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Canada matching more donations for Pakistan flood aid, will raise cap to $5M

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OTTAWA — The federal government will extend its matching of donations to help people dealing with catastrophic flooding in Pakistan in hopes the crisis doesn’t fall off the public radar.

“I felt that it wasn’t getting the (media) coverage that a crisis like this deserves,” International Development Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a Thursday interview.

Severe monsoon rains this summer have affected more than 33 million people, many of whom have needed emergency food, water, sanitation and health services.

More than one-third of Pakistan was underwater, including much of its agricultural land, which experts believe will spark a food shortage.

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Sajjan said he saw devastating scenes on a visit to the country earlier this month.

“When I was flying over affected areas, you literally could not see the end,” he said.

“Countries that have had the least to do with contributing to climate change are actually now the most greatly affected by it.”

On Sept. 13, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would match up to $3 million in donations made to the Humanitarian Coalition and its dozen member charities.

That matching campaign was due to end on Wednesday.

Sajjan said it will be extended, and the amount is now capped at $5 million.

Ottawa previously committed $30 million of its own spending.

Sajjan said the idea has been to respond to the immediate, interim and long-term needs of the country, to make sure the right amount of aid dollars reach the correct places.

“What we’re doing is funding in chunks, to make sure we’re assessing the needs in a timely basis so the resources can be there,” he said.

“Now we that we have a little bit of breathing space, we are looking at the midterm need assessment.”

Canada will likely fund climate mitigation work in the country once it has recovered, to lower the impact of future floods, Sajjan said.

He noted that Canada helped fund the early-warning system that officials told him was key to saving lives this summer.

That came after massive 2010 floods in Pakistan.

Within a year, the former Harper government pledged $71.8 million for relief efforts, including $46.8 million from donations Ottawa had matched.

When asked why Canada is only matching slightly more than one-tenth that amount, the Humanitarian Coalition said the funding is in line with cost-matching in past crises such as the 2021 earthquake in Haiti.

“To be sure, the match amount is modest, but it does fit within a recent range,” wrote spokeswoman Marg Buchanan.

She said the amounts are based on what humanitarian groups predict people will donate, “influenced by timing, waning media interest and other dominant stories.”

NDP development critic Heather McPherson argued the Liberals have been slow to put up the funding promised for other humanitarian initiatives.

She pointed to unspent funds in Ukraine and for reproductive health elsewhere.

“Their announcements are starting to be a little slim; I don’t think people are feeling very reassured,” McPherson said.

The Conservatives have called on the government to allow cost-matching for more organizations responding to disasters, including the flooding in Pakistan.

“It is easier (for Ottawa) to say that it is going to match a contribution to this big player, as opposed to saying it is going to match donations to all of the organizations that are doing this work,” Garnett Genuis told the Commons this week.

“Organizations tell me that they get calls from previous donors who say they were going to donate to what they were doing, but they actually want to donate to another organization that is getting matched.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

 

Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Businesses, Canadians feeling financial pressure of inflation | Watch News Videos Online – Global News

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Global National

Canadian businesses are cutting costs and raising prices as profits plummet, while consumers struggle with the rising cost of living. Marney Blunt looks at how everyone is looking to save money, and what credit counsellors are predicting for January 2023.

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Alberta, Saskatchewan chiefs call for sovereignty acts to be withdrawn

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First Nations chiefs from Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling for their provinces to toss proposed legislation they say is inherently undemocratic, unconstitutional and infringes on Indigenous rights.

“We are not looking for change or amendments to the bill. We want it withdrawn,” Chief Tony Alexis said Wednesday on behalf of Treaty 6.

The chiefs are putting forward an emergency resolution at the Assembly of First Nations special assembly to reject sovereignty bills that are before both provincial legislatures.

Alexis, of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation northwest of Edmonton, said there has been no consultation or dialogue with First Nations around the Alberta bill.

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It has been criticized for giving the premier and cabinet unchecked powers to pass laws behind close doors, although amendments to change that have recently been put forward.

Alexis said the bill is harmful to Albertans and Canadians. He said it infringes on treaty rights and could set a harmful precedent.

“We are deeply concerned that, if passed, it would have a domino effect across Canada,” Alexis said. “And what would keep other provinces from following suit and, ultimately, what will that mean for treaty rights across Canada?”

Vice Chief Aly Bear of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations also said the act in Saskatchewan is unconstitutional. The bill, tabled last month, looks to unilaterally amend the Constitution to reassert the province’s jurisdiction over its natural resources.

Premier Scott Moe has said the act doesn’t affect treaty rights and is aimed at growing the economy to benefit all people, including Indigenous people

Bear said, however, that the proposed legislation creates more harm than good. She said there has also not been consultation with Indigenous groups in Saskatchewan.

“If we want to fix that relationship, we have to be sitting down at the table,” she said.

The chiefs said the federal government has, so far, taken a hands-off approach to the bills and encouraged officials to meet with First Nations leaders from the provinces.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said she stands with the chiefs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, calling for the acts to be withdrawn.

She said the bills have a specific agenda around lands and resources and that they infringe on First Nations inherent and treaty rights.

“We will not stand idly by.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new black-ringed toonie to honour Queen Elizabeth II.

The mint says the coin’s black outer ring is intended to evoke a “mourning armband” to honour the queen, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.

The mint says it will start to circulate nearly five million of the coins this month, and they will gradually appear as banks restock inventories.

Aside from the black ring, the mint says the coin retains the same design elements of the standard toonie.

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Four different images of the queen have graced Canadian coins since 1953, when she was crowned.

The core of the commemorative toonie will feature the same portrait of the queen that has been in circulation since 2003, with a polar bear design on the other side.

“Queen Elizabeth II served as Canada’s head of state for seven decades and for millions of Canadians, she was the only monarch they had ever known,” Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, wrote in a statement.

“Our special $2 circulation coin offers Canadians a way to remember her.”

The mint says it may produce more of the coins, depending on what it calls “marketplace needs”.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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