TFSAs are a form of income splitting, says SFU finance expert

Plus, help for the Vancouver Island marmot and Vancouver city workers

Lies, damned lies and TFSAs? 
Finance Minister Joe Oliver says statistics show that TFSAs (tax-free savings accounts) primarily benefit lower earners. Rhys Kesselman, on whose research TFSAs are based, says that’s misleading. Kesselman, Canada research chair in public finance with SFU’s School of Public Policy, writes in Maclean’s that recent research shows TFSA holders with low incomes use funds transferred from a higher-earning spouse or other relative. “Such transfers are an attractive method of income splitting between higher and lower earners in families with the financial means,” he says. In a report for the Broadbent Institute, he found that TFSA participation increases with income: 26 per cent for those with individual incomes between $10,000 and $20,000; 45 per cent between $45,000 and $55,000; 58 per cent between $100,000 and $150,000; and 71 per cent above $250,000.

Money for workers
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has announced that he wants the city to pay its employees a living wage. He will table a motion asking staff to report on the steps needed for the city to become certified by the Living Wage Campaign. The living wage required by two wage earners to support a family of four in Metro Vancouver is $20.68 an hour, according to a report released in April by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Money for marmots
The endangered Vancouver Island marmot is getting some help from the B.C. government and a couple of forestry companies. ] The Marmot Recovery Foundation will receive $135,000 from the province over two years and $35,000 each from Island Timberlands and TimberWest in 2015. Last summer the province increased the marmot’s habitat by 105 hectares, or more than 40 per cent, in the Green Mountain Wildlife Management Area near Nanaimo. The Vancouver Island marmot population has increased from as few as 70 in 1998 to between 215 and 275 in 2014.

According to recent report published in the journal Science Advances, [ ] Earth is entering a sixth mass extinction, with the rate of vertebrate species loss over the last century up to 100 times higher than the rate between the five previous mass extinctions.