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Five things you need to know about your RRSP as this year’s deadline approaches

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

OTTAWA – Recent volatility on the markets has bruised RRSP investments. As the Feb. 29 deadline for contributions looms, here are five things to know about RRSPs.

— They allow you to defer taxes, not avoid them. You are able to deduct your contributions from your income, but when you withdraw the money in retirement, you will pay income tax.

— Your unused RRSP contribution room carries forward. If you don’t maximize your contribution for a given year, the unused portion carries forward.

— If you have a pension plan at work, that can reduce your RRSP contribution room. Depending on how generous your pension plan is, the amount you are able to contribute to your RRSP may be substantially reduced.

— Choosing between saving for retirement using your RRSP or tax-free savings account depends on the tax bracket you are in today and where you expect to be when you start withdrawing money from your RRSP.

— You can withdraw money from your RRSP under the home buyers’ plan and the lifelong learning plan, but if you do you must repay the money to your account within a set amount of time. It is generally 15 years under the home buyers’ plan, while under the lifelong learning plan it is generally 10 years.

Five things to expect in Thursday’s Ontario budget

The Canadian Press | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

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Finance Minister Charles Sousa will introduce the Ontario budget Thursday. Here are five things to expect in the Liberal government’s fiscal plan:

  • The ninth consecutive deficit budget is expected to clearly outline how the Liberal government will eliminate $7.5 billion in red ink by 2017-18.
  •  Ontario’s net debt is expected to surpass $300 billion, with bond rating agencies watching closely to see if the debt-to-GDP ratio will be heading down from nearly 40 per cent.
  • There will be more details on the government’s cap-and-trade plan to fight climate change, which will drive up the price of most consumer goods, adding 4.3 cents a litre to the price of gasoline.
  • It will outline already announced plans to let some grocery stores sell wine, which will get a new minimum price and could also be hit with a new tax.
  • There will also be more details on the government’s strategy to combat violence against indigenous women, which Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday would get $100 million in funding over three years.

Power restored at Pearson Terminal One

CityNews | posted Thursday, Feb 25th, 2016

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Flight and airport operations are resuming at Pearson International Airport after power issues affected parts of the airport.

The power issues started around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday.

“Power bump is affecting parts of Terminal 1. We are working to fully restore power. Please check flight info with airlines,” Pearson said in a tweet.

Power was restored just after 6 a.m.

The “power bump” caused the computer systems to shut down and be rebooted, leading to passenger lineups and delays.

Some check-in counters were closed but have since reopened.

The flight status boards showing cancellations and delays are still not working, but is expected to be back online shortly as the system gets rebooted.

Inbound and outbound flights were not affected by the power outage. At one point, around 100 flights were affected but that those were weather-related.

Travellers are still being advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

With files from Carl Hanstke

Province drops fares by more than half on struggling UP Express

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 24th, 2016

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The province is lowering fares by more than half on the UP Express, in an effort to attract ridership on the nearly empty trains that run from Union Station to Pearson International Airport.

The base fare will be reduced by more than half from $27.50 to $12. Those with a Presto card will be able to hop on it for $9, down from $19.

The plan now goes before a Metrolinx board meeting for approval on Tuesday night. If the board approves it, the new fare structure starts on March 9.

The UP Express also offers a commuter-friendly option, letting riders travel between Weston, Bloor and Union stations, but not the airport, for $4.71 (one stop) and $5.02 (two stops) for those with a Presto card – which is in-line with GO Transit fares.

Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca announced the updated fares at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon. Metrolinx president and CEO Bruce McCuaig was also in attendance.

“This is in the interest of providing middle-class families and commuters with more affordable and accessible options so that we can help reduce gridlock on our roads and highways,” Del Duca told reporters.

Airport employees will also be able to ride the trains at a reduced fare.

Trains between Union and Pearson depart every 15 minutes, and take just 25 minutes to reach either destination.

Over the Family Day weekend, Metro offered riders free service on the UP Express in an effort to introduce more people to the service. More than 10,000 people rode the service on the first day of a three-day trial. Overall, 43,000 riders used the service.

“Every service line takes time to build awareness and customer loyalty. We have listened, we have learned, and today, we are taking action to make the UP Express more affordable,” Del Duca said on Tuesday.

Since the train started running last summer, ridership hasn’t been as high as the transit agency expected.

Metrolinx had originally set a goal of 5,000 riders per day for the first year of the service. But numbers show that in both November and December monthly ridership dipped under 70,000, with an average of 2,300 riders every day.

Slushy commute in store for GTA as winter storm moves in

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 24th, 2016

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A messy mix of winter weather is expected to sweep through the GTA and much of the province starting Wednesday and continuing into Thursday.

Areas like Caledon, Newmarket, Georgina and northern York Region are under a freezing rain warning. The warning also extends to Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge.

Snow and ice pellets are expected to arrive on Wednesday morning, followed by freezing rain for the afternoon. The rain will then change back to snow by early Thursday morning as the cold air is ushered in.

Click here for school bus cancellations.

Toronto and the rest of the GTA are under a special weather statement calling for rain, snow and ice pellets.

680 NEWS meteorologist Jill Taylor said wet snow will start around 7:30 a.m. and linger around before changing to rain around noon. She said with the high of 3 C any accumulating snow will quickly become slush.

Other parts of the province like Parry Sound and Muskoka are under a winter storm warning, with 15-20 centimetres of snow and ice pellets possible by Thursday afternoon.

So far, there are more than 100 cancelled flights at Pearson International Airport, but mostly due to weather in other areas.

Click here to search for your flight.

City releases dates of spring maintenance expressway closures

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Feb 24th, 2016

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Drivers start marking your calendars, because the city of Toronto has released the spring schedule of weekend road closures for its expressways.

“Providing the dates for these expressway closures in advance will help people make their travel plans,” said Coun. Jaye Robinson, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee, in a statement. “The maintenance work that is planned for our expressways is crucial to maintaining these important roads in a state of good repair.”

The work is part of the city’s plan to rehabilitate and upgrade Toronto’s roads, transit and underground infrastructure.

Weekend road closures include the following:

  • The Don Valley Parkway from the Gardiner Expressway to Highway 401 will be closed for spring maintenance activities from Friday, April 15 at 11 p.m. to Monday, April 18 at 5 a.m. A rain date of April 29 to May 1 has been set, in which case the DVP will reopen early to improve traffic conditions during the Goodlife Marathon, scheduled for May 1.
  • The Gardiner Expressway between Carlaw Avenue and Highway 427 will be closed from Friday, May 13 at 11 p.m. to Monday, May 16 at 5 a.m. for spring maintenance activities. (Rain date: May 20 to 23, opening for Victoria Day on May 23.)
  • The Gardiner Expressway will be closed from Carlaw Avenue to the Humber Bridge and the Don Valley Parkway will be closed from Highway 401 to the Gardiner Expressway on Sunday, June 5 from 2 a.m. to 2 p.m. to accommodate the Ride for Heart event that day.
  • The eastbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway from the Humber Bridge to Carlaw Avenue and the northbound lanes of the Don Valley Parkway from the Gardiner Expressway to Eglinton Avenue, including all ramps, will be closed on Sunday, July 10 from 2 a.m. to noon during the Toronto Triathlon Festival.

The city says it’s anticipated that full weekend closures will be necessary for the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway in the fall as well. The dates for those closures have not yet been set.

Province expected to drop fares on struggling UP Express

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Feb 23rd, 2016

 

The province is hoping lower fares will lead to higher ridership on the nearly empty UP Express trains that run from Union Station to Pearson International Airport.

Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, along with Metrolinx president and CEO Bruce McCuaig, will be holding a news conference at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, where they are expected to announce the lower fares.

A one-way fare for the UP Express costs $27.50 but those with Presto card can hop on for $19.

The Toronto Star reports the base fare will reportedly be reduced by more than $5. According to theGlobe and Mail, the full fare will shrink to below $20 a trip.

Over the Family Day weekend, Metro offered riders free service on the UP Express in an effort to introduce more people to the service. More than 10,000 people rode the service on the first day of a three-day trial.

Since the train started running last summer, ridership hasn’t been as high as the transit agency expected.

Metrolinx had originally set a goal of 5,000 riders per day for the first year of the service. But numbers show that in both November and December monthly ridership dipped under 70,000, with an average of 2,300 riders every day.

The Star reports the UP Express will offer a commuter-friendly option, letting riders travel between the three stations, including Weston, Bloor and Union stations, but not the airport, for less than $6, which is in-line with GO Transit fares.

Details of the discounts are expected to be announced at the afternoon news conference before the plan goes to a Metrolinx board meeting for approval on Tuesday night.

The public session of the meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Metrolinx head office.

Union disappointed with slow pace of talks, goes ahead with work-to-rule

CityNews | posted Monday, Feb 22nd, 2016

Toronto’s 20,000 inside workers are on a work-to-rule campaign.

CUPE Local 79 president Tim Maguire says there has been no breakthrough in contract talks with the city but negotiations would resume again this morning.

While the workers are now legally in a position to walk off the job, Maguire said this work-to-rule campaign is not about disruption in service.

A work-to-rule campaign means “not working for free, that’s taking your breaks … not coming to work early, not staying late for free. It’s about not doing duties outside your job description,” Maguire said.

After extending the deadline to reach an agreement twice, Maguire made it clear Sunday that there would be no further extensions and expressed frustration at the slow pace of those talks.

“There will be no more extensions,” said Maguire. “We’re very concerned that there’s not sufficient pace in those talks.”

Fair wage increases and job stability have been among the major sticking points in the talks.

“Our goal is to get a collective agreement that works for our members.”

On Sunday, Mayor John Tory said he was “disappointed” by the threat of job action but was hopeful a deal could still be reached.

“I have faith in the collective bargaining process. I have faith in the professionalism of City employees to continue to deliver the services that the City provides to its residents and businesses,” the mayor said in a statement.

“The City’s bargaining team will continue to work with the provincial conciliator in order to achieve a resolution of these negotiations.”

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