Category Archives: Lifes Lessons

Survey Suggesting Canadians Are Strapped Financially

A survey from the National Payroll Institute published today reports that 37 per cent of Canadians are “financially stressed”. I like the term “strapped” which has a another kind of connotation. Even more startling is that the figure is up from 17 per cent last year.  Given some behavioural patterns that I’ve witnessed lately whether it being the traffic in overpriced bars, taverns and restaurants or reciprocation patterns with my clients (I’m a tax accountant)…something is up and it’s not good.

The thing that I find most bizarre is what people are willing to pay for the “wants” in life while neglecting fundamentals like tax. It could be the Trump effect that people start to believe that if “he can do it, maybe I can do it too”. Have you seen what Mountain Equipment COOP is charging for bicycles? This isn’t even the elite bike shop. Then there is the temptation for the winter vacation escape which is not within the budget of pre-tax dollars of business people with variable income and debt.

It’s really hard to have empathy when people fail to adhere to a written household budget. Now the big spenders enticed by lifestyle clad in $128 Lululemon tights may need to join their brethren at food banks due to rising housing costs and interest rates. Calgary’s rate of attendance at food banks is astonishing – also reported today by “Calgary Foundation”. Apparently 1 in 4 Calgarians now cannot meet their basic needs.    

Somewhere along the line…somebody wasn’t listening when grandparents were sharing stories of hard ship and lessons learned.      

Calgary Affordable Housing Forum

Over the past two days, the City of Calgary has hosted a civic forum inviting residents to chime in on the housing affordability crisis. I took a Friday afternoon off and spent three hours listening to presenters. I did so not having read a 30 point recommended blueprint drafted by “experts” which will be before city councillors for a vote. It was apparent that most of the presenters I had witnessed had briefed themselves on the document.

Firstly, I was generally impressed by the quality of presentations to the point that some hope has been restored with respect to the capacity of our people to articulate positions around social policy. People demonstrated an empathy for others not necessarily aligned demographically with themselves.

Secondly, the degree of the problem was showcased emotionally by those impacted. Statistical data points were highlighted by citizens holding career positions oriented around the issue. The city did an admirable job of accommodating no less than 150 presenters while providing audio / visual support.

A backdrop to the forum is an offer from our federal government to provide housing targeted funding with conditions oriented around a blanket zoning change to all communities which would ultimately expedite building approvals city wide. This blanket zoning change would enable “mid-block” infills to accommodate multi-family buildings irrespective of the character surrounding communities only ascribed to single family dwellings. You can see where this is going. The conditional funding offered is substantial. Municipalities will be asked to sign on from a position of weakness having not effectively planned communities for decades while home owners wonder why they are expected to acquiesce to a zoning change potentially negatively impacting their homes market value. Suddenly a carrot is being waved at city councillors across the country which will help break ground on new construction to aid in resolving the housing crisis.

While the federal government’s aggressive immigration policy spurned the housing crisis, the accommodation made for Ukrainian and African refugees has put us into a crisis and action is required – that is the kind of action now not subject to the luxury of urban planning studies. The failures are easily evident in massive urban sprawl and downtown core vacant office buildings. If we promise a Canadian way of life including a home to immigrants and refugees willing to contribute, it’s apparent to me that we must deliver or send them back with a note that we’ve failed them.

We can’t have everything all of the time in the context of serving multiple demographics within a civilized society. Canadian home owners have seen amazing valuation returns on their property and may continue to do so but will be asked to provide their community assets toward the assimilation of those marginalized. It’s actually social while preserving the capitalist ideal. The purchase of a home within Canada has never come with a guarantee that there would never be a zoning change. Everyone must do their part to solve a society ill. Working collectively is good for us all – especially during a time of much division. Some homeowners will be impacted more than others should an infill turn to a multi-family building. City bylaws may need updates. Life will go on.        

Burning Man Debacle

You’re all thinking it so I’ll say it. There was a burning man debacle. It’s not the best of ideas to be camping with 70,000 compadres in the middle of the desert in an effort to appear kindred to a “counter culture” espousing the dichotomy of self-reliance and community while building art and posing for social media inspired images.

We’ll see if the enlightened brethren will be 2023 compliant in its mantra of “leaving no trace” when waterworks have been down for two days.

I’m reminded of the soccer stampedes costing lives and the spiritual escapades exhausting the unfit, and the spectators crushed at the stages of oversold concert venues. Despite the earnestness of desire to fulfill a cause or celebration, i’m reminded of the weakness in judgment within man’s condition. There is this bias in refuting or downplaying risk for experience as if the experience in and of itself is necessary for the edification of the being.

Like juveniles adamant to enshrine members through hazing, an art workshop cult asks naive campers to commune in the desert for a week thereby risking tax payer dollars and state assets to potentially secure their rescue.  

Response To “Children Are Not Alright”

Researchers from the University of Calgary, McGill, and University of Toronto along with Children First Canada have concluded that the quality of life for children is on the decline. This is concerning and from what I’ve seen from our evolving society, I’m not surprised.

Here are the characteristics of trouble pertaining to the children’s experience

  1. Bullying
  2. Systemic racism and discrimination
  3. Limited physical activity and play
  4. Poverty
  5. Poor mental health

What confounds me most is the degree of negligence of adults within the lives of children which obviously would persist in order to facilitate the condition.

Are teachers turning a blind eye to bullying? Is there no mechanism to hold bullies to account within our modern liberal system of education? Are kids being exempted from physical education for unreasonable allowances? Are parents not restricting kids with their electronic gadgets? Are dads not showing up to work thereby failing to put groceries in the fridge? Why do parents divorce despite declaring the vow of “until death do us part” thereby in separation imposing two incomes for two households instead of one? How are kids being held accountable in a way to help them help themselves? What have adults done in the way of urban planning to facilitate places of play? And rural communities? Have adults become less inclined to volunteer within an environment of revelations of abominable conduct by those in the past provided stewardship? What outcome would one expect from kids playing violent video games instead of fielding balls at shortstop whilst enjoying the camaraderie of team play and good sportsmanship?

We’ve overextended ourselves as adults in theory at the expense of kids. In theory, that is because despite of the mantra that we are “working hard”, the unfortunate thing is that we are still putting two adults from a household on the job in a context of having gained technological advantages. 

The evidence is already among us with respect to the character of newer generations as they hit the workplace having been raised oftentimes by a single parent home devoid of the socialization inherent within the traditional nuclear family.    

Mount Everest Delusional Vanity

They make it up to be a “dream” but in actual fact the quest to scale Mount Everest is nothing more than delusional vanity. Some brother, niece, or grandparent gets the notion of putting their life on the line literally by hoisting themselves up an escarpment via a route prepared specifically by professional guides. Every successful arrival at the summit is done so with the aid of fixed ropes and ladders affixed to two routes used. The treasure required for an attempt is in the tens of thousands of dollars. This is money not put to purposeful use for worthy philanthropic causes, family vacations, educational pursuits, etc.

We hope that the human ego has means to mature as temporal chronology unfolds. We sort of assume this as a survival mechanism but there could be something amiss in the mind. We grant liberty and climbing permits but we do so without measurement of cerebral capacity. Societies grapple with sociological deviance not knowing how to put restrictions on liberty.

Could it be that the creative power of the mind has been restricted by those with the delusional obsessive schemes? Could it be that social and family connections have been so severed in some that such schemes gain fertile fuel through imbalance? Could there be an esteem issue whereby the manifestation of such an outlet is undertaken in order to gain self worth?

2023 has seen twelve deaths to date including a Vancouver B.C. anaesthesiologist. Over 300 deaths have been reported on the mountain to date associated with this misadventure. The Nepalese government et al receives approximately 5 Million dollars annually in permitting revenue.