It has been some time since we last produced a monthly newsletter. The month of April was a bit hectic as arrangements were put in place to limit access to our branch office and transition everyone to working from home. After several weeks of this unique situation, we are getting better at regular Webex meetings and solving the many technical problems that arise when working from home. Investment markets, after an extremely rough month of March, have settled down some and appear to be trading in a sideways trend for now as the world tries and figures out what the consequences will be to all these once-in-a-lifetime adverse actions taken by much of the world. It is hard to make decisions with confidence when there are so many unknowns. My family is doing well. My wife, Josie, is teaching her JK/SK class from home, sending and reviewing several activities each week. All three of our kids are also here, with Lucan still working at Fairwinds Senior's Residence and Gemma still working at Shoppers Drug Mart. Our youngest, Jaren, keeps up his regular paper route. Please contact us if there is anything you need. Craig and I can still be reached at our regular numbers. Michelle is unable to receive calls for the time-being, but can respond to emails or call you back when able. I have asked both Craig and Michelle to provide greetings to you this month and give you a quick update on what they are doing these days. Thanks everyone for your patience. Take care.
Greetings from Craig
Wow, did the current events ever escalate quickly! I hope everyone is doing well. My family and I have been able to stay safe and healthy so far. As I was planning my March break vacation with the family, news about the Corona virus was just starting to build. As I was finalizing our plans to stay at an indoor waterpark for March break, we were informed by the school board that school was going to be closed an additional two weeks after March Break. The week leading up to March break saw market panic begin to build, after just hitting new highs only a few days before that. With Kevin also expected to be away on March Break, I thought that we could delay our vacation one week ensuring that either Kevin or myself would be in the office as the market was going through some pretty heavy down days.
It turned out that Kevin canceled his Florida flights at the last minute and the next day our Prime Minister warned those abroad to get home while they still can. As our vacation turned into a stay-cation with my two young girls, I came up with a learn at home schedule for the week. By the end of March, the learn from home was gladly handed over to the girls' teachers to manage.
Through all of this, the girls and I started a bit of a trend in our community. In mid-March we started painting rocks with bright colours and either happy thoughts or happy pictures. Each day when we walked the dog we would place them throughout the neighbourhood. One day as I looked out my living room window, now my "office window", I noticed a couple young kids pick up some of the rocks we had placed. Later that afternoon those kids returned and replaced the rocks with those they had made themselves. It is now a fun game of musical rocks as they get rotated around. Initially my thinking was it would keep my girls busy and in positive spirits but also bring a smile to others that may notice them. Hoping everyone is keeping well and finding their own ways to make the best of this strange situation! Sincerely, Craig
Greetings from Michelle
Hi everyone. I hope you are all doing well and adjusting to all the strange new ways of doing things. If someone told me a year ago that for even a month this year I would be working from home, we’d all be staying home as much as possible, schools would be closed, and going shopping would closely resemble scenes from an apocalyptic movie I would have thought they were crazy. Yet here we are, going strong while working together to minimize the impact of this disease on our communities. I’m very proud to be a Canadian right now.
There have been so many changes. Instead of leaning into the doorways to touch base with Kevin and Craig, we have converted to video conferences, emailing and instant messaging. My office “co-workers” are now my sons. Lunch hour is no longer just a time for me to run home to eat a quick bite and run a load of laundry. Now I try to make a quick hot meal for the kids and either have a speed Lego build-off with them or do some quick math and spelling challenges. Laundry can wait…
Our morning routine has changed. Instead of just getting cleaned up and dressed for the day, my sons have also been taking turns measuring out the ingredients and helping me bake our daily bread. We set alarms at each stage for the kneading and rising and look forward to filling our home with the smell of fresh bread as the day progresses. Their new favorite afternoon snack is a piece of fresh bread with peanut butter slathered on it while it’s still warm. Mmmmmmm! Email me if you want the recipe or the link to the YouTube posting that inspired us.
Another thing we have been doing differently as a family is having a monthly meeting to choose a charitable organization to support. We add up all the money we didn’t spend at the coffee shop or ordering our weekly take out dinner (my youngest even chose to give up his tooth fairy money) to determine how much we will donate for the month.
We let the kids make the final decision and they cheer me on as I enter it in at the end of the meeting. So far we have supported the Inn of the Good Shepherd, Kids Help Phone and Noelle’s Gift. It’s been a great opportunity to teach them how important it is to remember to do what we can to help others. This is one change that we will continue long after this epidemic has passed.
As always, if you need anything or want to share how things have changed at your home, please send me a message. From my family to yours, we’re wishing you all good health and many blessings. Take care everyone! Sincerely, Michelle
A guide to financial support measures to help Canadians impacted by COVID-19
This guide provides an excellent summary of all the support programs that are currently available to Canadians. Thought it may not apply to your situation, it may be helpful to someone you know. Click here to read the guide (press the back button to return to the blog): Guide to Financial Support Measures
Tax filing and payment extensions in response to COVID-19
The government has made changes to due dates for 2019 tax returns and payment dates in response to the current situation. This report will explain all of these changes and new dates. Click on this link to see the report (press the back button to return to the blog): Tax filing and payment extensions
Reduction of RRIF minimum withdrawals for 2020
There have been some questions around this announced change to 2020 RRIF minimums. If you would like to reduce your minimum RRIF payment for this year, you will need to opt-in to this opportunity. Let us know and we can get it done for you. Click on this link to see the report (press the back button to return to the blog): Reduction of 2020 RRIF minimums