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Good evening to you.
We start at the House of Commons Health Committee, where today opposition MPs wanted to know whether government officials plan to increase health care funding for the provinces, among other ways they say , that the federal Liberals should manage the COVID-19 crisis.
The meeting coincides with a fifth wave caused by the more contagious Omicron variant of COVID, which has caused provincial governments to reinstate lockdown measures to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed. Ontario has closed restaurants and delayed the reopening of schools, while Quebec has reinstated a curfew.
“The other provinces and Quebec need to rebuild their health networks, and they need to know what room they have to maneuver and plan over the next few years,” said Bloc Quebecois MP Luc Thériault, noting that provincial health costs have increased by 5.2% and that Ottawa has agreed to increase them by only 4.8%.
In Kyiv, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly today held a press conference alongside her Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, and said that as Russia reinforces its troops on the border, Canada focuses on deterrence through its troops on the ground as part of a training mission for Ukrainian forces, as well as special forces that have been sent to the country in recent days.
“The goal is to make sure that we can contribute to increasing their capabilities, capabilities, in light of the Russian threat and also a new invasion of Russia,” Joly said. “Russia is the aggressor and we have to make sure we are neck and neck with Ukraine.”
She also promised there would be more financial aid to help keep the government afloat. Although other countries have started supplying weapons to Ukraine, no decision has been made on whether Canada will follow suit.
Back on the Hill, Conservative and New Democrat MPs are demanding an emergency committee meeting to consider the sale of a Chinese company that is taking over a Canadian lithium mining company. In October, China’s Zijin Mining Group announced its intention to acquire Toronto-based Neo Lithium, which received shareholder approval in December. In 2021, Canada considered lithium, a key component of rechargeable batteries, as a mineral criterion for the country’s economic security and the transition to net zero emissions. Today, a letter was sent to House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee Chairman and Liberal MP Joel Lightbound to hold an emergency meeting to review the deal.
“The Liberal government has chosen not to conduct a national security review following the announced takeover of Canadian lithium mining company, Neo-Lithium, under the provisions of the Investment Canada Act,” indicates the letter. “We are concerned that the foreign takeover was not immediately subject to proper review and due diligence. Critical minerals like lithium are essential to the future prosperity of the Canadian economy and to our strategic interests. reports Jeff Labine.
Due to its high rates of inflation and unemployment, a conservative-leaning think tank has ranked Canada as the sixth most miserable country in the world. The Fraser Institute has ranked 35 countries on its Misery Index, an economic measure based on inflation and unemployment rates. With its misery index of 10.88, Canada was the sixth most miserable country, thanks to its inflation rate of 3.15% and its unemployment rate of 7.7% in 2021.
Spain was the most unfortunate country, with a score of 17.61, followed by Greece with 15.73, Italy with 11.96 and Iceland with a score of 11.26. Japan and Switzerland were the least unhappy countries, with respective scores of 2.61 and 3.57. France, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom were all rated less miserable than Canada. Jeff Labine also has this story.
In Ontario, one in four people who died of an opioid overdose in Ontario in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic received health care days before their death, which researchers say would have could have been a chance to save his life. Those hospital visits, outpatient visits and other times care was provided were “missed opportunities,” said Dr. Tara Gomes, principal investigator of the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network ( ODPRN), following the publication by the research body of his latest report about the province’s escalating opioid crisis — which at least one of Ontario’s public health units has called a “shadow pandemic” of the COVID emergency. Charlie Pinkerton has this story.
Comings and goings: Former global journalist Gill lands at Talk Shop
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In other titles:
As tensions mount and the risk of conflict is all too real, the NATO chief today invited Russia to the table for a series of talks in the NATO-Russia Council, but so far Moscow has not accepted. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters today that he had offered “to try to find a solution to prevent any military attack on Ukraine”. For its part, Russia says that before any further discussion, it needs answers from the West on its security demands.
The State Department said today that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Friday in Switzerland, after his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tomorrow.
“We are now at a stage where Russia could launch an attack in Ukraine at any time,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. “And what Secretary Blinken is going to do is make it very clear that there is a diplomatic path to follow,” she said.
The World Health Organization said today that while Omicron may peak in some countries, no one is “out of the woods” yet. The variant continues to increase the number of cases globally. “For many countries, the next few weeks remain truly critical for health workers and health systems,” said Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “I urge everyone to do their best to reduce the risk of infection so that you can help pressure the system out.
In the United States, projections suggest Omicron deaths could skyrocket in the coming weeks. The Associated Press has this story.
In other international titles:
Andrew Fleming: Ronald McDonald House sparks anti-vax clown show in BC
Matt Trimestra: Elections need strong local candidates from all parties
Finally, Larry the cat, who is actually in charge at 10 Downing, tired of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.