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Archive for the ‘North America’ Category

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014

February 27, 2014 Comments off

Global Pensions Asset Study – 2014
Source: Towers Watson

This is a study of the 13 largest pension markets in the world and accounts for more than 85% of global pension assets. The countries included are Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and the US. The study also analyses seven countries in greater depth by excluding the six smallest markets (Brazil, France, Germany, Ireland, Hong Kong and South Africa).

The analysis includes:

  • Asset size, including growth statistics, comparison of asset size with GDP and liabilities
  • Asset allocation
  • Defined benefit and defined contribution share of pension assets
  • Public and private sector share of pension assets.
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CA — New CFIB report sheds light on real revenues collected by cities

February 26, 2014 Comments off

New CFIB report sheds light on real revenues collected by cities
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

While the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) claims that cities receive just eight cents out of every tax dollar collected in Canada, the actual number is nearly double that: 15 cents. The FCM leaves out major sources of revenue, including transfers from provincial and federal governments, from its calculations.

According to the report’s findings, while transfer payments from senior levels of government did decrease in the 1990s, overall municipal revenue increased thereafter as municipal taxes and fees more than made up the difference.

Canada and the Asia-Pacific Region Statistical Overview

February 26, 2014 Comments off

Canada and the Asia-Pacific Region Statistical Overview
Source: Library of Parliament

This paper provides a statistical representation of the demographics and economics of 21 member “economies” of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic forum: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

Canadian Heritage Designations

February 21, 2014 Comments off

Canadian Heritage Designations
Source: Library of Parliament

Over the years, the federal government has granted 3,500 heritage designations to places, buildings, events and people of historical significance. These designations, which showcase the creativity and cultural traditions of Canadians, commemorate significant events in Canada’s history and foster understanding about how the country was built.

Canadians stressed out by government paperwork: Poll

February 20, 2014 Comments off

Canadians stressed out by government paperwork: Poll
Source: Canadian Federation of Independent Business

As the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) launches its fifth annual Red Tape Awareness Week™, a new report links red tape to added stress and estimates the cost of some of the most common regulatory headaches for Canadians to be at least $10 billion per year or $730 for the average Canadian household.

This includes fees and time spent to comply with personal income tax obligations ($6.7 billion, excluding actual taxes paid); fees associated with applying for and renewing passports ($645 million); and fees associated with applying for and renewing driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations ($1.7 billion). Excluding personal income taxes, the value of time spent complying with these and other regulatory obligations is nearly $1.1 billion annually.

CRS — The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (updated)

February 19, 2014 Comments off

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) being negotiated among the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. U.S. negotiators and others describe and envision the TPP as a “comprehensive and high-standard” FTA that aims to liberalize trade in nearly all goods and services and include commitments beyond those currently established in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The broad outline of an agreement was announced on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial in November 2011, in Honolulu, HI. If concluded as envisioned, the TPP potentially could eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade and investment among the parties and could serve as a template for a future trade pact among APEC members and potentially other countries. Congress has a direct interest in the negotiations, both through influencing U.S. negotiating positions with the executive branch, and by passing legislation to implement any resulting agreement.

CRS — Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations

February 11, 2014 Comments off

Mexico: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Congress has maintained significant interest in neighboring Mexico, a close ally and top trade partner whose political and economic situation has significant ramifications for the United States. On December 1, 2012, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) retook the Mexican presidency after 12 years in the opposition. Analysts are divided on how differently PRI President Enrique Peña Nieto will govern than his PRI predecessors who ruled Mexico from 1929 to 2000. Supporters maintain that Peña Nieto heads a “new PRI” government that is free from corruption and is enacting reforms that proved elusive for his two National Action Party (PAN) predecessors. Skeptics question the government’s commitment to transparency and human rights and whether the reforms that have been enacted will be implemented effectively.

President Peña Nieto’s first year in office has brought mixed results for Mexico. The economy faltered (GDP growth fell from 3.7% in 2012 to 1.2% in 2013) and violent crime remained elevated. Nevertheless, Peña Nieto’s “Pact for Mexico” agreement with the conservative PAN and leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) facilitated the passage of significant financial, education, telecommunications, and fiscal reforms. Although the PRD recently withdrew from the Pact, Peña Nieto ended the year on a high note, signing historic constitutional reforms to open Mexico’s energy sector to private investment on December 20, 2013.

See also: Status of Mexican Trucks in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

Trade barriers and disputes with the United States continue to damage Canadian interests

February 5, 2014 Comments off

Trade barriers and disputes with the United States continue to damage Canadian interests
Source: Fraser Institute

Less than a week before President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address, the state of Canada-U.S. relations remains marked by trade barriers that hurt Canadian producers and consumers, and high-profile disputes, notes a new study published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

“Since 2007, in both merchandise and services trade, Canada has seen a relative decline in competitiveness with the United States, which may surprise many Canadians who believe Canada has been doing better than the U.S. over the past few years,” said Alexander Moens, senior fellow in American policy at the Fraser Institute and co-author of Canada’s Catch-22: The State of Canada-U.S. Relations in 2014.

For example, Canadian merchandise exports to the U.S. decreased by 27 per cent in 2009, in the midst of the Great Recession, and by 2012 had not fully recovered, totalling $278 billion.

December Issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Now Available

February 4, 2014 Comments off

December Issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health Now Available
Source: Guttmacher Institute
Articles include:

  • Documenting the Individual- and Household-Level Cost of Unsafe Abortion in Uganda
  • Understanding Couples’ Relationship Quality And Contraceptive Use in Kumasi, Ghana
  • Consumer Perspectives on a Pericoital Contraceptive Pill In India and Uganda
  • The Oportunidades Conditional Cash Transfer Program: Effects on Pregnancy and Contraceptive Use Among Young Rural Women in Mexico
  • Reproduction, Functional Autonomy and Changing Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence Within Marriage in Rural India

Intimate partner violence among women with mental health-related activity limitations: a Canadian population based study

February 3, 2014 Comments off

Intimate partner violence among women with mental health-related activity limitations: a Canadian population based study
Source: BMC Public Health

Background
There is strong evidence that women with serious or chronic mental illness experience higher rates of violence than women in the general population. Our objective was to examine the risk of intimate partner violence (IPV), a form of violence that is often recurrent and linked to negative physical and psychological consequences, among a representative sample of non-institutionalized women with activity limitations (ALs) due to a mental health condition.

Methods
Data from the 2009 General Social Survey were used, a national, population-based, cross-sectional survey. The sample included 6851 women reporting contact with a current or former partner in the previous five years, of whom 322 (4.7%) reported a mental health-related AL always/often or sometimes.

Results
The prevalence of any type of IPV was highest among women with mental health-related ALs always/often (54.4%), followed by women reporting ALs sometimes (49.9%), and those reporting no ALs (18.3%, p < 0.0001). The same pattern was observed for emotional (51.1%, 45.5%, 16.3%, p < 0.0001) and financial IPV (18.1%, 9.5%, 4.0%, p < 0.0001). For physical/sexual violence, rates were similar among women reporting mental health-related ALs always/often and sometimes, but were lower among those reporting no ALs (20.2%, 20.9%, 5.9%, p < 0.0001). In a logistic regression analysis the odds of having experienced any IPV remained greater for women reporting ALs always/often (OR = 3.65; 95% CI: 2.10, 6.32) and sometimes (OR = 3.20; 95% CI: 2.15, 4.75) than those reporting no ALs. Several social capital variables, including perceptions of having experienced discrimination, a weak sense of belonging in their local community, and low trust toward family members and strangers were also significantly associated with having experienced IPV.

Conclusion
Findings suggest that women with mental health-related ALs may be at increased risk of IPV. Health and social service providers may need, therefore, to better target prevention and intervention initiatives to this population.

CA — Living wage laws can hurt the most vulnerable workers

February 3, 2014 Comments off

Living wage laws can hurt the most vulnerable workers
Source: Fraser Institute

As more Canadian municipalities consider adopting so-called living wage laws, a new report published today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank, concludes these laws can actually hurt low-paid workers.

The report, The Economic Effects of Living Wage Laws, reviews scholarly research on living wage laws in the United States, where more than 140 municipalities have the legislation, and spotlights the effects on employment, wages and poverty.

Fact Sheet: Keystone XL Pipeline

January 31, 2014 Comments off

Fact Sheet: Keystone XL Pipeline
Source: U.S. Department of State

On January 31, 2014, the U.S. Department of State (“the Department”) released the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final Supplemental EIS). The analysis in the Final Supplemental EIS was done consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act and is in response to TransCanada’s application (May 4, 2012) for a Presidential Permit to construct and operate the Keystone XL Pipeline.

The President’s authority to approve or deny a cross-border pipeline permit is delegated to the Secretary of State or his designees in Executive Order 13337.

The analysis in the Final Supplemental EIS builds on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released on March 1, 2013 as well as the documents released in 2011 as part of the previous Keystone XL Pipeline application.

The proposed Keystone XL project consists of a 875-mile long pipeline and related facilities to transport up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Alberta, Canada and the Bakken Shale Formation in Montana. The pipeline would cross the U.S. border near Morgan, Montana and continue through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska where it would connect to existing pipeline facilities near Steele City, Nebraska for onward delivery to Cushing, Oklahoma and the Gulf Coast area.

The Final Supplemental EIS is not a decisional document on whether to approve or deny the proposed project. The Final Supplemental EIS is a technical assessment of the potential environmental impacts related to the proposed pipeline. It responds to over 1.9 million comments received since June 2012 (from both the scoping and Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement comment periods). The Final Supplemental EIS reflects the most current information on the proposed Project as well as discussions the Department has had with both state and federal agencies. Notable changes since the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement released in March 2013, include: an expanded analysis of potential oil releases; an expanded climate change analysis; an updated oil market analysis incorporating new economic modeling; and an expanded analysis of rail transport.

Liquid Fuels and Natural Gas in the Americas

January 31, 2014 Comments off

Liquid Fuels and Natural Gas in the Americas
Source: Energy Information Administration

This report examines the major energy trends and developments of the past decade in the Americas, focusing on liquid fuels and natural gas—particularly, reserves and resources, production, consumption, trade, and investment. The Americas, which include North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America, account for a significant portion of global supply, demand, and trade of both liquid fuels and natural gas. Liquid fuels include all petroleum and petroleum products, natural gas liquids, biofuels, and liquids derived from other hydrocarbon sources.

U.S. – NAFTA Trade Exceeds $100B for First Time on Record

January 22, 2014 Comments off

U.S. – NAFTA Trade Exceeds $100B for First Time on Record
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics

U.S. trade with its North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners Canada and Mexico in October 2013 was $103.1 billion, up 4.5 percent from October 2012 and exceeding $100 billion for the first month on record, according to freight data released today by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) of the U.S. Department of Transportation (Table 1).

BTS, a part of the Department’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration, reported that three of the five transportation modes carried more U.S.-NAFTA trade in October 2013 than in October 2012. Total surface transportation trade, comprised of truck, rail and pipeline, was at an all-time high in October, at $85.4 billion. Truck, at $61.4 billion, and rail, at $15.9 billion, also reached record monthly levels (Table 2).

Total surface transportation trade topped its previous high of $81.7 billion set in March 2013. The previous high for truck was $60.0 billion in October 2012, and for rail the previous high was $15.3 billion in May 2013.

Pipelines showed the most year-to-year growth at 23.7 percent. The increase in the value of freight carried by pipelines reflects the rise in prices for oil and other petroleum products, the primary commodity transported by pipelines (Table 3).

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: The Federal Role in Mental Health

January 22, 2014 Comments off

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: The Federal Role in Mental Health
Source: Library of Parliament (CA)

There are many definitions of mental health; some are more encompassing than others, but most address several aspects of a person’s well-being. The World Health Organization’s widely used definition is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

One of the primary Canadian definitions of mental health, that of the Public Health Agency of Canada, is even more holistic:

[Mental health is] the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.

This paper identifies the role that the federal government plays in this broad area. It outlines the jurisdictional basis for that role in such areas as direct service provision to certain population groups; the funding of pan-Canadian mental health programs, services and initiatives; and criminal law. It then describes the programs and initiatives that the federal government has introduced in these areas.

All in a Day’s Work? CEO Pay in Canada

January 14, 2014 Comments off

All in a Day’s Work? CEO Pay in Canada
Source: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Five years after a global recession knocked the wind out of Canada’s labour market, throwing tens of thousands of workers onto the unemployment line and sidelining a generation of young workers, the compensation of Canada’s CEO elite continues to sail along.

This paper takes a snapshot of the 240 publicly listed Canadian corporations on the TSX Index, ranks the highest paid 100 CEOs on that list, and determines their average total compensation.

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013

January 13, 2014 Comments off

OECD Review of Fisheries: Country Statistics 2013
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Fisheries (capture fisheries and aquaculture) supply the world each year with millions of tonnes of fish (including, notably, fish, molluscs and crustaceans). Fisheries as well as ancillary activities also provide livelihoods and income. The fishery sector contributes to development and growth in many countries, playing an important role for food security, poverty reduction, employment and trade.

This publication contains statistics on fisheries from 2005 to 2012. Data provided concern fishing fleet capacity, employment in fisheries, fish landings, aquaculture production, recreational fisheries, government financial transfers, and imports and exports of fish.

OECD countries covered

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

Non-member economies covered

Argentina, Chinese Taipei, Thailand

Econometric Estimates of the Effects of NAFTA: A Review of the Literature

January 6, 2014 Comments off

Econometric Estimates of the Effects of NAFTA: A Review of the Literature (PDF)
Source: U.S. International Trade Commission, Office of Economics

This paper reviews a series of econometric studies of the impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on the economies of Mexico, Canada, and the United States. It highlights eleven papers from the last decade that vary in the economic outcomes analyzed (trade flows, wages, employment, productivity, investment, and income in one or more of the countries) and in the statistical methodologies and types of data that are utilized.

Biotechnology and Warfare: Perspectives on the Dual-Use Dilemma

December 20, 2013 Comments off

Biotechnology and Warfare: Perspectives on the Dual-Use Dilemma
Source: Biotechnology Law Report

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, several people in New York City and Washington, D.C. became the targets of a biological attack when letters containing anthrax spores were sent to news media offices and the homes of several Democratic Senators.1 These events collectively launched what has come to be known as the war on terror and incited many states to tighten their anti-terrorism legislation and create new defensive, surveillance, and investigative programs. The post-9/11 anthrax attacks launched an explosive reaction by the U.S., while Canada and several other nations also sought to increase their biosafety and biosecurity measures. Moreover, rapid advances in the field of biotechnology, coupled with the rise in terrorism over the past decade, have increased the need for strict vigilance over biological research and application.

The practice of using biological agents as a means of warfare is in fact an ancient practice that can be traced back to 430 B.C.E. Rudimentary methods of biowarfare included throwing jars of poisonous snakes onto enemy ships, dropping cartfuls of diseased corpses into towns to eradicate populations, and even delivering blankets infested with smallpox into enemy camps. These barbaric methods continued up to the end of World War I, when the international community established biowarfare as the most inhumane method of offensive military practice. This consensus resulted in the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which banned the use of poisonous gases in war. This was the start of the status of biowarfare as an increasing concern among states. Since then, biowarfare has continued to be the subject of legislative, political, ethical, economical, and scientific debate, both domestic and international.

This paper examines the issue from a Canadian perspective in terms of its internal regimens and how they relate to practices in the international community. The focus is primarily on the dual-use nature of biotechnology and how this issue is addressed so differently on the domestic and international levels, leading to a chaotic form of arms control. The first section undertakes a rudimentary analysis of biotechnology in relation to warfare and provides a legal framework that guides the subsequent discussion. The second section lays out the current domestic structure in Canada in relation to biotechnology and examines its strengths and weaknesses in regard to its promotion of biosafety, biosecurity, and non-proliferation. The final section examines practices from an international perspective and addresses the challenges, realities, and shortcomings of the current international regimen, as well as proposed solutions, an increasingly salient issue.

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Mental Health in the Canadian Forces and Among Veterans

December 18, 2013 Comments off

Current Issues in Mental Health in Canada: Mental Health in the Canadian Forces and Among Veterans
Source: Library of Parliament

On 7 July 2011, after nine and a half years in Afghanistan, Canada officially terminated its military combat operations in that country. Approximately 1,000 members of the Canadian Forces (CF) will nevertheless remain there until 2014 to provide training support for Afghan security forces.

A total of approximately 30,000 Canadian service personnel were deployed to Afghanistan, which in terms of strength exceeds Canadian participation in the Korean War between 1950 and 1953, thereby making the deployment in Afghanistan the largest Canadian military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight soldiers and four civilians died in Afghanistan.

The potential psychological after-effects of involvement in military operations are usually described by the medical term “post-traumatic stress disorder” (PTSD), or the military and police term “operational stress injury.” These after-effects are more difficult to anticipate than physical injuries because they are less visible, reluctantly reported by those who suffer from them, and because the symptoms may only appear years after the traumatic event. Our understanding of the condition is therefore imperfect, and there are no certainties, except for the distress of those affected.

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