Economics & Finance & Trade

Key government bills passed by Senate

The federal government’s omnibus budget implementation bill and a couple of key pieces of legislation were approved by the Senate only a few hours before adjourning June 29 for the summer. Other bills that cleared the Upper House included one to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century and another to amend the Broadcasting Act. [node:read-more:link]

Climate change impact on infrastructure alarming

The annual cost of dealing with natural disasters attributable to extreme weather now averages $1.9 billion or nearly five times as much as a decade ago, and Natural Resources Canada says current efforts to address the impact on infrastructure are “insufficient in the face of rapidly accumulating social and economic losses” and “the window to reduce increasingly severe impacts is rapidly closing.” [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: weakness in EI system

A House of Commons committee is suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has disclosed flaws in the unemployment insurance system, saying in a June 17 report that EI “no longer reflects the realities of today's labour market.” The committee chairman says that when the pandemic erupted, “the system didn't have a chance of covering off the people that were thrown out of work through no fault of their own.” [node:read-more:link]

Procurement policy overhaul recommended

An all-party House of Commons committee says the government should give more weight to national security than costs of information technology and security hardware procurements. In its report to Parliament, the committee expressed concerns about Chinese state-owned enterprises and recommended more rigorous screening of contractors who install and maintain equipment in sensitive facilities such as embassies. [node:read-more:link]

EU has “carbon leakage” in crosshairs

Only weeks before the European Union is expected to impose globally-unprecedented carbon dioxide emissions costs on some imports, including ferrous metals, aluminum and fertilizers, Canada and the other G7 countries agreed June 13 to work together to address the risk that some countries’ climate policies could compel companies to relocate. “We need to address carbon leakage to create (a) global level playing field,” European Council President Charles Michel explained. [node:read-more:link]

Turkey announces plan to tackle slimy "sea snot"

A thick slimy layer of organic mucilage has spread through the sea south of Istanbul, posing a threat to marine life and the fishing industry. Turkey’s environment minister announced plans to make the entire Sea of Marmara a protected area, reduce pollution and improve treatment of waste water from coastal cities and ships which has contributed to the sea snot spread. [node:read-more:link]

COVID-19: Australia's conundrum

With COVID-19 infection rates near zero and life mostly normal, Australia has been one of the world's success stories during the global pandemic, having closed its borders early. However, it now seems that the prospect of restrictions remaining in place until mid-2022 is under attack as critics say it will cause long-term economic and societal problems. [node:read-more:link]

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]


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