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In The News for Jan. 27: Concerns over state of provincial health systems

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 27 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Paramedics are seen at the Dartmouth General Hospital in Dartmouth, N.S. on July 4, 2013. A new survey suggests the vast majority of Canadians have concerns about the state of the health-care system, particularly in Atlantic provinces. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 27 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A new survey suggests the vast majority of Canadians have concerns about the state of the health-care system, particularly in Atlantic provinces.

Leger and The Association for Canadian Studies surveyed approximately 1,500 Canadian adults over a two-day period in January.

About 86 per cent of people surveyed across the country say they are worried about the state of health care, compared to 94 per cent of those surveyed in Atlantic Canada.

People in eastern Canada also worry about the quality of care they'll get if they need to go to an emergency room: 81 per cent say they're concerned, compared to 67 per cent of Canadians overall.

Overall, 54 per cent of Canadians characterize the quality of their provincial health system as good or very good, while 43 per cent say it is poor or very poor. 

The people surveyed were slightly more concerned about the state of health care if they reported receiving care in the last year. 

The survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered truly random samples. 


Also this ...

The Supreme Court of Canada plans to rule today on the constitutionality of mandatory minimum sentences in cases involving armed robbery and recklessly firing a gun.

In one case, Jesse Dallas Hills pleaded guilty to four charges stemming from a May 2014 incident in Lethbridge, Alta., in which he swung a baseball bat and shot at a car with a bolt-action rifle, smashed the window of a vehicle and fired rounds into a family home. 

Hills argued the minimum four-year sentence for recklessly discharging a firearm violated the constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. 

A judge agreed and Hills was sentenced to a term of 3 1/2 years, but the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the finding of unconstitutionality and the sentence was increased to four years.

In two other Alberta cases, men pleaded guilty to charges related to armed robberies of convenience stores.

In each case, the sentencing judge declared the relevant mandatory minimum sentence to be unconstitutional, decisions that were upheld on appeal.


What we are watching in the U.S. ...

DENVER _ A judge is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday to discuss whether a man charged with killing 10 people at a Colorado supermarket nearly two years ago is mentally competent to stand trial.

Court proceedings against Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 23, have been paused for more than a year after Judge Ingrid Bakke found him to be mentally incompetent in December 2021 and sent him to the state mental hospital for treatment.

Brief hearings are held periodically to check whether doctors believe Alissa is competent, meaning he is able to understand legal proceedings and work with his lawyers to defend himself.

Alissa is accused of opening fire outside and inside a King Soopers store in the college town of Boulder in March 2021, killing customers, workers and a police officer who rushed in to try to stop the attack. Alissa, who lived in the nearby suburb of Arvada, surrendered after another officer shot and wounded him, authorities said.

Investigators have not revealed a possible motive. They said Alissa passed a background check to legally buy a Ruger AR-556 pistol, which resembles an AR-15 rifle with a slightly shorter stock, six days before the shooting.

Alissa is charged with murder and multiple attempted murder counts for endangering the lives of 26 other people.

Alissa's lawyers have not commented about the allegations. He has not been asked yet to enter a plea.

Concerns about Alissa's mental health were raised by his defence immediately after the shooting, but details about his condition have not been made public.

Court documents addressing one of his evaluations in 2021 said he was provisionally diagnosed with an unspecified mental health condition limiting his ability to "meaningfully converse with others.''

Competency is a different legal issue than a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which involves whether someone's mental health prevented them from understanding right from wrong when a crime was committed.


What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

TOKYO _ A senior EU official said Friday that Russia has taken its war against Ukraine to "a different stage'' by making indiscriminate attacks on civilians and non-military targets, while criticizing Moscow for triggering recent moves by Germany and the United States to send advanced tanks to Ukraine.

Stefano Sannino, Secretary General of the European Union's European External Action Service, defended German and U.S. provisions of the military equipment to Ukraine, and criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for waging a war on NATO and the West.

Sannino, speaking at a news conference in Tokyo as part of an Asia-Pacific tour, said Putin had "moved from a concept of special operation to a concept now of a war against NATO and the West.''

He said German and U.S. tank provisions are meant to help Ukrainians defend themselves in the war, rather than making them attackers.

"I think that this latest development in terms of armed supply is just an evolution of the situation and of the way Russia started moving the war into a different stage,'' Sannino said. He added that Russia is making "indiscriminate attacks'' on civilians and cities and no longer military targets.

The EU is not moving the war into a different stage but is "just giving the possibility of saving lives and allowing the Ukrainians to defend (themselves) from these barbaric attacks,'' Sannino said.

Germany and the U.S. announced Wednesday they will send advanced battle tanks to Ukraine, offering what one expert called an "armoured punching force'' to help Kyiv break combat stalemates as the Russian invasion enters its 12th month.

The announcement marked the first stage of a co-ordinated effort by the West to provide dozens of the heavy weapons, which Ukrainian military commanders said would enable counter-offensives, reduce casualties and help restore dwindling ammunition supplies.


On this day in 2020 ...

The National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg confirmed Canada's first case of the novel coronavirus. At the time of the confirmation, the man was in quarantine in Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital. Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, said the testing process was being repeated for the man's wife.


In entertainment ...

The immersive, slow-burn experience viewers get from "Skinamarink" is the antithesis of seconds-long videos seen on TikTok, a platform that helped create buzz for the low-budget Canadian horror film months before its release. 

The Edmonton-shot movie is about two children who wake to find their parents and all the windows and doors to the outside world have vanished. With long still shots of corners in a suburban home, it has the non-linear sensation of a dream. Viewers never see the characters' faces and rarely hear them speak. 

While some have said on social media they nearly walked out of the theatre because of the movie's crawling pace, associate producer Jonn Kmech says it allows audiences to absorb the film and invest in what’s to come.

Theatres across North America sold out for the premiere of the movie directed and written by Edmonton filmmaker Kyle Edward Ball. 

Although filmed digitally, the movie is dark and grainy, an effect added in post-production, giving it a quality akin to a VHS tape playing on an old television. 

"It’s such a personal film because it’s so much based on your own experience and what you see in the grain and how you react to the sounds," says Kmech. 

"Skinamarink" was shown at film festivals across North America and Europe last summer. One of the European festivals had online screenings and was hacked. "Skinamarink" was leaked online and became heavily pirated. 

But what was thought to be a catastrophe for the film’s success created buzz on TikTok and among movie influencers.

"It was unfortunate that it leaked, but at the same time, it drove momentum online," says Kmech.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ The federal Liberal government is joining the Opposition Conservatives in no longer allowing its members of Parliament to expense taxpayers for home internet services.

And government House leader Mark Holland's office said Thursday he will propose that the practice be ended for MPs of all parties, after Conservatives signalled their intention to do the same.

A breakdown of recent expenses shows 31 Tory MPs have charged taxpayers for home internet services for either themselves or staff, according to an analysis by The Canadian Press. The information was first reported by the National Post.

The MPs include former interim party leader Candice Bergen and fellow Manitoba MP James Bezan, along with Calgary MP Michelle Rempel Garner and British Columbia representative Mark Strahl.

Across the aisle, 27 Liberal MPs expensed home internet costs for either their homes or those of their employees, including Justice Minister David Lametti and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly.

As for the Bloc Quebecois and NDP, the parties saw 11 and four of their MPs claiming such costs, respectively.

A spokeswoman for the House of Commons said the practice is allowed under existing rules for members of Parliament, who can expense the fees through their office budgets.

As was the case for many Canadians, the COVID-19 pandemic forced MPs and their employees to work from home. But their offices have now been back open for months, and no health restrictions currently require them to work out of a home office.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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