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Good morning,

The federal government has spent nearly $5-million on outside consultants to set up a COVID-19 emergency support program for large companies that has delivered just two loans since launching six months ago.

The leading recipient of federal consulting work related to the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility program, or LEEFF, is Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, an international financial advisory and asset management firm. Lazard has received two contracts worth a combined $3.6-million. Tim Duncanson, a senior Finance Department official with private-sector experience, worked for Lazard in the 1990s.

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Department spokesperson Marie-France Faucher said in an e-mail that Lazard was selected after a competitive process that involved multiple candidates.

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau (left) and Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Navdeep Bains arrive for a news conference in Toronto on Wednesday April 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

This is the daily Morning Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for Morning Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters on our newsletter signup page.

Alberta hospitals brace for surge in coronavirus patients

The number of COVID-19 patients in Alberta’s intensive care units could more than double over the next two weeks, according to the provincial health authority’s internal projections, and hospitals are training additional staff on how to use ventilators in preparation for the surge.

The most recent data show that as of Sunday, 328 people with COVID-19 were in hospital, 62 of them in intensive care. The province had set aside 70 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients, but has added to that. There are outbreaks at many of the province’s hospitals, some of which have been operating beyond their capacity for weeks and also have staff off sick or in isolation.

The province has an infection rate among the highest in the country, but has acted more slowly than other jurisdictions to expand restrictions, arguing that widespread economic shutdowns were more harmful than the pandemic itself.

More coverage from Canada:

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Atlantic bubble has burst as COVID-19 infections rise

Manitoba’s COVID-19 restrictions bring more pain for the bereaved

More coverage from around the world:

Boris Johnson puts faith in COVID vaccine, promises easing of U.K. lockdown over Christmas period

RCMP union opposes Ottawa’s plan to ban assault weapons

The police union representing 20,000 Mounties is criticizing Ottawa’s plan to ban certain semi-automatic rifles, arguing enforcing the law will tie up depleted police resources while ignoring the main catalysts of rising gun crime: gang violence and cross-border firearms trafficking.

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However, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the rifle ban won’t drain RCMP resources. “The police have not been tasked with anything related to the prohibition and the proposed buy back will not involve law enforcement,” Mary-Liz Power said.

Instead, the National Police Federation wants the federal government to dedicate funding to the RCMP Border Integrity Program to investigate and dismantle gun-smuggling rings, and the Canadian Firearms Program, which it says lacks the resources “to provide effective gun crime tracing and enforcement units.”

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop


ALSO ON OUR RADAR

U.S. agency begins transition to Biden administration: The General Services Administration determined yesterday that President-elect Joe Biden is the “apparent winner” of the Nov. 3 election, clearing the way for the start of the transition from President Donald Trump’s administration and allowing Biden to co-ordinate with federal agencies on plans for taking over on Jan. 20.

‘Too early’ to say how well mortgage holders are doing after payment deferrals ended, BoC says: Bank of Canada deputy governor Toni Gravelle cautioned that “it’s too early” to say how well Canadian mortgage holders are faring with the expiry of COVID-19 payment-deferral programs, but evidence indicates that “more than 99 per cent” of those borrowers have resumed repayments.

Snowbirds take to the air to cross closed Canada-U.S. land border, despite government warnings: As the U.S.-Canadian border remains closed for land crossings, Ontario-based Great Lakes Helicopter is providing snowbirds with an alternative for those who want to escape the winter months by car.

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Enrolment up at Canadian universities despite fear pandemic would keep students away: Despite fears that students would balk at courses held primarily online, enrolment at Canadian universities rose slightly in the fall term driven mainly by an increase in part-time students.


MORNING MARKETS

World stocks ride high on Biden transition and vaccine hopes: Stocks, oil and risk currencies gained on Tuesday as the formal go-ahead for U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to begin his transition burnished a November already boosted by COVID-19 vaccines. Just before 6 a.m. ET, Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 1.02 per cent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.93 per cent and 1.29 per cent, respectively. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei jumped 2.5 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.30 per cent. New York futures were higher. The Canadian dollar was trading at 76.71 US cents.


WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

Campbell Clark: “In fact, we should be pushing Mr. Biden’s administration to make it more than just a return to multilateral consultations, but rather something more formal, where countries agree to apply sanctions against China if it crosses lines.”

Jane Philpott and Oyedeji Ayonrinde: “It should always be in the public interest to pursue evidence-based drug policy. Our support for decriminalization of the possession of illicit substances stems from a lens of compassion, a commitment to social justice and a recognition that criminal prohibitions have proven completely ineffective in minimizing the harms associated with using drugs.”

John Doyle: “Like life itself and U.S. politics, the TV landscape is a shambles. It’s impossible to figure out trends and certainties. This is a rogue year, and things may never go back to normal.”


TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

cartoon

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail


LIVING BETTER

Ask Alex Bozikovic anything about University Park or the future of cities in Canada on Reddit

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The Globe’s architecture critic Alex Bozikovic will answer your questions about his story, Rebirth of the promenade, and the what cities might look like postpandemic during a Reddit AMA today at noon.


MOMENT IN TIME: NOV. 24, 1987

Jehane Benoit, Canada's leading cooking expert, discusses haute cuisine with three visitors to Yorkdale French Week in Toronto, June 1966.

Handout

Canadian culinary icon Madame Benoît dies

She was known to her legion of fans simply as Madame Benoît, a bubbly personality who inspired Canadians to appreciate different foods, to cook with flair and to never pooh-pooh innovation in the kitchen, especially if it could save time (she was an early adopter of the microwave in the 1970s). Born Jehane Patenaude in Montreal, she was the doyenne of Canadian cuisine for more than 40 years, on par with U.S.-based Julia Child. A Cordon Bleu-trained chef who studied the chemistry of food at the Sorbonne, Benoît opened one of Canada’s first vegetarian restaurants in 1935 (The Salad Bar), was a fixture on TV (CBC’s Open House and Take 30), ran her own cooking school in Montreal and wrote 30 cookbooks, including The Encyclopedia of Canadian Cooking. She believed anyone could make a delicious meal if they understood the basics – and weren’t afraid to use some imagination. “Cooking is half imagination,” Benoît once said. She was 83 when she died. Gayle MacDonald

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