/Morning Brief: Information commish asks for directive from Trudeau to government agencies

Morning Brief: Information commish asks for directive from Trudeau to government agencies

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Good morning, readers.

Information commissioner Caroline Maynard wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to tell government agencies they must strive to be transparent and accountable as they chart a response to COVID-19, according to an interview she gave with the Canadian Press. The federal information boss noted that a message from the top — meaning one from Trudeau and his treasury board president, Jean-Yves Duclos — is needed to ensure federal decision making is properly documented.

Maynard expressed concern over the record of government efforts in the pandemic winding up incomplete.“I think that they just need to be reminded that those responsibilities don’t disappear because you’re working from home,” she said.

Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, meanwhile, says interest in a new federally-funded program to clean up abandoned wells in Alberta has been “significantly higher” than the feds expected, as reported by Global News. O’Regan made the comment during a virtual meeting of the House of Commons yesterday. By May 4, he said that “more than 530 companies had filled out nearly 18,000 grant applications.”

Canada is lagging behind other countries in releasing mortality data for 2020, according to the Globe and Mail. While federal and provincial governments are tracking confirmed COVID-19 deaths on a daily basis, they haven’t released the overall number of deaths in Canada this year, which epidemiologists and infectious disease experts told the outlet is needed to help determine how many unconfirmed coronavirus deaths have occurred, as well as whether there are a large number of deaths indirectly related to the disease across the country.

Back in 1976, as fear over a swine flu epidemic seized the United States, Canada suddenly found itself waiting on vaccines that wouldn’t arrive. The United States, in an effort to inoculate itself, decided to vaccinate its entire population — and congress had “appropriated all the available U.S vaccine for the American market,” the Globe and Mail recalled in a 1977 report.

Canada’s leading manufacturers reportedly couldn’t produce enough vaccine for the country to follow suit. Now, as the global race towards a COVID-19 vaccine charges on, some working in the field predict that history could repeat itself. iPolitics’ Victoria Gibson has this story.

And Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer is now recommending an advisory group be struck to provide advice on whether to go ahead with their provincial election — which was originally to take place in October of this year, the Canadian Press reports.

In Other Headlines

‘Start picking up your socks,’ Doug Ford tells regional health officials as COVID-19 tests drop (Toronto Star)

In mystery investigation of two Canadian scientists, a request for Ebola, henipavirus from the Wuhan lab (National Post)

Fundraising figures show the Conservative leadership race is far from over (CBC News)

Has the 46-year-old EI computer system been keeping pregnant women from getting the CERB? (Global News)

Most Canadians support COVID-19 measures, but the pandemic is wearing us down, poll finds (Toronto Star)

ICYMI from iPolitics

Trudeau, yesterday, dedicated $252 million in federal aid for the agri-food industry on Tuesday, in order to help struggling producers and sustain the country’s food system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Just less than one-third of the support funding, $77.5 million, will be given to food processors. The millions can be spent by companies on personal protective equipment for workers, upgrading  their facilities to better promote current public health recommendations or expanding their processing capacities, Trudeau said. Charlie Pinkerton breaks it all down.

The announcement came on the heels of a Monday night teleconference of the House Industry committee, during which farm groups warned that producers are “very close” to euthanizing livestock as hundreds of thousands of animals are in a processing backlog thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Keith Currie, first vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture, told the committee that pork producers in Manitoba, P.E.I., Quebec, and Ontario are looking at euthanasia as they continue to lose money on livestock they can’t process without new federal support. This story from iPolitics’ Rachel Emmanuel.

And the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada was the active outfit on the federal lobbying circuit in March, recording 62 communication reports with the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying for that month. A foundation spokesperson told iPolitics that, over two lobby days in March, their representatives held 70 meetings and spoke to officials about issues ranging from youth vaping to implementing universal pharmacare.

Marco Vigliotti reports.

Comings and Goings: Dillane joins H&K, Huang now data scientist with Crestview

Around the World

In the U.S., the Trump administration is reportedly drafting a legal blueprint for mining on the moon under a new U.S.-sponsored international agreement called the Artemis Accords. The agreement would be the latest effort to gain allies in NASA’s plan to put humans and space stations on the moon within the next decade. (Reuters)

French scientists say they may have identified a case of the novel coronavirus in December, about a month before the first cases were officially confirmed in Europe. Doctors made the finding while reviewing samples of 14 patients treated for atypical pneumonia between early December and mid-January. (Associated Press)

The capital of Maranhão state in Brazil ground largely to a halt yesterday, becoming the first major Brazilian city to enter a lockdown. The decree will last at least 10 days and applies to one-fifth of the state’s population. (Associated Press)

And Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been pushing an antiviral medicine called Avigan as a treatment for the coronavirus, despite a lack of evidence towards its effectiveness. A potential side effect of the drug is birth defects, which Abe noted Monday while saying the side effect was “the same as thalidomide.” (The New York Times)

Cartoon of the Day

Theo Moudakis cartoon


In a truly wild news item yesterday, Utah Highway Patrol say they recently pulled over a swerving SUV on the freeway, and found a five-year-old at the wheel — wielding $3 and a plan to buy a Lamborghini in California. The New York Times reports.

Have a great day!

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