Description: The auditor general (AG) of New Brunswick, Paul Martin, has been asked via a unanimous vote of the Legislative Assembly to examine the government’s response to the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic. NB’s Premier, Blaine Higgs, feels the time is right for the review now, given that the public health restrictions have been lifted. David Coon, the Green Party leader, would like the AG to look “all dimensions of the pandemic response to see what things could have been improved, what things worked, and what things maybe we shouldn’t do again.” Nowhere in the story did any of those involved question the AG’s appearance of independence to carry out the assignment, even though he had been a senior officer inside the government up until 2022.
Date: April 1, 2022
1) Has the auditor general in your province carried out any review of the government’s covid response? If so, what were some of the key findings?
2) Why do you think the Office of the Auditor General, where most staff are accountants with financial training, be given this assignment? What other alternative review mechanisms might there be?
3) Section 2.3.1, beginning on page 2-10 in Wiley’s Auditing: A Practical Approach, provides a clear picture of the Five Threats to Independence. Since Mr. Martin was a senior government official, the provincial comptroller, throughout the pandemic, which of the Five Threats do you think will be the most difficult for him to mitigate?
Description: This past Friday workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York voted in favour of a union, a first for Amazon workers in the United States. The Amazon Labour Union (ALU) garnered roughly 55% of the votes cast. The victory comes on the heels of an unsuccessful bid to unionize another Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Amazon’s website indicated that the huge company was “disappointed with the outcome of the election in Staten Island because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees.”
Date: April 1, 2022
1) Have you ever been a member of a union? What were some of the strengths and weaknesses you encountered?
2) Would you consider a career as an accountant or financial officer for a union? What do you think some of the challenges would be compared to a job inside a company?
3) On page 9-26 in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making we learn about the intangible asset known as a trademark (or trade name). What interesting fact do you read there about Amazon?
Description: This past Wednesday, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario revealed its plan to ensure “financial advisors” and “financial planners” would have to comply with minimum criteria. Currently, anyone who wants to can hang out their shingle calling themself a financial planner or advisor, thereby potentially confusing consumers. These changes will be accomplished in a four-year time frame, and will include a credentialing process with education standards.
Date: March 23, 2022
1) Do you have an interest in a career as a financial advisor or financial planner? How about others in your class?
2) What are some areas of your life where you would appreciate some financial advice?
3) Page 1-4 in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making provides an illustration of the differences between financial accounting and managerial accounting. Based on your review of this information, which of these types of accounting do you feel would best prepare a person to be an effective financial planner? (Consider having a class discussion on this question.)
Description: Rogers Communications has received approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for its $26 billion plan to purchase Shaw Communications. As part of the approval, Rogers must provide over $27 million to support specific initiatives, including support for local news. Rogers must secure separate approval from the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada for acquisition of Shaw’s mobile, telephone, and internet business.
Date: March 25, 2022
1) Do you use either Rogers or Shaw as a provider of e-services? If so, why did you choose them?
2) Would you advise the government to approve this deal?
3) Pages 11-10 & 11 in Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting discuss an unusual feature of Shaw Communications Inc.’s common shares. What is this unusual feature?
Description: This past week Ottawa carried out its first sale of green bonds. The federal government raised $5 billion in the transaction, with the proceeds slated to be directed towards fighting climate change. These bonds have an interest rate of 2.25%, two basis points lower than federal bonds of a similar maturity. Trevor Bateman, of CIBC Asset Management, refers to this modest amount as a “greenium.”
Date: March 23, 2022
1) Have you ever heard of green bonds before? What is your opinion of this type of investment?
2) Does your university have an investment club? Are green bonds an eligible investment under its guidelines?
3) Illustration 10A.1 on page 10-28 in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making illustrates that bonds often trade at a premium or a discount, rather than face value. Do a little research to determine if this issue of green bonds is trading at a premium or a discount.
Description: CP Rail has stated that it will lockout its engineers and conductors if they cannot reach an agreement with the Teamsters Union that represents its workers. This is not good news for a supply chain already struggling to recover from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. As well, the war in Ukraine has interrupted the grain supply from that major agricultural region. A shutdown of CP would make it very difficult for Canadian farmers to step in to supply the need.
Date: March 17, 2022
1) Does a freight-line run through your university town?
2) If you were an advisor to Labour Minister Seamus O’Regan, what approach would you recommend to bring the two sides to an agreement?
3) Chapter 2 in Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting has a “For Example” inset box on page 2-4 discussing how Canadian public companies trading in both Canada and the US can choose between two sets of accounting standards. What choice has CP Rail made?
Description: With rising inflation in Canada, workers are asking for raises to keep up with the costs. If they don’t get one, they are showing an increasing willingness to move on to a new job. This change in employee outlook is quite intriguing. James Orlando, an economist at TD bank, said that “workers have not had this level of bargaining power in decades.”
Date: March 18, 2022
1) if you have a part-time job, have you had a raise recently ? Are you anticipating making a higher wage at your summer job this year?
2) Would you be willing to leave your job if you don’t get a wage increase?
3) Chapter 10 in Wiley’s Managerial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making discusses budgetary planning. How might the changing wage landscape impact the budgeting process?
Description: Western businesses have been pulling out of Russia as a signal of displeasure about the invasion of Ukraine. Fast food giant McDonalds has been among those joining the protest with its announcement that its 850 locations in Russia would close. The response by the Russians was perhaps a bit unexpected, with one politician announcing the famous golden arches would be replaced by Uncle Vanya’s, a hamburger chain with a remarkably familiar symbol.
Date: March 18, 2022
1) How closely have you been following the news regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? As a student in a commerce course, what issues do you see the invasion causing for the economy?
2) In your opinion, has Uncle Vanya’s violated McDonald’s trademark? If so, what challenges might the company have in protecting the “golden arches?”
3) Page 8-29 in Wiley’s Understanding Financial Accounting discusses the intangible asset known as a trademark. Why do companies take such efforts to protect these intangible assets?
Description: Canada’s economy is back! Back to pre-pandemic levels that is, with Canada adding over 300,000 jobs in February, knocking the unemployment rate down to 5.5%, below what it was in March 2020, and close to Canada’s all-time low. Desjardins economist Royce Mendes noted that “businesses in accommodation and food services and information, culture and recreation were scrambling to rehire workers.”
Date: March 11, 2022
1) What is your view of the employment situation in your university town? Have businesses like bars, restaurants, and gyms been hiring workers?
2) What does the summer job situation look like for you and your classmates?
3) Page 10-47 of Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making has a brief discussion of financing the Government of Canada. Which aspects of the Government of Canada’s financial statements would be most impacted by the rise in employment numbers?
Description: Rising rents have been a problem in many areas in Canada, adding one more log on the inflationary fire that Canadians have been experiencing. Housing co-operatives – or co-ops for short – offer an attractive alternative for controlling housing costs, where they are available. Though co-ops have operated in Canada for many years, there has been very little new building under this model since the 1990s. Many of the existing units were built in the 1970s and 1980s, when the rental and home owning options faced a similar crisis.
Date: March 7, 2022
1) Are there any co-op apartment units on your campus or in your university town?
2) What can our governments do to encourage the co-op option as a means to reduce the housing crisis?
3) Chapter 11 in Wiley’s Financial Accounting: Tools for Business Decision-Making discusses the shareholders equity section of a balance sheet. How might the equity section of a housing co-operative balance sheet differ from that of a for-profit rental company?