tariffs

Budget Day Goodies ?

Today is Budget Day in Ottawa. And the current government has been promising to address some issues related to the higher prices Canadians pay for certain products.

Canadians pay significantly more for certain products than the Americans and although some of the price differences can be attributed to tariffs, labour and transportation costs, much of the purchase price is pre-determined by the manufacturer.

“Country Pricing” has become the standard and unfortunately Canada’s prices have not been adjusted to match our dollar’s strength.

Some online retailers have done their best to match prices but Canadians were still forced to either import products from the states or pay higher prices at their local retailers.

I suspect that tariffs will be reduced or eliminated on certain products in this budget, perhaps on books, clothing, electronics and home appliances.

Those are the most imported products, especially on Black Friday. But I’m also hoping they will follow the recommendations in the February 2013 Senate Committee report of the US/Canada Price Gap  and raise the de minimis threshold for postal shipments from $20.

When you import most products by mail you are exempt from duties, fees and taxes if the product or products shipped are valued at less than $20 Canadian.

I’ve managed to save some money using they exemption. But many countries like the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore had raised this minimum to US$100 in November 2011, enabling their citizens to avoid paying the hefty brokerage fees some couriers charge on parcels.

Brokerage fees have recently gone up in Canada so I’m hoping they will at least consider a CAN$50 threshold.

The other probabilities in the budget are reductions in credit card/banking fees, funding for an expansion of high speed internet into rural areas, and the unbundling of cable channels so I guess lots of Canadians will be watching this afternoon.

The budget broadcast will air on television and online on CPAC at 4PM Eastern. Details on the budget will also be made available on the Government’s Official Site after 4 PM Eastern.

New Blank Audio Media Tariffs Proposed

The blank audio media tariffs proposed for 2014 were published in today’s Canada Gazette and are as follows :

  • 29 cents per recordable compact disc (CD-R, CD-RW, CD-R Audio, CD-RW Audio)
  • 50 cents per microSD memory card with 1 gigabyte of memory or less
  • 1 dollar per microSD memory card with more that 1 gigabyte of memory but less than 8 gigabyte of memory
  • 3 dollars per microSD memory card with more than 8 gigabytes of memory

Of course the question remains on whether microSD memory cards are “ordinarily used by individual consumers” as an “audio recording medium“, as defined by Part VIII, Section 79 of our Copyright Act.

Personally I have yet to use these cards or any other non-embedded memory card for anything but photography and video. And I also know several individuals who use these cards in their netbooks as a storage medium for their documents. So I have serious doubts in regards to the claim that these memory cards qualify as “blank audio recording media“, especially those of a higher class.

I use class 10 SDHC memory cards for my high definition photography and videos, which are considerably more expensive than class 2 SD memory cards. And the latter is quite adequate for the recording and playback of 254 kbps music files.

According to the SD Association, MicroSD memory cards were manufactured for the mobile phone market. And though most mobile phones now record video in HD, a higher class of memory card is unnecessary for the playback of music on those devices.

Furthermore, mobile phones that include these memory cards at the time of purchase may contain ring tones, software and/or other data, which disqualify these cards as “blank“.

I suspect many memory card manufacturers and retailers will file their objections to these proposed tariffs, as they did in the past. But I also believe Canadian consumers who use these memory cards for photography, video and data storage should also voice their opinions on the matter.

Written objections to these proposed tariffs will of course be accepted by the Copyright Board until April 11th, 2012 at the following address :

GILLES MCDOUGALL
Secretary General
56 Sparks Street, Suite 800
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0C9

Objections will be a matter of public record, so please be polite.

Thank you.