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'Tough to take': New Brunswick grabs unwanted title as Canada's poorest province – CBC.ca

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New Brunswick has officially assumed the title of Canada’s poorest province and will begin receiving the most funding per capita from the federal government’s equalization support program, starting in April.

The bottom ranking and the poor economic numbers that caused it are unlocking significant new federal financial support for New Brunswick, but that is cold comfort for ending the longtime reign of Prince Edward Island as Canada’s neediest province, according to New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves.

“Wow. That’s tough to take,” said Steeves in an interview Tuesday.

“When your transfer payments go up, it’s a sign your economy is weak. I’m not crazy about that. We want New Brunswick to be a have province, not a have-not province.”

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau met with provincial ministers and finance officials this week. His department released figures showing New Brunswick would receive the highest per-capita amount of equalization payments next year, replacing P.E.I. as Canada’s most have-not province. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The federal Finance Department released figures late Monday of what equalization-receiving provinces will qualify for in funding next year.

New Brunswick’s share is jumping 9.2 per cent to $2.21 billion, the largest increase among receiving provinces. 

A sign of the times

The new amount is calculated by Ottawa to be worth $2,826 per person in New Brunswick, the most ever paid to a province, and a razor-thin $1 per person more than P.E.I. will receive.  

It’s a remarkable turnaround for both provinces.  

Last year, P.E.I. received $65 per person more in equalization than New Brunswick and, as recently as three years ago, was receiving $301 per person more — a sign of how quickly P.E.I.’s economy has closed in and, for its size, surpassed New Brunswick’s.

Equalization is a $20.6-billion federal program designed to help poorer provinces provide comparable levels of service to citizens at similar levels of taxation to richer provinces.

Payments are determined by a complex mathematical formula that measures the revenue-generating ability of each province against a national standard. Those with a below average ability to raise money for themselves qualify for funding.

New Brunswick will receive a record $2.21 billion in equalization funding from Ottawa next year to pay for basic government services, like heath care and education, that it cannot afford to pay for on its own. Pictured is the Saint John Regional Hospital. (Wikipedia)

Quebec receives the most money from the program — $13.25 billion next year — but at $1,547 per person in Quebec, it’s 45 per cent less than what New Brunswick will get.

Equalization amounts per person:

  • New Brunswick: $2,826
  • Prince Edward Island: $2,825
  • Nova Scotia. $2,184
  • Manitoba: $1,815
  • Quebec: $1,547

The three territories do not receive equalization, but have a separate financing formula with the federal government.

New Brunswick hike ‘stood out,’ says prof

Trevor Tombe, an economics professor at the University of Calgary and one of Canada’s leading experts on equalization, said the $187-million jump in New Brunswick’s equalization allotment next year is remarkable, but the causes will take some time to analyze.

“The increase in New Brunswick is actually something that stood out,” said Tombe. “lt’ll be interesting to dig deeper to see what’s driving that specific change.”

The equalization formula uses three years of data and, according to Tombe, next year’s payments are based on provincial economic performance recorded between April 2016 and March 2019.

New Brunswick’s GDP growth over those three years was an estimated 3.7 per cent. That’s the weakest among equalization-receiving provinces, less than the national average and well below the 10 per cent growth recorded in P.E.I..

New Brunswick has long vowed to get itself off equalization. In 2006, former premier Shawn Graham set a “self-sufficiency” goal to be free of equalization payments by 2026. Instead amounts owing to New Brunswick have grown by $900 million, including by $550 million in just the last three years.

Steeves said being a “have” province is still New Brunswick’s goal even though, as Canada’s poorest provincial jurisdiction now, the need for equalization is undeniable.

“We want to be the ones that help everybody else, but right now we do need the help,” said Steeves.

“We’re trying to get our debt back in place where it should be and get it lowered so that we won’t need as much help. But right now we are reliant on Canada and Canadians.”

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Bissell Recalls 3.3 Million Steam Cleaners Due to Burn Hazard

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NEW YORK — Bissell is recalling approximately 3.3 million “Steam Shot Handheld Steam Cleaners” across North America due to a burn hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada issued notices on Thursday detailing the risk, which has led to over 150 reported injuries.

The recall affects select models of the Bissell-branded steam cleaners, which can spew hot water or steam while in use or heating up. This malfunction poses a burn risk to users. Bissell has received 183 reports of hot water or steam expelling from the devices, including 157 minor burn injuries. Of these, 145 injuries occurred in the U.S. and 12 in Canada as of June 4, according to Health Canada.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the recalled steam cleaners. They should contact Bissell for either a refund or store credit. Impacted customers can choose between $60 (CA$82) in store credit or a $40 (CA$55) refund for each affected unit. Detailed instructions for identifying the recalled models, cutting the product cord, and uploading photos are available on Bissell’s website.

Bissell emphasized that “safety is our top priority,” and the company opted for a voluntary recall “out of an abundance of caution.”

The affected steam cleaners, manufactured in China, were sold at major retailers such as Target and Walmart, as well as online platforms including Bissell’s website and Amazon, from August 2008 through May 2024. About 3.2 million units were purchased in the U.S. and nearly 355,000 in Canada.

For more information on the recall and to register for a refund or store credit, consumers can visit Bissell’s website.

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Court Ruling on CRA Audit Condones Government Overreach, Says Leading Muslim Charity

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The Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) has expressed strong disapproval of a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, claiming it allows the federal government to violate Charter rights with impunity. The court’s decision upheld a ruling that permits the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to continue its audit of MAC, a process the charity alleges is tainted by systemic bias and Islamophobia.

MAC, an organization that promotes community service, education, and youth empowerment, serves over 150,000 Canadians through its mosques, schools, and community centers. The association argues that the CRA’s audit infringes on their Charter rights, specifically the guarantees of equality, freedom of religion, expression, and association.

The association initially sought to halt the audit through the Ontario Superior Court, arguing that the audit process was fundamentally biased. However, Superior Court Justice Markus Koehnen rejected their request last year, stating it was premature to intervene in the ongoing federal review. Koehnen acknowledged the validity of many of MAC’s arguments but emphasized that court involvement was inappropriate while the audit process was still active.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recently upheld Justice Koehnen’s decision, agreeing that the challenge was premature. The panel of judges found no error in the previous ruling, emphasizing the necessity of allowing the CRA’s internal processes to conclude before judicial intervention.

MAC’s representative, Sharaf Sharafeldin, criticized the decision, stating that the “prematurity principle” imposes significant legal and administrative burdens on charities. These costs, according to Sharafeldin, lead to financial hardship, reduced programs, and compromised charitable work, preventing effective challenges to Charter violations by the time the audit is completed.

In a statement, MAC highlighted that the decision disproportionately harms visible minorities and disadvantaged communities, who already suffer from systemic discrimination by government agencies.

The federal government has argued that the CRA’s selection of MAC for audit and subsequent review did not infringe upon Charter rights. The audit process includes potential internal appeals within the CRA, appeals to the Tax Court of Canada in the event of financial penalties, and to the Federal Court of Appeal if charitable status is revoked.

This ruling underscores the tension between government oversight and the protection of Charter rights, particularly for minority and disadvantaged communities. The outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for how charitable organizations can challenge perceived systemic bias and government overreach in Canada.

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Canada Post to honour acclaimed director Norman Jewison with commemorative stamp

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Canada Post is set to honour the legacy of Toronto-born filmmaker Norman Jewison with a commemorative stamp.

Jewison, best known for directing Academy Award-winning films “In the Heat of The Night,” “Moonstruck” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” is considered one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers.

Throughout his career, Jewison has worked on more than 40 television and film productions.

He was nominated for the Academy Award for best director three times and received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for his body of work in 1999.

Jewison died at the age of 97 at his home in Malibu, Calif., in January.

Canada Post will unveil Jewison’s stamp at an event in Toronto on July 24.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 18, 2024

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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