Economics & Finance & Trade

COVID-19 support ending but extending

Several federal COVID-19 support programs for individuals and businesses end Oct. 23 but Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said today that an estimated $7.4 billion in new “targeted measures” will remain in effect until early May. She characterized them as the government’s “final pivot in delivering the support needed to deliver a robust recovery.” [node:read-more:link]

Inflation at 18-year high

Higher food and gasoline costs in September pushed the annual Consumer Price Index for the month to 4.4 per cent, which Statistics Canada said Oct. 20 was the highest since February 2003. Economists warn that inflation could hover near that level until at least the end of this year. [node:read-more:link]

Tax pact could yield billions for Canada

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada stands to collect as much as $4.5 billion annually through a deal with 135 other countries that will require major corporates to pay more in taxes. “There are still some final details being hammered out, so the numbers . . . are not exact,” she said Oct. 16. [node:read-more:link]

New hope for WTO?

The U.S. had little to no regard for the World Trade Organization in recent years but its top negotiator said today that the Biden administration believes the WTO is “a force for good” and “we want it to succeed. The Trump administration’s blockage of key appointments are widely blamed for the organization’s current paralysis on key global issues. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. border to reopen fully next month

The U.S. will open to all non-essential visitors from Canada and Mexico in November, lifting a 19-month COVID-19 ban. White House officials confirmed the decision Oct. 12, saying that all must provide proof of vaccination but they would not specify which vaccines would be acceptable or whether mixed doses would be compliant. [node:read-more:link]

Tax avoidance targetted

Canada and 129 other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development have signed an agreement to enforce a corporate tax rate of at least 15 per cent, an initiative they expect will generate additional annual revenues of more than $150 billion. The measure, still resisted by some smaller OECD members, is designed to address concerns that multinational companies reroute profits through low-tax countries. [node:read-more:link]

Feds pressed on coronavirus benefits

The federal government is “mindful” about the ongoing impact of COVID-19 but is so far noncommittal about further extension of economic support measures. “The fourth wave and the Delta variant are hitting parts of the country particularly hard, and we know government policy needs to be mindful of that,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said with the current measures set to expire this month. “We will provide economic support as needed,” she said, adding that “we’ll have more to say about the specifics soon.” [node:read-more:link]

Science-based approach to emissions

Some 1,600 businesses deemed to have the poorest emissions-reduction practices have been asked by investment fund managers to “urgently” set science-based targets. The companies have the equivalent of nearly $30 trillion in assets and the fund managers’ call comes just over a month before a UN global climate change summit in Scotland. [node:read-more:link]

Canada-China spat at UN

In the closing hours of the latest UN General Assembly Sept. 27, Canada and China traded diplomatic broadsides over the nearly three-year detenion of the “Two Michaels” which ended last week. Foreign Minister Marc Garneau reiterated suggestions that the two Canadians were jailed by China in retaliation for Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and a Chinese diplomat countered with accusations not only that Canada and the U.S. had detained Meng illegally but also were trying to thwart Chinese high-tech companies generally. [node:read-more:link]

No vaccination? Likely no job!

A number of major health care networks in Ontario are among the growing numbers of employers introducing their own workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies which exceed those put in place by the provincial government. The stricter approach means unvaccinated staff could either be suspended or dismissed without severance. [node:read-more:link]

The China challenge going forward

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said Sept. 26 that Canada’s “eyes are wide open” when it comes to normalizing relations with China in the aftermath of the “Two Michaels” standoff. He said the government is now following a fourfold approach of “coexist,” “compete,” “cooperate” and “challenge” as it addresses trade, climate change and human rights concerns. “There was no path to a relationship with China as long as the two Michaels were being detained.” [node:read-more:link]

Did China initiate “Two Michaels” return?

Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., said Sept. 26 that China initiated the dialogue which led to the release of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor after nearly three years. “Having felt for over 1,000 days incredible pressure from Canada [and] from our allies . . . I think the Chinese government decided that, you know, it was time to put this behind them and move on.” [node:read-more:link]

Biden pressed to reopen border

Four U.S. border-state senators have asked President Joe Biden to lift restrictions that have limited Canadians’ access since March 2020. Pressing for entry by Canadians vaccinated against COVID-19, they expressed concern about “economic and emotional strain in our communities” and question why land-crossings for non-essential travel have been in effect, Canadians still can fly to the U.S. [node:read-more:link]

Some immigrants an issue in Denmark

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark wants some migrants to be required to work for at least 37 hours a week if they want to continue receiving welfare benefits. She says the proposal, immediately criticized by some, is aimed at “non-Western” women in the hope of helping migrants to assimilate. “For too many years we have done a disservice to a lot of people by not demanding anything of them,” she says. [node:read-more:link]

Bank of Canada rate unchanged

As expected, the Bank of Canada left its key interest rate target untouched at 0.25 per cent Sept. 8, citing concerns about the fourth COVID-19 wave. It had announced some months ago that it would stay the course until the economy is ready to handle an increase, which is not expected until the second half of 2022. [node:read-more:link]


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