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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Taxes, taxes and more taxes for Canadians!

   Canada column for Sunday, April 29/12


   (c) By Jim Fox

   Canadian families earning an “average income” spend more each year on taxes than on the basic necessities of life, a public policy report says.
   The Fraser Institute concludes that over the past 50 years, an average family's total tax bill has increased by 1,738 percent.
   Over the same period, the cost of shelter increased by 1,185 percent, food by 518 percent and clothing by 500 percent, it said.
   “Taxes from all levels of government make up the single-largest expenditure facing Canadian families,” said Charles Lammam, the “think tank’s” associate director of tax and budget policy research.
   The report concludes that the average family's income, at $74,233 last year, has increased significantly over the past five decades while the average tax bill has grown even more to $30,792 or 41.5 percent of family income.
   In 1961, the average Canadian family earned $5,000 and paid $1,675 in taxes, representing 33.5 percent of family income.
   The situation could get worse “unless governments take serious steps to reduce spending and eliminate their deficits," Lammam said.


   A sled-dog operator will stand trial for killing dozens of husky dogs in Whistler, British Columbia.
   Authorities are proceeding with an animal cruelty charge against Robert Fawcett who worked for Outdoor Adventures.
   The dogs were brutally killed and put in a mass grave after they were no longer needed when tourism waned after the Winter Olympics in 2010.
   Investigators exhumed the bodies of 54 dogs last year in the “largest animal investigation that we’ve ever conducted,” said Marcie Moriarty of the British Columbia
   A memorial for the slain dogs, which are believed to number more than 100, is to be held this summer, she said.


   News in brief:
   - Canadian military forces could be staying in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he is considering that option if it’s “in the best interest of this country and in the best interest of our security objectives for the globe.” There are reports the Pentagon wants Canada to consider leaving a contingent there to continue training Afghan troops.
   - The socialist New Democrats worked out a compromise deal with Ontario’s minority Liberal government to prevent another election. The Liberals agreed to a New Democratic Party demand to “tax the rich” so its budget bill would pass. The government will add a two-percent surtax on those with incomes exceeding $500,000 a year to help pay down the deficit.


   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar soared higher Friday to $1.0196 in U.S. funds while the U.S. greenback returned 98.07 cents Canadian.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 12,212 points and the TSX Venture index 1,411 points.
   Lotto 6-49: (April 25) 15, 18, 26, 33, 36 and 39; bonus 35. (April 21) 2, 8, 10, 20, 28 and 38; bonus 29. Lotto Max: (April 20) 14, 15, 16, 19, 30, 36 and 46; bonus 42.


   Regional briefs:
   - All polls said it was a sure thing that Alberta’s Wildrose party would easily win last Monday’s provincial election, but that didn’t happen. Premier Alison Redford won a decisive victory with 61 Conservatives elected. Leader Danielle Smith and her right-wing Wildrose party had 17 members elected. The Liberals won five seats in the Legislature while the New Democrats had four members elected.
   - Ontario has received a downgrade to its debt rating. Moody’s Investors Service cited the cash-strapped province’s growing $15-billion deficit this year and risks in achieving its fiscal plan. The downgrade is to Aa2 with a stable outlook from Aa1 with a negative outlook affects $202 billion in debt securities. Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said it won’t have a significant impact on finances, the ability to borrow or pay interest.
   - Time will tell if Canadian kids are still happy over “Happy Meals.” McDonald's Canada is adding yogurt and a choice of apple slices or new mini-sized French fries in an effort to reduce sodium and offer more nutritious options. “We're supporting parents in encouraging their children to enjoy foods that are good for them,” said John Betts, president and CEO.


Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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