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Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data

August 20, 2014 Comments off

Consumer Cash Usage: A Cross-Country Comparison with Payment Diary Survey Data
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

We measure consumers’ use of cash by harmonizing payment diary surveys from seven countries. The seven diary surveys were conducted in 2009 (Canada), 2010 (Australia), 2011 (Austria, France, Germany, and the Netherlands), and 2012 (the United States). Our paper finds cross-country differences — for example, the level of cash use differs across countries. Cash has not disappeared as a payment instrument, especially for low-value transactions. We also find that the use of cash is strongly correlated with transaction size, demographics, and point-of-sale characteristics such as merchant card acceptance and venue.

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CA — The burden of premature opioid-related mortality

August 19, 2014 Comments off

The burden of premature opioid-related mortality
Source: Addiction

Background and Aims
The burden of premature mortality due to opioid-related death has not been fully characterized. We calculated temporal trends in the proportion of deaths attributable to opioids and estimated years of potential life lost (YLL) due to opioid-related mortality in Ontario, Canada.

Design
Cross-sectional study.

Setting
Ontario, Canada.

Participants
Individuals who died of opioid-related causes between January 1991 and December 2010.

Measurements
We used the Registered Persons Database and data abstracted from the Office of the Chief Coroner to measure annual rates of opioid-related mortality. The proportion of all deaths related to opioids was determined by age group in each of 1992, 2001 and 2010. The YLL due to opioid-related mortality were estimated, applying the life expectancy estimates for the Ontario population.

Findings
We reviewed 5935 opioid-related deaths in Ontario between 1991 and 2010. The overall rate of opioid-related mortality increased by 242% between 1991 (12.2 per 1 000 000 Ontarians) and 2010 (41.6 per 1 000 000 Ontarians; P < 0.0001). Similarly, the annual YLL due to premature opioid-related death increased threefold, from 7006 years (1.3 years per 1000 population) in 1992 to 21 927 years (3.3 years per 1000 population) in 2010. The proportion of deaths attributable to opioids increased significantly over time within each age group (P < 0.05). By 2010, nearly one of every eight deaths (12.1%) among individuals aged 25–34 years was opioid-related.

Conclusions
Rates of opioid-related deaths are increasing rapidly in Ontario, Canada, and are concentrated among the young, leading to a substantial burden of disease.

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA

August 5, 2014 Comments off

Who pays the piper? Rules for lobbying governments in Australia, Canada, UK and USA
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This publication surveys lobbying codes of conduct and registers introduced by Australian federal and state governments and some overseas governments. Although lobbying is a legitimate practice and part of the democratic process, the 2014 hearings conducted by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Commission Against Corruption have exposed weaknesses in lobbying rules. Initially Australian governments introduced very similar minimalist codes and registers. Two states, NSW and Queensland, have recently introduced stronger regimes but Australian codes are, in general, far weaker than the strong statutory regimes operating in Canada and the United States.

Overcoming Skills Shortages in Canada

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Overcoming Skills Shortages in Canada
Source: OECD

Skills shortages have developed in certain fields and regions in recent years. Earnings premiums for people in some professions, notably health, engineering and skilled trades have increased. And vacancy rates have risen for skilled trades, with the increase being particularly large in Alberta and Saskatchewan. While reforms have been implemented to strengthen adjustment so as to overcome these shortages, there is still room to go further by improving labour market information, increasing responsiveness of the education and training system to labour market demand, making the immigration system more reactive to current labour market conditions and reducing regulatory barriers to inter-provincial labour mobility. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Review of Canada (http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-canada.htm).

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data

July 30, 2014 Comments off

2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

The number of commercial truck crossings into the United States from Canada and Mexico was 10.8 million in 2013, 1.1 percent more than in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). That 2013 increase follows increases from 2010 to 2012 after four years of decline from 2005 to 2009, a period that includes the last recession. The truck-crossing numbers are included in the 2013 Border Crossing/Entry Data posted today on the BTS website. The database also includes numbers of incoming trains, buses, containers, personal vehicles, and pedestrians entering the United States through land ports and ferry crossings on the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico border. The database shows that there were 163.3 million person crossings into the U.S. from Mexico in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 4.6 percent increase from 2012. There were an additional 62.8 million person crossings into the U.S. from Canada in personal vehicles or as pedestrians in 2013, a 0.5 percent increase in person crossings from 2012.

Canada — Police-reported crime statistics, 2013

July 29, 2014 Comments off

Police-reported crime statistics, 2013
Source: Statistics Canada

The police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of crime, declined 9% in 2013 compared with 2012. This was the 10th consecutive decline in the index. The CSI was 36% lower than 10 years earlier.

The traditional crime rate also declined in 2013 compared with 2012, falling 8%. It continued its long-term downward trend that began in the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level since 1969. Since 1962, the traditional crime rate has measured the volume of crime, but does not take into account the severity of crimes.

Deconstructing Canada’s Housing Markets: Finance, Affordability and Urban Sprawl

July 28, 2014 Comments off

Deconstructing Canada’s Housing Markets: Finance, Affordability and Urban Sprawl
Source: OECD

House prices have increased significantly in Canada over the past decade, driving household debt and residential construction activity to historical highs. Although macro-prudential tightening has slowed the pace of household borrowing in the last few years, house prices have continued to trend higher, and affordability remains a major challenge in urban centres. First-time home buyers must therefore spend more of their incomes to purchase a house and are vulnerable to future interest rate hikes. Overbuilding in the condominium sectors of some cities appears to be a source of risk, especially if a major price correction in these segments spills over into other markets. The country benefits from a sound and effective housing finance system, which performed well throughout the global financial crisis thanks to strong regulatory oversight and explicit government backing of the mortgage market. Nonetheless, the dominance of the crown corporation CMHC in the mortgage insurance market concentrates a significant amount of risk in public finances. Improving competitive conditions in the mortgage insurance market could help diversify these risks and reduce taxpayer contingent liabilities, while introducing coverage limits on loan losses would better align private and social interests. There may be a shortage of rental housing in several cities, especially in the range that low-income households can afford. Urban planning policies have resulted in low-density residential development which contributes to relatively high transport-related carbon emissions. Addressing these externalities requires stronger pricing signals for land development, road use, congestion and parking, combined with better integration of public transit planning. To prevent the marginalisation of low-income households, planning policies should support social mix and increase incentives for private-sector development of affordable housing.

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States

July 24, 2014 Comments off

Select Diaspora Populations in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Diaspora populations often perform essential functions in the economic and human capital development of their countries of origin, and can continue playing a strong role in shaping these countries long after they or their forebears departed.The Rockefeller Foundation and the Aspen Institute have launched the Rockefeller-Aspen Diaspora Program (RAD), a joint venture to better understand diaspora members’ financial and human capital investments and to design an approach to foster further growth in these areas. The Migration Policy Institute has partnered with RAD to produce profiles of 15 diaspora communities in the United States, which is home to nearly 60 million first- or second-generation immigrants.

These profiles address 15 different diaspora populations in the United States, gathering in one place key data and analysis on diasporas from Bangladesh, Colombia, El Salvador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Each profile explores the demographic characteristics of first- and second-generation immigrants in a particular diaspora, their educational attainment, household income, employment patterns, geographic distribution, and remittance volume.

Five longer profiles, focusing on Colombia, Egypt, India, Kenya, and the Philippines, also detail historical immigration pathways and contemporary entry trends, poverty status, active diaspora organizations, and country-of-origin policies and institutions related to interaction with emigrants and their descendants abroad.

National Funding of Road Infrastructure

July 10, 2014 Comments off

National Funding of Road Infrastructure
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report examines the funding of roads and highways in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England and Wales, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Africa, and Sweden. It provides a description of the infrastructure in the jurisdiction, information on the ownership and responsibility of the roads, and taxes or other ways of collecting money to fund the nation’s infrastructure. If applicable, a discussion of reforms or new initiatives is examined.

Consumer Issues — Canada’s Ethnic Minorities Represent a Major Opportunity

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Canada’s Ethnic Minorities Represent a Major Opportunity
Source: Nielsen

Canada’s consumer makeup isn’t what it used to be, and this represents a major opportunity for marketers. Today, Canada is home to 6.8 million foreign-born residents, and that shift is worth noting for any marketer interested in ways to make products and services that cater to Canada’s evolving demographic landscape.

More than one in five Canadians is a foreign-born resident, which is the highest proportion of all G8 countries (the Group of Eight Countries is a forum for the governments of eight of the world’s largest national economies). Before 1971, immigrants from visible minorities made up about 12 percent of the country’s population. Following the last documented wave of new immigrants between 2006 and 2011, almost 80 percent were visible minorities.

Despite this growth in multiculturalism throughout the country, brands and companies have often ignored the opportunity because there’s a perception that it is difficult to reach multicultural consumers. The sheer variety of languages, dialects, consumption patterns, shopping behaviours, brand and product loyalties are seen as a barrier to attracting and engaging with these valuable consumer segments. However, the growing size and potential of these groups means that companies can no longer afford to ignore the upswell.

Free registration required to download report.

EU — Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report

July 7, 2014 Comments off

Student support crucial for offsetting impact of university tuition fees, says report
Source: European Commission

When balanced with student support, increased tuition fees do not have an overall negative impact on enrolments in higher education, even among students from lower socio-economic groups, unless the magnitude of change is exceptional. However increases in fees can result in falling enrolments among older students, according to an international study released by the European Commission today. The report underlines that grants and/or loans are crucial for offsetting negative consequences of fees or fee rises on university enrolments, particularly from vulnerable groups.

The Commission-funded study, carried out by independent researchers, analysed the impact of changes in student fees in nine countries with different models of funding over the past 15 years (Austria, Canada, UK-England, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal and South Korea).

Canada — Police-reported hate crimes, 2012

July 2, 2014 Comments off

Police-reported hate crimes, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

In 2012, police reported 1,414 criminal incidents motivated by hate in Canada, 82 more incidents than in 2011. These hate crimes represented 4.1 incidents per 100,000 population.

In 2012, about half of all hate crimes (704 incidents, or 51%) were motivated by hatred toward a race or ethnicity such as Black, Asian, Arab or Aboriginal populations. Another 419 incidents, or 30%, were motivated by hatred towards a particular religion, including hate crimes targeting Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other religions.

An additional 13% (185 incidents) were motivated by sexual orientation, while the remaining 6% of hate crimes were motivated by language, mental or physical disability, sex, age or some other characteristic (such as occupation or political beliefs).

Canada — Increasing opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Increasing opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity
Source: Public Health Agency of Canada

The Public Health Agency of Canada has partnered with Special Olympics Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation to increase opportunities for children living with intellectual disabilities to participate in physical activity.

Special Olympics Canada currently runs two initiatives, called “Active Start” and “FUNdamentals,” that provide children with an intellectual disability the opportunity to improve physical, social and cognitive abilities, thereby establishing a foundation for being physically active and healthy. With funding from the Government of Canada, the RBC Foundation and the Samuel Family Foundation, these programs will be expanded, reaching more children across Canada.

The goal of this partnership is to promote healthy living and healthy weights among children living with intellectual disability.

Dramatic Surge in the Arrival of Unaccompanied Children Has Deep Roots and No Simple Solutions

June 13, 2014 Comments off

Dramatic Surge in the Arrival of Unaccompanied Children Has Deep Roots and No Simple Solutions
Source: Migration Policy Institute

The phenomenon of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, typically after an arduous and often dangerous journey through Central America and Mexico, has reached a crisis proportion, with a 90 percent spike in arrivals from last year and predictions of future increases ahead. While the immediate humanitarian situation has galvanized the attention of the Obama administration, policymakers, and the country at large, it is painfully clear that there are no simple solutions, whether in the short or medium term, to address the complex set of push and pull factors driving the rise in arrivals of unaccompanied alien children (UACs).

Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada — Annual Report 2013–2014

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada — Annual Report 2013–2014
Source: Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada

Access to information is an essential tenet of democracy. By being able to request and receive government information, the public can more effectively ensure federal institutions are transparent in their dealings and accountable for the decisions they make.

The Information Commissioner strives to uphold the right of access by investigating complaints about federal institutions’ handling of requests for information. The cases the Commissioner investigates each year reflect the many roles the federal government plays in Canadian society and the myriad ways federal programs and services touch individual lives.

As a result of the Commissioner’s interventions, requesters in 2013–2014 received information from institutions more quickly than they otherwise would have and had administrative matters, such as the charging of fees, resolved. Another outcome of the Commissioner’s investigations was that requesters received additional records from institutions. Overall, 54 percent of the 680 investigations that involved a refusal to grant access to records and that the Commissioner settled or completed with a finding resulted in institutions’ disclosing more information to the requester.

The Commissioner continued to pursue strategies targeted at effectively and efficiently closing files dealing with national security, international affairs and defence matters, and complaints against the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Through a variety of approaches, the Commissioner closed 565 such complaints. As of March 31, 2014, these three groups of files accounted for 38 percent of the inventory of complaints, compared to 46 percent a year earlier.

In late March 2014, the Commissioner filed a notice of appeal in a case decided by the Federal Court that focused on a 1,110-day time extension National Defence had taken to respond to a request. She also pursued numerous other legal cases, including a variety dealing with the disclosure of third-party information by institutions.

The Commissioner continued her dialogue with the President of the Treasury Board on ways to improve the access to information system. In addition, during appearances before Parliament, the Commissioner provided her perspective on a private members’ bill that proposed to replace the CBC’s unique exclusion in the Act with an exemption, and spoke in favour of extending the coverage of the Access to Information Act to the administration of Parliament.

Finally, the Commissioner laid the groundwork for developing a new strategic plan. The new plan, to be launched in the fall of 2014, will guide her office to the end of her current mandate in 2017. The focus of the plan will be on achieving the highest level of performance in investigating complaints and continuing to be an effective catalyst for advancing access, and fostering openness and transparency.

Canadian governments dole out billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to businesses and beyond

June 11, 2014 Comments off

Canadian governments dole out billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to businesses and beyond
Source: Fraser Institute

From 1980 to 2009, federal, provincial and local governments in Canada doled out $683.9 billion in subsidies, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Government Subsidies in Canada: A $684 Billion Price Tag, measures the scope of government subsidies to private businesses, government business enterprises such as Crown corporations, and consumers.

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada

June 9, 2014 Comments off

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Macroprudential Tools at Work in Canada
Source: International Monetary Fund

The goal of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of the policy measures taken by Canadian authorities to address the housing boom. We find that the the last three rounds of macroprudential policies implemented since 2010 were associated with lower mortgage credit growth and house price growth. The international experience suggests that—in addition to tighter loan-to-value limits and shorter amortization periods—lower caps on the debt-to-income ratio and higher risk weights could be effective if the housing boom were to reignite. Over the medium term, the authorities could consider structural measures to further improve the soundness of housing finance.

CA — Victims of Crime Research Digest (Issue 7, 2014)

June 7, 2014 Comments off

Victims of Crime Research Digest (Issue 7, 2014) (PDF)
Source: Justice Canada

This issue of the Digest begins with an article by Lisa Ha on cyberbullying in Canada, on what we know and what we do not know. In the second article, Melissa Lindsay provides a look at how technology is being used in all the jurisdictions to improve access to victim services. Next, Susan McDonald and Lara Rooney present the social science research on support animals, dogs in particular, and the role they could play in supporting victims of crime. This is followed by an article by Susan McDonald who examines third party records case law from 2003 to 2010, an update from previous case law reviews. And finally, in the last article, André Solecki and Katie Scrim take a look at the human cost of impaired driving by mapping and analyzing incidents of impaired driving causing death across Canada in 2012.

Prostitution in Canada: Overview and options for reform

June 6, 2014 Comments off

Prostitution in Canada: Overview and options for reform
Source: Library of Parliament

Since the Criminal Code came into force in 1892, adult prostitution has not in itself been illegal in Canada, although many activities surrounding prostitution are.

Today, provisions relating to prostitution are set out in sections 210 to 213 of the Code. They include the offences of keeping, using or transporting a person to a bawdy-house (brothel); procuring and living on the avails of prostitution; and communicating in public.

Over the last 30 years, these provisions have been debated in a variety of contexts. Among others:

  • in 1985, a Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution recommended several legal and social reforms; and
  • in 2006, a subcommittee of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights issued a report on prostitution.

Canadians spend billions complying with personal income tax system

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Canadians spend billions complying with personal income tax system
Source: Fraser Institute

(A) new study released by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, finds that Canadians spend billions complying with the personal income tax system.

The study, based on survey responses from tax-filing Canadians, measures the overall costs (time and money) of tax compliance (paying accountants, completing tax forms, buying software, etc.).

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