A planned medical center in Vaughan, Ontario, may install a futuristic Israeli parking system. And the Toronto suburb’s 8,000 kilometers of roads may be illuminated more inexpensively by innovative lighting from an Israeli company.
These and dozens of other possible cooperative ventures are the fruit of a 23-person business and academic delegation to Israel this October.
“There’s really a three word answer why we’re here: to do business,” said Vaughan Councillor Alan Shefman.
“Our city is fast-growing – for seven of the last 10 years we’ve done over a billion dollars of construction – so we’re coming to Israel as part of our economic development plan, which identified China, Italy and Israel as strategic partners,” he added.
“As a looking-forward city, we need to connect with the most forward-looking country, and that’s Israel.”
Led by Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, the mission followed up on a previous trip laying the groundwork for industrial and academic R&D cooperation as well as joint ventures between Israeli firms and Vaughan’s 9,900 businesses.
Participants set up 175 meetings and signed a flurry of memorandums of understanding (MOUs), including several with Israeli colleges such as the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), where ISRAEL21c attended a presentation by the Canadians to 100 members of the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum.
Gazit-Globe, Israel’s largest real estate investment company, has applied to list its ordinary shares for trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
Gazit-Globe has received the conditional approval of the exchange for the listing, the company said on Wednesday, noting the TSX listing will not be accompanied by an equity offering.
The shares will trade on TSX under the symbol “GZT.”
“Canada has been a core market for Gazit-Globe over the past two decades,” the company’s president, Roni Soffer, said in a statement.
“We have made significant efforts in recent years to increase international investors’ awareness of the company and we believe that this listing will further increase our visibility and accessibility to Canadian and other international investors.”
Gazit-Globe operates in the United States through Equity One and in Canada through First Capital Reality Inc . It is also the largest shareholder in Finland’s Citycon and together with Citigroup controls shopping mall developer Atrium European Real Estate.
Israel and Canada have signed a first official aviation agreement, which will lead to a significant increase in flights between the two countries and allow other airlines to operate regular flights on the route.
Today, El Al offers four weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Toronto and Air Canada operates a daily flight.
Some 130,000 passengers take this route every year.
Giora Romm, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel, says the agreement will help increase incoming tourism to Israel.
“Israel is an economy that is transforming itself and pursuing excellence in the same way that the City of Vaughan is pursuing excellence by creating opportunities for growth and expansion. The ultimate goal is economic growth which will improve our standard of living and quality of life,” said Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “This business mission to Israel shows our commitment to developing foreign markets and will allow us to build strategic relationships with leading Israeli companies. By building and enhancing the City’s international reputation and profile, we will demonstrate that Vaughan is a location for significant business success.”
The mission is being led by Mayor Bevilacqua and includes Ward 2 Councillor Tony Carella and Ward 5 Councillor Alan Shefman, as well as business representatives from the Greater Toronto Area. The City has partnered with the United Jewish Appeal Federation (UJA), the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Government of Israel Economic Mission to Canada, Canada Israel Chamber of Commerce and ColdSpring Commerce to organize a series of activities designed to achieve a high return on investment for all the business mission participants.
The mission will include high-level meetings with government officials including the Mayor of the Eilot Regional Council, the Mayor of Eilat and the Charge D’affaires of the Canadian Embassy. The mission has also secured more than 150 one-on-one meetings with Israeli companies that are directly related to the high-tech, industrial, financial and academic sectors. The delegation will participate in an event hosted by the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum that is expected to attract a business audience of more than 100.
Israel is recognized as one of the most dynamic and innovative economies in the world and the program is designed to help businesses engage and collaborate with this thriving economy.
Centred in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, the mission will focus on a number of innovative industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, environmental and green products, security, information technology, and scientific and technical products.
Some of the confirmed delegates have already made connections with Israeli businesses to network and prepare for their future international expansion. A business-to-business match-making process is a key component of the mission.
Participating organizations include Groundheat Systems Inc., SLG Consulting, Renewables and Energy Savings, Centennial College, York University, Elias Custom Metal Fabrication Ltd., Mircom Group of Companies, Canadian Gift Concepts/ABA Science Play, Gulf & Pacific Equities Corp., CompuOffice Software Inc., ColdSpring Commerce, Bond Street Mercantile, Domir Blinds Manufacturing Inc., Gulf and Pacific Equities Corp., and Hughes Decorr.
For more information on the City of Vaughan Business Mission to Israel please visit www.vaughan.ca/israel.
The happiest people in the world are in Denmark, according to a new report published on Monday, based on research carried out by The Earth Inststute at Columbia University. Happiness is measured by a variety of parameters, including life expectancy, infant mortality, socio-economic status and education.
Despite the bitter cold, northern countries lead the report. As in previous years, Nordic countries top the list with Denmark coming in at number one. This is followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Austria and Iceland.
In 11th place out of 150 countries surveyed is Israel, coming in right before New Zealand, the UAE, the United States, Ireland and Luxembourg. A year ago, Israel was in 14th place, meaning it rose three spots in the rankings.
The countries with the most unhappy citizens are in Africa and other poverty-stricken areas. The country with the lowest happiness level is Togo. Higher up on the list are Guinea, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Tanzania and Senegal, alongside the European country with the most unhappy people: Bulgaria.
According to Professor John Helliwell, an economist from the University of British Columbia who wrote the report, the happiness index improved from 2005 to the present report. However, while Latin America and the Caribbean have shown dramatic improvement in their happiness index, countries in the Middle East, after the popular uprisings that have recently taken place, exhibited happiness levels drop by 11.7%.
“The Arab Spring wasn’t good for a lot of people in those regions,” Helliwell said. “But the major declines were the countries that were hardest hit in the euro crisis – i.e. Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal.”
“Happiness consists of positive emotions experienced by a person – pleasure in life, satisfaction, a sense of well-being, optimism and a finding meaning in life,” says Effi Gil, a medical psychology expert. “In countries where there is economic prosperity, high taxation policies that reduce disparities, personal freedom and real impact on someone’s personal life – there is a higher happiness index, as can be seen in the case of northern countries on the list.”
“On the other hand, in countries where there is a totalitarian regime, repeated wars, corruption and lack of any real influence of one’s own wellbeing, there is an increased feeling of individual powerlessness and low indices of happiness.”
So how did it happen that Israel’s happiness index is among the highest in the world, despite the constant criticism and the dissatisfaction seemingly shared by most Israelis? “Israel has always been perceived as an optimistic people,” said Gil. “If you look at the polls published on Rosh Hashana, it seems that most of the population is satisfied with its life,” he said.
“Even with the gaps, there is a higher sense of freedom, constant hope for improvement in the economy, for improvement in security and a feeling that in comparison to that countries that surround us, we are in a favorable position and thus, there is a relatively high level of satisfaction for Israelis with their lives,” Gil noted.