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In The News for March 30 : Automatic tax filing on the way for Canadians

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 30 ... What we are watching in Canada ...
A sign outside the Canada Revenue Agency is seen Monday May 10, 2021 in Ottawa. The Canada Revenue Agency will pilot a new automatic system next year to help vulnerable Canadians who don't file their taxes get their benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

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 30 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

The public inquiry that investigated the April 2020 mass murder of 22 people in Nova Scotia is releasing its final report today.

The federal-provincial inquiry examined the events surrounding the 13-hour rampage that began in the community of Portapique and ended when the RCMP gunned down the 51-year-old killer at a gas station about 55 kilometres south.

Its report will be released today in Truro, N.S., and will include recommendations to improve community safety across Canada.

The inquiry's mandate included examinations of the police response, the killer's access to firearms, gender-based violence, the assistance offered to those most affected and the steps taken to inform the public as the murders unfolded.

On April 18, 2020, the killer assaulted his spouse, loaded his illegal firearms into a replica RCMP vehicle and shot 13 people.

He managed to escape police capture and on April 19 murdered nine more people, including RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson — whose car the killer rammed as she responded to a call for help from a fellow officer.


Also this ...

The Canada Revenue Agency will pilot a new automatic system next year to help vulnerable Canadians who don't file their taxes get their benefits.

This week's federal budget says the Canada Revenue Agency will also present a plan in 2024 to expand the service, following consultations with stakeholders and community organizations. 

The move toward automatic tax filing, first promised in the 2020 speech from the throne, is one of several budget measures the Liberals say are meant to help Canadians with the cost of living.

Experts and advocates have called for automatic filing, noting many vulnerable Canadians miss out on benefits to which they are entitled.

Canadians are generally not required to file tax returns every year unless they owe money, but the federal government is increasingly relying on the Canada Revenue Agency to deliver income-tested benefits to individuals.

That includes Canada Child Benefit, as well as the recent top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and the temporary doubling of the GST tax credit.

A 2020 report co-authored by Jennifer Robson, an associate professor in political management at Carleton University, estimates 10 to 12 per cent of Canadians don't file their taxes.

Although there were non-filers across all income groups, they were most heavily concentrated in lower income brackets.

The report estimated the value of benefits lost to working-age non-filers was $1.7 billion in 2015.


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

LOUISVILLE, Ky. _ Two military helicopters crashed Wednesday night in southwestern Kentucky during a routine training mission, the U.S. Army's Fort Campbell said in a statement.

The status of the crew members was unknown.

The two HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, part of the 101st Airborne Division, crashed around 10 p.m. Wednesday in Trigg County, Kentucky, according to the statement, which was posted on Facebook.

"The command is currently focused on caring for the servicemembers and their families,'' the statement said.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear wrote on Twitter that "fatalities are expected,'' adding that police and emergency officials were responding.

The crash is under investigation.


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

ROME _ Pope Francis spent a good first night in the hospital after being admitted for a respiratory infection, a Vatican official said Thursday.

Further medical updates were expected later in the day. Francis was taken to Rome's Gemelli hospital for tests on Wednesday afternoon after experiencing difficulty breathing in recent days.

The 86-year-old pope, who had part of one lung removed as a young man, does not have COVID-19 but will remain in the hospital for several days of treatment, the Vatican said. His audiences were cancelled through Friday.

Francis is scheduled to celebrate Palm Sunday this weekend, and it wasn't clear how his medical condition would affect the Vatican's Holy Week observances, which include Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil and finally Easter Sunday on April 9.

His hospitalization was the first since Francis had 33 centimetres of his colon removed and spent 10 days at the Gemelli hospital in July 2021.

He said soon after the surgery that he had recovered fully and could eat normally. But in a Jan. 24 interview with The Associated Press, Francis said his diverticulosis, or bulges in the intestinal wall, had "returned.''

Before he was admitted to the hospital Wednesday, the pope had appeared in relatively good form during his regularly scheduled general audience, though he grimaced strongly while getting in and out of the "popemobile.''

Francis has used a wheelchair for over a year due to strained ligaments in his right knee and a small knee fracture, though he had been walking more with a cane of late.

Francis has said he resisted having surgery for the knee problems because he didn't respond well to general anesthesia during the 2021 intestinal surgery.


On this day in 1858 ...

The first pencil with an attached rubber eraser was patented by Hyman L. Lipman of Philadelphia.


In entertainment ...

PARK CITY, Utah _ The closely watched trial over a 2016 ski collision between Gwyneth Paltrow and the retired optometrist suing her for the injuries he sustained is expected to draw to a close Thursday, when attorneys give closing arguments and send the case to the eight-member jury.

Terry Sanderson, 76, is suing Paltrow, claiming she skied out of control and crashed into him, leaving him with four broken ribs and a concussion with symptoms that have lasted years beyond the collision.

After a judge dismissed his initial $3.1 million complaint, Sanderson amended and refiled the lawsuit seeking "more than $300,000'' _ a threshold that provides the opportunity to introduce the most evidence and depose the most witnesses allowed in civil court. In response, Paltrow countersued for a symbolic $1 and attorney fees.

Paltrow's defence team used most of their final full day in control of the witness stand to call medical experts to testify. Sanderson's attorneys are expected to begin on Thursday morning by recalling their medical experts to rebut claims made by Paltrow's. Each side will then have roughly one hour to give the jury their closing arguments.

Paltrow's attorneys are expected to continue their two-pronged approach, both arguing that the actor-turned-lifestyle influencer didn't cause the accident and that its effects aren't as bad as Sanderson claims. They've painted him as an "obsessed'' man pushing "utter B.S.'' claims against someone whose fame makes them vulnerable to unfair, frivolous lawsuits.

Sanderson's team will likely cite how the man claiming to be the sole eyewitness testified to seeing Paltrow hit their client and continue spinning the case as a contemporary David versus Goliath tale in which Sanderson suffered injuries and had the courage to take on a movie star.

Sanderson testified Friday that he had continued to pursue damages seven years after the accident because the cascading events that followed _ his post-concussion symptoms and the accusation that he sued to exploit Paltrow's celebrity _ added insult to injury.

"That's the purpose: to make me regret this lawsuit. It's the pain of trying to sue a celebrity,'' he said on Wednesday in response to a question from his attorney about Paltrow's team probing his personal life, medical records and extensive post-crash international travel itinerary.

Though both sides have marshalled significant resources to emerge victorious, the verdict could end up being remembered as an afterthought dwarfed by the worldwide attention the trial has attracted. The amount of money at stake for both sides pales in comparison to the typical legal costs of a multi-year lawsuit, private security detail and expert witness-heavy trial.   


Did you see this?

A Toronto-based neurosurgeon who has deepened our understanding of brain tumours and a northern Ontario psychologist focused on Indigenous-led mental health care are among the winners of the prestigious Canada Gairdner Awards.

The global honours, which recognize some of the world’s most significant biomedical and health research, named Dr. Gelareh Zadeh and Dr. Christopher Mushquash as the two inaugural winners of the Canada Gairdner Momentum Award.

A spokesperson for the Gairdner Foundation says the prize was introduced this year to address a gap in the awards landscape for mid-career scientists. Zadeh and Mushquash each win $50,000.

Mushquash, a psychology professor at Lakehead University and psychologist at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, was praised for Indigenous-led mental health and substance use research that led to culturally appropriate mental health services for First Nations communities.

Zadeh, whose many titles include professor and neurosurgery division chair at the University of Toronto, head of neurosurgery at Toronto Western Hospital and senior scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, was recognized for gains in the molecular and genomic understanding of brain tumours, leading to better ways to classify and manage brain tumour subtypes and treat patients.

Five other innovators in the fields of artificial intelligence and microbiology each nabbed the annual international award, which bestow $100,000 to each winner for influential contributions to biomedical science.

Two of the winners come from the London-based lab DeepMind, which developed an AI system that can predict the 3D shape of protein structures and was touted in the award citation for its "enormous potential to accelerate biological and medical research.”

The foundation said AlphaFold, developed by CEO and founder Demis Hassabis and senior research scientist John Jumper, has been accessed by one million researchers and users in 190 countries and been used to predict "nearly every protein known to science."

The three other winners are scientists Bonnie L. Bassler at Princeton University, E Peter Greenberg at the University of Washington and Michael R. Silverman, an emeritus investigator at The Agouron Institute.

Their collective discoveries about how bacteria communicate has spawned an entire field in microbiology that can lead to new ways to promote health and prevent disease, says their award citation.

The Gairdner Awards are nicknamed the "baby Nobels" because organizers say 96 Gairdner winners have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023

The Canadian Press