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Hello,

Experts believe that more people have died due to COVID-19 in the U.S. and the U.K. than officially reported. Overall deaths are up in both countries, which suggests some are not being attributed to the new coronavirus when they should be.

Could the same be true in Canada? We don’t know yet, because we don’t know how many people here have died overall.

Health experts say Canada is far behind other countries in releasing mortality data. They say such information would help them figure out the true toll of COVID-19.

Statistics Canada told The Globe it hopes to finally start reporting some of those figures in mid-May.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Even though COVID-19 has hit Quebec hard, the province’s businesses and schools are getting ready to reopen in the coming days. But those operational resumptions are happening first outside Montreal because the province’s largest city is struggling with a bigger outbreak than elsewhere.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a quarter-of-a-billion-dollar aid package for Canada’s agriculture sector, including $77-million to help food processors give their workers protective equipment and practice physical distancing. The worst coronavirus outbreak in Canada was at a meat-processing plant in Alberta, where nearly a thousand workers have tested positive.

The federal government waited until just before much of the country was celebrating March Break to warn Canadians not to travel abroad. By that point international travel had already spread the virus far afield from Wuhan. Should Canada’s warning have come sooner? Data show that nearly 8,000 flights left Canada in the week leading up to that travel advisory, and experts say many of those trips could have been avoided.

And Justice Colleen Suche of the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, wife of former Liberal cabinet minister Jim Carr, has been criticized by other judges, including the judicial council, for offering appointment advice to the Liberal government. Her contact with the government was revealed as part of a larger investigation by The Globe earlier this year.

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on the Liberal gun-control measures: “On guns, as on most things, political capital is not infinite. The government has decided to make a big splash on an arbitrary measure that has incited legal gun owners, yet still preserves the legal status of semi-automatics and also doesn’t touch the guns involved in the majority of crimes involving firearms in Canada. The impulse to want to do something after the mass shooting in Nova Scotia earlier this month is understandable. But deceiving Canadians into thinking the government has outlawed all menacing-looking, military-inspired semi-automatic weapons is not worthy, or righteous, or deserving of any type of applause.”

Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on COVID-19 and the widening gender pay gap: “This recession is not only amplifying gender disparities in the work force, it’s also highlighting the steep price Canada pays for political inaction. Women’s financial insecurity is worsening the economic shock. Accordingly, as legislators prepare to kick-start the economy, they must prioritize women and combat workplace gender discrimination if they’re serious about generating new GDP growth.”

Colby Cosh (National Post) on why the coronavirus seems to hit wealthy countries harder: “Richer countries undertake more international business and pleasure travel, and attract more of it. The citizens within them are generally more mobile and more urbanized. People in the richer countries live longer, so their populations tend to have more old and vulnerable persons. Obesity is a known co-morbidity of COVID, and the rich countries have more of that, too — along with higher rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes.”

Jerry Dias (The Globe and Mail) on why the government needs to help media organizations: “Canadians are starving for accurate, trustworthy information about COVID-19, and consuming more local news than ever before. France and Australia have shown that you can take on Facebook and Google and create a sustainable future for local media organizations. Now it’s our turn.”

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