I did get my first vaccination for COVID-19 on Monday May 24. A great way to celebrate Victoria Day in Canada! I joined the 50% of Canadians who have now received at least one shot of the vaccine to prevent becoming seriously ill or death. I now patiently wait for my turn to get my second shot.

I encourage everyone to get their vaccination as soon as possible. The sooner more of us are vaccinated, the sooner we can return to spending time with other people. I have really missed not seeing my immediate and extended family. We have met “virtually” several times, but it’s not the same!

And at the office, we missed visiting with our clients in person this past tax season. Our masked interactions were brief. Mostly for drop off and pick up of their tax documents. And many phone calls.

How does getting vaccinated save on taxes?

Not specifically to any one taxpayer, but the longer we have Manitobans in hospital and especially in our intensive care units, the more it will cost all of us in tax dollars in the future.

The number of surgeries and treatment that have been delayed is enormous.

And it will likely be more expensive to treat when we get back on track.

The more we need to use tax dollars now to support those who are out of work or have reduced hours, the more it will cost us in the future.

Government spending now means higher taxes in the future. There is only one way to pay for programs and health costs. And that is by getting more money from the taxpayers in the future.

With the governments (federal and provincial) having record amounts of deficits (expenses exceeding revenue), they will need to get more revenue in the future. That means increasing tax revenue. And that is from all of us as taxpayers.

I’m not providing an opinion on whether the current governments are

spending enough or too much. I’m just reminding everyone that we will need to pay for this eventually.

So the sooner the governments can start reducing their spending on health care costs and income supports, the better for all of us financially.

Get vaccinated!

If you are hesitating about getting vaccinated, I encourage you to visit trusted sites that explain the vaccination and the safety of it. Plus, there have been millions vaccinated. Actually more than 1.3 billion people have already been vaccinated. And we are just fine; including me and my husband and my siblings.

Media literacy is important to overcome the fear of the vaccine.

By having high media literacy, you can resist fake news, fact-check, and think critically about news and information.

Between hearing opinions at home, talking with friends, reading things online or in print, and seeing news on television, we have a lot of information to sift through and a lot of sources to evaluate.

We can feel scared and depressed about the news. How can we overcome this?

What is media literacy?

The answer is media literacy. And it starts with asking questions. By encouraging all of us to question what we see and hear, we start to think critically about information. With strong media-literacy skills, we’ll be informed, engaged, and less likely to be taken in by fake news.

Here are some practical tips to help become a smart consumer of the news.

Be skeptical, not cynical. While it’s important to be open-minded, in today’s world you have to be just a little skeptical of pretty much everything.

We can start with a little side-eye — especially at online news — and avoid sharing, forwarding, and commenting on stories until they’ve been verified that they’re true.

Understand different types of content. Understand that there are lots of news sources and types of published information: investigative journalism, research studies, opinion pieces, blogs, punditry, evening news, and so on.

We will hear about the news at home, at work or school, and in other communities we’re a part of. Remember that “word-of-mouth” stories and rumors aren’t always true.

Make sure you know the difference between fact and opinion. Think about objective vs subjective information and bias. Watch for indisputable facts versus colorful opinions.

Know the difference between established news organizations that follow certain professional standards and every other type of publisher.

Watch out for viral videos. Videos that circulate around the internet may or may not contain nuggets of real news, but they rarely represent the whole situation. And, like photos, videos can be doctored and edited to bend the truth.

Think about bias and the concept of objectivity. There’s usually more than one side to a story.

Walk through the questions we can ask to test a source’s validity: Who made this? Why did they make it? Is it for or against something or someone? Are they trying to get a big reaction from me or just inform me? How can I tell?

Is anyone else reporting this news?

Look for signs that the source is legit and not fake, such as a clear “About

Us”; section and a standard URL (for example, “.com”; instead of “.com.co”).

You can dig deeper with fact-checking websites.

Just as with a puzzle, we need more than one piece to see the whole picture, so checking other sources is critical.

Remember that it’s hard to have all the facts all at once. Even respected news outlets make mistakes or jump the gun. It’s smart to wait to make up your mind about something until you have more information.

Model a wise approach to news by using media-literacy skills daily. Check other sources to get as much truth as possible.

Personally, I turn to many different news sources almost daily: print (Winnipeg Free Press), radio (CBC, CJOB, BBC), TV (Global, CNN), and sometimes news media in Denmark and Germany just to get some other perspectives. Science Unscripted is a good weekly podcast out of Germany to check out.

If you are hesitant about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, I encourage you to go to the trusted sites to get the “real truth” from well-known and respected scientists and the real journalists who check the facts before they publish.

Final reminder to get your taxes filed. If you are self-employed (or spouse), you have until June 15, 2021 to file your 2020 taxes with no penalty if you owe taxes.

Anni Markmann is a tax professional living, working, and volunteering in our community. Contact Anni at info@sataxes.ca or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne or 204.422.6631.