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StatCan job numbers and Toronto drug decriminalization: In The News for Aug. 5

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 Friday, August 5, 2022 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
Statistics Canada's offices at Tunny's Pasture in Ottawa are shown on March 8, 2019. Statistics Canada says the country's posted a $762-million merchandise trade surplus in May as the auto sector helped boost exports. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

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 Friday, August 5, 2022 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

Statistics Canada expects to release its labour force survey for July this morning.

The federal agency previously reported the unemployment rate hit a record low of 4.9 per cent in June.

Canada currently has more than one million job vacancies and is grappling with an ongoing labour shortage largely driven by demographic changes in the population.

Wages have also been on the rise, increasing by 5.2 per cent year-over-year in June, but still below the pace of inflation.

For the month of July, RBC economists are predicting the economy added 15,000 jobs and the unemployment rate hovered at five per cent.


Also this ...

As Toronto waits to hear whether the federal government will grant its request to decriminalize the possession of illicit drugs for personal use, harm reduction advocates say approval is urgently needed as governments fail to match the gravity of the opioid crisis.

This week marks seven months since the city sent its decriminalization request to Ottawa, the same amount of time it took for the federal government to greenlight a similar request from British Columbia.

Health Canada says the application is being examined, noting that such requests are "carefully and thoroughly reviewed on a case-by-case basis."

But harm reduction workers say a rise in opioid deaths has underscored the need for action.

"I see no urgency. I see complacency," said Dan Werb, director at the Toronto-based Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation, which was contracted by the city to help work on the decriminalization request.


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

Senate Democrats have agreed to eleventh-hour changes to their marquee economic legislation, they announced late Thursday, clearing the major impediment to pushing one of President Joe Biden's paramount election-year priorities through the chamber in the coming days.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a centrist seen as the pivotal vote in the 50-50 chamber, said in a statement that she had agreed to revamping some of the measure's tax and energy provisions and was ready to "move forward" on the bill.

The announcement came as a surprise, with some expecting talks between Schumer and the mercurial Sinema to drag on for days longer without guarantee of success. Schumer has said he wants the Senate to begin voting on the legislation Saturday, after which it would begin its summer recess.

Passage by the House, which Democrats control narrowly, could come when that chamber returns briefly to Washington next week.


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

Beijing says it summoned European diplomats in the country to protest statements issued by the Group of Seven nations and the European Union criticizing threatening Chinese military exercises surrounding Taiwan.

China has dispatched navy ships and warplanes and launched missiles into the Taiwan Strait in response to a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week to Taiwan.

China regards Taiwan as its own territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Five of the missiles fired by China landed in Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan's main islands.

Japan's prime minister said Friday that China's military exercises aimed at Taiwan represent a "grave problem" that threatens regional peace and security.


On this day in 1928 ...

Saskatoon's Ethel Catherwood won the women's high jump at the Amsterdam Olympics. She remains Canada's lone Olympic women's track and field gold medallist.


In entertainment ...

A long-lost painting by the British graffiti artist Banksy has resurfaced in a swank art gallery in downtown Tel Aviv, an hour’s drive and a world away from the concrete wall in the occupied West Bank where it was initially sprayed.

The relocation of the painting — which depicts a slingshot-toting rat and was likely intended to protest the Israel occupation — raises ethical questions about the removal of artwork from occupied territory and the display of such politically-charged pieces in radically different settings from where they were created.

The painting initially appeared near Israel’s separation barrier in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem and was one of several works created in secret around 2007.

They employed Banksy’s trademark absurdist and dystopian imagery to protest Israel’s decades-long occupation of territories the Palestinians want for a future state.


Did you see this?

Lower than expected U.S. penalties on softwood lumber exports from Canada are doing little to temper the dismay of the federal government in Ottawa.

International Trade Minister Mary Ng is calling the latest duties "baseless," "unwarranted" and "unfair."

The key final rate of 8.59 per cent is significantly lower than the current rate of 17.91 per cent, as well as the 11.64 per cent proposed in a preliminary decision issued earlier this year.

But Ng says the duties are unjustified no matter the level, and will cause undue hardship to both Canada's forestry industry and consumers in the U.S.

She says Ottawa will challenge the latest finding under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement's dispute resolution system.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022

The Canadian Press

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