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In The News for Jan. 23 : Will inflation-driven prices ever go down?

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 Jan. 23 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
The Bank of Canada is pictured in Ottawa on Tuesday Sept. 6, 2022. A Bank of Canada report on consumer expectations released last week says more than a quarter of Canadians expect to see deflation five years from now. However, an economics professor at Laval University said the chance of there being deflation, or a decrease in prices is "extremely unlikely." THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

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 Jan. 23 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

A Bank of Canada report on consumer expectations released last week says more than a quarter of Canadians expect to see deflation five years from now. 

However, Laval University economics professor Stephen Gordon said the chance of there being deflation, or a decrease in prices is "extremely unlikely."

Though some prices will come down, as has been the case with gasoline prices, Gordon said higher prices for goods feed into each other through the supply chain and become baked into the economy.

Prices for services are also unlikely to fall, given they're driven by wages. 

Although deflation may sound like good news on face value, Gordon said it isn't something anyone should be wishing for. 

The economics professor said firms cut prices when business is bad, which means other effects like layoffs are also more likely. 


Also this ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers are gathering at a Hamilton hotel today to begin a three-day cabinet retreat.

The strategy session comes during what Trudeau said are "tough times," with a potential recession on the horizon and Canadians feeling the strain of high inflation. 

Trudeau is fresh off a week of cross-country travel focused on Canada's push to expand its battery and electric-vehicle industries, part of a broader goal to get more competitive on clean technology. 

Senior Liberals are expected to use the retreat to hammer out political and policy priorities for the months ahead, keeping in mind their confidence-and-supply deal with the NDP.

Promises under the deal include passing pharmacare legislation by the end of the year and introducing a "just transition" bill for oil and gas workers — a prospect already riling Alberta politicians.

The House of Commons is scheduled to return from its winter break next week. 


And this too ...

A study led by researchers with the Ontario Medical Association found no evidence patients substituted hospital emergency rooms for virtual visits with their family doctor in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers say the peer-reviewed study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is significant given recent calls to reduce virtual service over quality-of-care concerns and ER burdens. 

The study says there was no evidence the pivot to virtual visits by family doctors at the outset of the pandemic led patients to turn to emergency departments instead. 

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 8,000 Ontario doctors practising in family health groups and family health organizations with rostered patients. 

OMA president Rose Zacharias says the shift to virtual primary care at the outset of the pandemic prompted questions about whether the move had placed additional strain on emergency departments. 

She says the study shows no link. 

The study published Monday focused on primary care physicians who have an established patient-doctor relationship rather than virtual walk-in clinics offering one-off appointments.

While researchers have suggested virtual walk-in clinics could add, rather than relieve strain on the system, Zacharias says there are several benefits to virtual care offered by a physician with an established patient. 

She cited appointments to refill prescriptions, review lab results and mental health consultations as examples. 


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

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. _ Authorities searched for a motive for the gunman who killed 10 people at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club during Lunar New Year celebrations, slayings that sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities in the region and cast a shadow over festivities countrywide.

The suspect was found Sunday, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a van in which authorities say he fled after people thwarted his attempt at a second shooting Saturday night.

The massacre was the nation's fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the man as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran and said no other suspects were at large. Luna said the motive remained unclear for the attack, which wounded 10 people, seven of whom were still hospitalized. Speaking at a Sunday evening news conference, the sheriff said he didn't have their exact ages but that all of the people killed appeared to be over 50.

The suspect was carrying what Luna described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where Tran died.

Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said Sunday evening that within three minutes of receiving the call, officers arrived at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. There, they found carnage inside and people trying to flee through all the doors.

"When they came into the parking lot it, was chaos,'' Wiese said.

About 20 to 30 minutes after the first attack, the gunman entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in the nearby city of Alhambra. But people wrested the weapon away from him and witnesses said he fled in a white van, according to Luna.

The van was found in Torrance, another community home to many Asian Americans, about 34.5 kilometres from that second location.


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

TOKYO _ Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that Japan faces the severest security environment in the region since the end of the Second World War and pledged to push a military buildup under a newly adopted security strategy over the next five years and beyond as well as tackle rapidly declining births so the country can sustain national strength.

Kishida's government in December adopted key security and defence reforms, including a counterstrike capability that makes a break from the country's exclusively self-defence-only postwar principle. Japan says the current deployment of missile interceptors is insufficient to defend it from rapid weapons advancement in China and North Korea.

In his policy speech opening this year's parliamentary session, Kishida said active diplomacy should be prioritized, but it requires "defence power to back it up.'' He said Japan's new security strategy is based on a realistic simulation as we face the most severe and complex security environment since the end of Second World War and a question if we can protect the people's lives in an emergency.''

The strategy seeks to keep in check China's increasingly assertive territorial ambitions, but it's also a sensitive issue for many countries in Asia that were victims of Japanese wartime aggression. Kishida said it's a "drastic turnaround'' of Japan's security policy, but still remains within the limitations of its pacifist constitution and international law.

"I make it clear that there will not be even a slightest change from Japan's non-nuclear and self-defence-only principles and our footsteps as a peace-loving country,'' Kishida said.

Japan plans to nearly double its defence budget within five years to 43 trillion yen and improve cyberspace and intelligence capabilities. While three-quarters of an annual defence budget increase can be squeezed out through spending and fiscal reforms, the remainder needs to come from a possible tax increase, and Kishida has already faced growing criticism from opposition lawmakers and even from his governing party.

Kishida also faces a critical question of population growth.

"We cannot waste any time on the policies for children and child rearing support,'' he said. "We must establish a children-first economic society and turn around the birthrate.''

Japan's population of more than 125 million has been declining for 14 years and is projected to fall to 86.7 million by 2060. A shrinking and aging population has huge implications for the economy and national security.


On this day in 1922 ...

In Toronto, 14-year-old Leonard Thompson became the first diabetic to receive an insulin injection. Frederick Banting and J.J.R. MacLeod of the University of Toronto shared the next year's Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of the treatment.


In entertainment ...

NEW YORK _ James Cameron's "Avatar: The Way of Water'' led ticket sales in movie theatres for the sixth straight weekend, making it the first film to have such a sustained reign atop the box office since 2009's "Avatar.''

The Walt Disney Co.'s "The Way of Water'' added $19.7 million in U.S. and Canadian theatres over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. Its global total has now surpassed $2 billion, putting it sixth all-time and just ahead of "Spider-Man: No Way Home.'' Domestically, "The Way of Water'' is up to $598 million. Continued robust international sales ($56.3 million for the weekend) has helped push the "Avatar'' sequel to $2.024 billion worldwide.

A year ago, "Spider-Man: No Way Home'' also topped the box office for six weekends, but did it over the course of seven weeks. You have to go back to Cameron's original "Avatar'' to find a movie that stayed No. 1 for such a long span. ("Avatar'' ultimately topped out at seven weeks.) Before that, the only film in the past 25 years to manage the feat was another Cameron film; "Titanic'' (1997) went undefeated for 15 weeks.

"The Way of Water'' has now reached a target that Cameron himself set for the very expensive sequel. Ahead of its release, Cameron said becoming "the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history'' was "your break even.''

The box-office domination for "The Way of Water'' has been aided, in part, by a dearth of formidable challengers. The only new wide release from a major studio on the weekend was the thriller "Missing,'' from Sony's Screen Gems and Stage 6 Films. A low-budget sequel to 2018's "Searching,'' starring Storm Reid as a teenager seeking her missing mother, "Missing'' plays out across computer screens. The film, budgeted at $7 million, debuted with $9.3 million.

January is typically a slow period in theatres, but a handful of strong-performing holdovers have helped prop up sales.

Though it didn't open hugely in December, Universal Pictures' "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish'' has had long legs as one of the only family options in theatres over the last month. In its fifth week, it came in second place with $11.5 million domestically and $17.8 million overseas. The "Puss in Boots'' sequel has grossed $297.5 million globally.

The creepy doll horror hit "M3gan,'' also from Universal, has likewise continued to pull in moviegoers. It notched $9.8 million in its third week, bringing its domestic haul to $73.3 million.


Did you see this?

HALIFAX _ Sunwing airlines has reduced its flight schedules from three airports in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Tiffany Chase with the Halifax International Airport Authority confirmed Sunday that Sunwing cancelled its plans to launch once-weekly flights in February from Halifax to Orlando, Fla., and to Cayo Largo del Sur, Cuba.

She says a twice-weekly flight to Varadero, Cuba, set to begin in February will be reduced to once a week.

Courtney Burns, president of the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority, says the airline has cancelled one of two weekly flights from Moncton to Varadero, which were planned to run from mid-February until mid-May.

Burns said the airline will rebook those affected on another flight, or it will offer a full refund.

Meanwhile, the Fredericton International Airport said in a Jan. 12 Facebook post that Sunwing cancelled flights to Cayo Coco, Cuba, "due to operational constraints.''

Sunwing did not respond to a request for comment.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press