Economics & Finance & Trade

NDP wants health minister probed

Allegations that Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos intervened in the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board to shelve reforms which could reduce lower prices have prompted NDP health critic Don Davies to demand an investigation. If true, the claimed interference would be “completely unacceptable,” according to Davies. [node:read-more:link]

Liberal contracts scrutinized

Auditor General Karen Hogan’s office is planning to review contracts awarded by the federal government to McKinsey & Company, a global management consultancy with offices in Canada. Public Services and Procurement Canada says $116.8 million has been paid to McKinsey since the Liberals formed a government in 2015. A parliamentary committee looking into contracts awarded to McKinsey also plans to examine the government's relationships with other consulting firms. [node:read-more:link]

No Russian surprise at G20

Finance ministers from the G20 economic group failed to agree on their customary closing statement from their latest summit due to what the host country, India, called “different assessments of the situation” in Ukraine and on sanctions imposed on Russia. China declined to accept elements critical of Russia’s invasion while Moscow said “anti-Russian” countries had “destabilised” the G20. [node:read-more:link]

No Tik-Tok on federal devices

Effective February 28, all federal government mobile device will be banned from using Tik-Tok. Confirmed the decision today, Treasury Board President Mona Fortier said there is an “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security” and the Chinese-owned social media app’s data collection leaves users vulnerable to cyberattacks. [node:read-more:link]

Five provinces do health deal

The four Atlantic provinces and Ontario have agreed in principle to the federal government’s latest 10-year healthcare funding package. Each province now must come up with specific spending plans because some $46 billion is contingent on the provinces improving access to frontline care and to upgrading data systems. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian inflation decelerates slightly

Statistics Canada reported today that annual inflation rate slowed to 5.9 per cent in January from the previous month’s 6.3 per cent despite continued surging food and gasoline costs. The agency said it expects the overall rate to continue decelerating. [node:read-more:link]

Remedy for physician shortage?

The Council of Atlantic Premiers has proposed a new physicians and surgeons registry the leaders say would make it easier for doctors to work temporarily in provinces other than where they are licensed. PEI Premier Dennis King said February 20 after talks with his counterparts that they expect the initiative to be in place by the beginning of May. [node:read-more:link]

Better lobbyist oversight proposed

New guidelines on how lobbyists should conduct themselves when engaging with public officials are being recommended by Lobbying Commissioner Nancy Bélanger. “Right now, the rules are simply not clear and because they’re not clear, it is very difficult to regulate, investigate and provide advice,” she said. Her proposals have received mixed reviews in political circles and the private sector. [node:read-more:link]

Mexican lithium controls tightened

Having nationalized his country’s significant lithium deposits last year, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has signed a decree giving his energy ministry control of the globally critical resource. While nearly a dozen Canadian and other foreign companies have active mining concessions, Lopez Obrador wants them “reviewed” and the head of the state lithium company says the government will have a majority stake in any future joint ventures. [node:read-more:link]

Emergency Act invocation warranted

The Public Order Emergency Commission has concluded that the government met a “very high” threshold with its unprecedented invocation of the 1988 Emergencies Act to end last year’s “Freedom Convoy” protests and border blockades. “Lawful protest descended into lawlessness, culminating in a national emergency,” Commissioner Paul Rouleau said today in his report to Parliament. Citing “a failure in policing and federalism,” the Ontario Court of Appeal judge acknowledged it was a “drastic move” but said it was “not a dictatorial one.” [node:read-more:link]

Iranian expats face U.S. charges

Three Iranian expatriates in Toronto who describe themselves as real estate professionals face what they say are baseless felony charges in the U.S. for allegedly conspiring to circumvent sanctions against Iran. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that his his government is working “very closely with American partners” and the Iranian diaspora, some of whom say the government is doing too little to ensure Canada isn’t a haven for the Iranian regime’s allies. [node:read-more:link]

Healthcare funding gets mixed reviews

Provincial and territorial premiers have agreed to accept Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 10-year healthcare funding offer but they have mixed feelings as they focus on bilateral agreements on how the additional $46.2 billion should be used. [node:read-more:link]

Foreign research collaboration curtailed

The federal government will stop funding research with Chinese military and state security institutions and is urging the provinces and universities to do likewise. Announcing the move late February 14, Innovation, Science & Industry Minister François-Phillipe Champagne also said the Canada Foundation for Innovation and federal granting councils will screen grant applications from universities collaborating with hostile states. [node:read-more:link]

U.S. envoy clarifies Biden’s remarks

David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, says it’s “pretty clear” that President Joe Biden was referring to exclusively “American” rather than “North American” products when he announced new “Buy American” rules for infrastructure projects. “We are not talking about the massive volume of trade that occurs between the United States and Canada, and in which Canadian companies compete,” Cohen said February 12. [node:read-more:link]

WHO thinking “inside the box”

The World Health Organization has generally encouraged “out-of-the-box” thinking on vaccine production and supplies but a 2005 WHO policy evidently trapped it “inside the box.” The result was that it prohibited a Quebec company’s coronavirus vaccine because it involved material produced by a tobacco company. “The WHO has gone totally off the rails,” says University of Ottawa law professor and anti-tobacco advocate David Sweanor. “If the World Health Organization is standing in the way of vaccines to treat an epidemic, what does that do to their long-term credibility?” [node:read-more:link]


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