Economics & Finance & Trade

Minimum corporate tax proposed in U.S.

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo says he expects the other G7 countries will support a White House proposal for a global minimum corporate tax. “My sense is that you're going to see a lot of unified support amongst the G7,” he said May 24, citing responses from France, Germany, Italy and Japan ahead of a ministerial meeting. [node:read-more:link]

Softwood lumber redux

The decades-long dispute over Canadian softwood lumber exports to the U.S. is heating up yet again as a protectionist lobby there insist that imports are unfairly subsidized. The U.S. has repeatedly lost when the issue is presented for arbitration and the B.C. Lumber Trade Council points out that the latest move to more than double duties affects U.S. housing costs. [node:read-more:link]

Athletes exempted from quarantine

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marco Mendocino has confirmed that 1,300 professional athletes have received ministerial “national interest” exemptions from Canada’s COVID-19 border restrictions. He says they were exempt from the general 14-day quarantine period because their leagues had pandemic mitigation plans which had been approved by public health authorities. [node:read-more:link]

Vaccines: a lost opportunity

Even if Canada had developed its own COVID-19 vaccine, there evidently is no way to produce it in the necessary volumes. Earl Brown, an infections diseases expert and member of the N1N1 vaccine task force in 2009, says federal authorities took their “eye off the ball” by permitting some domestic pharmaceutical companies to be sold to multinationals. He says the remaining facilities have a “tighter production line and not so much capacity.” [node:read-more:link]

Conservatives expect tax and regulatory reform

In the run up to the release of the federal government’s fiscal update, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre says rebuilding the economy in a post-pandemic environment will require a huge overhaul of the tax system and regulatory regime. “We don't need subsidized corporate welfare schemes that rely on endless bailouts from the taxpayer,” he says. “That will only indebt us further, and all the jobs they temporarily create will disappear when taxpayer money runs out.” [node:read-more:link]

Canada blocks bulk drug exports

Responding to a U.S. plan to import of Canadian prescription drugs from Canada in a bid to reduce prices in the U.S., Canada has blocked bulk exports which would result in domestic shortages. “Companies will now also be required to provide information to assess existing or potential shortages, when requested, and within 24 hours if there is a serious or imminent health risk,” says Health Minister Patty Hajdu. [node:read-more:link]

Economic rebound deceptive

Statistics Canada says the economy grew by a record annualized 40.5 per cent in the third quarter as businesses came out of COVID-19 lockdowns. While it represented a sharp turnaround from a record drop in the previous quarter, real gross domestic product remains shy of where it was before the pandemic erupted in March. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: transparency questioned

Is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s stated commitment to greater transparency not applicable to his government’s spending on its COVID-19 campaign? “The government has not been transparent about which of the big businesses, some of whom are extremely profitable during this pandemic, have actually been receiving these significant amounts of money,” says Peter Julian, the New Democratic Party’s finance critic in the House of Commons, commenting on a report that only a few departments have provided details. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: the long-term care challenge

Provincial governments are being urged to adopt widespread surveillance testing as part of their response to COVID-19. The advice comes in an independent review commissioned by Revera, which operates seniors’ residences and long-term care facilities across the country. The review was led by Dr. Bob Bell, a former Ontario deputy health minister, and involved international and national public health experts who also volunteered their time. [node:read-more:link]

Pipeline challenge struck down

The British Columbia government’s attempt to regulate what can flow through commodity pipelines, especially an oil pipeline expansion project planned by Crown-owned Trans Mountain, was struck down 16 January by the Supreme Court of Canada. The case essentially boiled down to which level of government has constitutional jurisdiction. [node:read-more:link]

Disaster bills rising rapidly

The cost to the federal government of dealing with natural disasters would indicate that Canada continues to be seriously affected by climate change. Public Safety Canada says the amount was $309.5 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year compared with $494.9 million a year earlier and $485.8 million in 2016-2017. The average in the five previous years was $360 million, which was triple the average in the five years before that. [node:read-more:link]

Higher policing costs inevitable

The head of the new Royal Canadian Mounted Police union, the National Police Federation, expects to begin negotiations in a few weeks. Brian Sauvé says pay, benefits and resources are the top concerns – which implies higher costs not only federally but also for other levels of government that rely on the RCMP for services. [node:read-more:link]

Orphan wells a major expense

Alberta’s auditor general plans to investigate how the province has been left to clean up 3,406 oil and gas wells left behind by bankrupt companies and why an arm’s-length government agency failed to address the situation. An additional 94,000 inactive wells in the province also could require remediation at public expense. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian government IT risk

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been advised that federal computer systems used to deliver a range of programs are on the brink of collapse. Redacted briefing notes released in response to an Access to Information Act request warn that “mission critical” systems and applications are “rusting out and at risk of failure.”  [node:read-more:link]


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