Week in Review April 24, 2015

Week in Review, April 24, 2015

  • Federal Budget comprehensive analyses
  • Harper’s granddaughter’s problems are getting bigger
  • Teachers reject austerity
  • Ottawa subsidizes VW expansion in Mexico
  • EI claims rising
  • Happy?
  • Early retirement
  • CEO payoffs under attack
  • Major corporation tax gap over $100 billion—and Canada now considered a tax haven
  • Restore the Royalties

  • Harper’s granddaughter’s problems are getting bigger. In response to criticism that his expansion of regressive Tax Free Savings Accounts would cause a massive loss of revenues down the road, Finance Minister Joe Oliver told CBC’s Amanda Lang it was a problem we could leave for Stephen Harper’s granddaughter to solve. As the Press Progress outlines, the $100 billion revenue hold TFSAs will create are just one of a number of problems the Conservatives are creating for future generations.
  • Teachers reject austerity. Secondary school teachers in Ontario started strikes in different regions in reaction to the provincial government’s push for concessions in bargaining.
  • Ottawa subsidizes VW expansion in Mexico. The federal government’s Export Development Corporation is lending $525 million to German-owned Volkswagen for an expansion of its auto assembly plant in Mexico on the condition they meet with Canadian suppliers. Canada has lost 600,000 jobs in manufacturing since 2002, with many plants moving south to Mexico. Meanwhile the federal government just sold its shares in GM so it could balance its budget, which means a loss of leverage with that company which could lead to a loss of its plants in Oshawa.
  • EI claims rising. The number of people receiving Employment Insurance claims rose in February by two percent, the largest increase in almost three years. The biggest increases over the past year were in Alberta (up 73 percent), Prince Edward Island (up 16 per cent) and Saskatchewan (up 13 percent).
  • Happy? People in Saguenay and Trois Rivieres are the most satisfied of all cities in Canada, while those in Vancouver and Toronto are the least, a Statistics Canada study of life satisfaction across Canada found. Despite their lower incomes, people in Eastern Canadian and Quebec cities reported higher levels of life satisfaction than the Canadian average, while those in Ontario and Western provinces reported lower levels of life satisfaction.
  • Early retirement. Workers in regions with higher unemployment rates, such as Eastern Canada and Quebec, retired on average two years earlier than those in regions with lower unemployment rates, such as Alberta and Saskatchewan. Workers in union jobs and with pension plans are also more likely to retire earlier, but the average age of retirement increased by two years between 1997 and 2007. It appears workers in higher unemployment regions are retiring earlier not because they’re better off, but because there are fewer jobs available.
  • CEO payoffs under attack. Major shareholders—most representing workers pension plans—of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce rejected the bank’s compensation plans after the CIBC continued to pay their former CEO and COO an extra year’s pay, $25 million in total, in addition to their generous pensions. Excessive bonuses and pay hikes to executives at Barrick Gold—the company former Conservative Minister John Baird just joined—are also under attack. Meanwhile it was also revealed that Air Canada agreed to nearly double CEO Calvin Rovinescu’s pension to $791,300 annually if he stays for another three years.
  • Major corporation tax gap over $100 billion—and Canada now considered a tax haven. The largest corporations in the world are avoiding over US$80 billion (or C$100 billion) in taxes every year, estimates the international stock market firm MSCI. Their analysis found that at least 40 percent of its MSCI global corporations based in tax havens, such as Bermuda, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, and Canada pay abnormally low taxes. Yes, that’s right: Canada is now considered a tax haven for large corporations!
  • Restore the Royalties. Analysis by Alberta’s Parkland Institute calculated that Alberta could eliminate 40 percent of its budget deficit just by returning its oil, gas and mineral royalty rates to what they were in 2009. The changes introduced at that time were supposed to increase revenues by $2 billion annually, but instead they’ve cost the province $13.5 billion over five years.

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