Eleven stories in the news today:
PROGRESS MADE IN RESTORING FORT MCMURRAY UTILITIES
Crews are working 24/7 to restore power and natural gas to the fire-ravaged city of Fort McMurray, but the chief operating officer of the utility that Serves the area says it’s impossible to say how soon residents will be able to go home. Atco COO Siegfried Kiefer says it not yet safe enough to turn the power back on and they need to check gas lines before resuming the supply of natural gas.
OTTAWA PUTS ALL HANDS ON DECK FOR FORT MCMURRAY
The federal government is putting all hands on deck with a special cabinet committee to co-ordinate Fort McMurray aid and reconstruction efforts in advance of the prime minister’s visit on Friday. Nine different ministries are involved in the federal ad hoc committee, which will be chaired by Calgary MP Kent Hehr, who serves as veterans affairs minister and associate minister of defence.
BIG BANKS CUT GROWTH FORECASTS AFTER WILDFIRE
The effects of the enormous Alberta wildfire on the ever-crucial oil sector have prompted forecasters to trim their 2016 economic growth predictions for the entire country. At this early stage, however, economists stressed that their predictions remain in flux as officials and companies gain a better understanding of the situation.
STRIP CLUB OFFERS LAP DANCES FOR FIRE EVACUEES
Fire evacuees from Fort McMurray have been offered meals, clothing, places to stay and now an unusual gift — a free lap dance. An Edmonton strip club is waiving its $9 entry fee and offering one $30 lap dance to any customers from the evacuated city in northern Alberta.
NEW MENTAL HEALTH WORKERS FOR ATTAWAPISKAT
Health Canada says it will fund two additional mental health workers and a case manager for youth in Attawapiskat to assist with the northern Ontario reserve’s suicide crisis. But there is no indication as to when the workers will be on the ground in the troubled community and what level of training will be required. Health Minister Jane Philpott says an update will be provided once more information is available.
TWO-TIER PARDON FEES UNDER CONSIDERATION
People convicted of minor offences would pay less than those guilty of serious crimes when applying for a pardon under a scenario being studied by the federal parole board. The Parole Board of Canada quietly launched an online consultation this week asking people what they think of the $631 application charge for a criminal pardon — a fee that quadrupled under the previous Conservative government.
PAUL MARTIN PORTRAIT UNVEILED IN PARLIAMENT
For years, Paul Martin was a fixture in the halls of Parliament, as finance minister in Jean Chretien’s Liberal government and then as prime minister himself. Now, a portrait of Martin has been unveiled that will _ just as Martin did in real life _ displace his former boss. The new painting means Chretien’s picture will be bumped down the corridor leading to the House of Commons, because the PMs are displayed in order of their time in office.
ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:
— A bail review decision is scheduled in the case of Guido Amsel, suspected of sending letter bombs which injured a Winnipeg lawyer.
— Companies reporting quarterly earnings today include Leon’s Furniture, Canadian Tire, Enbridge and Quebecor.
— Statistics Canada will release the new housing price index for March, GDP data by industry and its job vacancy and wage survey.
—Industry, politicians and First Nations leaders gather for the LNG Export Conference in Vancouver.