Tuesday, December 7, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 49 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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“We are thrilled with the conditions that we have, and will be opening with next week.”
- Dave Morrison  
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Pass Powderkeg Ski Hill   

 

New Girl In Town

Like many of you, I recently received a survey in the mail from the office of Ted Menzies, Member of Parliament for the electoral district of Macleod.
As you may know, it is regarding Canada's Economic Action Plan, and says "we want to hear from you! Tell us, what are your top three priorities for Canada moving forward?"
After much mulling over, I endeavoured to formulate my erratic and inarticulate thoughts into concise statements.
My first response was "stronger financial support for post-secondary students".
Speaking as someone who comes from a lower-income family, paying for school can be very hard. If your parents do not make or have a lot of money, it's hard for them to help you out with tuition, and therefore you need to utilize scholarships, bursaries and student loans.
Not everyone qualifies for scholarships, so that limits you to bursaries based on family income and, of course, student loans.
I am so grateful that bursaries are available to the children of lower and middle-income families, but I believe the amounts provided should be higher.
Moreover, when it comes to student loans, once again I am incredibly thankful that they are available, but repayment, for lack of a better word, sucks.
For a lot of students, it is hard to get a job at all following graduation, let alone in the field you have spent all this time and money training for, with an income which will allow you to afford all of your expenses on top of repaying your loan.
The National Student Loans Service Centre has done a lot of great work in the past few years in order to take some of the burden off of loan borrowers, including interest relief, and forgiving of outstanding loan balances after a repayment period of 15 years.
It is appreciated, but a lot of young adults are still struggling. There is obviously more that can be done.
My second response was "lower income tax for low-income workers". Now, I understand that in order for social programs and resources such as bursaries to be possible, the money has to come from somewhere.
But let us, for a moment, analyze the earnings of the average twenty-something living in a city such as Calgary.
The average retail job, which is the reality with which most post-secondary students and straight-out-of-the-gate-graduates are faced, generates somewhere from $8 to $12 per hour of work.

 
Let’s take the median wage, and say that on average, a retail employee earns $10 an hour.
If that employee is lucky enough to be working a steady and regular schedule, and manages to put in a 40-hour work week, that means $400 per week, or $800 per pay period.
Roughly eight per cent of their income is deducted in the form of income tax, totalling $64. Add to that the $33.43 they will pay toward their Canada Pension Plan, and the $13.84 they will be paying toward Employment Insurance.
This leaves them with a net income of $688.73 every two weeks, or $1,377.46 every month, and $16,529.52 a year.
In Canada, you are considered to be living below the relative poverty line when your income is 50 per cent or greater below the median income.
The Canadian household income, as reported in 2009, is $51,951, of which $16,529 is a mere 32 per cent.
This means your average student / retail employee is living well below the poverty line.
Obviously, when you fill out the paperwork at the beginning of your new job where you claim what you will be making, what you pay in tuition, any dependants you may have, etc., most students end up not being taxed very much at all.
But this isn’t just students we’re talking about, here. This is any average retail employee, of which there are a great very many.
With rent, utilities, cell phones, groceries, gas, vehicle maintenance, insurance and registration, student loans payments, and any credit card expenses, it can be very difficult for many of these people to meet their monthly living expenses, let alone set aside any assemblage of savings for their future.
We shouldn’t have to struggle for the rest of our lives, as a result of trying to do nothing more than better ourselves.
The third response I offered was "more environmentally responsible infrastructure / utilization of wind, solar, gravitational, hydroelectric and geothermal energy sources." This makes me emotional on a completely different level, but requires much less explanation.
What are/were your responses? I would love to know. If you would like to share, send me an email at kimberley.massey@gmail.com and we can discuss.
Love, Kimberley
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   Volume 80 - Issue 49 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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