Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Vancouver Sun | dtodd@postmedia.com

A business college at the University of Illinois has taken out an insurance policy against the potential catastrophic loss of revenue from high-fee-paying students from China.

Educators and social-media commentators are expressing fears the river of money flowing from Chinese students into Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia will dry up because of a brewing trade war and the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The government of China has said it has more than 600,000 students studying abroad, the vast majority of them in English-language countries. Highly desired Canada has more than 186,000 of them, according to China’s Toronto consulate (the federal government’s figure is slightly lower). That means China’s young people make up roughly one in three of all 500,000 international students in Canada.

Despite China’s ambassador to Canada last week hammering English-speaking countries as “arrogant” and rife with “white supremacy” for their defence of Meng’s arrest, there is no sign that China’s leaders are ready to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who reacted to Canada’s human rights comments last year by calling back most of the Saudi students in Canada.

“I don’t think the Chinese will be as petulant as the Saudis were, or as unsophisticated, although they may make more subtle changes over time,” Andrew Griffith, a migration researcher and former senior director in Canada’s Immigration Department, said.

Canada could even attract more Chinese students in the future in part because the number entering the U.S. appears to be flattening out, possibly because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about China and immigrants. That’s why Illinois business college dean Jeffrey Brown, realizing his school had become highly dependent on Chinese students’ money, took out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Canada hosts eight times more Chinese students per capita than the U.S., suggesting this country’s educational institutions are more dependent on, if not addicted to, their fees than U.S. colleges. Some higher-education researchers are calling the phenomenon “academic capitalism.”

It’s the expanding trend in English-language countries to make up for steadily eroding taxpayer funding of schools, colleges and universities by capitalizing on the full fees paid by students from mostly well-off families from around the world, with China providing by far the biggest group.

Some Canadian educators, and researchers like Mengwei Su and Laura Harrison of Ohio University, say the intense concentration of Chinese students in Western schools brings with it drawbacks, however, mainly for the students themselves.

Even though Western universities welcome Chinese students as “a particularly lucrative market,” Su and Harrison found many of the young Chinese struggle with English and integrating into Western culture — partly because they are ending up in classrooms and living situations dominated by other students from China.

“Seventy per cent of the students in my class are from China,” one Chinese student told the Ohio researchers, describing the sense of social segregation. “The class is not much different from that in our country,” said another Chinese pupil. One young woman from China opted to study in the Netherlands rather than North America, saying, “I want to avoid too many Chinese students.”

Against a backdrop in which the taxpayer-funded proportion of the operating budgets of B.C.’s public universities has drastically declined in recent decades, more than half the foreign undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, more than 2,700, now come from China.

The University of B.C. has 5,000 students from China, almost one third of its international student population. Scores of public high schools, colleges and two-room private language institutes also take in hefty fees from the roughly 50,000 Chinese students in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

The federal Liberal government is busily wooing more Chinese students, however. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is following the enthusiastic lead of former minister John McCallum and saying “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Hussen maintains international students in Canada, whose numbers have been recently jumping by roughly one quarter annually, funnel $11.6 billion a year into Canada’s economy, adding they also enhance “cultural exchange.” To make it easier for more Chinese students to jet across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, the Liberal government recently opened seven new visa centres in China. Hussen acknowledged such students can contribute to the housing and rental squeeze in cities such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver, particularly since many offshore parents buy Canadian homes for their offspring.

Western “higher education institutions are slowly evolving into a corporate-like enterprise that pursues monetary gains, at times eclipsing their educational mission,” write Su and Harrison, of Ohio University, echoing growing sentiment among scholars of higher education.

The Ohio researchers found a key financial problem is that some overseas recruiting “agents” are exploiting international students, with more than half the Chinese students they surveyed hiring these advisers to navigate their complicated route to the West.

The trouble with agents dominating the field of global education, according to Su and Harrison, is many are providing misinformation to students, steering them to inappropriate schools and not warning them about how difficult it will likely be to learn workable English. Many students get stuck in never-ending English-remediation classes.

To root out abuse and increase overseas families’ trust in such agents, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland have developed a code to regulate them, say Thompson Rivers University researchers Victoria Handford and Halying Li.

But Canada has not signed on to the protocol, which is designed to ensure the agents behave more ethically.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recruiting continues apace.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Semi-driving instructor says he’s been suspended for criticizing Sask. government

CBC News ·

Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) has suspended the semi driving instructor who’s been one of the Crown corporation’s harshest critics since the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Reg Lewis’ one-month suspension took effect Christmas Eve.

According to SGI documents, Lewis breached the Crown corporation’s code of conduct with his use of profanity and “instructional style.”

Lewis said the suspension forced him to cancel the training courses for more than a dozen students in a province already dealing with a massive driver shortage. Lewis estimates it will cost his small business more than $40,000 as his two trucks and fellow instructor sit idle.

The veteran Swift Current instructor notes there were no safety or competence issues. He says he’s being singled out and SGI is simply trying to silence its critics.

“I think SGI is trying to tell me that I should keep my mouth shut — that I shouldn’t be speaking up, that we’re in charge and you’d better damn well better do it our way or you’re going to lose your driving school,” Lewis said in an interview this week.

SGI said Lewis is mistaken.

“To claim that a suspension was motivated by anything else would be unequivocally false,” an SGI official said in an email Thursday.

Advocates have pressed to make semi driver training mandatory. It is required in Ontario, and will be this spring in Saskatchewan and Alberta. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Lewis said he was deeply affected by the April 6 crash between the Humboldt Broncos and a semi which left 16 people dead and 13 injured.

Lewis has dedicated his life to teaching truck safety since his own parents were killed in a collision with a semi more than 20 years ago. Following the crash, Lewis spoke publicly about the need for mandatory semi driver training.

At the time, Ontario was the only province that required semi drivers to take any training courses. In most provinces, passing a road and written exam allows drivers to take any sized truck in any conditions onto any road in Canada.

Shortly after the Broncos crash, Lewis blasted SGI and the Saskatchewan government for the lack of training. Fellow instructors, drivers, academics and Broncos’ family members agreed.

Saskatchewan and Alberta have since announced training will become mandatory this spring. Other provinces and the federal government are also considering it.

The driver of the semi in the Broncos crash pleaded guilty this week to 29 counts of dangerous driving. His sentencing hearing takes place later this month.

Swift Current driving instructor Reg Lewis takes a student in a semi during a recent training session. (Jason Warick/CBC)

Lewis supplied his suspension letter and roughly 30 other pages of SGI correspondence at the request of CBC News.

Some of the incidents cited by SGI date back to 2014. In one, Lewis yelled and “berated” a student who drove the semi over a curb as he rounded a corner.

When questioned at that time, Lewis supplied SGI with video evidence. SGI said the video “demonstrated multiple missed opportunities for instruction and the use of profanity.”

Another SGI document stated a student experienced the worst anxiety of his life this November after Lewis yelled at him to “Put the <expletive> clutch to the floor and put the <expletive> truck in gear.”

Some students said Lewis was overly negative. A dispute also arose when one student wanted to stop halfway through and asked for a refund to their prepaid, non-refundable fees.

In an email Thursday to CBC News, SGI officials said the Crown only issues suspensions after taking all other steps to address “serious and repeated concerns.” They noted Lewis had previously been put on probation, some of which predates his public criticism of SGI.

SGI said instructors can appeal suspensions to the Highway Traffic Board. Lewis did appeal unsuccessfully this month. Lewis said the broad definitions in the SGI code of conduct make a reversal nearly impossible.

Calls for mandatory semi driver training grew after 16 people were killed and 13 injured in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash with a semi. (Karen Pauls/CBC News )

Lewis said these and other allegations are a “joke.” He admitted to using the “f-word” for emphasis, but said it’s common language in trucking and many other industries.

“We’re all adults here. Sometimes, it happens,” he said.

As for yelling, Lewis said it’s necessary when someone drives on a sidewalk or requires immediate correction.

He said many students believe their payment entitles them to their licence and complain when he demands a higher skill level.

Lewis said there have never been issues with the quality of the training or his safety record. Other SGI officials praise his competence.

“I am pleased to report there were no substantive issues identified,” an SGI official wrote following a 2016 ride-along evaluation.

In June, another SGI evaluator asked Lewis to adjust his instructional style but told him, “Your dedication and passion for traffic safety is evident.”

Lewis will be back in business Jan. 24, but said the suspension could scare others who want to speak out on road safety issues.

“A long time ago I decided I don’t care who I upset,” he said. “Either you’re here to learn how to drive a truck or you’re not.”

Ontario Family Who Had Their Roof Destroyed By Falling Ice From An Airplane

Narcity

An Ontario family was horrified when a huge block of ice fell through their ceiling and landed in their bedroom, only steps away from where they were sleeping. The block of ice was reportedly from an Air Canada plane traveling from Las Vegas to Toronto. The family has reached out to the Toronto airport, but according to them, Pearson Airport refuses to help the Ontario family who had their roof destroyed by falling ice from an airplane.

“The noise was enormous,” the victim, Carmela Caccavo told CityNews“I saw the big piece of ice and all the insulation. I started to panic”. She added that she could have been seriously hurt had it fallen just a few metres towards her bed. “I was lucky. It could have hit me on the head”. 

The chunk of ice falling into their home was not just frightening, but highly costly. The repairs will cost an estimated $20,000 and as of now, the family has to bear the entire cost. The damage is not covered by their insurance either.

According to CityNews, the ice is most likely to have dropped from an Air Canada Rouge flight due to arrive at Toronto Pearson Airport, based on flight path data. The family lives around 25 kilometres from the airport.

The family reached out to Pearson Airport, but according to them, the airport provided no help or remedy. “In the end, they said they couldn’t really do much,” Caccavo’s son, Michael said.

“They said they can’t find who was in the air (and) there are so many airports in the area. In the end, they just said to contact the insurance and have them deal with it … which is not satisfactory.” The family has said that the insurance does not cover these damages, meaning they would have to foot the $20,000 bill.  

Air Canada has responded to the incident and the airline has not taken responsibility. Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told CityNews that the plane, which was a Boeing 767, “received regular maintenance and there were no signs of any issue that would create this situation”. 

As well, it is important to bear in mind that aircraft land every few minutes at YYZ (Pearson) so there are several planes operated by many airlines in the sky at any one time over Pearson,” said Fitzpatrick.

Ontario contractor Gerry Johnson confirmed that this was an issuethat was re-occurring. He was working to repair the hole in the Ontario family’s home and said it is the third time he’s seen damages that are from falling ice from airplanes. “It’s coming from the sky, guaranteed,” he told CityNews“Someone’s going to get killed.”

CityNews also reached out to other airlines, which also had arrivals at Pearson between 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM to see anything similar had happened with their planes. WestJet responded to the accident and told CityNews it had no reported incidents. Other airlines have yet to comment.

The Co-operators acquires Technicost

The Co-operators announced today that they have acquired Technicost, a technology company that provides credit management solutions, including Loan Origination Systems (LOS) to Credit Unions, effective December 31, 2018.

“This was a natural fit for us as our organizations share values with respect to serving credit unions in Canada,” said Rob Wesseling, president and CEO, The Co-operators. “We can now deliver a broader suite of options and capabilities in the creditor space and will continue to support our credit union partners’ choice of LOS.”

Technicost has been providing credit software solutions to Canadian credit unions for over 35 years and is a financially strong organization with room for growth.

“We’ve worked hard to successfully build Technicost and are proud of our achievements in the creditor space,” said Dominic Paquette, CEO of Technicost.  “We are in a position to continue to grow our product offering and become a market leader with the support of a strong organization like The Co-operators.”

Technicost’s current management team and staff will remain in place and it will be business as usual for clients. Technicost will operate as an independent entity as part of The Co-operators group of companies.

About The Co-operators:

The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian co-operative with more than $42.5 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies, it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt and Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizens in Canada. For more information, visit www.cooperators.ca

SOURCE The Co-operators

www.cooperators.ca

3 money tasks you need to do right now

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Most financial to-do lists focus on what you need to get done by Dec. 31, but there’s also a brief window early in the new year to save yourself some significant cash. Here are three tasks to consider doing now:

1. AVOID TAX PENALTIES

If you live in a high-tax area, have a bunch of children or otherwise take a lot of deductions, you may face an unpleasant surprise on April 15. It won’t just be a big tax bill. You may also face penalties for not having withheld enough taxes in 2018.

Some people  “are going to be in really sad shape,” says Cari Weston (no relation), director of tax practices and ethics for the American Institute of CPAs .

Taxe experts say many people are still unaware of how many tax rules have changed. Personal exemptions no longer exist, for example, which can be a problem for people with many dependents. People also can only deduct up to $10,000 of state, local and property taxes combined, when there used to be no limit.

Free income tax calculators can help you estimate your tax bill, or you can turn to a tax pro.You may face a penalty essentially interest on the amount you should have paid, but didn’t  if you’ll owe more than $1,000 on April 15 , Weston says. But there may still be time to avoid it.

Most people can dodge the penalty if their withholding in 2018 at least equaled the total tax they owed the year before (that’s the amount shown on line 63 of your 1040 form for 2017). People with adjusted gross incomes over $150,000 must have withheld at least 110 per cent of the previous year’s tax.

Those who withheld too little can still avoid the penalty by making an estimated tax payment by Jan. 15. Instructions are on the IRS’ payment page .

2. CONSIDER FRONT-LOADING YOUR MEDICAL EXPENSES

Scheduling routine health appointments and screenings early in the year helps make sure they get done. You could catch problems before they get bigger and more expensive.

Front-loading your costs can also help if you have big medical expenses later in the year. Most health insurance comes with out-of-pocket maximums, which is the most you’re expected to pay in a year counting copayments, deductibles and coinsurance amounts but not counting premiums. The average out-of-pocket maximum for employer-provided health plans was $3,872 for a single person in 2018, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Once you hit your plan’s limit, your insurance typically starts picking up the entire bill for medical care for the rest of the year.

If you have a flexible spending account for medical care through your employer, draining it early in the year can be a good plan. Although payments for FSAs are deducted from your paycheque throughout the year, you don’t have to contribute the money before you can spend it, says Sander Domaszewicz , principal at consulting firm Mercer. You can submit claims and be reimbursed for the full amount you’re scheduled to contribute for the year (up to $2,700 in 2019 ) at any time. If you lose your job or quit, you don’t have to pay back the difference between what you’ve contributed and what you’ve spent.

3. SET UP (OR ADJUST) YOUR SAVINGS BUCKETS

“Savings buckets” are savings accounts for a specific purpose, such as vacations, property taxes, life insurance premiums, car repairs and so on. You figure out roughly how much money you’ll need and when, then set up automatic transfers so the money is there when you need it. Having the cash on hand means you don’t have to charge it (and pay high credit card interest rates) or take out expensive loans.

Some people who do this have a single savings account at a traditional bank, using a spreadsheet to keep track of how much has been accumulated for each purpose. But online banks make it easier and more intuitive. These banks typically allow you to set up multiple sub-accounts, with labels you choose, and don’t charge monthly fees or require minimum balances.

If you’re already saving for non-monthly expenses, see if you need to tweak the amounts. Property taxes typically go up every year, for example, but you may have to save less for car repairs if you recently bought a newer vehicle.

A few minutes spent on these chores now could save you money, time and stress throughout 2019.

Smart Toys And Regulating The IOT In Canada

Article by Brent J. Arnold and Kavivarman Sivasothy (Articling Student)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has just issued a seasonal (and chilling) reminder about the dangers of internet-connected children’s toys: they may be recording your children’s voices and sharing their locations when they play.1  The FTC encourages grownups buying smart toys to investigate what kind of information the toys store, how and where the data is stored and shared, and whether parents have the ability to see and delete the data collected.  It also flags U.S. privacy law requirements around consent and disclosure with which toy manufacturers must comply (Canada has similar privacy law requirements).

The warning is timely for Canadians as well, and not just because it’s gift-giving season.  Smart toys make up a growing part of the Internet of Things (the “IoT”)—the universe of network-connected devices, ranging from smartphones to connected cars to pacemakers to Christmas lights—that bring greater convenience to daily life but that often contain little or no protection from cyber attacks.  Cisco estimates that the IoT “will comprise more than 30 billion connected devices” by 2020.2

Ensuring consumers understand the cybersecurity and privacy risks associated with connected consumer products is a key aspect of cybersecurity, but governments are also increasingly (if belatedly) recognizing that safeguards must be implemented at the manufacturing stage to effectively insulate end-users from cyber-attacks and unauthorized intrusions.

The Canadian Senate has expressed similar concerns to the FTC over the proliferation of the IoT. The Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce recently published a report about the growth of cybersecurity threats in Canada, noting that “over half of Canadian households have four or more Internet-connected devices, and each of these devices could potentially serve as a target for cyber criminals,”  and recommending that “[t]he federal government develop standards to protect consumers, businesses and governments from threats related to the Internet of Things devices.”3

Canada would not be the first jurisdiction to consider imposing cybersecurity standards on manufacturers of connected devices.

Japan has had an IoT strategy in place for some time now.  Its National Center for Incident Readiness and Strategy for Cybersecurity (“NISC”) released a draft General Framework for Secured IoT Systems in 20164 as part of a 2015 national strategy5 driven in part by the security imperatives arising from Japan’s hosting of the 2020 Olympic Games.6  The General Framework adopts the privacy principle of “privacy by design” and recognizes the need to develop “safety assurance standards, including statutory and customary requirements” for the IoT.7

Japan updated its strategy in July 2018,8 emphasizing the necessity of creating guidelines for industry and of promoting “efforts for international standardization of the basic elements of cybersecurity required for realizing secure IoT systems in order to develop value creation systems for IoT systems and deploy it on a global scale while utilizing Japan’s strengths of safety and security in order to contribute to the development of the global economy through spreading such secure IoT systems.”9

It is clear that Japan recognizes its leverage as a technological hub that can strongly influence global standard-setting, and is actively working to build up cybersecurity through policy.

Other jurisdictions have similarly recognized the importance of enforcing standards.  A new California law10coming into force in 2020 broadly defines “connected devices” to mean “any device, or other physical object that is capable of connecting to the Internet, directly or indirectly, and that is assigned an Internet Protocol address or Bluetooth address.”11 The incoming law requires the manufacturer of any “connected device” to:

[E]quip the device with a reasonable security feature or features that are all of the following:

  1. Appropriate to the nature and function of the device.
  2. Appropriate to the information it may collect, contain, or transmit.
  3. Designed to protect the device and any information contained therein from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification, or disclosure.12

Meanwhile, a U.S. Senate bill not yet passed into law13 but endorsed by a number of cybersecurity experts would require that IoT devices are patchable, contain no known vulnerabilities, rely on standardized protocols, and not use hard-coded passwords.14

There is no doubt that influential jurisdictions are recognizing the risk of allowing rapid IoT growth without corresponding regulatory authority.  A Canadian approach to regulating the IoT raises interesting questions. Would jurisdiction be federal or provincial (likely both)?  What existing or new regulators would take jurisdiction?  What changes to existing privacy and other laws would be needed to implement a successful scheme of regulation and standards?

A robust and clear technical and legal framework is critical for end-users to appreciate their rights, and for the producers of these devices to understand their responsibilities. The jurisdictions that act first and go farthest will largely shape the approach taken by other jurisdictions.  It will be interesting to see whether Canada becomes a leader or a follower in this process.

Read the original article on GowlingWLG.com

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Source: Mondaq

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