Ottawa trade mission to India shows early signs of success

Mayor Jim Watson’s trade mission to India was off to a good start Monday with the announcement of agreements between Canadian and Indian companies during its first day of business in New Delhi. The delegation is focused on building trade linkages and attracting investments which is a significant component of "Partnerships for Innovation", the City's economic development strategy.

One of the highlights of the day was a meeting with the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, where matters of mutual interest including ‘Smart Cities’ were discussed. Mayor Watson also briefed the Chief Minister on the composition and objectives of the trade mission.

Ottawa’s Kivuto Solutions E-learning company used the opportunity of business development sessions to announce details of a new collaboration with Golgotias University in India, with plans to expand digital textbook resources in India with Texidium Platform, which is in use by many educational institutions across Canada.

“Investing in India means investing in the future of education. By 2025, India will have 120 million students ready to enter university,” says Richard White, President of Kivuto. “We’re very excited to work with Galgotias University to shape the classrooms of tomorrow.”

“Texidium is a great fit with our commitment to delivering high quality student education using innovation,” says Suneel Galgotia, Chancellor of Galgotias University. “We take pride in using transformational technology to train transformational leaders.”

The City of Ottawa announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Amity University to establish its presence in Ottawa and facilitate exploration of Amity University locating a campus here, in collaboration with a local postsecondary institution. Amity University is a private and leading education group in India, with more than 100,000 students in multiple campuses, and more than 100 linkages with universities, laboratories and research centres across the world. The University of Ottawa and Amity University also signed an MOU for a student exchange program starting in 2016.

“These agreements are significant in terms of building Ottawa’s global reputation, and relationships between Ottawa companies and the vast markets and financial resources that can be accessed in India,” said Mayor Watson. “The announcements are incredibly important to the businesses and organizations involved as they represent significant deals and the first critical steps in developing a lasting and prosperous relationship.”

National Jewels in India announced it will work with inCa Synergies Ottawa to help them establish their Canadian Brand, ESENCIA JEWELRY in Ottawa. National Jewels will invest in Ottawa to establish their brand and hire local employees to begin their operation in the summer of 2016. The estimated value of this investment may exceed $250,000.

The day also saw an agreement signed between ASSOCHAM (Associated Chambers of Commerce of India) and Invest Ottawa to facilitate trade development opportunities between India and Ottawa.

Quote from InCa Synergies – Ottawa:

“The founders at National Jewels are very professional in their approach and are looking to grow exponentially in Canada. We are pleased to be associated with them,” said Raj Narula, founder and CEO of InCa Synergies.

Quote from National Jewels – India:

“InCa Synergies has a very clear vision towards business partnerships that bring economic growth for both countries. We are happy to work along with the company and its experienced founder.”

More transportation choices: Ottawa opens the door to companies like Uber and Lyft, while modernizing taxi regulations

I’m pleased to tell you that Ottawa has become one of the first Canadian jurisdictions to adopt regulations for Private Transportation Companies like Uber and Lyft. ‎We’ve also cut fees and red tape on the traditional taxi industry in order to allow it to compete and innovate. The new regulations come into effect on September 30.

If a Private Transportation Company like Uber or Lyft want to operate in Ottawa, they’ll be required to follow some common-sense rules:

  • Commercial insurance
  • Police checks for drivers
  • Vehicle inspections
  • 11¢ per-ride licensing fee (to cover the cost of administration)
  • Per-ride fee to support accessible services such as Para Transpo (to be negotiated; in lieu of directly providing 15% wheelchair-accessible cars)

At the same time, we’ve heard from taxi drivers and passengers that the status-quo is simply not working. That’s why we’re removing several restrictions on the taxi industry to allow it to compete and innovate:

  1. Allow taxi companies to offer reduced fares when rides are booked through an app
  2. Eliminate the $1.50 credit and debit card fee
  3. Reduce the taxi driver license fee by 40% (from $170 to $96)
  4. Waive the taxi driver license fee for accessible taxis (from $170 to $0)
  5. Allow companies run their own customer service training, instead of the $820 standard taxicab driver multi-week course at Algonquin College
  6. Eliminate interior and trunk size requirements for vehicles (more flexibility)
  7. Increase maximum vehicle age from 8 to 10 years (more flexibility)

I have every confidence that the traditional taxi industry can compete under these new rules, especially as they retain the exclusive right to pick up street hails, use taxi stands and receive payment in cash.

You may have heard some of the traditional taxi industry’s concerns about the original proposal. Their feedback led to a number of changes to the proposed rules to deal with Private Transportation Company issues such as enforcement, compliance, taxes, and delaying the implementation date for several months.

The City’s role is not to ban competition. We should set fair rules for all transportation categories, and then allow you, the customer, to make your own informed choices. Ottawa should be a place where competitive, effective transportation options are available for all.