Weekly MP Report from Jay Hill

MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
 
“Ottawa News Brief:  Farmers Get Better Access to Credit and ePassports Explained”
 
Like many businesses, Canadian farm operations are feeling the “credit crunch”, arising from lenders reluctant to provide loans amidst the global economic recession.
 
While the Government of Canada has undertaken several measures to provide individuals and businesses with improved access to credit, including through the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Export Development Corporation and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, farming is a unique industry making important contributions to both our society and our economy.
 
Recognizing that we must continue to work hard to ensure farming remains a viable career choice in this country, our Conservative Government introduced new legislation last week to guarantee an estimated $1-billion in loans over the next five years to Canadian farm families and cooperatives.  Most of these loans will go to farmers and cooperatives previously ineligible.
 
If passed by Parliament, Bill C-29 would expand the Farm Improvement and Marketing Cooperative Loans Act (FIMCLA), and re-name it the Canadian Agricultural Loans Act (CALA), to ensure farmers will be eligible for new loan guarantee limits of up to $500,000, double the current limit of $250,000.
 
New farmers, who are currently not eligible under the FIMCLA, will be eligible for loans under the new CALA.  Intergenerational farmers taking over their family farm will also now have loans of up to $500,000 available to them.
 
Agriculture co-operatives with a majority farmer membership (50 percent + 1 farmer members) will be eligible for loans of up to $3-million for the processing, marketing or distribution of farm products.  Loans are currently limited to co-operatives owned 100% by farm members.
 
Easier access to credit will help to establish and improve farms here in Prince George-Peace River and all across Canada.
 
As Government House Leader, I am working hard behind the scenes with the opposition parties to ensure quick passage of Bill C-29.  For more information, go to:  www.agr.gc.ca
 
Coming in 2011:  What is an ePassport?
 
As announced in Budget 2008, the Government of Canada has committed to issuing a higher-security electronic, or ePassport, by 2011.  These new passports will be valid for 10 years, double the validity period of current Canadian passports.
 
In preparation for full implementation, Passport Canada has begun issuing all special and diplomatic passports as ePassports.
 
An ePassport looks like a regular passport yet it contains an embedded integrated chip and antenna.  The chip contains a digital version of the bearer’s identification information found on page two of the passport, including the bearer’s photo.  The Canadian ePassport features the international ePassport symbol on the front cover with the chip in the back cover.
 
The ePassport contains a proximity “contactless” chip that must be held within 10 centimetres of an electronic reader in order to be read.  Other security measures ensure that the chip cannot be read unless the passport is open and the Machine-Readable Zone on page two has also been read.
 
Various countries (57 and growing) already issue ePassports, which offer increased security with greater protection against fraudulent misuse and tampering, as well as reduced risk of identity fraud.
 
More information can be found under the “Frequently Asked Questions” section at:  www.passport.gc.ca.

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