Eye on the Hill: Panel to help workers with disabilities enter labour market

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An update on legislation, developments and political discussions affecting local businesses.

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Both the Senate and the House of Commons will resume sitting on Monday, Sept. 19.

Monday, July 30:

- Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley announced the launch of the panel on labour market opportunities for persons with disabilities.  The panel is tasked with identifying private sector successes and best practices in labour market participation of  persons with disabilities, as well as barriers to access.  Panel members include Kenneth J. Fredeen, general counsel with Deloitte & Touche LLP, who will serve as chair of the panel; Gary Birch, executive director of the Neil Squire Society; Kathy Martin, senior vice-president of human resources, Loblaw Companies; Mark Wafer, owner of Megleen Inc.

- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt addressed the the 61st annual conference of the Association of Labor Relations Agencies in Montreal.  The minister spoke about labour relations trends and initiatives.

- Minister of State (Agriculture) Christian Paradis announced up to $1.7 million in federal funding to help Le Centre de recherche de développement et de transfert technologique acéricole du Québec (Centre for Research and Development and Technology Transfer of Quebec Maple Syrup) and the Fédération des Producteurs Acéricoles du Québec (Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers) find new market opportunities and develop a quality inspection system for Canadian maple products. The funding comes through the agricultural innovation program.


Tuesday, July 31:

- Transport Minister Denis Lebel and Minister of State (Transport) Steven Fletcher completed a series of provincial and territorial roundtables, speaking to stakeholder about a new, long-term infrastructure plan for Canada.

- The Government of Canada launched online consultations on ways to improve the federal immigrant investor program.  The government is seeking input on how Citizenship and Immigration Canada can: "Increase the economic benefit that immigrant investment capital brings to Canada," "attract experienced, international investors with the skills and resources needed to ensure they integrate into Canada’s economy" and "develop efficient and cost-effective ways of delivering an investment program."

- Citizenship and Immigration Canada also launched a series of cross-country consultations on immigration issues, including levels of immigration and its mix, with the first consultation being hosted by parliamentary secretary Chungsen Leung in Toronto.

- Statistics Canada released May 2012 figures for food services and drinking places. Sales for the food services and drinking places industry increased 1.1 per cent to $4.4 billion from the previous month. The price index for food purchased in restaurants rose 0.2 per cent during the same period.

- Statistics Canada also released industrial product and raw materials price indexes for June 2012. The industrial product price index was down 0.3 per cent from May, largely as a result of lower prices for petroleum and coal products. The raw materials price index dropped 4 per cent, mostly due to a 10.1 per cent decrease in crude oil prices.

- Statistics Canada released the gross domestic product by industry for May 2012. Real gross domestic product edged up 0.1 per cent, after a 0.3 per cent increase in April. Output of retail service industries grew at 0.1 per cent due to strength of retail trade and the finance and insurance sectors.


Wednesday, Aug. 1:

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Kindersley, Sask. to announce the coming into force of the Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act, effectively ending the marketing monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board.

- Citizenship and Immigration Canada issued a call for proposals for language training and other settlement and resettlement services to assist newcomers to Canada. The CFP will determine which projects will be funded for 2013 and beyond, and can be local, regional, or national in scope. The deadline for submitting applications is Sept. 7.

- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt congratulated Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. and the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada for ratifying a new collective agreement.

- National Revenue Minister Gail Shea met with small business owners in Miramichi, N.B. to highlight some initiatives revenue Canada has introduced to reduce the burden on Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises.


Thursday, Aug. 2:

- Human Resources and Skills Development Minister Diane Finley announced the launch of a national employment insurance pilot project, called Working While on Claim.  The project will allow EI claimants to work while receiving benefits and allow them to keep more of what they earn while on EI.  Benefits of those participating in the project will only be reduced by 50 per cent of total earnings from working while on claim.

- Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty and Revenue Minister Gail Shea announced the launch of consultations on the effect of contingency fees for the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program. The program provided $3.6 billion in tax assistance in 2011 for business research and development in Canada.

- International Trade Minister Ed Fast and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced full market access for Canadian beef to the United Arab Emirates, effective immediately.


Friday, Aug. 3:

- The small business branch of Industry Canada released the July 2012 edition of Key Small Business Statistics. Some highlights include: Canada has just over one million small businesses that have employees (self-employed entrepreneurs are excluded). 98 per cent of businesses in Canada have fewer than 100 employees. On average, 100,000 new small businesses were created in Canada each year between 2002 and 2008. As of 2011, small businesses employed about five million individuals, or 48 per cent of the total private sector labour force. Approximately 21,000 jobs were created by small companies in 2011. On average, employees of small businesses earned $763 per week in 2011, lower than the overall average of $852.


Eye on the Hill is prepared by Ottawa-based government relations and communications firm Flagship Solutions.

Organizations: House of Commons, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Statistics Canada Deloitte Touche Neil Squire Society Loblaw Companies Association of Labor Relations Agencies Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada International Trade Business Branch of Industry Canada

Geographic location: Canada, Québec, Montreal Kindersley Sask. Miramichi United Arab Emirates Ottawa

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