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Canada’s debt: Highlights from the fall economic update




The federal Liberals unveiled their fall economic update Thursday — a 92-page mini-budget setting out Canada’s fiscal situation and outlining new policies to tackle cost-of-living woes.

The word “inflation” appears more than 100 times in the document, making clear the government’s primary economic concern.

But beyond the top-line debt projections and the analysis of how Canada seeks to soften the impact of a potential recession, the fiscal update offers key details that shed light on Liberal priorities.

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Here’s a look at five highlights.


The Liberals are expecting to spend $1 billion in the current financial year toward provincial requests related to post-tropical storm Fiona, which savaged Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec in late September.

That figure is on top of the $300 million over two years that the feds announced in early October in the wake of the devastating storm, and its month-long matching of donations to the Canadian Red Cross.

The new money is expected to cover requests from provinces under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, under which the federal government covers up to 90 per cent of eligible provincial expenses in the three months following a disaster.


In last spring’s budget, the government announced an accelerated deadline for $33.5 billion in public infrastructure projects that had been promised in 2017. The fall statement says $23 billion has been approved so far for 5,200 projects submitted by provinces and territories.

While territories have until March 2025 to allocate the money, the provincial deadline is March 2023 — otherwise the money will be reallocated.

Alberta and Manitoba only have one per cent of their funding envelopes left, representing $50.5 million and $13.6 million respectively. And though Ontario has used up all but four per cent, that still represents a significant amount of money at more than $450 million.

On the other end of the spectrum, Quebec is the biggest laggard, with 37 per cent of its envelope or $2.75 billion still available. The next-biggest amount is British Columbia’s $661 million, representing 17 per cent of its share.

Among the Atlantic provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador still has 38 per cent or $213 million; Nova Scotia has 31 per cent or $259 million; New Brunswick has 17 per cent or $113 million and Prince Edward Island has 16 per cent or $57 million.


The financial statement contains an announcement that consultations are launching right away — the same day as its release Thursday — on digital currencies “including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.”

Canada’s fiscal framework needs to keep pace with the rise of the currencies and how the digitization of money is “transforming financial systems in Canada and around the world,” the document says.

And the government is also seeking to understand the challenges digital currency poses to democratic institutions, with some types of crypto being used to avoid global sanctions and fund illegal activities.

The new consultations follow a legislative review announced in last spring’s budget. They also follow attacks on new Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre for his suggestion during the Tory leadership campaign that cryptocurrencies could help Canadians “opt out” of inflation — an assertion that Liberals have ridiculed after the value of cryptocurrencies plummeted earlier this year.

In a separate process, the Bank of Canada has studied the potential for a central bank digital currency. It has said it doesn’t anticipate the need for it right now but wants to be prepared if that changes in the future.


Individual truckers may have formed the genesis of the “Freedom Convoy” protest that descended on Ottawa last winter and prompted the Liberals’ use of emergency powers to clear protesters — a decision currently being scrutinized at a high-profile public inquiry.

But Liberals are signalling their support for the industry with their mini-budget, putting $26.3 million over five years toward orders, fines and prosecutions against non-compliant trucking industry employers.

The money seeks to address the ongoing issue of companies having truck drivers self-incorporate and operate as independent contractors instead of being classified as employees. This denies them labour rights including paid sick leave, health and safety standards and employment insurance and pension contributions, the document says.

The Canada Revenue Agency is also working to “encourage greater awareness” and “foster compliance” with tax rules that govern the use of incorporated employees, something the feds say they will elaborate on in next spring’s budget.


The fall statement unveils the amount of funding Liberals expect to put toward a new immigration strategy they unveiled earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, the government announced that it will seek to increase immigration to record levels, bringing in 500,000 arrivals in 2025. Liberals plan for the majority to be skilled workers who can help fill labour shortages in healthcare, manufacturing and the building trades.

Support for the processing of applications and settlement of new permanent residents will cost $1.6 billion over six years and $315 million in new, ongoing funding, the fall statement says.

With Liberals facing criticism for bottlenecks in Canada’s immigration process, another $50 million will go toward the immigration department in the current fiscal year “to address ongoing application backlogs, speed up processing and allow for skilled newcomers to fill critical labour gaps faster.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2022.

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Canada commits $800 million to support Indigenous-led conservation projects



Ottawa will spend up to $800 million to support four major Indigenous-led conservation projects across the country covering nearly one million square kilometres of land and water, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday.

Trudeau made the announcement at the Biosphere environment museum in Montreal accompanied by Indigenous leaders and federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault as a UN meeting on global biodiversity, known as COP15, takes place in the city.

Trudeau said the four projects — which will be located in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, northern Ontario and Nunavut — will be developed in partnership with the communities in question.

“Each of these projects is different because each of these projects is being designed by communities, for communities,” he said.

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Chief Jackson Lafferty, of the Tlicho government in the Northwest Territories, said Indigenous groups have long been working to protect their lands and water but have lacked the resources and tools to fully do so.

Lafferty, who attended the announcement, called the funding “a significant step forward on a path to reconciliation across Canada.”

Among the projects to be funded is a marine conservation and sustainability initiative in the Great Bear Sea along British Columbia’s north coast, championed by 17 First Nations in the area.

Another project includes protection for boreal forests, rivers and lands across the Northwest Territories, spearheaded by 30 Indigenous governments.

Funds will also go to an Inuit-led project involving waters and land in Nunavut’s Qikiqtani region and to a project in western James Bay to protect the world’s third largest wetland, led by the Omushkego Cree in Ontario.

Trudeau told reporters that the exact details of the agreements have yet to be worked out — including which portions of the lands will be shielded from resource extraction.

The Indigenous partners, he said, will be able to decide which lands need to be completely protected and where there can be “responsible, targeted development.”

“We know we need jobs, we know we need protected areas, we know we need economic development,” he said. “And nobody knows that, and the importance of that balance, better than Indigenous communities themselves that have been left out of this equation, not just in Canada but around the world, for too long.”

Dallas Smith, president of Nanwakolas Council, said the B.C. funding to help protect the Great Bear Sea would allow Indigenous groups to build on previous agreements to protect the terrestrial lands of Great Bear Rainforest, which were announced about 15 years ago.

“I did media all over the world, and I got home and my elder said, ‘Don’t sprain your arm patting yourself on the back, because until you do the marine component, it doesn’t mean anything,'” he said.

Grand Chief Alison Linklater of the Mushkegowuk Council, which represents seven Cree communities in northern Ontario, said their traditional territory includes ancient peatlands that store “billions of tons” of carbon, as well as wetlands that are home to many migratory birds and fish, and 1,200 kilometres of coastline.

She said caring for the lands is one of her sacred duties as grand chief and one of the main concerns of the people she represents.

“Without our lands and waters we do not exist,” she told the news conference.

In a statement, the federal government said the program would employ a “unique funding model” bringing together government, Indigenous Peoples, philanthropic partners and other investors to secure long-term financing for community-led conservation projects.

The government did not specify how much of the funding would be allocated for each project.

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

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B.C. Premier David Eby unveils his new cabinet



B.C. Premier David Eby to reveal new cabinet with health, safety, housing priorities

Here is a list of British Columbia Premier David Eby‘s ministers following his first major cabinet shuffle since taking over as leader:

Agriculture and Food — Pam Alexis (new to cabinet)

Attorney General — Niki Sharma (new to cabinet)

Children and Family Development — Mitzi Dean (unchanged)

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Citizens’ Services — Lisa Beare

Education and Child Care — Rachna Singh (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for child care — Grace Lore (new to cabinet)

Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — Bowinn Ma

Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation — Josie Osborne

Environment and Climate Change Strategy — George Heyman (unchanged)

Finance (includes Columbia River Treaty) — Katrine Conroy

Forests and minister responsible for consular corps. — Bruce Ralston

Health and minister responsible for Francophone affairs — Adrian Dix (unchanged)

Housing and government house leader — Ravi Kahlon

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — Murray Rankin

Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation — Brenda Bailey (new to cabinet)

Minister of state for trade — Jagrup Brar (new to cabinet)

Labour — Harry Bains (unchanged)

Mental Health and Addictions — Jennifer Whiteside

Municipal Affairs — Anne Kang

Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills (includes immigration/foreign credentials) — Selina Robinson

Minister of state for workforce development — Andrew Mercier (new to cabinet)

Public Safety and Solicitor General (ICBC) — Mike Farnworth (unchanged)

Social Development and Poverty Reduction — Sheila Malcolmson

Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport — Lana Popham

Transportation and Infrastructure (BC Transit and Translink) — Rob Fleming (unchanged)

Minister of state for infrastructure and transit — Dan Coulter (new to cabinet)

Water, Land and Resource Stewardship — Nathan Cullen

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

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Tick-borne germs increasingly widespread in Canada: study



Researchers from Quebec and Ontario are calling for better testing to track the spread of tick-borne germs as disease-causing bacteria gain new ground in Canada.

Ticks are blood-sucking arachnids that can carry pathogens – bacteria, viruses and parasites – like those that cause Lyme disease. Now, McGill University PhD candidate Kirsten Crandall says pathogens that are local to other regions are beginning to show up across central Canada.

“While the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne pathogen in Canada, other tick-borne pathogens are moving in,” she said in a media release published on Nov. 17.

In a study published in the medical journal Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases on Nov. 9, Crandall and her co-authors from McGill and the University of Ottawa warned that two pathogens, Babesia odocoilei and Rickettsia rickettsii, had been detected in Canada outside of their historic geographic range.

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Babesia odocoilei causes a malaria-like parasitic disease called babesiosis. Babesiosis can be asymptomatic or it can cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, sweats, headache, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea or fatigue.

Rickettsia rickettsii causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever and anaplasmosis, and is normally found in the United States, Western Canada, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia.

Both bacteria can infect animals and humans, and both were found in ticks and small mammals in Quebec. According to the study, climate change, habitat fragmentation and changes in the abundance of tick populations and their hosts are all driving the spread of emerging tick-borne pathogens like these across Canada.

“The presence of these pathogens changes the risk of disease for Canadians and animals in some densely populated areas of Canada,” Crandall said.

Crandall and her team made the detections using methods that went beyond those normally used in tick monitoring studies. By testing ticks at all life cycle stages, they discovered that female ticks can actually pass pathogens to their larval young. They also tested for pathogens not already listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada.

She said the findings demonstrate the need for better testing and tracking to detect the spread and potential risk of tick-borne pathogens to humans and animals throughout the country.

“Only two tick-borne pathogens are listed as nationally notifiable diseases in Canada: Lyme disease and tularemia,” she said. “However, we are seeing increased cases of diseases like anaplasmosis and babesiosis in humans in Canada.”

Jeremy Kerr, a professor and research chair at the University of Ottawa’s department of biology, said the study highlights the importance of funding more research into tick-borne diseases that haven’t historically been common in Canada.

“If we don’t know that pathogens are present, we can’t equip Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves,” he said in a statement released on Nov. 17. “COVID has diverted public health resources away from challenges like this one, and we need to remember that these tick-borne diseases are on the move too.”

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