Woman taken to hospital in serious condition after drive-by shooting in Toronto’s north end

Toronto police reported the victim was found with a single gunshot wound. The service also reported several bullet holes and shell casings were found inside a vehicle.
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Quebec officials to provide coronavirus update as cases rise, restrictions tighten
The health crisis has led to more than 68,000 cases and 5,800 deaths in the province to date.
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Waterloo Region District School Board date to change stream moved to Friday
Initially, parents had until Oct. 16 to pick which stream they would have their children in.
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Bancroft woman wins $100,000 on lottery scratch ticket
A Bancroft woman won the top prize in the OLG's Instant Crossword Tripler scratch ticket.
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Alleged Peterborough porch pirate arrested after food items reported stolen: police
A Peterborough woman is accused of stealing food items for a porch delivery on Bethune Street.
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Boris Johnson announces new coronavirus restriction for Britain as cases surge
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson slammed the brakes Tuesday on the country’s return to offices and a normal social life, saying the U.K. was at a “perilous turning point” in its fight against coronavirus.
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While you were sleeping: So summer is officially over
And nobody really knows what to expect from fall.
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Persistent fatigue 'significant burden' for more than half of COVID-19 patients: study
A new study out of Dublin has found that more than half of COVID-19 patients have persistent fatigue months after recovery and that women and those with depression were more likely to experience the lingering exhaustion.
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John Horgan: Savvy opportunist or practical realist?
Politics Insider for Sept. 22: B.C. is going to the polls on Oct. 24, Jim Karygiannis waits to hear about his job and the carbon price finally lands in the Supreme Court The post John Horgan: Savvy opportunist or practical realist? appeared first on Macleans.ca.
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Quebec Facing ‘Second Wave’ As Coronavirus Cases Rise Despite Restrictions
MONTREAL — COVID-19 appeared to be gaining steam in several regions of central Canada on Monday, prompting Quebec’s public health director to announce the beginning of a second wave in that province.Quebec and Ontario reported more than 1,000 cases between them, including 586 cases in Quebec, a jump of more than 100 compared with Sunday. Ontario’s numbers increased to 425 from 365 a day before.The news prompted Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s public health director, to declare a second wave of COVID-19 had started in the province.“I’m very, very, very worried by the situation, to the point where I consider that now we may be in a second wave, we’re in a second wave at its beginning,” he told a news conference in Quebec City.Quebec announced tighter restrictions on public and private indoor gatherings on Sunday as it raised the alert level for several regions of the province, including Montreal and Quebec City.But Arruda said the situation was serious all over the province and people need to respect limits on gatherings and other health guidelines in order to limit additional cases.“This second wave, we can transform it into a smaller wave than we experienced before, but if we don’t make the effort, it can be even bigger than the first,” he said.READ MORE Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole Tests Positive For COVID-19 Bloc Québécois Leader Tests Positive For COVID-19 Premiers Ask Feds For Billions In Additional Health-Care Funding Quebec To Fine People For Not Wearing A Mask In Public Genevieve Guilbault, the province’s deputy premier, said police over the weekend had visited more than 2,000 bars and restaurants and issued 1,500 warnings and 90 tickets to those not respecting health rules.In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said his government would release its plan to deal with a second wave on Tuesday.Health Minister Christine Elliott added the response to the second wave could be more complicated due to flu season and the need to address the province’s surgery backlog.“We have planned for the worst and are ready for it.”Many cases reported Monday appeared to be concentrated in large cities, including Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg.Manitoba health officials said 16 of 22 new cases across the province were in the capital, where the number of active cases has almost tripled since the start of September.“We note that many of these new cases have had large number of contacts, and that means we’re having additional people exposed to the virus, and contact tracing becomes more complex,” Dr. Brent Roussin told a news conference as he highlighted the importance of staying home for people who feel even slightly ill.In Montreal, which is Canada’s hardest-hit city, public health director Mylene Drouin said all COVID-19 indicators are worsening, suggesting the beginning of a second wave. The city reported more than 200 new cases Monday.While public health officials are warning of a second wave, it’s not yet clear what it will look like.Watch: Ontario’s plan to combat a potential second wave is coming Tuesday. Story continues below. In Quebec and in Ontario, the jump in new cases is being driven by people under the age of 40, who Drouin said are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19 but can still transmit the virus to others.The people becoming infected “are workers, those are the ones who bring the virus in the workplace, in elder homes, schools or kindergarten, so we have to be vigilant at this time,” she told a news conference.Health officials in Montreal and Winnipeg both said the surge in cases had not yet led to the health-care system being overburdened.Meanwhile, authorities continued to report COVID-19 outbreaks across the country Monday, including in schools, workplaces, a busy Calgary hospital and on an Edmonton university campus.The Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary was working to contain apparently unrelated outbreaks in its cardiac care and general medicine units.To date, 14 patients and four staff members have tested positive for the virus. One patient has died. Fifty-seven staff members are isolating.“There have been some reports of inconsistent masking use in visitors that are being investigated, as well as concerns about a staff member who may have worked while symptomatic,” said chief medical officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw.An outbreak at a men’s residence at the University of Alberta forced the school to shut down all varsity athletics for two weeks. Five residents of the building have tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 more are isolating.Alberta had 1,459 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday, with more than half in Edmonton.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.
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2 arrested after drugs, knives seized from Port Hope residence: police
Police seized $7,000 worth of fentanyl, cocaine and crystal meth from a Port Hope home on Monday.
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Trick-or-treating, costume masks and Halloween parties discouraged by CDC this year
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued its first guidance for the holidays, including Halloween, amid the raging coronavirus pandemic in a new posting on its website Monday night.
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Divide — and conquer
The pandemic has had me thinking a lot about our changing needs as homeowners. As work shifts to full-time or hybrid remote models, for many of us, our living space has been forced to pull double duty as our work space and our kid’s classrooms are spilling into our living rooms. Most pressingly, multi-generational family homes need to figure out how to navigate our current world without putting their more vulnerable family member’s health at risk. To put it bluntly — it’s a lot to consider. But it’s an obstacle we can overcome with a little bit of planning and forethought when we design our future homes. These ideas can be retrofitted into a lot of current homes, too, so even if you’re not planning to build a new home — read on. Getting into the zone For a long time, the idea of open concept has reigned — and for good reason. Parents love it because it gives them the ability to keep an eye on kids in the living room while preparing dinner in the kitchen. It can provide more light to your space, and create a flexible layout that you can change to accommodate your needs. But me, I’m a zone guy. I like having separate space in my home geared for specific usage. This makes it easier for residents within the home to physically distance, should the need ever arise. Now that many of us are shifting to working from home, either full-time or as a hybrid model — we need space to do that. Had you asked me a year ago if every home needed a home office, I would have said no. But boy, is my answer different now. If you don’t have a full room to dedicate to an office, look around for an underutilized space, like a landing at the top of a staircase, or unused corner of the living room to designate as a work zone. Depending on the nature of your job — you may need to take a lot of meetings. If they can’t be done online, you’ll need to figure out a way to make that work in your home without risking the health of your clients OR your family. So what’s the solution? Zones. Setting up a small work space in your garage, or if weather allows, the back deck, will keep work going smoothly without interrupting the interior of the home. Do you need extra storage space in case you need to do some bulk buying? Think about the random nooks and crannies in your home that could be zoned for extra storage. Installing shelving units under staircases can become a new home for your extra toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and wipes. Some new floating shelves and corner shelves in the bathroom can create a home for your new extra bathroom products. Having adaptable space Ultimately, the perfect home is one that can adapt to the homeowner’s needs as they change through their lifespan. Take my son’s home, as an example. It’s a two-storey, three bedroom home with a finished basement. When he renovated, he created an office space on the main floor of the home. This is great for him and his wife to get some work done. The office is connected to an ensuite washroom. This means, in the future should they become unable to easily navigate stairs, the office can be converted into a bedroom, without losing access to any of the amenities needed in the home. In a scenario where one of the residents fell ill and needed to physically distance within the home, having a separate bedroom and bathroom can keep the rest of the family healthy. These are contingencies we may have to plan for in the future, so it’s a good idea to have a solution in place now. Smart, adaptable layout has to be the name of the game when we talk about designing the homes of our future. To me, a home that can create a clear divide between “living space” and “working space” and provide us enough space to care for a sick loved one without compromising the health of the other residents is a good one. To find out more about Mike Holmes, visit makeitright.ca
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All-female slate of MMFA candidates say they stand for ‘inclusion, innovation’
The women’s challenge for positions on the board comes during a time of upheaval at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
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Teen girl dies in horseback riding accident in Flamborough
The girl and her mother, who are both from the Oakville area, were riding on a path not familiar to them when the girl became trapped in a marshy bog.
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Calgary police investigate deadly stabbing in Lynnwood
The victim, a man in his 20s, was pronounced dead at the scene.
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Russia ‘so confident’ in coronavirus vaccine it will shoulder legal liability
The approach is different from many places in the world.
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Power grab: 5 arrested after Hydro-Québec busts electricity theft ring
The suspects are expected to face 25 counts of fraud, conspiracy and identity theft.
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Financial experts advise on what to do with extra cash saved during the pandemic
With some workers not having to commute, to buy lunches, or to pay for childcare, some people have been able to save money during the pandemic.
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Ontario to announce fall COVID-19 plan today
The strategy comes as daily virus case counts continue to climb to levels not seen for months in Ontario.
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This tropical-looking edible fruit is native to North America
Pawpaws make a fascinating addition to even small, urban gardens.
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Peel courts pivot to ease COVID-19 backlogs and preserve right to trial in a reasonable time
Prosecutors were given a manual of COVID-19 recovery directives aimed at minimizing delays caused by the pandemic.
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Canadian snowbirds’ plans to head south for winter derailed due to coronavirus
Snowbirds tend to be older, so they're more likely to have underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 complications.
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Supreme Court to start hearings today on national carbon tax
The court will hear two days of arguments in three separate cases involving Ottawa’s policy to impose a carbon tax in provinces that don’t have an equivalent system of their own.
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Woman suspected of sending ricin to White House expected in court Tuesday
Officials in the U.S. say the letter going to Washington, D.C., had been intercepted earlier this week before it reached the White House.
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Coronavirus live updates: Quebec is home to disproportionate number of new Canadian cases
The province, with about 23 per cent of Canada's population, reported 33 per cent of the country's new cases over the past two weeks.
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Election wish list: Economic recovery a top priority for Saskatchewan industries
Three groups representing some of Saskatchewan’s biggest industries have laid out their priorities for the upcoming provincial election.
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Large industrial fire breaks out on property in Whitchurch-Stouffville
The fire broke out at around 11:17 p.m. Monday at a scrap yard on Woodbine Avenue, south of Stouffville Road, in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
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Marlene Jennings says she has changed the culture of dysfunction at the EMSB
Since its inception in 1998, the EMSB has been dogged by infighting among rival commissioners and allegations of nepotism and cronyism.
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Majority of Canadians say wearing a mask during coronavirus pandemic is a civic duty: poll
A new survey suggests the recent rise in new COVID-19 cases across Canada comes with a similar increase in support for the mandatory wearing of masks in public places.
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Alitalia airline offering 'COVID-tested' flights
The Italian national carrier Alitalia has announced that it will trial 'COVID-tested' flights between Rome and Milan where every single passenger has to confirm that they have tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
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More than half of Canadians think coronavirus deficit too big but split on election need
Voters, including Liberals, say they want to see a plan to get back towards balanced budgets.
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International experts call for independent probe of Canadian research linking fluoride and lower IQ
Several international experts have taken the unusual step of urging a Canadian university to arrange an independent investigation into research that controversially linked fluoride in drinking water to lower intelligence in children. The academics and public health officials from six countries say studies by York University’s Christine Till have been widely criticized, yet are still influencing often-emotional debates over fluoridation in American and Canadian cities. An arm’s-length review is needed to determine whether “ideology is being misrepresented as science,” the group says in a letter sent to York’s board Monday. The fact Till is using an animated video and public comments to advocate against pregnant women drinking fluoridated water, despite shortcomings in her research, makes this more than a simple scientific debate, said Myron Allukian Jr., one of the signatories. “It’s bothersome that an academic goes around yelling ‘Fire, fire,’ when there’s no fire,” said Allukian, former president of the American Public Health Association and Harvard dental professor. “She is misleading the public and others by distorting the data and not doing the proper analyses.” The letter is also signed by professors and other experts in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Chile. Till, a neuropsychologist, could not be reached for comment. But she has strenuously defended her work, saying that it’s in line with other research looking at the neurological effects of fluoride. Her critics are simply unwilling to accept that fluoridation is anything but “unequivocally safe,” despite a number of studies suggesting it poses a risk to children, she said in a commentary published earlier this year. 'So much is at stake': Academics call for release of data behind controversial Canadian fluoride study 'It's just one study': Why experts say it's not time to give up on fluoridation U.S. experts push back against Canadian study on effects of fluoride in water Till described “the challenges of conducting fluoride research and the overt cognitive biases we have witnessed in the polarized fluoride debate.” “The tendency to ignore new evidence that does not conform to widespread beliefs impedes the response to early warnings about fluoride as a potential developmental neurotoxin,” warned the scientist. In fact, the prominent journal that published Till’s key study on fluoride and IQ said it subjected the paper to added scrutiny and peer review because of its implications. The JAMA Pediatrics editor has said he would tell his wife not to drink tap water if she were pregnant. And separate studies from China, Mexico and other places, though also criticized and generally considered less rigorous, have had similar findings. Barbara Joy, a university spokeswoman, said York has policies in place to deal with such requests and “we will be responding fully once we have carefully reviewed the concerns.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has declared fluoridation of drinking water one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of the 20 th Century, reducing cavities by an estimated 25 per cent. But it has long been a contentious issue. Opposition once veered into conspiracy-theory territory, though now relies more on published research into possible harms. The movement still has links to the scientifically dubious anti-vaccination lobby. Till’s study last year on IQ and fluoridation thrust her into the centre of the fray. It examined maternal consumption of the chemical, both by looking at fluoride in urine and mothers’ reports of their fluoridated-water consumption. Of the 500 mothers from six Canadian cities included in the study, those with 1 part per million more fluoride in their urine had boys whose IQ was an average of 4.5 points lower between ages three and four. Their girls had slightly higher IQs, and there was no difference when the sexes were combined. Those who reported higher fluoridated-water consumption had children of both sexes with an average 3.7 points lower IQ, the study concluded. Till has also published a paper linking fluoridated water and ADHD, and one that concluded baby formula made with fluoridated water was associated with lower IQs. The letter cites critiques that largely dismissed the results of the IQ paper on various grounds. A detailed report by Canada’s CADTH, the independent, government-funded agency that evaluates new drugs and other health issues, said Till’s conclusions were simply “not supported by the data.” The report cited “multiple weaknesses,” including potentially wrong estimation of the mothers’ fluoride exposure and variables like parental IQ and diet after birth that weren’t considered but could have skewed the results. A review by Germany’s Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors raised similar concerns and concluded the study did not justify calling fluoride a “human developmental neurotoxin.” The letter also points to an animated video produced by Till and colleagues that leaves out much of the nuance in her findings. It states flatly that her study and one in Mexico found “fluoride led to IQ deficits in children.” Till’s work suggested there was an association between the two, not a proven cause-and-effect relationship. The review by an independent, international committee should look at whether the animation accurately represents her findings. If not, there should be a “forensic audit” into whether public research funds were used to produce it, the letter says. Meanwhile, Till also wrote to the city council of Green Bay, Wis., in July as it debated fluoridation, suggesting that, based on her results and others, pregnant women should decrease their fluoride intake. • Email: tblackwell@postmedia.com | Twitter: tomblackwellNP You might also be interested in… Jordan Peterson’s year of ‘absolute hell’: Professor forced to retreat from public life because of addiction If North Korea’s Kim Jong Un dies, who will be his successor? ‘Everybody will love it’: A four-day work week could help rebuild Canada’s economy post-COVID-19, experts say
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John Ivison: Heathcare is not on life support, despite what premiers looking for handouts say
Dominic LeBlanc is living proof of the vigour of Canada’s health system. The minister for intergovernmental affairs underwent a successful stem cell transplant a year ago to treat non-Hodgkins lymphoma. “If I’m here one year later it’s because of that remarkable feat of medicine,” he said at a press conference last Friday. Ironically, he was there to refute the idea presented by four conservative premiers that the health system is broken, thanks to Ottawa’s neglect. The premiers – Ontario’s Doug Ford, Quebec’s Francois Legault, Manitoba’s Brian Pallister and Alberta’s Jason Kenney – came to town to make a pre-throne speech appeal for what Legault called a “fair and equitable partnership.” The premiers claim there is fundamental imbalance in the way health services are funded; that Ottawa will provide just 22 per cent, or $42 billion, of the $188 billion the provinces and territories will spend on healthcare this year. The provinces are seeking an additional $28 billion – “to be maintained over time with an appropriate increase to the annual escalator” – to take the federal contribution to 35 per cent. “We’re calling for fiscal fairness in the federation,” said Kenney, adding the funding share was originally envisaged as a 50:50 split between feds and provinces. “During COVID, it’s been said we’re ‘all in this together’. But fundamentally, our ability at provincial level to pay for the quality of care that people expect is increasingly limited,” he said. Ford said that as demand increases, the support from the federal government is falling. “No province can sustain it – the system is broken when it comes to healthcare,” he said, pointing to the recent hike in COVID cases that have seen long line-ups for tests in the province. “It’s very concerning. Our doctors and nurses have been frontline heroes. But we need the support to hire more nurses,” he said. Billions more for health care tops premiers' wish list for throne speech Federal government to send $19B to provinces for 'safe restart' from COVID-19 lockdown COVID-19 will force feds to reconsider health-care funding, Trudeau says LeBlanc hit back, pointing out that as part of the federal government’s $19 billion “restart” package, $11 billion is for healthcare measures. “For every dollar spent on COVID, 87¢ has come from the federal government, which has been and will continue to be there,” he said. Provincial premiers coming to Ottawa, demanding more money for healthcare is as eternal as death and taxes. But, with healthcare top of mind, should there be an enhanced federal contribution? LeBlanc suggested that Justin Trudeau is open to the idea. “The prime minister has said on multiple occasions he is happy to talk about the Canada Health Transfer and is finalizing a time this fall to have that very meeting,” he said. However, Trudeau should resist the urge to make any expensive promises. For one thing, most people would disagree with the suggestion the system is broken. As LeBlanc said, it remains a source of national pride. Canada spent 10.7 per cent of its GDP on healthcare in 2018, or $6,448 per person. That’s far higher than the OECD average of 8.8 per cent, and more than peers like France and the U.K. (though less than the U.S.). Nor is the funding context as clear-cut as the premiers would have Canadians believe. A report by the Parliamentary Budget Office earlier this month looked at the contribution of federal health transfers to provincial programs that the transfers were designed to support – hospitals, physicians, home care services and so on – rather than total provincial health care spending. By this definition, the 2018/19 Canada Health Transfer of $38.6 billion accounted for 32 per cent of the $119.3 billion in provincial and territorial spending. Those transfers increased by 4.3 per cent in the decade after 2008/09. The provinces can justly complain that the Trudeau government ended more than a decade of six per cent annual increases in 2016/17, after which the Liberals offered a “take it or leave it” deal with minimum increases of three per cent every year (albeit, sweetened by an $11 billion over 10 years home and community care package). Former finance minister Bill Morneau squeezed each provincial premier one by one, until they accepted a deal that saved Ottawa $65 billion. It might be said the provinces were the architects of their own demise by proving they could live within those means, after restraining their own spending increases to 2.9 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17. That was then and premiers can say with some justification the greying of the Canadian population is a harbinger of things to come. The aging population will undoubtedly slow growth, putting downward pressure on government revenues and upward pressure on programs like healthcare. But the impact on health expenditure is surprisingly small. As the Canadian Institute for Health Information expenditure trends report pointed out, seniors are a diverse group – the 65-69 age group use healthcare at comparable levels to the general population ($6,656 per capita), while the 80+ age group has expenditure three times that amount. “Overall, population aging is a modest driver of increasing healthcare costs, estimated at 0.8 per cent. The share of public health sector dollars spent on Canadian seniors has not changed significantly over the past decade – 44.4 per cent in 2007 to 44.2 per cent in 2017. During the same time, the senior population grew from 13.4 per cent to 16.8 per cent,” the report noted. CIHI suggested that aging alone will add $2 billion a year to health spending. That’s material but it does not imply a funding emergency that needs to be addressed in the middle of a crisis that is already straining the public purse. Provinces have done a good job at keeping some healthcare costs under control – drug costs have been contained, mainly because savings from generics have offset growth. Hospital costs have also been controlled by reduced admissions and same-day surgery. But physician costs, which account for nearly one in six healthcare dollars, grew at 4.4 per cent last year. For the 12th year in a row, the number of doctors grew faster than the population. That is wonderful, except they have to be paid for. The gross clinical payout for a family physician in 2017/18 was $281,000 and for a surgical specialist $481,000. Ontario’s physician services budget alone is $12 billion and doctors in the province were last year awarded a four-year deal by an arbitrator, without the hard cap on earnings the government was seeking. The bottom line is that a federal government with a $400 billion deficit has no fiscal room to enrich the Canada Health Transfer. There are very real pressures on provincial healthcare budgets caused by an aging population. But Ottawa should make clear that premiers will have to live within their means, at least until the country has weathered the COVID crisis. • Email: jivison@postmedia.com | Twitter: IvisonJ
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Erin O'Toole won the Tory leadership promising to 'defund CBC,' but will it work in a general election?
In the early days of the Conservative leadership race, Erin O’Toole released a policy that would eliminate vast swaths of Canada’s public broadcaster, shrinking it down to radio and French-language services. “The CBC is out of control and in need of reform,” O’Toole tweeted on February 14. “I’ll slash funding for English TV and CBC News Network, and end funding for digital news. Focus should be on CBC Radio and Radio Canada.” The tweet included a video where O’Toole laid out the rationale for his plan, and it linked to a page on his website titled “DEFUND CBC” where visitors were asked to sign up as supporters if they agreed. Fights over CBC’s federal grant, which now amounts to $1.2 billion annually, are nothing new in politics — and especially in Conservative leadership races, where candidates are catering to the party’s more hardcore right-wing base. Attacking the CBC is among the most popular things a Tory leadership hopeful can do, even as they frequently give interviews to CBC journalists. But O’Toole’s promise was something different. It’s not just a vague threat to review CBC’s funding, as past leadership candidates have said. It’s a very specific policy, and according to people who were involved with his campaign, O’Toole believes in it and plans to take it forward into a general election. The CBC is out of control and in need of reform. I’ll slash funding for English TV and CBC News Network, and end funding for digital news. Focus should be on CBC Radio and Radio Canada.Add your name: https://t.co/HA2lG4G59d pic.twitter.com/N3gTtP12fA— Erin O'Toole (@erinotoole) February 14, 2020 The policy proposes to entirely defund CBC’s online news operation, a behemoth that outdraws all other Canadian media. It would also immediately cut funding in half to CBC’s English-language TV channels (including the news network) with the intention to privatize them by the end of O’Toole’s first mandate in government. O’Toole said he’d leave Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language division, untouched because it “plays an important role connecting Quebecers and francophones across Canada in their own language.” He also promised to exempt CBC radio on the justification it’s “commercial-free and delivers public-interest programming from coast to coast.” The net result of the policy would be to completely transform and drastically scale back the public broadcaster, essentially abolishing its English-language operation aside from radio. “The promise is radical,” said Daniel Bernhard, executive director of advocacy group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. “It’s extreme. It’s more than even Stephen Harper dared to speak of, and we know that his antipathy to public broadcasting was quite strong.” There are three main reasons why O’Toole’s campaign developed this policy, all of which are contested to various degrees by CBC’s advocates. The first is that CBC has strayed far beyond its mandate and engages in too much activity that repeats what the private sector already does or could do. O’Toole frequently cites the CBC TV show Family Feud Canada as an example of the public broadcaster losing its way. CBC has also come under criticism recently for announcing it will be producing sponsored content podcasts — in other words, podcasts developed to be advertisements for a brand. CBC has had successes with its cultural programming — most recently, the remarkable achievement by Schitt’s Creek of winning seven Emmy Awards on Sunday, sweeping the comedy categories. But O’Toole has argued that only the French-language division is worth funding for its televised programs. “No cuts in Quebec with Radio-Canada, because it’s important to have French-language television in North America,” O’Toole said in French last week during an interview with the Radio-Canada program Infoman. “But for CBC Digital and television in English, there is a lot of choice: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon.” O’Toole also believes that the original argument for expanding CBC into television and digital publishing is no longer relevant, and that Canadians — especially new Canadians — don’t need to rely on it for information and cultural programming. “When the CBC was created in the 1930s, it was an early way to connect the vast Dominion of Canada,” O’Toole said in his initial video. “Radio and later TV broadcasts were new and often the only way to connect the nation and tell our story. Almost a century later, Canadians are connected to the world with the swipe of their finger. They carry their own broadcast studio in their pocket and have unlimited streaming options 24/7.” Finally, O’Toole believes that ending CBC’s digital operation will help Canada’s ailing media sector, which is in part why he also promises to end the $600-million federal bailout package for print media. He made this point on CBC’s own website on Aug. 20, when CBC published essays from each of the leadership candidates. “We are for freedom of speech and a competitive media landscape that reflects all voices and allows local news outlets to thrive,” O’Toole wrote. “The website you are reading this on may be the worst offender. CBC Digital competes with and threatens the future of local newspapers, using your tax dollars to do it. Look above and beside this article, there are paid advertisements there. CBC uses tax dollars to bankroll this website, then scoops advertising revenue from small local news outlets. And then, the Liberals propose spending even more of your tax money to bail those papers out.” Defund the CBC and shower parents with cash: Four things Erin O'Toole has promised to do End advertising on CBC, force Canadian content on streaming services like Netflix: government panel But for all that, there is still plenty of evidence that CBC is widely supported among the broader Canadian public, and that promising to defund it will be a risky proposition in a general election. Friends of Canadian Broadcasting commissions polling once a year on attitudes towards CBC’s funding. Bernhard said there are sometimes outlier years, but overall the numbers are pretty steady that 70 to 80 per cent of the population prefers to maintain or increase the CBC’s funding. This holds true in independently-commissioned polls as well. In 2011, for example, a Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press found 46 per cent of Canadians supported current funding for CBC and 23 per cent wanted it increased. Most recently, a 2019 Nanos Research poll conducted for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting found 33 per cent supported currently funding levels and 46 per cent wanted it increased. Bernhard did say there is one subset of respondents where the numbers have changed over time. “What we have seen is that the number of people who are Conservative voters who want to see the funding decreased has gone up,” Bernhard said. Still, he noted the 2019 poll found that 18 per cent of Conservative voters would support increasing CBC’s funding and 36 per cent would maintain current levels — an overall total of 54 per cent. Bernhard also thinks O’Toole is simply wrong when he argues that ending CBC’s digital operation will help other Canadian media outlets. He said CBC took in about $250 million in total advertising revenue in 2018-19, but that’s peanuts compared to the billions in Canadian advertising dollars spent annually on foreign digital platforms. “If you want to look at where the problem is, it’s with the money going to Google and Facebook,” Bernhard said. He did, however, give O’Toole credit for promising to close a tax loophole that currently gives preferable tax treatment to ads placed with foreign platforms. O’Toole will find some support for his position, particularly among conservative-leaning groups such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which has already called for CBC’s federal grant to be cut in half as Canada tries to recover economically from the pandemic. “Most of the debate around CBC seems to turn on whether one happens to like or dislike the CBC (and its alleged bias) which is unfortunate,” said Aaron Wudrick, the CTF’s federal director, in an email. “Basically, there needs to be a real debate about the proper role of the CBC and whether it is simply duplicating things that private media are or could do but for the CBC crowding them out. Is it possible that they are filling gaps private media can’t or won’t fill? Yes. But is it also possible they don’t need to be doing everything they’re doing? Yes.” That last point is one that many critics of O’Toole’s plan are likely to emphasize. “The CBC needs to be reformed and the mandate reviewed, not defunded,” tweeted Taylor Owen, a McGill University professor specializing in digital media, after CBC announced its sponsored content podcasts. “But I worry this kind of thing makes the latter all the more likely.” The most heated opposition to O’Toole’s plan, however, is likely to come from the Liberals, who have recently branded themselves as champions of CBC’s federal funding. This is a stark change from the 1990s, when prime minister Jean Chretien and finance minister Paul Martin cut about $400 million from CBC’s budget as they sought to bring Canada’s debt under control — far more than Stephen Harper’s Conservatives would cut in 2012, when they reduced the public broadcaster’s funding by $115 million over three years as part of government-wide spending cuts. In the 2015 election, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals ran on a promise to “reverse Stephen Harper’s cuts” to CBC, and they delivered on that promise in the 2016 budget that added $150 million annually to CBC’s funding. By all indications, Trudeau will be eager to fight that battle again with O’Toole. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a statement that CBC “has a presence in 60 communities across the country” and “empowers our communities through diverse, accessible and original content, in English and French as well as in eight Indigenous languages.” The statement went on to single out shows that would disappear under O’Toole’s plan, such as “ Here & Now in Newfoundland, Compass in Prince Edward Island, Northbeat on CBC North and CBC News Vancouver.” It also said it would mean the end of CBC Indigenous, “a unique online space where Indigenous communities can see their realities reflected and make their voices heard.” “The public broadcaster tells our collective stories, enhances our critical thinking and makes our culture flourish, while employing thousands of creative workers across the country,” Guilbeault said. “Every dollar we put into the public broadcaster generates three dollars directly in our economy, it’s an investment for our country. Supporting our public broadcaster shouldn’t be a partisan choice.” — With files from Chris Nardi. • Email: bplatt@postmedia.com | Twitter: btaplatt You might also be interested in… Jordan Peterson’s year of ‘absolute hell’: Professor forced to retreat from public life because of addiction If North Korea’s Kim Jong Un dies, who will be his successor? ‘Everybody will love it’: A four-day work week could help rebuild Canada’s economy post-COVID-19, experts say
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