/Evening Brief: Deficit set to soar thanks to COVID-19 spending

Evening Brief: Deficit set to soar thanks to COVID-19 spending

Tonight’s Evening Brief is brought to you by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. Canada’s trusted source of information on COVID-19 and substance use. Get the latest expert-reviewed research and data at www.ccsa.ca.

Good evening, readers.

The Lead

The federal deficit could soar to $252 billion this year from massive COVID-19-related relief spending and economic damage caused by the global pandemic, according to a new report from Canada’s parliamentary budget officer.

Budget watchdog Yves Giroux’s report released Thursday covers a plausible scenario in which Canada’s real GDP will decline by 2.5 per cent in the first quarter, followed by a whopping 20 per cent in the second quarter.

Jolson Lim has the details.

In Canada

A Canadian military member is dead and five others are missing after a helicopter serving with a NATO naval task force crashed in international waters between Greece and Italy on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday.

Nova Scotia Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, a maritime systems engineering officer originally from Toronto, was confirmed dead.

Four Royal Canadian Air Force members and two Royal Canadian Navy members were also on board at the time.

CBC News reports.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said the federal government is prioritizing privacy as it considers implementing contact tracing apps, but provided no details on how the government plans to do so, arguing the discussion is still all hypothetical at this point. 

Bain’s comments came Thursday at the House industry committee’s teleconference meeting, in response to a question from committee vice-chair and Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner, who said she isn’t sure the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act would apply to contract tracing apps that aren’t developed commercially.

Rachel Emmanuel has more.

With the government reportedly days from introducing new bans on assault rifles in Canada, other gun control measures passed through Parliament will likely have to wait to be put into force until after a federal budget is passed.

CBC News reported Wednesday night that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was reviewing a list of firearms to add to those that are illegal in Canada after a man in Nova Scotia killed 22 people in a longer than half-day rampage across multiple towns in the province less than two weeks ago.

The prime minister avoided addressing whether he was looking over a list on Thursday, instead reaffirming that his government would expeditiously increase gun control when asked about it at his daily press conference.

Charlie Pinkerton explains.

With the Canada Emergency Response Benefit coming in to pinch hit for the federal employment insurance system during the COVID-19 pandemic, experts and advocates are wondering if now is the time to reform the decades-old EI program.

They say the pandemic has exposed longstanding issues with the program when it comes to access, its eligibility formula and whether it can keep up with the changing nature of work that has seen self-employment and part-time work explode in Canada.

One former senior public servant said it is time to seriously consider a universal basic income program that can one day replace the key thread of Canada’s social security system.

Jolson Lim reports on what may the future hold for EI.

The Sprout: More COVID-19 cases emerge at Canadian food-processing plants

The Drilldown: Irving applies for access to foreign tankers to get domestic oil supply moving

In Other Headlines

Holding China accountable is in Canada’s ‘moral’ and ‘strategic’ interests, says ex-ambassador (CBC News)

Ottawa mayor orders end to ban on window visits in city nursing homes (Canadian Press)

‘We are getting close, get ready’: Ontario premier unveils rules for businesses ahead of reopening (CTV News)


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday lamented a lack of leadership by world powers and a divided international community in the fight against the coronavirus, as he raised concern about inadequate support for poor countries. (Reuters)

Senior Trump administration officials have pushed American spy agencies to hunt for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that a government laboratory in Wuhan, China, was the origin of the coronavirus outbreak. (New York Times)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday Britain was now past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and promised to set out a plan next week on how the country might start gradually returning to normal life. (Reuters)

German authorities agreed Thursday to reopen playgrounds, churches and cultural institutions such as museums and zoos that have been shuttered because of the coronavirus pandemic, but postponed a decision on whether to relax the rules for restaurants, hotels and kindergartens. (Associated Press)

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin on Thursday that he had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus and was temporarily stepping down to recover. (Reuters)

Top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany discussed ways to advance the peace process for eastern Ukraine in Thursday’s call, but failed to achieve any tangible progress. (AP)

South Korean authorities on Thursday were investigating what caused a fire that killed 38 construction workers in one of the country’s deadliest fires in years. (AP)

In Featured Opinion

Alan and Samuel Freeman: Rolling the dice: the perils of Quebec’s reopening strategy

The Kicker

What’s on the prime minister’s bookshelf?

The National Post turned to Twitter sleuths for help identifying books behind Trudeau at his home office desk, where he participated in a virtual House sitting.

Books identified include biographies of his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, by John English; one of Abraham Lincoln by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; and some political books such as John Duffy’s “Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada.”

Also included are some English poetry and books about the lives of businessmen, such as Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.

A selection fit for a prime minister?

Have a great evening!

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