City Hall reopening Monday June 21 – details
City Hall reopening for payments and in-person customer service
“We are excited to be reopening City Hall for in-person payments and customer service. This long awaited reopening will enable us to reconnect with our customers in person and still support doing business with us online, where possible,” said Acting City Manager Tara Lodewyk.
Starting Monday, June 21, 2021, key customer service employees will return to City Hall with a phased reopening taking place in the coming weeks and months. With renovations that took place while the building was closed, all customer and public interactions are now provided on the main floor of City Hall.
Some additional changes include new windows and doors, improved customer service kiosks, new security controls and numerous health and safety measures that serve to protect employees and customers accessing City Hall. All renovations were focused on making necessary changes that facilitate improved customer interactions while considering the safety, health and wellness of all employees and citizens.
“As we reopen City Hall for in-person customer service, the health and safety of our citizens and employees is still top of mind. Masks are required inside the building and there will be capacity limits for the number of customers permitted inside at one time,” said Lodewyk. “We kindly ask that anybody coming to City Hall, or accessing any of our recreation or public facilities, uphold all public health restrictions as we work to keep everyone safe throughout the phased reopening.”
A full reopening and return to work for all City employees is expected to take place between June 21 and September 7, 2021. In many cases, City employees have continued to report to their workplace, in-person, based on the requirements of their position; however, with the lifting of the provincial work from home order, The City will welcome its remaining employees back into the workspace with the intention to have everybody back between now and September. This includes City Hall, the Professional Building, Civic Yards and all City owned and operated recreation and culture places and spaces.
“Covid-19 has limited us in many ways. It has taught The City to innovate, work differently and find efficiencies. As we transition back to in-person service, we ask our customers to be patient with us as we navigate the new challenges of our ever changed in-person business offerings. Our business looks different than it did when we closed City Hall more than 15 months ago, and while we are excited to be once again serving you in person, we do expect some bumps along the way,” said Lodewyk.
With changing and modified provincial restrictions continuing to be announced, The City of Red Deer will adapt and update its programs, services and offerings on an ongoing basis. This will include everything from the number of people permitted within a facility at one time, to masking requirements.
“We will continue to take our direction from the provincial government as they ease restrictions and introduce their phased relaunch strategy,” said Lodewyk. “We share the community excitement around the easing of restrictions and continue to work together with our community to uphold public health orders and preventing the spread of Covid-19.”
Starting June 21, the following payments can be made in person at City Hall:
- Utility bill payment
- Property tax payment
- Parking ticket payment
- Re-loading parking cards
- Accounts Receivable invoice payment
- Licence payment
- Special event permit payment
- Other miscellaneous fee payments
Starting July 12, the following payments and customer service will be available in-person at City Hall:
- Parking inquiries
- Licence and permit applications
For updates on The City’s municipal response to Covid-19, visit www.reddeer.ca/covid-19.
For more information, please contact:
The City of Red Deer
Stretched thin, parents have swath of options to save for children’s education
The rising cost of living has ramped up pressure on parents, who say it’s tougher than ever to save for their children’s post-secondary education, a new survey found. Graduates are silhouetted as they line up for a convocation ceremony at Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday, May 6, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
By Christopher Reynolds in Montreal
Parents are finding it tougher than ever to save for their children’s post-secondary education as the rising cost of living ramps up financial pressures.
But the mainstays of post-secondary saving — RESPs, especially — remain key tools, as do clear goals and plenty of planning.
Julie Petrera, a senior strategist for client needs at Edward Jones, said the first step is getting a handle on cost estimates, which can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the type and length of schooling and whether the child is leaving home.
Other considerations include whether family members, such as a grandparent or the child themself, will contribute and where education ranks on parents’ list of savings priorities.
“Are they paying for post-secondary education and saving for their own retirement and funding other expenses, like renovations and vacations?” Petrera asked.
According to an online survey of 1,000 parents with at least one child under 18 by Embark, a company specializing in education savings, some 73 per cent of parents said saving for college and university has been harder recently.
The survey also found just over half of respondents said they would go into debt to pay for their child’s education.
The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) offers a tax-deferred investment account that has been used by millions. More than 481,000 students withdrew funds from an RESP in 2021, according to Employment and Social Development Canada.
Ottawa matches 20 per cent on the first $2,500 put toward an RESP each year, via the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG), for a total of $500 per year, with higher rates available to lower income families. The lifetime maximum grant amount is capped at $7,200, while total contributions to RESP accounts are limited to $50,000 per beneficiary.
Low income families may also be eligible for the Canadian Learning Bond, which does not require RESP contributions.
RESP beneficiaries in British Columbia may be eligible for an additional one‑time $1,200 grant, while those in Quebec can enjoy a refundable tax credit with a lifetime maximum of $3,600.
“The RESP is great. It is designed to help with affordability,” Petrera said. “But on the flip side there are some restrictions on these plans … on who can withdraw the funds, when they can withdraw them and why.”
RESPs can comprise a major part of a family’s education funding, but should not be viewed as a “standalone” plan, Petrera said. Non-registered investment accounts offer a supplementary option.
“There are no grants associated, they are fully taxable, but they have no restrictions. You can put money in up to any amount and withdraw at any time for any reason,” she said.
A tax-free savings account provides another vehicle. Students themselves can’t open one until they reach 18, but parents or grandparents can use their accounts to help save.
“My advice on that would be to work with an adviser or work with a professional that understands the pros and cons and the ins and outs of all of these plans to determine what is the best mix to maximize what the client’s objective is,” Petrera said.
Automatic contributions toward a plan are a simple, effective way to build a nest egg.
“We think that if each pair can make 50 bucks a month (per person) of contributions, they’ll get $37,000 by the time their kids hit 18 and go to post-secondary school,” Embark CEO Andrew Lo said.
He stressed that parents should educate themselves about education. One in three polled by the company did “not know enough to even guess” how much post-secondary schooling costs.
Erika Shaker, director of the national office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said costs are going up and everything’s getting more expensive.
She pointed to a shift in education funding from Ottawa a couple decades ago that prompted most provinces to download more of the cost onto students or, in the case of Quebec, “two-tiering” the price between in-province and out-of-province pupils.
The labyrinth of funding programs and rules sometimes acts as more of a barrier than a relief, she added.
“Student assistance programs are a patchwork, they’re messy, they’re opaque. They’re actually quite difficult to navigate and they can change midway through a degree,” Shaker said.
“We have gone to a user-pay model that disproportionately impacts — negatively — students who have to borrow, unfortunately, to pay for post-secondary education.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2023.
Trudeau shows no interest in compromising with Meta, Google over online news bill
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks briefly with reporters as he makes his way to a cabinet meeting, Wednesday, June 7, 2023 in Ottawa. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over their online news bill that would make tech giants pay for journalism created by others that helps those companies generate revenue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
By Mickey Djuric in Ottawa
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over a Liberal bill that would make them pay for Canadian journalism that helps the companies generate revenue.
Trudeau said Wednesday that Meta and Google’s bullying tactics will not work with his government, which he says is ensuring those companies do not weaken Canada’s democracy by threatening its domestic media industry.
Meta announced last week it will test blocking access to some news for a small percentage of Canadian users of Instagram and Facebook.
The company says it is prepared to permanently end access to news content in Canada if Parliament passes Bill C-18, which would require tech giants to pay publishers for linking to or otherwise repurposing news content.
Google ran a similar test earlier this year, restricting access to news on its search engine for less than four per cent of its Canadian users. It says it is looking for a compromise with the Liberal government.
“The fact that these internet giants would rather cut off Canadians’ access to local news than pay their fair share is a real problem, and now they’re resorting to bullying tactics to try and get their way. It’s not going to work,” Trudeau said at a news conference.
“We will continue to make sure that these incredibly profitable corporations contribute to strengthening our democracy, not weakening it.”
Big publishers have told a Senate committee currently studying the bill that they could lose millions of dollars should their content be blocked by Google and Meta.
The online news bill already passed in the House of Commons and could be approved by the Senate as early as this month.
If it becomes law, both companies would be required to enter into agreements with news publishers to pay them for news content that appears on their sites if it helps the tech giants generate money.
Both companies have argued that news doesn’t generate much revenue for their companies, and are considering ending local news on their platforms altogether.
Meta says news makes up about three per cent of the content that’s on Facebook feeds, and Google says less than two per cent of searches have to do with news, because people care more about recipes than articles.
Still, each company has proposed amendments in the Senate, including changes to the section of the bill that deals with arbitration and tweaks that would create more certainty around which publishers they would have to enter into agreements with.
For example, Google says that as the bill is currently written, it would have to enter into agreements with community and campus broadcasters, even if they do not produce news content and have no obligation to adhere to a codes of ethics.
Spokesperson Shay Purdy said in a statement Wednesday that the company has come to the table with “reasonable and pragmatic solutions” that would increase the company’s investment in Canadian news.
“We’re very concerned about the path we’re on and we’re doing everything we can to engage constructively and avoid a negative outcome for Canadians.”
Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has said that the bill is already balanced, and that Meta and Google have his phone number if they want to talk.
Rodriguez was expected to appear before a Senate committee on Wednesday evening.
Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the prime minister’s remarks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.
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