The House of Commons and Senate are on Easter breaks this week. Both houses resume sitting on April 23.
Monday, April 16:
- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt announced the appointment of Robert Monette as a full-time member of the Canada Industrial Relations Board representing employers for a three-year term, effective April 10, 2012.
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Chile for a one-day visit with senior officials of the Chilean government. The Prime Minister addressed bolstering trade relations between Canada and Chile, Canada's desired involvement the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact as well as announcing an expansion of the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement. The amended agreement will include a financial services chapter to ensure that Canadian financial institutions enjoy preferential access to the Chilean market.
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced a proposed plan to speed up Skilled Workers' transition from temporary to permanent residence to help meet Canada's labour market needs more quickly.
Tuesday, April 17:
- The Bank of Canada announced that it will be keeping its target for the overnight rate at one per cent.
- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt met with Telus employees in Vancouver, where she announced an initiative to help protect employees' long-term disability benefits. The government will introduce legislation to require federally regulated private-sector employers to insure, on a go-forward basis, any long-term disability plans they offer to their employees to further protect workers whose employers go bankrupt.
- Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was in Toronto, and announced a plan to streamline the review process for major economic projects during a visit to Automatic Coating Ltd.
- Statistics Canada released February 2012 figures for new motor vehicle sales. The number of new motor vehicles sold in February declined 6.7 per cent to 141,589 units, partially offsetting January's gain. Lower sales in Ontario and Quebec accounted for over three-quarters of the national decrease.
- Statistics Canada also released the February 2012 results of its monthly survey of manufacturing. Manufacturing sales decreased 0.3 per cent to $49.1 billion in February, following a 1.3 per cent decrease in January. Lower sales were recorded for the motor vehicle assembly, food, and motor vehicle parts industries. Increases were recorded in the in the aerospace product and parts, non-metallic mineral products, and petroleum and coal products industries. Constant dollar sales fell 0.1 per cent in February, indicating a decrease in the volume of manufactured goods.
- The federal, British Columbia and Alberta Privacy Commissioners released guidelines for private sector organizations building their privacy management programs. The document entitled Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program highlights the importance of protecting data and privacy in a digitized world.
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement officially announced Canada's membership in the international Open Government Partnership while in Brasilia.
Wednesday, April 18:
- The Bank of Canada published the April Monetary Policy Report. Overall, the economic outlook for Canada, the U.S., and Global economies has improved from the outlook in the January edition of the Monetary Policy Report.
- Statistics Canada released preliminary data for job vacancies in January 2012. Canadian businesses had, on average, 222,000 job vacancies in the three-month period ending in January, and the job vacancy rate was 1.5 per cent.
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney launched consultations on whether to implement a new "start-up visa" for immigrant entrepreneurs. In addition to fast-tracking entrepreneurial immigrants, the program would seek to link them with mentors who can provide guidance on how business works in Canada. The announcement was made along with Kevin O'Leary, chairman of O'Leary Ventures.
- National Revenue Minister Gail Shea and Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism) Maxime Bernier announced that starting today, businesses, their employees, or representatives can ask the Canada Revenue Agency account-specific, tax-related questions through My Business Account and the CRA will answer them online and in writing, within a given time period.
Thursday, April 19:
- Statistics Canada released Employment Insurance figures for February 2012. In February, the number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits fell by 6,700 (-1.2 per cent) to 552,800.
- Statistics Canada also released foreign direct investment figures for 2011. Canadian direct investment assets abroad increased seven per cent in 2011, mainly on growth in investment in the United States. Canadian direct investment abroad was up $44.6 billion by the end of 2011 to $684.5 billion. Foreign direct investment in Canada advanced $22.4 billion to $607.5 billion.
- Additionally, Statistics Canada released data on travel between Canada and other countries for February 2012. Canadian residents made 5.2 million trips abroad in February, a 3.9 per cent increase from January, and the majority of these were to the United States. Travel by residents from abroad to Canada rose 0.6 per cent in February to 2.1 million trips.
- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was in Washington D.C., attending meetings of the G-20, IMF and World Bank.
- International Trade Minister Ed Fast was at the G20 trade ministers' meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, highlighting the benefits of his proposed immigration reforms.
Friday, April 20:
- The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development released its report A Framework For Success: Practical Recommendations To Further Shorten The Foreign Qualification Recognition Process.
- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt praised the intention of Air Canada and the Air Canada Pilots Association to sit down to discuss outstanding issues between the two groups and come to an agreement.
- International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced the successful conclusion of a third round of negotiations to modernize the Canada-Costa Rica Free Trade Agreement. A fourth round is scheduled for the week of June 11 in San José.
- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney addressed the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, highlighting the economic benefits of his proposed immigration reforms.
- Statistics Canada released its Leading Indicators for March 2012. The composite leading index rose 0.4 per cent in March, following a 0.7 per cent rise in February and the ninth consecutive monthly increase. Of the 10 components, eight advanced, with furniture and appliance sales posting a seventh consecutive monthly decline.
- Statistics Canada also released its Consumer Price Index for March 2012. Consumer prices rose 1.9 per cent between March 2011 and March 2012, following a 2.6 per cent increase in February. Food prices rose 2.2 per cent in the 12 months to March, following a 4.1 per cent increase in February.
Eye on the Hill is prepared by Ottawa-based government relations and communications firm Flagship Solutions.