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In today's Morning Brief, we look at what to expect today when Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland delivers the federal government's fiscal update. We look at alleged misspending by British Columbia's Provincial Health Services Authority during the COVID-19 crisis. 

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Freeland to deliver Liberal plan to revive Canada's post-pandemic economy

The federal government will release its long-awaited fiscal update today — a spending plan to help Canadians cope with COVID-19 while recharging the national economy and key sectors battered by the global crisis.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will rise in the House of Commons at 4 p.m. ET today to outline details of her plan to both boost job creation and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Government sources have told CBC News the plan will include new time-limited spending measures to support hard-hit industries and vulnerable Canadians, while laying the groundwork for the policy priorities presented in September's speech from the throne.

WATCH | What to expect in the federal fiscal update:

What to expect in the federal fiscal update

The National

3 months ago
1:16


The update comes in the wake of optimistic reports suggesting promising vaccine candidates could roll out early in the new year — and as COVID-19 caseloads continue to grow alarmingly in some parts of the country. Numbers have reached record highs in some regions, prompting new or extended restrictions and business closures.

 The measures in today's economic statement are expected to include:

  • Support for airlines and the tourism and hospitality sector, hit hard by heavy losses due to border closures and lockdowns. The sources suggest the update will include assistance for airlines, hotels and restaurants, and for the companies that supply them.
  • Money to help long-term care homes stop the spread of infections.
  • Support to help women return to work.
  • Stimulus spending for infrastructure projects tied to the government's promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as part of the economic recovery.

The government has not tabled a budget for this fiscal year, but in July delivered what it called a "fiscal snapshot" that projected the deficit would hit a record $343.2 billion. Read more on this story here.

Over and out

(Giuseppe Cacace/The Associated Press)

The car of Canadian driver Lance Stroll of the Racing Point team flips over following a collision during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix in Sakhir, Bahrain, on Sunday. The race, which was won by England's Lewis Hamilton, also featured a fiery crash on the opening lap involving French racer Romain Grosjean, who escaped with only minor injuries. Read more here from the race.

In brief

British Columbia's health minister has ordered an immediate review of alleged misspending by the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) during the COVID-19 crisis. The order comes after CBC News brought forward concerns raised by multiple sources with intimate knowledge of operations within the PHSA, which is charged with ensuring access to a provincial network of health-care services. The whistleblowers accuse B.C.'s central health authority of squandering $7 million on the purchase of unusable face masks from China; hundreds of thousands of dollars on unneeded renovations to its executive offices; and tens of thousands of dollars on high-end catered meals for executives and their staff. Insiders say the costs were racked up, despite Ministry of Health orders to end discretionary spending and direct every dollar to front-line workers fighting the pandemic. Read more on this story here.

The head of a U.S. biotechnology company that is developing one of the most promising COVID-19 vaccine candidates says Canada is not far behind other countries when it comes to receiving doses of its vaccine, despite criticism of the government's procurement plan from the opposition Conservatives. "Canada is not at the back of the line," Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, told CBC's Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton. As Canada was among the first countries to make a pre-order with Moderna, the country is guaranteed to receive a certain portion of the company's initial batch of doses as long as the vaccine proves safe and effective and is given regulatory approval, Afeyan said. Read more from CBC's interview with the drug company executive here.

The federal government has extended existing international travel restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, barring entry to most travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents or people entering from the U.S. for "essential" reasons. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair and Health Minister Patty Hajdu announced yesterday that travel restrictions on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada from the U.S. will be extended until Dec. 21. Similarly, restrictions on travellers arriving from other countries will be extended until Jan. 21, as will the mandatory requirement for anyone who is granted entry to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival. Read more here about the border restrictions.

From CBC's Go Public comes the story of two families who say they are still missing their most valued possessions years after TD Canada Trust drilled open and emptied their safety deposit boxes. The bank opened and emptied thousands of the boxes across the country in 2012 in an effort to get rid of those no longer being used or paid for. It says its policies require the contents to be set aside for safe keeping. Experts say banks operate the boxes "as a side business" with no rules except those they set for themselves. Read more here about the families' complaints about the boxes

Several Canadian universities are preparing to test wastewater from long-term care homes in Ottawa, Toronto and Edmonton to get early warnings of COVID-19 outbreaks. Researchers in municipalities in six provinces are already testing wastewater for traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the disease. Many of those infected shed the virus through their feces, even if they don't have symptoms, according to researchers. But that kind of testing uses samples from wastewater facilities and shows the results for an entire community. Researchers currently aren't able to pinpoint the exact locations where outbreaks are flaring up. Read more here about the testing program.

WATCH | Using wastewater testing to identify looming COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes:

Using wastewater testing to identify looming COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes

The National

3 months ago
1:52


Now for some good news to start your Monday: Liam Docherty may be only 13 years old, but he's already garnering attention from the Canadian blues establishment. The young Qualicum Beach, B.C.-based singer-songwriter has been nominated in the New Artist of the Year category in the Maple Blues Awards, which recognize the best blues musicians across the country. Liam first picked up the guitar when he was four years old, having been introduced to it by his father. A concert by Australian guitarist Tommy Emmanuel in 2015 exposed Liam to the blues and the finger-picking style. Liam's performances earned him the moniker "red-headed blues boy" from locals. He was supposed to perform at the Vancouver Island Music Festival and the Nanaimo Blues Festival before they were cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, he put out his first album, Modern Magic Melody, which earned him the award nomination. "I never actually expected this," he said. Read more about the young musician here.

Front Burner: A vaccine is coming to Canada, but when?

As Pfizer and Moderna's vaccine candidates get closer to being approved in countries around the world, many Canadians are wondering when they might be able to get a shot here. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said most Canadians could be vaccinated by next September, but the details on when those vaccines may arrive in the country — and how they'll be distributed — remain hazy. The government is also facing questions about whether other countries could be way ahead of Canada.

Two parliamentary reporters — CBC's J.P. Tasker and the Globe and Mail's Marieke Walsh — break down everything we know, and don't know, about Canada's vaccine rollout plan.

Today in history: November 30

1872: Lt.-Col. John McCrae, physician, poet and author of the famous war poem In Flanders Fields, is born in Guelph, Ont. His poem was first published in Punch magazine in December 1915. It quickly came to symbolize the sacrifices of all who were fighting in the First World War. Today, it is part of Remembrance Day ceremonies in Canada and other countries. McCrae died Jan., 28, 1918 of pneumonia, and is buried at Wimereux Cemetery in France.

1874: Lucy Maud Montgomery is born in Clifton, P.E.I. She had been earning money with her writing since the late 1890s, but her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, published in 1908, put her on the literary map. She published seven more Anne stories, as well as the autobiographical Emily trilogy and approximately 500 short stories and 450 poems. She died in Toronto in 1942.

1957: The Grey Cup between Hamilton and Winnipeg is the first to be covered on coast-to-coast television. But it is best remembered for a play in which Hamilton's Ray Bawel intercepted a pass and raced down the sidelines toward the end zone. Dave Humphrey, a spectator standing on the sidelines near the Winnipeg bench, stuck his foot out and tripped Bawel, preventing a touchdown. However, Hamilton scored on the ensuing drive and easily beat Winnipeg 32-7. 

1988: The Ontario government introduces legislation to restrict smoking in the workplace, the first legislation to control smoking in private offices of any Canadian province.

With files from The Canadian Press, The Associated Press and Reuters

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