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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Freedom '58' for most Canadians

   Canada column for Sunday, July 27/14

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadians are working towards being mortgage-free by age 58, a national survey has found.
   The poll conducted for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce by Angus Reid put the age one year later than in a similar survey a year ago.
   Across the country, there are some variations as homeowners in British Columbia – with the highest real estate prices in Canada – expecting to pay off their mortgages at age 66.
   Neighboring Albertans said they should be mortgage-free at 55 while it is 56 in Quebec, 57 in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, and 58 years in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
   Helping become debt free were 55 percent saying they are taking advantage of low interest rates to pay down their mortgages quicker.
   The bank said small efforts can add up to big savings such as making payments more often, increasing the amount paid and lump-sum payments.


   A suburban Montreal mayor has died after being stung by a swarm of wasps at her cottage in Stratford, Quebec.
   Lucie Roussel, 51, had been mayor of La Prairie since 2005, and was attacked after inadvertently stepping on a nest in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.
   She died of anaphylactic shock from being stung at least 15 times.
   Before being elected to the town council in 1999, she practiced law with her husband Yvon Lemay, who died of a heart attack at age 47 in December 2009.
   They had two children, Antonin, 19, and Constance, 18.


    News in brief:
   - The Ontario government plans to join Quebec in banning payments to people for their blood and blood plasma. The action follows the opening of two paid plasma clinics in Toronto and a third being built in Hamilton. Health Minister Eric Hoskins said this will “ensure the poor aren’t exploited or coerced” into donating and will “protect the integrity of our current blood donation system.”
   - Heavy rain and cooler temperatures have given a “temporary reprieve” to wildfires burning across British Columbia. There are still concerns in Chilcotin, Kamloops and southeastern regions. About 2,500 people forced out near West Kelowna have been allowed back into their homes but remain on alert. There have been 678 fires across British Columbia since April 1.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is lower at 92.69 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0788 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,437 points and the TSX Venture index at 1,012 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline in Canada is down at $1.3047 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (July 23) 20, 29, 33, 35, 38 and 43; bonus 1. (July 19) 18, 30, 38, 43, 46 and 47; bonus 36. Lotto Max: (July 18) 1, 3, 16, 33, 34, 40 and 42; bonus 2.


   Regional briefs:
   - A Montreal woman is appealing her conviction of negligence and dangerous driving in the deaths of two motorcyclists after stopping for ducks. Emma Czornobaj, 25, is asking the Quebec Court of Appeal to overturn her conviction in the deaths of Andre Roy and his teenage daughter Jessie. Police said the woman stopped her car to rescue ducklings struck on Highway 30.
   - Parks Canada fire crews staged a controlled burn on Camelot Island, part of the Thousand Islands National Park near Kingston, Ontario. The fire was carefully planned to help the rare, fire-dependent Pitch Pine rise from the ashes, said Katie Ellsworth, fire management coordinator. It was the fourth time “prescribed fires” have been used to help balance the park’s ecosystem.
   - Bill and Andrea Groner of Edmonton have had a secret for seven months: they are the “mystery” winners of a $50-million tax-free Lotto Max jackpot. They finally cashed their winning ticket from the Dec. 20 draw last Tuesday. When asked why they waited so long, Andrea said they first had “things they had to take care of in our own lives.”


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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