Skip to content

In The News for March 31: Drilling down on cost of federal dental care

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 March 31... What we are watching in Canada ...
A dentist holds instruments in Skokie, Ill., on Friday, June 12, 2020. The federal government now expects far more Canadians with long-overdue dental needs to sign up for its insurance plan, and the health minister says that's why the estimated cost has risen by $7 billion. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Charles Rex Arbogast

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 March 31...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The search is expected to continue today after six bodies were discovered Thursday in the St. Lawrence River near Akwesasne, Que.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service says the first body was located around 5:00 p.m. in a marsh area, which searched later Thursday evening by a police marine unit with the help of the Canadian Coast Guard and the Hogansburg Akwesasne Volunteer Fire Department.

Air support units with the Quebec provincial police and Ontario Provincial Police are expected to assist with further investigation of the area.

Post-mortem and toxicology tests have been ordered to determine the cause of death.

Akwesasne Mohawk Police say they are attempting to identify the deceased persons and determine their status in Canada.

Akwesasne is close to the United States border across from New York state.


Also this ...

Relatives of those killed in the Nova Scotia mass shooting almost three years ago say they are focused on ensuring the recommendations from a public inquiry released Thursday are implemented. 

Scott McLeod, whose brother Sean was among the 22 people fatally shot during a gunman's 13-hour rampage in April 2020, said the inquiry's report was a step forward, with more still to be done. 

After the public inquiry delivered its sprawling 3,000-page final report, the families say the attention now turns to its 130 recommendations. The inquiry found widespread failures in how the Mounties responded to the mass shooting and recommends Ottawa rethink the RCMP's central role in Canadian policing. 

Among the recommendations, the commission called for a committee to ensure the other recommendations are carried out. McLeod said he plans to be a member of that committee.

"To have this report and know that the families and the public have been heard is a fantastic thing," he said. "I see a lot of positives coming out of this."

Harry Bond, the son of victims Joy and Peter Bond, said he was impressed to see the commission's sharp criticism of how the Mounties responded to the shootings. 

"They actually named a lot of faults with how things were not done properly and how the RCMP kind of messed up," he said. "I was surprised to see that."


And this ...

The federal government now expects far more Canadians with long-overdue dental needs to sign up for its insurance plan, and the health minister says that's why the estimated cost has risen by $7 billion.

In its 2023 budget Tuesday, the government revealed the federally-administered insurance program will be far more expensive over the next five years than it originally thought. 

It is also projecting that ongoing costs after that will more than double, to $4.4 billion per year, up from $1.7 billion.

Duclos said administration costs have not contributed to driving up the price. 

"It's more people with greater needs," he said in an interview Thursday.

"The fact that this is appearing to be in high demand, and in high need, is probably the outcome that for too many years prior to that program, there were people that were just not going to see a dentist for prevention purposes."

Dentists could end up seeing as many as nine million more patients who didn't have coverage before, new estimates suggest.

Duclos said the scale of the program should not be underestimated — it's bigger than just about any other permanent government benefit program to date.

"It's twice as large as old age security, it's larger than Canada child benefit in terms of the number of families and children, it's larger than (the guaranteed income supplement), it's larger than the early learning and childcare program that we're putting into place," he said. 


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

NEW YORK _ The historic indictment of former U.S. president Donald Trump thrust the 2024 presidential election into uncharted territory, raising the remarkable prospect that the leading contender for the Republican nomination will seek the White House while also facing trial for criminal charges in New York.

In an acknowledgment of the sway the former president holds with the voters who will decide the GOP contest next year, those eyeing a primary challenge to Trump were quick to criticize the indictment. Without naming Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the move "un-American.'' Former vice president Mike Pence, whose life was threatened after Trump incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, told CNN the charges were "outrageous.''

That posture speaks to the short-term incentives for Republicans to avoid anything that might antagonize Trump's loyal base. But the indictment raises profound questions for the GOP's future, particularly as Trump faces the possibility of additional charges soon in Atlanta and Washington. While that might galvanize his supporters, the turmoil could threaten the GOP's standing in the very swing-state suburbs that have abandoned the party in three successive elections, eroding its grip on the White House, Congress and key governorships.

Trump has spent four decades managing to skirt this type of legal jeopardy and expressed confidence again late Thursday, blaming the charges on "Thugs and Radical Left Monsters.''


Trump is expected to surrender to authorities next week on charges connected to hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign to women who alleged extramarital sexual encounters. For now, it remains unclear how the development will resonate with voters. Polls show Trump remains the undisputed front-runner for the Republican nomination, and his standing has not faltered, even amid widespread reporting on the expected charges.

An indictment _ or even a conviction _ would not bar Trump from running for president or serving as the Republican nominee.


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

NEW DELHI _ Thirty-five bodies have been found inside a well at a Hindu temple in central India after dozens of people fell into the muddy water when the well’s cover collapsed, officials said Friday.

Video of Thursday’s collapse at the temple complex in Indore in Madhya Pradesh state showed chaos afterward, with people rushing toward the exits. An excavator pulled down a wall of the decades-old temple to help people flee.

Nearly 140 rescuers, including army personnel, used ropes and ladders to pull the bodies from the well after pumping out the water. A narrow path and debris in the well made the task difficult.

Witnesses said a large crowd of devotees had thronged the temple to perform a fire ritual and celebrate the festival for the deity Rama.

Dozens of people fell into the water when the structure over the well collapsed and were covered by falling debris, police Commissioner Makrand Deoskar said.

Kantibhai Patel, president of a residents' association, told reporters that authorities were slow to react and the first ambulance reached the spot an hour after the alert.

The structure apparently caved in because it could not handle the weight of the large crowd, said the state's top elected official, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. He ordered an investigation.

Chauhan said 33 of the bodies had been identified and one person was unaccounted for. Sixteen of the people who were injured remained hospitalized Friday.


On this day in 1949 ...

Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador) -- the oldest dominion in the British Commonwealth -- became Canada's 10th province. Two referendums were held after the Second World War; the first was inconclusive, and the second approved Confederation by only 52 per cent to 48. Joey Smallwood, who led the drive to join Canada, became Newfoundland's first premier and was known as Canada's only living Father of Confederation. Smallwood served as premier until 1972. He died in 1991, a week before his 91st birthday.


In entertainment ...

SANTA FE, N.M. _ A judge is scheduled to resolve a weapons-related charge Friday against a co-defendant in the case against actor Alec Baldwin for the fatal 2021 shooting of a cinematographer on a movie set.

Prosecutors announced in January a proposed plea agreement with safety coordinator and assistant director David Halls regarding his responsibilities in the Western movie "Rust'' and the death of Halyna Hutchins.

Halls has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour charge of negligent or unsafe use of a deadly weapon, pending a court review of the plea proposal. Complete terms of the agreement have not been made public.

Halls is likely to be sentenced Friday if State District Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer authorizes the plea agreement.

Baldwin and movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed have pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter that carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and fines.

Hutchins died shortly after she was shot Oct. 21, 2021, during rehearsals at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Baldwin was pointing a pistol being used in the production at Hutchins when the weapon went off and a single live round killed her and wounded director Joel Souza.

In separate regulatory proceedings, workplace safety authorities have asserted Halls shared responsibility for identifying and correcting any hazardous conditions related to firearms safety in the movie's production. They contend Halls handed Baldwin the revolver that was loaded with what were assumed to be dummy rounds.

A weekslong preliminary hearing in May will decide whether evidence against Baldwin and Gutierrez-Reed is sufficient to proceed to trial.


Did you see this?

OTTAWA _ The Canadian Judicial Council is taking the next step in its review of a complaint against Supreme Court of Canada Justice Russell Brown concerning alleged events at an Arizona resort.

Christopher Hinkson, chief justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia and chairperson of the council's judicial conduct committee, has decided to refer the matter to a judicial conduct review panel.

In turn, the five-member panel can decide that an inquiry committee should be established if it determines the matter might be serious enough to warrant the removal of the judge.

Brown insists he did nothing wrong prior to an alleged altercation at a Scottsdale resort lounge in late January.

In a police report, Jon Crump accuses Brown of being intoxicated and hitting on Crump's female companions.

Crump told police he punched the judge "a few times.''

Brown, who has described Crump's version of their encounter as "demonstrably false,'' has been on leave from the court since Feb. 1 pending the outcome of the council's investigation.

He was taking part in an awards ceremony and banquet at the resort ahead of the encounter, which happened in the hotel lounge later that same night.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2023.

The Canadian Press