Good evening, let’s start with today’s top stories:
Trudeau open to more health funding for provinces as premiers criticize fiscal update
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s open to negotiations over additional health funding with the provinces at the first ministers’ meeting next week, but repeated his government’s assertion that Ottawa is already covering 80 per cent of the cost of COVID-19 emergency spending.
Provincial leaders noted there were no pledges to increase health transfers in yesterday’s fiscal update, even though premiers say billions more is needed to address cost pressures.
On the federal level, the Conservatives, Bloc Québécois and NDP were all critical of the update, but speaking with reporters outside his residence in Ottawa today, Trudeau said the measures will be put to a confidence vote in the minority Parliament that could trigger an election.
Opinion: “Women need help now. A second wave of COVID-19 infections, the resulting lockdowns, the rise of virtual schooling and a scarcity of affordable daycare are driving women out of jobs.” – Rita Trichur
The alarming toll of COVID-19 on one hospital and more coronavirus-related developments:
In other comments today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada will not agree to lifting a ban on non-essential travel with the United States until the coronavirus outbreak is significantly under control around the world.
Meanwhile, the Liberals are pushing back against allegations from their political rivals that Ottawa has failed Canadians on COVID-19 vaccines. Public Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today Canada was one of the first countries to sign a deal with Moderna , which has confirmed it will be among the first to receive doses of its vaccine. Canada was also the fourth country to finalize a deal with Pfizer, she added, and is the first without the ability to mass produce vaccines domestically to ink an agreement with AstraZeneca.
In what is the largest known death toll from Canadian hospital outbreaks, COVID-19 has infected at least 503 patients and staff and killed 83 people at a 403-bed hospital in Saint-Jérôme, Que., since the start of the pandemic, according a report obtained by The Globe and Mail.
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Scotiabank and BMO beat expectations with fourth-quarter earnings
Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal each reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings today that were higher than expected, setting a hopeful tone for financial results that are being released by Canada’s large banks this week to wrap up a tumultuous fiscal year. Both Scotiabank and BMO outperformed in large part because they set aside fewer dollars to cover potential loan losses than analysts had anticipated.
Most of the actual losses stemming from the pandemic, which are booked as banks write off loans that are past due, have yet to materialize and are expected to appear over the next few quarters.
Both banks held their quarterly dividend unchanged in keeping with temporary restrictions set by Canada’s banking regulator.
ALSO ON OUR RADAR
Barr contradicts Trump on voter fraud: Attorney-General William Barr said today the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. He made his comments despite President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to president-elect Joe Biden.
Actor Page comes out as transgender: Elliot Page, the Oscar-nominated Canadian star of the film Juno, has come out as transgender in a social media post.
Death ‘abstract’ to van attacker, court hears: Alexander Westphal, a psychiatrist testifying at the trial of the man who killed 10 people in Toronto’s van attack two years ago, says the accused feels no emotion over what he did, describing it in a way similar to someone talking about killing characters in a video game.
Trial resumes in St. Michael’s sexual-assault case: Defence lawyers for a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto in 2018 have finished cross-examining the lead investigator in the case. His testimony began in March before the trial was put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
BlackBerry shares jump on Amazon news: Canadian technology specialist BlackBerry and e-commerce titan Amazon announced today have developed a cloud-based vehicle software platform, the companies said on Tuesday. The news sent BlackBerry’s shares soaring as much as 63 per cent on the TSX, before closing 18 per cent higher on the day.
F1′s Hamilton sidelined by COVID-19: Seven-time Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton said he was devastated after testing positive for COVID-19 and being ruled out of Sunday’s penultimate race of the season in Bahrain.
B.C. woman ‘blown away’ by guitar’s value: Renee Latheur had no idea when she decided to take an old guitar into a Kamloops music store it would be worth between $12,000 and $26,000. Passed down by her aunt, the 1955 electric Gretsch had sat in a closet for years.
Radio telescope collapses in Puerto Rico: The huge, already damaged Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico that has played a key role in astronomical discoveries for more than half a century completely collapsed today. Its 816-tonne receiver platform fell onto the reflector dish more than 122 metres below.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indexes closed at record highs today, with investors betting a COVID-19 vaccine will be available soon, and more confident about a speedy economic recovery following upbeat Chinese factory data. Canada’s TSX also rose, boosted by gold and bank stocks - and a major rally in shares of BlackBerry.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 185.28 points or 0.63 per cent to 29,823.92 points, the S&P 500 gained 40.82 points or 1.13 per cent to 3,662.45, and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 156.37 points 1.28 per cent to 12,355.11. The S&P/TSX Composite Index closed up 106.68 points or 0.62 per cent at 17,296.93.
Even out of the White House, Donald Trump will be as dangerous as ever
“He is doubtlessly already planning how he will continue to exploit the deep sense of division and alienation that exists in the United States. This has been an essential aspect of his populist appeal.” – Gary Mason
We need a homegrown solution for making enough vaccines for every Canadian
“For decades, successive governments neglected to rebuild our vaccine manufacturing capacity, fuelled by the belief that vaccines could be purchased from elsewhere and that another pandemic with the devastation of the 1918 Spanish influenza was unlikely to happen again. But it has and here we are today.” – Alan Bernstein and André Veillette
There’s growing evidence that carotenoids – naturally occurring compounds found in red, yellow, orange and dark green vegetables and fruits – help people maintain cognitive health. Common carotenoids in our diet include beta-carotene (found in carrots, sweet potato, mango), lutein/zeaxanthin (spinach, kale, Swiss chard), lycopene (tomato, watermelon) and beta-cryptoxanthin (pumpkin, papaya, tangerines). A recent study found a high intake of carotenoids can substantially cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
TODAY’S LONG READ
“The whole idea of travel is that it’s a pilgrimage where the goal isn’t a destination but a state of mind.” – Wade Davis, travel writer
Through travel writing, we come to know ourselves as much as the people we purport to write about. Bruce Kirkby and Wade Davis, venerable practitioners of the art, know this better than anyone. Kirkby, whose CV includes the television show Big Crazy Family Adventure, as well as two previous travel memoirs, has a new book out, Blue Sky Kingdom, about travelling to a remote Buddhist monastery with his wife and children. Davis’s 1985 book, The Serpent and the Rainbow, solidified his reputation as an adventurer. He was explorer-in-residence at the National Geographical Society for more than a decade. His newest is Magdalena: River of Dreams. Emily Donaldson spoke to the pair about the places they love, travel in the age of Instagram and the joys of serendipity. Read the Globe 100 conversation here.