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Health Minister Patty Hajdu told Senators on March 25 that the federal government was working on a virtual mental health tool as part of Canada's COVID-19 response, which one group says should be announced 'imminently.' The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Mental health a ‘missing piece’ in feds’ COVID-19 response, say critics, advocates

NDP MP Don Davies says the situation calls for an ‘extraordinary response’ and supports for mental health, which one advocate says should come ‘imminently.’

Wage subsidies ‘critical,’ a ‘lifeline’ for businesses to survive pandemic, says Chamber of Commerce president

News|By Mike Lapointe
'This subsidy will make a real difference in your lives and help everyone affected bridge to better times,' said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, March 27.

Food supply, emergency vehicle repair: keeping Canada-U.S. trade open key to fight against COVID-19, say stakeholders

The 'biggest point of concern right now' is 'making sure that we keep those shipments of fresh vegetables and other commodities rolling in by truck across the border, truck or train,' says John Manley.

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Introduction of electronic, remote voting not called for yet, but should be re-examined by House committee, say some MPs

Conservative MP Stephanie Kusie says she doesn’t think such a reconsideration is warranted yet, but could be if COVID-19 keeps Parliament away into the fall.

Lobbyists clamour to get voices heard on COVID-19

The number of lobbying files connected to COVID-19 has exploded in the last week, with 90 registrations for 55 organizations outlining plans to push federal officials on issues ranging from policy to funding.

Feds to spend $2-billion to scale up production of medical supplies, equipment, as it braces for anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases

'We need a sustainable and stable supply of these products, and that means making them at home, and we’re optimistic that they will be available in the coming weeks,' says Prime Minister Trudeau.

Canadian authorities in talks about COVID-19 tracking apps

In Canada, separate projects are underway that would combine phone location data with positive COVID-19 diagnoses to notify individuals about potential exposure in what their creators say are privacy-friendly ways.

Budget 2020, election promises in question amid COVID-19 global pandemic crisis, say McKay, Delacourt

‘It is going to blow a hole in the government’s legislative agenda,’ says Liberal MP John McKay.

Speedy delivery of financial benefits to Canadians key to Trudeau’s handling of COVID-19, says a leading pollster

News|By Abbas Rana
The COVID-19 pandemic is the 'defining moment of Justin Trudeau's prime ministership' and this is a crisis where the government has a central role to play in its management.

Trudeau outlines expansive criteria for 75 per cent wage subsidy to cover businesses, charities hit hard amid pandemic

News|By Palak Mangat
It’s still unclear how much the support will ultimately cost, and how many businesses and organizations will apply and receive such assistance, though Prime Minister Trudeau acknowledged that the 'costs keep climbing.'
Health Minister Patty Hajdu told Senators on March 25 that the federal government was working on a virtual mental health tool as part of Canada's COVID-19 response, which one group says should be announced 'imminently.' The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Mental health a ‘missing piece’ in feds’ COVID-19 response, say critics, advocates

NDP MP Don Davies says the situation calls for an ‘extraordinary response’ and supports for mental health, which one advocate says should come ‘imminently.’

Pausing CPC race was the right move, and campaigns should seize the chance to retool

Opinion|By Tim Powers
Hopefully, the pause in the campaign will allow the candidates to come back with a focused pitch, not to just to Conservatives, but to Canadians in the tough new world we find ourselves in.

Trump seems to think prayer rather than personal protective equipment is the answer to COVID-19

Opinion|By Michael Harris
It would be hard to come up with a more surreal or feckless strategy against COVID-19, unless you left everything up to the Christian Right in America.

Some isolated thoughts during my isolation

Opinion|By Gerry Nicholls
How the ongoing battle against COVID-19 will impact on Canadian politics.

Senate, Governor General approve COVID-19 bailout bill

Senators took about two hours to consider the bill, half of which was spent questioning Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Auditor general says ‘too early’ to tell if request for audit on COVID-19 special warrants demands funding boost

News|By Beatrice Paez
'Given the scope and scale of this crisis, it’s incumbent on the government to provide them with supplementary budgeting to adequately provide the support they’re looking for,' says NDP MP Matthew Green.

‘Decisive action was required’: how MPs and Senators hammered out deal to close Parliament late into the night

‘We are in unprecedented times,’ says Conservative Whip Mark Strahl.

Does the coronavirus contain a silver lining?

Opinion|By Joseph Ingram
If this crisis is to produce a positive turning point and not an apocalypse, governments must quickly reverse course.

Nine things that have changed because of the plague

Opinion|By Gwynne Dyer
Or at least they should. COVID-19 is certainly not going to change the world forever, but it is going to change quite a few things, in some cases for a long time.

What role for Canadian intelligence during the COVID-19 crisis?

Opinion|By Phil Gurski
Yes, there is a role for our spies in these times. COVID-19 is not the only threat we are faced with. Let’s hope they can continue to do their work and keep us safe.

COVID-19 is forcing lobbyists to significantly shift their strategies

'You can work with a client to figure out if there is a way in which the client can be helpful, genuinely helpful, and not superficially helpful,' says Joe Jordan of Bluesky Strategy Group.

Lobby with health, economic proposals in mind amid COVID-19 outbreak, say consultants

Governments of all levels will be finding ways to mitigate the economic shock resulting from the pandemic, and will be looking for proposals for 'shovels in the ground' spending related to job creation.

‘Pent-up interest’ leads to post-election lobbying push 54 per cent higher than first Liberal win

The uncertainty of the minority Parliament and the slow start-up naming ministers and their mandates and staff all helped make January an especially busy month, say lobbyists.

Ralph Goodale tapped as special adviser on Flight 752 downing

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, the Jaimie Anderson Parliamentary Internship Program has been put on pause due to COVID-19, and some Conservative MPs are vowing to donate their annual pay hike.

Catherine McKenna offers virtual civics lesson for furloughed students

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, Kirsten Hillman is appointed Canada's next ambassador to the U.S., and one of the last remaining cats from the former Hill feline sanctuary dies.

Diving into the 76-member Conservative OLO team: Part One

Feature|By Laura Ryckewaert
Hill Climbers has tallied a total of 19 staff departures from Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s team since the 2019 election, and 14 recent hires.

Who’s who in Economic Development Minister Joly’s 20-member office

Feature|By Laura Ryckewaert
New additions to the minister’s team include senior policy advisers Kelsey MacDonald and Richard Léger.

‘Bold decisions’ are needed if the CBC is to survive

Opinion|By Alex Marland
Reading a book is a good way to pass the time during the conronavirus pandemic. It’s excellent escapism from the anxieties of life as we know it fall apart.

Trudeau calls on some celebrity friends to urge Canadians to stay inside

Feature|By Neil Moss
Plus, the Green Party has adjusted its leadership contest barriers amid COVID-19, and the Peace Tower bells will be silenced.

How to save the Canadian media industry from mass extinction

Opinion|By Daniel Bernhard
Our challenge is clear: find a way to pump a lot of money into the Canadian media sector, while avoiding the ethical problems inherent to government picking and choosing which media outlets get saved.

Here’s how AI can help, and is already helping, Canada fight COVID-19

The government has already announced funding for artificial intelligence researchers and developers to help fight COVID-19. Experts say the technology could do more, if done right.

Start date for new North American trade pact could be pushed back amid coronavirus pandemic, says NAFTA Council member

News|By Neil Moss
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress on March 17 that the new NAFTA will go into effect on June 1.

Release low-risk prisoners to prevent COVID-19 outbreak, say advocates calling for ‘immediate action’ 

It’s not a matter of ‘if, but when' COVID-19 will reach Canada's prisons, says Sen. Kim Pate, who, like NDP MP Jack Harris, sees it as a matter of ‘life and death,’ and is demanding ‘immediate’ action.

A health crisis is no time to double down on political peeves

Opinion|By Scott Taylor
One has to hope that our international leaders will quickly realize that you cannot close the borders to a virus that is already expanded to all corners of the world.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, pictured Jan. 17, 2020, with David Morrison, his defence policy adviser, shortly before holding a press conference and an update at the National Press Theatre on the downing of Flight PS752 tragedy. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

Minority rules: 2020’s most influential figures to watch in federal politics

Feature
This year’s Top 100 Most Influential List reflects the power brokers who will help shape the terms of how this minority Parliament will shake out.
The return of Parliament is more than an event in the news cycle. It’s a time to look ahead, and to thoughtfully consider the important role each branch of government will play in that future, and in the life of each individual Canadian.
Opinion|David Coletto
Our worldview, our desire for control, and the way we get information are just three things that new MPs should consider as they orient themselves to life in Ottawa and as elected representatives. But the implications of these three forces matter to everyone who seeks to engage and connect with Canadians.
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Politics This Morning: 24,000 troops ready to be mobilized as needed, says Sajjan

Plus, the House Health Committee convenes for a videoconference meeting today.
‘In normal times, most Canadians would respond to the collection and use of sensitive health and location information with a hard no. But these are not normal times,’ says professor Michael Geist.
The Senate’s inability to supervise the government’s unprecedented crisis spending is an ‘institutional failing,’ says the leader of the Upper Chamber's largest group.
The Emergencies Act was carefully crafted and revised in the 1980s so that governments wouldn't have to 'reinvent the wheel' when crisis struck, said the former Liberal whip and army commander.
A senior spokesman for the Conservative Party flatly denied that the national council has any plans to disband the committee and take over the leadership election process.

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Opinion|Erica Ifill
The employment insurance program can barely function when we need it most because politicians stole from workers to make their books look balanced. Indeed, as is the custom of the first of April, we were fooled.
Hunkering down amid a global pandemic whose containability depends on your latitude, longitude, and head of government requires mad adaptation skills.
Marie Curie once said, ‘Nothing in life is to be feared: it is only to be understood.’ In order to protect the most vulnerable, the public needs to know who will get sick.
Opinion|Scott Taylor
A premature, public relations optics-only deployment of the CAF is not going to help fix this broken egg called COVID-19.
Opinion|Keith Stewart
Instead of bailing out oil executives and shareholders, we should bail out their workers, and all Canadians, by taking advantage of historically low interest rates to launch a green and just recovery program.
Opinion|Gwynne Dyer
Achieving herd immunity requires 60 per cent-70 per cent of the population to have had the disease—and with this particular coronavirus, about one or two percent of those people will die.
Opinion|Alex Marland

‘Bold decisions’ are needed if the CBC is to survive

David Taras and Christopher Waddell recently authored The End of the CBC?, published by the University of Toronto Press. They have exceptional credentials to examine the English arm of the public broadcaster.

Feds asking travellers from abroad to self-identify coronavirus symptoms amid concerns over screening efforts

'Implementation of the new measures has begun and will be finalized' in the 'coming days,' says a CBSA spokesperson.

A few fresh faces on National Revenue Minister Lebouthillier’s busy team

Plus, there are a couple of staff additions to Associate Finance Minister Mona Fortier’s team to note, including Émilie Gagnon as director of communications.

A dive into federal Heritage Minister Guilbeault’s 24-person team

Senior staff to the minister include Rebecca Caldwell as director of policy, Michael Brewster as director of parliamentary affairs, and Linda Campbell as director of operations.
Feature|Neil Moss

Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner postponed until October

Plus, MPs urge CBC to reinstate local TV news, and Jack Harris is diagnosed with cancer.
Feature|Neil Moss

Coronavirus hits home for the Hill

Plus, Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau has been named Canada's next vice-chief of the defence staff and NDP MP Charlie Angus hosts an online St. Patrick's Day concert.

Chief HR officer works to quell confusion, asks departments to identify, update ‘critical’ services lists

‘People are unsure, people are scared, this is a whole new time, so we have to have some clear messaging from our government letting our people know of what they need to do,’ said CUPW national president Jan Simpson.

Situation ‘changing hourly’ as feds, unions, public service contend with COVID-19 work-from-home confusion

'The government of Canada will be as flexible as possible and will not only allow, but encourage teleworking whenever and wherever possible,' says Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos.

No more Hill parties, after coronavirus pandemic forces Parliament Hill to shut down

'Politics and the Pen is probably the exact opposite of social distancing. We cram so many people into the ballroom that you can barely keep one to two inches away,' says Jim Armour.  

Sorbara makes ’em howl at the Métropolitain

Pat Sorbara's new book, Let 'em Howl, offers lessons learned over a more than four-decade career in federal and provincial politics as a high-ranking Liberal backroomer.

Embassies in Ottawa offer ‘around the clock’ support in the new work-from-home reality

Envoys comment on the ‘uncharted territory’ brought forward by the ‘dreadful ordeal’ COVID-19 brings, and urge co-operation in the global response.

‘Busy and worried’: Italian envoy says country is at ‘forefront’ of COVID-19 battle, urges solidarity in global response

The most important thing is that people understand ‘they are the solution,’ and the only way to stop the spread is to keep separate from a virus that ‘walks with our legs,’ Claudio Taffuri says.

PM, ministers continue daily briefings during COVID-19 shutdown

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020
Deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo, left, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos speak at an Ottawa press conference about the government’s response to COVID-19 on March 27. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

June Winger, national president of the Union of National Defence Employees, joins a rally held by Public Service Alliance of Canada demonstration outside the Prime Minster's Office in Ottawa on Feb. 28, 2020, to mark four years of Phoenix Pay System issues.

The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

The Hill Times file photograph
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