Take Stock – July 24

The Conference Board of Canada says its index of consumer confidence rose to 82.9 in July, the fifth month-to-month increase in a row.

Consumer confidence continues to gain in July

The Conference Board of Canada says its index of consumer confidence rose to 82.9 in July, the fifth month-to-month increase in a row. The Ottawa-based economic think-tank says its overall index is now 12.7 points higher than at the beginning of 2009. But there were also significant areas of weakness, particularly regarding confidence about finances and employment. The Conference Board says the main reason for a marginal 0.8 per cent uptick in the July consumer confidence index was the increased willingness of survey respondents to consider making a major purchase, such as a home or car.

In contrast, questions about current finances, future household finances and future employment all fell from where they were in June. There was also a significant regional disparity, with Ontario and Quebec consumer confidence rising while the Atlantic Canada, Prairie and British Columbia regions declined.

B.C. harmonizing sales tax, GST

British Columbia is harmonizing its provincial sales tax with the federal GST to create a single 12 per cent sales tax starting in mid-2010. The move will increase the cost of services that today just charge GST. However, the province believes a new one-tax system will cut cost for businesses and those savings will be then passed on to consumers.

The change, which takes effect July 1, 2010, will also increase competitiveness and boost investment in B.C., the government said.

“This is the single-biggest thing we can do to improve B.C.’s economy,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. B.C. is one of the last few provinces to implement the harmonized tax, known as the HST.

Ontario announced plans in March to harmonize its provincial sales tax with the GST for a 13 per cent tax, starting Canada Day next year. Finance Minister Colin Hansen said B.C. began working on the move in May, after his Liberal party’s re-election.

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