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Resettling Refugees: Canada’s Humanitarian Commitments

April 3, 2015 Comments off

Resettling Refugees: Canada’s Humanitarian Commitments
Source: Library of Parliament

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that almost 960,000 refugees are currently in need of resettlement in a third country. These are refugees who, according to the UNHCR, can neither return to their country of origin nor integrate into their country of first asylum.

Together, the international community has committed to resettle around 80,000 refugees each year. Historically, Canada has resettled approximately 10% of this total; the government’s current goal is to resettle between 8% and 12%. In 2010, the government committed to increase the number of refugees resettled each year from abroad by 20% (2,500 people). For 2015, the government has agreed to accept up to 14,500 resettled refugees, out of a total of 285,000 new immigrants.

Canada admits refugees for resettlement on a humanitarian basis. Resettlement also provides a way for Canada to alleviate the burden for host countries and share the responsibility for displaced persons. In addition to commitments to resettle refugees, Canada has international obligations to those who come to Canada on their own and are found to be in need of protection (refugee claimants or asylum seekers).

This publication provides an overview of Canada’s refugee resettlement programs, explaining who is eligible for resettlement and the different programs in place. Finally, it concludes with some of the operational issues involved in refugee resettlement.

CA — Employment Insurance Financing

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Employment Insurance Financing
Source: Library of Parliament

Employment Insurance (EI) is one of the largest programs administered by the federal government, with expenditures of $19 billion in 2013–2014, most of it ($15 billion) as benefits paid to workers who are unemployed for a variety of reasons.

The way this program is financed has changed frequently over the years. The following analysis is therefore divided into three parts:

  • a summary of the current situation, with some components dating back to 2009;
  • a brief overview of the changes expected to the program in the coming years; and
  • a review of financing developments prior to 2009 to provide context.

Managing Tax Debt in Canada: A Challenge for Public Finances

November 10, 2014 Comments off

Managing Tax Debt in Canada: A Challenge for Public Finances
Source: Library of Parliament

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for administering income tax, the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) and most other taxes on behalf of the federal government. The CRA also has agreements with all provinces and territories, except Quebec, to collect provincial and territorial taxes on their behalf.

One of the CRA’s main responsibilities is to ensure that taxpayers meet their obligations by paying the taxes they owe. In Canada, 94% of individuals and 90% of corporations pay their taxes on time and without CRA intervention.

When the CRA is unable to collect the amounts owing in a timely manner, this is referred to as tax debt. Despite the CRA’s best efforts, this tax debt is steadily growing. As of 31 March 2013, it was $31 billion,3 an increase of $2 billion (or nearly 7%) over the previous year.

This publication addresses the issue of tax debt as it relates to Canada’s public finances. It first presents the concept of “tax debt.” It then discusses the changes to federal tax debt in recent years – and related concepts – and presents the observations of the Office of the Auditor General of Canada on this subject. The final part of this paper analyzes the legislative framework related to the collection of tax debt.

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.

Dispelling the Fog Around “Cloud Computing”

June 2, 2014 Comments off

Dispelling the Fog Around “Cloud Computing”
Source: Library of Parliament (Canada)

Since the invention of computers, all materials created or operating on the devices – documents, photos, company files and programs – have been stored on the computers themselves or on an external storage device (floppy disk, memory stick, external hard drive, etc). But the advent of the phenomenon called “cloud computing” has revolutionized the way in which digitized items are kept.

In the simplest terms, “the cloud,” as it is called, allows users to store and access data and programs over the Internet instead of through on-premises storage devices.

The concept enables a shift away from the traditional model, where computing is done using location-specific hardware and software. In the new model, computing is conducted using off-site, third-party software and hardware accessible from any location through a broadband connection.

In a cloud computing model, information technology (IT) infrastructure is purchased as an on demand service rather than acquired through fixed capital investments.

Cloud computing offers a way for public and private sector organizations to reduce IT costs. The cost reductions, rapid scalability and flexibility of cloud solutions offer the potential for significant change in many sectors.

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?

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.

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