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The Biden Administration Pledges to Address the Semiconductor Shortage

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Early on Thursday, a group of US chip designers and manufacturers sent a letter to the White House, asking that the government include “substantial funding for incentives for semiconductor manufacturing” as part of the overall COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The Biden Administration has now pledged to take action to help remedy the situation by “identifying choke points in supply chains.” President Biden will sign an executive order directing a government-wide review of supply chains for critical goods.

Both the request and the Biden Administration’s response are mostly grandstanding. There is no practical way that any action taken by the Biden Administration is going to have a near-term impact on silicon supplies. Increasing foundry capacity takes months to years, not weeks. TSMC has already stated that while it will allocate more space for automotive production, it will be taking that space away from other customers. The leading-edge foundries are shipping every wafer that they can.

According to the 21 CEOs who signed the letter, including those representing Intel, AMD, Micron, and Qualcomm, the reason the United States has not retained a larger share of the global chip manufacturing market is because “the governments of our global competitors offer significant incentives and subsidies to attract new semiconductor manufacturing facilities, while the U.S. does not.” This is the supposed explanation for why the United States manufactured 37 percent of the world’s semiconductors in 1990, but just 12 percent today.

This is ridiculous twaddle. Samsung has literally just proposed building a foundry in Austin. In return for this grand act of corporate benevolence, it wants the county to hand over a 20-year 100 percent tax abatement. It wants the city of Austin to provide a 50 percent abatement over the same period of time, for a total value of over $ 800 million dollars. Not content with that, Samsung also wants to be excused from the estimated $ 252 million it would pay in school taxes over the same period. If it succeeds, the state of Texas will be responsible for making up the shortfall to the school district, leaving taxpayers literally on the hook.

The US federal government may not, as a rule, provide enormous incentive packages. That doesn’t change the fact that Samsung feels perfectly fine asking for over a billion dollars in tax relief at a time when it earned more than $ 34 billion in profit the previous year. Intel set revenue records last year. It may be true that other companies provide aggressive support for silicon manufacturing at the federal level, but silicon manufacturers clearly have no qualms about demanding special treatment.

There are absolutely things the Biden Administration could do to encourage greater semiconductor manufacturing in the United States, but simplistically tying the drop in US semiconductor market share to the presence or absence of government subsidies isn’t persuasive. This chart of leading edge foundries over time is useful:

Image by EnerTuition

Back at 90nm, when the cost of advancing to a new node was far smaller and chip designs cost a fraction of what they do today, there were a lot more companies on the leading edge — and most of them weren’t in the US. Of the 18 companies listed in the 90nm column, only Freescale, Texas Instruments, IBM, AMD (GlobalFoundries) and Intel were American companies. Just five, out of 18 firms — and that was nearly twenty years ago.

The reason why the United States accounts for just 12 percent of chip manufacturing today is because partly because the first and most successful pure-play foundry was founded in Taiwan. When mobile chip designers like Qualcomm needed someone to manufacture their chips, they turned to the likes of TSMC and Samsung. The subsequent explosion in mobile SoCs and now AI and edge processors has favored the countries where massive pure-play foundries were established. Intel tried to adopt the foundry model and collect its own stable of customers, but the effort was unsuccessful and the company may have quietly abandoned it.

The reason you see companies leaving the leading edge with every generation is twofold. First, the cost of new foundry upgrades and chip designs rises every generation. Not all types of transistors benefit from new nodes, and not all chips sell in high enough volumes to justify node transitions. Plenty of companies are like GlobalFoundries: Off the leading edge and earning a tidy profit.

The second reason is that the number of customers available at any given node has historically shrunk from one node to the next. This may have changed recently, given the sudden influx of spending from a lot of various AI companies propped up with VC dollars, but for most of the past two decades, fewer and fewer companies have jumped to the leading edge with every generation. With fewer customers available, higher costs, higher design costs, and smaller gains from each passing generation, we’ve seen repeated waves of consolidation in the foundry industry. When GlobalFoundries announced it was leaving the leading edge a few years ago, it didn’t blame a lack of subsidies. It blamed a lack of customers and an inability to make the math work when AMD was its only public big-name 7nm customer.

If the Biden Administration can find supply chain bottlenecks it can address, like boosting the supply of raw materials used to manufacture components, that would be useful, but the chance of a near-term improvement to the situation is probably nil. Building new factories takes time. Bringing new capacity online takes time. There are no quick solutions in semiconductor manufacturing, no matter how much the auto industry squawks to Congress.

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FIFA pledges taking no health risks in men’s World Cup qualifiers

With 3,000 soccer players due to travel internationally for World Cup qualifying games next month, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Monday all will conform to health rules in the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will certainly not take any risk for the health of anyone when we play football,” Infantino said in a World Health Organization news conference in Geneva.

Delays in the 2022 World Cup qualifying program in most continents led FIFA last year to create new game dates next January. They will help make up the backlog in an increasingly tight schedule with broadcasting rights already sold.

In Asia, 40 national teams are due on March 25 to resume qualifying groups that last played in November 2019.

A total of 135 teams are due to play World Cup qualifiers next month, and 48 more have preliminary games for the 2022 African Cup of Nations.

“We will see where we can play, in what conditions,” the FIFA leader said, pledging to “do it by adhering to a clear health protocol.”

“We can see and we have been hearing earlier today from Dr. Tedros again that the situation is evolving week by week, day by day,” Infantino said, sitting beside WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

FIFA president expects full stadiums in 2022

Many of the players return home for national duty play for clubs in Europe, including in England which is experiencing an aggressive new variant of COVID-19.

FIFA eased its rules last year that require clubs to release players to national teams. Exemptions were offered if players had to travel to countries imposing mandatory quarantine or self-isolation for at least five days upon arrival or their return.

Asked if FIFA expected stadiums to be full when the World Cup opens in Qatar in November 2022, Infantino said: “Yes. We must have this.”

“COVID will be defeated by then,” he said, at a briefing on FIFA’s latest work with WHO.

FIFA will use the six-team Club World Cup starting on Thursday in Qatar to promote messages on health safety and fair distribution of vaccines.

Infantino, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee, repeated the Olympic body’s view ahead of the Tokyo Games opening in July that athletes should not get inoculations before key workers.

“We don’t consider football players as a priority group in this respect,” he said.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to ‘Take Action’ To End the ‘Disenfranchisement of Black America’

Leonardo DiCaprio Pledges to ‘Take Action’ To End the ‘Disenfranchisement of Black America’ | Entertainment Tonight

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WHO pledges coronavirus support as African health ministers meet to plan response

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would support the efforts of vulnerable African nations to prepare for a possible outbreak of coronavirus on the continent.

WHO pledged in a statement Saturday that it would support African Union Member States on a common preparedness and response strategy for COVID-19.

A group of African health ministers held an emergency meeting about the disease in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Saturday.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Twitter Sunday that “only together, in solidarity” can it keep the people of Africa safe. 

WHO conducted a survey of nations to assess overall readiness for COVID-19 and found the regional readiness level in Africa was an estimated 66 per cent.

Officials from the organization have warned throughout the viral outbreak that countries with less developed health systems could be overwhelmed and insufficiently prepared to contain the disease on home soil.

Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa, speaks to media about Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Geneva, Feb. 1, 2019. Moeti warned Saturday there are ‘critical gaps in readiness’ for a possible coronavirus outbreak in Africa, where so far there is just one confirmed case in Egypt. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone/The Associated Press)

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said there are “critical gaps in readiness for countries across the continent.”

“We need urgently to prioritize strengthening the capacities for countries to investigate alerts, treat patients in isolation facilities and improve infection, prevention and control in health facilities and in communities.”

So far just one case is confirmed on the African continent, in Egypt. 

Egypt Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mugahed said the person was a “foreigner” who is carrying the coronavirus but not showing any serious symptoms.

China has reported a total of 77,042 cases of the disease caused by the virus, including 2,445 deaths. Outside mainland China, there have been more than 1,700 cases in 28 countries, the WHO said

Few resources to bring citizens home

Countries across the world have flown their nationals home from China’s quarantined Hubei province, the centre of the outbreak that since January.

But no sub-Saharan African country has done so, leaving thousands stranded.

Governments across Africa have said they plan to send money to students to help with expenses. Cameroon said it was sending about $ 82,000 to help its citizens stuck in Hubei.

However, many including Senegal and Uganda, say they do not have the resources to look after coronavirus patients at home and their nationals would be safer in China where authorities have reported a dramatic drop in new cases in Hubei in recent days.

Margaret Ntale Namusisi holds a family album at her home in Mukono district, Uganda, during an interview Feb. 18 about her three daughters, who are quarantined in Wuhan because of the outbreak. Namusisi wants Uganda to bring her daughters home. (Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters)

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention last week called on governments to bring Africans home. But this has provided little comfort for those stranded in China or their families back home who have received little or no communication from their governments.

Uganda mother Margaret Ntale Namusisi’s three daughters are being quarantined at their university in Wuhan.

But nearly one month on, with no help from their government, they are now under lockdown in a crowded apartment with orders to stay indoors with the windows closed. Food, funds and morale are running low.

‘Has Uganda given up on us?’

“They are traumatized,” said Namusisi, who wakes up at 3 a.m. every day to talk to her daughters over the Chinese messaging service WeChat. “They ask, has Uganda given up on us?”

“We’ve gone to parliament, we’ve gone to the ministry of health, we’ve gone to the ministry of foreign affairs and taken them our petition to bring back our children,” said Namusisi

Roger-Michel Kemkuining, a Cameroonian, found out that his son Pavel had contracted coronavirus from a statement posted online by Yangzte University, where Pavel was studying.

The statement, seen by Reuters, said the university had informed the Cameroonian embassy and the parents, but that was news to Kemkuining.

Cameroon’s health ministry spokesman, Clavere Nken, confirmed that the family had found out via social media. He said he had since spoken to them by phone. Yangzte University did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pavel is the only known African to test positive for coronavirus. He has recovered and was released from hospital on Feb. 10 but remains in isolation, he told Reuters.

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Ottawa Health Team model will improve patient care, minister pledges

A new health care system unveiled in Ottawa Friday will help free up hospital beds and improve care for patients, including those who need home care and long-term care, the Ontario government says.

The Ottawa Health Team is one of 24 such organizations that will initially take over responsibilities from Ontario’s Local Health Integration Networks, which are in the process of being dissolved. 

The new health teams aim to better connect community health care centres with hospitals, meals-on-wheels services, addiction recovery supports and long-term care facilities, said Health Minister Christine Elliott.

They will also help hospital patients return to the community, she added.

“It just makes it a lot easier for people,” Elliott said.

‘Connected, integrated care’

Elliott said that eventually, each patient will have a single record and care plan that will help the team address their specific needs — and hopefully provide better care. 

“The team is going to work together to make sure when somebody is admitted to hospital, for whatever procedure they need to have, they’re already looking at their recovery and how they can be returned home,” Elliott said.

The new system will hopefully also prevent needless trips back to the emergency room departments, Elliott added.

“What people will notice, when the health team is fully up and running, is that they’re having more connected, integrated care [so] that those issues with respect to transitions, will be dealt with,” she said.

“They will have care navigation services and one number to call if they have any concerns.”

Christine Elliott, Ontario’s Minister of Health, said the new Ottawa Health Team will break down barriers that prevent care providers from working directly with each other to support patients. (Jean Delisle/Radio-Canada)

The teams will initially focus on helping frail or elderly people, as well as those with mental health issues and addictions, said Simone Thibault, executive director of the Centretown Community Health Centre.

“Often those are the people who end up in emergency that could have been better cared for in the community,” said Thibault, whose organization is one of the team’s initial partners.

Thibault said the Ottawa Health Team will first monitor the success of their approach by evaluating “a few hundred” patients, and then expanding until it includes everyone within its region. 

“We know the system’s not working,” she said. “It’s complicated, and we just want to simplify the system.”

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, has concerns over the accountability and oversight of the new teams. (CBC)

Skepticism remains

Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition, remains skeptical of the province’s strategy. 

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and governments have been saying that … this plan or that plan or what have you will facilitate moving people out of hospitals,” said Mehra, whose group advocates for public health care.

She believes patients are already shifted into home care as soon as spots are available, and that they only languish in hospital when long-term care beds don’t exist. 

“We don’t see how the health teams are going to actually help the demand and supply problems,” said Mehra.

She also has questions about oversight, arguing more could be done to make the teams transparent and accountable to both patients and the public.

“We are quite concerned because [with] the previous iterations of these types of things there was at least public governance. There was a written plan, there was public oversight, there were meetings,” she said.

“The Ontario Health Teams have no such thing. There’s no meeting to [attend], there’s no minutes of the meeting, there’s no clarity around what they’re planning.”

Won’t save province money

Ontario Health will continue to be the governing body over the health teams, including Ottawa’s, Elliott said. 

Money will flow from Ontario Health to the local teams, the minister added, and they can organize in anyway they see fit, be it partnerships or corporations.

“They will have a budget that they will receive for the care of all of the people within their geographic area, and there will be an agreement between Ontario Health and the local team that sets standards and expectations that go along with the money,” Elliott said.

The new model is not expected to save the province money, Elliott said.

The initial partners behind the Ottawa Health Team are:

  • Bruyère Continuing Care
  • Carefor Health and Community Services
  • Carlington Community Health Centre
  • Centretown Community Health Centre
  • Ottawa Inner City Health, Inc.
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre
  • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
  • Somerset West Community Health Centre
  • South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre
  • The Ottawa Hospital


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‘We have hope’: Ottawa pledges to support First Nations suicide prevention strategies

In the wake of a 10-year-old girl’s suicide on his reserve, the Chief of Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation flew more than 3,000 kilometres to Ottawa to sit face-to-face with the federal minister of Indigenous services.

In that meeting Wednesday morning, Chief Ronald Mitsuing received confirmation from Minister Mark Miller that the federal government would financially support a suicide prevention strategy released last year by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in Saskatchewan.

The strategy was billed as the first “decolonized, First Nations-led approach” to suicide prevention and intervention in Canada.

“I’m so happy today. It’s something. The government is going to work with us,” Mitsuing said. “We have hope, now. He gave us hope.”

Mitsuing said he gave the minister a “big hug.”

The chief is going home with high expectations, despite the fact Miller’s office won’t commit to a dollar figure to invest in the strategy. 

“This is a priority,” a statement from Miller’s office said.

Jaylyn Angus, 10, died by suicide on Makwa Sahgaiehcan First Nation on November 21, 2019. (Submitted by Dorothy Angus)

Four people have taken their own lives in Makwa Sahgaiehcan in the past five months — including a 10-year-old, two teens and an adult man — and another eight teens have attempted suicide in the past two weeks.

There have been calls for suicide prevention strategies and funding for years.

On Tuesday, the federal minister spoke at a special gathering of chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations from across Canada. He pledged to support the development of a national youth suicide prevention strategy.

While that could take awhile, FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said he’s poised to roll out their plan in all 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.

“We’re ready…we could implement it next week,” Cameron said.

He says he asked Miller for $ 5 million over the next five to ten years to implement the strategy.

“Whether they honour that number remains to be seen, but at least the commitment is there,” Cameron said. 

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron (left) and Makwa Sahgaeihcan First Nation Chief Ronald Mitsuing both met with Indigenous Services Minister Mark Miller in Ottawa this week. (CBC News)

First Nations teenage girl is 29 times more likely to die by suicide

The FSIN analyzed coroner’s reports from suicides in Saskatchewan between 2005 and 2016 and concluded that a First Nations teen girl is 29 times more likely to kill herself than a non-Indigenous teen girl.

The strategy focuses on language and culture. It promises to empower communities to choose their method of healing, with options that include land-based activities and access to healing lodges, ceremonies, Elders, social workers, and addictions and mental health counselling.

“We will support community‐led action and build on cultural and community strengths,” the FSIN report states.

In early November, Linda Roberts travelled from La Ronge to the Saskatchewan legislature with a photo of her daughter Jadene, 14, who took her own life. Four girls in La Ronge and Stanley Mission died by suicide in October 2016. (CBC News)

The strategy echoes Chief Mitsuing’s message that his community doesn’t want to rely on the government or outsiders to help their families. Ultimately, he said, those people leave.

“We need to learn to take care of ourselves, because we know where the problems are,” Mitsuing said. 

“If we send in people from out-of-town that nobody knows, I don’t think they will connect with them. But if they train our people, we’ll always have somebody there on reserve.”

In his meeting with the minister, Mitsuing asked for funding for a permanent counsellor, parenting support, a suicide intervention worker, respite for teachers and funeral costs. He also wants a forensic audit of band finances to sort out past irregularities and bolster confidence moving forward.

Miller’s office confirmed there will be new money earmarked for suicide strategies, but said how much “will be determined through discussions with partners.”

In a statement, a spokesperson said the minister would sit down with First Nations officials and “see what supports they need and how they can be implemented quickly.”

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Ford government pledges $40M to mental-health initiatives for students

The province is pledging nearly $ 40 million for student mental-health initiatives, including permanent funding for about 180 mental health workers in secondary schools.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce made the pledge Thursday morning to mark World Mental Health Day.

“Too many students are struggling with their mental health and well-being,” Lecce said in a statement. “I am proud to be a member of this government that is applying a compassionate eye to making mental health a priority by more than doubling mental health supports for our kids.”

According to a government news release, one in five students in grade seven to 12 say their mental health is “fair” or “poor.”

The funding will go toward nine front-line programs run by various agencies, including school boards and non-profit organizations. The bulk of the money, some $ 25 million, will go toward the 180 mental health workers in secondary schools that were hired by district school boards in 2018-19. These include social workers, psychologists and psychotherapists.

Another $ 6.5 million will go to the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board and School Mental Health Ontario to support the 72 district school boards, with another $ 3 million going to “well-being and mental health programs” throughout the province’s district school boards.

Other money will go to agencies like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada and Kids Help Phone.

“Mental health is a key component of an individual’s overall health, so I applaud the government for making these valuable investments,” Katherine Hay, president and CEO of Kids Help Phone, said Thursday in a statement.

“Today’s announcements will make a big difference in the lives of students and their families.”

Mayor calls for federal funding

Also Thursday, Toronto Mayor John Tory called on the federal government to make investments in mental health and addictions programs, as well as housing.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he’ll speak with other GTA leaders about the challenges mental health poses. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

“Without additional federal investments in comprehensive, accessible services and supports directly in communities, we will never help these many individuals that so obviously need a path to recovery, stability, and wellness,” Tory said in a statement.

“On World Mental Health Day, I am pledging to continuing to advocate for additional funding for mental health and addictions treatment.”

To further his advocacy, Tory said he will meet with mayors from across the Greater Toronto Area, as well as regional chairs, next month to discuss responses to mental health issues, addiction and homelessness.

He noted that funding on these issues is often focused “downstream,” meaning the front-line response. But his goal is to reach people who need help before they end up in dire straits.

“While we will continue to care for those who need help as cities are called upon to do every day, it is past time for there to be a real plan in place, in partnership with both other governments, to give people the support they need before they end up in our emergency rooms or on the street,” Tory said.

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Federal government pledges millions for opioid crisis

The federal government is putting more money into fighting the opioid crisis and addressing what Canada’s health minister says is the “alarming growth of methamphetamine use.”

Health Minister Ginette Petipas Taylor announced to a group at a recreational centre in Surrey, B.C., that the government will invest $ 76.2 million to bring more life-saving measures to underserved communities, to mitigate the impact on the illegal drug supply and to identify emerging drug threats such as the growing use of methamphetamines.

Petipas Taylor says people often frame the opioid crisis as being a big-city problem but many of Canada’s mid-sized cities are some of the hardest hit.

The minister says some cities suffer from provincial governments turning their backs on harm reduction, resulting in uneven access to services across Canada.

Petipas Taylor and her staff have recently been trained to use the overdose-reversing mediation naloxone and she says it’s a training session she would recommend to all Canadians.

Part of the funding is provided for evaluation and increased access to pharmaceutical-grade medications as safer alternatives to the contaminated illegal drug supply.

Harm reduction ‘truly essential’

“Harm reduction means treating substance use not as a moral failure but rather as a medical one,” she said Wednesday. “While some might see harm reduction as controversial, I see it as truly essential.”

The money will also be used to build knowledge of effective interventions and to break down barriers that prevent people who use drugs from seeking help.

Petipas Taylor says $ 22.3 million from the recent federal budget will be used to get naloxone kits and overdose training sessions to underserved communities so more Canadians can save lives.

“In my mind their is no reason, and I stress absolutely no reason, why naloxone can’t be easily available all across Canada and training sessions can’t be accessible to everyone.”

The federal government reported 11,577 apparent opioid-related deaths occurred between January 2016 and December 2018.

Overdose survivors can also be left with life-altering brain injury.

Fewer U.S. overdose deaths 

Elsewhere on Wednesday, preliminary statistics were released suggesting that U.S. overdose deaths last year likely fell for the first time in nearly three decades.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the provisional numbers showing nearly 68,000 drug overdose deaths were reported last year. The number may go up as more investigations are completed, but the agency expects the tally will end up below 69,000.

Overdose deaths had been climbing each year since 1990, topping 70,000 in 2017.

Any levelling off or decline in overdose deaths is good news, but the overdose death rate in the U.S. is still about seven times higher than it was a generation ago.

“We’re still in a pretty sad situation that we need to address,” said Rebecca Haffajee, a University of Michigan researcher.

The improvement was driven by a drop in deaths from heroin and prescription painkillers. Those decreases were offset somewhat by continuing increases in deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine and psychostimulants like methamphetamines. Overdose deaths often involve more than one drug.

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Ontario pledges $28M to expand midwifery services

The Ontario government has pledged $ 28 million to expand midwifery services throughout the province.

The announcement was made Monday in St. Jacobs by Minister of Health Christine Elliott.

“Midwives are an essential part of our public healthcare system,” Elliott told reporters, adding that midwives promote best practices that lead to higher breastfeeding rates, fewer medical interventions and shorter hospital stays.

The province is also expanding midwives’ scope of practice to allow them to prescribe more medications, Elliott said.

Elliott said this change will make better use of midwives’ training, and reduce patient wait times for medication and therapies.

Where the money goes

The funding will support up to 90 new midwifery graduates as they enter the field, increase access to culturally-appropriate midwifery care by expanding Indigenous midwifery programs and help midwives update the technology in their clinics, Elliott said.

Elliott said in a release the additional funding will mean more families “will be able to access quality care from a midwife during pregnancy, labour and birth, as well as six weeks of support once their baby is born.”

In Waterloo region, it will mean an additional $ 1.2 million this year for local midwives. The announcement also included continued funding for a pilot program for midwifery care at Mount Sinai Academic Family Health Team, in Toronto. 

Elliott said that the $ 28 million announcement means the Ontario government provided $ 178 million for midwifery care in the province this year, which helped 35,000 families.

Janessa Otto is a registered midwife at St. Jacobs Midwives. She said in the release she hears from families that “they value and depend on our services.”

She said she hoped the funding announced “will allow greater access to midwifery care in our region.”

Need more investment, says association

The Association of Ontario Midwives applauded the funding expansion in a news release, calling it a “critical” step in improving access to midwifery, and noting that four in 10 people who require midwifery services are turned away because of a provider shortage.

“However, investments must also extend to providers to ensure fairness and sustainability,” the release said, noting that recent provincial cuts to the College of Midwives have resulted in greater fees being shouldered by front-line care providers.

In the fall of 2018, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care said it would no longer provide operational grants to the college. 

In response to questions Monday about this funding cut, Elliott said the College of Midwives of Ontario had been the only college receiving ministry funding, and that the change was made to bring it in line with other colleges.

She said the college had received $ 400,000 in temporary bridge funding to account for the change.

“We’ve had conversations with the College of Midwives, and they’ve indicated they already have a plan going forward so their existence is not threatened in any way,” she said.

Midwives’ association president Elizabeth Brandeis also pointed to a ruling last year by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, which determined that the government had discriminated against midwives based on gender.

Brandeis said she wants to see midwives’ pay brought into a comparable range with that of salaried family physicians and nurse practitioners. 

“As long as midwives are undervalued for the work that we do, we won’t be able to continue a sustainable profession that is very challenging on the provider,” she said.

“We need appropriate compensation in order to have the supports in our lives to do that work.”

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Trudeau pledges more funding for reproductive health services worldwide

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made several not-too-subtle references to the American president Tuesday as he pledged to gradually increase international aid for women’s health to $ 1.4 billion annually, with half dedicated to ensuring women have access to safe abortions and reproductive-health services worldwide.

Canada will increase funding for women’s health services worldwide from the current $ 1.1 billion to $ 1.4 billion by 2023.

The increase includes raising to $ 700 million from $ 400 million the amount dedicated to sexual and reproductive health.

Trudeau made the announcement at a major global conference on gender equality in Vancouver, saying Canada is stepping up with money where other countries have retreated.

“While other countries are stepping back on their investments and playing politics with it, Canada is stepping up,” he said.

In March, U.S. President Donald Trump expanded his government’s ban on funding for any organizations that perform abortion services, referrals or advocacy related to abortion — a policy known as the “global gag rule” that his predecessor, Barack Obama, repealed.

Since then, Trump has twice expanded the policy, most recently to include non-governmental organizations that fund or support other groups that provide or discuss abortion.

Trudeau has been vocal in criticizing what he called a “backsliding” on women’s rights in some American states that are severely restricting or outright banning abortion. Alabama’s state legislature passed a law last month banning virtually all abortions, but the rules don’t take effect until November. Other southern and Midwest states are poised to make similar moves.

Trudeau said he would “always be unequivocal about defending a woman’s right to choose.”

Canada takes global lead

The funding is part of Canada’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — a United Nations-led, 15-year global framework that sets a number of targets aimed at eliminating poverty and hunger while also increasing access to better employment, education and health care worldwide, with a special focus on gender equality and the environment.

“We understand that investing in maternal newborn and child health and in reproductive health rights and services are essential to moving forward in a holistic way that respects women and empowers them to build a better future for themselves, their kids, their family, their community,” Trudeau told the Women Deliver conference.

A number of advocacy organizations dedicated to advancing equality rights for women and children applauded the funding increase.

Marlen Mondaca, chief programs policy officer for Save the Children Canada said the commitment will improve health outcomes around the world. She said the money will also help ensure countries don’t fall short of the UN goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls by 2030

“We are in a critical time where we are seeing rollbacks on women’s and girls’ health rights around the globe,” Mondaca said.

“Now, more than ever, we need global leaders like Canada to promote health equity for girls and women, including in times of crisis and conflict, where needs are particularly acute.”

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