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Ontario Makes Historic Investment in Public Education – Government of Ontario News

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Every School Board to Receive Funding Increase to Ensure Student Success

TORONTO – Today, the Ontario government announced that it is investing $736 million more in public education for the 2020-21 school year, increasing the total to more than $25.5 billion. This funding, through the Grants for Student Needs (GSN) program, represents the largest investment in public education in Ontario’s history. As a result, Ontario’s average per-pupil funding amount has reached $12,525, which is an increase of $250 over the previous year.

“We are investing more in our students to ensure they are safe, and well prepared to hit the books beginning in September,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “As we review all scenarios related to the COVID-19 outbreak, our government is supporting each and every school board in the province to ensure our students and educators have the resources available for a successful year.”

All 72 district school boards in the province are projected to have increases to their GSN allocations for the upcoming school year, which includes record-high investments in special education, mental health and well-being, among many other key areas.

Under the GSN, the new $213 million student-centric Supports for Students Fund (SSF) will support:

  • special education,
  • mental health and well-being,
  • language instruction,
  • Indigenous education, and
  • STEM programming.

“We are investing in new supports for marginalized and racialized students to give hope and confidence to their families that we will work to unlock their full potential and remove the barriers to their success,” said Minister Lecce.

The Supports for Students Fund can also be used for additional critical staffing needs during the return to school in September, including hiring custodians and education assistants for students who need support.

In addition to the GSN, Ontario is providing funding for the Priorities and Partnerships Fund (PPF), which enables school boards and third-parties to undertake important initiatives and provide critical resources for curricular, extra-curricular, and wrap-around supports. In the upcoming school year, the PPF is projected to be over $300 million, funding approximately 150 initiatives to support students.

QUOTES

“LDAO is delighted to continue our partnership with the Ministry of Education to put resources into the hands of Ontario Educators. For many years we have said, Learning Disabilities are complicated, but helping isn’t. Educators in every board will continue to get access to free evidence-based resources thanks to this continued funding. Ultimately, this partnership is enhancing the support for and success of students with LDs across the province.” – Lawrence Barns, President and CEO, Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario 

“We are pleased to partner with the Ontario government in their commitment to STEM education. This investment will have a significant impact on the lives of students across the province and provide the necessary resources to ensure every student has access to valuable STEM programs like Shad.” – Tim Jackson, CEO, Shad Canada

“We very much appreciate the ongoing support of the Ontario Ministry of Education. This will allow us to bring free literacy and numeracy programs to students throughout the province – now more crucial than ever before – and to provide critical support to children and youth across the north and in Indigenous communities. This will also fund literacy training and information to hundreds of parents and community workers throughout Ontario.” – Stephen Faul, President and CEO, Frontier College

“Le Centre franco is happy to be a privileged partner for the Ministry of Education and the French School Boards of Ontario. Our team immediately mobilized itself to answer the call from the start of the emergency order to offer students and families resources and services of the utmost quality financed by the Ministry of Education of Ontario.” – Claude Deschamps, Chief Executive Officer, Director General, Le Centre franco-ontarien de ressources pédagogiques

“Each year, TVO Mathify helps thousands of Ontario grade 6-10 students understand the math concepts that are so important to achieving success in today’s world. This investment allows TVO to continue meeting the growing demand for Mathify’s free online tutoring service, and represents a tangible commitment from the government to improving math scores across the province.” – Jennifer Hinshelwood, Acting Chief Operating Officer, TVO

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After investing billions in project, Kenney marks start of Keystone XL construction in Alberta – CBC.ca

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney marked the start of construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in the province on Friday, in the small town of Oyen.

“We are here at long last, kicking off construction of the Alberta spread of the Keystone XL project,” said Kenney. “We’re finally getting it done.”

The 1,947-kilometre project will be able to carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it will connect with TC Energy’s existing facilities and eventually reach refineries on the Gulf Coast. 

About 270 kilometres of the line will be within Alberta. 

Work is already underway in three U.S. states. 

Controversy in U.S.

The pipeline has been beset by controversy for at least a decade, facing protests and legal challenges. It was twice rejected under the presidency of Barack Obama. It received approval under Donald Trump, but a looming election south of the border could change that. 

Democratic candidate Joe Biden has said he would cancel that permit if elected. 

The Alberta government has bet on the project moving forward and has invested $1.5 billion, while also putting forward a $6-billion loan guarantee.

Kenney said at the time of the investment that there was too much risk, scaring away private investors from the $8 billion project.

“I’ve always been skeptical about government intervention in the market, but our failure to get pipelines built has been a failure of government policy and politics, not of markets,” Kenney told reporters after making the announcement at the end of March.

Selling the pipeline

On Friday, Kenney said his government would not rest until the full project is built and will work hard to pitch the benefits of the project to officials in the U.S.

“We will be reaching out, as we already have… to members of [Biden’s] party, many of whom support the project,” Kenney said, citing both lawmakers and unions. 

He said the investment by his government helped get the project moving and is a “conscious risk” to create “facts on the ground” that could force the hand of any U.S. administration in overturning a project that is already partially constructed. 

TC Energy says it anticipates the pipeline will be operational in 2023.

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Holding cash is a sign of fear, and fear is the worst investment of all – Financial Post

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In the United States, money market balances have gone from under US$3.5 trillion to US$4.6 trillion so far in 2020, according to Refinitiv Lipper data. Commercial bank balances have gone from US$13.3 trillion to US$15.5 trillion over the same time period according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Essentially, over US$3 trillion has moved into cash and money market funds since January.

To put that number into perspective, it would represent just about the entire market value of Apple and Microsoft combined, the two most valuable companies in the world.

In Canada, we have statistics from the Investment Funds Institute of Canada, which tracks mutual funds and ETFs. The end of May number for money market ETFs and Mutual Funds was $43.6 billion compared to just $30.3 billion one year earlier. Following the U.S. statistics, I would imagine that bank balances have seen a spike of much more than $13 billion in Canada.

There is certainly some good reasons to hold cash and money market funds. They are safe and liquid. If you have short-term needs for the funds or as a safety cushion or for ongoing operations of a business, this is a very valid option. However, as a choice for long-term investment it has not proven to be wise.

When I see a spike in these balances, this spike represents an investment decision. This is people and businesses choosing to be in cash rather than other forms of investments. Today, these trillions of dollars are likely earning somewhere between zero per cent and one per cent. I know that it is possible to earn higher rates at very small companies or by locking your money away for a period of time, although locking your money in removes the liquidity benefit.

Of interest, the largest money market funds in Canada have an annualized 10-year return of less than one per cent.

If most Canadians expect long-term investment returns of five-per-cent-plus, and money market funds have not provided one per cent over the long term, the only reason to have long-term money in a money market fund or bank account is either fear or a true belief that you are able to add value through timing of getting in and out.

Timing the market effectively by moving to cash is possible, but for most it isn’t effective, if for no other reason than markets go up over time. However, there is another reason why timing the market is usually not effective. If we look at actual monthly data from 2009, looking at money market balances in Canada and the performance of the TSX 60, we see that investors missed out on much of the rally.

In March, April and May 2009, the TSX 60 was up a total of 26.8 per cent. Money market balances peaked at the end of March and declined a total of 1.7 per cent over the same three-month period. This means that from an all-time peak in money market holdings, only a tiny percentage of investors had reinvested in time to take advantage of the big rebound. From June 2009 to January 2010, the eight months following the big gains, the TSX 60 was up 3.2 per cent. What happened to money market? Balances dropped 35 per cent, or $23.5 billion moved from the safety of money market back into some form of longer-term investment. No issue with it moving back out, but they did so after missing out on a major part of the recovery.

I had mentioned earlier that the only reasons to move long-term investment money into an asset class that is guaranteed to underperform your long-term goals is either fear or a true belief that you are able to add value through timing of getting in and out. The reality is that most investors bail and put funds into cash after at least a meaningful portion of losses have taken place. As seen in the 2009 recovery, they then return this cash to investments after most of the big gains have already happened. Essentially, most investors do not add value to their portfolios by switching to cash and then reinvesting. This leaves one reason to shift to cash. That is fear.

I don’t think I need to review the reasons why fear is not conducive to strong long-term investment returns. If you look at the table below, it shows returns for 25 years to Dec. 31, 2019. The returns are similar for any longer-term period. Of these asset classes, the only thing we know about the future is that U.S. T-Bills will produce a lower return than 2.5 per cent over the near future. The bottom line is that cash, money market, and GICs are not good for your long-term investment returns.

What are the better alternatives to investing in cash today? Almost everything. This isn’t a comment on the direction of the stock market in the short-term, but rather a comment on long-term investing and the inability to predict the future — especially in the short-term.

If we just look at dividend and other income yields, we will see a range, but all are higher than the returns on cash. As for growth beyond these yields, we can just put our faith in long-term history. For reference, I have also shown the private credit yields available through TriDelta’s Alternative fund at the high end of the range.

As a final thought, history tells us that big shifts in cash are short term. When trillions of dollars roll back into the market (which they will), do you want to be at the front end of that rush where you can benefit from the dollars that come behind you, or the back end.

If you are sitting on oversized positions in cash and money markets today, the best course of action is to get back to normal.

Ted Rechtshaffen, MBA, CFP, CIM, is president and wealth adviser at TriDelta Financial, a boutique wealth management firm focusing on investment counselling and estate planning. You can reach him at tedr@tridelta.ca.

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Insurer AXA says made investment portfolios greener in 2019 – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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LONDON (Reuters) – French insurer AXA said it reduced the temperature score of its investments in 2019, bringing them closer to alignment with the targets of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The so-called “warming potential” of its investments, a measure of their contribution to climate change, had fallen to 2.8 degrees Celsius from 3 degrees Celsius in 2018, AXA said in its 4th Climate Report released on Friday.

The Paris Agreement, struck in 2015, aims to keep average global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and ideally at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial norms by 2050.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Jason Neely)

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