Saskatchewan moves to fix loophole in law that bans cellphone use while driving

The Saskatchewan government is moving to close a loophole in its law that bans drivers from using hand-held cellphones.

The province is changing the law to prohibit holding, viewing, using or manipulating a cellphone.

The original legislation on cellphones in vehicles became law in Saskatchewan in 2010, but it referred to drivers “using” a cellphone.

Joe Hargrave, minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance, says it didn’t go far enough.

“Too many people were contesting their fines or their tickets based on the fact they were just holding it. They weren’t actually on the phone,” Hargrave said Monday at the legislature.

A provincial court judge ruled in March 2015 that the legislation didn’t prohibit looking at electronic communication devices.

Driver Cory Haliwyz had been ticketed by police in May 2014. He testified that he picked up the phone in his right hand for a brief moment to find out who had sent him a text. Haliwyz said he did not read or respond to the text, that he glanced once at the phone and then put it down.

Court heard the officer looked at the phone and saw there was an incoming text message. The officer did not see any outgoing response.

In finding Haliwyz not guilty, the judged noted that Haliwyz did not touch any of the controls, press any of the buttons or do anything active.

Hargrave said that’s why clarification was needed.

The minister said he was nearly run off the road two weeks ago by a distracted driver in Prince Albert.

“You could see that she was texting and I’m up on the curb, my wife and I, with our own vehicle,” he said.

“It’s got to stop.”

Distracted driving was the No. 1 factor in all crashes in Saskatchewan in 2012 and 2013 _ ahead of impaired driving.

 

Want to retire at 65? Here’s how much you need to save

With the Feb. 29 deadline for RRSP contributions fast approaching, retirement is on the minds of many Canadians who are thinking about their financial futures.

But how much does someone actually need to retire? Some may have heard of the 70 per cent rule: assume you need 70 per cent of your working income when you reach retirement.

But financial experts say the first thing to remember when it comes to retirement planning is throw all the “rules” out the door.

“They key thing is that rules of thumb unfortunately don’t work,” said David Trahair, a certified professional accountant in Toronto. “They don’t work because each of our personal financial situations is as individual as our fingerprints.”

He said while 70 per cent might be right for one person, it might be completely wrong for another.

Retirement tip: Focus on your spending

Trahair is author of the upcoming book The Procrastinator’s Guide to Retirement: How you can retire in 10 years or less. His advice is to focus on your spending.

“The much more accurate way of determining how much you’re going to need to save for retirement is to focus on your expenses,” he said. “Focus on your current spending and then and only then can you make a projection as to approximately how much you are going to be spending each year in retirement.”

Several banks also offer “retirement calculators” to help estimate how much you will need in retirement.

For example, a person who is 30 years old with a yearly salary of $50,000, wants to retire at 65, will need $984,889 saved assuming they plan to retire for 25 years, while spending $45,000 a year.

The two main building blocks for retirement are $13,000 a year from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and $7,000 from the Old Age Security (OAS) benefit.

Retirement tip: Don’t forget the ‘wildcard’

Retirement can involve travelling, children who need support, or a period of long-term care, which could mean spending more in retirement than when working, says Trahair. He adds that the “wildcard” of life expectancy can also affect how much you need to save.

Beth Hamilton-Keen, director of investment counselling at Mawer Investment Management Ltd. and global chair of the CFA Institute, said it’s important for each person to consider what they want their retirement to look like.

“The flaw that I see in that 70 per cent rule is it’s just a starting point for somebody who hasn’t thought about retirement,” said Hamilton-Keen. “There is a human behavioural aspect where you basically live what you can also afford.”

She also advocates getting into the habit of saving, so whether it is a new baby, a divorce, the loss of a job or a health issue you are prepared. She adds that people need to be realistic about their “altruistic measures.”

“Often once you get to [retirement] you have charitable interests that crop up that you really want to contribute to,” she said.

Many of her clients often need to set aside money for what she calls “independent dependents,” the children or grandkids who may need a loan for a down payment on a house or money for tuition.

Consider options carefully before tapping RRSP to buy a first home

By Craig Wong

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ It’s an option for many people buying their first home, but when deciding whether to tap into RRSPs, investment advisers urge caution.

“Whether or not it is a good idea to use the homebuyers withdrawal plan, I would say the answer is maybe,” says Kelly Gares, an adviser with BlueShore Financial in West Vancouver, B.C.

“It does depend on your particular circumstances.”

Under the homebuyers’ plan, people can withdraw up to $25,000 from an RRSP to help buy or build a first home. They need to repay the amount to their RRSP and generally have up to 15 years to put the money back in their account.

In essence, people are borrowing money from themselves. And while they don’t have to pay themselves any interest on the money they take out, they are giving up any gains they might have made on the money had it remained invested in an RRSP.

Mortgage payments aren’t the only cost to buying a new home. There are maintenance costs, property taxes and utility bills. People need to be sure they’ll also be able to repay their withdrawal within the allowed time as well as continue saving for retirement.

Crystal Wong, senior regional manager for financial planning at TD Wealth, says when saving for a first home, she would encourage people to use a regular savings account or a tax-free savings account instead.

With a TFSA, people don’t pay any tax on the investment gains in the account and they don’t need to repay the money they withdraw.

However, Wong said if people find themselves short, they can consider going into their RRSPs.

“The pro to that is that you’ve got the money that you’ve saved, so it is your funds,” she said. “The con would be that you kind of give up some of the potential growth that you have in the RRSP that actually funds your retirement.”

Gares says there are times when it does make sense to use retirement savings to help buy a home. He pointed to a situation where taking money from an RRSP might allow people to make a 20 per cent down payment and avoid the need for high-ratio mortgage insurance.

“Avoiding those types of transactional costs, that is certainly a scenario where I think it is justifiable to use the homebuyers’ plan,” Gares said.

However, he warned that if a person’s only real asset is in real estate and they don’t have any other savings or investments, they are not truly diversified.

“That’s one thing I would caution against,” he said.

“If you’re really utilizing all of your liquid assets for the purpose of making that purchase, then you might need to consider if that’s really an affordable expense for you.”

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