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Federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says there’s no imminent agreement between Ottawa and the provinces and territories on health-care funding.

His remarks Tuesday come after Saskatchewan’s Premier Scott Moe told CTV he believes a provincial-federal health-care deal is close. Story here.

But Mr. Duclos told a news conference in Cornwall, P.E.I., there is much work ahead to get to deal on health-care reform.

Canada’s premiers have been seeking an increase in the federal share of health-care costs to 35 per cent, from the current 22 per cent. The federal government has ruled out a spending increase without conditions. The premiers are also seeking a meeting with Mr. Trudeau on the issue.

“Lots of work still needs to be done before we come to an agreement,” Mr. Duclos told journalists after being asked how close a deal might be.

“Yes, we’re all looking forward to a final agreement at some point, but we are all very mindful that there is still lots of work to do before we get there.”

Mr. Duclos said he and other provincial and territorial health ministers have all worked very hard through 13 meetings and many other meetings between officials to map what’s needed for the health-care system.

Among his goals, cited Tuesday, were a focus on charting health-care results, reducing backlogs in surgeries and diagnostics, and retaining health-care workers and investing in mental health.

Asked about Ontario’s move to boost the number of surgeries at private health-care clinics in hopes of clearing a backlog intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic – story here – Mr. Duclos cited Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement this week that the federal government is following the situation, and working collaboratively with provinces and territories. He noted that there are key principles in the Canada Health Act, including provisions on public funding of health care, that everyone agrees on.

During a news conference in Saskatoon on Monday, Mr. Trudeau said he hoped to soon announce “positive steps forward” on the health-care file, acknowledging a need for more money for health care and to deliver results for Canadians.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. 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

MPs HAD BEEN HELPING AFGHAN LAWMAKER BEFORE SHE WAS KILLED - A woman who was previously a member of parliament in Afghanistan and who was killed last weekend was trying to come to Canada with the help of Canadian MPs. Story here.

AGGRESSIVE MEASURES CONSIDERED TO CLEAR IMMIGRATION BACKLOG - The federal government is considering extraordinary measures to reduce its backlog of immigration applications, including waiving eligibility requirements for nearly half a million visitor visas, according to a policy memo reviewed by The Globe and Mail. Story here.

TWENTY-THREE CONTRACTS FOR McKINSEY & COMPANY - Ottawa has awarded 23 contracts to McKinsey & Company since 2015 with a total value of $101.4-million, federal officials say – a figure that is significantly higher than what has previously been revealed. Story here.

INFLATION RATE EASED IN DECEMBER - Canada’s inflation rate eased in December, thanks largely to a plunge in gasoline prices, in what is an encouraging sign for the Bank of Canada as it mulls further increases in interest rates. Story here.

CANADIAN MEDIC KILLED IN UKRAINE - A Canadian combat medic has been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine, friends and fellow fighters say. Story here.

GOVERNMENT REVIEWING PREMIERS’ BAIL CONCERNS - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is looking “carefully” and “quickly” at a letter Canada’s premiers sent him last week that called for reforms to the country’s bail system. Story here.

PREMIER BACKS OFF AMNESTY FOR COVID-19 HEALTH VIOLATORS - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says she is no longer pursuing amnesty for COVID-19 health-rule violators because Canada doesn’t work that way. Story here.

NEW YUKON PREMIER LAYS OUT AGENDA - A Q&A with the new Yukon Premier, Ranj Pillai. Story here from CBC.

PM’S OFFICE SORRY FOR NOT GIVING MOE NOTICE OF VISIT - Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office has apologized for not informing him about a visit to the province this week. Story here.

NO MORE THAN TWO DRINKS PER DAY: ALCOHOL GUIDELINES - Canada’s new guidelines on alcohol and health have arrived, with the following advice: Any reduction in drinking helps. The more you drink, the higher the risks are. And preferably, consume no more than two drinks on a given day. Story here.

NDP CAUCUS RETREAT TO FOCUS ON DEAL WITH LIBERALS- At a three-day retreat in Ottawa this week, New Democrat members of Parliament are expected to focus discussions on getting more wins out of their confidence-and-supply agreement with the federal Liberals. Story here.

QUEBEC PREMIER DOXXED AND THREATENED: REPORT - Quebec Premier François Legault was doxxed and threatened online by 4Chan users ahead of the Freedom Convoy, a January, 2022 report from Canada’s Integrated Terrorism Assessment Centre (ITAC) shows. Story here from The Montreal Gazette.

STEWART RETURNS TO UNIVERSITY - After serving as an NDP MP and Vancouver mayor, Kennedy Stewart has returned to work at Simon Fraser University where he was a tenured associate professor as he entered politics. Story here from The Vancouver Sun.

THIS AND THAT

HOUSE ON A BREAK – The House of Commons is on a break until Jan. 30.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, and Prince Edward Health Minister Ernie Hudson, in Cornwall, P.E.I. announced additions to the Improving Affordable Access to Prescriptions Drugs initiative. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, in Sackville, N.B., with provincial Post-Secondary Education Minister Trevor Holder, made a green infrastructure announcement. Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, also minister for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, in Salisbury, N.B., announced $400,000 funding for a community farmers and artisans market. Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal, also PrairiesCan minister, with Tourism Minister Randy Boissonnault, in Edmonton, announced outline federal support to help Alberta capitalize on the hydrogen industry.

NEW HEAD OF THE BCCLA - There’s a new executive director at the BC Civil Liberties Association - a job formerly held by current B.C. Premier David Eby. Joanne Macri, previously the executive director of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy in Vancouver, has been appointed to the post. Announcement here.

PM PRESS SECRETARY EXITS - After a little more than a year, Cecely Roy has left her post as a press secretary for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Ms. Roy is relocating from Ottawa to Toronto to become director of communications for the Mortgage Professionals Canada - a national professional association representing mortgage brokers. Her last day was last Thursday.

END OF THE LINE FOR AKIN NEWSLETTER - David Akin, the Ottawa-based chief political correspondent for Global News, says here that he is suspending his long-running newsletter as he looks for a new platform for it.

PRIME MINISTER’S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Windsor, Ont., attended private meetings, met with students at the University of Windsor and toured an automotive assembly plant and met with workers. Mr. Trudeau was then scheduled to take media questions. In the evening, he was scheduled to attend a Liberal Party fundraising event in Windsor. Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino was also scheduled to attend. Donation amounts are listed, on the party website, as regular $1,000 and $650 for those aged 35 and under.

LEADERS

No schedules released for party leaders.

THE DECIBEL

On Tuesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, Globe and Mail columnist Tim Kiladze talks about the economic forecast for 2023, suggesting an an investor’s best asset for the next while might be patience. The Decibel is here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on being careful what you wish for when it comes to bail reform: But the premiers should also keep in mind the old adage – be careful what you wish for. Simplistic, tough-on-crime responses to similar tragedies in the past put in motion a pendulum that has now swung in the other direction, and which may have made it easier for the suspect in this case to gain their liberty while awaiting trial. Canada has wrestled for decades with a bail system that many experts, as well as the Supreme Court of Canada, believe is overcautious and risk-averse to a fault, and which is undermining people’s fundamental right to the presumption of innocence.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how former finance minister Bill Morneau’s new book offers an insider’s account of the first five years of Justin Trudeau’s government: Bill Morneau got into politics because he wanted to improve Canada’s dismal economic productivity within an environmentally responsible and socially progressive framework. He got out because he lost respect for Justin Trudeau. To then write a book about this is remarkable. Former cabinet ministers have occasionally written books critical of the prime minister they served under, such as Donald Fleming about John Diefenbaker; Walter Gordon and Judy LaMarsh about Lester Pearson; Paul Martin about Jean Chrétien. But these writers waited until the leader was out of office before publishing their tell-alls. Morneau, like former attorney-general and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, has written a book criticizing a Prime Minister still in office. Whatever his other qualities, Trudeau deeply antagonized some people who worked with him.”

Anastasiya Ringis (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Crimea is part of Ukraine, and it cannot be traded for false peace: As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on, the voices calling for a peace deal have grown louder. Their argument seems simple enough: by threatening to launch nuclear weapons if Ukrainian forces reach Crimea – the peninsula that the Russians have occupied since 2014, and to which Ukrainians are now marching, with military assistance from the West – Russian President Vladimir Putin has effectively declared that losing that territory would be unacceptable. Ukraine, it is suggested, should retreat in exchange for a restoration of the status quo, as things were before February, 2022. But this position does not stand up to scrutiny.”

Robert Rotberg (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how visionary leadership in politics is all too rare:Positive leadership under fire, as demonstrated so well by the examples of Mr. Mandela and Mr. Zelensky, is greatly lacking in today’s edgy environment. Leaders like Mr. Mandela and Mr. Zelensky tell it as it is. They dissemble rarely. They know themselves. They are true to their cores and can therefore be trusted by their followers – by citizens in cities, of course, but especially by the beleaguered men and women in the foxholes of hell near, say, Donetsk. Too frequently, heads of state and heads of government prevaricate, obfuscate and outright lie. The philosopher Diogenes searched for a proverbial honest man in fourth century BC Athens. In too many contemporary capital cities, Diogenes would find few exemplary leaders.”

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