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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Budget surplus expected lower with tax cuts, benefits for families in Canada



   Canada column for Sunday, Nov. 16/14

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   Income tax cuts and higher child benefits for Canadian families will result in a smaller federal budget surplus next year than was previously predicted.
   Instead of a projected $6.4-billion surplus, the Conservative government now estimates it will be $1.9 billion.
   Finance Minister Joe Oliver said it is important the government is “providing families this financial relief” as costs continue to rise.
   He now expects a $2.9-billion shortfall this fiscal year but surpluses will then follow for at least five consecutive years.
   Heading into a federal election next year, the government will implement a promised income-splitting plan for families.
   This will allow parents to split up to $50,000 of income to reduce the household’s income tax bill by a maximum of $2,000 a year.
   There will also be an expanded benefit of $160 a month per child through five years of age, up from $100, and a new $60-a-month payment for children from six to 17, starting next year.
   Prime Minister Stephen Harper has also hinted the government will increase the annual limit on tax-free savings accounts to $10,000 from $5,500.


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   Remembrance Day activities across Canada took on an even-more somber tone this year, paying tribute to two recently killed soldiers in would-be terrorist attacks.
   Corporal Nathan Cirillo, an honor guard at the National War Memorial, was killed by a gunman who then entered the Parliament Buildings and was killed.
   Warrant Officer Patrick Vincent died when he and another soldier were run down in Quebec by a man expressing jihadist sympathies.
   Governor General David Johnston speaking at the war memorial said “the very symbols of our peace and freedom were violated” by the attacks.

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    News in brief:
   - Canada is expanding its restrictions on people arriving from Ebola-affected countries. Those travelers, including returning health-care workers, will have to undergo a formal 21-day monitoring period and some will be told to stay at home during that time. Previously, such people have been interviewed by quarantine officers at their point of entry.
   - Canada’s Competition Bureau has approved a $4-billion deal by Manulife Financial Corp. to buy the Canadian operations of Standard Life. The deal is expected to close early next year for Standard that has about 2,000 employees across Canada, largely in Quebec. Manulife is Canada’s largest life insurance company.

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   Facts and figures:
   Canada’s dollar is higher at 88.61 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.1284 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate is unchanged at 3 percent.
   Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 14,814 points and the TSX Venture index 772 points.
   The average price of a liter of gasoline is higher at $1.1609 (Canadian).
   Lotto 6-49: (Nov. 12) 2, 17, 20, 41, 42 and 44; bonus 4. (Nov. 8) 3, 9, 10, 28, 34 and 40; bonus 46. Lotto Max: (Nov. 7) 1, 3, 6, 8, 14, 20 and 30; bonus 28.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Alberta Premier Jim Prentice plans to meet with aboriginal chiefs from the oilsands region to discuss land use, environmental and health concerns. Native groups are upset over policies on development that have led to lawsuits. Prentice said it will be better to work things out than to leave it to the courts.
   - Robert Ghiz is quitting as Premier of Prince Edward Island as there is speculation he will run for the federal Liberals. Ghiz has served for 12 years and said he wants to leave now to allow the new leader time to prepare for the election next October.
  - The Ontario government is expanding its no-smoking restrictions to bar and restaurant patios, playgrounds and sports fields beginning next year. The aim is to “protect children and youth from the harmful effects of smoking, Associate Health Minister Dipika Dameria said. It will also be illegal to sell tobacco products on university and college campuses and candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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