MP Jay Hill's Weekly Report

Catching Up on Federal News and Notices

Time to catch up on a selection of news and notes on federal programs of interest to local residents.

Final Farm Options Payments on the Way

During the first week of August, final payments for the Canadian Farm Families Options Program will be mailed out to participants. ‘Options’ is a two-year pilot program providing low income farmers and farm families with short-term financial assistance while they take advantage of business/skills development services that assist them in finding ways to improve their farm and off-farm income. Participants have received roughly $221-million over the two-year life of the program with a total average payment of $17,000 per participant.

U.S. Travel Update

Our Conservative Government’s ongoing efforts to work with the United States to ensure that its Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative does not compromise the flow of legitimate trade and travel have achieved results. While all Canadian citizens currently require a passport for air travel to the U.S., adult requirements for ground and sea crossings will not take effect until June 1, 2009. Canadian citizens 15 years of age and under will be allowed to present only proof of citizenship, such as an original copy of a birth certificate or a citizenship card, to enter the U.S. by land and water. Travelers 18 years of age and under in approved adult-supervised groups, such as a school trip, will also be permitted to present only proof of citizenship.

Child Care Benefit is Two Years Old

July marked two years since the introduction of the Universal Child Care Benefit by the Conservative Government. Over 1.5-million families and 2 million children have received $5-billion to help balance work and home responsibilities. The second phase of the program, a $250-million investment to help the provinces and territories create child care spaces, has resulted in over 60,000 new spaces so far. That’s in addition to the $850-million the provinces already received this year through the Canada Social Transfer for children’s programs and services, an annual amount that will grow by 3 percent through 2014.

Saskatchewan to Hold Senate Elections

The Saskatchewan government will introduce legislation this fall to hold elections for Senate nominees. This initiative by Saskatchewan reflects Canadians’ desire for a modernized, democratic Senate and complements our government’s actions. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has already appointed one Senator, Bert Brown, who was chosen by Alberta voters in Senate elections in that province. In addition, we’ve introduced Bill C-20, to provide Canadians with a direct say on who will be their Senators, and Bill C-19 to limit Senate terms to eight years from a current maximum of 45 years!

And finally a note on news from several weeks back …. a new distinctly Canadian Victoria Cross has been unveiled. Awarded for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force, the Victoria Cross is the highest honour one can receive in the Canadian Honours System. The new Victoria Cross can only be awarded to Canadians and will contain metal from the original 1867 Confederation medals, as well as metal from every region of the country.

Remember, you can always check on more government news at: www.gc.ca