March 1st, 2024

In the news today: Temporary visas offered to people in Gaza with Canadian relatives

By The Canadian Press on December 22, 2023.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller delivers remarks at a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2023. Canada's immigration minister has announced a new temporary visa program for people in Gaza who have Canadian relatives-- although it doesn't guarantee their escape.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today…

People in Gaza with Canadian relatives offered visas, but no guarantee of escape

Canadians desperate to bring extended family members in the Gaza Strip to safety will soon be able to apply for temporary visas for their loved ones, but the government can’t guarantee they’ll be able to escape.

Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced the new temporary immigration program Thursday for people in the Gaza Strip who have Canadian relatives, but he underscored the challenges of getting out of the besieged Palestinian territory.

The Rafah border crossing is tightly controlled by Israel and Egypt as part of negotiations mediated by Qatar, and Canada has no say about who crosses the border on a given day. Instead, Canada has provided a list of names for the consideration of foreign authorities.

Canada at growing odds with Global South: experts

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said last fall that Canada needs to better reflect the needs of developing countries, where most of the world’s population lives.

But analysts say it will be hard for Ottawa to rise to that challenge because of cutbacks to aid and the foreign service, as well as stances on geopolitics that are out of line with much of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Pablo Heidrich, a Carleton University professor whose research focuses on what many call the Global South, says that Canada has lost its reputation as being close to the U-S while co-operating with developing countries.

Here’s what else we’re watching …

More Canadians to feel pinch of high rates in 2024

As another inflation-fighting year wraps up, the Bank of Canada’s quest to restore price stability is expected to begin drawing to a close in 2024.

After 10 hefty rate hikes, the central bank has opted to hold its key interest rate steady at five per cent since July.

It’s been encouraged by evidence that higher interest rates are restraining spending in the economy and helping bring down inflation.

Canada’s inflation rate has fallen from 8.1 per cent in mid-2022 to 3.1 per cent in November.

Climate adaptation needs money to save money

The federal government says every dollar spent on climate adaptation saves up to 15 dollars in future costs while generating significant benefits.

But one expert says Ottawa hasn’t provided enough planning or funding to get its national adaptation strategy off the ground, despite a devastating summer of wildfires and flooding.

Craig Stewart, vice-president for climate change and federal issues with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, says there’s “a lack of political will around adaptation.”

Canada’s first adaptation strategy released in June outlines time-based targets to reduce risks posed by wildfires, extreme heat, flooding, and a host of other impacts linked to global heating.

Are Canada’s water bombers fit for its wildfires?

Now that the smoke has lifted on Canada’s worst recorded wildfire season, some have questioned whether the country’s fleet of aerial water bombers can keep up with longer, more intense wildfire seasons fuelled by climate change.

John Gradek, a faculty lecturer of aviation management at McGill University, says he estimates about half the large water bombers in Canada are nearing the end of their life.

He says it’s time to consider rebuilding a robust fleet.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests says its larger planes that make up about half the provincial fleet are on average 24 years old, while the other smaller planes are on average around 50 years old.

High expectations for new Manitoba premier

Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew is riding high in opinion polls a little more than two months after winning a provincial election.

But political analysts say the real test lies ahead, as the N-D-P government tries to fulfil election promises while dealing with a deficit.

Kinew says promises to improve health care, reopen emergency departments and end chronic homelessness will take years to fulfil.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2023.

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