Public protests continue over plans by Ontario and British Columbia to "harmonize" sales taxes, a move that would cost consumers more at a time of economic restraint.
Even as politicians fear a backlash from voters increasingly angry about the prospect of paying more for many goods and services not now taxed, the plans proceed.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has encouraged combining the provincial taxes with the 5 percent federal Goods and Services Tax.
Even a change of government won't matter as Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff now says his party will support the blended tax.
It's believed that businesses would benefit through lower operating costs by having one tax instead of two and would create jobs.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said business would save $100 million a year, while the National Citizens Coalition estimates it would cost an average taxpayer an extra $800 to $1,000 annually.
New Brunswick, Newfoundland/Labrador and Nova Scotia have the harmonized tax, while provincial taxes in Prince Edward Island and Quebec combine the federal tax in their base. Albertans don't have to worry since their province has no provincial sales tax.
Developing countries will get surplus shots
Canada has plans to deal with a potential massive surplus of H1N1 flu vaccine as most Canadians haven't received, or don't want, the shot.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said once the flu outbreak has passed, Canada will donate any surplus vaccine to developing countries.
Numbers suggest the current wave of swine flu has peaked but Canadians "need to be vigilant," said Dr. David Butler-Jones, chief public health officer.
More than 20 million doses of the vaccine have been shipped to the provinces and territories.
News in brief
• Toronto businessman and former politician Paul Godfrey is expected to be named chairman of the scandal-plagued Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Now president of the National Post newspaper, Godfrey's nomination to head the corporation overseeing lotteries and casinos is being reviewed by the government.
• A tentative deal and the threat of back-to-work legislation has ended the strike by 1,700 Canadian National Railway engineers. The Teamsters' union members left their jobs Nov. 28 to back contract demands. They opposed CN's plans to raise the maximum number of miles worked in a month.
• Last Sunday's Grey Cup football game set a TV audience record as 43 percent of Canadians, about 14 million, watched the Saskatchewan Roughriders lose on the final play. Damon Duval kicked the winning field goal as the Montreal Alouettes won 28-27 in Calgary.
Facts and figures
Canada's unemployment rate dropped by one-tenth of a point to 8.5 percent last month with 79,000 jobs created, about equally split between full- and part-time work.
The Canadian dollar continues higher at 94.51 cents U.S., while the U.S. dollar returns $1.0581 Canadian, before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada's key interest rate remains at 0.25 percent, while the prime lending rate is 2.25 percent.
Stock markets are mixed, with Toronto's composite index lower at 11,507 points and the TSX Venture index up at 1,447 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 2, 4, 24, 25, 47 and 48; bonus 44. (Nov. 28) 17, 26, 27, 28, 33 and 49; bonus 43. Lotto Max: (Nov. 27) 11, 15, 24, 26, 37, 38 and 43; bonus 17.
• The historic 78-year-old hockey shrine Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto is being remade into a grocery store and Ryerson University sports complex. Loblaw Cos. will create a grocery superstore, underground parking garage and upper-level hockey rink and recreational facilities. It's the former home of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, who now play in the Air Canada Center.
• Forty-three people were left homeless in Grande Prairie, Alberta, when fire destroyed a 30-unit apartment complex on Nov. 28. There were no injuries in the overnight blaze at the adults-only complex. The cause is being investigated.
• Nine more Canadian cities can be toured virtually through Google Street View. Online photos of Victoria, Nanaimo, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Sudbury, London, Sherbrooke and St. John's are among the Canadian cities photographed, right down to houses and street addresses. Olympic venues in Vancouver and Whistler are being shot now. Other cities available are Squamish, Banff, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax.
Jim Fox can be reached at [email protected]