BY THE HONOURABLE JUDY SGRO, MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP AND
IMMIGRATION At the Ontario Immigration Roundtable
Ontario February 9, 2004
I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to all of you here
this morning and express my thanks to Dr. Bountrogianni
for jointly organizing and hosting this very important roundtable.
It's a pleasure for me as new Minister of Citizenship and
Immigration Canada to meet with so many leaders from such
vibrant and culturally diverse communities.
I've been impressed during my short tenure as Minister of
Citizenship and Immigration with the willingness and ability
of all levels of government to work together in a spirit
of cooperation and understanding. The recent Federal-Provincial-Territorial
meeting of Immigration Ministers is just one example of
So I'd like to think that this meeting today represents
a further strengthening of our resolve and commitment to
forge lasting relationships that will help ensure immigration
to Canada benefits everyone in every region.
Today we live in an age of migration. People from every
corner of the globe are on the move in unprecedented numbers
in search of a better life for themselves and their families.
This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for all
of us. Newcomers bring ideas, skills, and talents to help
fuel the growth of Canada's economy into the 21st century.
Most come with the skills and knowledge Canadian businesses
will need to be successful in the new and traditional economies.
We're therefore committed to increasing immigration levels
over the coming years according to a balanced plan. What's
the best way to achieve this? How do we ensure that the
immigration program is working properly and benefits both
the communities where newcomers settle as well as immigrants
One of the most important elements will be to fully engage
all of you as municipal leaders in the process and ensure
that the immigration plans we develop fully reflect your
perspective, your views, and your concerns. Our immigration
plans have to be developed with you in mind from the start.
In many ways, this meeting therefore represents the beginning
of a new way of doing business and a new spirit of cooperation
between our respective governments.
Today we need more collaboration in the decision making
process. We need closer working relationships among our
governments so that everyone can have a stronger say in
the immigration process. And we need to hear from you. Over
the coming months, the federal government will also be consulting
with other municipal leaders and stakeholders to help ensure
that as many as possible have a say in the development of
our immigration plans. We appreciate that funding may be
an issue and are prepared to listen to your concerns and
any proposals you may have as we develop a shared national
Last week's Speech from the Throne committed us to deepening
the pool of Canada's talents and skills by ensuring more
successful integration of new immigrants into the economy
and into communities. This means working hand in hand with
municipalities to help provide an appropriate welcome for
newcomers. It also means working together with our municipal
partners to ensure an appropriate match between the skills
immigrants bring and local business needs.
The Throne Speech also committed us to a new deal for municipalities.
This meeting gives us an opportunity to move the process
forward by listening to your concerns, valuing your input,
and together clarifying the roles that municipalities want
to play in immigration.
Newcomers to Canada overwhelmingly choose to put down roots
in cities. This helps to make our country one of the most
urbanized in the world and our cities among the most ethnically
While immigrants made up slightly more than 18 percent of
Canada's population in 2001, for example, they made up 44
percent of the population of Metropolitan Toronto and 37
percent of the population in Vancouver. Across Canada, over
90 percent of newcomers settle in cities.
You as mayors therefore have an especially important role
to play. It's critically important that your voice be heard
on immigration matters. We're here to listen. We're here
to learn. And we're here over the long term to ensure that
all of us have a role in building an immigration plan that
meets the needs of Canadians and is a model for the rest
of the world.
ownership in Canada
will remain solid in 2004 as market continues to move into
TORONTO, Feb. 17
/CNW/ - Alberta's reign as one of the most affordable provinces
in Canada in which to own a home is expected to continue
through 2004, according to the new Housing Affordability
Index released today by RBC Economics.
RBC's Housing Affordability Index for Alberta -- which measures
the proportion of pre-tax household income needed to service
the costs of owning a home - remained unchanged from the
previous quarter at 27.3 per cent in the last quarter of
2003. This translates into an average monthly payment of
$1,231 for an average detached bungalow (principal, interest,
tax and utilities) and compares to a national average of
32.2 per cent or $1,283 per month for the final quarter
"Alberta's housing market shifted to more balanced
conditions in 2003 after an increase in resale listings
helped to ease the double-digit pricing growth of 2002,"
said Carl Gomez, RBC economist. "This healthy shift
in the province's housing market will continue this year.
Still, housing activity will remain well above historical
norms given that housing demand continues to be supported
by solid affordability and moderately good employment growth."
According to the RBC report, the benchmark price of a detached
bungalow in Alberta increased on an annual basis by 2.6
per cent to $184,368 in the fourth quarter of 2003 - the
slowest rate of appreciation seen in the province since
1996. In Calgary, the trend was similar as the benchmark
price rose 5.2 per cent to $228,099 with the city's Affordability
Index remaining unchanged at 29.3 per cent for the final
quarter of 2003.
The Housing Affordability Index, which RBC has compiled
since 1985, is based on the costs of owning a detached bungalow,
a typical target home for first-time buyers. The higher
the index, the more difficult it is to afford a house. For
example, an Affordability Index of 50 per cent means that
home ownership costs, including mortgage payments, utilities
and property taxes, take up 50 per cent of a typical household's
The RBC report notes that Atlantic Canada remained the most
affordable region with an Affordability Index of 26.8 per
cent and British Columbia remained the least affordable
with an index at 42.9 per cent. RBC's Affordability Index
for Canada's three largest cities for the last quarter of
2003 breaks down as follows: Vancouver 46.2 per cent, Toronto
38.4 per cent
and Montreal 30.1 per cent.
- British Columbia: Lack of housing supply resulting in
rising home prices eroded affordability to 42.9 per cent
in the last quarter of 2003 from 42.1 per cent during the
previous quarter. For 2004, the ongoing lack of inventory
will mean that prices will continue to climb sharply, helping
to trigger the biggest annual increase in new home construction
among all provinces.
Relatively low mortgage rates and an improving supply of
new homes in 2004 should help Saskatchewan maintain its
position as one of Canada's most affordable regions, despite
an erosion in affordability to 29.7 per cent in the last
quarter of 2003 from 29.2 per cent the previous quarter.
- Manitoba: Tight
inventory caused the largest deterioration in affordability
of any region in Canada during the final quarter of 2003,
as its index rose to 30.9 per cent from 30 per cent the
- Ontario: A more
balanced market and low mortgage rates resulted in affordability
eroding to 31.3 per cent from 31 per cent the period before.
Move-up buyers will become a dominant force driving Ontario's
housing market in 2004.
- Quebec: Housing
affordability remained stable in the last quarter of 2003
at 29.9 per cent even as home prices continued to accelerate
sharply. With mortgage rates expected to remain relatively
low for most of 2004 and income growth expected to pick
up as the economy improves, housing activity is likely to
remain strong in 2004.
- Atlantic region:
Remains the most affordable area in Canada in which to own
a home with Affordability Index levels at 26.8 per cent.
With overall housing inventory up and demand easing, housing
markets will likely move to even more balanced territory
in the coming year.
The full RBC Housing
Affordability Index report is available online at www.rbc.com/economics/market/pdf/house.pdf.
future is going to depend even more on immigration" Citizenship
and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro
Star Feb. 10, 2004. 01:00 AM
Cities want immigration deal Talks with senior governments
But no cash from Ottawa forthcoming
NICHOLAS KEUNG IMMIGRATION/DIVERSITY REPORTER
While Ottawa hasn't promised additional funding for immigration
programs, some Ontario municipal leaders say they are pleased
to be part of federal-provincial talks for an immigration
Eight mayors and regional chairs from across the province
met with Citizenship and Immigration Minister Judy Sgro
and her provincial counterpart, Marie Bountrogianni, in
Toronto yesterday to come up with a framework to better
deliver immigrant settlement programs.
It was the first time in Canada that mayors were given a
say in the very services and programs - from English-as-a-second-language
classes to immigrant job training - that municipalities
help deliver to newcomers. "It is the beginning of something
that had not happened before. It is a breath of spring to
the municipalities," Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said
after a three-hour closed-door meeting at the Marriott Hotel.
Ontario is the only province or territory that doesn't have
an immigration agreement with the federal government. Yesterday's
tri-level meeting is to be the first among many before a
broad agreement can be hammered out later in the spring.
Among the key issues discussed, Sgro said, were how diversity
can be better reflected in society, how roadblocks can be
removed for new immigrants and what governments can do on
the issue of foreign credentials.
"(Canada's) future is going to depend even more on immigration,"
she said. "It is imperative that we do it right, that our
immigration policies in the future clearly reflect our compassion,
our common sense, our fairness in our immigration policies
... in consultation with our Canadians, our mayors and cities."
Ontario currently receives $800 from Ottawa for each new
immigrant that comes into the province. The amount is far
below the $3,000 received by Quebec, said Bountrogianni,
who attributes the inequity to the lack of a mutual agreement
with the federal government.
Asked if an agreement would translate into additional settlement
program funding to Ontario, Sgro replied: "We are building
a relationship. We are not going to get into what one province
gets, what another one should be getting or should not be
getting. The question is, we're trying to build a nation,
that's why we're moving forward."
Mayor David Miller said he would like to have a memorandum
of understanding among the three levels of government on
immigration. About 60 per cent of Canada's 220,000 new immigrants
each year choose Ontario as their home, with 80 per cent
of them settling in the Greater Toronto Area.
"The challenge is people are having a harder and harder
time settling. Foreign-trained professions and trades are
getting a tougher time getting their credentials recognized.
And that's wrong. It is a loss for cities, a loss for the
people and their families," Miller said.
Bountrogianni said among other things she'd like to see
included in the immigration agreement are a provincial nominee
program that can fast track the immigration process for
those skilled workers needed in Ontario and better information
for potential immigrants overseas.
Other participants included: York Region Chair Bill Fisch,
Markham Mayor Don Cousens, Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni,
Sudbury Mayor David Courtemanche, Waterloo Mayor Ken Seiling
and Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale.
Canada fails to protect stakeholders
Corporate Directors warn more financial statement manipulation
ahead in 2004: KPMG Survey.
TORONTO, Feb. 10 /CNW/ - In a survey sent to the directors
of 75 of Canada's largest corporations, 84 per cent said
that they think it is likely they will hear of a public
company in Canada that has been involved in financial statement
manipulation in 2004, according to this year's Survey of
the Risk of Manipulation of Financial Statements published
today by KPMG Forensic. A further 46 per cent thought it
possible that such manipulation could occur in the company
of the Board on which they themselves sit.
"It's illuminating that our survey results show that this
type of fraudulent behaviour carried out as a conspiracy
by a group of senior people to deceive corporate directors,
auditors, lenders and other stakeholders to line their own
pockets, has come to be seen as commonplace," says James
Hunter, President, KPMG Forensic.
Sixty-two per cent of directors said that compensation models
based on profitability encourage manipulation by CEOs and
CFOs. However, directors also argued that the CEO and CFO
both bear the greatest responsibility for protecting stakeholders
Only 28 per cent of respondents thought the Board of Directors
is ultimately responsible for ensuring that financial statements
have not been deliberately manipulated. However, 47 per
cent felt that it is the CEO who bears the greatest responsibility
for protecting against such manipulations.
"This is an interesting choice considering how often CEOs
themselves have been implicated when financial statement
manipulation occurs," said Hunter.
A further 91 per cent of respondents indicated that although
a conflict of interest policy for members of their Board
exists, only 55 per cent of Directors could say that they
were required by their company to sign this attestation
form annually. A further 62 per cent said they have received
no formal training to help them address the issue of financial
Other survey highlights include:
- 71 per cent
of directors said that Canadian regulators should be more
aggressive in dealing with companies where financial statement
- 72 per cent
said they rely on the external auditor more than anyone
else to inform them of attempts at manipulation.
- 94 per cent
of survey respondents agreed that members of the audit
committee must be independent and not involved in the
management of the company.
- The majority
of respondents agreed that manipulation of financial
statements by a conspiracy of senior managers was the
greatest risk to reputation facing a public company today.
- Although 73
per cent of respondents agree that the role of Chairman
of the Board and CEO should be separate, 27 per cent felt
this was not imperative.
have until March 31 to file property assessment complaints
TORONTO, Feb. 16 /CNW/ - Property owners who disagree with
the property assessments they have received from the Municipal
Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) for tax purposes,
have until March 31, 2004 to file an annual assessment complaint
with the Assessment Review Board (ARB). The ARB is an independent,
adjudicative tribunal established under statute by the Province
of Ontario that hears property assessment complaints across
The assessed value of properties is determined by all the
buildings, improvements and land that comprise the property,
and this assessment is used to calculate the municipal and
education taxes a property owner will pay.
The assessment property owners received for 2004 is based
on the "current value" of the property as of June
30, 2003. "Current Value" is the price that a
willing buyer would pay a willing seller in an arm's-length
transaction, if the transaction were to have taken place
June 30, 2003.
If owners disagree with the assessed value on their property,
there are two steps that can be taken to obtain a review
of the assessment.
First, a Request for Reconsideration of the property assessment
can be filed with MPAC. This is an informal process, available
free of charge, where MPAC re-evaluates the assessment of
the property in question. Request for Reconsideration forms
and information about the property assessment process are
available at municipal offices, MPAC offices, on the Internet
at www.mpac.ca, or by calling
1-866-296-6722. If an owner and MPAC cannot reach an agreement,
or if MPAC is unable to process the Request for Reconsideration
before the ARB's filing deadline, the owner may wish to
file a complaint with the ARB. There is a fee required to
file a complaint, and complaints must be filed with the
Board by March 31, 2004.
"We strongly encourage property owners to contact the
Municipal Property Assessment Corporation if they disagree
with the assessed value before going to the expense of filing
a complaint with the Assessment Review Board," says
ARB Chair Marie Hubbard. "Often a resolution can be
reached with MPAC with no need for further action."
Complaints can be filed electronically through the ARB's
website at www.arb.gov.on.ca
and can also be mailed, faxed, or delivered to the Board
in person. Forms, instructions and information pamphlets
are available at the ARB's office at 250 Yonge St. in Toronto,
at MPAC and municipal offices, and at Government Information
Centres (GICs) across Ontario.
Information about the ARB and filing a complaint is available
on the Board's website or by calling (416) 314-6900 or toll-free
The Assessment Review Board is an independent adjudicative
tribunal established under statute by the Province of Ontario
that hears complaints filed by property owners who believe
there is an error in the assessed value or classification
of a property. The Board, which operates under a variety
of legislation including the Assessment Act, also deals
with complaints on matters such as school support designation
and property tax appeals. Visit
the ARB at www.arb.gov.on.ca