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Good evening to you.
We begin on the Hill, with the government’s much-troubled attempt to modernize the Broadcasting Act. There was word today the House’s Canadian Heritage committee will stall its clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10 while it awaits a new Charter statement. The move follows weeks of controversy stirred up by Liberal, NDP, and Bloc Québécois MPs on the Heritage committee when they voted to remove the bill’s exclusion of social media and user-generated content from regulation. The change led Conservative MPs on the committee to pause its clause-by-clause review, the last step before C-10 is sent back to the House for third reading. “I’m hopeful this motion will end the impasse we have had,” Liberal MP Anthony Housefather said at today’s hearing, as he introduced the motion. Rachel Emmanuel reports.
Still on the Hill, a parliamentary committee’s call for the government to turnover the contracts it signed with COVID-19 vaccine producers has gone unanswered after almost three months, and the government is still in the process of working with the companies that signed the deals, a senior official from the Privy Council Office said today. Charlie Pinkerton has the details.
Turning to Ontario, where clearing the backlog of surgeries delayed by COVID-19 will take more than three years and cost the province $1.3 billion — roughly $700 million more than it budgeted. Those numbers are from a new report by the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) of Ontario, which reviewed the Ministry of Health’s spending plans in the latest provincial budget.
Since elective surgeries and most diagnostic procedures were halted on April 20 in response to the third wave of COVID cases, the FAO projects that the surgical backlog could increase by 11,152 procedures per week, and the diagnostic backlog by 51,990 per week. By the end of September 2021, the surgical backlog will balloon to 419,000, and the diagnostic backlog will soar to nearly 2.5 million procedures, the report says. It will take three-and-a-half years to clear the backlog of surgeries, and more than three years to clear the backlog of diagnostic procedures. That projection assumes hospitals will operate at 11 per cent above pre-pandemic levels for all surgeries, and 18 per cent above pre-pandemic levels for diagnostic procedures. More from
Still in Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters today the province has been advised to “stay the course” with pandemic restrictions until there’s a “pretty significant drop” in case numbers and ICU admissions. While things have been trending downwards since the peak of the third wave last month, it’s not the time to ease restrictions. “We are not at the place where we can release the stay-at-home order, but there will be a plan when that time does come,” she said, noting the stay-at-home order could be extended until June. That story from CTV News.
Looking nationally, not many Canadians understand the term “net-zero emissions,” or Ottawa’s plan to reach the target by 2050, new research suggests. In an online survey, six in 10 people said they were at least “somewhat” familiar with the term “net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions (GHGs).” Fifty-six per cent of respondents were aware of the term “low-carbon economy,” and 54 per cent had heard of the Paris climate agreement, according to a poll conducted for Natural Resources Canada of 3,457 adult Canadians last December and January. The poll is intended to represent the population of Canada. Only one in 10 was “very familiar” with any of the above.
The Liberal government has promised to get Canada to net-zero emissions by 2050. While Ottawa hasn’t said exactly how it will do that, it tabled legislation last November to establish legally binding, five-year reductions targets. Jolson Lim has more.
The Sprout: Drought in parts of the Prairies worsens
In Other Headlines:
Jagmeet Singh says there’s a link between anti-maskers and far-right extremism (CP)
Domestic flights account for 80% of COVID-19 cases among air travellers (Global)
New military judges will be required to take sexual assault law training (Global)
Suspected bird strike forces Snowbirds plane to make emergency landing (CTV)
Starbucks Canada offers all employees three paid sick days until September (CP)
Doug Ford’s handling of Rob Ford’s estate faces scrutiny from provincial lawyer (The Star)
Proposed federal justice reforms could reduce number of Indigenous, Black people in system, say advocates (CBC)
In an update today, the World Health Organization said the world was seeing a plateauing in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with declines in most regions including the Americas and Europe, the two worst-affected regions. However, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it’s still “an unacceptably high plateau,” with more than 5.4 million reported cases and nearly 90,000 deaths last week. Cases are also still on the rise in South Asia, particularly India, as well as other areas around the world. Among the biggest risks to ending the pandemic is the global disparity in access to vaccines, Tedros said, but added jabs are only part of what’s needed to end the pandemic. He appealed to world leaders to use every tool at their disposal to drive transmissions down. “Even if your country has a downward trend, now is the time to surge your capacities,” he said.
Today, the WHO also said that the variant first identified in India, is being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily. Reuters reports.
In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave permission today to hug again, albeit cautiously, as months of restrictions start to ease. On the heels of widespread vaccination, this is part of the government’s four-step plan to bring the country out of lockdown by the summer. Later this month, pubs, cafés and restaurants will be able to host customers indoors. Reuters has that story as well.
In Other International Headlines:
US ship fires warning shots in encounter with Iranian boats (AP)
Palestinians report several killed in Israeli air raids on Gaza (Al Jazeera)
Hamas targets Jerusalem after clashes at revered mosque (AP)
Boris Johnson under investigation over Mustique holiday (Sky News)
Ukraine seizes first batch of Chernobyl-made alcohol in not-so-rad bust (Global)
Melinda Gates met divorce lawyers when Epstein ties revealed: WSJ (Al Jazeera)
Iraqi TV journalist shot day after anti-government activist’s killing (BBC World)
Kabul attack spurs fears over fate of Afghan women as US exits (The Hill)
California has a staggering $75.7B budget surplus (Politico)
Farms’ air pollution contributes to almost 18K deaths in US annually: study (The Hill)
Finally today, let’s start the week with a song. For the latest from Randy Rainbow, hop aboard the GOP Express. Next stop? Crazy town.
Have a great night.