Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly Canada-wide newsletter:
‘It’s a campaign video’: Ganley signalling NDP leadership aspirations, say observers
A campaign-style video posted by Calgary NDP MLA Kathleen Ganley further substantiates speculation that she intends to pursue leadership of the NDP. The video has been viewed as an initial attempt to introduce herself to Albertans in what is anticipated to be a forthcoming contest to replace Rachel Notley. Ganley’s signaling of leadership aspirations adds to the political rumblings around who else may run when the contest begins and the timing of Notley’s decision.
Nova Scotia and Ottawa sign $355M bilateral health care agreement
The federal and Nova Scotia governments have signed a three-year, $355 million bilateral agreement to improve health care services in the province. The funding aims to enhance various aspects of the health care system by 2026, including improving access to health care in rural and remote communities, increasing the number of health care professionals, enhancing youth mental health and substance services, improving access to health information and virtual services, increasing graduates with specialized mental health training, and addressing Indigenous health priorities. The federal government is investing over $200 billion over 10 years in the “Working Together to Improve Health Care for Canadians” plan.
B.C. hospital admissions break record as respiratory illness season nears peak
With respiratory illness season in B.C. reaching its peak, hospitals are grappling with a record number of patients. Health Minister Adrian Dix disclosed that 10,435 individuals were hospitalized as of Tuesday night, a historic high, with many suffering from respiratory illnesses. While influenza cases are contributing to the surge, hospitals are also setting records for surgeries. Authorities are implementing capacity and treatment measures, and health officials expect the peak of influenza A and respiratory syncytial virus cases in the next week. COVID-19 cases are also on the rise, but Dr. Bonnie Henry notes that most people in B.C. have some level of immunity. The respiratory illness season appears to be returning to pre-pandemic patterns, with the expectation of high influenza and RSV rates in the coming weeks.
Ontario’s Innovation Highlighted in United States Trade Mission
The Ontario government completed a successful trade mission to the U.S., focusing on automotive, technology, and life sciences. The delegation showcased made-in-Ontario innovations at the Biotech Showcase in San Francisco and CES in Las Vegas. Minister Fedeli also announced, “Going Global,” a partnership with Air Canada to offer flight discounts for Ontario businesses, aiming to boost international growth opportunities.
Interest costs for federal debt soar 37% to new highs
Interest payments on Canada’s national debt surged by over 37% in the third quarter of 2023 compared to the previous year, according to data from Statistics Canada. This increase was driven by rising interest rates and the record borrowing by the government, pushing the cost of maintaining public debt to new highs. The federal government spent $11.3 billion on interest payments during the third quarter of 2023, compared to $8.3 billion for the same quarter in 2022. This is a concerning development for the Trudeau Liberals, who are facing criticism for the rising cost of living.
Toronto city staff propose 10.5% property tax hike as part of 2024 budget
Toronto city staff recommend a nine percent increase in the city’s residential property tax—the largest since amalgamation in 1998—to address a $1.8 billion budget shortfall in 2024 and a grim long-term fiscal outlook. In addition to the nine percent property tax increase, there’s a proposed 1.5 percent increase to the city building tax. Property owners could see a 10.5 percent tax bill increase this year if left unchanged through five weeks of budget debates and consultations. According to Budget Chief Shelley Carroll, this tax rate would mean an annual increase of about $360 for the average Toronto household.