Monthly Archives: November 2016

Justin Trudeau’s big infrastructure mistake

port-mann-bridge-construction

It is a mistake to have private asset managers invest in projects funded by a new infrastructure bank expecting a return of 7-9% when the government can borrow long-term at 2%.

November 14 was a big day for the Trudeau government’s infrastructure plans.

In the afternoon, Prime Minister Trudeau attended a “summit” for foreign investors focussing on investment in areas like infrastructure, technology, natural resources, and renewable energy.

The summit was hosted by Blackrock Capital Investment Corporation, the world’s largest asset management company with $5.1 trillion dollars under management. All told, BlackRock brought two dozen of its clients to Toronto from around the world to meet with Trudeau. Blackrock clients include many of the world’s largest pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and other institutional investors.

Cabinet ministers attending the event included Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr, Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains, Minister of Infrastructure Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly, and Minister of Health Jane Philpott.

Earlier in the day, the Liberals met with Canadian institutional investors such as the CPP Investment Board, the Caisse de dépôt , Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, OMERS, and Brookfield. Continue reading

Is a flat rate option for hydro coming to Ontario?

 

Ontario Morning News Round-up and Legislative  Agenda for Nov. 29.

Ontario News Round-Up for November 29.

  • On Monday, Ontario Energy Minister Glen Thibeault raised the possibility that consumers could opt out of time-of-use pricing for flat rates or other billing plans. Details will come in the government’s updated long-term energy plan being developed now with input from the industry and consumers. It will be released next spring, with any measures taking until after the 2018 election to be implemented.
  • Ontario will become the first province to launch pilot projects for self-driving cars. There will be two groups involved in the trials. BlackBerry’s QNX software development subsidiary and the University of Waterloo will work with Ford Motor Co’s Lincoln cars, while Erwin Hymer Group will test one of Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz vans, according to an Ontario government statement.
  • In a report tabled at Queen’s Park Monday, the Financial Accountability Officer projected a budget deficit of $5.2 billion this year and $2.6 billion in 2017-18. That’s in contrast to the government’s fall economic statement that forecast a $4.3 billion shortfall in 2016-17 and a balanced budget in 2017-18. The budget watchdog operates independently of the government and reports directly to the legislature.
  • According to the Toronto Star, officials in PC leader Patrick Brown’s office misled former Star reporter Richard Brennan over whether former MPP Garfield Dunlop was offered a job to resign his seat in order to allow Brown to contest a by-election and enter the legislature.

Ontario Op-Eds and Editorials

  • Martin Regg Cohn, citing Air Miles’ practice of wiping out points if they haven’t been used in five years, says that Ontario should ban the practice as they did the expiration date for gift cards.
  • In an editorial, the Star says that the City of Toronto’s anti-poverty plan needs to be fully funded to deal with the City’s growing poverty problem.

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Search up-to-date Canada Fact Check databases for the full text, approval status, committee hearings and other details of all Ontario bills from the current session here!___________________________________________________________________________________

Projected Ontario Legislative Business for Tuesday, Nov. 29

Main Chamber Business

9:00 a.m. – Third Reading of Bill 28, An Act to amend the Children’s Law Reform Act, the Vital Statistics Act and various other Acts respecting parentage and related registrations. Watch Live!

10:45 a.m. – Question Period. Watch Live!

3:30 p.m. – Second Reading of Bill 70, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various statutes. Watch Live!

Ontario Legislature Committee meetings

9:00 p.m. – The Standing Committee on Government Agencies will meet to consider intended appointments.

4:00 p. m. – The Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills will meet to consider Bill 47, An Act to amend the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 with respect to rewards points. A full list of presenters is here.

Ontario NDP Bill on Domestic Violence Gets Support of Minister, Unions

Ontario Morning News Round-up and Legislative  Agenda for Nov. 28.

Ontario News Round-Up

  • NDP MPP Peggy Sattler seems to have the support of Ontario Labour Minister Dennis Flynn for her Bill 26. The bill was reffered to the Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly after receiving approval at Second Reading on October 20.   Bill 26 would amend both the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include up to 10 days of paid leave and accommodation for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Meanwhile, the Ontario Federation of Labour is directing the 54 unions under its umbrella to negotiate paid leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in all collective agreements

  • The Ontario Government has announced that Howard Sapers, Canada’s correctional investigator, will be taking on the job of reforming Ontario’s troubled corrections system. On Jan. 2, Mr. Sapers will start as an independent adviser to the provincial government tasked with leading an external review of segregation policies.
  • The debate continues over the best way to implement toll roads in Toronto. Most experts agree that that a dynamic pricing model puts a fairer price on the road, which is more in demand at certain times of day than others. However, Toronto Mayor John Tory seems to favour a flat, $2 toll.

Ontario Op-Eds and Editorials

  • Martin Regg Cohn takes a shot at Provincial Conservatives for opposing road tolls when their former leader (John Tory), has come out for them.
  • Christina Blizzard says that there is a warning to the provincial Liberals in the fact that 127 new private schools have opened since 2015 — many of them faith-based.
  • David Reevely echoes Cohn in criticizing Patrick Brown’s Conservatives for their opposition to road tolls.

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Search up-to-date Canada Fact Check databases for the full text, approval status, committee hearings and other details of all Ontario bills from the current session here!___________________________________________________________________________________

Projected Ontario Legislative Business for Friday, Nov. 28

Main Chamber Business

10:45 a.m. – Question Period. Watch Live!

1:30 p.m. – Second Reading of Bill 70, An Act to implement Budget measures and to enact and amend various statutes. Watch Live!

Ontario Legislature Committee meetings

2:00 p.m. – The Standing Committee on General Government will meet to discuss Bill 45, An Act to amend certain Acts with respect to provincial elections.

2:00 p. m. – The Standing Committee on Social Policy will meet to consider Bill 7, An Act to amend or repeal various Acts with respect to housing and planning. A full list of presenters is here. Watch Live!

Ontario Morning News Round-Up and Legislative Agenda for November 25

Ontario Morning News Round-up for November 25

  • On the same day Toronto Mayor John Tory called for $2 tolls for the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway and a new tax on hotel rooms, a City  staff report called for the implementation of a far broader range of revenue generators.
  • The Ontario Government has announced its next step in its ongoing efforts to reduce the gender wage gap – it’s creating a new working group  to advise it on the issue. The new group will provide guidance on how government can address specific issues and initiatives identified in the Gender Wage Gap Final Report, including:
    • Shared parental leaves;
    • A gender workplace analysis tool;
    • A social awareness strategy to help understand the effects of gender bias, the gender wage gap and the importance of closing the gap; and
    • Reviewing pay equity legislation.
  • The Ontario Federation of Labour is directing the 54 unions under its umbrella to negotiate paid leave for survivors of domestic and sexual violence in all collective agreements. The OFL was at Queen’s Park Thursday to talk with Labour Minister Kevin Flynn about enshrining such leave. NDP MPP Peggy Sattler currently has a private members’ bill at committee. Her Bill 26 would amend both the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include up to 10 days of paid leave and accommodation for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Ontario Op-Eds and Editorials

  • Martin Regg Cohn believes that the constant accusations of corruption and criminality related to Liberal operatives’ activities in the Sudbury by-election that elected Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, cheapen Ontario politics.
  • Bob Rae supports Toronto mayor John Tory’s proposals for toll roads but says low and moderate income Ontarians must be protected. The Star’s lead editorial also supports the mayor’s proposal while Thomas Walkom warns that while Tory’s proposal should be supported, the history of transportation planning in Toronto is such, that things may still go awry.
  • Bob Hepburn outlines the Wynne Liberals’ three-pronged strategy for re-election in 2018.

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Search up-to-date Canada Fact Check databases for the full text, approval status, committee hearings and other details of all Ontario bills from the current session here!___________________________________________________________________________________

Projected Ontario Legislative Business for Friday, Nov. 25

Main Chamber Business

There is no House business scheduled for today.

Ontario Legislature Committee meetings

There are no Legislative committee meetings scheduled for today.

 

 

Federal News Highlights and Parliamentary Business for November 25

Federal Morning News Round-up

  • The Liberals have introduced new legislation that repeals changes the Harper government made to Canada’s Election laws. Amongst the changes being made under Bill C-33 are: the reinstatement of  voter information cards as identification; allowing vouching; and creating a national register of electors to pre-register youth aged 14 to 17.
  • According to anti-poverty group Campaign 2000, Canada’s child poverty rate has jumped from 15.8 per cent in 1989 when parliament passed a resolution to abolish child poverty, to 18.3 per cent today. According to its annual report, for those under age 6, the rate is almost 20 per cent nationally and closer to 45 per cent for young children in Nunavut.
  • Canada’s premiers intend to push the Trudeau government hard on increasing health care transfers when the Premiers meet the Prime Minister in two weeks ostensibly to talk about climate change.
  • The Liberals are admitting that more could be done to plug holes in the new CPP enhancement – but that does not include amending the bill that includes the omissions. Responding to pressure from New Democrats in the committee studying Bill C-26, regarding omissions that hurt Canadians who temporarily drop out of the workforce to raise their children or to cope with an illness, the government admitted there was a problem but promised only to consult with the provinces when federal and provincial Finance Ministers meet in December.

Op-Eds and Editorials

  • Gerry Caplan makes the case that despite ratifying the United Nations Convention against Torture in 1987, Canada is guilty of many of the practices banned in the convention. Caplan says that “Torture – physical, psychological or both – has been inflicted by our prisons and our security and intelligence services on many Canadians – a disproportionate number of them indigenous or people with a Middle Eastern background – as well as on foreign citizens”. Caplan gives as an example, Adam Capay, the young indigenous man kept in solitary for more than 1,500 days in an Ontario correctional facility.
  • Thomas Homer Dixon says Donald Trump is “a bizarre hybrid of an idiot savant and a Mafia don” and that these personality traits are likely to result in constant “bedlam”. You think?
  • John Ivison takes a swipe at the Trudeau Liberals’ “cash for access” fundraising tactics.

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Search up-to-date Canada Fact Check databases for the full text, approval status, committee hearings and other details of all Federal bills and regulations from the current session here!

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Projected House Business for Friday, Nov. 25:

Main Chamber Business

The House is meeting between 10:00 – 7:00 p.m. today.

  • 10:30 – Government Business – Second reading debate on Bill C-18 An Act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act and the Canada National Parks Act.  Watch Here!
  • 2:15 – Question Period. Watch Here!
  • 3:15 p.m.  – Government Business – Second reading debate on Bill C-30 – Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act. Watch Here!
  • 5:45 p.m. Private member’s Business. Bill C-274 – Mr. Caron (Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques) — An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (transfer of small business or family farm or fishing corporation). Watch Here!

Projected  House Committee Business for Friday, Nov. 25

  • There are no Committee meetings scheduled for today.

What’s really behind Ontario’s rising electricity prices

hydro-lines

Ontario’s high hydro prices reflect a breakdown in the Ontario Government’s electricity planning process resulting in contradictory policies that add to costs.

On September 12, the Ontario Government announced in its Throne Speech that it was rebating the provincial portion of the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) to residential and small business electricity users. The initiative is expected to cost $1 billion/yr. and is funded out of the provincial tax base. On September 15, Bill 13, the Ontario Rebate for Electricity Consumers Act, was tabled to implement the initative.

What the initiative means is that as of January 1, 2017, the Province will reduce residential and small business electricity bills by an amount equivalent to the 8% provincial portion of the HST.

 

Why the HST rebate benefits the affluent more than average hydro users

What is often overlooked is that the HST rebate provides a benefit proportionate to electricity spending meaning that the more you spend on electricity, the bigger your rebate. And, of course, the bigger your residence, the more you are likely to spend on electricity.

On September 27, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) issued a report showing that the burden of home energy costs, as measured by share of income spent on home energy, falls more heavily on lower income Ontario households in spite of their lower overall energy spending. In 2014, the lowest-income 20% spent on average 5.9% of their pre-tax income on home energy, while the highest-income 20% spent only 1.7%.

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