Take stock – April 16

Canada’s budget watchdog says employment insurance premiums may have to go up, and by a lot.

EI premiums need boost

Canada’s budget watchdog says employment insurance premiums may have to go up, and by a lot.

The parliamentary budget office estimates that EI premiums paid by workers and employers would have to rise by the maximum allowable limit of 15 cents per $100 of insurable earnings if the fund is return to near balance in five years. That would hike annual contributions per worker by $535 — with about $223 more being paid by the employee and $312 by the employer.

The maximum EI contribution paid by employees now is just over $730 per year.

The combination of the increased premiums, more workers and higher wages means that Ottawa’s EI revenues would grow from $16.2 billion last year to $27.1 billion by 2014. Currently, the government has frozen contribution premiums until 2011 as part of the two-year stimulus package dealing with the recession.


Building slows

Investment in non-residential building construction totalled $10.3 billion in the first quarter, down 0.7 per cent from the previous quarter and 5.7 per cent below the first quarter of 2009. Statistics Canada blames lower investments in commercial and industrial building construction sparked both the first quarter decline and the downward trend that began in early 2009.

Investment was down in 19 of the 34 cities, led by Calgary and Toronto. Edmonton posted the largest increase in the first quarter, as investment increased 10.7 per cent to $688 million.

Of six provinces that posted declines in the first quarter.

British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick and Alberta recorded gains in the first quarter, primarily as a result of higher spending in the institutional component.