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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Canada's businesses get tax break; personal taxpayers pay more for jobless and pension benefits in the New Year

   Canada column published on Sunday, Jan. 1/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian businesses are getting a New Year’s bonus from the government while taxpayers will be paying more.
   Corporate tax rates are being lowered to 15 percent from 16.5 percent effective today in a bid to stimulate new investment and create jobs, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.
   The federal government is, however, increasing the amount deducted from personal paychecks for Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions.
   The increases to pay for jobless benefits and pensions result in a combined total of $306 a year more in payroll taxes. Employers will also pay more for their share for their employees.
   In order to head off a depletion of funds in the Employment Insurance program, a government-appointed committee had recommended an even higher rate increase.
   As well, the government is moving ahead with a plan to cut spending by $4 billion over the next several years to tackle the spending deficit now at $31 billion in the current year.


   Canada had its share of violent weather over the past year, with fires, floods and a disastrous tornado.
   There were massive floods in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec while Alberta had wildfires, crops were wiped out by too wet and too dry conditions and a tornado in Goderich, Ontario topped the list of weather stories.
   Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said it was a “difficult” year in the extremes and expenses caused by the weather.
   Fighting floods and helping those affected including the aftermath of a massive firestorm that destroyed about one-third of Slave Lake, Alberta cost governments about $1 billion.


   News in brief:
   - Retail analysts suggest there is new concern over the fate of Sears Canada as the retail market becomes more competitive, with the arrival next year of Target and less consumer loyalty. The closing of more than 100 Sears and Kmart stores in the U.S. hasn’t affected Canada’s outlets but Sears laid off 70 head-office employees in Toronto last month and lost about $47 million in the last quarter.
   - Police were looking for two young men who shot pepper spray injuring several shoppers on Boxing Day (Dec. 26) at Polo Park Shopping Center in Winnipeg. The mall was packed on the busiest shopping day of the year and numerous people said they had trouble breathing and seeing after the incident.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is higher at 98.32 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0170 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 1 percent while the prime lending rate is 3 percent.
   Values dropped by 11.9 percent over the past year on the Toronto Stock Exchange, with the composite index on Friday at 11,904 points, while the TSX Venture Exchange advanced to 1,472 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 1, 22, 28, 38, 47 and 48; bonus 29. (Dec. 24) 1, 18, 25, 26, 36 and 39; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (Dec. 23) 3, 4, 9, 25, 26, 37 and 39; bonus 45.


   Regional briefs:
   - A politician was among three people who died in ski hill mishaps in Western Canada. Deputy Reeve Rick Butler, 58, of Rocky View County near Calgary died after striking a tree while skiing with his daughters at Nakiska Ski Area. A 27-year-old Calgary man died when he struck a post while illegally snow tubing at night at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in British Columbia. A skier from Whistler trapped by an avalanche in the remote area of Pemberton, British Columbia has also died.
   - Two people were killed in a bizarre crash in Montreal after their pickup truck flipped over an overpass guardrail and was hit by an oncoming VIA Rail passenger train. Police said the driver lost control of the truck in a snowstorm and it landed on railway tracks as a train was approaching. Killed were Luigino and Vittorina Parissi of LaSalle.
   - Investigators believe a faulty light bulb caused a $40-million fire that destroyed the St. Clair Boathouse in Port Lambton, Ontario. The fire marshal said sparks likely set a boat on fire inside the building. The blaze destroyed 75 boats and four antique cars.
   - A ran whose foot was run over by a shopping cart wheel in Barrie, Ontario ended up calling police for assistance. Police said the man wasn’t satisfied with the apology a woman gave him after the incident so he wanted an officer to speak with her. Instead, police chided the man for making the 911 call for a non-emergency.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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