Archive for the ‘Library of Parliament’ Category

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.

Canada’s Anti–Money Laundering and Anti–Terrorist Financing Regime: The Legal Profession’s Obligations

May 25, 2015 Comments off

Canada’s Anti–Money Laundering and Anti–Terrorist Financing Regime: The Legal Profession’s Obligations
Source: Library of Parliament

On 13 February 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that certain provisions of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act that impose obligations on lawyers violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The decision, in Canada (Attorney General) v. Federation of Law Societies of Canada, confirmed that legislation cannot enforce obligations on lawyers that would undermine solicitor–client privilege.

In exempting lawyers from the Act, Canada – like the United States and Australia – is among the few Financial Action Task Force members that do not impose obligations on lawyers as part of their anti–money laundering and anti–terrorist financing regime.

According to the Task Force, criminals may use lawyers to facilitate illegal financial transactions, particularly when they are acting as financial intermediaries.

Legal Status at the Federal Level of Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada

May 19, 2015 Comments off

Legal Status at the Federal Level of Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada
Source: Library of Parliament

The world’s first “test-tube baby,” the result of fertilizing a human ovum in vitro and transferring the resulting embryo to a woman’s uterus, was born in England in 1978. This achievement followed decades of clinical and laboratory research. It also catalyzed interest in a new area of medical ethics as multiple technological advances, along with their implications for genetics, posed new ethical questions and responsibilities.

This paper provides an overview of the many steps that the Canadian federal government has taken to establish a legislative and regulatory framework for reproductive technologies and related research. This background includes a description of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, early attempts at legislation and a discussion of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, in force since 2004, including its list of prohibited activities. The constitutional challenge to the legislation that was brought by the Attorney General of Quebec and ultimately heard by the Supreme Court of Canada is reviewed. Finally, the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court decision in the form of amendments to the Act is summarized. This paper does not examine how activities related to assisted human reproduction may be regulated by the provinces.

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.

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