Here’s what you need to know about Canada’s new passport requirements coming into effect.

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CUPW issues strike notice after it says Canada Post refused special mediator

OTTAWA _ The union representing a majority of workers at Canada Post has issued a 72-hour notice of job action as it tries to bargain a collective agreement with the Crown corporation.

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers says the notice spells out what actions it is planning, but stops short of a full-blown walkout.

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says Canada Post forced the labour disruption by refusing to accept a request from the federal labour minister to continue negotiations with the help of a special mediator.

But a spokesman for the agency says that’s not the case.

The union’s strike mandate was set to expire at midnight.

The two sides have been in negotiations for more than nine months but are far apart on key issues including pay equity for rural carriers and proposed changes to the Canada Post pension plan.

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ILScorp customers: 

At ILScorp we are committed to providing you with the best customer experience – and that begins with keeping you informed. Important message about potential Canada Post. Read More Here

Pot, policing hot topics at 2016 AMO Conference

The 2016 Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s Conference delivered  key presentations on policing costs and marijuana legalization today.

Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, an independent inspector of police services, spoke to delegates about theUnited Kingdom’s efforts to reduce policing costs while maintaining safety and protecting community policing and frontline policing. Rising policing costs continue to be a concern for many municipal governments.

Delegates also heard from Ashley Rea Kilroy, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy, City and County of Denver. Ms. Kilroy discussed Denver’s experience with the legalization of marijuana, noting that it required significant coordination between public services.

“Municipal governments deliver many of the services that will be impacted by the legalization of marijuana,” said Gary McNamara, AMO President. “Policing, licensing, public health and local economies will all be affected. We need to work with the provincial and federal governments as legalization moves forward.”

Conference presentations are being posted to www.amo.on.ca.

Ontario Government Ministers took questions from Conference delegates in an open session. Key issues include interest arbitration, municipal insurance costs and energy. More information on these and other key municipal matters is available at :www.amo.on.ca/AMO-Content/Footer/Newsroom.

The Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth announced the launch of the Investment Ready: Certified Site Program aimed at helping projects get off the ground faster by marketing sites to international investors.

Program highlights for Wednesday, August 17, the final day of the Conference, will include:

  • 9:05 a.m. – Incoming AMO President Lynn Dollin, Deputy Mayor, Town of Innisfil
  • 9:15 a.m. – The AMO Gas Tax Awards are presented by Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Intergovernmental Affairs and MP, Spadina-Fort York
  • 9:45 a.m. – Special session on Climate Change Going Forward

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component ofOntario and Canada’s political system.

Follow AMO on Twitter: @AMOPolicy, #AMOCONF16

SOURCE Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Manitoba says it plans to overhaul how Crown corporations operate

WINNIPEG _ Manitoba says it plans to overhaul how Crown corporations operate to save money and to make them more accountable.

The changes would affect Manitoba Hydro, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, Manitoba Public Insurance and the Manitoba Centennial Centre Corporation.

The government says the changes are needed to improve how decisions are made and to more clearly spell out responsibilities and liabilities.

Crown Services Minister Ron Schuler says the legislation will be introduced later this year.

He says the changes will also eliminate overlap and duplication within government.

Schuler says maintaining the status quo would leave Crown corporations vulnerable to interference.

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Ontario automakers faced more pain in ’09 than Alberta’s ongoing oil woes

By Andy Blatchford and Jordan Press

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ Ontario’s auto sector absorbed a far greater economic wallop during the financial crisis than the damage low oil prices have inflicted on Alberta, says an internal federal analysis.

The February memo, prepared for Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk, examined the two economic crises after some observers had called on governments to help Alberta’s energy industry much like the 2009 bailout of the automotive sector.

The auto sector’s situation was much more dire, the document concluded.

“With the current downturn in worldwide oil prices, some have advocated a similar type of assistance be made available to support the oil and gas industry,” said the briefing note, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

“However, the context differs considerably. The impact on the Ontario automotive industry was far more acute than what has been seen so far in the Alberta economy.”

The federal and Ontario governments spent a combined $13.7 billion to rescue automakers Chrysler Canada and General Motors Canada from potential bankruptcy.

At the time, consumers had difficulty securing car loans because of a credit crunch. Sliding sales stung the car companies, which could no longer generate enough cash to finance their operations.

They couldn’t seek help from flagging financial markets, so they knocked on government doors.

Fast forward to today and Alberta’s energy-dependent economy remains hobbled by stubbornly low oil prices, which started their plunge about two years ago.

Cheaper crude has pushed once-booming Alberta into recession, leading to big drops in business investment in the energy sector as well as large-scale layoffs in the industry and along the supply chain. The fallout has also been felt at the national level.

The memo compared the two situations.

The unemployment rate in Alberta’s oil sector climbed to 7.9 per cent in 2015, up from 2.9 per cent in 2011. By comparison, the analysis found, the jobless rate in Ontario’s auto manufacturing sector peaked at 21.9 per cent in 2009, an increase from 8.4 per cent in 2007.

It also noted that the 2008-09 recession was an international economic crisis, while the current context represents slowing global growth _ but not a recession.

The 2009 bailout came amid concerns Canada could lose auto-sector jobs “at an accelerated pace” due to lower-wage jurisdictions in the southern United States and Mexico, the document added. Since oil and gas resources aren’t mobile, there was a lower risk of jobs being moved out of Canada, it noted.

The analysis also underlined the importance of GM and Chrysler to the entire automotive supply chain. A bankruptcy, it said, could have had a “ripple effect” across the country.

When it came to Alberta’s energy sector, the document said some “smaller highly leveraged” oil firms may have been at some risk of default. But it argued that major oil companies had yet to approach governments for assistance and remained in relatively good financial shape.

Since February, when the federal memo was created, Alberta’s economy has faced even more challenges.

Not only have crude prices remained low, the provincial economy suffered another hit when huge wildfires forced the temporary closures of critical production facilities. The blazes also destroyed more than 2,000 structures and triggered the evacuation of 90,000 people from Fort McMurray.

The latest labour market survey said Alberta’s overall unemployment rate climbed last month to 8.6 per cent its highest mark in nearly 22 years.

Statistics Canada said the jobless rate in the province’s oil and gas sector peaked at 12.3 per cent in February. It fell to 11.8 per cent in March and was 9.7 per cent in July.

Alberta, however, has also received some help from Ottawa.

The federal government announced earlier this year that Alberta was eligible for an automatic payment of $251.4 million in financial relief through its seldom-used fiscal stabilization program.

In their March budget, the Liberals also boosted employment insurance benefits for hard-hit regions of the country, which included some parts of Alberta. The changes, however, were criticized for omitting Edmonton.

Mike Moffatt, a Western University economics professor, said the biggest difference between ongoing struggles in Alberta and 2009 was that, unlike today, the credit system back then had broken down.

He said the unusual set of circumstances had left banks unable to provide capital even when it made financial sense. So, if automakers couldn’t make their payrolls, they couldn’t turn to the banks for help, Moffatt added.

That made the “exceptionally rare” decision to provide an industry bailout necessary, he said.

“There was this underlying understanding that if we weren’t at the table, we could kiss the entire industry goodbye.”

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Ontario’s gender neutral health cards can’t be used in passport applications

TORONTO _ Ontario is scrambling to work out a deal with the federal government after learning its new gender-neutral health cards cannot be used to obtain a passport.

ServiceOntario, which administers the health card program, is in negotiations with Ottawa about a solution to the issue, which is a problem for people who don’t have a driver’s licence and want to get a passport.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says as a temporary fix, ServiceOntario can issue receipts with the health card that contain all the identifying information needed for passport applications.

He says people who don’t have the receipt for their health card can obtain a copy from ServiceOntario.

Hoskins couldn’t say if the province told the federal government it was going to eliminate the part of the health cards that identify the person’s sex.

The province announced in June that it would stop including gender on health cards, and starting next year, people will have the option of selecting X on their driver’s license instead of M for male or F for female.

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