Fiscal update, Ontario to welcome foreign entrepreneurs : In The News for Dec. 14

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Published December 14, 2021 at 4:15 am

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of Dec. 14 …

What we are watching in Canada …

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland plans to release an updated accounting of federal finances today and provide the government’s economic outlook for the coming months.

The government predicted the deficit for last fiscal year would be $354.2 billion, and nearly $155 billion this year. 

But federal books could have billions more in extra fiscal space helped by higher oil prices, which have also helped push up inflation rates. 

Freeland didn’t directly answer a question Monday about how that will be reflected in today’s update, saying she would have more to say once the document is released.

While the Liberals promised billions in new spending on the election campaign, the Finance Department has sent signals that the update won’t have a long list of new spending measures.

One measure was unveiled Monday, as the government set aside $40 billion to compensate First Nations children and undertake long-term reforms to the child-welfare system.

Economists suggest that some promised spending might be delayed because it could add to inflationary pressures. 

Also this …

Ontario is planning to accept 100 immigrants in the next two years under a program allowing foreign entrepreneurs to apply for immigration to the province after they invest a minimum of $200,000 in its economy. 

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says the government will focus on attracting international entrepreneurs to Ontario communities outside the Greater Toronto Area. 

He says these entrepreneurs will be nominated for immigration under the province’s economic immigration program after they start a new business or purchase an existing one in Ontario. 

McNaughton says the new initiative will cost the government $6 million, but it will be recovered through fees paid by immigrants who are coming to the province to start or buy businesses.

He says the province is expecting at a minimum $20 million in business investment generated through this immigration stream.

The previous Liberal government in Ontario had founded this stream in 2015 but only two immigrant investors have been nominated using it since then. 

“I see immigration as one of the key economic drivers of Ontario’s growth,” McNaughton said. “There’s an opportunity to create new businesses outside of the GTA, to create more jobs for people across the province.”

McNaughton said the program will help with the recovery of the Ontario economy after COVID-19 pandemic.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

DOVER, Del. (AP) — Attorneys in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case have reached a tentative settlement under which one of the organization’s largest insurers would contribute $800 million into a fund for victims of child sexual abuse.

The agreement announced Monday calls for Century Indemnity Co. and affiliated companies to contribute $800 million into the fund in return for being released from further liability for abuse claims. The payment would bring the amount of money in the proposed trust to more than $2.6 billion, which would be the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history.

The settlement comes as more than 82,000 men who filed claims face a Dec. 28 deadline to vote on a previously announced Boy Scouts reorganization plan.

That plan called for the Boys Scouts and its roughly 250 local councils to contribute up to $820 million in cash and property into a fund for victims. In return, the local councils and national organization would be released from further liability for sexual abuse claims.

The plan also includes settlement agreements involving another one of the Boy Scouts’ major insurers, The Hartford, and the Boy Scouts’ former largest troop sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon church. The Hartford has agreed to pay $787 million into the victims’ fund, and the Mormons have agreed to contribute $250 million. In exchange, both entities would be released from any further liability.

The Century settlement is subject to court approval.

“This is an extremely important step forward in the BSA’s efforts to equitably compensate survivors, and our hope is that this will lead to further settlement agreements from other parties,” the Boy Scouts said in a prepared statement.

The Boy Scouts, based in Irving, Texas, sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020. It wanted to halt hundreds of individual lawsuits and create a fund for men who say they were sexually abused as children. 

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

JAKARTA, Indonesia _ Indonesia lifted a tsunami alert Tuesday following a magnitude 7.3 undersea earthquake that struck off Flores Island, triggering panic in a region prone to fatal quakes but apparently causing no major damage or casualties.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit at a depth of 18.5 kilometres under the sea, and was located 112 kilometres north of the town of Maumere, the second-largest on the island in East Nusa Tenggara province with a population of 85,000.

After an initial tsunami alert, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii and later Indonesia’s meteorological agency lifted the warning hours after the quake.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said residents in East Flores district felt the earthquake strongly. Footage showed people running away from buildings that shook from the impact. One person was reported injured in East Nusa Tenggara province.

The shocks were also felt in Makassar city and Selayar Islands district in South Sulawesi province, across the Flores Sea. The disaster mitigation agency reported a school was damaged in the Selayar Islands.

Muhari said that based on sea level observations, minor tsunamis of seven centimetres were detected in Marapokot and Reo areas.

Dwikorita Karnawati, head of Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency, said people along the coastlines on the northerns side of Flores should be aware of further quakes and a potential tsunami.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 270 million people, is frequently struck by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines that arcs the Pacific. The last major earthquake was in January, a magnitude 6.2 that killed at least 105 people and injured nearly 6,500 in West Sulawesi province.

On this day in 1998 …

Former finance minister Paul Martin rejected proposed mega-mergers of Canada’s four biggest banks, citing concerns raised by a Competition Bureau report that bank mergers would result in the unacceptable concentration of economic power in the hands of fewer, very large banks.

In entertainment …

NEW YORK — Snoop Dogg has read the nominations for the 79th Golden Globes after nine months of widespread criticism forced the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to reform.

The group tried its best Monday to keep its perch in awards season, spreading nominations around to the likes of Will Smith, Kristen Stewart, Leonardo DiCaprio, Denzel Washington and Lady Gaga. 

“Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog” tied for the most nominations with seven apiece. 

Just as it’s done for many years, the association gathered reporters at the Beverly Hilton to announce its picks. But this time, there was no nationally televised morning-show live spot or any immediate celebrity celebrations. 

The press association’s recently elected president Helen Hoehne has said that in the nine months since its 2021 show, it has remade itself. The group has added a chief diversity officer; overhauled its board; inducted 21 new members, including six Black journalists; brought in the NAACP on a five-year partnership; and updated its code of conduct.

“This has been a year of change and reflection for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Hoehne said Monday.

All of that came after a Los Angeles Times’ expose detailed some of the HFPA’s unethical behaviour and revealed that its 87 voting members didn’t include one Black journalist. Studios said they would boycott the Globes and more than 100 PR films said their clients wouldn’t participate until the HFPA swiftly implemented “profound and lasting change.” Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the group’s headquarters.

NBC, the Globes’ longtime telecaster, has said it won’t air the 2022 Globes because “change of this magnitude takes time and work.” The Globes have still set a date of Jan. 9 but haven’t shared any details about what kind of ceremony that would be.

ICYMI …

Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan says the government is open to amending legislation that would provide 10 days of paid sick leave for federally regulated workers.

O’Regan acknowledges that at least two provisions in Bill C-3 could undermine the objective, which is to ensure ill workers don’t have to choose between going to work sick or staying home without pay.

The bill would allow employers to require a doctor’s note verifying that an employee is ill.

Senators on a committee doing a pre-study of the bill say that makes no sense on a number of fronts — including the fact that a person with COVID-19 symptoms is not even allowed to enter a doctor’s office these days — and would inhibit workers from taking sick leave. 

As the bill is currently written, workers would accrue their 10 days of paid sick leave at a rate of one day per month.

Senators point out that would do little to help a worker who contracts COVID-19 or another illness within a month or two of the bill’s enactment.

O’Regan told the Senate’s social affairs committee Monday that the government is open to amendments on both those issues.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2021

The Canadian Press

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