Federal budget offers a measure of hope for Canadian retailers - falls short on key concern

    TORONTO, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - 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:

    -  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

    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

    About Retail Council of Canada

    Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has been the Voice of Retail in Canada
since 1963. We speak for an industry that touches the daily lives of Canadians
in every corner of the country - by providing jobs, career opportunities, and
by investing in the communities we serve.
    RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more
than 40,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including
department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants.
    RCC is a strong advocate for retailing in Canada and works with all
levels of government and other stakeholders to support employment growth and
career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in
communities from coast-to-coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry
competitiveness. RCC also provides its members with a full range of services
and programs including education and training, benchmarking and best
practices, networking, advocacy, and industry information.

For further information:

For further information: Mark Beazley, Director, Communications, Retail
Council of Canada, at (416) 922-0553, ext. 228; toll free at (888) 373-8245,
ext. 228; e-mail: mbeazley@retailcouncil.org

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