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Federal budget offers a measure of hope for Canadian retailers: Retail Council of Canada


January 28, 2009
By Retail Council of Canada

Jan. 28, 2009 – Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is encouraged by a
number of economic stimulus measures announced by Finance Minister Jim
Flaherty in yesterday's federal budget and welcomed the government's
plans in response to the global recession.

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is encouraged by a number of economic
stimulus measures announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in
yesterday's federal budget and welcomed the government's plans in
response to the global recession.

Minister Flaherty's budget speech reflected a number of RCC's
pre-budget recommendations submitted on behalf of Canadian retailers:

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–  Tax relief for low- and modest-income Canadians

–  Investments in infrastructure to improve Canada's productivity and sustain or create jobs

–  A first step toward regulation of credit card industry practices in Canada

Tax breaks for low- and modest-income Canadians, representing
approximately $2 billion in each of the next two years are positive
steps to rebuilding consumer confidence. "These tax changes will put
money back in the pockets of Canadians, boosting confidence and
encouraging spending, which is critical to the retail sector and
Canada's overall economic recovery," says Diane J. Brisebois, President
and CEO, Retail Council of Canada.

New infrastructure spending will help increase the country's
productivity – putting people back to work, restoring confidence and
supporting healthy communities. This investment has a direct impact on
the sustainability and growth of Canada's retail sector – a sector that
already invests more than $8 billion every year into communities across
the country.

RCC applauds the government for taking steps to regulate credit cards
by strengthening disclosure requirements and limiting certain business
practices to allow consumers to make informed decisions. Although this
is a positive first step, merchants will continue to push government to
address the skyrocketing fees paid by small businesses, retailers,
hotels, restaurants, charities and others.

"These steps help to protect retailers' customers from the unfair
practices of credit card companies and their issuing banks," says
Brisebois. "However, Canadian businesses continue to pay some of the
highest merchant fees in the world and we will continue to press for a
formal review of the Canadian credit and debit card systems and the
development of thoughtful regulations that protect all Canadians."

Dozens of countries around the world – the U.S., Australia, Colombia,
Hungary, Romania and Spain – have been investigating the big credit
card companies' fee practices and have moved to curb them. RCC leads a
coalition of like-minded associations representing almost 200,000
businesses that launched "www.StopStickingItToUs.com," a national
campaign against Big Credit Card companies who have been imposing
skyrocketing hidden credit card fees on Canadians.


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