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Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Ratifying and Implementing Trade and Investment Treaties in Canada
Source: Parliamentary Library of Canada

Under Canada’s constitutional system, the conduct of foreign affairs is a royal prerogative power of the federal Crown.

Consequently, the Executive Branch has the exclusive power to negotiate and conclude international treaties. Parliament has the exclusive power to enact legislation to implement those treaties.

As Canada continues to enter into such treaties, a number of important questions arise:

  • What is the interaction between Canadian and international law in the treaty-making and implementation processes, particularly in relation to trade and investment?
  • What measures must the Executive and Legislative branches take so that these treaties can come into force?
  • What formal role do the provinces and territories play in the negotiation, ratification and implementation of trade and investment treaties?
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Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S.
Source: Brookings Institution

The Arctic is changing and increasingly drawing the world’s interest, with the potential for vast reserves of offshore oil and gas constituting arguably the most attractive, yet challenging prospect in the region.

As the U.S. prepares to assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015, this policy brief is designed to inform the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. Government of the current state of oil and gas governance in the Arctic, and to address the following questions:

  • How can the U.S. elevate the Arctic region as a priority national interest?
  • How can the U.S. lead in strengthening offshore oil and gas governance in the Arctic?

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Emerging Arctic Explored in New CFR InfoGuide
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has released a new interactive guide examining the economic opportunities and environmental risks emerging in the Arctic. Climate change, technological advances, and a growing demand for natural resources are driving a new era of development in the Arctic region. Many experts assert that Arctic summers could be free of sea ice in a matter of decades, opening the region up to hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, most notably in energy production and shipping.

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada
Source: Library of Parliament

Mental health problems and mental illness exact a huge human, social and economic toll.

In Canada, roughly one in every five people will experience a mental illness in his or her lifetime. Individuals with mental health problems or mental illness may suffer from such consequences as stigmatization, discrimination, lost income, homelessness and substance abuse, among others. Left untreated, some mental health disorders may even lead to suicide.

The Library of Parliament recently published a series of papers on mental health in Canada and the involvement of the federal government in this area; this HillNote introduces the series and highlights some of the issues addressed in the papers.

Police resources in Canada, 2013

April 10, 2014 Comments off

Police resources in Canada, 2013
Source: Statistics Canada

In a period of fiscal pressures coupled with growing policing responsibilities, discussions regarding the economics of policing are taking place. Contributing to these discussions are police services, the public sector, academics, the private sector, as well as the general public. The discussions seek to identify the nature of and reasons for police expenditures, as well as ways to reduce costs while continuing to meet police responsibilities regarding public safety (Public Safety Canada 2013).

Using data from the Police Administration Survey (see the “Survey descriptions” section for details), this Juristat article will focus on the most recent findings regarding the rate of police strength and police expenditures. The Police Administration Survey captures police-reported data on the number of police officers in Canada by rank and sex, as well as civilian employees, based on a snapshot date (which is May 15, 2013 for the most recent data). Data on hiring, departures, and eligibility to retire in this report are based on either the 2012 calendar year or the 2012/2013 fiscal year, depending on the police service.

Information from this survey is provided for Canada, the provinces and territories and census metropolitan areas (CMAs). In addition, this article provides information on workplace mobility within police services, including the hiring of and departures by police, and eligibility to retire. Finally, it summarizes data on the characteristics of police officers, including gender, age group, and Aboriginal and visible minority status. To provide a more complete picture of the state of policing in Canada, the following contextual information are included: policing responsibilities and strategies within the economics of policing discussions; international data on police personnel and gender from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); and wage information from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS).

CRS — Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 8, 2014 Comments off

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. On May 10, 2013, the Obama Administration released a national strategy document for the Arctic region. On January 30, 2014, the Obama Administration released an implementation plan for this strategy.

Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

A tale of two Mexicos: Growth and prosperity in a two-speed economy

March 28, 2014 Comments off

A tale of two Mexicos: Growth and prosperity in a two-speed economy
Source: McKinsey & Company

In the 20 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, Mexico has become a global manufacturing leader and a prime destination for investors and multinationals around the world. Yet the country’s economic growth continues to disappoint, and the rise in living standards has stalled. The root cause is a chronic productivity problem that stems from the economy’s two-speed nature. A modern, fast-growing Mexico, with globally competitive multinationals and cutting-edge manufacturing plants, exists amid a far larger group of traditional Mexican enterprises that do not contribute to growth. These two Mexicos are moving in opposite directions. The largest companies are raising productivity by an impressive 5.8 percent a year, while the productivity of small, slow-growing enterprises is falling by 6.5 percent a year. And with employment growing faster in the traditional Mexico, more labor is shifting to low-productivity work.

Health care wait times cost Canadians more than $1 billion in lost productivity

March 28, 2014 Comments off

Health care wait times cost Canadians more than $1 billion in lost productivity
Source: Fraser Institute

Canadians lost a combined $1.1 billion, or an average of $1,202 per patient, as a result of lengthy waits for medically necessary health care in 2013, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, The Private Cost of Public Queues for Medically Necessary Care, calculates the average value of time lost during the work week for each of the estimated 928,120 patients waiting for surgery in Canada last year.

When calculations include hours outside the work week—evenings and weekends, excluding eight hours of sleep per night—the estimated cost of waiting jumps from $1.1 billion to $3.4 billion, or an average of $3,681 per patient.

Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate
Source: Center for Strategic & International Studies

The unsustainable federal budget outlook will inevitably push entitlement reform to the forefront of the national policy debate. As America’s leaders consider reform options, they will have much to learn from the experience of other developed countries, several of which have recently enacted far-reaching overhauls of their state pension systems that greatly reduce the long-term fiscal burden of their aging populations. Lessons from Abroad for the U.S. Entitlement Debate places America’s aging challenge in international perspective, examines the most promising reform initiatives in nine other developed countries, and draws practical lessons for U.S. policymakers.

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Homelessness and Access to Housing

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Homelessness and Access to Housing
Source: Library of Parliament

The relationship between mental health problems and homelessness and access to housing is complex. Individuals with mental health problems or mental illnesses are predisposed to experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness, and poor mental health can be caused, triggered or aggravated by homelessness or housing that does not meet a certain standard of adequacy, affordability and suitability.

In Canada, access to housing for people with mental health problems has evolved over time; from poorhouses and prisons in the 1800s, to psychiatric hospitals by the 1900s, to a process of deinstitutionalization beginning in the 1960s. Since the 1990s, those working in the Canadian mental health care system and advocates in the mental health field have displayed a greater awareness of the critical relationship between mental health and housing, in particular the role housing plays in recovery and well-being.

Because many mental illnesses are undiagnosed, particularly in the homeless population, in this publication the term mental health problem will encompass both poor mental health – such as feelings of loneliness, worthlessness and hopelessness – and mental illnesses – such as schizophrenia or depression.

AU — The G20: a quick guide

March 26, 2014 Comments off

The G20: a quick guide
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This is a quick guide to basic information about the G20, as well as links to useful summary resources. The G20 background section includes the G20’s history, its members, the hosting system and G20 meeting processes, as well as a brief discussion of selected policy areas. Material on Australia and the G20 includes Australia’s involvement in the G20, Australia’s G20 goals for 2014 and speeches and press releases on the G20. A short list of links provides access to more resources on the G20.

CRS — Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Keystone XL: Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced a national “Climate Action Plan” to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), as well as to encourage adaptation to climate change. During his speech, the President made reference to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project—a pipeline that would transport crude oil derived from Canadian oil sands deposits in Alberta to a market hub in Nebraska for further delivery to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. He stated that an evaluation of the proposed pipeline’s impacts on climate change would be “critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward.”

CRS — Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

March 26, 2014 Comments off

Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Ressearch Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recent congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has focused in part on ways through which the United States could secure more economical and reliable petroleum resources both domestically and internationally. Many forecasters identify petroleum products refined from Canadian oil sands as one possible solution. Increased production from Canadian oil sands, however, is not without controversy, as many have expressed concern over the potential environmental impacts. These impacts include emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) during resource extraction and processing. A number of key studies in recent literature have expressed findings that GHG emissions per unit of energy produced from Canadian oil sands crudes are higher than those of other crudes imported, refined, and consumed in the United States. The studies identify two main reasons for the difference: (1) oil sands are heavier and more viscous than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more energy- and resource-intensive activities to extract; and (2) oil sands are chemically deficient in hydrogen, and have a higher carbon, sulfur, and heavy metal content than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more processing to yield consumable fuels by U.S. standards.

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel

March 25, 2014 Comments off

Value of 2013 U.S.-NAFTA Freight on Surface Modes Rose from 2012; Declined on Air and Vessel
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Three of the five transportation modes – the surface transportation modes of truck, rail and pipeline – carried more U.S. trade with North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico by value in 2013 than in 2012 while the value of freight transported by air and vessel decreased, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) (Figure 1 and Table 2).

Trade by pipeline also grew the most from year-to-year, 7.7 percent, partly due to the value of petroleum products, as the overall value on all modes rose 2.6 percent. Smaller increases took place on rail (4.6 percent) and truck (2.2) while vessel trade fell for the second consecutive year (-2.4) and air trade declined for the third straight year (-1.0) (Tables 1, 2).

The Entertainment Industries, Government Policies, and Canada’s National Identity

March 21, 2014 Comments off

The Entertainment Industries, Government Policies, and Canada’s National Identity
Source: Fraser Institute

One of the longest standing shibboleths of Canadian public policy is that popular culture industries in Canada must be financially supported and protected by government if those industries are to survive. Moreover, the survival, if not the growth, of those industries—the “entertainment” industries—is essential to maintaining what supporters identify as Canada’s “national identity”. From this point of view, government support and protection of Canada’s entertainment industries can be seen as contributing to the survival of Canada as a sovereign nation or, at least, to the promotion of a more civil and cohesive Canadian society. A related argument for government intervention is that it is “justified” by the economic contributions that the entertainment industries make to Canada.

The broad objective of this study is to assess the main arguments for direct and indirect government support for the entertainment industries in Canada. While the focus of the analysis is on Canada, the main theoretical arguments could apply to most small, open economies. The assessment includes identifying and evaluating the relevant arguments for and against government support, as well as an evaluation of the admittedly limited evidence bearing upon those arguments.

Legal aid in Canada, 2012/2013

March 20, 2014 Comments off

Legal aid in Canada, 2012/2013
Source: Statistics Canada

Access to justice in Canada is a priority of governments and policy-makers, legal professionals and the public. One aspect is access to legal services. Not all Canadians have the resources to pay for a lawyer. Legal aid plans have been established in all provinces and territories with the common goal of assisting lower-income Canadians who require legal services either for criminal or civil matters. This Juristat bulletin presents results from the Legal Aid Survey which collects information on the operation of Canada’s 13 legal aid plans.

In order to operate and provide legal services, legal aid plans receive funding from governments (both federal and provincial/territorial) as well as from client contributions, cost recoveries from legal settlements, and contributions from the legal profession and other sources.1

The federal government provides criminal legal aid funding to the provinces and criminal and civil legal aid funding to the territories.2 In 2012/2013, the federal government reported providing a total of $112 million to all provincial/territorial legal aid plans in Canada.

Provincial and territorial governments directly fund both criminal and civil legal aid. In 2012/2013, provincial and territorial governments reported contributing $658 million to legal aid plans across Canada.

Legal aid plans in Canada reported receiving funding of almost $835 million in 2012/2013 (Table 1). Government sources contributed the vast majority of this amount at 93% of the total.

The remaining 7% of funding was received from client contributions and cost recoveries from legal settlements, contributions of the legal profession and other sources.

Topics in Migration Research (Mexico and Germany)

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Topics in Migration Research
Source: RAND Corporation

With respective emigrant and immigrant stocks that are among the largest in the world, Mexico and Germany are affected by migration like few other countries are. They also exemplify that migratory movements need not be permanent, but are also often less temporary than initially assumed. This dissertation explores topics related to the determinants and consequences of migration in these two countries.

CRS — Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

March 12, 2014 Comments off

Canadian Oil Sands: Life-Cycle Assessments of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Recent congressional interest in U.S. energy policy has focused in part on ways through which the United States could secure more economical and reliable petroleum resources both domestically and internationally. Many forecasters identify petroleum products refined from Canadian oil sands as one possible solution. Increased production from Canadian oil sands, however, is not without controversy, as many have expressed concern over the potential environmental impacts. These impacts include emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) during resource extraction and processing. A number of key studies in recent literature have expressed findings that GHG emissions per unit of energy produced from Canadian oil sands crudes are higher than those of other crudes imported, refined, and consumed in the United States. The studies identify two main reasons for the difference: (1) oil sands are heavier and more viscous than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more energy- and resource-intensive activities to extract; and (2) oil sands are chemically deficient in hydrogen, and have a higher carbon, sulfur, and heavy metal content than lighter crude oil types on average, and thus require more processing to yield consumable fuels by U.S. standards.

Requesting Mutual Legal Assistance from Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Requesting Mutual Legal Assistance from Canada: A Step-by-Step Guide (PDF)
Source: Department of Justice (CA)

A foreign state may request assistance from Canada in the gathering of evidence or the enforcement of some criminal orders (seizure orders, confiscation orders, fines) through three separate routes: (i) treaty and convention requests, (ii) letters rogatory (court issued non-treaty letter of request) and (iii) non-treaty requests. In rare circumstances, Canada may enter into an administrative arrangement with a non-treaty country to give effect to an individual request for assistance, for a time-limited period. The widest assistance can be provided for treaty or convention requests. More limited assistance is available for letters rogatory and non-treaty requests.

Canada — The economic costs of care to family/friend caregivers: A synthesis of findings

March 5, 2014 Comments off

The economic costs of care to family/friend caregivers: A synthesis of findings (PDF)
Source: University of Alberta

Findings reported here are based on a synthesis of results from a three-year program of research (2010-2013) on the economic costs of care directed by Dr. Janet Fast at the University of Alberta. Embedded within this interdisciplinary research program were five projects led by co-investigators Dr. Janet Fast (University of Alberta), Dr. Norah Keating (University of Alberta), Dr. Donna Lero (University of Guelph), and Dr. Karen Duncan (University of Manitoba). This synthesis report integrates findings from five projects that:

  • Provided a framework and literature review of the economic costs of care to caregivers
  • Examined Canadians’ caregiving trajectories across the life course and risk factors for experiencing care-related employment consequences
  • Estimated the monetary costs of eldercare-related labour market accommodations,
  • Documented the prevalence, correlates, and social and economic consequences of care- related out-of-pocket expenses, and
  • Documented the availability, accessibility and effectiveness of workplace supports for Canadian caregivers.
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