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Apr 24, 2014 at 06:57 PM


Welcome to my online office. I have set up this website to give you a chance
to interact with me directly and to learn a little bit more about my work to
Stand Up for St. Catharines in Ottawa. I hope you will take the time to read
my blog, check out the community calendar and look at the services available
through my Community Office. Most of all, I hope you will take the time to
communicate your ideas and concerns by commenting on my blog, voting for the
online polls or sending me an e-mail. This website is here for you, so
please share your thoughts and ideas.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rick Dykstra

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

 
 

Government of Canada Begins Consultations on a Potential Target Benefit Pension Plan Framework
Apr 24, 2014 at 01:11 PM

New option would encourage employers to offer employees a workplace pension plan with a predictable pension in retirement

April 24, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance

Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson today announced the launch of extensive consultations on a potential federal framework for Target Benefit Plans, or TBPs. TBPs would be a new, voluntary, sustainable and flexible pension option available to federally regulated private sector and Crown corporation plan sponsors, employees and retirees under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985. This would not impact the core public sector pension plans which are governed by statutes such as the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act.

The proposed TBP framework is designed to help ensure that effective, sustainable pension options are available to Canadians who work in the federally regulated private sector or Crown corporations. This innovative approach is intended to preserve and increase the number of employers that can offer employees an affordable workplace pension plan that has a predictable pension in retirement. The voluntary nature of the proposed framework means that all parties would be involved in the decision as to whether or not to adopt a TBP, and have a say in the design elements of the plan if they do.

A consultation document providing background information and outlining the parameters of the proposed TBP framework is provided to serve as a focus for the consultations. Individuals interested in participating in the online portion of these consultations over the next 60 days are invited to do so through the link at the bottom of this news release. Given the technical nature of these proposals, the Government will also be engaging industry experts and stakeholders.

Quick Facts

  • There are currently 1,234 federally regulated pension plans in Canada.
  • TBPs would promote plan viability through their ability to adjust benefits and contributions to ensure the target benefit is met, and deal with surplus or deficit situations.
  • Because benefits are targeted and benefits and contributions adjustable, TBPs would not have a solvency funding requirement.
  • The proposed framework would allow for the conversion of both defined benefit as well as defined contribution plans into TBPs, should all parties consent, and would be available to any new pension plan created in the future.
  • The proposed joint governance structure would reflect the risk sharing nature of a TBP and ensure effective representation of employers, members and retirees.
  • The proposed consultations will not consider changes to federal public sector pension plans, which are governed by their own respective legislation. The Government has already taken steps to ensure that federal public sector pension plans are more in line with the private sector. 


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Federal Government Highlights Canada’s Most Ambitious Pro-trade Plan in History
Apr 24, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Minister Fast also announces federal contribution to Saskatchewan Economic Development Association and Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority

April 23, 2014 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada

The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, today addressed members of the North Saskatoon Business Association and highlighted the government’s pro-trade plan to support Canadian workers and businesses in achieving continued success, economic growth and prosperity in Saskatchewan and across Canada. Minister Fast was accompanied by Brad Trost, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Humboldt, and Kelly Block, Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Rosetown-Biggar.

Minister Fast highlighted the recently announced free trade agreement with South Korea and the agreement-in-principle with the European Union, underlining the job-creating benefits both will bring to Canadians, including residents of Saskatchewan. He reminded the audience that one in five Canadian jobs is linked to exports and that is why Canada is embarking on the most ambitious trade expansion plan in its history. Since 2006, Canada has concluded free trade agreements with no less than 38 countries, bringing the total to 43.

The Minister highlighted how, under the Global Markets Action Plan, the government is focusing on sectors and markets that offer the greatest opportunity for growth, by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises as they expand into new markets through vigorous and continual trade promotion, supported by an ambitious trade policy.

Minister Fast also took the opportunity to announce an $18,700 contribution to the Saskatchewan Economic Development Association and a $34,500 contribution to the Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority. The contributions are from the Invest Canada-Community Initiatives program, which helps local communities attract, retain and expand job-creating foreign direct investment.

Quick Facts

  • The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement—Canada’s first free trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific region—will provide Canadian businesses and workers with new access to South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy with an annual GDP of $1.1 trillion and a population of 50 million.
  • The Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement is projected to create thousands of jobs for hard-working Canadians by increasing Canadian exports to South Korea by 32 percent and boosting Canada’s economy by $1.7 billion a year.
  • The European Union, with its 28 member states, 500 million people and annual economic activity of almost $17 trillion, is the world’s largest economy.
  • A joint Canada-EU study that supported the launch of negotiations toward the agreement-in-principle concluded that a trade agreement could boost Canada’s income by $12 billion annually and bilateral trade by 20 percent. Put another way, this is the economic equivalent of adding $1,000 to the average Canadian family’s annual income or almost 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy.


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Updated Apr 23, 2014: Progress Made Against US Ballast Water Rules
Apr 17, 2014 at 08:36 PM

MPs Brown and Dykstra encouraged by Congressional response

St. Catharines – Members of Parliament Rick Dykstra and Gord Brown found strong bi-partisan support in the US House of Representatives in challenging costly new U.S. ballast water regulations that are discriminatory against the Canadian Great Lakes – St. Lawrence shipping industry. 

Earlier this week eleven Congressmen added their support to a bi-partisan letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) raising the issue of recent ballast water regulations that are discriminatory to the Canadian flagged fleet.  The issue was also raised at a Congressional hearing with a high level official out of the EPA’s Office of Water on March 4th. 

The recognition of the discriminatory rules is largely a result of a series of binational meetings in Washington D.C. in late February organized by the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group and led by its Chair and Vice-Chair, MPs Brown and Dykstra respectively.  The Inter-Parliamentary Group focuses on fostering ongoing bi-lateral relations and trade.   

MP Dykstra, whose riding of St. Catharines includes a portion of the Welland Canal said “As Chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Committee, Gord’s leadership on the ballast water issue, especially with dealing with our US Congressional counterparts, has been exceptional.”  Dykstra continued, “Our focus on a solution is grounded in our concern on how this will impact our ridings first and foremost.”  

The recently introduced EPA ballast water rules, effective January 1st 2014, requires the use of ballast water treatment systems to treat a ship’s ballast water to limit the spread of aquatic invasive species.  While existing systems are cost effective and practical for salt water voyages, there are no current systems available for use on the freshwater Great Lakes.  Since 2006 and the introduction of mandatory binational screening of vessels, there have been no new aquatic invasive species discovered in the Great Lakes.     

Discrimination stems from the treatment system exemptions offered by the EPA, namely to those vessels built before 2009 solely operating west of Anticosti Island (near the mouth of the St. Lawrence).  While a least half of the Canadian fleet will not be eligible for an exemption under these criteria, the significant majority of the US fleet is found to be exempted. 

“This is extremely detrimental to the Canadian shipping industry,” says Brown.  “MP Dykstra has been instrumental in raising the profile of this issue in Washington and securing Congressional support for a harmonized bi-national solution.”

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