Letters and Tweets — June/July 2015

CPA Magazine readers respond to the April 2015 issue via mail and Twitter.

The system works

David Descôteaux’s column Reform the Dairy Industry (Canadian Issues, April) has several misrepresentations. Supply management matches production to consumer demand. Frequent adjustments are made to on-farm production to ensure processors have the required amount of milk for consumer products. As milk is perishable, it is important that dairy farmers provide processors with a fresh, high-quality product. Therefore, production has to be matched to consumer demand, as long-term storage prior to processing is not possible.

Supply management greatly contributes to the Canadian economy. US dairy farmers receive US$4 billion in direct subsidies; European dairy farmers are supported to the sum of $55 billion. Canadian dairy farmers receive their money from the marketplace and do not rely on taxpayer dollars.

For many cheese imports that are subject to duties, the tariff is only pennies of the price consumers pay at the checkout. On imported Parmesan cheese that costs $18 to $35 a kilogram, the tariff is only 3¢ per kilo, or less than 0.2% of the price the consumer pays. Canada is open to dairy imports and allows more dairy to be imported (5%) than either the EU or the US (2%).

Descôteaux says it’s cheaper to put a bottle of Coke on the dinner table than milk. A 250 ml serving of pop costs approximately 23¢, while an equal serving of milk costs 36¢, but when you compare the health benefits of dairy over soft drinks, the comparison ends.

Canadians spend about 10% of income on food, with the amount on dairy falling to 1.07% in 2010 from 1.2% in 1990. In New Zealand, the flagship for deregulation of dairy, consumers pay more for milk while farmers face uncertainty in their businesses.

It is difficult to understand why anyone would advocate the dismantling of a system that works for consumers, processors, the economy and dairy farmers — a system that does not cost taxpayers a dime.

Scott Gilson, Dairy farmer, Narcisse, Ma­n.

Soul music

I found April’s cover story (Firms That Rock) very interesting. Within two days of moving to Saskatoon in 1965 to a position with a local accounting firm, I met a prominent musician. He must have mentioned to the local musicians’ association that there was a new piano player in town as I received an invitation to play Friday and Saturday evenings at Saskatoon’s only supper club. Music has been and still is an integral part of my life at 76. I played at that club and the city’s historic Bessborough Hotel for eight years plus some jazz concerts and other musical events. As our office grew and long hours, travel and weekend work became regular, I gave up playing the two nights a week.

Throughout my career (after two mergers, I became a partner of Deloitte Haskins and Sells), there was office talk as to why I found it necessary to play the piano. Therefore, I found the article most interesting and I was pleased to read that Deloitte is encouraging artistic partners and staff to perform publicly. Music benefits the soul. Artistic CPAs and staff may be getting the same accolades afforded those with sporting prowess or community leadership.

Fred Ballantyne, Saskatoon

A win-win-win situation

I am amazed that in 2015 there are still those who question the benefits of working from home (Home Work, April). I started telecommuting in 2000, while at Nortel. Our office was bursting at the seams and there was nowhere to put people. We were encouraged to work from home and were provided with technical and financial support.

Working from home is a win-win-win situation for employees (reduces stress/eliminates commuting costs); employers (increased employee satisfaction/higher productivity/lower office costs); and society (reduced traffic congestion/lower pollution). Telecommuting is "low-hanging" fruit that all businesses should be pursuing.

The biggest barrier to implementing telecommuting programs is not technical; it is human. Many managers feel they can’t control what their employees are doing if they can’t see them. They need to learn to manage by results, not by attendance.

Mike Kinrys, Toronto

Errata:

In May’s feature The CPA Gender Pay Gap,  it was inadvertently implied that Robin Taub knew at the beginning of her career that there was a disparity between her compensation and that of her male counterparts. She cannot have known that. We regret any embarrassment this may have caused Taub.

In the same story, the colour guide for the charts had the "Female" and "Total" reversed —"Female" is red and "Total" is green.  The errors have been corrected in the digital editions.

Highlights

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