GM cuts, rising bank fees and the CRA's deadline extension: BUSINESS WEEK WRAP
The murky future of GM's iconic car plant in Oshawa, Ont., somehow got even cloudier this week as the company quietly announced it would be cutting another 1,000 assembly line jobs at the facility.
GM delivered the bad news for Oshawa on Thursday, the same day the company announced it would be spending $5.4 billion to expand its capacity at several GM plants across America.
While the plant's fate has yet to be sealed, it's certainly not looking as good as it might. GM is phasing out production of the Camaro in Oshawa, and the company has yet to give any firm assurances that it plans to build anything at all at the plant past 2016.
By the end of the year the GM plant in Oshawa will have just 2,600 employees — a far cry from the number it had a decade ago, and a symbolic fall from grace for what was once one of the biggest industries in Ontario.
"Things are moving in the wrong direction for Canada right now, and we've got to make sure we turn that around, if we want a viable automotive industry in Canada in the future," University of Windsor professor Tony Faria told the CBC this week.
Bank fees rising
Canadians all seem to think they pay too much in bank fees, but we brought you a report this week that shows individuals have nothing to complain about compared to what some small businesses are seeing.
A massage company in Ontario says it paid almost $7,000 in various bank fees within its first year of operation. And as those fees grow, so does the profit of Canada's big banks.
"[They] Just can't make the same money on the spread between what they can loan money out, and what they can see when they pay you interest on an investment of some sort," DeGroote marketing professor Marvin Ryder told us this week, "so they've shifted the primary source of revenue generation to fees."
With banks being squeezed in other parts of their business, it seems fees are moving from a cost-recovery mechanism to a profit centre. And fees in the range of $225 to $275 to process transactions every month give an indication that those numbers are likely to trend higher.
Black market growing
Another story we brought you this week is this one on the billions of dollars changing hands in Canada that's not on the books. Untaxed, unrecorded transactions make up the 'underground economy.'
And according to Statistics Canada, it totalled $42.4 billion in 2012. That's up from previous years, and even by the data agency's own estimation, probably a low-ball guess of the reality.
"This isn't exactly grand theft, but on the other hand it's a pervasive problem, it's a substantial problem," Ryerson professor of business ethics told Amanda Lang this week. "The numbers are small percentage-wise, but in the aggregate you're talking about um a loss of tax revenue that could be paying for an awful lot of teachers' salaries, an awful lot of fire trucks, an awful lot of cops on the street an awful lot of healthcare."
It's a complicated issue. But as long as there are Canadians willing to save a few bucks by paying cash and going "under the table" from the tax man, it's likely not one that's going away any time soon.
Tax deadline extension
By the time you're reading this, the original tax filing deadline of April 30 has already passed. But if you haven't filed yet, the CRA has thrown you a lifeline this year.
Thanks to a human error that caused the tax agency to incorrectly tell some people the deadline wasn't until next Tuesday, May 5, the tax collector has decided to extend that offer to all Canadians.
So, with five extra days, last-minute filers could have time to spare, right? Well, not likely.
As Kirby Dickson of H&R Block said to the CBC's Renee Filippone in her piece this week "People who are going to leave it until the last minute are going to leave it to the last minute regardless of whether it's the 30th of April or the 5th of May."
Those were a few of our best pieces this week. Check out our website for more, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter here to stay up to date. In the mean time, here's some more of our best stuff from the past week that you may have missed.
- Netflix and HBO border hopping: Is anybody getting caught?
- Tuna company charged in 2012 death of employee burned in oven
- DON PITTIS: Is Janet Yellen making a zombie economy?
- Stable jobs in short supply in Canada's tough new labour market
- Real estate agents cut commissions in easy-to-sell markets
- Regina and Winnipeg housing markets deemed 'high risk' by CMHC