Morning Update: Review of billions of COVID-19 wage benefits not worth it, CRA head says

Morning Update: Review of billions of COVID-19 wage benefits not worth it, CRA head says

Good morning,

Canada’s Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Bob Hamilton says it’s not worth the effort to conduct a full review of more than $15 billion in pandemic payroll benefits that the Auditor General said may have been sent to ineligible recipients became.

Hamilton said during a committee appearance on Thursday that the agency stands by its existing “risk-based” approach to enforcement, under which it reviews a sample of cases it believes are the most likely to be of concern. Karen Hogan, meanwhile, told the committee that a more aggressive and comprehensive review was warranted given the very limited safeguards in place to review applications during the pandemic.

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What the convoys left behind

Wellington Street in Ottawa as it appeared on January 28, 2022 – the first week of last year’s convoy protests. Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Virtually all traces of the protest convoy that choked the streets of Ottawa a year ago have disappeared. But Wellington’s high street in front of Parliament Hill still hovers in a state of cautious abandonment, writes Shannon Proudfoot. As the city and federal government bicker over Wellington’s long-term future, haphazardly placed concrete barriers remain to keep traffic at bay.

What followed a year ago was a protest so large and persistent that it surprised even its most enthusiastic participants, many of whom see it as a transformative life experience. Three weeks into the protest, the government shut it down with unprecedented invocation of the Emergency Law.

Next month, a public inquiry will issue a final report on whether this call was justified. This will help answer what happened then, but what remains today of the convoy and the political, social and economic currents that fed it is what everyone has to live with.

• The photos that shaped the 2022 convoy protests

Toronto Police are looking to increase TTC presence after a series of violent incidents

Toronto Police said Thursday the force would immediately increase its presence in the city’s transit system following a series of violent incidents that have shaken public confidence.

Police Chief Myron Demkiw said as many as 80 other officers were patrolling the Toronto Transit Commission daily. Demkiw, who was joined at the announcement by Toronto Mayor John Tory and TTC CEO Rick Leary, said the additional patrols would be conducted primarily by off-duty officers who are earning overtime to leave regular armed forces available for other duties.

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Also on our radar

Canada donates four Leopard main battle tanks to Kyiv: Ottawa’s recent contribution to Ukraine’s war effort amounts to less than 5 percent of its inventory of these tanks, which experts say reflects the relatively small capacity of the Canadian armed forces today.

Two-thirds of research grant applications sent to Canadian security agencies were rejected: Thirty-two applications submitted by authoritarian governments for intellectual property protection assessments were deemed unacceptable risk and denied funding.

Fewer homes for rent in Canada: The national vacancy rate fell to 1.9 percent in 2021, its lowest level in more than two decades, as the country welcomed a record number of new arrivals and many residents were pushed out of the housing market.

Teaching Kids About the Holocaust Earlier Can Help Combat Antisemitism, Educators Say: The Ontario government recently announced that learning about the Holocaust will be a mandatory part of the sixth grade social studies curriculum, beginning in the fall. Currently, the Holocaust and other genocidal acts must be introduced in a 10th grade history class.

morning markets

Global markets are taking a breather: World stocks hit a 5-1/2-month high on Friday and the US dollar remained near an eight-month low as reassuring US economic and inflation data largely kept the bulls at bay ahead of next week’s list of main central bank meetings. At around 5:30 a.m. ET, the UK FTSE 100 was up 0.08 percent. Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 rose 0.07 percent and 0.10 percent, respectively. In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei rose by 0.07 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.54 percent. New York futures were down. The Canadian dollar was higher at 75.11 US cents.

What everyone is talking about

Florida’s book ban takes censorship to the next level

“…If it’s sex these censored anti-intellectuals are worried about, they might want to take a seat while we break them the news: Kids don’t have to buy this stuff from the queen of banned books, Judy Blume, or from you will learn Robie Harris’ It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health, another frequently censored volume. You can learn it from the internet, from far less trustworthy and much more descriptive sources.” – Marsha Ledermann

Too many tip requests? Blame business owners and unfair wages

“We are asked to tip anywhere, anytime, and in ever-increasing amounts. In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers tipped generously as efforts to save local restaurants during the lockdown became a civic duty for those who could afford a regular snack. Although the social pressures that fueled this boom have subsided, there has been a hangover…” – Corey Mintz

Today’s editorial cartoon

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

Live better

Five things to stream this weekend: Jennifer Lopez is having a shotgun wedding, and Kevin Costner is riding again

From Jennifer Lopez’s must-see Shotgun Wedding, a romantic comedy for a lazy Saturday night at home, to drama Armageddon Time starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong, here are Barry Hertz’s weekend picks.

Date: January 27, 1756

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is born

A woman looks at a painting depicting a 1770 portrait of 13-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images

It’s a cliché to say that a person was “born to do something” that brought them fame and success, but what else can be said of someone who wrote minuets at an age when most of us are still having trouble writing their own name? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s father, Leopold, was a musician and music teacher. Within a few years of Wolfgang’s birth in the city of Salzburg, the boy was picking up the basics of musical composition by watching his father teach his older sister piano lessons. Within a few years he was composing the first works in a vast and historic catalog of music in almost every style popular during the Classical period. Mozart’s melodic brilliance was recognized in his day, and he is now considered one of the greatest composers who ever lived, a unique talent that brought new sophistication to every musical form he touched. Despite his apparent talent, Mozart led an itinerant life, roaming Europe in search of consistent aristocratic patronage that never quite materialized. He died in 1791 of unknown causes, a 35-year-old man with hundreds of compositions to his name and some still unfinished. Steve Kupferman

Read today’s horoscopes. Have fun with today’s puzzles.

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