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Government red tape strangling Canada’s economy

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4 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

The cost of regulation from all three levels of government to Canadian businesses totalled $38.8 billion in 2020, for a total of 731 million hours—the equivalent of nearly 375,000 fulltime jobs.

One does not have to look too deeply into recent headlines to see that Canada’s economic conditions are declining and consequently eroding the prosperity and living standards of Canadians. Between 2000 and 2023, Canada’s per-person GDP (a key indicator of living standards) has lagged far behind its peer countries. Business investment is also lagging, as are unemployment rates across the country particularly compared to the United States.

There are many reasons for Canada’s dismal economic conditions—including layer upon layer of regulation. Indeed, Canada’s regulatory load is substantial and growing. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of regulations in Canada grew from about 66,000 to 72,000. These regulations restrict business activity, impose costs on firms and reduce economic productivity.

According to a recent “red tape” study published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), the cost of regulation from all three levels of government to Canadian businesses totalled $38.8 billion in 2020, for a total of 731 million hours—the equivalent of nearly 375,000 fulltime jobs. If we apply a $16.65 per-hour cost (the federal minimum wage in Canada for 2023), $12.2 billion annually is lost to regulatory compliance.

Of course, Canada’s smallest businesses bear a disproportionately high burden of the cost, paying up to five times more for regulatory compliance per-employee than larger businesses. The smallest businesses pay $7,023 per employee annually to comply with government regulation while larger businesses pay a much lower $1,237 per employee for regulatory compliance.

And the Trudeau government has embarked on a massive regulatory spree over the last decade, enacting dozens of major regulatory initiatives including Bill C-69 (which tightens Canada’s environmental assessment process for major infrastructure projects), Bill C-48 (which restricts oil tankers off Canada’s west coast) and electric vehicle mandates (which require all new cars be electric by 2035). Other examples of government red tape include appliance standards to reduce energy consumption from household appliances, home efficiency standards to reduce household energy consumption, banning single-use plastic products, “net zero” nitrous oxide emissions regulation, “net zero” building emissions regulations, and clean electricity standards to drive net emissions of greenhouse gases in electricity production to “net zero” by 2035.

Clearly, Canada’s festooning pile of regulatory red tape is badly in need of weeding. And it can be done. For example, during a deregulatory effort in British Columbia, which appointed a minister of deregulation in 2001, there was a 37 per cent reduction in regulatory requirements in the province by 2004.

Rather with plowing ahead with an ever-growing pallet of regulations to be heaped upon Canadian businesses and citizens, government should reach for the garden shears and start reducing the most recent regulatory expansions (before they have time to do too much harm), and then scour the massive strangling forest of older regulations.

Whacking through the red tape would go a long way to help Canada’s economy out of its dismal state and back into competitive ranges with its fellow developed countries and our neighbours in the U.S.

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Automotive

US EV Industry Shifts Back Into Reality Gear

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From the Daily Caller News Foundation

By DAVID BLACKMON

 

At the start of each year, I write a piece in which I make a set of predictions about what will happen in the energy space during the coming 12 months. One prediction I made in this year’s story focused on the likelihood of a big fallout in America’s EV manufacturing industry.

Citing Fisker and Rivian as examples, I questioned whether any of the pure-play electric vehicle companies based in the United States had the ability to compete with Tesla in that market.

I took some heat from viewers that same week after I predicted on a podcast that every one of the U.S. pure-play EV makers besides Tesla would be either in bankruptcy or teetering on the brink by the end of 2024. As things are turning out, my only regret there is that I did not predict they would all be in that state by the middle of 2024 instead of the end of the year.

This week, Fisker filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest in a series of casualties in the growing falling-out in the EV sector. As The New York Times noted in its story on the matter, Fisker was one of a number of pure-play EV makers who were able to raise billions in startup funds from investors who got caught up in the EV frenzy during 2020 and 2021.

Several of those firms, like ProterraArrival, and Lordstown Motors already preceded Fisker down the bankruptcy path. Others, like Rivian, are right on the verge of taking the same plunge.

Lucid makes just one model, a luxury sedan, and is struggling to find buyers. It boasted about setting a new delivery “record” in the first quarter of this year, but a closer search reveals that was for only 1,967 units. The carmaker followed that announcement with another in May that it would lay off 400 employees in an apparent effort to conserve cash.

Oof.

EV truck maker Nikola, meanwhile, saw its stock price hit a record low this week amid ongoing softening in the US EV market. At the close of June 20 trading, Nikola’s price had dropped to just 33 cents per share. The stock collapse comes months after the company had delivered its first hydrogen fuel cell heavy truck during Q1, but that amounted to sales of just 42 units.

These and other pure-play EV makers are not in any way serious competition for Tesla.

Note also that Tesla is having major struggles of its own as the pace of EV adoption growth slows to a snail’s pace. The company laid off 10% of its workforce in May amid the ongoing slowing of the EV market. Tesla’s rollout of its radically designed Cybertruck has been plagued by recalls, technical issues and customer complaints, and the company’s overall Q1 2024 sales numbers fell dramatically from both Q4’s numbers and year-over-year.

But its decade-long head start on the competition, vertical integration of supply chains and diversification into other ventures give Tesla advantages these other pure-play EV companies do not and cannot enjoy. It remains uniquely situated among its peer group to survive the market contraction.

Traditional automakers like Ford and GM have been able to placate investors about their stunning losses in EV ventures (Ford somehow managed to lose $132,000 per unit sold in Q1 2024) by offsetting them against major profits from their traditional gas and diesel-powered car divisions. But even those companies have invoked an array of strategic shifts over the past six months in which they have delayed or cancelled planned new investments in their EV dreams.

What we are seeing here is a rapid shifting back to reality in the US auto industry. EVs always have been, are today, and will remain a niche product that can fill specific needs for a limited segment of our population, mainly the wealthy. The reason why the traditional, gas-and-diesel-powered auto segments at companies like Ford and GM remain wildly profitable is because that is where the real auto market remains.

No amount of Soviet-style central planning, industrial policy and command-and-control edicts and regulations coming down from Washington, D.C., are going to change that reality.

David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Featured image screenshot: (Screen Capture/PBS NewsHour)

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Automotive

Government subsidies cost more than EV capital investments

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Author: Franco Terrazzano

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling for an end to corporate welfare following today’s Parliamentary Budget Officer report showing government subsidies are 14 per cent more than the capital investments corporations are making in the electric-vehicle supply chain.

“Putting taxpayers on the hook for more money than these corporations are spending to build their own factories is an awful deal for ordinary Canadians,” said Franco Terrazzano, CTF Federal Director. “Taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners with this EV corporate welfare.”

The PBO released a report regarding recent government subsidies for EV factories.

“For the $46.1 billion in investments (capital expenses) across the EV supply chain, PBO estimates total corresponding government support (for capital and operating expenses) to be up to $52.5 billion, which is $6.3 billion (14 per cent) higher than announced investments,” according to the PBO report.

Of the $52.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies, the PBO estimates $31.4 billion is coming from the federal government and $21.1 billion is coming from provincial governments.

“These lopsided numbers show that these corporate handouts are nothing more than a vanity project for politicians,” said Jay Goldberg, CTF Ontario Director. “If these politicians want to grow the economy, they should cut taxes and red tape rather than make bad bets with taxpayers’ money.”

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