Can’t make money right now? Free up cash in your budget

Can’t make money right now? Free up cash in your budget

By Courtney Jespersen Of Nerdwallet

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

You’re not the only one with a tight budget. Millions of Americans are currently struggling with unemployment, lost hours and lowered wages.

There’s little comfort in knowing that others are feeling strapped. But you may be relieved to hear there are ways to make things easier even if you’re out of work or can’t make more money

We talked to financial experts for advice about getting more mileage out of the money you have available right now. Here are their tips for finding extra money in your monthly budget.

GO LINE BY LINE

Depending on where you live, you’re probably spending a lot of time at home these days. Devote at least some of the free time to analyzing your finances.

Go over every single transaction in your checking account, savings account, credit card bills and so forth, says Robinson Crawford, certified financial planner and founder of the adviser firm Montebello Avenue in Phoenix.

Crawford says you can use a budgeting system to make this step easier. Try an app, Excel file or some other tool.

Once you see all of the dollars going in and out, you’ll be able to identify areas for savings. And you’ll be ready to start making some (or all) of the changes outlined below.

PICK UP THE PHONE

As you look at your line items, focus on the largest bills first, suggests Cady North, CFP, founder of North Financial Advisors LLC, with offices in San Diego and Washington, D.C.

Lowering substantial, recurring payments has the potential to reap the biggest savings. For example, even if you already received an automatic rebate from your auto insurance company, it doesn’t hurt to call up and see if you can negotiate additional savings. That’s particularly applicable if you’re not driving right now.

Another option? If you have student loans, your federal student loan payment has likely already been suspended, but you’ll want to take the extra step to ensure you’ve stopped your automatic payments. That is, if you don’t want to continue making payments right now.

If you choose to contact companies and service providers you do business with, be honest about how COVID-19 has affected you. Crawford recommends telling them about your situation and why you’re asking for help, especially if you’ve been laid off. They’re likely to empathize.

“Part of the reasoning should be, `Listen I’m trying to do everything to keep all of my bills paid. I want your service. I want to keep you. I want to stay as a customer.”’

UNPLUG AND UNSUBSCRIBE

After the big expenses, seal smaller holes in your spending. Try looking around your house, recommends Shehara L. Wooten, CFP, founder of investment advisor Your Story Financial LLC.

Unplug electronics when they’re not in use. Stop buying disposable paper towels and paper plates _ switch to reusable towels and plates instead. Monitor the thermostat and lights as you spend increased amounts of time at home.

You can also pull the plug on unnecessary subscriptions. Crawford says now might be the right time to cancel those streaming services and online shopping memberships, especially ones you haven’t found use for even while you’ve been cooped up at home.

“If you’re not watching one of your streaming subscriptions during COVID, news flash: You’re never going to watch it.”

If you still like (and use) your subscriptions and aren’t willing to give them up completely, cut them out temporarily. Some companies allow you to go online and pause your account for a period of time.

“That’s a way to get $15, $20 here and there extra in your budget,” North says.

GET MONEY BACK

Finally, while you may not be able to find a new job right now, there could still be methods to expand your budget that you hadn’t considered.

One way is to sign up for cash-back shopping sites or apps to earn money back when you purchase groceries and other essentials, Wooten points out. With some apps, you scan your receipt after a transaction for post-purchase savings.

As you free up money, make sure you’re devoting those newfound funds to absolute necessities first, like food and shelter.

Every change you can make _ no matter how major or minor _ can make a difference.

_______________________________________

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet.

 

BC Issues New Orders And Guidance To Employers For Phase 2 Of Its Restart Plan

The excerpted article was written
McCarthy Tétrault LLP

As BC begins Phase 2 of its Restart Plan, the Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC (“WSBC”) have published the following orders, guidance and resources relevant to employers.

Orders by the Provincial Health Officer

On May 14, 2020, Dr. Henry issued an order cancelling her earlier April 16, 2020 order that operators close all personal service establishments and stop providing personal services in any location. Personal service establishments may open effective May 19, 2020.

On May 14, 2020, Dr. Henry enacted an order regarding workplace safety plans (the “COVID-19  Safety  Plans“). Under the order, an employer must post a copy of its COVID-19 Safety Plan on its website, if it has one, and at all of its workplaces so that it may be reviewed by workers, individuals who attend the workplace and members of the public. On request, an employer must also provide a copy of its COVID-19 Safety Plan to a health officer or a WSBC officer.

On May 15, 2020, Dr. Henry issued an order allowing restaurants and bars to open subject to conditions, including implementing physical distancing measures. Patrons must be able to maintain a distance of two metres from staff as well as one another, unless they are in the same party. Further, establishments cannot exceed 50 percent of their usual capacity of patrons present at one time, and they cannot hold events that include more than 50 people. If practicable, establishments must retain contact information for one member of every party of patrons for thirty days in the event that the medical health officer needs it for contact tracing. Finally, nightclubs must remain closed. The order came into effect on May 19, 2020.

The Provincial Health Officer may take enforcement action against any party that violates these orders under Part 4, Division 6 of the Public Health Act.

Recent Guidance

The BC Ministry of Health and the BC Centre for Disease Control recently published guidance for employers and workers in various sectors, including natural resources, farming and hotels.

The guidance for natural resource sector work camps includes conducting a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment for field operations, worker education, increased hygiene and cleaning practices, physical distancing, transportation for workers, guidance for workers while working, guidance for workers during breaks or while in communal spaces, guidance for situations where maintaining physical distance of two metres is difficult, guidance on handling tools and equipment, guidance on COVID-19 and worker accommodation, information regarding First Nations and First Nations Health Centres, physical distancing and local communities, information about face masks, and what employers must do to monitor worker health.

The guidance for farms and farm workers includes conducting a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment for the farm operation, worker education, guidance for training workers and employers on hygiene, guidance for increased hygiene, guidance for increased cleaning, physical distancing, transportation for workers, guidance for workers while working, guidance for workers during breaks or while in communal spaces, guidance for situations where maintaining physical distance of two metres is difficult, guidance on handling tools and equipment, guidance on COVID-19 hygiene and worker accommodation, information regarding First Nations and First Nations Health Centres, physical distancing and local communities, information about face masks, and what employers must do to monitor worker health. The guidance acknowledges that physical distancing between farm workers may be difficult in certain situations. Where workers are required to work together in close proximity to complete tasks, employers should form work pods (of six or fewer workers, if possible) to limit close contact within a small group. Similarly, where workers are required to travel together in vehicles to the work site, workers must travel in designated vehicles with their work pod and frequently clean and disinfect vehicles.

Guidance for the hotel sector covers general cleaning, housekeeping and laundry, waste management, food and beverage services, spas and salons, pools, fitness centres and playgrounds, staff health, and communication, signage and posters.

WSBC Guidance and Resources

WSBC has recently issued guidance relevant to Phase 2, including about COVID-19 Safety Plans, controlling exposure of the virus to workers, and new communication and training requirements.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees and supervisors when creating protocols for their workplace. WSBC has published a six-step process to help employers create their COVID-19 Safety Plan. The WSBC template is a fillable PDF that employers can use to develop their policies, guidelines and procedures. Employers are not required to have a formal plan in place prior to beginning operations, but are expected to develop their COVID-19 Safety Plan while taking steps to protect their workers’ safety. WSBC will consider enforcement measures if employers fail to take measures to protect workers from COVID-19.

Controlling Exposure

Employers should develop policies on who can be at the workplace, including policies on sick workers and recent travel. Employers do not have to implement health monitoring, such as temperatures checks or medical questionnaires, and should be aware of privacy issues if they choose to collect potentially sensitive medical information. WSBC notes that wearing masks is not mandatory for workers outside healthcare workplaces, and that masks and other personal protective equipment (“PPE”) should not be used as the only control measure. Instead, employers should offer the following types of protection, listed in order of greatest efficacy: i) eliminate risks (i.e. by limiting the number of workers at any one time, and enforce physical distancing), ii) implement engineering controls (i.e. installing barriers such as Plexiglas to separate people), iii) establish administrative controls (i.e. cleaning protocols) and iv) supply PPE such as non-medical masks.

Communication and Training

Employers should provide information to workers describing how they are managing COVID-19, including COVID-19 symptoms and a reminder not to go to work if workers have them, occupancy limits in common areas and other physical distancing measures, how specific tasks have been changed to prevent the potential spread of the virus, and instructions about hygiene. Employers are also responsible for training workers in tasks that they have changed as part of their COVID-19 Safety Plan, such as limits on the number of people in certain areas of the workplace and cleaning expectations for common areas and equipment. Where workplaces interface with customers, employers should consider adding signage, floor markings and other directions to ensure customers are maintaining physical distance from workers.

Source: Mondaq

What do we do with the kids?’ Experts say child care needed in reopening plans

By Stephanie Taylor

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ Kelly Knowles has many questions about returning to work, including where her son would go.

The Regina hairstylist contacted his daycare after the Saskatchewan government announced last week that some businesses such as salons, shut down because of COVID-19, could reopen in mid-May.

She was told there is space for her 2-1/2-year old, but the centre is only caring for kids of essential workers. And with her partner still working, there isn’t anyone else at home to help, she said.

“If I did go back to work, we do need that extra care,” Knowles told The Canadian Press.

“I can’t open up my schedule and start accepting my guests to come in if I don’t have a daycare for my son.”

Questions about child care and schools are being raised as various provinces outline their plans to relax public health restrictions so that some services and businesses can reopen and residents can go back to work.

“For families with kids, they can’t participate in that if they don’t have child care,” says Jennifer Robson, associate professor in political management at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Each province is dealing with the issue differently.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Scott Moe has said students are unlikely to return to classes this school year. On Thursday, the province announced child-care spots reserved for the children of essential workers will also go to children whose parents are headed back work in the first two stages of its reopen plan.

Manitoba plans to keep schools closed, but intends to allow day camps with a maximum of 16 kids per site.

Schools and daycares in Quebec are to reopen May 11 outside greater Montreal, but high schools are to stay closed until September. In Ontario, publicly funded schools are to stay closed until at least the end of May.

The inability to provide hard timelines is understandable, Robson says, since those decisions are driven by medical evidence.

She says households with parents who can resume work will be figuring out what makes economic sense. And without child care or schools, someone has to stay home with the kids.

“Gender roles being what they are and gender-related pay gaps being what they are, odds are good that most families are going to elect to have Mom end up staying home with the kids.”

Lindsay Tedds, professor of economics at the University of Calgary, says women have already borne the brunt of the pandemic and, without child-care options, that could be exacerbated.

Citing a Statistics Canada labour force survey from March, Tedds says women were the hardest hit by job losses and a lot of the impact was felt in female-dominated sectors such as hospitality and tourism.

“Women had to leave their jobs even before the big shutdown started simply because the schools shut down.”

In a statement, the president and CEO of the Business Council of Canada, acknowledges that restarting the economy will be tough for working parents if schools and daycares stay closed during the initial phases. Goldy Hyder encourages employers to be flexible.

Dan Kelly, head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says some employers may not be able to find workers who can pull away from their families. But he feels it’s better to move ahead with an imperfect plan than to keep the economy frozen.

While some parents can work from home, those who work in bars, restaurants and sectors such as the airline industry cannot, Tedds notes.

She and Robson say household incomes will continue to take a hit if both parents can’t get back to work. Gains made over the last few decades have been in large part thanks to women entering the labour force.

They also say time away from work may mean not getting promotions or building up work hours associated with career advancement. As well, staying home means not paying into a pension plan or employment insurance, including maternity and paternity leave.

“If we’re … expected to go back to work and nobody has thought about what we do with the kids, we have a huge problem,” said Tedds.

The CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation says it’s time governments examine how child-care centres are funded. Right now, without receiving fees from parents, they could close.

Paulette Senior says Ottawa has a critical role to play.

“This government is committed to gender equality and gender equality is an essential rung to the economy.”

Maryam Monsef, federal minister for women and gender equality, says in a statement that the pandemic has shown long-term solutions are needed in child care _ and provinces need to collaborate.

“It is clear that the steps that all orders of government take in the next days and weeks as we contemplate slowly reopening our economy will require a vision for child care.

“We can’t resume without it.”

PM: Essential workers to get salary top-up, eligibility for emergency benefit expanded

Rachel Aiello Ottawa News Bureau 

OTTAWA — Part-time and seasonal workers are now eligible to claim the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and new money is coming for front-line workers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday.

Now, workers who are earning up to $1,000 a month, such as contract or gig economy workers, or who have seasonal employment and can’t find a job due to COVID-19, as well as those who are running out of employment insurance, can now apply to collect the CERB for up to four months.

“Maybe you’re a volunteer firefighter, or a contractor who can pick up some shifts, or you have a part-time job in a grocery store. Even if you’re still working, or you want to start working again, you probably need help making ends meet,” Trudeau said.

Unveiling the anticipated eligibility expansion to the CERB program that six million Canadians have already applied for, Trudeau said he is also working with the provinces to boost wages for essential front-line staff to keep them on the job.

He said, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, wages are going to be boosted for essential workers who are making less than $2,500 a month, “as quickly as possible.” It’ll be on the agenda during his meeting with the premiers on Thursday.

This new temporary top-up will be distributed through a transfer to the provinces, with the cost shared, given public health care is generally a provincial responsibility.

Details on which staff will be deemed essential and would be eligible for this new funding is still being worked out, but the federal government estimates it could help “several million workers.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said that the idea was first brought up by Trudeau on last week’s call with provincial and territorial leaders and it received an “enthusiastic response.”

Trudeau said that the essential front-line staff in hospitals, seniors’ homes and long-term care facilities are doing “some of the toughest jobs in the country,” and because they are now being asked to only report to work at a single facility, their income could be less than what they’d receive if they stopped working and collected the CERB prior to this expansion.

“For many workers looking after the most vulnerable Canadians, including seniors and those with disabilities, we know conditions have gotten more difficult over the past weeks. And you need support right now,” Trudeau said.

READ MORE HERE: 

 

Offloading fossil fuel stocks may dry up capital for Canadian oil and gas producers, but it won’t quench the world’s thirst for petroleum

Read more

Court rules B.C. can’t limit oil shipments in major blow for pipeline fight

By Laura Kane

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER _ British Columbia lost the largest tool in its toolbox to halt the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion with a court decision Friday that concluded it can’t restrict oil shipments through its borders.

The unanimous ruling from the B.C. Court of Appeal represented a major win for the project, which the federal government and Alberta see as crucial to getting more oilsands crude to overseas markets.

B.C.’s minority NDP government, which took power on a promise to use every tool available to stop the expansion, swiftly announced plans to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

“Our government said from the outset that we would stand up for British Columbia’s environment, our economy and our coast,” said Attorney General David Eby.  “Thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity would be put at risk by a diluted bitumen spill.”

The province filed a constitutional reference question to the Appeal Court that asked whether it had the authority to create a permitting regime for companies that wished to increase their flow of diluted bitumen.

A five-judge panel agreed that the amendments to B.C.’s Environmental Management Act were not constitutional because they would interfere with the federal government’s exclusive jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines.

Justice Mary Newbury wrote on behalf of the panel that the overall aim of the proposed amendments was to place conditions on and, if necessary, prohibit the movement of heavy oil through a federal undertaking.

Newbury also wrote that the legislation is not just a general environmental law, but is targeted at one substance in one interprovincial pipeline: the Trans Mountain expansion project.

“Immediately upon coming into force, it would prohibit the operation of the expanded Trans Mountain pipeline in the province until such time as a provincially appointed official decided otherwise,” she said.

“This alone threatens to usurp the role of the (National Energy Board), which has made many rulings and imposed many conditions to be complied with by Trans Mountain for the protection of the environment.”

The energy board is the body entrusted with regulating the flow of resources across Canada to export markets, Newbury wrote.

B.C. argued that the proposed amendments were meant to protect its environment from a hazardous substance, while the federal government and Alberta said the goal was to block Trans Mountain.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the decision is an occasion for “real hope” for hard-working people and the project will allow his province to realize a fair price for its resources and create new jobs.

“In light of the court’s decision, we hope that the B.C. government will respect the rule of law and end its campaign of obstruction,” he said.

Kenney also said the expansion could provide much-needed relief at B.C. pumps. Premier John Horgan has disputed that the project would ease sky-high gas prices, noting its purpose is to transport heavy oil for shipment overseas.

Trans Mountain Corp. said it agreed that the legislation was unconstitutional and it shares the value that Canadians and B.C. residents place on the environment.

Eby said his government originally asked Canada to join it in a reference case before the Supreme Court. The federal government declined, so B.C. had to first file its case with the provincial Appeal Court, he said.

The Supreme Court of Canada automatically hears provincial reference questions. Eby said the top court has overturned unanimous B.C. Appeal Court judgments in the past and the cost of pursuing the case was worth it.

“It is a fraction of a fraction of the cost of a diluted bitumen spill,” he said.

Saskatchewan, Enbridge Inc. and the Canadian Association of Oil Producers argued in court against B.C.’s proposed permit regime, while some First Nations, cities and environmental groups supported it.

The Haida and Heiltsuk Nations said the decision was a missed opportunity for reconciliation because it failed to acknowledge their arguments about the role of Indigenous governments in environmental protection.

Heiltsuk Chief Coun. Marilyn Slett called the ruling  “offensive and irresponsible.”

“It is unacceptable that despite being granted interested party status, the court failed to even acknowledge ours or any other Indigenous governments’ arguments in its decision. They invited us into the room, but they completely ignored us,” she said in a statement.

Lawyer Kegan Pepper-Smith represented Ecojustice in the case and said the decision leaves B.C., its communities and environment exposed to a potentially disastrous spill.

There is still plenty the B.C. government could do to stop the Trans Mountain expansion, such as adding conditions to its provincial environmental certificate, said Peter McCartney, a climate campaigner with the Wilderness Committee.

The proposed amendments would have meant that Trans Mountain Corp. and any other company wishing to increase the amount of heavy oil it transported through B.C. would have had to apply for a “hazardous substance permit.”

The permit application would have had to detail the risks to human health and the environment from a spill plans to mitigate those risks and financial measures, including insurance, that ensured payment of cleanup costs.

A provincial public servant would have had the authority to impose conditions on a hazardous substance permit and cancel or suspend the permit if the company did not comply.

B.C. announced the amendments last year, prompting then-Alberta premier Rachel Notley to ban B.C. wines. After Horgan promised to file a reference case asking whether the amendments were constitutional, Notley cancelled the wine ban.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion. Construction was paused last August after the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the federal permits.

The project would triple the pipeline’s capacity to carry diluted bitumen from the Edmonton area to Metro Vancouver and increase the number of tankers in Burrard Inlet seven-fold.

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