April 22nd, 2024

In the news today: Pharmacare legislation to be tabled and “Not a chance” PM resigns

By The Canadian Press on February 29, 2024.

Minister of Health Mark Holland rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Health Minister Mark Holland is expected to table a long-awaited bill Thursday meant to pave the way for national pharmacare and preserve a deal that secures NDP support for the government in the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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

Liberals to table pharmacare legislation

Health Minister Mark Holland is expected to table a long-awaited bill Thursday meant to pave the way for national pharmacare and preserve a deal that secures NDP support for the government in the House of Commons.

Ottawa is also expected to launch a program to cover birth control and diabetes drugs and supplies for anyone with a health card, as a condition of a bargain struck with the New Democrats.

Pharmacare is a central pillar of the political pact between the two parties, which has the NDP helping the Liberals stave off an election in exchange for progress on a list of shared priorities.

Its future seemed uncertain earlier this month amid a months-long stalemate over the wording of the legislation and the number of drugs they planned to launch with.

The NDP announced they clinched the negotiations late last week, in the lead-up to a negotiated March 1 deadline to table a bill.

Canada’s fascination with a ‘walk in the snow’

The famous “walk in the snow” that purportedly spurred Pierre Trudeau’s departure as prime minister 40 years ago has taken on such mythical proportions in Canadian politics that it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

“Noun. (Canada, chiefly politics, idiomatic). An occasion when a momentous career decision is made, especially a decision to resign or retire.”

Some consider it an apocryphal story: Trudeau, confronted with the reality of a resurgent Conservative party, made up his mind to step down while strolling through a blizzard on Feb. 28, 1984.

Might not his footsteps-following son – facing strikingly similar electoral math – opt to follow suit?

Those closest to him are clear: not a chance.

If Justin Trudeau was set on resigning, one Liberal insider said, using decidedly unparliamentary language to emphasize the point, there’s no way he would do it on the same day as his father.

There’s no snow in the Ottawa forecast, noted another. In fact, on the very anniversary itself Wednesday, it poured rain.

Extreme weather triggers warnings, power outages

Extreme cold, flash freezing and high wind warnings are in effect for much of Northern and Eastern Canada.

Up North, the community of Kugaaruk, Nunavut, is forecast to see dangerous windchill lows of around -55 degrees Celsius.

That frigid Arctic air is sweeping down through Saskatchewan and Manitoba, into Northern Ontario and Quebec.

As of 4 a.m. this morning, about 227-thousand homes and businesses in Quebec and 28-thousand-plus in central and eastern Ontario were without power, due largely to high winds that blew in with a sharp cold front on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Other utility companies are also reporting sporadic power outages, including for more than 13-hundred customers in Ottawa.

Wind warnings and flash-freezing conditions extend into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P-E-I, and parts of Newfoundland.

StatCan to release Q4 GDP report today

Statistics Canada is set to release its fourth quarter gross domestic product report today.

A preliminary estimate from the federal agency suggests real gross domestic product increased 1.2 per cent on an annualized basis, following a decline of a similar magnitude in the third quarter.

RBC says it also expects the economy grew in the fourth quarter, but by an annualized rate of 0.5 per cent.

The bank says although that would mean the economy skirts a recession, it would mark the sixth straight quarterly decline on a per-capita basis.

N.S. budget to focus on health, cost of living

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government will today table its third budget since being elected in August 2021.

The past two budgets have focused heavily on bolstering the province’s ailing health-care system, and Finance Minister Allan MacMaster says that focus will remain.

Premier Tim Houston says health-care spending accounted for about $4.5 billion when the government came to power, and that figure will be closer to $6 billion when the 2024-25 budget is tabled today.

The premier announced Wednesday that the budget would include $7.2 million for diabetes care.

MacMaster says there will also be help for people struggling with the rising cost of living, but he wouldn’t be specific about the measures planned.

Alberta expecting restraint budget, few cuts

Albertans have been told to expect financial restraint in today’s provincial budget.

Premier Danielle Smith signalled a turn to less spending and more saving in a televised address last week.

Smith said she has told Finance Minister Nate Horner to keep spending increases beneath the rate of inflation and population growth.

She said she expected that could be done without major spending cuts or new taxes.

The province’s Opposition NDP has said the premier’s direction already amounts to a spending cut in a province that grew by more than four per cent last year.

The average price of oil in 2023 came in more than a dollar below provincial forecasts, with each dollar drop representing about $600 million in royalties.

Smith said any new spending would be focused on health, education and social services.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb.29, 2024

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