Federal tax changes come into effect as new year begins

OTTAWA _ The new year brings with it tax changes at the federal level that will affect just about every Canadian, as well as small businesses.

One of the first changes workers will see is an increase in Canada Pension Plan premiums coming off their paycheques the first of five years of hikes to pay for enhancements to the pension plan.

Employment Insurance premiums, on the other hand, will drop by four cents for every $100 of insurable earnings.

Meanwhile, the small business tax rate is going down from 10 to nine per cent. But changes to how much so-called passive income a small business can hold are also coming into effect, which is expected to push some businesses into paying a much higher corporate tax rate.

Also in 2019, low income workers can qualify for an increase in the Canada Workers Benefit. But they will have to wait until 2020 to receive the extra money.

The federal government’s new carbon pricing system will also come into effect in provinces that don’t have carbon pricing mechanisms of their own, resulting in higher costs for fossil fuels by April, and direct rebates to partly offset the increased costs.

Conservative Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer is already gearing up to make it an issue leading to the October federal election, calling 2019 the year of the carbon tax.

This Busy Holiday Travel Season, Air Canada Offers Up Tips To Make Your Journey A Smoother One

Follow these six steps to make your travel experience less stressful

MONTREALDec. 5, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – The busy holiday travel season is around the corner with a peak expected between December 19, 2018 and January 5, 2019. To make your travel experience as smooth as possible, Air Canada recommends these six essential travel tips.

1. Save time. Check-in 24 hours in advance.

Check-in online at aircanada.com, mobile.aircanada.ca or via the Air Canada app (be sure to download the app for iOS or Android). You can also select/change your seat, select the number of checked baggage and pay any baggage fees in advance.

Be sure to provide your contact information (email or mobile number) when checking-in (mobile‎/kiosk/web) so that we can contact you in case of travel disruptions.  If you’ve booked with a travel agent, please ensure they’ve included your contact information on your booking.

  • Travelling with kids under six? We’re here to help.
    • Look for Family Check-in signage at select airports (TorontoMontreal and Vancouver);
    • Kids under age 6 and their family board early, before general boarding. This means extra time to store belongings and settle in;
    • Once you have booked your tickets, contact us and we will assign seats for you and your kids under the age of 12 that are close together.

For added fun, you can register your child for Air Canada’s Skyriders (skyriders.aircanada.com) program to help them track their travels. Each child gets a Skyriders starter kit that consists of a friendly introduction letter, a sturdy luggage tag and a logbook to keep a record of each one of their flights.

More information on travelling with kids is available at aircanada.com/familytraveltips

2. Is your flight on time? Confirm online 24/7 at aircanada.com/flightnotification or via the Air Canada app.

You can stay informed of flight status for all Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express flights by signing up for Flight Notifications or calling the toll-free Air Canada flight status line at 1-888-422-7533; TTY (Hearing Impaired): 1-800-361-8071.

We also post a Daily Travel Outlook that lists possible flight disruptions due to forecasted weather or other events and provides a link to a self-service rebooking tool.

3. Arrive early. Here’s when: aircanada.com/deadlines.

Arrive early at the airport to be at the gate on time and avoid congestion that may occur during peak periods. If you are travelling to the US, please arrive 3 hours prior to departure to clear customs as well.

4. Review baggage rules. Here’s what to carry-on and check-in.

Check size and weight allowances when packing at aircanada.com/carryon as carry-on baggage will be screened and tagged. Information on checked baggage allowance is available at: www.aircanada.com/checked.

Consider bringing a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you as space in the overhead bins is limited. We also strongly recommend checking any bags that do not fit into our sizers to make the boarding process more efficient and prevent delays.

Bring all valuables including electronics, documentation, medication, car keys, money and jewelry in carry-on bags and not in checked bags.

Bag Tags – Place identification INSIDE bags as well as on the outside, as external baggage name tags sometimes become detached.

Gifts – when travelling with gifts in your carry-on, remember to keep them unwrapped to facilitate security inspection.

5. Check your documentation. Avoid unnecessary surprises before your vacation takes off. Ensure that all your travel documents are valid at: aircanada.com/traveldocumentation.

Travel within Canada

  • Customers must present a valid government-issued photo identification that includes date of birth and gender for all passengers 18 years of age and older.

Travel from Canada to an international destination

  • A valid passport, signed, with an expiration that meets the requirement of the destination country in required. Some countries require passports to be valid for at least 6 months or more before allowing a traveler to enter the country.
  • Visas may be needed to enter the country of destination and/or when connecting via certain countries. Check IATA Travel Centre search tool for country-specific passport, visa and health entry requirements. When using a third-party website or travel agent, take the extra step of verifying the requirements of your destination country.

Travel to Canada from an international destination

Canadian citizens

  • A Canadian passport for travel to Canada.
  • Dual nationals may no longer use a non-Canadian passport to arrive in Canada.

Friends and family from outside Canada

  • A reminder to visiting friends and family from outside Canada that the Government of Canada requires an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) that must be obtained prior to travel. More information is here: aircanada.com/eta.

Parents travelling with children

  • If passports are required, all children must have their own passport.  Remember that parents/legal guardians MUST NOT sign their child’s Canadian passport, as doing so invalidates it.
  • Visit IATA Travel Centre and Travel and Tourism Canada or contact the embassy high commission or consulate of all countries you and your child will be visiting to confirm all entry and exit document requirements.

6. Seamless travel to US. Here’s how.

Travelling to the USA

  • Air Canada customers flying to the US (from or via Canada) will clear US Customs at Canadian airports before their flight.  Our operations at all three primary Canadian hubs, Toronto (YYZ), Montreal (YUL) and Vancouver (YVR) are all under one roof with no terminal transfers, meaning connections are easy, comfortable and seamless.

Travelling from the USA

  • For our customers travelling from the U.S. through our hubs and onwards to any international destination, the seamless connection process and quick passport check means passengers don’t have to wait in customs lines, pick up bags or transfer terminals. Simply walk to the next departure gate.

For more information on connections, go here.

What else to know:

The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint lines can be longer during busy periods. The TSA recommends arriving at the airport two hours before departure if your flight is in the early morning or evening, when wait times for screening can be up to one hour. Members of Known Traveler Programs, such as Nexus or Global Entry, may experience normal wait times. Learn more here.

The United States requires that travellers provide additional Secure Flight information at least 72 hours before their flight or at time of booking. Please note that this requirement applies to many international flights which are deemed to over-fly the US. For more information, please consult aircanada.com/secureflight.

Eligible Air Canada customers enjoy the benefits of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s TSA Pre✓ program which provides accelerated security screening at most U.S. departure airports by allowing customers to keep shoes, belts and light outerwear on, and laptops and liquids in carry-on baggage. Learn more about TSA Pre✓ and how it applies to Air Canada flights.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2017 served more than 48 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 63 airports in Canada, 56 in the United States and 98 in Europe, the Middle EastAfricaAsiaAustralia, the CaribbeanMexicoCentral America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,317 airports in 193 countries. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax, which also named Air Canada the 2018 Best Airline in North America. For more information, please visit: aircanada.com/media, follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.

SOURCE Air Canada

Technology-driven client solutions top list of opportunities; regulatory risks loom large and pressure of disruption mounts

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Potato shortage looms due to ‘harvest from hell’ after unseasonable weather

By Aleksandra Sagan

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Farmers across Canada left thousands of acres of potato crops unharvested after a slew of bad weather created challenging conditions, setting the stage for a possible shortage of the starchy dinner table staple.

“It’s unprecedented. Never, never before have I seen this in my time,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), an organization that provides industry information to help farmers make production and marketing decisions. He’s been with the organization for seven years and, before that, grew potatoes in Prince Edward Island, where he still lives.

In typical years, one area of the country may suffer from a bad harvest, while others do OK, he said, but this year, the problems span almost all the way across the country.

Farmers abandoned about 16,000 acres of potato crop, according to the group’s most recent estimate, which did not include figures for Saskatchewan, Ontario or Nova Scotia, but indicated they also suffered some losses. B.C. is the only province that did not mention abandoned crops in UPGC’s report.

The group expects to have more precise figures soon, MacIsaac said, but is working with the best information it has now.

P.E.I., the country’s largest potato producer, suffered the most.

Farmers left about 6,800 acres unharvested. In a typical year, some 500 to 1,000 acres may be abandoned, said Greg Donald, general manager of the Prince Edward Island Potato Board, which represents the province’s nearly 170 growers.

The weather this year in the province was relentless.

First came a lacklustre growing season, with a late spring and hot, dry summer, said Donald, which was followed by an early frost in September that killed any future growth potential.

Then came copious amounts of rain, which delayed the end of harvest beyond the usual Halloween target date, and farmers pushed into November.

In early November, it rained one day and the ground froze solid the next, he said, meaning farmers could no longer dig for potatoes.

“Many have described it as the harvest from hell,” he said.

Unusual weather caused other provinces to suffer similar setbacks.

In Manitoba, some 5,200 acres remain unharvested, according to UPGC. While the province’s prospects for a good yield were strong going into harvest, rainfall followed by a cold spell resulted in thousands of abandoned acres, said MacIsaac.

Most farmers will have some type of insurance to cover a portion of their costs associated with the lost income, but it won’t cover the profit they would have made, he said.

The thousands of unharvested acres could mean a shortage of processing potatoes (those used to make products like french fries and hash browns) and table potatoes (those sold whole in grocery stores), both men said.

‘It’s going to be a real, you know, challenge,” said Donald, adding there’s not going to be enough local supply for the markets the province typically serves.

Compounding the problem is a similar situation in parts of the U.S., as well as parts of Europe where a dry season hurt yields, making for a more global shortfall.

While some growing areas in North America may have a shortage, others will have a surplus that can balance that out, said Terence Hochstein, executive director of the Potato Growers of Alberta.

His province abandoned about 1,000 acres, he said, which is more than he’d like, but pretty typical. It was able to send some potatoes to P.E.I. and Alberta to help, he said.

“Overall, I think the crop is going to be tight, but I think the industry will be alright.”

Still, consumers could ultimately see price hikes on potato products due to basic supply and demand principles.

When there’s less of a product, it’s going to be reflected in the price, Donald said, adding even the potatoes that have been harvested are not quite safe yet.

Potatoes are mostly water and harvesting them in wet conditions adds the risk of bringing extra moisture into storage, making them more difficult to dry and keep, he said.

“So that’s still a big concern as well.”

Insurance company continues to bill widow after she cancels husband’s auto policy

Losing her husband of 41 years to cancer last year was difficult enough for Maria Khoury.

“It’s not easy for me,” Khoury told Global News, explaining the subsequent problems she faced with her auto insurance company.

After the death of Eiwas Khoury in June 2017, the Vaughan, Ont., woman and her son sold the family’s car, which was listed in her husband’s name. That was a straightforward and easy process, they said.

But cancelling the auto insurance policy on the car turned out to be nearly impossible.

“They kept taking the money for almost 16 months,” Khoury said, describing how Aviva Canada was still withdrawing monthly insurance payments even after being told the car was gone and Khoury’s husband was deceased. Khoury and her son send Aviva a copy of his death certificate, but the deductions persisted.

The payments added up to about $1,900 on a car Khoury didn’t own for services she didn’t receive on a policy she explicitly didn’t want.

With the help of a friend, Khoury and her son called on Aviva’s ombudsman to refund the money once the company eventually stopped the deductions. The ombudsman did not order a refund.

“They gave me a hard time,” she said.

Instead, Khoury said, the ombudsman’s office suggested she could retain a lawyer if she wanted to pursue a claim.

Khoury, who lives on a modest pension, said that was not an option for her and that the payment to Aviva was a hardship.

A friend called Global News seeking help.

Responding to emails, Aviva originally told Global News it could not discuss the case, citing privacy, even though Khoury had provided authorization to discuss the matter.

“On an ongoing basis, Aviva Canada works to raise awareness among our customers about their insurance choices. In difficult times like this, when a loved one dies, we make every effort to help their family understand what steps are required to take care of their affairs. The same is true in this case. Aviva is working side-by-side with her to sort this out as quickly as we can,” said Aviva spokesperson Fabrice de Dongo in an email.

Aviva is one of Canada’s largest general insurance companies.

Pressed about why the company persistently made deductions from Khoury’s bank account even after she cancelled, Aviva Canada responded by announcing it would give back the money.

“Aviva Canada is pleased to let you know that we have spoken with Mrs. Khoury to let her know that we will be processing a refund of the full amount of the premiums, plus any administrative charges she may have incurred, that have been paid since Mr. Khoury’s passing. That refund is being processed electronically today,” de Dongo wrote in a follow-up email.

The resolution took 24 hours. Khoury had fought unsuccessfully alone with Aviva for 16 months.

Khoury is grateful to be getting her money back and to have the battle behind her.

“Thank you very much. I appreciate it. If it was not for you, the money was gone.”

If you’re counting money in Ottawa, that must sound pretty good. In Alberta, it doesn’t mean a thing.

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