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I lived to tell about it

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Hello again! I’m just stopping in to let you know that I’m back after nearly 6-months of recovery. Thank you for your concern and get well soon wishes. I can’t tell you how much I missed you all!

You may already know that I was in an accident on December 29, 2020, in Winnipeg at the corner of Ferry and Portage Avenue. If you’re interested in some of the details, this is my story…

Karrianne and dog Munchie

Munchie and I during easier times April of 2019 (you might have seen this picture used on CTV News)

My dog Munchie and I were taking our afternoon walk later than normal that Tuesday. We arrived at the intersection around 2:45 pm and proceeded to cross with the walking light. She was at the end of the leash, pulling as she does, ahead of me. At the same time, a motorist in an SUV was making a left-hand turn and apparently didn’t see me? Have you ever experienced a feeling of total and utter dread prior to something bad happening? I did. I felt a sick feeling before I was knocked down onto my left side and then dragged for a few seconds. When the vehicle stopped, I was pinned underneath. The weight of the vehicle on my right shoulder squeezed my lungs shut and I couldn’t breathe. I vividly remember making eye contact with my dog and trying to call out to her. When the words wouldn’t come, I realized this was it – the end. I felt astonished. The voice in my head said, “I can’t believe this is your day.”


Munchie is awfully cute but not very loyal. In hindsight, we have a good laugh that when I lost consciousness, she must have thought “ok, she’s down and I’m out of here!”. Luckily, someone found her, walked her home, tied her to my front step, and contacted Animal Services to come and check on her. When my better half arrived at the house a couple of hours later, he found her there still wearing her coat and boots. She was a little shook up, but no worse for wear.


My 1st life lesson: Anything bad can happen at any time but anything good can happen too.

Who better to make my car drivable after a 5-month stay in the garage? This is Drew Ramore outside my garage on May 31, 2021. What a bonus to meet him in person for the first time.

My reality was shaping up much differently. I was surprised to regain consciousness in the ambulance. I remember thinking “how am I still alive?”. It was a few days later that my Dad made a phone call – we think to emergency services (he made a lot of phone calls) that answered the question. A young man by the name of Drew Ramore happened to be driving by in his Pit Crew Mobile Tire Service van conveniently equipped with the exact tools needed to save my life. When he saw my legs peeking out from under the vehicle he turned around against traffic on Portage, jumped out, and proceeded to jack the vehicle up and off me. Four other helpers (Travis, Jim, Corey, and Bob) pulled me out and Karen, a retired nurse who also stopped to help, monitored my vitals until emergency services arrived. I had broken the left side of my body including my collarbone, several ribs, pelvis in 4 places, and the soft tissue in my calf had been crushed. It was bad but could have been so much worse. Miraculously there were no head or spinal injuries. I can’t remember who told me, a doctor or nurse (maybe I dreamed it) that I would be in hospital for a few days…

My 2nd life lesson: for every heartfelt thank you given without an agenda, 100 times effort will be received in return.

First time in a wheelchair, January 3, 2021

I spent 24 nights in the Health Sciences Centre during a pandemic. I won’t be forgetting that experience any time soon! I got to know 4 wards, 6 roommates, 5 doctors, a team of 3 physio and occupational therapists, countless nurses, and healthcare aids (unit assistants). I thanked every one of them for their service during such a difficult time. I was displaced on wards that I never would have been on had the orthopedic ward not been commandeered for Covid patients. That meant nurses and aids had to adjust to trauma and other types of patients they normally wouldn’t be treating. At that time, no one had been vaccinated, and although 2nd wave numbers were starting to subside, hospitals weren’t out of the woods (and clearly still aren’t). Extra cleaning, PPE, and self-distancing measures to keep Covid from spreading compounded workloads and stress levels. Many of the staff were working long hours of overtime in uncharted territory. They navigated all of this with grace, patience, and a good sense of humour. I couldn’t be more thankful for the world-class healthcare I received. At a time when I could not have visitors, the staff at HSC made life bearable.

My 3rd life lesson: “This too shall pass” applies to minutes, hours, days, years. There is no timer on when things will get better – it could even be in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been so fortunate to never have had a broken bone, surgery, or a hospital stay in my life. This, I learned, made me rather naive to the whole recovery process. I wasn’t given clearance to bear weight on my left leg until February 3rd. Being bedridden for 5 weeks plays a whole other role I had no frame of reference for. It was tough slogging, but I made it up on my feet to a walker.

One week anniversary on the walker February 18, 2021

I then graduated to 2 canes and learned how to tackle the stairs. I had a physiotherapist visiting the house 3 times a week to help me. He was pleased with my progress and referred me to a clinic on March 5th. I’ve been going to the clinic 3 times a week and doing my homework until recently when we pared it back to two sessions. I now know that recovery is a full-time job. The physical and emotional toll it takes is incredibly taxing. I made it through the worst of it, I have a lot less pain and I no longer need a cane at all! I am very fortunate to have had an amazing support network that made it possible for me to focus on getting better. This, I believe, is what pushed me ahead of the curve. I still have to deal with lingering issues – a frozen shoulder and a great big hematoma on my left calf. But that seems to be a small price to pay for being alive.

My 4th life lesson: A sure-fire way to change a bad moment into a good one has been to help someone else or review my blessings. This has worked every time without fail.

I can’t say that I can fully close this chapter. I likely never will. It opened me up to a whole new world of thinking and understanding that only an experience like this can. We’re all told not to take things for granted. I took this to heart before the accident and felt that I was grateful then. The difference is that now I truly understand what it means not to take things for granted and what the most important “things” really are…

3 life-altering insurance strategies

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Footprints in the sand at the beach

Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create, impact, and contribute today while you’re here that then happens to live on. –Rasheed Ogunlaru

Think about the footprints you left behind when you walked down the beach this summer – they didn’t last forever. Now, consider these two questions:

  1. Am I living life to the fullest (regardless of Covid)?
  2. What legacy will I be leaving behind?

If you placed the answers to these two questions on a teeter-totter, you might want them to balance. After all, if you’re living your life now to ensure a future for someone else, aren’t you missing out? And, if you’re ‘living it up’ with no attention to what you’re leaving behind, are you putting someone else at risk? Heavy questions for a walk on the beach, but necessary.

Insurance is one tool that can be implemented in your financial life plan to strike this balance. The persistence of the pandemic has made us all more aware of our vulnerabilities. It may be timely to explore insurance strategies to offset these risks. Let’s start with the types of insurance available.


Types of insurance

Health Insurance
Provides additional coverage to provincial health plans including services and products such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage, psychiatric, home care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, prosthetics, and more. Your health insurance policy may also cover dental and travel insurance. Some of the insurance carriers are introducing travel insurance plans with specific emergency medical coverage for Covid-19 and related conditions.

Disability Insurance 
Replaces a portion of your regular employment income for a specified period of time. Many employers offer Disability insurance as part of their group benefits plan. Plans may provide short-term and/or long-term benefits. Short-term disability usually lasts for up to 6 months. Long-term disability benefits usually last for at least 2 years, typically cover 60-70% of income (up to a maximum amount), and tend to kick in after short-term benefits, sick-leave, and EI have expired. Coverage may be available up to age 65 depending on your occupational classification.

Critical Illness Insurance
Provides a lump-sum payment in the event you or a dependent is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness covered by your policy. Most critical illness policy claims are due to cancer, heart disease, and stroke, but policies usually cover an array of illnesses. Claim payments are non-taxable and can be used to replace lost income, improve medical care, and explore treatment options that may not be covered by provincial healthcare.

Term Life Insurance
Is usually the least costly life insurance product. It is available for different terms such as 5, 10, 20, or 30 years and has a specific expiry date, often age 85. The death benefit is usually level or fixed. Premium increases at the end of each term. For example, for a 10-year Term policy, the premiums stay the same for 10 years and then increase with each subsequent 10-year period. You can purchase declining term life insurance policies that typically have a level premium but declining coverage (often to cover the amortization schedule for a mortgage or loan).

Permanent Life Insurance 

There are 3 types of insurance contracts that provide permanent coverage for as long as you live:

    • Term to 100,
    • Whole Life, and
    • Universal Life

Term to 100
Term to 100 insurance usually has no cash value but as long as the premiums are paid the plan will remain in force. If you live beyond age 100 the plan in most cases becomes paid up and no future premiums are due.

Whole Life (WL)
WL insurance is more expensive than Term to 100 because it builds up a cash value over the life of the plan. Each year the insurer pays a “policy dividend” to each whole life policy. Depending on the terms of the contract, the policy dividends may be withdrawn in cash or allowed to accumulate within the policy. The dividends may also be used to reduce premiums or to buy more coverage each year (paid-up additions) and increase cash value at the same time.

If you have a life insurance contract with level premiums that has both an insurance and an investment component, this is how it works. The insurance component pays a stated amount upon death of the insured. The investment component accumulates a cash value that the policyholder can withdraw or borrow against while the policy is still inforce.

Universal Life (UL)
A more flexible kind of permanent life insurance is called universal life. It combines the low-cost protection of term life insurance with a tax-sheltered savings component (similar to whole life insurance). The main difference is that the policy owner can select the investments to be used.


A strategic approach to implementing insurance in your financial life plan

STRATEGY 1: Mortgage insurance owned by the lender vs life insurance owned by you, the home buyer

Jim and Sally are buying a home valued at $400,000. They have a healthy down payment of $100,000, but they still require a mortgage of $300,000. Although their jobs seem secure, they’ve been learning during the Covid crisis that life can throw us a curveball. The lender has offered them “mortgage insurance”.

Mortgage insurance is life insurance that is sold when a mortgage is being granted. It protects the lender in the event that the homeowner dies. This also benefits the homeowners’ family as the mortgage will be fully paid. However, there’s another way to arrange this that places the family in control of their insurance rather than the lender.

If Jim were to pass away, it would be great for Sally to be mortgage-free, but what if she needed money for other things right away? It might be beneficial for her to carry the mortgage if she could make the payments, and use the insurance benefit to cover other immediate expenses and perhaps supplement her income.

When Jim and Sally compared the Mortgage insurance offered by their bank with personally owned Term insurance this is what they discovered:

Table comparing the differences between mortgage insurance and personal life insurance.

Click image to enlarge.


STRATEGY 2: Using permanent life insurance to create an insured retirement plan

Alex and Beth are self-employed. He’s a musician. She is a freelance interior designer. They are both successful but their incomes vary significantly from year to year. Since they can’t count on an employer to provide a pension, they want a strategy that will enhance their RRSP/TFSA savings and make sure they retire well.

They were determined to find a conservative way to help fund their retirement that would be safe from creditors and their own urge to spend rather than save. When they began planning they knew nothing about strategies using permanent life insurance; by the time they finished, they had an insurance program designed to provide a tax-effective income stream in retirement. They would not have to worry about the volatility of the financial markets. They would just need to make their annual premium payments.

If they stay on track with their deposits, at age 65 when they retire, they will take their policy to a lender to secure a loan using the cash value of their policy as collateral. They will borrow an amount, possibly as high as 90%, of their cash value and set up monthly income payments (currently not taxable income).


STRATEGY 3: Use a permanent life insurance policy to create a legacy for your grandchildren

Grandpa is comfortably retired at age 70, getting used to being a widower. He has just settled Grandma’s estate and realizes his pension income is much greater than his lifestyle requirements. He has ample investments to see him through the decades ahead. When he and his wife planned their retirement income strategy, they both elected the joint and last survivor option on their employment pensions. Now that Grandma has passed away, Grandpa is receiving the same amount of pension income as she had been receiving, guaranteed for as long as he lives.

Grandpa wants to use his excess monthly income (about $2,000 per month after tax) to create an estate for his 2 grandchildren (Joey and Jenny). He wants a strategy that isn’t going to be subject to the volatility of the financial markets but where there is some flexibility.

Grandpa could apply for a Universal Life insurance policy with a fixed premium of $2,000 per month. Since he is in good health, he expects to be insurable at a standard or possibly even a preferred health rating. If that’s the case, he will be able to purchase a $500,000 policy. He also will be able to contribute more than the required premium if he chooses to do so. When Grandpa passes away, under the current tax laws the insurance proceeds will go to Joey and Jenny tax-free. He will be confident that each of them will receive at least $250,000 and potentially more if he contributes more than the minimum premium required. It’s a tax-effective way for him to transfer some of his wealth to his grandchildren. Who knows, maybe they’ll want to use it to buy the family cottage at West Hawk Lake!


What kind of insurance is right for you?

Everyone’s situation is unique. Your financial life plan provides the framework for identifying solutions that will work for you. Strategies can be compared and the financial impact examined before looking at specific products. There are many insurance companies offering a variety of products. Understanding what you really want to accomplish is essential. If you haven’t reviewed your insurance program recently, now might be the right time.

How much should I have in my emergency savings fund?

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We all got the shock of a lifetime when the pandemic hit. We quickly learned that a closet full of toilet tissue may be less important than an emergency savings fund.

In the case of the pandemic, the government of Canada stepped in with numerous programs to help soften the financial impact. But is the support enough to cover all of your short-term fixed expenses? What about emergencies that require self-financing?

Are you prepared for these financial emergencies?

Employment insurance is
n’t available in every situation. According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), your loss of employment must be “of no fault of my own”. As of January 1, 2020, in most cases, if you are eligible for EI you will only receive 55% of weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum of $573 per week. Will $2,292 per month (subject to tax at your tax rate for the year in which it was received) cover your fixed expenses? Self-employed people who don’t already pay into the EI special benefit program may have no financial fallback to cover short-term expenses.

According to the Transmission Repair Cost Guide, “the average cost of transmission replacement ranges from $1800 to $3400.” an expense not covered by your vehicle accident insurance premium. Also consider that if your otherwise perfectly good used vehicle is written off, you’ll need to be prepared for the replacement cost.

During the spring of 2017, Karrianne was at home and happened to look out her front window to find the City of Winnipeg spray painting a large X on her sidewalk and yard. It turns out the main water line to her house had sprung a leak and she was responsible for repairing it. This isn’t a surprise to everyone, but it was to her. Luckily her insurance policy had provision for water and sewage lines that paid 85% of the $8,000 bill. The moral of the story? Make sure you have that coverage on your property insurance and review your policy with a critical eye for what isn’t covered.

We’re fortunate in Canada to access healthcare services at no cost. Although most healthcare is covered, depending on your province of residence you may be responsible for payment of expensive dental work, prescription drugs, air and ground ambulance, and long-term care. If your privately-held health insurance doesn’t cover these expenses, you will have to.

We’re living longer than ever. On average Canadians are celebrating 82.52 birthdays.

If you lose your job you may find yourself without any disability or life insurance coverage. The risk is that you may find yourself without protection at a time when you need it the most.


Emergency savings strategies

Emergency savings vs. debt reduction

One way to minimize the impact of an emergency is to reduce your fixed expenses. One of the expenses to monitor in particular is the percentage of your income that is being used to pay for debt. Depending on your circumstances and the type of debt you’re carrying, you’ll need a plan to consider both savings and debt.


Save it away for a rainy day

Setting aside or having access to 3 to 6 months of your regular after-tax pay to cover expenses while out of work may be the right strategy for you.

  • TFSA – invest in a tax-free savings account to benefit from investment growth and withdraw funds at any time tax-free.
  • High-Interest Savings – review your current savings account rate and consider moving to an account that pays higher interest.


Protect your income in the event of an emergency

  • Critical Illness Insurance – usually pays a lump-sum payment if you are diagnosed with one of the diseases covered by the policy. The 3 most common illnesses covered are cancer, heart attack, and stroke.
  • Disability Insurance – if you don’t already have a disability policy through your employee group benefits, it may be a good idea to look at disability insurance. These policies replace 60-80% of your income up to a maximum amount for a specified period of time.
  • Health and Dental Insurance – extended health benefits pick up where Medicare leaves off. Most policies offer a variety of additional coverage: prescription drugs, hearing aids, upgraded hospital care, medical appliances, home healthcare service, massage therapy, accidental death, and dental.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance – Canada’s health act does not cover long-term care in a personal care home. Your coverage will depend on government assistance provided by your province but you can expect to pay $900-$5,000 per month to receive care according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association (CLHIA).
  • Pet Insurance – this relatively new insurance can be expensive, but if you are a pet owner, you know that veterinarian bills can be too.


Borrow against an asset

  • Cash surrender value in your permanent life Insurance policy – if you need cash quickly you may be able to borrow against the cash (not the death benefit) in your insurance policy.
  • All-in-one account – with an all-in-one banking account all of your income is deposited into one account that services all of your debt. There are no fixed mortgage payments and you can access the equity in your house for short-term cash requirements if needed. Because it’s a consolidated picture of your finances, it’s in your face that you’re in debt until you’re not!
  • Line of credit – having a line of credit set up in advance of an emergency means that you don’t have to try to apply for credit when disaster strikes.


Emergency savings calculator


What’s the verdict? Are you prepared?

Whatever the verdict, this is an important time to check in with your financial advisor. If you have a financial life plan in place you know it’s dynamic and your advisor will be ready to help you navigate change.

The Conference Board of Canada studied the impact of financial advice on the Canadian economy for The Investment Funds Institute of Canada. Investment Executive (June 25, 2020) reported some of the highlights of the study:

“Early savers — those who start saving at age 25 — who don’t use an advisor spend 3% more during their working years and have 19% less savings in retirement. A financial advisor could have boosted an early saver’s retirement savings by 55% and retirement consumption by 23%, the report found.

Late savers — those who start saving at age 35 — who don’t use an advisor were also assumed to spend 3% more during their working years, ending up with 20% less savings in retirement. The report found an advisor could have boosted a late saver’s retirement savings by 60% and retirement consumption by 25%.”

Make sure the financial decisions you take today are strategy-driven, not panic-driven, and that your actions are aligned with your vision of the future.

The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.


The ultimate litmus test for your financial life plan.

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Risk management is a critical factor in financial life planning. Throughout the planning process we ask a lot of “what-if” questions, but we do not recall a time over the last 30+ years that we’ve ever asked, “what if a pandemic hit?”. This is a good time to take stock and review how well your plan is stacking up against the challenges the pandemic is throwing your way. Then ask yourself, which one of the emoticons on the right best describes how your plan is performing.


How has the pandemic changed my spending?

On April 20, 2020, Statistics Canada published that “Nearly 3 in 10 Canadians report that Covid-19 affects their ability to meet financial obligations or essential needs”

  • Do you have an emergency fund in place? Did you need to use it?
  • Did you require a mortgage and/or credit card deferral arrangement?
    • The Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) published that “As of May 13, 13 CBA member banks have provided help through mortgage deferrals or skip a payment to more than 740,000 Canadians, which represents about 15% of the number of mortgages in bank portfolios.”
  • How much are you spending on groceries?
  • Are you buying more local products?
  • Have you increased your online spending?
    • A Globe and Mail article on May 7, 2020 reported that Canadian Tire has had exponential growth in online sales. “The flagship site saw average order volumes increase to more than 80,000 a day in April, compared with an average of 5,000 a day before Covid-19.”
  • Are you saving money? Have you discovered your “latté factor”?


How has my income been affected?

  • Did you lose your job or have your hours decreased?
  • Are you working from home? Will you continue working from home?
  • Has your business been affected negatively or positively?
  • Have you considered retraining for another career because of the pandemic?


Has the pandemic changed my retirement plans?

  • Are you thinking you’ll need to extend your retirement date? Or, have you decided to move ahead sooner rather than later?


How does Covid-19 affect my property value?

The Canadian Real Estate Association released statistics on May 15, 2020 that found “national home sales and new listings fell by more than half in April 2020 compared to March.”

  • Has the pandemic changed your view on where you want to live or what type of home you want to live in?
  • Have you joined the masses in tackling Do It Yourself (DIY) projects around the house?
  • Have you jumped on the ‘staycation’ bandwagon? Are you fervently planting flowers and sprucing up your yard to host social distanced barbecues and garden parties?


When will I be able to travel again? Even when it’s safe to do so, how badly do I want to travel again?

According to the government of Canada’s travel advisory “Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice.”

  • Do you have a robust bucket list of countries you wish to travel to?
  • What would need to happen for you to resume your travel plans?


How has the pandemic affected my family?

  • If you have children, how has having them at home changed your life?
  • If you have elderly family or friends, how has isolation and lockdowns implemented at personal care homes affected you and your loved ones?


How is it affecting my physical and mental health?

Whether you started a robust new exercise program or put on a few pounds, you’re not alone. Mental health issues have been a prevalent topic for good reason. The government of Canada website dedicated an entire section to it.


Have my priorities changed as a result of Covid-19? 

Covid-19 has turned many lives upside down. A shakeup like this might have you pausing to reflect on what’s most important. Visit the values worksheet to revisit your priorities.


Now is the time to update your life plan to reflect what you’ve learned during the pandemic about yourself and your priorities. In the words of Winston Churchill “Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.”

The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

10 neat things to do while self-isolating

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Bored dog on the couch

While we’re all at home working to flatten the curve we thought it would be fun to put together some things to do! We attempted to find something for everyone including kids. We hope the suggestions and links below peak your curiosity and creativity to find the best resources for you.

If you would like to share your ideas, please let us know what you find and continue adding to the list!


1. Enjoy learning about animals!

**Visit this “Spy in the Wild” tour for a chance to win a prize!**

Assiniboine Park Zoo – Creature Features on Facebook Live

Awwwwww!!! Check out these baby animals


2. Learn a new skill

Become a better photographer

Learn to code

Publish a book!

Learn to juggle!

Brush up on Microsoft Office

Negotiate like a pro

Master Karate


3. Stock up on home cooking

Canning and Preserves

Soup for Days!

Homemade Pasta

Delicious Casseroles


4. Take a virtual ride at Disney


5. Read

If your voice is becoming strained from reading to the kids, here’s a free resource. Amazon’s audible is providing free stories to listen to!


6. Work out!

know your own body and be cleared by your physician to exercise before you start, then go for it! We found a sampling of something for everyone with these fun workouts.







7. Stay in for a virtual dinner

Distant Dinner Parties by the West End Biz


8. Get crafty!


9. Take a virtual tour

Enjoy the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) at home! 

Visit our very own Canadian Human Rights Museum!

Get up close and personal with world-famous art in museums around the world at Google Arts & Culture


10. Pause and RELAX

Catch up on lost sleep and take a nap or learn how to meditate.

Guided Meditations Deepak Chopra


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

COVID-19 Resources

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We’ve put together a list of helpful links from trusted resources. If you have any questions about how the pandemic could impact your financial life plan, contact us.

Stay well, stay safe, stay home – let’s flatten the curve!



  • Stop and reconsider before you click. If in doubt – DELETE
  • Watch out for gift card scams. If you want to purchase gift cards to support local, go directly to their websites.
  • When meeting online, set privacy controls, use unique/difficult passwords and lock your meetings

Canadian Centre for Cyber Security

Zoom 101: A starter guide for beginners, plus advanced tips and tricks for pros


Canadian Bankers Association

Mortgage Deferral Program

  • If you are considering deferring your mortgage payments be aware that the interest will continue to compound. As a result, your mortgage payments will be higher either when you resume payments or upon renewal at the end of the mortgage term.
  • When you are negotiating a deferral program with your financial institution, be sure to get in writing (date, time, representative’s name) that your credit rating will not be affected as a result of missed payments.

Bank of Montreal
Manulife Bank
National Bank
Scotia Bank
Royal Bank
Toronto Dominion Bank





British Columbia
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
Prince Edward Island
Newfoundland & Labrador


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

When should you expect to receive your tax slips and receipts?

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Below are lists of the most common tax slips and receipts we encounter during tax season and time frames that you can expect to receive them.

Tax Slips

The following chart outlines the filing dates Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requires for tax slips to be submitted.

You can expect to receive your tax slips within 5 – 10 days of the CRA filing date.


Receipts for RRSP contributions made to Aligned Capital Partners

Source: National Bank Independent Network (NBIN), custodian for Aligned Capital Partners Inc.


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

Meet the Denmarks: Can you get where you’re going without knowing where you are?

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We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Life had been particularly busy the last few weeks. The girls were busy with sports, dance and music lessons and April was spending a lot more time with her parents since her Dad’s heart attack last year. The reality of life for the Denmarks is family first. The only time Conrad and April had available for the next meeting was on a Saturday morning and they were thankful June could accommodate them.

June started the planning session with kudos and a question; “Well, you two are proving to be superstar clients! Thank you for providing your financial details so quickly. We have a solid baseline to start our work. How do you feel about the life aligned planning process so far?” April answered first “I can’t believe it was just 3 weeks ago that we started this process. We’ve talked more about our dreams, goals, and finances than we ever have. I feel as if we’re more in tune with what we want in life and with each other.” Conrad added, “I think my stress level is decreasing by the day. There were so many things I didn’t even realize I was worried about until it was on the table for discussion. From little things like realizing the cable bill is getting out of hand to big things like how the business could impact our family – life was starting to feel heavy.” June commented, “It sounds as if there have been some positive developments. Let’s delve deeper and discuss your values in the context of how you make financial decisions.”

This chart ranks the Denmark’s expenses according to their values.

“At the first planning session, we focused on your values. You identified that family, health, and achievement are your most important shared values. The expenses in your plan were ranked according to your values and the lifetime cost for each item. Do these rankings reflect your priorities? Is your spending aligned with your values? Financial decisions usually imply trade-offs. Is it more important to buy the new Dodge Ram this year or create memories with Jordan and Lily by taking your trip to Disney World?”

June continued “Now we’ll review your financial picture to see if you can achieve your life vision if you continue on the current path. By doing this we’ll be able to identify issues and opportunities and design your plan.”

They proceeded to review how their net worth, income-producing assets, and cash flow would change throughout their life. It was clear that their lack of attention to planning for retirement would keep them from realizing April’s dream of retiring at age 60. Unless they could depend on the business to provide their nest egg, they would need to make some changes.

The summary of their current income and expenses showed that April and Conrad have excess cash flow at the end of the month. They need to decide how to use that cash to more effectively achieve what really matters to their family.

Of more immediate concern is risk management. If either April or Conrad passed away suddenly, the family would not be able to count on a secure future.  If April became sick or was unable to run the business, the family’s security would also be at risk. The third risk that surfaced in the discussion was related to the business. June pointed out that the business was exposing them to potential personal liabilities that could be minimized through incorporation. These issues, coupled with not having estate documents in place, were jarring. The kids were at risk. Conrad and April’s sense of urgency was rising.

June remarked, “More questions than answers have emerged out of this discussion. Let’s make a list of the questions to create some ‘what if’ scenarios”. Conrad and April made quick work of listing what was most important to them:

  • What needs to be done to protect our family in the event of a death or a disability?
  • What steps need to be taken to insulate our personal wealth from the business?
  • Are we saving enough for education for Jordan and Lily?
  • Should we focus on paying down our mortgage or should we be addressing other issues first?
  • What do we need to do if we want to travel in retirement?
  • Is there anything we can do to stop paying so much income tax?

Conrad and April left the office and made their way over to The Common to debrief. Even though it was hard to acknowledge the shortcomings in their current situation, they were excited by the emerging opportunities!


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

Your year-end guide for income tax planning and preparation 2019

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Alarm clock on a white table with person in background working on preparing their 2019 taxes for year-end1. Assess your tax-year for planning issues and opportunities

a. How much tax is being withheld at source?

If no tax, or too little, was withheld at source on your RRSP and RIF/LIF withdrawals, employment insurance benefits and/or your CPP & OAS payments, you may find yourself owing additional tax. If you have a tax bill owing of at least $3,000 in the current tax year and either of the two previous years, you will be required to pay tax instalments.

b. Did you experience any significant life changes?

Be sure to make your financial planner aware of these changes – there could be additional benefits or tax implications to plan for.

c. Did you make your contributions?

Although unused contribution room can be carried forward, earlier contributions allow for more time for tax-deferred growth. This may include:

    • TFSA
    • RESP
    • RDSP

Consider setting up pre-authorized contributions in order to ensure that you are contributing to your plans.

d. Do you have taxable capital gains to offset?

If you have sold investments at a gain in your non-registered account this year, consider selling securities with accrued losses before year-end to offset these taxable capital gains. If you sell a position at a loss, the loss can be applied to offset capital gains in the current year or the previous three years. Note that if the security is repurchased within 30 days of the sale, the loss cannot be applied.


2. Collect all relevant tax receipts

You may be missing some receipts or have some that are not compliant with CRA requirements. Starting the process of collecting your receipts now allows you to follow-up on any missing information before you file your taxes.

Are you self-employed?

If yes, keep reading, if no skip to “New in 2019”

If you are self-employed, you must be aware of your tax obligations. In addition to the information above, you may also require:

  • Income and expenses for the year: If you do not have accounting software you can use a simple spreadsheet or, if your needs are more complex, you might want to consider an accounting program. We are affiliates of XERO, a small business accounting software. If you would like to discuss this, contact us.
  • Mileage log: If you deduct vehicle expenses related to your business, you are required to keep a mileage log and all relevant receipts.
  • Vehicle expense receipts
    • Gas
    • Maintenance and repairs
    • Parking
    • Insurance
    • License and registration fees
    • Eligible interest charges paid on your vehicle loan
    • Eligible leasing costs
  • Home Office Expenses: If you are a home-based business, you may be able to write off a portion of your home expenses. This may include rent, mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, and home insurance.
  • Capital Cost Allowance (CCA): Consider if you would like to claim your CCA deduction for the year or carry-forward for higher income years. If you disposed of capital property this year, you may have to report your recapture of CCA as income or be eligible to deduct your terminal loss.

New in 2019:

  • The annual TFSA contribution limit was increased $5,500 in 2018 to $6,000 in 2019
  • The Home Buyers’ Plan limit has been increased to $35,000 starting March 19th, 2019
  • The First-Time Home Buyer Incentive was introduced, allowing first-time home buyers who meet the income threshold requirements to borrow 5-10% of the purchase price from CMHC.
  • 2019 changes for Canadian Controlled Private Companies (CCPC) include:
    • Manitoba has increased the small business corporate tax threshold from $450,000 to $500,000.
    • The small business corporate tax rate decreased from 10% to 9%.
    • If passive income earned is >$50,000, the small business corporate tax threshold begins to reduce. At $150,000 of passive income, the threshold is completely eliminated, and no active income is eligible for the reduced small business tax rates.


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

Meet the Denmarks: Why is it important to gather detailed and accurate financial data?

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We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Shortly after their first meeting with Fraser & Partners, the Denmarks received a follow-up email that included a financial questionnaire to collect information about their personal household and April’s business. The email provided secure options for transferring confidential information and documents back to Fraser & Partners. As a computer systems analyst, Conrad appreciated the attention to cyber-security. He knew all too well that regular email is not a safe form of confidential communication.

As manager of the household finances, Conrad was tasked with filling in the questionnaire. It was thorough and he was prepared!

Annual Income:

Annual Lifestyle Expenses:

Annual Family Expenses:

April and Conrad built a new home in 2003 when housing prices were low. The cost at that time was $200,000 and they were able to make a down payment of $25,000 using a combination of wedding gifts and a $10,000 gift from April’s grandparents. At first, it was hard to pay both the mortgage and their student loans, but they persevered. As Conrad filled in their monthly mortgage payment, he thought to himself “we have the capacity to pay off this debt much more quickly now. If only the mortgage prepayment options were more in line with what we could afford to pay…” The mortgage is up for renewal in a couple of months, so this was a topic he wanted on the table for planning.

Primary Home Owned Jointly Conrad 50% / April 50%


Annual Home Expenses

Conrad’s parents had purchased a family cottage back in the 70’s. They wanted their kids to grow up at the lake enjoying all the perks of lake life. Although his parents hadn’t transferred the title to the boys yet, they were thinking about it and Conrad knew this would soon be an asset for their family. He and his brother Ben were already splitting the property taxes and expenses.

Family Cottage – Ownership Conrad’s Parents

Family Cottage – Expenses Conrad 50% / Ben 50%             

Conrad liked to own a truck – you never know when you’re going to need to haul something, especially out at the lake. April, on the other hand, wanted something that was environmentally friendly and practical for chauffeuring the kids around town.


Once Conrad completed entering the information, he continued to collect all the documents as requested:

  • Pay Stubs
  • Banking statements
  • Investment statements
  • Most recent tax returns and Notices of Assessment
  • Mortgage document and most recent year-end statement
  • Household and auto insurance
  • Loan document and most recent year-end statement
  • All insurance policies
  • Employee benefit booklet
  • Will, Power of Attorney for Property and Power of Attorney for Health Care (Health Care Directive)
  • Balance Sheets & Income Statements for the business

Conrad felt bad as they had no Wills to provide. This had been on their list for a long time and they just never seemed to get around to it. Once April had prepared the information on her business, they submitted it all through the secure portal. Shortly after, the Denmarks received confirmation from Fraser & Partners that the documents had been received and in order. The email also included some options to meet online and verify the information. The Denmarks were excited to see how everything would look.

The Online Meeting

As April rushed home from visiting her parents, she was grateful that the next meeting was online as they both had busy schedules. Conrad pulled out the laptop and clicked on the online meeting invitation.  Seconds later, they heard June’s voice over their speaker and could see her screen on theirs. They stepped through the numbers and it wasn’t long before April noticed something was amiss. “Conrad, you forgot to mention our family gym membership. That adds another $2,000 a year.” Conrad paused for a second, “you’re right. I’m glad we gave this a second look.”

After a few other changes, Conrad and April were confident that the data gathering process had accurately captured their current situation. They could see how the work they had put into it would pay off. They looked forward to analyzing the impact of the numbers in relation to the vision they had carved out in the first planning session.

The next installment of The Denmarks will review their current financial picture to uncover planning issues and opportunities.


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.