Canada column for Sunday, Oct. 2/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Spending by the Liberal government elected last October has hit an “unprecedented rate,” a report by the “budget watchdog” says.
Jean-Denis Frechette, parliamentary budget officer, found that expenditures were nearly $3.4 billion, or 5.7 percent, higher in the first quarter of the fiscal year compared with a year earlier and the biggest increase in six years.
His report notes the cash included an additional $1.22 billion for infrastructure-related spending along with some leftover commitments made by the previous Conservative government.
First-quarter spending was $62.9 billion and also included more than $1 billion extra for higher child-benefit payments to families.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau said this has led to economic growth as the government promised to spend to stimulate the economy after a Conservative decade of low growth.
“We will continue to make those investments,” he said.
Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said 729 projects have been approved for funding and more than 60 percent of them are underway.
Rogers Communications, Canada’s largest publishing company, is taking four of its magazines out of print as revenues fall.
Canadian Business, Flare, MoneySense and Sportsnet will move to online only starting in January.
As well, magazines including Maclean’s, Chatelaine and Today’s Parent will reduce their number of print editions.
The weekly Maclean’s current affairs magazine will switch to monthly in print but keep a version online every week and its website and app.
The company said the decision reflects a 30-percent drop in the past year in print advertising revenue with ad money moving increasingly to digital.
News in brief:
- The first debate for candidates seeking to lead the Conservative party to succeed former Prime Minister Stephen Harper will take place on Nov. 9 in Saskatoon. The vote to select the winner will be held next May 27. In the race are six serving Members of Parliament: Maxime Bernier, Michael Chong, Tony Clement, Kellie Leitch, Deepak Obhrai and Andrew Scheer.
- The leaders of Canada’s provinces and territories are seeking a greater financial commitment from the federal government for health care. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said there would be a new long-term agreement but the leaders say limiting the increases to 3 percent a year is not enough.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 76.24 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.311 Canadian, before exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is steady at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 14,775 points while the TSX Venture index is down at 799 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.029 a liter or $3.91 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Sept. 28) 8, 11, 14, 19, 42 and 49; bonus 24. (Sept. 24) 2, 5, 17, 23, 33 and 47; bonus 9. Lotto Max: (Sept. 23) 3, 13, 24, 36, 39, 44 and 45; bonus 19.
- A teenager was arrested in the shooting death of Mylan Hicks, 23, a Calgary Stampeders’ football player, outside a nightclub. Nelson Lugela, 19, faces a count of second-degree murder. Police said there was an altercation involving several people inside the club that continued outside. Hicks was born in Detroit and played previously for Michigan State.
- Ontario’s minimum wage has risen to $11.40 an hour, up from $11.25 for the third consecutive annual increase. Labor Minister Kevin Flynn said it is one of the highest in the country. The socialist New Democrats want it raised to $15 an hour similar to what its provincial government in Alberta is planning within two years.
- Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, spent their last full day of a visit to Canada at the remote West Coast archipelago of Haida Gwaii. Formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, they took a canoe trip, did some fishing and were immersed in First Nation’s cultural history. They were accompanied by Haida warrior paddlers and drummers in the area that’s renowned for having some of the best salmon and halibut fishing in the world.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com