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Pandemic puts twist on Canada’s oldest legislative program as parliamentary interns adapt to new ways of working

Feature|Paige Peacock
This year, the 51st cohort joined the parliamentary internship program, a 10-month placement that sees young professionals aide both a government and opposition MP to give a broad view of work on the Hill.
The government is facing class-action lawsuits and a constitutional challenge based on the conditions thousands of prisoners are being kept in that advocates describe as similar to solitary confinement.
The tragic death by suicide of a frontline physician ought to raise red flags about the mental health pressures of the pandemic. Will it?
Three inmates have died from COVID-19 and of the 1,149 positive cases recorded in Canada’s prisons, 167 remain active in the midst of outbreaks in three federal institutions.
Some experts say it’s an open question whether having political leaders or other high-profile figures get their shots first will actually be effective at shoring up confidence in the safety of the vaccine. 
Coronavirus Live Data
Courtesy of Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
Coronavirus News
It’s ‘completely unacceptable' that some Canadians have used a work sickness benefit to pay for post-vacation mandatory quarantine, says Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Opinion|Joseph Ingram
If we are to successfully confront the multiple threats we now face, we need restructured economies, including in Canada, that reflect more intimately the connection between ethics and economics.
The sooner health-care workers in Canada and in every country in the world, along with Canadian humanitarian workers battling COVID-19 overseas, are vaccinated, the sooner we will all be able to return to normal life.
Government spending on mental health services since the pandemic’s start has not directly included or addressed the unique and growing needs of grieving Canadians.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised that CERB recipients who had received warning letters from the CRA but had acted in ‘good faith’ wouldn’t be penalized, and told them not to worry about repayments this year.
One day before a House committee tabled its interim report on conducting a federal election during the pandemic, the government tabled a bill to make temporary changes to Canada’s Election Act.
Close to 40 per cent of women-serving agencies couldn’t access any of the emergency COVID-19 government funding, a new report suggests.
Opinion|Tim Powers
From politics, to policy, to people, there is no area of life that hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic—but everything we’ve been through in 2020 will shape us in 2021.
While not as radical as the anti-vaxxers, those who are hesitant once presented a danger only to their children; now, in COVID times, they are a threat to all of us.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said once Moderna’s vaccine gets Health Canada approval, deliveries could begin within 48 hours—with up to 168,000 this month.
‘With vaccine procurement, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,’ says Anita Anand as the first Pfizer shipment of 30,000 doses arrived in Canada and vaccinations began.
Though the motion is unlikely to pass quickly, ISG Senator Pat Duncan says the ‘urgency’ of the situation warrants debate.
If in the process of partaking in a public good one is injured, they should be provided with just compensation.
Problems with the vaccine deployment present a political opening but also a risk for Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole, who doesn’t have to worry about being ‘painted with the provincial brush,' say strategists.
Though Canada no longer has the manufacturing ability to scale up production, the two most promising vaccines are produced using a new technology called mRNA, which is not widely available. 
Provincial public health officials have legislated authority to act independently in emergencies, but organizationally, they remain beholden to their political masters and government employers.
Opinion|Tim Powers
This is a savvy move by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who of late has been under heavy criticism for his overall management of the pandemic.
Canada could be on track to hit upwards of 60,000 new infections in December, unless individuals modify their behaviour and restrictions are tightened.
Opinion|Erica Ifill
We’re getting a lot of finger-waving, personal responsibility crap, which has always been a strawman argument to ignore the systemic and systematic failures in response to a global pandemic.
News|Neil Moss
'We are seeing the inevitable conversation about crucial policy decisions on resources come to the fore with [where] inevitably you'll see differences,' says former Liberal strategist John Delacourt.
Opinion|Daniel Tsai
Canada has an opportunity with the credit crisis to go farther by finally implementing a comprehensive set of measures to protect Canadian consumers.
Inspections, national housing standards, and continuing a binational contact group are among key commitments Mexico would like from Canada, says its consular head in Ottawa.
Opinion|Larry Rosia
To ensure the pandemic doesn’t leave today’s youth behind, governments, employers, and post-secondary institutions need to find innovative ways to create smooth transitions to an otherwise bumpy labour market.
Opinion|Stella Naw
Myanmar’s COVID-19 response, testing coverage, and distribution of protective equipment and assistance is sorely lacking in the country’s war-torn border areas of Indigenous communities.
Basic income would replace the complex, bureaucratic provincial disability income with a higher guaranteed income and provide a top-up for those with other income who still fall below the poverty line.
Chartering a plane for the full campaign may be tricky, but strategists say the party's leader still needs to make trips across different pockets of the country to maintain their parties' national profile.
Used in the right context on the right issues, trilateral agreements can bring the combined expertise and capacity of Canada’s three orders of government, along with non-government partners, to complex challenges.
What matters most under the circumstances is learning from successes and failures, not dogma, blame, and undue coercion.
'This [program] should be a win-win-win situation, and it’s turned out to be a lose-lose-lose situation and it has to be rectified,' says Independent Sen. Ratna Omidvar.
‘To help us better prepare for any future pandemic, it’s about addressing health inequities, ensuring that our population is sustained and can be resilient to future threats,’ says Dr. Theresa Tam.
A well-fed world means improved health, more socio-economic growth, and hope for a better global future.
Opinion|Scott Taylor
If we were better informed on previous pandemics, it would prevent gaslighting politicians from trying to bamboozle the electorate with apple-to-orange comparisons.
Opinion|Bruce Carson
Canadians elected MPs to act in their interest, or, at the very least, protect their interests. They are accountable and should be pressing to solve this problem and get rapid tests to Canadians.
It goes without saying that, with the second wave of the pandemic roaring ahead, Canadian leaders need to work much harder to reinforce the message that individual responsibility is the key to holding back COVID-19.
It is obvious now, with the pandemic bouncing back fiercely, that the virus will dictate socio-economic conditions and every government’s programs for some time to come.
Without status, many migrants are left without rights.
Opinion|Eva Kittay
When our own lives are not in crisis, we fail to see how our neglect, self-absorption, disdain for others weakens the structure as a whole. 
Canada, with its own sovereign currency, can create billions in new money simply by selling bonds to its central bank, something the government has been doing at the rate of $5-billion/week since March. As long as inflation remains low there is little risk in the government continuing to do so. If there ever was a time to take that slight risk and to spend big, it is now.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu says 'no one at the political level knew' the network's international focus had been 'sidelined,' calling it 'an administration decision.'
Political strategists say they expect a mini-budget or beefed-up economic statement before year’s end, something former PBO Kevin Page says ‘can’t wait’ until next spring.
We have the ideas, the ability, and the social will to make positive change for our children, but it has to start now, before it’s too late.
Opinion|Linda Silas
We have an obligation to build healthier workplaces, create permanent jobs with fair wages and benefits, reform employment insurance provisions, and ensure that all workers in Canada have access to strong and effective occupational health and safety protections.
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