Government finances better than expected, surgical backlogs : In The News for May 10 | #socialmedia


As a result, the financial services company says, federal and provincial governments all saw an improvement in their 2021-22 deficit estimates and starting points for the rest of their fiscal forecast.

However, Desjardins found that what governments did with this fiscal windfall varied greatly. Some chose to set a portion of it aside for a rainy day, while others spent it all.

Desjardins expects economic activity to be weaker than most governments project for next year and beyond.

That means some governments could be in a more challenging fiscal situation than they anticipated when they published recent fiscal plans.

In the context of total public debt, Canada has the lowest net debt-to-GDP ratio in the G7, the analysis notes. “And while higher than prior to the pandemic, Canada’s total government debt position continues to compare very well to other major advanced economies.”

Also this …

The latest data released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows Canada still struggles to maintain reasonable wait times for elective surgeries during pandemic waves, though hospitals are improving. 

For joint replacements, about 62 per cent of patients across Canada were treated with the recommended time frame between April and September 2021, compared with 71 per cent before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

That’s better than just 51 per cent who got their surgeries on time in the earliest months of the pandemic. 

The study suggests hospitals prioritized more urgent procedures like surgery for cancer and joint fractures so patients have not waited longer.

At the same time, the study says delayed access to preventive care and specialists during the pandemic could lead to a bigger surgical backlog.

The data predates the Delta, Omicron and BA.2 waves of the last seven months.

And this too …

A new study says while Canadian childcare fees are set to drop this year, some parts of the country will likely not meet the federal government’s fee-reduction targets.

In a study released today, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says because provinces and territories are taking different approaches to try to meet the government’s initial fee-reduction targets, some might miss them.

David Macdonald, study co-author and senior economist at the centre, says the challenge of setting up the national childcare plan is making sure it is correctly implemented.

For preschool-aged child care, seven of 26 cities included in the study’s analysis, including Whitehorse and Regina, will meet or exceed federal targets in 2022, while 15 cities, including Lethbridge, Alta., and Halifax, will miss them by $20 to $100 a month…

The four cities the study says will miss their targets by more than $100 a month are Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Charlottetown.

The government’s national plan aims to cut average fees in half for regulated early learning and childcare spaces by the end of the year, and bring $10-a-day child care to every province and territory by 2026.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

LAS VEGAS, N.M. _ Schoolchildren in a northern New Mexico community that had been threatened by a wildfire are expected to resume in-person classes Tuesday while residents on the fire’s northern edges remained under evacuation orders.

The West Las Vegas School District said exceptions would be made for students still displaced by what’s the largest wildfire burning in the U.S. or those whose health has been affected by the smoke.

Meanwhile, firefighters worked in rugged terrain ahead of the massive blaze trying to clear brush and stop the flames from burning more homes in the Rocky Mountain foothills.

The wildfire _ intensified by decades of drought, warmer temperatures and spring winds _ has charred 798 square kilometres of tinder-dry ponderosa forests. Thousands of people have had to flee the flames and some 300 structures, including homes, have been destroyed.

Crews have spent days working to protect ranch homes scattered through the area and stamping out small fires that jumped ahead of the main blaze.

Wind will continue to be a factor this week, along with low humidity, but to varying degrees depending on the day. Fire officials predicted part of the massive blaze would push north into rugged terrain that is difficult for firefighters to access.

The region’s largest population centre _ Las Vegas, New Mexico, home to 13,000 people _ remained largely safe from the flames. Some residents were allowed to return over the weekend.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine (AP) _ Ukraine’s vital Black Sea port of Odesa came under repeated missile attack, including from some hypersonic missiles, after Russia marked its biggest patriotic holiday without giving new information about the war. Also, a Ukrainian official said the bodies of 44 civilians were found in the rubble of a building destroyed by Russia in March.

The civilians were inside a five-story building that collapsed in Izyum in the Kharkiv region, said Oleh Synehubov, the head of Kharkiv’s regional administration.

“This is another horrible war crime of the Russian occupiers against the civilian population!” he said in a social media message announcing the deaths.

Izyum is an eastern Ukrainian city that Russia has been holding as a key front-line node. Synehubov did not say specifically where the building was.

Earlier, the Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired seven missiles from the air at Odesa, hitting a shopping centre and a warehouse. One person was killed and five were wounded, the military said.

As part of the barrage, a Russian supersonic bomber fired three hypersonic missiles, according to the Center for Defense Strategies, a Ukrainian think tank tracking the war. The centre identified the weapons used as Kinzhal, or “Dagger,” hypersonic air-to-surface missiles.

The Kinzhal can fly at five times the speed of sound and has a range of 2,000 kilometres. Using advanced guided missiles allows Russia to fire from aircraft at a distance without being in Ukrainian air space and exposed to potential anti-aircraft fire.

But Ukrainian, British and American officials warn Russia is rapidly expending its stock of precision weapons and may not be able to quickly build more, raising the risk of more imprecise rockets being used as the conflict grinds on. That could result in more civilian deaths and other collateral damage.

On this day in 1924 …

Prohibition ended in Alberta

In entertainment …

NEW YORK _ Andy Warhol’s “Shot Sage Blue Marilyn” sold for a cool $195 million on Monday, making the iconic portrait of Marilyn Monroe the most expensive work by a U.S. artist ever sold at auction.

The 1964 silkscreen image shows Monroe in vibrant close-up _ hair yellow, eyeshadow blue and lips red _ on a rich blue background. It’s also the most expensive piece from the 20th century ever auctioned, according to Christie’s auction house in New York, where the sale took place.

The Warhol sale unseated the previous record holder and another modern master, Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose 1982 painting “Untitled” of a skull-like face sold for a record $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in 2017.

Christie’s said an unnamed buyer made the purchase Monday night.

When the auction was announced earlier this year, they estimated it could go for as much as $200 million.

The proceeds of the sale will go to the Thomas and Doris Ammann Foundation Zurich, which put the painting up for auction. The foundation aims to help children with health care and educational programs.

Warhol created more than one image of Monroe; this particular painting has been exhibited in museums around the world.

Did you see this?

MONTREAL _ For the second time in two years, a whale has been spotted in the Montreal area, hundreds of kilometres away from its usual habitat, the head of a marine mammal research group confirmed Monday.

Robert Michaud of the Reseau quebecois d’urgences pour les mammiferes marins said a young minke whale was first spotted Sunday in the St. Lawrence River near the city’s Parc Jean-Drapeau.

Michaud said it’s not clear why the whale would make such a long journey into a freshwater habitat that’s not healthy for it. It’s possible the minke is ill or disoriented, but it’s also possible it’s just curious, he said.

“Maybe it’s just an explorer, a young animal following fish and making one bad decision after another,” he said in a phone interview.

Late Monday afternoon, the whale could be seen in a section of the river that flows between two islands, in the shadow of the Montreal Biosphere built for Expo 67.

Crowds lined a bridge that spans the waterway, pointing and gasping as the small grey whale came up periodically for air.

The sighting comes nearly two years after another whale, a humpback, spent several days near Montreal’s Old Port, where it delighted curious onlookers with its acrobatic leaps out of the water. Despite its apparent good health, that whale was found dead in June 2020, and a necropsy suggested the 10-metre-long animal may have been hit by a boat.

A team has been deployed to observe the whale, but Michaud said the group can’t do much to help besides warning boaters to be careful. He said there are no known techniques for transporting or steering an animal of that size back downstream.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press





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