March 16, 2018 Latest News

For low-income earners in Ontario, what’s better for the bottom line — lower income taxes, or a higher minimum wage?

Progressive Conservative leader Doug Ford calls the Liberal and NDP pledge to increase rates to $15 an hour by 2019 a tax grab. According to economist Sheila Block, the move would mean an extra $1,465 in the pockets of the working poor.

The question is already a key debate between parties vying for votes, with both Liberals and New Democrats promising to implement the wage hike. The Conservatives, meanwhile, say they will freeze wages at their current $14 hourly rate and eliminate provincial income tax for everyone earning below $30,000. The Conservatives would have no say over the federal portion of income taxes.

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March 16, 2018 Latest News

In a surprise move, Premier Kathleen Wynne has briefly prorogued the Ontario Legislature and says a throne speech Monday will detail the government’s priorities in the time remaining before the June election.

“Today’s changing economy means there are some hard realities that are affecting people’s everyday lives, and creating an unfair burden,” Wynne said in a statement.

“We know families are under a lot of pressure … This throne speech is about making it clear we recognize peoples’ stress and anxiety and that our government is making deliberate choices to invest in the care and the services that the people of this province rely on.”

Because of the March Break, the house is not sitting and no days in the legislature will be lost, Wynne noted.

All bills will be reintroduced, including a recent one tabled that aims to narrow the gender wage gap.

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March 16, 2018 Latest News

One in five employers in the Peterborough area are expected to do some hiring between April and June.

The latest emploment outlook survey from Manpower Group found that 20 per cent of local employers surveyed say they expect to be hiring in the second quarter of the year.

Another 73 per cent of employers plan to maintain their current staffing levels, while seven per cent are unsure of their hiring intentions, according to the survey.

None of those surveyed were planning to cut staff.

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March 13, 2018 Latest News

U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement of hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have several countries around the world frantically trying to seek an exemption from the world’s biggest economy on the trade tax.

The European Union (EU), Japan and Australia are among others asking to be exempt from the proposed import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent of aluminum. Canada and Mexico have already been spared.

But as negotiations on trade continue between the U.S. and the rest of the world, economists say the impact of these new tariffs on the global economy is not as big as the threat of a global trade war.

“The global steel industry is huge and politically powerful, but it accounts for less than two per cent of world trade and only a very small fraction of global gross domestic product (GDP),” said Andrew Kenningham, economist at research firm Capital Economics in a note.

“In itself, it will not make much difference to the direction of the world economy,” he said.

For the U.S., Trump has long touted and tweeted that the economy will see big gains from the move, as he throws a lifeline to domestic manufacturers.

Benefits vs. costs

The country is the world’s biggest importer of steel, buying about 35 million tonnes of the commodity last year, according to Reuters.

But economists said the net impact of the tariffs on the U.S. economy is negative, because they benefit just a small slice of the economy, while harming nearly everyone else.

“With Canada and Mexico excluded from steel and aluminum tariffs, the actual decline in trade would likely result in less than half a percent of total U.S. imports,” said Royce Mendes, economist at CIBC. Canada and Mexico account for a quarter of the steel imported by the U.S.

“That being said, any benefits attributable to tariffs are likely to be outweighed by costs. That’s because both steel and aluminum are intermediate goods, suggesting that they will adversely affect other manufacturers,” he added.

Sal Guatieri, economist at BMO, said U.S. consumers will feel the pinch as manufacturers pass on the higher costs of production materials.

“The tariffs will extend an upswing in steel and aluminum prices and users’ input costs. Industries, such as fabricated metals that operate at capacity, will likely pass along the cost increase, cramping spending power,” he said in a note.

“As one example, Americans could pay about one per cent more for an automobile, or just over $300 US. Sure, they won’t stop driving, but they will have less money to spend on other stuff.”

Overall, the primary metals industry in U.S., which is largely steel and aluminum, accounts for just under 0.7 per cent of the economy.

Even if U.S. manufacturers increased their output of the two metals, it would add only 0.05 per cent to GDP, according to Guatieri.

Michael Dolega, economist at TD Economics estimates that about 5,000 to 10,000 jobs could be added to steel and aluminum production in the U.S., but there could also be a loss of 25,000 to 50,000 jobs in metal-intensive sectors like machinery and transport equipment.

Biggest risk

While the tariffs are not expected to have a big impact on the U.S. or global economy, economists agreed that the risk of a trade war stemming from the move could have much bigger consequences.

The EU has already warned that it is preparing counter measures if it is not exempted from the tariffs, while officials from China said over the weekend that a trade war would only bring “disaster” to the global economy.

Economists from Bank of America Merrill Lynch released a list of top ten exporters of steel and aluminum to the U.S.that were most likely to retaliate to the new tariffs.

The EU topped the list, followed by Brazil, South Korea, China and then Japan.

“An in-kind tariff by the United States’ top ten trading partners would expose close to 42 per cent of total U.S. exports, leading to a widening in the trade deficit,” they said.

Data last week showed that the U.S. trade deficit had jumped to an over nine-year high in January, with the country’s shortfall with China widening sharply.


March 13, 2018 Latest News

One city councillor says he’s “worried sick” about Peterborough now that a prospective deal to sell the city-owned electricity distribution system to Hydro One has fallen through.

“I’m worried sick about the implications for this community,” said Coun. Henry Clarke on Monday.

The wires, poles and transformers belonging to PDI will soon need expensive upgrades — and Clarke is concerned about how the city will afford those.

He wasn’t surprised that John Stephenson, president and CEO of Peterborough Utilities Group, stated that hydro rates may need to increase to make up for the collapse of the deal.

“I think in early 2019 we would need to be applying for a rate increase,” Stephenson told Peterborough This Week on Monday.

Hydro One had offered the city $105 million for the wires, poles, trucks and transformers that deliver electricity to Peterborough, Lakefield and Norwood.

It didn’t give any specific reason for walking away from negotiations on Friday. Clarke said he finds that appalling.

“They are playing games with us — and I don’t like it,” he said.

City council voted 6-5 to sell the utility at a meeting in December 2016.

But the city wouldn’t have received $105 million in the sale; once PDI’s debts were paid off, as well as taxes on the sale, the city would have been left with somewhere between $50 million and $55 million.

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March 13, 2018 Latest News

TORONTO — Restaurant operator Cara Operations Ltd. has managed the impact of Ontario’s minimum wage hike through selective price increases and menu changes at its various banners, chief executive officer Bill Gregson told analysts Monday.

In fact, Gregson said, that “most of our banners … have had stronger sales in Ontario than in other parts of Canada.”

Its banners include the Harvey’s burger chain, Swiss Chalet and St. Hubert chicken restaurants, and a variety of mid- to higher-end dining establishments such as Kelsey’s, East Side Mario’s and Milestones.

The Ontario government’s decision to increase its minimum wage on Jan. 1 to $14 per hour has sparked a debate about whether the hike would be an net benefit for the country’s largest provincial economy, given its impact on companies’ bottom lines.

Supporters of the wage hike have argued it could stimulate consumer spending while detractors have warned that it could spur inflation if businesses pass along the costs to consumers and job losses if businesses cut back on labour.

Gregson said that it’s too early to say how Cara will be affected in the longer term, but in the first weeks of 2018 there’s been no evidence that consumers are pushing back against its selective price increases.

“It’s not necessarily across the board on every item,” he said. “We’ve tried to minimize the price increases.”

In some cases, Gregson said, Cara has removed some items from menus if they are labour-intensive or have costly components.

Cara has benefited from virtually no inflation in its cost of food, he added.

“In Ontario, for our corporate stores, that whole juggling of all those different factors seems to have worked. But it’s only two months in.”

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March 9, 2018 Latest News

The annual Tampon Tuesday event was held Tuesday at The Junction on George St. in Peterborough.

The event is a unique way for people in the community to come together for a night of socializing, networking and support for women in the community.

Everyone who attended was asked to bring an unopened feminine hygiene product that will be donated directly to the YWCA Peterborough/Kawartha, Cameron House, Peterborough YES Shelter and the International Women’s Day Event on Thursday.

The drive is jointly hosted by the Kawartha Sexual Assault Centre and the Kawartha World Issues Cafe and sponsored locally by United Way Peterborough, Peterborough and District Labour Council and Bell Media.

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March 9, 2018 Latest News

Viola Desmond’s trail-blazing act of defiance — overlooked for decades by most Canadians — was honoured Thursday in a Halifax ceremony that cemented her new status as a civil rights icon.

A new $10 bill featuring Desmond was unveiled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.

The purple polymer bill — the first vertically oriented bank note issued in Canada — includes a portrait of Desmond and a historic map of north end Halifax on one side and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg on the other.

“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Poloz told the large crowd gathered at the Halifax Central Library on International Women’s Day despite a blustery snowstorm and flickering power. “That’s been a goal of mine since I became governor.”

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March 9, 2018 Latest News

Employers who use temporary employment agencies will no longer be able to evade liability for workplace accidents, the Star has learned, as new legislation promises to hold them responsible when temps are injured or killed on the job.

Last year a Star investigation showed how companies use temp agencies to cut costs and limit liability for accidents because temp agencies were considered workers’ so-called employer of record at the provincial compensation board. As a result, the agency took the financial hit if a temp got hurt, not the place where they were actually injured.

That will now change, making Ontario one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to hold employers accountable in this way.

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March 8, 2018 Latest News

The #MeToo movement has taken over Twitter feeds, dominated newspaper headlines, and unleashed a global reckoning for men who exploit their powerful positions to bully, harass and sexually assault women.

But when it comes to changing toxic gender dynamics — the scaffolding that enables everything from high-profile sexual assaults to more quotidian forms of female oppression — has the needle actually moved? According to one recent survey, the answer is yes, even if only by a quiver.

In the lead up to International Women’s Day — the first since #MeToo went viral — non-profit organization Plan International Canada surveyed 3,000 Canadians for their perspectives on a number of gender equality issues. The charity, popularly known for its “Because I Am a Girl” gender equality campaign, wanted to understand whether the #MeToo movement has altered gender perceptions, according to Canadian president and CEO Caroline Riseboro.

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The Peterborough and District Labour Council (PDLC) is the central body of union locals in the Peterborough area (Peterborough County plus Omemee) who are affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

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