Question No. 1230--Mr. Garnett Genuis
With regard to expenditures on private security firms in Myanmar: (a) which private security firms have been utilized in Myanmar since January 1, 2017; (b) what specific actions is the government taking to ensure that private security forces receiving government expenditures do not participate in violence against Rohingyas or other minorities; (c) is the government aware of any firms referred to in (a) participating in violence against Rohingyas or other minorities; and (d) if the answer to (c) is affirmative, what specific actions did the government take against such firms?
ResponseHon. Chrystia Freeland (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), since January 1, 2017, the Embassy of Canada to Myanmar in Yangon has utilized one private security firm, IDG Myanmar Co. Ltd.
With regard to (b), as part of the embassy’s due diligence process in contracting a security firm to provide a security guard for the embassy, market research is conducted to identify capable suppliers, which includes but is not limited to referrals from other embassies or international organizations, and online and local research. IDG has provided and provides security services in Myanmar including guarding services and security training to the UN, EU, the Norwegian Embassy, and the British Embassy. Positive recommendations have been received from the UN and the Norwegian Embassy. The contract award is based on predetermined evaluation criteria and methods of selection assessing several areas such as experience, capacity, capability, transition plan, and price. The contracted security firm, IDG Myanmar Co. Ltd, has provided effective, professional security services for the embassy since its opening in 2014.
Contract clauses used within Global Affairs Canada ensure that security providers must be in compliance with local law and that they abide by specific governance and ethics clauses including anti-terrorism and international sanctions. Canada may terminate this contract, or reduce or suspend any payments under it if the contractor fails to honour the provisions within these clauses. These contracts are also subject to the integrity provisions policy and directive.
IDG Myanmar Co. Ltd is part of the IDG group of international security companies, a member in good standing of the International Code of Conduct Association, ICoCA, for private security companies. ICoCA member companies must submit to ongoing and independent monitoring, auditing, and verification of conduct, including adherence to international human rights standards.
With regard to (c) and (d), we have no indication that IDG Myanmar Co. Ltd has participated in violence against the Rohingyas or other minorities.
Question No. 1231-- Mr. Guy Lauzon
With regard to the decision to exclude Ottawa from the Innovation Superclusters Initiative: (a) why was Ottawa not included on the list of superclusters; and (b) what specific criteria did Ottawa fail to meet?
ResponseHon. Navdeep Bains (Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Lib.)
with regard to part (a), the selection of applications for the innovation superclusters initiative involves a two-phase process. In the first phase, which closed on July 24, 2017, applicants submitted letters of intent. The intake was very competitive, with the government receiving over 50 applications from interested applicants from all regions of Canada including British Columbia, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic, and the North and from across highly innovative industries such as clean technology, advanced manufacturing, digital technology, health/bio-sciences, clean resources, and agri-food, as well as infrastructure and transportation.
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada announced a short list of nine proposals on October 12, 2017. These selected applicants have been invited to submit a full application by November 24, 2017. The application process is ongoing and a final decision has not been made.
Descriptions of the assessment criteria and process, reflecting key elements contributing to program outcomes, are published in the program guide. They are used to assess the potential of proposals to generate economic impact and industrial benefits for Canada, as well as other key elements such as the importance and relevance of the applicant’s proposed plans.
With regard to part (b), each letter of intent received was screened for eligibility. Eligible applications were assessed against selection criteria: vision and mission for supercluster, economic growth and industrial benefits, capabilities and assets, and budget and financial commitment.
The strongest proposals were those that best demonstrated a clearly defined and common vision for building a business-led cluster, setting their cluster apart by building on the best of its assets and making the cluster more than the sum of its parts; strong potential to accelerate economic growth and achieve industrial benefits in highly innovative industries; unique capabilities and potential to position Canada for global leadership in a particular field; scale and critical mass, bringing together a large number of interested organizations, and securing or demonstrating potential to secure financial commitment from the private sector.
Recognizing that there were many good proposals and interesting ideas presented beyond those that were shortlisted, all lead applicants on non-selected proposals received calls from program officials to discuss how Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and its portfolio partners might continue working together with proponents. The goal of these conversations has been to find new partnerships, programs, and avenues to maintain the applicants’ momentum and advance the issues of greatest interest to their member firms and organizations.
Question No. 1236--Mr. Ron Liepert
—With regard to the tweet by the Prime Minister on October 11, 2017, that “Let me be blunt: we are not going to tax anyone's employee discounts”: (a) are all employee discounts exempt from taxation; (b) if the answer to (a) is negative, what specific discounts are subject to taxation; and (c) have specific instructions been given to the Canada Revenue Agency not to tax employee discounts, and if so, what was the exact text of the instructions?
ResponseHon. Diane Lebouthillier (Minister of National Revenue, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to parts (a) and (b), the Income Tax Act, ITA, states that, with certain exceptions, “the value of … benefits of any kind whatever received or enjoyed ... in respect of, in the course of, or by virtue of an office or employment” be included in income. To assist with the interpretation of the ITA, the CRA has a long-standing administrative policy that states that employee discounts on merchandise are generally not taxed, except in certain situations when a discount on merchandise is included in income. This policy is explained in T4130, “Employers’ Guide: Taxable Benefits and Allowances”, as follows:
If an employer sells merchandise to an employee at a discount, the benefit the employee gets from the discount is not usually taxable except in the following situations:
• The employer makes a special arrangement with an employee or a group of employees to buy merchandise at a discount.
• The employer makes an arrangement that allows an employee to buy merchandise (other than old or soiled merchandise) for less than the employer’s cost.
• The employer makes a reciprocal arrangement with one or more other employers so that employees of one employer can buy merchandise at a discount from another employer.
If an employer provides a subsidized meal to an employee, the CRA does not consider these meals a taxable benefit if the employee pays a reasonable charge. A reasonable charge is one that covers the cost of the food, its preparation, and service. Employees are also, in most cases, not taxed if they receive a meal when they work the occasional overtime shift.
With regard to part (c), on October 10, 2017, the Minister of National Revenue asked officials to clarify the wording of discounts on merchandise to ensure taxpayers are ?provided with clear and concise information in Folio S2-F3-C2, “Benefits and Allowances Received from Employment”. As a result, the CRA removed the folio from its website and is reviewing the folio’s wording regarding discounts on merchandise.