The Old Man and the CPP

I plan to retire sometime over the next ten years. I say, ‘retire’. Will I be able to? What does it mean? Will I be able to leave my career and have enough saved to feel comfortable in my golden years? I worry about such things. Apparently I should be happy since I have just found out the Canadian Government is also worried on my behalf and will make sure that after a lifetime of employment I will be able to truly  rest at 65. I know the government is worried on my behalf since it has just announced it will increase the Canada Pension Plan to cover up to 33% of my pre-retirement income rather than the initial 25% I had expected. I ought to feel grateful. Not many countries in the world care this much for their citizens, for those like me who will retire in 10 years.

Nathan quoteExcept, well, as we often hear, the devil is in the details. And like others, I would rather not get into the details, just collect the 33% instead of the 25% I had been expecting. But having lost faith long ago in many of the promises politicians make just to get themselves re-elected, I have found myself always having to get into the weeds when a new plan is announced.

So how will this work, really? Well, it’s complicated. Apparently there is a phase-in of premiums of an extra 1% I will be forced to pay between 2019 and 2023 (my employer will be taxed another 1%, increasing the cost of my labour without increasing my productivity). But it gets worse. Between 2024 and 2025 there will be an additional 4% demanded for many of those about to retire and their employers whose income is above the YMPE but below a NUEL (don’t even ask). You may wish to ask your provincial premier and federal MP to explain this to you as I am sure they would not sign off on this unless they understood its benefits and could explain them better than I. But from a selfish point of view, all this extra would seem a small price to pay (I hope my employer feels the same way) for the windfall I will get when I retire. Or so the government seems to want me to believe. But how will it work really?

Alas, the government has been up to its old tricks. Bait and switch. Promise me more for little or nothing to get buy-in, then when payout time comes due, tell me, sorry, you misunderstood what had really been promised all along.

For someone like me who will retire in 10 years, I have found the caring government actually does not much care for me at all. The windfall will never happen. The actual payout will be less than I would have received had I been allowed to invest the extra premiums on my own. Apparently it will take about 40 years of paying increased premiums before the full benefit promised by the caring government kicks in. I will be effectively taxed extra between 2019 and 2025 to help pay for someone else’s retirement, at some time in the unforeseeable future.

For those I am about to help out, those who will collect the maximum on the full faith and credit of a caring government in 40 years’ time, good luck. If the current promises made are as good as government promises past, just remember the federal income tax was promised as a temporary measure, not 40 years ago, but almost a hundred. Maybe under the new CPP plan, if history is any guide, you will be able to collect the full amount being promised. But it will probably take you another 100 years, not 40, to see the full benefit. And then only if the government keeps its word.

If you’re like me and you prefer to manage your own retirement, please sign the petition to stop CPP in its tracks.

This is my perspective from someone close to retirement. Here are a couple of great articles from a Gen X and millennial perspective.

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NathanNathan Mean completed his undergrad and law degrees at Dalhousie University. He loves to help CFIB counsellors ensure small businesses succeed in his role as Director, Business Resources at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Over the course of his 16 years at CFIB, Nathan has helped hundreds of members overcome unfathomable regulations and government-imposed expenses, solve issues that relate to day-to-day operations and, most recently, hosted webinars for CFIB members and the small business community on important business issues.

 

 

 


Emergency preparedness: Is your business ready?

On a yearly basis, I have the opportunity to speak with thousands of business owners on a variety of topics. A common discussion point concerns the desire of business owners to maintain a healthy business and healthy employees, with a plan to ensure both for the future.

shutterstock_72792130_jpgAs often as possible, it is necessary to be proactive and ensure you are prepared in case of an emergency in your business.

Are you prepared if there is a natural disaster or any other circumstance that may limit your access to your business?

Ask yourself:

  • What are the risks with each role in your business?
  • How will you communicate with your employees if there is an emergency?
  • Do you have a back up to your records, documents and employee information?
  • Have you assigned managers or key employees to assist in evacuation?
  • If you have employees with a disability, do you have an emergency plan specific to their needs?

Be Proactive

There are many natural disasters that can prevent you from conducting business as usual. Read through the Government of Canada’s list of hazards and emergencies by clicking here. It’s a useful resource to identify the many possible threats to your business, including:

Business Continuity Plan

Have you considered creating a Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?

A BCP is a document written for the purpose of proactively identifying hazards and ways to minimize risk, ensuring your business experiences minimal disruption or can survive through a stressful period of time. Click here for variety of resources broken down by province.

There are different elements to consider when you’re developing a BCP:

  • Create a team that can develop the plan
  • Identify roles and resources that are immediately needed
  • Training and creating awareness to ensure the plan is carried through by employees
  • Revise accordingly and ensure if roles change or employees leave the organization, the document is up to date.

Recovering from Disaster

An article from Business Development Canada with tips on how to ensure your business can operate after a disaster can be found here.

  • “Provide a safe work environment. Hire experts to inspect your premises for hazards.”
  • “Contact suppliers and ask them to extend their terms, if necessary, to maintain cash flow in your business”

Here are templates that can be useful to you: Business continuity plan and templates for entrepreneurs

Quick Facts on the Role of Government

When a disaster has impacted several businesses and homes, there might be considerations from government for funding. Here are the basics of what you should keep in mind.

  • Employment Standards Considerations:
    For most provinces, there are no requirements to pay employees while the business experiences a closure. However, contact a CFIB Business Counsellor or your provincial employment standards office to ensure you follow the right steps.
  • Service Canada Considerations:
    If your business will not be operating and your employees will have interruption of earnings, you will be required to issue a Record of Employment.
  • Canada Revenue Agency:
    If your business has been impacted severely, you may be eligible to apply for relief from penalties or fines – under the following conditions:
    – extraordinary circumstances;
    – actions of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA);
    – inability to pay or financial hardship; or
    – other circumstances.

Last Thoughts

There are many factors that will challenge your business, such as environmental and internal factors – government, market trends, finances and skilled employment. The importance of preparing for an emergency is crucial – many people do not anticipate anything wrong happening, yet always keep in mind the following:

  • The lives of your employees are important and essential to your operations
  • The equipment and real property are essential to the value of your business
  • The customers you service daily expect your product/service and you will need them to recover sales to get back on your feet.

Keep your business and employees healthy and plan ahead with the resources provided above. You will appreciate having a process in place to avoid confusion and stress in the midst of potential chaos.

Protect your business! It is your legacy!

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Author: Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor
@josuegomezg

CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping our members, which are small business owners with their question on compliances. These questions can range from Employment Standards, Health and Safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small business face today. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar.


Mayor Tory launches StartUp HERE Toronto Café mentoring platform

Mayor John Tory launched a new mentoring platform for entrepreneurs and small businesses with program partner Ten Thousand Coffees.

“This initiative will help make Toronto’s business community more accessible to those developing their businesses and careers,” said Mayor Tory. “We are pleased to help open the doors to success for future generations of entrepreneurs.”

The StartUp HERE Toronto Café, being hosted at www.startupheretoronto.com/coffeechat, builds upon the network already established by acclaimed Toronto startup Ten Thousand Coffees, which currently has more than 60,000 users in the greater Toronto area (GTA).

“Coffee chats are the best way for young professionals, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, and students to get started – whether you have an idea, are interested in innovation, or looking to hire, go to TenThousandCoffees.com and meet with others,” said Dave Wilkin, founder of TenThousandCoffees.com. “Getting coffee with someone interesting is now just a few clicksaway, it’s free and available to anyone interested in entrepreneurship and innovation in the City of Toronto.”

By encouraging people to network in person and virtually, the StartUp HERE Toronto Café will expand the networks of mentors available to entrepreneurs when they are building their businesses in the GTA, helping them to access advice and resources more quickly.

Mentors and entrepreneurs can sign up here – www.startupheretoronto.com/coffeechat.


Why I oppose the proposed CPP expansion

CFIB-CPP_Campaign-0516-Facebook_Post-Quote-7 (3)I’m in my thirties and I’m facing the possibility of having more money taken out of my pay with very little return.

How little return, you ask? As someone under 45, the rate of return on my CPP “investment” -– is just 2.1%.

Let me repeat, 2.1%!!!

This bothers me but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as hearing governments tell me that, because my retirement funds don’t fit into their narrow scope of what retirement savings look like, I am not doing enough to save for myself. According to the government, my stock portfolio, real estate and other non-registered investments will not help me in my retirement years.

Had CPP increased when I was younger, when every penny counted, I wouldn’t have the diversified portfolio that I do today. I was thinking about the future even while working for minimum wage and saving for, (later attending) university. I was not making a remarkable income when I took advantage of the stock dips of 2009 to start investing; then started my own business, and bought my first home.

What bothers me even more than governments expecting me to live up to their narrow view of financial planning is that they now want to force me, and all Canadians, to abide by their paternalistic notion of what is good for us. They are taking more money out of our paycheques, effectively removing our freedom to choose our own retirement options.

The government claims they are doing this for our young population. The generation that still has 40 years of work ahead of them is the only demographic that will see the full benefit from this increase. But here’s the thing: most millennials have their own definition of retirement. They also have plans TODAY. They are buying their first house, planning a family, travelling, starting a business, or maybe playing the stock market, like I did not too long ago. They want more of their money now and they want to define their own future, but boomers are patting them on the head and telling them “we know what’s good for you.”

I won’t get into the fact that CPP is already fully sustainable for the next 75 years. I won’t ramble on about the fact that 52 per cent of 25-34 year olds are on record as already saving for retirement, and that stat does not include real estate or non-traditional savings. Instead, I will point out the impact that 20% of additional CPP deductions would have meant to me over my working life so far, if governments had implemented the proposed CPP expansion when I was a young adult.

  • I would have had to save up to an additional year to go to university.
  • I would have been forced to purchase fewer stocks in 2009, which have at minimum doubled in value since I purchased them. In addition, I would lose all of the associated dividend earnings that have been reinvested over the years.
  • I would have missed the chance to purchase my first home. I bought it while the building was still under construction and quite affordable. The units that fit my budget sold out very quickly and had I had to wait longer to accumulate enough savings for the down payment, I probably would have been out of luck. Also, the value of the property escalated substantially when construction finished, well beyond what I could afford had I waited.
  • My partner and I would have had to make some significant budget cuts to our wedding, honeymoon, or both. This may seem superficial to some, but we planned, budgeted, saved and compromised on our needs vs. our wants for a celebration that was very important for both of us, a kick-off to our future together. We did not have an extravagant affair by any means but we ended up with exactly what we wanted.
  • My small business would have gotten off to a much rockier start had I less to invest. Given that incredibly lean first year, I don’t know if I would have made it.
  • I would have had to make some very difficult HR choices in my business.
  • I would now have a lot less to leave to my loved ones, because unlike my current investments, CPP cannot be passed on.

These are just a few examples of why I’m against CPP expansion. With a looming 20% increase in my contributions, what future adventures, plans and goals will I have to give up?

The government plans to give me a return of 2.1% (less interest than I earn than in my TFSA, which I will no longer be able to contribute to) as a reward for taking 20% more of the 4.9% already coming off my pay. Many people older than me will have that additional 20% added to what they’re already paying with minimal return, and young people will have choices taken away from them. They are doing this despite the fact that Canadian seniors are the least likely demographic in Canada to be living in poverty. In fact, Canada’s elderly poverty rate is among the lowest in the world and is steadily declining. In addition, according to the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index, Canada has the 7th best pension system in the world.

Instead of sharing this information with Canadians, governments bombard with commercials and messaging telling us that we do not save enough – that there’s a “crisis” and hiking the CPP is the only way to stop it. I find this concerning: CPP should not be seen or sold as a full source of retirement income, since it was never conceived for this purpose. It is meant to be an income supplement in retirement to offset decreasing wages.

Last week, Ryan Mallough offered a millennial’s perspective on this issue. If you have not yet read his article, I suggest you take a look – A payroll tax hike hits start-ups hard.

I know that CPP expansion does not seem like a scintillating topic, but I promise you, Ryan’s article is quite interesting. More than that, though, it’s important. If CPP expansion happens, we have to keep in mind the cost of opportunities missed for young, ambitious, and responsible people who simply wish to have control over their earnings and the direction of their financial future. If you’ve already read Ryan’s article, sign the petition to stop the CPP expansion today. It’s not too late.


It’s a small networked world, after all

New PictureLast week, I had an opportunity to attend the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference at the Mississauga Convention Centre.  What an amazing experience to be able to meet so many business owners, including many CFIB members, and start-ups! The event drew over 1,000 people, showcasing business opportunities from 20-plus booths.

It is extremely important for business owner to familiarize themselves with networking events happening in the city and across many other communities. Through these events, you can:

  • Hear from speakers that have overcome many small business struggles
  • Connect with individuals from different organizations who can help you manage your business
  • Get inspiration and motivation to start a service or product

Of course, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business was in attendance.  As I was visiting the many on-site booths, I was excited to cross paths with a CFIB member who I have been helping throughout the year. I’ve had the opportunity to answer the business owners’ questions on employee job descriptions, employment standards and much more!

This is what they said about CFIB’s Business Counselling service:
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 New Picture (1)“Thank you for your feedback about those contracts – it was so detailed! We are so grateful for all of the support and direction that you have given us.” – Joy Pekar

 “It was definitely a good decision for us to join CFIB; I only wish we had been approached years earlier. I have found that CFIB counsellors such as yourself provide detailed explanations and relevant resources.”
– Arie Pekar
______________________________

Most recently, Joy reached out to me about compliance questions, as an inspection was due to take place at her business. With the assistance of CFIB’s handy “Compliance checklist for Ontario”, Joy said: “Thank you again for this information. It was extremely valuable. Within 15 minutes she (inspector) had a letter to us that we passed. Thank you for your help.”

Running a small business is rarely easy. We at CFIB appreciate this reality! Our Business Counsellors are continually fielding questions that can help business owners navigate their way through government regulations. We strive to:

  • Help you save time on complex compliance matters
  • Keep you free of penalties or fines
  • Give you peace of mind, by providing you information, solutions or direction

We do not provide legal advice, however we can provide sufficient information that you can check with your legal advisor – to avoid any harm to your business.

The story behind Arie and Joy Pekar
Interested in learning more about how Arie and Joy made their way as entrepreneurs? Check out their story!

Inforce Security Corp was founded in 2005 by Arie Pekar. Arie was running a restaurant in 2001 and needed to perform certain tasks remotely. His background in IT inspired him to seek out surveillance technology that would allow him not only to watch his business from home, but also to interact with its security features from a distance. This was extremely progressive at a time when surveillance cameras were still largely using VCRs as recorders and were only used for playback purposes.

After selling the restaurant, Arie recognized the opportunity to help other like-minded business owners obtain remotely viewable and interactive surveillance technology for their businesses.

Inforce Security was born!

Inforce Security Corp stayed ahead of the pack when it came to surveillance technology. Arie’s background in IT equipped him with the skills needed in a fast-changing industry. His background in retail and hospitality business ownership provided him with the knowledge of what business owners would value most.

“A rewarding aspect of this business” says Arie, “is delivering a quality installation that helps customers meet needs they didn’t even know a surveillance system was capable of helping with.”

Over time, Arie turned Inforce Security Corp into a family business that values customer relationships, quality installations, ongoing customer support and continuous learning for its technology team to stay at the forefront of a quickly changing field. As the team grows, it now employs technicians, project managers, accountants and business developers, with a combined 200 years’ worth of experience in the security and technology fields.
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Author: Cesar Gomez, CFIB Business Counsellor
@josuegomezg

CesarCesar Gomez Garcia has been with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for six years. His current role at the CFIB is helping our members, which are small business owners with their question on compliances. These questions can range from Employment Standards, Health and Safety, as well as complicated red tape situations that small business face today. His passion is reading and writing about entrepreneurship. Learn more about Cesar.


Your health may be affecting your company’s bottom line

Three small changes help create a healthy and productive business environment

By Brendan Rolfe

You care about your health, right? And you must care about the health of your business, otherwise you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur. Whether you recognize it or not, the life-blood of your business is you and your employees, and the success of your business can be a reflection of your team’s mental and physical wellness.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadian workers took, on average, 7.4 sick days per year in 2015. This means that in addition to staffing, scheduling, and administration costs, businesses that offer paid sick days lost around $1,500 in direct wages, per employee. While this may not seem astronomical to a layperson, small business owners, who already operate on razor-thin margins, can attest to the fact that an extra $1,500 per employee may be the difference between paying themselves for the next two months or not.

Stressed yet? Yeah, you probably are, which is a big part of the problem!

Additionally, a 2007 British study found that happier and healthier employees are significantly more productive, are less likely to be absent or tardy, and report a higher level of workplace satisfaction. This means a small investment in the health of both your employees and yourself can pay immediate fiscal dividends.

Here are three easy workplace mental and physical health initiatives you can start today:

  1. Mandatory breaks – For your employees and yourself. Consider implementing a mandatory policy where all of your employees take five minutes out of every hour to get up, walk around (or sit, if the job normally has them on their feet), and do something that is not work related, including not talking about work-related topics.
  2. Emphasize fitness – You may want to sign you and your employees up for a weekly bootcamp (bonus team-building!), bring in various health professionals for ‘lunch and learns’ each month, offer to subsidize all or part of gym memberships, or create a friendly health-related competition.
  3. Office plants – Yep, I’m serious. Studies have shown that adding indoor plants to your office not only improves the air quality, but it gives employees and customers alike a better sense of well-being. Start small, and no plastics. Adding a small plant to each employee’s desk will promote these benefits, plus a calming, nurturing effect. Win-win-win!

Interested in another quick and easy way to boost your business? Register yourself on the Shop Small Biz directory to reach your customers and prospects!

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Brendan HeadshotBRENDAN ROLFE is a former small business owner, a certified Health & Wellness Specialist, and a current Business Resources Counselor with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Brendan is a former (washed-up) professional athlete, a fitness and health enthusiast (maniac) and is keen (obsessive) about beach volleyball. Brendan has been happily counseling BC members for 2 years.

LinkedIn link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brendan-rolfe-6a142467


Art of Marketing Conference 2016, highlights

With our fabulous partners, Women in Business Network (WIBN), CFIB recently exhibited at the Art of Marketing conference in Toronto.

Leigh and I.jpg

(I’m the one in the glasses)

 

It was a great event with insightful speeches and commentary offered by some top notch speakers, including (but not limited to):

  • Avinash Kaushik
  • Stephen Shapiro
  • Bethany Mota and Mitch Joel
  • Adam Garone
  • Morgan Spurlock

Also in attendance was Carolyn Ellis. I’ve seen Carolyn Ellis at past conferences and I always love what she does, partly because she allows me to give you great highlights and insights from the conference without having to write insufferably long, multi-part blog posts! Also, Carolyn has inadvertently validated my need to doodle in meetings.

So, without further ado, here are some of the key takeaways from the Art of Marketing Conference.

avinash kaushik

adam garone

Stephen Shapiro.jpg

Bethany Mota and Mitch Joel

And as an added bonus, here is one of my favourite slides of day, presented by Adam Garone.

20160614_145433.jpg

If it’s not quite clear enough -hey, I’m a marketer not a photographer! – It reads:

LESSONS

Being significant is far more important than being successful.

Reinvention is the key to longevity.

You can’t think outside the box if you live in the box.

Who dares wins.


Keeping employees engaged in the lazy, hazy days of summer

shutterstock_150341975_jpgA study by the Gallup Management Journal found that, in the US, 70% of employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged. That means that up to seven out of 10 of your employees may not be inspired and committed to what they’re doing.

Engaged employees want to do their work, are dedicated to success, and enjoy what they are doing. They care about the company and where it is going. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, and involved in the company. They are the go-getters that can help your business succeed.

Employees who are not engaged, however, have serious untapped potential. Inspiring your employees can unlock that potential and help fuel your business’s growth.

Here are a few tips to get your employees motivated and engaged this summer.

Throw a party
My dad used to organize a company day trip to Canada’s Wonderland every year. It was on a weekend, so it was a great opportunity for all the employees to spend a day with their families. We always met as a group for lunch so my dad could personally thank each employee for their great work. Everybody always looked forward to it, and team morale skyrocketed.

You don’t always have to do something so elaborate to get the same effect. Consider getting everybody together for an hour one day. Bring some Timbits and just chat and socialize. You can also volunteer at a charity event to encourage teamwork and promote your business at the same time.

Taking time to do something fun together does wonders for team culture. Getting to know each other on a more personal level can make coming to work a lot more fun.

Offer flex-time
One way to offer flexibility is to allow employees to choose their own hours. If not everyone really needs to be there during certain times, allow employees to come and leave the office whenever they’d like, as long as they’re around for the same number of hours and the work gets done. While some employees love the standard 9-5, others might want to work 8-4 to be able to spend more time with their families in the evenings.

Another way to do this is to offer half-day Fridays, on the condition that employees make up the extra hours by either coming in early, staying late, or working from home during the week. If your business needs to stay open in the afternoon on Fridays, consider having staff rotate for the whole day. Employees will appreciate the early start to the weekend—especially cottagers hoping to beat traffic.

Share some sparkling personality
How much employees care about the company is often a direct reflection of how much they like their boss. You don’t always have to give employees time off or feed them lunch—an easy way to keep employees happy and productive is to simply let them know they’re appreciated and valued. Make an effort to say hello in the morning, and goodbye (and thank you!) in the evening. Ask about their weekend. Get to know their interests.

When you show that you’re interested in a person beyond the work they do for your company, you’ll forge a better personal as well as professional relationship. Your employees will be more motivated to do a great job, and they’ll be more likely to come to you with concerns or new ideas. This is the easiest way to engage your employees—and it doesn’t cost you a dime.

Share with us on Twitter how you motivate your employees: @MyStartUpCA

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Holly

Holly Soave is a Public Policy and Entrepreneurship Intern at CFIB. She has been involved with multiple small businesses, including two ventures of her own. When she isn’t studying for her HBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business or working on growing her businesses, she enjoys writing, hiking, and baking for friends and family. Connect with Holly on LinkedIn.


A payroll tax hike hits start-ups hard

As you well know, starting your own business doesn’t come cheap. Before you open the doors, launch or go live, you are already spending money on things like insurance and inventory, licensing, lease deposits and marketing. Once you get going, you add monthly rent costs, salaries, benefits and CPP and employment insurance premiums to the books. Those early years are tough – margins are often razor-thin – and a tax hike could be the difference between preliminary success and having to close up shop.

That tax hike might be closer than you think. In a couple of weeks, finance ministers from each province will head to Vancouver and decide whether or not to hike Canada Pension Plan (CPP) premiums, as many of them believe there’s a retirement savings crisis in this country, and the only way to solve it is to take money out of your businesses and off of your paycheques and hold onto it for you until you’re 65 years old. It’s important to get informed. Visit RetirementReality.ca , take the quiz, and find out how a CPP hike will impact you and other Canadians.

I appreciate that CPP is there as a safety net. But a safety net is supposed to catch you when you fall, not prop you up. It’s designed as an income supplement, not an income.

If you live in Ontario, you might be getting it twice as bad, since the Ontario government has moved forward with its reckless Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP). The ORPP will take another 1.9 per cent off your paycheque, and matched by businesses for every employee. If you’re making $50,000 per year, that’s an additional $883 off of your income, on top of a potential CPP hike.

If governments are really interested in helping young people save more – and make no mistake, these premium hikes are really going to hit young people disproportionately – then they should be arguing less about how much of our money to take and more about the best way to help people save. If there really is a “retirement savings crisis” on the horizon (and to be sure, there are significant questions as to whether or not there actually is) then surely it’s a crisis of education, not finance. Governments should be more focused on teaching young people about the importance of saving money and how to go about it, instead of taking all choice out of the equation and doing it for them.

I appreciate that CPP is there as a safety net. But a safety net is supposed to catch you when you fall, not prop you up. It’s designed as an income supplement, not an income.

What I want in a savings plan is flexibility. When I’m saving for my future – be that with an eye on retirement or towards something more imminent, such as paying off a business loan, buying my first home or car, planning a wedding or planning for kids – I want to know that I have access to the money that I worked for. Enhancing the CPP would take that option away from me.

That extra money governments are looking to take off your paycheque every month is the money that many of us put into RRSPs and TFSAs. Increasing my premiums won’t help me save more, it will help me save differently – in a way where I have no control or access to the funds in case of emergency and at a rate of return that barely outpaces inflation.

A CPP premium hike won’t just take your retirement future out of your hands, but your business’s future, as well. That extra money is money you could be reinvesting into your business, your employees and the Canadian economy. It’s difficult to innovate without the capital to do it.

Pension reform should be a choice. We should be allowed to say no to increased premiums, to keep and invest our hard-earned money on our own.

It’s part of the reason we went into business in the first place, to be masters of our own financial destiny. Handing over the keys of the store to government is entrepreneurial poison.

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RyanRyan Mallough holds a Bac. Soc. Sci. in political science from the University of Ottawa and an MA in journalism from Western University. He currently works as the media writer with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.


Why I Loathe Casual Friday

We recently published an informative office dress code How-To for your small business.  After reading it, I knew I just had to add my two cents on a certain aspect of the article, which covered the confusing and annoying ritual known as Casual Friday.

Ugh. Casual Fridays. The bane of my existence.

Now, despite the fact that we do, as an organization, partake in Casual Fridays, I rarely feel tempted to throw on a pair of jeans and my favourite tee (it has a French bulldog wearing sunglasses on it, btw) before heading to the office. This is partly due to some of the research I read while in college on the topic of office clothing and gender biases. This research was backed by the experience of a friend who worked at a company that allowed men to wear tank tops and shorts on a casual Friday, yet women were forbidden from wearing skirts above the knees, or sleeves above the elbows. Of course times are a-changing, but it’s difficult to remove the imprint of the research and conversations of bias, so deeply embedded are they in my impressionable mind.

shutterstock_268151189-resizedMuch more than the long-since-formed fears of gender bias, which I don’t have to worry about in my current work environment, I simply don’t enjoy wearing casual clothes in the office. Oh sure, I might wear flats or go a little crazy with the hoop earrings (yes, I’m aware of how tragic it is that this is my idea of loosening up) but the truth is that I simply don’t feel as motivated or productive in jeans. Oh, and I’d rather die than wear shorts to the office. I might be in the minority but I know I’m not alone in my stance. Here’s a great Forbes article, Is Casual Dress Killing Your Productivity, to back me up on this.

Now, despite everything I just wrote, I do occasionally decide to dip my toes into those murky murky Casual Friday waters. Sometimes it works out. One time it “worked out” on the ONE Friday we were asked not to wear jeans. I’d like to say I missed the memo but you and I both know I neglected to read it.

Here’s how my pitiful attempt to fit in on a Casual Friday usually goes, according to my internal dialogue:

Are faded jeans okay?…What about the ones that I spent a fortune on last week…No, they’re distressed just enough that my grandmother asked if I got them second hand…Open toes? Not when my pedicure is scheduled for tomorrow morning…A maxi dress in the office? Really? Maybe if I throw a sweater over it. Or a blazer…Okay, I like the blazer but it would go better with my pencil skirt. Now add a button down blouse and voila…aaaand I’m back to what I would wear any other day of the week…Well, maybe I’ll loosen up with some chunky jewellery and flats. Wait. Is this what I wore last Friday?…

I am completely aware that this article makes me seem so 10 years ago, but the truth is I’m lucky to have an office environment that allows me to dress in a manner that feels comfortable and confident. So now I’ll open up the floor. Do you have a dress code in your small business? What dress code, if any, would you implement in your place of business? Are you team casual, team business casual or team cufflink? Or maybe you’re team Meredith from The Office?

I’m dying to know!