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Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning announced a significant increase to the wage subsidy for small- and medium-sized businesses — 75%, compared to the 10% previously promotions.

The idea is to avoid mass layoffs and help “qualifying businesses” keep employees on staff. The subsidy will be backdated to March 15. More details will be released on Monday.

“It’s becoming clear that we need to do more — much more — so we’re bringing that percentage up to 75% for qualifying businesses,” Trudeau said. “This means people will continue to be paid even though their employers have to slow down or stop their businesses.”

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce praised the move: “75% wage subsidy is exactly what the doctor ordered, and what business groups have been asking for. Very good news for small businesses and their workers, increasing their ability to keep staff on the payroll.”

In addition, the federal government is launching a a new Canada Emergency Business Account that will involved banks providing government-guaranteed loans that will be interest-freefor the first year. If the borrower meets certain conditions, the first $10,000 will be forgiven.


Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is open to proposals from the private sector for a refinery in British Columbia, as a public inquiry into the province’s soaring gas prices reviews possible solutions.

The prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas that would make life more affordable for Canadians.

“We’re always open to seeing what the private sector proposes, what business cases are out there. We believe in getting things done the right way and we’re going to work with people to find solutions to make sure that people can afford their weekly bills,” Trudeau said.

He made the comments in Victoria this month following a joint announcement with Premier John Horgan of $79 million to support 118 new transit buses across the province.

The funding will also allow for 10 long-range electric buses that would provide greener transportation options in Greater Victoria.

Horgan called the gas price inquiry in May when prices at the pump reached $1.70 on the Lower Mainland, saying the public deserved answers about why prices are so much more expensive and variable than in other jurisdictions.

Horgan said that while the province wants a transition away from fossil fuel dependence, that transition should be aided by more refined product to give B.C. drivers relief.

The province believes that, like raw logs, there’s an economic opportunity lost when oil and gas goes to market before value is added, even as the province moves toward cleaner energies, he said.

Oral hearings are ongoing in the public inquiry into gas prices and the three-member panel chaired by the David Morton, CEO of the B.C. Utilities Commission, is set to release a final report and recommendations Aug. 30.

Henry Kahwaty, an economist hired by Parkland Fuels, which owns and operates one of the province’s only refineries in Burnaby, told the panel on Wednesday that there have been several business cases circulating for additional refineries in the province.

But Kahwaty said the business cases put forward aren’t based on meeting local demand, even if some of the product would undoubtedly end up in B.C.

“It’s serving Asian markets,” Kahwaty said.

Dozens of protesters rallied outside a Liberal fundraiser Thursday night, carrying signs saying “declare a climate health emergency,” and “get oil out of our soil.”

Some held up giant, inflatable orcas mounted on sticks, a reference to the endangered species threatened by the increased tanker traffic that would come with the pipeline’s expansion.

They called for a stronger federal climate action plan and criticized Trudeau for his government’s approval and purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Trudeau told reporters that selling Canadian oil to American markets at a discount won’t help the environment but redirecting some of the profits from the expansion will.

During the fundraiser’s “armchair discussion,” Trudeau said we’re in a time where populism and social media are amplifying voices on the peripheries and the Liberal party is committed to the “hard work,” of finding what can be complicated solutions.

“Nobody has a sign that says ‘Make a decent compromise,’ ‘Find a reasonable way forward,’ ‘Get that right balance.’ ”

Although, he said he was flattered to hear the same orcas were at Elizabeth May’s wedding in April.

 


Trudeau says Alberta carbon tax fight won’t affect Trans Mountain line decision

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Alberta’s opposition to a carbon tax won’t influence his cabinet’s decision on whether to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“Moves that a province may or may not make will have no bearing on the approval process for important projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion,” Trudeau told reporters Friday.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has promised to bring in legislation to kill Alberta’s provincial carbon tax as the first order of his new United Conservative government.

Kenney has also promised to fight in court any move by Trudeau’s government to replace the provincial levy with the federal one.

When asked if Alberta will get the federal tax, Trudeau said, “There are many discussions still to have on this.

“What we are going to ensure is that nowhere across the country will it be free to pollute.

“We’d much rather work with the provinces on that. But if some provinces don’t want to act to fight climate change, the federal government will, because it’s too important for Canadians.”

Kenney’s spokesperson, Christine Myatt, responded in a statement: “We look forward to approval of the Trans Mountain expansion project and fully expect the federal government to do everything in its power to see that this pipeline gets built.”

The federal tax has been put in place in Ontario, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba _ provinces that have not implemented their own carbon levy.

A week ago, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal ruled in a split decision that the tax imposed on provinces without a carbon price of their own is constitutional.

The court said establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions does fall under federal jurisdiction.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has promised to appeal the decision up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Ontario is also challenging the federal tax and is waiting for a decision after arguing its case in court last month.

Kenney’s office reiterated its promise to launch a similar challenge.

“We look forward to introducing legislation that will repeal the (Alberta) NDP’s job-killing carbon tax and are prepared to fight any federally-imposed carbon tax all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,” said Myatt.

Kenney campaigned, and won, Alberta’s election last month on a platform that included repealing the provincial carbon tax.

The bill is expected to be introduced shortly after the Alberta legislature begins sitting May 21.

Kenney has promised to replace it with a program of levies on GHG emissions by large industrial producers. The money raised will then be used for carbon pollution technology and research that Kenney says can be shared globally and will have a broader impact on arresting climate change.

He says the current carbon tax on home heating and gasoline at the pumps hurts working families, while having no effect on global GHG emissions.

Alberta’s program offers rebates for low and middle-income families, and Trudeau noted the federal one does too.

“We’ve made sure that the average family is actually better off with the climate action incentive we return to them at tax time than they would be paying as an extra price on pollution,” said Trudeau.

“Fighting climate change while making it affordable for Canadians is at the heart of how we’re going to move forward.”

Trudeau’s cabinet is expected to make a decision as early as next month on whether to approve Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which will triple the capacity of oil shipped from Alberta to the west coast.