity to save money is not used…because you’ve got to keep some records and have some efficient way to calculate the deduction,” says John Crawford, chartered accountant and chief financial officer of health insurer Pacific Blue Cross. “There’s a lot of interpretations as to whether something qualifies or doesn’t qualify in relation to the Canada Revenue Agency. Certain items need qualification and certain items are not quite clear. But things that are not claimed can all add up.”

    A good example is premiums paid to a provincial health plan.These are not eligible. However, premiums you pay to an insurer through workplacebenefits programs generally are.

    “Why is one deductible and why is one not? It depends what province you’re in as well,” Crawford says.

    Inconsistencies are another reason the Medical

    Read More »from Canadians missing chance for cash with medical tax credit
  • It must be hard being a Nigerian prince. I mean, every time you try to get someone to stash your cash – for a nominal fee, of course (wink!) – in an overseas bank account, you’re hit with skepticism thanks to all those scam artists trying to rip-off the average non-Nigerian-prince-knowing Canadian.

    These are the same sort of Canadians that account for the $70 million fraudsters pocketed in 2014, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Which is why Canada’s growing fraud problems – scam artists claimed $53 million in 2013 – keep Phil Norris, spokesperson for the Competition Bureau, up at night.

    “Fighting fraud is a never-ending battle, it does not discriminate, and no one is immune from it,” says Norris. “What that means is that whatever your education or income… no matter where you live, you can still fall victim to fraud.”

    And the perpetrators are only getting better at it.

    “Naturally, with the rise in popularity of online purchasing and social media use, we have seen a shift away

    Read More »from Money Minute: Canada’s top scams
  • Common myths are everywhere: sharks don’t get cancer (not true); the Great Wall of China is visible from space (ditto). They exist in the world of personal finance, too.

    Myth: I don’t need to worry about our budget or finances because my partner manages the money.

    Fact: “Even if someone else is in the driver’s seat, you should be an active passenger; not asleep in the backseat,” says Linda MacKay, senior vice president, retail savings and investing at TD Canada Trust. “Sit down at least a few times a year to review your finances, budget and goals. You should know where your accounts are and have access to your investment, credit, and bank statements. And even though you’re not the driver, you still might be responsible for any financial accidents, so taking ownership of decisions is important for everyone involved.”

    Myth: I should avoid saving until all my debt is paid off.

    Fact: “While it’s important to pay off your debt, it’s also important to save for your future,” MacKay says. “One

    Read More »from Top 10 personal-finance myths


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