Archive | May, 2017

Ontario NDP to vote against Liberal government’s hydro bill plan

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

TORONTO – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says her party will vote against the Liberal government’s plan to lower hydro bills, calling it a ploy to buy votes for the next provincial election.

Under legislation tabled last week, Ontarians will see lowered hydro bills for the next 10 years before paying higher costs for the following 20 years.

Horwath says Ontarians can’t afford the plan.

She cited a Liberal cabinet document leaked to the Progressive Conservatives last week, which contains a projection that electricity bills will drop this year, rise slightly for four years while increases are limited to the rate of inflation, and then rise quickly after that.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the figures in that document are out of date, but the government isn’t ready to release updated numbers.

Horwath is accusing the government of hiding information from the public and is calling on the government to release all of its projections about how much the hydro plan will cost in the long run.

Horwath also says the government is giving the public no time to give feedback on the plan as it’s attempting to get the legislation passed before the House rises for the summer.

“I think people knew that, one way or another, they’d pay the prices for Premier Wynne’s latest move on hydro, but the costs Wynne is expecting us all to take on with this plan is truly disgusting,” Horwath said.

The hydro legislation will lower time-of-use rates by removing from bills a portion of the global adjustment, a charge consumers pay for above-market rates to power producers. For the next 10 years, a new entity overseen by Ontario Power Generation will take on debt to pay that difference.

Then, the cost of paying back that debt with interest – which the government says will be up to $28 billion – will go back onto ratepayers’ bills for the next 20 years as a “Clean Energy Adjustment.”

Horwath acknowledged that the Liberal majority government can implement their plan, even with her party and the Progressive Conservatives opposed.

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Ottawa to move on protections for air travellers

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Ottawa is moving ahead with a passenger bill of rights to give air travellers more recourse to get compensation when travel plans go awry.

OTTAWA—Ottawa is moving ahead with a passenger bill of rights to give air travellers more recourse to get compensation when travel plans go awry.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau is expected to lay out details of the initiative at a news conference Tuesday morning as the government tables its “Transportation Modernization Act.”

The move has been months in the making, but recent high-profile incidents on U.S. airlines and in Canada have put the issue of passenger rights in the spotlight, which, Garneau said, helped underscore the need to protect travelers better.

“That is why, last November, I announced that we would be putting in place what we call a regime of rights for passengers.

“We recognize that when a passenger books a ticket . . . (they) are entitled to certain rights, a bill of rights, if you want to call it that,” Garneau told reporters in April.

Other jurisdictions already have in place laws that detail the kind of compensation that passengers are owed if flights are delayed and cancelled or baggage gets lost.

The European Union sets out a scale of compensation, depending on the length of the flight and the delay.

For example, travellers on flights of more than 3,500 kms are entitled to 600 Euros if their journey is delayed by more than three hours.

Tuesday’s announcement will detail the legislative framework, but the precise details of the bill of rights will be developed by the Canadian Transportation Agency, the body that will be responsible for enforcing it.

Garneau has said that he wants it to take effect in 2018.

When he spoke on the issue last fall, Garneau said the new “rights regime” will establish “clear minimum requirements so that Canadians will know what their rights are and when they are eligible for compensation.

“Some of the measures we are looking at include compensation standards for passengers denied boarding due to factors within the carrier’s control, or in case of lost or damaged baggage,” Garneau said in a speech that laid out the government’s transportation priorities.

The minister said the bill of rights would create a “more predictable and reasonable approach” to help ensure Canadians better understand their rights.

He said it would be “balanced” to protect airlines against “undue burden.”

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Release of Canadian defence policy update delayed until after NATO summit

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to gather with counterparts in Brussels next week.

 OTTAWA—The Liberal government has delayed the release of its new defence policy, setting up a potentially awkward meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump next week.

Trudeau and Trump are scheduled to gather with counterparts from other NATO members in Brussels for the alliance’s first leaders’ summit since Trump took office in January.

The top item on the agenda is expected to be defence spending, which Trump has been actively pressing allies to increase.

The Liberals’ defence policy, which officials had promised would be released before the NATO summit, was expected to lay out a plan for how Canada would start moving in that direction.

Canada currently spends only about 1 per cent of GDP on defence, which is half NATO’s target of 2 per cent and puts it in the bottom third of allies.

But Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan’s spokeswoman, Jordan Owens, confirmed Monday that the policy won’t be released until after the NATO summit.

The government wants to “nestle” the defence policy within a broader foreign policy context, Owens said, which will give Canadians more context on how the different pieces fit together.

The delay is likely to aggravate some allies who have been eagerly waiting to see the Liberal governments’ plans and priorities for defence.

The Liberals have also faced questions about the length of time they are taking to decide on a peacekeeping mission.

Owens said some of Canada’s allies took years to develop their own defence policies, even as she played down concerns about potential irritation from allies, saying the policy is “primarily for Canadians.”

But the fact Trudeau will be arriving for next week’s NATO summit without a policy could be cause for concern, given Trump’s calls for allies to spend more.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went farther in March, warning that the administration wants allies to draw up concrete plans for reaching the 2 per cent target by 2024.

“Our goal should be to agree at the May leaders’ meeting that, by the end of the year, all allies will have either met the pledge guidelines or will have developed plans that clearly articulate how,” Tillerson said.

Sajjan and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland are visiting Washington, D.C., on Monday and Tuesday for joint meetings with Tillerson and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

Owens played down any link between the ministerial visit and the government’s decision to delay the defence policy’s release, but the topic is certain to figure prominently in the discussions.

Liberal officials have previously said in private that the U.S. message is more for European allies, and that the Trump administration appreciates Canada’s military contributions to Iraq, Latvia and Ukraine.

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Liberal election promise to overhaul asylum claim system postponed

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Those advocating for the government to do something say they are running up against a Liberal government seeming to have lost interest in spending any more money to help asylum seekers.

 OTTAWA—A Liberal election promise to overhaul the way asylum claims are handled has been postponed indefinitely despite rising numbers of people seeking refuge in Canada putting the system at risk, The Canadian Press has learned.

One of the options on the table, multiple sources have told The Canadian Press, is rejigging the historic Immigration and Refugee Board, and giving some of its authority over to the Immigration Department itself.

But those advocating for the government to do something before backlogs threaten the integrity of the system say they are running up against a Liberal government seeming to have lost interest in spending any more money or political capital to help asylum seekers.

The starting point is the designated country of origins system, which determines how fast asylum claims are heard based on where they are from — a system that should, in theory, help weed out unfounded claims faster.

Internal evaluations have shown that hasn’t quite worked, and the system has drawn the ire of refugee advocates for creating a two-tier approach that includes unworkable timelines for hearing cases and their appeals. Elements of the program have already been struck down by the Federal Court.

The Liberals had been on the cusp of doing away with it, going even farther than their original promise to use an expert panel to determine which countries belonged on that list.

But a planned January roll-out was postponed after the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the subsequent Liberal cabinet shuffle that saw a replacement of the federal immigration minister.

Then in March, as the issue of illegal border crossers dominated global headlines and Question Period, plans to repeal the designated-country-of-origin scheme were scrapped again, sources said.

They haven’t been rescheduled, even as the IRB itself has been among those saying the system needs to go as a way to ease the pressure.

“It would simplify our life from a case management point of view,” chairperson Mario Dion said in an interview with The Canadian Press in March.

“I don’t have a political view.”

The Liberals do, observers said.

When they came into power and moved to make good on a promise to resettle 25,000 Syrians, the government believed it had broad public support for refugees, said immigration lawyer and refugee advocate Lorne Waldman.

Things have changed.

“The concern at the centre is that support has dissipated significantly because of a series of factors, the most important one being the emergence of Donald Trump,” he said.

“And I think the concern is amplified by the Conservative leadership race where you have many of the candidates taking a very anti-immigrant posturing in their campaign.”

When asked, a spokesperson for the prime minister’s office said they were not behind the delay in the DCO overhaul, but that it was rescheduled by the department.

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said only that the department continues to review the policy.

Claims have been rising steadily since the fall of 2015, though new numbers released Monday show they were down slightly in April of this year. Just over 3,000 people filed asylum applications in April, compared to 3,440 in March. So far this year, 12,040 claims have been filed, more than were lodged in all each of 2013 and 2014.

But the issue shot to attention when hundreds of people began illegally crossing into Canada from the United States earlier this year. The Liberals have been under pressure from both Conservatives and the NDP to act, albeit in different ways, but so far haven’t done anything.

If backlogs build in the system, the government will find itself in the exact same situation that led to the DCO being instituted in the first place — long waits for decisions that inadvertently lure those who have weaker claims to come to Canada, because they can work while they wait for a decision and get some health care in the meantime.

The IRB is aware of the problem and has instituted reforms, including allowing claims from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea and as of June 1, Afghanistan, Burundi, Egypt, and Yemen to be decided without a hearing.

Those countries were selected because claims from there have high acceptance rates, there is a high volume of them and most are generally not complex.

Sources say claims like those are among the ones that could go to the Immigration Department, as opposed to the IRB, for adjudication.

The idea is fraught with difficulty.

There’s a big difference between the work the department ordinarily does and the work refugee judges do, said Vancouver immigration and refugee lawyer Peter Edelmann.

“It’s very different from an individual perspective in terms of the stakes and from a constitutional perspective in terms of the law to make a fast decision on an . . . application for a skilled worker than it is to send someone back where they’re at risk of being tortured and killed,” he said.

The very reason the IRB was established in 1989 was because of a Supreme Court hearing saying refuge claimants required an oral hearing, leading the government to establish the arms-length quasi judicial tribunal.

Giving bureaucrats a say in refugee determination risks politicizing the system, said Sean Rehaag, a professor at Osgoode Hall law school who follows the IRB’s decision-making process.

Imagine the Canadian government is in the middle of difficult NAFTA negotiations and had to decide on whether or not to expedite a particular group of Mexican claims, he hypothesized.

For the civil servants on the file, there would be extraordinary pressure, and in reality, the current number of claims doesn’t invite the need for dramatic change, he said.

“Refugee decision making is only a tiny fraction of the Canadian government’s budget and they can make the so-called crisis go away by adequately funding the IRB,” he said.

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Canada’s science champions receive top honours from the Government of Canada

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Award winners celebrated for their work to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers

OTTAWA, May 15, 2017 /CNW/ – One scientist uses pinned and preserved insects from Canada and the tropics, along with live ones such as walking sticks, to help explain physics to more than 9,000 students over the years. A team of researchers uses promotional programs in engineering and coding to encourage girls in grades seven and up to pursue careers in these fields. Their common cause: to make science matter to new generations of students who will become the engineers, architects, teachers and researchers of tomorrow.

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science, presented two awards today to Canadians who have made it their life mission to take science out of the classroom and place it in the hands of the young people they teach.

Dr. Jeremy McNeil, a biology professor at Western University, received a $10,000 award through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Individual Award for Science Promotion. Dr. Neil regularly uses certain insects, such as monarch butterflies, to explain the principles of physics to his students.

The Ontario Network of Women in Engineering (ONWiE) received the $25,000 Group Award for Science Promotion for its efforts to encourage the participation of young women in engineering. One of its programs, Go CODE Girl, provides girls in grades seven to 11 across Ontario the opportunity to learn about coding and software development.

NSERC’s Awards for Science Promotion give Canada’s science community the opportunity to recognize, support and encourage outstanding science ambassadors, and to inspire young people to pursue a life in sciences, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM). The skills young scientists acquire along the way, such as asking bold questions or using their imaginations to solve complex problems, help them to make a real difference in their communities and put them on a path to find their dream job one day. Their ideas, discoveries and inventions also help create new opportunities that support a strong economy and a growing middle class.

Quick Facts

•          NSERC Awards for Science Promotion have recognized eight individuals and eight groups since it was established in 2009.

•          For the past 40 years, Dr. Jeremy McNeil has been presenting about insects, particularly the migration of monarch butterflies. He presents to children at English and French primary and secondary schools in Canada, as well as at other locations in North America, China, Europe and Australia, reaching more than 9,000 students over the years.

•          ONWiE has engaged over 17,000 girls and their parents, encouraging them to study science and engineering through a variety of hands-on activities, such as a workshop where the girls learned to build a robotic arm that transferred sand from one cup to another.

•          These awards were presented as part of Science Odyssey – a 10-day celebration of discovery and innovation from May 12 to 21. It brings together hundreds of events across the country to celebrate science and create awareness of Canadian achievements in science and technology.

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Employment and Social Development Canada

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Seniors make significant and valuable contributions to their families, communities and society. That is why the Government of Canada remains committed to empowering all Canadians, including seniors, to contribute to and share in the prosperity of the country.

In support of this commitment, Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre, on behalf of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced today the New Horizons for Seniors Program (NHSP) 2017–2018 Call for Proposals for Community-based Projects. Programs like NHSP not only encourage seniors to stay involved in their community, but also enhance their health and well-being and enable them to stay active and share their knowledge, skills and experience with other seniors.

The NHSP call for proposals, open until June 23, 2017, is seeking proposals for projects led or inspired by seniors. Organizations are invited to apply for funding for projects that promote positive aging and empower seniors to initiate and participate in activities that benefit the community. Eligible organizations can receive up to $25,000 in project funding.

The government recognizes the remarkable contributions that seniors have made over the years and continues to take measures to ensure they enjoy the fulfilling lives they deserve. By investing in NHSP community-based projects which help foster partnerships with local governments, institutions and organizations, the government is reinforcing its commitment to deliver positive change and improve the lives of seniors.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada continues to focus on building strong and vibrant communities across Canada where all Canadians have a real and fair chance to succeed. Through the New Horizons for Seniors Program community-based projects, our government is providing a wide range of opportunities for seniors to participate in meaningful activities that nurture their personal growth and foster community prosperity. These activities empower seniors, enabling them to pursue an active lifestyle, expand their social network and explore new learning experiences that will better equip them to face the challenges of our rapidly evolving society.”

– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

“New Horizons for Seniors Program projects promote seniors’ volunteerism, mentorship and civic leadership and inspire goodwill, sharing and friendship in Canadian communities. These projects help seniors in our community keep active, stay connected, share their knowledge and continue to enhance their skills. I encourage local organizations to apply for New Horizons for Seniors Program project funding to provide seniors with the opportunity to both participate in and lead community activities.”

– Salma Zahid, Member of Parliament for Scarborough Centre

 

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Brampton business event provides inspiration for economic growth

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

BRAMPTON, ON – Yesterday (May 9) the City of Brampton unveiled a new sector-focused approach and forward thinking vision for economic planning at its Economic Update event.

More than 220 business representatives from Brampton and around the GTA were on hand to network, receive a copy of Brampton’s Economic Review 2016, and hear about new directions and plans for the City and for economic development in Brampton.

“We’re building something exciting in Brampton,” said Mayor Linda Jeffrey. “Our young, fast growing population, our position in the middle of the Waterloo-Brampton-Toronto Innovation Super Corridor and our vision for the future is changing the game in Brampton.”

Robert Hogue, RBC Senior Economist and member of the Macroeconomic and Regional Analysis Group with RBC Economics Research, delivered the event’s keynote presentation at the event. Mr. Hogue assessed the state of Canada’s ‎economy and prospects for the year ahead within the global context, foucsingspecifically on the outlook for Ontario and the opportunities and risks from international trade.

Councillor Jeff Bowman, Chair of Economic Development, explained how the City is positioning itself as a significant competitor to other Canadian and global cities. “We’re focusing economic development on key sectors that reflect traditional strengths and look ahead to the skills and industries of tomorrow. And we’ve taken on a commitment to grow cultural vibrancy in our city, adding to our competitive edge through quality of life.”

The focus sectors are health and life sciences, advanced manufacturing, food and beverage and innovation and technology sectors. The goal of this targeted approach is to drive growth and be an expert resource to help businesses grow.

The health and life sciences sector has been in the spotlight recently with the official grand opening of the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness. Atlas Healthcare also recently committed to developing a 6-storey medical facility in the same area. In conjunction with this, the City also released a study on the development of a health cluster around Peel Memorial.

Bob Darling, Director of Economic Development and Culture at the City, spoke about these opportunities at the Economic Update event. “We’re building connections with healthcare providers and businesses to drive innovation and growth in this sector. Building on the strengths of Peel Memorial, the recent study has identified a core strategy and niche to build on, developing something exciting and impactful in our Downtown centre.”

For more information about the event or the City’s economic development plans, please call 905.874.2650 or e-mail edo@brampton.ca.

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Home Capital buys time during ‘crisis of confidence’

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

The struggling alternate lender warned on a conference call with analysts, however, that charges will reduce operating strength going forward.

 Home Capital Group Inc. says an emergency credit line has bought time to secure new financing at better terms, even after the alternate lender a day earlier warned that a run on deposits cast its future as a going concern in doubt.

“The last few weeks have not been easy for any of us,” said interim chief executive Bonita J. Then, who assumed the role after the March 27 dismissal of former CEO Martin Reid.

The sudden termination came days before the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) accused Home Capital of making misleading statements to investors about its subprime mortgage underwriting operations. Home Capital says the allegations are without merit.

“I believe in the fundamental business premise of Home Capital,” Then told analysts on a conference call Friday. “This company matters to a great number of people.”

Home Capital late Thursday said it earned $58 million or 90 cents a share in its first quarter ended March 31, just below the $64.2 million or 92 cents in the 2016 period.

The company warned on a conference call with analysts, however, that charges will reduce operating strength going forward, while costs generated by $2 billion credit line will also hurt future results.

Depositors have withdrawn nearly 94 per cent of funds from Home Capital’s high-interest savings accounts since the company terminated Reid, though data it released Friday showed the rate of withdrawals has slowed. Events since the dismissal have also halved the value of the company’s stock.

Home Capital said its high-interest savings deposits were expected to have fallen to about $125 million following the completion of Thursday’s settlements, down slightly from a balance of $128 million the day before. That’s still a huge drop from $1.4 billion just over two weeks ago.

It also announced deposits with its guaranteed investment certificates stood at $12.52 billion, down $20 million from Wednesday.

The company says liquid assets stood at approximately $962 million as of the end of day Thursday. Combined with the undrawn amount of $600 million under the credit facility, aggregate available liquidity and credit capacity totaled approximately $1.56 billion.

Home Capital relies on deposits from savers to fund its lending to borrowers, such as self-employed workers or newcomers to Canada, who may not meet the stricter criteria of the country’s biggest banks.

The company agreed last month to receive $2 billion in emergency funding from the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan, a deal which requires it to pay a non-refundable commitment fee of $100 million and a 10 per cent interest rate on outstanding balances.

Home Capital has also taken steps to repair its image with the appointment of high-profile business leaders to its board including Claude Lamoureux, former chief executive of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and a founder of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance.

Alan Hibben, a former RBC director and one of the new directors, told analysts that Home Capital is exploring strategic options and said a number of people are interested in either providing financial support or pursuing a strategic acquisition.

He said while the business is deeply undervalued and could ultimately be attractive to another lender, “when a crisis in confidence happens all bets are off.”

Hibben said trust can only be restored gradually, with the company adding that it is in talks aimed at expanding available funding as it faces charges and debt obligations in the short term.

Home Capital said while it continues to take in deposits, outflows on obligations including maturing mortgages are far more significant.

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WOW! Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Devdas to be screened in Cannes once again

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Fifteen years ago, we saw the former beauty queen and award winning actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walking the red carpet of the prestigious Cannes Film Festival for the first time during the premiere of her film Devdas. Since then there has been no stopping for the actress who has been a part of the festival at the French Riviera almost every year. And now, reviving her first appearance, Devdas will be a part of the festival even in 2017.

Despite the many film commitments, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has rarely missed her appearance at Cannes. The actress walks the red carpet on behalf of the cosmetics major L’Oréal Paris and this time around she will be attending the same on May 19 and 20. As fans await her much talked about elegant avatars for the same, let us also tell you that this year’s Cannes has become special for the actress since she will be hosting the screening of Devdas once again.

Speaking about her first experience at Cannes, Aishwarya stated that it was definitely overwhelming and the response she got for the film is something that she will cherish all her life.

The said screening will be held at the Martinez beach for public screening. The Outdoor Cinema of Cannes Film Festival will also feature films that are selected as well as introduced in by six ambassadors of the cosmetic brand. However details of the same are awaited.

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OMG! Priyanka Chopra to do another Hollywood film

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Priyanka Chopra is certainly making heads turn wherever she goes, after making people take notice of her skills with her American sitcom ‘Quantico’, the Bollywood actress was roped in to play a role in the soon to release film Baywatch. Priyanka Chopra, who is currently busy promoting Baywatch and also making sure to enjoy herself with friends like the Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima, has apparently been roped in for yet another Hollywood venture.

In fact, even before Baywatch hits screens we hear that Priyanka Chopra has been roped in to feature in a film titled A Kid Like Jake. Produced by Jim Parsons, Todd Spiewak and Eric Norsoph under the banner That’s Wonderful Productions alongside Paul Bernon for Burn Later and Rachel Song for XS Media, the film will be directed by Silas Howard.

Apart from Priyanka Chopra, the said film is said to star Octavia Spencer, Jim Parsons and Claire Danes in addition to others. Confirming the same, Paul Bernon took to social networking site saying, “I am producing this & am so excited to work with Jim, Claire, @octaviaspencer @priyankachopra @michaelaWat!”.

As for the film itself, A Kid Like Jake is said to be based on Daniel Pearle’s celebrated Lincoln Center play by the same name. Being adapted for the big screen by Pearle himself, the story follows Alex and Greg Wheeler who have high hopes for their son Jake, a bright and precocious four-year-old who happens to prefer Cinderella to GI Joe. On the eve of the admissions cycle for New York City kindergartens and aware they can’t afford private school tuition, Judy, the director of Jake’s preschool, encourages them to accentuate Jake’s “gender variant” expression to help him stand out and try and get a scholarship. As they navigate their roles as parents, a rift grows between them, one that forces them to confront their own concerns about what’s best for Jake, and each other.

Interestingly, in the film Priyanka will be seen playing the role of Amal, Alex and Greg’s friend and a newly single mom who is also trying to navigate the school system, as well as her own dating world.

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