Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
The latest COVID-19 developments: Provinces expanding vaccine eligibility, Ontario’s LTC Minister promises change and more
Vaccination updates: In Ontario, residents 18 or older living in 114 hot spot neighbourhoods were able to start booking appointments this morning. Health Minister Christine Elliott says more than 73,000 appointments were made by midmorning, despite the frustrations described by some social media users. She also said expected additional vaccine supplies may lead the province to shorten the four-month interval between first and second shots.
Meanwhile, Quebeckers aged 45 and up became eligible today to book vaccine appointments, as public health orders were eased in some cities, including Montreal. And Manitoba has expanded its program to include all Indigenous adults.
You can find out whether you or loved ones are eligible for a vaccine now with our province-by-province explainer here.
LTCs: Ontario Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton is pledging to adopt several recommendations made by an independent commission that examined the devastating impact of the coronavirus on the province’s nursing homes.
Opinion: Fixing long-term care in Ontario is looking increasingly hopeless - André Picard
Alberta pastor’s trial: The trial of James Coates, the pastor of the Edmonton-area GraceLife Church who is charged with violating the Public Health Act, began today. Officials say his services have said ignored measures on capacity limits, physical distancing and masking. You can read more on this story and other COVID-19 news today here.
- Relatively few COVID-19 cases reported after receiving first vaccine dose, data show
- Canada may defer vaccine deliveries rather than launch early global sharing
- Alberta ‘no more lockdowns’ rodeo held despite restrictions, sky-high case counts
This is the daily Evening Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was sent to you as a forward, you can sign up for Evening Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters here. If you like what you see, please share it with your friends.
Wealthsimple announces landmark $750-million financing from investor group including Drake, Ryan Reynolds
Some of Canada’s most famous celebrities have joined a landmark financing for online Canadian bank challenger Wealthsimple Technologies, which announced a $750-million deal today that is backed by some of Silicon Valley’s leading venture funds. The deal also includes celebrities such as Drake, Michael J. Fox and Ryan Reynolds.
The announcement confirmed many details first reported by the Globe. The financing values Wealthsimple at $5-billion, making the Toronto-based online bank one of Canada’s most highly valued private technology companies.
University of Alberta forges close research ties with China despite warnings from intelligence agencies
The University of Alberta is carrying out extensive scientific collaboration with China that involves sharing and transferring research in strategically important areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. In some cases, professors and researchers have set up companies in joint ventures with Chinese companies and state institutions to commercialize Canadian-developed technology.
The university has declined to discuss its research activities with China other than to say that “we have received no directives related to China” from the federal government to stop its engagement with Chinese institutions.
The Canadian Security Intelligence Service and U.S. intelligence agencies have warned that Chinese companies and academics are being compelled to share work they have carried out with Western researchers with China’s military, security and industrial apparatus.
Real-estate sales tactics under fire as Canadian home prices spiral out of control
Blind bidding, in which prospective home buyers don’t know what their competitors are offering and winners often blow past their budget and the second-highest bid, is being blamed for driving up prices. So is the practice of setting an artificially low price to draw in crowds of hopeful buyers, increase the number of bids and pump up the offer price. Economists – and even realtors – are calling for reform.
More from our real estate series:
- Canada’s housing market is hurting your brain, but you don’t have to lose your head over it
- Wagons east: Meet the homeowners driving a real-estate exodus to Atlantic Canada
- Opinion: TDSB has a huge amount of real estate and a plan to fix it. But is it adequate? - Alex Bozikovic
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Award for The Globe’s VanderKlippe: The Globe and Mail’s Asia correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe has been honoured with a press freedom award for his work covering China’s treatment of its Uyghur minority. He shares the award with the Narwhal’s Sarah Cox for her coverage of British Columbia’s Site C hydroelectric project.
Buffett’s Canadian heir apparent: Warren Buffett ended long-running speculation about his successor at Berkshire Hathaway today, saying Edmonton-born Greg Abel, who oversees its non-insurance businesses, would become chief executive officer if he were no longer in charge. You can catch up on Berkshire’s weekend virtual annual meeting here, Robinhood’s blowback on Buffett’s comments here and headwinds facing the company here.
Mike Weir wins golf tournament: Canadian Masters champion Mike Weir won his first PGA Tour Champions event yesterday, when he held steady with pars down the stretch in the Insperity Invitational. It was his first victory on any tour since 2007.
RIP Bobby Unser: Bobby Unser, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and part of the only pair of brothers to win “the Greatest Spectacle in Racing” has died at 87.
The TSX, S&P 500 and the Dow indexes ended higher today amid a largely upbeat earnings season, while the Nasdaq came under pressure from declines in some high-flying growth stocks, as the rotation into cyclical and “reopening” stocks continued.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 238.38 points or 0.7 per cent to 34,113.23, the S&P 500 climbed 11.49 points or 0.27 per cent to 4,192.66 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 67.56 points or 0.48 per cent to 13,895.12.
Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index added 104.83 points or 0.55 per cent to end at 19,213.16.
Ottawa’s squeeze play to get all provinces into its child-care plan
“It means getting some provinces in quickly, with a promise that their constituents will see a deep cut in child-care fees starting next year. Premiers who don’t sign up will have constituents wondering if they will missed out.” - Campbell Clark
Old Trafford soccer ‘riot’ marks new stage of unrest
“This is a movement against internationalism. This goes well beyond who bought which forward last transfer window. This struggle is economic, political and philosophic. That is some highly flammable stuff. And the delivery system of the message – soccer – translates into every language.” - Cathal Kelly
In his First Person essay, Eric Bombicino pays tribute to his 95-year-old Nonno, who taught him a lot about how to live, even in their last week together: “I realize now I had more to gain from our relationship than he did. He taught me how to be vulnerable – and how to love well without fear. … Find the older people in your life and befriend them. You will not regret it.”
TODAY’S LONG READ
Don’t expect the pandemic’s dramatic remote-work shift to be permanent
The dunes and vineyards of Prince Edward County have attracted weekenders from Toronto for decades. Sharon Armitage has often been their real-estate agent. She sold to the political pundit David Frum and the restaurateur Jamie Kennedy.
But she has never seen anything like the “avalanche” of city-dwellers that have turned up in the past 12 months. It’s not just aspiring wine moguls (“grapers”) or wealthy retirees any more. Young families who can work remotely during the pandemic have been pushing home prices skyward – by more than 30 per cent since last year.
The question now is whether the flight from cities, and the corresponding real-estate boom in newly favoured precincts, will last. As vaccination brings Canada closer to the end of the pandemic, despite a crushing third wave, some economists and urbanists are skeptical. They believe we have already reached the high-water mark of remote work and that some snap back is inevitable as offices reopen and people remember the joys of urban living post-pandemic. Read Eric Andrew-Gee’s full story here.