Canada to begin selling up to $1-billion worth of Canadian stocks next year
Posted November 21, 2020 15:50:58Canada’s financial regulator will be allowed to sell up to about $1.5 billion in Canadian stocks each year beginning next year, as the government begins selling its holdings of more than 1,300 companies that will be subject to new capital requirements under the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
The government has been seeking to sell some of the companies for years, but the decision comes as Canada grapples with rising health-care costs and an economic slowdown.
The Treasury Board is expected to give its approval on Wednesday to sell at least $400 million of the roughly $1 billion of assets that will come from the sale of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Canada Infrastructure Investment Corporation.
Those assets are owned by the provinces, municipalities and First Nations and will be sold by the end of the year, Treasury Board spokeswoman Amanda Stewart said.
The companies to be sold are:The Canadian Securities Administrators, the Canada Securities Exchange, the Canadian International Trade Commission, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre and the Financial Services Commission of Canada.
The sale of assets will be done under the authority of an exemption from the federal capital requirements.
The exemptions are not part of the current law that allows the government to sell assets at the current prices that are set by the government.
The exemption is not a tax break for Canadian citizens, the minister said, and will not affect the tax treatment of income from foreign investments, like foreign investments in Canadian assets.
It will be up to the federal government to determine whether it needs to sell those assets.
Under the current capital requirements, the government must sell up, or liquidate, $400-million of assets a year in order to comply with the new rules.
The Liberals have been seeking a 10-year, $1,000-billion sales program to help the country meet its capital requirements and the new capital rules.
It’s the first time the government has made such a sale, Stewart said, adding that the government will consider selling the rest of its assets as it considers the sales.
The Trudeau government also announced last month that it will end the mandatory minimum tax on foreign profits over $1 million, a move that has prompted some critics to say the government is shifting more profits from the country to the U.S., a claim Treasury Board has rejected.
Canada’s new capital restrictions are not expected to affect foreign investment, but critics are urging the government not to sell as much of its holdings as possible.
The NDP has said the changes are unfair and will put a heavy burden on small and medium-sized businesses and the wealthy.
“The Liberals are selling off a big part of their wealth while keeping the wealthy and the big companies in the dark about the tax cuts for the middle class,” NDP finance critic Nathan Cullen said.
The Liberals also announced this week they will sell $1 and $5 million of assets each to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Canadian Council for Public Policy.
The Conservatives have said the sales are a way to boost tax revenue.
Treasury Board spokeswoman Jennifer Llewellyn said the government does not comment on individual purchases of securities.
The changes come as Canada prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
As part of celebrations for the milestone, the federal and provincial governments are working on a number of policies to promote economic growth and employment in the country.