Can you afford to take a full day off from work?

the day off taking medicinePAYING THE BILLS TAKES MONEY

 

In order to take a full day off from work for most people that means an entire day’s loss of income.

That can be tough for any budget but there are times when it must be done.

Unless your employer has provided you with stellar benefits or a contract that states your days off are paid sick days you might be shaking your head, no you can’t afford to take a full day off.

You may say, yes you can afford to take a full day off because you have money saved up in the event that you need to take a day off and it won’t affect your budget too much. That’s great.

Some employees are lucky they can carry over their sick days, bank them or get paid out for them but you must read the provisions of your contract with your employer to know what is covered.

If you are not sure contact your human resources department or your benefits company for a more in-depth explanation. It’s better to know rather than to guess.

 

Full day off

 

Not everyone can afford to take a full day off from work especially if they are single income earners. It might not be as crushing to lose a full day’s pay if you have two income earners in the house but when you are the only person bringing home the bacon it’s tough to pick up that phone and dial the numbers to say, I can’t make it in today.

Personally I have never called in sick or taken a full day off from work that wasn’t a vacation day or my employer told me to take a day off.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I could make that call unless I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be able to work that day. Some people are born workaholics and although I’m only a partial workaholic (does that exist lol) I’ve just never had the need to take a full day off that wasn’t a vacation day, lucky maybe.

There are many other acceptable reasons why someone would call in to take the full day off such as a death in the family, no babysitter, illness, injury or an urgent matter that needs dealing with.

Many people cringe when other employees come to work sick but when you have mouths to feed they may not have the options that others do. Then again some employees cringe when their co-workers take the fullday off and they are stuck to pick up the work load. You can never win.

Of course there are some employees who are allergic to coming in to work every other Friday but if they get that doctor’s note there’s not much you can do until after the 10 days of unpaid leave are used up.

We can’t judge someone because we don’t know what happens when they leave work and it’s really none of our business. If the illness is one that spreads and is contagious then it becomes a health matter that needs to be dealt with promptly.

The common cold although it can spread many people still rise and shine and make their way into work because staying home won’t pay the bills.

How many times have you went to work sick or blowing your nose but didn’t want to call in because you knew that if you took the full day off it wouldn’t make a lick of difference?

A friend of ours had posted on Facebook how ill she was and of course the comments came pouring in. It’s the winter season and so many of us are prone to getting ill at some point unless you are super lucky.

What to do on your day off?

Well, her friends had some great ideas for her but nothing she could accept.

“Take the full day off, put your feet up and rest”, said one friend. “Make sure you drink lots of fluids and take care of yourself”, “Don’t go in to work, stay home”, said many of the comments.

Sure she was basking in the thought of staying home and taking the day off but there was no way she could because she is a single mother and she is already in debt up to her eyeballs.

Losing a full day of income might mean she can’t pay a bill that month or would have to cut back on groceries.

Debt is nothing to be proud of but for some people the credit card is their life saver and for a variety of reasons. Although I would never suggest using a credit card to get by on a daily basis that is reality for many people because they simply have nowhere to turn to.

They get locked into that debt system and for many they never get out and for others it takes them years upon years to break free.

Try not to look back at how much you actually paid out-of-pocket for that time in your life when it was rough but for those trying to get by, that might not cross their minds too often.

Putting food on the table and a roof over their heads is the priority while keeping the bills paid. That life must be tough so telling someone to take the full day off or getting upset with someone because they don’t take the full day off for one reason or another is not right. We don’t know what they are going through.

I know if someone were to come in sick to work at my employer and asked if there was a role they could do that was away from other employees for the day they would certainly accommodate them although not all employers can or have to do this.

We have a great team where I am so we work together when one of us has to take the full day off for one reason or another. Questioning them is none of our business. Our business is making sure we do what we are paid to do and that’s to work.

Getting nasty with your co-workers doesn’t solve problems either. Just because you can afford to stay home doesn’t mean everyone can and should follow the way you can live your life.

Trust me if someone had a personal emergency and could afford to stay home, they would pick up the phone and make the call.

 

Personal emergency leave

 

In Ontario if you work for an employer who regularly employs more than 50 employees you have the right to 10 unpaid job-protected days off each year no matter when you start with an employer.

Although, there are some jobs that are not covered even though there are more than 50 employees rather they are covered under special rules. To see the full career list visit the link below.

The 10 days is what is called personal emergency leave under the Ontario Ministry of Labour which has provisions for the employer and employee.

The employer for one must not fire or threaten any employee for taking a personal emergency leave or plans to take one.

The employer is allowed to ask you for a doctor’s note if you do call in so be prepared to make that appointment if need be.

You may also have to think about paying for that doctor’s note about $10 from most doctors’ offices. Some works benefits may cover that doctor’s note as well so don’t be shy to ask.

If you work for an employer that is covered under a contract or collective agreement and the provisions are less than the Employment Standards Act you still get the 10 days of un-paid personal emergency leave days.

I’m sure before personal emergency leave came into effect many of you were scared to call in to take the ful day off too many times because you didn’t know how your employer would react.

Even today you don’t know what they can or will do if they don’t want you around even though you are protected. It’s become much easier though for people who are stuck such as the babysitter can’t make it and now you have no one to watch your kids.

That would count as a personal emergency where you could call in to take the full day off although maybe having a second back-up babysitter would be a cheaper option rather than losing a full days income.

My wife’s friend seemed a bit hesitant to respond to the call of taking the full day off and relaxing as you could tell in her response but she opened up and said, “I can’t afford to take the day off”.

No more responses came in after that because it was clear that no matter what anyone said unless she was getting wheeled off to the hospital she had to go in.

The hard part is she has been through so many rough times with her jobs and education that has gotten her nowhere. Like many who get a higher education they are forced to work minimum wage jobs because they struggle to find work in their career right away, if ever.

Even though minimum wage is slated to go up to $11 that is far from enough to keep someone afloat especially if they are a single parent with no child support.

 

Plan in advance

 

Are there ways to prepare so you can take the day off?

If I had an opportunity to sit with her I would love to go over her budget with her, if she has one at all. If not I’d certainly work with her if she allowed me to so we could see where all of her money goes to help her get back on track.

So my first tip is to have some form of a budget so you know exactly where all of your money is going.

I know for a fact that she smokes over a pack of cigarettes every day. We all know what smoking does to our health and finances but sometimes we just need a bit of motivation to quit. I know I’ve been smoke free for over 2 years and smoked for many years.

I also know that you can’t force or manipulate someone into quitting. Although once they do and they look back they will wonder what took them so long to do it.

The smoking habit costs and it costs smokers big time. That would be her personal choice but it would certainly free up money for her.

She eats out regularly and is a well-known customer at Tim Hortons where she doesn’t hesitate to scrape up enough change every day to buy a few coffees.

You can easily see where some of the money is draining without even really knowing much about her income and debt. If someone complains of being broke all of the time by simply by watching someone’s habits you will know where the money goes.

My second tip is to combat all the small expenses in your budget.

If you could find all those little expenses that you blow every day and find a cheaper alternative like making your own coffee and bringing a lunch you could use that money for a rainy day.

Just because you might have lots of debt or on a low-income doesn’t mean you still can’t have an emergency savings fund. Of course it’s possible.

The hard part for many is waiting to see the emergency money pot grow or they spend it because of some excuse or another which is not an emergency.

Paying down your debt and not incurring any more debt is another way to lessen the burden of wondering if you can afford to take day off from work.

Although living pay to pay is tough you don’t have to continue down that route if you just find some ways to cut back and put that money saved to work for you. The worst thing you could do is cut back and blow that extra money. You will never get ahead.

Think before you spend your hard-earned money. Think about all the reasons why you would rather have money in the bank that grows rather than eating out or buying stuff you don’t need.

Some people don’t have any options especially if they are a contractor and or run their own business inside or outside of the home.

Finding a work life balance might be tough especially if you are the only captain of your ship. If you don’t show up to work the job will not get done.

Most people on contract have no works benefits nor do they have vacation days so taking the day off is a tough call to make. We all have to make ends meet so deciding whether you can afford to take a full day off for whatever reason may be stressful.

The good news is that for many the 10 unpaid days are available so if you need to use them and your day off falls under the acceptable provisions you don’t have to worry about losing your job, just your income for the full day.

What are some ways you prepare for unpaid days off financially?

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Free Trade Agreement: Planning for a stronger Canada

Canadian-and-EU-Free-Trade-AgreementWHO CUT THE CHEESE PRICE?

 

The Free Trade agreement in principle was recently signed between Canada and the European Union. 

It was hailed as a significant step to boosting the economy of Canada while having minimal negative impact for Canadians.

Free trade

 

So what is a Free Trade Agreement? 

Essentially it eliminates tariffs or taxes on cross border imports/exports making it easier for companies to trade products and/or services with neighbouring countries.

It’s not just as simple as that though, there has to be limits or quotas set where each trading partner agrees to a set level.

Depending on what the country exports or imports the most can determine what is set in the quotas.

So for instance Canada has a lot of trees and the US needs to build a lot of houses, it would be in both of their interests to eliminate the tariffs on trees for, let’s say the first 100,000 tonnes.

Anything past the 100,000 tonnes then tariffs will be applied so companies would have to budget their exports in order to keep with-in the quota.

That’s great for Canada, they’re selling trees like they’re going out of fashion, but what’s the US getting out of the deal?

They put forward something like domestic car imports as there are no Canadian Car Manufacturers. You could call it an agreement to cut through red tape.

Trading partners

 

Does this trade agreement make sense for Canada? Well since 1989 Canada has benefited very well from the CUSFTA which later became the NAFTA when Mexico joined.

Surely setting up another trade agreement with the EU is going to be just as beneficial? After all the European Market is enormous compared to the Canadian market.

I watched a good proportion of the speech from Brussels because it affects an awful lot of people. Some of it I’ll admit I was a little lost on when it comes to details. I’m not an Economist, I’m just a regular guy who likes to stay informed.
 
According to the government “it’s an excellent deal”, but the government does not always have the interests of the common man in mind.

Economy changes 

 

Sure, there were talks of reduced prices for Canadians at the cheese counter because the imported European cheese would be duty-free.

Sounds great for me because I’m a bit of a cheese monster and there’s nothing better than good cheese from the old country. Saying that, I’m not employed in the cheese industry so maybe my selfish wants are vastly out weighing the Canadian cheese producers needs.

After all, I’ve previously written about how supporting nearby producers can stimulate the local economy.

But this trade agreement is not about the local economy, it’s about Canada’s economy. Tax or Tariff free exports to the European Union will boost the national income as Canadian made products will be cheaper to buy in Europe.

A strong economy is good for Canadians, it should promote wealth in the forms of higher income, more employment and less reliance on welfare, better competition, less taxes and more able to look after an aging population.

I hadn’t realized that the Canadian economy in the early 1980′s was in such bad shape until I started doing a little homework for this post. I wasn’t here so I won’t remember it and I won’t try to fool you into thinking I would, so if any of you do remember that period maybe you can confirm or deny.

This is good news to generation “Y” who are currently suffering from an employment drought. Not only do we need to look after Canada’s economy now but for the future too. It needs to be sustainable though.

Export and Import benefits

 

Canada has a lot of good products, highly skilled people and natural resources. Being able to export larger amounts at cheaper prices increases cash flow. The increased exports are varied and cover:

  • Beef, Bison and Pork products (fresh and frozen)

A large industry especially west of Ontario. Beef export quotas would go up to 65,000 tonnes inclusive of high quality beef. Pork quotas would increase from there current 6,000 tonnes to 80,000 tonnes per year.

  • Metals and Minerals.

This would lead to an increase in demands for ore processing, transportation, equipment production, labour etc.

  • Wood and Wood products

After the credit crunch of 2008/2009 wood exports to the US under the NAFTA or North American Free Trade Agreement have fallen significantly. Increasing exports to Europe would be beneficial to the forestry industry.

  • Domestic Car maker

Car makers gain an increase in exports from 10,000 units per year to 100,000. Plus European import cars will get progressively cheaper over the next 7 years due to the phasing out of the 10% tariff. It makes that ludicrously expensive Ferrari just that little bit less ludicrous.

  • Wheat and plant-based oils.

Canada is already one of the largest producer of grain in the world. Expanded export room will only increase the income potential.

There are drawbacks, there always is in a deal. Pharmaceuticals would be set to increase, but apparently not until 8 years time with talk of possible government subsidizing. Seafood exports to the EU after three years will supposedly have the minimum processing requirements removed.

That’s probably not good for places like Newfoundland but export tariffs will be removed so it’s a little of a mixed bag. The problem with all the facts and figures developed from these negotiations is, they are still yet to be confirmed. The agreement won’t take effect either until 2015 once implemented.

All 10 Canadian provinces and all 28 EU members have to agree, so we will have to wait and see what this agreement develops into.

There’s an age-old saying that’s quite true here;

You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time
Abraham Lincoln.

Do you have any concerns as a Canadian with this free trade agreement?

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Top 5 things I love about Canada

maple-leaf

Canada, A Place To Call Home

Since today is Canada Day I thought I would share my top 5 things I love about Canada and why I’m proud to be a permanent resident in Canada. I used to be a Canadian tourist and now I get to share my stories in hopes of inspiring those who want to visit Canada or move to Canada.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that I am living in Canada a land that I never thought would pop onto my radar, but here I am. It’s been almost six years now since I landed in this beautiful country not knowing where my life was going to take me. What I knew at the time was that I had a beautiful wife who I was and still am deeply in love with to take me under her wing and show me the ropes.

Career and Education

Moving to a country where you don’t speak the same language is a challenge but moving to a country where you do speak the same language can be frustrating. Since moving here I really did have to get my feet wet and even though I struggled to find work without the so-called “Canadian experience” which I was told I needed by one hiring agency in Toronto, that I didn’t have. Wait, but I have a University degree that must mean something? It did and it helped me move forward through the education system, because I didn’t let that nonsense (that’s not what I really thought of what she said) define my new life, my new path and my new goals.

Now that I have been here for a number of years I’m still scratching my head wondering what that Canadian experience was supposed to be, because it all seems the same to me. Education, skills, communication, career, work-experience, it’s not rocket science and we don’t do anything much different here in Canada to the UK.

I’ve learned never to let anyone define you, rather surpass your own goals and expectations and make yourself proud. There’s a bad apple in every bunch no matter where you live, it’s true. Instead of tossing out the apple, cut the worm out and enjoy the fruit of your labour, you deserve it. I didn’t let anyone stop me and I can tell you that I am very happy with the outcome.

Love my life

Although I have yet to experience all this land has to offer Canada has been very good to the both of us. I couldn’t ask for a better place to live and although some people may disagree with me I believe life is what you make of it. As much as I wish Canada would use the round-about system to save us time and the city and taxpayers money, I know that I have to take the good with the bad. Not everything is greener but I’ve adapted to my surroundings and enjoy what life has offered me. I may miss my yogurt in the UK but there’s nothing stopping me from making my own.

I’m a well-travelled individual so I’ve seen some of the riches of the world and I’ve also held hands with the poor. I remember a time when some children begged me for my water bottles so they could fill them with water. Those were the times that really made me understand how fortunate we are with a dark sadness inside telling me that we need to live life without fear and embrace it. Those children were happy, they were smiling and friendly yet their world was a world I can’t even imagine living in.

Too often we are quick to judge what we have or don’t have and forget that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes hiding deep in the forest. If you don’t explore you may never find what you are looking for because not everything is in plain sight.

If Canada is not the place you want to be, go where you feel there is opportunity for you to live the life you want. It’s that simple because no matter where we go in this world there will be sadness, there will be turmoil, there will be beauty, there will be poor, there will be rich, there will be greed, there will be criminals, there will be the same shops and so on.

If you don’t take the opportunities before you and only look for the riches above you may miss the riches below and I’m not talking about money. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after travelling round the world that is to take your time exploring your own country first, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Explore Canada

Canada is filled with culture and plenty of Canadian tourist attractions from living up the Toronto scene to Niagara Falls, Wonderland, camping, beaches and some good fun in small farming communities. Some of my best times are hanging out with my mates, creating fun.

If you love the snow and you can’t get enough of it both western and eastern Canada from BC to Alberta all the way to Ottawa offer winter activities for the snow enthusiast. Each year the dedicated hoards flock to these places to go skiing at some of the best state of the art resorts around. Most smaller cities also have ski resorts but they are not near as large as what you will find at the bigger resorts. If all else fails there’s always tobogganing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

There’s something for everyone and plenty to see even if you are a beach bum like me. I used to enjoy surfing in the sea and although I can’t do that here my time spent at the beach in the summer is reminiscent of my days in the UK. We also have gorgeous provincial parks in Ontario  and all over Canada. I’m only skimming the surface here as there is just too much to list and I have yet to take advantage of all this country has to offer.

Five things I love about Canada

  1. Friendly people- The majority of people I’ve met tend to be happy and very welcoming, even if I’m still struggling to understand the meaning of EH?
  2. Affordable and spacious- You’ll be shocked at the prices Europeans pay for houses, land, cars and petrol (gasoline). It’s cheaper for the most part to purchase domestic vehicles and to get replacement parts for them as well. You also get more house for your money and most houses come with a basement that gives you added living space when it’s completed. It’s the space I love at home and while out and about. Canada is such a large country and It’s easy to get lost outside south-western Ontario. That’s very different from the UK where these days It’s impossible to get lost on a small island jam-packed with people.
  3. Health Care- Sure there are holes in the system like there is with many things but Canada took an employment benefits system and stuck it together with a slimmed down NHS system from the UK to get the best of both worlds. The health care system in Canada is one of a kind and although the odd wait times my be a bit long we get taken care of here by some of the finest in the medical professions.
  4. Weather- This is an odd one but hear me out. When you come from a country where all the seasons blend into one big dull grey blob having 6 foot of snow is refreshing. I look forward to the change in seasons as a new beginning each year.
  5. Tim Hortons- Need I say more? It’s convenient yes, but if you want a hot cup of coffee or tea you don’t have to look far to find a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Canada. That and they make a good Boston cream donut.

My life here in Canada is one that I never take for granted because I know that so many people are waiting in anticipation to come to “the island” because that is what they believe Canada is for them, hope. We all dare to dream, there is no crime in such honesty to aim for a better life, just don’t sulk about it along the way because there is always someone waiting to take your spot. There is plenty to explore here so take your time, do your research and look around, I know I will.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my wife, my family, my friends, my professors and my employer. So, thank-you Canada and thanks for having me here to call your land, my new home. Although I won’t be picking up my new Canadian ePassport any time soon I know that no matter whether I am considered Canadian or British landed immigrant status both the UK and Canada are still home to me.

Happy Canada Day… now I’m off to enjoy the festivities.

What do you love about Canada and why?  Share your comments below

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New Canadian ePassport is around the corner for Canadians

passport

Standardized Passports Should Be The Norm

Check your Canadian passport expiry date because passport fees are going up July 1, 2013 and with good reason. If you like to budget like us, then you will have to save for your passport renewal fees every month in your projected expenses just as we do. Now we will have to make changes since the price of the Canadian passport is going up.

When I told my wife that my British passport didn’t expire for 10 years she thought that was a brilliant idea. The current Canadian passport expires every 5 years which can become a hassle for some people. I’m not sure what has taken so long but as we evolve globally it’s important to be somewhat on the same page as everyone else.

Sure it’s easy enough to make note of the five-year expiry date but five years is a long time and most people tend to forget. It’s not until they have to leave the country and find out that their trusted Canadian passport expires sooner than the start of their business trip or holiday. Either way, the passport will expire at some point in time and the holder is responsible for its renewal.

When I was younger I did plenty of travelling around the world. If I was unsure whether the time left on my passport was enough I would consult the country where I was going to find out what their entry requirements were before I left. They even advise us to do this on the Passport Canada website so it’s one way to get ahead of the game. Some countries simply won’t let you in if you don’t have a certain amount of time left on your passport.

If for example you have a wedding to attend out of the country make sure to plan well in advance so you don’t get left out of the fun. The smart thing to do would be to make sure you have ample time left before expiration prior to departure and returning from your trip and to do your research.

New Canadian ePassport

As of July 1, 2013 Passport Canada will be issuing a new type of passport for Canadians who are getting their first passport or renewing their Canadian passport. If you want to ditch the old version Canadian passport for the new ePassport you can do that as well even if you have more than 12 months remaining, but it will cost you. It is not necessary though because the old passport will work just as well as the new one until you need to renew. I certainly wouldn’t run out to grab a new passport if I didn’t have to as it seems like a waste of money to me.

Control passport fraud

The new passport is called an ePassport also known as a biometric passport and will offer a 10-year expiry date along with the current five-year option, but with new fees. The goal of the new passport is not to speed up the process like we would think, to get us through border crossings faster (although that would be a blessing for many) rather it’s to control fraud. Getting hold of a Canadian passport even to the élite fraudsters is like a ticket to paradise.

I’m guessing that over time as the immigration officers are more familiar with the e-reader used to read the passports that we may see an increase in speed. Planning ahead for potential time delay is probably the better option. I’ve been over the border once and it took me over an hour to get sorted with paperwork since I’m a permanent resident of Canada, so for me it may always be a waiting game.

Longer passport expiry

If you are getting a child’s passport under the age of 16 the maximum expiry allowed is a 5-year validity. The new ePassport will have a chip embedded in the back cover of the passport which will hold the same information that you currently see if you turn to page 2 of your Canadian passport minus your signature. It almost seems like double the security which isn’t a bad thing at all.

It will also store your photo and a digital security feature that will tell them if the passport was issued by the Canadian government. The Passport Canada website states that we can also expect to find new images of Canada inside the passport doubling up as a security feature.

No one will be able to get access to your information either without your knowledge because the passport e-reader first has to read page 2 of the passport through the machine readable zone before allowing access to the chip reader. This means the passport must be present and open to do so, implying that you will be there with your passport. Sounds like lots of work but I think it will be easier than we think.

Standardization

I find that Canada is a little behind when it comes to new technologies but we are catching up slowly. I remember my wife having a credit card and the only security on it was her signature on the back which could easily be forged by anyone. Sure enough, she lost her wallet and someone went on a spending spree forging her signature that looked nothing like what was on the back of her credit card.

Needless to say the signature is useless especially since most retailers never check it. My wife used to ask the cashier, “Don’t you want to check my signature to make sure they match?” Most times the cashier would act as if he/she forgot to flip the card over to check and then apologize. Finally, we are proud to say that we have credit cards with chips in Canada many years after their start in France and the UK.

Personally, I renewed my passport 12 months prior to the release of the new ePassports in the UK a number of years ago. Since I’ve never had the luxury of owning one, I cannot give you any feedback at this time. Although, I can remember when plane tickets became extinct as they were systematically replaced by e-tickets and I didn’t hear any complaints about that.

If you want to be convinced that the information on the chip of your new ePassport is accurate they even offer the service of easing your mind. All you have to do is visit your nearest Passport Canada office to read the information on the chip if that makes you sleep better before you leave the country.

passport-in-pocket-boarding-pass

Applying for a Canadian passport

If you want to apply for your Canadian e-passport you can complete a Canadian passport renewal form online then print out the passport forms and mail the required information. If you qualify for the adult simplified renewal you can also find all the information you need online at the Passport Canada website. You can also find passport application forms at any Canadian Post Office as well as Shoppers Drug Mart carries them in store.

Another option is to bring the completed passport forms into your nearest Passport Canada office to get processed. You can pay for the passport fee with you credit card, debit card, pre-paid card or certified cheque or money order. If you mail in your application they only accept credit card, pre-paid card (embossed only) and certified cheque or money order.

So, don’t bring cash with you because it doesn’t look like they will accept that form of payment. Line-ups can be long if you go in person and like most places you take a number and wait your turn. You can also double-check with security as soon as you get into the passport office right at the door as they will welcome you into the office.

Where to get passport photos?

No smiling allowed still stands with passport photos and they are serious, so pack your smiles away and put on your boring face. I always struggle when I’m not supposed to smile. It’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you know you are not supposed to be doing something. I think it took the photographer a few takes with my wife because she couldn’t stop smiling.

I know that Shoppers Drug Mart offers passport photo services for about $10 plus tax as does Zehrs photo studio and Wal-Mart Portrait Studios. If you call around your local area you will easily find photo studios that will help you get your passport photos taken and to specifications.

We have been to both Shoppers Drug Mart and Zehrs for passport photos and they had the proper Canadian passport photo size requirement information available at the store. You must adhere to the specifications or risk being rejected.

Cost of new ePassport

How much will the new Canadian ePassport cost?

Good question because as of July 1, 2013 the fees for the new 10 year ePassport will change.

Passport Canada isn’t government-run, therefore not paid for by the taxpayers. Instead, they rely on monies collected by issuing passports as a means of self-funding. Passport prices seem to be reasonable and Passport Canada says they haven’t really increased prices in the last 10 years. It only seems fair that there is a bit of  a price hike to protect our security and give us the great service that they do.

We all know that technology is getting better and better and most businesses and individuals do what they have to in order to keep up to date. Canada needs to keep up with what is happening internationally so we are somewhat on the same page.

The new 10-year ePassport will cost you $160 and the five-year ePassport will be $120 and a children’s passport $57.  If you need the passport immediately you can speed up the service having it in your hands with-in one day for an extra $110 or express service 2-9 days for an extra $50 or 10-day pick-up for an extra  $20. Personally, I’d opt for the ten-year as it makes more sense to me financially.

If you need your passport the same day and need the out of hours service then be prepared to pay a whopping $335 out-of-pocket. It is possible so unless you’ve lost your passport plan ahead and get your renewal ordered or order your new passport today. You can read the full fee structure for fees for applying for a Canadian ePassport outside of Canada or wanting it delivered outside of Canada as well as travel documents and other services for Canadians here. 

The most important feature of the ePassport is that security measures are being enhanced. Passports can be a hot commodity in the identity theft scene especially for those who feel they can alter them in such a way to impersonate someone to gain access to money, credit and/or immigration. I think Canada is really stepping it up with the ePassport which has already been in use in over 100 countries including the UK and the USA without any problems.

Apparently not all border crossings will have the passport e-reader either, and for those that don’t the immigration officer will simply read your passport as they are currently doing. In the event that something should go wrong with the chip the passport will be read as it currently is so no reason to worry because it will still be valid to use.

That’s good news though because as we know with new technology anything can fail and not being able to get from point A to point B because of technology failure could get costly for many. Sometimes I wonder if we rely too much on technology and whether we are backing up the back-up just in case, because you never know what could go wrong.

My tip to you, visit www.passportcanada.gc.ca for all the up-to-date passport information including processing fees, application forms, processing times and passport offices in Canada. Get the most accurate information, right from the source. Get informed today about the new Canadian ePassport before you are left holding your suitcase while your friends are having fun in the sun on the beach without you.

Will you get the new ePassport if your current Canadian passport has not expired yet?

Would you make the trip to ensure all the information on the chip is accurate?

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Photo Credit: GrantChochrane/freedigitalphotos. net  and empty glass (passport in pocket)

Summer Jobs For Students: Tips For Finding The Perfect Job

Hire Me Student Summer Job

By: Katrina

Now that school is over, at least for College and University students, it’s time once again to find those perfect summer job opportunities.  For the majority of students, the summer means 4 solid months of money-making time that should not be wasted. So, what can you do to make the most of those months to save up tuition money and expenses for the following school year or to start paying down OSAP loans or other school debts?

If you are University or College bound prepare your finances now rather than later because money can mount up fast when you don’t have a plan. It’s also a great way to plan ahead for your student budget before heading back to University or College if you know how much money you have earned over the summer months.

Below are some tips that I’ve learned over the years which worked for me or others that I know to find summer season jobs to make money. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, after all most employers are looking for employees that are creative, go-getters and want to work hard for their organization.

Seasonal Jobs

Many landscaping, painting, and window washing companies as well as city works just to name a few, hire seasonal employees every summer. One popular company in Ontario being Student Works Painting which have employed students year after year since 1981. Being a student and only available for the summer months in most cases,  hiring students can be a costly move for a company.

Thankfully, the government has the ‘Canada Summer Jobs’ program and will provide some funding to these companies to help with the cost of paying summer students. These companies WANT to hire you as the government pays a significant portion of your wage….why wouldn’t they want to take advantage of this?

Stand Out In The Crowd

Summer time means lots of competition for these job opportunities. When applying for a job really take the time to create a résumé specific to that job position. If you have skills that qualify you for the job, make sure to highlight and concentrate on those more so than other irrelevant skills.

For example….I have many years of landscaping experience as well many years of retail and customer service experience. If I was applying to a landscape company I would focus a lot more on my landscaping experience and touch only slightly on my retail experience. Dealing with customers on a landscape job happens often so I would still mention that I do have customer service experience.

Job Research

Besides making sure your resume is in top-notch shape know the people you are applying to as well as the position applied for. Show some interest and they might just see how much you want the job and how you may be a perfect fit for the organization.

Do plenty of  research about the company and the name of the person you are applying too. Avoid writing a cover letter to ‘Whom ever it may concern’, take the time to find out their name. If possible find out their first and last name to avoid incorrectly using Mr or Mrs/Ms.  Showing that you took the time to look into the position shows how serious you are about wanting the job.  Give the company a call a few days or maybe a week after to see what the status of the position is. Don’t call everyday as you want to avoid annoying them, but calling to inquire will again show your interest and determination to get the job.

Job Network

Talk, talk, talk don’t be afraid to speak about what you are passionate about.

Something I have mentioned before in regards to making your own work is talking about what you do, talk about it a lot!! Just the other day I was approached by a couple who is leaving for the summer. They had heard that offer I landscape services and asked if I would be interested in maintaining their property for the summer. You bet I said YES!! Every job I do get, I always mention that they are more than welcome to pass my information onto others. I even managed to find a job simply by guest blogging here at Canadian Budget Binder from a fan who was interested in my skills and abilities.

If you can’t find job opportunities….make them!

If you have read some of my past posts you will know all about how I make extra money on the side from my full-time career. I offer to help people create, install and maintain their landscapes and gardens. Although I am no longer a student, a lot of what I’ve done could be applied to a student trying to find a summer job and having no luck. The idea of starting your own business can be terrifying! Believe me, I was scared even at the thought of it. But it doesn’t have to be, I’ve learned that running a business can be pretty simple.

Keep an eye out in your neighbourhood, many retirement aged people and seniors spend a lot of time away from their homes in the summer. In the spring you could pass out flyers offering to help maintain their gardens, cut their grass, water their plants etc. while they are gone. If you offer a reasonable price you would be surprised how many people will take you up on it! You could also put up signs on posts or billboards in offices or shopping centres that allow it advertising your service, what you do with a phone number tear-off at the bottom.

Business Ventures

Things to keep in mind while creating your own job opportunities…..

Don’t be afraid to jump into a new business venture if you feel you have an idea coupled with the skills needed to earn some extra money this summer.

In Ontario, as long as you operate your business as your own name, nothing fancy added, you are not required to register yourself as a business. Also if you operate as your name you do not require a business banking account, you can avoid the fees for registration and business bank fees. It’s a great way to save a little while starting up. You can always register and change your business name later if desired.

You are not required to pay GST/HST in Canada until after a revenue of $30,000 (before expenses) in one year, calendar year or any 12 consecutive months. This allows you to advertise your services as tax-free, if you are not paying it to the government you cannot charge for it.  Remember you still have to pay your income tax.

Training and Leadership 

Training and leadership based job opportunities are a great way to build confidence and skills in anyone wanting to take charge in their future. As a student, thinking about your post-education career can be terrifying. Are you going to be able to find a job in your field? Are you going to have enough experience? Do you have the skills and confidence to really win over an employer?

There are companies out there whose main goal is to teach you the necessary skills that you need to succeed. An example of this is a company called Student Works Painting as I mentioned above. They help College and University students run their own summer painting business.

Painting may not be what you plan to do with the rest of your life but this is a great way to learn how to run a successful business that you can apply to whatever field you choose. They will teach you leadership, management and business skills while supporting you every step of way to ensure you have a successful business. Not only are you left with some great knowledge and training, but also some excellent experience to add to your résumé.

Focus Groups

A focus group refers to an organization or institution looking for people to contribute their knowledge and or experiences to a research study. Most often I see focus group studies offered by Colleges and Universities or even organizations that help businesses with new product lines or potential product lines and want input from potential consumers in certain demographics. This is a great way for a business to see what improvements they need to make for a product or to find out if the product might even do well before they spend any more money moving forward.

Last summer I stumbled across an ad on Kijiji I (search jobs or under community category) looking for young females who endure physical labour on a regular basis. The study was regarding females and what was a suitable weight for lifting repetitively throughout a work shift.The study offered a rate of $15/hr, it took 4 hours and I made $60! I’m not going to lie and say that it was easy because I worked up a pretty good sweat doing this one, but it was an easy opportunity to make some money.

It was pretty cool too, I was hooked up to a bionic machine and being able to see on a computer every move I made was neat.  Schools will quite often have posting boards where they will regularly list paid current studies in which they are looking for participants.

Although participating in a focus group or online study that pays you money is not on-going income for the summer don’t pass up easy ways to make money when they fall in your lap. Money is money after all whether it’s  $5 or $5000 especially if you are not yet working, so make time to make money when you can.

Smile and Be Confident

Don’t get yourself down if you don’t get that phone call for that perfect summer job you were waiting for, think about what you can you do….and what job opportunities you can make for yourself! There is a lot of  summer work out there for students, just keep looking. It’s a great way to understand what you may face once you are finished your education so you can plan moving forward.

What other tips can you offer to students looking to find the perfect job this summer?

katrina cbb

Post Contribution By: 

Katrina is regular contributor for Canadian Budget Binder and is as passionate about personal finance as she is gardening. Katrina is a horticulture graduate with over 10 years experience with landscaping and greenhouse production.

Her goal is to share her knowledge and experiences blogging about gardening and her continued passion for personal finance in hopes of motivating others. While being a single mom of two and an in-store marketing representative  for major retail shops she also runs her own Landscaping Services in Southwestern Ontario.

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