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The provinces and the federal government are offering contrasting reports on efforts to reach an agreement on funding health care in Canada.

On Friday, the federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister said there had been some promising talks between the federal government and provinces on reaching an agreement on the issue.

“We are seeing in the conversations with provinces and territories around the health-care system some very encouraging discussions,” Dominic LeBlanc said at a transit news conference in Toronto.

Responding to a journalist’s question, Mr. LeBlanc noted the government has said it is willing to increase its share of funding for health care in Canada, but that the government also wants to collectively attain better results for the system.

“I am encouraged by the conversations we have had,” Mr. LeBlanc said, noting he had dinner with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey in Toronto on Thursday. “We obviously talked about this.”

Mr. LeBlanc also said he has spoken to Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston. And he said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in contact earlier this week with Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

“I think we’re at a place where we can continue to do the important work Canadians expect of us, and I’m not pessimistic at all about the results of our collective efforts.”

However, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, the chair of the Council of the Federation, offered a different perspective as a news conference by the premiers began soon after Mr. LeBlanc’s remarks.

“There have been no federal proposals, no substantive meetings or dialogue and no real progress,” Ms. Stefanson told the virtual news conference, referring to talks with Ottawa.

She called for an urgent first ministers meeting – the premiers and the Prime Minister – early in 2023 to discuss the issue of health care. “All premiers are ready, willing and able to sit down for serious discussions as soon as possible to pursue the true partnership that all Canadians urgently deserve.”

Talks between health ministers from the provinces and territories and the federal health-care minister went awry in November. Story here.

The premiers have argued repeatedly in the past that health-care funding began as a 50-50 split between the federal government and the provinces and territories, but that Ottawa’s share has dwindled to 22 per cent. They are asking for an increase to 33 per cent, or an additional $28- billion in funding a year, without conditions.

Please check The Globe and Mail for updates on the premiers’ news conference.

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

FEDERAL CRITICAL MINERALS STRATEGY RELEASED - Ottawa, in a federal critical minerals strategy unveiled on Friday, is vowing to cut red tape in the mining industry, to move large resource projects along faster, after facing heavy criticism that Canada risks being left behind in the global scramble to secure critical minerals. Story here.

TURMOIL AT CANADA’S NATIONAL GALLERY - Inside the power struggles and staff turmoil at Canada’s National Gallery: Interviews with 10 donors and current and former staff members reveal that resentment and disaffection among employees has been simmering ever since Sasha Suda became the gallery’s new director and CEO in 2019. Shannon Proudfoot reports here. Also, a former curator at the National Gallery of Canada speaks here on decolonization, dismissals at the institution

INJURED PLAYERS FACE STEEP MEDICAL BILLS DESPITE HOCKEY CANADA WEALTH - Hockey Canada has vast financial reserves, including a fund built by registration fees that it quietly used to settle sexual-assault cases. But seriously injured players facing steep medical bills wonder why they must fight for compensation from the organization. Story here, by senior writer Grant Robertson.

AGREEMENT ON KEY CANADIAN GOAL AT BIODIVERSITY CONFERENCE - Federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault says there’s been agreement on one of Canada’s main goals at the international conference in Montreal aimed at protecting the world’s declining biodiversity. Story here.

FIRST NATIONS OPPOSE LIBERAL GUN-CONTROL BID - First Nations leaders voted Thursday to oppose the federal government’s marquee gun control legislation, adding to mounting pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to back down from surprise changes introduced late to the proposed law. Story here.

INCREASE IN THE DEATHS OF JOURNALISTS - Russia’s war in Ukraine, chaos in Haiti and rising violence by criminal groups in Mexico contributed to a 30-per-cent spike in the number of journalists killed doing their work in 2022 over the previous year, according to a new report released Friday. Story here.

TORY MP EJECTED FROM THE COMMONS - Manitoba Conservative Raquel Dancho was ejected from the House of Commons Thursday after accusing a Liberal MP of lying and refusing to apologize. Story here from The National Post.

FEDERAL PUBLIC SERVANTS TO FACE MANDATE TO WORK IN OFFICE - Treasury Board is expected to issue a mandate to require all federal public servants to go back to the office for a set number of days every week. Story here from Policy Options.

CALLS FOR THE RESIGNATION OF THE WINNIPEG POLICE CHIEF - Indigenous leaders in Manitoba are calling on Winnipeg’s police chief to resign, after he refused to search a landfill for the remains of two women believed to be victims of an alleged serial killer. Story here.

FREELAND FACES SENATE QUESTIONING - Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland faced questions from senators this week regarding the government’s planned $15-billion Canada Growth Fund – specifically the lack of detail in the legislation to create the new body. Story here.

CONTRACT FOR RCMP RADIO EQUIPMENT SUSPENDED - The federal government has suspended a $550,000 contract to supply the RCMP with radio equipment made by a Canadian company with Chinese owners after a backlash over the deal. Story here.

ONTARIO MPPS SHOULD PROTECT DEMOCRACY: LIEUTENANT-GOVERNOR - Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor urged the province’s MPPs to protect democracy, addressing the legislature as it rose for the holidays just minutes after the government passed a bill giving the mayors of Toronto and Ottawa stronger powers, which critics call “minority rule.” Story here.

THIS AND THAT

TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, Dec. 9, accessible here.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER’S DAY - Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, in Toronto, participated in an announcement, with Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc, Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, and Toronto Mayor John Tory, on a $1.5-billon upgrade program for the Bloor-Yonge subway station. Story here from CTV.

BQ MEMBER WITH COVID - Mario Beaulieu, the Bloc Québécois MP for Montreal-area riding of La Pointe-de-l’Île, tested positive on Friday for COVID-19 with a rapid test, according to a party statement. Mr. Beaulieu placed himself in isolation in his residence.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, in Edmonton will make an announcement with Tanya Fir, parliamentary secretary for the Status of Women of Alberta, on support for crisis hotlines in Alberta. Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, in Vancouver, announced a critical-minerals strategy.

GOVERNOR-GENERAL - Governor-General Mary Simon will preside over the Change of Guidon ceremony for the Royal Canadian Dragoons regiment - Canada’s most senior cavalry regiment - at Garrison Petawawa. The Afghanistan Battle Honour is emblazoned on the new guidon, in honour of the unit’s service in Afghanistan.

POLITICIAN PODCASTS - On his Uncommons podcast, available here, Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches-East York) talks to Benjamin Perrin, an adviser to former prime minister Stephen Harper, about Mr. Perrin’s criticisms of the Conservative Party’s stand on dealing with the overdose crisis as well as Liberal policy. Also, the latest Blue Skies podcast by former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, features psychiatrist and medical ethics expert Dr. John Maher in a discussion on Medical Assistance in Dying. The podcast is here.

PRIME MINISTER'S DAY

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in Ottawa, held private meetings, and also held a meeting with Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane followed by a meeting with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver.

LEADERS

Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts and accompanied by Bloc fisheries critic Caroline Desbiens, was scheduled to hold a fisheries table on the right whale followed by an afternoon media availability.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Toronto, was scheduled to meet with Unifor’s President Lana Payne.

No schedule released for other leaders.

THE DECIBEL

On Friday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, UQAM psychologist Dr. Kim Lavoie - a Canada Research Chair in Behavioural Medicine, and co-director of the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre - talks about why Canadians seem to have given up on masking amidst a new strain on health care systems. This time, children are bearing the worst of the combination of influenza, RSV, and COVID-19. The Decibel is here.

OPINION

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on how the Liberals jammed a wedge into their handgun bill and now they need to pull it out: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised on Wednesday that his government would “fine-tune” proposed gun control legislation that has legal gun owners across the country upset and confused. Also confused are people who don’t own guns, which means the Trudeau government has managed to confound the entire population. It’s easy to see why.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how most of the waste in government is on purpose: Possibly some readers are wondering what to make of the Auditor-General’s recent finding that the federal government paid nearly $5-billion in COVID emergency benefits to people who were ineligible to receive them; that at least another $27-billion in payments were suspicious enough to warrant further investigation; and that the Liberals made no serious effort to verify recipients’ eligibility then or since. My reaction: I’m against it.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on why it’s time Quebec started paying the same carbon tax as the rest of Canada: This year most Canadians living outside Quebec have had to pay more at the pump in the name of reducing carbon emissions than those living inside that province. And the ever-increasing federal price on carbon may only exacerbate that discrepancy in the future. The reason? Quebec’s price on carbon is set through the cap-and-trade system that is linked with California’s as part of the Western Climate Initiative. Most of the rest of the country pays a carbon tax, either one instituted by their provincial government or imposed by Ottawa, that is higher. How can this be fair? It’s not.”

Konrad Yakabuski (The Globe and Mail) on how, under the Trudeau Liberals, the CBC keeps cashing in: New Democratic MP Peter Julian entered the House of Commons in 2004, after an election that produced a minority Liberal government under Paul Martin. Perhaps that is why Mr. Julian, who this week accused the former Conservative government of Stephen Harper of having “gutted” the CBC when it was in office, got it wrong. He was not in Ottawa when Mr. Martin, as Jean Chrétien’s finance minister in 1995, undertook budget cuts so devastating that many of the country’s institutions, including the CBC, still bear the scars. Talk about gutting.”

Don Braid (The Calgary Herald) on Alberta Premier Danielle Smith skipping the unveiling of former premier Rachel Notley’s portrait, exposing hostilities: Sometimes the little symbolic things say more about the rampant hostility in our politics than the daily flood of words and deeds. Premier Danielle Smith didn’t show up Thursday morning for the unveiling of an official legislature portrait of NDP Leader Rachel Notley, commemorating her four years as premier. Premiers always pay their respects for past premiers at these affairs. Notley herself did it three times when she was premier, unveiling portraits of former PC premiers Alison Redford, Dave Hancock and Jim Prentice. This courtesy is observed across the country and in federal politics. There’s a cheery photo of former prime ministers Stephen Harper and Jean Chretien together at the unveiling of Chretien’s portrait. But shortly before 11 a.m. Thursday, word came that Smith wouldn’t attend. Instead, she sent Nathan Neudorf, one of her deputy premiers.”

Shachi Kurl (The Ottawa Citizen) on the federal Liberals and Tories both using the firearms bill to fire up support: “Yet, we’ve ended up in an argument over something that started out with an adequate amount of consensus and really shouldn’t be that hard to achieve. The Trudeau government is accused of kicking off the kerfuffle after making last-minute changes to a proposed law it claimed wouldn’t target rural gun owners, but that many — including Assembly of First Nations chiefs — now feel does exactly that. The Conservative opposition, in turn, has gone ballistic. On Thursday, Conservative Public Safety Critic Raquel Dancho called another Liberal in Parliament a liar, which resulted in her being kicked out of the chamber. Let us face reality like the weary and wary Canadians we are, and recognize, as others have pointed out, that both parties are fundraising and polling like mad over the issue in a bid to fire up their bases and gain strategic advantage.”

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