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CA — Municipal workers get richer as cities cry poor

July 13, 2015 Comments off

Municipal workers get richer as cities cry poor
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

According to Municipal Wage Watch, a CFIB backgrounder comparing municipal public sector wages and benefits to the private sector, city workers in Canada continue to pressure public finances through excessive wages and benefits.

Government workers at Canadian municipalities enjoy an average 22% compensation top-up over their private sector counterparts: broken down into an hourly wage, this translates into about $6.43 more per hour for the same work.

At a time when municipalities need to re-think traditional ways of financing their operations and how this affects taxpayers, cities are encouraged to take a serious look at the impact of escalating wages and benefits on their overall budgets, instead of their annual plea for additional transfers and “revenue tools.” CFIB has delivered a letter to Canadian mayors urging them to find savings within existing budgets rather than calling for additional funding from other levels of government.

CA — The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Agencies

July 10, 2015 Comments off

The Roles and Responsibilities of Central Agencies
Source: Library of Parliament

The Canadian federal government is composed of approximately 150 departments, agencies, Crown corporations, commissions and other organizations.1 The mandates of these organizations is usually set out in founding legislation, and the general roles and responsibilities of the organizations can often be inferred from their name; for example, Health Canada and Environment Canada have overall responsibility for the federal role in health and the environment respectively.

In order to try to manage this large and diverse set of organizations, the federal government has four central agencies: the Prime Minister’s Office, the Privy Council Office, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat and the Department of Finance Canada.2 The term “central agency” has no formal definition and does not reflect a definitive classification. Instead, the term is generally used to designate organizations that have a central coordinating role. These organizations work across government departments to provide advice to the prime minister and Cabinet, and to ensure policy coherence and coordination on their behalf. Central agencies have either formal or informal authority over other departments and often direct their actions. Line departments, on the other hand, provide services directly to Canadians and do not have the authority or mandate to direct other departments in their operations.

The goal of this paper is to explain the key roles and responsibilities of each central agency and to discuss issues facing each of them.

CA — The Use of Social Media by Canadian Judicial Officers

July 9, 2015 Comments off

The Use of Social Media by Canadian Judicial Officers (PDF)
Source: Canadian Centre for Court Technology

This ground-breaking discussion paper examines the complex issues surrounding the use by judges and tribunal members of social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The foundation of the discussion paper is an unprecedented survey of Canadian judicial officers. Responses from almost 700 participants (approximately 500 in English and 200 in French) provide valuable information about their use of, and opinions on, social media.

After a review of the responses, and consideration of what is currently available as guidance to judicial officers as well as examples of the implications of social media use, the discussion paper concludes with the recommendation that all judicial officers “have a duty to ensure that they understand the advantages, disadvantages and risks of the use of social media in personal and professional contexts and conduct themselves accordingly.”

The paper also concludes that existing policies, principles, codes of conduct or guidelines are inadequate to respond to that duty and suggests that until more guidance is provided, “judicial officers should use social media with caution, keeping in mind the above principles.”

Top 10 Fastest Growing Canadian Industries

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Top 10 Fastest Growing Canadian Industries
Source: IBISWorld

The Canadian economy’s recovery from the recession has had wide-ranging impacts on domestic industries over the past five years. The ten fastest-growing industries over the past five years, measured by average growth in sales per year and compiled from IBISWorld’s 424 Canadian industry reports, feature industries from a variety of sectors, including heavy manufacturing, wholesaling and professional business services.

While each industry exhibited strong revenue growth, some have experienced cyclical growth while others have grown due to more secular trends. For example, the Nonferrous Metal Foundry Products Manufacturing industry has merely recovered from poor performance during the economic downturn and is unlikely to reach prerecessionary revenue levels. In contrast, up-and-coming industries, such as recycling facilities, have flourished due to longer-term shifts in consumer preferences. Similarly, industries such as fertilizer manufacturing have experienced wildly fluctuating demand, while others, such as the Beauty, Cosmetics and Fragrance Stores industry, have grown steadily over the five-year period.

More Canadian parents opting for home schooling their children; 29 per cent increase between 2007 and 2012

June 23, 2015 Comments off

More Canadian parents opting for home schooling their children; 29 per cent increase between 2007 and 2012
Source: Fraser Institute

n increasing number of Canadian families are choosing to home school their children, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Home Schooling in Canada: The Current Picture—2015, notes that 21,662 Canadian children were registered as ‘home school students’ (with likely more not officially registered) in 2012, an increase of 29 per cent over a five-year period.

The study references the mounting academic literature about home schooling across North America and builds upon earlier Fraser Institute research from 2001 and 2007. It finds that while decisions to homeschool in the past were ideologically or religiously driven, families are now choosing the option for more pragmatic reasons.

For example, parents are choosing education-at-home because it corresponds with their personal circumstances such as having children involved in time-consuming extra-curricular activities; a child with a health or learning disability; or because the family lives in a remote location or travels extensively.

CA — Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through?

June 11, 2015 Comments off

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through?
Source: Council of Canadian Academies

Health Product Risk Communication: Is the Message Getting Through? synthesizes the available evidence on risk communication, health product risk communication tools, evaluation methods, and barriers and facilitators to effective communication and successful evaluation activities. It is intended primarily as a tool to inform evaluation and decision-making within government departments and agencies responsible for risk communication and interested in improving their efforts. The report may also be of interest to Canadians as they seek to remain informed about how to best communicate, interpret, and understand the risks associated with health products.

Ultimately, evaluation is essential to determine if health product risk communications are effective. Without adequate evaluation, not only is there potential for mistakes, but there is also the risk of missing opportunities to continue or build on proven successes.

Key Findings

  • Recognition of the importance of dialogue and ongoing relationships is prompting a paradigm shift for risk communication.
  • Regulators around the world use similar health product risk communication tools that are not systematically evaluated.
  • Evaluation is an integral part of risk communication and can be supported with institutional commitment and sufficient resources.
  • Careful planning determines relevant evaluation questions, which guide evaluation methods.

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012

June 9, 2015 Comments off

Mental health and contact with police in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

Canadians can come into contact with the police for a variety of reasons, not all of which are criminal in nature. Previous research has indicated that most people with a mental health disorder do not commit criminal acts; however, contact with police is common among this population (Brink et al. 2011; Coleman and Cotton 2014). Furthermore, the frequency of such interactions has been said to be on the rise in recent decades given policy and legislative changes (Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005; Vancouver Police Department 2013; Lurigio and Watson 2010). For instance, while the process of deinstitutionalization shifted the treatment of mental health disorders from a hospital setting to a community setting, it has been argued that community based supports may not have expanded at the same capacity to make up for the loss of institutional services, which can leave police as the first responders in crisis situations or after regular health facility hours (Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005).

Information on police interactions with people who have a mental health disorder is a priority for various reasons. Firstly, they can be among the most unpredictable and dangerous situations to which officers must respond, and can be equally, if not more, dangerous for the person with the disorder (Chappell 2008; Kerr et al. 2010; Coleman and Cotton 2014; Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division 2005). Secondly, while the majority of such interactions are handled without harm to the officer or the person with a disorder, these interactions can be quite time-consuming, often utilizing a large portion of resources not only from police services, but from the health and social sectors as well (Lurigio and Watson 2010).

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