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  • U.S. jobless claims fall to four-decade low | Small Biz Advisor
    2016 Weekly applications for jobless benefits declined to a seasonally adjusted 247 000 the lowest reading since November 1973 the Labor Department said Thursday The four week average a less volatile figure dropped 4 500 to 260 500 The total number of people receiving benefits has fallen 7 6 from a year ago to 2 14 million Applications are a proxy for layoffs The historically low figures indicate that employers are holding onto workers and possibly looking to hire more a positive sign for an economy that endured a rocky start to the year Many analysts are forecasting sluggish growth of less than 1 annualized during the first three months of the year as stock markets and the broader global economy turned volatile Yet the declining number of requests for jobless aid suggests that hiring will continue uninterrupted A level of applications this low generally corresponds with monthly net job gains of more than 200 000 Applications have been below 300 000 for 59 straight weeks the longest consecutive period since 1973 Despite continued signs of weakness in manufacturing and retail sales slipping in March a healthy job market should help propel economic growth in the coming months The additional

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/news/u-s-jobless-claims-fall-to-four-decade-low-4302 (2016-04-26)
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  • Many small businesses experience roadblocks to growth | Small Biz Advisor
    conditions to enable our most promising firms to scale To position Ontario for long term success the report proposes recommendations to address six specific barriers preventing businesses from growing which include a lack of access to talent with scale up experience gaps in the right kinds of financing and lower incentives to growth offered through public programs Chief among the OCC s recommendations are for governments to improve businesses access to talent in the short term by creating a scale up visa to quicken access to essential international managerial talent According to our survey 63 of businesses that are looking to grow face a talent shortage The OCC also encourages governments to gain a better understanding of where current gaps exist in the Canadian financing landscape Other recommendations of the report include Realign public programs and incentives to focus supports on high growth firms Encourage greater international trade activity by linking more business support programs to trade Improve access to public and private anchor customers by leveraging procurement to strategically invest in growing businesses Enable accurate measurement and monitoring of the scale up challenge by ensuring collaboration between Statistics Canada and industry groups to collect and publicize relevant data The

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/news/many-small-businesses-experience-roadblocks-to-growth-4301 (2016-04-26)
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  • Hedge funds down slightly in Q1 | Small Biz Advisor
    underlying markets represented by the MSCI World Index gained 5 47 Event driven hedge funds posted the best returns among all strategic mandates during the month up 3 16 On the other hand CTA managed futures managers posted the steepest decline during the month down 1 61 Distressed debt hedge funds were up for the first time after a four month losing streak posting returns of 3 03 during the month Total AUM for the strategy has declined by almost US 8 0 billion over the last 12 months Latin American hedge funds were up for the second consecutive month leading the table with gains of 4 85 during the month On a year to date basis Latin American hedge fund managers also topped the tables gaining 6 15 the only regional mandate to post positive year to date returns as of March 2016 European managers posted their third consecutive month of performance based decline totaling US 7 8 billion on a year to date basis On the other hand European managers also recorded the highest investor allocations across all regional mandates US 8 1 billion on a year to date basis Asia ex Japan managers were up for the

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/news/hedge-funds-down-slightly-in-q1-4298 (2016-04-26)
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  • More ORPP details revealed | Small Biz Advisor
    details for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan ORPP writes Jennifer Paterson Benefits Canada In a recent press conference Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Associate Minister of Finance Mitzie Hunter announced these details which include how ORPP benefits will be structured and how plan comparability will be handled Hunter says the new details which have been shared with the Canada Revenue Agency include a clearer definition of employment so that employers can determine which employees are eligible for the plan additional details on the comparability test so employers can determine whether they currently offer a comparable workplace pension the inclusion of a modern robust survivor benefit so that even single employees can chose a beneficiary for their pension and details of the indexation of the benefit to ensure its sustainability in the long term The plan is designed to ensure the ORPP benefits will be sustainable for the next 100 years says Hunter The goal is for every Ontarian to be part of the ORPP or a comparable workplace pension plan by 2020 According to Wynne there will be a bill in the spring session to discuss the framework for the ORPP s design We want to ensure it is as

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-retirement/more-orpp-details-revealed-4153 (2016-04-26)
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  • Scrap ORPP, but expand CPP, says Mintz | Small Biz Advisor
    ORPP would be expensive to administer Benefits Canada contributor Joe Nunes also made this point in an August editorial saying Because Ontario is travelling this road alone there s no opportunity to leverage the infrastructure the federal government has put in place for the CPP an infrastructure that allows for collecting and investing contributions as well as determining and paying benefits It takes at least 600 million a year to run the CPP Worse says Mintz taxpayers will be on the hook for any pension deficits arising from poor financial returns and future liabilities A national pension plan is better he says because it spreads the risk across a larger population So he suggests Canada expand CPP instead To do this he recommends the government 1 Raise pensionable income to 60 000 for a single person and 120 000 for joint earners This isn t much of a stretch in 2016 the maximum will be 54 900 2 Raise the replacement income ratio to 35 from 25 That would put maximum benefits at 19 000 plus 7 200 from OAS 3 Raise the spousal benefit to 100 from 60 4 Make CPP QPP contributions deductible from income and do not include CPP QPP in income tested benefits i e GIS and OAS 5 Increase GIS for single seniors a promise the Liberals made in the last election 6 Raise the CPP eligibility age to 67 ORRP is not the right way to go and should be disbanded he says CPP reform is much more sensible And if provinces won t buy into the plan he says the government could raise RRSP contribution limits and make CPP contributions tax deductible without provincial cooperation He also suggests the government could offer a TFSA investment grant for low income earners with a clawback

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-retirement/scrap-orpp-but-expand-cpp-says-mintz-4046 (2016-04-26)
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  • Implications of the voluntary CPP for employers | Small Biz Advisor
    account be created to accept voluntary contributions by employees and where appropriate employers above the current statutory limits imposed by the current CPP regulations The assets of the SCPP would be administered by the CPP Investment Board and the earnings on such additional contributions would supplement the basic benefit currently offered by the CPP By having the contributions to the SCPP collected using the already existing CPP machinery and the benefits administered by the federal bureaucracy already in place the original SCPP idea was to deliver immediate value without incurring significant costs The value would stem mainly from the immense economies of scale that can be generated by having a single account receiving contributions from potentially millions of Canadians While the basic idea is simple enough to grasp employers should understand how the SCPP reform would actually work in practice First a purely voluntary initiative has a number of immediate benefits One it empowers those who are serious about retirement without creating a new bureaucracy as contemplated by the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Two it avoids economic distortions when a payroll charge is imposed on employers by mandatory measures And three it avoids economic disruptions for employees who might have better uses of money than putting it aside for retirement Unfortunately the accepted wisdom has always been that voluntary measures don t work and that Canadians must be forced to save for retirement or else won t do it By extension this means that the SCPP is bound to fail much like its Saskatchewan distant relative the Saskatchewan Pension Plan which has had a very low take up rate over the years and doesn t really help with the objective of enhancing pension coverage Ironically the ultimate voluntary measure the tax free savings account has been wildly popular since its inception in 2009 The Canada Revenue Agency says more than 10 7 million Canadians had opened a TFSA by the end of 2013 thereby transferring billions of dollars into them a trend that is bound to eventually replace the RRSP as the vehicle of choice to save for retirement Even the Ontario government admitted that voluntary savings can fluctuate For example in 1981 the Ontario household savings rate was 22 7 of disposable income even though no mandatory regime was in place That high watermark is well above what experts typically call for as a sufficient savings rate The fact is most Canadians if given the proper incentives will make rational decisions When interest rates hit an all time low many decided to use cheap credit to invest in residential real estate fuelling a housing boom that still reverberates across cities such as Toronto and Vancouver In short to simply state that voluntary savings do not work is to ignore the evidence around us How then should the SCPP be structured for it to be efficient and how might it impact employers across Canada At its core the SCPP is a true pension plan namely a vehicle to set aside

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-retirement/implications-of-the-voluntary-cpp-for-employers-3875 (2016-04-26)
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  • Drug pooling plans still face many barriers | Small Biz Advisor
    s intended to according to David Patriarche founder of Greater Toronto Area based Mainstay Insurance The insurers have raised the credibility levels of these drug claims and increased the stop loss attachment points such that those that have higher drug claims are being hit very hard with rate increases The insurers lack of willingness to pool claims and spread risk which is what insurance is all about means employers are left with the choice of dropping the plan altogether or putting in a drug max he says Pooling isn t working for a number of reasons according to Patriarche In small and mid sized groups insurers are reducing pooling and insurers are not properly coordinating with provincial drug plans to reduce costs To solve this issue Patriarche says insurers need to coordinate with provincial drug plans and fully pool all groups of less than 100 employees This means all the premium and all the claims This is similar to what the U S does as well as very successful plans he says Stephen Frank vice president of policy development and health at the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc says he isn t aware of any reduction in pooling

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/drug-pooling-plans-still-face-many-barriers-4299 (2016-04-26)
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  • Changes to government-mandated benefits may be coming soon | Small Biz Advisor
    easier to access and more inclusive for those who provide care for seriously ill family members While it offered few details budget announcement on March 22 the government said it would pursue those objectives over the course of its mandate It also said it would reduce the employment insurance waiting period from two weeks to one That could increase the number and amount of short term disabilities claims faced by plan sponsors said Eckler in a budget notice since they would have to reduce their own waiting period in order to preserve any EI premium reduction The budget also said it would extend the maximum duration of work sharing agreements from a current length of 38 weeks to an extension of 76 weeks Extending work sharing agreements will help employers retain skilled employees and avoid the costs of recruiting and training new employees and will help employees maintain their skills and jobs while supplementing their earnings with EI benefits said the budget document The government also said it will explore ways to ensure that federally regulated employees are better able to manage the demands of paid work and their personal and family responsibilities outside of work Many Canadians struggle to

    Original URL path: http://www.smallbizadvisor.ca/group-benefits/changes-to-government-mandated-benefits-may-be-coming-soon-4268 (2016-04-26)
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