Feb. 28, 2020

ALBERTA BUDGET FEBRUARY 27, 2020

  • Alberta will cut operational spending by less than 3% in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
  • Alberta’s deficit in the year ending March 2019 will be $7.5 billion down from the earlier estimate of $8.7 billion, generating $35 million in debt-servicing cost savings this fiscal year.
  • WTI oil expected to be an average $58 USD for fiscal 2020.
  • Anticipating 3 pipelines up and running by the end of fiscal 2022: Enbridge Line 3, TransMountain expansion, TransCanada Keystone XL.
  • Total debt increasing 11% to $95.6 billion; this year’s budget is estimated to total $56.04 billion.
  • Maximum personal tax rates (combined Federal and Provincial):
    • Alberta 48%; BC 53.8% (reported incorrectly on Feb 21/2020 as 49.8%); Saskatchewan 47%; Manitoba 40.40%; Ontario 53.53%; Quebec 53.31%; Nova Scotia 54%

RAIL BLOCKADE UPDATE

  • Transport Minister, Marc Garneau says it will take ‘many, many weeks’ to get rail service back on track.
  • Alberta tabled a bill that would jail pipeline or rail protestors for up to 6 months and impose major fines.
  • BC is delaying a decision on a controversial stretch of the Coast GasLink pipeline and asking TC Energy to take more time to engage with indigenous groups.
  • Commuter trains near Toronto were cancelled or disrupted on Wednesday because of rail protests.
  • CN and CP have been working together to circumvent blockades by using alternate routes, some through the US, to continue deliveries to Quebec and Maritime communities of essential goods such as propane and animal feed.
  • Work on the Coastal GasLink pipeline paused for 2 days to facilitate talks between Federal Ministers, BC Ministers and the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. The Ministers said they had a productive day Thursday and are hoping for a solid day February 28th. There was no comment from the chiefs.

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) UPDATE

  • New cases of Covid-19 have slowed in China but have increased around the world (now in 50 countries). There are now 82,550 cases globally and 2,550 people have died (3.08%).
  • China imposed a total ban on trade and consumption of ‘wild’ animals to curb what scientists say may have caused Covid-19 to jump from animals to humans.
  • Millions of Chinese firms face collapse if banks do not continue to offer relief.
  • Scientists are looking at ways of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fight a future pandemic. AI can comb through mounds of data to determine what treatments could work or what experiments to pursue.

TIDBITS

  • Bank of Canada is laying the groundwork to introduce a digital currency, should the need emerge.
  • Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board launched its own real estate development company, Northcrest Developments, to develop 371 acres in Toronto’s Downsview area.
  • Approximate 3.2 million Canadians are below the low-income threshold, down from 4.2 million in 2015.
  • Researchers at MIT say that Quebec’s network of hydroelectric dams could be the giant battery for New York and Boston.
  • New Chinese billionaires (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) outpace US by 3 to 1.
  • California’s self-driving cars covered nearly 2.9 million miles on public roads in 2019.
  • Panera Bread launched an $8.99 per month unlimited coffee subscription.
  • Sweden, the world’s most cashless economy, is now testing its own e-currency based on blockchain technology.
  • Air New Zealand announced ‘SkyNest’…bunk beds in economy class.