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Conservative caucus talked about economy, overdoses: Dalton – Maple Ridge News

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic were two key topics discussed when B.C. Conservatives met over the weekend, according to Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MP Marc Dalton.

“It was good to get together to hear the challenges and issues we’re facing as a province and as a nation,” said Dalton, noting the provincial meetings were followed closely by a gathering of the federal caucus on Wednesday morning.

He said government spending and accumulation of debt during the pandemic is a worry for his party, and a criticism of the current Liberal government.

“We recognize families and business – Canadians – are having a real difficult time with COVID-19,” he said, noting there are approximately one million unemployed.

He has heard first-hand how local businesses have been hard hit, and many could still close.

“Some business owners have told me that they’re managing, but if it (a shutdown) comes again, they won’t make it.”

The parliamentary budget officer has said the rate the government is accruing debt is not sustainable. So Dalton said there must be careful, thoughtful spending, or there will be “severe consequences” for taxpayers.

“Families are going to pay for it,” he said.

Conservatives also talked about the rising numbers of deaths by opioid overdose, and Dalton noted it has hit the Lower Mainland hard.

“It really is a crisis, and there needs to be more than what is currently offered,” he said. “Treatment and recovery needs to be better supported to provide a way for people to move out of their addictions.”

“I know the city (Maple Ridge) has also been advocating for a treatment centre.”

He said there is a place for the federal government in solving this crisis.

Conservatives expect Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Throne Speech on Sept. 23 will bring a vote of non confidence in the government, causing the Liberal Minority government to fall, triggering a fall election. Dalton said Trudeau doesn’t want more investigation of the WE charity scandal, and he doesn’t want the economy to impact people further, before they go to the polls. So he will “engineer his own defeat” and have a new election.

READ ALSO: Dalton endorsed new Conservative leader

Former Liberal MP Dan Ruimy, who will run against Dalton in the next election, answered these criticisms. He said Canadians need the money government is spending to prop up the economy during the pandemic.

“I think anybody you talk to would agree… this type of spending is not sustainable in the long term,” he said. “It’s easy to say.”

But nations across the globe are spending billions to keep their economies afloat, and Ruimy said even people who have received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) spend that money in their communities, also helping local businesses.

He noted more people are returning to work and the economy is slowly recovering, but it is not yet time for government to “dial it all back.”

“This is the difference between us and The States – we paid people to stay home,” Ruimy said.

READ ALSO: B.C.’s post-pandemic economy to recover in 2022, economists say

Ruimy said Conservatives have no credibility in portraying themselves as better money managers.

“They couldn’t get the deficit under control in the 10 years they were in power.”

About the opioid epidemic, Ruimy agreed there needs to be more access to treatment and recovery, but said Dalton is “disingenuous” in even raising that issue.

“He personally was a B.C. Liberal for eight years, and he didn’t address it,” he said.

Ruimy was skeptical a Conservative government would spend to the level it would take to eliminate the waiting lists for addicts to get into treatment centres.

“Everything we know about that party suggest they won’t invest that money.”


 


ncorbett@mapleridgenews.com

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ADRIAN WHITE: Underground economy is thriving – The Journal Pioneer

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There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way businesses function in Cape Breton. The pandemic has forced many entrepreneurs to reshape operating strategies for financial survival.  

Think of the new safety protocols for restaurants to protect staff and customers from virus transmission. Think sporting events playing out before near-empty stadiums and instead focused heavily on revenues generated from media broadcast of the event.  

There are just too many changes to business practices to list here in this column including the growth of digitization in our economy but I wanted to single out a few examples to illustrate some telling impacts. 

One major impact comes from folks not feeling safe to travel outside the province or eat out in restaurants due to the pandemic. Instead, they are using some of those cash savings to fund home improvement projects right here in the Cape Breton economy. That is a good thing for our community and our workers and it supports the “Shop Local-Buy Local” mantra being promoted by the local business community. 

Demand in the home improvement sector has soared and is so strong that it has led to a shortage of building materials, a rapid rise in material costs and a shortage of skilled labour to take on those home improvement projects.  

Many new contractors have entered the home improvement business in 2020 and many anxious homeowners are in hot pursuit of their services. Sometimes these contractors show up when expected to do a job and sometimes not. This has been a long-standing problem with small contractors in Cape Breton.  

Some contractors present an official written quote including HST for the project leaving a paper trail to follow while other contractors are quite prepared to take cash from the customer thereby avoiding HST. Cash leaves little trail for CRA to follow when it comes to reporting taxable income. 

This practice leads me to shed some light on the underground economy and its impact on our well-being as a province. Statistics Canada defines the underground economy as “consisting of market-based activities, whether legal or illegal, that escape measurement because of their hidden, illegal or informal nature.”  

I use the construction industry as an easy-to-understand example but you can imagine other opportunities for tax avoidance including buying illegal cigarettes, street sold cannabis, cash tips, paying cash for services, Airbnb cash rentals, or offshore bank accounts not being reported to CRA. 

In Nova Scotia, according to Statistics Canada, the underground economy was estimated to be $1.28 billion in 2018. That is near 3 per cent of provincial GDP. This is revenue that escapes government taxation. Nova Scotia’s underground economy as a share of GDP is higher than the national average which is troubling. Taxes on $1.28 billion would go a long way to offset the forecasted 2020 Nova Scotia budget deficit of $853 million due to the pandemic. 

Some of the underground economy is driven by the fact Nova Scotia has the second-highest personal income tax rates in the country. It remains one of three remaining provinces in the country that still practices “bracket creep” on your personal income tax deduction by not adjusting it to CPI on your annual income tax return.  

The higher the taxes the more incentive it provides for individuals and companies to embrace tax avoidance. Alberta has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in Canada and no provincial sales tax. It abandoned “bracket creep” on its residents decades ago. It also has one of the lowest underground economy as a share of GDP rates in the country running at 1.8 percent of provincial GDP.  

British Columbia has the highest ratio at 3.7 percent of GDP. In Canada, the underground economy was valued at a whopping $61 billion in 2018 amounting to 2.7 per cent of national GDP.  

I can only imagine with the increased demand for home improvement projects in Canada due to the pandemic that underground economic activity will likely increase 50 per cent rising close to $90 billion for 2020. 

In Nova Scotia, residential construction accounts for over 25 percent of the estimated underground economy GDP.  The next six largest contributors to the underground economy amount to about 50 per cent of Nova Scotia’s underground economy. They are retail trade, accommodation/food services, finance/insurance/real estate, manufacturing, professional/technical services and health care/social assistance.   

If we want to grow the Nova Scotia economy and thereby increase tax revenues to pay for the services we all expect, we are going to have to rethink the tax burden on individuals and businesses to bring balance and fairness to the tax environment. It is one of the reasons we struggle to recruit doctors to Cape Breton. Above-average taxes in Nova Scotia hinder economic expansion. High taxes will continue to drive the underground economy and tax avoidance until we address them. 

Adrian White is CEO of NNF Inc, Business Consultants. He resides Sydney & Baddeck and can be contacted at awhite889@gmail.com.

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You're Not Welcome Here: How Social Distancing Can Destroy The Global Economy – NPR

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Paris is under nightly curfew, starting at 9, to curb the spread of rising coronavirus cases.

Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

Kiran Ridley/Getty Images

Stay out.

It’s what people are being asked to tell each other. Less than 10 days ago, London banned people who live in different households from meeting each other indoors, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“Nobody wants to see more restrictions, but this is deemed to be necessary in order to protect Londoners’ lives,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan told the London Assembly.

Taking away the welcome mat is key to cutting off the path of the coronavirus. From the beginning of the pandemic, cities, states and countries have banned each other. And now, eight months into lockdowns that have led to immense stress and fatigue among people, some places around the world are introducing even more draconian measures.

The path toward recovery continues to be inherently antisocial and runs counter to how humans interact, live lives and conduct their business. This unwelcome policy — which has already harmed families, societies and economies — has the potential to lead to a tectonic shift in how the world functions in the foreseeable future.

End of globalization?

Some people worry that this moment is strengthening the hand of nationalism that was rising before the pandemic and that it is accelerating the changing relationships between countries.

President Trump’s “America First” strategy of the last four years had increased tensions between the United States and the rest of the world, specifically China. It was already leading to friction in the smooth supply-and-demand economic chain that has been the hallmark of an interdependent global world. But the self-isolation during the pandemic could mean the end of globalization as we know it.

“The coronavirus pandemic could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back of economic globalization,” according to Robin Niblett, director of the think tank Chatham House, in a Foreign Policy article.

Specifically, the global supply chain is very much at risk. Tax deductions in the U.S. designed to bring back jobs in pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, electronics and auto manufacturing have led companies to invest heavily in production in this country in the last few years.

“The needs that surfaced during the pandemic to bolster supply chain resilience may further accelerate such moves,” according to Moody’s Investors Service Senior Vice President Robard Williams.

Social distancing brought mighty economies to their knees

The entire world’s economy has shrunk dramatically. The pandemic delivered the most severe blow to the U.S. economy since the Great Depression as gross domestic product collapsed and millions of jobs were lost.

“This recession was by far the deepest one in postwar history,” Richard Clarida, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, noted in a speech.

A robust economy is dependent upon the movement of goods and people. For instance, restaurants need people to meet, socialize and break bread together. Airlines and hotels need people to travel to conduct business or to see family and friends or new places.

But all that has been vastly reduced. And the effect of that social distancing has been deadly on many businesses. Restaurants have been among the hardest hit. According to Yelp data, more than 60% of restaurants in the U.S. have permanently closed, closely followed by retail stores that sell clothing and home decor (58%) and beauty stores and spas (42%). Airline travel is down around 70%, and hotel occupancy is at record lows.

“Social distancing has stilled our strong economy,” said Eric Rosengren, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Social distancing is exhausting but works in some places

What’s worse is that despite long and extensive social distancing, there are signs that it has not worked everywhere — especially in freer societies. In fact, more than lockdown orders, it is people’s fears that have a larger impact on their economic behavior, some researchers have found.

The latest signs of increased cases in the U.S. and Europe are even more disheartening for people who feel they have endured a lot.

So, why are governments continuing to rely on lockdowns? That’s because it’s proven that aggressive social distancing does work in countries where the state can enforce strict shutdowns.

In China, where severe lockdowns were enforced in many parts of the country, the coronavirus has been wrestled to the ground. In Wuhan, ground zero of the virus, recent reports cite crowded water parks and night markets. Domino’s Pizza recorded such a huge improvement in sales in the country in recent months that it prompted CEO Richard Allison to call China “a terrific success story in 2020.”

But the Chinese form of enforcement is hard to achieve in democratic societies, most of which are pinning their hopes on a vaccine.

Some of the largest cities in the West are putting in place even more draconian social distancing measures to combat the virus. Paris is under curfew starting at 9 each night. And in London, you can’t even visit or invite a neighbor over for dinner.

But it’s unclear if people in these societies will strictly follow these guidelines or how enforcement will work. It’s already taken a huge toll on the psyche of the populace of many countries. No wonder most people worry that the longer social distancing goes on, a higher price will be paid by households, society and the economy.

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ADRIAN WHITE: Underground economy is thriving – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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There is no doubt that COVID-19 has changed the way businesses function in Cape Breton. The pandemic has forced many entrepreneurs to reshape operating strategies for financial survival.  

Think of the new safety protocols for restaurants to protect staff and customers from virus transmission. Think sporting events playing out before near-empty stadiums and instead focused heavily on revenues generated from media broadcast of the event.  

There are just too many changes to business practices to list here in this column including the growth of digitization in our economy but I wanted to single out a few examples to illustrate some telling impacts. 

One major impact comes from folks not feeling safe to travel outside the province or eat out in restaurants due to the pandemic. Instead, they are using some of those cash savings to fund home improvement projects right here in the Cape Breton economy. That is a good thing for our community and our workers and it supports the “Shop Local-Buy Local” mantra being promoted by the local business community. 

Demand in the home improvement sector has soared and is so strong that it has led to a shortage of building materials, a rapid rise in material costs and a shortage of skilled labour to take on those home improvement projects.  

Many new contractors have entered the home improvement business in 2020 and many anxious homeowners are in hot pursuit of their services. Sometimes these contractors show up when expected to do a job and sometimes not. This has been a long-standing problem with small contractors in Cape Breton.  

Some contractors present an official written quote including HST for the project leaving a paper trail to follow while other contractors are quite prepared to take cash from the customer thereby avoiding HST. Cash leaves little trail for CRA to follow when it comes to reporting taxable income. 

This practice leads me to shed some light on the underground economy and its impact on our well-being as a province. Statistics Canada defines the underground economy as “consisting of market-based activities, whether legal or illegal, that escape measurement because of their hidden, illegal or informal nature.”  

I use the construction industry as an easy-to-understand example but you can imagine other opportunities for tax avoidance including buying illegal cigarettes, street sold cannabis, cash tips, paying cash for services, Airbnb cash rentals, or offshore bank accounts not being reported to CRA. 

In Nova Scotia, according to Statistics Canada, the underground economy was estimated to be $1.28 billion in 2018. That is near 3 per cent of provincial GDP. This is revenue that escapes government taxation. Nova Scotia’s underground economy as a share of GDP is higher than the national average which is troubling. Taxes on $1.28 billion would go a long way to offset the forecasted 2020 Nova Scotia budget deficit of $853 million due to the pandemic. 

Some of the underground economy is driven by the fact Nova Scotia has the second-highest personal income tax rates in the country. It remains one of three remaining provinces in the country that still practices “bracket creep” on your personal income tax deduction by not adjusting it to CPI on your annual income tax return.  

The higher the taxes the more incentive it provides for individuals and companies to embrace tax avoidance. Alberta has one of the lowest personal income tax rates in Canada and no provincial sales tax. It abandoned “bracket creep” on its residents decades ago. It also has one of the lowest underground economy as a share of GDP rates in the country running at 1.8 percent of provincial GDP.  

British Columbia has the highest ratio at 3.7 percent of GDP. In Canada, the underground economy was valued at a whopping $61 billion in 2018 amounting to 2.7 per cent of national GDP.  

I can only imagine with the increased demand for home improvement projects in Canada due to the pandemic that underground economic activity will likely increase 50 per cent rising close to $90 billion for 2020. 

In Nova Scotia, residential construction accounts for over 25 percent of the estimated underground economy GDP.  The next six largest contributors to the underground economy amount to about 50 per cent of Nova Scotia’s underground economy. They are retail trade, accommodation/food services, finance/insurance/real estate, manufacturing, professional/technical services and health care/social assistance.   

If we want to grow the Nova Scotia economy and thereby increase tax revenues to pay for the services we all expect, we are going to have to rethink the tax burden on individuals and businesses to bring balance and fairness to the tax environment. It is one of the reasons we struggle to recruit doctors to Cape Breton. Above-average taxes in Nova Scotia hinder economic expansion. High taxes will continue to drive the underground economy and tax avoidance until we address them. 

Adrian White is CEO of NNF Inc, Business Consultants. He resides Sydney & Baddeck and can be contacted at awhite889@gmail.com.

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