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Nov 22, 2014 at 03:57 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


Sep 22, 2014 at 04:11 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Korean President Park Geun-hye Celebrate Signing of Historic Free Trade Agreement and Launch of Strategic Partnership

At the invitation of His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, the President of the Republic of Korea, President Park Geun-hye, undertook a State Visit to Canada from September 20 to 22, 2014.

During the State Visit, Prime Minister Harper and President Park underlined the robust bilateral relationship. They agreed that sustaining the prosperity, security and quality of life of citizens in each of our countries requires a strong economy.

President Park and Prime Minister Harper celebrated the signature of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Canada and Korea, an historic initiative that will strengthen our trade and investment ties across the Pacific, increase the prosperity of both countries and result in job creation and enhanced opportunities for Korean and Canadian businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises, as well as investors, workers, and consumers. The FTA is an ambitious, state-of-the-art agreement, covering virtually all sectors and aspects of Canada-Korean trade, including trade in goods and services, investment, government procurement and intellectual property, as well as labour and environment cooperation. The leaders reaffirmed their mutual commitment to have the Agreement enter into force as quickly as possible.

The friendship between Canada and Korea has deep roots. Leaders welcomed the vigorous development of the bilateral relationship in recent years and acknowledged that it is time to raise it to a new level. To this end, they have undertaken to develop a new Strategic Partnership that will enhance cooperation based on the shared values of democracy, market economy, respect for human rights and rule of law. This Partnership will lay out a strategic direction for stronger relations in key areas of common interest including energy and natural resources, science, technology and innovation, and Arctic research and development.

As an element of this Strategic Partnership, leaders have undertaken to deepen exchanges and coordination and seek opportunities for more extensive cooperation on bilateral issues as well as global and regional issues, including global governance, prosperity, peace and security.

The leaders reaffirmed their desire for sustainable peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as envisioned in the Trust-Building Process initiated by President Park. In this regard, expressing grave concern over the continued ballistic missile launches by North Korea and its threat to conduct another nuclear test, they urge North Korea to refrain from any further provocative actions and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear and ballistic missile programs, including its uranium enrichment program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner. Further to this, Prime Minister Harper expressed his support for President Park's initiative for peaceful unification on the Korean Peninsula, which would contribute to promoting regional and international peace and prosperity. Prime Minister Harper and President Park also expressed concern over the continued deterioration in the human rights situation in North Korea and valued the international community's attention to this issue, including the report recently released by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The leaders also emphasized the significance and role of regional dialogue and cooperation as a means of building trust in Northeast Asia, while Prime Minister Harper reaffirmed his support for President Park’s efforts to enhance peace and security and noted her recent efforts through her Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative.

In the spirit of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Korea and Canada on Development Cooperation signed in 2012, Prime Minister Harper and President Park agreed to make concerted efforts in contributing to the achievement of new development goals beyond 2015, recognizing that maternal, newborn and child health remain one of the key priorities.

Sharing the view that Canada and Korea, like-minded countries on many global issues, need to coordinate closely and take concerted action to address regional and global challenges, the two Leaders agreed to continue to further strengthen the existing ties of cooperation through multilateral fora such as the United Nations, APEC and the G20. Also, taking note of the increasing role of both countries in addressing global challenges of today, they agreed to share relevant experience and expand bilateral cooperation in this regard.

The two Leaders expressed continued appreciation for the growing exchanges between the peoples of the two countries, which have played an important role in the development of bilateral relations. President Park, in particular, reiterated her gratitude for the support and sacrifice of the Canadian people during the Korean War.

President Park’s State Visit to Canada this week follows the visit of Prime Minister Harper to Korea in March 2014. As strong economic partners, leaders were also pleased to witness the signature of the Open Skies air transport agreement and the signature of an MOU concerning Cooperation in the Field of Forestry. Given their common interest in innovation, the Leaders welcomed work on a memorandum of understanding on energy technology and the announcement of the intent to develop an Agreement on Science, Technology and Innovation that could be leveraged to increase people-to-people connections and industry collaborations in strategic areas of mutual interest.

As Strategic Partners, the Leaders look forward to a new era in bilateral relations.

President Park thanked Governor General Johnston and Prime Minister Harper for their warm hospitality during her State Visit to Canada.

See Related Announcements on Next Page

Canada Takes Action to Strengthen Existing Framework for Federally Regulated Private Pensions
Sep 19, 2014 at 03:42 PM

Government of Canada Takes Action to Strengthen Existing Framework for Federally Regulated Private Pension Plans

September 19, 2014 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance

Minister of State (Finance) Kevin Sorenson today proposed new regulations that will, upon approval, build on improvements that the Harper Government initiated in 2009 to modernize and strengthen the framework governing federally regulated private pension plans. Since 2009, many of the improvements introduced under this initiative have already been brought into effect, including measures to enhance protections for pension plan members, reduce funding volatility for defined benefit pension plans, and make it easier for plan participants to negotiate changes to their pension arrangements. Today’s proposed amendments to the Pension Benefits Standards Regulations, 1985 (PBSR) would build on these advances by improving the framework for defined contribution plans, enhancing disclosure and protection for plan members and beneficiaries, and modernizing the pension investment rules.

Quick Facts

Private pension plans provide an important source of retirement income for employees and their families. Employers generally set up pension plans voluntarily; however, once a pension plan is established, it must be funded and administered in compliance with applicable tax and pension laws. Today’s proposed regulations apply to those private and Crown corporation pension plans that are regulated by the federal government under the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985,which is applicable to the banking, telecommunications and interprovincial transportation industries. There are currently approximately 1,200 such federally regulated pension plans in Canada.

Today’s proposed amendments would:

  • Improve the framework for defined contribution plans by offering a new type of benefit for those retiring—a variable benefit. This option has already been provided for in legislation but these regulations make the option available to pensioners. These improvements would permit pensioners to withdraw variable amounts from their pension fund each year. The proposed regulations would also set out the information that should be provided by administrators of pension plans that offer investment choices to members. In particular, the administrator will be required to provide written notice of any timing restrictions that would affect investment choices, as well as each option’s investment objective, performance history and fees. This way, Canadians can make the most informed decisions about what to do with their retirement dollars.
  • Enhance disclosure and protection by requiring administrators to provide retirees and other former pension plan members with an annual statement, as currently required for active members. The annual statement will be updated to include information on the plan’s investments, and for defined benefit plans, the value of the plan’s assets and liabilities as well as the employer’s contributions. This will ensure that employees and pensioners are kept informed about the status and well-being of their investments so that they can make informed decisions about their retirement. 
  • Modernize the pension investment rules to help ensure adequate diversification of a pension plan’s investments. The proposed regulations enhance an existing rule that sets the limits for how much a plan can invest in one entity. The amendments will improve the rule prohibiting plan administrators from investing more than 10% of plan assets in one entity by basing the calculation on “market value”, which reflects the change in the value of investments over time, as opposed to the current practice of using “book value”, and clarify that the limit applies to the total of debt and equity. Prohibitions against investing in related parties, such as the employer, will also be tightened. This will help protect pensioners by ensuring that their pensions are invested in a safe and responsible manner.

The proposed regulations also include technical amendments to existing pension regulations to ensure consistency with corresponding provisions in the PBSR, as well as to address some inconsistencies in translations between both official languages. They will be released for public comment with official pre-publication in the Canada Gazette on September 27, 2014. Interested persons may make representations on the proposed amendments within 30 days of publication, prior to final consideration by the Government.

Associated Links

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Sep 18, 2014 at 03:55 PM

Grimsby, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today participated in a roundtable meeting with Ontario businesses at Forty Creek Distillery in Grimsby. He was joined by Diane Finley, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, and Dean Allison, Member of Parliament for Niagara West-Glanbrook.

During the roundtable, the Prime Minister discussed the economy and measures that our Government is taking to help Canadian businesses thrive, both at home and abroad. Some of the measures highlighted included support for businesses in Economic Action Plan 2014, tax reductions, the elimination of unnecessary regulatory burdens, the Canada Job Grant, and the recently announced Small Business Job Credit.

The Prime Minster also highlighted the Government’s unprecedented efforts to increase Canadian businesses’ access to international markets, including through the Canada-European Union (EU) Trade Agreement and the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA). In particular, he highlighted the many benefits that the Canada-EU Trade Agreement will bring to workers and businesses from a wide range of sectors throughout Southern Ontario and across Canada. Some of the benefits that were highlighted included eliminating the EU’s tariffs on almost all of Ontario's keys exports, providing access to new market opportunities in the EU, improving conditions for export by easing regulatory barriers to trade, reinforcing intellectual-property rights, and ensuring more transparent rules for market access.

Quick Facts

  • The Canada-EU Trade Agreement is by far the most ambitious trade agreement that Canada has ever reached. It covers most aspects of the Canada-EU bilateral economic relationship, including trade in goods and services, investment, and government procurement. It also grants the flexibility to include areas of mutual interest beyond those that have traditionally been included in Canada's trade agreements, such as regulatory cooperation. The EU is the world’s largest integrated economy, with more than 500 million consumers and an annual GDP of $18 trillion. It is projected that the Canada-EU Trade Agreement will boost Canada’s income by $12 billion annually and bilateral trade by 20 per cent.
  • The Canada-EU Trade Agreement represents thousands of new jobs for Canadians, and a half-billion new customers for Canadian businesses.
  • Ontarians stand to benefit significantly from this preferred access to the EU market. The EU is already Ontario’s second-largest export destination and trading partner. When the Canada-EU Trade Agreement comes into force, it will eliminate tariffs on almost all of Ontario’s key exports and provide access to new market opportunities in the EU. Exporters in these sectors will also benefit from other provisions that will improve conditions for export provisions, for example, that ease regulatory barriers to trade, reinforce intellectual-property rights and ensure more transparent rules for market access.
  • The Canada-EU Trade Agreement will benefit the spirits and wine industries in a number of ways. The Agreement will prohibit the use of the term “rye whisky” for spirits not originating in Canada, prohibit misleading use of the term “Canada” generally, and specifically protect geographical indications of the terms “Canadian Rye Whisky and Canadian Whisky.” Canadian wine producers, including Ontario's award-winning ice wine, will gain duty-free access to 500 million consumers in the world's largest economy. The Canada-EU Trade Agreement will also have number of mechanisms that will make it easier to discuss and potentially resolve any non-tariff trade barriers in the area of spirits. All of these elements will help Canadian exporters in the EU market.

Associated Links

• How the Canada-EU Trade Agreement will benefit Ontario
• Canada-European Union: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
• Declaration by the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Canada - ”A new era in EU-Canada relations”

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