A message from the chair
Right from the get-go, Premier Ford has made it clear that he is no friend of the environment, and that business has top priority. He has done so both in his comments and actions. His comments concern me, but his actions have been devastating.
In April 2019, he made two cuts to programs that helped prevent environmental problems, such as flooding. One was axing the popular 50-million tree program instituted in 2008, and the other was massive funding cuts to conservation authorities (CAs). Both acts were foreshadows of what was to come and were done when climate change was at the forefront of public concern.
The biggest blow came at the end of 2020, when he and his cronies passed Bill 229, particularly Schedule 6, which limits CAs’ ability to protect life, property, and the environment. Although the various CAs have been around for 75 years, they really took over as the protection of flood plains and wetlands after hurricane Hazel in 1954.
However, using COVID as a perfect cover, Ford’s bill allows the minister to force the CA to issue a permit to prospective development, even if it goes against their duty to protect infrastructure and the environment and takes away their ability to appeal to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
These drastic measures were passed despite the resignations of seven members of the Green Bill Council, including Chair David Crombie, a former Conservative cabinet minister, and despite the thousands of Ontarians and many groups that raised concerns and every one of the CAs across Ontario.
No, Premier Ford wants it known that “Ontario is open for business,” that is, the business of his friends – the developers – and it will all be at the expense of the environment, our safety, and the taxpayers of Ontario.
Ed Faulknor, Chair
OPSEU/SEFPO Retired Members Division
Your Questions – Increase in cost of travel insurance
I have a question….regarding the OPT Travel insurance ….Out of Country etc.
As a member I pay 43.86 a month as you may know this coverage has more than tippled in cost since it was first offered. ( 526.32 annually)
So my question is Can the Union contact the company and ask why we are paying for coverage we are not allowed to use. Due to global pandemic and directions from the Canada Health Advisors.
Even if they offered a decrease or one time pay back or a choice to hold …would be better then what we are being charged. .FYI if you cancel you can not go back in. They gotcha by the balls.
ANSWER from Eddie Almedia – OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice President/Treasurer
Update on Out-of-Province Travel Insurance Queries
I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe during this pandemic.
With the travel restrictions put in place by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19, a few of you have been asking about why you’re seeing an increase in your Out-of-Province travel coverage on some plans, especially when you’re currently not able to use this coverage.
OPSEU/SEFPO staff has reached out to your Insurance providers and their explanation for this increase is, unsurprisingly and unfortunately, COVID-19 related. They say insurance costs are up in all areas due to the pandemic.
The insurance companies state that the plan experience dictates the rates, and that the rates are currently up due to past activity. If the plan experience is significantly down this year, rates may go down. However, it’s possible that the surplus would go to a reserve as well and offset future increases, which I suspect is more likely.
It was also noted that despite medical and government direction, many people are still traveling and that affects insurance rates.
I fully understand the frustration of being charged for insurance coverage that you can’t make use of at the moment, and also being charged more for it. OPSEU/SEFPO staff will continue to make inquiries and bring our concerns about these rates forward.
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
Six tips for RRSP season
I asked my friend, Michael, if he plans to contribute to his registered retirement savings plan this year. He said “Tim, I’m stuck between ‘I need to save money’ and ‘you only live once.’” In the end, Michael agreed that saving for retirement is a noble pursuit. Then we talked about some tips for making the most of an RRSP. I want to share those with you now.
Get your asset location right. I often see people holding investments in the wrong types of accounts – that is, in the wrong location. To the extent you have interest-bearing investments in your portfolio, hold those assets in your RRSP where they will be tax-sheltered. After all, interest income is taxed at the highest rate going for your given tax bracket. If you still have room in your RRSP after holding these interest-bearing investments inside the plan, then go ahead and hold some of your equities in the plan as well.
Avoid withdrawals for short-term debt. I’ve seen many people make withdrawals from RRSPs to pay down short-term debt. The problem? You’ll likely pay more in tax on the withdrawal than you’ll save in interest costs. If you were to make a withdrawal of $10,000 from your RRSP, for example, and had a marginal tax rate of 30 per cent (not
far off for the average Canadian) you’d pay taxes of $3,000 on that RRSP withdrawal, leaving you with just $7,000 to pay down your debt. You’d be better off not making the withdrawal if the debt would otherwise be paid off in six years or less, if your debt incurs interest at 6 per cent. If your debt incurs interest at, say, 19 per cent (credit card rates), you’d be better off not making the RRSP withdrawal if you’d otherwise pay off that debt in two years or less. Making tax-free withdrawals from your tax-free savings account (TFSA) could make sense for paying down debt instead.
Don’t contribute your losers. If you’re thinking of contributing in-kind to your RRSP, make sure you don’t contribute investments that have declined in value. You’ll be deemed to have sold those investments at fair market value if you make a transfer to your RRSP, but your capital loss will be denied under the superficial loss rules. Your best approach is to sell those losers then contribute the cash to your RRSP. This way,
you’ll be able to claim the capital loss. And once the funds are inside your RRSP, avoid repurchasing the same investment within 31 days following the sale, otherwise your capital loss will be denied under another superficial loss rule.
You can contribute your winners to your RRSP if you’d like. This will trigger a taxable capital gain on the investment, but would also give rise to an RRSP deduction (as with any contribution). Provided you have sufficient contribution room, the deduction will more than offset the taxable capital gain, so there would be no tax arising in this case.
Claim your deduction in the right year. If you contribute to your RRSP within your contribution limit, you’ll be entitled to a deduction on your tax return – but you don’t have to claim that deduction in the year you make the contribution. You can claim it in any future year if you’d like. It could make sense to defer your RRSP deduction for a year or
two if you expect your income to increase, pushing you into a higher tax bracket and subjecting you to a higher marginal tax rate. If, for example, you earned $75,000 in 2019, and live in Ontario, a $10,000 RRSP deduction will save you $2,965 since your marginal tax rate is 29.65 per cent. If you expect your taxable income to increase to, say, $100,000 this year, that same deduction will save you $3,838 (almost 30 per cent more) if you claim it in 2020 instead.
Monitor your beneficiary designation. It’s a smart idea, every once in a while, to revisit the named beneficiaries of your RRSP (or registered retirement income fund) – particularly if you separate or divorce. The beneficiaries you’ve named on your RRSP or RRIF account documents are not revoked in the case of a marriage breakdown. I’ve seen cases where a former spouse became entitled to RRSP or RRIF assets because the account owner forgot to make a change to the named beneficiary after the divorce. Even if you haven’t gone through a marriage breakdown, it makes good sense to revisit your named beneficiaries periodically – just as you should be revisiting your will.
Don’t combine spousal and non-spousal plans. If you have both a spousal RRSP and non-spousal RRSP, be aware that if you combine those accounts at some point, all the money in the combined account becomes “spousal” RRSP dollars. These dollars are then subject to the rules that could cause some withdrawals from the spousal RRSP
to be taxed in your spouse’s hands to the extent your spouse has made contributions to a spousal RRSP in the year of the withdrawal or the two prior years. You generally want to avoid attribution of RRSP withdrawals back to the contributing spouse because that is typically the higher-income spouse.
This article was written by Tim Cestnick Feb 1,2021 for the Globe and Mail and was produced by Leony de Graaf Hastings Certified Financial Planner for Autumn View. WWW.dgfs.ca 1-800-775-7047
Pandemic parenting means helping adult kids pay for rent and groceries
We are so done with jokes about millennials getting help from the Bank of Mom and Dad.
This phrase suggests indulgence, overly involved parenting and entitled young people. But in the pandemic, parents are a financial lifeline for their adult children.
It’s well-documented that members of Gen Z and millennials have been hit hardest by COVID-19 in a financial sense. A poll conducted by the Carrick on Money newsletter in late September provides new details on how parents are helping to keep their adult kids solvent. It’s not just governments that are shovelling money into the economy to keep it afloat. Some parents are doing it, too.
Of the 2,118 parents who participated in the poll, 95 per cent said they provided support of some sort to adult children. A lot of this help reflects the prepandemic trends of fast rising costs for postsecondary tuition and houses. Almost one-third of parents in the poll provided a gift of cash for a home down payment, and 73 per cent helped pay for
college or university.
Rents can be expensive in big cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, so some degree of parental help with monthly rental costs is to be expected. But a surprising 38 per cent of parents in the poll were helping their adult kids with rent, a number that seems driven to a significant extent by job and income losses in the pandemic.
An even more telling indicator of young adult financial stress is the fact that 39 per cent of parents said they were helping their adult children pay for groceries. One other common form of parental support is help paying monthly costs such as cellphone bills and car insurance – pretty much half of parents indicated they’re doing this.
Parents who helped us with the poll were able to select more than one type of support. Just over 5 per cent ticked all of the following boxes: Help paying for college or university, help with monthly rent, help with groceries, help with other monthly costs such as cellphone bills or car insurance. We also heard from parents who are providing mental-health support to their adult children.
Financial support for adult children does seem to be a package deal. Just 2.6 per cent of parents indicated that they provided only a gift of money for a house down payment, while 3.5 per cent ticked only the box for helping with postsecondary tuition.
The parental support poll was done to prepare for an episode of the coming second season of Stress Test
For example, 55 per cent of Gen Z and millennials said early last month that the pandemic had an impact on their finances, compared with 37 per cent for baby boomers and 51 per cent for Gen Xers. In an April hardship report, 25 per cent of people affected by the pandemic reported they had lost their job. That compared with 38 per cent for
Gen Z specifically and 34 per cent for millennials.
Young adults had their challenges before the pandemic as a result of the growth of the gig economy (temporary contracts over full-time jobs), rising tuition costs, expensive houses and, in some cities, elevated rent payments. The pandemic is a setback for this demographic that could last longer than the health risk of COVID-19 itself because of slow economic growth. Not too long ago, the Bank of Canada said it’s unlikely that its benchmark lending rate will rise from basement levels until 2023.
High levels of parental financial support for adult children is not something we talk about much, but it’s happening all around us and can now officially be deemed normal. It’s the pandemic and it’s the economy. It’s not any particular trait of today’s youth.
Accepting this doesn’t help on the financial side of things, though. Years ago, parents could count on a steady decline in child-related costs from the baby/toddler stage through to graduation, when kids more easily found employment of some sort. Today, parents may feel the need to assist their adult kids well into their 20s and even 30s.
Continued parental support has a cost in retirement savings and lifestyle. And that emergency fund you’re supposed to have in case of an unexpected setback? For parents, these savings are as much a hedge against their children’s financial difficulties as their own.
This article was written by Rob Carrick Nov23 ,2020 for the Globe and Mail and was produced for Autumn View by Leony deGraaf HastingsCertified Financial Planner www.dgfs.ca 1-800 775-7047
Resolution from Convention affecting membership in Retirees Division approved by OPSEU Executive Board
Whereas the by-laws of the Retired Members Division of OPSEU Article 4 states membership in the Division is open to all OPSEU/CSAO members and employees of the Union who leave the workforce by retiring directly to a pension earned in his/her workplace or retiring from a bargaining unit with no pension plan upon payment of dues as approved by the Union; and Whereas a retiree can work part time or full time at another non-union or an employer represented by another Union without being suspended from the Retirees Division.
Therefore, it be resolved that OPSEU cease to remove members who are recognized members of the Retirees Division Terms of Reference by-law 4, from the rolls of the Retirees Division, for choosing to work part-time or full time for an OPSEU unionized workplace.
Privatization of long-term care making problems from underfunding worse
Ottawa (08 Feb. 2021) — The privatization of long-term care is making problems caused by underfunding worse. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Neglecting the Most Vulnerable: The Privatization of Long-term Care.
“When long-term care is privatized, the quality of care residents receive suffers,” said Larry Brown, President of NUPGE. “Whether it is the amount of direct care residents receive, or facilities being upgraded to meet current standards, research shows that public and not-for-profit long-term care facilities generally do better than ones owned by private for-profit corporations.”
Consequences of COVID-19 pandemic particularly serious in for-profit facilities
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people living and working in long-term care facilities provides a clear illustration of the damage the lower staffing levels and other problems that come with privatization can have. The death toll in all types of long-term care facilities was appalling, but it was particularly bad in private for-profit facilities.
“In the provinces providing the most detailed information on the impact of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, the numbers show that a disproportionate number of deaths occurred in for-profit facilities,” said Brown.
Problems with privatization and under-funding not new
The COVID-19 pandemic meant that conditions in long-term care facilities received a lot of attention, but the problems aren’t new.
“Workers in long-term care facilities and their unions have repeatedly raised concerns about the impact of privatization and underfunding,” said Brown. “Those warnings were ignored, and the people who live and work in long-term care facilities paid a high price as a result.”
Long-term care needs to be covered by the Canada Health Act
It is not just provincial and territorial governments that have a role to play in dealing with the problems caused by privatization and underfunding. The federal government needs to bring long-term care under the Canada Health Act and increase federal funding for health care to reflect that change.
“Including long-term care in the Canada Health Act, and having the federal government play a greater role in funding it, recognizes the reality that long-term care is an integral part of the health care system,” said Brown.
Ending privatization will mean more resources to improve care
The report argues that, while ending privatization isn’t a solution by itself, it will mean more resources are available to improve care.
“Ending privatization means that the millions of dollars that for-profit companies pay to their owners every year will be available to improve care in long-term care facilities,” said Brown.
Issues and Campaigns
The National Union of Public and General Employees
OPTrust and MDI
OPTrust was established in 1994 to give Plan members and the Government of Ontario an equal voice in the administration of the OPSEU Pension Plan and the management of the assets through joint trusteeship. OPTrust is governed by a 10-member Board of Trustees, five of whom are appointed by OPSEU and five by the Government of Ontario.
In 2020 the plan returned 8.9% on investments and continues to remain fully funded. The plan has achieved a fully funded status for 12 consecutive years. You can find more about the plans funded status on OPTrust’s website: OPT 2020 Funded Status Report.
OPTrust remains strongly positioned for success due in part to its Member Driven Investment Approach or MDI. MDI strategy seeks to earn a return sufficient to keep the Plan fully funded at current benefit levels and contribution rates. The plan takes a
balanced approach in its MDI strategy striking an appropriate balance between risk and return. Taking too little risk would result in returns that are too low to keep paying benefits at the current contribution rate, but too much risk could increase the chances of being underfunded.
OPTrust’s total fund strategy is designed around four strategic portfolios, each of which serves a specific purpose in helping OPT deliver on their MDI objectives. These portfolios are: the Liability Hedging Portfolio (LHP), the Return Seeking Portfolio (RSP), the Risk Mitigation Portfolio (RMP) and the Funding Portfolio (FP).
The Liability Hedging Portfolio is designed to help manage funded status volatility by mitigating risk associated with changes to the discount rate of the Plan’s pension liabilities. This is done by hedging a significant portion of the interest rate sensitivity of
the Plan’s liabilities. This portfolio is composed of long-term Canadian government bonds. It also serves as the main source of liquidity for the Plan.
The Return Seeking Portfolio is a diversified portfolio of assets that OPTrust expects will earn a risk premium over time. Assets in this portfolio include: private and public equity, credit, multi-strategy investments, real estate, and infrastructure.
The Risk Mitigation Portfolio provides additional diversification for the Total Fund and helps to mitigate risk in market downturns. This portfolio primarily holds US Treasuries, safe-haven currencies and gold in this portfolio, as these assets typically perform well in market stress environments.
The Funding Portfolio represents the net funding for the Total Fund. The primary source of funding is bond repurchase agreements.
You can find a more detailed breakdown of OPTrust’s investments in the 2020 Funded Status Report.
In addition to MDI, OPTrust engages in a Responsible Investing approach to their investments. Responsible Investing (RI) is an approach that explicitly acknowledges the potential relevance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors to the sustainability of investment performance and to the health and stability of the market as a whole.
For OPTrust, the purpose of responsible investing lies in the recognition that ESG factors can impact investment risk and return. OPTrust seeks to identify, assess and manage ESG factors in a manner that supports both our mission to deliver sustainable
pension security and our fiduciary duty to our members.
The context for OPTrust’s responsible investing program is set out in three policies approved by the Board of Trustees; the Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures (SIP&P), Statement of Responsible Investing Principles (SRIP), and Proxy Voting Guidelines which are linked to this article.
In addition to prudently managing and investing the plan funds, OPTrust has expanded access to quality, secure, retirement benefits through their new plan expansion offering: OPTrust Select. OPTrust Select was created in 2018 and is targeted to Ontario workplaces in the broader public sector, charitable and not-for-profit groups that do not have a workplace Defined Benefit pension plan but may have a defined contribution (DC) plan, a group RRSP or no retirement savings arrangement at all. OPTrust Select will provide members with a steady stream of secure, reliable retirement income and includes the following features: members contribute 3% of earnings and employers match the contributions, an annual pension accrual rate of 0.6% of earnings and all earnings upgrades and any cost of living increases are dependent on the Plan’s funded status and annual board approval. To date, OPT Select has welcomed 43 employers and over 1000 members to date.
OPTrust Select will also benefit the OPSEU Pension Plan by creating greater sustainability over the long term through the allocation of risk and operational costs over a broader membership base
This overall prudent and responsible approach to plan asset investments will assist the plan in meeting its funding obligations now and in the future.
Too many people are struggling to pay for their medications
February 19, 2021
By Hassan Yussuff, Doug Roth, Linda Silas, as published in Toronto Star
A silent health crisis is looming as more people struggle to pay for their prescription drugs.
Even before the pandemic, the statistics were staggering.
About 7.5 million citizens—one in five Canadians—either did not have prescription drug insurance or had inadequate insurance to cover their medication needs. One in four Canadian households were having difficulty finding money to buy their medicines. One million Canadians cut spending on food and heat to afford them.
And as with much in our lives during COVID-19, things have only gotten worse.
The pandemic has complicated the ability of people to manage new diagnoses and existing chronic conditions, and to access medical treatment. Without their needed medication, people’s pre-existing health issues can worsen and leave them more vulnerable to worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19.
The pandemic has also led to significant job losses, which means many workers have lost their benefits.
Over one million people have been unemployed or had reduced hours of work. Canadians are twice as likely to have lost prescription drug coverage as to have gained it over the past year. These outcomes are disproportionately impacting racialized households, women, and workers with lower incomes.
These numbers represent people with real, day-to-day fears about how they will be able to take care of their health.
They are people like Heather Evans, a working mother from Calgary who has struggled with heart disease. Evans’ medications have cost her up to $1,000 per month, and currently, she is taking medication which would cost her $46,000 per year. Thankfully, she is covered by her employee benefits but she wasn’t always. In the past, while raising her son, she had to rely on free samples from her local clinic while skimping on basic necessities for her family in order to take her life saving medicines.
Her story is far too common and represents a major flaw and liability in Canada’s health care system.
The prohibitive cost of prescription drugs contributes to the premature death of about 1,000 working-age Canadians each year from ischemic heart disease and diabetes alone.
Canada’s patchwork of more than 100 public and 100,000 private drug plans is one of the most expensive in the world. Universal pharmacare would reduce total spending on prescription drugs in Canada by $5 billion annually.
In last fall’s speech from the throne, the federal government committed to working “…with provinces and territories willing to move forward without delay.” We believe it’s time for provincial, territorial and federal governments to work together to implement a national, universal, single-payer pharmacare plan.
We are urging immediate action because we cannot afford to wait any longer for this crucial, missing piece in our health care system.
Hassan Yussuff is the president of the Canadian Labour Congress, Doug Roth is the CEO of Heart & Stroke, and Linda Silas is the president of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions.
From CLC webpage
OPSEU/SEFPO among growing number of unions postponing elections
December 9, 2020 – 12:51 pm
OPSEU/SEFPO is far from the only Canadian union to postpone elections and extend leaders’ terms, says National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) President Larry Brown.
In an email to OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Brown says that the Canadian Labour Congress, BCGEU, SGEU, and MGEU are among the growing number of unions to make the responsible decision to postpone election Conventions because of COVID-19.
“You’re certainly not alone in having to wrestle with this issue,” said Brown in the email to Thomas. “We are now trying to work through the very complicated issue of a virtual CLC convention, and to say that is very complicated is an understatement. Trying to retain membership involvement and democratic decision making for a huge virtual convention is quite a challenge!”
Here’s the complete text of Brown’s email to Thomas:
Thanks for the note yesterday advising that OPSEU has decided to delay Convention for a year.
You’re certainly not alone in having to wrestle with this issue. On Friday I have another meeting of the CLC Executive Committee; as you know the CLC Convention, with the election of a new President, was supposed to have happened in June of this year but has been delayed for a year, based on a unanimous decision of both the Executive Committee and the full Canadian Council. In order to make that work we had to ask the current Officers to stay in place for the extra year.
We are now trying to work through the very complicated issue of a virtual CLC convention, and to say that is very complicated is an understatement. Trying to retain membership involvement and democratic decision making for a huge virtual convention is quite a challenge! And the CLC doesn’t have to deal with the issue of delegate
selection, they just turn that over to the affiliates.
And of course as you probably know too, several NUPGE Components have had to delay their election year Conventions. BCGEU has delayed their Convention and elections for a year; SGEU was to have held an election year convention in the spring and it hasn’t been held to date, with real uncertainty as to when it will be held; and MGEU was to have held their election year convention in October but that has been delayed for an indefinite period while they try to figure out whether they can hold a virtual convention.
As always, we will continue to provide information to the National Board as Components deal with all the complicated logistics of member democracy in the time of COVID.
Found this in stuff my mom saved for me :)
Planting your Spring Garden
For the Garden of your Daily Living
Plant Three Rows of peas
1. Peace of Mind
2. Peace of Heart
3. Peace of Soul
Plant Four Rows of Squash
1. Squash Gossip
2. Squash Indifference
3. Squash Grumbling
4. Squash Selfishness
Plant Four Rows of Lettuce
1. Let us be Faithful
2. Lettuce be Kind
3. Lettuce be Patient
4. Lettuce Really Love One Another
No Garden is Complete Without Turnips
1. Turnip For Meetings
2. Turnip For Service
3. Turnip To Help One Another
To Conclude Our Garden We Must Have Thyme
1. Thyme For Each Other
2. Thyme For Family
3. Thyme For Friends
Water Freely With Patience And Cultivate With Love.
There Is Much Fruit In Our Garden Because You Reap What You Sow.
Keeping private long-term care would be a deadly mistake
By Vivian StamatopoulosContributors
Wed., Feb. 10, 2021 timer 3 min. read
On Feb. 1, the Toronto Star published an opinion column titled “Ending private longterm care would be an expensive mistake.” Both on the facts and the ethics we disagree.
“Resident mortality has been more common in privately owned homes” begins the oped by Dr. Bob Bell. This detached language obscures the painful reality that for-profit long-term care homes have vastly higher COVID-19 infections and deaths than public and non-profit homes.
A CBC analysis revealed the extent to which for-profit chains had the highest death rates during the pandemic. Southbridge lost nine residents per 100 beds, followed by Rykka with 8.6 deaths, Sienna with 6.5 and Revera with 6.3. The average COVID-19 death toll in for-profit homes was 5.2 per 100 beds. Non-profits averaged 2.8 deaths per 100 beds and publicly owned (municipal) homes averaged 1.35 deaths per 100 beds.
These numbers represent t
Ontario’s LTC homes are funded from residents’ fees and public taxes. Yet the financial details about how for-profit LTC operators spend their money are not obtainable for public scrutiny. What is clear, despite decades of attempts to regulate them, the choices made about how to allocate resources are much different in for-profit homes than in public and non-profit homes.
For-profit LTC operators tend to pay their staff less, hire fewer full-time staff and provide fewer hours of care. While Dr. Bell tries to argue that hours of care are not determined by employers, it is irrefutable that the employers determine how many staff per shift and whether they replace empty shift lines (which they often do not).
Dr. Bell claims that employers do not keep workers’ wages low and reduce hours of care in order to increase profits, contending that wages are duly negotiated with unions. He does not mention that LTC workers do not have the right to strike, nor that for-profit operators have chosen to bargain lower wages than their public and non-profit counterparts.
Dr. Bell also blames horrific death rates on facility design rather than for-profit ownership, claiming almost all of Ontario’s older nursing homes are privately owned. In fact, those LTC homes with four-person rooms were built to standards that were outdated in 1998, 23 years ago.
Decades of ever-increasing financial incentives funded by our taxes have been offered to LTC operators to get them to rebuild. While many have rebuilt, the for-profit homes to which Dr. Bell refers with four-bed shared rooms, did not rebuild.
What Dr. Bell fails to mention is that for-profit homes have more verified complaints, more transfers to hospitals, as well as higher rates of ulcers and morbidity. Let us not forget the documented failure in for-profit LTC homes during the pandemic to provide PPE and institute sound infection control. Dr. Bell also fails to mention that the for-profit homes have, for years, lobbied against regulations to protect residents, including surprise inspections and fines.
Dr. Bell further omits that non-profit and public homes supplement care with their own fundraising and municipal funding. At the same time, for-profit homes dole out millions in monthly profits to shareholders and investors. In the first nine months of 2020 alone,
the three largest publicly traded LTC operators in Ontario paid out $171 million to shareholders while taking millions in government funds.
Unable to hide from the horrific outcomes, for-profit advocates now try to claim it is “too expensive” to end for-profit care, saying thousands of beds need to be rebuilt and we cannot afford to do so.
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What they omit is that all rebuilt and new beds will be paid for by the public regardless of who owns them. Ontario’s government now pays $224,000 per bed to cover capital costs over 30-year licenses, plus capital grants, plus operating costs, capital repairs subsidies, etc. As the old outdated homes’ licenses come to an end over the next few years, why would we commit another 20-30 years of public funds to build and rebuild for-profit homes?
The evidence is clear on the inferiority of the for-profit LTC model. Preserving the dysfunctional status quo would be both immoral and contrary to the evidence. The worst mass causality event in our collective LTC history is underway and yet they say there is no alternative. We vehemently reject this claim. Not ending long-term care would be a deadly mistake.
Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos is an associate teaching professor at Ontario Tech University and cofounder of Doctors for Justice in LTC. Natalie Mehra is the executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition and has advocated for improved care in LTC for 25 years.
Report links for-profit long-term care facility company to tax dodging
Ottawa (28 Jan. 2021) — A new report has found that Revera Living, the second largest for-profit long-term care and retirement facility company in Canada, appears to be using a web of subsidiaries in tax havens to reduce the corporate income taxes that its subsidiaries in the United Kingdom pay. The report, Tax Dodging by a Canadian Crown Corporation: Revera Living Making a Killing, was produced by the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research (CICTAR).
CICTAR found that, while Revera declared a loss of US$12.6 million on its UK operations in 2019, it’s partner in its UK operations is reporting net operating income of $84.8 million. The gap between those two figures is seen to suggest that tax dodging may be taking place.
Profit shifting allows companies to use tax havens to dodge taxes
Revera owns 60 care homes in the UK. Instead of owning the homes directly, it owns them through a number of different subsidiaries. These subsidiaries are based in notorious tax havens like the Luxembourg, Jersey, Guernsey, and U.S. state of Delaware.
CICTAR feels that the combination of the number of subsidiaries Revera has in tax havens and the gap between the net income reported by Revera and its partner “may indicate profit shifting.” Profit shifting is a way companies use tax havens to dodge taxes. As the report explains, “various management fees, administrative fees, interest payments and other seemingly artificial transactions with related parties appear to be used to shift profits out of taxable entities and into tax havens.”
One example of a transaction between two Revera subsidiaries that looks odd is a loan in 2018 with an interest rate of 10% a year — considerably higher than the interest rate financial institutions were charging.
Tax dodging an attack on public services
Tax dodging by large corporations and the wealthy has millions of victims. When large corporations and the wealthy dodge taxes, under-funding of public services is more likely. A report from last year estimated that the amount countries are losing to tax dodging each year is equivalent to the annual salaries of almost 34 million nurses.
Ironically, Revera has blamed under-funding of long-term care for the appalling death toll due to COVID-19 in the long-term care homes it owns. But tax dodging by the wealthy and large corporations contributes to the under-funding of services like longterm care. What the CICTAR report suggests is that Revera is an even bigger part of the problem with long-term care than was previously believed.
Privately owned for-profit long-term care companies can keep activities hidden in Canada
CICTAR was only able to find out that Revera had subsidiaries in tax havens, because Revera operates in the UK and British reporting requirements for companies registered there are stronger than those in Canada. Revera is a privately owned and, in most parts of Canada, it is difficult or impossible to discover if privately owned companies have links to tax havens.
In fact, the secrecy around corporate registrations federally and in most provinces means the public (and agencies responsible for enforcing laws against tax dodging and money laundering) aren’t able to see who really controls companies registered in Canada.
Federal government owns Revera, but won’t take responsibility for what is happening
While Revera is a private, for-profit company and operates like other for-profit companies, it is actually owned by the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP), the federal public sector worker pension fund. The PSP is a crown corporation with board members appointed by the federal government.
The federal government has ultimate control over PSP through its ability to appoint board members, but its response to problems with Revera has been that it is the board of the PSP that controls PSP investment decisions.
Ending secrecy around privatization and corporate ownership first steps
The CICTAR report recommends stricter reporting requirements for Revera and other companies receiving public funding to provide long-term care services. It also recommends that Revera disclose its full corporate structure including what subsidiaries it owns in different jurisdictions.
These are important first steps.
The Canadian government and provincial and territorial governments also need to recognize that the information revealed by the CICTAR report shows how much publicly accessible registries showing the beneficial ownership of companies are needed in Canada. We shouldn’t have to rely on information from other countries to tell us when there are problems with what Canadian companies are up to.
Issues and Campaigns
The National Union of Public and General Employees
Scams Against Seniors
Canadians lose on average over $100 million a year to scams, with almost $20 million being scams against the elderly. These are just the reported scams, however; the true figure is estimated to be much higher.
So you know what to look out for, here are the top scams targeting the elderly, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, along with advice on how to protect yourself from them.
Scams on the elderly don’t get much more heartless than this one. While this is not a scam exclusively targeting the elderly, retirees are often the victims. Scammers typically befriend their victims online, often through reputable dating sites. The scammers use fake photos and identities to fool their victim and use emails or phone calls to convince them that this is a real relationship.
Often claiming to be temporarily overseas, they use grand displays of affection and professions of love. Once the scammers feel they have their victim’s trust, they start to ask for money, usually because of some sort of “emergency” that has just come up.
A 75-year-old Ontario woman lost $140,000 sending money to her online sweetheart, “Alan”, who wrote her love poems and chatted to her by phone. Eventually “Alan” asked for money, saying he needed it to bribe officials after being arrested while on business in India. In spite of warnings from her financial advisor and her bank that this was probably a scam targeting the elderly, she ignored their advice before finally realizing “Alan” was a fraud.
What to watch out for:
- Anyone you meet online who asks you for money or to cash a cheque for them,when you’ve never met them in person.
- Anyone who is currently overseas.
- Anyone who professes love for you when you’ve never met.
Prize or lottery scams
Canadian lottery scams, or prize scams, target the elderly by phone, email, mail or even social media, informing them that they have won a lottery or sweepstake. They then ask for a fee to cover taxes or legal fees.
As well as stealing your money for the fee, scammers also try to get their victims’ financial information so that they can access their accounts, which they then use to launder money. One 81-year-old woman in Lethbridge, Alberta, lost $250,000 due to a Canadian lottery scam after she received a letter from the Bank of America telling her she had won an American sweepstake.
What to watch out for:
- Any lottery for which you didn’t buy a ticket.
- Anyone asking you to send them money to receive a prize.
- Counterfeit cheques sent to cover costs.
Emergency scams, aka the grandparent scam
This is one of the main scams targeting the elderly. Scammers will contact their victims by phone, social media or email, claiming to be a close relative who is in some kind of trouble or emergency situation (typically involving jail or hospital), usually overseas.
They ask for money to be sent, usually via money transfer services or prepaid gift cards, to pay for legal bills or hospital treatment. A Kelowna, BC woman in her 70s was scammed out of $10,500 after receiving an overseas call from someone claiming to be her son, saying he was in trouble with the police.
What to watch out for:
- Anyone claiming to be a family member overseas (or a friend calling on behalf of your relative) who says they’re in trouble.
- Any unknown caller asking for information on your family members.
- If you are unsure if a call like this is legitimate, you can check the family member’s whereabouts with other relatives before you provide any information to the caller.
There are several scams offering fake services, but when it comes to scamming the elderly online, the most common one is when someone claims to represent a computer company such as Microsoft. They tell their victims that their computer has been hacked and that they need technical support. The scammer then demands a fee for this service.
They try and get the victim’s credit card and also attempt to get remote access to their computer, so they can steal more funds. Sometimes they will hold a computer’s data hostage and demand a ransom for its release.
The police are constantly trying to close down people scamming the elderly, many of whom are based overseas.
What to watch out for:
- Any service calls that are unsolicited.
- Any pop-ups or websites telling you to call a service number.
- Anyone asking for payment with bitcoin or gift cards.
Other scams to be aware of
Although not just a scam against the elderly, the CRA scam is worth mentioning because it is so widespread: the RCMP estimates it has cost thousands of tax payers around $15 million. Scammers call people’s homes posing as Canada Revenue agents. They’re often aggressive and state that you have unpaid taxes that need to be paid immediately and give a number to call. Threats include arrest, deportation, a lien
on assets and bank accounts, and other undisclosed “legal consequences” until you pay what you “owe”.
Some scammers will send emails or text messages telling you to click on a link to get your refund, that you are accused of tax evasion or an investigation has been started on your claim. The aim is to gather your personal information or extort money from you, often in the form of bitcoin or pre-paid credit or gift cards. It is important not to click on any links sent, or provide any personal information to these scammers.
Another common scam is one that involves a phone call, text or email asking you to verify your banking details. It sometimes tells you that your card or account has been disabled for security reasons, and then gives a link to click on to enable it. A couple in Nova Scotia were victims of this scam and lost $3,000. Make sure to confirm these calls, emails or texts are legal before opening or responding. If you are not sure, you can check with your bank directly.
How to report a scam
If you have become a victim of a scam, gather all the information you can relating to the scam and contact your local police. Then, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm. When it comes to scam prevention for Canadians, Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre’s site also has up-to-date tips on protecting yourself from all known current scams. It is important to educate yourself and your loved ones about this so that you can protect your assets.
If you come across a scam against the elderly (if you or a loved one are contacted by a scammer but don’t fall for it), you should also report this to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as well as the Better Business Bureau. Their scam tracker has details of all new scams that are reported to the site.
The best way to guard against fraudulent scams is to verify everything. Don’t buy into any unsolicited product or service offers or appeals for money. Do your research, talk to someone about it and ask for advice.
Never divulge personal and private information like passwords, pin numbers or banking information, as this can lead to credit card or bank account fraud.
Just remember, when it comes to scam prevention for Canadians, a general rule is to act on the side of caution – and if you aren’t sure, ask for help!
Bill C-7 Makes Dignity a Priority
March 16, 2021
Two women, whom I loved so much, asked me to help them to die. My mother had a brain aneurysm and life changed forever. It was because of medical intervention that she survived and everything that could go wrong went wrong. For over a decade I shared in the care of my mother. We cared for mom at home; surrounded by people who loved her, she was receiving the ultimate in palliative care. She slept in the same bed as my father after decades of a loving marriage. Then there were repeated strokes, each taking more of this wonderful woman. Her last three years were spent diapered, paralyzed and without the power of speech. She indicated her agony and horror through her weeping. She had a small movement with her right arm, using this arm she made it clear, repeatedly, that she wanted me to help her to die. The woman who gave me life, begged me to give her death.
My sister, a young wife and mother of two preschoolers when was diagnosed with breast cancer, endured incredibly difficult treatments in the hope of living long enough to raise her children. The cancer metastasized to her spine, paralyzing her slowly and agonizingly. In the end the treatments and cancer ravaged her beyond recognition. She knew she would die totally paralyzed until she slowly suffocated to death. She asked me to help her to die.
What would Bill C-7, and the proposed changes to our medical assistance in dying law (MAID) have meant for these women?
Bill C-7 would have allowed my mother, whose natural death was not reasonably foreseeable, to receive medical assistance to die following a minimum 90-day assessment period. It would require that she be assessed by two medical practitioners, one with expertise in the condition of strokes. She would have to demonstrate capacity. She would have to be informed of all appropriate support services.
My sister’s death was reasonably foreseeable. Under Bill C-7, once assessed and approved for MAID, she would not be required to wait 10 days before the procedure could be administered. Her request for MAID would have to be signed by only one independent witness, rather than two. She would not have to demonstrate capacity just before the procedure.
Bill C-7 is in sync with the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in 2015 that held that a competent adult’s response to a grievous and irremediable medical condition is a matter critical to their dignity and autonomy (Charter Statement: An Act to amend the Criminal code (medical assistance in dying) (C-7).
In A February 2021 Ipsos national poll, 87 % of Canadians still support the Supreme court’s decision. Seven out of ten support the removal that a patient’s death must be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to access MAID.
Why would anyone think they have the right to determine for people like my mother or my sister how much suffering they must endure? That is arrogant thinking. Why would anyone think that if someone like my mother were to receive an assisted death, others with disabilities would feel their life to be devalued and therefore people like my mother must be forced to suffer? How does that make sense?
Each of us is one accident or illness away from being where my mother and my sister were.
Dr. Christiaan Barnard (heart transplant surgeon) said, “A doctor who is unconcerned about the quality of life is inhumane; and the real enemy is not death but inhumanity.” Professor Stephen Hawking noted, “To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity.”
This is not a light step. A person requesting medical assistance in dying must be diagnosed with a grievous and irremediable medical condition, have a serious and incurable illness, disease or disability, be in an advanced state or irreversible decline in capability and be experiencing intolerable physical or psychological suffering.
The enemy is not death. When the body no longer supports the person, death is a welcome friend. It must be up to each of us to determine how much we will endure.
No one can understand another’s suffering.
Decades ago, when my mother and my sister asked me to help them to die, I said, “Yes.” Then I discovered Canada’s cruel and archaic laws; all I could do was devote myself to working towards a right and just law.
Hopefully the Canadian Senate will approve the revised version of Bill C-7 that was passed by Parliament on Thursday.
Sheila Noyes is a member, and former co-president, of the human rights charity dying with Dignity Canada.