Tag Archives: usa

U.S. Lawmakers set envious glances as talented immigrants move North to Canada

Immigrants who made their way to the United States to hone their rare crafts and make a living off of the skills they have to offer now see a brighter light from the North. As Canada makes its immigration policies more warm and welcoming, it sees an influx of skilled labour. 

It makes sense why an immigrant would wander off North. The U.S. has milked its American dream narrative for quite a while, but it’s becoming hard for immigrants to buy that as they struggle with the cold and complex immigration system. Many businesses that can see this talent slipping out of their hands pin the blame on politicians and their partisan policies. 

It was a group of lawmakers who brought attention to this issue when they held a congressional hearing titled “Oh, Canada! How Outdated U.S. Immigration Policies Push Top Talent to Other Countries.” Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democratic lawmaker from California, also complained that Canadian cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Edmonton had surpassed her area in terms of tech employment growth.

Cause of Stalemate 

As fingers are pointed in the U.S. Congress, let’s take a step back and see why this problem continues to remain unresolved. 

For a plan to transform into reality, it must pass through both chambers of congress. To do that, a supermajority needs to be gathered. That’s the root of the conflict. On the one hand, Democrats want to shift priorities to offering past migrants citizenship. On the other hand, Republicans are expected by their voter base to clamp down on migration and block up the borders down south. 

Why the Canada way?

There is a critique of both the democratic narrative of offering citizenship and the Canadian methods. Republican Tom McClintock shares some interesting points here. 

He critiques democrats for favouring big corporations with this narrative and argues that it’s really the big corporations who want cheaper skilled labour. As for Canada, he shifts attention to the numbers game. McClintock argues that the U.S. was faring much better than Canada before the pandemic. Specifically, he draws attention to unemployment rates, worker salaries, and economic growth. 

The Witness Vision

At the said hearing, we got more perspective on the matter as witnesses were called to share their perspectives.

From figures showing how numbers of Indian students were surging in Canada while falling in America to statements undermining the U.S. immigration policies in comparison to Canadian policies, there was overall a sense of urgency and alarm.

US asks Canada to Extradite Huawei’s CFO

U.S. Department of Justice said it has asked Canada to extradite Chinese Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou to the US.

Jury has charged Huaweri as well as Meng with the following list of infractions:

  • conspiracy to trade secrets
  • attempted theft of trade secrets
  • seven counts of wire fraud
  • one count of obstruction of justice
  • faces charges of bank fraud
  • wire fraud
  • conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud

“Today we are announcing that we are bringing criminal charges against telecommunications giant Huawei and its associates for nearly two dozen alleged crimes. China must hold its citizens and Chinese companies accountable for complying with the law.”

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker

A pretty large list of infractions indeed.

Last month Canada has intercepted Meng and put her on bail when she was travelling through Vancouver to Cancun, Mexico. Canadian government had to fire Canadian ambassador to China, John McCallum, because he said that it would be “great” and simply things for Canada if the U.S. dropped its extradition request for Meng.

Chinese government continues to be furious with Canada and even went to say that “Canada sometimes acts more like America’s ‘51st state’ than a sovereign country with a will of its own,” through their People’s Daily Online publication.

Even with such a large list of potential infractions the US still has to prove any wrong doings by Huawei or its empoyees. US might be using this as show of force to get such a large company like Huawei nowhere near US or its allies due to its new 5G technology and great potential to spy on the US and its allies with it.

New NAFTA increases online shopping duty free for Canadians

After months of negotiations Donald Trump and Justin Trudeau have finally come to an agreement and there is much to be celebrated about this new deal when it comes to Canadian online shopping.

Canadian online shoppers will be pleased that now they will be able to ship more goods into Canada without paying duties as new agreement increased the minimum cross-border purchase price for duties and taxes, known as deminimis threshold. We wrote in an article not so long ago pushing for this change in increase to duties exemptions. I guess Trump and Trudeau have listened to our rumblings.

Canada’s deminimis threshold was $20 since the 80s and have not been updated since. That means that anything you ship into Canada over $20 must incur a duty and a tax unless the product is exempt.

Under the new NAFTA or the new name of NAFTA, USMCA, these thresholds will be increased. Canada has agreed to increase deminimus to $40 for tax purposes (ie GST/HST) and $150 for duty purchases.

Canadian retail was not pleased with the change as they say hundreds and possible thousands of retail jobs will now be lost.

Mexico has also upped its deminimis to $100 US or about $130 Canadian while US has decided to decrease their deminimis from $800 to $100 US.

So Canada has now officially the largest duty free exemption in North America. Sounds like a win for Canadian consumers. Time to load up that www.amazon.com.

Canada’s Tech Going Down South

Brain Drain – here we are again. Just like in the 1990s – early 2000s, when living was easy south of the border in California with its nice weather year around, the exchange rate US Canadian dollar is extra 35% top up, salaries are double what you make home (in Toronto at least, more than that when compared to Montreal / Vancouver), and taxes are lower (by about 3% lower in California vs Ontario on $100k USD).

So it’s not difficult to see why the new study published, led by Zachary Spicer, a senior associate with the Munk School of Global Affairs’ Innovation Policy Lab at University of Toronto, revealed that an alarming rate of young graduates head south of the border for work as soon as they finish their degrees here in Canada.

The study found that at least 25% of recent science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates from three of the country’s top universities – University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia and U of T were working outside of Canada within few years of finishing school. The study surveyed 3,162 graduates from 2015 and 2016 in 22 STEM programs at the three universities based on their LinkedIn profiles and select follow-up interviews.

The numbers are much higher as seen from the graph below when it comes to Software Engineers. It shows that 66% of new grads in that field end up in the US. That’s 2 out of 3 recent grads.

This study was surprising due to the fact that for the last few years many media outlets paint Canada as rising tech star and place where people want to live and work.

And why not? If you can have endless summers, you are young (no health care issues) and can get double the pay as per recent study by Indeed.com that pointed out average salaries in Toronto around $73k vs $142k in San Francisco and almost the same real estate cost, and have skills to back it up and have no family to support (ie no need to pay for healthcare, daycare, school, etc.) Than moving to the USA is no brainer.

Tech Salaries in San Francisco, California, USA vs Toronto, Ontario, Canada

That’s a big concern for the Canadian government that is in the business of heavily subsidizing university education. Computer Science degree at University of Toronto for example for Canadian students will only costs you around $5k USD vs around $50k USD a year for Ivy League schools in the US.

Some LinkedIn were calling on the Canadian government to “react to this brain drain problem fast and effectively.”

But the problem is maybe simple economics, Canada is a country which has politeness, shyness and under ambition when it came to money as pointed out by recent KPMG report. Instead of growing Canadian startups into billion dollar corporations, a lot of founders decide to exit via acquisition. The average exit is only $8m. With almost 2 million Canadian companies in existence, the ones that scale up and go the distance and achieve true scale can be counted on your fingers.

Also in some places like Montreal, you will end up paying 17% more in taxes when comparing to places like Austin, Texas on salaries over $130,000 (41% in Quebecs vs 24% in Texas).

Sheldon Levy, former education minister told Globe and Mail

If two-thirds of our very best people [are leaving] because they don’t see the equivalent opportunity of developing a world-beating career in Canada … then yes, we have a problem.

The founders of the study call on the Canadian government to create “national talent retention strategy” and help pay back the loans, asking Canadian companies to pay more to compete with the US and hire more students faster.

But as summarized by the study’s own author Adam Froman

I’m not expecting we’ll turn this around [completely]. If you’re a 24-year-old kid, it’s kind of exciting to get paid $100,000 to go down to the Valley.

Amazon Raises Prime Membership by $2 a Month in the US, not in Canada

Hey fellow Canadians, no worries about recently announcement by Amazon, about their Prime Membership. Fee hike won’t affect members living north of the border.

Amazon is raising prices by $2 USD from $10.99 to $12.99 for their US subscribers starting immediately and will be updated on their next bill cycle. Student members fee will only increase by $1 from $5.49 to $6.49.

Unlike in the US, Amazon Canada charges annual fee vs monthly fees. Maybe this pricing scheme is due to strict pricing restriction in the province of Quebec when it comes to pricing memberships.

Price in Canada is $99 a year and includes free shipping, prime video / music, etc. Amazon says there is no plans to change that:

“We don’t have anything to share with regard to pricing change for Prime membership in Canada.”

Increase or not, people swear by their memberships no matter how much it costs, where else you can order an item at night that shows up on your doorsteps next morning – and you pay no shipping for that?

Why Online Shopping in Canada Is So Expensive

Welcome to Canada, where everything costs 15-25% more expensive than same product south of the border in the US.

Most of things you want to buy in Canada will most likely cost much less in the US. Why not shop in the US and get it shipped to Canada you say? Well, that is because Government of Canada will hit you with a big duty fee that will be anywhere between 10%-50% of the item value when you cross the border with it.

ParentRap / Pixabay

Why Canadians Pay More For Online Shopping

What happens when you order online from the US and ship it to Canada – your order will fall under the provision of the Postal Imports Remission Order of Canada: if someone mails you an item worth CAN$20 or more, there is duty or tax payable.

Example – buying stroller for your little one:

putevodnik / Pixabay

USA – $599 USD + no tax: because your are shipping to Canada: https://www.buybuybaby.com/store/product/britax-reg-b-free-travel-system/3343161

Canada – $799 Canadian plus 14% provincial tax: https://well.ca/products/britax-b-free-travel-system_141411.html

So if you want to buy that $600 USD stroller in the US (manufactured in China) vs buying it in Canada for $900 plus HST or PST/GST (about 14%), you think you are saving $737 Canadian vs $1,026 Canadian for a total savings of almost $300 – not bad for a quick research.

BUT not so fast: the problem is that now Government of Canada will ask you to pay the applicable duty, the GST or HST, and any PST on the item’s full value duty, which you can calculate yourself here https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/dte-acl/est-cal-eng.html. This will amount to about $200 if you import into Quebec or Ontario. So you are still saving about $100 but not as much as $300.

Difference between Canada and the US

The difference is that when you ship anything to the US instead of $20 exemption like in Canada they have $800 US exemption. With the new NAFTA review, the US government is pushing Canada to up and match the exemption.

Why Canada Does Not Want to Match US $800 exemption?

You would think that this would be a good thing for everyone if Canada upped the exemption. However accounting firm PwC – commissioned by the Retail Council of Canada released a report saying that 300,000 jobs will be lost because Canadians will be paying 20-30% less and that usually goes to retail people’s salary. Even if exemption limit is pushed only to $200 – the study says still 280,000 people would lose their jobs in Canada.

Canada Retail is furious that hard working Canadians trying to save a buck or $300 if you are buying above mentioned stroller and say that it is ridiculous that you want to save money:

“It would be a bizarre public-policy choice to incentivize people to shop anywhere but here,” said Karl Littler, the Retail Council of Canada’s vice-president of public affairs. “This would be an incentive not to invest here. It would, in fact, be an incentive to invest elsewhere in order to gain access to the tax and duty advantage.”

Why US wants Canada to match it?

GDJ / Pixabay

US does not agree. Mr. Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, is pushing $800 exemption, because he says its unfair to Canadians and Americans. He says that NAFTA might get cancelled if this point is not dealt with.

The American side says that they will reduce wait times, and increase revenue for the American government and companies in the US.

“The facts are that the government spends more to go after de minimis than they collect,” said Maryscott Greenwood, chief executive of the Canadian American Business Council, who added that a higher threshold would benefit Canadian exporters and consumers.

“The public wants to be able to buy things for convenience online,” she said.

What can you do to help to raise the exemption?

There are few petitions going on, you can sign it if you wish:



Under the Postal Imports Remission Order, goods imported from another country are exempt from taxes and duties if the value does not exceed $20; $60 on gifts. That’s right, for an item worth more than $60, you have to pay to receive a gift. This is known as the de minimis threshold. (de minimis: too trivial or minor to merit consideration, especially pertaining to law) This threshold was put in place in 1985, long before the emergence of e-commerce, which many of us use today. This regulation is completely outdated and out of step with our NAFTA peers, and this limit of $20 is one of the lowest in the developed world.

Canada is a part of NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) along with the United States and Mexico. The U.S. has a de minimis threshold of $800USD, and Mexico a threshold of $300USD.

There are many, many items that simply cannot be purchased within Canada. When importing, with duty and taxes as well as brokerage fees that may occur, you may end up paying much more than (sometimes even double) the actual price of an item. This doesn’t just harm consumers, but also small to medium-sized businesses. Commercial goods above $1600 are exempt from duties and taxes, protecting many larger businesses from encountering these harsh fees. It’s time to stop penalizing the small guys so heavily for trying to take part in the global economy, or even just the North American economy for that matter, and wasting so much money, time, and manpower doing it.

US Judge to Canada – Hands Off Google

California Federal judge blocked the Canadian ruling that was trying to make Google delete search results from its system.

This is definitely a nice win for Google as it is telling other countries to stop interfering with US jurisdiction where Google servers are based.

jp26jp / Pixabay

This is the first time when US judge tells a foreign country to buzz off and weighted its opinion on who gets to police the internet. Not Canada apparently.

This debate is much larger in Europe where French court has “ordered” Google to remove searches when it comes to “right to be forgotten” privacy rules. European top courts are recently reviewing the legality of that decision.

Back to Canada – British Columbia provincial court sought to block Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc. from showing up in the results as it deemed that it was stealing trade secrets and wanted its website shut down. Google balked at the order, and took it to Supreme Court which sided with British Columbia order. Not giving up, Google filed a case in United States asking for US to consider Canadian decision unconstitutional and unenforceable in the U.S.

adampaulclay / Pixabay

Google said that First Amendment rights were violated and if enforced this can have disastrous effect.

US Judge Edward Davila said that Canada violated US federal law.

“We’re pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the legal principle that one country shouldn’t be able to decide what information people in other countries can access online. Undermining this core principle inevitably leads to a world where internet users are subject to the most restrictive content limitations from every country.”” Google senior product counsel David Price said Friday.

Even though the ruling is now not enforcable in the US, it is still enforceable in Canada.

It will be interesting to see over the next 10-20 years, how some countries decide that they want to police the internet and try to apply the ruling around the world.

Google is still fighting 2015 order by France to apply the privacy law (right to be forgotten) not just in France or European Union but around the world.