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August 17, 2021

Election Update

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On the Campaign Trail – 44th General Election is underway

By Scott Munnoch, Temple Scott Associates

On Sunday, Prime Minister Trudeau kicked off the 44th Federal Election by visiting the Governor General to request the dissolution of Parliament kick off a 36-day campaign – the legislated minimum campaign length – ending in an Election Day on Monday, September 20.

The prospect of an election has been clearly telegraphed for months. In his comments to media after visiting the Governor General, Trudeau attempted to frame the Election as necessary in order for his Government to receive a mandate to “finish the fight” in terms of managing the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign will be an unusual one, particularly given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Liberal Party is convinced that now is the best possible time to run for re-election and attempt to return to a majority government.

Current public opinion polling shows the Liberals with a lead on the other parties, though individual polls disagree on the size of that lead and whether it would translate into a majority of minority government.

Campaigns matter

It is impossible to predict with any confidence the ultimate outcome on September 20th. 

If the Liberals can convince enough voters in these key demographics and regions that the direction of the current Government is the right one, then they will secure their majority. 

If the Opposition, (Conservatives, NDP, Green, BQ) successfully argue that a change is required, then the result will likely be another minority Parliament. 

If Erin O’Toole has a strong campaign and can tap into significant voter concern about key issues such as the cost of living and a sense that the Government has lost touch with the kitchen table concerns of some Canadians. Then change may be possible.

At the outset there appears to be a clear set of ballot box issues however campaigns often take on a life of their own and other issues may come to the forefront. As of today, the ballot questions centre around these issues.

  • Impact of a 4th wave
  •  Mandatory vaccinations
  • Cost of Living
  • Taxes and the Middle Class
  • Climate Change
  • Child Care
  • Government Debt

A more detail discussion of the issues is available here.

What’s Next

The NDP unveiled its policy platform last week, and it focused on strengthening public healthcare, affordability issues, and the environment.

The Conservative Party of Canada released its full 160-page election platform on August 16 — an ambitious agenda that promises billions of dollars in new spending to prop up an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike past Conservative platforms, this one embraces a robust role for government in the economy through large cash injections to help businesses weather the pandemic crisis over the next two years.

The Opposition Leaders and their policies are poised to enjoy sustained media coverage for the first time in over a year, after the COVID-19 pandemic dominated political media coverage during that time, so there is potential for a strong performance by one of Erin O’Toole or Jagmeet Singh to disrupt the Election.

By the Numbers

The Latest Polling

Conservative Liberal NDP Green BQ
29.4 34.9 19.4 5.0 6.5

Seat Projections

Conservative Liberal NDP Green BQ
105 166 37 1 29

*170 seats are needed for a majority government

Odds of Winning

Liberal Conservative
Majority Minority Minority Majority
42% 48% 9% 1%

NDP promises universal pharmacare, mental health supports in first mandate, if elected

On August 12, the NDP released a list of commitments focusing on health care and affordability, which is expected to form the backbone of its campaign platform during the federal election. The document signals the party's long-term vision, but they believe universal prescription drug coverage, dental care and mental health care for the uninsured is doable within the first mandate.

The commitments document doesn't contain a costing breakdown on its promises. Some previously announced promises, such universal prescription drug coverage, were costed in the 2019 election but could have risen.

To cover some of the proposed programs, the party said it would bring in a one per cent tax on households with wealth of more than $10 million — widening the net from its previous promise of wealth over $20 million. This is expected bring in as much as $10 billion a year to then be invested in services. Another revenue source would be a promised temporary COVID-19 excess profit tax that puts an additional 15 per cent tax on large corporations that recorded major profits during the pandemic. 

As part of its health-care plank, the party says a New Democrat government would bring in mental health care for uninsured Canadians so that people without such coverage would be able to seek out help. That’s one of the big-ticket items, along with making post-secondary education part of Canada's public education system, that would require buy-in from the provinces. Other promises include:

  • $10-a-day child care.
  • Reintroducing 30-year terms to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation insured mortgages on entry-level homes for first-time home buyers. 
  • Creating at least half a million units of affordable housing in the next 10 years.
  • Guaranteed livable income for all Canadians. 
  • A price cap on cell phone bills.
  • Continuing wage and rent subsidies for small businesses as the pandemic continues.

Click here to read the NDP’s platform

Conservatives release full platform promising billions of dollars in new pandemic aid

The Conservative Party of Canada today released its full 160-page election platform — an ambitious agenda that promises billions of dollars in new spending to prop up an economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Party leader Erin O'Toole said a Conservative government would balance the budget in ten years' time. The federal deficit for this fiscal year alone is expected to be $381.6 billion. The multi-billion dollar plan has not yet been costed; the party says the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) has not finished studying the numbers.

A Conservative government led by O'Toole would end the Liberal party's plan to create a national child care program; the party would instead flow money directly to parents to cover those costs.

The platform also promises to spend much more money on health care by boosting the annual growth rate of the Canada Health Transfer to at least six per cent from its current rate, which is tied to how much the economy grows in a given year with a floor of three per cent. The party says the more generous health transfer to the provinces would cost the federal treasury nearly $60 billion over the next ten years.

But the centrepiece of the plan is a promise to create a million jobs. To accomplish that goal, the party is offering even more money than the Liberal government has budgeted for the country's pandemic-struck employers — part of a push to recover all jobs lost over the last 18 months.

Business recovery commitments

Through its Canada Jobs Surge Plan, the party is promising that a Conservative government would pay up to 50 per cent of the salaries of new hires once the existing Canadian emergency wage subsidy (CEWS) is phased out.

To spur business spending, the party vows to create a "Canada Investment Accelerator," which would provide a 5 per cent tax credit for any capital investment made in 2022 and 2023.

It also would introduce something called the "rebuild Main Street tax credit," which would provide a 25 per cent tax credit on amounts of up to $100,000 that Canadians personally invest in a small business over the next two years.

As part of the proposed "Main Street business loan," a Conservative government would provide loans of up to $200,000 to small and medium businesses in the hospitality, retail and tourism sectors to help them "get back on their feet." Up to 25 per cent of such loans would be forgivable, depending on a company's revenue.

The party maintains the government's current Canada emergency business account (CEBA) program, which offers $60,000 loans to virtually all small businesses, is "too small."

To support restaurants, the Conservative party is promising a billion-dollar benefit. For one month, a Conservative government would provide a 50 per cent rebate for food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased for dining in at restaurants between Monday and Wednesday.

GST 'holiday'

To help ailing retailers, a government led by O'Toole would implement a "GST holiday" for December 2021. All purchases at a retail store would be tax-free for a month.

To read the full Conservative Party Platform click here.

Federal leaders' debates set for September 8, 9

Dates and venues for two election debates between the leaders of Canada's federal parties have been set.

A French-language debate will be held on September 8 from 8 to 10 p.m. EDT, and an English-language event will be held the next day from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT. Both debates will take place the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Que.

The Leaders' Debates Commission,already has announced the criteria for the leaders' participation in the events. Parties must meet at least one of three of the following requirements:

·         They must be represented in the House of Commons by at least one MP initially elected under the party banner.

·         They must have won at least four per cent of the national vote in the 2019 election.

·         They must show they draw at least four per cent of the national vote five days after the election is called, as demonstrated by public polling.

The Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Greens all meet at least two of those requirements. Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada will need to show it is receiving at least four per cent of public support in polling if it wants to be represented in the two September events.

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Your CFA Update on COVID-19

Webinar: Understanding Ontario’s New Blue Box Regulation and your requirements as a Blue Box Producer

Date: Wednesday, August 18

Time: 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority is hosting a webinar “Understanding Ontario’s New Blue Box Regulation”. During the webinar, RPRA will participants through the regulatory requirements for producers of Blue Box materials to help them understand and meet their obligations under the new regulation. Topics will include:

  • Obligated Blue Box materials
  • Who is a Blue Box producer?
  • Registration and reporting requirements
  • Working with producer responsibility organizations (or PROs)

Sign up here

CFA Strongly Recommends Members Sign Up

If your brand has a stewardships component of your Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) you should attend the session to learn how the new Blue Box regulation will impact your franchise system. It also might mean you will need to update your FDD to reflect this significant policy change.

The change means many more items that do not fall under the current blue box system are now covered and the producers will be responsible for the full cost of recycling/reusing the product. These changes will affect a large number of CFA members who produce product packaging, paper products or packaging-like products.

Any franchised business is deemed a producer if they supply packaging, paper producers or packaging-like products comprised of paper, glass, metal or plastic, or a combination of these materials to consumers in Ontario.

Nova Scotia Votes: TODAY

Nova Scotians head to the polls today in a provincial election some insiders predict could be so close that the result won't be known until Wednesday.

When Liberal Leader Iain Rankin called the election last month, the province was entering a period of newfound freedom as public health protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic were easing. Most regular activities could proceed with few restrictions and fully vaccinated people could travel freely in and out of the province.

The Liberals, who have been in power since 2013, were hoping to ride the positive vibe, coupled with a traditionally sleepy summer campaign, to a third straight majority win. But the party stumbled out of the gate and its campaign struggled to find momentum amid opposition attacks.

Polls close at 8 p.m. AT.

Click here to find out where to vote

Canadian home sales slipped 3% in July while average price fell to $662,000

Canada's housing market is continuing its slowdown, with both prices and sales volumes well down in July from where they were a few months ago.

The Canadian Real Estate Association said Monday that the number of homes sold has now fallen for four months in a row, as has the average selling price. Sales in July 2021 were 15 per cent lower than they were in the same month a year ago, but the group that represents realtors notes that last year's number was the busiest July ever.

About two-thirds of all markets across the country saw sales decline, with significant declines in Prince Edward Island, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Sales were slightly lower in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., while they increased slightly everywhere else.

The average price of a Canadian home that sold on the MLS service was $662,000. That's down from the all-time high of $716,828 seen in March 2021.

While selling prices are down from March, they are still well up compared to where they were this time last year, with CREA reporting that its House Price Index rose by 22 per cent in the year up to the end of July. That's down slightly from 24 per cent in June.

TD Bank economist Rishi Sondhi says the July numbers suggest the market is in fact cooling, but is not on track to go ice cold any time soon.

Canada's jobs recovery continues in July amid reopenings

Canada’s labor market continued its recovery in July as health restrictions were lifted, but the gains were less than expected.

The country’s economy added 94,000 jobs last month, Statistics Canada reported Friday in Ottawa. Economists were predicting a jobs gain of 150,000. The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 per cent from 7.8 per cent in July.

The report signals the economic rebound is intact and shows companies are finding workers as pandemic restrictions vanish. The smaller-than-expected increase, though, could cast some doubt on the pace of hiring. The gains last month were largely in full-time private-sector employment, particularly among youth and women.

The numbers show the economy has more than fully recouped losses from a third wave of the pandemic that swept through the country earlier this year. July’s increase follows a 231,000 jobs gain in June; the two months reversed the 275,000 jobs lost during lockdowns in April and May.

Of the three million jobs lost at the start of the crisis, 2.74 million have now been recovered.

Drop in U.S. retail sales underscores shift to services spending

U.S. retail sales fell in July by more than forecast, reflecting a steady shift in spending toward services and indicating consumers may be growing more price conscious as inflation picks up.

The value of overall retail purchases dropped 1.1 per cent last month following an upwardly revised 0.7 per cent increase in June, Commerce Department figures showed Tuesday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 0.3 per cent decrease. Excluding autos, sales decreased 0.4 per cent in July.

Total receipts trailed estimates by a wide margin as declines in motor vehicle and e-commerce sales weighed on the figure. Restaurant spending increased, though at a more moderate pace than in previous months. 

The emergence of the delta variant could curb demand for services like travel and entertainment going forward. Higher prices for things like groceries, meals out, personal care and apparel also risk limiting discretionary spending in the coming months.

A report last week from the University of Michigan showed buying conditions deteriorated to the lowest since April of last year as inflation remained elevated. The retail sales data are not adjusted for price changes.

Quebec mandates vaccinations for all health-care workers, masks in post-secondary schools

Quebec Premier François Legault says a worrisome trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases is pushing the province to implement more measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Case numbers and hospitalizations are expected to continue to grow in the coming weeks, Legault said, adding that people who are not vaccinated make up the majority of those hospitalized with the virus.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Legault announced that the government will require all health-care workers in the public and private sectors to be vaccinated, as well as new rules about the wearing of masks Quebec's colleges and universities.

In Quebec, 91 per cent of the total number of health-care workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 84 per cent have received two. 

Ontario announces mandatory vaccine plans for health, education workers; 3rd doses for some

Ontario is putting the brakes on any further reopening ahead of a "difficult fall and winter" as the province reveals new vaccine policies for high-risk settings.

Employees, staff, contractors, students, and volunteers at hospitals and home and community care settings will, at a minimum, have to provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, have a medical reason for not being vaccinated, or complete a vaccination educational session. The new vaccination policies must be implemented in high-risk settings no later than Sept. 7. People in these settings who do not provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to undertake regular testing, the government says. The announcement was made "in response to evolving data around the transmissibility of the Delta variant."

The policy will be similar to one that is already in place in the province's long-term care homes.

In addition, the Ministry of Education said it plans to introduce a vaccination disclosure policy for all publicly-fund school board employees, and staff in private schools. 

This will also apply to staff in licenced child-care settings. Rapid COVID-19 testing will be required for staff who are not fully immunized, the government says. 

Vaccination policies will also be implemented in other higher-risk settings, including:

  • Post-secondary institutions
  • Licenced retirement homes
  • Women’s shelters
  • Congregate group homes and day programs for adults with developmental disabilities, children’s treatment centres and other services for children with special needs, and licensed children’s residential settings 

The policies stop short of mandating vaccines for workers in frontline, high-risk jobs -- something health worker groups and other advocates had been calling for.

Alberta to backtrack on plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions

Alberta is rolling back on plans to end mandatory isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19, as cases in the province hit their highest level since late May.   

The province was due to end most COVID-19 restrictions on Aug. 16. Alberta public health measures will remain in place for another six weeks, while newly announced back-to-school guidelines don't mandate in-class masks but will include school-based vaccinations.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, also announced that mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result will also continue until Sept. 27. Hinshaw said the direction on contact tracing that came into effect July 29 — that close contacts will no longer be notified, except for high-risk settings such as continuing care facilities — has not been reversed.

Measures that will remain in place until Sept. 27 include:

  • Mandatory masking orders in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares. This includes school buses.
  • Mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result
  • Testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual

Back-to-school guidelines

Hinshaw announced Friday that masking will not be required provincially in school settings, but she said school officials have the authority to put in local measures — such as physical distancing, cohorting and mandatory masking — if those decisions are right for them and their communities.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said that at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, those measures are "best left" to local authorities to decide for themselves.

Saskatchewan offering more shots to people who got mixed doses or AstraZeneca and plan to travel internationally

The Saskatchewan government announced Tuesday it is making additional doses of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines such as Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech available for those who received one or two shots of AstraZeneca-Oxford, or two different brands of vaccine.

While the province said all vaccines administered across the country are approved by Health Canada as safe and effective, some countries are requiring travellers to have proof of immunization with specific vaccines.

Saskatchewan residents are encouraged to check on the approved vaccines for the country they're visiting before travelling internationally. 

Proof of intent to travel will not be needed to receive the additional vaccinations, the province added.

People can book appointments through pharmacies still offering vaccinations, or visit a pop-up clinic near them.

Federal government to require vaccinations for all federal public servants, air and train passengers

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced Friday that the federal government will soon require that all federal public servants be vaccinated — a mandate that he said will also be implemented by Crown corporations and other federally regulated businesses in the coming weeks.

The vaccine will be mandatory for federal employees and those working in some federally regulated industries (airlines and railways, among others) in an effort to boost stalled vaccination rates. The government says it also "expects" that other employers in federally regulated sectors — like banking, broadcasting and telecommunication — will require vaccination for their employees.

Vaccination soon required for air and rail passengers

Starting soon, all commercial air travellers and passengers on interprovincial trains and large marine vessels with overnight accommodations (such as cruise ships) will have to be vaccinated, Alghabra said. He said accommodations will be made for "those few who are unable to be vaccinated," such as testing and screening. Asked when these measures for travellers would take effect, Alghabra said the government is developing "a measured and practical approach to requiring vaccines in these sectors as quickly as possible."

Ontario Launches New Modern Ontario Business Registry

Ontario is launching a new Ontario Business Registry on October 19. The new online registry will allow businesses to complete over 90 transactions through the new online registry, including registering a new business and dissolving an existing one. Registrations or filings that were previously submitted by mail or fax, taking four to six weeks to complete, can now be done instantly through the online registry. When online transactions are completed, users will receive automatic email notices with electronic attachments instead of paper documents.

The migration of annual return filings that were previously completed through the Canada Revenue Agency will be available through the Ontario Business Registry.

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