Emergencies Act testimony and EI premiums to go up in 2023: In The News for Oct.14

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Published October 14, 2022 at 10:09 am

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 Oct.14 …

What we are watching in Canada …

The Ottawa woman who filed for a court injunction to stop truckers from continually honking their horns during the “Freedom Convoy” in February is among the first witnesses at a public inquiry exploring the government’s use of the Emergencies Act.

Zexi Li launched a class-action lawsuit against the organizers of the convoy on Feb. 3, and an Ontario court granted her an injunction four days later to stop the horn-honking.

A week later, on Feb. 14, the federal Liberals invoked the Emergencies Act for the first time as protesters opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and lockdowns blockaded border crossings and occupied downtown Ottawa streets.

Invoking the law temporarily granted police extraordinary powers and allowed banks to freeze accounts, which the government argues was critical to ending the protests.

Li will testify before the Public Order Emergency Commission Friday as it begins examining the effect of the protests on Ottawa residents as well as the communications between city councillors, police and other government officials.

Also this …

With employment insurance premiums set to rise in the new year, both employers and workers are calling on the federal government to step in and rescue the program from the considerable amount of debt it has fallen into since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, which is financed entirely through premiums paid by workers and employers, accumulated $25.9 billion of debt by the end of 2021, according to the Office of the Chief Actuary.

The rise in debt comes after a staggering number of Canadians were unemployed during the pandemic and eligibility rules for the program were relaxed to ease access to jobless benefits.

Since then, the labour market has bounced back and temporary changes to the EI program have been reversed. However, the question that lingers is: who should pick up the tab on the accumulated debt?

Employers and workers are hoping the federal government will.

What we are watching in the U.S. …

The U-S House Jan. 6 committee has subpoenaed Donald Trump for his testimony about the 2021 Capitol attack.

The panel voted unanimously Thursday to compel the former president to appear. Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, the panel’s vice-chair, says, “We must seek the testimony under oath of January 6th’s central player … the man who set this all in motion.”

Trump is almost certain to fight the subpoena and decline to testify. On his social media outlet, he blasted members for not asking him earlier, though he didn’t say he would have complied; and called the panel “a total BUST.”

Earlier in Thursday’s hearing, the last before next month’s congressional elections, the panel presented vivid new video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders pleading for help.

The footage also portrays U-S Vice President Mike Pence, not Trump, stepping in to help calm the violence, telling Pelosi and the others he has spoken with Capitol Police, as Congress plans to resume its session that night to certify Biden’s election.

What we are watching in the rest of the world …

In a sign that continuing and sustained Ukrainian military gains along the southern front are worrying the Kremlin, Russia is promising free accommodation to residents of the partially occupied Kherson region who want to evacuate to Russia.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made the announcement shortly after the Russia-backed leader of Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions illegally annexed by Moscow last month, asked the Kremlin to organize evacuation from four cities in the region.

Early Friday, Russia continued its targeted attacks on critical infrastructure across Ukraine. Multiple Russian missile strikes shook the Zaporizhzhia region capital overnight as the city continued to be a focal point while Ukraine pushed its counteroffensive on the southern front.

On this day in 1918 …

Private Thomas Ricketts of the Newfoundland Regiment won the Victoria Cross during a First World War battle near Ledeghem, Belgium. At 17, Ricketts was the youngest North American to win a V.C.

In entertainment …

A sentencing hearing resumes today for Canadian musician Jacob Hoggard, who was found guilty earlier this year of sexual assault on an Ottawa woman.

The 2016 incident took place in a Toronto hotel room and the Ottawa woman told the hearing last week that what happened will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Hoggard had also been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm in the case of a teenage fan, as well as sexual interference involving that complainant but was found not guilty of those offences.

The 38-year-old Hedley frontman had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Did you see this?

Ottawa says it doesn’t know how many of its employees are expected to speak an Indigenous language as part of their job.

The question comes as the federal government faces calls to expand the compensation it offers to employees who speak both French and English to public servants who speak an Indigenous language. The bilingualism bonus is an extra $800 per year employees receive if they work in a position where it’s required they speak both of Canada’s official languages.

Some senior public servants have urged the government to introduce similar pay for Indigenous-language speakers but the federal Treasury Board has rejected the idea.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct.14, 2022

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