Yes, climate change is a crisis: surveys

The results are in.

After many people were buzzing about a new Angus Reid poll that concluded most Canadians believe the country faces a crisis due to a lack of pipelines, we did a few informal surveys of our ownto ask the public some questions that we felt had been left out.

Twenty-four hours later, we have received about 800 votes and have some overwhelming results.

We must admit that our tongues were firmly planted in our cheeks as we proceeded, but we believe that these issues are no laughing matter. And while our own poll wasn’t scientific, we’d challenge Angus Reid to do the same survey with our questions (we used a similar wording to what they used but changed the topic) and see what happens.

Now one question we didn’t ask was about how all of the issues surrounding pipelines relate to Indigenous rights, protected under the Constitution. We made a deliberate choice not to include it as a poll question because we don’t think that human rights are the sort of issue that should be decided based on a popularity contest.

In fact, history has shown us that rights need to be enshrined in our laws to protect the minority.

In the meantime, here are our results.

Out of 223 votes, 86 per cent of the respondents said that the Alberta Energy Regulator’s internal estimate of $260 billion in financial liabilities for the oilpatch is a “crisis.”

Out of 182 responses, a whopping 96 per cent said that a recent scientific assessment by the United Nations IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) that said the world had only 12 years left to prevent some of the worst impacts of climate change is a “crisis.”

Out of 193 responses, 89 per cent said that the Ontario government’s recent decisions to cancel green energy policies is a “crisis.”

And finally, out of 181 votes, 96 per cent said that the fact that large portions of Canada’s forests are at risk of dying off as climate change aggravates wildfires, droughts and infestations is a “crisis.”

Have we mentioned yet that the Insurance Bureau of Canada has just sent out some warnings about a new report that estimated severe weather caused $1.9 billion in insured damage in 2018?

“Climate change is costing Canadian taxpayers, governments and businesses billions of dollars each and every year,” said Craig Stewart, vice-president of federal affairs for the Insurance Bureau of Canada, in a statement. “We must take the necessary steps to limit these losses in the future. The cost of inaction is too high.”

Are the billions of dollars in losses from climate-related catastrophes a “crisis or not?”

Well, as Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips wrote on Twitter, this is the “Insurance Bureau of Canada, everybody.”

Read more here:

 

Alberta Has Spent $23 Million Calling BC an Enemy of Canada

By Bryan Carney Today | TheTyee.ca

The Alberta government has spent more than $23 million — twice as much as previously revealed — in a campaign designed to turn the rest of Canada against B.C., The Tyee has learned.

The “KeepCanadaWorking” ad and PR campaign’s top “principle” states, “This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada,” according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

The documents show how an “ethnic campaign” targeted residents of the Lower Mainland, Toronto suburbs and Ottawa who speak “Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino, Punjabi.”

Work first began in January, 2018 to create the campaign that promotes expanding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the volume of Alberta bitumen sent through the port of Vancouver.

The Alberta government has spent more than $23 million — twice as much as previously revealed — in a campaign designed to turn the rest of Canada against B.C., The Tyee has learned.

The “KeepCanadaWorking” ad and PR campaign’s top “principle” states, “This is not B.C. vs. Alberta, this is B.C. vs. Canada,” according to documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

The documents show how an “ethnic campaign” targeted residents of the Lower Mainland, Toronto suburbs and Ottawa who speak “Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Filipino, Punjabi.”

Work first began in January, 2018 to create the campaign that promotes expanding the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which would triple the volume of Alberta bitumen sent through the port of Vancouver

Here’s how CPP, EI and small business taxes are changing in 2019

Global News: By 

Your paycheque might see an adjustment come 2019 as new Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) rates kick in.

For many Canadians, the changes will be slight, considering CPP’s cut is rising while EI is falling.

Small business owners will see additional changes: the tax rate is set to fall, but passive investment income will be taxed more heavily.

Here’s a breakdown of some of Canada’s 2019 tax changes.

EI premium rate lowers thanks to strong employment numbers

Canada’s unemployment rate has dropped to 40-year lows, resulting in reduced demand for EI and allowing Ottawa to shrink the amount it collects to keep the fund afloat.

EI rates that employees pay are dropping by four cents per $100 of insurable earnings from $1.66 to $1.62. In Quebec, the rates are dropping five cents per $100 of insurable earnings from $1.30 to $1.25.

The amount employers contribute, which is 1.4 times what employees pay, will also be reduced.

The changes, announced in September, go into effect Jan. 1.

“This will be the lowest EI premium rate since 1980 — and for most Canadian workers, the lowest they have paid since entering the workforce,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a joint statement.

The EI rate is set by a commission that has been in place for 75 years. The rate is adjusted according to a seven-year break-even mechanism that aims to provide stable rates as well as to ensure the premium collected goes only to EI purposes.

CPP set to increase annually 

The CPP is being “gradually enhanced” over the next seven years by way of increased contributions — meaning you gradually pay more now in order to get more later on. The overall aim is to grow the amount you will receive to one-third of average work earnings, up from a quarter.

In 2019, the amount you contribute will increase to 5.1 per cent, up from 4.95 per cent, for earnings between $3,500 and $57,400. These contributions are matched by your employer.

Here’s how much that works out to, according to a Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) estimate:

  • Someone earning $27,450 will pay $36 more annually,
  • Someone earning $55,900 will pay $79 more annually,
  • Someone earning $85,000 will pay $83 more annually.

The changes will only impact those currently paying into CPP. Eligibility for CPP is not impacted, nor is the amount people are currently receiving.

You can see how much EI and CPP you are likely to pay by using the Government of Canada’s online payroll deductions calculator.

The EI and CPP changes will likely make the biggest impact on small businesses and self-employed Canadians, says Monique Moreau, VP of national affairs at the CFIB.

“What the Canadian may see on their pay stub may not seem like a lot to them but they’re not seeing the other end of it, which is what their employer pays on their behalf,” said Moreau.

“You have to keep in mind that anyone who is self-employed actually pays it twice…so those business owners are going to be feeling it even more.”

Small business tax changes

Small business owners are set to get a tax break this year by way of a reduced overall tax rate, falling to nine per cent from 10 per cent.

This will result in annual savings of $7,500 for small businesses, according to CFIB.

Meanwhile, a businesses’ income over $50,000 from passive investments such as real estate, stocks and bonds will be hit with higher taxes. The more a business holds, the more their small business deduction limit will be reduced.

With these changes, along with new carbon taxes, Moreau predicts that it’ll be over a year from now when business owners find themselves “holding the bag” over these “complicated tax changes.”

“We know that the average small business owner doesn’t know a lot about these changes,” said Moreau.

“While it may not impact a whole many of them, the government hasn’t done a particularly great job in communicating what those changes mean to business owners who do use it.”

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.

Irregular migrants on track to cost Canada almost $400 million, watchdog says

By Teresa Wright

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Asylum seekers who entered Canada irregularly last year will cost federal organizations $340 million an amount projected to balloon to almost $400 million by the end of 2019, the federal budget watchdog says.

A report Thursday from the parliamentary budget officer calculates the average cost of each irregular migrant who arrived in Canada between April 2017 and March 2018 at $14,321.

The PBO projects that costs will rise to $16,666 in the fiscal year ending March 2020 because of extensive wait times for migrants waiting to complete the entire asylum claim process, “leading to greater expenses for federal health insurance costs.”

The actual amounts can vary depending on how long asylum seekers wait for their refugee claims to be finalized, budget officer Yves Giroux wrote in his report. For instance, claimants accepted at their first hearing will cost the country less, those who exhaust all legal avenues and are eventually removed from Canada will cost more.

But Giroux warned that $340 million could become an annual cost if Canada doesn’t seen any decrease in the number of irregular asylum seekers.

Canada has experienced an influx of irregular migrants along the border with the United States since early 2017, shortly after the Trump administration took steps to end temporary protected status for tens of thousands of migrants living in the U.S.

Since then, almost 35,000 asylum seekers have filed refugee claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board _ Canada’s arms length agency that deals with refugee claims and appeals. Many claimants have avoided official border checkpoints where they would have been turned back to the U.S. under the Safe Third Country agreement between the two countries.

The PBO says this influx has placed “significant pressure” on federal resources, leading to major delays in processing times for refugee claims.

Last year, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) had the capacity to hear 24,000 claims per year, but received more than 52,000 total new asylum claims half of which were from irregular migrants.

The federal government promised $173 million over two years to address rising costs, but Giroux said the growing backlog of claims shows it is not enough money.

“It’s a bit like shooting yourself in the foot to under-fund the IRB and other government agencies, because these kinds of savings end up increasing federal costs. So the savings, in terms of claims processing, end up costing more,” he told reporters in French.

Conservative immigration critic Michelle Rempel has been calling on the Liberals to close a loophole that exists in the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which is believed to be a major factor in the spike of irregular border crossings.

She blamed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for causing the spike when he published a tweet in January 2017 in which he welcomed fleeing migrants to Canada in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants.

“It just blows my mind that between 2017 through next fiscal year, this prime minister is choosing to spend $1.1 billion on essentially what amounts to the abuse of our asylum system. Some of the numbers in here are absolutely shocking,” Rempel said in response to the PBO report Thursday.

Ontario has pegged its provincial costs for dealing with irregular migrants at $200 million. Quebec did not provide the PBO with its cost estimate, but Giroux said they likely face similar financial pressures as Ontario.

Giroux said federal figures suggest costs for provinces and territories are at least the same amount as those incurred by the federal government.

Conservative MP Larry Maguire asked Giroux to analyze the current and projected costs of dealing with an influx of irregular migrants who have been crossing through non-official entry points along the Canada-U.S. border since 2017.

Maguire, a member of the Commons immigration committee, said he turned to the PBO for help after not getting answers from the Liberals on the total costs of “illegal immigrants” entering Canada.

“As parliamentarians, we have been repeatedly stonewalled by the Liberals on what the total costs have been to taxpayers. Today we finally have those numbers and… they’re very staggering,” he said at a press conference.

CMHC declares dividend of $1.175B payable to the Government of Canada

The Board of Directors for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has approved a dividend of $1.175 billion to its shareholder, the Government of Canada. The dividend is payable by February 28, 2019.

For the first time, CMHC’s dividend includes $175 million from its securitization business. CMHC has now declared $4.175 billion in dividends so far this year.

CMHC manages its mortgage insurance and securitization activities on a commercial basis. The premiums and fees collected from these activities cover all related expenses while generating a reasonable return for its shareholder, the Government of Canada.

The dividend balances returning excess capital to the Government, while retaining sufficient capital to protect against housing market risks. Our dividend framework is informed by our risk appetite, stress testing and scenarios analysis. We intend to continue to return excess capital to the Government while establishing a dividend that allows us to maintain capital in line with our long-term capital needs.

CMHC’s intention is to continue declaring dividends on a quarterly basis, subject to approval by our Board of Directors.

Associated links:

As Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC contributes to the stability of the housing market and financial system, provides support for Canadians in housing need, and offers unbiased housing research and advice to all levels of Canadian government, consumers and the housing industry. For more information, follow us on TwitterYouTubeLinkedInFacebookand Instagram.

SOURCE Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

For further information: Audrey-Anne Coulombe, Media Relations, 613-748-2573, acoulomb@cmhc-schl.gc.ca

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