Consumers

Tax Preparation Clinics in Your Community

  

For people with a disability the BC Coalition for People with a Disability is hosting free tax preparation clinics. Please see THE BCCPWD BLOG for more information.

The Canada Revenue Agency also lists all the  Community Volunteer Income Tax Program locations in Canada at:

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/vlntr/menu-eng.html

Bed bugs – Clean your vacuum well!

  

Bed bugs can live up to 18 months.

When you have a pest control company spraying they can hide deep into crevices and under the walls. 

If you have been using a vacuum to clean and then find you have bedbugs, you now have a vacuum cleaner that is contaminated.  You have to give it a thorough cleaning.  You need to get an old toothbrush, pipe clears,  toothpicks, Q-tips, and tear down the vacuum. Clean your wheels, remove the disposable bag and throw it out, clean the beater bars and all tubes of all debris.  

If this is too big of a chore you the next best thing is to remove the bag.  Purchase a commercial pest strip and place it in a large heavy garbage bag then put the vacuum cleaner in the bag with the hoses and leave everything in the bag for as long as you can.  This will kill all of the eggs and adult insects. It takes time for the insecticide to go through the long hoses to complete the job.  

You can put some things in the freezer to kill the eggs and the adults. It is not cold enough outside in Vancouver to kill these insects.  If it is hovering around 0 C to -10 C it may take anywhere from 2 just 3 weeks to kill them.  If your furniture and mattresses are in good shape you do not have to throw them out.  Mattresses and box springs can be covered in a dust mite cover.

Lyle Attfield

250-900-5437

Sooke BC 

What do medication expiry dates mean?

  

This research was done in the US, but we know that most of Canada’s medical regulations follow the US model.  The article is reprinted at Medscape, a reliable US medical website but the original location of the post (redflagsdaily.com) is no longer available.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/460159

 

By Richard Altschuler

Does the expiration date on a bottle of a medication mean anything? If a bottle of Tylenol, for example, says something like “Do not use after June 1998,” and it is August 2002, should you take the Tylenol? Should you discard it? Can you get hurt if you take it? Will it simply have lost its potency and do you no good?

In other words, are drug manufacturers being honest with us when they put an expiration date on their medications, or is the practice of dating just another drug industry scam, to get us to buy new medications when the old ones that purportedly have “expired” are still perfectly good?

These are the pressing questions I investigated after my mother-in-law recently said to me, “It doesn’t mean anything,” when I pointed out that the Tylenol she was about to take had “expired” 4 years and a few months ago. I was a bit mocking in my pronouncement — feeling superior that I had noticed the chemical corpse in her cabinet — but she was equally adamant in her reply, and is generally very sage about medical issues.

So I gave her a glass of water with the purportedly “dead” drug, of which she took 2 capsules for a pain in the upper back. About a half hour later she reported the pain seemed to have eased up a bit. I said “You could be having a placebo effect,” not wanting to simply concede she was right about the drug, and also not actually knowing what I was talking about. I was just happy to hear that her pain had eased, even before we had our evening cocktails and hot tub dip (we were in “Leisure World,” near  Laguna Beach ,  California , where the hot tub is bigger than most  Manhattan apartments, and “Heaven,” as generally portrayed, would be raucous by comparison).

Upon my return to NYC and high-speed connection, I immediately scoured the medical databases and general literature for the answer to my question about drug expiration labeling. And voila, no sooner than I could say “Screwed again by the pharmaceutical industry,” I had my answer. Here are the simple facts:

First, the expiration date, required by law in the United States, beginning in 1979, specifies only the date the manufacturer guarantees the full potency and safety of the drug — it does not mean how long the drug is actually “good” or safe to use.
Second, medical authorities uniformly say it is safe to take drugs past their expiration date — no matter how “expired” the drugs purportedly are. Except for possibly the rarest of exceptions, you won’t get hurt and you certainly won’t get killed.
Studies show that expired drugs may lose some of their potency over time, from as little as 5% or less to 50% or more (though usually much less than the latter). Even 10 years after the “expiration date,” most drugs have a good deal of their original potency. So wisdom dictates that if your life does depend on an expired drug, and you must have 100% or so of its original strength, you should probably toss it and get a refill.  If your life does not depend on an expired drug — such as that for headache, hay fever, or menstrual cramps — take it and see what happens.

One of the largest studies ever conducted that supports the above points about “expired drug” labeling was done by the US military 15 years ago, according to a feature story in the Wall Street Journal (March 29, 2000), reported by Laurie P. Cohen. The military was sitting on a $1 billion stockpile of drugs and facing the daunting process of destroying and replacing its supply every 2 to 3 years, so it began a testing program to see if it could extend the life of its inventory. The testing, conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ultimately covered more than 100 drugs, prescription and over-the-counter. The results showed that about 90% of them were safe and effective as far as 15 years past their original expiration date.
In light of these results, a former director of the testing program, Francis Flaherty, said he concluded that expiration dates put on by manufacturers typically have no bearing on whether a drug is usable for longer. Mr. Flaherty noted that a drug maker is required to prove only that a drug is still good on whatever expiration date the company chooses to set. The expiration date doesn’t mean, or even suggest, that the drug will stop being effective after that, nor that it will become harmful. “Manufacturers put expiration dates on for marketing, rather than scientific, reasons,” said Mr. Flaherty, a pharmacist at the FDA until his retirement in 1999. “It’s not profitable for them to have products on a shelf for 10 years. They want turnover.”

The FDA cautioned there isn’t enough evidence from the program, which is weighted toward drugs used during combat, to conclude most drugs in consumers’ medicine cabinets are potent beyond the expiration date. Joel Davis, however, a former FDA expiration-date compliance chief, said that with a handful of exceptions — notably nitroglycerin, insulin, and some liquid antibiotics — most drugs are probably as durable as those the agency has tested for the military. “Most drugs degrade very slowly,” he said. “In all likelihood, you can take a product you have at home and keep it for many years. ” Consider aspirin. Bayer AG puts 2-year or 3-year dates on aspirin and says that it should be discarded after that. However, Chris Allen, a vice president at the Bayer unit that makes aspirin, said the dating is “pretty conservative” ; when Bayer has tested 4-year-old aspirin, it remained 100% effective, he said. So why doesn’t Bayer set a 4-year expiration date? Because the company often changes packaging, and it undertakes “continuous improvement programs,” Mr. Allen said. Each change triggers a need for more expiration-date testing, and testing each time for a 4-year life would be impractical. Bayer has never tested aspirin beyond 4 years, Mr. Allen said. But Jens Carstensen has. Dr. Carstensen, professor emeritus at the  University of  Wisconsin ‘s pharmacy school, who wrote what is considered the main text on drug stability, said, “I did a study of different aspirins, and after 5 years, Bayer was still excellent. Aspirin, if made correctly, is very stable.

Okay, I concede. My mother-in-law was right, once again. And I was wrong, once again, and with a wiseacre attitude to boot. Sorry mom.

Now I think I’ll take a swig of the 10-year dead package of Alka Seltzer in my medicine chest — to ease the nausea I’m feeling from calculating how many billions of dollars the pharmaceutical industry bilks out of unknowing consumers every year who discard perfectly good drugs and buy new ones because they trust the industry’s “expiration date labeling.”

Trouble navigating the disability system?

  

Our Disability Benefits Navigator allows you to quickly find what you might be missing: http://www.abilitytax.ca/navigator/home.html

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Farmer’s Markets

  

Ambleside Farmers’ Market
Bellevue St &13th St
West Vancouver, British Columbia, V7T 2H2
Phone:(604) 628-8226
Website:  www.artisanmarkets.ca
Sundays from May 01, 2011 – Sunday October 30, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash
How to Get Here: The parking lot behind the police station on Bellevue St, between 13th & 14th St in Ambleside,
West Vancouver.



Baker’s Market

7646 Prince Albert St
Vancouver, British Columbia, V5X 3Z4
Phone:(604) 899-7993
Website: www.bakersmarket.com
Saturdays frin October 01, 2011 – Saturday December 10, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash
How to Get Here: Take Fraser St bus south, get off at E 60th, cross the road, walk 2 blocks east to Moberly Arts


 

Burnaby Farmers’ Market
4949 Canada Way
Burnaby, British Columbia
V5G 1M2
Phone: (604) 628-8226
Website:  www.artisanmarkets.ca
Tuesday June 07, 2011 – Saturday October 29, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash

This season we are very excited to be moving to the Carousel Meadow at Burnaby Village Museum at 6501 Deer Lake Avenue.
The Village has free entrance this year and there is so much to see,
and enjoy, at the village once you have finished your shopping at the
market. There is Free Parking opposite Entrance 6 and it is just a
short walk to the market from that Gate.


 

Dundarave Farmers’ Market
Dundarave Village
North Vancouver, British Columbia,V6C 3A8
Phone: (604) 987-4488
Website: www.dundaravevillage.ca
Saturday April 30, 2011 – Saturday September 24, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash


 

East Vancouver Farmers’ Market
Trout Lake Community Centre Parking Lot
Vancouver, British Columbia
Phone: 604-879-FARM
Website:  www.bcfarmersmarket.orgV6K 1H9
Sunday May 08, 2011 – Sunday October 23, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash
How to Get Here: East 15th and Victoria Dr in the parking lot of the Trout Lake Community Centre.


 

Kitsilano Farmers’ Market
Kitsilano Community Centre Parking Lot
Vancouver, British Columbia
V6K 4K9
Phone:  604-879-FARM
Website:  www.eatlocal.org
Saturday May 22, 2010 – Sunday October 23, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash


 

Lonsdale Quay Farmers’ Market
123 Carrie Cates Crt
North Vancouver, British Columbia
V7G 1P8
Phone:  (604) 628-8226
Website:  www.lonsdalequay.com
Saturday May 07, 2011 – Saturday October 29, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash
How to Get Here: On the East Plaza at Lonsdale Quay & Shops, 123 Carrie Cates Crt, at the foot of Lonsdale, North Vancouver.


 

Main Street Station Farmers’ Market
Thornton Park (Main & Terminal)
Vancouver, British Columbia, V5T 3J5
Phone:604-879-FARM
Website: www.eatlocal.org
Wednesday June 01, 2011 – Wednesday October 05, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash
How to Get Here: Located at Main & Terminal Ave in front of Pacific Central Terminal Station.


 

Trout Lake Farmers Market
Parking Lot Of Trout Lake Community Centre
Vancouver, British Columbia,V5N 4M4
Phone:(604) 879-3276
Website:  www.eatlocal.org
Saturday May 14, 2011 – Saturday October 22, 2011
Accepted payment methods: Cash


Free On-Line Software for students and people with simple tax returns

  

I have always found TurboTax (previously known at QuickTax) easy to use and if you are a student or have a simple tax return, you can use the on-line version for free:

Do you Qualify to use the free version?*

TurboTax now offers 2 totally free ways for many Canadians to prepare
their taxes: TurboTax Free Online Edition and TurboTax Student Online
Edition. Find out if you qualify to use either solution here.

TURBOTAX FREE ONLINE EDITION – For Income-Only Tax Returns
You can use TurboTax Free Online Edition if:

  • You Earned Income: You receive T-slips, like T4s & T4As. You may have have tip income and/or pension income.
    • You are not self-employed. 
    • You do not have investment income or RRSPs.
    • You have not made any charitable donations or investments.
  • You Have Simple Deductions: You receive only ‘standard’ federal & provincial deductions.

TURBOTAX STUDENT ONLINE EDITION – For Post-Secondary Student Tax Returns
You can use TurboTax Student Online Edition if:

  • You Were a Student in 2011: You paid tuition fees during the 2010 calendar year and you hold a T2202A, TL11 or its equivalent.
  • You Made Under $20K: Your household income does not exceed $20,000 gross (that is, before taxes).

*This tip was updated March 2012

Get help filing your return

  

Get help filing your tax return:

If you qualify for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program and have a simple tax situation, a trained volunteer will help you complete your income tax and benefit return.

To maintain an individual’s eligibility for the RDSP they must file a tax return.

To receive your GST rebate, you must file a tax return.

For more information, go to:

www.cra.gc.ca/volunteer

For clinics in BC Click on the LINK to Volunteer Tax Preparation Clinics.

BEDBUGS! What are they and what to do!

  

Bedbugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence through the mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide there are reports of increasing numbers of infestations. Bed bugs are one of the great travelers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing, bedding and furniture. As such, they have a worldwide distribution.

Some Basic Facts:
Bed bugs are persistent. Eradicating, exterminating or just killing an entire infestation requires persistence.
Bed bugs can hide in extremely small cracks and crevices making it difficult to locate breeding sites.
Bedbugs are rarely seen in daylight. They emerge from their hiding spots at night.
Bed bugs can live a year or longer without food (blood) and thus stay in their hiding places.
Bed bugs can travel long distances and survive in suitcases, clothing, vehicles, aircraft, cruise ships and other modes of transportation.
Bed bug females lay about 300 eggs.
Bed bugs hatch from eggs in 10 days.

Bed Bug Bites:
Bed bugs feed by piercing skin with an elongated beak. Saliva is injected, containing an anesthetic to reduce pain, and an anticoagulant to keep blood flowing. The reaction to bed bug bites varies among individuals, from no reaction to sever skin inflammation and irritation.

How to treat bites:
The redness and itch associated with bedbug bites usually goes away on its own within a week or two. You might speed your recovery by using:
A skin cream containing hydrocortisone
An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl)
If you develop a skin infection from scratching bedbug bites, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.

Treating your home:
Once your symptoms are treated, you must tackle the underlying infestation. This can be difficult because bedbugs hide so well and can live for months without eating. Your best bet may be to hire a professional exterminator, who may use a combination of pesticides and nonchemical treatments.
Nonchemical treatments may include:
Vacuuming. A thorough vacuuming of cracks and crevices can physically remove bedbugs from an area. But vacuum cleaners can’t reach all hiding places.
Hot water. Washing clothes and other items in water at least 120 F (49 C) can kill bedbugs.
Clothes dryer. Placing wet or dry items in a clothes dryer set at medium to high heat for 20 minutes will kill bedbugs and their eggs.
Enclosed vehicle. If it’s summer, you can bag up infested items and leave them in a car parked in the sun with the windows rolled up for a day. The target temperature is at least 120 F (49 C).
Freezing. Bedbugs are also vulnerable to temperatures below 32 F (0 C) but you’d need to leave the items outdoors or in the freezer for several days.
Some professional exterminators use portable devices to produce steam, heat or freezing temperatures to kill bedbugs. In some cases, you may have to throw out heavily infested items such as mattresses or couches.

MORE RESOURCES & INFORMATION

BC Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, Tips on Bedbugs:

http://www.tenants.bc.ca/main/?bedbugs 

Vancouver Coastal Health: 

http://www.vch.ca/your_environment/pest_management/bed_bugs/bed_bugs

North American Bed Bug Registry:

http://bedbugregistry.com/ 

GLOBAL National August 12,2010: 

http://www.globalnational.com/story.html?id=1382550

 

 

How to Avoid BPA in water bottles

  

How to identify and Avoid BPA (Bisphenol A)

 

Definition:

BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastics and which can behave similar to estrogen and other hormones in our bodies. Unlike phthalates, which are found in soft plastic products, BPA is found in hard plastics, like baby bottles. BPA is also found in other plastic containers, such as plastic water bottles.

You can identify plastics made with BPA by looking for the plastic identification number "7" inside the recycling symbol on their label.

The use of BPA has become controversial, as there is a concern that BPA can leach out of plastic and into baby formula, juice, food, and other substances inside plastic containers made with BPA.

Find more information and more links at:

 

See also these recent Vancouver Sun Articles:

Feds Designate Bisphenal Toxic 

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Feds+designate+bisphenol+toxic+November/3409291/story.html

Younger Canadians have more BPA in their systems

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Younger+Canadians+have+more+system/3407122/story.html

91% of Canadians exposed to BPA

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/cent+Canadians+exposed+bisphenol/3407505/story.html

BPA Found in cash register receipts

http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Bisphenol+found+unlikely+place+cash+receipts/3457191/story.html

 

 

 

Shopping tips for Back-to-School

  

 

Check out these Canadian links on shopping for Back-to-School:

 

Globe & Mail, A lesson in back-to-school budgeting

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/a-lesson-in-back-to-school-budgeting/article1672141/

 

Parent Central:  How to contain back-to-school shopping

http://www.parentcentral.ca/parent/education/article/689262–how-to-contain-back-to-school-shopping

 

New Westminster NewsLeader:

http://www.bclocalnews.com/lifestyles/100916594.html

 

WalletPop Canada: Six Tipsfor back-to-school

http://www.walletpop.ca/blog/2010/07/28/six-tips-for-back-to-school-shopping/