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Seniors lose tax breaks

Seniors, investors and the military were hardest hit by the Canadian government budget that features $16-billion (Canadian) in spending cuts.

While there are no direct tax increases, age credits worth $610 on average for wealthier seniors will be reduced on net incomes of more than $25,921 and eliminated at $49,100.

The $100,000 lifetime capital gains exemption was ended, but the $500,000 exemption for small businesses and farms will remain.

Defense spending will be cut by $7-billion over five years, with four military bases to be closed and five cut back, eliminating 8,100 jobs. To be closed are Canadian Forces Bases Ottawa; Toronto; Conwallis, Nova Scotia; and Chatham, New Brunswick.

Finance Minister Paul Martin's first budget also reduced unemployment insurance benefits and requires 12 weeks of work to qualify, up from 10 weeks.

The government killed the scientific KAON particle accelerator project in British Columbia and will reduce Canada's involvement in the international space station.

The budget projects a deficit of $39.7-billion in 1994-95, down from the past year's record high of $45.7-billion.

Ontario cigarette tax cut

Smokers welcomed the Ontario government's caving in to pressure to cut cigarette taxes.

The provincial tax was cut by $9.60 (Canadian) on a carton of cigarettes, dropping the price to $23 from $41 when combined with federal and other tax reductions.

Ontario Treasurer Floyd Laughren said he was "bitter" about being forced to cut taxes, which will cost $500-million in lost revenue a year, but there was no choice.

The federal government cut taxes and urged provinces to do likewise to put cigarette smugglers out of business. Only Quebec and Ontario have made the cuts so far.

No union at McDonald's

A bid to unionize the first McDonald's restaurant in North America has failed in Orangeville, Ontario.

Teenage workers cheered after learning of the 77-19 vote against joining the Service Union International Union.

Sarah Inglis, 17, started the union drive last fall, complaining of verbal harassment, unjust firings and threats of firing. The union cited inadequate wages and benefits, and unfair work scheduling.

Union official Mark Ortlieb accused McDonald's of using extensive "intimidation" tactics to dissuade workers from joining.

The vote shows how much the teens like working for the company, said Roy Ellis, a McDonald's Canada vice president.

Facts and figures

The Bank of Canada raised its key interest rate to 4.1 percent from 4.06 percent. The prime lending rate remained at 5.5 percent.

The Canadian dollar ended the week at 74 U.S. cents; a U.S. dollar was $1.3514 Canadian.

Stock markets were lower; Toronto's composite index closed Friday at 4,364 points.

Lotto 6-49: (Wednesday) 5, 7, 11, 31, 35 and 46; bonus 30. (Feb. 19) 10, 14, 21, 36, 37 and 38; bonus 47.

In brief

Rogers Communications' $2-billion (Canadian) takeover bid for the Maclean Hunter publishing empire has been formally rejected by the board of directors. Cable mogul Ted Rogers says he might respond with court action to fight Maclean Hunter's "poison pill" anti-takeover plans.

Government spending has been cut by $1-billion (Canadian) in Alberta. The Conservative government is moving quickly ahead with its deficit-reduction plans but spared Albertans from tax hikes in the budget. As well as service cutbacks, grants were reduced for hospitals and schools; seniors face higher fees.

Trend Schonert of Victoria, British Columbia, has heard all the jokes about his truck, called Mable the Moomobile and topped by a plastic illuminated cow. But his update of an old idea _ doorstep milk delivery _ has turned into a thriving business called Moo to You Inc. Don't call him a milkman _ he's a "residential dairy consultant."

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