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HANNEN: Province needs to optimize child care investments – Toronto Sun

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BY ANDREA HANNEN

This week, the Provincial Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs received submissions from stakeholder groups offering input on Ontario’s spring budget.

These public consultations allow MPPs and citizens to work together to improve the performance of taxpayer spending.

The Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO) was one of the groups that made a formal submission. ADCO represents Ontario’s independent licensed child care centres — those not run by a public sector organization such as a municipality or a school board, or a quasi-public sector organization such as a YMCA.

Most independent licensed child care centres are small businesses run by women. One of the things that distinguishes these child care providers from municipalities, school boards and quasi-public sector agencies is their ability to create new licensed child care spaces without burdening taxpayers with the cost of expansion.

Both the McGuinty and Wynne governments seemed to see these small businesses as barriers to the growth of institutional child care. That’s what the Full-Day Kindergarten program (FDK) was all about. It also seems to be what prompted the Wynne government to enact the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA), which allows municipalities to limit the supply of licensed child care within their boundaries, so that parents have fewer alternatives to these institutional settings.

A 2019 report by the Ministry of Education reveals that some 2000 of Ontario’s licensed child care centres closed between 2008 and 2018.

In recent weeks, the impact of these closures has been felt by tens of thousands of Ontario parents as they struggled to find alternative care arrangements for their children when strikes by teacher unions shut down not only FDK but also licensed child care centres and before-and-after-school programs located in public schools.

For this reason alone, the Ford government should stop investing taxpayer dollars in school-based child care spaces.

It should also do so for financial reasons.

Currently, municipalities and school boards may receive anywhere from $30,000 to $60,000 per space to create more child care. Yet, independent licensed child care owner/operators are able to create similar, if not better, facilities for half this amount and they do it at no cost to taxpayers. All they need is assurance from the Province that it is safe for them to invest in expansion.

The province can provide this assurance by:

– Amending the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) with an eye to eliminating the provincial red tape and municipal conflicts of interest that make it harder for new independent licensed centres to open;

– Creating an online, self-serve portal where parents can explore, calculate and/or apply for the various child care funding support options available to them without having to consult with a municipal bureaucrat;

– Expanding the CARE tax credit so that more families qualify for it and fewer are forced into the chaos and uncertainty of the Provincial fee subsidy system, which is run differently by every municipality;

– Respecting parental choice by ensuring that fee subsidies follow children to whatever licensed child care programs their parents choose to use;

– Simplifying the Provincial funding formula used to allocate child care dollars to municipalities, so that less taxpayer money winds up being diverted into needless municipal overhead instead of actually helping families.

Currently, the province invests more than $3 billion annually into FDK and municipal child care system management. This investment needs to yield a better return.

At minimum, it should serve more families and be more responsive to their needs. It should also help shield children’s early years from the whims of big labour.

To achieve these goals, the province needs to stop burdening taxpayers with the cost of licensed child care expansion and start focusing on policy reforms that will enhance parental choice by increasing small business investment in the sector.

— Andrea Hannen is Executive Director of the Association of Day Care Operators of Ontario (ADCO)

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More China coal investments overseas cancelled than commissioned since 2017

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More China-invested overseas coal-fired power capacity was cancelled than commissioned since 2017, research showed on Wednesday, highlighting the obstacles facing the industry as countries work to reduce carbon emissions.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that the amount of capacity shelved or cancelled since 2017 was 4.5 times higher than the amount that went into construction over the period.

Coal-fired power is one of the biggest sources of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions, and the wave of cancellations also reflects rising concerns about the sector’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Since 2016, the top 10 banks involved in global coal financing were all Chinese, and around 12% of all coal plants operating outside of China can be linked to Chinese banks, utilities, equipment manufacturers and construction firms, CREA said.

But although 80 gigawatts of China-backed capacity is still in the pipeline, many of the projects could face further setbacks as public opposition rises and financing becomes more difficult, it added.

China is currently drawing up policies that it says will allow it to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

But it was responsible for more than half the world’s coal-fired power generation last year, and it will not start to cut coal consumption until 2026, President Xi Jinping said in April.

Environmental groups have called on China to stop financing coal-fired power entirely and to use the funds to invest in cleaner forms of energy, and there are already signs that it is cutting back on coal investments both at home and abroad.

Following rule changes implemented by the central bank earlier this year, “clean coal” is no longer eligible for green financing.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets and a major source of global coal financing, is also drawing up a “road map” to pull out of the sector, its chief economist Zhou Yueqiu said at the end of May.

 

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Bank of Montreal CEO sees growth in U.S. share of earnings

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Bank of Montreal expects its earnings contribution from the U.S. to keep growing, even without any mergers and acquisitions, driven by a much smaller market share than at home and nearly C$1 trillion ($823.38 billion) of assets, Chief Executive Officer Darryl White said on Monday.

“We do think we have plenty of scale,” and the ability to compete with both banks of similar as well as smaller size, White said at a Morgan Stanley conference, adding that the bank’s U.S. market share is between 1% and 5% based on the business line, versus 10% to 35% in Canada. “And we do it off the scale of our global balance sheet of C$950 billion.”

($1 = 1.2145 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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GameStop falls 27% on potential share sale

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Shares of GameStop Corp lost more than a quarter of their value on Thursday and other so-called meme stocks also declined in a sell-off that hit a broad range of names favored by retail investors.

The video game retailer’s shares closed down 27.16% at $220.39, their biggest one-day percentage loss in 11 weeks. The drop came a day after GameStop said in a quarterly report that it may sell up to 5 million new shares, sparking concerns of potential dilution for existing shareholders.

“The threat of dilution from the five million-share sale is the dagger in the hearts of GameStop shareholders,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management. “The meme trade is not working today, so logic for at least one day has returned.”

Soaring rallies in the shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings over the past month have helped reinvigorate the meme stock frenzy that began earlier this year and fueled big moves in a fresh crop of names popular with investors on forums such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets.

Many of those names traded lower on Thursday, with shares of Clover Health Investments Corp down 15.2%, burger chain Wendy’s falling 3.1% and prison operator Geo Group Inc, one of the more recently minted meme stocks, down nearly 20% after surging more than 38% on Wednesday. AMC shares were off more than 13%.

Worries that other companies could leverage recent stock price gains by announcing share sales may be rippling out to the broader meme stock universe, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital.

AMC last week took advantage of a 400% surge in its share price since mid-May to announce a pair of stock offerings.

“It appears that other companies, like GameStop, are hoping to follow AMC’s lead by issuing shares and otherwise profit from the meme stocks run-up,” Ablin said. “Investors are taking a dim view of that strategy.”

Wedbush Securities on Thursday raised its price target on GameStop to $50, from $39. GameStop will likely sell all 5 million new shares but that amount only represents a “modest” dilution of 7%, Wedbush analysts wrote.

GameStop on Wednesday reported stronger-than-expected earnings, and named the former head of Amazon.com Inc’s Australian business as its chief executive officer.

GameStop’s shares rallied more than 1,600% in January when a surge of buying forced bearish investors to unwind their bets in a phenomenon known as a short squeeze.

The company on Wednesday said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had requested documents and information related to an investigation into that trading.

In the past two weeks, the so-called “meme stocks” have received $1.27 billion of retail inflows, Vanda Research said on Wednesday, matching their January peak.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru and Sinead Carew in New York; Additional reporting by Ira Iosebashvili; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta, Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)

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