National Business briefs – September 18

The Canadian Press has learned that the federal government is set to phase out all remaining tariffs on imported machinery and equipment.

Tories set to kill last of manufacturing tariffs

OTTAWA — The Canadian Press has learned that the federal government is set to phase out all remaining tariffs on imported machinery and equipment.

A senior government source says Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will make the announcement Friday in Ottawa.

Flaherty eliminated tariffs on some imported machinery in January’s budget.

At the time, the government estimated the move would cut business costs by about $440 million over five years.

Now the government is prepared to phase out tariffs on all imported manufacturing inputs. It estimates that will eventually save businesses another $250 million or more.

Flaherty will likely argue that the move provides not only long-term, competitive benefits to industry, but also a short-term shot in the arm to the economy. And it dovetails with the Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s message this week in Washington about reducing trade barriers.

Government orders TV hearings

OTTAWA — The government has ordered the federal broadcast regulator to hold new hearings and file a formal report on the request by TV networks to charge cable and satellite companies for using their local signals.

This fee-for-carriage system as it’s known is a bone of contention between the networks and the distribution systems.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission last year held hearings on the networks’ demand for fee-for-carriage and turned them down.

The commission said it recognized that TV broadcasting faced financial troubles, but said the problem was one of viewers turning from general interest TV to more specialized channels, video-on-demand and new media.

Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said the cabinet wants the broadcast regulator to hold new hearings and produce a formal report on the implications of fee-for-carriage.

Nortel workers face axe

TORONTO — As many as 400 Nortel Networks employees in Canada stand to lose their jobs as part of the company’s bankruptcy sale of its Enterprise division to Avaya Inc.

While Nortel declined to provide any figures about its workforce and the potential effect of the sale, those familiar with the deal said Thursday the Enterprise unit employs close to 1,000 people in Canada.

The hope is that the ultimate number of those forced out the door will be lower than 400, said one source.

Overall, Nortel has about 5,000 employees in Canada.

The Enterprise workers are based in Ottawa and Belleville, Ont., along with a handful of others in Toronto.

Thousands more work for the division abroad, including about 2,000 in the United States. Many of those are protected by successor laws that mandate the buying company to keep them on.

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