February 10, 2009

Stimulus response

Canada has it’s own economic stimulus program, which we think is okay. Instead of passing out checks, the government is encouraging people to put money into the economy by doing home renovations. Anyone undertaking a renovation project can get a 20% tax credit on the project, up to $2,500 (Canadian) back at the end of 2009. Quebec announced a tax credit plan prior to the Federal government so we're hoping both will apply for us. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it stimulates the economy in different ways. Considering the fact it’s a federal program, everyone will need to turn in receipts and this ensures we’re not using contractors “under the table” and that we are purchasing supplies and thus contributing to the 13% on average sales tax. Brilliant on their part. As you can imagine, this plan has met with some negative response. But, the plan also keeps the Pisani’s from running to New York to get supplies since we’re quite certain those receipts won’t count. Also, they are encouraging projects like new windows, insulation, doors, etc. and things that make a home more energy efficient, thus reducing the “carbon footprint.” Decorative elements like paint or curtains aren't eligible. Regardless, the Pisani family is in need of two bathroom renovations so this stimulus program works well for us. For once, our procrastination paid off and we didn't undertake these projects in 2008. So demolition started this week and the two workers have quickly become part of the family. 

We find this a lot in Canada -- repair people becoming part of the family. The day we moved in we ate lunch with the moving guys standing around the kitchen. The next day, the cable installer was here for 8 hours and spent his lunchtime driving to get pizza for all of us (we paid). We sat down and had lunch with the cable guy and talked politics as it was November 4 and Kish was anxious to get the TV going even though she fell asleep before Obama was official. Hey, we're on Eastern time. The refrigerator repairman came a few weeks later and spent three hours in the kitchen discussing the politics of Canadian hockey in between replacing freon and whatever else. The point is, these guys like to hang out and talk to the silly Americans with the Blackhawks flag (if we had a Boston or Toronto flag they wouldn't be so nice. Although, now that the Blackhawks are doing well they might think differently). We're learning a lot from all of these guys about the ins and outs of living in Canada. Plus, they’re all nice people and have taught us to SLOW DOWN and have a discussion from time to time rather than rush through the day. This is a foreign concept for many of us from the U.S.

Now the bathroom reno guys have quickly become dog trainers, hunting consultants and holistic medicine experts. First the dog training. Those of you who have met Duke know he’s…shall we say…high-strung? He’s six going on two. And if you count that he’s a Lab, that’s lots of energy. So one of the guys, quickly nicknamed “Little Caesar” after Caesar Milan, has been giving Kish great dog training tips in between cutting tile. It’s working too. Then there’s the hunting part. As you may or may not know, guns are not really welcome in Canada. So when Stephan the contractor walked in with a Ducks Unlimited cap, Kish had to do a double take. After hearing that there are hunters in Canada and that we happen to live in a “tree hugging” neighborhood, there are places to hunt in Canada once guns are registered. Unfortunately, Paul left his hunting things in the States because bringing them across the border amounts to more paperwork than we need. Duke accounted for too much paperwork as it was. So the home reno guys, both hunters, have enjoyed talking to the Americans who are okay with hunting. Plus, they think Kish’s dad’s African stuff in the house is cool. As they said, if our accent doesn't give away the fact that we're not Canadian, the stuff in the house certainly does.  Now the holistic medicine. After telling the guys that Kish was going to need to skip skiing on Wednesday to nurse a nasty cold/cough, one of them provided a sure cure. He says to warm up a shot or two of gin or rum – gin works best. Squeeze in some fresh lemon and some honey and drink it in one big gulp before bed. He swears you can sweat out a cold and it’s what ice fisherman use. And he said something about giving it to horses when they are out in the cold too long. Hey, it’s worth a shot. Of gin that is.

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