April 16th, 2024

In the news today: Foreign interference inquiry continues, Ontario opens comms centre

By The Canadian Press on March 28, 2024.

Elections Canada Chief Electoral Officer Stephane Perrault waits for the Procedure and House Affairs committee to begin on Parliament hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, March 2, 2023. Canada's chief electoral officer, Stéphane Perrault, is slated to testify this morning at a commission of inquiry into foreign meddling allegations and how the government responded to them. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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

Foreign interference inquiry to hear from chief electoral officer

Canada’s chief electoral officer, Stéphane Perrault, is slated to testify this morning at a commission of inquiry into foreign meddling allegations and how the government responded to them.

The hearings are delving into possible foreign interference by China, India, Russia and others in the last two general elections.

As head of Elections Canada, Perrault is responsible for ensuring Canadians can exercise their democratic rights to vote and be a candidate.

The inquiry, led by Quebec judge Marie-Josée Hogue, expects to hear evidence from more than 40 people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of his cabinet and political party representatives.

An initial report of findings from the commission is due May 3.

Ontario spent $310K on new ‘communications centre’

The Ontario government is spending about $310,000 on a new space for press conferences, which opposition parties say duplicates a room that already exists at the legislature and will mean less access for the media.

The Progressive Conservative government used its new “communications centre” this week for the finance minister’s budget press conference and a technical briefing for journalists.

But it now intends on using the room, in the basement of a legislative precinct building connected to the main legislature via a tunnel, for all on-site government press conferences, senior government officials told The Canadian Press.

That’s despite there being a room that already exists for that purpose.

The media studio inside the main legislative building has for decades hosted press conferences by government ministers, opposition members and advocacy groups.

Homeless people face greater dementia risk: study

People who are homeless have a higher risk of developing dementia at a younger age compared to the general population and those from the lowest income neighbourhoods in Ontario, suggests a study that calls for housing and earlier screening for this group.

The study used health-care administrative data for every patient aged 45 and older who visited an emergency room, community health centre or was hospitalized in 2019.

It looked at the age, sex, residential area and health conditions of12,863 people who were experiencing homelessness, 475,544 in the low-income group and more than 2.2 million from the general population.

The study, published Wednesday in The Lancet Public Health, found that dementia in people who were homeless was 1.9 times higher than the general population and 1.7 times higher compared to people with a low income.

Ontario town confirms ransomware attack

A town in Ontario’s Muskoka region has shared more details about a cybersecurity incident earlier this month.

The Town of Huntsville says it was hit on March 10 by a ransomware attack, in which vital digital information is held hostage for payment.

It remains unclear if the compromised data includes personal information.

Services are still in the process of being restored, and officials say the town has reviewed and strengthened its systems to mitigate future risk.

The attack in Huntsville came two weeks after officials in Hamilton learned of a similar cybersecurity incident targeting that city.

Orca rescue team considers new tactics, says DFO

Experts are reconsidering their options on a rescue plan for the young killer whale trapped by the tide in a remote lagoon off Northern Vancouver Island.

Paul Cottrell, the marine mammal co-ordinator at the Fisheries Department, says they are thinking about changing tactics in efforts to convince the two-year-old calf to leave the shallow lagoon, depending on the animal’s health.

He says they have not ruled out attempting to put the calf in a sling and lifting it back to the open ocean.

The calf’s mother died in the lagoon on Saturday when the tide went out and a necropsy later determined she was pregnant.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2024

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