Monthly Archives:June 2019

Your election questions: Pharmacare, terrorism and neglected singles – National ( admin posted on June 23rd, 2019 )

T-minus 26 days until the federal election — but who’s counting? — and campaigning continues apace.

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We’ve been doing our best to keep up with the electoral spin cycle. And we’ve been consistently deluged with reader queries on everything from when, where and how to vote; to the practical implications of the feds’ new health care transfers formula (spoiler: too early to say).

Here are a few of the questions we keep getting. Send us your pressing election question using the form below.

“What are the NDP and the Liberals going to do about ISIS?”

– Eric, health care worker in Alberta

Both NDP leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau have slammed the Conservatives’ actions in the Middle East, where Canadian troops have been engaged in a bombing mission against ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, in Iraq and Syria.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper, for his part, argues Canada needs to be there — that pulling out would mean Canada’s burying its head in the sand when it comes to international terror threats that could target this country as well as others.

So what would the opposition parties do differently?

Mulcair has pledged to get Canada’s military out of Iraq and Syria “immediately.”

Trudeau has said he wants to end Canada’s bombing mission but keep troops there to train the Iraqi military.

“What are the parties’ views on a Universal Pharmacare Program for Canada?”

– Valerie, single working mom of a university student in Orleans, Ont.

The NDP has promised to sit down with the provinces and hammer out a universal drug coverage program if elected. Last week Mulcair pledged $2.6 billion over four years, which in all likelihood wouldn’t cover the feds’ share of the cost: Canadians spend a total of $30 billion a year on prescription drugs, of which about $18 million is either covered by private insurance or out-of-pocket payments.

The Liberals have promised to sit down with the provinces and talk about how to make drugs cheaper, but haven’t said how they’ll do that.

The Conservatives like the idea of coordinating bulk purchases to lower the cost of drugs overall, but don’t like the idea of a national drug coverage program.

“Why is it that all the focus is always on families?  What about those of us who are single and have to pay ALL the bills on one income?  What tax breaks or programs are there out there to help us single people out??”

– Shawna, Regina

We get this question a lot.

And it’s true: One phrase campaign-watchers keep hearing is “working families.”

For one thing, it’s good politics. Kids are adorable. Families tickle the interpersonal-obligation parts of our limbic systems and remind us we haven’t called in ages.

But there’s also an economic argument in favour of targeting underprivileged families, says Wilfrid Laurier University economist Tammy Schirle.

“There’s a very good case to be made for the parties to think about issues of poverty, especially child poverty, and how they might shape policies to help those kids who need it the most,” she said.

“These are early investments in kids that can pay off huge dividends in the long run.”

So what about Canadians with no children to get child benefits, no spouses with whom to split incomes?

There are precious few programs specifically targeted at single, working-age adults, period. But chances are you fit into a group targeted by a different political promise — whether because of your income, employment or housing status, health or (dis)ability. There’s no shortage of promises, but we have a handy link for you here.

Tell us your story and send us your questions. We’ll do our best to get a coherent answer.

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Westmount High students protest budget cuts during lunch break – Montreal ( admin posted on June 23rd, 2019 )

MONTREAL – Lunch hour is usually a time when students are free from their teachers – a time when they get to chat with their friends, grab a bite to eat and talk.

But Westmount High School students did something a little different on Tuesday.

A group of about 40 students gathered in front of the school in support of their teachers, saying work-to-rule action is not allowing teachers to properly do their jobs.

READ MORE: #LiftTheBan: Student video asks Quebec government to reconsider budget cuts 

“Right now, we’re fighting the work-to-rule that’s going on across Quebec,” said Nilani Uthayakumar, a Grade 11 student.

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“They can only work their 32 hour contract – so no sports, no tutoring, all that is gone.”

Students who organized the protest said the pressure tactics are negatively affecting everyone.

“Not only is it affecting us as individuals and people who are currently at the school, it’s also affecting the future generations to come,” said student Sage Goodleaf.

READ MORE: Work-to-rule action forces Ballet Ouest de Montreal to cancel Nutcracker shows

Students weren’t the only ones protesting – teachers came out to join as well.

“I just had to come out here and tell them that this was incredibly moving for us,” said social science teacher, Robert Green.

“Our staff room window is just up there and they have come out here to support us, to support public education.”

Westmount High students were originally going to walk out of class at 10:30 a.m., but had to change their plans when their principal got wind of the protest.

“A lot of the teachers were blocking the way from us going out,” said Uthayakumar.

“They threatened for us to go back to class or else we could have suspended.”

Principal Michael Cristofaro said although students have the right to protest, they cannot leave during class time.

He said if they want to express an opinion on the protests, they are free to do so on their own time – during lunch or recess.

READ MORE: Parents, teachers protest provincial cuts to public education 

The students told Global News this won’t be their only action.

“We have a Facebook page of our group for Westmount,” said Uthayakumar.

“We’ll be communicating over there and work out a time and schedule on when to meet and when to do this.”

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Reality Check: Trudeau’s claim Harper slashes funding to balance budget falls flat – National ( admin posted on June 23rd, 2019 )

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has accused the Harper government of slashing funding to seniors, veterans and Aboriginal Affairs last year in order to balance the books just in time for Canadians to head to the polls.

“We are in deficit right now, Mr. Harper has put us into deficit this year,” Trudeau said Monday. “As for last year’s numbers, we know, and we saw Mr. Harper under-spending and making cuts to Veterans Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs, to seniors, in the billions of dollars so that he could balance the books in time for his election.”

WATCH: Trudeau accuses Stephen Harper of making billions of dollars in cuts last year so he could have a balanced budget in time for the election

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But Trudeau’s statements don’t add up, according to the official 2014-2015 fiscal report from the Finance Department released the same day he made the claims. The books were balanced, and even showed a surprise surplus, but no deep cuts in the areas Trudeau claimed.

The report showed spending increased for Aboriginal Affairs by $2 billion, to $8.78 billion from $6.794 billion the year before.

In-Depth: Federal Election 2015

Spending increased for Veterans Affairs by $121 million, up to $1.018 billion from $897 million in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Spending for elderly benefits increased as well, to a total of $2.3 billion, up 5.5 per cent.

The $1.9 billion surplus certainly came as good news for Harper, breaking a painful streak of six-straight years in the red.

“This is incredibly good news,” Harper said Monday. “In spite of all the problems of the world, this country has a balanced budget, has had it all along. And the other parties are going to have to explain why they think now would be a good time to throw us into deficit.”

Trudeau has said he plans to run a deficit until 2019, in order to invest in infrastructure and boost the economy. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has pledged to not run a deficit as prime minister, even if he has to cut Conservative initiatives to do it.

The Liberals say Trudeau’s accusation was based on Monday’s fiscal report which said program spending was down, in part because of a “higher-than-expected lapse of departmental spending authorities.”

READ MORE: Budget surplus good news, but doesn’t predict the future: economists

Budget numbers indicated government departments spent $1.6 billion less than projected.

When asked about his claims, Trudeau on Tuesday called the report Harper’s “paper budget,” full of dollars pledged but not delivered.

“He makes commitments to veterans, and First Nations, and others, and then doesn’t keep those promises,” said Trudeau. “We know from years past, a billion dollars unspent in commitments made to our veterans, a billion dollars unspent in commitments made to First Nations.”

It has been documented that billions of federal dollars have gone unspent in many departments; in late 2014 it came to light that $1.13 billion from Veterans Affairs had gone unspent since the Conservatives come to power in 2006.

The departments in which the funds went unspent will not be clear until after the federal election on October 19.

With a file from The Canadian Press

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Mulcair vows to scrap TPP deal if elected ( admin posted on June 23rd, 2019 )

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said if elected, he would scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

“I would never bring this deal to the Canadian Parliament,” he told Global’s Liza Fromer and Jeff McArthur on The Morning Show on Thursday.

READ MORE: Harper to tout TPP today, Justin Trudeau in Montreal, Mulcair in BC

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Though the details of the TPP aren’t public, the NDP leader said he has been “more than briefed enough on it to know it’ll cost tens of thousands of Canadian families their jobs.”

He told Global News the deal will increase prescription drug prices, affecting seniors across the country.

“They (seniors) already have to decide between buying their prescription drugs and putting food on the table and that’s not on as far as the NDP is concerned.”

Mulcair also praised US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for opposing the deal as well.

When asked about his recent drop in the polls, Mulcair remained optimistic about his chances to win the election.

“I still keep on my desk in Ottawa the polls from the last election campaign that showed that the NDP was in fourth place in Quebec, and as you know it didn’t quite turn out that way,” he said. “There’s still 10 days left in this campaign.”

Zunera Ishaq talks to reporters outside the Federal Court of Appeal after her case was heard on whether she can wear a niqab while taking her citizenship oath, in Ottawa on Tuesday, September 15, 2015.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Mulcair: The Niqab is a distraction

Another hot-button issue during the campaign is whether or not the niqab should be worn during citizenship ceremonies. Mulcair remained firm in his stance that the niqab is merely a distraction.

“I’m not going to let Stephen Harper to use that … to hide his record,” he said.

The Conservatives have pushed for a ban on wearing the niqab in citizenship ceremonies, and Stephen Harper said if re-elected, he would look at legislation to ban niqabs or face coverings in the public service. Like Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has also argued that the tories are using the issue to “distract and deflect” Canadians from economic issues.

REALITY CHECK: Zunera Ishaq says niqab should not be an election issue

Mulcair said he won’t change his opinion despite a loss of support in Quebec because of the issue.

“That’s the politics of principle, as opposed to the politics of fear,” he argued.

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Here’s how Global’s new text-to-audio feature works – National ( admin posted on June 23rd, 2019 )

With the launch of its new audio service, ReadSpeaker, Global News is bringing content to a wider audience while providing people with a more customized experience.

Global News online visitors will not only be able to read up on and watch the latest news — but can now listen to any print story with the click of a button.

The new tool allows users to simply click the “Listen” icon, and, well, listen. Nothing needs to be downloaded or installed to your computer or device.

Simply click on the “Listen” icon.

Global News

When activated, ReadSpeaker Enterprise Highlighting opens the player and starts reading the content from the page. The text is also magnified and highlighted while it is being read, reinforcing a better understanding of the text. The service can be paused or stopped at any time.

Global News is the first news organization in Canada to offer the text-to-speech technology tool.

READ MORE: Take our survey on Readspeaker

ReadSpeaker will help provide a vital news service to those with poor vision, a reading disability, and those who may be learning English.

It can also be a convenient way for people to multitask while getting their news fix. It’s a simple, efficient way for people on the go to catch up on the day’s biggest stories, totally hands-free.

The service works on all devices, on all browsers, across all operating systems.

WATCH BELOW: Accessibility and inclusion specialist Frederic Fovet tries out the new text-to-speech function on the Global News website

Let us know what you think! Please take our survey on Readspeaker.

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