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Feds increase wage subsidy from 10 to 75%

“We’re helping companies keep people on the payroll so that workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover from this. That is our priority,” Trudeau said.

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The details are scant at this time but some small and medium-sized businesses may be eligible for payroll assistance to keep employees during the shutdown.

Last week, the federal government had offered a 10 per cent assistance with small business payroll but Trudeau said during the news briefing Friday from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa that it wasn’t enough.

It’s becoming clear that we need to do more – much more – so we’re bringing that percentage up to 75 for qualifying businesses,” he said.

“This means people will continue to be paid even though their employers have to slow down or stop their business.”

Wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020.

The subsidy brings Canada in line with European countries who are also offering wage assistance for employees between 70 and 75 per cent, including the U.K. and Norway.

Trudeau also announced guaranteed interest-free loans for one year available to small businesses -up to $40,000 – with the potential to have a portion of the loan forgiven.

More information is set to be released between March 27 and March 30.

“We’re helping companies keep people on the payroll so that workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover from this. That is our priority,” he said.

“We’re thinking about that family-owned restaurant that’s been around for years, (and has) had many of the same employees for years. Employees who’ve been there through slowdowns, good times and bad times, and now in this moment of crisis, they’re having to lay these people off at their time of need.”

No one has been able to say with certainty just how long “this moment of crisis” will last.

Leaders and health officials have emphasized the responsibility lies with each person to self-isolate if ill and consistently practice social distancing to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the virus.

“We know we’re talking about weeks and possibly months,” Trudeau said.

Every province in Canada has implemented some form of social gathering restriction which has impacted event venues, popular gathering places like restaurants, bars, and pubs, as well as indoor recreational businesses.

P.E.I. announced a complete shutdown of non-essential businesses on March 19 with only 3 positive cases of COVID-19. Ontario and Quebec closed all non-essential businesses as of midnight March 24 with more than 700 and 1,300 cases, respectively.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

News

POLL: UCP 40, NDP, 34, WIP 10

New polling suggests that Alberta’s political landscape may be undergoing a shift.

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According to the second part of a Northwest Research Poll commissioned by the Western Standard, Alberta’s political landscape appears to be undergoing a shift.

The governing United Conservative Party (UCP) has seen its big lead shrink from 55 per cent in the 2019 election down to 40 per cent of decided voters. While the NDP remains virtually unchanged at 34 per cent, the upstart Wildrose Independence Party (WIP) comes onto the scene in its first major poll in third place at 10 per cent.

The Alberta Party garnered 8 per cent, the Liberals 7, and the Greens 1.

Undecided voters made up 23 per cent of the total, coming mostly at the expense of Albertans who voted UCP in last year’s election.

The poll surveyed 1,100 people in Alberta, was weighted for regional population, age, and gender, and contains a margin of error of 3.02 per cent. 

“These numbers line up with other polls tracing declining support for the UCP government and the premier, but suggest a new liability that is directly related to Kenney’s strategy of tapping into anger and anti-federalist sentiments,” said Mount Royal University political scientist Lori Williams.

“Some of us warned of the dangers of stoking such inclinations in the lead up to the 2019 election. Such anger can turn against leaders/governments who fail to meet the expectations raised. And indeed, the new Wildrose Independence Party appears to be capitalizing on the growing legitimacy of anti-federalist [and pro] independence rhetoric.”

“I would not be surprised to see the highest support [for the WIP] in former Wildrose and Social Credit strongholds [i.e. central and southern Alberta]. As the poll also seems to suggest, there may be enduring challenges for opponents of the UCP and Kenney, splitting their vote for alternatives.”

Poll conducted by Northwest Research Group, all rights reserved by Western Standard (Wildrose Media Corp.)

Regional breakdown

The regional breakdowns also tell an interesting story.

The Tories remain dominant in Calgary with 47 per cent support, well ahead of the NDP at 27, the Alberta Party at 9, the Wildrose Independence Party at 8, and the Liberals at 7.

The NDP maintain their stronghold on Edmonton with 48 per cent, with the UCP at 31, the Alberta Party and Liberals both at 8, and the Wildrose at 5.

Outside of the two big cities, the UCP remains ahead, but its domination has been shaken with support down to 43 per cent. The NDP stand at 27, the Wildrose Independence Party at 16, Alberta at 8, Liberals at 4, and Greens at 2.

Independence question becoming Alberta’s third rail

Earlier this week, the Western Standard released a poll from the same respondents on support for Alberta independence. With support ranging from 45 to 48 per cent of decided respondents, independence could become the third-rail of Alberta politics.

The poll found that independence support was 82 per cent with Wildrose Independence Party voters, 52 per cent with UCP voters, 50 per cent with Alberta Party voters, 41 per cent of current undecided voters, and just 11 per cent of NDP voters.

Earlier this week, the Western Standard released a poll from the same respondents on support for Alberta independence. With support ranging from 45 to 48 per cent of decided respondents, independence could become the third-rail of Alberta politics.

This is likely fuelling early support for the Wildrose Independence Party, which will be formed in late June if members of the Freedom Conservative Party and Wexit Alberta vote to approve a merger deal.

Divided left, centre-left

Changes in the political landscape aren’t just happening on the right-end of the spectrum. While the NDP remains the dominant force on the left, it’s two centre-left competitors continue to sap potential strength.

The Alberta Party continues to tread water from its 2019 election results at 8 per cent, and the Liberals have made somewhat of a comeback to 7 per cent, up from the 1 per cent they received during the election.

The Liberal numbers show that the NDP still has discontented progressive voters not yet under its tent, and that the Alberta Party has yet to starve the Liberals out as the sole “goldilocks” option between the NDP and UCP.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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News

Torstar sold for only $ 52 million

Once valued in the billions, Torstar Corp. says it has agreed to be sold to NordStar Capital LP, a firm run by businessmen Paul Rivett and Jordan Bitove.

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The company that runs Canada’s largest newspaper – the 128-year-old Toronto Star – has been bought for only $52 million.

Once valued in the billions, Torstar Corp. says it has agreed to be sold to NordStar Capital LP, a firm run by Toronto businessmen Paul Rivett and Jordan Bitove.

Torstar’s shares closed at 40 cents at the end of trading Tuesday, but the company says the 63 cents per share it agreed to represents a nearly 67 per cent premium.

“We believe in news. With this transaction we can ensure a future for world-class journalists and world-class journalism befitting the paper’s storied history,” Bitove told the Star.

Former Ontario Liberal premier David Peterson will be vice chair of the company, which they intend to take private.

“The harsh realities of the news media business are ill-suited to the quarter-bound short-term focus of shareholders. A private structure is needed and we have the patience and willingness to invest in Torstar’s long-term transformation,” Rivett and Bitove said in a statement.

John Honderich, chair of Torstar’s board of directors, said in a press release: “While we have loved the company and are immensely proud of it, the time has come to pass the torch.

“We hope the sale will benefit Torstar in the years ahead and believe that this is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the company. We are delighted to know that the new owners have pledged to build on Torstar’s legacy of quality journalism.”

Torstar had a net loss of $23.5 million (29 cents per share) in the first quarter, up from a net loss of $7.4 million (9 cents per share) in the same period last year.

Torstar owns six other daily newspaper in Ontario including the Hamilton Spectator and Waterloo Region Record, some 70 community newspapers and numerous news sites and digital properties.

In recent newspaper sales:

• In 1998, Quebecor buys Sun Media Corp for $983 million cash, outbidding Torstar’s offer of $900 million in cash and stocks.

• In 2014, Quebecor sells Sun Media to Postmedia for $313 million.

• In 2020, NordStar Capital buys Torstar/Toronto Star for $52 million.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Taxpayers’ group demands UCP pay back wage subsidy

The CTF say at least 20 different political parties across the country have turned down the subsidy, but the UCP isn’t one of them.

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The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is demanding Alberta’s UCP party pay back coronavirus wage subsidies they have received from the federal government.

The CTF say at least 20 different political parties across the country have turned down the subsidy, but the UCP isn’t one of them.

“The United Conservative Party ran on being the party that would look out for taxpayers, but now the UCP is helping itself to tax dollars meant to support struggling Albertans,” said Franco Terrazzano, the CTF’s Alberta Director.

“Premiers John Horgan, Scott Moe, Brian Pallister, Doug Ford and François Legault all know that taking the wage subsidy is wrong and it’s time for Premier Jason Kenney to pay back the subsidy.”

The subsidy provides employers affected by COVID-19 with a 75 per cent wage subsidy to keep workers on staff.

The CTF said in terms of governing parties the British Columbia New Democratic Party, the Saskatchewan Party, the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and Coalition Avenir Québec did not apply for the subsidy.

Only two other provincial parties, the B.C Liberal Party and B.C. Green Party, have confirmed applying for the federal wage subsidy, the CTF said.

“The federal wage subsidy is supposed to be helping struggling families and businesses, not paying for political attacks ads,” said Terrazzano., adding the CTF doesn’t accept the wage subsidy.

“It’s time for the UCP and Premier Kenney to pay that money back.”

Federally, the two top Tory leadership candidates have criticized their own party for accepting federal wage subsidies during the coronavirus pandemic.

Both Peter Mackay and Erin O’Toole said the federal Conservative party should not have applied for the subsidies.

Over the weekend it was revealed the federal Liberal, Tory and NDP parties are all accepting the packages on behalf of their paid staff due to a steep drop in political donations.

The Bloc Quebecois did not apply for the subsidy.

Leader Yves-François Blanchet mocked the Tories and Liberals for using the program despite having already raised millions of dollars this year.

“The money is not a gift provided to the people by the government because they are nice people. It is reserved for businesses, the companies and the people who really need it. And the Liberals don’t need it and the Conservatives don’t need it. Maybe the NDP needs it. Maybe the Greens need it. We do not,” Blanchet told reporters.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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