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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: February 16, 2023

Downward trend in EI recipients continues, Cannabis Store reduces margins to help pot shops compete, Fort Erie approves budget, and more.

In this edition:

Downward trend in EI recipients continues

The number of Canadians receiving regular Employment Insurance (EI) benefits in December fell by 8,100 (-2.0%) to 398,000, continuing the downward trend in the number of regular EI beneficiaries observed since July 2022.

According to the Labour Force Survey (LFS), the unemployment rate declined 0.1 percentage points to 5.0% in December, just above the record low of 4.9% observed in June and July.

In general, variations in the number of EI beneficiaries can reflect changes in the circumstances of different groups, including those becoming beneficiaries, those going back to work, those exhausting their regular benefits and those no longer receiving benefits for other reasons.

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Ontario Cannabis Store reduces price margins to help pot shops compete

The Ontario Cannabis Store says it will be reducing its price margins in a bid to help pot retailers compete with the illicit market.

The provincial pot distributor says the pricing changes will be implemented in September and will contribute about $35 million into the marketplace this fiscal year.

The OCS expects the contributions to hit $60 million in the 2024 fiscal year and compound annually in the years thereafter as the legal cannabis market grows.

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Oppose Canada’s ‘xenophobic’ foreign property tax, U.S. critics urge Biden admin

A New York congressman wants to enlist the U.S. secretary of state to oppose what he calls Ottawa’s “discriminatory” campaign against foreign property owners.

Rep. Brian Higgins is asking Secretary of State Antony Blinken to officially object to Canada’s new federal tax on underused, foreign-owned housing, which is coming due in April.

The one per cent levy applies to certain foreign non-resident owners of Canadian property located in areas with a core population of at least 10,000 people.

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Perk or necessity? Hybrid work expectations differ between employers, employees

Many companies are transitioning to hybrid work schedules from the work-from-home policies that developed by necessity in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet how to strike a balance between office life and remote work remains an enduring challenge for many businesses nearly three years after lockdowns upended how many Canadians work — one that’s made more difficult by the differing expectations between employers and employees.

Some organizations offer workers the freedom to choose which days they go into the office.

Others have a set number of office days, with attendance varying from informal guidelines to rigid mandates.

“Everyone is trying to find that happy medium or that hybrid work sweet spot to make this really work,” said Maria Pallas, director of strategy and optimization for Lauft, a network of on-demand workspaces.

“But everyone’s not always on the same page.”

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Government releases blueprint for Canada Innovation Corporation

Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, released a blueprint that will guide the operations of the new Canada Innovation Corporation (CIC).

In creating the CIC, the government is following through on its Budget 2022 commitment to establish an innovation agency to drive Canadian business investment in research and development (R&D) and foster economic growth. The CIC will operate with an initial budget of $2.6 billion over four years, and is expected to begin its operations in 2023.

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Food Processing Skills Canada launches national workforce program

Food Processing Skills Canada – the Canadian food and beverage manufacturing industry’s non-profit workforce development organization – announced a new program, Achieving Our Workforce Destination: Qualified People, Successful Careers & Competitive Business.

Food Processing Skills Canada received an investment of $7.7 million for this project from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workplace Solutions Program (SWSP) which is a program that helps sectors of the economy implement solutions to address their current and emerging workforce needs.

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Fort Erie Town Council approves 2023 budget

Fort Erie Town Council approved in principle the 2023 budget with an increase of 0.88 percent for the Town’s portion of the residential property tax. For the median household, this increase translates to an additional $12 per year.

When the Niagara Region and the Boards of Education levies are included, the combined increase for residential taxpayers in Fort Erie is 6.9 percent.

“Strategic financial planning is extremely important as we continue navigating past the pandemic. We are preparing for the next 10 years and beyond to ensure that future generations are not left carrying a tax burden properly payable by current property owners. This budget represents Council’s and staff’s continued commitment to the services that our residents need, the long term sustainability of our infrastructure and addressing the challenges of a growing community, while appreciating the affordability concerns of our residents. Responsible financial planning has given us a strong foundation and the ability to be flexible with our future needs, projects and initiatives,” said Mayor Wayne Redekop.

Click here to read more (PDF link).

Focus on Markets

Dow sheds 350 points as stocks turn lower after another hot inflation report

Stocks fell Thursday after another hot inflation report, and a decline in jobless claims, showed the economy is holding up amid the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 353 points, or about 1%. The S&P 500 dipped 1.09% and the Nasdaq-Composite fell 1.48%. Microsoft and Disney contributed the most to the Dow’s decline, down more than 2% each.

January’s producer price index, another inflation measure, rose 0.7% on the month while economists surveyed by Dow Jones expected a 0.4% increase. Initial jobless claims unexpectedly fell for the week ending February 11, per a Labor Department report.

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Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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