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Industry News...

 Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is sticking to his timetable for balancing the federal budget, even though lower prices for Canadian oil is “obviously a concern” for spending plans in the coming year.

 

Flaherty acknowledged today that the “very substantial discount to international markets” is having an impact on government revenues.

 

“It is obviously a concern, not only in Alberta, but in our government about commodities prices, the price of oil,” he told reporters following a speech to the Economic Club in Ottawa.

 

The discount between Canadian and world oil prices ballooned to about $40 a barrel, although that gap has recently narrowed.

 

“Yes, it affects our budgeting because it affects commodities prices, obviously, which affect the level of nominal GDP, which affects the level of revenues. So that all follows,” he said. “Having said that, we’ve taken substantial steps to reduce our own government spending [and] our own program spending.”

 

Click here for more from the Financial Post.

 

There was surprising data last week from Revenue Canada on participation in the Home Buyer’s Plan (HBP).

 

That’s the program where first-time buyers can borrow up to $25,000 from their RRSP to use as a down payment.

 

Almost 1.8 million Canadians participate in the HBP, according to the latest available numbers from CRA but here’s the interesting part…

 

Based on past StatsCan research and CRA data, it was assumed that 25-35% of people don’t make the annual repayments required by the plan. It turns out those numbers are a bit shy.

 

CRA told CanadianMortgageTrends.com last Wednesday that almost one-half of HBP participants (47%) “paid less than the full required repayment amount in tax year 2011.” (2011 is the latest data available.)

 

Click here for the full CanadianMortgageTrends.com article.

 

In this excerpt from Unstuck: How to Get Out of Your Money Rut and Start Living the Life You Want, Karin Mizgala and Sheila Walkington offer ways to stay out of the debt trap.

 

Click here for five tips to get out of – and stay out of – the debt trap courtesy of The Star.

 

The lure of a buying a vacation property in the American sunbelt can be enticing, especially for Canadians suffering through a brutal winter.

 

There are plenty of compelling reasons to buy south of the border: The Canadian dollar remains strong against the US greenback, and real estate prices are still low.

 

And, even if the loonie drops, owning property in the United States can act as a hedge, particularly as the market there is finally showing signs of life with both upticks in sales and new home starts.

 

What could go wrong? Plenty.

 

According to Roy Berg, a US tax lawyer based in Calgary with Moodys LLP, there are tax consequences that could quickly turn a vacation dream home into an unexpected money pit.

 

Click here to read more from the Globe and Mail.

 

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