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Archive for the ‘Library of Parliament’ Category

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

Bitcoin: A Popular Virtual Currency

January 14, 2014 Comments off

Bitcoin: A Popular Virtual Currency
Source: Library of Parliament (CA)

In 2009, Bitcoin, the world’s first digital, decentralized and partially anonymous currency system, was created on the Internet by Satoshi Nakamoto, an unknown programmer or group of programmers.

Bitcoins are computer files that can be used to purchase real and virtual products globally. Unlike traditional currency, bitcoins are not issued by governments or central banks. Nor is the value of bitcoins guaranteed by governments, as is the case with traditional currencies.

The Bitcoin currency system has received extensive media attention, and legislators in a number of countries are examining the implications of employing bitcoins and other virtual currencies. This Hillnote assesses the way in which the Bitcoin currency system works and how the supply and value of bitcoins have changed over time, as well as legislative and regulatory actions that are contemplated in relation to virtual currencies.

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.

Aquaculture in Canada

October 7, 2013 Comments off

Aquaculture in Canada
Source: Library of Parliament

In just 50 years, global aquaculture has grown from an almost negligible industry to rival the production of wild capture fisheries. While the latter has stagnated over the last 25 years, aquaculture production has expanded about five times, which has enabled the food fish supply per capita to grow.1 Canada’s aquaculture industry is relatively small compared with that of other countries, but it has a strong niche market in some species, particularly Atlantic salmon, and it is important economically to a number of coastal communities. However, the aquaculture industry in Canada faces economic and environmental challenges. This paper describes the Canadian aquaculture industry, current issues it faces and options for its growth.

CA — The Food Price Increase of 2010–2011: Causes and Impacts

September 4, 2013 Comments off

The Food Price Increase of 2010–2011: Causes and Impacts
Source: Library of Parliament

In February 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported a 6.5% increase in its Food Price Index relative to December 2010.1 The Index had reached a level not seen in nearly 20 years and had surpassed the peak attained in June 2008 that explained that year’s food crisis.2

Despite this marked increase in the Food Price Index in 2011, the FAO did not allude to a food crisis.3 Yet, according to some analysts, the increase in the price of foodstuffs and the difficulty people had in obtaining food caused the popular uprisings of the “Arab Spring”4 and led to riots in some developing countries.5 It is not surprising, then, that the G20 heads of state placed great importance on agricultural commodity prices in 2011.6

The goal of this paper is to describe the factors that likely sparked the increase in food prices as well as the effect of that increase on the food security of some of the world’s population.

The paper begins with an analysis of the changes in food prices since 1990, then it demonstrates that the food price increase on world markets in 2010-2011 stemmed from structural and macroeconomic factors and from speculation. Finally, the paper shows that price increases can have a negative impact on people in some developing countries, while benefitting exporters.

CA — HIV/AIDS – Past, Present and Future

August 6, 2013 Comments off

HIV/AIDS – Past, Present and Future
Source: Library of Parliament (Canada)

The first case of AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) in Canada was reported in February 1982, and the virus responsible, the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), was discovered in 1983. For over 25 years, governments around the world have spent billions of dollars and scientists have worked tirelessly to develop treatments, preventative vaccines and a cure for this fatal disease. This paper will briefly describe the origins and present state of HIV/AIDS, as well as recent scientific advances in treatment and disease control.

The Canadian Aerospace Industry and the Role of the Federal Government

July 30, 2013 Comments off

The Canadian Aerospace Industry and the Role of the Federal Government
Source: Library of Parliament

The Canadian aerospace industry is a world leader in several areas and an important contributor to Canada’s economy. The November 2012 report of the federal Review of Aerospace and Space Programs and Policies (also known as the Aerospace Review) has put a spotlight on this industry and its related federal government support. This paper examines the Canadian aerospace industry and the role of the support it receives from the Government of Canada.

Youth Justice Legislation in Canada

April 3, 2013 Comments off

Youth Justice Legislation in Canada

Source: Library of Parliament

Youth crime in general, and violent youth crime in particular, is a significant source of concern to many Canadians. In part, the concern is connected with an impression that crime committed by young people is on the rise, though the latest police statistics indicate that by 2011 the youth crime rate had fallen by 22% compared with 2001.1 The drop in youth crime rates over this period was mainly the result of a decrease in property crime. The rate of violent crimes in which the alleged perpetrator is a young person decreased by 12% between 2001 and 2011, while the rate of youth property crime dropped by 31%.2 In 2011, police identified 135,647 alleged youth criminals, of whom 42,799 were suspected of violent crimes.3

The data provided by Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index also show a 22% decline in the severity of all crimes committed by young people in 2011 compared with 2001.4 A significant part of this decline stems from a 33% decrease in the severity of non-violent crime. During this period, the severity of youth violent crime decreased by 3.1%.5

In attempts to address the concerns of Canadians and to react to the youth crime problem, lawmakers have, from time to time, proposed amendments to youth justice legislation. This document provides an overview of the principal legislative provisions that govern the way in which the police, the courts and the correctional systems must deal with those between 12 and 17 years of age when they are charged with a crime. The first section briefly traces the evolution of Canadian legislation in the area. The second section describes the philosophy and principles underlying the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), which currently governs criminal and justice matters affecting young people in Canada. The third section briefly outlines the sentences imposed on those convicted of an offence as a young person. The final section deals with the possible consequences of a conviction under the YCJA, specifically how criminal records are established and kept and how bodily substances may be taken in order to store a young person’s DNA in the National DNA Data Bank administered by the RCMP.

Telecommunications and Lawful Access: The Legislative Situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia

December 21, 2012 Comments off

Telecommunications and Lawful Access: The Legislative Situation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia

Source: Library of Parliament, Canada

This paper deals with “lawful access,”an investigative technique used by law enforcement agencies and national security agencies. It involves the interception of communications and seizure of information during a search, where authorized by law.

Canada — Oil Pipelines: A Synopsis of Recent Library of Parliament Studies

December 19, 2012 Comments off

Oil Pipelines: A Synopsis of Recent Library of Parliament Studies

Source: Library of Parliament, Canada

Two recent pipeline proposals – the KeyStone XL in the United States and the Northern Gateway in Canada – have captured the public’s attention.

This year, the Library of Parliament has published three papers on pipelines to shed light on the need for pipelines, environmental concerns, and how the federal government approves pipeline construction. This HillNote summarizes these papers.

The Arctic: Organizations Involved in Circumpolar Cooperation

November 23, 2012 Comments off

The Arctic: Organizations Involved in Circumpolar Cooperation

Source: Library of Parliament — Canada

With some exceptions pertaining to specific issues or regions, cooperation in the North has not been a prominent goal of the international community until relatively recently. However, international cooperation began to evolve rapidly after then Soviet Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev delivered a speech in 1987 calling for “a genuine zone of peace and fruitful cooperation” among Arctic states.1 There is now a plethora of official bodies, both governmental and non-governmental, whose purpose is to manage various issues in the Arctic. Although none has any legal basis as established by, for instance, international treaty, these organizations have assumed an important role in the development of Arctic cooperation. This paper provides information, largely derived from Internet sites, about some of the more important of these organizations, with particular emphasis on the Arctic Council and some domestic Canadian examples.

The Arctic: Environmental Issues

November 23, 2012 Comments off

The Arctic: Environmental Issues

Source: Library of Parliament — Canda

Although the Arctic is remote and sparsely populated, it is under threat from environmental stresses largely originating in distant regions. Three main interrelated issues regarding the Arctic environment are climate change, changes in biological diversity, and the accumulation of toxic substances. The effects of these changes are becoming increasingly evident in the North. In addition, the Arctic appears to be a harbinger of environmental change as well as a key determinant of that change, particularly changes in climate.

This paper briefly describes some of the environmental issues that affect the Far North1 and lists some of the efforts being made internationally and in Canada to protect the Arctic environment.

Social Media and Job Searching Among Young Canadian Workers: A Summary of Government Initiatives

October 9, 2012 Comments off

Social Media and Job Searching Among Young Canadian Workers: A Summary of Government Initiatives

Source: Library of Parliament

The popularity of social media as job search and career advancement tools is on the rise in Canada. In fact, in 2011, nearly one quarter of Canadian job seekers used social media in their job search. Of those using social media in this way, people in the 18-to-29-year-old age group were most likely to believe in the importance of being active on social media in order to advance their careers.

Although young people face a high rate of unemployment, they will be called upon to play an increasingly important role in Canada’s economic future, particularly given the aging population. As a result, the growing role of social media in job searching is an issue that Canadian parliamentarians may be asked to consider.

This publication will examine the role that social media play in the job search process of young Canadian workers.3 Although there are many other social media platforms, this analysis will focus on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, which are the platforms that are most commonly used for job searching. This study will also provide a summary of the various federal government initiatives that offer support to job seekers, as well as an overview of ground-breaking programs that have been implemented by other governments.

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