The House of Commons and Senate are on Easter breaks this week. Both houses resume sitting on April 23rd.
Monday, April 9:
- The Bank of Canada released its Business Outlook Survey and Senior Loan Officer Survey for spring 2012. The Business Outlook Survey is conducted with the senior management of about 100 firms, selected in accordance with the composition of Canada's GDP. The Senior Loan Officer Survey collects information on the business-lending practices and intentions of Canadian financial institutions. The Business Outlook Survey is more optimistic than the previous winter survey. The Senior Loan Officer Survey suggests and easing in business-lending conditions during the first quarter of 2012, compared to relatively steady conditions in the last quarter of 2011.
-Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in New York taking part in a panel discussion on international tax policies at the George W. Bush Institute Tax Conference.
Tuesday, April 10:
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced plans to make it easier for skilled tradespersons to immigrate to Canada and help fill labour shortages. The modernized Federal Skilled Worker Program will be unveiled later this year with a separate and streamlined program for skilled tradespersons.
- The Standing Committee on International Trade released its report on The Canadian Trade Commissioners. Recommendations included: ensuring greater consistency of service across offices; continuing to build capacity in emerging markets where the potential for growth in trade with Canada is high; addressing the lack of institutional memory resulting from the constant rotation of Canadian trade commissioners abroad; and focusing on the countries with which Canada has a free trade agreement to help Canadian exporters and investors take advantage of the preferential treatment obtained as a result of these agreements. In a supplementary report, the NDP noted that the committee heard testimony highlighting the fact that Canadian SMEs are currently underserved by the Trade Commissioner Service and stand to gain from such services.
- Canada Post announced the launch of a new online targeting tool to help SMEs create more effective marketing efforts. The Precision Targeter allows businesses to target customers at the neighbourhood level based on demographic information such as household income, education, age and marital status.
- Statistics Canada released fourth quarter 2011 results of its Quarterly Retail Commodity Survey. Retail sales rose 3.8 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2010 to the fourth quarter of 2011 with higher sales reported in 9 of the 10 major commodity groups.
Wednesday, April 11:
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement addressed the Regina Chamber of Commerce, talking about the 2012 federal budget and the Open Government initiative.
- National Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced four contracts awarded in Ottawa for improving National Defence infrastructure in the area. The total value for the contracts is $540,463.
- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt congratulated OC Transpo and the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 279, for successfully reaching a collective agreement. The new collective agreement replaces the previous agreement which expired on March 31, 2012. ATU Local 279 represents approximately 2,350 drivers, mechanics and maintenance employees.
- Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) Maxime Bernier addressed entrepreneurs in the Chatham area during a small business forum, discussing global trends and possible opportunities for the local economy.
- Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women Rona Ambrose announced funding to support women-owned businesses in Quebec. The Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec Inc. is receiving $580,000 from the federal government for a 36-month project titled Economic Development for Women (Développement économique au féminin). The Réseau des femmes d'affaires du Québec Inc. is a for-profit organization dedicated to the professional development and economic advancement of business women in Quebec.
- International Trade Minister Ed Fast departed for a three-country trade visit to Latin America, covering Peru, Colombia, and Chile. The minister will be promoting the advantages of deepening Canada’s trade and investment relationships throughout the Americas.
Thursday, April 12:
- Statistics Canada released fourth quarter 2011 figures for its Commercial Rents Services Price Index. The Index increased 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, following a 0.2 per cent increase in the third quarter. On a year-over-year basis, the index advanced 1.3 per cent in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter in 2010.
- Statistics Canada also released February 2012 figures on Canadian international merchandise trade. Canada's merchandise exports declined 3.9 per cent and imports edged up 0.2 per cent. Canada's trade surplus decreased from $1.9 billion in January to $292 million in February.
- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty spoke to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, highlighting the 2012 federal budget and its benefits for western Canada.
-Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird attended a two day G-8 foreign ministers’ meeting in Washington D.C., setting the stage for the upcoming G-8 leaders' summit at Camp David in May.
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement was in Saskatoon, discussing Red Tape Reduction, and the Open Government initiative.
- The Treasury Board Secretariat released the Open Government Action plan to the public, after Treasury Board President Tony Clement unveiled it the previous day during an address to the Regina Chamber of Commerce. The Action plan contains 12 commitments to be implemented over the next 3 years. They include: Issuing a government-wide directive that will make government information and data available to the public by default unless it falls under specific criteria for exception; Expanding access to Open Data; Engaging Canadians through modern Web 2.0 tools; and Public engagement on regulatory reform.
Friday, April 13:
- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced the reappointment of Russell Andrew Mills as chair of the National Capital Commission board of directors.
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper departed for the Summit of the Americas in Columbia, and will be following this with a trip to Chile. The Prime Minister will be joined by International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Diane Ablonczy. During his visit to Columbia, the Prime Minister will also participate in the Americas Chief Executive Officer Summit where he will be promoting Canada as a trading nation and investment destination of choice.
Eye on the Hill is prepared by Ottawa-based government relations and communications firm Flagship Solutions.