Economics & Finance & Trade

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]

Doctor shortage a bureaucratic construct

As an estimated 20 per cent of Canadians in all jurisdictions continue to lack access to family physicians, fewer than 30 per cent of Canadian doctors trained abroad are matched to provincially-constrained residency positions. The system explicitly gives priority to students trained in Canada even though some fail their final examinations. [node:read-more:link]

Russia reduces crude output

Russia has cut its daily oil production by 500,000 barrels or some five per cent in response to western-imposed price caps. “We are fully selling the entire volume of oil produced,” Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in a February 10 statement. “However, as stated earlier, we will not sell oil to those who directly or indirectly adhere to the principles of the ‘price cap’.” [node:read-more:link]

CRA clawback stance “disconcerting”

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux, a former senior Canada Revenue Agency official, says it’s “disconcerting” to hear CRA Commissioner Bob Hamilton’s recent statement that “it wouldn’t be worth the effort” to review and try to recover every dollar of $15.5 billion in Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy overpayments when the government’s facing a deficit. [node:read-more:link]

Big bucks at Big Oil

The latest annual financial statements by the world’s major petroleum companies show that 2022 was their most profitable year on record. Their combined profit is estimated to have been equivalent to US$200 billion. [node:read-more:link]

Healthcare funding never enough

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today offered premiers $46.2 billion in new health care transfers over 10 years, which wen coupled with previous commitments, would amount to $196.1 billion. “This is significant,” he said after meeting with his provincial and territorial counterparts, but it was significantly less than they have demanded to address a nationwide shortage of health care resources. [node:read-more:link]

Ocean research funding announced

The federal government has committed $4.5 million over five years for research Fisheries & Oceans Minister Joyce Murray expects will give a clearer picture of how the marine ecosystem is changing and how to sustainably manage resources. Among other things, the project will study currents, marine safety and incident response, and how noise from shipping and other anthropogenic sources affects marine life. [node:read-more:link]

Marine protected area approved

The federal and B.C. governments, in cooperation with 15 coastal First Nations, have officially endorsed a planned network of marine protected areas along the Pacific Coast. Announced February 5, the agreement would protect the waters from the north end of Vancouver Island to the Alaska border. [node:read-more:link]

Federally-funded plant shutting down

A Japanese-owned Montreal pharmaceutical plant is being shut down after receiving $173 million in federal funding for coronavirus vaccine development. Innovation, Science & Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said February 3 that while Ottawa has legal recourse to recover the investment, the “main focus” is finding partners to preserve Medicago’s intellectual property, technology and workforce. [node:read-more:link]

Government workers fired for fraud

A parliamentary committee was told February 2 that staff in at least two federal departments have been fired for claiming the Canada Emergency Response Benefit while they were employed during the pandemic. Forty-nine were at Employment and Social Development Canada, which managed the CERB program. While the Canada Revenue Agency Comissioner acknowledged some cases in that department, there “not very many.” [node:read-more:link]

CanCon looms for streaming services

The Senate has amended government Bill C-11, a contentions plan to compel online streaming services to provide Canadian content accessible to Canadian subscribers or face penalties. Introduced in the House of Commons in April 2022, it now includes Senate changes the House must consider but Heritage Minister Pablo Rodrigues said February 2 that he is optimistic about final approval soon. [node:read-more:link]


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