#Tourism-OrientedDirectionalSigningProgram; #TODS; #TourismSignProgram, #Ontario, #JeffYurek, #MichaelTibollo
Toronto, Dec 28 (IBNS): Ontario's Government for the People's decision in freezing Tourism Sign Program Rates for 2019 was based on Ontario's tourism operators' reliance on the province's Tourism-Oriented Directional Signing Program (TODS) for their community economy, media reports said.
TODS program enables motorists to instal signage on provincial highways to direct visitors to tourist attractions and services.
Ontario's Government for the People was elected on June 7 "with a clear mandate to respect the taxpayers of this province and to restore trust and accountability in the province's finances," said Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation.
The previous government had signed a contract in April 2018 with Canadian TODS Limited which could result in higher fees which could negatively affect small business owners of Ontario.
After listening to the concerns of the province's small business owners and tourism operators, the new government had negotiated with Canadian TODS Limited -- responsible for operating TODS program - to freeze all price increases for 2019.
"Our Government for the People has heard clearly from tourism operators across the province about their concerns...deliberately froze prices for 10 years...ensure businesses and customers have time to adjust to the increased prices...to look for ways we can help mitigate this price increase,"said Michael Tibollo, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.
Michael Tibollo (centre)/Facebook
Freezing Sign Program Rates for 2019 would make life for Ontarians more affordable as well as not affecting the tourism operations.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#StatisticsCanada; #Canada’sannualinflation; #Ottawa; #Canada; #BankofCanada
Ottawa, Sep 21 (Canadian-Media): Statistics Canada data indicated that Canada’s annual inflation rate has dipped to 2.8 percent in August from 3.0 percent in July, media reports said.
Statistics Canada, reportedly formed in 1971 and headquartered in Ottawa, provides statistical information to Canada such its population, resources, economy, society, and culture to help Canadians better understand Canada.
Statistics Canada has reported that it is for the seventh consecutive month that Canada has exceeded the Bank of Canada’s 2.0-per-cent target.
All of the central bank’s core inflation measures were 2.0 per cent or higher, for the first time since February 2012.
Last month's step back was largely due to more-moderate expansion in gasoline prices, Statistics Canada said Friday as it released its latest consumer price index.
The Bank of Canada has raised interest rates four times since July 2017.
Bank of Canada/Facebook
According to the overnight index swaps market indications, chances of another hike in October rose to nearly 90 percent from 85 percent before the data.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
Ontario Releases 2017-18 Public Accounts and Findings of the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry
#2017-2018PublicAccounts; #Ontario'sIndependentFinancialCommissionofInquiry; #VicFedeli; #PeterBethlenfalvy; #Ontario'sAuditorGeneral
Toronto, Sep 21 (Canadian-Media): 2017-2018 Public Accounts along with the full report of Ontario's Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry was released today by Ontario Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy, media reports said.
The findings of the Commission revealed that the Public Accounts in Ontario ran a $3.7 billion deficit in 2017-18.
"Only when the Government of Ontario truly accounts for its real deficit position can we begin to put the province back on a path to balanced fiscal sustainability," said Fedeli. "This is why we are so quick to accept the Commission of Inquiry's recommendations and work, in good faith, with the Auditor General on solutions."
It was also confirmed by the Commission that earlier findings from Ontario's Auditor General's report states that the previous government left Ontario with a $15 billion deficit.
"Collectively, the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry, the release of the 2017-18 Public Accounts, and the line-by-line review leave no stone unturned," said Bethlenfalvy. "We are getting to the bottom of the previous government's record of waste and mismanagement.The work ahead will be difficult, but the proper management of public finances is a moral imperative that can no longer be ignored."
The ministers confirmed that first time in three years a clean opinion on the 2017-2018 Public Accounts has been provided by Ontario's Auditor General.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#OnX,CiscoandTorontopartnership; #freeclientWi-Fi; #JoeMihevc; #JamesPasternak; #PaulKhawaja
Toronto, Aug 4 (Canadian-Media): A partnership with OnX and Cisco and Toronto was announced last week by the City of Toronto which will allow bring free client Wi-Fi to nine City-run shelters and homelessness program sites, media reports said.
"This important initiative is part of the City's work to help provide greater inclusive access to services for those who need it the most. Free 24/7 Wi-Fi internet access on-site will allow clients to more easily communicate online and access the information and services they need," said Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St Paul's), City of Toronto Poverty Advocate.
Many of the clients in the City's shelter and homelessness programs have access to a mobile device but do not have a data plan to access the internet. They rely heavily on free public Wi-Fi to access support, services and benefits, search and apply for jobs and housing opportunities, and stay connected with loved ones and social networks.
"In today’s world of rapidly changing technologies, access is everything. Yet those who are unable to share in ever-evolving information are at a disadvantage. It’s called the digital divide and the City is committed to preventing it from widening," said Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre), Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee.
“In tandem with our key partner Cisco, OnX is very proud to be part of this meaningful program that we believe will have a positive impact on the lives of clients at shelters in the city of Toronto,” said Paul Khawaja, President OnX Canada. “I am proud of the work we have done and grateful for the opportunity to further contribute to the community as a whole.”
The nine sites are Robertson House, Bellwood House, Women's Residence, Fort York Residence, Family Residence, Birkdale Residence, Birchmount Residence, Adelaide Resource Centre for Women and the Streets to Homes Assessment & Referral Centre.
Robertson House, a shelter for women and children, will be the first location to receive free public client Wi-Fi.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#LisaMacLeod, #OntarioWorksandOntarioDisabilitySupportProgram, #Ontario, #SocialAssistance
Toronto, Aug 1 (Canadian-Media): Lisa MacLeod, Ontario Minister of Children, Community and Social Services said yesterday that Ontario is working on a plan to reform Social Assistance to helps more people re-enter the workforce and get back on track, media reports said.
Over the past 15 years the number of Ontarians on Social Assistance has escalated by 55 percent.
MacLeod said Ontario government has decided to accelerate 100 day deadline to develop this Assistance program to help people out of poverty.
"Social assistance will always be about compassion for people in need, but it must also be about lifting people up and helping them get their lives back on track through more jobs, more opportunities and more hope. Tackling the serious issues facing our social assistance system is not an easy thing to do. But it is the right thing to do. And we will get this right," said MacLeod.
Ontario, meanwhile, will provide current Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients with an increase of 1.5 percent across-the-board, in support rates to help them with a higher cost of living.
MacLeod also announced that the Province will be closing Ontario’s Basic Income research project in order to focus resources on more important resources.
“Our plan will help get people back to work and keep them working, while supporting people with disabilities to work when they are able and participate in their communities,” said MacLeod. “And our efforts to fix social assistance will go hand-in-hand with our commitments to reduce gas prices by 10 cents per litre, lower hydro rates, and provide targeted tax relief for working parents and minimum wage earners, all of which will provide focused benefits to lower income families.”
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#TorontoCouncillors; #JohnTory, #affordableownershipunits
Toronto, Jul 17 (Canadian-Media): Approvals for 893 affordable rental units, 422 mid-range purpose built rental units and 300 affordable ownership units are being considered by Toronto Councillors in the final Executive Committee meeting of the 2014-2018 term, media reports said.
After the approval of these units by the Executive Committee later today and City Council next week, for the second year in a row, City Hall will have met and exceeded its annual affordable housing target.
In total this year, City Hall will be approving 1,650 affordable housing units well beyond the 1,000 unit target.
“Past administrations had set a target of approving one thousand units of affordable housing per year but only since I took office have we started meeting and even exceeding those targets,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “We are making progress but we can and we must do better so we can continue to grow as a vibrant and economically competitive city.”
Last month, Tory committed to an ambitious target to approve 40,000 units over the next 12 years. Last Council meeting,
Toronto's plan was approved by the City Council and has decided to create a standing committee on housing to make sure that City Hall has a laser-like focus on housing issues and reach this new target.
“The progress we have made over this term shows that we can hit this new, more ambitious target,” said Tory. “I am committed to making sure people of all ages, all walks of life and all income levels can afford to live in Toronto.”
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#JimWilson; #DeanFrench; #DougFord; #OntarioisOpenforBusiness; #Ontario'sautoindustry
Ottawa, Jul 16 (Canadian-Media): Today, Jim Wilson, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade issued the following statement, media reports said.
"Later this week, I will be travelling to Washington, D.C. during which time I will be vigorously advocating for the Canadian and American jobs that depend on our historic trading relationship. I will be accompanied by Mr. Dean French, Chief of Staff to the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford.
Our Government for the People stands with the Government of Canada, and we will continue to work with our provincial counterparts and Ontario's businesses and workers to protect Ontario jobs and build a stronger economy for the future. Our message has been and will continue to be: Ontario is Open for Business.
The U.S. Department of Commerce will be holding a public hearing on the section 232 national security investigation of imports of automobiles and automotive parts.
As the Government of Ontario's representative at this hearing, I look forward to speaking in defence of Ontario's auto industry and the economic benefits it delivers in both the U.S. and Canada.
The U.S. and Ontario share a unique economic relationship grounded in fair and balanced trade, integrated supply chains and complementary markets.
It is clear that Ontario is not a national security risk to the United States. In fact, the U.S. and Ontario share many of the same goals — together, we can advance our shared priorities of creating jobs on both sides of the border by developing strong, competitive business environments that spur innovation and growth.
Ontario is open for business and we look forward to working with our American neighbours to create new jobs and better jobs for us all."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
#DougFord, #Ontario, #Canada, #Cap-and-TradeCarbonTax, #Fordgovernment'sPlanForthePeople
Ottawa, Jul 3 (Canadian-Media): Doug Ford, Ontario Premier today confirmed an end of the Cap-and-Trade Carbon Tax Era in Ontario effective today, media reports said.
As the first order of business of Ontario's Government for the People, Ford had his cabinet to revoke the regulation of the wasteful cap-and-trade carbon tax regime and ordered an orderly close down of all programs funded out of cap-and-trade carbon tax revenues.
Ford also committed that a case-by-case basis of the situations would be processed in alignment with the Ford government's Plan For the People and the upcoming value-for-money audit.
"Every cent spent from the cap-and-trade slush fund is money that has been taken out of the pockets of Ontario families and businesses," said Ford. "We believe that this money belongs back in the pockets of people...will result in lower prices at the gas pump, on your home heating bills and on virtually every other product that you buy."
According to the Auditor General, who conducted an audit of the The cap-and-trade system, there would be cost of $8 billion to Ontario consumers and businesses with a negligible impact on the province's carbon emissions.
"Cap-and-trade and carbon tax schemes...do nothing for the environment, while hitting people in the wallet in order to fund big government programs," said Ford. "I promised that the party with taxpayers' dollars was over and...Today we are keeping that promise."
"We are getting Ontario out of the carbon tax business," concluded Ford. "Our focus will be to give people lower gas prices, lower energy bills and a real break in their wallets in order to get our economy going and create jobs. Help is here."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)
'We’ve noticed an incredible change both in the results and the ability to tackle the backlog,' said Carla Qualtrough, the minister of public services and procurement
Ottawa, A new federal report confirms the much-maligned Phoenix pay system has already cost taxpayers upwards of $1.1 billion and could cost up to $2.5 billion more to fix over the next five years, but the minister responsible is promising that it won’t take that long.
The federal Comptroller General Roch Huppé, responsible for government-wide financial management and internal audit, estimated Phoenix could take about five years to fix at a cost of $500 million annually.
But Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of public services and procurement, told the National Post “it’s not going to be five years” until every public servant’s issues have been dealt with. Since the March snapshot that the report is based on, “I can tell you that things have changed operationally significantly,” she said, explaining how a new way of dividing the backlog has been rolling out over the past few months.
“We’ve noticed an incredible change both in the results and the ability to tackle the backlog, but also in the job satisfaction of the employees. Because it’s very hard. It’s kind of the weight of the world on the shoulders of those public servants who are trying to pay their fellow public servants,” said Qualtrough.
Since January there are 40,000 fewer cases in the queue, and in 18 months, based on the new approach, Qualtrough estimated that pay systems for about 25 per cent of the federal public service will be stabilized. “It’s going to happen on a rolling basis. It isn’t going to be all of a sudden tomorrow, whether that be two, three or four years from now.”
Another government official, who was not authorized to speak about the matter publicly, said there have been improvements to the current backlog of individual cases for the last 11 consecutive pay cycles. Public servants who are still waiting to have their cases reviewed should expect “constant improvement.”
The official blamed the previous Conservative government for handing their successors a “lemon” of a file — even though both governments made decisions that have contributed to what the Auditor General recently called an “incomprehensible failure.”
It was the AG, along with House and Senate committees, who requested the cost estimates, which the Treasury Board initially said would be available at the end of May but which weren’t put out until the Friday before the Canada Day long weekend.
Since its launch in February 2016 the Phoenix pay system has caused problems for the majority of Canada’s 300,000 federal public servants, from under- or over-paying them to botching their tax forms. These problems are not restricted to those working in the national capital region, but have affected workers across the country and even internationally.
The Conservative government initiated a plan to replace the old system, which was considered out-of-date and problematic, in 2009. That included consolidating management of public servants’ pay at a government office in Miramichi, N.B., instead of housing payroll specialists within individual departments. It was the Liberal government that delayed but finally went ahead with an initial rollout in February 2016 and, despite early problems, a wider implementation two months later.
The new system created by IBM was supposed to run more smoothly, and save about $70 million a year in operating costs. But today the annual costs are more than twice the $230 million per year it cost to operate the old pay system.
Last month the AG, Michael Ferguson, issued one of the most damning reports ever produced by his office. He concluded “the Phoenix project was an incomprehensible failure of project management and oversight,” blaming officials for pressing ahead despite clear problems with functionality, security and readiness. Testimony by IBM representatives at a committee this spring also revealed the company warned the government about problems well before the launch.
Ferguson’s report raised the ire of Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick, who called it an “opinion piece” during committee testimony earlier this month. He complained it unfairly painted public servants as having a “generalized broken culture” that led to the Phoenix problems.
Huppé’s report does not include the potential costs of replacing Phoenix, with $16 million towards a “transformation” initiative announced in this year’s federal budget, “because its scope has not yet been determined, and it is being developed independently of the effort to stabilize Phoenix,” he wrote.
Qualtrough wouldn’t speculate on the timing of putting in a new system, but said the government has learned its lessons. “What we’ve learned is we will not shut off the old system until the new system is up and running, and we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that people are going to get paid accurately and on time.”
#AdobeSystemsInc.; #SiliconValleysoftwaregiant; #artificialintelligence; #Photoshop; #Acrobat; #Toronto, #Ontario; # NVIDIACorp., #FacebookInc., #MicrosoftCorp., #UberTechnologies, #GoogleParentAlphabetInc., #ThalesSA; #SamsungElectronicsCo.Ltd., #FujitsuLtd. #LGElectronicsInc; #Montreal; #VivekGoel; #GeoffreyHinton; #YoshuaBengio; #RichSutton
Toronto, Jun 27 (Canadian-Media): Recently Adobe Systems Inc., the latest foreign technology and the Silicon Valley software giant is planning to open an artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Canada, media reports said.
Adobe Systems Inc./Facebook
Adobe Systems Inc., best known for document-creation products Photoshop and Acrobat, according to a job posting on LinkedIn, was keen to “establish a cutting-edge research lab in artificial intelligence, that will both push the state-of-the-art and have a profound impact on Adobe’s products,” in a Toronto-based AI lab.
Fast Company recently named Adobe one of the 10 most innovative companies in the AI space.
AI's breakthroughs in the field this decade led to wider adoption by a range of sectors.
Adobe would follow foreign giants NVIDIA Corp., Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp., Uber Technologies, Google Parent Alphabet Inc., Thales SA and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Fujitsu Ltd. and LG Electronics Inc., who have opened AI labs in Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton or Vancouver or disclosed plans to do so.
Meanwhile, National Bank of Canada is also looking to ramp up its AI practice.
The Montreal-based bank last year “realized we had a fundamental opportunity for our organization” to tap into the city’s teeming AI talent pool, said David Furlong, the bank’s senior vice-president of AI, venture capital and blockchain.
Recently math and statistics professor Manuel Morales and its chief scientist from the University of Montreal were hired by the bank.
The bank is also staffing eight teams comprised of business leads and AI scientists that will be embedded in all business units from wealth management to human resources to solve real world problems for thier clients and staff.
Significant investments have been made in AI talent in Canada by several other large Canadian corporations including Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Manulife Financial Corp. and Thomson Reuters Corp. in the past two years.
This week, Manulife said it was re-entering the whole- life insurance business and using AI to speed up the process for customers to buy life insurance by drawing on decades of internal underwriting data.
Using its technology, retailers can improve sales forecasting to help optimize operations, and advertisers can automate the process of tagging and searching for images from vast digital libraries and train machines to crop or manipulate them to cut time spent producing content.
“AI is playing a critical role across Adobe’s solutions and is one of the company’s biggest bets,” an Adobe spokeswoman said.
Vivek Goel, vice-president of research and innovation with University of Toronto, said foreign companies are now looking beyond just establishing AI research labs in Toronto and considering moving core development operations here to take advantage of the local talent.
“From my perspective it’s very positive. It’s creating opportunities for our folks to develop careers in Canada, where traditionally these individuals may have gone abroad,” he said.
Three research pioneers, Geoffrey Hinton at University of Toronto, Yoshua Bengio at University of Montreal and Rich Sutton at University of Alberta-- who left opportunities in the U.S. to move to Canada, preferring the political and/or research-funding climate here -- were responsible for Canada's earning its place on the global AI map.