Throne Speech 2013
Parliament for 2013
Richmond Electoral District
On April 27, 2010, Alice Wong made a statement in the House of Commons regarding the passing of Audrey Paterson.
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The following is a transcript:
Mrs. Alice Wong (Richmond, CPC):
Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to honour the late Audrey Paterson, founder of the Canadian Women Voters Congress and the Western Businesswomen’s Association. She passed away in Vancouver last week at the age of 82.
My condolences go out to her husband, Ron Castner, her six children, her fourteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Audrey Paterson was a former journalist and editor. She will be remembered by her tireless efforts as a crusader for advancing women in business and politics. She also established the non-partisan Women’s Campaign School, of which I am a proud graduate.
Her vision, her hard work, and her persistence in creating equal opportunities for women has inspired and will continue to inspire us all. Her legacy will live on.
On April 21, 2010, Alice Wong made a statement in the House of Commons regarding the April 14 earthquake in Yushu, China. You can read more about the earthquake here.
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The following is a transcript:
Mrs. Alice Wong (Richmond, CPC): Mr. Speaker, on April 14, an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude struck Yushu, a town in the Qinghai province of China. As of today, the death toll has climbed to 2,183 and 84 people are still missing. A week after the devastating quake, the Chinese government has designated today a national day of mourning for earthquake victims.
On behalf of Richmond, I express my deepest condolences to the victims and their families during this difficult time. China is a strong nation and has responded to this disaster quickly and effectively. The country’s relief efforts have demonstrated its fine tradition of offering help to those in need.
We sincerely hope that those affected by the earthquake can overcome the tragedy quickly and rebuild their hometowns. Our officials in Beijing continue to contact appropriate Chinese authorities to access the assistance that is required.
Government of Canada helps Lower Mainland youth prepare for jobs
BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, April 16, 2010—Local youth who face barriers to employment will get job-preparation training and work experience through the Government of Canada’s support for an employment project. Ms. Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.
“In today’s environment, it is more important than ever that youth develop the skills they need to participate and succeed in the job market,” said Ms. Wong. “By supporting this project, we are helping Lower Mainland youth develop the skills, knowledge and work experience they need to reach their full potential.”
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. will receive $596,784 in federal Skills Link funding to support its Youth Employment Program, which will help 70 youth facing employment barriers develop life and job skills to ease their transition to work or return to school.
Skills Link focuses on helping youth facing barriers to employment, such as single parents, Aboriginal youth, young persons with disabilities, recent immigrants, youth living in rural and remote areas, and youth who have dropped out of high school.
“Thanks to this support from the Government of Canada, participants of the Youth Employment Program will have the opportunity to develop essential employability and life skills and gain experience that will allow them to thrive in the workforce and in their community,” said Mr. Tung Chan, Chief Executive Officer of S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
The federal government is working with the provinces and territories, community organizations and other stakeholders to provide Canadians with the training, skills and opportunities they need to get jobs and contribute to their communities.
Through the 2010 “Jobs and Growth Budget,” the Government of Canada committed an additional $60 million to the Skills Link and Career Focus programs. This additional one-time investment will enable more young Canadians to gain the experience and skills they need to successfully participate in the labour market while the economy recovers.
Skills Link is part of the Government of Canada’s strategy to create the best educated, most skilled and most flexible workforce in the world. The Government underscored its commitment to this strategy in Canada’s Economic Action Plan. A key component of the Plan is to create more and better opportunities for Canadian workers through skills development. To learn more about Canada’s Economic Action Plan, visit www.actionplan.gc.ca.
The Skills Link program is delivered by Service Canada, which provides one-stop personalized services for Government of Canada programs, services and benefits. For more information about this program, visit www.servicecanada.gc.ca, call 1 800 O‑Canada or drop by your local Service Canada Centre.
S.U.C.C.E.S.S. is a non-profit organization that offers employment assistance and training services in the Vancouver area. Between April 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011, through its Youth Employment Program, the organization will help 70 youth facing barriers to employment gain the skills and experience they need to make the transition to the labour market or return to school, through life and employability skills workshops and work experience placements.
As part of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy, the Skills Link program is one of three programs that help young Canadians, particularly those facing barriers to employment, obtain career information, develop skills, gain work experience, find good jobs and stay employed. The other two programs are Summer Work Experience and Career Focus.
Skills Link focuses on helping youth facing barriers to employment, such as single parents, Aboriginal youth, young persons with disabilities, recent immigrants, youth living in rural and remote areas, and youth who have dropped out of high school. It offers a client-centred approach based on assessing an individual’s specific needs. The program supports youth in developing basic and advanced employment skills. Eligible participants between 15 and 30 years of age—who are not receiving Employment Insurance benefits—are assisted through a coordinated approach, offering longer-term supports and services that can help them find and keep a job.
As previously discussed on this website, the Credit Card Code of Conduct has passed from the “draft” to the “final” state.
Almost every business has a credit card merchant agreement to handle monetary day-to-day transactions. These rules well help to promote choice and competition in the credit/debit card processing market.
Although these rules are not in regulation, they are expected to be adhered to by the various credit/debit providers. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stated, “Payment card networks, credit and debit card issuers, and payment processors are now being invited to adopt this Code. We are confident that they will do so voluntarily. Our Government has, however, taken steps in Budget 2010 to ensure that we have the legislative authority to regulate the industry if necessary.”
** To facilitate expected demand, the amount of time has been increased. It will no longer start at 7:00pm. It will start from 5:00pm and go on until 8:00pm. **
On May 3, 2010, there will be a public town hall meeting in Richmond on the issue of Canada’s retirement income system. MP Ted Menzies, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance is scheduled to be in attendance, in addition to MP Alice Wong.
The location will be the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel (7551 Westminster Highway) in the Minoru Room A and B. It will start at 5:00pm and go until 8:00pm.
In the event you are unable to make the town hall meeting, you can send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30, 2010. The Ministry of Finance would like to kindly point out that “A consultation is not a poll. Please do not send multiple or duplicate submissions.”
To support a strong retirement income system over the long term, federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Finance established a Research Working Group in May 2009, chaired by Parliamentary Secretary Ted Menzies, to expand governments’ understanding of retirement income adequacy issues.
The group’s summary report was presented to Ministers of Finance and Ministers responsible for pensions at their December 2009 meeting in Whitehorse by its research director, Professor Jack Mintz.
While the report confirms the relative strength of Canada’s retirement income system, Ministers tasked senior officials to work collaboratively over the following months to analyze the wide range of ideas that have been put forward by various stakeholders, experts and commentators to further strengthen Canada’s government-supported retirement income system.
The consultations announced today underscore Ministers’ agreement that the collaborative work undertaken by officials should take into account the broader public discussion on retirement income adequacy and pension issues, as well as research and any consultations undertaken by governments.
Canada’s Ministers of Finance will discuss the findings from these consultations and appropriate next steps at their May meeting.
More detailed and exhaustive information can be found by reading this information brief.
CANADA AND BRITISH COLUMBIA SIGN NEW IMMIGRATION AGREEMENT
VANCOUVER – Today, Dr. Alice Wong, Parliamentary Secretary to the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, and Moira Stilwell, B.C. Minister of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, signed the new Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement.
“The signing of today’s agreement with British Columbia will support the integration of newcomers, helping to ensure that they’re able to contribute to our economy and succeed in Canada,” said Minister Kenney. “I am also pleased to announce the first temporary foreign worker annex to this agreement today. This will facilitate the entry of these workers to help British Columbia fill critical labour shortages.”
“The agreement will help Canada attract the skilled international workers it needs to meet the needs of the Canadian economy as we emerge from the global economic recession,” said Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. “It will certainly strengthen British Columbia’s ability to meet its labour market needs both today and in the future.”
“The renewal of this agreement strengthens our partnership with the federal government and our commitment to providing welcoming and inclusive communities and workplaces in B.C. for newcomers,” said Stilwell. “Immigrants coming to our province not only enrich the social fabric of B.C., they also bring economic advantages, generate innovation, attract industries and workers, and spur economic growth.”
The agreement formalizes and builds on the existing collaborative relationship between Canada and British Columbia on immigration matters and recognizes the importance of involving community partners, including local governments, service providers and the private sector, in welcoming and integrating newcomers. This year, $114 million will be transferred to British Columbia under the agreement to support settlement and integration services and welcoming communities’ initiatives.
Attracting more immigrants to British Columbia and retaining and integrating them to address British Columbia’s unique economic and social needs will be to Canada’s overall social, cultural and economic benefit.
Canada‑British Columbia Immigration Agreement
Immigration is a shared responsibility with the provinces and territories. The Canada‑British Columbia Immigration Agreement defines the respective roles and responsibilities of each jurisdiction for immigration matters under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and Regulations. It supports mutual federal and provincial objectives in the areas of immigrant attraction, selection, admission, retention and integration.
The agreement provides the framework for managing immigration activities, such as provincial nominees, international students, sponsorship, immigration health issues and temporary foreign workers.
It also strengthens accountability and reporting for federally funded settlement and integration services.
British Columbia receives the third-largest share of immigrants in Canada – approximately 40,000 immigrants each year. China, India and the Philippines are the top three source countries for immigrants in British Columbia. There are also about 120,000 temporary residents (temporary foreign workers and international students) in British Columbia at any given time.
Immigration is critical to the province’s economic recovery and growth, and will account for most of British Columbia’s net population growth within the next two decades. It is estimated that there will be approximately 950,000 job openings in British Columbia between now and 2020 and it is expected that immigrants will fill one-third of these jobs.
The agreement replaces a previous agreement signed in 2004 and is valid for five years from the date of signing.
Specifically, the new agreement means:
* British Columbia will continue to have a say in permanent and temporary immigration to the province, in support of its social, demographic and economic development and labour market priorities, including skill shortages.
* Canada and British Columbia will enhance their cooperation in overseas immigration marketing initiatives, including attracting skilled workers, entrepreneurs and students to the province. Both governments will also work together to increase information for new immigrants before they arrive.
* The successful settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees in British Columbia will continue to be supported by programs through ongoing federal funding. Settlement and integration supports will also be strengthened for newcomers.
* Both governments commit to continue working together and with official language minority communities on developing activities to support Francophone immigration and integration in British Columbia.
Funding transferred to British Columbia under the agreement has significantly increased since 2005-2006, from approximately $40 million to $114 million in 2010-2011, reflecting Canada’s increased commitment to funding immigrant services.
In response to these funding increases, in 2007, British Columbia developed WelcomeBC, British Columbia’s strategic framework for immigrant settlement and integration services and welcoming communities initiatives. WelcomeBC is delivered through 377 contracts with over 100 partners, who employ approximately 1,200 workers, including school districts, the private sector and community-based organizations.
Since its inception, WelcomeBC has expanded settlement services across British Columbia to over 85,000 newcomers a year; created settlement services in 850 schools in 21 school districts, serving more than 41,000 immigrant children and their families; increased regional access to English-language training from 29 to 58 communities; introduced a Welcoming and Inclusive Communities and Workplaces Program in 33 communities, which was recognized as a best practice by the G8 expert committee on diversity; and launched WelcomeBC.ca, serving over 25,000 clients monthly.
Facilitating the entry of temporary foreign workers
The Temporary Foreign Workers Annex will improve the responsiveness of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program in British Columbia by providing the province with a greater role in helping these workers come to Canada.
British Columbia will now be able to recommend the issuance of work permits to some temporary foreign workers or groups of temporary foreign workers belonging to a specific occupational group where skill and labour shortages exist, without first requiring a labour market opinion from the Government of Canada. A labour market opinion confirms that the entry of workers will not have a negative impact on the Canadian labour market. The Government of Canada will grant a work permit to applicants after they have met federal admissibility requirements, such as those related to health, criminality and security.
The annex will also help increase the protection of foreign workers. British Columbia will improve information for its temporary foreign workers concerning their rights as workers, their eligibility for British Columbia health insurance, workers compensation benefits, employer- or government-sponsored pension plans, and protection under the relevant provincial or federal occupational health and safety, employment and labour relations standards.
The entry of temporary workers will be facilitated while recognizing the importance of supporting British Columbia’s efforts to train and improve the skills of British Columbians.
Responding to the settlement and integration needs of immigrants and refugees
British Columbia and Canada are co-operating in providing settlement and integration services to immigrants in the province. The present agreement confirms the Government of Canada’s commitment to fair and ongoing funding for settlement services in British Columbia. British Columbia has been responsible for the design, administration and delivery of federally funded settlement and integration services since 1998. Canada will continue to be responsible for the design, administration and delivery of resettlement services for refugees.
This agreement commits both governments to sharing and enhancing accountability for the effective delivery of settlement and integration services. This will include measuring and reporting on the outcomes of these services for immigrants and refugees, such as improved official language skills and improved ability to access the labour market. Both governments also agree to work with other provinces and territories to develop a national accountability framework to ensure that settlement and integration services are delivered effectively to newcomers across Canada.
Expanding partnerships with communities
Both Canada and British Columbia recognize that immigration is a two-way process. Successful integration programs involve the communities in which immigrants will work and live. The agreement recognizes the importance of working with community-based organizations, municipal governments, the private sector and official language minority communities to explore issues related to their respective interests in immigration. This will also help support the development of programs and services for immigrants and maximize the benefits of immigration.
We have received inquiries with respect to merchants and credit and debit card processing. The constituency of Richmond has a large number of small businesses, especially restaurants, that are reliant on economical processing of credit and debit card transactions.
Residents of Richmond will be receiving an information brief regarding the government’s credit card code of conduct. These policy proposals include the following:
1. Increased Transparency and Disclosure by Debit and Credit Card Networks and Acquirers to Merchants
2. Merchants will receive a minimum of 90 days notice of any fee changes related to any credit or debit card transactions.
3. Following notification of a fee change, merchants will be allowed to cancel their contracts without penalty.
4. Merchants who accept credit card payments will not be obligated to accept debit card payments from the same payment network, and vice versa.
5. Merchants will be allowed to provide discounts for different methods of payment (e.g. cash, debit card, credit card). Merchants will also be allowed to provide differential discounts among different brands.
6. Merchants can decide whether they will accept multiple forms of debit card payment. In such a case, merchants can choose the lowest-cost option on transactions involving co-badged debit cards.
7. Co-badged debit cards shall be fairly branded.
8. Debit and credit card functions shall not co-reside on the same payment card.
9. Premium credit cards may only be given to consumers who apply for or consent to such cards. In addition, premium cards shall only be given to a well-defined group of cardholders.
These policy proposals will enable merchants to choose the credit/debit card processing packages that are most appropriate for them. More importantly, they can choose to engage in differential discounting depending on method of payment (#5) – such as offering a cash discount for that method of payment.
Depending on the type of transaction performed, a credit card transaction can cost a business roughly 2-3% of the transaction amount, and a debit card transaction is typically around 20-50 cents. Merchants can pass cost savings associated with a cash transaction onto the customers if the code of conduct policy is adopted. Currently most merchant agreements prohibit such a policy.
On the consumer side, most regulations the government has enacted are effective on January 1, 2010. They require credit card providers to provide better disclosure to consumers.
Specifically, credit card providers will have to:
* Provide a summary box on credit contracts and application forms that sets out key features, such as interest rates and fees.
* Inform consumers how long it would take to fully repay their balance if they only make a minimum payment every month.
* Mandate an effective minimum 21-day, interest-free grace period on all new credit card purchases when a customer pays the outstanding balance in full.
* Lower interest costs by mandating allocations of payments in favour of the consumer.
* Require express consent for credit limit increases.
* Limit debt collection practices used by financial institutions.
* Prohibit over-the-limit fees solely arising from holds placed by merchants.
* Mandate advance disclosure of interest rate increases prior to their taking effect, even if this information had been included in the credit contract.
The exact wording of the change in regulations can be found on the September 30, 2009 edition of the Canada Gazette.
The Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy is an intensive professional development opportunity that brings 70 outstanding teachers from across Canada together in Ottawa for an insider’s view on how Parliament works. Through sessions with political, procedural and pedagogical experts, participants engage in a process of critical inquiry into key issues in citizenship and parliamentary democracy. Throughout the program, participants work together in a collaborative environment to develop strategies for teaching about Parliament, democracy, governance and citizenship.
Applications are currently being accepted for the 14th annual Teachers Institute on Canadian Parliamentary Democracy, to be held on Parliament Hill from October 31 to November 5, 2010.
* You have not previously participated in the Teachers Institute.
* You currently teach in Canada.
* You currently teach or expect to be teaching in a subject area related to citizenship, civics and/or social studies.
* You currently teach students between grades Kindergarten to 12 (Primary cycle 1 to CÉGEP in Québec).
* You plan to continue teaching in the province or territory from which you apply until at least June 30, 2011.
* You are prepared to undertake a follow-up activity to extend the impact of the Teachers Institute.
* Each person must apply individually and will be evaluated on his or her own merits.
* Both new and experienced teachers are welcome to apply.
* Registration fee of $500 is payable upon selection.
* Program covers travel costs, accommodation and most meals.
The application deadline is
April 30, 2010 May 11, 2010. Completed applications and supporting documentation must be post-marked no later than April 30 2010 May 11, 2010. Late or incomplete submissions and unsolicited attachments will not be considered. For application forms and additional information about the program, please call 1-866-599-4999 or visit: www.parl.gc.ca/teachers