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Fall 2019 Newsletter 

October 10, 2019

 

Accounting 

Human Resources Solutions

Wealth Management

Company News

 

Personal Tax Matters - Year End Reminders

 

1. Registered Retired Savings Account (RRSP)

Have you maximized your RRSP contributions?  You have until February 29, 2020, to make your RRSP contribution for 2019.

If you turned 71 in 2019, you need to convert your RRSP to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF).  Please also note that in the year you turn 71, you only have until December 31, 2019 to make a contribution to your RRSP for 2019 (and not February 29, 2020 as above).

 

2019 Tax letters

You may also want to consider withdrawing funds from your RRSP by year-end if you are in a low tax bracket for the 2019 tax year.

 

2. Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

The TFSA started in 2009.  Taxpayer’s who have not made contributions have a contribution limit of $63,500 as of 2019 (increasing to $69,500 in 2020).  For a couple, this would be a combined limit of $139,000 in 2020.


​With legislation changes targeting income splitting, it is important to note that income splitting can be accomplished by using the TFSA.  A high-rate taxpayer can loan or gift money to another low-rate family member who can make a contribution to their TFSA and make use of their contribution room.  As the income generated inside a TFSA is tax-free, there is no attribution of income back to the contributor.

 

Also, if you are planning on making a withdrawal from your TFSA in the near future, you should consider making this withdrawal by the end of the calendar year so you can make the contribution back to the TFSA at the start of the following year. 


3. Charitable donations
Charitable donations should be made by December 31, 2019 in order to claim on your 2019 personal income tax return.


You may want to consider donating qualifying securities instead of cash since the accrued capital gain on donated securities is exempt from income tax.

 

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Sales to U.S. Customers – Tax Implications 

 

Woman shopping online

Disclaimer:  In this article, we address recent developments regarding U.S. income and sales tax matters.  The purpose of this article is to provide general awareness of the U.S. tax issues that may arise in situations where a business has sales to U.S. customers. Your specific situation should be reviewed with a U.S. tax specialist. 

 

Prior to the recent U.S. sales tax changes, a business was subject to U.S. sales tax where it had a “nexus” (meaning a connection) with a U.S. state.  To have this nexus with a U.S. state, the business was generally required to have a physical presence in that state.

Due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.), the concept of nexus was expanded and U.S. states may now subject a business to sales taxes even if the business does not have an in-state physical presence.  Beyond the traditional physical presence test in determining nexus in a state, additional tests have emerged including a new “economic nexus” test based on the Wayfair decision.


This economic nexus test is based entirely on sales revenue, transaction volume, or a combination of both.  Most states have set the thresholds at $100,000 of sales revenue or 200 transactions.  However, state sales tax laws may differ from state to state.  Kansas, for example, just recently introduced its economic sales tax law and has decided to not have a threshold.  As such, all sales to Kansas effective October 1, 2019 will be subject to U.S. state sales tax.


Activities that may create nexus in a state  
The traditional activities that may create “physical presence” in a particular state are:

Beyond the traditional physical presence and economic nexus tests, a nexus can exist through the activities of affiliates, “click-through” (also called the “Amazon tax”; it applies when an in-state business receives a commission for referring a certain amount of sales to the out-of-state seller, as through a website link) or more recently marketplace facilitator nexus (such as Amazon Marketplace).

 

If a sales tax obligation exists, this would require a business to register with each state that it has a nexus and review collection and remittance requirements.


What about income tax implications?

Although the “economic nexus” thresholds may be met or exceeded in a state, this currently applies only for determining the sales tax obligations of a business in that state.  There is speculation that U.S. states may adjust their income tax laws to also consider similar “economic nexus” tests, resulting in income taxes payable at the state level in addition to sales taxes.


Currently, for a Canadian business to be subject to U.S. income tax in a state, it must have a “physical presence” in that state.  See above “activities that may create nexus in a state” for examples of the types of activities that may create nexus in a particular state.


What about the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty?
The Canada-U.S. tax treaty provides relief to Canadian businesses with sales to the U.S. where they do not have a “permanent establishment” in the U.S.  To apply for treaty relief, a Canadian business must file a U.S. treaty based information return.  Failure to do so may be very punitive.


This U.S. treaty based information return would provide protection from U.S. federal income tax, not state level income tax.  No treaty relief is available for U.S. state level taxation.

 

Our Observations
Although the introduction of “economic nexus” has increased the U.S. sales tax compliance burden on both Canadian and foreign businesses, as we review U.S. state nexus for our clients we have identified many clients that had a physical presence in some U.S. states without their awareness. The most common situation has been travel by officers and employees to the U.S. for business purposes (for example, to attend a trade show or a business meeting).


For those Canadian businesses with sales to U.S. customers (including wholesalers), it is important that they review their U.S. state nexus to ensure they are compliant with U.S. federal income tax, U.S. state income tax and U.S. state sales taxes laws.  If you need assistance, Ward & Uptigrove can refer you to a firm with a U.S. tax specialist.
 

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Strategies to Help Businesses Comply with Canadian Privacy Laws


The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, SC 2000, c 5 (PIPEDA) is Canada’s federal privacy law for private sector businesses. It sets out the ground rules for how businesses must handle personal information. 

 

PIPEDA requires businesses to obtain a person’s consent when they collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of a commercial activity.  PIPEDA applies to most Ontario businesses as our province does not have its own privacy law.

 

Personal information is defined as “information about an identifiable individual”. Canadian courts have interpreted personal information so broadly that it also includes information that does not alone identify an individual but when combined with other information, does identify an individual. This includes factual information such as a person’s name, address, phone number, email address, ID numbers, credit card information, financial information as well as subjective personal information such as a person’s opinions, evaluations and comments.  Keyboard with lock image


PIPEDA has a code of 10 fair information principles for the protection of personal information that businesses must follow.   These principles are around how to collect personal information such as

The following six strategies will help businesses comply with their obligations under PIPEDA. 

  1. Develop a privacy policy and post it on your website. Businesses should develop a comprehensive privacy policy that sets out in detail what personal information it collects, why it collects it, how it uses it and to whom it discloses it. This privacy policy should also address other items such as what security measures are in place to protect the personal information and whether the information is transferred across borders. The privacy policy is an outward public-facing document that informs your clients and customers about how you manage their personal information. 
  2. Develop a privacy management program and train your employees. A privacy management program is an internal “how to” manual for businesses and their employees. It sets out in detail the policies, practices and procedures the business must adopt in order to comply with its privacy policy. In addition, businesses should train their employees on their privacy management program. 
  3. Develop a data breach response plan that complies with PIPEDA’s new breach reporting requirements. On November 1, 2018, PIPEDA’s new mandatory breach recording and record-keeping requirements came into effect. These new provisions impose requirements on businesses to keep track of every “breach of security safeguards” and report significant ones to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and individuals affected by the breach. In order to comply with these requirements, businesses should develop a data breach response plan, which acts as the company’s “playbook” in the event of a data breach.
  4. Adopt appropriate security measures and ensure data security is up-to-date. Businesses should adopt security measures that are appropriate to the sensitivity of the personal information. Businesses should also ensure that all data security is up-to-date. This may include, for example, ensuring all critical software security patches are applied as soon as possible or within a reasonable period of time. 
  5. Obtain express consent whenever you can. While PIPEDA allows businesses to rely on an individual’s implied consent to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in appropriate circumstances, businesses should nevertheless obtain an individual’s express, written consent where possible and maintain a record of that consent to avoid any ambiguity in the consent process.
  6. Conduct a periodic review of your personal information handling practices and policies. Businesses should review their privacy policies and personal information handling practices annually to ensure they are up-to-date or make any amendments as necessary.

For further review of the requirements, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has compiled a PIPEDA in Brief or visit the full law.
 

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The New WSIB Rate Framework

 

Woman writing on paper with laptop beside

As of January 1st, 2020, a new Workplace Safety and Insurance Board framework will officially come into effect.  The goal of the new framework is to simplify how businesses are classified and to establish premium rates that reflect each business’s risk and claims history.

 

The new framework includes a different method of business classification that is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  The NAICS is widely used across North America and by both Statistics Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency and it will simplify the system to 34 industry classes/subclasses, compared to the current 155 different rate groups.  


Once a business is classified, the new premium rate is determined using a new 2-step process.  

  1. Setting a class rate for each industry class.  WSIB bases the class rate on the overall and collective risk of the industry, as well as their share of the insurance fund.  This class rate is then used as a benchmark for setting individual business premium rates.  
  2. Consideration of individual business’ claim history, claim costs, insurable earnings, and any past adjustments or surcharges relating to an experience program.  WSIB will use information from the previous six years, in a rolling period format, to calculate the rate.  For example, 2013–2018 data is used in 2019 to determine 2020 premium rates, 2014-2019 data is used in 2020 to determine 2021 rates, and so on.  Note that the most recent three years factor more heavily than the earlier years when setting the premium rate.

Each industry class will have a series of risk bands with an associated premium rate; either below or above the class rate.  The difference between each risk band is approximately 5%.  Each business will be assigned a rate/risk band based on the business’ individual experience and their risk compared to other businesses in the same class and the class rate.  


To help businesses with the transition, WSIB will phase in any premium rate increases over a three year period (2020-2022), while any premium rate decreases will be effective immediately in 2020. For new businesses that have less 11 months of experience/history with WSIB, they will be assigned the class rate.  If a business was NOT previously in an experience rating program (MAP, NEER, CAD-7) their rate for 2020 will be similar to their rate from 2019. 


Businesses with multiple activities will be assigned a rate according to their predominant activity; usually meaning the activity with the highest insurable earnings.  WSIB will consider assigning multiple rates to businesses that have multiple activities providing the activity is significant, the payroll is segregated, and the various activities are not integrated or ancillary to the main activity.


The new rate setting model also incorporates a predictability factor, which essentially relates to the reliability of a business’ past claims and insurable earnings to predict future claims and earnings.  Businesses with few claims and low insurable earnings have low predictability.  WSIB will rely on the overall risk of the industry class for these businesses when setting their rates, rather than their individual experience.  This is intended to lessen the effect that one or two claims may have on a small business.  


By streamlining business classification and the premium rate setting process, WSIB aims to increase transparency.  For more information about the new framework, the nine new policies to implement and support it as well as more information on rate classification, visit their New Rate Framework site.
 

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Diversity & Inclusion's Positive Returns 

 

Many universities and research groups studies have shown that diverse workplaces are positive for innovation, bottom line performance, and customer experience satisfaction.

According to a Deloitte study published in January 2018, increasing the gender and other major diversity markers in your employee base enhances innovation by 20%, and decreases overall innovation risk by as much as 30%.  Populations are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and twice as likely to meet or exceed set financial targets when they have demographical diversity as well as cognitive diversity which includes different ways of thinking, viewpoints and skillsets.  Group of people shapes in many colors

In a 2017 study, McKinsey Consulting engaged in a wide-ranging global diversity study of large organizations comparing organizations within the same culture or country. They found that gender diversity accounted for a 21% outperformance in Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) margin and a 27% outperformance margin in long-term value creation to their nearest likely competitors who did not actively practice gender diversity in their hiring practices. McKinsey also noted that there was approximately 9–10% outperformance in functional roles where executives were more balanced in gender, contributing to revenue performance without adding any additional bonus or performance incentives to those lines. 


Studies by both Deloitte, McKinsey, as well as Catalyst and post-secondary institutions, conclude that certain behaviours increase organizational diversity and inclusion; most notably commitment from leadership and formal definitions and agreements.  Where Leaders intentionally and outwardly demonstrated a commitment to diversity

Inclusive behaviour includes a commitment to fairness, respect, valued belonging, empowerment, growth opportunities, and a safe and open workspace. Formal statements and accountabilities tied to organizational strategies are vital for ensuring inclusivity. This includes hiring, compensation, and internal growth opportunities for people and products. 


Considering how your organization handles cognitive and demographic diversity may help you improve up to 30% over your next competitor, expand your employee pool in a shrinking Canadian labour group, and increase your ability to innovate and grow.

 

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Ministry of Labour 2019 Initiative

 

Worker using a leaf blower on park path

The Ministry of Labour is launching a combined initiative this fall for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) and Respiratory Hazards from September 1st to December 27th.  This multi-sector blitz includes industrial, construction, health care and mining workplaces.  

 

During September, the Ministry focused on pairing with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations to implement support employers to achieve compliance by providing education, outreach and awareness of the associated hazards, risks and prevention. The second phase involves focused workplace inspections from October 1st to December 27th. 

 

​In preparation, employers should 

Musculoskeletal Disorders, or MSDs, are painful disorders of muscles, tendons, and nerves.  They are often referred to as repetitive strain injuries or soft tissue disorders. Some of the greatest risks for MSDs are manual material handling (lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, etc.), repetitive movements, using excessive force, prolonged static postures and improper workplace design.


Ministry of Labour inspectors will check if MSDs are occurring as well as look for the following indicators of MSD risk and prevention in the workplace:

Respiratory Hazards are substances that become airborne and respirable (able to be breathed) and that may make workers sick and/or cause serious chronic illness and/or death.  Gasses, dust, fumes and vapours are all examples of respiratory hazards.  Every workplace environment presents different hazards depending on the work performed, and the substances used.  


Ministry of Labour inspectors will inspect workplaces for the following evidence of respiratory hazard control and illness prevention: 

During this, and all initiatives, Ministry Inspectors will visit workplaces and engage with employers, workers, safety professionals and JHSC members/worker health and safety representatives to promote compliance and raise awareness.  

 

The Ministry of Labour develops annual initiatives based on injury and illness statistics and continued injury and illness prevention and worker protection strategies.  The initiatives are published annually to help employers prepare and improve their workplaces.  

 

For assistance and guidance about how the legislation applies to your workplace, how to prepare for this or other initiatives, or how to comply with any orders from a Ministry Inspector, reach out to Jennifer, our Human Resources Solutions' Health and Safety Specialist.

 

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Common Financial Guidelines for Planning Your Retirement

 

With so much uncertainty when preparing for retirement, a couple of financial rules of thumb for planning your retirement have become very popular – following them relieves at least some of that uncertainty. It is important to understand the assumptions and the limitations of these guidelines so that you understand whether they are relevant for your particular situation. 

 

Gold piggybank with glasses

‘You need 70% of your pre-retirement income in retirement’
This popular guideline incorporates the fact that you will not have certain expenses in retirement that you had while employed, like commuting costs and buying clothes for work. You also won’t be saving for retirement anymore.  However, some personal factors can make this more of a myth than a guideline, including: 

A better way to estimate how much retirement income you will need is to track your current expenses and then adjust for the changes in your lifestyle once you retire, such as an increased budget for vacations and hobbies. There are tools and apps that you can use to help you categorize and summarize your current spending. However, check with your bank first, as using third-party tools that automatically download transactions from your bank accounts may violate your online banking agreement and expose you to liability if there are unauthorized transactions in your accounts. Many banks provide their own tools to help you manage your finances, or you can download the transactions and use spreadsheet software to create your own summary.  


Once you have your recurring annual budget amount, adjusted for lifestyle changes, you should also budget for expenditures that do not occur annually, such as purchasing a new car or major house renovations. If, for example, you plan on purchasing a new car every eight years, you should factor in an annual “car replacement fund” over that period to give you a more comprehensive budget amount. Budgeting a percentage of the purchase price of your home, or a specific dollar amount per square foot, are common ways to fund major home repairs. As with all rules of thumb, these should be adjusted for the age of your home and how often you want to renovate it. 


The ‘4% rule’
One of the most commonly-cited rules for estimating how much income you can withdraw from your investment portfolio without risking running out of money is “the 4% rule.” This rule comes from a study conducted by William Bengen and first published in The Journal of Financial Planning in 1994.  


Bengen explored the concept of “portfolio longevity” – how long your investment portfolio would last if you withdrew a specific percentage of it in the first year of retirement – and then adjusted that amount for inflation in each successive year. He tested this against the stock market returns for a person retiring in each year from 1926 to 1976, and for initial withdrawal rates from 1% to 8%. With an initial withdrawal rate of 4% the portfolio lasted more than 33 years – even for those worst-case scenarios of retirees who lived through the Great Depression or the 1973–74 recession. 


The rule provides a simple answer to how much you need to save for retirement or how much retirement income you can take from an investment portfolio, but there are some important assumptions behind this rule. His sample portfolio in the data above was 50% invested in U.S. common stocks and the remaining 50% invested in intermediate-term Treasury Bills, and it was rebalanced annually. That may be more risk than some retirees are willing to assume. 


Bengen did explore this issue in his study, comparing the returns from various portfolio mixes of stocks and fixed income assets. While the 50/50 split seemed to be optimal in terms of maximizing the longevity of the portfolio, increasing the equity portion of the portfolio to 75% increased the value of the estate passed on to the heirs, while having minimal impact on the portfolio longevity. Bengen updated the study in 2006 and concluded that 4.5% was the safe initial withdrawal rate.

 

Whether it is 4% or 4.5%, this can give you a good guideline for how much you will need to have saved by retirement to feel confident that you will not run out of money. Once you have calculated your budget based on the retirement lifestyle that you want and subtracted what you expect to receive from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and any defined benefit pension plan, you can divide that net amount by 4% and have a reasonable target for your portfolio at retirement. 


In summary, these common guidelines can be a good starting point for thinking about your retirement, and how prepared you are for it, but each situation is unique and therefore understanding the assumptions and limitations of the guidelines is important.  Our Wealth Management team can work with you to help determine your specific goals.

 

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Lifestyle Services

 

Man sitting on couch with coffee and smartphone

Ward & Uptigrove Wealth Management works with clients to make more than just their financial life better.  To help our clients achieve more, we offer Lifestyle Services that helps free up time and provide support, training and research. 

 

Offering convenience and peace of mind, these services include:

If you would like more detail on any of these complimentary services, view our brochure or contact us.

 

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When to Review Your Will

 

It’s generally best practice to review your will every three to five years, to make sure that it still does what you want it to do. Certain life events should also trigger a review of your will, such as: 

When you review your will after a significant life event or change in your assets, it is also important to review:

  • The named beneficiaries for your Registered Pension Plan, Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Tax-Free Savings Account and life insurance policies, to make sure that these reflect your current situation and wishes.
  • Your powers of attorney, which name someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to. There are two kinds of power of attorney: one for property, naming the person who can make decisions about your financial affairs; and one for personal care, naming the person who can make decisions about your healthcare, housing and other aspects of your personal life. 
Man writing on paper

In addition to consulting with your lawyer, reviewing your estate plan with your CPA or financial planner will help give you peace of mind that your estate will be distributed in the most efficient and effective way possible, in accordance with your wishes.

 

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Socially Responsible Investing & Fossil Fuel Divestment

 

Recent polls indicate that climate change is a most pressing concern to many Canadians. Most people are uncertain what steps if any, they or their families can undertake to make a difference.

 

Did you know that divestment (selling an asset) from fossil fuels is a fast-growing movement in the fight against climate change?  As of the end of 2018, this movement now comprised over 1,000 institutions with over $11 trillion USD divested.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and how you can choose your investment strategy to consider financial returns while bringing about social change, like fighting climate change, contact Ward & Uptigrove Wealth Management.

 

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United Way Perth-Huron Kickoff A Success at Ward & Uptigrove

 

On September 12, Ward & Uptigrove hosted a BBQ to help United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) kick off its annual fundraising campaign in Listowel and our workplace campaign. 

United Way Perth-Huron campaign funding goal reveal

UWPH Campaign Co-Chair Martin Ritsma was on hand for the campaign goal announcement of $1,633,566, along with UWPH Executive Director Ryan Erb and North Perth Community Committee (NPCC) Chair Shelley Blackmore. The community and local dignitaries were also on hand to celebrate the number and show support for United Way’s efforts to overcome unignorable issues in the community, such as poverty, mental health and social isolation.

 

In addition to the BBQ, Ward & Uptigrove raised money with a Dunk a Partner challenge where Brad Bakker, John Padfield, Michael Weber, Kris Uptigrove, Paul Hak and Dave LeGault were at the dunk tank.

 

Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank

 

We thank all who came and donated, we were able to raise over $4,300 for United Way Perth-Huron.

 

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Growing Regional Prosperity for Our Community – New Living Wage Employer 

 

Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants is one of the most recent businesses to certify as a Living Wage Employer in the champion category. 

 

“Ward & Uptigrove is the premier professional services firm, in the heart of rural Ontario, providing integrated accounting, wealth management and consulting services. We bring small town values and downtown expertise with over 60 years of caring for each other and clients so we all succeed. We rely on our staff to care for our clients and it’s important that we care for our staff,” says Pat Downey, CEO of Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants. “Ensuring that all our staff meet or exceed the Living Wage is a tangible way to demonstrate we value them and want them to be able to enjoy life in our community.” 

Ward & Uptigrove receiving Living Wage Certificate

Now calculated annually by the United Way Perth-Huron’s Social Research and Planning Council, the Living Wage is a calculation based on the living expenses of a family of four with both adults working full-time for 35 hours a week, once government transfers and deductions are taken into account. Everyday expenses included in the calculation are food, housing, utilities, childcare and transportation. Perth-Huron Counties’ Living Wage is $17.44 per hour. For more information about PerthHuron’s Living Wage, view their report

 

“With approximately fifty percent of local households in Perth and Huron Counties living under the annual income required for their household to maintain the basic living expenses a Living Wage provides, this truly makes a big impact in the lives of many. The Living Wage is one strategy in reducing poverty and increasing positive outcomes for those in our communities,” says United Way Perth-Huron Executive Director Ryan Erb. “We are pleased to celebrate with Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants while encouraging others to do the same.”

 

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Ward & Uptigrove Client Survey


Ward & Uptigrove wants to hear from you, our clients!  In November, we will be emailing a short survey to our corporate clients to get feedback on how we are doing in any of the services we are providing.  We plan to use this survey to measure and improve our services.  Please take the time to provide us your honest feedback.

 

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Ward and Uptigrove Logo

 

Fall 2019 Newsletter 

October 10, 2019

 

 

Accounting 

Human Resources Solutions

Wealth Management

Company News

 

 

Personal Tax Matters - Year End Reminders

 

1. Registered Retired Savings Account (RRSP)

Have you maximized your RRSP contributions?  You have until February 29, 2020, to make your RRSP contribution for 2019.

If you turned 71 in 2019, you need to convert your RRSP to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF).  Please also note that in the year you turn 71, you only have until December 31, 2019 to make a contribution to your RRSP for 2019 (and not February 29, 2020 as above).

 

2019 Tax letters

You may also want to consider withdrawing funds from your RRSP by year-end if you are in a low tax bracket for the 2019 tax year.

 

2. Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

The TFSA started in 2009.  Taxpayer’s who have not made contributions have a contribution limit of $63,500 as of 2019 (increasing to $69,500 in 2020).  For a couple, this would be a combined limit of $139,000 in 2020.


​With legislation changes targeting income splitting, it is important to note that income splitting can be accomplished by using the TFSA.  A high-rate taxpayer can loan or gift money to another low-rate family member who can make a contribution to their TFSA and make use of their contribution room.  As the income generated inside a TFSA is tax-free, there is no attribution of income back to the contributor.

 

Also, if you are planning on making a withdrawal from your TFSA in the near future, you should consider making this withdrawal by the end of the calendar year so you can make the contribution back to the TFSA at the start of the following year. 


3. Charitable donations
Charitable donations should be made by December 31, 2019 in order to claim on your 2019 personal income tax return.


You may want to consider donating qualifying securities instead of cash since the accrued capital gain on donated securities is exempt from income tax.

 

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Sales to U.S. Customers – Tax Implications 

 

Disclaimer:  In this article, we address recent developments regarding U.S. income and sales tax matters.  The purpose of this article is to provide general awareness of the U.S. tax issues that may arise in situations where a business has sales to U.S. customers. Your specific situation should be reviewed with a U.S. tax specialist. 

 

Prior to the recent U.S. sales tax changes, a business was subject to U.S. sales tax where it had a “nexus” (meaning a connection) with a U.S. state.  To have this nexus with a U.S. state, the business was generally required to have a physical presence in that state.

Due to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc.), the concept of nexus was expanded and U.S. states may now subject a business to sales taxes even if the business does not have an in-state physical presence.  Beyond the traditional physical presence test in determining nexus in a state, additional tests have emerged including a new “economic nexus” test based on the Wayfair decision.

 

Woman shopping online

 

This economic nexus test is based entirely on sales revenue, transaction volume, or a combination of both.  Most states have set the thresholds at $100,000 of sales revenue or 200 transactions.  However, state sales tax laws may differ from state to state.  Kansas, for example, just recently introduced its economic sales tax law and has decided to not have a threshold.  As such, all sales to Kansas effective October 1, 2019 will be subject to U.S. state sales tax.


Activities that may create nexus in a state  
The traditional activities that may create “physical presence” in a particular state are:

  • Traveling sales people in a state
  • Multi state locations
  • Utilization of contract labour in a state
  • Company representatives situated in a state
  • Ownership or lease of any real or personal property in a state
  • Promotion of products or services in a state
  • Participation in trade shows or exhibits in a state
  • Payment of commissions to resellers in a state
  • Employment of marketing/web advertising in a state
  • Use of drop shipments in a state

Beyond the traditional physical presence and economic nexus tests, a nexus can exist through the activities of affiliates, “click-through” (also called the “Amazon tax”; it applies when an in-state business receives a commission for referring a certain amount of sales to the out-of-state seller, as through a website link) or more recently marketplace facilitator nexus (such as Amazon Marketplace).

 

If a sales tax obligation exists, this would require a business to register with each state that it has a nexus and review collection and remittance requirements.


What about income tax implications?

Although the “economic nexus” thresholds may be met or exceeded in a state, this currently applies only for determining the sales tax obligations of a business in that state.  There is speculation that U.S. states may adjust their income tax laws to also consider similar “economic nexus” tests, resulting in income taxes payable at the state level in addition to sales taxes.


Currently, for a Canadian business to be subject to U.S. income tax in a state, it must have a “physical presence” in that state.  See above “activities that may create nexus in a state” for examples of the types of activities that may create nexus in a particular state.


What about the Canada-U.S. Tax Treaty?
The Canada-U.S. tax treaty provides relief to Canadian businesses with sales to the U.S. where they do not have a “permanent establishment” in the U.S.  To apply for treaty relief, a Canadian business must file a U.S. treaty based information return.  Failure to do so may be very punitive.


This U.S. treaty based information return would provide protection from U.S. federal income tax, not state level income tax.  No treaty relief is available for U.S. state level taxation.

 

Our Observations
Although the introduction of “economic nexus” has increased the U.S. sales tax compliance burden on both Canadian and foreign businesses, as we review U.S. state nexus for our clients we have identified many clients that had a physical presence in some U.S. states without their awareness. The most common situation has been travel by officers and employees to the U.S. for business purposes (for example, to attend a trade show or a business meeting).


For those Canadian businesses with sales to U.S. customers (including wholesalers), it is important that they review their U.S. state nexus to ensure they are compliant with U.S. federal income tax, U.S. state income tax and U.S. state sales taxes laws.  If you need assistance, Ward & Uptigrove can refer you to a firm with a U.S. tax specialist.
 

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Strategies to Help Businesses Comply with Canadian Privacy Laws


The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, SC 2000, c 5 (PIPEDA) is Canada’s federal privacy law for private sector businesses. It sets out the ground rules for how businesses must handle personal information. 

 

PIPEDA requires businesses to obtain a person’s consent when they collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of a commercial activity.  PIPEDA applies to most Ontario businesses as our province does not have its own privacy law.

 

Personal information is defined as “information about an identifiable individual”. Canadian courts have interpreted personal information so broadly that it also includes information that does not alone identify an individual but when combined with other information, does identify an individual. This includes factual information such as a person’s name, address, phone number, email address, ID numbers, credit card information, financial information as well as subjective personal information such as a person’s opinions, evaluations and comments.  Keyboard with lock image


PIPEDA has a code of 10 fair information principles for the protection of personal information that businesses must follow.   These principles are around how to collect personal information such as

  • Appointing a chief privacy officer who is responsible for the business’ compliance.
  • Making their personal information handling policies publicly available.
  • Allowing individuals access to their personal information.
  • Adopting security safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information. 

The following six strategies will help businesses comply with their obligations under PIPEDA. 

  1. Develop a privacy policy and post it on your website. Businesses should develop a comprehensive privacy policy that sets out in detail what personal information it collects, why it collects it, how it uses it and to whom it discloses it. This privacy policy should also address other items such as what security measures are in place to protect the personal information and whether the information is transferred across borders. The privacy policy is an outward public-facing document that informs your clients and customers about how you manage their personal information. 
  2. Develop a privacy management program and train your employees. A privacy management program is an internal “how to” manual for businesses and their employees. It sets out in detail the policies, practices and procedures the business must adopt in order to comply with its privacy policy. In addition, businesses should train their employees on their privacy management program. 
  3. Develop a data breach response plan that complies with PIPEDA’s new breach reporting requirements. On November 1, 2018, PIPEDA’s new mandatory breach recording and record-keeping requirements came into effect. These new provisions impose requirements on businesses to keep track of every “breach of security safeguards” and report significant ones to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada and individuals affected by the breach. In order to comply with these requirements, businesses should develop a data breach response plan, which acts as the company’s “playbook” in the event of a data breach.
  4. Adopt appropriate security measures and ensure data security is up-to-date. Businesses should adopt security measures that are appropriate to the sensitivity of the personal information. Businesses should also ensure that all data security is up-to-date. This may include, for example, ensuring all critical software security patches are applied as soon as possible or within a reasonable period of time. 
  5. Obtain express consent whenever you can. While PIPEDA allows businesses to rely on an individual’s implied consent to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in appropriate circumstances, businesses should nevertheless obtain an individual’s express, written consent where possible and maintain a record of that consent to avoid any ambiguity in the consent process.
  6. Conduct a periodic review of your personal information handling practices and policies. Businesses should review their privacy policies and personal information handling practices annually to ensure they are up-to-date or make any amendments as necessary.

For further review of the requirements, The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has compiled a PIPEDA in Brief or visit the full law.
 

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The New WSIB Rate Framework

 

Woman writing on paper with laptop beside

As of January 1st, 2020, a new Workplace Safety and Insurance Board framework will officially come into effect.  The goal of the new framework is to simplify how businesses are classified and to establish premium rates that reflect each business’s risk and claims history.

 

The new framework includes a different method of business classification that is based on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).  The NAICS is widely used across North America and by both Statistics Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency and it will simplify the system to 34 industry classes/subclasses, compared to the current 155 different rate groups.  


Once a business is classified, the new premium rate is determined using a new 2-step process.  

  1. Setting a class rate for each industry class.  WSIB bases the class rate on the overall and collective risk of the industry, as well as their share of the insurance fund.  This class rate is then used as a benchmark for setting individual business premium rates.  
  2. Consideration of individual business’ claim history, claim costs, insurable earnings, and any past adjustments or surcharges relating to an experience program.  WSIB will use information from the previous six years, in a rolling period format, to calculate the rate.  For example, 2013–2018 data is used in 2019 to determine 2020 premium rates, 2014-2019 data is used in 2020 to determine 2021 rates, and so on.  Note that the most recent three years factor more heavily than the earlier years when setting the premium rate.

Each industry class will have a series of risk bands with an associated premium rate; either below or above the class rate.  The difference between each risk band is approximately 5%.  Each business will be assigned a rate/risk band based on the business’ individual experience and their risk compared to other businesses in the same class and the class rate.  


To help businesses with the transition, WSIB will phase in any premium rate increases over a three year period (2020-2022), while any premium rate decreases will be effective immediately in 2020. For new businesses that have less 11 months of experience/history with WSIB, they will be assigned the class rate.  If a business was NOT previously in an experience rating program (MAP, NEER, CAD-7) their rate for 2020 will be similar to their rate from 2019. 


Businesses with multiple activities will be assigned a rate according to their predominant activity; usually meaning the activity with the highest insurable earnings.  WSIB will consider assigning multiple rates to businesses that have multiple activities providing the activity is significant, the payroll is segregated, and the various activities are not integrated or ancillary to the main activity.


The new rate setting model also incorporates a predictability factor, which essentially relates to the reliability of a business’ past claims and insurable earnings to predict future claims and earnings.  Businesses with few claims and low insurable earnings have low predictability.  WSIB will rely on the overall risk of the industry class for these businesses when setting their rates, rather than their individual experience.  This is intended to lessen the effect that one or two claims may have on a small business.  


By streamlining business classification and the premium rate setting process, WSIB aims to increase transparency.  For more information about the new framework, the nine new policies to implement and support it as well as more information on rate classification, visit their New Rate Framework site.
 

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Diversity & Inclusion's Positive Returns 

 

Many universities and research groups studies have shown that diverse workplaces are positive for innovation, bottom line performance, and customer experience satisfaction.

According to a Deloitte study published in January 2018, increasing the gender and other major diversity markers in your employee base enhances innovation by 20%, and decreases overall innovation risk by as much as 30%.  Populations are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and twice as likely to meet or exceed set financial targets when they have demographical diversity as well as cognitive diversity which includes different ways of thinking, viewpoints and skillsets.  Group of people shapes in many colors

In a 2017 study, McKinsey Consulting engaged in a wide-ranging global diversity study of large organizations comparing organizations within the same culture or country. They found that gender diversity accounted for a 21% outperformance in Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT) margin and a 27% outperformance margin in long-term value creation to their nearest likely competitors who did not actively practice gender diversity in their hiring practices. McKinsey also noted that there was approximately 9–10% outperformance in functional roles where executives were more balanced in gender, contributing to revenue performance without adding any additional bonus or performance incentives to those lines. 


Studies by both Deloitte, McKinsey, as well as Catalyst and post-secondary institutions, conclude that certain behaviours increase organizational diversity and inclusion; most notably commitment from leadership and formal definitions and agreements.  Where Leaders intentionally and outwardly demonstrated a commitment to diversity

  • 70% of employees felt included,
  • 17% perceived increased team performance,
  • 20% had improved decision-making and
  • 29% reported better collaboration.  

Inclusive behaviour includes a commitment to fairness, respect, valued belonging, empowerment, growth opportunities, and a safe and open workspace. Formal statements and accountabilities tied to organizational strategies are vital for ensuring inclusivity. This includes hiring, compensation, and internal growth opportunities for people and products. 


Considering how your organization handles cognitive and demographic diversity may help you improve up to 30% over your next competitor, expand your employee pool in a shrinking Canadian labour group, and increase your ability to innovate and grow.

 

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Ministry of Labour 2019 Initiative

 

Worker using a leaf blower on park path

The Ministry of Labour is launching a combined initiative this fall for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) and Respiratory Hazards from September 1st to December 27th.  This multi-sector blitz includes industrial, construction, health care and mining workplaces.  

 

During September, the Ministry focused on pairing with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations to implement support employers to achieve compliance by providing education, outreach and awareness of the associated hazards, risks and prevention. The second phase involves focused workplace inspections from October 1st to December 27th. 

 

​In preparation, employers should 

  • Know what legislation applies to their workplace.
  • Identify the hazards in their workplace(s).
  • Assess their potential for employee injury and illness.
  • Implement controls to eliminate or reduce worker exposure and risk.  

Musculoskeletal Disorders, or MSDs, are painful disorders of muscles, tendons, and nerves.  They are often referred to as repetitive strain injuries or soft tissue disorders. Some of the greatest risks for MSDs are manual material handling (lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, etc.), repetitive movements, using excessive force, prolonged static postures and improper workplace design.


Ministry of Labour inspectors will check if MSDs are occurring as well as look for the following indicators of MSD risk and prevention in the workplace:

  • Records of worker training for safe manual materials handling, and that workers have received information about MSD hazards,
  • Minutes of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) meetings to identify if MSD hazards are discussed and identified,
  • Workers using safe materials handling procedures,
  • Safe storage, stacking and shelving of materials including safe and secure racking and shelving (i.e. the weight of the materials and the capacity of your racking),
  • Work areas and walkways that are clear and free of obstructions and slip/trip hazards,
  • Safe and appropriate access and egress to work areas, relating to the work performed,
  • Good general housekeeping,
  • Workers safely handling items while on a ladder,
  • Mechanical equipment is available and used, where practical, to limit manual handling,
  • Lifting equipment is inspected, serviced and maintained regularly, as per the manufacturer,
  • Established written procedures for patient/client handling in health care settings,
  • Exposure to hand arm and/or whole body vibration.

Respiratory Hazards are substances that become airborne and respirable (able to be breathed) and that may make workers sick and/or cause serious chronic illness and/or death.  Gasses, dust, fumes and vapours are all examples of respiratory hazards.  Every workplace environment presents different hazards depending on the work performed, and the substances used.  


Ministry of Labour inspectors will inspect workplaces for the following evidence of respiratory hazard control and illness prevention: 

  • Workers have been trained on how to safely use and dispose of chemicals and substances,
  • Hazardous substances are properly and safely handled, stored and disposed,
  • Spill kits, or other means, are maintained and accessible to workers in the event of a spill,
  • Workplace areas where hazardous substances are used or generated have adequate ventilation and other controls to reduce worker exposure,
  • Workers who use respiratory personal protective equipment (PPE) are trained in its use and maintenance, have access to the PPE when needed and know when to use it,
  • Diesel burning equipment is maintained,
  • Designated substances are assessed and controlled as per legislated requirements.

During this, and all initiatives, Ministry Inspectors will visit workplaces and engage with employers, workers, safety professionals and JHSC members/worker health and safety representatives to promote compliance and raise awareness.  

 

The Ministry of Labour develops annual initiatives based on injury and illness statistics and continued injury and illness prevention and worker protection strategies.  The initiatives are published annually to help employers prepare and improve their workplaces.  

 

For assistance and guidance about how the legislation applies to your workplace, how to prepare for this or other initiatives, or how to comply with any orders from a Ministry Inspector, reach out to Jennifer, our Human Resources Solutions' Health and Safety Specialist.

 

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Common Financial Guidelines for Planning Your Retirement

 

With so much uncertainty when preparing for retirement, a couple of financial rules of thumb for planning your retirement have become very popular – following them relieves at least some of that uncertainty. It is important to understand the assumptions and the limitations of these guidelines so that you understand whether they are relevant for your particular situation. 

 

Gold piggybank with glasses

‘You need 70% of your pre-retirement income in retirement’
This popular guideline incorporates the fact that you will not have certain expenses in retirement that you had while employed, like commuting costs and buying clothes for work. You also won’t be saving for retirement anymore.  However, some personal factors can make this more of a myth than a guideline, including: 

  • Whether you own your home and your mortgage is paid off.
  • Whether your children are financially independent or you are still helping fund their university education.
  • Your own goals for retirement.

A better way to estimate how much retirement income you will need is to track your current expenses and then adjust for the changes in your lifestyle once you retire, such as an increased budget for vacations and hobbies. There are tools and apps that you can use to help you categorize and summarize your current spending. However, check with your bank first, as using third-party tools that automatically download transactions from your bank accounts may violate your online banking agreement and expose you to liability if there are unauthorized transactions in your accounts. Many banks provide their own tools to help you manage your finances, or you can download the transactions and use spreadsheet software to create your own summary.  


Once you have your recurring annual budget amount, adjusted for lifestyle changes, you should also budget for expenditures that do not occur annually, such as purchasing a new car or major house renovations. If, for example, you plan on purchasing a new car every eight years, you should factor in an annual “car replacement fund” over that period to give you a more comprehensive budget amount. Budgeting a percentage of the purchase price of your home, or a specific dollar amount per square foot, are common ways to fund major home repairs. As with all rules of thumb, these should be adjusted for the age of your home and how often you want to renovate it. 


The ‘4% rule’
One of the most commonly-cited rules for estimating how much income you can withdraw from your investment portfolio without risking running out of money is “the 4% rule.” This rule comes from a study conducted by William Bengen and first published in The Journal of Financial Planning in 1994.  


Bengen explored the concept of “portfolio longevity” – how long your investment portfolio would last if you withdrew a specific percentage of it in the first year of retirement – and then adjusted that amount for inflation in each successive year. He tested this against the stock market returns for a person retiring in each year from 1926 to 1976, and for initial withdrawal rates from 1% to 8%. With an initial withdrawal rate of 4% the portfolio lasted more than 33 years – even for those worst-case scenarios of retirees who lived through the Great Depression or the 1973–74 recession. 


The rule provides a simple answer to how much you need to save for retirement or how much retirement income you can take from an investment portfolio, but there are some important assumptions behind this rule. His sample portfolio in the data above was 50% invested in U.S. common stocks and the remaining 50% invested in intermediate-term Treasury Bills, and it was rebalanced annually. That may be more risk than some retirees are willing to assume. 


Bengen did explore this issue in his study, comparing the returns from various portfolio mixes of stocks and fixed income assets. While the 50/50 split seemed to be optimal in terms of maximizing the longevity of the portfolio, increasing the equity portion of the portfolio to 75% increased the value of the estate passed on to the heirs, while having minimal impact on the portfolio longevity. Bengen updated the study in 2006 and concluded that 4.5% was the safe initial withdrawal rate.

 

Whether it is 4% or 4.5%, this can give you a good guideline for how much you will need to have saved by retirement to feel confident that you will not run out of money. Once you have calculated your budget based on the retirement lifestyle that you want and subtracted what you expect to receive from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and any defined benefit pension plan, you can divide that net amount by 4% and have a reasonable target for your portfolio at retirement. 


In summary, these common guidelines can be a good starting point for thinking about your retirement, and how prepared you are for it, but each situation is unique and therefore understanding the assumptions and limitations of the guidelines is important. Our Wealth Management team can work with you to help determine your specific goals.

 

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Lifestyle Services

 

Man sitting on couch with coffee and smartphone

Ward & Uptigrove Wealth Management works with clients to make more than just their financial life better.  To help our clients achieve more, we offer Lifestyle Services that helps free up time and provide support, training and research. 

 

Offering convenience and peace of mind, these services include:

  • Travel Concierge - Planning the perfect vacation can be very time consuming. Let us narrow it down and conduct the research.
  • Gadget Whiz - Technology can be a wonderful asset or a major source of frustration. We offer one on one personal support in-person or by phone and video.
  • Service Provider Assessment – We do the research to check if service plans are still the best and most appropriate based on usage.
  • Maintaining Your Home - Finding the right company to work with can be challenging, we can make contacts and connections.
  • Banking Transactions & Recordkeeping - Finding a method to manage personal money and documents, whether online or on paper, can make this easier.

If you would like more detail on any of these complimentary services, view our brochure or contact us.

 

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When to Review Your Will

 

It’s generally best practice to review your will every three to five years, to make sure that it still does what you want it to do. Certain life events should also trigger a review of your will, such as: 

  • Changes in your relationships such as a beneficiary passing away, a falling out with a beneficiary, executor or guardian named in the will.
  • Marriage: In most provinces, your current will is automatically revoked when you get married, but there are some exceptions to this general rule and these laws vary widely between the provinces.  
  • Divorce or separation for common-law spouses: In some jurisdictions, the entire will is revoked, while in others only those provisions relating to your former spouse are revoked. 
  • New additions to your family: The birth or adoption of a child is another event that should trigger an update of your will to select a guardian for your minor children or you may want to establish a trust to hold the property for those children.
  • Changes in your assets: Perhaps the relative value of your assets and/ or changes to tax legislation has changed the terms you’d like.
  • If you move between provinces it’s time to review your will and other related documents as the laws governing family law, wills and estates are provincial, rather than federal.

When you review your will after a significant life event or change in your assets, it is also important to review:

  • The named beneficiaries for your Registered Pension Plan, Registered Retirement Savings Plans, Tax-Free Savings Account and life insurance policies, to make sure that these reflect your current situation and wishes.
  • Your powers of attorney, which name someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to. There are two kinds of power of attorney: one for property, naming the person who can make decisions about your financial affairs; and one for personal care, naming the person who can make decisions about your healthcare, housing and other aspects of your personal life. 

Man writing on paper

In addition to consulting with your lawyer, reviewing your estate plan with your CPA or financial planner will help give you peace of mind that your estate will be distributed in the most efficient and effective way possible, in accordance with your wishes.

 

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Socially Responsible Investing & Fossil Fuel Divestment

 

Recent polls indicate that climate change is a most pressing concern to many Canadians. Most people are uncertain what steps if any, they or their families can undertake to make a difference.

 

Did you know that divestment (selling an asset) from fossil fuels is a fast-growing movement in the fight against climate change?  As of the end of 2018, this movement now comprised over 1,000 institutions with over $11 trillion USD divested.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and how you can choose your investment strategy to consider financial returns while bringing about social change, like fighting climate change, contact Ward & Uptigrove Wealth Management.

 

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United Way Perth-Huron Kickoff A Success at Ward & Uptigrove

 

On September 12, Ward & Uptigrove hosted a BBQ to help United Way Perth-Huron (UWPH) kick off its annual fundraising campaign in Listowel and our workplace campaign. 

United Way Perth-Huron campaign funding goal reveal

UWPH Campaign Co-Chair Martin Ritsma was on hand for the campaign goal announcement of $1,633,566, along with UWPH Executive Director Ryan Erb and North Perth Community Committee (NPCC) Chair Shelley Blackmore. The community and local dignitaries were also on hand to celebrate the number and show support for United Way’s efforts to overcome unignorable issues in the community, such as poverty, mental health and social isolation.

 

In addition to the BBQ, Ward & Uptigrove raised money with a Dunk a Partner challenge where Brad Bakker, John Padfield, Michael Weber, Kris Uptigrove, Paul Hak and Dave LeGault were at the dunk tank.

 

Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank Ward & Uptigrove Partner Dunk Tank

 

We thank all who came and donated, we were able to raise over $4,300 for United Way Perth-Huron.

 

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Growing Regional Prosperity for Our Community – New Living Wage Employer 

 

Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants is one of the most recent businesses to certify as a Living Wage Employer in the champion category. 

 

“Ward & Uptigrove is the premier professional services firm, in the heart of rural Ontario, providing integrated accounting, wealth management and consulting services. We bring small town values and downtown expertise with over 60 years of caring for each other and clients so we all succeed. We rely on our staff to care for our clients and it’s important that we care for our staff,” says Pat Downey, CEO of Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants. “Ensuring that all our staff meet or exceed the Living Wage is a tangible way to demonstrate we value them and want them to be able to enjoy life in our community.” 

Ward & Uptigrove receiving Living Wage Certificate

Now calculated annually by the United Way Perth-Huron’s Social Research and Planning Council, the Living Wage is a calculation based on the living expenses of a family of four with both adults working full-time for 35 hours a week, once government transfers and deductions are taken into account. Everyday expenses included in the calculation are food, housing, utilities, childcare and transportation. Perth-Huron Counties’ Living Wage is $17.44 per hour. For more information about PerthHuron’s Living Wage, view their report

 

“With approximately fifty percent of local households in Perth and Huron Counties living under the annual income required for their household to maintain the basic living expenses a Living Wage provides, this truly makes a big impact in the lives of many. The Living Wage is one strategy in reducing poverty and increasing positive outcomes for those in our communities,” says United Way Perth-Huron Executive Director Ryan Erb. “We are pleased to celebrate with Ward & Uptigrove Chartered Professional Accountants while encouraging others to do the same.”

 

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Ward & Uptigrove Client Survey


Ward & Uptigrove wants to hear from you, our clients!  In November, we will be emailing a short survey to our corporate clients to get feedback on how we are doing in any of the services we are providing.  We plan to use this survey to measure and improve our services.  Please take the time to provide us your honest feedback.

 

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