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Monday, January 2, 2017

Good news, bad for Canadian taxpayers in 2017



   (Happy New(s) Year!)

   Canada column for Sunday, Jan. 1/17

   THE CANADIAN REPORT
   (c) By Jim Fox

   There’s good news and bad for taxpayers supporting the Canadian and provincial governments as 2017 dawns.
   This give and take will help governments balance their books and provide more assistance for those in need.
   Nationally, higher-income earners will pay more but most Canadians will have more money to keep.
   The enhanced monthly Child Benefit payments led the federal government to end other child tax credits and there are changes to Employment Insurance benefits.
   Also gone is income splitting for families and changes affecting life insurance, business owners selling their companies and some mutual funds.
   Ontario residents will receive an 8-percent rebate on electricity bills but the climate change “cap-and-trade” fee will add about $6 a month to natural gas bills.
   The first-time homebuyers’ maximum land transfer tax refund will double to $4,000.
   British Columbia says goodbye to medical services plan premiums for children while Quebec bids adieu to its controversial health premiums.
   Alberta reduces its small business corporate income tax rate to 2 percent from 3 while the carbon tax on gas and oil will be offset with rebates for lower-income earners.
   Only cash-strapped Newfoundland and Labrador will raise income taxes along with provincial park and campsite fees.

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   Governor General David Johnston says it’s a time for Canadians to “reflect, reaffirm and look ahead.”
   Johnston, who represents Queen Elizabeth II in Canada, urged in his New Year’s address that everyone should make 2017, the country’s 150th birthday, a “legacy” year.
   “We have a rare, once-in-a-generation opportunity to think about Canada and to look to the future,” he said.
   “We're so fortunate to live in Canada, but there’s so much more work to do,” he added, urging Canadians to “continue to celebrate diversity . . . that has allowed us to build a society that is the envy of the world.”
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   News in brief:
   - Investigators are trying to determine what caused a Christmas Eve fire that killed a Toronto family of four at their cottage on Stoney Lake near Peterborough, Ontario. The million-dollar home burned to the ground killing Toronto lawyer Geoff Taber, his wife Jaquie Gardner, sons Scott, 15, and Andrew, 13, and their two dogs.
   - While 28 percent of Canadians surveyed by CIBC said debt repayment was the top financial priority, 48 percent said they don’t plan to cut back spending on non-essential items in order to meet their goals. The bank concluded that about half of Canadians aren’t taking “sufficient steps” to stay on top of their financial priorities.

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   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar has risen to 74.37 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.344 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 down at 15,330 points while the TSX Venture index is up at 760 points.
   The average price for gas in Canada has risen to $1.11 a liter or $4.21 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Dec. 28) 1, 5, 10, 15, 40 and 41; bonus 27. (Dec. 24) 15, 20, 23, 27, 39 and 48; bonus 34. Lotto Max: (Dec. 23) 1, 5, 11, 26, 28, 30 and 41; bonus 49.

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   Regional briefs:
   - Heavy snowfalls and high winds are hampering the search for two snowshoers missing in the backcountry near Cypress Mountain Resort in British Columbia. The search for Roy Lee and Chun Lam is in area that is also at risk for avalanches.
   - Investigators are trying to determine if excitement or boredom were at play after the arrests of three volunteer firefighters for setting blazes in Cape Breton. Gary Luker is the latest firefighter from the Florence Volunteer Fire Department to face arson charges for blazes set in vehicles, brush, abandoned buildings and two houses.
   - Only in Canada, eh. Jesse Myshak decided to make a stop for hot chocolate at the drive-through of Tim Hortons coffee shop on his way home in Stony Plain, Alberta. The thing was, he was driving his Zamboni, a big hockey rink ice-surfacing machine. “The staff told me it was the most Canadian thing they’ve ever seen,” he said.

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Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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