BASIC OR LIVING WAGE INCOMES WITHOUT MBM WON’T SOLVE FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice – financialfairnessforsingles.ca).

There are several solutions that have been proposed to solve the issue of poverty and low income.  Increasing the minimum wage is one solution.  With AI and digital revolutions some proposals include living wage or basic wage as a partial solution to the possibility of maintaining level of job numbers as a result of these revolutions.

Living wage research has been helpful in determining what it costs to live in specific urban and rural areas.  However, a living wage is a bare bones wage with no possibility of saving for emergencies or retirement.  The living wage premise is based on adults working full time (one adult in one person adult family, one adult and one child,  two adults and no children or two adults and two children family unit).   However, if living wages are not based on OECD equivalence scales such as Canadian Market Basket Measure or MBM unattached persons and single parents are often the financial losers in these plans.  (If single person household has a value of 1.0, lone parent, one child or two adult household has a value of 1.4, one adult, two children 1.7 and two adult, two children 2.0.  It costs more for singles to live than couples without children).

“Andrew Yang on Universal Basic Income

(https://baseandsuperstructure.com/andrew-yang-ubi) Excerpts from this article describes the UBI plan and provides some rather interesting insights from right and left political perspectives.

‘The plan is relatively simple. The government pays all US citizens between the ages of 18 and 64 a UBI of $1,000 per month, or $12,000 per year. For citizens 65 and up, the existing Social Security system would be left in place.

Yang wants to pay for this system using four sources: a.) eliminating existing social spending (e.g., food stamps, disability, WIC, unemployment insurance, et al.), generating $500-600 billion worth of savings; b.) A value-added tax (VAT) that he estimates will generate $800 billion per year; c.) $500-600 billion in new tax revenue from UBI-generated economic growth; b.) $100-200 billion per year in savings from UBI-generated crime reduction and health savings.’

The article states that problems with the plan include: ‘UBI doesn’t pay people nearly enough, would eliminate social programs, encourage low wage and exploitative labor practices, and put more money into the hands of companies who prey on low income Americans.’  “A Leftist take on Universal Basic Income” (leftist-universal-basic-income-ubi) by same author says ‘Here’s what would happen if a UBI proposal got off the ground in the United States: it would get turned into the right-wing version. It wouldn’t apply to everyone, it wouldn’t pay enough to live, it would gut social programs, or possibly all three of these things.’  The author offers suggestions that better solutions are comprehensive health care, housing and food assistance and indexed minimum wage that is increased every year.

It seems that USA plans for social justice and equality of wages never seem to include equivalence scales like MBM outlined above so singles would benefit the least from the plan because it costs singles more to live than a two person household.

Alberta report on basic income

“An Alberta Guaranteed Income:  Issues and Options” (May 2019) by Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens, The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary (https://journalhosting.ucalgary).  Excerpts from the report include:

(From Summary) – ‘For all the job booms and wealth that have benefitted Alberta over the decades, nothing yet has been able to drastically reduce, let alone eliminate poverty in the province.  The prospect of a guaranteed minimum income could help change that, and Alberta is particularly well positioned to roll one out and with relative ease and at a manageable cost.

An Alberta guaranteed basic income could be straightforwardly developed by revising the  existing provincial tax system to make tax credits that are currently non-refundable into  refundable tax credits, such that people earning below the minimum income-tax threshold will still be able to claim them as subsidies.  This can be done while avoiding significant new funding and relying solely on budgetary measures to improve the fairness of the tax system.

Converting just a few non-refundable tax credits into refundable ones can produce a  guaranteed annual income of over $6,000 for a single-adult family and over $9,000 for a  two-adult family, with no significant new funding required. This would improve supports for 37  per cent of Alberta families, with the largest gains properly concentrated among the poorest households, and would reduce the rate and depth of poverty by 25 per cent.

An even more powerful approach would be if Alberta were able to persuade the federal government to combine a similar program federally with the provincial guaranteed basic income, converting non-refundable credits into refundable ones and eliminating the federal GST credit.  A combined federal-provincial guaranteed annual income would increase dramatically to over $13,600 a year for a single-adult family and to over $19,000 a year for a two-adult family.  The disposal income of the poorest 20 per cent of Albertans would increase by more than 50 per cent under the combined plan, while the rate of poverty across all Albertans would be cut by a substantial 44 perr cent.  Among single parents and non-elderly and elderly couples, poverty would be eliminated completely.  And while two-parent families and non-elderly singles would continue to be in poverty, its rate declines significantly and its depth would be reduced by more than half.’

The report ‘offers two models:  one that includes selected non-refundable tax credits but excludes current Alberta refundable tax credits; and one that includes both selected non-refundable tax credits and the refundable credits’ (including Alberta Child Benefit and the Canada Child Benefit in the second model).

The report does talk about Low Income Cut-offs (LICO) and Market Basket Measure (MBM).  They state that LICO has been replaced as Canada’s official poverty measure by the MBM.  However, (page 3) certain versions of statistical reports did not allow them to calculate the MBM measure, so they adopted the traditional LICO measure of the incidence and depth of poverty in the report.

Opinion Letter on above report

In an opinion letter “A basic income that reduces poverty is doable” (alberta-could-afford-a-basic-income-that-reduces-poverty) by Franco Savoia and Jeff Loomis, Executive Directors of Vibrant Communities Calgary and Momentum, respectively, they state:

‘Alberta is a prosperous province, but our poverty rate has hovered around 10 per cent for decades, costing the government more than $2 billion each year….

In recent years, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors and Canada and Alberta child benefits have been credited with reducing poverty rates. Some have gone as far as to call these programs a basic income for seniors and children.

For many in the social services sector, a similar program for adults aged 18-65 is a logical next step…..

Despite this, basic income critics point to the prohibitive costs associated with implementing such a program, noting that governments just don’t have the money. However, new research from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy shows that Alberta could actually afford to do it. Supported by a research partnership with Calgary’s Social Policy Collaborative, economists Wayne Simpson and Harvey Stevens have come up with an Alberta basic income program that wouldn’t require the province to spend any extra money or increase taxes…..

….the Simpson and Stevens program is financed entirely through modest changes to tax policy. By turning five existing non-refundable tax credits into a single refundable credit, the authors suggest that the province could achieve a basic income that would increase the incomes of roughly 40 per cent of Albertans, reduce poverty by almost one-quarter and eliminate poverty for single parents.

But, as always, the devil is in the details.

A notable element of the proposal is the decision to keep in place the current income support system — a choice that some basic income advocates may not support. Many envision a basic income as a better — and simpler — alternative to existing income supports, which are complex and often needlessly bureaucratic.

Also concerning is the redistributive impact of the tax reform required to create the program, which would result in increased tax pressures for middle-income earners.

These shortcomings aside, the Simpson and Stevens proposal is proof that basic income is more than a pipe dream in Alberta. And though the proposal wouldn’t eliminate poverty completely — it would leave many non-elderly single Albertans below the poverty line — it would be a significant step forward in our efforts to make poverty a thing of the past. As the basic income conversation evolves, both in Alberta and across the country, the School of Public Policy report has contributed valuable insight. We’re excited to see where the discussion goes.’

CONCLUSION

Shocking statistics show that in one of the richest provinces (Alberta) there were in January 2014, 33,000 Alberta Income Support program (excluding AISH) recipients of all ages.  Alberta Income Support program in January, 2017, had 54,374 recipients and in January, 2018, 57,003 recipients.  Makeup of claimants in 2017 and 2018 include individuals 69%, lone-parent families 24%, couples with children 5%, and couples alone 3%.  Totals do not say how many are turned away and do not include those who on verge of poverty.

It is a sad fact that regardless of what financial manipulations are applied to minimum wage and living wage or basic wage models, singles or unattached persons always appear to come out as the financial losers.  Until Market Basket Measures, etc. are applied so that one person households benefit equally to other households, social injustice and income inequality will remain for single persons.  But then who gives a damn?

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

FAILURE TO PROVIDE LIVING WAGE ENSURES UNEQUAL SUBSIDIZATION OF MANY GROUPS OF SOCIETY

FAILURE TO PROVIDE LIVING WAGE ENSURES UNEQUAL SUBSIDIZATION OF MANY GROUPS OF SOCIETY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

Many including conservative and far right leaning political views imply that a living wage or even a $15 minimum wage is unsustainable even while ensuring the financial privileging of the wealthy.  The following article was published in local newspapers and states much more eloquently than this author can the financial harm and discrimination that low minimum wages cause.

“Low Wages are a subsidy”  opinion letter gives an accurate summation of subsidies experienced when minimum wage does not equal what it costs to live.

Article quoted in its entirety:

“I understand the minimum wage is a very contentious issue but I would just like give my thoughts on this.

If a person is on minimum wage and does not earn enough to survive then they must have their wages topped up be it either state welfare, charity, parents or working another job.  If it is by state welfare then the business is receiving a subsidy through my taxes. If it is by charity, then the business is receiving a subsidy through the charitable donations to the worker.  If the working lives at home then it is by the parents.

If the worker takes on another job, the subsidy is through his low wages.  The simple truth is that by paying minimum wage someone is making up the difference to a living wage and someone is benefiting from the low wage.  We as consumers should feel guilty that these workers are subsidizing our lifestyle by us not paying the real price for the goods or service.”

CONCLUSION

Editorials and opinion letters to local newspapers in the recent past have dissed raising the minimum wage and climate pricing while praising charitable organizations.  Some spout biblical verses while stating there always will be poverty. Charity touted as panacea for poverty does not solve poverty problem. Charity only masks poverty and should be viewed as sinful when it replaces paying a decent living wage or pushes poor further into poverty while financially privileging the wealthy and fleecing the poor.

FEDERAL BUDGET TOPICS: MIDDLE CLASS TERMINOLOGY, INDEXED LIVING WAGE, SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, BANKRUPT COMPANY PENSIONS

FEDERAL BUDGET TOPICS:  MIDDLE CLASS TERMINOLOGY, INDEXED LIVING WAGE, SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY, BANKRUPT COMPANY PENSIONS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

The January, 2018 blog post addressed the first part of the budget proposal for a housing allowance as one solution to the housing crisis.  This blog post is the second part of a Federal Budget proposal as presented to a Conservative Member of Parliament .  

TANGIBLE VERSUS INTANGIBLE TERMINOLOGY OF MIDDLE CLASS AND FAMILIES

All political parties and society spew terminology of middle class (who-is-the-middle-class) and families ad nauseum.  Middle class and families are intangible terms.  Nobody, including political parties, can define what ‘middle class’ is and ‘families’ politically is an emotional term, often excluding singles (never married, no kids) from the definition.  Singles are basically invisible.  Many of the wealthy think  they are middle class.  For God’s sake, stop talking about the middle class (middle quintile) if you are not going to include the poor (bottom fourth and fifth quintiles), and replace ‘families’ with ‘household’ terminology.  The word “household” includes everybody, even singles.

INDEXED LIVING WAGE

Fact Check:  Recent Liberal revision of Canadian Pension Plan will increase CPP pensions for the wealthy, but not for the poor, because the minimum wage is not increasing proportionately to CPP increases.  Schizophrenic political financial formulas will ensure increasing disconnect between CPP increases and minimum wage because CPP is controlled federally, but minimum wage is controlled provincially.  TFSAs are indexed but not minimum wage.

LICO for 2015 (statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/ref/dict/tab/t4_3-eng.cfm) as defined by Statistics Canada shows Low Income Cutoff of $20,386 (equivalent to $11 minimum wage per hour for 35 hour workweek) for one person household, $24,811 for two persons household, $30,895 for three persons household and $38,544 for four persons household for large urban centre population centres 500,000 persons or more.

However, Living Wage studies show it is impossible to live a decent and respectful lifestyle on $11 minimum wage per hour.

The time has come for governments to stop handing out giveaways to the wealthy and surreptitiously making singles and poor families even poorer.  Implementation of an indexed living wage financial formula based on equivalence scales or Low Income Measure (LIM) would ensure greater financial fairness for all Canadians.

Nobody says this better than Andrew Coyne in excerpt from  “Why Minimum Wages are Harmful:  

‘Rather than blithely decreeing that employers must pay their employees an amount the rest of us think appropriate, and hoping it all works out for the best, the option is open to us as a society to put our money where our mouths: to finance a decent minimum income for all with our taxes – which unlike wages are not so easily avoided.  Maybe this latest increase in the minimum wage will prove less harmful than feared, but it is certain to be more harmful than the alternative:  a minimum income, socially guaranteed and socially financed.’

An indexed living wage could be financed if government benefit programs such as Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), Old Age Security (OAS), child benefit and pension splitting programs were replaced with a guaranteed living wage program based on equivalence scales or LIM along with elimination of financial loopholes such as Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) for the wealthy.

SELECTIVE SOCIAL DEMOCRACY

All political parties continue to practice selective social democracy (selective) benefitting the upper middle class and wealthy most.

Supporting documentation:

https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2015001/article/14194-eng.htm Changes in wealth across the income distribution, 1999 to 2012

Assets and wealth – In 2012, families in the top fifth income quintile held 47% of all wealth held by Canadian families (and the 5% of families located at the top of the income distribution held 21%). Families in the fourth quintile held 23%, while middle income quintile families in third quintile held 16%. The second income quintile held 10% of total wealth, while families in the bottom quintile held 4%.  (Fourth Quintile average wealth $641,000 and median wealth $388,200.  Fifth Quintile average wealth $1,300,000 and median wealth $879,100.)  In other words, about 40% of Canadian families held 70% of all wealth.  Governments keep talking about the middle class (20% of population), but never talk about the bottom two quintiles or 40% also known as the poor.

Many Canadians are fed up with the selective social democracy practised by both Conservatives and Liberals which benefit wealthy, upper middle class and married over single marital status persons and poor when they don’t need it.  The fourth and fifth quintiles or 40% of Canadians have assets and wealth over $750,000 (about $650,000 in 2012), yet they are able to still get OAS, max out TFSA accounts, pension split, and have huge inheritances while paying less tax.  Once again, the poor and many singles are being forced further towards poverty because they cannot achieve the same levels of wealth.  Self serving Conservatives accuse the Liberals of social democracy when Conservatives are guilty of the same selective social democracy.

When handing out benefits assets and wealth, not just income levels, need to be included in financial formulas.  Income levels are already a part of income tax returns.  It would be very easy to add question about assets, wealth and home ownership (i.e. five broad categories) in income tax returns and adjust financial benefits accordingly. (TFSA is an egregious program which benefits wealthy the most.  In thirty years and 3.5 percent compounded interest return, couples will have $600,000 in their financial portfolios, all tax free, and that is just TFSAs.  TFSAs are not included in income, so a person with a $600,000 TFSA can claim poverty and receive GIS and OAS.  A limit needs to be placed on TFSA assets and TFSA assets need to be counted as income).

Example of selective social democracy (boutique-tax-credits) – Family with four children has paid for house and one spouse working.  These parents in their thirties already have a net worth of $500,000.  They are able to receive Canada Child Benefits to the point where they can fully contribute to Tax Free Savings Account and increase their wealth.  Why is this family receiving child benefits without income plus assets and wealth being taken into consideration?  Poor families should be the only ones entitled to child benefits when they do not have the assets and wealth that this family has.

Poor families and singles have been made to be financial scapegoats and sugar-daddies to the upper middle class and wealthy by the Conservatives and the Liberals.

PROTECTION OF PENSIONS IN BANKRUPTCIES

If corporations and private enterprise cannot control their own financial affairs and shareholder greed during hard times and bankruptcies so that their employees are the biggest losers, then governments need to take responsibility to implement procedures and policies to offset employee losses (pensions).  And governments need to stop bailing out corporations like Bombardier.

“Workers Deserve Better” by Hassan Yussuff (federal-government-can-and-must-put-pensioners-first

‘The aftermath of 2008 financial crisis and recession has been littered with the shaken futures of those who once worked for seemingly unshakeable Canadian…..icons like Sears…..We hear lots in the news about these giants, but pensioners are losing out when smaller companies shut down, too.The lesson from every one of these examples is clear: workers and pensioners should not and must not be at end of the line when companies go under.

All of these workers have every right to feel betrayed by their former employers. Especially when they see executives walk away with rich bonuses, their careers, savings and retirements intact. But it isn’t just the companies who have betrayed these workers and so many thousands before them, it’s the federal government.

The federal government can and should be doing more for pensioners. For starters, it can support legislation being proposed by the NDP that recommends changing bankruptcy laws so that pensioners are first in line, not last, when it comes to paying down creditors. The same has been proposed by the Bloc Québécois.  Critics argue that putting pensioners first in line would leave lenders less inclined to help companies in crisis. But that argument isn’t good enough given how many people’s futures have been shattered. It also ignores the reality that lenders have ample resources to inform the risks they take. Workers, on the other hand, have no option but to trust that their employers won’t just walk away from their obligations to employees.

The federal government can and must ensure bankruptcy laws put pensioners at the front of the line. And it can go one very important step further: working with the provinces and territories to create Canada-wide mandatory pension insurance. Such a system would guarantee monthly pensions up to $2,500 whenever an employer with an underfunded pension plan, like Nortel or Sears, files for bankruptcy. It would be paid for by pension funds, a fair trade-off, given their tax-exempt status.

Pension insurance isn’t just about protecting pensioners. It helps companies with no prospects of recovery or needing temporary help. It’s not a new idea. The United States and the United Kingdom are among other countries with nationwide mandatory pension insurance. Today, in Canada, only Ontario has a mandatory fund. Created in 1980, it guarantees pensions to a maximum of $1,000 per month. That’s expected to increase to $1,500 per month.

Mandatory insurance is required for most of the important assets Canadians have. We are required to insure our vehicles, our homes, and even our jobs — employers must pay into Employment Insurance and Workers’ Compensation to operate. Mandatory insurance exists because some things are critical to protect. And as Canada’s unions have long argued, pensions are among the most critical assets anyone will ever have.

The federal government must demonstrate it has the courage to stand up for pensioners.  Thousands dedicate their working lives to trying to make the companies they worked for successful, and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not told they’ll have no choice but to work through retirement and turn to government services for support.’

 

“Sears Canada Legacy:  private profits and socialized losses” by Jen Gerson (sears-canada):

‘While Sears’ shareholders pocketed payouts of $3.5 billion, the chain’s pension plans remained underfunded to the tune of $270 million…..

Instead,…. Sympathies (are) reserved for the likes of….the 72-year-old retiree is now pulling shifts at Home Depot after working for 35 years selling appliances for Sears. Thanks to the nature of bankruptcy, his defined benefit pension is likely to be cut by as much as 20 per cent — although the lawyers and actuaries are still working out the details.

While Sears’ shareholders pocketed payouts of $3.5 billion, the chain’s pension plans remained underfunded to the tune of $270 million. While its executives enjoyed dividends, they also accepted multi-million dollar retention bonuses in the company’s closing months.  Maybe those incentives weren’t quite high enough. In the end, they didn’t seem to do much good. Regardless, none of them now need worry about how to make ends meet…..

However, if fair-minded businesses wish to reduce the cries of more onerous regulation, stories like senior employees don’t play well. Every senior pensioner who must trek back to Home Depot in his twilight years is going to raise questions about whether or not treating pensioners as secondary to other kinds of creditors in cases of bankruptcy is a fair ordering of priorities.

It’s not hard to imagine a world in which executive retention bonuses and dividend payouts are made contingent on fully funding pension plans, for example. If corporate boards are not willing to hold their executives to account, they should not be surprised to find a government eager to do so.

Ontario has attempted to ameliorate the plight of bankrupt pension plans by creating the Pension Benefits Guarantee Fund, which guarantees the first $1,000 of pension income lost in such a case; that figure has been set to rise to $1,500…..The PBGF strikes me as well-intentioned, but still fundamentally problematic. It’s using taxpayer funds to secure individual benefits at the expense of a province that is already deeply indebted.

Further, it gives us yet another example of privatizing profits and socializing losses; of placing those who were least responsible for Sears’ decline—( employees) on the hook for his bosses’ failures.

In the end, that could be what defines Sears’ legacy, far more so than mouldering catalogs and storied corporate histories.’

POSITIVE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS

It is only fair that if criticisms are doled out, then positive government actions should also be acknowledged where due.

Income sprinkling – The federal Liberals have done the right thing by modifying the income sprinkling loophole.  For example, dividends that would have been received by the primary owner of the private corporation, would instead be paid to the spouse, partner or kids of the primary shareholder, who are often in lower tax brackets; therefore, the family’s total tax bill would be reduced.  Since singles in their financial circle are basically financially responsible to themselves,‘Income sprinkling’ is of less benefit to single marital status entrepreneurs so they will pay more tax.  Singles get nothing that is comparable.  Modification of income sprinkling ensures financial fairness for singles.

Increasing the GIS supplement for single seniors is a positive, but still not enough – As the Conservative MLA knows, this author has lobbied for financial fairness and inclusion of singles in financial budgets.  The federal Conservatives did propose an increase for poverty stricken single seniors, but then were voted out and replaced by federal Liberals.

The Liberals in Budget 2016 proposed to increase the GIS top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for the most vulnerable single seniors starting in July 2016, which will support those seniors who rely almost exclusively on OAS and GIS benefits and may therefore be at risk of experiencing financial difficulties.

This enhancement more than doubles the current maximum GIS top-up benefit and represents a 10% increase in the total maximum GIS benefits available to the lowest-income single seniors. This measure represents an investment of over $670 million per year and will improve the financial security of about 900,000 single seniors across Canada.

While this is a step in the right direction, poverty stricken senior singles will receive only $947 annually while families with children are receiving Canada Child Benefits sometimes equaling thousands of dollars annually.  Financial fairness for all Canadians regardless of marital status with and without children would be ensured by having housing allowance and indexed living wage programs based on equivalence scales as outlined above.

CONCLUSION:

It is time for governments to stop the selective social democracy where the upper middle class and wealthy receive benefits and tax breaks they don’t need.  Assets and wealth in addition to income need to be included in financial formulas when handing out government benefits.  Corporations need to be held to greater accountability regarding bankrupt pensions and low income levels of their employees.

A housing allowance, indexed living wage, and government subsidized child care (as well as paid for first and second year of post secondary education- added Feb. 26/18) would help to alleviate the housing crisis and poverty resulting in singles and poor families being pushed even further into poverty.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS BASED ON PURE UNADULTERATED GREED OF FORCING SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES TO PAY MORE FOR HOUSING

AFFORDABLE HOUSING CRISIS BASED ON PURE UNADULTERATED GREED OF FORCING SINGLES AND POOR FAMILIES TO PAY MORE FOR HOUSING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has published several posts on affordable housing  and psychological impact (housing).  How can we not talk about it yet again?  This post shows how much of the housing crisis is based on pure greed and the greedy appear to have no shame.  They do not seem to care that housing is a basic human right (as determined internationally in the “Universal International Declaration of Human Rights” and “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”) and is one of the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. There also appears to be no shame that singles are more likely to have to pay more per square foot for their housing purchase or rent than for any other member of the family unit.  Poor families are less able to purchase detached housing so are forced to purchase or rent condos or apartments, many of which are not ideally suited to families. Besides purchase or rent (rent-or-own), what other options are there except to sleep in vehicles, couch-surf or live in homeless shelters?

The Calgary Herald May 8, 2017 article “Nobody’s Home” by Garry Marr further magnifies the plight of the housing industry in Canada much of which appears to be totally based on greed.  The article states that in Toronto ‘some believe vacant homes exist on a widespread basis, bought up by a stream of investors so consumed by speculation – or just a safe place to park their money – that they can’t even bother to rent out their properties in markets where the going rate can easily top $3 per square foot…..data seems to indicate there were as ‘many as 66,000 vacant units in Toronto in 2016.  That’s equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the city’s total stock of 1.2 million private dwelling units’.  If one calculates this based on a family of four one could guess that this means about 16,500 families are missing out on Toronto housing.  But wait, the article goes on to say that of the empty homes, 90 per cent were condos or apartments.  If one assumes that condos and apartments are more likely to be bought/rented by singles and poor families, then this would mean singles and poor families are more likely to be hurt by the empty units and Toronto housing crises.  Just what are cities and towns and developers going to do with the fact that singles and poor families are the biggest losers in Canada’s housing crises?

How do speculators manage to purchase housing with, for example, $20,000 down payment, $1,200 mortgage payment and $200 house taxes per month and keep the place empty while maintaining another residence to live in (they have to live somewhere)?  These people must be very wealthy and quite greedy to not care about those at the bottom of the property ladder?

Maclean’s Magazine May, 2017 article ‘Through the Roof’ by Joe Castaldo (archive.macleans) shows landlord greed when rent is doubled from $1,200 to $2,400 for a one bedroom apartment in the Toronto’s The Bridge Condo.  Sales for The Bridge condo complex (the-bridge) over last 12 months shows smallest one bedroom 449 sq. ft.condos sold for $224,000 or $498 per sq. ft.; sales price of average size one bedroom 521 sq. ft was $313,104 or $600 per sq. ft, and largest one bedroom 569 sq. ft. was $405,500 or $711 per sq. ft.  Two bedroom plus den 740 sq.ft. condos sold for $360,000 or $486 per sq. ft. (figures do not include parking and storage fees). The largest two bedrooms plus den condos sold for basically same price per square foot as the smallest one bedroom condos.  The pure unadulterated greed continues to force singles who are more likely to own/rent one bedroom condos to pay more per square foot for the smallest spaces with ripple effect of them paying more house taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less space and more likely less income and biggest lifetime expense (upside-down-housing).

Singles are told to ‘go live with someone’ if they are having housing problems.  So, in this case, what are singles to do except ‘couch surf’/share one bedroom with someone they may not know well?  Renters also are likely forced to move every few years when landlords do renovations and/or raise rent on their dwellings.

Story of single mother with son – son still lives at home, mother helped him purchase a dwelling which he rents out because he would like to financially get ahead.  Moral of this story, single mother likely has jeopardized her ability to save for retirement by helping her son especially if the housing market crashes and both her and her son are left having to pay mortgage worth more than the house. Because this is her child, she has done this out of love for her son.  As most parents seem to do when their kids are still living at home, he is likely not paying her anything for rent or food.  Juxtaposition is that son is renting out this dwelling at market value to some Joe Shmoe who cannot afford to buy something, but has to rent.  To the mother and the son, they don’t see this person(s) as the child of someone else (part of the family unit), so it is okay to ‘sucker punch’ this person(s) with rent at or above market value.  Greed begets greed and greed trumps family values.

Financial Post April 28, 2017 ‘LePage warns of housing ‘market whiplash’ article by Garry Marr (market) states ‘concerns that government is going to slap more rules on the housing market, particularly aimed at Toronto’s residential section, appear to be growing among the real estate industry.  Royal LePage joined the chorus of those advising that Ottawa and its provincial counterparts should tread cautiously before considering everything from rent control to a tax on foreign investors.  “An unfortunate side-effect of heavy-handed government regulatory intervention is that we risk whiplash,” Phil Soper, chief executive and president of LePage, said in a statement.’…..Data from the Toronto Real Estate Board this month showed prices in Canada’s largest city were up 33 per cent in March from a year ago.’ (The inaction by politicians, developers and real estate companies will only worsen the housing crisis).

Los Angeles Daily News May 13, 2017  ‘Amid state housing crisis, why 2 out of 5 millennials still live at home’ article by Matt Levin (why-2-out-of-5-millennials-still-live-at-home) articulates ‘State lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this legislative session to try to solve California’s housing affordability crisis, proposing everything from 150 square-foot apartments to a $3 billion affordable housing bond.’ (Oh yes, that is what single millennials deserve – to live in 150 square feet that includes kitchen, bedroom and bathroom all in one space which is the equivalent to the size of the bedroom that person lived in as a child)…..Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home. Think of it this way: If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah. If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country’.  (The rest of the article is a very good read on why millennials are being forced to live at home with their parents including low wages).

CONCLUSION

There is appears to be no willingness in Canada on the part of politicians, developers, real estate companies and families to deal with the housing crisis except to apply band-aid solutions or to take no action at all.  How many more times can it be said that until housing greed is resolved by taking ethical and moral responsibility and until the minimum wage is changed to an indexed living wage, the housing crisis will continue to worsen?

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR VULNERABLE POPULATIONS, SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

The following discussion (about 15 pages in length) on affordable housing was submitted in response to a request for input to a national survey on affordable housing. The link for ‘Let’s Talk Housing’ survey is included at the end of this post.

It appears that some of points from this discussion were included in the final results of the survey such as

  • Including singles in definition of family by using specific wording of “individuals and families” not just “families”
  • Including affordable housing as a human rights issue
  • Including quality of life such as laundry facilities.

Issues that appear to not having been addressed are single seniors having own bedroom and bathroom that doesn’t cost more for them than for married or coupled seniors.

There still seems to be a mentality for seniors to age in place even with expensive houses that they can’t afford (tax credits on home renovations and assistance in paying house taxes).  Those with considerable net worth and assets should be excluded from housing subsidies of any kind.

NATIONAL AFFORDABLE HOUSING STRATEGY

TO: National Housing Strategy Team, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp., 700 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0P7

To Whom It May Concern:

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to respond to your housing strategy.  In this response, two categories that have been identified will be addressed – Affordable Housing and Vulnerable populations.

CATEGORY – AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Blog “financial fairness for singles.ca” talks about affordable housing.  One of the reasons for unaffordable housing is what author calls UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING. Excerpt from blog is as follows:

UPSIDE DOWN HOUSING

Why does it seem more difficult for individuals/singles and low income persons to purchase affordable housing?  For possible reasons why, consider the following scenarios.

One example, condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer in one housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.  Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo.  When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos?  Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person.  Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.).  First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar.  Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room.  The wealthy get all the extras and pay only $306 per square foot.  This is upside down housing.  Need anything more be said about the wealthy? They usually get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.  (Another example is penthouse suites that sell for proportionately less dollars per square foot than a small condo unit on lower floors of a building).

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  “CREB now”, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015.  Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively).  In many cases salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing prices for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up).

How is any of this different than loan-sharking or pay day loans where targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?  Does no one see a pattern here where the wealthy pay $300 to $400 per square foot, but singles and poor families are forced to live in smaller spaces while paying more per square foot for them?

Further financial unfairness occurs when individual/single homeowners without children are forced to pay education taxes, but parents pay only fixed rate based on value of their home regardless of number of children.  For ‘nineteen kids and counting’ it is possible parents are only paying a few cents a day for their children’s education.  Some married/partnered seniors with kids are looking to have education tax payments eliminated from their house taxes.  For families with children, logic implies parents should pay education tax throughout their entire lifetimes, or individuals/singles without kids should not have to pay education tax ever.  However, families don’t seem to be able to apply financial logic of their own finances equally to the financial realities of their single children.  And, many families do not want to pay school fees.

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how financial world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Have governments, society, and our publicly and privately funded education systems failed us so miserably and family/corporate greed taken over with critical thinking, social/ethical responsible thinking sinking to all-time lows?  Since when is it okay under present financial system for families to accumulate wealth and huge inheritances while their low income and single children are not able to support themselves on a day to day basis?

Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race or marital status.

In this so called civilized, enlightened country of ours, it appears that citizens of value are only upper middle-income families and the wealthy while individuals/singles with and without children are being annihilated from financial, political, and everyday living scenes (MADE INVISIBLE). If families have such high family values, shouldn’t family values and moral social values take precedence instead of being trumped by almighty dollar greed and philosophy of charging what the market can bear and more?

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the wealthy.  It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.

OUTSIDE THE BOX SOLUTIONS FOR PRICING OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING

Solution 1 – for a housing complex as identified in the above outrageous pricing example, prices should be set where the base price of the unit with the smallest square footage cannot be more than the base price of the unit with largest square footage within the complex. Any changes and upgrades by the buyer would be added to the base price. (In the above example the base price of the 552 square foot condo could only be $355 per square foot to match the cheapest price of the biggest per square foot unit in the complex).  Should there be laws and fines applied for these outrageous prices?

Solution 2 – Charges for house taxes, education taxes, and real estate fees should be balanced between square footage and price of the housing unit?  Where housing prices follow a fair pricing formula as shown in Solution 1, this could provide financial fairness where fees are based on largest unit and become proportionately less on smaller units.

Solution 3– charge a fee such as a carbon tax fee for units greater than a certain number of square feet. For example, allow a maximum size of 2500 square ft. for a housing unit (assumption is that there is no need for excessive amounts of square footage in housing). For anything greater than 2500 square feet, charge an extra fee to the buyer with an incremental increase in the fee for every additional 500 square feet of space. (The wealthy have been paying less and getting more square footage while using non-renewable resources plus water at an alarming rate, i.e. 5000 square foot log cabin using twelve logging trucks filled with harvested logs and a showhome that has seventeen sinks). The monies collected from these fees could be used to build more affordable housing.

As stated in a recent real estate article, Watermark, a deluxe complex in Calgary is selling an ‘inspired’ (so stated in article) 8,644 sq. ft. estate home and its guest house for $3.45 million or $399 per square foot which is less per square feet than 600 square foot condo mentioned above. Article goes on to say that beyond homes, Watermark garners interest with both natural and manmade beauty. It has 17 cascading ponds and more than five kilometers of interconnected walking and bike trails. Then there’s the central plaza with its 1,000 sq. ft. pavilion, kitchen, barbecues, a sports field and NBA-sized basketball court. One family’s daughter is looking forward to booking the plaza and using the outdoor kitchen for her birthday party. The family goes on to state that space between homes and low density was also very important so they weren’t looking into someone’s back yard. This same complex has a show home with 17 sinks.

Another real estate article talks about another family with three children moving from 1900 sq. ft. house to a 2,837 sq. ft. house with price starting from $900,000s. They are moving because they need more room for the kids as they grow. Their new house will provide 567 sq. ft. per person at a starting price of approximately $317 per sq. ft. Yet again other articles state that owners are happy they don’t have condos in their backyard (NIMBYism) and their children can experience nature from their own bedrooms.

Further advice usually given by married people states singles can live with someone else if they can’t afford housing when they are already living in studio, one bedroom apartments, and basement suites. Senior singles who have lived productive lives while contributing to their country want and deserve their own privacy and bathroom. Many senior assisted living dwellings have in recent years built more spaces for singles who with one income pay more for that space than married/coupled persons. Just how long should shared arrangements go on for (entire lives?) instead of correcting underlying financial issues?

Following examples show dignity and respect for singles (and low income families). Attainable Housing http://www.attainyourhome.com/, Calgary, allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples without dependent children living in the home. Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington livingwagecanada allows singles dignity of one bedroom apartment and a living wage income that is 44% of a family of 4 income and 62% of a family of two (parent and child).

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people and families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

Above mentioned blog has also tried to attach lost dollars that singles face directly every date in relation to married and coupled family units with and without children.  The following lost dollar value is in relationship to housing.

LOST DOLLARS VALUE LIST

For a 700 square foot condo where price is $50 more per square foot than lowest price of largest condo in complex, it can be assumed that the purchaser will be paying $35,000 more than purchaser’s base price of largest condo, if the price per square foot is $100 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying be paying $70,000 more, if the price per square foot is $150 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying $105,000 more and so on. The amount of house and education taxes, real estate fees and mortgage interest will also incrementally increase.

Our Lost Dollar Value List in blog (lost-dollar-value) –  when lost dollar value for real estate is added to the list, $50 was  used as the example not including gestimate loss for taxes and real estate fees, interest charges based on $50.00 per sq. ft.

APPROPRIATE HOUSING DEFINITION

Singles are often told they can always go ‘live with someone’ if they have problems with affordable housing.  The CMHC should be aware of the following definition of appropriate housing.  Housing dignity and respect as well as quality of life according to this definition specifies that singles deserve a bedroom of their own.  (One bedroom actually meaning one bedroom, not just a murphy bed in a 200 square foot condo, shows dignity and respect for singles).  It is the belief of this author that appropriate housing for a senior single means senior singles deserve a bedroom and a bathroom of their own.  After working for forty years for their country without the marital manna benefits given to married or coupled family units, senior singles deserve at least this much.

Appropriate Housing definition is stated as follows – Under the Social Housing Accommodation Regulation (alberta page 11), such housing is considered overcrowded if more than two people must share a bedroom, with at least one individual in each of the other bedrooms, and if an individual over 18 “must share a bedroom with another member of the household,” or someone over the age of five has to share a bedroom with “an individual of the opposite sex.”  (Spouses or partners sharing a bedroom don’t count)…..”Affordable housing is intended to be appropriate housing-appropriate to needs of families.   If children age in place or additional children are welcomed into a family, they can transfer within the system…subject to availability.”  

Blog “financialfairnessforsingles.ca”also addresses psychological impact where appropriate.  The following discusses the psychological impact for housing.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

There seems to be very little understanding of the psychological impact that decision makers and policy makers have on singles regarding housing.

Many families live in houses where their young children have separate bedrooms, and likewise, there is a trend towards ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’ so family members can have ‘alone’ time, but when children become single adults, singles are consistently told that they can live with someone if they have financial problems with housing while paying more.

And, of course, singles never have claustrophobia, so it is okay to stick them in small spaces for which they have to pay more. And singles never have problems with noise, so it is okay for them to live in small units in less desirable areas close to airports and railway tracks, etc. (As one single person moving from one unit to another stated in a real estate article “I was very impressed with the pricing and the fact that they’re doing concrete floors and walls “. Concrete is said to restrict noise. “I work on Saturday mornings and a lot of people like to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights”. With thinner walls, he adds, it is easier to hear “people in the hallways coming and going. It is not the end of the end of the world, by any means, but I am looking forward to something quieter above and below”. But for this person, the decision was less about sound and more about getting something larger, with better specifications and closer to work-moving from 615 sq. ft. two bedroom condo to 715 sq. ft. two bedroom condo. “The bedrooms are a little bit bigger with an ensuite. I really liked that and I liked the fact that it has a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the laundromat.”

Singles deserve same standard of living as married/coupled persons, i.e. having washer and dryer in their own home instead of having to go down a dark hall or to basement in complex to do laundry or paying outrageous prices per load at a laundromat.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to creating memories for their children, entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families, but apparently adult singles don’t have friends and families or dreams, so it is okay for them to live in micro condos, some as small as 200 square feet, where it is pretty much impossible to entertain or have friends and families stay with them except maybe by having a bunk bed chained from the ceiling.

SOLUTION

Singles and low income persons need to become more aware of financial unfairness by taking pricing down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. price per square foot and speak out about the financial atrocities being directed towards them. They need to start questioning why they are being targeted to pay more while getting less.  (While it is recognized that it is expensive to raise children, adult to adult it is also unfair to make one segment of the population like singles and the disadvantaged pay more than another segment).

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state  -” Zoning by-laws that encourage affordable, mixed-income and mixed-tenure communities are one way to ensure the inclusion of all Canadians in a variety of social, economic and cultural opportunities”.  So how about putting ‘money where your mouth is’ and eliminating financial housing discrimination for singles and the poor that is upside-down and by truly making the wealthy pay their fair share?

 CATEGORY- VULNERABLE POPULATIONS

SINGLES/INDIVIDUALS ARE RARELY  INCLUDED IN FINANCIAL DISCUSSIONS AND FORMULAS

By your own definition in ‘Let’s Talk Housing”, you state vulnerable populations include seniors, persons with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, newcomers, homeless, lone parent families, indigenous households, youth, veterans.

Why are singles never included today in financial discussions and formulas?  Families are only mentioned.  What this means is that singles are discriminated against by virtue of exclusion and invisibility.  As stated by your definition in sentence above, singles are not included except if they fall into categories of disabilities, homeless, or youth.  Into which of these populations do singles between the ages of 25 and 65 fall?  Your own definition of vulnerable populations does not include them.

SINGLES ARE INAPPROPRIATELY CLASSIFIED

Singles are inappropriately classified when the ‘catch-all’ word ‘singles’ is used to include single parents, widowers, ever singles (never married, no kids), early in life divorced and late in life divorced singles all in one word.  Canada Revenue Agency has clear definitions for singles and widowed persons.  Yet, financial planners, government agencies, businesses often consider widowed people to be singles when they are not.   Single parents do get some government transfer benefits, which is as it should be.  Widowed persons are given benefits, while ever singes are rarely given any benefits except in abject poverty.  Widowed persons are more likely to own their own homes and have more net worth than ever singles.  Early in life divorced persons are less likely to be able to accumulate net worth and wealth than late in life divorced persons.

Blog article “False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’ – December 2, 2015” is  a perfect example of how a financial analyst has inappropriately talked about singles in his article when he is actually talking about widowed persons.  Widowed persons are often perceived to have more social value  simply because they were married and have produced children in comparison never married singles and early in life divorced singles without and without children.  This discrimination often leads to never married and early divorced in life singles being left out of financial decisions because they have been made to be invisible.

FINANCIAL ILLITERACY AND IRRESPONSIBLE CONCLUSIONS OF DECISION MAKERS IN HOUSING SOLUTION

Who Really Owns Homes

In your information, you say 69% of Canadians own their own homes, but what you don’t say is the majority of home ownership is by married or coupled family units.  The sad reality is that singles are less likely to own their own homes because they simply can’t afford it.  You say that seniors are a part of the vulnerable population.  In reality, senior singles (not widowed persons and married or coupled persons) are more likely to be part of the vulnerable population.

According to Statistics Canada 2011 articles “Living Arrangements of Seniors” and “Homeownership and Shelter Costs in Canada” (12.statcan) and (12.statcan.gc) ‘approximately 56.4 per cent of the senior population (5 million total seniors in 2011) live as part of a couple and about 24.6 per cent of the senior population live alone (excludes those living with someone else, in senior citizen facilities and collective housing).

Approximately 69 per cent of Canadians own their own home.  About  four out of five (82.4%) married/coupled people own their own home, while less than half (48.5%) of non-family households (singles) own their dwellings.  Just over half (55.6%) of lone-parent households own their dwelling. “  (It stands to reason that more senior married/coupled and widowed persons will own their own homes, while senior singles–‘ever’ single and early divorced–are more likely to have to rent placing them in greater income inequality and a lower standard of living and quality of life).  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.

We are going to repeat this statement again:  Regardless of housing tenure, the proportion of non-family households and lone-parent households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs was about twice the proportion of the couple-family households’.   This very statement reinforces the fact that singles need to be included in the definition of vulnerable populations.

Singles are constantly told to ‘go live with someone’ when they have difficulties paying for housing; meanwhile married/coupled and widowed persons may be living in their big houses (enjoying the same lifestyle they had before pre-retirement) and seeking help with paying their taxes while refusing to move to a less expensive dwelling when they have financial difficulties.

Seniors who own their homes want to remain in their homes as long as possible versus renters

You state in your information that seniors want to remain in their homes as long as possible.  You also state renters, on the other hand, can benefit from lower monthly costs and more flexibility when they want to move.

Several comments – there are many seniors who have huge net worth in their homes, can’t afford to live in them, and yet want to remain in them.  They have such a sense of entitlement that they are seeking help with paying house taxes, and now politicians are looking to give them financial help with upgrading their homes.  The above statements show no regard for the psychological impact of renting for singles and the poor.  Just how long do you think renters should stay in one place – ten, twenty, thirty years- for example, as seniors without renovations and upgrades taking place in their rental units?  The likely answer that you and everyone else will give to this is that they can always move.  Moving in psychological impact is stressful, plus moving is expensive (your statement regarding ‘flexibility to move for renters’ is a negative, not a positive).

Families don’t take their own advice which they dish out to singles.  Senior couples or widowed don’t want to give up their big houses, but ask for reduced house taxes and senior education property tax assistance programs (Calgary Herald, “Not Now” letter to the editor, August 26, 2015).  If you can’t pay your house taxes, how about moving to smaller place or go live with someone (tit for tat)?  If families with kids don’t pay education property taxes as seniors, then homeowners who have never had kids should not have to pay education taxes throughout their entire lives.

Financial analysts and decision makers have in their end points created such a sense of entitlement and greed that many believe home equity should not be treated as an asset and, even more ludicrous, as a retirement asset.

Blog post ‘Continued Financial Illiteracy and Creation of Financial Silos Benefitting Married/Coupled Persons Equals Financial Discrimination of Senior Singles-Part 2 of 2’ (part-2-of-2) is author’s response to one such article:  February, 2016 the Broadbent Institute in Canada and Richard Shillington of Tristat Resources published the report:  “An Analysis of the Economic Circumstances of Canadian Seniors” (broadbentinstitute)

Quote from report :  ‘ …..Many of those who argue that there is no looming pension crisis have included home equity as a liquid asset.  This analysis has not treated home equity as a retirement asset because the replacement rate analysis has as its objective an income that allows one to enjoy a lifestyle comparable to that which existed pre-retirement.  We do not include home equity here because we accept that the pre-retirement lifestyle for many middle- and moderate-income Canadians include continued homeownership”, (Page 19)’.

(blog author’s response to this statement) ‘It is ludicrous that this report does not treat home equity as a retirement asset.  Those who have to rent are at a much greater financial disadvantage than those who own their own home’.

Singles with mortgage or rent face serious financial obstacles regardless of what age they are.  Young are facing outrageous housing and mortgage costs.  Senior singles who have to rent face serious quality of life issues when their rent is beyond what  they can afford.  Also, financial analysts state that most singles cannot have a mortgage and save at the same time, they only can do one or the other.

What some politicians’  and other responses have been so far

Blog author has been blogging about financial discrimination of singles for almost a year and has been attempting to contact government and politicians regarding this issue.  Here are a couple of absurd responses received so far (none have been positive).

One politician said that if singles are having problems with affordable housing, they can seek assistance.   Community Housing in Alberta is a subsidized rental program, but to qualify assets and belongings cannot exceed $7,000.  Really, $7,000? (Assets in pension funds, registered retirement savings plans, or registered retirement income funds are not included in calculation of assets.  So this means, subsidized housing can be given to those with considerable assets).   Another answer stated that maybe charitable and social agencies need to include singles in assistance that is already provided to low income persons and single parent families.  Really?  This is another slap in face answer that does nothing to solve the affordability housing problem for singles.

Singles continually get told by married or coupled persons that singles can go live with someone if they have problems with being able to afford housing.  At a session on affordable and inclusive housing, blog author was told as much by one gentleman from around Springbank (one of most expensive areas to live in Canada) who was so proud that he was able to winter every year in Arizona.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.

It often appears that desired results have been achieved for what married/coupled persons and families think are appropriate for singles.  Singles can now sleep in spaces that are two hundred square feet in size.  It seems these same people no longer consider singles to be their children or part of the family.  Instead, the state of business has overtaken the value of family to the point of unadulterated greed.

Singles deserve better in affordable housing solutions.  When they talk to government, decision makers and families about lack of affordable housing, they are met with anger, shunning and deaf ears.  They are given the response that it is ‘what the market can bear’.

Every adult with marital status of being single deserves a living wage and a dignified place to live that is equal to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single deserves to be included in financial formulas that are equal in benefits to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single children of families deserves to treated with same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled children in same family.

Single employables (singles and single parents) deserve the same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled persons with and without children.  Singles and single parents (white, aboriginal and of immigrant status) deserve to be included in financial formulas at the same level as married or coupled persons with and without children.

Financial discrimination of singles is accepted in mainstream and is, indeed, celebrated.  Article like “It Pays To Be Married” (marrying-for-money-pays-off) implies married/coupled persons and families are more financially responsible.  From “Ten Events in Personal Financial Decathlon Success” (financialpost), the Family Status step says: ‘From a financial perspective, best scenario is a marriage for life.  It provide stability for planning, full opportunities for tax planning and income splitting and ideally for sharing responsibilities that can enhance each other’s goals and careers.  One or two divorces can cause significant financial damage.  Being single also minimizes some of the tax and pension advantages that couples benefit from’.  How nice!

CONCLUSION

  1.  It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate one of the basic principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need, that is shelter.
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families don’t recognize singles and continue to violate what has been deemed by international organizations to be a violation of the Human Rights of all Canadian Citizens, that is housing.

(From Wikipedia) “The right to housing is recognised in a number of international human rights instruments. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living. It states that:

Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

Article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) also guarantees the right to housing as part of the right to an adequate standard of living.

In international human rights law the right to housing is regarded as a freestanding right. This was clarified in the 1991 General Comment no 4 on Adequate Housing by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The general comment provides an authoritative interpretation of the right to housing in legal terms under international law.”

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

  1. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to be uneducated (illiterate)and completely unaware of what it costs singles to live in comparison to families in relation to equivalence scales.  
  2. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families discriminate based on marital status.  Discrimination based on marital status is a also a violation of human and civil rights.
  3. It is morally, ethically and socially reprehensible and irresponsible when government, businesses and families continue to exclude singles from financial formulas and housing solutions.  Singles need to be included in all financial formulas.
  4. Equivalence scales (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living) – if there anything that is can be so eye-opening in describing how financially disadvantaged singles are in comparison to families for cost of living, it is equivalence scales.  Member of National Housing Survey need to educate themselves in this regard.
  5. Real estate fees have reached an outrageous level of unaffordability.  These fees, in addition to outrageous housing prices, need to be addressed.

In present political system, singles are losing financial ground.   Words ‘individuals’ or  ‘singles’ rarely come to the financial lips of politicians, families or media.   What is needed is to bring financial issues of singles to same financial table as families and to make positive changes for both parties.  Singles who have worked for forty years, never used EI and helped to support families through wedding and baby gifts, education taxes and other taxes so that families can have maternity and parental benefits, child benefits, widow and survivor benefits, etc. deserve same financial respect as families.  Singles never get any thanks and are never recognized for their contributions.  The only benefits singles ever receive is if they are in abject poverty.  Singles are not asking for more financial benefits than families, but equivalency to family benefits as applicable as shown in equivalence scales.  They deserve this as citizens of this country.

Quite frankly, with all the rhetoric, surveys, solutions and bafflegab, this author is very pessimistic and believes CMHC and others involved in this project are going to fail, and will fail miserably.  Unaffordable housing will not be resolved UNLESS THE MINIMUM WAGE IS RAISED TO A LIVING WAGE AND TO A LIVING WAGE THAT IS INDEXED TO INFLATION.  Success will only be achieved if innovative solutions AND a living wage occur simultaneously.   Everything that occurred in the last decade by government, businesses, and families in regards to financial solutions has benefitted only the upper middle class families, not singles and the poor.  (Blog post on CPP enhancements, August 31, 2016 further supports how lack of minimum wage and schizophrenic programs further discriminate against singles and the poor-CPP a federal program while minimum wage is a provincial program).

List of some of the blog posts regarding housing and financial discrimination of singles and the poor:

  1. False assumptions – ‘Four Ways Senior Singles Lose Out’  (false-assumptions)- December 2, 2015 -describes how one financial analyst shows singles lose out on married or coupled family unit tax advantages, lose out on tax and pension systems tilted to benefit couples, lose out on benefits, face higher tax bill, and face OAS recovery tax.  The sad fact is that this financial analyst was talking about widowed persons, not ever singles.
  2. Senior Singles pay more – Parts 1 to 4 – December 5 (senior-singles), Dec. 9 (part-2), Dec. 12 (part-3), and Dec. 22, 2015 (part-4), – show the many ways that senior singles pay more and get less over their married or coupled family unit counterparts.
  3. To rent or own affordable housing – that is the question January 10, 2016 (to-rent-or-own-affordable-housing)
  4. Continued Financial illiteracy of financial gurus equals financial discrimination of singles – Part 2  February 28, 2016 (financial-illiteracy) – blog author’s perspective on yet another financial analyst (Broadbent Institute) providing incomplete facts about what it costs singles to live, inappropriate classification of singles, and not including home equity as a retirement asset.
  5. Incomplete reporting of news and media articles promote financial inequality of singles to married/coupled persons March 24, 2016 (financial-inequality-of-singles-to-marriedcoupled-persons– inability to say the word ‘single’ or ‘individual’ promotes financial discrimination of singles.
  6. Lost dollar value list to date – April 10, 2016 lost-dollar-value-list) (attached table – please see article for full description of items) lost dollar value table
  7. Singles deserve affordable housing and financial fairness for singles April 13, 2016 (singles-deserve-affordable-housing)– talks about a San Francisco single person who created a private sleeping space in the living room of an apartment he shares with other roommates (one bedroom apartments rent for $3,670 a month).  He sleeps in a wooden box (he calls it a ‘pod’) that is eight feet long,  four and a half feet tall and probably about five or six feet wide)
  8. Rental or affordable housing – misconceptions about psychological impact on singles April 20, 2016 (affordable)
  9. Real financial lives of singles April 24, 2016 (real-financial-lives-of-singles-and-financial-discrimination-of-singles) –  shows financial profiles of three married or coupled family units and three ‘singles’ from various backgrounds
  10. Homelessness in Canada bigger problem for singles and poor single parent families May 23, 2016 (homelessness-in-canada-bigger-problem– study on single employables comprised of singles and single parents and how they are having a very difficult time surviving on low wages and lack of affordable housing
  11. Affordable housing not party of Conservative Party definition July 17, 2016 (affordable-housing-not-part-of-conservative-party-definitionappropriate housing definition and how Conservative party after 40 year reign in Alberta contributed very little to affordable housing during the oil boom)
  12. Improper definition of single status promotes financial discrimination August 7, 2016 (improper-definition-of-single-status-promotes-financial-discrimination)
  13. Equivalence scales August 17, 2016 (equivalence-scales-in-relation-to-cost-of-living see article for further description of scales and application in Canada)equivalence scales
  14. History of family tax credits over decades are financially discriminating to singles Part 2 of 2 August 23, 2016 (history-of-family-tax-credits-over-decades table – see article for full description)

family tax benefits over lifetime

The above table shows benefits available to a married or coupled family units with children from time they are able to use maternal and parental benefits to time of death of one spouse (yellow, blue and green fill in).  Single parents only have benefits related to their children (orange fill in).  Married or coupled family units without children have all the benefits related to having a spouse or partner (navy fill in).  Ever singles and early divorced singles have none of the benefits available to married or coupled family units (fill in is blank because they have none of the benefits of spouse #2.  In addition, they are often are unable to max out RRSP and TFSA contributions).  (While late in life divorced singles have none of the benefits for spouse #2, they may have been able to accumulate more net worth and assets while they had a spouse or partner).

15.  Boutique tax credits pushing singles into poverty Part 1 of 2 June 23, 2016 (boutique-tax-credits) and Part 2 of 2 July 3, 2016 (part-2-of-2) – shows how family tax credits given to families with high net worth (brought in by Liberal party this year) are financially discriminatory to singles and are actually pushing them into poverty

16.  Six Reasons Why Married/Coupled Persons are Able to Achieve More Financial Power (Wealth) than Singles (six-reasons – see article for further description – for marital manna benefits an example of a gourmet ice cream cone where married/coupled persons get additions of chocolate sauce and sprinkles, but singles only get the ice cream and cone)

“LETS TALK HOUSING” survey link (letstalkhousing)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

POLITICAL STATEMENTS AGAINST THE NDP PARTY ARE BLATANTLY FALSE AND FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY

POLITICAL STATEMENTS AGAINST THE NDP PARTY ARE BLATANTLY FALSE AND FINANCIALLY DISCRIMINATORY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

A recent opinion letter in a local newspaper prompted this blog post.  The letter again targets the Alberta NDP party for socialism of the rich instead of the Conservative party.  “Westhead must be too busy to read history books” (since) he states: ‘Albertans do want to return to the past; but not to this misfit ideological premise about socialism for the rich and austerity for everyone else that the NDP conjured.  While Mr. Westhead mistakenly believes there was socialism for the rich in Conservative Alberta, his solution is a failing socialist ideology for all.  Your government has downloaded a debt, taxes and policies that are a burden to families….voting Conservatives in again in 2019 – Alberta will return to the free enterprise, socially reliable province it once was”. He is referring to many Harper oil pipelines (good) and NDP carbon tax (bad).

Re statements on socialism and left-wing politicians, analysis shows federal and provincial Conservative and Liberal policies surreptitiously and purposefully eliminate the middle class, thus practising selective social democracy (socialism).  Advertently or inadvertently, future class system will consist mainly of the poor, upper-middle class and wealthy while favouring married or coupled family units with multiple ‘marital manna benefits’.

During federal Conservative and Liberal party reigns, even while reducing social programs helping vulnerable populations of aboriginals and veterans, introduced programs like TFSAs (Harper 2009) pension splitting (Harper 2007) and OAS clawback (Harper 2011) particularly benefit the wealthy and married or coupled family units.  In OAS clawback only about five percent of seniors receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose entire amount.  Why should married or family units who have never had children (double income, possible double TFSA and RRSP) be able to ever use pension splitting, no OAS clawback plus tax avoidance schemes for couples while singles get nothing comparable?

During provincial Conservative party forty year reign and oil boom, just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary were built over the past 14 years.  Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing).  In 2001, Alberta Conservatives brought in 10% flat tax, raising the tax rate from 8% to 10% for lowest income Albertans.  There never has been an Alberta Advantage for the poor.

Federal Liberals have continued Conservative benefit programs like Canada Child Benefit in perpetuity which is based on income and number of children, but not net worth and assets, so families may receive large tax free child benefits and continue increasing wealth even while already having huge assets.

Elimination of the middle class is also evident in Liberals’ proposed Canada Pension plan enhancements without an increase in minimum wage (canada-pension-plan).  Persons with highest YMPE of $82,700 (massive jump from 2016 $54,900) and forty years of contributions may receive 33 percent CPP benefit or about $2,300 per month, while those making a minimum wage of $15 per hour, $30,000 annual income with forty years of contributions may receive about $800 per month. CPP pensions are dependent on salaries.  CPP contributions are not collected on boutique tax credits.  Low salary equals low CPP retirement pensions.

Calculations of a simplistic nature on $10 minimum wage and 2,000 hours shows that Alberta family with two children and each spouse earning $20,000 without any other deductions or benefits will pay about 15% Federal tax and 10% AB tax for a total of $5,000 each and receive full Canada Child Benefits (CCB) of $12,800.  Family income will equal about $42,800.  CPP pension at age 65 in 2016 dollars may equal about $5,000 per person annually.  If $15 minimum wage or $30,000 each  is applied, total Federal tax and AB tax will be $7,500 each.  Family income will equal $57,800 with full CCB $12,800 benefits since reductions only begin at $30,000.  CPP pension might equal about $7,500 per person.  

Above calculations easily show increased minimum wage income for a poor family benefits everyone through collection of increased taxes, less dependency on government handouts, greater financial well being and CPP retirement benefits for the income earner, and the economy through increased spending on goods and services.

Schizophrenic political systems exist where CPP pension enhancements are controlled federally, but minimum wages are controlled provincially.  The continued unwillingness of government and business to promote minimum wage increases to indexed living wages means the poor will remain in poverty even with pension systems that are supposed to improve financial quality of life as seniors.  The new NDP childcare program is the right thing to do, but it should be balanced by reductions of other boutique credits.  However, this is impossible, again because of provincial versus federal control.  Continuing to add monetary programs for select family groups will continue to drain the financial system if boutique tax credit programs and tax avoidance schemes where upper-middle class and wealthy benefit the most are not eliminated in their entirety.  Net worth and assets need to be included in any financial program so that the poor and lower class benefit the most from these programs.

The effects of this ‘income redistribution’ and ‘culture of dependency’ that the right claims they are not guilty of will result in future generations being ridden with high taxes because of high debt level to service these programs.  Where are the economists and financial advisors for the government so that outside the box solutions for financial equality of Canadians regardless of marital  status and using a balanced approach so that all financial programs are reviewed against each other for financial validity and fairness?  Canadians deserve much better financially from their political parties.

Upside-down financial systems and marital manna benefits have created a nanny state where families want it all and once these benefits are in place, it is very difficult to eliminate them because of voter entitlement.  Upper middle class and wealthy married/coupled persons have been made irresponsible by their own politicians and government.  The right keep talking about overspending, but they fail to mention that their boutique tax credits have resulted in upper-middle class and wealthy not paying their fair share of taxes.

Financial silos (tax-credit) are filled to the brim for families and married persons, but remain empty for singles and the poor.  Pipelines and boutique tax credits without steady rise of minimum wage and greedy oil salaries without tax avoidance capabilities means less tax revenue to fill financial coffers, less food on the table and demeaningly low CPP pensions in retirement for the poor.  Every political party has been guilty of vote getting tactics.  Canadians are fed up and disheartened by the divisive nature of politics which seems to serve only the political parties and their wealthy constituents.

(This post was updated on November 30, 2016).

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

OPINION LETTER ON ‘LEFT’S BIG LIE…’ AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION BASED ON MINIMUM WAGE CONTROVERSY

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog post was submitted as an opinion letter to a local newspaper on October 27, 2016 in response to three opinion letters entered in the paper on left and right wing political parties.  It should be noted that this opinion letter was edited and shortened by the newspaper because there are often only so many words that can be submitted to newspapers. The title of the opinion letter was ‘Notley is a champion.’  The three opinion letters on which this post was based are outlined at the end of this blog post’.  The ‘The left’s big lie…’ does not appear in its entirety.

October 13 and 20, 2016 letters ‘The left’s big lie…’, ‘Only right and wrong’ and ‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ letters only produce financial misinformation and reduce political process to shoes (Conservative-minded folks are in the right and the wrong party Liberal -socialist species are in the wrong-the left should only refer to shoes).

Re ‘The left’s big lie…’ statements on socialism and left-wing politicians, analysis shows Conservative and Liberal policies surreptitiously and purposefully eliminate the middle class, thus practising ‘selective’ social democracy (democratic).  Advertently or inadvertently, future class system will consist mainly of the poor, upper-middle class and wealthy while favouring married or coupled family units with multiple ‘marital manna benefits’.  Square root equivalence scale (if value of ‘1’ is used for a single person, then a value of ‘1.4’ is applied for two adults since it costs them less to live) and ‘financial fairness for singles’ are ignored (singles-finances).

During federal Conservative and Liberal party reigns, even while reducing social programs helping vulnerable populations of aboriginals and veterans, introduced programs like pension splitting and OAS clawback particularly benefit the wealthy and married or coupled family units.  In OAS clawback only about five percent of seniors receive reduced OAS pensions, and only two percent lose entire amount.  The very program that is supposed to provide a ‘very modest pension to low and middle-income seniors’ has been redesigned to benefit the upper-middle class.

During provincial Conservative party forty year reign and oil boom, just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary were built over the past 14 years.  Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing).

Federal Liberals have continued Conservative benefit programs like Canada Child Benefit in perpetuity which is based on income and number of children, but not net worth and assets, so families may receive large tax free child benefits and continue increasing wealth even while already having huge assets (tax-credit).  

Elimination of the middle class is also evident in Liberals’ proposed Canada Pension plan enhancements (canada-pension-plan).  Premise remains the same – individuals with highest YMPE will receive the most CPP, while those at lower income levels will receive the least CPP benefits. Persons with highest YMPE of $82,700 (massive jump from 2016 $54,900) and forty years of contributions will receive 33 percent CPP benefit or about $2,300 per month, while those making a minimum wage of $15 per hour, $30,000 annual income with forty years of contributions will receive about $800 per month.  A single person earning $15 per hour minimum wage would have to work two and half full time jobs for forty years to equal the $82,700 YMPE.  

Schizophrenic political systems exist where CPP pension enhancements are controlled federally, but minimum wages are controlled provincially.  The continued unwillingness of government and business to promote minimum wage increases to indexed living wages means the poor will remain in poverty even with pension systems that are supposed to improve financial quality of life as seniors.

The words ‘hard-working people’ has been used again to ad nauseum.  The idea that minimum wage only increases having to pay more income tax is ludicrous. Yes, increase in minimum wage may increase income tax deductions by, for example, 20 percent but these recipients will also have 80 percent more income to spend which will be used to increase product and services.  Increasing CPP, but not increasing minimum wage means children in the future who are living in poverty will receive less CPP, while their wealthy CPP parents and family members will receive the bulk of the CPP enhancements.

We are all responsible for not fighting financial greed of plutocracy, big government and corporations like Walmart, tax loopholes, Wallstreet, outrageous salaries and prices in the entertainment, sports industries, housing and gentrification of cities.  This has resulted in small businesses not flourishing and poverty increasing to an unprecedented level. Failure to increase the minimum wage instead of dealing with real underlying problems equals fighting the wrong fight.

More champions for the vulnerable like Rachel Notley and Bernie Sanders are needed. Bring it  on!  (End of opinion letter)

The three opinion letters that this blog post refers to are included as follows:

‘The Left’s Big Lie…’ October 13, 2016 local newspaper

The totality of this article talks about climate change and ‘The radical environmental movement as well as left-wing Canadian political parties, most notably the Alberta NDP, are telling the BIG LIE about our energy industry and the global environment.’…..To explain, it goes back to the goal of socialism, which is to “restrict private enterprise and control the economy”…..If we continue down the path dictated by our left wing politicians, the standard of living in Alberta will continue to decline…..Albertans must come together and take back government from these politicians who put their radical ideology ahead of the interests of all the hard-working people in our great province.’

‘Only right and wrong’ October 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘Great letter (The left’s big lie).  However we have to get this right and left idea straight.  The only thing in my home that is left is my shoe.  In politics, it should be referred to as follows:  Conservative-minded folks are on the right.  Liberal-socialist species are on the wrong.  Wrong being the proper opposite of right unless you are describing an object such as my shoe.’

‘Minimum wage increase won’t help anyone’ Oct 20, 2016 local newspaper

‘I do believe all people should make a living wage, but driving up the minimum wage does not have that effect.  If you look at the numbers according to the Government of Alberta website there are 290,000 people in Alberta that make minimum wage.  If they all get $1/hr. raise at approximately 40 hours per week the economy needs to breakout an additional $638 million, with no real increase in product or service.  The cost of all things go up and still we have no living wage, but those on minimum wage now pay more income tax.  So, now the NDP has made political points as well as more tax revenue, while some have lost hours or jobs.  All fixed income people, like vets and seniors, are hit most because they get no raise in pay.’ (End of post)

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

STAGNANT MINIMUM WAGE AND LOW INCOME IMPACT ON CPP ENHANCEMENTS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

Occasionally there are events or things in life that will ‘rock you to your core’, ‘knock your socks off’, or ‘set you back on your heels’.  On writing for this blog, one of these things or events is the minimum wage or low income and what an impact this has on financial lives of the poor and low income regards to proposed CPP enhancements.

From Department of Finance, “Background on Agreement in Principle on Canada Pension Plan Enhancement” (fin.gc) for proposed enhancement of CPP states the following:

‘Today, middle class Canadians are working harder than ever, but many are worried that they won’t have put away enough for their retirement.  Each year, fewer and fewer Canadians have workplace pensions to fall back on.  To address this, we made a commitment to Canadians to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in order to help them to achieve their goal of a strong, secure and stable retirement……

There will be gradual 7-year phase-in below the Yearly Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE), followed by a 2-year phase-in of the upper earnings limit….

The maximum amount of earnings subject to CPP (from 2023 to 2025) will be increased by 14%.  The upper earnings limit will be targeted at $82,700 upon full implementation in 2025…..

In 2023, the CPP contribution rate is estimated to be 1% higher for both employers and employees on earnings up to the YMPE.  Beginning in 2024, a separate contribution rate (expected to be 4% each for employers and employees) will be implemented for earnings above the then prevailing YMPE.

All working Canadians will benefit from an enhancement of the CPP. This enhancement will increase income replacement from one-quarter (25%)  to one-third (33%) of pensionable earnings.

As the CPP enhancement will be fully funded, each year of contributing to the enhanced CPP will allow workers to accrue partial additional benefits. In general, full enhanced CPP benefits will be available after about 40 years of making contributions. Partial benefits will be available sooner and will be based on years of contributions.’

The following information regarding the middle class has been taken from (theglobeandmail):

A 2013 internal government document, entitled “What We Know about the Middle Class in Canada,” draws the lines more precisely, deeming the middle class as those whose after-tax income falls between 75 per cent and 150 per cent of the national median – which, using 2012 figures, would include any family taking home $54,150 to $108,300 a year.  “Family,” however, is a catch-all demographic that includes couples of all ages, with or without children, single or double-earners, and single parents. Single people are excluded entirely – one of the fastest growing groups in Canada and a big chunk of the middle class – whose income, using the same government calculation above, would fall between $21,150 and $42,300…..This is one reason why so many millionaires (44 per cent of those who responded to a recent survey by CNBC) outrageously define themselves as middle class when, in fact, once your personal income closes in on $200,000, you leap into the top 1 per cent of earners in Canada….(and top twenty per cent have salaries over $116,000).

Average income (before taxes and transfers) by quintile, all family types, 2013

  • Lowest: Up to $13,000
  • Second: $13,100-$37,000
  • Middle: $37,000-$66,500
  • Fourth: $66,500-$111,600
  • Highest: $111,600 and up

Source, Income Statistics Division, Statistics Canada

What the numbers say: Income levels have fluctuated over the last four decades, with lasting growth concentrated among the wealthiest. In 2011, the incomes of the bottom three quintiles were still lower than in 1976, adjusting for inflation. The top 40 per cent had jumped ahead, with the largest gains made by the top 20 per cent. Compared with 1976, they were the only Canadian households who saw their share of income rise….

What the numbers say: Between 1999 and 2012, the median net worth of Canadian families rose nearly 78 per cent, from $137,200 to $243,800. Most of this wealth is concentrated in housing, especially for lower-income groups. This new wealth wasn’t evenly distributed, however. Gains were higher, the wealthier the family. While median net worth grew by 107 per cent for the richest families, for the bottom 20 per cent it rose just 14.5 per cent. Within the middle class, richer Canadians also did better – the upper middle income saw their worth grow by 90 per cent; the lower middle income by 60 per cent…..

Baby boomers are working longer than expected, debts are rising, and grandma’s housing bonanza is pricing her grandchildren out of the real-estate market, especially in big cities where the best jobs are increasingly concentrated. Paul Kershaw, who studies generational equity at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health, has calculated that Canadians in their late 20s and early 30s will have to save, on average, five years longer to produce a down payment, and work one month a year more than their peers in 1976 to cover their mortgage. And according to a June report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, thirty-somethings are the only age group with a lower overall net worth in 2012 than they had in 1999…..’

READER COMMENT on above article:

‘This is the reality of Canadians in their twenties and thirties.  They are buffeted on the one hand by a regressive Service Sector (Service Sector-more than fast food outlets- includes banking, insurance, and information technology) senior management style reminiscent of pre industrial revolution feudal management and owners who believe that the 15% federal tax is excessive and should be demolished.  On the other hand these all important Canadians under forty years are hopelessly burdened by the same senior management who are responsible for policy that has created unmanageable long term student debt, unconscionable large mortgages with no long term rate matching to amortization and no defined benefit pension plans….the existing Bank Act and Insurance Act as well as Competition Law provides ample power for an enlightened government to bring fairness to our most important asset – Canadians under forty years old’.

MoneySense (middle-class)data based on Stats.Can. 2011 figures – Middle 20% pre-tax income for unattached individuals is $23,357 to $36,859 and for families of two or more $61,929 to $88,074.

In 2013, Stats.Can. data shows median after-tax income for unattached singles over 65 to be $25,700 and under 65 to be $29,800.  For female lone parent families $39,400, for two parent families with children $85,000 and senior families $52,500.

Living Wage Dollars (politicians) (a basic wage that keeps poor working Canadians off the streets) for 2013 Guelph, Wellington and 2012 Grande Prairie range from $19,284 to $25,380 for unattached singles and $56,796 to $62,844 for two parent, two children family unit.  Living Wage for Guelph/Wellington for 2015 has been set at $16.50 for family unit of two parents and two children. The City of Vancouver employee living wage for 2016 is $20.64.  The calculated living wage for Toronto family unit of four for 2015 is $18.52.

Minimum wage in 2015 (minimum) in provinces looked like this – British Columbia $10.25, Alberta $10.20 ($11.20 in Oct. 2015), Saskatchewan $10.20, Manitoba $10.70, Ontario $11.00, Quebec $10.35, New Brunswick $10.30, Nova Scotia $10.60, Prince Edward Island, $10.35, Newfoundland $10.25, Yukon $10.72, Northwest Territories $10.00, Nunavut $11.00.  For 2016, provincial minimum wage ranges from $10.65 to $13.00.  Very few provinces index minimum wage to inflation.  The Alberta NDP party who came into power in 2014 promises to raise minimum wage to $15 by 2018.

The following table shows CPP contribution and benefit rates from 1987 to 2025.  Future proposed rates are shown in yellow.  It is interesting to note that the maximum CPP pension payout does not equal 25% of the YMPE.  Rather it seems to average around 24%.  Where did the remaining dollars go – perhaps for administrative costs?  Payout for 2025 has been calculated at 32% rather than 33%.

cpp-enhancements

ANALYSIS

  1. Minimum wage or living wage in relation to CPP enhancement – A minimum wage averaging between $10.00 and $11.00 in Canada or approximately $20,000 and $22,000 annual wage for 2,000 worked hours per year means these employees working for forty years will receive virtually nothing in CPP payments in comparison to those employees whose maximum CPP YMPE will be $82,700.  If the estimated amount of CPP after forty years of contribution for $82,700 maximum YMPE will equal about $2,000 per month, then the CPP benefit for $20,000 annual salary could be estimated to be 25% or $500 per month.  Even with a living wage of $20.00 per hour or $40,000 annual salary for 2,000 worked hours will possibly only equal 50% or $1,000 (equivalent to rent or mortgage) CPP benefit per month.  Just what incentive is there for the poor and low income to work when the YMPE will rise to a level that is higher than the middle quintile income of  $37,000-$66,500 and when one of the criteria is working for forty years?  While it is understood that incomes will likely rise over the next forty years, past history has shown that it will repeat itself by not increasing the minimum wage to a living wage equally in proportion to CPP contributions and benefits.  Ever singles and early divorced singles without children deserve better when they  have worked for forty years, never used EI, never used family benefits like maternity or parental benefits, child rearing dropout credits, child benefits and widowed person benefits along with all the marital manna benefits (pension splitting). Question to be answered:  Will the minimum wage along with OAS and GIS rise to same level that CPP YMPE will rise and will they be indexed to same level (33% would be nice) so that CPP, OAS and GIS benefits for the poor and low income will be at least a living wage level throughout their senior lives?
  1.  Upper-middle class will benefit the most while the poor and low income Canadians have been left out of the formula – Politicians and governments continue to coddle the middle class and especially the upper-middle class (so stated by financial government officials themselves in above article “middle class Canadians are working harder than ever”).  The Canadians who will benefit the most from the proposed CPP YMPE are the top two quintiles earning $82,000 and up per year (fourth quintile $66,500-$111,600 average income for all family types as shown in above statistics).  As the CPP YMPE rises at a level that is exponentially higher than the average income level of the middle class, so will the CPP payouts rise at a level that is exponentially higher for the upper middle class.  In the table shown above, the yearly YMPE has risen at a relatively steady rate for each year.  Examples:  The YMPE rose $600 for years 2000 to 2001, $1,200 for 2015 to 2016 and proposed $1,100 for 2022 to 2023.  The YMPE will take a dramatic jump of $7,100 ($67,800 to $74,899) for 2023 to 2024 and $7,800 ($74,900 to $82,700) for 2024 to 2025.  The YMPE, which used to be more ‘middle of the road’ middle class, will now rise to upper middle class levels just like all other defined benefit plans in this country, the higher the salary-the higher the benefit.   (Widowed persons of higher income deceased spouses also benefit more from these plans, but have not made contributions equal to the pension payouts, even though as widowed persons they are now technically single).  It almost certainly can be guaranteed that annual incomes will not increase by that amount for any of the lower income groups and especially for the poor and low income groups.  Pension plans in this country have been made schizophrenic and financially upside-down when they are controlled by the federal government, but minimum wages are controlled by the provinces, while ensuring the wealthy will get wealthier and the poor will remain poor.
  1.  Four things that need to happen to eliminate financial discrimination of CPP enhancements – What is the incentive for ever singles, early divorced singles and poor families to work when government, politicians and businesses purposely implement financial policies that work against them?? Four things need to happen – one. raise minimum wage to a living wage with indexing; two, exponentially increase indexing of OAS and GIS to same level of $82,700 CPP YMPE; three, eliminate marital manna benefits that privilege high income families such as pension splitting and revise programs such as OAS recovery tax so they truly do progressively eliminate OAS according to income for the upper-middle class; and four, review all retirement benefits and retirement programs in totality and with each other (both on federal and provincial level) to prevent creation of financial silos that privilege the wealthy few.

SOLUTION

In addition to the above four items, how about adding six years of CPP benefits to total years worked for singles (ever singles and early divorced singles, excluding widowers), equivalent to child rearing dropout credits? (Added Sept. 26, 2016 but then, singles already work forty years so that idea won’t work.  So how about applying the equivalence scale of 1.4 to the CPP benefits that singles have earned while working)?  It is a known fact that it costs unattached singles more to live (senior-singles-pay-more) than married or coupled family units.  The Canada Revenue Agency knows who singles are as they have indicate themselves as such on their income tax submissions.  Now, wouldn’t that be a novel idea to eliminate financial discrimination and promote financial fairness for singles?

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

CAUSE AND EFFECT OF FINANCIAL POLICIES PROMOTING FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES AND THE POOR

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

This blog has attempted to describe some of the many government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions that lead to financial discrimination of singles and the poor.

The question that can be asked is:  “Is there a  cause and effect relationship to these decisions?”

From Wikipedia and other online sources (study) the definition of ‘cause and effect’ is follows: – Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is the agency or efficacy that connects one process (the cause) with another process or state (the effect), where the first is understood to be partly responsible for the second, and the second is dependent on the first. In general, a process has many causes, which are said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of many other effects.

A cause-effect relationship is a relationship in which one event (the cause) makes another event happen (the effect). One cause can have several effects. Cause-Effect Criteria – In order to establish a cause-effect relationship, three criteria must be met. The first criterion is that the cause has to occur before the effect. If the causes occurred before the effects, then the first criterion is met.  Second, whenever the cause happens, the effect must also occur.  Consequently, if the cause does not happen, then the effect must not take place. The strength of the cause also determines the strength of the effect when criterion two is met.  The final criterion is that there are no other factors that can explain the relationship between the cause and effect.

A cause is why something happens.  An effect is what happens.

While no scientific ‘cause and effect’ relationship (i.e. fishbone diagrams) has been applied in this blog, certainly many of the financial discriminatory effects of policy decisions (or causes) have been described.  Some of these effects are listed below.

Boutique tax credits

  • Every political party has introduced tax credits to give financial benefits to certain members of the population more than others. June 16/16 (credit)

Business policies

  • Financial decisions by businesses such as not wanting to have minimum wage increase and not wishing to pay proposed increase of CPP employer contributions continue to help disintegrate the financial well being of singles and the poor. Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

CPP

  • Financial discrimination of the CPP plan.  Aug 31/16 (plan)

CPP enhancements

  • Financial discrimination of CPP enhancements includes higher income earners only paying 8 percent instead of 11 percent CPP contributions on earnings between $72,000 and $82,700. Sept 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Family tax credits

  • Marital manna and family tax credits given over the years have continually increased the financial discrimination of singles and the poor.  Many of these benefits have been implemented by the Federal Conservative government over the last decade and perpetuated by the Federal Liberal party since coming into power in 2015 as well as provincial parties.  Aug 2/16 (credits)

Housing Affordability

  • Just 1,048 new affordable housing units in Calgary have been built over the past 14 years; the need for affordable housing was great in 2002 and it remains so today (most of these years were under provincial forty year reign of the Conservative party). July 17/16 (housing)
  • Homelessness – Two thirds of shelter beds in Canada are filled by people who make relatively infrequent use of shelters and are more likely forced into shelters by economic conditions (due to structural factors, the state of housing and labour markets that destine the very poor to be unable to afford even minimum-quality housing)…attacking housing affordability from the other side, by reducing housing costs, would also be effective….vast majority of homeless shelter users are single. May 23, 2016 (homelessness) and July 17/16 (housing)

Housing Upside Down Pricing and Financing

  • Upside down pricing of housing where purchasers of smaller units pay more per square foot means they will proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay. Nov. 19/15 (upside-down)

Income tax privileging for the middle class and the wealthy

  • Tax cuts on both federal and provincial levels have targeted the middle class and the wealthy while making poor pay same amount or more in taxes.
  • Alberta flat tax of 10 percent increased from 8 percent for low income. May 23/16 (homelessness
  • Federal tax by federal Liberal party decreased by 1.5% for those earning between $45,282 and $90,563. Aug. 23/16 (family)

Lost Dollar value

  • Lost dollar value list was created to show lost dollars experienced by singles because married or coupled persons are able to achieve more financial benefits.  Some of these include pension splitting, reward programs and Employment Insurance (EI). April 10/16 (value)

Marital manna benefits

  • 1% spousal lending rate, spousal RRSP, TFSAs times two with no cap on total amounts accumulated over years are all within legal limits of financial laws – Six Reasons….(six)

Marrying for money pays off

  • Study shows persons who marry and stay married accumulate nearly twice as much personal wealth as a person who is single or divorced.  Jan. 17/16 (pays)

Maternity and parental benefits

  • Studies have shown that middle class and wealthy families benefit more from maternity and parental benefits.  Many poor families cannot afford take full maternity and parental leave.  August 23/17 (family)

Minimum wage/living wage

  • Decisions and arguments to not increase minimum wage or implement living wage have a dramatic impact on financial well being of singles and the poor.  May 4/16 (discriminatory) and Sept. 12/16 (canada-pension-plan)

Net worth and assets

  • When net worth and assets are not included in family benefit formulas, benefits are often given to those who need these benefits less (middle class and the wealthy) than the poor who have less net worth and assets.  August 17/16 (assets)

OAS recovery tax (OAS clawback)

  • OAS clawback benefits wealthy couples and some widows the most.  OAS for couples only begins at net income of $145,618 ($72,809 per person) thus allowing them to receive full OAS of $13,760 as a couple.  Not many senior singles (except some widowed persons) who could ever hope to achieve a net income of $72,809. Aug. 29/16 (oas)

Pension splitting

  • Pension splitting benefits only wealthy married or coupled family units.  Singles don’t get to pension split. Jan. 31/16 (government) and May 4/16 (selective).

Reward programs, company perks, money benefit programs, and fee schedules benefit families the most

‘Selective’ social democracy

  • There has been much that is good about democratic socialism, but there also has been some negative outcomes .  One outcome is ‘selective’ democratic socialism where certain members of society receive more social benefits than others. May 4/16 (selective)

Senior singles pay more

  • Senior singles often ‘pay more, get less’ because they are not included equally in financial formulas.  Singles also help support widowed persons and survivor pension plans. Dec. 22/15 (senior) and June 2/16 (retirement)

Singles not included or improperly identified in family definition

  • Ever singles (never married, no kids) are often not properly identified in family definitions.  Widowed persons and single parents are not ever singles.  Widowed persons and single parents are afforded some benefits that ever singles do not receive.  Dec. 2/15 (false) and Aug. 7/16 (definition)

CONCLUSION

It is very clear from the many examples above that government, politician, business and family financial policy decisions are often made in isolation and in financial silo fashion.  Continuation of these practises without a clear path to proper evaluation of all ‘across the board’ financial formulas and their ‘cause and effect’ on each other will only lead to perverse financial privileging of the middle class and wealthy while continuing financial discrimination of ever singles, early in life divorced singles, single parents and the poor.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

POLITICIAN’S RESPONSE LETTER DOES NOT UNDERSTAND SINGLES’ FINANCES

POLITICIAN’S RESPONSE LETTER DOES NOT UNDERSTAND SINGLES’ FINANCES

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

The post on Fort McMurray Fire Disaster relief (fort-mcmurray-fire-disaster)showed how family units comprised of singles received the lowest financial assistance of all family units.  This information was sent to Province of Alberta politicians to make them aware of this situation.

One of the politician’s (right wing Conservative) response to this information is outlined here.  This letter continues to show the financial misunderstanding and financial discrimination of singles in this country.

A portion of the letter is reproduced as follows:

“Data from Statistics Canada Table 203-0023 concerning total household expenditures shows that Alberta government and Red Cross financial assistance for single person households, lone parent households, and couples without children total between 50% and 63% of typical monthly expenditures for those household types. The only household type to receive financial assistance approximating their average monthly household expenditures were couples with children. The same data shows that a two person household with no children has almost twice (184%) the household expenses of a one person household.

Given that shelter, food, household operations, transportation, healthcare, and recreation are the largest components and total approximately 50% of household expenditures of all the household types, and given that most of those goods/services are provided without cost or at steep discounts to evacuees, and given that those goods/services are used in reduced amount during evacuation, the level of temporary financial support provided does not appear unreasonable. However, given that some organizations’ aid programs are focused on the needs of mothers, seniors, and other demographics, there may be an opportunity for more organizations or programs focused on single adults.

It is true that two parent families with two or more children receive more financial assistance than the other family types, however we are not aware of a compelling public benefit to reducing financial assistance to individuals living as two parent families with children on the basis of their family status.

With respect to potential human rights violations, the financial assistance appears to be provided without discrimination on the basis of any protected human rights grounds, with the reasonable exception of children who have lower financial needs than adults and seniors. As far as we are aware, “financial human rights” is an interesting concept but not currently a well-founded legal doctrine in Canada or any other jurisdiction. In order for treatment of particular social groups to amount to persecution, any alleged violation of basic human rights would need to arise out of repeated or mistreatment which causes personal harm the affected individuals. All of the available evidence suggests that the relevant governments intend to rebuild the wildfire-affected areas and to resume providing services to individuals communities in the same ways as before the wildfires.”

First, the Conservative right wing politician’s letter refers to Statistics Canada Table 203-0023 showing 2013 household expenditures for family units of one person households, lone parent with children, couples without children, couples with children as well as other family unit types.  It is interesting to note that this data was based on surveys and these expenditures include tobacco and alcohol as well as games of chance.  These are wants, not needs and do not deserve to be included in any discussion of fairness of financial expenditures or financial disaster assistance of family units.

Second, the letter readily admits that two parent with children family units received the most assistance. The statement also is made as follows:  “we are not aware of a compelling public benefit to reducing financial assistance to individuals living as two parent families with children on the basis of their family status”. Now that is real fairness!

The statement “The same data shows that a two person household with no children has almost twice (184%) the household expenses of a one person household” is inherently false.  There are many sources of information showing that it costs singles 60-70 per cent of what it costs a married/coupled family unit to live (moneysense).

For a more accurate comparison of percentage of living expenses incurred by family units, one could use living wage analysis and equivalence scales.

Two Living Wage studies for Canadian cities are Guelph and Wellington and Grande Prairie (table at end of post) show living expenses (not middle class living, but bare bones living to prevent homelessness).  In both of these studies, it should be noted that singles are not allowed the purchase or use of a vehicle.  Instead, they have to rely on transit and taxis.

The Guelph and Wellington 2013 study (livingwagecanada-FINAL)  showed living expenses for singles at $25,380, lone parent with one child $40,704, and two parent family with two children $56,796.  The Grande Prairie 2012 study (GP.pdf) showed living expenses for singles $19,284, lone parent with one child $41,844 and two parents with two children $62,844.   Calculation of Guelph and Wellington percentages for single in comparison to lone parent with a child is 62 per cent and in comparison to two parents with two children 45 per cent.  Grande Prairie percentages of single in comparison to lone parent with one child is 46 per cent and to two parents with two children 30 per cent.

(It should be noted that one of the significant differences for Grande Prairie percentages of singles to other family units is shelter where single is allowed to share a two bedroom apartment.  If $859 rent is for allowed for not shared one bedroom Grande Prairie apartment to equal one bedroom apartment in Guelph/Wellington study, then the total annual expenditure becomes  $29,592 or 70% of lone parent with one child and 47 per cent of two parent with two children.  The percentages for singles then become more closely aligned between the two studies).                                         

It is very difficult to find Canadian living wage statistics on married/coupled persons with no children as they are never included in these studies.  If a few statistics from the USA living wage studies are used (New York 2016 (counties) example single adult $21, 382 and two adults  with no children $34,582; Salem, Oregon (Salem-OR) single adult $28,140 and married couple with no children $37,536) then percentage of singles to married or coupled and no children households is calculated as 62 per cent and 75 per cent respectively.

To summarize, the Living Wage studies for Canada and USA show that percentages of singles cost of living to lone one parent one child or two person no children households ranges from 62 to 75 per cent.

The table at the end of this post using Statistics Canada data shows that singles and lone parent families are not doing very well with respect to incomes.  Present median incomes are equivalent to living wage incomes (bare minimum to prevent homelessness).  Likewise, median net worth shows these same households are at the bottom of the scale in comparison to households with two adults.

Equivalence scales have also been used to provide comparisons of costs of living between different family units (households).  The OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) modified equivalence scale and square root equivalence scales are two examples.  The basis for equivalence scales are described as follows:  The needs of a household grow with each additional member but – due to economies of scale in consumption– not in a proportional way. Needs for housing space, electricity, etc. will not be three times as high for a household with three members than for a single person. With the help of equivalence scales each household type in the population is assigned a value in proportion to its needs. The factors commonly taken into account to assign these values are the size of the household and the age of its members (whether they are adults or children).

Table for two equivalence scales:

equivalence scales

Statistics Canada 75F0002M – Section 2 ‘The LIM and proposed Modifications’ (75f0002m) provides an excellent overview of what is happening in Canada.  This paper proposes  modifications to the existing LIM (Low Income Measure) methodology.

“The first is to replace economic family by household as the basic accounting unit in which individuals pool income and enjoy economies of scale in consumption.   Secondly and equally if not more important, household is the international standard in comparative statistical surveys of income and well-being while the economic family concept is rarely employed by other countries.  Under the proposed modification, an individual will be defined as in low-income if the household as a whole is in low-income which in turn will generate different low-income statistics.   Adopting the square root equivalence scale – the square root has declining factors for each subsequent member while the LIM scale does not, and thus flattens out after the third member.. Furthermore, under the Square Root scale one needs only consider how many people are in the family whereas using the LIM scale one needs to keep in mind both the age of family members as well as whether the family is a single parent family”.

(It should be noted that there is no perfect system, however, equivalence scales system is one method that provides a decent measure of  financial fairness with respect to cost of living assessments for all members of family units regardless of marital status).

Finally, in regards to the letter and human rights discrimination in relation to singles finances, singles are discriminated against every single day.  This  has been described in a past post.  Re Allowance Program and Credits benefits, 2009 Policy Brief, “A Stronger Foundation-Pension Reform and Old Age Security” by Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, page 4 (policyalternatives.ca), states:

“This program discriminates on basis of marital status as confirmed by case brought under the Charter of Rights where federal court agreed program was discriminatory and ruled it would be too expensive to extend program on basis of income regardless of marital status”.

As well, the Progressive Conservative Party has been very diligent in implementing boutique tax credits which have consistently benefited families more.  One major example of this is pension splitting in which senior married/couple household benefit, but singles get nothing.  How is this not financially discriminatory?

CONCLUSION

  • Politicians need to become more financially intelligent about what it costs singles to live in this country and the financial formulas the country is using, for example, equivalence scales.
  • Financial formulas need to include singles equally to family households.  Singles need to be Included in the financial family.
  • All household types including singles need to be included in financial disaster recovery programs with equal dignity and respect.  Singles, after all, also donated to the Red Cross program.  A solution to distribute disaster monies equally could be to use household and equivalence scales formulas.
  • Politicians, government, families and organizations like the Red Cross need to educate themselves  on  what financial discrimination is and to include singles equally in financial formulas.
  • What is not needed is more ‘organizations’ and aid programs focused on the needs of mothers, seniors, and other demographics (single adults)’.  (Habitat for Humanity does not include ever singles in their building program).  These are only band aid solutions to what is the real problem, financial inequity of financial formulas.  What is needed is for financial formulas  to treat all households fairly and equally by using equivalence scales.
  • How about another novel idea – treat benefits (benevolent programs) equally to expenditure programs (boutique tax credits) using equivalence scales.  The Alaska Permanent Funds Dividends and Ralph buck programs (money-benefit-programs) grossly discriminated against singles by giving monies to children who have not contributed one cent to the economy.  Singles paid taxes for these dollars that are distributed to children who have paid nothing.
  • Regarding financial human rights and discrimination, the government has to yet provide an answer as to why the Allowance Program and Credit benefits is being continued through to at least 2029 even though the courts ruled it to be discriminatory.

 

living wage in dollars

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.