Canada column for Sunday, Dec. 11/16
THE CANADIAN REPORT
(c) By Jim Fox
Two Canadian provinces are developing a plan to provide its poorest residents with a basic income from the government.
Ontario is looking to launch its program – the first of its kind considered in North America in decades – next spring to provide a guaranteed annual income for people and families in need.
Now Prince Edward Island’s legislature has unanimously approved developing a similar pilot project with the federal government.
It was felt that such a plan would help families build their way back while reducing government bureaucracy.
Ontario named former senator Hugh Segal to study the options in a $25-million test project that could involve paying people $1,320 a month in place of welfare and Ontario Disability Support Program payments.
The PEI bill, introduced by Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker, was supported by the Liberal government and opposition parties.
“A universal basic income could enable the greatest unleashing of human potential ever seen,” Bevan-Baker said.
The pilot project would also help determine the costs of a guaranteed income and whether it would deter people from looking for work.
The fight against climate change is the “most important issue” of this generation, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden told Canadian politicians in his last official visit.
At a state dinner in his honor in Ottawa, Biden called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help the world as it moves through a period of deep uncertainty.
Other “consequential” issues of the times include the fight against terrorism and bolstering Eastern European allies against Russia, he said.
While not mentioning President-Elect Donald Trump by name, Biden spoke of uncertainty gripping Europe and the United States since Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and the recent presidential election.
“The changes that are going to take place are going to be astronomical,” he said.
Praising Canada as an ally and a friend, he said the country is something the U.S. needs more than ever.
News in brief:
- Viola Desmond, who is often called Canada’s Rosa Parks, will be the first woman to be depicted on the face of a Canadian bank note. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said she will be on the $10 bill series that goes into circulation in 2018. Morneau praised Desmond’s “dignity and bravery” for deciding to sit in a whites-only section of a Nova Scotia movie theater in 1946.
- Toronto politicians are considering a proposal by Mayor John Tory to impose tolls on two major highways in and out of the downtown core. Adding fees for the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway would provide money for transit expansion, road repair and ease congestion, he said.
Facts and figures:
Canada’s dollar has advanced to 75.89 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.317 Canadian, before exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate remains at 0.5 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
Stock markets are higher, with the Toronto exchange index at 15,317 points – an almost two-year high – while the TSX Venture index is at 749 points.
The average price for gas in Canada is higher at $1.025 a liter or $3.89 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
Lotto 6/49: (Dec. 7) 6, 7, 12, 32, 34 and 46; bonus 33. (Dec. 3) 3, 4, 7, 19, 30 and 48; bonus 21. Lotto Max: (Dec. 2) 5, 8, 20, 21, 29, 40 and 47; bonus 7.
- House prices and the number of properties being sold in Vancouver should fall next year due to a new tax on foreign buyers and revised mortgage regulations, the British Columbia Real Estate Association says. The average sales price will drop 8.7 percent to $940,000 from $1.3 million this year, it said. As well house sales will be off by 18.5 percent to 34,000 homes.
- O Christmas tree, Montreal has a much ridiculed one that even fell just short of claiming the title of North America’s tallest. The city’s “Charlie Brown Christmas tree” is a spindly, lopsided balsam fir that had its top clipped off during shipping. The 88-foot spectacle stands in the city’s Place des Festivals and has been the butt of jokes worldwide.
Jim Fox can be reached at email@example.com