By Chris Sorensen - Thursday, June 3, 2010 - 4 Comments
Canadians who can only afford the minimum monthly payments on their credit cards could…
Canadians who can only afford the minimum monthly payments on their credit cards could soon face their own personal credit crunch. Card companies are raising their monthly minimums as they face pressure from Ottawa to help reduce soaring personal debt levels. As of August, Canada’s biggest issuer of MasterCards, MBNA Canada Bank, will change the way it calculates minimum monthly payments, effectively raising them across the board. The idea is to prevent cardholders from falling into a cycle of debt where they only pay off interest and fees each month, leaving the principal virtually untouched. “We really think it’s a prudent thing to do for our customers,” says MBNA spokeswoman Cathy Velazquez.
But it’s not like the industry, with its 20 per cent interest rates, has suddenly decided to look out for our best interests. New rules coming this fall require card issuers to inform customers exactly how long it will take to pay off their balances with only minimum payments. Card issuers also have an incentive to forgo earning more interest if it helps ward off personal bankruptcies. “The defaults have been very high,” says Laurie Campbell, the executive director of Credit Canada. “There’s a recognition it could be a house of cards.”
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 13, 2009 at 8:24 AM - 110 Comments
The Star sorts out how the federal books got the way they are.
Taking over the reins of government in early 2006, the Conservatives were bequeathed a $13.7 billion budget surplus by the Liberals. But by last January, the fiscal cupboard was nearly bare. Even before this year’s economic rescue package, Ottawa was poised to overspend its budget by $15.7 billion, according to Finance Canada documents … This situation results from the Tories’ decisions to sharply reduce sales taxes and lower personal and corporate income taxes while simultaneously allowing a relentless upsurge in Ottawa’s spending. The Conservative budgets in 2006 and 2007 were notable for their largesse. The government committed to such large spending plans as $5.3 billion for defence, $39 billion for cash transfers to the provinces and $3.7 billion for a new baby bonus.
Beginning in 2006, the Conservatives cut the Goods and Services Tax, in two steps, to 5 per cent from 7 per cent, a move that now costs $11 billion annually in lost revenue … Besides lost GST revenue, the government as of this year is also foregoing $15.3 billion as a result of personal income tax cuts and $7.1 billion from corporate income tax reductions. In all, Conservative tax measures have trimmed Ottawa’s revenues this year by $33.9 billion…
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 1:53 PM - 71 Comments
SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE!
Unless you’ve spent the last few days on a self (or otherwise) imposed political news fast, most of y’all have likely been following, with varying degrees of interest, the kerfuffle over the mysteriously disappearing — or, if you buy the official PCO line, the simply-no-longer-appearing — pictures of the prime minister from the Canada Action Plan website.
It all started late last week, when the ever-inquisitive Canadian Press started pestering the government with questions about the millions of dollars being spent to advertise the Action Plan, compared to the millions that weren’t being spent to keep the public informed on swine flu, and why that advertising — and the Action Plan website itself — seemed to be coming perilously close to skirting Treasury Board rules that forbid using taxpayer dollars for partisan campaigns.
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 3:24 PM - 3 Comments
The full report doesn’t seem to be up yet, but here’s the executive summary.
Also, you can’t tell from the online version, but the hard copy has exactly the same cover graphic as the budget, which is either a nice bit of continuity, or a tragically missed opportunity to provide some much needed stimulus to the stock photography industry. You be the judge. Oh, and no sign of that spreadsheet provided by the always helpful Parliamentary Budget Office last month. Maybe next time, guys.
Oh, and one more thing: Does it seem weird to anyone else that the PM would deliver an ostensibly “major” speech on the economy just a few hours before his government tabled a similarly ostensibly major progress report? You’d think that at the very least, they’d be worried that one would bury the other, although I’m not sure which would be the more likely victim. Probably the progress report, since it doesn’t have visuals.
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, March 3, 2009 at 10:17 AM - 8 Comments
Enough, at least, to realize that it’s worth paying attention to the recommendations that the Parliamentary Budget Office released last week. Looks like that spreadsheet y’all worked so hard on may end up being useful after all, guys! From yesterday’s post-QP scrum with John McCallum:
Question: On the issue of accountability, what do you want to see in the March 11th report by the Finance Minister to Parliament? What should it contain?
John McCallum: Well, we want to see a clear statement of not money out the door because money will not have gone out the door before April 1st but plans and something that will reassure Canadians that money is indeed imminently likely to go out the door. We would want to see as much evidence as they can muster, that for example, the infrastructure money will flow quickly after April the 1st, will not sit under a mattress in Ottawa and we will also be guided by the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s accountability framework which will also be a part of the probation process.
It’s worth noting, of course, that we still haven’t heard a peep from the government on how it plans to meet the still somewhat ephemeral reporting requirements, although in fairness, since this wasn’t their idea, perhaps the finance minister is waiting for the Liberals to fill them in on exactly what they’re expecting to see.
So, what's it like to see your signature on a five dollar bill? – Liveblogging Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney at the Finance Committee
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 7:53 AM - 27 Comments
After much, much, much internal — and eventually external — debate (seriously, y’all, I’ve been wracking my brain over this one since 5am), ITQ was finally forced to admit that, despite the fact that she really wants to hear what Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Scott Vaughan has to say about the report he released last week, what with the current Global Economic Unpleasantness, it would be dereliction of her committee liveblogging duties not to cover the appearance of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney. Plus, Vaughan is also scheduled to be at Public Accounts this afternoon, which she was already planning on covering. In any case, check back at 9am for full coverage of the Finance committee!
Well, to nobody’s surprise, my fellow reporters are swarming this meeting – there are at least a dozen of us here, and a few cameras crews staking out the doorway for the all-important Important Man Wearing a Coat and Striding Purposefully Forward shot. Not that anyone seems to be expecting much in the way of, you know, *news* out of today’s appearance — the consensus amongst the finance reporters seems to be that we’re not going to hear anything new, although a small but vocal minority thinks he’ll address the latest numbers to come out of the US, and Obama’s most recent comments.
And there he is! The Governor of the Bank of Canada, that is, who is currently doing a quick pre-meeting lap of the table, shaking hands and looking entirely non-panic-stricken, which should totally nudge the dollar up a few points, right?
UPDATED AGAIN: Extraordinary times call for extraordinary committee chairs: Liveblogging the Finance *and* Environment *and* Government Operations and Estimates committees
By kadyomalley - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 7:52 AM - 7 Comments
Hey, yesterday’s meeting of the Justice committee turned out to be far more interesting than we expected, right? Check back at 9am for all the action as the denizens of the Finance committee elect a new chair, pass routine motions – and just maybe have enough time left over to fix the Global Economic Unpleasantness.
Welcome to the battle of the livebloggers! In this corner, your beloved – well, at the very least be-tolerated for her quirkiness – ITQ; in the other, the one and only David Akin, who will also be covering today’s events, although I’m not sure if he will be doing so in real time.
We’re in one of the two A-list committee rooms — the other is being used by Environment, and I’ll definitely try to wander over there if this one let’s out early – and the members are starting to stream in, including parliamentary secretary for Finance Ted Menzies – one of ITQ’s very favourite almost-ministers – and an old friend from Ethics: Mike Wallace. So far, there’s not much of a presence on the opposition side of the table, although John McCallum is holding court a few Tories at the other end of the room.
By Scott Feschuk - Thursday, October 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM - 0 Comments
I pledge to issue one (1) vagrant-class ‘barrel with straps’ to each man, woman and child
Dear Government of America:
Word has it you’ve been flashing a serious wad of cash, strutting around like the pimp of Recessionville, tempting and teasing everyone with your $700 billion. Maybe we’ll bail out your financial system, maybe we won’t, okay we’re going to bail out your financial system and—PSYCHE!
Let me make this simple for you. Forget about your treasury secretary, who wants to use the money to prop up ailing Wall Street firms and buy failing mortgages. This approach is, in the parlance of international finance, way stupid.
I offer a more prudent course. In these perilous times, you need to turn to a surefire cure for your economic maladies. You need to invest your $700 billion not in Wall Street but in Canada. In a very specific part of Canada.
The part of Canada that’s me.
Let me explain to you, the Government of America, why investing $700 billion in Scott Feschuk will help revive your economy, set you back on the road to prosperity and get the Visa people off my case.
From what I remember of the five economics lectures I attended in university, hangovers are a real bitch at 8 a.m. But what’s relevant here is the theory of trickle-down economics: you give a sweet, sweet ride to the people at the very top (i.e., me) and, thanks to economic gravity or whatever, stuff starts to “trickle down” to the jerks who used to look at me funny on the bus. Bingo—everyone’s solvent again.
But it’s not just about theory. When you invest your $700 billion in me, Scott Feschuk, I will immediately enact a five-point action plan to personally save the American economy:
1. I will buy a motorcycle. Admittedly, this will do very little to directly aid economic growth. But remember: so much of an economy’s performance these days is related to consumer confidence. Seeing me on my shiny new motorcycle, men across America will think to themselves, “Who is that winged god of speed and thunder?” while women think, “Perhaps that mysterious motorcycle man will pull over and have sex with me.” My consumer confidence? Through the roof.
By kadyomalley - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 7:47 PM - 883 Comments
Okay, a slight miscalculation on the time – it turns out that
Okay, a slight miscalculation on the time – it turns out that the much-anticipated Finance Committee of the Whole is at 7:15, not 6:30. Which works out well, since I needed to grab a sandwich.
Anyway, I’m here now, and they’re just winding down debate on some private members’ bill that will, its sponsor was just assuring the House, will get mollycoddled criminals off the streets and bring about paradise on earth for working families.
Some ground rules, then, for what could be a very long night — just so you know what to expect, I’m not going to be doing minute by minute blogging, since it would probably bring on the dreaded Pizza Finger Syndrome, and anyway, you know I’m allergic to lengthy debate on full accrual accounting.
I’m also going to have to sprint back to my desk to post every now and then, and depending on how it goes, I may even wander down to the foyer to see if Maxime Bernier is lurking behind a pillar, waiting to be scrummed. But I promise to get all the good bits. Presuming there will be good bits, that is.