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In the news today: Canadians to Ottawa: spend on health care, housing and AFN votes

Paramedics push a gurney towards an ambulance outside a Toronto hospital on January 5, 2022. A majority of Canadians think the federal government should spend more on health care, a housing strategy and initiatives to ease inflation and cost-of-living issues, a new poll suggests — but they also want it to freeze or reduce other spending. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Ottawa should spend on health care, housing

A majority of Canadians think the federal government should spend more on health care, a housing strategy and initiatives to ease inflation and cost-of-living issues, a new poll suggests — but they also want it to freeze or reduce other spending. 

Nearly three-quarters of respondents to the new Leger poll, or 71 per cent, said the federal government should spend more on health care and health transfers to the provinces.

When it comes to a housing strategy and initiatives to tackle inflation and cost-of-living issues, 66 per cent said they were in favour of increasing government spending, and only six per cent said it should decrease.

However, most respondents wanted the government to reduce or maintain other spending, including on national defence, services to Indigenous communities and international aid.

Pass gun bill, father of shooting victim urges

The father of a woman who was fatally shot in October by her former partner is urging senators to pass a federal gun-control bill without delay.

In a letter sent this week to members of the upper chamber, Brian Sweeney says the legislation contains crucial measures that would improve the way police deal with domestic violence cases involving firearms.

Sweeney's daughter Angie was fatally shot when her former partner Bobbie Halleart broke into her home in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., two months ago. Halleart proceeded to a second home, killed three children and injured another woman, who survived. The gunman then took his own life.

He plans to be in Montreal today to help families and survivors mark the anniversary of the grim day in 1989 when a man with a Ruger Mini-14 killed 14 women at the city's École Polytechnique.

AFN to elect new national chief in Ottawa

It's election day for the Assembly of First Nations, where chiefs in the assembly or their proxies will decide who's best suited to lead the organization after several turbulent years.

The election comes months after former national chief RoseAnne Archibald was ousted over the findings of an investigation into complaints from five staff members about her conduct.

Archibald denied the allegations of harassment and misconduct put forward in a third-party independent review.

Her supporters maintain she was removed from the post for trying to change the organization's status quo.

Of the 231 chiefs who took part in the special assembly, 71 per cent voted to remove her.

Six candidates put their names forward to replace Archibald and interim national chief Joanna Bernard, including Reginald Bellerose, Craig Makinaw, Sheila North, David Pratt, Dean Sayers and Cindy Woodhouse.

Pratt, the current vice-chief for the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, reminded delegates of the "great history" they share in their advocacy, and said if he's national chief, "we're going to shake this country up."

StatCan: Eight million Canadians with disabilities

The number of Canadians with at least one disability has doubled in ten years, a reality that should push governments to help reduce barriers to accessibility, says the head of a human rights organization.

Statistics Canada data shows that 27 per cent of people 15 and older — about eight million Canadians — reported having at least one disability in 2022, about twice the percentage of people who reported a disability 10 years ago.

Collected every five years, the StatCan numbers are important because they influence government policy at the federal, provincial and local levels, Heather Walkus, national chair of the Council for Canadians with Disabilities, said in a recent interview.

Of the millions of Canadians with a disability, 72 per cent reported having encountered some form of barrier to accessibility within the last year; 60 per cent of the eight million said they had experienced barriers navigating indoor and outdoor public spaces.

BoC expected to hold key interest rate today

The Bank of Canada is set to announce its interest rate decision this morning as forecasters widely expect the central bank to continue holding its key rate steady.

The Bank of Canada opted to maintain its key interest rate at five per cent in its last two announcements as the economy shows clearer signs of a slowdown.

Last week's GDP report showed the economy shrank in the third quarter, while the country's unemployment rate ticked up once again in November. 

Inflation in Canada has also slowed considerably, with the annual rate coming in at 3.1 per cent in October.

Ontario's auditor general to release annual report

Ontario's acting auditor general is set to release his annual report today.

The report will focus on twelve topics including several on various aspects of health care.

Acting Auditor General Nick Stavropoulos will release value-for-money audits on emergency departments, hospitals in northern Ontario, Public Health Ontario and long-term care homes.

There will also be reports on the sustainability of science centres, including an examination of the province's plan to move the Ontario Science Centre to a redeveloped Ontario Place in Toronto.

The proposed move has caused uproar among local residents.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023

The Canadian Press

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