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Orillia Retirement Residence Fire
Protecting Personal Finances


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.

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# Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009 2:37:59 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life )
The owners of an Orillia retirement residence have been charged with offences that stem from a January 2009 fire. The fire claimed 4 residents' lives and sent 11 people to hospital. 2 residents died from smoke inhalation, and 2 others died in March due to injuries sustained in the blaze. The Ontario Fire Marshal's Office have laid charges that include failing to ensure the exterior passageway/fire escape was properly maintained, failing to ensure supervisory staff were properly instructed in fire emergency procedures and 5 other charges. The facility was home to 24 residents, among them senior citizens as well as some middle-aged people who suffered from mental health problems. At the time of the fire, only one person was on-duty in a staffing capacity.

This tragedy brings to light not only the responsibilities of the retirement home, but as well the importance for potential residents to carefully choose their residence. If choosing a residence for a loved one who can no longer actively participate in the decision, the caregiver must give careful consideration to the type of facility they choose. A caregiver must take into consideration if the person who will be residing there will be happy; i.e. shared rooms, type of activities offered, etc.

When considering a retirement residence, the first thing to evaluate is the financial aspect. This includes savings and investments, as well as potentially selling the primary residence. The money required to maintain living in a retirement facility must be sustainable for a period of time, depending on the age and health of the resident. It is wise to check to see if the individual qualifies for government funded services such as a long-term care home. It is important to know that retirement residences are private pay; costs will vary depending on the type of facility as well as the level of services offered. If unsure of the potential long-term costs, it may be advisable to consult with a financial planner in order to make sure that the right facility is chosen for that individual’s financial needs.

Once the financial limits have been set, start interviewing prospective homes that fit within the budget. Make a list of potential homes, as well as services offered. Personally visit every candidate, and thoroughly inspect the facility. Ask detailed questions, such as how many staff is on duty at all times, fire safety plans, etc. Make a list of all questions to ask so you don't forget when you are visiting the facility and record the answers so you'll have all the details when making a final choice. You may also wish to research what the laws are in your province regarding retirement homes to ensure that the home you choose meets those laws. It is also advisable to check with your province to see if complaints have been lodged against the home, and if so, of what nature and the follow-up of the complaint.
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# Saturday, July 18, 2009
Saturday, July 18, 2009 9:15:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life )
Every week Canadians across the country become aware of yet another mail, telemarketing and/or internet scam, in which people are fraudulently separated from their hard-earned money. Reports regarding credit card and debit card fraud are also prevalent. It is important therefore that all Canadians are knowledgeable about not only guarding themselves against not only physical theft, but identify theft as well.

The majority of Canadians use debit cards instead of cash in many financial transactions. While many financial institutions will cover consumer loss due to fraud, the consumer may still be liable for some losses. In order to safeguard from fraud it is suggested that:

•    Photocopies are made of all cards and stored in a safe place.
•    Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) should not be easily determined, i.e. using a birthday, address. Instead, choose a PIN that is harder to crack.
•    Safely store bank records and ATM statements; when throwing these out, shred them before putting them in the garbage. It is possible for a thief to go through garbage in order to retrieve these statements and gain access to personal information.
•    Always thoroughly go through monthly bank statements and credit card statements; report any discrepancies, even if it is for a small amount.
•    Remember to take not only your card after the transaction, but the transaction record as well.
•    Never write down your PIN or reveal to another person; if you do, most card agreements will hold you personally liable for any losses.
•    Cover your hand when entering your PIN to prevent not only others seeing it but in case the ATM has been tampered with and a camera installed in order to record your PIN.

Many people can also suffer financial losses as well as ruined credit when their identity is stolen. Once someone assumes your identity, they can gain access to your financial information to not only take your money, but to conduct financial business under your name. In order to protect yourself against this, it is recommended that you:

•    Store all documents that contain personal information (i.e. passports, social insurance number, and birth certificate) in a safe. If an item such as a health card expires, shred it immediately upon receiving its replacement.
•    Get a copy of your credit report every year and review it thoroughly to make sure it matches your financial records.
•    When leaving your home for any period of time, have someone you trust pick up your mail every day. Bills have personal information and account numbers on them which can be stolen and used.
•    Don’t carry items such as a SIN card in your wallet; rather store it in a safe. Any documents that are not regularly used should be stored; therefore if your wallet gets stolen, that information has not been obtained by the thief.

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