Letters and Tweets — August 2016

CPA Magazine readers respond to the May 2016 issue via mail and Twitter.

Don’t ban body parts

Karen Wensley’s May column (“No Ethical ‘Passes’”) was very interesting. In referring to the “yuck factor” of selling body parts, has she overlooked the established practice of paying people to donate blood? If blood is an acceptable commodity, then why not organs? As long as informed consent is given, and the procedure is carried out in accordance with appropriate medical standards, the risk to the donor is manageable and the benefit to society, as a whole, is not insignificant. There is almost certainly a role for government to regulate this “market” but there is no obvious logic for banning this market.

Jack Noodelman, Montreal


The item “Female leaders boost bottom line” (May, Workplace) quotes a complex study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, but the headline is an oversimplification of the issue. The fact is women executives are more likely to be found in some industries over others, and these tend to have stronger recent histories of profitability (the study was based on 2014 data and might show different results had it been based on 2008/2009). The study shows that the highest levels of female representation are in the finance, healthcare, utilities and telecommunications industries (from 16% to 18%) while representation in the manufacturing, materials, energy and technology sectors ranges lower at 10% to 12%. Global competition, the rise of China’s manufacturing sector and emerging technologies have hit this latter group of industries in ways that make it difficult to maintain healthy margins. Why are the more profitable industries able to attract women and provide a pipeline for advancement while the “old industries” have not?

I have worked in the natural resource, manufacturing, construction and mining sectors for the past 25 years and I have reflected on why we struggle to attract and retain female talent. These industries haven’t typically provided the flexibility and access to programs that promote a healthy work/life balance as have businesses in the former, more profitable group. In the past women have been more inclined to choose careers at organizations that provided for balance and men have been a little more inclined to overlook the same.

So, would more female representation in these low-margin industry sectors have resulted in better profitability? Maybe. Had the traditional/smokestack industries done a better job of helping employees maintain work/life balance would we have better diversity and therefore better profitability? We may never know. It’s a challenge to sell “soft” investments in long-term employee recruitment/retention when the bottom line is under imminent attack. Given the macro/global changes that have tracked tornado-like through these sectors, drawing any conclusion is difficult and any summary (including my own) will be an oversimplification.

Stephen Rideout, Cornerbrook, NL


Taxing rant

(How CPAs handle requests for personal favours around tax time, March)

I do personal and corporate taxes. At tax time, everybody who does his or her own taxes appears out of the woodwork with questions. It’s frustrating because these friends and family members want advice they’d receive as a paying client, without having to be a paying client. It’s also problematic because they don’t under- stand some of the issues surrounding their tax situation, which is an indication they need a professional tax preparer. It’s hard to decide who to give answers to and who to tell they should seek the help of a professional (a service I happen to offer!). Some questions are basic and easily answered; others can’t be answered without further information. If it’s a question about the availability of a credit or what is considered an eligible expense in certain situations, I will provide a general answer.

What bothers me the most is not the questions but the sheer number of them. Sometimes I feel that because knowledge is not tangible, it is often overlooked as a valuable commodity. (Rant Complete.)

Candy Davis

Here, there and everywhere

(Feature, May)

This hits the nail on the spot! We created a Digital Nomad community at Terminal 3. The DN life is lonely, but not anymore.

Mevish A