China appeals for fair treatment after latest TikTok bans – Business News

The Canadian Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 9:43 am | Story: 416622

An Indigenous-led initiative says it is still pursuing ownership of the Trans Mountain pipeline, in spite of the project’s ballooning price tag.

Project Reconciliation managing director Stephen Mason says his group isn’t going away just because Trans Mountain Corp. announced last week that construction costs for the project have risen to $30.9 billion.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was bought by the federal government for $4.5 billion in 2018 after previous owner Kinder Morgan Canada Inc. threatened to scrap the pipeline’s planned expansion project in the face of environmentalist opposition.

Construction on the pipeline is still ongoing, and is expected to be completed later this year.

The federal government has indicated it does not wish to be the long-term owner of the pipeline, and has said it is open to the idea of Indigenous ownership.

But due to existing contractual agreements with oil shippers, only 20 to 25 per cent of the rising capital costs of the project can be passed on to oil companies in the form of increased tolls.

The Canadian Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 9:30 am | Story: 416618

President Joe Biden on Friday called on Congress to allow regulators to impose tougher penalties on the executives of failed banks, including clawing back compensation and making it easier to bar them from working in the industry.

Biden wants the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to be able to force the return of compensation paid to executives at a broader range of banks should they fail, and to lower the threshold for the regulator to impose fines and bar executives from working at another bank.

He called on Congress to grant the FDIC those powers after the failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank sent shockwaves through the global banking industry.

“Strengthening accountability is an important deterrent to prevent mismanagement in the future,” Biden said in a statement. “Congress must act to impose tougher penalties for senior bank executives whose mismanagement contributed to their institutions failing.”

Currently, the FDIC can only claw back the compensation of executives at the largest banks in the nation, and other penalties on executives require “recklessness” or acting with “willful or continuing disregard” for their bank’s health.

Biden wants Congress to allow the regulator to impose penalties for “negligent” executives — a lower legal threshold.

The Canadian Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 9:24 am | Story: 416616

Hexo Corp.’s chief executive says he’s seen a “price war” take shape over the last five months that could cause “significant” damage to Canada’s cannabis industry.

Charlie Bowman says there are many smaller and independent pot retailers that are “bleeding” because of the higher number of rivals and their tendency to undercut one another.

He says the industry’s pricing troubles have been compounded by the illicit market, which Bowman noticed had “fantastic” growth this year, challenging licensed cannabis producers.

Bowman is hopeful the Ontario Cannabis Store’s plan to reduce its margin and markups later this year will help licensed producers chisel away at the illicit market.

The provincial pot distributor’s move is expected to put $35 million back in the hands of licensed pot companies this fiscal year and $60-million in the 2024 fiscal year. 

By the OCS’s count, the illicit market made up 43 per cent of Ontario’s cannabis market last March.

The Canadian Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 7:42 am | Story: 416600

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. says it will officially combine with Kansas City Southern Railway Co. on April 14 under a new name, Canadian Pacific Kansas City.

The Calgary company says CP’s president and chief executive Keith Creel will helm the new company with CP’s Nadeem Velani to serve as the merged business’s chief financial officer.

KCS president and chief executive Pat Ottensmeyer will become an advisor to Creel through the remainder of 2023 to foster continuity.

CP says the new company will operate the first single-line railway connecting the U.S., Mexico and Canada. 

It is expected to shift about 64,000 truckloads annually from North America’s roads to rail.

CP and KCS got approval for the takeover from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board earlier this week, clearing the final hurdle for the US$31 billion deal signed in December 2021 to close.

The Associated Press – | Story: 416599

China appealed Friday to other governments to treat its companies fairly after Britain and New Zealand joined the United States in restricting use of TikTok due to fears the Chinese-owned short video service might be a security risk.

Governments are worried TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, might give browsing history or other data about users to China’s government or promote propaganda and disinformation.

“We call on the countries concerned to recognize the objective facts, effectively respect the market economy” and provide “a non-discriminatory environment” for all companies, said foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

TikTok is one focus of conflicts between China and other governments over technology and security that are disrupting processor chip, smartphone and other industries.

Legislators and employees in New Zealand’s Parliament will be prohibited from having TikTok ’s app on phones, the government said Friday. Britain announced a ban Thursday on TikTok on all government phones.

In February, the White House told federal agencies to delete TikTok from government-issued mobile devices within 30 days. Congress, the U.S. armed forces and more than half of American state governments prohibit use of the app by their employees.

India has banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the WeChat message service, on security and privacy grounds.

The United States also has imposed restrictions on access by Chinese companies to processor chip and other technology on security and human rights grounds.

The Chinese government accused Washington of spreading false information about TikTok following a report by The Wall Street Journal that U.S. authorities were considering a ban if ByteDance doesn’t sell the company.

The ruling Communist Party blocks most internet users in China from seeing TikTok and thousands of social media and other websites. ByteDance operates a sister short-video service, Douyin, that can be seen in China.

The Associated Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 6:31 am | Story: 416583

The parent of Silicon Valley Bank, seized last week by the U.S., is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

SVB Financial Group, along with its CEO and its chief financial officer, were targeted this week in a class action lawsuit that claims the company didn’t disclose the risks that future interest rate increases would have on its business.

SVB Financial Group is no longer affiliated with Silicon Valley Bank after its seizure by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Its collapse was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history after the demise of Washington Mutual in 2008.

The bank’s successor, Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, is being run under the jurisdiction of the FDIC and is not included in the Chapter 11 filing.

“The Chapter 11 process will allow SVB Financial Group to preserve value as it evaluates strategic alternatives for its prized businesses and assets, especially SVB Capital and SVB Securities,” William Kosturos, Chief Restructuring Officer for SVB Financial Group, said in a statement on Friday.

Regulated broker-dealer SVB Securities and funds of venture capital and private credit fund platform SVB Capital and its general partner entities are not included in the Chapter 11 filing and continue to operate normally.

Funded debt for SVB Financial Group is about $3.3 billion in aggregate principal amount of unsecured notes. There is no claim against SVB Capital or SVB Securities. SVB Financial Group also has $3.7 billion of preferred equity outstanding.

SVB Financial Group believes it has approximately $2.2 billion of liquidity. The Santa Clara, California-based company said it also has other valuable investment securities accounts and other assets that it’s exploring strategic options for.

The shuttering of Silicon Valley Bank last Friday and of New York-based Signature Bank two days later has revived bad memories of the financial crisis that plunged the United States into the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Over the weekend the federal government, determined to restore public confidence in the banking system, moved to protect all the banks’ deposits, even those that exceeded the FDIC’s $250,000 limit per individual account.

The Canadian Press – Mar 17, 2023 / 6:28 am | Story: 416582

Canada’s inflation rate likely took another dip last month, but with many Canadians still struggling with the cost of living, the federal government is facing pressure to deliver more help in the upcoming budget.

Statistics Canada is set to release its February consumer price index report on Tuesday, giving its most up-to-date reading on inflation ahead of the federal government’s budget on March 28.

Desjardins and RBC are both forecasting the inflation rate fell to 5.4 per cent last month, down from 5.9 per cent in January.

But even as inflation eases, the federal government has signalled the budget will include affordability measures to help Canadians still challenged by the cost of living.

Desjardins’ chief economist Jimmy Jean said all eyes are on Ottawa to balance affordability priorities with fiscal restraint.

“One of the things we obviously are going to watch is what governments put forward to help with cost of living, all with the constraint that it must not add fuel to the fire (of inflation),” Jean said.

The Bank of Canada has been laser-focused on bringing inflation back down to its two per cent target. Its aggressive rate hike cycle over the last year is starting to slow the economy by forcing people and businesses to pull back on spending.

As the economy slows, economists worry excessive or untargeted measures by the federal government could work against the central bank’s efforts and force it to raise interest rates even higher.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has said repeatedly that she’s committed to fiscal restraint and ensuring the federal government doesn’t make the Bank of Canada’s job harder.

But the Liberals are also facing pressure from New Democrats to continue providing support for low-income Canadians who are hardest hit by inflation.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he wants to see the government extend the six-month boost to the GST rebate, introduced last fall, which temporarily doubled the amount people received.

At a news conference Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t weigh in on whether his government would extend the rebate, but said the budget will include affordability measures.

“In our budget, we are going to be putting forward measures that will directly help Canadians,” Trudeau said.

Inflation has become a top political and economic concern in the country after a significant runup in prices last year, driven in part by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and mangled supply chains.

But since peaking at 8.1 per cent last summer, Canada’s inflation rate has been steadily declining as global pressures on inflation ease and high interest rates weigh on the economy.

Jean said lower gas prices last month likely drove the headline inflation rate down further. Other components of the CPI, like food prices, probably didn’t ease by much.

Grocery prices in January were a staggering 11.4 per cent higher than they were a year ago.

RBC economist Carrie Freestone said businesses, including grocers, have been able to pass on the extra costs they’re facing from suppliers to consumers. But grocery prices are still expected to ease as lower agricultural commodity prices feed through the supply chain.

“It’s just seems to be taking a bit of time,” she said.

The Bank of Canada is currently holding its key interest rate steady at 4.5 per cent, hoping inflation will ease without the need for more rate hikes. It’s forecasting inflation will fall to about three per cent by mid-year.

“As long as inflation continues to trend lower as we expect … (the Bank of Canada) will probably stay on the sidelines,” Freestone said.

For workers who haven’t seen their wages keep up with inflation, the rapid rise has been especially punishing. But as inflation slows, the gap between the two is narrowing.

In February, average hourly wages were up 5.4 per cent, matching forecasts for inflation.

The Bank of Canada has said persistently strong wage growth will make getting back to the two per cent inflation target difficult.

For workers, Jean said the narrowing gap between inflation and wage growth is good news, but doesn’t make up for what they’ve lost.

“We’re not talking about making up for the last two years of wage growth not keeping up with inflation,” Jean said. “We’re just stopping the hemorrhage here.”

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press – Mar 16, 2023 / 1:44 pm | Story: 416488

Microsoft is infusing artificial intelligence tools into its Office software, including Word, Excel and Outlook emails.

The company said Thursday the new feature, named Copilot, is a processing engine that will allow users to do things like summarize long emails, draft stories in Word and animate slides in PowerPoint.

Microsoft is marketing the feature as a tool that will allow workers to be more productive by freeing up time they usually spend in their inbox, or allowing them to more easily analyze trends in Excel.

The tech giant based in Redmond, Washington, will also add a chat function called Business Chat, which resembles the popular ChatGPT. It takes commands and carries out actions — like summarizing an email about a particular project to co-workers — using user data.

“Today marks the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing, which will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Mattel, Instacart and other companies have also been integrating generative AI tools like ChatGPT and the image generator Dall-E to come up with ideas for new toy cars and answer customers’ food questions.

Microsoft rival Google said this week it is integrating generative AI tools into its own Workspace applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail and Slides. Google says it will be rolling out the features to its “trusted testers on a rolling basis throughout the year.”

Microsoft spokesperson Jessica Dash said the new Office features are currently only available for 20 enterprise customers. It will roll it out for more enterprise customers over the coming months.

The announcement came two days after OpenAI, which powers the generative AI technology Microsoft is relying on, rolled out its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4.

The Canadian Press – Mar 16, 2023 / 1:39 pm | Story: 416487

Eleven of the biggest banks in the country announced a $30 billion rescue package for First Republic Bank on Thursday, in an effort to prevent the California-based bank from becoming the third bank to fail in less than a week.

First Republic serves a similar clientele as Silicon Valley Bank, which failed Friday after depositors withdrew about $40 billion. It appears that First Republic, which had deposits totaling $176.4 billion as of Dec. 31, was facing a similar crisis.

In a statement, the group of banks confirmed that other unnamed banks had seen large amounts of withdrawals of uninsured deposits, which are those that exceed the $250,000 level insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. First Republic’s shares dropped more than 60% Monday, even after the bank said it had secured additional funding from JPMorgan and the Federal Reserve.

Thursday the bank’s shares were down as much as 36%, but rallied after reports the rescue package was in the works, and closed up nearly 9%.

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo have agreed to each put $5 billion in uninsured deposits into First Republic. Meanwhile Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs would deposit $2.5 billion each into the bank. The remaining $5 billion would consist of $1 billion contributions from BNY Mellon, State Street, PNC Bank, Truist and US Bank.

“The actions of America’s largest banks reflect their confidence in the country’s banking system,” the banks said in their statement.

The nation’s banking regulators also issued a statement in support of the bank rescue package.

“This show of support by a group of large banks is most welcome, and demonstrates the resilience of the banking system,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg.

The news could help calm the nerves of bank investors after the collapse last week of Silicon Valley Bank, which was the second biggest bank failure in U.S. history after the demise of Washington Mutual in 2008.

The shuttering of Silicon Valley Bank Friday and of New York-based Signature Bank two days later has revived bad memories of the financial crisis that plunged the United States into the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

Over the weekend the federal government, determined to restore public confidence in the banking system, moved to protect all the banks’ deposits, even those that exceeded the FDIC’s $250,000 limit per individual account.

The Canadian Press – Mar 16, 2023 / 12:47 pm | Story: 416472

Private equity firm Ethical Capital Partners (ECP) is acquiring MindGeek, the owner of Pornhub.

The terms of the transaction are not being publicly disclosed.

In a news release, ECP says MindGeek is committed to quality adult entertainment made by and for consenting adults.

The Ottawa-based private equity firm says it will support MindGeek with furthering its research and adoption of the best available online safety protocols.

MindGeek, which was founded in 2004, includes a large portfolio of adult entertainment properties.

In the news release, the Montreal-based company says it looks forward to working with ECP.

The Canadian Press – Mar 16, 2023 / 11:37 am | Story: 416454

Tonya Johnson, 39, is single, happy and freezing her eggs to buy a little more time before she starts a family.

The procedure is costly — as much as $15,000 for one egg freezing cycle with medication — putting it out of reach for many.

But Johnson works for one of a growing number of companies in Canada offering egg freezing as an employee health benefit.

“I spent the bulk of my 30s focused on my career, but I’d like to have a family one day. It just hasn’t happened yet for me,” said Johnson, the communications lead for Canada and Latin America at Snap Inc., the company behind social media app Snapchat.

“Egg freezing provides a real sense of freedom for me and a feeling of control over my fertility journey.”

Fertility preservation, or the freezing of eggs or sperm, is being offered by some employers as part of an expanded suite of fertility and family planning benefits.

Experts say the additional health coverage gives some companies an advantage in a tight labour market with worker retention and recruitment.

The added benefits significantly sweeten an employee’s total compensation, or the value of a salary, health insurance and other benefits altogether, they say.

“I work with a lot of women in their 30s who say they feel their biological clock ticking,” said Cindy Marques, a certified financial planner and director at Open Access, a group retirement plan provider.

“They often want to start saving to either freeze their eggs or for possible IVF down the road and it’s certainly not cheap,” she said. “Having a workplace that offers some coverage for these procedures would be a significant financial benefit.”

Still, Marques cautioned that workers should be aware of the ongoing fees following a procedure, and be prepared to shoulder the cost should they leave their company.

Egg storage is often free for several months following the retrieval procedure, but can cost as much as $50 a month, or $600 per year.

While egg freezing is gradually becoming more mainstream in Canada, only about five per cent of companies offer fertility benefits that cover the procedure compared with roughly 40 per cent in the United States, according to a report by national fertility organization Fertility Matters Canada.

Tech companies are leading the way, particularly those with large U.S. parents like Google, Apple and Meta. Snap is among the most generous, with workers eligible for up to $65,000 in fertility and adoption coverage through Carrot Fertility and up to $130,000 towards surrogacy expenses.

Canada’s banks and telecoms are also upping family benefits. Scotiabank, for example, covers up to $10,000 each for fertility, adoption and surrogacy support, while Telus pays for up to $15,000 in fertility costs including egg freezing.

The expansion of employer fertility coverage mirrors the growing demand for services like egg freezing, which recorded a spike during the pandemic, according to Fertility Matters Canada.

Evolve, which opened in Toronto last March, said it is Canada’s first fertility clinic dedicated to egg freezing and is now booked months in advance.

“Since opening our doors, Evolve has seen a strong demand for egg freezing information and support,” Evolve spokeswoman Katie Ostler said.

Cisco Canada launched sweeping family planning benefits in 2020, providing workers with up to $50,000 for fertility expenses, including the harvesting, freezing and storage of eggs, sperm, and embryos.

“We spend a lot of time listening to the needs of our employees and what they’re looking for and this is certainly something that has percolated up from that,” Cisco Canada president Shannon Leininger said in an interview.

“When you look at attracting and retaining talent, it’s more than just a paycheque people are looking for,” she said. “People that are starting families want to work with a company that shares their values and allows them to have some flexibility to plan their career around their family and not the other way around.”

Leininger added: “It’s about giving our employees a choice, and recognizing that life experiences should be a priority.”

Meanwhile, Johnson — who completed her first egg retrieval in November — is planning a second cycle this spring.

“I’m doing this twice, so that could have been as much as $30,000 out of pocket if I didn’t have coverage,” she said. “It’s a huge benefit to have an employer that actually cares and is willing to support me in this.”

Valerie Leung / Glacier Media – Mar 16, 2023 / 9:43 am | Story: 416428

If you received a free trip or new clothes for posting a certain photo or blog in 2022, then you need to report it on your tax form this year.

Social media influencers and those with side jobs in Canada are reminded to report all their earnings from any business activities whether they are monetary or non-monetary incomes.

Social media influencers are people who use various social media platforms, such as YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, Facebook or blogs, to publish posts and build followers of their content to earn money.

People who use social media as a business also need to report what they earn through those platforms on their income tax and benefits return.

Earned income from social media work includes channel subscriptions, advertising, sponsorship, product sales, referral code commissions, gifted clothes, trips and gift perks.

All non-monetary income must be reported in tax returns using the fair market value of the item received. This means the market price of the item is used in the report, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The CRA website added that influencers who receive total taxable supplies of more than $30,000 over four calendar quarters through online activities will need to register for, collect and pay the GST/HST.

However, if income earned form social media activities is considered business income, owners may be able to deduct some business expenses related to the work done.

Temptations to not report side hustle income

Many Canadians have turned to social media and side jobs to earn extra income this past year.

In an online survey conducted by H&R Block Canada, 63 per cent of respondents said they took on a side hustle due to the rising costs of living, while 15 per cent of Canadians say they are considering a side job in the future.

A total of 1,501 Canadians, who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, took part in the survey from Feb. 14 to 16, 2023.

An overall 85 per cent of residents are concerned that their regular stream of income is not “keeping pace” with increasing costs of living.

The study revealed many people with side jobs are “tempted not to declare all their income, as spiralling costs of living puts pressure on their financial situation.”

Of those who have a side hustle, 49 per cent of respondents said they’d be willing to risk not declaring all their related income, while 44 per cent would be willing to risk not declaring “any of their side hustle income.”

Yannick Lemay, learning program lead and tax specialist with H&R Block Canada, said that many Canadians are tempted to not declare all or any of their revenue from side jobs; some even “lack an understanding of the tax implications.”

“While it’s easy to think that smaller amounts may go unnoticed, by not declaring all income to the Canada Revenue Agency Canadians face the risk of not just having to pony up for the full amount of taxes owing if they’re audited – but they’ll also be charged interest and could face substantial penalties if it’s discovered,” said Lemay.

“The good news is there are literally hundreds of potential deductions and expenses that can be claimed; many of which put money back into your pocket.”

He added that the “gig workforce” is incredibly diverse which adds to the complexity of navigating through tax-related benefits.

“What’s important is having a full understanding of your specific tax situation, so you don’t inadvertently leave money on the table when filing your taxes.”

Penalties for unreported income in Canada

Unreported or fake statements on income tax reports can result in $100 fines or 50 per cent of the understated tax and/or the overstated credits related to the false statement, whichever amount is more, according to the CRA.

Those who also don’t report any amount of $500 or more can find themselves paying, whichever amount is less, 10 per cent of the amount a person failed to report or 50 per cent of the difference between the understated tax or overstated credits of the amount you fail to report.

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