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Canada collects $839M in steel and aluminum tariffs, but aid for sector mostly unspent




Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told an interviewer in Davos this week that once the U.S. drops its steel and aluminum tariffs, Canada will too, “30 seconds later.”

Until that day comes, the extra taxation is pretty lucrative for the federal government. Finance Canada says $839 million was collected in the six months leading up to Dec. 31 from retaliatory tariffs on imported American steel, aluminum and other products.

Canada didn’t start this tariff spat, and from the prime minister on down every Canadian official says he or she wishes it would end. The tariffs on both sides of the border have disrupted supply chains and added extra costs for consumers and businesses across a wide range of industries.

All the same, the new revenue is on track to hit the $1-billion mark by the time Finance Minister Bill Morneau tables his final pre-election budget this spring.

And this figure doesn’t include the 25 per cent surtax now collected on seven categories of steel imports from countries beyond the U.S. (Countries with whom Canada has a free trade agreement in place are mostly exempted, although some categories of Mexican steel were included.)

This “emergency safeguards” surtax is intended to prevent cheap foreign steel displaced from the U.S. market from disrupting supply chains in Canada.

Finance Canada told CBC News Friday that it’s too early to report how much revenue the safeguards are bringing in.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau, seen here starting an emergency safeguards process to protect Canada’s steel industry at a news conference in Hamilton last summer, has to decide later this spring whether to continue extra surtaxes on foreign steel imports. (Peter Power/Canadian Press)

Hearings on the merits of extending these safeguards beyond the 200-day period announced by Morneau in October wrapped up at the Canadian International Trade Tribunal on Thursday afternoon, with domestic steel producers arguing the safeguards were necessary to prevent a surge of foreign steel, while customers and foreign suppliers questioned whether there’s solid evidence that these imports represent a genuine threat.

Support takes many forms

Before the retaliatory tariffs started last June, the Liberal government announced a $2-billion assistance package for the steel and aluminum sector — to acknowledge the impact of the tariffs on businesses and to offset any impression of federal coffers profiting from cross-border trade misery.

Six months later, only a small amount of that aid package has been allocated. And because much of it takes the form of repayable financing, over the long term the cost to the government may not be anywhere near the value of the tariff revenue it’s raking in.

The government’s aid package for the steel and aluminum sector included:

  • $250 million from the Strategic Innovation Fund administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada, set aside for steel or aluminum companies that need funding for new capital expenditures or other “innovation investments.”
  • $800 million in financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada, available to help companies expand into new markets, improve their efficiency or upgrade their technology and equipment.
  • $900 million in financing from Export Development Canada, available to provide extra support for companies’ working capital and help mitigate higher-risk investments.

The Strategic Innovation Fund has made only two announcements so far about help for steel or aluminum companies.

In October, nearly $50 million in repayable funding was allocated to ArcelorMittal Canada Inc., which is modernizing its plants in Hamilton and Contrecoeur, Que. And earlier this month, ISED announced that Algoma Steel Inc. in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., would receive $30 million in repayable financing from this fund, as well as another $60 million from FedDev Ontario, as it emerges from bankruptcy protection and restructures its operations.

Taken together, these add up to less than one third of the money available from ISED. While this fund has criteria for allocating both repayable and non-repayable contributions, both of these steel companies got repayable financing.

As of Dec. 31, BDC had authorized 397 loans, worth just over $255 million of the $800 million that was announced.

For its part, EDC told CBC News that it has supported 26 companies in the steel and aluminum sectors, providing $169.1 million in financing, bonding and insurance support.

While that falls far short of the $900 million that was announced, spokesperson Jessica Draker wrote that “we expect continued uptake in the short term in light of the trade climate.”

Because the services provided by these Crown corporations can be loans or insurance products provided on commercial terms, they aren’t announced by press release or disclosed publicly in detail, making it difficult to track exactly who is benefiting from the federal aid package or to what extent.

Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan and federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains met steelworkers in Sault Ste. Marie earlier this month, as new financing was announced for Algoma Steel Inc. (Supplied/Terry Sheehan)

The remainder of the $2-billion package wasn’t directed at domestic producers. Global Affairs Canada’s trade commissioner service is getting $50 million in new funding.

In addition, $50 million was made available to provinces for training programs for displaced employees. Another $25 million could fund temporary extensions to work-sharing agreements to mitigate job losses.

U.S. more open to exemptions

Some exemptions are possible for these tariffs; these are also hard to track.

Up to $285 million could be refunded to affected companies, but applications for exemptions are approved by a federal interdepartmental committee, according to the following criteria:

  • a lack of domestic market supply, either nationally or regionally — leaving no choice but to import.
  • contracts dated before May 31, 2018 that required the use of U.S. steel or aluminum (such as requirements defence contractors face).
  • other exceptional circumstances that risk “severe adverse impacts” on Canada’s economy.

CBC News asked how much of this $285 million has been refunded so far, but Finance Canada said Friday the data are not yet available. Previously, the government would not disclose which companies received exemptions, for what reasons, or in what amounts.

A smaller amount — $18.5 million — is available to be waived under the Canada Border Services Agency’s duty deferral program.

“Assessments are ongoing in regard to applications for surtax relief,” a spokesman for Finance Canada wrote CBC News this week.

Affected companies can also apply for exemptions from the American tariffs. In its first few months, the U.S. exemption process was called “arbitrary” and “screwed-up” as American steel companies lobbied the U.S. Commerce Department to reject certain exemption requests.

Prior to the U.S. government shutdown in December, reports in Washington media said the Commerce Department had received nearly 57,000 requests for exemptions from steel tariffs and over 7,000 requests for aluminum exemptions. Nearly 14,000 exemptions had been processed and granted for the 25 per cent U.S. steel tariff, and just over 900 exemptions had been approved for the 10 per cent U.S. aluminum tariff. 

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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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