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Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

On the Distributed Costs of Drug-Related Homicides

May 27, 2014 Comments off

On the Distributed Costs of Drug-Related Homicides
Source: Center for Global Development

Reliable estimates of the effects of violence on economic outcomes are scarce. We exploit the manyfold increase in homicides in 2008-2011 in Mexico resulting from its war on organized drug traffickers to estimate the effect of drug-related homicides on house prices. We use an unusually rich dataset that provides national coverage on house prices and homicides and exploit within-municipality variations. We find that the impact of violence on housing prices is borne entirely by the poor sectors of the population. An increase in homicides equivalent to one standard deviation leads to a 3% decrease in the price of low-income housing. In spite of this large burden on the poor, the willingness to pay in order to reverse the increase in drug-related crime is not high. We estimate it to be approximately 0.1% of Mexico’s GDP.

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Canada — Learn how to identify genuine bank notes

May 23, 2014 Comments off

Learn how to identify genuine bank notes
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Victims of counterfeiting are not compensated for their losses, so it pays to verify your bills. Be aware that the $20 bill is the most widely used and counterfeited bank note.

Backgrounder: The Group of Seven (G7)

May 20, 2014 Comments off

Backgrounder: The Group of Seven (G7)
Source: Council on Foreign Relations

The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies—France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and Canada—that meets annually to discuss issues of common interest like global economic governance, international security, and energy policy. Proponents say the forum’s small and relatively homogenous membership promotes collective decision-making, but critics note that it often lacks follow-through and that its membership excludes important emerging powers. Russia belonged to the forum from 1998 through 2014—then the Group of Eight (G8)—but the other members suspended their cooperation with Moscow after its annexation of Crimea in March of that year.

Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012

May 13, 2014 Comments off

Firearms and violent crime in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

While firearm-related violent crime accounts for a relatively small proportion of all violent crime in Canada, it can have considerable physical, emotional, and psychological effects on those who are victimized, on families, and on communities (Hahn et al. 2005). As a result, firearm-related violent crime is a significant social concern. In addition, about one in five (21%) firearm-related deaths in Canada is the result of a criminal offence, while the majority (79%) are the result of suicide, accident, or legal intervention (Statistics Canada 2012).

The analysis of firearm-related violent crime in this Juristat relies on two separate data sources. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey provides data on firearms and police-reported violent crime while data on firearm-related homicides comes from the Homicide Survey. Quebec is excluded from the analysis of UCR data due to data quality issues; specifically, a large proportion of incidents where the most serious weapon present was reported as unknown. The analysis of firearm related homicides, however, includes all provinces and territories in Canada. As there are differences in coverage between the two data sources, they are used as separate yet complementary sources of data in order to analyze firearm-related violent crime in Canada.

Information on the types of firearm most frequently present and most frequently used in the commission of an offence, the relationship between the accused and victim, the level of injury, and the involvement of youth is presented. These findings are compared to violent crime committed without a firearm to further understand the nature of firearm-related violent crime in Canada. In addition to data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey and the Homicide Survey, the Integrated Criminal Court Survey is used in this Juristat to examine court case processing of violent offences involving a firearm.

CA — Auditor General releases Spring 2014 Report

May 12, 2014 Comments off

Auditor General releases Spring 2014 Report
Source: Office of the Auditor General of Canada

In his Spring 2014 report tabled today in Parliament, Auditor General Michael Ferguson examines a number of different areas, including public sector pension plans and the expansion of federal correctional facilities, which illustrate how important it is for government to consider both the long and short term perspectives in its planning.

“As some of these audits show, government can become caught in a cycle of reacting to pressures, whether to mitigate capacity concerns in prisons or meet program timelines,” said Mr. Ferguson. “Though government should work to provide Canadians with programs and services in a timely fashion, planning should also look beyond the needs of the day.”

“Better long-term planning is achievable in many of the areas we are reporting on today, and would improve results for Canadians and make better use of taxpayer dollars,” added Mr. Ferguson.

The report also looks at procuring relocation services, outsourcing of building management services, aggressive tax planning, the First Nations Policing Program, selected transfer payment programs administered by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, and the quality control framework supporting selected data products produced by Statistics Canada. Main points of the special examinations of the Laurentian Pilotage Authority and the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation, completed since Spring 2013, are also included in the Auditor General’s Spring report.

Canada — Family law cases in the civil courts, 2012/2013

May 9, 2014 Comments off

Family law cases in the civil courts, 2012/2013
Source: Statistics Canada

The civil court system in Canada deals with family law cases as well as a wide variety of other civil issues such as lawsuits and contract disputes. Every year, families make use of the civil court system to resolve issues related to family breakdown, including, divorce, separation, child custody, access and support, and other family issues. Concerned with the burden and costs of family law court cases (on both families and courts), federal, provincial and territorial governments have put in place an increasing number of family justice services to help couples come to agreement without having to go to court, or if need be, to help them through the court process. These include parent information programs and centres, mediation and alternate dispute resolution. In addition, the federal government publishes Child Support tables based on federal and provincial guidelines to help families calculate standard child support amounts. In spite of the increased availability of these services, there is still concern that family law court cases are complex and lengthy and comprise a substantial amount of civil court activity.

Using information from the Statistics Canada Civil Court Survey (CCS), this Juristat article looks in more detail at the activity of different types of family law cases within the civil court system.Note 2 The first part of the report looks at the characteristics of family law cases active in 2012/2013. The second part of the report then examines the court activity (documents filed, hearings and judgments) of different types of family law cases over time, examining the activity of cases initiated in 2008/2009.

It is important to note that court activity will vary for different types of cases. The fact that a case involves many court events or continues to be active may be a function of the type of case (e.g. adoption compared to a complex divorce or separation), the individual family circumstances, or the number of issues that a case needs to address, and not a function of the court process itself.

Canada — Telecoms providers take more and give less, hurting small biz

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Telecoms providers take more and give less, hurting small biz
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

A CFIB survey shows that almost 50% of small business owners are unhappy with the current options provided by telecom providers. From internet to a variety of wireless technologies, businesses expect telecom providers to offer fairly priced options, good customer service, and a variety of service providers to choose from.

CFIB recommends that additional competitive options be made available to SMEs in order to help improve the types of choices available, as well as the quality of customer service offered. This report reveals how small businesses are using Canada’s telecommunications infrastructure, who they are using as service providers, and their overall satisfaction with the industry.

Country Analysis Brief: Mexico

April 28, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Mexico
Source: Energy Information Administration

Mexico is one of the 10 largest oil producers in the world, the third-largest in the Americas after the United States and Canada, and an important partner in the U.S. energy trade. However, Mexico’s oil production has steadily decreased since 2005 as a result of natural production declines from Cantarell and other large offshore fields. The rate of total production decline has abated in past several years. In December 2013, in an effort to address the declines of its domestic oil production, the Mexican government enacted constitutional reforms that ended the 75-year monopoly of Petroleós Mexicanos (PEMEX), the state-owned oil company.

Oil is a crucial component of Mexico’s economy. The oil sector generated 13% of the country’s export earnings in 2013, a proportion that has declined over the past decade, according to Mexico’s central bank. More significantly, earnings from the oil industry (including taxes and direct payments from PEMEX) accounted for about 32% of total government revenues in 2013. Declines in oil production have a direct impact on the country’s economic output and on the government’s fiscal health, particularly as refined product consumption and import needs grow.

CRS — NAFTA at 20: Overview and Trade Effects

April 25, 2014 Comments off

NAFTA at 20: Overview and Trade Effects (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) entered into force on January 1, 1994. The agreement was signed by President George H.W. Bush on December 17, 1992, and approved by Congress on November 20, 1993. The NAFTA Implementation Act was signed into law by President William J. Clinton on December 8, 1993 (P.L. 103-182). The overall economic impact of NAFTA is difficult to measure since trade and investment trends are influenced by numerous other economic variables, such as economic growth, inflation, and currency fluctuations. The agreement may have accelerated the trade liberalization that was already taking place, but many of these changes may have taken place with or without an agreement. Nevertheless, NAFTA is significant because it was the most comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated at the time and contained several groundbreaking provisions. A legacy of the agreement is that it has served as a template or model for the new generation of FTAs that the United States later negotiated and it also served as a template for certain provisions in multilateral trade negotiations as part of the Uruguay Round.

Canada — Who says banks can’t be social? Become a social bank, inside and out

April 25, 2014 Comments off

Who says banks can’t be social? Become a social bank, inside and out
Source: Deloitte

Read this report from Deloitte Canada to see how banks and customers can both profit from shared social value.

The social media revolution has already happened, transforming not only your customers’ daily behaviour but their expectations of you as their financial partner. In today’s social world, customers demand to be heard, understood and valued. If your bank wants to drive stronger, sustainable, profitable and mutually beneficial relationships in this new social reality, you must learn more about your customers – and listen when they speak.

Leading banks around the world are already responding to this trend by evolving into social banks, ones that embrace transparency and two-way interaction through social media to meet and exceed customer expectations. A social bank pursues mission-appropriate engagement with its customers, aligning its social efforts with its core business strategy and brand image. It builds the organizational capabilities needed to process customer insights and adopts change management strategies that let it react to this input in meaningful ways.

Canada is considered one of the world’s most socially connected countries, with over 50% of the population using social media tools. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Canadian banks to learn from leading organizations and industries as they push the envelope by transforming into social banks.

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?

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.

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