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Dec 18, 2014 at 12:55 AM

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


World Class Tanker Safety System - New Measures
Oct 14, 2014 at 02:34 PM

New Measures to Strengthen Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response, and the Polluter Pay Principle

The Government of Canada announced, in May 2014, new measures that, once implemented, will help to achieve a world-class tanker safety system in Canada. These measures build on recommendations from the Tanker Safety Expert Panel and other studies, and have been informed by engagement with provincial governments, Aboriginal groups, marine stakeholders and internal analysis by federal departments and agencies. Together, these measures demonstrate the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to strengthen marine safety measures to protect the public and the environment.

Prevention Measures: Taking All Reasonable Measures to Avoid Spills in the First Place

Modernizing Canada’s Navigation System

Currently, mariners navigate Canada’s waterways using primarily visual navigational markers, such as buoys, lighthouses, paper nautical charts, and publications, as well as radar. The marine industry strongly supports e-navigation as it will result in better, more reliable navigational information, leading to increased vessel safety and more efficient operations. Under this initiative, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Environment Canada and Transport Canada will begin the modernization of Canada’s marine navigation system by moving towards a system that will share real-time electronic marine safety information with mariners.

Specific measures include providing updated navigational information in a format that is integrated with vessel systems (such as electronic charts and other safety information); implementing leading-edge tools and technology to support the collection and sharing of this information to mariners (e.g., smart environmental weather buoys, and year-round lighted buoys on the St. Lawrence shipping channel). Another measure is to propose regulatory amendments to extend Automated Identification Systems carriage requirements to a greater number of vessels, which will enhance vessel monitoring by Canadian authorities and by other ships navigating nearby.

Preparedness and Response: Responding to and Cleaning Spills Quickly and Effectively

Area Response Planning

Consistent with the independent Tanker Safety Expert Panel’s main recommendation in its November 2013 report, A Review of Canada’s Ship-Source Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Regime—Setting the Course for the Future, the Government of Canada will work collaboratively with each of Canada’s four certified response organizations and other key stakeholders to develop and implement tailored response plans in four areas that have high levels of tanker traffic:

  • The southern portion of British Columbia;
  • Saint John and the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick;
  • Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia; and,
  • Gulf of St. Lawrence, Québec.

Oil spill preparedness activities in these areas will take into consideration geography, environmental sensitivities, traffic volumes, and ensure the appropriate spill cleanup equipment is in place and readily available. This initiative will draw on Aboriginal and marine stakeholder participation to strengthen spill preparedness and response plans. Lessons learned from these four areas will be used to refine area response planning models, and in the future, will allow the Government of Canada to consider options for implementing this spill-response planning approach in other locations across Canada.

Effective response planning requires an understanding of how certain materials, including oil products, behave if spilled into a marine environment. Preliminary scientific research conducted by Environment Canada (EC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) concluded that diluted bitumen can behave differently than other oils under certain environmental conditions. EC, DFO and Natural Resources Canada will undertake additional research and development into the pre-treatment of heavy oil products at the source; the behaviour of different formulations of heavy oil products when spilled in marine environments; and a variety of potential alternative response measures.   

Building Marine Safety Capacity in Aboriginal Communities

This initiative will assist Aboriginal communities to access training and equipment to allow for their participation in marine emergency preparedness. These measures will have inter-related benefits: they will support a strong safety system through Aboriginal participation; and provide skill enhancement opportunities. This activity reflects recommendations by the Special Federal Representative for West Coast Energy Infrastructure, Douglas Eyford, in his December 2013 report, Forging Partnerships, Building Relationships: Aboriginal Canadians and Energy Development.

Alternative Response Measures

This initiative would propose legislative amendments to lift legal prohibitions to using alternate response measures during emergencies, and to clarify the Canadian Coast Guard’s authority to use alternate response measures to reduce the environmental impact of ship-source oil spills. As noted by the Tanker Safety Expert Panel, mechanical recovery (booming and skimming) is the predominant spill response measure used in Canada. The panel also noted that there are a number of federal laws that currently limit the use of alternative response measures such as using spill-treating agents, even though using these tools can provide a net environmental benefit.

Liability and Compensation: Ensuring Polluters Pay

There are several sources of compensation for oil spills. Canada bases its liability and compensation regime for oil spills on the “polluter pay” principle. This means the polluter is always responsible for paying for the costs of an oil spill. If a ship causes a spill, Canadian law makes its owner liable for losses and damages. Therefore, Shipowners are required to carry insurance to cover their liability.

As well, Canada is a member of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, which administers two international compensation funds for oil pollution damages caused by persistent oil. The first is the 1992 Fund, and the second is the Supplementary Fund. Both hold levies collected from the oil cargo companies. Combined with the Shipowners liability coverage, these funds provide for approximately $1.2 billion in compensation for a tanker spill of persistent oil.

Additionally, Canada’s Ship-Source Oil Pollution Fund (SOPF) pays compensation for damages from oil spills in Canada from any type of oil and any type of ship. The SOPF was created in the early 1970s from levies it collects from oil cargo companies. The SOPF’s reserve is approximately $400 million. Its total liability for claims for any one spill is approximately $163 million.

Combined, the SOPF and Shipowners insurance funds can be used to cover up to approximately $1.4 billion to cover the damages from one oil spill. This is the most robust and comprehensive system in the world.

The Government of Canada will strengthen the “polluter pay” principle by enhancing Canada’s domestic SOPF by introducing legislative and regulatory amendments to:

  • Remove the per-incident limit to make the full amount of the Fund available;
  • Ensure that the SOPF is temporarily topped up to cover damages and clean up costs for a spill, in accordance with SOPF claims criteria, should further funding be required; and,
  • Ensure that damages and clean-up costs will be borne by industry and any requirement by the government to top up the Fund will be recouped from the industry through a levy.

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PM participates in roundtable discussion on cyberbullying and the sexual exploitation of children
Oct 10, 2014 at 02:51 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today participated in a roundtable meeting with members of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection (CCCP), a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to reducing child victimization, and others that provide programs and services to the Canadian public to help protect children and stop online exploitation. He was joined by Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Saint Boniface, Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, and Joyce Bateman, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg South Centre.

The roundtable focused on national solutions to address cyberbullying and the online sexual exploitation of children. The Prime Minister moderated the session, discussing the scope of these problems, the barriers to solving them, global responses and effective practices in other countries, and the effectiveness of measures taken to date in Canada in cooperation with provincial, territorial and civil society partners.

Measures being initiated in Canada include:

  • Making it an offence to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person depicted;
  • Requiring those convicted of child pornography offences and contact child sexual offences to serve their sentences consecutively;
  • Ensuring that spousal testimony is available in child pornography cases;
  • Enabling information-sharing on certain registered sex offenders between officials responsible for the National Sex Offender Registry and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA);
  • Establishing a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex offenders who have been the subject of a public notification in a provincial/territorial jurisdiction to assist in ensuring the safety of our communities; and,
  • Informing Canadian youth and their parents about the dangers and consequences of cyberbullying and child sexual exploitation through a national anti-cyberbullying awareness campaign.

In addition, the Government of Canada’s National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet increases law enforcement’s capacity to investigate and track down online predators, enhances public education and awareness, and supports further research on child sexual exploitation.

The Prime Minister also applauded the CCCP’s public awareness activities which are playing a major role in addressing online child sexual exploitation and helping to make our children safe.

Quick Facts

  • October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.
  • GetCyberSafe is Canada’s national cyber security public awareness campaign and a key component of Canada’s Cyber Security Strategy.
  • In Canada in 2013, there were 2,668 incidents of child pornography reported by police (nearly 500 more than 2012). This is a 21 per cent increase in the rate of child pornography offences from 2012 to 2013, and a 163 per cent increase from 2003 to 2013.
  • Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act, would protect children from online predators and online exploitation, including by making it a criminal offence to distribute intimate images without the consent of the person depicted.
  • Bill C-26, the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act, would crack down on criminals who commit sexual offences against children, especially those who continue to violate their conditions while they are on probation or under prohibition orders, and would ensure that sentencing takes into account each young life that has been devastated by a sexual predator by requiring those convicted of contact child sexual offences against multiple children to serve their sentences consecutively – one after another.
  • In January 2014, the Government of Canada launched the anti-cyberbullying national awareness campaign, Stop Hating Online – a comprehensive resource for parents and youth that includes information, advice and tools needed to identify, prevent and stop cyberbullying. Now in its third phase, the campaign focuses on the consequences of cyberbullying and how this behaviour amounts to criminal activity.
  • Amongst other important initiatives that the Government of Canada supports to address sexual exploitation and cyberbullying are the Canadian Centre for Child Protection's Cybertip.ca and NeedHelpNow.ca websites, which Canadians can use to report online sexual exploitation of children and seek help from exploitation resulting from the non-consensual sharing of sexual images.

Related Product

  • Government of Canada actions to date to combat child sexual exploitation and cyberbullying

Associated Links

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Last Updated ( Oct 10, 2014 at 03:49 PM )
Enhancing the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit
Oct 10, 2014 at 01:50 PM

Our Government intends to enhance the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit (CFTC) by increasing the maximum amount that may be claimed under the credit to $1,000 from $500, and by making the credit refundable. The doubling of the maximum amount will be effective for the 2014 tax year and subsequent tax years, and the credit will be made refundable effective for the 2015 and subsequent tax years.

These proposed enhancements, which fulfill a commitment made by the Government in 2011, will provide tax relief for Canadian families of about $25 million in fiscal year 2014-2015, and $35 million annually thereafter. The CFTC currently provides tax relief to 1.4 million families who enrol their children in eligible fitness activities. When fully implemented, these enhancements will deliver additional tax relief to about 850,000 families.

Doubling the CFTC Amount

Our Government proposes to double the amount that can be claimed for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit to $1,000 from $500, effective for the 2014 and subsequent tax years.
The example below illustrates how doubling the credit will benefit a family.

Example – Doubling the CFTC amount

A couple with one child has $950 in eligible expenses in 2014 – including $300 for the child’s fall football program plus $650 for the child’s winter hockey program. Under the current Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, the couple’s tax liability is reduced by $75 (15 per cent of the maximum credit amount of $500). Under the proposed doubling of the credit, their tax liability would be reduced by about $142 (15 per cent of $950).

Making the CFTC Refundable

Our Government proposes to make the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit refundable, effective for the 2015 tax year and subsequent tax years. Making the credit refundable will increase benefits to low-income families claiming the credit.

The example below illustrates how making the credit refundable will benefit a family.

Example – Making the CFTC refundable

A couple has two children in a soccer program at a cost of $240 per child in 2015. The family’s income is too low for them to have net tax liability. Since the original non-refundable Children’s Fitness Tax Credit can only be used to reduce tax owing, the credit, as it currently stands is of no benefit to them. By making the credit refundable as proposed, the couple will be better off by $72 ($36 per child based on 15 per cent of $240). The family’s tax refund would include this $72.

Origin of the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit

The Children’s Fitness Tax Credit was introduced in Budget 2006 by the Honourable Jim Flaherty, who was Minister of Finance at the time. The credit became effective in 2007, and was designed according to the recommendations of the Expert Panel for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit. In 2011, our Government committed, upon return to budget balance, to doubling the maximum amount that can be claimed under this credit and to making the credit refundable.

Eligibility for the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit

Eligible activities include strenuous games such as hockey or soccer, activities such as golf lessons, horseback riding, sailing, and bowling, as well as others that require a similar level of physical activity. Fees charged for extracurricular programs that take place in school may be eligible.
For more information on the Children’s Fitness Tax Credit please visit the Canada Revenue Agency website: cra-arc.gc.ca   .

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