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ChristineViljoen

Cost of living in Fort McMurray

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Teachers now have subsidised housing by the school board. Most civil servants get a sub to pay rent. Mounties who are single do share, as do other singles. That is NOT the same as needing to because of low wages, or having to sleep on the floor. The young woman next to me just bought her place, and works in Govt. I assume you don't work in a plant from your info. and that you have been here only a short time. After 20 plus years working here I work when I want. That is the advantage of being Trained in some fashion - Degree, Trade, etc. I own property here and elsewhere.

If you go to the Hostel you will find they can NOT house everybody. That is why people are "roughing it" in the woods. It has been happening for a long time - years. People come thinking they will get work and can't because they lack skills. Keyano College offers Specialised Training designed specifically for the mines, and graduates many as Equipment Operators, and they are all registered at the various plants. There are about 280 on a waiting list. Therefore what chance do others have of aquiring that work when they don't have the Training? None! People fail to investigate what work is available, and rely of "stories" about BIG MONEY. That is why there are untrained, unskilled people sleeping on floors.

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Pierre

The unemployment figure can't be high though with all the school kids having to work in grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

I like most of what you write, but some in incorrect. It's good someone is offering advice. My experience is in the "field", both here and abroad. I assume your not familiar with working in a "plant' or camp life. I never got as far south as the Cape. My "Best Man" was from there, as are some long lost friends, now in the East. I found this site by accident. My oldest holds 3 different passports and can claim 3 Nationalities.

A young fellow wrote he wanted to come and work 3 jobs, and make a "pile" of money. People who say that have NO experience in doing so. Why not do that at home? How would you like to work 3,- 6 hour shifts a day, plus travel to and from different places of work. That makes a 20 hour day. Even trying to work a second job is next to impossible, especially here, unless you are underemployed. It can be done, but only in special cases. A friend is a Fireman in another city. He and 2 friends work the A, B, and C shifts. When they work nights and sleep, they alternate at a second day time job.

In Ft. Mac if they work 3 jobs it's because they are underemployed and need the money.

It's unfortunate that think they will get paid like a Journeyman Welder, Electrician, etc. or the rate for an Engineer etc., when they have no skills at all, and don't research as most on this site are doing.

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johankok

Bob's view is from the perspective of an unskilled or a person with no experience, whereas Pierre is looking from the perspective of a typical South African that is able to move to Canada, which typically require a good qualification and experience, especially when using skilled worker option to get into Canada. Thus yes, there will be major differences in the respective points of view.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Yes. Your correct.

I am trying to look at it from the perspective of the unskilled, and semi-skilled worker, as we have many come from the East thinking they will get rich. It has been going on for years. Happily I am not in that classification. I am well educated, and worked in many countries. Probably to the extent that people from the Cape are. I do however know that it is NOT possible to work 2 or 3 jobs if you are employed full time, as one young fellow from the East suggested he would do. I try to discourage those who think it is possible, while trying to encourage those with qualifications to come. I also know that the flats between Super Store and #63 have a large number of units that have multiple residents from economic need. I have been there to provide transportation.

Unemployment. If you no longer qualify for unemplyment insurance, you are no longer classified as unemployed by the government. You only become a statistic when you are able to claim UI again. Therefore those who are "living rough" are probably not part of the statistics. Several years ago the government increased the amount of work required, and reduced the amount a person can collect. That increased the number of unemployed who no longer qualify, and are not recorded

The only one from the Cape I have met to date was a fellow with an office downtown. It is natural that people with a similar background / customs / language socialise together. It's only natural that you do so as well. Speaking for myself - I am pleased you have come, and hope you like it here, and do well. It is obvious, to me, that those who have come, or will come are well qualified, and do research about life here. That is the difference between those who are educated, (you) and those who are not, and it shows.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Pierre

Bob, I agree with what you say. My knowledge of unskilled workers is rather limited.

Coming to FtMcM without research would be a big mistake.

You need a big safety net, in the form of a friend or family member, who will put you up till you're on your feet. Unless you have pre arranged employment.

I know several people with more than one job and one with three sources of income. The man with three is from Nfld, a Diversified bus driver who works in the morning and late afternoon and sometimes on weekends. In the day time he is a repairman for a condo unit. And after hours and on weekends he looks after a foster child, a duty he shares with his wife.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

That's interesting about the bus driver. It never occured to me before. There are probably several like that, because of the shift work at the plants. A run out to the plant in the morning, and then in the evening would not bring in much money. The run to Suncor, both ways, pays about $75:00. That's $150:00 a day x 5, before deductions. After deductions that about $500:00 a week. Not exactly a living wage. Did he come qualified as a driver, or did he come as an unskilled person, and took the training offered by Diversified. Probably the latter. That's how they get most of their drivers. What did he do, as an unskilled person, before he took the training? If they have a foster child then that is extra income for the family. Is it required income ? Probably. I believe Foster Care is worth about $1,400 a month, per child, in Edmonton etc. It may be more in Ft. Mac. If he looks after the child weekends is that because his wife works away from the home, when he is home, so she can earn extra money outside the home? Probably. Maintenance in a Condo Complex means cutting the grass, and snow removal in winter - unskilled work. Repair work requires a qualified tradesman.

For him, being married, puts him in a much better position than a single unskilled person. His wife, and her extra income, is a major part of both his support, and social system.

I'm glad in not doing it.

It just shows that those from the Cape, like yourself, have benefited from their Education / Training as the case may be. A good Education / Training is never a waste.

I have often pondered about going to Banff and driving a bus in the summer Tourist Season for a lark. I talked to the driver when I toured the Columbia Ice Fields. It sounded like a good way to spend a summer. What you might call a "Bus Drivers Vacation". It's a site worth seeing.

Camp - Back in posting 81(?) You write it is a "Hotel" . That is "Borealis", run by Suncor, and is called the "Hotel". It has always been the best facility. Recently a sewer line broke and there was "waste" in a lot of areas. No Toilets, showers, or cooking meals for the workers. 1100 men/woman were forced to move out. Across the road is "Millenium" camp. 40 men quit recently, and refused to live there because of the Black Mould on the walls, and the health hazard it presented. When it rains the place is flooded because it was built on low ground. It is like many camps. They lack from maintenance because they can not find qualified help. PTI has gone down hill for the same reason. Those that offer "Fly in - Fly Out" require the workers to give up Over Time to pay for the flights. Is that a good deal? It may be if your from the East and are underemployed at home, and need to qualify for Unemployment Insurance.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Pierre

Iv known the bus driver friend, from Gander, for 6 years.

He came as an electrician to FtMcM. Then he got involved in some kind of accident. Burnt by an electric flash or something. Nothing is visible when you see him. He went onto disability pension and left the trade. He has that as income as well, but what I understand it is not enough to survive in FtMcM. He took the Diversified training. His wife used to have a day job as housekeeper at a B&B. She quit the job because her feet were killing her. I am not sure if she took on another job.

But on the bus driver topic. Another electrician friend, also from Nfld, on the west coast, works at the oil sands. His brother, a retired pastor from Nfld, with family came to stay with him to find a job. The brother also took up busdriving to get started. Then got a construction day job and does bussing on weekends. At one stage Diversified were running very short of bus drivers. They were offering free training to potential drivers.

I know one SA lady who took the Diversified course and does regular bus driving.

I dont know the income from foster care, but I thought it was more than $1400.

It certainly is a form of income. The problem was that the people got attached to the foster child and wanted to adopt the child. But the foster income would probably then have fallen away.

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Pierre

The topic of homelessness came up in a forum discussion this week, as reported in the Friday's TODAY.

This underscores the point Bob was making.

Here is some extracts:

The forum will eventually lead to the 2007-09 Community Plan on Homelessness to follow up the plan drafted three years ago. Other workshops were held last fall in response to an emergency shortage of shelter space after 65-70 shelter places closed in Marshall House. It re-opened recently after closing through the spring

The homeless rate in the Fort McMurray is the worst in a province known for its homelessness problem: 6.8 people per thousand. The Fort McMurray Housing Needs Count 2006 found the number to be 441, and that figure has likely not gone down much.

“The stats don’t change much between seasons, though we don’t necessarily see the chronic population as much in the summertime.” said Cindy Nash of the Centre of Hope.

But as much as finding solutions to homelessness the forum was a discussion of the causes of the problem and the struggles Fort McMurray faces as a whole.

Many issues that everyone knows about -- the lack of affordable housing, transient population -- and others not talked about so often, like income disparity being a barrier to taking service work and the outside perception of Fort McMurray with streets paved in gold were raised.

“What really comes out of these things is that they’re so multidimensional ... The boom relates to so many different things, and homelessness is just one,” said Sandy Grandison, of the HISC and a co-ordinator of the event.

“I think we have an image of what a homeless person is, and that just doesn’t fit Fort McMurray.”

In the end, the forums set out specific priorities that the municipality will be asked to push forward. One was an emergency shelter does not limit help to sober clients.

Another was a pre- and post-treatment addictions facility and program. The third is an “accurate public perception of the experience of relocating to Fort McMurray,” which is already in the works by the municipal community image committee, working with a private contractor hired by the municipality. It will find ways to correctly portray to the community to the world at large.

Some were concerned that the final priorities did not include an emergency homeless youth shelter, which was something commonly discussed over the past year as a necessity. Youth are not allowed into any of the existing homeless people shelters in town, and the population of young homeless is growing.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Thanks. I'd like to see the article. There have been several over time about the lack of houseing, and employment. I'll look it up when I get back. I have an article that I saved months ago along the same lines.

It all points in the same direction. Get an Education / Trades Training or similar training if you want a decent living - no matter where you live, but especially if you want to live in Fort Mac. where to cost of living is high, and Skilled Labour is in demand.

SKILLS - Somebody said previously that Scaffolding seemed easy. WRONG! ! It's a 3 year apprenticeship program. Suncore replaced the Non-Union scaffolders with Union people after a couple of deaths from lack of skill, knowledge, and training. Union Scaffolders from Alberta have the HIGHEST standards in the world, and are in demand everywhere. Several went to Australia as instructors because of the accidents there. What most people see is "Safeway Frames" in the city over sidewalks, or used by plasterers. That has no relationship to what is known as "Tube & Clamp" used in plants.

Picture this in your mind.

A bare steel stucture similar to the steel frame of a building. You, and your partner, sit on a 6 inch wide, steel beam 120 ft in the air. The next beam above, below, or behind you, is 27 feet away, or more. From where you sit you are required to build a working platform, to support 8 men and there tools, 12 feet out in space, by 20 feet wide, beyond the outside of the steel structue, above a road or working machinery. You had to walk across bare beams to get where you now are. Where do you start? How do you get material to build the working deck? It has to suppot more than a Metric Ton. You can NOT use a crane. After the deck an access must be built so the Fitters / Welders / Electricians etc can get onto the deck. If the weather is bad it may have to be covered with a sloping roof. That roof must be planned for in advance as part of the working deck. If you fall the next stop in below you 120 ft. Down. The common joke is - Falling never killed anyone - It's the sudden stop at the end.

How easy does that sound now?

Perhaps that's why it's a Skilled Trade, and unskilled workers kill people from lack of training, like those that died at Suncor.

SECOND - Instead of building the working deck level with the 120 ft. level where you now sit on a beam supervision have revised the plan. Now you are required to build the working deck 11 ft below where you now sit at the 120 ft level, but having the same dimensions. Projecting out into space 12 ft x 20 ft wide. Needs to support a Ton. It is winter. The tempurature is Minus 20, the wind 18 km.

Would you work on a deck like that which they let an unskilled person, or a bus driver from Diversified build?

Your life, while hanging out in space, 120 ft up in the air, depends not only on your ability, but also your partners to do the work safely. When it is finished, the lives of all the other workers who use it depends on your ability, and how it was constructed.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Bob Fitzsimmons
Iv known the bus driver friend, from Gander, for 6 years.

He came as an electrician to FtMcM. Then he got involved in some kind of accident. Burnt by an electric flash or something. Nothing is visible when you see him. He went onto disability pension and left the trade. He has that as income as well, but what I understand it is not enough to survive in FtMcM. He took the Diversified training. His wife used to have a day job as housekeeper at a B&B. She quit the job because her feet were killing her. I am not sure if she took on another job.

But on the bus driver topic. Another electrician friend, also from Nfld, on the west coast, works at the oil sands. His brother, a retired pastor from Nfld, with family came to stay with him to find a job. The brother also took up busdriving to get started. Then got a construction day job and does bussing on weekends. At one stage Diversified were running very short of bus drivers. They were offering free training to potential drivers.

I know one SA lady who took the Diversified course and does regular bus driving.

I dont know the income from foster care, but I thought it was more than $1400.

It certainly is a form of income. The problem was that the people got attached to the foster child and wanted to adopt the child. But the foster income would probably then have fallen away.

One of the problems of Foster Children, across Canada, is they are mostly First Nations. The children are not the problem. First Nations people, and administrators, don't want First Nations children adopted by those who are not First Nations. In addition they object to people who are not First Nations giving foster care to the children, stating that other people are not a good influence for the children. Recently, in Ontario I think, several children died in the care of a First Nations woman. It turned out that the administrators, First Nations people, ignored the mistreatment. The Provincial Government eventually closed the office.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Unkilled Labour - There are several reasons neither bus driver fits that description. Both had well payed occupations prior to being a bus driver. Both have been married for an extended time. Both recieve a pension that suppliments their saving aquired over many years in another occupation.

That is far different than the note by a young unskilled fellow wanting to come to Ft. Mac. and make a fortune working 3 jobs. If you have a fulltime job it is next to impossible to work a second job.

LOA - LOA is only offered to Supervisors as a General Rule. Some Union Trades people may qualify if there is no room in a camp. Once there is room they are required to move to camp. It is VERY unusual for them to recieve LOA. I have never heard of Unskilled, or Semi- skilled Non-Union people getting LOA, but Supervisors may. It's far cheaper, and more convienient to put them in a camp so they are near their work. That way they can be bussed in a School Bus rather than use Diversified. The School Bus is then driven as a extra to a persons work day. Usually 1/2 an hour each way. The cost of camp is much less than LOA. It also cuts out the cost of busing them from town which the employer would have to pay for. There are a given number of plant empolyee's that must be bused every day. LOA personell are an extra expense for Diversified. More busses. More drivers. Somebody has to pay for that service.

Pay - If it is a NON-Union Company then overtime hours are not payed at the time the work is done. Those extra hours are "Banked", which means held in reserve, and payed at Straight Time when work is slack. The employee is therefore denied Time & a Half, and Double Time which saves the employer money. It is not usual for Non-Union workers to get Double Time for any ovetime. If you work directly for a plant such as Suncor all overtime is Double time. It also denies the employee the ability to collect UI because they are recieving wages due them. If they are flown from the East that overtime is used to pay for the flight to and from Fort Mac.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Pierre
If you have a fulltime job it is next to impossible to work a second job.

Bob, if you discount moonlighting, such as working in Canadian Tire on weekends or teaching at Keyano College in the evenings, then sure one can only handle one full time job especially it that job demands you work overtime. Then there is my builder friend who worked regular shifts at an oil company and on his off days he built houses part time. Another guy drives a bobcat and does landscaping on his off shift days.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

The Subject is Unskilled people wanting to come and make a fortune working as an Unskilled person at 2 or 3 jobs, which I say can not be done.

Again you are NOT talking about Unskilled people. To Teach at Keyano, even part time, you probably need a Degree in Education, or at the least Journeyman Status in a trade, or Certification in Office work. Keyano would NOT hire an Unskilled person to teach anything. The other fellow works in a plant full time, so one would presume he has a skill of some kind, even if he or she works at any other job part time. Those examples, like the others, are of people with skills, wanting to suppliment their income, and do NOT fit the subject of Unskilled people.

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johankok

Bob, why don't you open a new thread covering the subject specifically - as the current subject: cost of living in Fort McMurray does not clearly specify the area of subject that you are focusing on.

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Guest
Bob, why don't you open a new thread covering the subject specifically - as the current subject: cost of living in Fort McMurray does not clearly specify the area of subject that you are focusing on.

Johan I have seen no other complaints and have found Bob’s contribution informative.

:lol: Regards,

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johankok

Lawrence - clarification:

Absolutely - Bob is providing informative information, no doubt. The reason for asking a separate topic, but rather this statement: "The Subject is Unskilled people wanting to come .... " whilst the subject heading of this thread states: Cost of living in Fort McMurray.

A separate topic stating the correct subject as stated by Bob will help everyone else to know the topic of discussion.

Currently it still stands as: Cost of living in Fort McMurray, not "Unskilled people wanting ......"

--- cleared the duplicate....

Edited by johankok

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Pierre

Let's leave the topic as it is. The cost of living affects skilled and unskilled people tremendously.

Unskilled would be worse off though.

The cost of accommodation is getting prohibitive, even for highly skilled people coming to FtMcM.

You cant survive here on your own without a decent income (or two). Winter generally sees to that.

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Pierre

Average local home now costs $600,000+

Thursday August 09, 2007

Fort McMurray has again outdone itself in the real estate market, with single-family houses breaking the $600,000 mark for the first time this month, up from $562,000 in May, according to the Fort McMurray Real Estate Board.

The average single-family house now sells for $605,495.

This is despite a slowdown reported today by Statistics Canada claiming the growth in new house prices has decelerated -- from 8.6 per cent in May to 7.8 per cent in June -- part of an eight month trend. The case is the same in Edmonton, where prices fell to a 31.9 per cent increase from 42.8 in November.

"We're still an exiting market," said Colin Hartigan, vice-president of the local real estate board. "I can actually see the average single-family housing price (further) increasing by the end of the year."

Prices are stronger despite an influx of listings to the marketplace -- from 160 single-family homes in June to 204 today.

An increase in interest rates has contributed to the cool down nationally, along with a general summer slowdown.

The market has been bolstered, however, by 40-year mortgages from local banks.

Real estate agents are still swimming in success, with a new volume sales record for the local real estate board set at $135,613,185.

One hundred and thirty-two single family houses were started here in July 2007 up from 94 in July of last year, according to a report released today by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. No new multiple-family houses were started though, down from 51 in July 2006.

On average, there's been a 67 per cent rise in single-family housing starts from January to July of this year and the same time last year -- the highest rate in Alberta with 688. The same is the case with multiple family homes, which grew 82 per cent to 693.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

I took the advice of Johankok, and started a new topic about - "Seeking Work in Fort Mc Murray."

Thanks.

You may want to refer back to posting #95, and following ones, in this section for other information.

In my opinion it is unwise to suggest that people can come to Fort McMurray, based on "stories I heard" and make a "fortune" working at 2 or 3 jobs.

Yes - There are people with a second, or even a third job, but mostly "low pay" part time jobs, that can be classified as either Unskilled, or Semi-skilled. An example of "A Story I Heard", is in Posting #106 in which the man has 3 "Low Pay" jobs and the wife has a forth income. Why does this family require 4 incomes to survive in Fort Mac.? If they earned a good living due to their, "Training and/or Education", at their regular job, and are working directly for a company like Suncor, or a Union they would NOT be giving up their free time to work at a second / third "low pay" job to earn more money. It is possible to work in a "plant" for a sub-contractor and still have a "Low Pay" Unskilled job such as "cleaning", which then requires another source, or multiple sources, of income. If they have "skilled work" and qualified for benifits such as "Double Time" , "Free Medical". "Paid Vacation Time" etc. they would be using that time as "Family Time", or to golf, fish, play tennis etc. It is only those people who do not make "good money", and lack "Training and /or Education", and "benifits" who are forced to work a second / third "low pay" job to supliment their income due to the high cost of living in Fort Mac. Ladies who work are - in general - those who's husbands are in the Unskilled, or Semi-skilled work force and work to suppliment the family income. There are exception such as those ladies with a Higher Education, and who want to pusue their careers as Nurses, Lawyers etc.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Establishing Credit

Someone said it was a problem when coming to Canada. I have a suggestion.

If you are seeking a Mortgage and you know someone who is established (a home owner) perhaps they will be willing to act as a Co-Signer for you. That was how I did it.

Credit Cards might also be used. If you have an International Credit Card such as Amex / VISA it is usful to build your credit rating prior to coming to Canada. Borrow 100,000 ZAR on the card, or what ever you maximum is, and deposit in your bank account. 72 hours later pay it back. Do this once a week. After 6 weeks ask for an increase, but at a reduced interest rate. They will check and see you are a good risk, because you pay promptly. As you do not have a statement yet over pay the interest each time. Increase your limit to 250,000, or the largest increase you can get, and repeat. Keep increasing you limit to 4 Million / 6 Million if possible. You now have a VERY GOOD International Credit Rating at a small cost which you can now use in another country to help establish your credit. Repeat the process in your new country with a different NEW Credit Card which is easy to obtain because you have shown you are a good risk.

The reason this works is they check to see if you pay your debt quickly, the number of times you use the card, and the amount. They like "BIG SPENDERS" who use their cards because of the interest they charge. If they can make money from your use of the card - they like you.

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Bob Fitzsimmons

Pierre:

You promote the concept of people coming to Ft. Mac and working 2 or 3 jobs. Therefore one would assume you speak from personal experience, and have an ongoing experience in working at more than one occupation at a time. Which leads me to ask -

What is your personal experience of working 2 or 3 jobs in Ft. Mac.?

Why do you do it?

How long have you worked at a second, or third job?

How many hours a week are you required to work to maintain your regular work, plus your seond, or third job?

What type of personal benifits do you get from a second, and perhaps third job?

If you have a wife/other half/partner do they work outside the home? Why?

Does that person also have a second, or third job? Why?

Why does winter prevent a second or third job at places like MacDonalds, Canadian Tire, Snow Removal, Delivery Driver, Bar Tender?

If winter prevents you working a second, or third job, how does that effect your ability to meet living expenses which are higher in winter?

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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Pierre

I only have one paying job. It takes up some free time as well. To keep up with workload, one often has to put in extra time without extra pay. I am a mechanical engineer in the projects dept at one of the oil companies.

The second job here at Sacanada is for love and charity.

I am also an active toastmaster which takes up a lot of my free time.

And then I am a regular cricket player.

If one does two or more jobs, you cannot get involved in social or volunteer activities - not easily anyway.

One has to keep a balance between work and play.

There are many divorces in FtMcM over people living apart through work and money.

My wife is a teacher but took retirement and got into toastmasters as well.

One of her main activities is to spend any money I make. :D

I think I'll have to find her a job to keep her away from shopping.

I will not be able to repond to the forum for a while.

I am going away for two weeks. Aug 12 to 25.

Step one is to a TM intl conf (Phoenix) and then a week's real vacation.

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Pierre

I just noticed its 44°C in Phoenix - that means a hat and sunscreen rather than a vest and light jacket.

Oh ... and if I win big in Vegas, perhaps I would not have to work further.

signing off - cheers!

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Bob Fitzsimmons
I only have one paying job. It takes up some free time as well. To keep up with workload, one often has to put in extra time without extra pay. I am a mechanical engineer in the projects dept at one of the oil companies.

The second job here at Sacanada is for love and charity.

I am also an active toastmaster which takes up a lot of my free time.

And then I am a regular cricket player.

If one does two or more jobs, you cannot get involved in social or volunteer activities - not easily anyway.

One has to keep a balance between work and play.

There are many divorces in FtMcM over people living apart through work and money.

My wife is a teacher but took retirement and got into toastmasters as well.

One of her main activities is to spend any money I make. :cry:

I think I'll have to find her a job to keep her away from shopping.

I will not be able to repond to the forum for a while.

I am going away for two weeks. Aug 12 to 25.

Step one is to a TM intl conf (Phoenix) and then a week's real vacation.

My question was work related therefore I will respond under the heading "Seeking Work in Fort McMurray.

Edited by Bob Fitzsimmons

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