Description: Last Monday a software problem caused a loss of data and phone service to many customers of Rogers Communications. The loss of service hit customers in all parts of Canada, but Montreal and Southern Ontario appear to have suffered the most. The timing of the outage was particularly relevant for those who may have been struggling to make appointments to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations.
Date: April 20, 2021
1) Were you or any of your classmates impacted by the Rogers outage last week?
2) What relevant factors do you evaluate in choosing your provider for mobile services?
3) Chapter 4 of Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting deals with a number of key issues around revenue recognition. Rogers has informed its customers that they will receive a credit on their May bills for the impact of the outage. When should Rogers recognize the reduction in revenue in their financial results?
Description: As economics student Ethan Gilhula puts it, “It’s hard to find a job, especially when the one you’re looking for doesn’t exist.” Last summer much of the country was in some form of Covid containment, cutting off many traditional summer jobs for students. And though the promise of a vaccinated population creates a hopeful outlook, students finishing up their exams in the next few days are wondering where they are going to find those important summer opportunities. Gilhula wonders about the impact of a lack of internships on the current student population in Canada.
Date: April 25, 2021
1) What do summer employment opportunities look like for you and your classmates?
2) After reading this opinion piece, do you have any recommendations on what might be done to improve summer opportunities for students?
3) Page 4-3 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making mentions accounting for faculty research grants at Western University, Ethan’s home institution. Have you ever considered undertaking a summer research project for one of your professors as a means of gaining valuable work experience?
Description: You can pay me now, or pay me later; so goes the old saying from the Fram oil filter commercial. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHug0AIhVoQ Well, the Government of Canada appears to have chosen the pay me later approach with its latest budget, delivered last week by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland. The budget did contain a few revenue generating measures, such as a new tax on some digital services and increased taxes on luxury vehicles, but these are minor steps on the road to paying for the services we receive. Currently, the government is spending what columnist William Robson calls “50-cent dollars.” Half of the spending is coming from debt, not taxes. Clearly, that trend cannot continue indefinitely.
Date: April 23, 2021
1) Were you aware that your government was spending these “50-cent dollars?”
2) What do you and your classmates anticipate the government will do to increase revenue?
3) Exercise E10.11, page 10-47, of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making asks us whether a Government of Canada bond issue maturing June 1, 2027 is trading at a discount or a premium. Do some research with your classmates to determine whether current Government of Canada bond issues are trading at a premium or discount.
Description: Well, if you’re arguing against the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about your taxes, you are probably feeling pretty good when the judge says that CRA’s position is “absurd.” Dave Nonis, one-time general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, found himself in that position. When the Leafs fired Nonis in 2015, he returned to his home in the United States. The Leafs continued to pay him per the terms of his contract for 2015 and 2016. Using a formula developed for taxing sports figures who split residency between Canada and the U.S., Nonis paid taxes in Canada for only 37 days residency in 2015 and 0 in 2016. CRA didn’t like that, maintaining Nonis should have used his 2013-14 residency percentages. That’s what the judge found “absurd.”
Date: April 15, 2021
1) What do you think of the judge’s decision?
2) Why do you think the Income Tax Act may have been changed in 1981 to allow this treatment of income for those involved in professional sports?
3) Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Nonis’s former employer, appears in Problem 1.3B of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making. Tackle this problem in-class and discuss your answers with your classmates.
Description: The massive ship Ever Given has been freed from the Suez Canal, yet the cargo vessel is still “stuck” in Egypt. Authorities have impounded the Ever Given until its owners settle up with the canal authority on the damages stemming from the incident. Costs may hit upwards of $900 million, including the operational costs of freeing the Ever Given and the fees the canal operators lost during the six days of closure.
Date: April 13, 2021
1) Did you follow the story of the Ever Given? Were you aware the ship had been impounded?
2) Are you surprised by the $900 million price tag?
3) Page 364 of Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting provides an example of how the Port Authority in Nanaimo, British Columbia has to calculate costs. What types of costs do you think the Suez Canal managers would have included to arrive at the $900 million figure mentioned in this story?
Description: Optimism and entrepreneur seem like two words that should be linked. But with the Covid-19 pandemic still entrenched in Canada and around the world, some might be surprised to see entrepreneurs optimistically plowing forward with major capital projects in the tourism sector. In Cape Smokey, Cape Breton Island, the ski hill is set to open a new gondola ride on July 1, giving year round cash flow to the business, while giving tourists a beautiful aerial view of the impressive scenery. A few days earlier, B.C.’s District Wine Village is scheduled for opening, bringing a tourist venue with small craft wineries, accompanied with food and music.
Date: April 17, 2021
1) Are you or any of your classmates planning on starting your own businesses for this summer break?
2) As you think about entrepreneurship, besides optimism, what do you think are some other qualities that drive success?
3) Chapter 9 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, provides us with important principles around the amortization of long-lived assets. What do you think would be a reasonable useful life of the capital assets in a gondola operation?
Description: It’s a headline that sounds like a joke: the Beer Store is losing money. But the retailer owned by the big breweries has lost about $50 million in the last year. Part of the problem is the pandemic, with tavern closures shutting down the sales of kegs. The availability of beer at grocers has also hurt sales at the Beer Store.
Date: April 8, 2021
1) Are you studying at a university in Ontario? Where do most of the students on campus purchase their beer?
2) Assume you have an executive role at the Beer Store. What are some strategies you might recommend to turn this situation around?
3) Page 173 of Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting discusses how Cineplex Digital Solutions has provided digital signs, social media and mobile ads for clients like the Beer Store. How might the Beer Store measure the success of this initiative?
Description: With housing prices sky-high in some urban areas, communal living of a sort is making a comeback. Author Diana Lind argues these points in her work Brave New Home: Our Future in Smarter, Simpler, Happier Housing. Lind notes that the notion of having our own space is relatively recent. With shrinking households, sharing living space and building community may be an appealing option.
Date: April 8, 2021
1) What do you think of the concepts explored in the article? Are there students at your university who might already be living in the type of accommodations discussed in this article?
2) As you look ahead to graduation, could you see yourself having an interest in some type of shared arrangement to help control costs and to share responsibilities?
3) Pages 7-25 through 7-27 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, provide a number of important principles for cash management. Thinking back to question 2, which of these principles might you adopt as you structure your personal finances post-graduation?
Description: The CEO of Royal Bank, Dave McKay, is advising the government to take it easy on more stimulus spending. Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has meant tough times for many, bringing on federal spending like the CERB, other Canadians have bumped up their savings over the last year. Personal savings stand at roughly $180 billion higher than normal, and with vaccinations promising a return to something like normal, McKay sees Canadian’s savings as big fuel for the the economy. Government help may be unwanted and unneeded.
Date: April 8, 2021
1) How have your own personal finances been impacted by the pandemic?
2) Have you or your classmates been able to save money due to the closures in the economy?
3) Page 3 of Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting discusses the complexity of financial accounting for the Government of Canada. Take a look online at the latest Public Accounts of the Government of Canada (the financial statement) and discuss with your classmates how the statements may change for the fiscal year ending 31 March 2021. In short, how has Covid-19 changed the results? https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/recgen/cpc-pac/2020/pdf/2020-vol1-eng.pdf
Description: The nesting phenomenon – people renovating homes during the Covid-19 pandemic – has bumped up both lumber demand and prices. And, of course, this has driven up the cost of building a new home. The cost of thousand board feet of 2×4 has increased from $550 pre-Covid to over $1,400 this spring. Ouch!
Date: April 2, 2021
1) Do you know anyone who is building a home this summer? Have their plans been impacted by the rising prices of construction materials?
2) Can you think of any strategies builders might use to help control costs?
3) Chapter 10 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making, deals with the subject of property taxes on pages 10-5 and 10-6. Considering this story on building costs, as well as other things going on in the Canadian economy in this last year, what are the likely effects of Covid-19 on property taxes?