Canadian Victims Bill of Rights Roundtable

July 14, 2014

Victims-Bill-of-Rights_Apr-2014

In April, our Government introduced a landmark piece of legislation to create a Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. This is historic: for the first time in Canadian history, victims will have clear, statutory rights at the federal level.

Specifically, the Victims Bill of Rights would provide rights to more information about victims services and programs and their case; to protection at all stages of the criminal justice process; to participation so that their voices are better heard; and restitution so that justice is done.

These reforms come as a result of an extensive process where we reached out to Canadians for their opinion, including through an online public consultation and a cross-country series of roundtables Justice Minister Peter MacKay held in every province and territory to consult with victims on how the federal government could better address the needs of victims of crime all while giving them a move effective voice in the criminal justice system.

During these consultations, many victims asked why the tragic impacts of crime on their lives, families, and property were not given greater prominence. Some were frustrated at not having been provided with information about court dates or plea negotiations, or not feeling properly protected. Their candour was heartfelt and invaluable. And it was clear that they weren’t only thinking of their own experience—they were telling their stories on behalf of other victims. Their primary motivation was to improve the justice system for all.

A study released in 2011 by the Department of Justice Canada found that the total cost of crime is an estimated $99.6 billion a year – 83 per cent of which is borne by victims. This is one reason why we make no apologies for passing reforms to keep society’s most dangerous criminals off our streets and behind bars where they belong.

Canadians need to feel that their justice system is working for them. They need to feel safe in the environment they live in, and, if they are victimized, they need to feel confident that the justice system will treat them with the courtesy, compassion and respect they deserve. Justice should not just be done—it should also be seen to be done.

This is precisely why our Government will continue putting victims first.

Call for Proposals: Enabling Accessibility Fund

July 10, 2014

EAP-F&E

Brad Butt, Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville, on behalf of the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), will launch the 2014 Enabling Accessibility Fund (EAF) Call for Proposals for Community Accessibility Projects.

The call for proposals for the community accessibility stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund is now open. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 1, 2014.

Application information is available on Employment and Social Development Canada’s website at http://www.esdc.gc.ca/eng/disability/eaf/.

The Enabling Accessibility Fund supports community-based projects across Canada that remove barriers and enhance accessibility for Canadians with disabilities in communities and workplaces. It helps increase access to programs and services in their communities, as well as job opportunities.

In 2013, the Government extended the Enabling Accessibility Fund on an ongoing basis at $15 million per year to improve accessibility in facilities across Canada, including workplaces. Budget 2014 builds on initiatives which support the inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities in their communities and workplaces.

Since the program’s launch in 2007, over 1,400 Enabling Accessibility Fund projects across the country have received support, helping thousands of people across Canada.

PM’s 24/7 episode for the week of June 26 – July 2, 2014

July 8, 2014

CAN+ program to facilitate trade and travel with India

July 7, 2014

On July 7, 2014, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander announced the launch of the CAN+ program in India, which will result in more efficient processing for Indian visitors coming to Canada.

CAN+ is open to Indian nationals who have travelled to Canada or the United States of America within the last 10 years. They will benefit from expedited processing, which will free up visa officers to work on other cases, improving overall processing times for all Indian travellers.

Min. Alexander made the announcement during an event with representatives of India’s business, tourism and education sectors, where he highlighted a number of successful government initiatives that are increasing trade and travel to Canada from India. This includes: three visa “Express” programs for Indian businesspeople, students and tourists; 10 Visa Applications Centres (VACs) across India — a global record; and a standardized multiple-entry visa at a reduced fee of CAD $100.

All of these government initiatives are providing fast and easier options for international travellers to come to Canada to do business, learn, and support Canada’s tourism sector.

 

Quick facts

  • Indian nationals rank in the top 10 source countries of international visitors to Canada. In 2013, more than 130,000 visitor visas were issued to Indian citizens, and nearly 14,000 Indian citizens were issued student permits.
  • Between January and June 2014, almost 95 per cent of visitor visas issued to Indian nationals were multiple-entry visas, allowing travellers to visit Canada as many times as they want for up to 10 years.
  • A CAN+ pilot program in India delivered impressive results with visas issued within five days and an approval rate over 95 per cent. Individuals eligible for CAN+ visa processing do not need to provide as many supporting documents when submitting their applications.
  • Three visa “Express” programs that help Indian businesspeople, tourists and students come to Canada faster include:

o    Business Express expedites business travel from India with visas issued within three days with a near-perfect approval rate for those registered in the program.

o    Tourist Partner Program offers a fast, simplified visa application process for tourists who use travel agencies registered with the Canadian Embassy.

o    Student Partners Program fast-tracks the processing of study permits with visas issued within 13 days or less for those who study at participating Canadian educational institutions.

Brad speaks at citizenship ceremony ahead of Canada Day

June 27, 2014

June 26, 2014, Brad attended a Citizenship Ceremony

On June 26, 2014, Brad attended a Citizenship Ceremony at the Mississauga Citizenship offices officiated by His Honour Angelo Persichilli where 95 new citizens were welcomed into the Canadian family.

Brad regularly attends these ceremonies.  “This is one of the best parts of my job as a Member of Parliament.  To see people from all over the world come and swear allegiance to Canada and see the pride in their faces on becoming citizens of the greatest country in the world is truly amazing.”

“This was a wonderful opportunity to speak to our new Canadians about the values we hold true, our respect for human rights and the importance of being active participants in our community.  I wish each and everyone of them a long, healthy and successful life in Canada.”

Happy Canada Day!

June 26, 2014

New Building Canada Plan to support infrastructure projects

June 25, 2014

EAP-F&E

The New Building Canada Plan builds on our Government’s unprecedented investments in infrastructure, providing stable funding for projects that enhance economic growth, job creation and productivity. With a wider range of eligible categories under the Plan, Canadian provinces, territories and municipalities have the flexibility to meet their unique infrastructure needs.

While the permanent, annual, $2-billion federal Gas Tax Fund allocation continues to flow across Canada to help municipalities build and revitalize their local public infrastructure, new programs are also moving ahead.

We are ensuring a seamless transition from our previous programs to our new Plan as funding continues to flow unremittingly. Approximately $5 billion will flow every year, including this year, to support projects across Canada over the next ten years.

Quick Facts

The $53 billion New Building Canada Plan provides stable funding for a 10-year period, and includes:

o    The Community Improvement Fund, consisting of the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for Municipalities, which will provide over $32 billion to municipalities for projects such as roads, public transit and recreational facilities, and other community infrastructure.

o    The $14-billion New Building Canada Fund, which consists of:

  • The $4-billion National Infrastructure Component that will support projects of national significance; and
  • The $10-billion Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component for projects of national, regional and local significance. Of this amount, $1 billion for projects in communities with fewer than 100,000 residents through the Small Communities Fund.

o    An additional $1.25 billion in funding for the Public-Private Partnerships (P3) Canada Fund administered by PPP Canada.

For additional information on the New Building Canada Plan, visit www.infrastructure.gc.ca.

Canada Day in Streetsville

June 24, 2014

Canada Day Poster 2014 - final

Reforms announced for the Temporary Foreign Worker Program

June 20, 2014

The Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development, and the Honourable Chris Alexander, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced a comprehensive overhaul of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).

This balanced package of reforms will ensure the TFWP is only used as intended, as a last and limited resort to fill acute labour shortages on a temporary basis when qualified Canadians are not available.

By limiting access to the program, tightening the labour market assessment and implementing stronger enforcement with tougher penalties for employers who break the rules, businesses will have to make greater efforts to recruit and train Canadians for available jobs, including increasing wages.

To offer greater clarity and transparency, the current TFWP is being reorganized and new International Mobility Programs (IMPs) are being created. The TFWP will now refer to those streams under which foreign workers enter Canada at the request of employers following approval through a new Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA). The new IMPs will incorporate those streams in which foreign nationals are not subject to an LMIA, and whose primary objective is to advance Canada’s broad economic and cultural national interest, rather than filling particular jobs. These reorganized programs will improve accountability, with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) being the lead department for the TFWP, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) the lead department for the IMPs. In addition, ESDC will publicly post data on the number of positions for temporary foreign workers approved through the TFWP on a quarterly basis, and will post the names of corporations that receive permission to hire temporary foreign workers through LMIAs.

Reforms to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program temporaires :

 

  • Limiting access to the TFWP to ensure Canadians are first in line for available jobs:
    • Wage levels will now replace National Occupational Classification as the main criteria for administering the TFWP, as wages constitute a more accurate reflection of occupational skill level and local labour market conditions. Jobs for which wages are below the provincial or territorial median wage will be considered “low-wage,” while those being paid at or above the provincial/territorial median will be considered “high-wage.”
    • The Labour Market Opinion is being replaced by the more rigorous LMIA as the screening mechanism for employers seeking to hire temporary foreign workers. The new LMIA will require that employers provide information on the number of Canadians that applied for a particular job, the number of Canadians the employer interviewed and an explanation if Canadian applicants were not hired. Employers must now also attest they are aware of the rule that Canadians cannot be laid-off or have their hours reduced at a worksite that employs temporary foreign workers.
    • Employers with 10 or more employees applying for a new LMIA are subject to a cap of 10 percent on the proportion of their workforce that can consist of low-wage temporary foreign workers. This cap will be applied per worksite of an employer and is based on total hours worked at that worksite. To provide employers who are above the 10 percent cap time to transition and adjust to this new cap, it will be phased in over the next couple of years. For those employers that currently have a low-wage temporary foreign worker workforce that is above the cap, effective immediately, when those employers apply for a new LMIA they will be limited at 30 percent or frozen at their current level, whichever is lower. This transition measure will be further reduced to 20 percent beginning July 1, 2015 and reduced again to 10 percent on July 1, 2016. The government may consider lowering the cap further in future. It is estimated that this measure alone could reduce the number of general low-wage temporary foreign workers by 50 percent in the next three years, based on current wage levels.
    • Applications for the lowest-wage, lowest-skill, entry-level occupations in the food services, accommodation and retail trade sectors will be barred from the TFWP in areas of high unemployment (6 percent or higher).
    • LMIAs for low-wage temporary foreign workers will be reduced from the current two-year standard duration to one-year periods.
    • To reinforce the temporary nature of the TFWP, the cumulative period during which general low-wage temporary foreign workers will be allowed to remain in Canada will be reduced.
    • Annex agreements with provinces and territories are being changed so that employers that used to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada through these agreements will now be subject to an LMIA.
    • Employers seeking to hire high-wage temporary foreign workers (with very limited exceptions) will now be required to submit transition plans to demonstrate how they will increase efforts to hire Canadians, including through higher wages, investments in training and more active recruitment efforts from within Canada.

 

  • More and better labour market information for stronger screening:
    • A new enhanced Job Matching Service will allow Canadians to apply directly through the Canada Job Bank for jobs that match their skills and experience, and provide information to program officers reviewing an employer’s LMIA application on how many qualified Canadians have applied for specific jobs.
    • Funding two new surveys to be conducted by Statistics Canada:
      • New quarterly Job Vacancy Survey – The current Job Vacancy Survey limited to a sample of 15,000, only provides data at the provincial level and does not provide information on specific occupations or skill levels. The new survey will be based on a sample of 100,000 employers, will provide data by local areas and will include data on occupations and skill levels.
      • New annual National Wage Survey – Increasing the sample size from 56,000 households to 100,000 employers. Unlike the current Wage Survey, data will be available by region instead of only at the provincial level.
    • Better use of existing government data (e.g. taking into account number of qualified Canadians receiving Employment Insurance in an area as part of the new LMIA).

 

  • Stronger enforcement and tougher penalties:
    • Massively increasing the number and scope of inspections so that one in four businesses employing temporary foreign workers will be inspected by the TFWP each year.
    • Increasing the number of program requirements that inspectors can review from 3 to 21.
    • Improving and expanding the TFWP Tip Line and creating a new “Complaints” website.
    • Expanding the ability to publicly blacklist employers who have been suspended and are under investigation, as well as those who have had an LMIA revoked and are banned from using the program.
    • Additional funding for the Canada Border Services Agency to allow for an increase in the number of criminal investigations.
    • Improving information sharing among departments and agencies involved in the oversight of the TFWP, including provincial and territorial governments.
    • Introducing significant monetary fines of up to $100,000 following adoption of new legislative authorities included in the Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-31).

The costs for administering the TFWP, including all of the reforms outlined above, will be borne entirely by employers who use the program, not by taxpayers. As a result, the LMIA fee is increasing from $275 to $1,000 for every temporary foreign worker position requested by an employer. ESDC will be seeking the authority to impose an estimated $100 privilege fee on employers applying for LMIAs to offset the costs of Government of Canada investments in skills and job training.

On-farm primary agriculture, including the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), is exempt from the fee and the cap, along with the one-year LMIA duration and the reduction in the period that a low-wage temporary foreign worker will be allowed to remain in Canada, as there are proven acute labour shortages in this sector and the unfilled jobs are truly temporary. The Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) is exempt from the cap, the one-year LMIA and the reduced duration in Canada. All other measures including stronger enforcement and tougher penalties apply to on-farm primary agriculture, SAWP and LCP.

With the reforms of the TFWP, the Government of Canada is ending the moratorium that was placed on the food services sector effective immediately. For more information, please visit: www.esdc.gc.ca/TFWP.

Reforms to the International Mobility Programs

Previously part of the TFWP, the IMPs will refer to those foreign workers who are not subject to an LMIA.  It is in the national economic and cultural interest of Canada for foreign nationals to be able to work here through the IMPs. Exemptions to the LMIA process are based on the competitive advantages and reciprocal benefits that Canadians enjoy as a result. They exist as part of international agreements, arrangements that facilitate permanent immigration, or due to efforts to give Canada access to highly-skilled workers and international students.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada is reforming the IMPs. Specifically, CIC is:

o   making employers of LMIA-exempt foreign nationals more accountable by requiring them to submit their job offers directly to CIC;

o   introducing a robust monitoring system for employers employing workers through the IMPs on par with the enforcement improvements being made by ESDC for the TFWP. This system will be made possible by the collection of a new compliance fee of $230 per work permit, once authorities are in place. The fee will apply in cases where the work permit is employer specific and LMIA-exempt;

o   imposing a $100 privilege fee on holders of open work permits as soon as possible;

o   making changes to the rules for intra-company transferees;

o   improving the balance in the number of young Canadians and young people from partner countries participating in working holidays, professional exchanges and international co-op through International Experience Canada; and

o   conducting a thorough review of LMIA-exempt IMP streams to identify whether some streams should require an LMIA.

Quick Facts

  • In 2013, 83,740 temporary foreign workers entered Canada, equalling 0.44 percent of the total Canadian labour force.
  • In 2013, 221,273 foreign workers entered Canada under the LMIA-exempt IMPs, equalling 1.16 percent of the total Canadian labour force.
  • The number of LMO-approved temporary foreign workers to enter Canada since 2006 has grown from 65,000 to 84,000, representing an increase of 29 percent.
  • The TFWP was created in 1973 to allow employers to hire specific, highly skilled foreign nationals, such as academics, business executives and engineers, to fill gaps in their workforces on a temporary basis.
  • In 2002, the low-skill pilot project was launched to allow employers to hire temporary foreign workers in low-skilled occupations such as food counter attendants.
  • Previous reforms in 2012 to the TFWP include:
    • conducting on-site inspections to make sure employers are meeting the conditions of the program;
    • requiring employers to pay temporary foreign workers at the prevailing wage by removing the existing wage flexibility;
    • adding questions to employer applications to ensure that the program is not used to facilitate the outsourcing of Canadian jobs; and
    • making English and French the only languages that can be used as a job requirement when hiring temporary foreign workers.

Build in Canada Innovation Program

June 20, 2014

The Build in Canada Innovation Program (BCIP) is a procurement program created to bolster innovation in Canada’s business sector, and to help companies bridge the pre-commercialization gap for their innovative products and services.

The program provides the opportunity for innovators to:
• sell their pre-commercialized goods and services to the Government of Canada through an open, transparent, competitive and fair procurement process;
• connect with potential clients in federal government departments and showcase their innovations to them;
• get feedback on the use of their innovations in an operational setting before taking them to market; and
• enter the marketplace with a successful application of their innovations.

Whether or not innovators are successful in being awarded a contract, they will also:
• find out how to sell to the Government of Canada;
• learn more about opportunities for supplying innovative goods and services to the Government of Canada; and
• improve their understanding of how to do business with the Government of Canada.

Building on the early success of this pilot program, Economic Action Plan 2012 allocated additional funding for three years, starting in 2013. As of 2016, $40 million will be permanently dedicated to the BCIP annually. The program also now includes a military procurement component.

The BCIP has two complementary objectives. The first is to identify Canadian innovations to test within federal operations to support businesses as they move their innovations to commercialization. The second builds on improving small and medium enterprises’ (SME) access to federal procurement activities, and enables companies to showcase innovative products and services to potential government users.

The BCIP targets innovations in five key areas:
• the environment;
• safety and security;
• health;
• enabling technologies; and
• a military component.

The value of contracts under the program’s standard component will continue to be up to $500,000. Under the military component, innovations could be eligible for contracts of up to $1 million.

Proposals related to the opportunity to test innovative products and services are accepted through competitive Calls for Proposals. The initial Call for Proposals was announced in October 2010, the second in July 2011, the third in February 2012, and the fourth in November 2013. The fifth Call for Proposals was announced on June 20, 2014, and will close on September 16, 2014.

Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) continues to work with all stakeholders to ensure that SMEs receive the vital government support needed to thrive in today’s evolving economy.

The Office of Small and Medium Enterprises (OSME) assists SMEs as they navigate through the government procurement system. It is strengthening access to government business for SMEs by collaborating with industry associations and individual businesses on training, providing information, developing support tools, and recommending procurement policy changes. OSME is also working with SMEs to identify and pursue opportunities that encourage the introduction of innovative products and services to the marketplace.

PWGSC will be working with government departments to match innovations with the right test departments, and with the selected companies to put contracts in place to test their innovations, should the right department be found. Marking the first sale for these innovations, these contracts will also facilitate Canadian companies in moving their innovations into domestic and international markets by having the Government of Canada as a first client reference.

Descriptions of the innovations can be found on the BCIP website.

For more information about the program, please visit the BCIP web page.