Crosscountry: Canada at a glance — November 2015

The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has committed more than $1 billion dollars to infrastructure projects in Mexico, while Valeant Pharmaceuticals is coming under fire for jacking up the prices of existing drugs.


The Caisse looks south

In a North American first, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has partnered with a group of Mexico’s largest institutional investors to create a co-investment vehicle for infrastructure projects in Mexico. The Caisse plans to commit $1.43 billion over the next five years and will hold a 51% interest in the co-investment vehicle.

“The agreement provides ... an ideal platform to participate in the expansion and the modernization of Mexico’s infrastructure,” says a release. “Fueled by ambitious structural reforms, favourable demographics and robust demand from the US, the Mexican economy is poised for significant growth in years to come.” Particularly attractive is the Mexican government’s four-year plan to spend about $605-billion on infrastructure investments.

The co-investment platform is expected to pursue opportunities in many areas, including energy generation, transmission and distribution and public transit.


Down in the count

McGill University 

Three Canadian universities appear in the QS World University Rankings 2015/16. But all three are moving down in the ranks.

McGill University, which holds the top spot among its Canadian peers, came in 24th place this year — down from 21st last year. University of Toronto moved to 34th position this year from 20th last year. Finally, University of British Columbia slid from 43rd place last year to 50th this year.


Drug prices on steroids

A handful of pills 

In the US, there is already a storm of controversy around the practice of jacking up the prices of existing drugs to extreme heights. Now, it’s Canadian company Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ turn to be caught up in the turmoil, according to the Fiscal Times.

Citron Research, an online investment research company, recently published a study that included a list of prices for 31 Valeant drugs. It showed increases ranging from 90% for a nasal spray to 2,288% for ear drops.

These are not new drugs, for which Valeant could justify the price by claiming high research costs. Many were recently acquired by the company.


Playing to his strengths

Classical pianist Philip Chiu has been chosen as the inaugural winner of the Prix Goyer 2015-’16 for extreme emerging artist, reports the Montreal Gazette.

The size of the prize $125,000makes it the biggest in Canada (and one of the biggest in the world) for an emerging artist in classical music. It is named after former solicitor general Jean-Pierre Goyer, who managed the Orchestre Métropolitain from 1998 to 2006.

Born in Hong Kong and now living in Montreal, Chiu has studied at the Glenn Gould School in Toronto and at the Université de Montréal.