Bank of Canada holds key lending rate, says second-quarter economic growth likely temporary
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz avoided media Wednesday after holding the overnight interest rate firm at 1.75 percent, where the prime lending rate for the big banks has been since October of last year.
With a federal election just 46 days or fewer away, Poloz kept a low profile and did not hold a briefing that typically accompany these announcements; this BoC’s sixth for 2019. The central bank’s next opportunity is scheduled for October 30th, after the vote.
Tobacco continues to be Canada’s leading preventable cause of premature death and disease. According to Newswire, the LGBTQ+ communities 18-24 year olds are more likely to use tobacco than heterosexuals who are of the same age.
It is currently National Non-Smoking week. An investment of $2,840,767 was announced by Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health. The investment is in support of the All Together Now! project by the University of Toronto.
“This week marks National Non-Smoking Week in Canada, and I want to encourage the thousands of Canadians who will take their first steps toward quitting smoking.” said The honourable Patty Hajdu.
“The projects we are supporting today like Toronto’s All Together Now! will better help them as they make this positive change in their lives – and encourage others to follow in the same footsteps.”
The University has teamed up with the Canadian Cancer Society as well as Egale Canada and they are all working with LGBTQ+ community members. The goal of the project is to help LGBTQ+ members become healthier people by quitting smoking.
The project will support people around Thunder Bay and Toronto in Ontario and Montréal, Quebec. It is directed at approximately 114,000 people.
All Together Now! works through events, social media messaging, social media influencers and other online methods. They will also provide resources such as therapy.
The University of Toronto will receive about $1.3 million from the Government of Canada with Health Canada’s Substance abuse program. The money will be split up over 36 months for the Tobacco Research Unit.
“Smoking in LGBTQ+ communities is associated with stigma and related stress experienced by many individuals. Working from within LGBTQ+ communities, All Together Now! will build strong interventions to change the social climate for smoking and provide tailored quit-smoking support.” said Professor Robert Schwartz from Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto.
“We are grateful to the Government of Canada for making this vital work possible.”
It is the aim of Canada’s Tobacco Strategy to drop the use of tobacco to below 5 percent by the year 2035. About $330 million was federally invested throughout 5 years to move toward the goal.
Central banks around the world have been discussing the possibility of digital currencies as the use of cash continues to dwindle in lieu of electronic and online payment systems, according to CTV News.
The Bank of Canada has joined the study group alongside the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan, the Bank of England, the Swedish Riskbank and the Swiss National Bank.
The Swedish central bank began studying the issue several years ago and has already implemented a pilot project to deal with the country’s declining use of cash however they haven’t reached a final conclusion on whether or not to keep the project. The Bank of Canada stated in a press release that they will assess the potential for digital currencies in their home jurisdictions.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies currently in circulation are not suited for paying for things because their value can fluctuate too quickly. The Libra project, backed by Facebook, is a digital currency that has been called a stable-coin because it is tied to existing currencies. The major backers in Bitcoin such as Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and eBay have all left the association in order to oversee Libra as it comes under fire from regulatory authorities.
The goal of the group is to assess technical issues and share their knowledge of impending technologies. Benoit Coeure, a former top ECB official and Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England will serve as the group’s co-chairs.
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) is suing the Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith for defamation, first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Ontario Superior Court declared that “a union may now sue to defend its reputation … This is a case in which the defamation action appears to have merit.”
The lawsuit comes after a statement by the CUPW promoted “greater solidarity” with Palestine. The union also attacked Israel for the “inhumane” blockade of Gaza.
Weeks later, B’nai Brith stated that the CUPW had “aligned itself with the path of violence and extremism … this is both deeply immoral and obviously not in the best interests of Canadian postal workers.”
B’nai Brith went on to say that “many have also asked us whether CUPW can legally compel its Jewish and Israeli members to pay fees which may be used to support a foreign organization that wants to see them murdered.”
As a result of these statements, the CUPW launched a lawsuit against the Jewish advocacy group, which the Ontario Superior Court has permitted to continue.
Albertan oil and gas companies owe the province’s rural municipalities unpaid property tax, and the amount has doubled since the beginning of last year. Some people are referring to this trend as a tax revolt according to CTV News.
“If Alberta’s property tax system is not amended to prevent oil and gas companies from refusing to pay property taxes, many rural municipalities will struggle to remain viable,” association president Al Kemmere said in a release.
The municipalities want the province to change the rules in order to force companies accountable for the taxes they owe Kemmere explained. As it currently stands property taxes are controlled by the province and not the local communities.
“A lot of the oil and gas is doing their fair part as citizens, but we need legislation to force others to pay much like everybody else has to pay,” said Kemmere.
Rural Municipalities Alberta conducted a survey of the owed taxes and found that the number has increased 114 percent from a similar survey they conducted in the spring of 2019. According to the survey, oil and gas companies owe a total of $173 million.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin estimates that his municipality of Ponoka County, south of Edmonton, is owed about $2.6 million out of a total of $27 million. The oilpatch consultant said, “It creates operational constraints, our ability to provide community services. We have nonprofits asking for assistance. We say ‘no’ more and more.”
Many people in the industry believe that it’s the way that taxes are assessed that is driving companies out of business. The provincial government is in charge of assessing properties however they evaluate them based on replacement cost and not market value.
“We defend the need for the province to take a look at how assessment works and have it reflective of the market,” said Ben Brunnen, vice-president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
“A lot of these unpaid taxes are coming in jurisdictions where you’ve got assets that are older and not as productive or economic. The choice for these types of assets is to shut (them) in or find a way to reduce costs.” he said.
Brunnen suggested that some municipalities are going to have to accept less revenue from oil and gas companies as a result of such shut-in walls which are often abandoned or never reclaimed after bankruptcy.
Last year it was ruled that municipalities are unsecured creditors by the Alberta Court of Appeal. This ruling effectively puts them at the back of the line when it comes to tax collection following a bankruptcy.
The Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project works to comprehend the impact of old energy infrastructure on the province. Regan Boychuck, a researcher working for the project claimed, “Oilpatch property tax are now voluntary.”
About 40 per cent of unpaid taxes are from distressed companies that are feeling the effects of an industry hit by lower resource prices according to McLauchlin. The rest belongs to companies that continue to operate without paying.
“My personal opinion is that this is a tax revolt,” McLauchlin said. “They are using this as a lever to decrease their assessment and change those costs.”
One could argue that in a sense the process has already begun. Alberta’s United Conservative government brought in legislation that allowed municipalities to cut taxes on specific well by up to about one-third last year.
Initially, the cuts would be reimbursed by the province but the municipalities said that the program has been abandoned and they are left to deal with the loss.
Boychuck said despite the decline of oil and gas reserves the mill rates on wells and other facilities have remained unchanged for years.
“What industry is really saying is that they’ve depleted their wells so far they can’t cover operating costs. The wells are done and whatever wealth remains needs to be directed to clean up rather than looted any further before bankruptcy.”
The Orphan Well Association is an industry-funded group that was created to clean up abandoned wells. They currently have 3,400 abandoned wells under their care and that number is up by 300 since the beginning of last year.