Liberal budget spills red ink & Obama opens up to Cuba: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP
Finance Minister Bill Morneau outlined plans for more than $100 billion in deficit spending in the next half decade. Some of that will go to spending on infrastructure in the hopes of stimulating the economy, but a good chunk of the deficit is just based on a generally under-performing economy.
The budget has its fair share of both critics and fans, but there's at least one group that's upset with what wasn't in there: small business owners.
That's because a long-rumoured tax cut for that group was nowhere to be found. "Altogether it was a brutal budget for small business," Dan Kelly, the head of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, told us. "I have to say it was shocking to us, given the noise the government had made in the lead-up to the election campaign."
Obama's Cuban trip
Another major news event this week was a historic trip by U.S. president Barack Obama to Cuba.
Despite their close proximity, the U.S. and Cuba have had a frosty relationship for decades, ever since the Communist revolution in the 1950s.
But that's all starting to change under a new U.S. policy to heal old wounds and get closer to Cuba. With that rapprochement comes investment opportunities for foreign investors who have been locked out of Cuba's market for years.
"Many investors are saying Cuba, per capita, is one of the most interesting and attractive emerging markets in the world right now," said Gregory Biniowsky, a lawyer at Gowlings. "So our opportunity for Canadians is to cash in on this unique experience we have with this country. We have been by their side for 70 years, and now is not the time to allow other countries to butt in line in front of us."
Insurance coverage caution
Another story we brought you this week that's worthy of a close look was this one by Aaron Saltzman about a B.C. couple who did the right thing and bought supplementary health insurance while travelling to the U.S., but still find themselves at risk of losing valuable coverage at home because of it.
Tom and Mel Milaney were on vacation in Florida when she had to have emergency surgery and spent 10 days in hospital. The travel insurance they had bought from RBC paid the $200,000 US bill, but then RBC passed much of the bill to their extended health care provider at home, Pacific Blue Cross.
That lowered their lifetime maximum coverage for drug and health care by nearly $100,000. That's money the pair will likely need, as they both have existing conditions that rack up hefty bills as it is.
"At some point that's going to be eroded, maybe in our lifetime. So that's very much a concern," Tom told us this week.
The money RBC recovered is part of a form of cost-sharing among providers. It's a completely legal, standard insurance practice. And it's spelled out in the Milaney's RBC policy. Had they bought insurance from Pacific Blue Cross instead, their lifetime coverage would not have been affected.
A cautionary tale for us all.
Those were just a few of our more popular stories this week. Check out our landing page for more, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter here. In the meantime, here's a day-by-day list of our best stories.
- Buy travel insurance, end up with less coverage: A couple's hard lesson
- Wow Air moves up Canadian launch date and expands flights
- Health Canada reviewing food guide, critics demand drastic changes now
- Saputo to close 3 plants with loss of 230 jobs
- EI overhaul will extend benefits to 70 weeks for some, and reduce wait times
- Deficit projected at $29 billion next year — with more red ink to come