Economic Impact of Tsunami in Japan

Potential impacts of the Japan disaster on the global and domestic economy

The recent tragic earthquake and subsequent tsunami has caused a significant disruption to the Japanese economy. The true cost of a disaster of this magnitude is weighed first and foremost in the human suffering that follows in the wake of events such as these. Sympathies go out to those whose lives have been overturned by this tragedy. While it is too early to assess the full economic impact of these events, we felt it would be helpful to outline some of the possible economic implications for Canada and the world.

According to industry experts here are some key points on global events:

Effects on the Japanese economy

  • Prior to the earthquake, the Japanese economy was gathering momentum on the back of strong overseas demand from Asia and the U.S. As long as global demand continues, the Japanese economy will likely recover quickly.
  • In the short term, the crisis in Japan will depress economic activity in the country, but in the long run it will likely be stimulative. It’s expected that the Japanese economy will grow faster than otherwise expected, as the country rebuilds.
  • After the Kobe region earthquake in 1995, Japanese industrial production fell during the month of the earthquake but had fully recovered to pre-earthquake levels just a few months later. While there are differences between the Kobe disaster and the current incident, the general historical pattern of sudden decline followed by a reconstruction-led recovery holds across many examples of natural disasters in developed economies.

Global impact

  • The political instability in the Middle East and North Africa has caused an increase in oil prices. However, Japan is one of the world’s largest importers of crude oil. The recent disaster has resulted in a decrease in Japan’s demand for crude imports, as a consequence oil prices have retreated from recent highs.
  • Lost output in Japan and disruption to industrial production will have a negative near-term impact on the global economy. But as Japan was not considered to be a major driver of the current expec­tations for a solid year of global growth in 2011, a temporary decline in Japanese output would likely not be a show stopper for global economic expansion.
  • If the damaged nuclear power plants in Japan remain offline, the country will have to make up the lost electrical output with fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas. The reconstruction of Japanese infrastructure would likely result in more commodity-intensive activity than expected, which ultimately could increase demand for crude oil and other natural resources.

Effect on Canada

  • While Japan is a major Canadian trading partner, they are not large contributors to the Canadian economy so the domestic impact is likely to be negligible.
  • Coal, agricultural products and other commodities are leading exports to Japan, and could see increased demand in the short term (e.g., coal may benefit if nuclear energy is slow to come back on line) and in the medium to long term (e.g., forestry products, as the country rebuilds).
  • Canadian imports could be curtailed in certain sectors. Auto and auto-related parts are a leading import from Japan and this is a sector located in the disaster area. This could hinder auto production in Canada at Japanese company plants and lead to reduced inventories on dealer lots. However, auto sales in Canada should not be greatly affected, as non-Japanese auto manufacturers could meet demand.

Tax Tip

The Canada Revenue Agency’s Tax-Free Savings Account tips: What you need to know

The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an important investment vehicle that can be used for many different savings objectives over an individual’s lifetime. Since the introduction of the TFSA in January 2009, over 4.8 million Canadians have opened one or more TFSAs. To get a TFSA working for you, here are a few key points to remember:

A TFSA can be made up of an array of investments. Your TFSA can contain different types of investments, similar to those in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan, such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), bonds, mutual funds and stocks. Contact your financial institution for more information concerning eligible investments.

TFSA contribution room accumulates every year. The maximum TFSA contribution room for an individual was $5,000 for 2009. For 2010 and 2011, your available TFSA contribution room is made up of three components:

  • Your annual TFSA dollar limit of $5,000,
  • Your unused TFSA contribution room from the previous year, and
  • The total amount of withdrawals from your TFSA made in the previous year.

Example 1

If you contributed $5,000 in 2009 and only $2,000 in 2010, then you could contribute $8,000 in 2011. This amount includes the $3,000 unused contribution room from 2010 plus $5,000 for 2011.

Example 2

If you contributed $5,000 in both 2009 and 2010 and then withdrew $10,000 in November 2010, your contribution room for 2011 would be $15,000. This is calculated using your annual dollar limit of $5,000 for 2011 plus the $10,000 withdrawal made in 2010. Withdrawals are not added back to your contribution room until after the end of the year.

It is important to note that while you can open more than one TFSA, your total contributions in a year cannot exceed your available TFSA contribution room.

Income earned in a TFSA. Income such as interest, capital gains and dividends accumulates tax-free in your TFSA and withdrawals made from your TFSA are not taxed. Except for certain transfers, any withdrawals from your TFSA, including the income earned, will be used in the calculation of your TFSA contribution room for the following year.

Transfer your TFSA directly from one financial institution to another. If you have more than one TFSA, you can transfer funds directly from one of your TFSAs to another of your TFSAs without affecting your contribution room. The direct transfer must be completed by your financial institutions. If you withdraw funds on your own from one TFSA and contribute those same funds to another TFSA, the re-contribution will be considered to be a new contribution. As a result, your TFSA contribution room will be affected and you may be subject to a tax on excess contributions.

TFSAs are different from regular savings accounts. It is possible to make multiple contributions and withdrawals throughout the year to your TFSA like you would with a regular savings account. However, your total contributions in a year cannot exceed your available TFSA contribution room for the year or you would be subject to a tax on excess contributions. This tax is based on the total contributions made to your TFSA in a year and not on the account balance at the end of the year.

If you deposit more than your contribution room you will be subject to tax. If, at any time, your contributions in a year exceed your TFSA contribution room for the year, you will be subject to the TFSA tax on excess contributions. You are liable to a 1% tax per month on your highest excess TFSA amount in each month. This tax will accumulate until the excess amount is withdrawn. If you have excess contributions you should withdraw the funds immediately to avoid any additional tax.

Find out today how a TFSA can work for you. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the rules. If you have questions, contact your financial institution or the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 or visit our Web site at:


Private Facility Care for less than you’d think…

I received the below e-mail from our Long Term Care specialist at work.  It’s a satyrical comment on the trouble that a HUGE number of us will be facing when getting older and needing care.  Pretty much every local paper has an article about long term care beds closing and the increased cost of health care every week!  If we haven’t sat down to discuss your long term care needs, here’s an option you may be ineterested in… Otherwise, let’s talk!

Have a great week,

No nursing home for us.       We are checking into the Holiday Inn!

With the average cost for a nursing home care costing $188.00 per day, there is a better way when we get old and feeble.

We have already checked on reservations at the Holiday Inn. For a combined long term stay discount and senior discount, it’s $49.23 per night.  That leaves  $138.77 a day for: Breakfast, lunch and dinner in any restaurant we want, or room service, laundry, gratuities and special TV movies. Plus, they provide a spa, swimming pool, a workout room, a lounge and washer-dryer, etc ….   Most have free toothpaste and razors, and all have free shampoo and soap.

$5 worth of tips a day will have the entire staff  scrambling to help you. They treat you like a customer, not a patient. There is a city bus stop out front, and seniors ride free. The handicap bus will also pick you up (if you fake a decent limp).

To meet other nice people, call a church bus on Sundays.

For a change of scenery, take the airport shuttle bus and eat at one of the nice restaurants there.  While you’re at  the airport, fly somewhere. Otherwise, the cash keeps building up.  

It takes months to get into decent nursing homes. Holiday Inn will take your reservation today.  And you are not stuck in one place forever, you can move from Inn to Inn , or even from city to city. Want to see  Hawaii ?  They have a Holiday Inn there too.

T V broken?  Light bulbs need changing?  Need a mattress replaced?  No problem. They fix everything, and apologize for the inconvenience.    

The  Inn has a night security person and daily room service. The maid checks to see if you are ok. If not, they will call the undertaker or an ambulance.   If you fall and break a hip, Medicare will pay for the hip, and Holiday Inn will upgrade you to a suite for the rest of your life.    

And no worries about visits from family. They will always be glad to find you, and probably check in for a few days mini-vacation.
The grand kids can use the pool.
What more can you ask for?

So, when we reach that golden age, we’ll face it with a grin.
Just forward all our mail to the Holiday Inn!


Purpose… Passion.

It’s been quite a whilrwind beginning to the year so far.  Some great news, and some very sad news, all of which continues to reinforce why I am passionate doing what I am doing.

Since starting the 2010 year, I have begun working full time with my girlfriend who is taking the role of office manager/executive assistant, we are adding a few hundred clients to our practice and very busy setting meetings to review with them.  I also was fortunate to have come home from our awards luncheon yesterday with some hardware including Top Sales of Critical Illness Insurance for developing advisors in the Fraser Valley.  (I know, terrible run-on sentence, and somewhat self promoting statement… but there’s a point coming here).  I am very proud of our achievements but it has not come without tremendous effort.

On the flip side… Since the beginning of 2010, we have also had 3 clients pass away.  I can’t believe that less than 2 weeks into the year we are already having to help 3 different families as they go through the difficulty of losing someone close to them.  It is a very sobering and humbling experience – 58 is too young to die from Cancer.  You work so hard in your career to enjoy retirement, and it’s not fair to have life cut short like that. 

I had never imagined, sitting in my first interview with the company that I would grow to be so passionate about my career.  They always say… Find something you love. I think it’s more about keep doing the things that you develop passion for, because seriously, “who ever DREAMS of becoming a life insurance salesperson?”

Having the opportunity to meet with people and having a meaningful talk about how best to protect them in the event that they became ill or, how to make sure that your daughter will still be able to go to University and get and education even if Daddy passed away, is what makes it all worthwhile.

Being able to make sure that families don’t have to struggle financially when someone they love passes away is truly a meaningful ability to have.  The burden of having to lose a loved one is already too much without having to add on the stress of “how are we going to pay our bills now”.

I’m going to go now and call some clients and potential clients and talk to them about protecting themselves and their loved ones.  I truly love what I do, and just felt it necessary to share.

Wishing you all the best for 2010.  If you haven’t had a meaningful talk with your advisor about how to protect yourself and loved ones, please call them and set up an appointment.  If you don’t have anyone to talk to, I’d be happy to meet up with you.



Preventing Illness

I just got back from the gym and am feeling great (a little stinky, but great).  I have been back at the gym for the past few weeks and I wanted to include some tips on how to get back into the swing of things, get yourself healthy and reduce your risk of illness.

If you need a new gym in Surrey/Langley, I go to Anytime Fitness and love it there.  John (the owner who lives in the area) is a great guy.  For more info about the gym, call John directly at:

Anytime Fitness – 101-18655 Fraser Hwy. Surrey, British Columbia

(604) 574-4777


Here is another excerpt from Sherry Torko’s book Live Well,




 published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., Copyright 2007.

Have a great week,


Regular exercise and proper nutrition is essential for good health and must be part of your daily life. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise cuts your risk of chronic, debilitating diseases such as heart disease (by reducing cholesterol and blood pressure), osteoporosis (by strengthening bones), cancer (by supporting immune function), and diabetes (by improving blood sugar control). Exercise is essential for developing and maintaining a healthy body weight, flexibility, and muscular strength. Plus, it offers emotional benefits. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety and improves sleep and overall emotional well-being. Regardless of your health status, age, or current fitness level, there are activities that you can do to improve your health.

Cardiovascular (Aerobic) Exercise
Cardiovascular activities are those that involve large muscle groups and increase our heart rate, such as brisk walking, swimming, biking, aerobics, and dancing. These activities burn calories and improve heart and lung function. If you are currently not exercising, then start slowly. Try exercising for five minutes on your first day, and increase gradually. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour, five times per week.

Resistance Exercise
Activities that use resistance to challenge your muscles increase strength, endurance, and muscle mass. They also strengthen bones. Examples include weightlifting, using exercise machines or bands/tubes, or using your own body weight to do exercises such as lunges, squats, and push-ups. These activities are particularly important for older adults because they help prevent the muscle and bone loss that occurs with aging. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of resistance activities three to four times per week. Vary your activities and routine to continually challenge your muscles.

Stretching helps to improve flexibility and joint health and to prevent soreness after a workout. Spend about five to 10 minutes stretching all of your muscles. Stretch slowly and gently, breathe deeply, and hold each position for at least 10 seconds.

How Much Exercise Do I Need?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults and children spend a total of at least one hour daily in moderately intense physical activity. There are plenty of ways to build more activity into your daily life, whether it is short walks in the morning, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing housework with vigour. Every little bit helps.

Creating Your Fitness Program
If you have been sedentary all your life, the prospect of getting active may be intimidating, so take it slowly.

  • Consult with your doctor before you start an exercise program, especially if you have any health conditions or are taking medication.
  • Set reasonable goals and be consistent with your exercise program.
  • Don’t expect overnight results. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workout; you will see (and feel) the benefits.
  • Be sure to drink lots of water during and after your workout.
  • Make time to stretch your muscles after you workout.
  • For guidance on proper exercise technique and help in designing a workout, see a certified personal trainer.
  • Keep your motivation high: get a workout partner, vary your activities, and have fun.

The food choices we make on a daily basis have an impact on both our physical and emotional health. Here are 10 dietary principles for optimal health, energy and well-being:

  • Make quality food choices
  • Enjoy variety
  • Practice moderation
  • Eat smart, frequent meals
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Boost fibre intake
  • Cut down on salt, boost potassium
  • Minimize sugar
  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Limit alcohol

Good health includes good financial health
Now that you have your physical fitness plan in place – it’s also a good idea to take a look at your financial fitness plan. Not only can being financially fit help reduce stress and help improve your state of mind, a financial plan can also help you prepare for the financial realities of living a long life. By following a few simple steps, you can create a plan that will help you achieve your goals and protect your dreams.

More information about women’s health issues is available in Sherry Torkos’ book Live Well: A Woman’s Guide to Optimum Health, available free of charge from www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website. On the website you can also learn more about the importance of good financial health and creating a financial recovery plan should you become critically ill.

Sherry Torkos, Bsc Pharm (www.sherrytorkos.comLink to an external website) is a pharmacist, author, and certified fitness instructor. The website www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website and Sherry Torkos’ Live Well Tips are brought to you by Sun Life Financial

What kind of Insurance do I need???

I came across an interesting article today about the kinds of coverage needed at different stages of life.  As teh Insurance industry is so large and products vary so much, it’s hard to sometimes decide what kind of coverage you should have, and where to begin.
Please feel free to call me or contact me with any questions that you might have.  I’m here to help….
Keep on top of your changing needs

Your priorities and needs change as you move through different stages in your adult life. Throughout these stages, your advisor can help you choose the right products and services that meet your evolving needs.

Off to work

In the first stage of adult life, you leave high school, college or university and enter the workforce. Your career is just getting underway. You may want to add to any group insurance coverage you have through your employer with personal insurance, such as disability, life and health insurance. Personal insurance is even more important if you’re starting your own business, or working in a contract position that doesn’t offer a benefit package. Retirement is generally the last thing on your mind. However, the sooner you start planning for your financial future, the better it will be. That head start can translate into thousands and thousands of dollars.


A partnership, such as marriage, means your financial planning now includes two. You need to develop a financial plan to help make sure you and your partner are provided for today and in the future. You can investigate money management and investment strategies, as well as protection solutions such as long term care and critical illness insurance. You’ll want to review your life insurance needs, for you and your partner. If you’re buying a home, think about the advantages of purchasing life insurance, rather than mortgage insurance. Since you’re just starting on your journey through life together, it’s important that you head in the right financial direction from the start.

Raising a family

If and when children enter the picture, your financial priorities change again. It’s more important than ever to maintain a strong financial plan through these formative years to help keep your financial future bright. You’ll need to ensure your life insurance plan continues to meet the needs of you and your family, and that your beneficiary information is up-to-date. If you haven’t yet investigated long term care and critical illness insurance, you should do so now. Products can be adjusted to help ensure the success of your plan while at the same time allowing you to save adequate funds for your children’s education, perhaps through RESPs.

Empty nesters

At this stage, your children have left home and gone out on their own. Your career is beginning to peak and retirement is just around the corner. Your discretionary income has grown now that the expenses of raising your children have all but disappeared. You’ll have the capital to pursue financial investments that can further enhance your retirement plans. You may have questions about your and your partner’s RRSPs, or if you should make adjustments to the investments in your portfolio. You can protect your retirement funds with long term care insurance.


Finally, it’s time to turn your retirement plans into reality. You’ll move into new financial products that will provide you with a comfortable living, in a tax effective manner. You’ll look at income options such as annuities, Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), and the Flexible Income Plan (FIP). It’s important that you develop and maintain a specific financial plan so you can enjoy your new life of leisure. It’s also time to get your estate in order to ensure that after all of your hard work your wishes will be carried out as you planned.

© Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada, 2007.

Tips to reduce the risk of breast cancer

The following excerpt is from Sherry Torkos’ book Live Well: A Woman’s Guide to Optimum Health, published by John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd., Copyright  2007.

Breast cancer is the most feared disease that Canadian women face. One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime. One in 27 will die of it. In 2006, an estimated 22,200 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 5,300 will die of it. While these figures are startling, the good news is that since 1993 the incidence of breast cancer has stabilized and death rates have declined steadily. With early detection, improved treatments, and knowledge of prevention, women today are doing much better in the battle against breast cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society, at least 50 percent of cancers can be prevented through healthy living. Below are some lifestyle choices that can
help reduce the risk of breast cancer:

  1. Eat a diet high in fibre. Flaxseeds, oat bran, fruits, and vegetables are all great sources of fibre. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts contain cancer-fighting nutrients.
  2. Minimize your intake of saturated fat and avoid trans fats.
  3. Maintain a healthy body weight.
  4. Be physically active. Studies show that even moderate physical activity may reduce your risk by 30 to 40 percent. Spend at least 30 minutes on five or more days of the week doing aerobic activities such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming.
  5. Limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day, or cut it out altogether.
  6. Breastfeed your baby. Breastfeeding seems to offer protection against breast cancer, plus it’s good for the baby.
  7. Don’t smoke. Smoking and breathing second-hand smoke can increase the risk of breast cancer, along with many other health problems.
  8. Only use hormone replacement therapy if absolutely necessary and for a short period of time (less than five years).
  9. Minimize your exposure to chemicals that have been linked to increased cancer risk such as dioxins, phthalates, pesticides, and herbicides. Some of these chemicals are referred to as xenoestrogens because they have estrogen-like activity in the body. Dioxins are found most abundantly in farmed fish and in the fumes from incinerated waste. Phthalates are found in plastics, particularly when they are heated or reused, and pesticides and herbicides are concentrated in non-organic produce. For information on chemicals and disease, refer to the CHE Toxicant and Disease Database, http://database.healthandenvironment.orgLink to an external website

Good health includes good financial health.
Along with making healthy lifestyle choices, a financial plan is also important for your future. Part of that financial plan can include being prepared in case of a critical illness. This part of your plan can help you recover financially and move past an illness. Critical illness insurance is one way to help you recover without financial pressures and without tapping into savings.

More information about women’s health issues is available in Sherry Torkos’ book Live Well: A Woman’s Guide to Optimum Health, available free of charge from www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website. On the website you can also learn more about the importance of good financial health and creating a financial recovery plan should you become critically ill.

Sherry Torkos, Bsc Pharm (www.sherrytorkos.comLink to an external website) is a pharmacist, author, and certified fitness instructor. The website www.toLiveWell.caLink to an external website and Sherry Torkos’ Live Well Tips are brought to you by Sun Life Financial