Eye on the Hill: Record number of visitor visas issued

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

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Both the House of Commons and the Senate were adjourned for a break week. Both Houses resumed sitting on Monday, Feb. 25.


Monday, Feb. 18:

- Industry Canada’s Small Business Branch released the results of its 2011 Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises.


Tuesday, Feb. 19:

- National Revenue Minister Gail Shea attended a meeting with local businesses and Canadian Federation of Independent Business members in Toronto to discuss ways to improve government services to Canadian businesses.

- Statistics Canada released figures on job vacancies over a three-month average ending in November, 2012. There were 243,000 job vacancies among Canadian businesses in November, compared to 234,000 vacancies a year earlier. There were 5.2 unemployed people for every job vacancy, compared to 5.4 people in November, 2011. The national job vacancy rate was 1.7 per cent last November, a slight rise from 1.6 per cent in November 2011.


Wednesday, Feb. 20:

- Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced the final enhancement to the Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy, which is designed to encourage long-term private sector investments in Canadian SMEs related to research, development and commercialization.

- International Trade Minister Ed Fast announced the appointment of Martin Gagné and Scott Player to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Commercial Corp.

- Member of Parliament (St. Catharines) Rick Dykstra announced federal financing to help St. Catharines firm IIX Corp. (International Internet Exchange) commercialize its network of Internet exchange points (IXPs) – technology and improve software and hardware infrastructure for the product. The up to $225,000 in funding comes through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) Investing in Business Innovation initiative.

- Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced that Canada had issued a record amount of visitor visas in 2012, reaching nearly one million, and an increase of almost 40 per cent since 2004.


Thursday, Feb. 21:

- The Bank of Canada announced the appointment of Lawrence L. Schembri as Deputy Governor of the Bank, effective Feb. 25.

- Member of Parliament (Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry) Guy Lauzon announced federal funding for a Eastern Ontario Training Board project that will promote leadership among young women in Cornwall, Ont. The $170,400 in funding comes through the Women’s Program of Status of Women Canada.

- Treasury Board President Tony Clement met with Chinese-Canadian business leaders in Vancouver to discuss red-tape reduction and economic priorities.

- Statistics Canada released Employment Insurance figures for December 2012. The number of people receiving regular Employment Insurance benefits in December was down 8,300 (-1.6 per cent) to 517,000, the third decrease in four months.


Friday, Feb. 22:

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a cabinet shuffle to fill the vacancy created by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan stepping down from his portfolio. Bernard Valcourt was sworn in as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development; Kerry-Lynne D. Findlay was sworn in as Associate Minister of National Defence National Revenue Minister Gail Shea was appointed Minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; and Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney takes over responsibility for La Francophonie.

- Industry Minister Christian Paradis announced the appointment of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac General Manager Robert Mercure to the Board of Directors of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

- Minister Paradis also announced the appointment of retired PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP partner Michael Calyniuk to the Business Development Bank of Canada board of directors.

- Treasury Board President Tony Clement discussed red tape reduction in a pre-budget meeting with members of the Business Council of British Columbia and the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

- Statistics Canada released retail trade figures for December 2012. Retail sales were down 2.1 per cent, reaching $38.6 billion. The decrease comes after five consecutive months of increases.

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

Organizations: Statistics Canada, House of Commons, Industry Canada Small Business Branch Canadian Federation of Independent Business Business Development Bank of Canada Industrial and Regional Benefits Policy International Trade Canadian Commercial Employment Insurance Catharines firm IIX Eastern Ontario Training Board National Defence Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Veterans Affairs PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP Business Council of British Columbia North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Geographic location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada Cornwall Vancouver Ottawa

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