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Money is Expensive – Pun Intended

OTTAWA - Money is expensive. Or, more to the point, 'currency' is expensive. Printing it, minting it, securing it, maintaining it, replacing it. It is easy to overlook the massive costs associated with the physical aspects our monetary system.I am certainly not in favour of abolishing our monetary system at all, or even moving towards a gold standard. I am simply staggered at the costs that will be incurred as Canada moves to replace its cotton-paper bills with more state-of-the-art polymer blends.Canada's $50 and $100 bills will be the first to arrive in 2012, but the $5, $10, and $20 polymer bills will follow shortly thereafter in 2013. The total bill for this overhaul? $100-million.$100-million buys a lot of new twenties and fifties - but, of course, these new costs will be used for a great deal more than printing the new bills. The largest expense will almost certainly be the necessary upgrades to Canada's money-handling machinery. There are an estimated 500,000 money-handling machines in use in Canada that will soon be rendered obsolete. Despite maintaining the same general dimensions, the new bills are thinner than their outgoing counterparts, with a decidedly smoother texture. Furthermore, there are a whole raft of new security features 'baked' into the new bills which will require a new breed of counterfeit bill detection technology.While many Canadians may think this is a problem that will only inconvenience bank tellers and other financial sector industries, this is actually a problem that could impact us all. ATM machines alone number close to 75,000 in Canada - each will need to be upgraded to tabulate, handle, and dispense the new bills.So, with such an exorbitant price tag is it worth it for Canada to transition to polymer bills? The short answer is, yes. As the title of this… Read More

Rob Ford Not Pulling Any Punches

The following article is syndicated from the National Citizen’s Coalition, originally published on February 7th, 2011. Read more at Ford, Toronto’s new mayor, has already shown that he is eager to follow through on his campaign promises. Early last month, Ford indicated that he was pursuing a pay freeze for city council, and a reduction in discretionary office budgets. Ford has now announced his intentions to contract out trash collection in Toronto.The current model has CUPE-backed ‘public’ employees carrying out trash collection, but their contract is set to expire at the end of 2011. This means that new options are currently on the table – and these options can save taxpayers a bundle of money. Rob Ford and his deputy mayor Doug Holyday have been adamant that outsourcing trash collection can indeed save money and prevent crippling, city-wide garbage strikes.Etobicoke, Rob Ford’s old stomping grounds, is currently the only area in the GTA with privatized garbage collection – and this was the only area in the GTA that continued to enjoy garbage collection during 2009′s 39-day garbage strike. But it is not just peace of mind that is garnering attention in this sector, it is the prospect of significant  cost savings.During his campaign, Ford estimated that approximately $20-million could be recouped by switching to this model on a city-wide basis.The C.D. Howe Institute thinks the savings would be even more dramatic, closer to $50-million.With such large savings to be had, it is clear why Ford’s camp is so eager to get these reforms moving. This momentum is really quite commendable in a city whose two most recent mayors have been either incapable or unmotivated. What is more, Ford has indicated that this is just the start of a larger movement for City Hall – he will look at outsourcing anything… Read More

Harper Responds to U.S. “Traveller Fee”

The following article is syndicated from the National Citizen’s Coalition, originally published on February 18th, 2011. Read more at has been roundly debated whether a country’s economic hardships are improved or worsened by protectionist policies. Generally this is a discussion about trade and tax policy – is it better to encourage domestic industries at the risk of exclusion from foreign markets? The debate rages on, but what is clear is that the tourism sector is a horse of a different colour – there is no economic benefit to preventing tourism dollars from flowing into a country. Domestic tourism will never fill the gaps left by foreign visitors.This is why U.S. President Barack Obama’s latest musings about a new levee on visitors to state-side visitors is so ill advised. Sure, he is only talking about $5.50 for each visit to the U.S. but it is empirically bad policy to expect to lower America’s runaway debt on the backs of foreign travelers.This is especially true at a time when Canada and the U.S. are, apparently, working hard to streamline border crossings and remove barriers to the flow of trade. To now muse about a new tax barrier is simply counter-productive.The federal Conservatives have gone to great lengths to avoid raising taxes in the upcoming budget – they have even taken some flak for this dogged commitment. For the U.S. to abandon these principles has many Canadians shaking their heads in bewilderment.“We want to ensure trade and travel between our two countries is easier, not more difficult,” responded Prime Minister Harper. And while it is clear that the U.S. is in a deep budgetary hole they should focus on realistic and long-term ways to grow their economy. “This is not a useful way to do that,” added Harper.Such barriers to trade will, inevitably,… Read More