Eye on the Hill: Feds funding business accessibility projects

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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, Aug. 20:

- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced community consultations for the redevelopment of Tunney's Pasture. Online comments on the Tunney's Pasture Master Plan will be accepted until Oct. 9.

- Minister of State (Transport) Steven Fletcher attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual conference in Ottawa and updated delegates on the development of a new long-term plan for public infrastructure in Canada.

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper departed Ottawa for his seventh annual visit to the Canadian North, with stops in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and northern Manitoba.

- The Department of Finance announced the coming into force of an agreement on the exchange of information on tax matters between Canada and the Republic of Costa Rica, effective Aug. 14, 2012.

- Statistics Canada reported an average of 258,000 job vacancies in the three-month period ending in May, an increase of 22,000 from the same period in 2011. For every job vacancy, there were 5.5 unemployed people, a decrease from 6.3 in May, 2011.

Tuesday, Aug. 21:

- Parliamentary Secretary Kellie Leitch announced a call for proposals for funding through Human Resources and Skills Development Canada's Enabling Accessibility Fund. Eligible organizations (including SMEs) can submit applications for up to $50,000 in funding for projects which increase accessibility. The deadline for applications is Oct. 5, 2012.

- Labour Minister Lisa Raitt met with port authority representatives at the 54th conference of the Association of Canadian Port Authorities in Hamilton to discuss changes in Canadian labour relationships.

- Minister of State (Finance) Ted Menzies addressed the Burlington Chamber of Commerce, highlighting the new private pension option offered by Pooled Registered Pension Plans.

- Industry Minister Christian Paradis addressed members of the Alberta Enterprise Group in Edmonton, encouraging them to invest in research and development.

- Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge (Winnipeg South) held a consultation in Winnipeg with industry and business leaders from across Manitoba to discuss a renewal of the government's Global Commerce Strategy. The government is seeking better ways of aligning its trade and investment objectives in emerging priority markets.

- Statistics Canada released June, 2012 figures for travel between Canada and other countries. Canadian residents took almost 2.8 million overnight trips outside the country in June, the highest monthly figure ever recorded since Statistics Canada began tracking it in 1972. Compared to May, overnight travel was up 5.7 per cent as a result of increased travel to both the U.S. and other countries. Travel to Canada increased 0.5 per cent, reaching just over 2.1 million visits in June.

- Statistics Canada also released data showing a 0.1 per cent decrease in wholesale trade, reaching $49.9 billion for June, 2012 after four consecutive monthly increases.

Wednesday, Aug. 22:

- The 2011-2012 annual report of the procurement ombudsman was tabled in the House of Commons. The report criticized the lack of standardization and communication for procurement processes between federal departments and raised concerns about companies with poor records and results continuing to secure contracts in spite of their failures to deliver satisfactory services in the past.

- Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification) Lynne Yelich attended a Saskatoon consultation session with business and industry leaders from across Saskatchewan, discussing a renewal of the government's Global Commerce Strategy. The government is seeking better ways of aligning its trade and investment objectives in emerging priority markets.

- Statistics Canada reported that retail sales dropped 0.4 per cent in June, wiping out increases in May. Lower sales were reported in seven of the 11 tracked subsectors, which represents 64 per cent of retail trade. In terms of volume, retail sales inched down 0.1 per cent.

Thursday, Aug. 23:

- Minister of State (Finance) Ted Menzies addressed the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto, highlighting the role of private sector pension innovation and the Pooled Registered Pension Plans initiative.

- Conservative MP Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast) held a consultation in Calgary with industry and business leaders from across Manitoba to discuss a renewal of the government's global commerce strategy. The government is seeking better ways of aligning its trade and investment objectives in emerging priority markets.

- Statistics Canada released several economic figures. The number of people receiving regular employment insurance benefits continued to decrease, falling to 507,600 in June from 512,100 in May. The number of beneficiaries in Ontario actually edged up slightly. Total operating revenue for Canada's ten largest urban transit systems rose to $269.1 million in June 2012, an increase of 4.7 per cent from June, 2011. Ridership also rose 1.6 per cent over the same period to reach 139 million passenger trips.

Friday, Aug. 24:

- Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Affairs) Diane Ablonczy departed for a visit to Brazil to expand Canadian relations with leaders at various levels in the country. The Minister will be in the country until Aug. 31.

- Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced two diplomatic appointments. Jonathan Fried becomes ambassador and permanent representative to the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Sébastien Beaulieu becomes ambassador to the Republic of Tunisia.

- Minister of State (Seniors) Alice Wong held a consultation in Vancouver with industry and business leaders from across British Columbia to discuss a renewal of the government's global commerce strategy. The government is seeking better ways of aligning its trade and investment objectives in emerging priority markets.

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

Organizations: Statistics Canada, House of Commons, Association of Municipalities of Ontario Department of Finance Pooled Registered Pension Plans Human Resources Enabling Accessibility Fund Burlington Chamber of Commerce Alberta Enterprise Group Economic Club of Canada World Trade Organization

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut Northern Manitoba Republic of Costa Rica Manitoba Port Authorities Hamilton Edmonton Winnipeg South Winnipeg Calgary Northeast U.S. Saskatoon Saskatchewan Toronto Ontario Foreign Affairs Americas Brazil Geneva Republic of Tunisia Vancouver British Columbia

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