Sunday, March 29, 2009

GST/PST harmonization hides tax grab

Ontario Budget 2009: GST/PST harmonization hides tax grab

People planning how they will spend their $1000 cheque from the provincial government will have to think twice. First not everyone gets the $1000. Families with 2 or more people, this includes single parents, will get the $1000. Single people, including those 65plus, only get $300 – and it’s spread over 3 payments.

The cut-off is $166,600 for families and $82,000 for singles – those with incomes above these amounts will not receive the transitional payments.

These payments were meant to soften the blow from the increase in Retail Sales Taxes due to the new combined tax now applying to goods and services that were not taxable provincially before harmonization. Based on government analysis of consumption patterns, people could be paying from $185 to $1000 more in sales taxes due to this change. The budget papers say that even after the $300/$1000 one time only payments have stopped, taxpayers will still be ahead but that depends on believing that businesses that stand to gain the most from this change will pass their savings through to consumers.

One huge flaw in this analysis is that some products like home heating oil- which is a major expense for most families, especially older Canadians, - is not much subject to competitive pressures.

Instead of exempting essential products like home heating fuel, the government is leaving it to taxpayers to pressure businesses to pass through their savings. Increasing sales taxes is no way to stimulate consumer spending and it in fact hurts most those who have no choice but to spend on necessities.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce [OCC] was clearly delighted with being able to convince the Province to harmonize the sales taxes, calling it the “biggest single stimulus for the Ontario economy”. At Queen’s Park after the Budget speech, CARP caught up with Len Crispino, President and CEO of the OCC and asked him how this would help the single person who only gets $300 one time only but is faced with a permanent 8% increase in their home heating costs. His answer was that the improved economy would help everybody.

CARP asked Mike Colle MPP to champion the cause of people hit with the new taxes. While he was not necessarily prepared to call for an exemption for home heating fuel, he was willing to lead the charge to encourage businesses who gain from harmonization to pass those savings along to consumers. Since he is the Chief Government Whip, perhaps he can get his caucus colleagues to echo that message as well.

CARP could not get a straight answer from anyone in the lock up about whether mutual funds would now be subject to provincial sales tax but if they are, it would be one more blow for people whose retirement savings have already been hammered.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Customer King - good news -bad news

Residents rally around ER

The good news is that the people a thousand of them- will save their hospital and are tired of listening to the MOH -LHIN piffle.
"He didn't mince words about the lengths he was willing to go to prevent a possible ER closure.
"I'm prepared to take legal action to put an injunction against it," Gilbert said.

The chief said if the CKHA and LHIN can't manage the Wallaceburg facility, they should "give it back to people who can."

Wesley said there is a high demand for the Sydenham campus and believes it is desperately needed to take pressure off the Chatham facility. See

The bad news is that the government is going to legislate energy requirements. Smitherman the former czar of health ie the LHIN creator is now going to attempt to solve the energy challenge in the same autocratic way - ie increase taxes, build an unaccountable bureuracray , and restrict competitive market choices - teaching this challenged Czar is only possible through citizen action and those with intellect to ask the right questions and see through the propaganda and mi's -information PR 


Participants in last night's forum were in no mood to answer a questionnaire about their emergency department.

More than 1,000 people attended a community meeting at Wallaceburg District Secondary School to discuss the future of the ER at the Chatham- Kent Health Alliance (CKHA) Sydenham campus.

While the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) had arranged for electronic voting technology to gather input, many in the crowd walked to the front to drop off their clicker devices.

In a report earlier this year, the Hay Group gave several recommendations, including converting Sydenham campus into an urgent-care centre.

The LHIN board is to make a decision in June.

Save Our Sydenham (SOS) chairman Jeff Wesley gave an address, as did Walpole Island Chief Joseph Gilbert, and both received a standing ovation as they entered the gymnasium.

Gilbert said he and his community fully support Wallaceburg citizens in their fight.

He didn't mince words about the lengths he was willing to go to prevent a possible ER closure.

"I'm prepared to take legal action to put an injunction against it," Gilbert said.

The chief said if the CKHA and LHIN can't manage the Wallaceburg facility, they should "give it back to people who can."

Wesley said there is a high demand for the Sydenham campus and believes it is desperately needed to take pressure off the Chatham facility.

"We are not a low-volume hospital," he said. "Quit repeating this."

Wesley said if the CKHA wants to cut costs it should begin at the administrative level.

Hospital CEO Ken Tremblay was not in attendance yesterday.

LHIN CEO Gary Switzer said he understood the emotions the community was feeling.


Ron Anderson, with Chatham-Kent's economic development department, said, "that's the way it has to happen. It has to become law or (companies) search the world for these products.

"It's going to help the municipality at a time it's needed, right now," he added.

Jacques Gauthier, senior vice-president and chief operating officer with Kruger Energy, sees a benefit for having domestic content rules.

"If, in fact, the government puts a little pressure on the suppliers to install some facilities here in Ontario . . . it could be savings for everybody and it's a good idea," he said.

Gauthier said a company such as Siemens has a lot of facilities in Europe, but nothing in Canada, because wind energy is a relatively new industry here.

Chatham-Kent Essex MPP Pat Hoy, who hosted Smitherman during his visit, said, "Chatham-Kent is way ahead of the wave on this and they're to be commended."

He said the minister will make the changes to require investment here which "will be to the benefit of this whole region and, indeed, Ontario."

When asked if the province has a target for the amount of wind power it wants to see developed in the province, Smitherman said a number is not being put out there because "a target is a cap in my opinion."

Instead, he said the message being sent to investors is that Ontario seeks to be "a world leader in green, renewable energy."

Smitherman said he will move forward soon with a directive that will give guidance about where investments need to occur in transmission.

"This will give us some sense of the capacity that we're seeking to create and will help to flesh out those opportunities."

The act will also see the province take a more active role in deciding where renewable energy projects can be developed in Ontario.

Smitherman said the government has noticed several municipalities have struggled with such issues as determining appropriate setbacks for wind turbines.

He said the government will create a law that provide clear guidance "so that we don't have a patchwork quilt, but we have one circumstance for all of Ontario."

The guidelines will be defined by the Ministry of the Environment that is consistent with the environmental assessment act, he added.

However, Smitherman stressed municipalities will continue to have a say on proposed projects.

"No one will be surprised that something is coming forward," he said. "Consultation with the local community will remain a very, very important ingredient before any project is given the permit to be able to build.

"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -quality 24/7 care

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bloomberg news: Market Value Falls as Seniors Unload Insurance Policies

 LifeĆ¢€™s Market Value Falls as Seniors Unload Insurance Policies

The state of economic reality- the retired are really hurting to sell their policy at 40% discount- PR

Whistleblowers: Heroes or Traitors? An excellent review of the challenges faced in Canada

Expropriation-a can of worms by Tim Philps

maybe there will be fishing for taxpayers dollars with that can of worms-comment PR

At city council, it seems, a councillor's fancy turns to multi-million dollar projects to rehabilitate the downtown.

At least this certainly seems to be the case when you look at plans to expropriate almost the entire south side of Colborne Street from the bridge to Grand River Hall next to the library and replace these eyesores with one or more mega-projects. As night follows day, the arguments have started at council about using public money to do this.

On the one side, you have the "Let the private sector do it all" group. These councillors feel that the city's only role is consultative or, at most, to provide assistance through some kind of grants process by giving some percentage of the cost of the project based on the total price tag.

Some councillors on this side also feel that if the city does go ahead with the expropriation, then any proponent with a project should expect no further help from the city beyond a gift of the land.

Ward 3 councillor Dan McCreary is the lead proponent of this school of thought. His wily political mind realizes that if he can get such a motion passed by council, even by a slim majority, it would require a two-thirds majority to overturn the policy. That is a much higher bar to jump over and would make it very difficult for a fractured council to change its collective mind.

Why council should reduce its flexibility is beyond me, but it seems to make sense to McCreary.

The side that has the upper hand in the council chamber, for now at least, is willing to purchase the properties at fair market value or to expropriate them if a deal cannot be struck.

This approach has the virtue of putting the land in the hands of the city and making negotiations with future developers much simpler. It also has the virtue of giving the city some say in the eventual use of the property. This gives council a very big stick to wave in negotiations with a developer when it comes to project approval.

Of course, it is also a costly avenue to pursue if a deal cannot be struck as the legal and other costs of expropriation could be considerable on top of the money actually paid for the properties.

Anyone who has watched council over the past few years will be tempted to make comparisons between this project and the Harmony Square project that consumed the last two councils with rancor, hyperbole and probably resulted in costing the seats of at least two city councillors. That project, which everyone acknowledges was a great success, was plagued by a nastiness that I have seldom seen in municipal debate.

Every stage was fought over and I have never seen tempers flare as often as during the heady days of the debate over Harmony Square. The only thing comparable that I can remember is the downtown grants debates... come to think about it... it was the same council!

Councillors against this project say that the downtown grants program, which was successful in spurring development in the core over the past few years, is the way to go rather than expropriation. It would certainly be a cheaper way to go.

While there might be some merit in their argument, I do find it interesting that some of the

same councillors who are such advocates of using a grants program on the South side of Colborne Street are the same people who argued vehemently against the grants program in

the first place. Perhaps some councillors have had a conversion on the road to Colborne Street?

The south side of Colborne Street has been the wart on the nose of downtown. It was so bad

that it stood in for an abandoned town in a horror movie. The residents of Brantford are sick of this situation and want it fixed. Most members of council heard loud and clear, during the last election, that citizens want this situation resolved sooner rather than later.

Last year might have been a better year to start this project as we are too close to the "silly season" that starts next January when councillors start their reelection campaigns.

However, you cannot turn the clock back no matter how hard we might wish to do so. This project will have to run the gauntlet of political ambition and politics over the next few years before we can be as proud of our downtown as we are of Harmony Square.

Perhaps most telling in this process is the narrow one-vote margin by which the project passed the first hurdle.

Mayor Hancock has a big job to steer this project to completion. Fortunately, he has a record of winning the votes that he needs to keep things on track.

Democracy is a very messy business and we are all going to get a little soiled before this project is complete.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Solution: Pilot proposal to improve the Ontario Health Care system

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Solution: Pilot proposal to improve the Ontario Health Care system

Some solutions worth considering. What are the real costs of care? How much does it cost to stay in a public hospital- let everyone know- why the secrecy ? How much are those customers in the emergency hallway costing us per user visite or day? We need and have a right to know what our public subsidy rate is.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Food for thought Learning from the chinese


Speaking at the People's Congress in Beijing recently, Premier Wen Jiabo made it quite clear that China intends fully to achieve 8% growth in GDP this year. Not next year; not two years hence, but this year...'09; the year of the Ox... this year.
Interestingly, Mr. Wen made it clear that not only was the government intent upon force feeding liquidity into the nation's banks, but was also prepared to make material cuts in income taxes, across the board to sponsor such growth.
Wen made it clear that the only way he can see Chinese economic growth returning to the not-so-long-ago-lost halcyon days of 9% growth almost relentlessly shall require more than simple reserve injections.
Mr. Wen said that it is his intention to turn China from an export driven society to a consumer driven one instead. He know that liquidity alone will not suffice to do what Beijing needs the economy to do; hence Mr. Wen will begin this new era of growing consumer demand by cutting corporate and personal income taxes. According to The China Daily, Mr. Wen said, in the simplest of terms, that it is Beijing's intention to spur the economy forward by "boosting domestic demand through residential tax cuts, in addition to the levy reduction for companies."
The latter has already been put into effect; the former is coming. Mr. Wen's proposed "residential" tax cuts include tax cuts on securities transactions; tax cuts on property sales; smaller taxes on exports and an end to a number of "administrative charges" on various goods and services. At a time when American law makers on the Left are debating the possibilities of taxing stock transactions, the Chinese are moving to end them!
Further, China is moving swiftly ahead with very real "infrastructure" spending. The new term here in the US is "shovel ready." Our stimulus program is manifestly un-shovel ready; in China, the shovels are already at hand and the programs are being put into effect, with workers being hired and ground being broken.
Mr. Wen has the calendar working for him too, for this year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic. As is always the case, China will have myriad numbers of building programs in place to commemorate that event. Too... and this is hard for us to believe, for time passes so quickly... this is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Uprising. Mr. Wen and Mr. Hu will want to make certain that things are on the economic mend in order to keep dissidents wrong-footed throughout the years.
This is a strange era in which we live then. We live at a time when ex-Communists are taking the more free market route toward a consumer led society. We are living in an era when Beijing reads Atlas Shrugged and Washington reads The Manchester Guardian. We are living in an era when tax cuts of all sorts are effected by Beijing, while Washington talks about and effects tax increases of all sorts. We live in an era when Beijing gets out of the way of entrepreneurs, and Washington throws rocks and rubble in their way instead.
As was said in Ecclesiastes, "To everything, turn, turn, turn..."
Good Luck and Good Trading,
Dennis Gartman
What a simple idea - Help the consumer- let those that build things, buy things -do these things by giving them more money to do so by reducing taxes and restrictions on their growth - Pass it on to the PM- PR 

The Gartman Letter is a daily commentary on the global capital markets subscribed to by leading banks, broking firms, hedge funds, mutual funds, energy and grain trading companies around the world


Back to Eden communities
Sunridge -261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
New Beginnings -23 Richards Ridgetown
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -quality 24/7 care

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Happy St Patrick's day- how goes the performance accountability war?#links

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Happy St Patrick's day- how goes the performance accountability war?#links

Council costs $400K

Your bucks stop here

Here's the 2008 pay, benefits and expenses for the 10 councillors:

Mark Littell: $27,362 in pay and benefits and $3,703 in expenses; total $31,064.
Jennifer Kinneman: $27,362 in pay and benefits, $3,584 in council expenses and $2,487 in AMO board expenses; total $33,442.
Vince Bucci: $25,822 in remuneration and benefits and $1,393 in expenses; total $27,215
John Sless: $27,362 in pay and benefits and $2,360 in expenses; total $29,722.
Greg Martin: $23,795 in pay and benefits and $1,531; total $25,327.
Dan McCreary: $27,362 in pay and benefits and $1,553 in expenses; total $28,914.
James Calnan: $26,389 in pay and benefits and $1,648 in expenses; total $28,037.
Richard Carpenter: $23,795 in pay and benefit and charged expenses of $3,877; total $27,672.
John Bradford: $23,001 in pay and benefits and $5,773; total $28,774.
Marguerite Ceschi-Smith: $27,362 in pay and benefits, and charged $5,140 in council expenses and $3,381 in FCM board expenses; total$35,882.

Low cost relative to the 100K club at over $6 million - the council takes the heat, gets paid the least - now if we could rool back the admin costs we would be going in the right direction PR

Back to Eden communities
Sunridge -261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
New Beginnings -23 Richards Ridgetown
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -quality 24/7 care

Happy St Patrick's Day

Enjoy your special day -my irish friends

Back to Eden communities
Sunridge -261 Oakhill Drive, Brantford
New Beginnings -23 Richards Ridgetown
"Building elder peer communities that are cozy,caring and comfortable" -quality 24/7 care

Public Water Safety Record Falsified-action requested

Citizen petition for new Brantford By-Law

Let it be resolved that any individual or group who falsifies records that impact on the quality of life or safety of the public should immediately be terminated without benefits or recourse.

Citizen Watch Committee - Brant Taxpayers Coalition - March 2009

Please contact your political representative to express your views. Ask the Mayor, councillors for an accounting of the attached water reporting incident and help them make the right decision Contact information is given after the following information article .
Water treatment plant incident raises questions

The following quote is taken from Part II of the Walkerton Inquiry Report at page 5:
"While it is not possible to utterly remove all risk from a water system, the recommendations' overall goal is to ensure that Ontario's drinking water systems deliver water with a level of risk so negligible that a reasonable and informed person would feel safe drinking the water."
I read with interest and concern the report in Saturday's (March 7) Expositor concerning an incident at the Holmedale water treatment plant.
I have also read the column in Tuesday's (March 10) edition by Tim Philp under the heading "City should be ashamed of water secrecy."
The later is an understatement and should raise a number of questions in the minds of city taxpayers:
Who should we believe?
The City's general manager of Engineering and Operational Services, who says: "the memo was a legal opinion on yellow paper, so it was confidential" and "We didn't want to release information until we had a full investigation. It's a staff issue, there are procedures and we have unions here."
The general manager went on to say because the incident was not serious the issue was about how it was reported internally, and not about the safety of the water.
Or ...
The opinion of the assistant city solicitor who says the matter is important "because bacteria and other dangerous substances can attach to the particles." The "particles" are the subject of concern that were released into our water system by mistake and the regulations state that they should rarely exceed 0.3 parts per million and never exceed 1.0 parts per million.
According to the SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition system) the incident had recorded readings that "exceeded 1.0" part per million.
It is fortunate that this was discovered as quickly as it was. The operator on duty had failed to enter the above in his log book. In fact the operator on duty had falsified a legal document.
A log book is just that and failing to make accurate entries either by omission or commission is falsification.
Is this the first time an incident such as this has occurred or have there been others that have gone undetected or unreported?
Are the employees at the plant properly trained and do they understand the importance of accurate reporting?
Does the city manager of Engineering and Operational Services fully understand the potential impact that this incident could have had on the city's water system and the health of the citizens of this community?
As a concerned citizen of Brantford I would like to be informed of the outcome of the ministry investigation and be assured that regardless of past practice the management and staff at the City's water treatment plants are held responsible and accountable for the way in which they carry out their duties.
Quite frankly, I find it disturbing that the city manager of Engineering and Operational Service would be more concerned about "staff issues, procedures and unions" than the safety of the citizens of Brantford. I remain reasonable and (hopefully) informed.
Thank you for listening. Doug Foulds Brantford (Article emphasis added)
Contact your public representatives to get the answers - it’s your money and safety, tell them to use it wisely and protect your quality of life and water safety.

Public Brantford Representatives

Mayor Mike Hancock 519-759-4150

WARD 1 Councillors Jennifer Kinneman 519-717-3872
Mark Littell 519-717-0403

WARD 2 Councillors John Sless 519-717-0673
Vince Bucci 519-717-0518

WARD 3 Councillors Greg Martin 519-754-7269
Dan McCreary519-761-2439

WARD 4 Councillors Richard Carpenter 519-770-6027
James Calnan 519-732-6476

WARD 5 Councillors Marguerite Ceschi-Smith 519-758-5093
John Bradford

Provincial representative Dave Levac

Federal representative Phil Coleman

Brantford Press Editors

Expositor John Chambers Editor jchambers@theepositor.ccom Editorial Greg McMillan Editor

Monday, March 16, 2009

The 7 new truths about your customers -consumer power

The 7 new truths about your customers – from Profit Magazine

How you can employ just a few simple tactics to satisfy your customers' fast-rising demands.

By Kara Aaserud with digest and comment by Sieg Holle

The Customer king is a positive change factor and progressive agent .for improved high value growth everywhere

The information revolution is bigger then the industrial revolution with many more far reaching implications .We live in a Inter-Net connected or wired world, without virtual borders. This is a world where the customer is king, in a highly aware society that has the ability to instantly communicate their requirements, their hierarchy of needs everywhere 24/7 in the convenience of their residence. They mostly have the freedom of choosing the products and services that suit their needs and requirements through their purchasing power. The ability to instantly communicate, find alternatives, purchase what they want, allows them to overcome many old restrictions, restraints and hurdles. The new reality trend:

o Causes a revolution in customer ,the buyers’ expectations

o Empowers customers to find better service, price and selection with little or no effort.

o Freedom of choice ensures that the old saying “buyer beware” has shifted to “seller beware” –you can easily lose your source of revenue if you don’t deliver on your promises

You need to understand how this revolution has created the seven new truths about your customers-the bill payers, the taxpayers, the service payers, and your market constituents-and how you can employ just a few simple tactics to satisfy their fast-rising demands. The stakes are high .Conversely if you do not listen, do not adapt to the new communication reality you could fail and be part of a splendid but spent force and tradition that once ruled by taking the customer for granted.

It has become easier to mobilize change agents, advocacy group and those that have a cause. The new Ralph Naders, will instantly tell every one of “consumer lemons”, the new Kings will instantly share the “I have a dream philosophy “with their interested peers to change and challenge the existing order.

The people that spend the money for products and services are the new customer Kings. Customers that expect to be heard If they are ignored, mislead, monopolized or taken for granted they have the power to say no. instantly inform others and affect change by moving their spending elsewhere. A summary digest of the new rules and their implications follows.

New customer rules

The facts and reality


1: Customers won't give you a second chance

“ lower bad service or bad performance tolerance levels”

“ more informed –the easy access wired information web revolution “


- 23% of Canadian consumers said they would quit doing business with a company immediately after a bad experience, twice the level (11%) in 2007.

In the same period, those who said they would speak to a supervisor before taking their business elsewhere tumbled from 49% to 36%.

In a world of consumer empowerment, you have to get it right from the beginning.

Bad service desertion - due to a dichotomy in the marketplace. Some companies are getting customer service horribly wrong, more are starting to get it right. Each time consumers get a taste of great service, they no longer wish to settle for the subpar variety offered elsewhere.

2: Customers control the conversation

“Companies no longer hold absolute sway over the decisions and behavior of consumers, “

Unhappy consumers used to have few means to tarnish a company’s name: word of mouth and their inner circle of family, friends and colleagues

. Rise of social-media channels such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, and of Web-enabled mobile devices that make it easy to complain in real time about a lousy customer experience. And the Internet’s archival nature means a bad review lingers in cyberspace.

Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000,

The Web not only provides consumers with a platform for expressing their preferences, grievances and experiences, but it also provides companies with a means of listening to them

When you come across negative feedback—which you will—respond with sincerity and transparency

3: Customers expect to be heard

“Virtually everyone has an emotional desire to be heard,”.

Never before has feedback, and the ways in which you collect it, mattered more to your customers and, therefore, to your reputation.

If you don’t offer them a range of channels through which they can share their frustrations and concerns (or compliments), they’ll soon find their own, often more destructive, outlets.

“A company that fulfils that need will have a huge advantage over competitors who ignore it.”

4: Customers will bail if you keep them waiting

Ten years ago, you could take three or four days to solve a problem,” Today, clients want an instantaneous response.”

The gap between what clients expect (90%and what companies typically deliver is 54%

In our wired, 24/7 and globalized economy, speed is king. If you can’t get back to customers quickly enough—whether by phone, blog, e-mail or face to face—someone else will.

Set specific response times then design systems to deliver

5: Customers know more than you do

What value do you bring to the transaction if the customer is better informed than you are?

It has become far easier for consumers to do their own web research and shop around before even entering the store. This informed group is growing fast and is over 1/3 of population

Customer has already been to all the comparison websites that the companies do not want you to go to,

Switch your focus. “It’s highly unlikely you’ll win the information war,”. “You should try to win the relationship and service war instead.”

Staff ,who are passionate about the product or service, take the fear and complexity out of the buying process and have the emotional empathy

Have the right organizational structure in place, including training and incentives. to build a culture of good customer service.

6: Customers see transparency as the key to credibility

Transparency keeps the firm credible and, more important, gives it an edge over its rivals

The bleak economy likely has you feeling even more inclined than usual to keep your cards close to your chest. Yet it’s tough to keep bad news secret in an ultra-wired world, and if it leaks out online, the damage to your firm’s reputation can spread far and fast

When you make mistakes, you’ve got to own up to them. And it’s much better if you own up to them before somebody else decides to own up for you.”

“People find it refreshing. They realize that I’m a person like they are, that I’m a human being. And that has allowed me to move ahead of the competition.”

7: Customers insist on individual treatment

You need to nurture advocacy.”

A cookie-cutter approach that analyzes consumers based on broad measures such as age, sex and income doesn’t cut it anymore. As customers become increasingly diverse, the gap(30) between what they want—more personalized, customized service (88)—and what companies are delivering is widening.(58)

The key to understanding customers is to listen to what they have to say and respond.

The objective is a simple one: to truly get to know your customers, so you can serve them in a way that meets their individual needs

A‘one size fits all’ approach, which is the standard model, all you can really do is throw more money and people at it, and constantly strive to address the mass,”. is not optimal. True competitive advantage comes from being able to tailor your products or services to the individuals you serve

Analytics software that measures client behavior. “A lot of ROI models around customer service are hopelessly outdated,”. “They’re typically based on frameworks of the customer’s lifetime value, which are good but not sufficient for this new world of virility and word of mouth.”

A executive summary of the new consumer reality – The Customer king

Friday, March 13, 2009

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Stop talking -help caregivers#links

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Stop talking -help caregivers#links

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Unsustainable Healthcare System Needs Better Value for Money#links

Q-jumpers-The Health Myth Busters: Unsustainable Healthcare System Needs Better Value for Money#links

Leo Teahen - April 11,1936 -March 6,2009 The casino gunslinger and warrior

A tribute to Leo Teahen

April 11,1936 -March 6,2009

Born in Saint Mary, Ontario 73 years ago, Leo was a friendly business gunslinger and warrior who liked to help people and try new things .College educated; he made an impact as sales manager for Sperry Rand, and later in the insurance and venture capital business. As a advisor to Premier Bill Davis, he did addiction work. He was very active in the A.A., and worked closely with the police departments to assist the addicted.

He was always active in his community, assisting political parties, groups and the taxpayer coalition in their quest to achieve accountable- cost effective government, build new revenue, and help the local taxpayers. He was instrumental in bringing and getting the necessary approvals for the Charity Casino in Brantford through a volunteer citizen action group.

A Roman Catholic who enjoyed life, Leo will be truly missed by all the people he helped and befriended. This is particularly true for Irma, his love of 18 years..

Leo passed away peacefully in Brantford on March 6, 2009.

He is survived by Erma, his soul mate of 18 years and members of his family. He has 3 step brothers and a step sister, an aunt and nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by Joseph in1970.(Ann Marie Mundie, Mississauga). Is survived by James, David (Ilene, Stratford) and step sister Teresal (Peter Mitchell ) from St. Mary’s.

Services and Commemoratives

Station coffee house and gallery

5 Wadsworth ,Brantford

Sunday March 20

7:00-9:00 PM

“a prayer of peace is requested “

Cainesville Community Centre

Garnet street Cainesville

Friday March 29

2:00- 4:00 PM:

“A celebration of Leo’s Life”

Other services will be announced in St Mary, Ontario in April / May

Station coffee house and gallery 5 Wadsworth ,Brantford Posted - March, 2009 - S.Holle

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Time for a civil servant wage rollback

It is unfathomable in an economy where unemployment is reaching record levels, retail sales are dropping and once indestructible auto giants are staving off bankruptcy that across the province we should see the number of people in the once-elusive 'Century Club' growing.

In 2008, 69 Brantford city employees earned in excess of $100,000; nine employees (five more than 2007) made the list for Brant County.

The question shouldn't really be whether the city manager should have earned $213,586 last year, or whether the chief operating officer for Brantford Power Inc. should earn $125,520, or whether the other 67 people in the city should have earned more than $100,000. The question should be how can a municipality in good conscience continue to pay exorbitant salaries and increase taxes when people are losing their jobs, their incomes, their retirement pensions, and when simply living has become an increasingly difficult economic reality.

More than $7 million was spent in 2008 on salaries alone (for the 69 earning over $100,000). Some might say that is excessive.

Questioning the salaries of top employees isn't about questioning the employees themselves or their abilities, but rather a look at what the market can and cannot bear.

GM workers are voting on a wage and pension rollback, other employers are asking their staff to consider the same in taking wage reductions, freezes, rollbacks, not to mention voluntary and involuntary layoffs and staffing reductions.

It is easy to point the fingers at 'fat cat' salaries in Toronto or Ottawa, but when there is an increasingly greater disconnect between the public and the tax-paid staff that are in place to work on their behalf, there's a problem.

Perhaps next year, rather than looking at what services to cut or infrastructure projects to table to get the budget increase to a minimum, city councillors should look at asking their $100,000 club members to consider their own wage reduction in an attempt to lighten the burden on local residents.

After all, the taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for these salaries, the least council could do is recognize whose wallets that money comes from and recognize that there comes a time when they just have to say enough is enough.

Enough! by Expositor editor John Chambers

An excellent assesment or reality check of the present economic reality. This is not a good leadership precedent or example. Can we afford to over-inflat and insulate one sector of the economy at the expense of those that create the taxes to pay them? If it doesn't work at GMC ,why should we expect it to work in the civil service? PR

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mayor's Expropriation response to Brant Taxpayers Coalition

A informal information meeting was held on March 5,between Mayor Hancock and Sieg Holle of the Brant Taxpayers Coalition at the Station Coffee House and Gallery to review concerns and the status of the expropriation bylaw


Mayor Hancock (MH) City of Brantford
Sieg Holle (SH) Brant Taxpayers Coalition (BTC)
Questions answered – City (MH)

Are we paying too much? What is the future impact of the expropriation? SH

MH – The $11.5 m is a budget only; our internal target is lower and will reflect true market conditions. A seasoned third party professional has been assigned to ensure that reasonable, not windfall prices, will be paid

The success of Harmony square will be duplicated, resulting in an increased tax revenue base that could lower taxes in the future and finally revitalize south Colborne street to a better use.

Cities have other considerations to take into account in the public interest. Paying a social premium is often necessary to ensure good governance, and the meeting of strategic city plan objectives. Selling Moody’s adult entertainment building to Laurier University is a good example of a necessary social premium or cost that the city should incur.

People and existing business displacement costs? SH

MH-Using Harmony square as a recent example, where a block of buildings were demolished, people and businesses were successfully relocated.

This project is phased over time, and the City has and will work with those people affected in the next 2 years.
Compensation levels have yet to be defined and is part of the on- going legal expropriation process. Public works is involved to make sure that the people transition is painless and effective.

Who bears the costs of the land and building remediation? Will we sell the land to new users? SH

MH -The cost of remediation of land and buildings will be that of the new purchaser(S) from the city. The sale and terms of sale to new parties cannot presently be disclosed and the question is premature in the existing process. Such terms will be disclosed to the public and vetted by council prior to being implemented in the future.

Is the Process hasty? Will the process be challenged at the OMB? What safeguards are in place to ensure that money is not overspent? Are you open to an independent Auditor General function and other independent public project oversight methods? SH

MH- I do not believe that this Colborne revitalization process is hasty or as ill considered as suggested by some. The need to do something on South Colborne has been discussed and documented for many years. When elected, I had personally made the core revitalization a priority, and have only recently come to consider the expropriation option when negotiations with private developers failed. .Do nothing is in my opinion, not a option.

The process has been visible and not haphazard as reported. Both in camera committees and public meetings were held before this decision and bylaw was reached. Internal and departmental meetings have been held to ensure the proper execution and implementation of this plan of action. The use of an experienced third party to negotiate the best terms for the expropriated properties is also in place as a additional safeguard to property overspending.

An OMB expropriation bylaw challenge is possible in the next 30 days. The need for additional independent oversight resources, such as Auditor General is not necessary at this time.

SH- Thank you for your response Mayor Hancock


A better bailout strategy for car manufacturers-Incentive to buyers

Incentives, not bailout
OTTAWA (UPI) -- The Canadian government has been urged by a second automaker, Toyota Canada, to skip bailout measures and instead create buying incentives.

Speaking to a House of Commons committee Tuesday night, Toyota's Managing Director Stephen Beatty said it would be preferable to implement tax incentives or "holidays" to spur sales, the Globe and Mail reported.

"If the government wants to help the manufacturing activities of the auto sector, the best way to do that is ensure there's a healthy market for their products," Beatty said. "The fastest and most effective way to do so is to create immediate access to credit."

A night earlier, Ford Canada's chief, David Mondragon, urged the same committee give a $3,500 voucher for scrapping cars older than 11 years and buying a new car to create stimulus in the wallowing industry.

This is a strategy that would increase return on public dollars - it would reduce the excess car inventory,provide needed cash flow to the manufacturers solving the immediate cash flow crisis problem. It is immediate . It is a direct win for the consumer or bailout funders, a win for the car manufacturer by providing needed cash flow through the sale of excess car inventory , a win for the government as it protects the manufacturing jobs /tax base and stimulates the economy immediately. A end user inentive is a win-win-win strategy PR

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

New Era- an opportunity for better government

Amid global economic turmoil, there is a broad consensus about two factors: Economic recovery depends largely on effective government action, and yet the public is also skeptical about government's ability to both fulfill its newly expanded mandate and achieve efficiency-minded savings that will help restrain overall spending.

Resolving this paradox requires pursuing a new era in government, upgrading its managerial capabilities to ensure a stronger return on taxpayers' investment. Political leaders and civil servants will need to go further and faster than they did in previous reform initiatives to meet this “whole-government transformation” imperative.

Canada's leaders can build on substantive steps already taken. Thanks to both federal and provincial reform efforts of recent years, Canada is better positioned than many other countries to deliver further change. Canadian leaders can also continue to learn selectively from what has worked well in other countries.

For example, New Zealand responded to an economic crisis in the 1980s by giving each government agency a clear set of objectives and an agency-level CEO with the flexibility to innovate – and it used this change to shrink the size of government while improving the quality of public services. Similarly, Sweden responded to a 1990s financial crisis by using top-down budgets to drive annual improvements in government efficiency that exceeded many parts of the private sector.

Larger and more complex countries have recently undertaken equally ambitious initiatives. For nearly 12 years, the British government, under Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown, has pursued an integrated reform program that links departmental budget allocations to predefined outcome targets – successes so far include reduced waiting times for medical treatment and improved test scores in public schools. In the past year, the French government under President Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a program to re-think every aspect of its public service model. In Washington, President Barack Obama has put government reform at the forefront of his agenda.

There is no single prescription for success, yet there is a core set of priorities that we believe define whole-government transformation. Foremost is the need to improve performance and delivery through focused objectives, consistent measurement of progress, accountability for success and failure, and alignment across government agencies on decision making, performance management and service delivery.

For example, lean operations can streamline decades-old processes and reshape public services around the citizen. Modern information systems can transform the use of data and analysis, enabling better decisions. And superior talent management can help public agencies attract, develop and retain highly skilled employees – especially important as Canada prepares for a wave of retirements by government employees.

Achieving clarity on such broad priorities is just the start of the reform process. Implementing truly transformational change is arguably a greater challenge. Many an ambitious reform initiative has delivered only part of its promise. Four factors are critical:

First, leaders should establish a vision of reform that tells public sector employees what is required of them and why, and that causes citizens to expect and demand high-quality services. Articulating a reform narrative has been a priority of Mr. Blair, Mr. Brown and Mr. Sarkozy, illustrating the importance of top leaders' full and sustained engagement in reform.

Second, leaders should articulate and deliver a prioritized program. This means being both comprehensive, touching all aspects of government; and specific, setting out objectives for performance improvement. There must be a clear sense of what “good” looks like, with change implemented in priority order and manageable chunks.

Third, a renewed institutional capacity should be built to drive reform at an accelerated pace and with sufficient rigour. The Blair government's “Prime Minister's Delivery Unit” was charged with meeting top-priority objectives for individual departments while embedding a delivery culture across government. More recently, the French government created a co-ordinating group to drive cross-government reforms, ensuring that top-quality performance is on the agenda of every department.

Fourth, there should be a new focus on building managerial capabilities. Managing talent in any decentralized, diverse organization is no easy task. The recent Harper budget's proposed centralization of the federal human resources function – realigning six separate federal agencies – marks an important step forward. Yet it does not address the human capital gap in attracting and developing high-potential employees, or the managerial gap in leading them.

The economic crisis presents Ottawa and the provincial governments with an opportunity to embrace a more radical phase of reform. In doing so, they can create a more agile and resilient public sector and help Canada become more competitive to meet future challenges. Jiri Maly is a principal and Nora Aufreiter is a director in the Toronto office of McKinsey

Do we have the will to do this? -the stakes are worthhile . leadership in the world by" creating a more agile and resilient public sector and help Canada become more competitive to meet future challenges." PR