The House of Commons and Senate resumed sitting on April 23 after a two-week break
Monday, April 23:
-The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs tabled changes to committee memberships stemming from the announcement of NDP shadow cabinet appointments.
-Finance Committee chair James Rajotte was at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago's Financial Literacy and Education Summit where he highlighted the government's continued commitment to improving financial literacy throughout Canada.
-Statistics Canada released wholesale trade figures for February 2012. Wholesale sales rose 1.6 per cent in February to $48.5 billion, following a 1.1 per cent decline in January. In volume terms, wholesale sales were up 2.2 per cent in February.
-Minister of Industry Christian Paradis addressed the Conseil du patronat du Québec in Montréal, encouraging Québec business leaders to invest in innovation.
Tuesday, April 24:
- Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson confirmed that she has launched a formal probe into Industry Minister Christian Paradis' visit to Quebec Businessman Marcel Aubut's lodge in 2009.
- Statistics Canada released Retail Trade figures for February 2012. Retail sales were down 0.2 per cent to $38.9 billion in February with most of the decline coming from new car dealers. In volume terms, retail sales decreased 0.6 per cent.
- Minister of Industry Christian Paradis spoke to the Canada 3.0 Digital Media Forum in Stratford Ont, challenging Canadian industry to take risks, invest, think creatively and act boldly to ensure Canada's success in the global digital economy.
Wednesday, April 25:
- The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development met to continue its two studies of dealing with labour shortages. Witnesses included Arthur Sweetman, an economics at McMaster University as well as representatives from the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Canadian Nurses Association.
- The Parliamentary Budget Office released its Economic and Fiscal Outlook report ahead of appearing before the Finance Committee. The report agrees with the projected government deficit reduction timeline, saying it may even come a year before that. However, the PBO also notes that pulling $52 billion out in government spending will have a negative effect on the Canadian economy and could result in 100,000 lost jobs in the public and private sectors.
- The PBO also released a report titled Budget and Expenditure Reporting to Parliament: Strengthening Transparency and Oversight in an Era of Fiscal Consolidation. The report is critical of the lack of transparency in departmental spending cuts, and suggests that secrecy around these cuts and in the 2012 budget is undermining the oversight role of Parliament.
- Statistics Canada released the results of its 2010 Survey of Household Spending. Canadian households spent an average of $53,016 on all types of goods and services in 2010. Shelter accounted for 28.3 per cent of spending. Transportation costs counted for 20.7 per cent of spending. Food costs counted for 14.0 per cent of spending.
Thursday, April 26:
- The Standing Committee on Finance received a briefing on the economic and fiscal outlook from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page and his staff.
- Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced Bill C-38, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act which seeks to legislate various elements of the 2012 budget as well as previously announced policies.
- Auditor General Michael Ferguson appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts as part of its study of the F-35 procurement program. The Auditor General reasserted his criticism of the government's figures and costing of the program and also stated that the costing omits some significant costs of the program.
- Statistics Canada released preliminary data on payroll employment, earnings, and hours for February 2012. Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $886.45, up 0.2 per cent from the previous month. On a year-over-year basis, earnings rose 1.8 per cent.
Friday, April 27:
- The Department of Finance released the Fiscal Monitor for February 2012. There was a budgetary surplus of $1.5 billion in February compared to a deficit of $0.6 billion for the same month last year. This is the second monthly surplus in a row. Revenues increased by $1.1 billion, or 5.2 per cent, reflecting increases in most revenue streams. Program expenses were down $0.7 billion, or 3.6 per cent, coming mostly from decreases in operating expenses (read: spending cuts).
- Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney provided a presentation to the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce / Ottawa Business Journal Mayor's Breakfast Series on the Economic Outlook.
- International Trade Minister Ed Fast addressed the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa, highlighting the benefits of the Canada-European Union Trade Agreement. He was joined by other ministers and government MPs across the country in promoting the agreement including, Treasury Board President Tony Clement in Huntsville, Ont., Labour Minister Lisa Raitt in London, Ont., Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver in Toronto, Industry Minister Christian Paradis in Quebec City, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews in Winnipeg, Heritage Minister James Moore in Vancouver, Minister of National Revenue Gail Shea in Kensington, P.E.I., Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Keith Ashfield in Cap-Pele, N.B., Minister of State (Finance) Ted Menzies in Calgary, Minister of State (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) Bernard Valcourt in Edmunston, N.B.
- Statistics Canada released 2011 preliminary data for the GDP by industry and province and territory. In Ontario, real GDP rose two per cent in 2011 after increasing 3.2 per cent in 2010. The main sources of growth were metal ore mining and exploration activity as well as higher manufacturing output which rose by 2.4 per cent
- Statistics Canada also released the Commercial Software Price Index, which rose 0.5 per cent in March compared with the previous month. Year over year, the CSPI was up 0.6 per cent.
- Statistics Canada released the Couriers and Messengers Services Price Index which increased 0.8 per cent in March compared with February. The courier portion rose 0.7 per cent and the local messenger component advanced 0.9 per cent. The index increased 5.6 per cent in March compared with the same month in 2011.
Eye on the Hill is prepared by Ottawa-based government relations and communications firm Flagship Solutions.