Escape your debt by facing the facts

Financial Literacy-Janice Desautels
Financial Literacy-Janice Desautels

One of the keys to paying off debt, growing your savings, and staying on track with your goals for the future is to review your budget and finances when you’re thinking logically, not emotionally. When you find yourself in a state of anxiety or feeling overwhelmed by high-pressure obligations, it might be challenging to make decisions clearly that are in your best financial interest. It’s best to make money decisions and create financial strategies when you’re free of fear, stress, and frustration.

Here are 3 tips to help you make emotion-free money decisions:
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Learning the long arm of the law

“The time has never been better for people looking to get into the law enforcement field” says CEO of Northwest Law Enforcement Academy Victor Popow. The careers are well paying with benefits and different organizations are actively looking for people who are motivated with good attitudes, life experience as well as post-secondary training.

Northwest Law Enforcement Academy has an excellent reputation for having prepared and graduated hundreds of desirable candidates for law enforcement careers in its 14 year history. The students have benefited directly from the theoretical and practical training provided by the instructors who are all retired former law enforcement officers from the RCMP, Winnipeg Police, Corrections and Canadian Border Services, this fact alone gives the Academy high credibility. Northwest also has established relationships with law enforcement organizations locally and across Canada.

Northwest commits to providing students the best opportunities to develop their talents as leaders, communicators and thinkers.
The Academy offers as its main course the Law, Protection and Safety Diploma Course, 645 hours in length for those looking to be employed in law enforcement as well as its 39 hour Emergency Services Communicator Certificate program for those looking to be employed as a 911 Operator, Police, Fire, Security or Emergency Medical Services Communicators. Northwest also delivers customized programs to government and private organizations as well as individuals. Just recently Northwest has undertaken to work with a local psychologist to offer PTSD awareness seminars starting this fall.

The founder of Northwest Law Enforcement Academy former Winnipeg Police Chief Herb Stephen sought to design a post-secondary school curriculum that is based upon what an ideal candidate should possess to meet the demands of modern law enforcement organizations. Most people have no knowledge of what the career entails but with the many recruiters from different organizations who visit Northwest Academy people get a very clear idea of career paths and the particular application processes. Northwest graduates have gone on to careers in the RCMP, Winnipeg, Brandon, Calgary and First Nations Police, Federal and Provincial Corrections, Canadian Border Services, Sheriff’s Dept., Canadian Military Police and various other security related careers and organizations.

Northwest Academy not only provides theoretical courses such as criminal law, criminology, human relations and ethics but practical hands on components within the 7.5 month Diploma program which consists of non-violent crisis management, police defense tactics (self-defence and restraint training), arrest & control techniques and firearms training.

Prospective candidates to Northwest’s Diploma program should be motivated, mature and have minimum Grade 12 or GED. The Diploma program is still accepting candidates for its October 13th (afternoon classes held daily 1 pm to 6 pm) fall classes and even begun accepting applications for its April 2016 class. The Emergency Communicators classes will run as well this fall. People interested in these programs should check out the website at or call toll free 1-866-953-8300.

Death, taxes… and meaningful societal change?

We’ve all heard that time tested line before. It’s a classic quote, the kind of “$h*! my dad says” that seems to never get old, no matter what the context. Usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, turns out this saying can be traced as far back as 1716 to a man named Christopher Bullock. Approaching its 300 year anniversary, this famous line has stood the test of time and continues to resonate with people today as it did centuries ago. However, there’s a third word that belongs in that phrase, but it’s a word that doesn’t get to share the spotlight as much.
Continue reading Death, taxes… and meaningful societal change?

WECM Gives Opportunities to Women in Manitoba

In 1994, when the federal government recognized that women were at a disadvantage when it came to starting and expanding businesses, it opened the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba. The WECM was the first provincial program in Western Canada aiming to help women pursue their business dreams, and was part of a federal program from Western Economic Diversification Canada.
WECM’s CEO Sandra Altner has been with the organization for eight years, and notes the difference in what is available to women in comparison to their male counterparts.
“Women in business do not have the same resources as men, in terms of access to capital, as well as recognition and credibility within the business community. Women also did not have access to the same level of business school and education opportunities.”
The WECM works to close that gap by providing three basic services:
1. Advisory services provided by their team of business advisors, working in house to guide potential and current business owners in the decision making process, guiding them over any hurdle they might encounter. Legal, financial, personnel advice are just some of the services that the advisors provide.
2. Training seminars and workshops to help women to increase their management capacity, to develop high end business plans and feasibility studies and how to run their businesses based on the teachings of subject matter experts.
3. Loans up to $150,000, allowing women to gain the capital required to build or improve their businesses.
“We help close to 250 businesses per year, close to 1500 appointments, 2500 information services provided,” says Sandra. “We’ve provided 20 million dollars in loans since ’94 with a very low write-off rate. 75% of our loan clients are still around after five years. For every dollar invested into Women’s Enterprise Initiatives across the west, it generates 20 dollars back in economic impact, and 30 leveraged dollars.”

Starting Out

Some people come to the Women’s Enterprise Centre with only an idea. Others come looking for an idea, while others come with businesses that have been established for ten years or more.
“More women are starting businesses now than men. But they’re not starting at the same level of capitalization,” said Sandra. “They are not able to access the growth capital to the same extent. Women are just not there yet in terms of having the credibility with investment organizations, or having the confidence to approach venture capital and investment organizations for their initiatives.”
Sandra was once an entrepreneur herself, and notes how much things have change since she first ran her own business.
“I think back and I just wish I had had these opportunities and these resources when I was business,” said Sandra. “There was nothing to support entrepreneurs in general, much less entrepreneurial women. Now when you look around, you see the recognition of the importance of entrepreneurship to global economic growth is so much further along than it was. In those days, the idea of being in business was seen to be somewhat shady. Now it’s seen as the impetus for growth.”

A Landscape of Change

With different provincial centres running in different ways, they are often on divergent paths but with a common goal, Sandra says everybody benefits.
“With the regional programs evolving in slightly different manners which allow each other to learn from each other’s experiences and grow from each other’s discoveries.”
WECM has been involved with encouraging women at Red River College and the University of Manitoba to get into business and entrepreneurship, with scholarships at both institutions.
Sandra sees the business world changing to become more accommodating of women as business leaders, and hopes for a day in the near future where institutes like WECM no longer need to provide the services that they do.
“I hope that in the next five to ten years we see a level playing field, where organizations like ours don’t need to be around anymore because it’s not even a question have the same opportunities to start and grow their business, access capital and gain credibility within the larger business community. We’ve seen a major change in the time we’ve been around, and expect that it’s going to be exponential in the next few years. It’s already starting to happen.”
“The world has progressed in a very healthy way, and I think it’s only going to get better from here. When women take their proper place as generators of wealth and developers of assets, the world will be a much better place.”

Just-in-time or on-call work schedules: is it time to make some changes?

Imagine having to schedule your week around being available for work at an hour’s notice, or just about as bad, having your shift cancelled at the very last minute of your day – and this for a minimum wage job with limited hours. Yet it’s happening. The practice, often called “on-call scheduling” in Canada, has become widespread among retailers and restaurants in both Canada and the United States. It preys on the vulnerabilities of young people, desperate for work.

On-call work scheduling makes it hard for employees to plan their financial lives. One week they make get 15 hours, the next 30 or occasionally more. These are often minimum or just above wages and it is hard to make a weekly $150-$300 pay cheque (minus deductions) stretch to cover rent and food for the month when rents range upwards of $500.

“I just want more hours,” wailed a distraught Holly Burke, who had to quit a second job when she couldn’t make her schedules mesh due to employer unpredictability. Now she is trying to fit in some university courses to give her the credits needed so she can go back to school full-time for a technical job and she is finding the conflict between classes and her work hours even more stressful.

This erratic scheduling means is that it is almost impossible to go to school and it is certainly impossible to have a second job – you are always at the mercy of that last-minute call. If you want to keep your primary, “permanent” job, then you must respond when they call.

In addition to saving money for labour during slow periods, employers save on benefits. Many group insurance plans, for example, require at least a regular 20-hour-work week for eligibility.

The typical response to the hardships this imposes is for governments is to increase minimum wages, but this just squeezes the worker harder as companies turn to automated scheduling algorithms to reduce costs with ever tighter schedules. This causes more stress on the worker, not less, as hours shrink or become ever more irregular.

Reforms being considered in the U.S. include requiring a two-week notice of schedule, a penalty of four hours pay to the scheduled worker if they are sent home after reporting for scheduled work and extra pay if changes are made less than 24 hours before a shift.

Just-in-time work schedules are in force at many large retailers, including the Hudson Bay Company, but some others are in the midst of changing; The Gap will end the practice at the end of September. Victoria’s Secret has already done so in the U.S. These measures are being taken because employers are beginning to see the negative effects: poorly trained, unmotivated workers, being at the top of the list.

Here is the current law regarding on-call scheduling in Manitoba:,wages,factsheet.html