The Future Of The Beer Store: Foreign Owned Beer Store Monopoly Must End

Ed Clark, CEO of T.D. Bank, and head of a provincial task force appointed by Ontario Premier Wynne, says it is time to change The Beer Store's mandate

Ed Clark, CEO of T.D. Bank, and head of a provincial task force appointed by Ontario Premier Wynne, says it is time to loosen up the The Beer Store’s near monopoly on Ontario beer sales.

One of the biggest issues out there right now is the question of where Ontarians should be allowed to buy their beer, wine and hard liquor.

On one side of the debate are organizations like the C.D. Howe Institute that recently released a study that said the LCBO and The Beer Store monopolies should be ended and Ontarians should be offered a much wider range of choices about where they buy their booze. Backing this perspective are the convenience store owners, the supermarkets and other retailers who obviously would like to sell beer, wine and hard liquor.

On the other side of the debate are the three foreign-owned, multinational breweries who own The Beer Store, unions representing workers at the LCBO and The Beer Store, and a whole range of consumer and parent groups who are concerned about wider access to liquor – especially to underage teenagers. Continue reading

It’s Official: Ontario Liberal Government Fails To Bring Auto Insurance Rates Down As Promised

Ontario Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa has failed to honour a government promise to lower Ontario auto insurance premiums by 8%.

Ontario Liberal Finance Minister Charles Sousa has failed to honour a government promise to lower Ontario auto insurance premiums by 8%.

Despite legislation passed by the Ontario legislature that mandates it, the Ontario government’s goal of an 8% auto insurance premium reduction over one year and a 15% reduction over two years, is not going happen.

This was officially confirmed Wednesday when the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) released its third quarter rate changes for the three months ending September 30, showing that for the second straight quarter, there was essentially no change in auto insurance rates in Ontario.

This means that during the four quarters that the government promised an 8% reduction, auto insurance rates in Ontario fell only 5%.

And this was no ordinary government promise that is being broken. The promise of an 8% reduction over one year and a 15% reduction over two years, was the centre-piece of the 2013 Ontario budget and is embodied in legislation and regulations passed by the Ontario government. Continue reading

Canadians Paying Double Other Countries For Drugs: Time For National Pharmacare

University of Ottawa associate professor Amir Attaran is co-author of a study of how much countries pay for generic drugs. Canada pays double what is should, he says.

University of Ottawa associate professor Amir Attaran is co-author of a study of how much countries pay for generic drugs. Canada pays double what it should, he says.

A new study shows Canada pays more than double for common generic drugs compared to other developed countries. Generic drugs are drugs manufactured after the initial patent on a drug has expired. In Canada, drug programs are administered at the provincial level.

Ontario health critics have called for a review of the purchasing system for the drugs in the wake of the study, published Tuesday.

“We’ve known for a long time that this needs to be changed, but the political will for change has never been there,” said Ontario NDP health critic France Gélinas. Continue reading

Big Wall Street Players Move Into Canadian News: A Behind the Scenes Look At the Postmedia – Sun Media Deal

Wall St. backed Postmedia bid for Sun Media sets dangerous precedent for media concentration

Wall St. backed Postmedia bid for Sun Media sets dangerous precedent for Canadian media concentration.

A bid by Postmedia Network Canada Corp. to buy 175 newspapers and online news sites from Sun Media Corp., will hand a group of mostly U.S. investors significant influence over one of the country’s largest media chains.

A behind the scenes look at the bid shows the inner workings of how financial interests, media conglomerates and powerful professional lobby groups play the media deal game in Canada.

The investors driving the media merger are a syndicate of little-known U.S. and Canadian hedge funds that specialize in buying junk bonds from struggling companies. Led by New York-based GoldenTree Asset Management LP, the funds financed the resurrection of Postmedia from a bankruptcy proceeding in 2010 by acquiring $700-million of the company’s bonds. GoldenTree and other investors, including Canadian fund Canso Investment Counsel Ltd., have agreed to buy additional bonds and securities to help finance the Sun Media purchase. Continue reading

LCBO, Beer Store, OPG, Hydro One All In Play As T.D. CEO Ed Clark Readies Privatization Report for Premier Wynne.

The LCBO, Beer Store, OPG, and Hydro One are all in play as T.D. CEO Ed Clark - pictured above - readies privatization report for Ontario Premier Wynne.

The LCBO, Beer Store, OPG, and Hydro One are all in play as T.D. CEO Ed Clark – pictured above – readies privatization report for Ontario Premier Wynne.

To overcome massive public dislike for the privatization of Ontario’s electrical generation, distribution and transmission  utilities, Premier Kathleen Wynne would have to first ratchet up concern over the province’s deficit, said Liberal pollster and chief strategist in Wynne’s recent election campaign, David Herle. And he just doesn’t think that is going to happen.

Three times more people trust the public sector to run the Crown corporations Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) compared to those who would trust the private sector, said Herle, speaking to the Ontario Energy Association’s annual conference in downtown Toronto Wednesday.

Wynne, who received her first majority mandate from Ontarians in last spring’s election, appointed an advisory council on April 11 to examine how the government could ‘maximize the value’ Ontarians get from Hydro One, OPG and the LCBO. Continue reading

Harper Conservatives Plan to Change Copyright Law To Benefit Their Attack Ads

Harper Conservative Government plans legislation to so they can get media clips for attack ads for free

Harper Conservative Government plans legislation that will allow them to use media clips for attack ads for free

The Harper Conservative government is planning to change Canada’s copyright law to allow political parties to use content published and broadcast by news organizations for free in their own political ads – including attacking ads..

An internal Conservative cabinet document details an amendment to the federal Copyright Act which would allow “free use of ‘news’ content in political advertisement intended to promote or oppose a politician or political party.”

The amendment would also remove “the need for broadcasters to authorize the use of their news content.” And it would force media outlets to run political ads even if their own footage and content was used in a negative message to voters. Continue reading

Breaking News: Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins Changes Mind On Mandatory Reporting Of Doctors’ Sexual Misconduct

Hoskins doctors reporting

Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins says he is “deeply concerned” that legislation doesn’t compel mandatory reporting of medical practitioners who sexually abuse patients.

Just a week after Ontario Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins said that legislation which allowed doctors’ sexual miscondut to go unreported  didn’t need to change, Hoskins has changed his mind and is now ordering a review of the controversial legislation that gives medical regulatory bodies discretion on whether to alert police when one of their members may have committed a crime.

Other provinces and U. S. States have already moved to close this loophole and require reporting by authorities.

If a Mississauga doctor had been practising in Alberta when he put his mouth or cheek on the breasts of more than 10 female patients, the province’s medical regulator would have had to report it to the minister of justice and the solicitor general. Continue reading

New Details Emerge in Ontario’s Epic Fight with Harper Conservatives Over Pensions

In a speech Wednesday to the Second National Summit on Pension Reform, the Ontario Minister responsible for the propsoed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, Mitzie Hunter, described launching the mandatory workplace retirement plan by 2017 as “an ambitions, sometimes daunting challenge

In a speech Wednesday to the Second National Summit on Pension Reform, the Ontario Minister responsible for the propsoed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, Mitzie Hunter, described launching the mandatory workplace retirement plan by 2017 as “an ambitions, sometimes daunting challenge

More details have emerged regarding Ontario’s new mandatory pension plan,  the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan.

In an evening  speech Wednesday to the Second National Summit on Pension Reform, the Ontario Minister responsible for the plan, Mitzie Hunter, described launching the mandatory workplace retirement plan by 2017 as “an ambitions, sometimes daunting challenge,”

The speech shed new light on a fundamental philosophical difference on pensions with the Harper Conservative government and business on one side and the Ontario Liberal government, the NDP, labour and senior’s groups on the other side.

The Federal Conservatives’ view is that Canadians don’t need help to save. In their view, the existing Canada Pension Plan offers a good start and what we need is a bit more individual discipline to take advantage of available tax breaks. If you don’t have a company pension, the Conservatives believe it’s up to you to set something aside in your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Continue reading

Time to End The Temporary Foreign Worker Program

The temporary foreign worker program is a train wreck and should be scrapped. As long as this program exists, whether it’s tweaked at the margins or not, employers are going to find ways of using temporary foreign workers as pawns to drive down wages and conditions.”

The temporary foreign worker program is a train wreck and should be scrapped. As long as this program exists, whether it’s tweaked at the margins or not, employers are going to find ways of using temporary foreign workers as pawns to drive down wages and conditions.”

Canadians would like to think that we could never be like certain oil-rich Persian Gulf nations who allow employers to import temporary foreign workers, but not their families, pay dirt-poor wages and hold them hostage as indentured labour tethered to their master.

But our Temporary Foreign Worker Program allows precisely that. It allows employers to import cheap foreign labour, without families, mostly for low-end jobs for short periods. The temps are tied to their employer who may mistreat them. That Canadian employers do not exploit foreign workers quite the way certain Middle Eastern countries do is not saying much.

The program, besides undermining Canadian values, has depressed wages in certain regions, adding to the already unacceptable level of inequity between rich and poor. Continue reading

Lack of Economic Opportunity For Young People Not A Question Of Young Vs. Old – It’s A Question Of The 1% Vs. the Rest Of Us

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows that Canada is the worst in the developed world in terms of income inequality.

A recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), shows that Canada is the worst in the developed world in terms of income inequality.

A study released by the Conference Board of Canada last week painted a picture of a growing income gap between old and young — a gap the report says that could “trigger a backlash” among young people unwilling to pay taxes when the benefits that those taxes are paying for (CPP, medicare, etc.) largely go to their elders.

The Conference Board report raises an incredibly important issue: the lack of opportunity for young people in today’s economy.

The problem with the report is the particular spin on this tale that it shares with most mainstream media accounts of the lack of economic opportunity for young people — it pits the old against young, while studiously avoiding the real cause of the problem: government policies that have led to a widening gap between the rich and the rest of us of all ages. Continue reading