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Government vows to pull Facebook advertising in latest battle with Big Tech over online news

News

The Canadian government will suspend all advertising on Facebook and Instagram, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced on Tuesday.

This decision was made in response to what he called Meta’s “unreasonable” and “irresponsible” choice of pulling Canadian news from its platforms in the wake of the government’s recently passed online news legislation, he said.

Rodriguez did say, however, that the government has had productive conversations with Google, which has also vowed to block Canadian news when the bill comes into effect in six months. Rodriguez claimed that the company’s concerns will be alleviated by the regulations that would come with the bill’s implementation.

“We’re calling on both platforms to stay at the table, work through the regulatory process with us, and contribute their fair share and keep news on their platforms,” said Rodriguez.

Meta has long promised that it would block Canadian news from Facebook if Bill C-18 passed and acted swiftly last month once the legislation made it through the Canadian Parliament.

In an exclusive interview with The Hub in April, Kevin Chan, the global policy campaign strategies director at Meta, said the legislation imposed a potentially unlimited liability on Meta, by charging the company for links to news stories posted by users on the platform.

“You’re basically putting a toll booth in front of every link for a news article,” said Chan. “And so if we’re up against a rock and a hard place then we’re going to have to get out of the market.”

Rodriguez argued that because Meta and Google are soaking up 80 percent of all online advertising revenue in Canada in 2022, some of it should be shared with Canadian news outlets that are suffering shortfalls.

Joining Rodriguez in the joint-press conference were MPs from the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP, representing, as Rodriguez put it, “two-thirds of all the MPs in the house to stand up for a free, independent, nonpartisan, fact-based and thriving press.” 

“The reality is the web giants need to respect Canadian law, they need to respect Canadian democracy, and that is the profound message that we are sending today to Meta and Google,” said NDP MP Peter Julian.

Bloc Quebecois MP Martin Champoux brushed off criticism regarding the public reception of the Online News Act arguing that “two-thirds of MPs and two-thirds of senators voted in favour of the bill.”

It was “the right thing to do and it’s what Canadians want,” he said.

Hunter Prize finalists showcase ten ideas to fix Canada’s health-care crisis

News

Ten finalists have been chosen for the Hunter Prize for Public Policy, along with their groundbreaking ideas to fundamentally improve Canada’s health-care system.

A diverse group of finalists targeted areas like community health, virtual long-term care, and new funding that dynamically responds to wait times in an attempt to find a politically feasible policy reform that would solve Canada’s wait-times crisis.

“We are delighted to have received such an overwhelming response in our inaugural year of the Hunter Prize,” said Derrick Hunter, a trustee at the Hunter Family Foundation, which funds the prize.

“Clearly, we have touched a nerve. Canada is full of concerned citizens keen to offer novel solutions to some of the intractable and ‘wicked’ problems that we face as a nation. We hope that this forum continues to prove its worth in the years ahead as ideas move into implementation,” said Hunter.

The finalists were picked from nearly 200 entries and the winning entry will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges, including Robert Asselin, Dr. Adam Kassam, Amanda Lang, Karen Restoule, and Trevor Tombe.

The Hub will publish ten op-eds by the finalists that will explain their high-impact, low-cost, but politically feasible proposal to reduce health-care wait-times in Canada. The winner will be unveiled in September.

The finalists are vying for $50,000 in cash prizes, including $25,000 for the winner to help translate their idea into actionable public policy. The runner-up will receive a $5,000 prize. Those placing three through 10 will receive prizes of $2,500.

The ten finalists, in no particular order, are as follows.

  • Ayeshah Haque, a midwife and researcher, for a proposal to leverage community-based health-care providers to reduce ER visits.
  • Kristina Kokorelias, a senior academic program coordinator and associate scientist, along with co-author Ashley Flanagan, a health research and policy manager, for a proposal to create a virtual long-term care at-home program.
  • Dom Lucyk, the communications director with SecondStreet.org, for a proposal to cut wait times by reimbursing patients for surgeries in other provinces or countries.
  • Jennifer Zwicker, the director of health policy at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, for a proposal to develop a national institute to modernize access to specialized treatment.
  • Aftab Ahmed, Anmol Gupta, Harshini Ramesh, master of public policy candidates at the Max Bell School of Public Policy at McGill University, for a proposal to create a pan-Canadian, demand-driven, centralized, and interoperable teleradiology network, which would have the potential to alleviate the issue of long wait times for CT scans, MRIs, and ultrasounds.
  • Stephen Fryers, a paramedic and educator, for a proposal to create a facility staffed with paramedics and physician assistants to reduce wait times for patients who require less intensive care and help ameliorate offload delays in EMS.
  • Bacchus Barua, the director of health policy studies at the Fraser Institute, for a proposal to tackle wait times through targeted and transparent funding that dynamically responds to the true demand and complexity for medically necessary services.
  • Aninder Grewal, a registered nurse, along with co-author Kate Bykowski, for a proposal to increase the use of nurse practitioners in primary care settings, which includes expanding the number of NP-led clinics for post-operative patients.
  • Jenna Quelch, a PhD Student at the University of Toronto, for a proposal that would see provincial regulatory bodies pilot a new licensing option for foreign-trained health-care professionals.
  • Matthew Yau, a physician, along with co-author Krish Bilimoria, also a physician, for a proposal to expand hospital hospice services through targeted immigration and funding.

The Hunter Prize for Public Policy, which is funded by the Hunter Family Foundation, aims to shake up Canadian policymaking by promoting fresh ideas to take on a “wicked problem” and improve the economic and social well-being of Canadians.