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Best cellphone plans in Canada

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The high cost of cellphone plans in Canada is a gripe many of us have in common.

For years, we’ve heard about cheaper services that are easily accessible in other countries, while Canadians are left scouring plans and hoping to pinch pennies.

According to the 2019 Communications Monitoring report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), Canadians pay an average of $101 a month on cellphone plans, an increase of 9.7 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

Plans that include talk, text and at least 5 GB of data cost about $30 in the U.K., Italy and Australia, according to a 2018 review of wireless costs by the federal government. The review found these plans cost close to $90 in Canada.

 

And while there are some major differences in costs and data plans available compared to this time last year, experts who examined data provided by Global News say it’s more of the same: unreasonably high costs with not enough options.

News Media spoke to 18 wireless providers across the country to find out what it would cost to get a brand-new phone with at least 10 GB of data and unlimited texts and calls.

On each call, we asked for the following:

  • Plans for the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10+ that were $0 down
  • Unlimited texting and calling in Canada
  • At least 10 GB of data

In cases where the provider didn’t have these phones available or required the consumer to bring their own phone, we picked plans that could match the amount of data we were looking for, along with unlimited texting and calling.

This is what we found:

The Big Three’s plans in Canada

Graphic by Laura Whelan. Data collected by Global News. 

 

Why are the Big Three offering more data?

Rogers, Telus and Bell are known as the “Big Three” cellphone plan providers. They are national carriers and often have the most coverage across the country and provide the fastest networks, according to PC Magazine’s annual review of provider speeds.

It’s clear all three providers offered similar costs for both the iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10+ — Telus edges the other two out on the iPhone 11 by nine cents.

It’s important to note prices and plans may vary depending on the province or territory you live in, with plans in Quebec likely to be cheaper due to more competition there, said Rodrigo Samayoa, a digital campaigner with advocacy group OpenMedia.

You may also have to pay a sales tax on the devices up front, and costs will vary depending on where you live.

The Big Three providers also offered discounts if you contacted them directly and had additional promotions for longtime customers.

In last year’s report, Global News found all three providers offered 4 GB of data for the newest iPhone and Samsung models for the exact same costs as this year.

Samayoa says companies aren’t suddenly feeling generous. Rather, an increase in competitive rates from discount providers like Freedom and regional providers like Videotron and Eastlink has created more competition.

“Freedom was the first one to offer unlimited data, and the Big Three started to see that as a threat to their business model, especially in urban centres.”

 

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If you have an unlimited plan from one of these providers, the benefit is you won’t receive surprise overage fees, Samayoa says, but you may have to pay more for faster data speeds.

“What is a little bit misleading is how they’re called ‘unlimited plans,’” he said.

“After you reach the 10 GB, the speed that you’re getting is quite unusable for most modern applications, so it’s not truly unlimited data.”

 

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Those with lower data plans may want to pay more for the promise of “unlimited” data, said Ben Klass, a PhD student at Carleton University and part of the Canadian Media Concentration Research Project.

The Big Three are operating on a sophisticated LTE 4G network, considered one of the fastest speeds that can carry a lot of users at once, so they have room for “unlimited” data for customers, he said.

“What they’ve got right now is a network that’s got a lot of capacity … they can afford to do this because it doesn’t cost them anything,” he said.

For those who can afford it, the Big Three can be a good option if you need data and good cell service throughout Canada, said Klass. But he says these costs are not reasonable.

More than $100 for a phone plan that includes 10 GB of data, even with a brand-new phone, is “crazy,” he said.

Discount providers in Canada

cellphone plans

Graphic by Laura Whelan. Data collected by Global News. 

Discount plans are cheaper — but are they worth it?

Discount providers often offer cheaper plans, but availability depends on where you are in Canada. Discount providers will also offer further deals if you speak with an agent on the phone or chat.

 

When Global News spoke with Virgin Mobile, the company offered to wave “upfront fees” if the phone and plan were purchased on the spot.

Excluding possible one-time deals, Freedom clearly ended up with the cheapest plan, especially with a current offer that gives customers 20 GB of “unlimited” data.

Freedom’s network is also the strongest in major urban centres like Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, according to its website. The provider is continuing to expand to cities like Medicine Hat, Alta., and Kamloops, B.C., making it more accessible, PC Mag reported.


“Freedom is doing really well, but the problem is the other three companies have such a head start … that it’s hard for Freedom to expand outside of urban centres,” said Samayoa. “So for everyone else, it’s not an option.”

While the costs for specific iPhone 11 and Samsung Galaxy S10+ plans aren’t much cheaper with discount providers, these brands hold value for people with low incomes, he said.

“For some people, when it comes down to deciding whether to get groceries for the month or getting a nicer phone, they’ll get the groceries. So I think it’s important to have those lower-end plans,” he said.

Many discount providers, especially those owned by the Big Three (Rogers owns Fido, Bell owns Virgin and Telus owns Koodo), offer similar prices.

“[The Big Three] don’t want people to be able to go to one of their other brands and get the exact same thing for much cheaper,” Klass said.

Discount brands also offer cheaper plans if you’re willing to give up the data and a brand-new phone.

Fido or Koodo, for example, will offer more options, including government-mandated plans that force providers to offer between 250 MB and 1 GB of data per month for $15 to $30, said Klass.

“They’re just offering options to make sure they capture more of the market.”

 

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Regional providers in Canada 

Global News also spoke with some regional providers in the country to find their best rates.

VIDEOTRON (Quebec and Ottawa areas)

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $110 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB plus 100 GB to use if you go over throughout the year, with a limit of 20 GB extra per month
  • Unlimited calls and texts in Canada
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Setup fee: $25 (before taxes)

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan:

  • $110 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB plus 100 GB to use if you go over throughout the year, with a limit of 20 GB extra per month
  • Unlimited calls and texts in Canada
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Setup fee: $25 (before taxes)

SASKTEL (available in Saskatchewan

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $111.15 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB ($5 per each 100 MB over)
  • Unlimited calls and texts
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Setup fee: $35 (before taxes)

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan:

  • $116.15 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB ($5 per each 100 MB over)
  • Unlimited calls and texts
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Setup fee: $35 (before taxes)

EASTLINK (Mostly East Coast coverage)

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $112.63 per month (before tax)
  • Data: 10 GB (additional costs if you go over)
  • Unlimited texts and calls nationwide
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Setup fee: $10

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan:

  • $125 per month (before tax)
  • Data: 10 GB (additional costs if you go over)
  • Unlimited texts and calls nationwide
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Setup fee: $10

XPLORE (available in Manitoba)

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $105/per month (before tax)
  • Data: 10 GB (additional costs if you go over, $5/100 MB)
  • Unlimited text messaging from Canada
  • Unlimited Canada wide calling from Manitoba
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Setup fee: No activation fee

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan:

  • $150 up front (before tax)
  • $105/per month (before tax)
  • Data: 10 GB (additional costs if you go over, $5/100 MB)
  • Unlimited text messaging from Canada
  • Unlimited Canada wide calling from Manitoba
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Setup fee: No activation fee

TBAYTEL (available in Northern Ontario)

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $115 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 12 GB (extra charges after going over)
  • Unlimited texting in Canada or to the U.S.
  • Unlimited calling in Canada or to the U.S.
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Setup fee: $25 SIM card fee

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan:

  • $123.75 (before taxes)
  • Data: 12 GB (extra charges after going over)
  • Unlimited texting in Canada or to the U.S.
  • Unlimited calling in Canada or to the U.S.
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Setup fee: $25 SIM card fee

SOGETEL (Available in certain regions in Quebec)

iPhone 11 plan:

  • $80 down for the phone upfront
  • $105 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB a month (extra charges after going over)
  • Unlimited calls in Canada and unlimited texts
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • No activation fee in a current promotion

Samsung Galaxy S10+ plan :

  • $105 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB a month (extra charges after going over)
  • Unlimited calls in Canada and unlimited texts
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • No activation fee in a current promotion

ICE WIRELESS (available in the Yukon, Northwest Territories
*Global News picked a plan that offered a $0 down phone.

  • Samsung Galaxy S8 (only phone with $0 down)
  • $119 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 10 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Unlimited calls to Canada, U.S. and Mexico
  • Unlimited texts to Canada, U.S. and internationally

Regional providers are fighting for a share of the market 

Regional providers that cater services to those living in specific areas of Canada have been fighting for a share of the market for the last few years, said Klass.

Companies like Videotron have offered lower prices, forcing national companies to adjust their prices, he explained.

 

“They realize that these competitors are here to stay,” he said.

The downsides, similar to the discount networks, include limited coverage options.

“You might want to consider where you’re going to be most of the time with your phone,” he said. “If you spend half your time outside of their coverage area, then you’ll be roaming.”

“The big concern with these companies is that the coverage isn’t necessarily as good,” he said. “One of the big issues in this market is people getting unexpected bills.”

While the Big Three still dominate the Canadian market, taking up 90.7 per cent of the revenue market share for 2018, other providers not owned by the Big Three saw a 24.5 per cent revenue growth rate that year, according to the CRTC.

Bargain brands in Canada

Global News also looked at the cellphone plans of bargain brands in Canada. Most of them require the customer to bring their own phone.

PUBLIC

  • $50 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 8 GB at 3G speeds (with a bonus 500 MB if autopay is set up, $30 per extra 1 GB)
  • Unlimited talk and text in Canada and calls to the U.S.

CHATR:

  • $50 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: Unlimited 8 GB data at 3G speeds (speed reduces after 8 GB)
  • Unlimited text and talk in Canada and calls to the U.S.

LUCKY:

  • $50 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: Unlimited 8G data (speed reduces after 8 GB)
  • Unlimited texts and talk in Canada and calls to the U.S.

CITYFONE (same company as Primus, Zoomer and Simply Connect)

Samsung Galaxy A70

  • $0 down on the phone
  • $95 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 5 GB
  • Storage: 128 GB
  • Unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited text and MMS in Canada and internationally

Google Pixel 3A

  • $0 down on the phone
  • $95 per month (before taxes)
  • Data: 5 GB
  • Storage: 64 GB
  • Unlimited Canada-wide calling, unlimited text and MMS in Canada and internationally

What are bargain providers offering in Canada?

The above brands are what Klass refers to as “bargain basement” discount brands that are newer on the scene. Most are owned by the Big Three — Lucky Mobile is owned by Bell, Public Mobile is owned by Telus and Chatr and Cityfone are both owned by Rogers.

Even though some of these brands seem to offer a good amount of data, they have slowed-down speeds compared to other providers, he said.

“These companies, with some small exceptions … are on what they call 3G so the prices are much lower,” said Klass.

Not everyone needs 10 GB of data at the fastest speeds, said Samayoa. But having data, and a good amount of it, shouldn’t be considered a luxury, he said.

“Many people actually need it for work, or their only form of communication, especially in rural communities,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have access to broadband internet and their only access to internet is through mobile services.”

Those who live in rural areas, as well as reserves, have trouble accessing the internet at basic speeds, according to a 2019 CRTC report.

Companies like K-Net, a First Nations-owned and -operated provider, work to provide internet and phone services to remote First Nations communities and bridge connection gaps. Qiniq is another network that services 25 communities in Nunavut to improve broadband services for Inuit communities. Ice Wireless, which operates in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, states on its website that it is expanding coverage to more remote areas across Northern Canada.

 

The need for affordable data plans, especially in these communities, is still not an option available from many providers, explained Samayoa.

How to find the best plan that works for you

If you truly want the cheapest price on a cellphone plan, don’t switch to a financing option every time a new phone comes out, said Samayoa.

“What I would recommend is people could bring their own device,” he said. “It gives you more flexibility to do some price shopping, and generally, the prices when you bring your own device are cheaper.”

Bringing your own phone means you likely won’t be tied to a contract, so if another provider comes out with a discounted plan, you can switch, he said.

Klass recommends questioning your provider about extra fees.

Figure out what you want in advance, including your habits from how often you travel and whether getting a new phone is the best option, Klass said.

“There really isn’t any sort of one size fits all solution here … the prices change all the time.”

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‘Malicious intent’ suspected in wolf escape, Greater Vancouver Zoo says

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LANGLEY, B.C. — The Greater Vancouver Zoo said Tuesday afternoon that a number of its wolves were on the loose after the animals were believed to have been released from their enclosure as a result of “malicious intent.”

However, it said there was no danger to the public, and it was working with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to “contain” the animals, while the Langley RCMP investigated what appeared to be a case of unlawful entry and vandalism.

“GVZoo staff continue to actively search for a small number of remaining wolves un-accounted for,” the zoo said in a posting. It highlighted the posting with a Facebook message at 3.25 p.m.

Earlier, British Columbia’s Environment Ministry had said that only one wolf was still missing at the zoo, located about 55 kilometres east of Vancouver in the community of Aldergrove.

It did not say how many had escaped at the facility, which says it has nine adult grey wolves and six cubs.

The zoo said on its website that a number of wolves were discovered outside their enclosure Tuesday morning, triggering what it said was an “ongoing investigation and is suspicious, and believed to be due to malicious intent.”

It said most of the wolves were back in the care of its animal health and welfare team.

The zoo had announced that it was closed on Tuesday morning via its Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The Environment Ministry said anyone who sees a wolf should keep their distance and report it by calling 1-877-952-7277.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 16, 2022.

 

The Canadian Press

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Ageism: Does it Exist or Is It a Form of ‘I’m a Victim!’ Mentality? [ Part 3 ]

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Your age is irrelevant.

This is the third column of a 4-part series dealing with ageism while job hunting.

Career coaches and job search experts claim you can fool employers about your age and beat ageism. The truth is, regardless of your age, nobody can “beat” ageism.

Say you land an interview by concealing your age using experts’ tips and tricks. When you meet the hiring manager, will your age not become evident? Deflecting your age until an in-person or Zoom interview is pointless. At some point during the hiring process, your age will be revealed.

Then there’s the Internet, which “experts” never mention. Employers Google candidates to determine if they’re interview-worthy, which’ll turn up many ways to assess the candidate’s age:

  • Your graduating years.
  • The years you played minor league baseball.
  • The picture your son, who tagged you, posted on Facebook, in August 2004, of you dropping him off at university.
  • The whitepaper, Advancing Asian Markets Are Undermining Globalization, you wrote back in 1994 for the brokerage firm you were working at.
  • Last March, you tweeted you were celebrating your 25th wedding anniversary.

There’s plenty of information on the Internet, either placed by you or not, that employers can use to determine your age. The Internet has made attempting to hide one’s age from employers futile. Employers can easily determine, even find, your age outside of your resume and LinkedIn profile. Hence, the advice to leave off dates, etc., seems illogical to me. It’s actually telling that you’re trying to hide your age when you leave off dates.

Employers can find almost anything about potential candidates thanks to the Internet. (e.g., age, place of birth, your social media posts). Consequently, employers won’t schedule an interview if they see something they don’t like about a candidate. The Internet allows employers to exercise their biases, right or wrong, before contacting a candidate. When you apply and don’t hear anything, the reason(s) is unknown to you. It’s a guess—a pacifying belief—to say you’re not getting interviews because of your age.

An employer invites you to an interview because you have the skills, experience, and qualifications they’re looking for, and your digital footprint has passed their scrutiny. If you’re not hired, it’s not because of your age. Assuming you didn’t arrive late, dressed professionally, built rapport with your interviewer, and didn’t knock over the picture of their dog, you weren’t hired because (the two most common reasons):

  • You didn’t sell yourself as the solution to the problem the position was created to solve, or (brace yourself)
  • There were better candidates.

Obviously, candidates get rejected for various reasons, not just the ones I mentioned. However, rejected candidates often use excuses, such as ageism, to justify why they weren’t selected rather than evaluating their interviewing skills.

You’re not owed friendship, love, respect, health, or making a living. Everything in life—everything worthwhile—must be earned. No matter how old you are, you need to earn (READ: prove) why you deserve to be on an employer’s payroll.

Now that you know you can’t beat ageism, what can you do? As regular readers of my columns know, my first advice to jobseekers is to find their tribe. Look for where you belong and will be welcomed. Pursue the right employers! My advice to “find your tribe” applies not just to ageism but to overcoming all perceived “isms.” An undeniable fact: As humans, we prefer to be around people we feel comfortable with.

When you focus on where you belong, your job search will be much more successful.

I’m confident there are just as many employers who value the experience a seasoned candidate will bring to their company as there are employers who prefer less seasoned candidates for what they’ll not bring to their company. (I know, this is a bit of a mind pretzel. Flip it around in your head for a few minutes. Slowly it’ll make sense.)

Regardless of whether you consider yourself young or old, you can make your age irrelevant by:

  • Demonstrating your ability to generate revenue, save money, improve processes, improve safety, etc. (Share your expertise and track record of delivering results.)
  • Adopt a consulting mindset. (Treat interviews as consulting conversations. Show curiosity and a learning mindset.)
  • Communicating your confidence in your ability to hit the ground running. (This isn’t your first rodeo.)
  • Show you’re energetic and enthusiastic.

Look at that; I provided ways to negate your age over which “older candidates” have more leverage.

Whatever your age, remember, an interview isn’t about you. It’s about convincing your interviewer you’re the best solution to their problems. Remember, you were vetted before getting the interview; your age isn’t an issue.

Next week, in my final column of this series, I’ll discuss having the right mindset to cope with ageism during job searches.

______________________________________________________________

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

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Canada eyes cash for critical minerals in Biden's big new climate bill – CBC News

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A historic climate bill just passed by the U.S. Congress could have implications in entrenching Canada’s role in the shift toward clean transportation.

The legislation that passed last week established preferential tax treatment for electric vehicles assembled anywhere in North America.

That made-in-North-America approach generated some news headlines by bringing an amicable resolution to a months-long Canada-U.S. irritant.

Less noticed in the bill was a pot of money containing hundreds of millions of dollars to jump-start a new domestic industry in components for electric-vehicle batteries.

The ripple-effects could eventually be felt across the border, up into remote Canadian mining communities.

At issue is growing U.S. concern about becoming dependent on its great geopolitical rival, China, for the critical minerals powering future vehicles. 

President Joe Biden invoked the U.S. Defense Production Act earlier this year allowing him to fund projects that would lessen dependence on U.S. rivals.

He’s now getting the funds to do it: $500 million US set aside in this incoming law, after another $600 million was tucked into a recent Ukraine assistance bill, atop an older multibillion-dollar loans program.

Those funds are now at Biden’s disposal to enact his stated plan to develop new suppliers for lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and manganese, as well as heat pumps.

An ‘opportunity’ for Canada

Could some of that money create new battery-component projects in Canada? Canadian officials are hopeful it will.

They point to a document recently posted on the White House website, from a binational panel: It explicitly mentions Canada being included as a domestic source under the U.S. Defense Production Act and says that creates potential co-operation opportunities on critical minerals.

“There is an opportunity the way [the bill is] structured — to take advantage of some of that,” Kirsten Hillman, Canada’s ambassador to Washington, told CBC News in an interview. 

“This will spur domestic production [in the U.S.]. It also includes Canada as a domestic source. So we look forward to shared opportunities.”

Princeton University’s Zero Lab estimates the incoming budget bill will result in U.S. emissions falling by 42 per cent. That’s not quite as ambitious as an earlier unpassed version of the bill known as Build Back Better, or at the level scientists say would halt global warming, but it’s a big jump from the current emissions trajectory. (CBC News)

The broader story of the new bill, which Biden will soon sign, is that it’s by far the most significant U.S. federal action ever against climate change.

It passed with relatively little media coverage last Friday, with the country’s politics distracted by the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s home.

What’s in that big climate bill

But analysts who’ve studied the bill have predicted a major impact on carbon emissions through its more than $400 billion Cdn in tax credits and subsidies for a wide range of energy projects.

Those estimates project U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions will fall faster now to anywhere between 31 per cent and 42 per cent from 2005 levels, which would take the U.S. significantly closer to achieving its 2030 target under the Paris accord.

The so-called Inflation Reduction Act would remove one billion tons of greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, says Princeton University’s Zero Lab — that’s equivalent to reducing two per cent of all current global emissions.

But there’s uncertainty in the projections: One reason the estimates vary so widely is it’s far from clear how quickly new energy projects will get started.

WATCH | U.S. EV tax credit changes a relief for Canada’s auto sector: 

U.S. EV tax credit changes a relief for Canada’s auto sector

19 days ago

Duration 2:06

Canadian automakers breathed a sigh of relief after a U.S. climate bill that would have seen consumer tax credits for American-made electric vehicles expanded to include North American-produced EVs, batteries and critical minerals.

Here’s an example of that uncertainty: The much-discussed electric vehicle credit.

For almost a year, it was a festering irritant in Canada-U.S. relations. An earlier version of the bill, previously known as Build Back Better, allowed only U.S.-assembled vehicles to access certain tax credits.

What happened to that EV tax irritant?

That triggered threats of trade retaliation. Ottawa warned that the bill violated the new North American trade deal and would wipe out auto jobs and investment in Canada.

Two electric vehicles are parked on the South Lawn of the White House, Aug. 5, 2021, at an event on clean cars and trucks. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

The head of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, Flavio Volpe, called the friendlier language in the new, final, bill a relief for Canadian jobs: “It’s a bullet dodged,” he said.

“Probably more of a missile dodged.”

But wait. There’s an important caveat in the new, friendlier language. U.S. auto-makers are now calling the new credit practically useless, under current conditions. 

For an electric car to qualify for the maximum $7,500 US in the new version of the credit, the car’s battery will increasingly need North American components: from 50 per cent of the battery in 2024, to 100 per cent in 2028.

The problem? North America doesn’t make that many battery components. 

“[No vehicles] would qualify for the full credit when additional sourcing requirements go into effect. Zero,” said a letter from a U.S. auto industry lobby group.

Biden speaks about climate change and clean energy at Brayton Power Station on July 20 in Somerset, Mass. (Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

An analysis for the non-partisan U.S. Congressional Budget Office projected that only a tiny percentage of vehicles will wind up receiving the tax credit. 

In a 10-year fiscal forecast for the bill, the CBO estimated the U.S. treasury will wind up paying out just enough to deliver the full credit to slightly over 1 million vehicles over a decade.

That amounts to less than one per cent of an estimated 150 million total vehicle sales in the U.S. over those 10 years. During that period, an increasing percentage of vehicles sold will be electric.

The bottom line: Very few cars are expected to have enough North American components to qualify.

That’s where Canadian mining comes in.

A key architect of the final version of the bill, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, has repeatedly stated his skepticism about the original plan.

He said it made no sense to rush into the electric-vehicle age while America’s chief adversary still has a stranglehold on vital inputs.

This map shows the locations of early exploration projects currently underway in Ontario for critical minerals. It appears in the provincial government’s new strategy document for the sector published earlier this year. (Government of Ontario)

But after Manchin visited Canada earlier this year, he opined that the two countries should be working more closely together on minerals.

This new bill appears designed to do just that, through the tax credits for North American vehicles, and the cash for critical-minerals projects.

If U.S. mining companies want access to some of that money, they can submit proposals to the American government.

Quebec mining project

One company eyeing U.S. public funds happens to have an important investment in Quebec.

Keith Phillips, president of North Carolina-headquartered Piedmont Lithium, said he’s not yet clear on what conditions the U.S. government will set and what projects it’s looking to fund.

More details about the administration of the bill will be revealed in regulations to be drafted in the coming months. 

Governments in North America are working to build more charging stations for electric vehicles. (Doug Ives/The Canadian Press)

“I’m not sure anyone’s entirely clear on what the priorities are,” Phillips said in an interview.

His company is a minority investor in a Quebec lithium mine that’s now forecast to begin producing next year. 

The next goal is to build a plant in Quebec for value-added processing with the majority partner, Australia’s Sayona Mining. 

The project is in its infancy and there’s no site picked out yet. 

Phillips said a similar plant would cost $600 million US to build in the U.S. and he said public money is a lifeline for projects that banks have little history of supporting. 

“Of course it would be a priority,” he said of figuring out the potential for U.S. federal loans. 

“If government assistance could be involved, it’s very helpful.”

Building a North American battery industry

The Canadian government also recently budgeted $4 billion to develop the country’s critical minerals sector.

Yet North America is starting way behind. 

Canada, for instance, has a minute share of the world’s discovered deposits of lithium, cobalt and manganese.

Brian Kingston, head of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association, said he’s relieved by some of the changes in the U.S. bill.

But he’s still concerned — that auto-makers can’t meet the zero-emissions sales targets set by Ottawa without major improvements, in charging capacity, energy infrastructure and sales incentives.

As for a North American battery supply chain, he said: “[It] won’t emerge overnight.”

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