Media Brief – lengthy but a good read.

 

 

Ontario plans early budget, pension plan delay to ease business fears

The Globe and Mail – Ontario is slowing down the start of its signature pension plan but speeding up the delivery of this year’s budget, two moves calculated to soothe the fears of business leaders amid an uncertain economy. Big corporations will not have to start contributing to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) until 2018, rather than 2017. The budget, meanwhile, will come down on Feb. 25 – more than a month before the end of the fiscal year and more than two months earlier than the Liberal government’s three previous spending plans. Finance Minister Charles Sousa made both announcements in a speech to the Empire Club on Tuesday. (article below, plus National Post)

Morneau prioritizes promises over bottom line

The Globe and Mail – Finance Minister Bill Morneau says balancing the books is now a “long-term” goal, providing further evidence that the Liberal government is backing away from its pledge to erase the deficit before the next election. Faced with slower-than-expected economic growth, the Liberals are signalling that delivering on promises will take priority over the state of Ottawa’s bottom line. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had hinted last week that the deficit target may be moved. As MPs returned to Parliament Hill Tuesday, Mr. Morneau said he still hopes to balance the books but that it will be more difficult because of the economy. The party’s election platform promised three specific limits when it came to the size of deficits under a Liberal government. It promised to run deficits of “less than $10-billion” in each of the first two years, that the deficit would be erased before the next election and that the government’s debt-toGDP ratio would continue to fall every year. (article below)

Poll: Quarter of Canadians can’t pay all bills

Winnipeg Free Press / Canadian Press – A new poll suggests nearly half of Canadians surveyed last month are within $200 per month of being unable to pay for their bills and make their debt payments. The Ipsos Reid survey also found about one-quarter of the 1,582 people who responded to the poll were already unable to cover their bills and debt payments. The online poll was done between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 for MNP Debt, which provides licensed trustee services in six provinces, from Quebec to British Columbia. MNP said the poll found 31 per cent of respondents said any increase in interest rates could move them towards bankruptcy. Ipsos Reid conducted the poll about a week after the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a report Jan. 19 that said Canada has seen the largest increase in household debt relative to income of any G7 country since 2000.

What Ontarians can expect in next week’s budget; Beyond carbon pricing, wine sales in grocery stores, plan also touts new pension

Toronto Star – Pensions, pinot noir, and pricing carbon. Those will be the major pillars of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s budget next week. Sousa confirmed Tuesday he will table the provincial spending plan on Feb. 25 – months earlier than usual. That’s to accommodate Ontario’s entry into a carbon-pricing market with Quebec and California, which will ultimately bring in $1.3 billion for the treasury while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, Sousa’s winter budget will usher wine onto Ontario supermarket shelves, building upon the successful launch of beer sales in grocery stores last Christmas. As first disclosed by the Star’s Martin Regg Cohn last Thursday, there will be wine in 70 supermarkets across Ontario this fall, rising to 150 new outlets in future years. (article below)

Pension plan delay may not be a good sign; Liberals not too hasty on starting Ontario’s plan unlike Conservatives

Ottawa Citizen David Reevely – Ontario’s economy is doing so well, thanks to our wise and prudent Liberal government, that our provincial government is going to balance its budget by next year and, er, delay its signature pension plan, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Tuesday. He was speaking at an Empire Club lunch in Toronto, the traditional sort of event where finance ministers lay the rhetorical groundwork for their budgets. Sousa’s next one is coming next week, on Feb. 25, he said. It will, he intimated, be very much like the ones he’s already delivered, which is why he set it up using much the same language he’s used in speeches he’s given for the three years he’s been finance minister under Premier Kathleen Wynne. He is, you’ll be relieved to hear, steering a prudent course. (article below)

B.C. expected to lead provinces in growth

The Globe and Mail – British Columbia expects to lead the provinces with economic growth of 2.4 per cent this year as it weathers the resource sector’s slump and posts a fourth consecutive balanced budget. Low prices for commodities such as coal, copper, lumber, pulp and natural gas have hurt the province’s mining, forestry and energy industries. But the B.C. government said Tuesday that strength in manufacturing, retailing, technology, trade and film will help propel a diverse economy. Population growth and a tourism boom will also contribute to the outlook for prosperous times, said B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who forecast a $264-million surplus on $48-billion in revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year. (article below)

Why women are likely to spend more in retirement; Women have the financial cards stacked against them when it comes to later stages in life

G&M DEIRDRE KELLY – Women have a life expectancy of 83.3 years while men average 78.8 years, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. And this has major financial consequences for them. Barbara Stewart, a portfolio manager who has studied the spending habits of women for 20 years, has put a figure to how much more on average women are expected to spend in retirement than men. “Given that the average retiree spends $2,400 per month, the extra 54 months of life expectancy translates to about $130,000 more for the average Canadian woman,” says Ms. Stewart, a partner and portfolio manager at Cumberland Private Wealth Management who also writes about women and finances in her Rich Thinking series. And women face another obstacle. While Canada’s population has more female residents than male – 17.9 million and 17.6 million, respectively, according to Statscan data released in 2014 – women trail behind men in terms of earning power and social mobility. (article below)

Retirement? Few Canadians without an employer pension plan have enough money, study says

CBC News – Only 15 to 20 per cent of middle-income Canadians retiring without an employer pension plan have saved anywhere near enough for retirement, according to a new study from the Broadbent Institute. These people, now aged 55 to 64, face a dramatic drop in their standard of living in retirement, and many will spend their senior years in poverty, the think-tank says, basing its findings on Statistics Canada figures. About 47 per cent of Canadians currently have no employer pension, and even fewer younger workers have employer pensions. That means the number of seniors who slip into poverty will worsen in the decades ahead, according to report author Richard Shillington. Canadians within 10 years of retirement are supposed to be at their peak savings years, socking away money for retirement. But Shillington found the median value of retirement assets of Canadians age 55 to 64 is just over $3,000. (article below)

Ontario public servants to get mandatory sensitivity training on indigenous people, history

Hamilton Spectator – More than 60,000 members of Ontario’s public service will soon receive mandatory sensitivity training regarding the history and experiences of the province’s indigenous people, the Toronto Star has learned. Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce on Wednesday that every OPS employee will receive mandatory indigenous cultural competency and anti-racism training. Ontario’s public servants work in all government ministries from finance to child welfare, agencies and Crown corporations. Wynne is also expected to further outline mandatory learning expectations in the province’s public education curriculum to include the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the role of treaties signed between the Crown and First Nations. The changes push Ontario toward addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 recommendations, released last June, which are meant to incorporate indigenous culture and teaching throughout Canadian society. (article below)

Move now on improving CPP

Winnipeg Free Press Editorial – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hedging on what his government thinks should be done about the falling number of Canadians who have enough money to retire on. Mr. Trudeau early last year was sold on the call for hiking contributions and benefits of the Canada Pension Plan. But his resolve has evaporated since then. In December, Canada’s finance ministers met and the CPP fix seemed bound to be an easy deal, but negotiations over the equalization program took up the bulk of the chat time. The CPP — and the sliding finances of retirees — was merely a passing mention. Mr. Trudeau has agreed to raise the GIS supports for single people, which will move an estimated 85,000 recipients above the poverty line. That’s a start. It cannot, however, be the answer for a secure retirement 20 or 30 years from now. Younger Canadians are far more likely to be working for multiple employers, with less chance of being backstopped by company pensions than were their parents. The Conservative option of voluntary savings or CPP contributions was a cop-out. The Liberal solution should improve the CPP, and it has the bulk of Canadians behind it. (article below)

The case for fiscal policy to spur growth

The Globe and Mail ANDREW JACKSON – Developments in the Canadian economy have forced an important rethinking of the respective roles of monetary and fiscal policy in supporting stable growth and job creation. But mainstream thinking about monetary policy has evolved much further than that on fiscal policy. Before the Great Recession of 2008, fiscal policy had fallen greatly out of favour as a tool for macroeconomic stabilization. The conventional wisdom was that central banks could adjust short-term interest rates to keep the economy growing more less at potential with low inflation, and indeed there was no recession from the early 1990s until the financial crisis of 2008. In retrospect, the so-called Great Moderation set the stage for the crisis since the driving force of growth, especially in the United States, was consumption and a housing bubble driven by excessive growth of household debt. The flip side of overleveraged households was an accumulation of bad credit risks by the financial system. (article below)

CETA pact still being revised, chief negotiator says

Financial Post / Canadian Press – Canada is working with the European Union to revise controversial investor protection provisions in their landmark free trade deal at the direction of the new Liberal government. But Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verhuel said Tuesday the ongoing work with the EU does not mean the pact has been reopened to negotiation. The comprehensive deal in goods and services, known as CETA, has been plagued with delays since negotiations were publicly declared finished in the summer of 2014 after what was then five years of talks. “We’re not reopening the negotiations at all,” Verhuel told the House of Commons trade committee. The government wants to see if improvements can make the dispute-resolution mechanism more favourable to Canada, he said. (article below)

Catholic board weighs 100 job cuts; Slashing additional help for special-needs kids may be one way to balance budget

Toronto Star – Toronto’s Catholic school board is considering eliminating more than 100 education assistants to balance the budget by August 2019, which critics claim is a cross to be borne by the board’s most vulnerable learners. The move is outlined in one of three penny-pinching “roadmaps” stemming from a Deloitte report on the board’s finances that was tabled last month. The firm was retained by the Ministry of Education to assist the TCDSB in coming up with ways to eliminate the board’s accumulated deficit by Aug. 31, 2019. Lina Naccarato, president of CUPE Local 1328, which represents TCDSB’s non-teaching education staff, called the report “alarming.” “I want to stress and emphasize that any further reduction of a system in need of more, not less, will have future impacts on the students we serve and their families,” she said. (article below)

Unions rip ‘strong-arm’ tactics

Toronto Sun – With weekend strike/lockout deadlines looming, CUPE bypassed city council’s bargaining committee to deliver a message right to councillors: Enough with the threats. The letter from CUPE Local 416 president Tim Maguire and Local 79 leader Matt Alloway asks councillors to tell their bargaining team it’s time to change the tone. “Our path to a fair, reasonable agreement will come not through strongarm tactics but through finding ways to work together,” the letter says. The union leaders say they don’t want a strike or lockout of their 25,000 members. “We are committed to staying at the bargaining table until we have negotiated a fair and reasonable contract, but we need a willing partner.” (article below)

Road maintenance workers union concerned about Transportation and Infrastructure changes

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – With the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in the process of shifting specific operations to private contractors, the union that represents New Brunswick’s road maintenance workers wonders if the changes will actually save the province money and preserve existing levels of service. But officials within the provincial department say there’s a need to improve the efficiency of the operation, explaining that through outsourcing specific operations the department can find millions of dollars in savings and kick off a needed departmental restructuring. Andy Hardy, president of CUPE 1190, said union officials were invited to meet with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, director of operations, and director of human resources last week to discuss a series of changes announced in the 2016-17 provincial budget. Hardy said staffers across the province are going to lose their jobs and the government isn’t sure if it will create long-term savings. (article below)

Transit workers ‘saved a lot of heartache for people,’ says mayor

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside says he intends to personally thank the city’s transit workers for voting in favour of a new contract on the weekend. “The ball was in their court and they dealt with it and I’m proud of them and I want to say that face-to-face,” said Woodside. He said he also sent out a tweet thanking the transit workers. “I wanted them to know this was never something personal between us and them, that we really felt that we were being as fair with them as we were with anybody else,” Woodside said in an interview after Monday night’s council-in-committee meeting. He said it is his understanding that vote by the transit workers in their meeting on the weekend was overwhelmingly in favour of the city’s last offer. The city was offering wage increases of 1.75 per cent a year in the first three years and 2.5 per cent a year in the last two years of a five year contract. There were also improvements to benefits. The transit workers, represented by CUPE Local 1783, were seeking improvements to the wages and benefits of part-time workers. The city has 43 transit workers who drive 28 buses. (article below)

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Ontario plans early budget, pension plan delay to ease business fears

The Globe and Mail – Ontario is slowing down the start of its signature pension plan but speeding up the delivery of this year’s budget, two moves calculated to soothe the fears of business leaders amid an uncertain economy. Big corporations will not have to start contributing to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) until 2018, rather than 2017. The budget, meanwhile, will come down on Feb. 25 – more than a month before the end of the fiscal year and more than two months earlier than the Liberal government’s three previous spending plans. Finance Minister Charles Sousa made both announcements in a speech to the Empire Club on Tuesday. (article below, plus National Post)

Morneau prioritizes promises over bottom line

The Globe and Mail – Finance Minister Bill Morneau says balancing the books is now a “long-term” goal, providing further evidence that the Liberal government is backing away from its pledge to erase the deficit before the next election. Faced with slower-than-expected economic growth, the Liberals are signalling that delivering on promises will take priority over the state of Ottawa’s bottom line. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had hinted last week that the deficit target may be moved. As MPs returned to Parliament Hill Tuesday, Mr. Morneau said he still hopes to balance the books but that it will be more difficult because of the economy. The party’s election platform promised three specific limits when it came to the size of deficits under a Liberal government. It promised to run deficits of “less than $10-billion” in each of the first two years, that the deficit would be erased before the next election and that the government’s debt-toGDP ratio would continue to fall every year. (article below)

Poll: Quarter of Canadians can’t pay all bills

Winnipeg Free Press / Canadian Press – A new poll suggests nearly half of Canadians surveyed last month are within $200 per month of being unable to pay for their bills and make their debt payments. The Ipsos Reid survey also found about one-quarter of the 1,582 people who responded to the poll were already unable to cover their bills and debt payments. The online poll was done between Jan. 27 and Jan. 29 for MNP Debt, which provides licensed trustee services in six provinces, from Quebec to British Columbia. MNP said the poll found 31 per cent of respondents said any increase in interest rates could move them towards bankruptcy. Ipsos Reid conducted the poll about a week after the Parliamentary Budget Office issued a report Jan. 19 that said Canada has seen the largest increase in household debt relative to income of any G7 country since 2000.

What Ontarians can expect in next week’s budget; Beyond carbon pricing, wine sales in grocery stores, plan also touts new pension

Toronto Star – Pensions, pinot noir, and pricing carbon. Those will be the major pillars of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s budget next week. Sousa confirmed Tuesday he will table the provincial spending plan on Feb. 25 – months earlier than usual. That’s to accommodate Ontario’s entry into a carbon-pricing market with Quebec and California, which will ultimately bring in $1.3 billion for the treasury while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, Sousa’s winter budget will usher wine onto Ontario supermarket shelves, building upon the successful launch of beer sales in grocery stores last Christmas. As first disclosed by the Star’s Martin Regg Cohn last Thursday, there will be wine in 70 supermarkets across Ontario this fall, rising to 150 new outlets in future years. (article below)

Pension plan delay may not be a good sign; Liberals not too hasty on starting Ontario’s plan unlike Conservatives

Ottawa Citizen David Reevely – Ontario’s economy is doing so well, thanks to our wise and prudent Liberal government, that our provincial government is going to balance its budget by next year and, er, delay its signature pension plan, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Tuesday. He was speaking at an Empire Club lunch in Toronto, the traditional sort of event where finance ministers lay the rhetorical groundwork for their budgets. Sousa’s next one is coming next week, on Feb. 25, he said. It will, he intimated, be very much like the ones he’s already delivered, which is why he set it up using much the same language he’s used in speeches he’s given for the three years he’s been finance minister under Premier Kathleen Wynne. He is, you’ll be relieved to hear, steering a prudent course. (article below)

B.C. expected to lead provinces in growth

The Globe and Mail – British Columbia expects to lead the provinces with economic growth of 2.4 per cent this year as it weathers the resource sector’s slump and posts a fourth consecutive balanced budget. Low prices for commodities such as coal, copper, lumber, pulp and natural gas have hurt the province’s mining, forestry and energy industries. But the B.C. government said Tuesday that strength in manufacturing, retailing, technology, trade and film will help propel a diverse economy. Population growth and a tourism boom will also contribute to the outlook for prosperous times, said B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who forecast a $264-million surplus on $48-billion in revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year. (article below)

Why women are likely to spend more in retirement; Women have the financial cards stacked against them when it comes to later stages in life

G&M DEIRDRE KELLY – Women have a life expectancy of 83.3 years while men average 78.8 years, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. And this has major financial consequences for them. Barbara Stewart, a portfolio manager who has studied the spending habits of women for 20 years, has put a figure to how much more on average women are expected to spend in retirement than men. “Given that the average retiree spends $2,400 per month, the extra 54 months of life expectancy translates to about $130,000 more for the average Canadian woman,” says Ms. Stewart, a partner and portfolio manager at Cumberland Private Wealth Management who also writes about women and finances in her Rich Thinking series. And women face another obstacle. While Canada’s population has more female residents than male – 17.9 million and 17.6 million, respectively, according to Statscan data released in 2014 – women trail behind men in terms of earning power and social mobility. (article below)

Retirement? Few Canadians without an employer pension plan have enough money, study says

CBC News – Only 15 to 20 per cent of middle-income Canadians retiring without an employer pension plan have saved anywhere near enough for retirement, according to a new study from the Broadbent Institute. These people, now aged 55 to 64, face a dramatic drop in their standard of living in retirement, and many will spend their senior years in poverty, the think-tank says, basing its findings on Statistics Canada figures. About 47 per cent of Canadians currently have no employer pension, and even fewer younger workers have employer pensions. That means the number of seniors who slip into poverty will worsen in the decades ahead, according to report author Richard Shillington. Canadians within 10 years of retirement are supposed to be at their peak savings years, socking away money for retirement. But Shillington found the median value of retirement assets of Canadians age 55 to 64 is just over $3,000. (article below)

Ontario public servants to get mandatory sensitivity training on indigenous people, history

Hamilton Spectator – More than 60,000 members of Ontario’s public service will soon receive mandatory sensitivity training regarding the history and experiences of the province’s indigenous people, the Toronto Star has learned. Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce on Wednesday that every OPS employee will receive mandatory indigenous cultural competency and anti-racism training. Ontario’s public servants work in all government ministries from finance to child welfare, agencies and Crown corporations. Wynne is also expected to further outline mandatory learning expectations in the province’s public education curriculum to include the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the role of treaties signed between the Crown and First Nations. The changes push Ontario toward addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 recommendations, released last June, which are meant to incorporate indigenous culture and teaching throughout Canadian society. (article below)

Move now on improving CPP

Winnipeg Free Press Editorial – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hedging on what his government thinks should be done about the falling number of Canadians who have enough money to retire on. Mr. Trudeau early last year was sold on the call for hiking contributions and benefits of the Canada Pension Plan. But his resolve has evaporated since then. In December, Canada’s finance ministers met and the CPP fix seemed bound to be an easy deal, but negotiations over the equalization program took up the bulk of the chat time. The CPP — and the sliding finances of retirees — was merely a passing mention. Mr. Trudeau has agreed to raise the GIS supports for single people, which will move an estimated 85,000 recipients above the poverty line. That’s a start. It cannot, however, be the answer for a secure retirement 20 or 30 years from now. Younger Canadians are far more likely to be working for multiple employers, with less chance of being backstopped by company pensions than were their parents. The Conservative option of voluntary savings or CPP contributions was a cop-out. The Liberal solution should improve the CPP, and it has the bulk of Canadians behind it. (article below)

The case for fiscal policy to spur growth

The Globe and Mail ANDREW JACKSON – Developments in the Canadian economy have forced an important rethinking of the respective roles of monetary and fiscal policy in supporting stable growth and job creation. But mainstream thinking about monetary policy has evolved much further than that on fiscal policy. Before the Great Recession of 2008, fiscal policy had fallen greatly out of favour as a tool for macroeconomic stabilization. The conventional wisdom was that central banks could adjust short-term interest rates to keep the economy growing more less at potential with low inflation, and indeed there was no recession from the early 1990s until the financial crisis of 2008. In retrospect, the so-called Great Moderation set the stage for the crisis since the driving force of growth, especially in the United States, was consumption and a housing bubble driven by excessive growth of household debt. The flip side of overleveraged households was an accumulation of bad credit risks by the financial system. (article below)

CETA pact still being revised, chief negotiator says

Financial Post / Canadian Press – Canada is working with the European Union to revise controversial investor protection provisions in their landmark free trade deal at the direction of the new Liberal government. But Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verhuel said Tuesday the ongoing work with the EU does not mean the pact has been reopened to negotiation. The comprehensive deal in goods and services, known as CETA, has been plagued with delays since negotiations were publicly declared finished in the summer of 2014 after what was then five years of talks. “We’re not reopening the negotiations at all,” Verhuel told the House of Commons trade committee. The government wants to see if improvements can make the dispute-resolution mechanism more favourable to Canada, he said. (article below)

Catholic board weighs 100 job cuts; Slashing additional help for special-needs kids may be one way to balance budget

Toronto Star – Toronto’s Catholic school board is considering eliminating more than 100 education assistants to balance the budget by August 2019, which critics claim is a cross to be borne by the board’s most vulnerable learners. The move is outlined in one of three penny-pinching “roadmaps” stemming from a Deloitte report on the board’s finances that was tabled last month. The firm was retained by the Ministry of Education to assist the TCDSB in coming up with ways to eliminate the board’s accumulated deficit by Aug. 31, 2019. Lina Naccarato, president of CUPE Local 1328, which represents TCDSB’s non-teaching education staff, called the report “alarming.” “I want to stress and emphasize that any further reduction of a system in need of more, not less, will have future impacts on the students we serve and their families,” she said. (article below)

Unions rip ‘strong-arm’ tactics

Toronto Sun – With weekend strike/lockout deadlines looming, CUPE bypassed city council’s bargaining committee to deliver a message right to councillors: Enough with the threats. The letter from CUPE Local 416 president Tim Maguire and Local 79 leader Matt Alloway asks councillors to tell their bargaining team it’s time to change the tone. “Our path to a fair, reasonable agreement will come not through strongarm tactics but through finding ways to work together,” the letter says. The union leaders say they don’t want a strike or lockout of their 25,000 members. “We are committed to staying at the bargaining table until we have negotiated a fair and reasonable contract, but we need a willing partner.” (article below)

Road maintenance workers union concerned about Transportation and Infrastructure changes

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – With the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in the process of shifting specific operations to private contractors, the union that represents New Brunswick’s road maintenance workers wonders if the changes will actually save the province money and preserve existing levels of service. But officials within the provincial department say there’s a need to improve the efficiency of the operation, explaining that through outsourcing specific operations the department can find millions of dollars in savings and kick off a needed departmental restructuring. Andy Hardy, president of CUPE 1190, said union officials were invited to meet with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, director of operations, and director of human resources last week to discuss a series of changes announced in the 2016-17 provincial budget. Hardy said staffers across the province are going to lose their jobs and the government isn’t sure if it will create long-term savings. (article below)

Transit workers ‘saved a lot of heartache for people,’ says mayor

The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton) – Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside says he intends to personally thank the city’s transit workers for voting in favour of a new contract on the weekend. “The ball was in their court and they dealt with it and I’m proud of them and I want to say that face-to-face,” said Woodside. He said he also sent out a tweet thanking the transit workers. “I wanted them to know this was never something personal between us and them, that we really felt that we were being as fair with them as we were with anybody else,” Woodside said in an interview after Monday night’s council-in-committee meeting. He said it is his understanding that vote by the transit workers in their meeting on the weekend was overwhelmingly in favour of the city’s last offer. The city was offering wage increases of 1.75 per cent a year in the first three years and 2.5 per cent a year in the last two years of a five year contract. There were also improvements to benefits. The transit workers, represented by CUPE Local 1783, were seeking improvements to the wages and benefits of part-time workers. The city has 43 transit workers who drive 28 buses. (article below)

**********

Ontario plans early budget, pension plan delay to ease business fears
The Globe and Mail
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A1
Section: News
Byline: ADRIAN MORROW
Dateline: TORONTO

Ontario is slowing down the start of its signature pension plan but speeding up the delivery of this year’s budget, two moves calculated to soothe the fears of business leaders amid an uncertain economy.
Big corporations will not have to start contributing to the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) until 2018, rather than 2017.
The budget, meanwhile, will come down on Feb. 25 – more than a month before the end of the fiscal year and more than two months earlier than the Liberal government’s three previous spending plans.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa made both announcements in a speech to the Empire Club on Tuesday.
He said he decided to move up the budget so businesses could see the government’s fiscal framework for the coming year as soon as possible, helping them better plan as the country rides an economic roller-coaster. For instance, the budget will implement a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions starting in January, 2017; releasing the details early will give companies more time to prepare.
“We focus on a dynamic business environment, strategic infrastructure, investments in skills and training, all within a fair society,” Mr. Sousa said in his speech. “There are opportunities to be seized upon, but we need to act quickly.”
He later told reporters: “Our government is committed to creating a low-carbon economy through a cap-and-trade system.
The budget will set the stage for Ontario to be a part of the 2017 carbon auction.”
The ORPP is one of Premier Kathleen Wynne’s legacy pieces.
Funded by contributions from workers matched by their employers, it will return an average payment of $6,410 a year in retirement income if contributed to for 40 years.
Delaying the start of contributions for large corporations by a year will give them breathing space to sort out how they will make the payments. None of the other key dates for the plan’s rollout will change: Medium-sized companies will start contributing in 2018 and small businesses in 2019; the first benefits will be paid in 2022.
Karl Baldauf, vice-president of policy and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, said the delay for big business is much-needed. The government has not yet done direct outreach to help companies set up ORPP payments, he said, and this has to happen to ensure the system is set up smoothly.
“You can’t reasonably expect to be collecting money from organizations who don’t know what their obligations will be,” he said in an interview. “We need education, registration, then implementation.”
The delay also gives the federal government and the other provinces more time to negotiate a possible enhancement to the Canada Pension Plan. A nationwide CPP expansion would help ensure Ontario firms aren’t put at a disadvantage by paying more in pension contributions. “We have agreed to enter into a national dialogue to enhance the Canada Pension Plan. To foster and accommodate this dialogue, we are extending the time required to comply with the ORPP,” Mr. Sousa said in his speech.
Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and an opponent of the ORPP, said he hoped Ontario would cancel the plan if the rest of the country agrees on a CPP enhancement.
“We’re hoping it’s the first step to delay or even rethink the ORPP,” he said. “It will allow the CPP discussion to take place to see what, if any, changes the government might consider to the ORPP program itself.”
But government sources said the Liberals are determined to push ahead with their pension plan. Even if the rest of the country reaches a deal on CPP by 2018, it could still take years to implement, and Ontario does not want to wait. The essential details of the ORPP – how much people and companies will pay into it and how much retirees will receive – are not going to change, the sources said.

Sousa pushes back pension plan start; Deductions begin year later than intended
National Post
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A5
Section: Canada
Byline: Ashley Csanady
Dateline: TORONTO
Source: National Post

Ontario’s pension plan will start payroll deductions a year later than originally intended, Finance Minister Charles Sousa announced Tuesday as part of a plan to work with the federal government to collect the proceeds. He also announced Ontario’s 2016 budget would land Feb. 25. Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government will confirm the plan to balance the province’s $7.5-billion deficit by the end of the next fiscal year. The province will start enrolling employers in the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) in January 2017, but it won’t start taking deductions from paycheques until 2018 – a year later than the premier announced last year. A joint federal-provincial press release says the delay will “provide more time for discussion among provinces and the federal government” about expanding the Canada Pension Plan. While the Ontario government has said it would prefer an expanded CPP to running its own plan, Sousa said work will continue on the ORPP. Both the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce lauded the extension. “We do listen,” Sousa said, pointing to myriad prebudget consultations the government held over the past month.
The opposition, however, said the delayed start was another sign the Liberals weren’t ready to run a massive new pension plan.
“Their backtracking is an indication really as to how committed they are to the pension plan,” NDP finance critic Catherine Fife said.
Fife’s Tory counterpart, Victor Fedeli, said it’s more proof the Liberals are great at aspirational plans, less so at delivery.
Fedeli said the government is also trying to backtrack on another front: whether the ORPP funds will be available to fund government infrastructure. Last year’s budget made it “very clear the ORPP funds are intended for infrastructure,” Fedeli said.
Sousa reiterated Tuesday that the pension fund will be allowed to invest as it sees fit. And many pension funds around the world choose to invest in infrastructure, including in Ontario.
“It’s not there to provide for specific investments that our government may have an interest in. It’s for the people in Ontario to have retirement security … and that’s by law,” he said.
Sousa confirmed that the federal government will collect those pension contributions on the province’s behalf through existing CPP infrastructure. That solves a major structural challenge to the ORPP’s implementation as the previous Conservative federal government had refused to help administer the plan.
Meanwhile, Ontario’s 2016 budget faces a tough task of detailing where, exactly, the province plans to find another $7.5 billion to trim from the budget or recoup through increased revenues.
And it’s expected to shed light on Ontario’s cap-andtrade plans as the province moves to join Quebec and California in the carbonpricing market.

Morneau prioritizes promises over bottom line
The Globe and Mail
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A5
Section: News
Byline: BILL CURRY
Dateline: OTTAWA

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says balancing the books is now a “long-term” goal, providing further evidence that the Liberal government is backing away from its pledge to erase the deficit before the next election.
Faced with slower-than-expected economic growth, the Liberals are signalling that delivering on promises will take priority over the state of Ottawa’s bottom line.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had hinted last week that the deficit target may be moved.
As MPs returned to Parliament Hill Tuesday, Mr. Morneau said he still hopes to balance the books but that it will be more difficult because of the economy.
The party’s election platform promised three specific limits when it came to the size of deficits under a Liberal government. It promised to run deficits of “less than $10-billion” in each of the first two years, that the deficit would be erased before the next election and that the government’s debt-toGDP ratio would continue to fall every year.
Throughout December, Mr. Morneau backed away from the $10-billion limit but stressed the government’s intention to follow through on the other two markers. A spokesperson for Mr. Morneau Tuesday restated the government’s commitment to shrink the debt in relation to the size of economic growth.
Conservative MP and finance critic Lisa Raitt said the situation should force the Liberals to make tough decisions about some of their spending promises rather than run up larger deficits.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the Liberals should be looking to raise additional revenue by collecting billions more through higher corporate tax rates.

What Ontarians can expect in next week’s budget; Beyond carbon pricing, wine sales in grocery stores, plan also touts new pension
Toronto Star
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A9
Section: News
Byline: Robert Benzie Toronto Star

Pensions, pinot noir, and pricing carbon.
Those will be the major pillars of Finance Minister Charles Sousa’s budget next week.
Sousa confirmed Tuesday he will table the provincial spending plan on Feb. 25 – months earlier than usual.
That’s to accommodate Ontario’s entry into a carbon-pricing market with Quebec and California, which will ultimately bring in $1.3 billion for the treasury while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, Sousa’s winter budget will usher wine onto Ontario supermarket shelves, building upon the successful launch of beer sales in grocery stores last Christmas.
As first disclosed by the Star’s Martin Regg Cohn last Thursday, there will be wine in 70 supermarkets across Ontario this fall, rising to 150 new outlets in future years.
“I’m well aware of what consumers are asking for,” Sousa told reporters Tuesday after an Empire Club speech to more than 300 people at the Arcadian Court.
“It’s been more complex than with beer,” the treasurer said, noting international trade deals are making things more difficult than breaking the Beer Store’s monopoly on private sales of six-packs last year.
Of the 70 new wine outlets, sources say 35 will be devoted to local VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) products and 35 will be for foreign and domestic vintages.
Beyond pinot and carbon-pricing, the budget will also tout the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP), the launch of which has been delayed for one year – to 2018 – in order to give big business more time to prepare.
Sousa stressed while Queen’s Park and Ottawa “have agreed to enter into a national dialogue to enhance the Canada Pension Plan,” Ontario’s stand-alone scheme will still go ahead.
“This government does listen to business and to the people of Ontario,” he said, adding the delay gives 400 companies with 500 or more employees additional months to gear up for a plan that will be mandatory for firms without employee pensions.
“Ottawa has agreed to facilitate the ORPP plan registration and data-sharing arrangements (which will) … ensure the key elements of the ORPP administration are completed efficiently and cost-effectively.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said the delayed implementation of the ORPP is “a step in the right direction,” but he remains concerned the scheme could hurt job growth.
“We have a fragile economy,” Brown told reporters, urging the provincial government to wait until the time is right to enhance the Canada Pension Plan.
“Everyone wants to do more on pensions. That is a noble goal. But the way they’re going about it is not the right course.”
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she is concerned the early budget will usher in cuts to services – especially since Sousa is sticking to his vow to balance the books in 2017-18.
“What we are worried about is another Liberal … budget full of cuts … that takes money out of health care, takes money out of education, that makes life worse for everyday families,” she said.
Horwath said Sousa should instead hike taxes on business in order to eliminate the deficit.
“There’s room to raise corporate tax in this province.”

Pension plan delay may not be a good sign; Liberals not too hasty on starting Ontario’s plan unlike Conservatives
Ottawa Citizen
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A2
Section: City
Byline: David Reevely
Source: Ottawa Citizen

Ontario’s economy is doing so well, thanks to our wise and prudent Liberal government, that our provincial government is going to balance its budget by next year and, er, delay its signature pension plan, Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Tuesday.
He was speaking at an Empire Club lunch in Toronto, the traditional sort of event where finance ministers lay the rhetorical groundwork for their budgets. Sousa’s next one is coming next week, on Feb. 25, he said. It will, he intimated, be very much like the ones he’s already delivered, which is why he set it up using much the same language he’s used in speeches he’s given for the three years he’s been finance minister under Premier Kathleen Wynne.
He is, you’ll be relieved to hear, steering a prudent course.
Some governments cut in the last recession, pursuing austerity, Sousa said. “Some on the right said Ontario needed to follow suit. But those economies are still struggling today. They chose short-term pain for long-term pain,” he said. “Some on the left said Ontario needs to spend more and not worry about deficits, but that, too, would have been reckless and irresponsible, because we cannot pass the burden of debt onto future generations.”
We’re building Ontario up.
Investing in our people. Transit.
Infrastructure! Ring of Fire! “We started these investments when times were tough, during the recession … we didn’t wait for things to somehow get better. We created a plan, we rolled up our sleeves, we got to work,” and so forth.
Sousa caricatured the opposition, especially the Progressive Conservatives, as know-nothings nostalgic for a past of cheap electricity and booming factories we can’t return to simply by wishing for them. “Some folks think it’s preferable and even possible for our economy to move backwards, and they think all we need to do is cut taxes even further,” he said.
He’s had the advantage for a while of facing opposition parties whose economic plans didn’t need to be caricatured because they really were that silly. That’s one of the reasons Sousa is finance minister at all: In 2014, pretty much no matter what you thought of his party’s plan, the Tories’ and the New Democrats’ were worse.
Sousa’s speech is sounding a little better than it used to. Ontario’s had a couple of good quarters, with new jobs and higher exports. Sousa did nod in the direction of cheap oil: Saudi Arabia’s frantic pumping of oil into a glutted world market has hurt Alberta’s oilpatch, lowered prices and beaten up the Canadian dollar, all of which is much better for Ontario’s manufacturers than anything the minister has done. But finance ministers have to take the blame when the economy’s doing badly, so fair is fair.
Nevertheless, it’s impossible to gloss over the one actual announcement in Sousa’s speech: He’s delaying the start of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan by a year, putting offan item so important to the provincial government that it has its own junior minister looking after it – Sousa’s own No. 2, Toronto MPP Mitzie Hunter. Businesses that don’t have pension plans of their own were supposed to start enrolling in the ORPP last month, getting ready to begin making contributions for their workers’ future retirements starting in January 2017.
Now that’s off, ostensibly so that Ontario can work with its new federal Liberal friends on, maybe, expanding the Canada Pension Plan instead. But the ORPP was always intended to be made so it could be rolled into the federal CPP if a federal government decided to co-operate. In fact, the feds have just made running the ORPP even easier by agreeing to have the Canada Revenue Agency share data and collect premiums, which former Tory finance minister Joe Oliver wanted none of.
When the federal Conservatives were in charge, Ontario’s plan was so important to the retirement security of thousands and thousands of workers without pensions that it just could not wait. Now that the Liberals are – well, let’s not be too hasty. And incidentally, let’s hold offon premiums that the Liberals’ own studies show will hurt the provincial economy from the time we start charging them to the time we eventually start paying out retirement benefits.
It’s almost as if Ontario’s not doing quite as wonderfully as its government would like us to believe.

B.C. expected to lead provinces in growth
The Globe and Mail
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: B1
Section: Report on Business
Byline: BRENT JANG
Dateline: VICTORIA

British Columbia expects to lead the provinces with economic growth of 2.4 per cent this year as it weathers the resource sector’s slump and posts a fourth consecutive balanced budget.
Low prices for commodities such as coal, copper, lumber, pulp and natural gas have hurt the province’s mining, forestry and energy industries.
But the B.C. government said Tuesday that strength in manufacturing, retailing, technology, trade and film will help propel a diverse economy.
Population growth and a tourism boom will also contribute to the outlook for prosperous times, said B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong, who forecast a $264-million surplus on $48-billion in revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
“Our economy continues to grow, and along with it, the revenues that flow into government,” he said in Victoria.
The B.C. government is predicting 2.4-per-cent growth in real gross domestic product in 2016 while the B.C. Economic Forecast Council is envisaging 2.7-per-cent growth.
“That positions us as the lead of the pack in terms of Canada,” Mr. de Jong said.
The B.C. Economic Forecast Council, comprising 13 economists in Canada, took note of Greater Vancouver’s hot housing market amid an influx of new residents from across Canada and overseas. The council said more data are required to determine levels of foreign investment in residential housing.
No government revenue is forecast over the next three years from exporting liquefied natural gas because no project backers have made the decision to even start construction. A newly created B.C. Prosperity Fund would include LNG revenue in the long term.
With LNG revenue still on the horizon and not yet booked for government budgeting purposes, Mr. de Jong is relying on momentum from economic drivers such as the migration of people to B.C.
This year alone, more than 48,200 newcomers are forecast to move to B.C., including 13,000 from other provinces and 35,200 from other countries.
As Alberta gets hit by depressed oil prices, thousands of workers are moving westward.
“We are attracting people from other provinces who are seeking a safe harbour from economic storms,” Mr. de Jong said. “In the third quarter of 2015, B.C. saw the highest quarterly level of net interprovincial migration since 1995. We had a net inflow of more than 6,315 people from other regions of Canada, and yes, more than one-third of those arrived from Alberta.”
Film production has been one of the bright spots as projects pick up with the help of the lower Canadian dollar versus the U.S. currency. Budget documents estimate there are now about 20,000 people employed in the province’s film and television industry, which boasts eight major studios. As the Vancouver region cements its reputation as Hollywood North, the B.C. Liberal government will be limiting growth in film tax credits, saying those incentives are already generous.
The B.C. government will be setting up a commission on tax competitiveness to take into account the diverse economy. “It is timely to examine if the province’s taxation regime has kept pace with its changing economy and whether current tax policy encourages business investment and growth as the province moves further into the 21st century,” according to budget documents.

Why women are likely to spend more in retirement; Women have the financial cards stacked against them when it comes to later stages in life
globeandmail.com
Wed Feb 17 2016, 6:00am ET
Section: Business
Byline: DEIRDRE KELLY

Women have a life expectancy of 83.3 years while men average 78.8 years, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada. And this has major financial consequences for them.
Barbara Stewart, a portfolio manager who has studied the spending habits of women for 20 years, has put a figure to how much more on average women are expected to spend in retirement than men.
“Given that the average retiree spends $2,400 per month, the extra 54 months of life expectancy translates to about $130,000 more for the average Canadian woman,” says Ms. Stewart, a partner and portfolio manager at Cumberland Private Wealth Management who also writes about women and finances in her Rich Thinking series.
And women face another obstacle. While Canada’s population has more female residents than male – 17.9 million and 17.6 million, respectively, according to Statscan data released in 2014 – women trail behind men in terms of earning power and social mobility.
As of 2012, full-time working women earned on average 73.1 cents for every dollar men earned, according to Statscan data.
Though women have made strides in employment – today, they occupy 52 per cent of management, professional and related positions – this has not translated to the highest levels, according to a Bank of Montreal report on women and finances released last March by BMO Wealth Institute. As of 2014, women held less than 5 per cent of chief executive officer positions and just 25 per cent of executive and senior-level roles at S&P 500 companies, according to BMO.
Another factor affecting women’s financial position is their social role as nurturers. More women than men are caregivers: An estimated 66 per cent of caregivers are female, and a third, or 34 per cent, take care of two or more people. Consequently, women shoulder the major burden of care (21.9 hours versus men’s 17.4 hours a week), according to the BMO report.
As women age, their caregiving responsibilities can increase as they go from raising children to aiding aging parents. It all adds up.
BMO observes that women lose an estimated $324,044 because of caregiving, compared to men at $283,716. “Lost wages for women who leave the work force early because of caregiving responsibilities equals $142,693, and for lost social security benefits an estimated $131,351, and pensions an estimated $50,000,” the report concludes.
So as women grow older they actually have less money.
A 2015 Royal Bank of Canada poll of Canadians suggests, among other findings, that women invest differently than men do for their future retirement.
The 2015 RBC RRSP poll found women were less likely to own, save and invest in registered retirement savings plans than men (53 per cent compared to 57 per cent) and that, across Canada, more than almost one-third (36 per cent) of women had not started saving for their retirement, compared to one-quarter of men (25 per cent).
The RBC poll further found that the amount women felt they need to finance their retirement years now totals approximately $492,400 (compared to $510,000 in 2010), while the same goal for men has risen to just over $631,000 (compared to $493,000 five years ago).
The poll was conducted Nov. 11-19 as an online survey of 2,217 Canadians aged 18 and older.
The bottom line for women planning for retirement? Having a savings and investment strategy in hand.
“Take a word from the wise,” says Ms. Stewart. “I have interviewed over 350 smart women around the world. Their No. 1 piece of advice? Make more money. Focus on creating wealth for yourself. Any age is a good age to focus on becoming financially independent. Get a great education, make sure to get paid what you are worth, and get started on your investment plan.”
Ms. Stewart offers these tips for women:
Get paid what you are worth: Saving for retirement gets easier if you make more money. Do your research, find out what your work is worth in the marketplace and get paid accordingly. Women are less likely to speak out and demand their full value, so getting your maximum possible income is more important than what you spend, or how you invest.
Investor, know thyself: Take the time to think about why you want to invest and what the money is for. In investment expert and author Ashvin Chhabra’s The Aspirational Investor, he recommends organizing your financial life around what you want to achieve for yourself and your family. According to Dr. Chhabra, “you can’t control market fluctuations, but you can control how you prioritize goals.”
Set goals for saving and investing: Clearly determine how much money you will need over the course of your retirement and how much money you will need to save and invest to reach that target. Retirement is not a finish line where you get to stop. You will need to continue to invest for the remainder of your life, which for most Canadian women means you need to finance 20-plus years of postretirement lifestyle.
Get started: Get started right away. Whether you decide on a do-it-yourself approach or work with a professional adviser, the opportunity cost of not investing can make or break a financial future. Never forget that cash is the lowest performing asset class over time. Putting off the decision until you think the market timing is perfect, or your planning is perfect, is a bad idea.
Be disciplined: You have developed a well-thought-out plan, now stick to it. And use all of the tools available to you to help you progress. Free education is available on most bank, investment firm, and industry websites. Set up automatic monthly transfers from your payroll to your bank account to fund your registered retirement savings plan and tax-free savings account contributions as well as additional savings accounts. Don’t wait to do it the few hours before deadlines.

Retirement? Few Canadians without an employer pension plan have enough money, study says
CBC.CA News
Tue Feb 16 2016, 6:49pm ET
Section: Business
Byline: CBC News

Only 15 to 20 per cent of middle-income Canadians retiring without an employer pension plan have saved anywhere near enough for retirement, according to a new study from the Broadbent Institute.
These people, now aged 55 to 64, face a dramatic drop in their standard of living in retirement, and many will spend their senior years in poverty, the think-tank says, basing its findings on Statistics Canada figures.
About 47 per cent of Canadians currently have no employer pension, and even fewer younger workers have employer pensions.
That means the number of seniors who slip into poverty will worsen in the decades ahead, according to report author Richard Shillington.
Canadians within 10 years of retirement are supposed to be at their peak savings years, socking away money for retirement.
But Shillington found the median value of retirement assets of Canadians age 55 to 64 is just over $3,000.
They’ll get the CPP/QPP and OAS/GIS in most cases, which brings them to an average of $15,970 annually for singles and $25,746 for couples.
Half have less than year of savings
But they are meant to supplement that income from their own savings or other resources.
As things stand now, half have savings that represent less than one year’s worth of the resources they need to supplement OAS/GIS and CPP/QPP, the study found.
Fewer than 20 per cent have enough savings to supplement their income for at least five years.
Shillington argues senior poverty has been rising since 1995. When taken against the low-income measure, the number living in poverty has risen from 3.9 per cent to 11.1 per cent. And 30 per cent of women living alone in their senior years are poor.
That means 719,000 poor seniors, including 469,000 single men and women.
Rick Smith, executive director of the Broadbent Institute, said he believes Canadians will be shocked to learn how many are facing retirement in poverty.
Bad for the economy
“Even if you assume a decreased need or if you liquidate your home equity, the news is still very grim,” he told CBC News.
“We’re looking at a situation in our country ? 10 years down the line, 15 years down the line ? where millions of Canadians have very little disposable income and that’s not good for the economy.”
He urged the federal government to move quickly on CPP reform and to think about enhancing the GIS benefit for both singles and couples.
“We’ve been sold this bill of goods over the last few decades that RRSPs and TFSAs can be a sort of replacement for workplace pensions — and that turns out to be untrue,” Smith said.
“These findings raise serious questions about the policy needs for future pensionless cohorts, such as the adequacy of benefits from Old Age Security, the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and the Quebec and Canada pension plans,” Shillington wrote in his analysis.
The Broadbent Institute, created by former NDP MP Ed Broadbent, studies Canadian public policy issues with a view to make Canada a more equitable society.

Ontario public servants to get mandatory sensitivity training on indigenous people, history
thespec.com
Tue Feb 16 2016
Section: News

More than 60,000 members of Ontario’s public service will soon receive mandatory sensitivity training regarding the history and experiences of the province’s indigenous people, the Toronto Star has learned.
Premier Kathleen Wynne is expected to announce on Wednesday that every OPS employee will receive mandatory indigenous cultural competency and anti-racism training. Ontario’s public servants work in all government ministries from finance to child welfare, agencies and Crown corporations.
Wynne is also expected to further outline mandatory learning expectations in the province’s public education curriculum to include the impact of residential schools, the history of colonization and the role of treaties signed between the Crown and First Nations.
The changes push Ontario toward addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) 94 recommendations, released last June, which are meant to incorporate indigenous culture and teaching throughout Canadian society.
For 100 years, residential schools – run by churches and sanctioned by the government – took nearly 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children away from their families and communities and sent them away to school. Thousands of children never made it home and died while at the schools.
TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair called this dark period in Canadian history an act of cultural genocide as the impact of the mass removal of generations of children from their families left a legacy of broken families, poverty, mistrust of government, abuse, alcoholism and fractured lives.
A key component of the sensitivity training will be focused on violence against indigenous women and girls.
Exactly how many murdered and missing there are in Canada is the subject of ongoing debate. The RCMP released a report two years ago that said there were 1,181 murdered and missing indigenous women and girls between 1980 and 2012. However, some say that number is twice as high, closer to 4,000, as not every death was properly investigated.
Some families of murdered and missing women and girls have spoken of their displeasure with the investigations into their loved one’s deaths and the problem of police racism.
Police racism came to the forefront last December when RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson boldly admitted to a special meeting of Assembly of First Nations chiefs that there are “racists” in his police force and that he does not want them there. Also in December, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes echoed Paulson by adding there is no room for racists on his force, either.
Since then, the RCMP has reached out to indigenous organizations to try to figure out how to go forward and mend a history of mutual mistrust.
The sensitivity training will instruct employees on terminology, colonial history in Ontario from treaties to child welfare and Indian hospitals such as the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium, which operated from the 1940s to the 1970s. The training will discuss how social disparities and inequities grew from these experiences.
The training will include interactive cultural activities, the harm of stereotyping and the legacy of colonization. It will also teach better “communications and relationship-building skills to promote positive partnerships with indigenous people,” according to information on the event obtained by the Toronto Star.
Other courses required for Ontario public servants to take include workplace violence prevention and training on Ontario Human Rights Code requirements regarding persons with disabilities.
The premier is also expected to discuss further progress on collaborating with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit partners on how they are incorporating indigenous history and culture into the public school curriculum.
Last August, the province and the Chiefs of Ontario signed a political accord that signalled a new relationship between the two. The accord affirmed, among other things, the inherent right to First Nations self-government and the importance of working together.

Move now on improving CPP
Winnipeg Free Press
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A6
Byline: Editorial

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hedging on what his government thinks should be done about the falling number of Canadians who have enough money to retire on. Mr. Trudeau early last year was sold on the call for hiking contributions and benefits of the Canada Pension Plan. But his resolve has evaporated since then.
In December, Canada’s finance ministers met and the CPP fix seemed bound to be an easy deal, but negotiations over the equalization program took up the bulk of the chat time. The CPP — and the sliding finances of retirees — was merely a passing mention.
Now another financial analysis sheds more light on the growing numbers of Canadians who don’t, or won’t, have adequate savings and pension benefits. Further, poverty among the elderly is on the rise again, after falling for years. The problem, the left-leaning Broadbent Institute says, is benefits from federal income supports for the elderly have not kept pace with need. The most a low-income single person can receive from Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement is less than $16,000.
An increasing number of retirees, generally, is struggling to keep up, because fewer working Canadians (38 per cent) have a company pension plan to bank on. At most, CPP pays out $12,780 a year to contributors and, with maximum OAS benefits, a retired contributor 65 years or older still has an income of less than $19,000. Average benefits, however, are substantially lower, the Broadbent Institute found.
Confirming data compiled by a host of sources, the report notes most working Canadians are not voluntarily stashing cash away in retirement savings, such as RRSPs. And of those who do, it’s a fraction of what their need will be, especially for those without a workplace pension.
At one time, the CPP was supposed to be the add-on for retirees. Those were the days when workplace pensions were common. Increasingly, it has become a mainstay for pensioners.
The benefit of the CPP is it has a well-established record, it is healthy, draws mandatory matching contributions from employers and employees and follows an individual throughout their working years. Compared to private options, it has low administrative costs.
Mr. Trudeau once recognized all the efficiencies and benefits to improving the national pension plan as the sure-fire way to protect a growing pool of retirees. That’s how he distinguished his party from the Conservatives, who said the economy was too weak to hit employers with a higher payroll tax. But since getting elected, the Liberal government has opted to delay moving on CPP changes, opting to talk some more with the provinces.
What, really, is the holdup? Hiking contributions requires the nod of seven provinces comprising two-thirds of the population. With Alberta now agreeing to a phase-in of higher contributions, that test is met. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall is staunchly opposed, but he is bucking national opinion polls that overwhelmingly support higher CPP contributions and benefits.
Mr. Trudeau has agreed to raise the GIS supports for single people, which will move an estimated 85,000 recipients above the poverty line. That’s a start. It cannot, however, be the answer for a secure retirement 20 or 30 years from now. Younger Canadians are far more likely to be working for multiple employers, with less chance of being backstopped by company pensions than were their parents.
The Conservative option of voluntary savings or CPP contributions was a cop-out. The Liberal solution should improve the CPP, and it has the bulk of Canadians behind it.

The case for fiscal policy to spur growth
The Globe and Mail
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: B2
Section: Report on Business
Byline: ANDREW JACKSON

Economic Insight
Developments in the Canadian economy have forced an important rethinking of the respective roles of monetary and fiscal policy in supporting stable growth and job creation. But mainstream thinking about monetary policy has evolved much further than that on fiscal policy.
Before the Great Recession of 2008, fiscal policy had fallen greatly out of favour as a tool for macroeconomic stabilization.
The conventional wisdom was that central banks could adjust short-term interest rates to keep the economy growing more less at potential with low inflation, and indeed there was no recession from the early 1990s until the financial crisis of 2008.
In retrospect, the so-called Great Moderation set the stage for the crisis since the driving force of growth, especially in the United States, was consumption and a housing bubble driven by excessive growth of household debt. The flip side of overleveraged households was an accumulation of bad credit risks by the financial system.
Fiscal policy came to the rescue in 2008-09, when stimulus policies played a major part in jolting the economy back to life. But governments soon reversed course and turned to austerity policies to deal with a temporary buildup of public debt. The hope was that continued low interest rates would fuel a sustainable private-sector-led recovery.
This has failed to happen.
Almost a decade on from the financial crisis, global and North American growth remain sluggish despite continued ultralow interest rates.
Central banks have become much more aware of the limits of monetary policy. As recognized in an important speech on Feb. 8 by Tim Lane, deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, “prolonged monetary policy stimulus may result in an excessive buildup of private sector vulnerabilities.”
The bank is clearly concerned about the increase in Canadian household debt and makes the case for “macro-prudential” policies such as limits on mortgage borrowing and increased surveillance of bank lending. These tools are much more effective and less damaging than raising interest rates to deal with excessive risk-taking by the private sector.
It is also increasingly recognized by economists that even prolonged ultralow interest rates are insufficient to boost business investment and thus effective demand in a context of great uncertainty and perceived overcapacity.
Short-term interest rates set by the central bank influence longterm borrowing costs for corporations, but credit risk is still a factor, and availability of funds does not mean that firms will borrow to invest. As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
Mr. Lane went so far as to argue that fiscal policy may be a more appropriate way to stimulate growth than monetary policy under current conditions.
The case for fiscal stimulus, especially to deal with outright recession and to fund long-term productive public investments, is now widely supported. But there is little agreement on what principles should apply.
One widely proposed rule, embraced by the federal government, is to allow temporary deficits so long as they do not increase the ratio of net federal public debt to GDP. But there is no consensus among economists as to what ratio is too high, and econometric studies have failed to establish any specific tipping point.
It is also worth noting that running a deficit is not the same thing as providing economic stimulus. Economists would generally agree that a budget boosts GDP if it changes the “cyclically adjusted” budget balance, usually measured as a share of potential output. Deficits caused by a decline in revenue due to slowing growth (very much the case in Canada today) are not stimulative, whereas deficits used to fund an increased public investment program would be stimulative.
To add to the complexity, a budget could be stimulative even if it did not increase the deficit so long as it increased spending in areas that give a big boost to GDP (such as higher unemployment benefits and public investment) and financed such measures from tax changes that have only a modest negative impact on GDP.
We live in a world in which even central bankers say we should rely more on fiscal policy to deal with slow growth. But that leaves plenty of room for disagreement on what rules should guide fiscal policy.
Andrew Jackson is an adjunct research professor in the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University in Ottawa and senior policy adviser to the Broadbent Institute.

CETA pact still being revised, chief negotiator says
National Post
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: FP3
Section: Financial Post
Byline: Mike Blanchfield
Dateline: OTTAWA
Source: The Canadian Press

Canada is working with the European Union to revise controversial investor protection provisions in their landmark free trade deal at the direction of the new Liberal government.
But Canada’s chief negotiator Steve Verhuel said Tuesday the ongoing work with the EU does not mean the pact has been reopened to negotiation.
The comprehensive deal in goods and services, known as CETA, has been plagued with delays since negotiations were publicly declared finished in the summer of 2014 after what was then five years of talks. “We’re not reopening the negotiations at all,” Verhuel told the House of Commons trade committee.
The government wants to see if improvements can make the dispute-resolution mechanism more favourable to Canada, he said.
The Europeans first raised the matter after political opposition arose in Europe in 2014 over the chapter that deals with settling disputes between companies and governments, known as ISDS. European officials, including most recently the EU ambassador to Canada, have said they don’t see ISDS as an impediment to the deal being implemented.
Verhuel said he expects the deal to be ratified and fully implemented next year.

Catholic board weighs 100 job cuts; Slashing additional help for special-needs kids may be one way to balance budget
Toronto Star
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: GT4
Section: Greater Toronto
Byline: Michael Robinson Toronto Star

Toronto’s Catholic school board is considering eliminating more than 100 education assistants to balance the budget by August 2019, which critics claim is a cross to be borne by the board’s most vulnerable learners.
The move is outlined in one of three penny-pinching “roadmaps” stemming from a Deloitte report on the board’s finances that was tabled last month.
The firm was retained by the Ministry of Education to assist the TCDSB in coming up with ways to eliminate the board’s accumulated deficit by Aug. 31, 2019.
At $15.3 million, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s shortfall is the largest of its kind in the province.
Deloitte noted in its review that the TCDSB was saddled with several “significant and long-standing cost pressures,” including the cost of special education.
As a result, one of the report’s key proposals was slashing 260 special education support workers, known as education assistants, to help balance the books. Board staff instead recommended that trustees trim only half that number by the end of the 2018-19 school year.
Nevertheless, spokesman John Yan emphasized that the cut is nothing more than a possibility at this point and no decisions have been made.
“Nothing is etched in stone,” he said. “We are planning a trip and looking at the possible routes to get there.”
Lina Naccarato, president of CUPE Local 1328, which represents TCDSB’s non-teaching education staff, called the report “alarming.”
“I want to stress and emphasize that any further reduction of a system in need of more, not less, will have future impacts on the students we serve and their families,” she said.
The TCDSB is not alone in facing cutbacks to special-education programming and services.
The number of students with special needs has increased, while the funding to support them has lagged, according to the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.
The union called on the Liberal government last week to “make good on its 2010 promise to review the education funding formula.”
In 2014-15, the TCDSB spent $22.4 million more than the government had funded it for in special education. Deloitte’s analysts found the school system had assigned a comparatively higher number of education assistants to its students than other school boards.
Overall, staff recommended that trustees commit to incremental cutbacks over a three-year period, holding off on major downsizing until 2018-2019.
Their proposed timeline is also the most expensive option, with a price tag of $28.4 million. The board says the longer timeline, allowing more retirements, will also mitigate actual job losses.
But implementing the multi-year recovery plan still means the board will have to come up with new ways to thrive in thin times.
“Going forward, very difficult and sensitive decisions will need to be made in areas of program delivery and student support in order to realize the projected savings,” the report reads.
Analysts offered alternative money makeover solutions for the TCDSB to consider, from “implementing a wellness program to increase staff productivity” to charging staff, students and visitors for parking.
Trustees will decide on one of the three timelines at a Feb. 18 board meeting. No matter their choice, Yan emphasized it does not mean the board has committed to any particular cuts.
After that, staff will begin preparing next year’s budget to be submitted to the ministry by the end of June.

Unions rip ‘strong-arm’ tactics
Toronto Sun
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A6
Section: News
Byline: Shawn Jeffords
Source: Toronto Sun

With weekend strike/lockout deadlines looming, CUPE bypassed city council’s bargaining committee to deliver a message right to councillors: Enough with the threats.
The letter from CUPE Local 416 president Tim Maguire and Local 79 leader Matt Alloway asks councillors to tell their bargaining team it’s time to change the tone.
“Our path to a fair, reasonable agreement will come not through strongarm tactics but through finding ways to work together,” the letter says.
The union leaders say they don’t want a strike or lockout of their 25,000 members.
“We are committed to staying at the bargaining table until we have negotiated a fair and reasonable contract, but we need a willing partner.”
The earliest the trash collectors and other outside workers of Local 416 could go on strike or be locked out is 12:01 a.m. Friday.
The inside workers of Local 79 would be in a similar position at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
On the thorny issue of benefits – which the union says the city wants to cut – the leaders pointed to an example in the education sector where the union and province worked together to identify savings.
But it can’t be done in days, they say.
CUPE spokesman Katrina Miller said the letter was meant to calm councillors and city residents. “The message we hope they take from it is, in a sense, to take heart,” Miller said. “We’re not looking for service disruption.
“It’s also a note to them that we do need to see a change in the approach from the city,” she said. “If it continues to be a strongarm tactic, that’s not helpful to productive negotiations.”
Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong, head of the labour relations committee, said the city remains focused on securing a deal that meets Toronto’s budget needs.
The city has been at the bargaining table since October, Minnan-Wong said. The city offered a deal tha t included wage increases, he said, but in return it wanted more flexibility in the language about benefits.

Road maintenance workers union concerned about Transportation and Infrastructure changes
The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: B1
Section: International
Byline: ADAM BOWIE

With the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure in the process of shifting specific operations to private contractors, the union that represents New Brunswick’s road maintenance workers wonders if the changes will actually save the province money and preserve existing levels of service.
But officials within the provincial department say there’s a need to improve the efficiency of the operation, explaining that through outsourcing specific operations the department can find millions of dollars in savings and kick off a needed departmental restructuring.
Andy Hardy, president of CUPE 1190, said union officials were invited to meet with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure’s deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, director of operations, and director of human resources last week to discuss a series of changes announced in the 2016-17 provincial budget.
Hardy said staffers across the province are going to lose their jobs and the government isn’t sure if it will create long-term savings.
“The first question I asked, before they really got going, was, ‘If I could prove to you that we could do it cheaper than outsourcing this to the private sector, could we change some of this?’ And (the deputy minister) said, ‘No. This isn’t about saving money. We’re going ahead with realigning the department,’?” he said.
Hardy believes the true goal is to keep some critical election promises to reduce the civil service and to create jobs in the private sector.
Shawn Berry, a spokesman for the Departments of Finance and Transportation and Infrastructure, said the moves are expected to save the government a total of $10.5 million, mainly through improved procurement processes, selective outsourcing practices, internal efficiencies, and the reduction of full-time equivalent positions.
“As the department re-organizes, focus will be shifted to the core services of the department: winter maintenance, summer maintenance and contract management,” he said.
“Functions that will be impacted include the sign shop, chip seal program, striping crew, light-fleet automotive shops and heavy equipment fabrication shop.”
While the vehicle management agency will not close, light-fleet repairs and fabrication operations will be outsourced to private-sector companies with oversight performed by the department, he said.
“These departmental changes will occur over the next 18 months and will include reduction in a number of positions,” he said.
Berry said the changes will trim 187 casual jobs, 71.5 regular and seasonal positions, and 19 permanent positions, which will be eliminated through existing vacancies and attrition.
“It is the department’s priority to minimize the loss of full-time and seasonal jobs, and to make efforts to offer affected staff other positions elsewhere in the department or in other departments via redeployment,” he said.
“The Department of Post-secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL) will support those impacted by the changes with Adjustment Services – various programming which may include employment counselling, skills development training and (raising awareness other private-sector) opportunities.”
Hardy said he’s concerned about how these changes will affect the service citizens across the province receive, noting that there had already been significant job cuts carried out within this department by the previous Progressive Conservative government in its four-year mandate.
Statistics provided by the union from Feb. 2015 show the department was using 168 fewer operators and 55 fewer pieces of equipment than it did during the 2008-09 winter season.
These changes will change the way roads are maintained and fixed, he said.
“It’s giving the work to the private sector, (people) who are out to make money,” he said.
Hardy said he’ll be trying to spread as much information about how these changes will affect the quality of the province’s roads and exactly how much these services will cost under the new outsourcing system.
“This will truly play out in two years,” he said.
“That’s when all of these work units will be gone. Some will be gone sooner rather than later, but we won’t know exactly what this means for roughly two years. Until then, we’ll be fighting this.”
More details should emerge when officials from the department appear this week before the standing committee on estimates and fiscal policy within the provincial legislature.

Transit workers ‘saved a lot of heartache for people,’ says mayor
The Daily Gleaner (Fredericton)
Wed Feb 17 2016
Page: A8
Section: Main
Byline: Stephen Llewellyn

Fredericton Mayor Brad Woodside says he intends to personally thank the city’s transit workers for voting in favour of a new contract on the weekend.
“The ball was in their court and they dealt with it and I’m proud of them and I want to say that face-to-face,” said Woodside.
He said he also sent out a tweet thanking the transit workers.
“I wanted them to know this was never something personal between us and them, that we really felt that we were being as fair with them as we were with anybody else,” Woodside said in an interview after Monday night’s council-in-committee meeting.
He said it is his understanding that vote by the transit workers in their meeting on the weekend was overwhelmingly in favour of the city’s last offer.
The city was offering wage increases of 1.75 per cent a year in the first three years and 2.5 per cent a year in the last two years of a five year contract. There were also improvements to benefits.
The transit workers, represented by CUPE Local 1783, were seeking improvements to the wages and benefits of part-time workers. The city has 43 transit workers who drive 28 buses.
Woodside said he is glad a strike was averted.
“The real people that would have been affected was not so much the drivers or city hall,” he said.
“It would have been those who can least afford transportation at a time of the year, which wouldn’t have been very pleasant.”
“I think they saved a lot of heartache for people in this community.”
Woodside said there has never been a transit strike in Fredericton since he has been mayor. That says something about the relationship city hall and council has with their employees, he said.
The city supports and appreciates the work done by its employees both on and off the job, said Woodside. They do a lot to help the community, he said.
“Talk to Moncton or talk to anybody who’s gone through it,” he said about a transit strike.
“After you’ve been out for two months or three months, there’s so much animosity, there’s some much bad feelings, there’s so much bad blood, it takes forever to get that back.”
Woodside said that is why he is going to visit the transit workers this week and make sure that good feeling has not been lost during these contract negotiations.
He said the city plans on treating them fairly in the future as well and a lot of organizations can’t make that claim.