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Stephen Harper pledges $3.5B to buttress mother and child health initiative to 2020

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Stephen Harper pledges $3.5B to buttress mother and child health initiative to 2020

TORONTO – The Conservative government is pledging an additional $3.5 billion over five years towards the prime minister’s maternal, newborn and child health initiative.

Stephen Harper announcement the new funds, which will cover the period from 2015 to 2020, at a Toronto-area primary school on Thursday.

The commitment is slightly more than the $3.25 billion that a coalition of aid groups had been asking for and was widely hailed by the organizations that are working with the prime minister on the initiative.

The money builds on Harper’s five-year, $2.8 billion commitment to his so-called Muskoka Initiative, unveiled when Canada hosted the G8 summit in 2010.

Rosemary McCarney, a veteran Canadian aid worker who is one of the leaders of a 70-member coalition of aid groups, praised Harper for “a rolling, 10-year commitment, which is very rare in our world.”

Harper said he planned to “persuade and cajole” other governments to follow Canada’s lead.

Dave Toycen, the head of World Vision Canada, said the commitment is significant because it will sustain momentum past 2015 on maternal and child health and keep it from being a flavour of the month in the development world.

Harper has made helping young mothers and newborns in developing countries his signature aid priority.

He says the new funds will be focused on helping young children in the first month of life, who die in numbers that experts describe as alarming.

The prime minister is hosting an international summit on the issue this week in Toronto with experts from around the world, including philanthropist Melinda Gates, who gave the keynote speech at the summit’s first full day.

Harper said there have been some successes, but more must be done.

“We need to finish what we started and sustain global momentum to 2015 and beyond,” Harper said in a statement.

“This is a moral imperative to saving the lives of vulnerable women and children in some of the poorest countries around the world when it is in our power to do so.”

In her speech earlier Thursday, Gates lauded Harper for his “powerful advocacy on behalf of people in developing countries.”

“Under your leadership, and with the support of many people in this room, Canada has earned a global reputation for driving the agenda when it comes to women and children,” she said.

“The Muskoka Initiative rallied the entire world around saving mothers and their babies.”

Gates also credited International Development Minister Christian Paradis with strengthening Canada’s relationship with non-governmental organizations.

The comment appeared to be aimed at Harper’s critics who say he is using the most basic motherhood issue to boost domestic support.

She said Canada deserves credit for funding organizations that have tried to eradicate polio AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Gates said spending money on the health of women and children pays broad economic dividends, and she made clear she has the heft to advocate for the less fortunate, on whatever side of the power corridor she chooses to walk.

“When I talk to health ministers from developing countries, they want to hear how we can reduce mortality,” she said.

“When I talk to finance ministers, they want to hear how we can increase GDP. Well, let’s make sure everybody knows that the answer is the same in both cases: Invest in the health of women and children.”

Earlier today, Queen Rania of Jordan denounced the deaths of millions of mothers and newborns every year.

“These figures are more than a source of discontent; they are an outrage, an injustice and they have no place in our common humanity,” said the 43-year-old monarch of the tiny Middle East desert kingdom.

“So thank you to Prime Minister Harper and the Canadian government for being discontented with the status quo.”

The Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, also praised Harper for leadership on the issue, but said much more needs to be done.

“The truth is that our efforts have been insufficient and uneven,” he said.

MIKE BLANCHFIELD –THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canadian News

Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled

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Ontario to reopen province, guiding principles unveiled

THE Ontario government on Monday released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus,” said Ford. “At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery.”

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

“Recent public health indicators show us that we’re beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery,” said Phillips. “Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shut-down is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk.”

To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

“It is because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to consider plans to move into the next phase of our battle against this virus,” said Elliott. “The Chief Medical Officer of Health has outlined some criteria he will use to advise government on when we may begin to slowly and safely ease public health measures and restart our economy. To be able to do so, w e need everyone to continue their extraordinary efforts so that we can meet these thresholds and begin to move forward.”

Supporting the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Minister Phillips, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward. The government and Members of Provincial Parliament will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.

The work of the committee will build on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government’s $17 billion response, that is delivering targeted relief for businesses and families across Ontario.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching economic impacts for businesses and communities across Ontario,” said Fedeli. “In the face of these challenges, businesses and individuals have stepped up to support our frontline workers, produce essential equipment and keep our supply chains moving. Our plan to carefully and methodically reopen Ontario’s economy will ensure that businesses are supported on our path to renewed economic prosperity.”

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Canadian News

Stephen Lecce, Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board

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Ontario education minister appoints investigator to examine Peel District School Board

ONTARIO’S Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, on Tuesday announced he has appointed Arleen Huggins to conduct an investigation into the Peel District School Board’s compliance with the Minister’s binding Directions to the Board issued on March 13.

“We expect our school leaders – trustees, senior administration, and educators – to ensure all students are learning in safe and inclusive classrooms,” said Lecce. “This is why effective, transparent, and accountable school board governance is essential to the success and well-being of students in Ontario’s publicly funded schools.”

Huggins is a practising lawyer with 30 years experience in employment law, human rights law, workplace harassment and discrimination investigations and commercial litigation. She is a former President of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers and a Former Chair of both the Canadian Bar Association Standing Committee on Equity and the Ontario Bar Association Equal Opportunity Committee.  Huggins was also on the founding Board of the African Canadian Legal Clinic and has served on the Doctors Without Borders Human Resources Committee and the federal Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) for the GTA.

With the issuance of 27 binding Directions to the Board on March 13, the minister provided clear direction with specific timelines and deliverables to address systemic discrimination, particularly anti-Black racism, as well as dysfunctional governance, leadership and human resources practices within the PDSB.

“When it comes to confronting racism and discrimination, I will not accept delay or inaction,” added Lecce. “The message I am sending is — do better. Our kids deserve better. And I will do whatever it takes to ensure these issues are addressed immediately and effectively.”

The Ontario Government said it is committed to ensuring PDSB complies with the minister’s binding directions so that parents, students and the community get the positive change that they need and deserve.

Huggins will deliver her report to the minister on or before May 18.

The PDSB is responsible for 257 schools in Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon, and over 155,000 students representing a rich array of racial, ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds.

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Canadian News

COVID-19″ More Indo-Canadians returning are from India

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More flights carrying Canadians leave India

CANADIAN High Commissioner in New Delhi, Nadir Patel, tweeted on Wednesday morning that the 15th special flight from India to Canada – had left Mumbai, bringing home more Canadian travelers stranded in India.

He added: “More special flights taking place in the coming days, thanks to all for your patience while we work through the complexities.”

On Tuesday, the 14th special flight with Canadians took off from Kolkata and Patel tweeted: “Huge thanks to our colleagues Australian High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell & his team for collaborating to make this happen.”

The 13th special flight with Canadians had departed from Bangalore on Monday, covering six states in the south.

And last Sunday (April 26) the 12th special flight from India departed from Ahmedabad, Gujarat, with nearly 300 Canadians aboard.

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

More flights carrying Canadians leave India

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