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Good morning,

Opioid-related overdose deaths increased by nearly 60 per cent in Ontario in the first 11 months of 2020, bringing renewed calls for a provincial overdose strategy. B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan also had their worst years on record for drug deaths in the period since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

  • Ontario recorded 2,167 confirmed and probable opioid-related deaths from January to November in 2020 – a 59-per-cent increase over the same period in 2019.
  • Opioid-related deaths among people who are homeless or precariously housed doubled, with 342 from January to November, 2020, compared with 173 for the same period in 2019.
  • Fentanyl continues to drive the overdose crisis, with the synthetic opioid being detected in 85 per cent of opioid-related deaths in 2020.
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Denise Sandul walks through rows of crosses at the corner of Paris and Brady street in Sudbury, where a large memorial for people who have died from opioid overdoses has popped up.Gino Donato/The Globe and Mail

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COVID-19 news

  • WFH is causing breakdowns: Work and home life now blend into one – with work often taking precedence. Gone are the small joys of life that once seemed like distractions, but that researchers say are important to keeping us engaged and preventing burnout: the coffees, the lunches, the gossip.
  • Updates on the AstraZeneca shots: The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is reconsidering its position that the COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca should not be given to Canadians who are 65 and over. These developments come as several European countries have paused giving the vaccine while investigating reports of blood clots in individuals who received the shot.
  • Picking and choosing: Alberta’s government says people will be able to choose which COVID-19 vaccine they get, in part over concerns in some religious communities about the use of fetal cell lines in their development. Public-health experts have warned this could slow a mass vaccination program that aims to reach as many people as possible with a limited supply of doses.
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Nurses Catherine Serrano and Kevin Sagun from Humber River Hospital administer the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Caboto Terrace, an independent seniors residence, as part of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada March 11, 2021.CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

China-Canada relations

The editor of a Communist Party-run newspaper says two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were arrested in China are likely to be in court shortly.

Global Times editor Hu Xijin cited an unidentified source, but is often a reliable source of information about China’s plans. The Chinese government has not yet notified Canadian officials about a trial date, Global Affairs Canada said.

Putting the two men on trial will further entrench them in the Chinese justice system and make it “a lot more difficult to extract the two Michaels,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, a former Canadian ambassador to China.


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Cabinet-approved orders to CRTC to regulate online streaming platforms: The draft plans from last year would give Canada’s broadcasting regulator broad powers to decide how much money online streaming services should contribute to Canadian content and what content should qualify as Canadian.

Doug Ford rebuked after accusing Indigenous MPP of vaccine queue-jumping: NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa and First Nations leaders say he was invited to the communities of Muskrat Dam and Sandy Lake to help combat vaccine hesitancy.

Former prisoner launches class action on sexual abuse at federal correctional institutions: Sara Tessier, who would be the representative plaintiff, said she is launching the lawsuit to bring about change and accountability. Many prisoners have been victimized in federal institutions designated for women, she said.

Kielburgers’ appearance at ethics committee in doubt as WE Charity raises new concerns: WE says the most recent correspondence of the committee chair suggests a “limited” ability for lawyer William McDowell to engage in the proceedings.


Global shares were flat on Friday but within sight of a record high while oil edged lower as benchmark debt yields climbed, helping to curb the latest stimulus-driven rally. Gains in Asian stock markets proved tough to match for most of European peers, after they hit a one-year high in the prior session. U.S. stock futures also suggested a lower start for Wall Street later in the day. The Canadian dollar was trading at 79.60 US cents.


Engaging with China on climate policy isn’t appealing, but it’s necessary

Adam Radwanski: “It has too much control over our long-term health to be isolated on climate policy, no matter how good the immediate reasons.”

Why are Canada’s Catholic bishops playing vaccine politics?

Konrad Yakabuski: “Instead of providing more nuanced guidance for Canadian Catholics, the CCCB’s statement only stirs the pot. It should know better than to play politics during a deadly pandemic.”

Erin O’Toole has his policy priorities right, but he better get his party under control soon

John Ibbitson: “But if the Conservative Leader is able to put forward a credible, innovative platform – which we should be seeing now, not later – and limit the Liberals to another minority government, then he could do well in the election that follows.”


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Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


Are your emotions impacting your investments?

Q: What measures can I put in place to help me weather the ups and downs of market hype?

A: I like to start by arming my investor clients with a basic understanding of behavioural finance, which looks at the impact of emotions on how we make decisions with money. Remove your online brokerage account from your mobile device. You simply don’t need that hair-trigger temptation in your pocket. Make an investment plan. Please. I cannot say this enough. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but at the very least, write down some basics to keep yourself in line.

  • Also: Three lessons you can learn from the Smiths’ battle with the taxman

MOMENT IN TIME: March 12, 2014

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The last Canadians involved in the NATO training mission in Afghanistan board a U.S. Chinook helicopter as they leave the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan March 12, 2014.MCpl Patrick Blanchard/Canadian Forces Combat Camera via Reuters

Canadian mission in Afghanistan ends

Canada’s war in Afghanistan began in secret in December, 2001. Forty Joint Task Force 2 members hunted al-Qaeda operatives after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Over 13 years, operations expanded with a security mission in the Afghan capital and then a bloody counterinsurgency against the Taliban in Kandahar before shrinking to a training mission. On March 12, 2014, 84 soldiers went home to little fanfare. By then, 158 Canadian soldiers were dead and 2,000 wounded. Seven Canadian civilians died. Approximately 40,000 military personnel served on the mission. About 6,700 receive federal support for post-traumatic stress disorder. Dozens died from suicide. While the mission’s cost is clear, debate over its benefit continues. The mission’s supporters argue al-Qaeda was chased from the country, Afghans are better off (child mortality dropped), and the Canadian military and NATO alliance were strengthened. But Afghanistan remains a poor country suffering increasing violence. Last year, the United States made a deal with the Taliban to withdraw remaining U.S. troops May 1 if the Taliban renounced terrorism and stopped attacking U.S. troops. The Taliban have avoided killing Americans since, but have killed scores of Afghan civilians including women, journalists and political opponents. President Joe Biden will make a final decision on the troop withdrawal. Meanwhile, negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government are stalled. Les Perreaux

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