The ombudsman's report and CRA cyberattack: In The News for Aug. 17 - InfoNews

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The ombudsman's report and CRA cyberattack: In The News for Aug. 17

The Canadian flag is seen as a veteran salutes during a ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of V-J Day and the end of the Second World War, in Ottawa, on Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
August 17, 2020 - 1:38 AM

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 Aug. 17.

What we are watching in Canada ...

OTTAWA — A new report commissioned by Canada's veterans' ombudsman's office says the watchdog's current limited authority and lack of independence from the government is hindering its ability to help those who have served in uniform.

The independent analysis represents the first real assessment of the ombudsman's office since it was created in 2007, at which point it was billed as a place that disabled veterans could turn if they felt the federal government was treating them unfairly.

The analysis by Ottawa-based management firm Goss Gilroy Inc. found the watchdog's office has made a difference when it comes to some systemic issues affecting Canada's veterans such as inadequate financial support for some segments of the community.

However, it also found that federally mandated limits on the ombudsman's ability to investigate individual complaints posed a significant barrier to its ability to help many veterans in need.

And it noted widespread questions and concerns about the office's independence given that the office reports to the minister of veterans affairs rather than Parliament.

Veterans Affairs Canada says it will conduct its own assessment over the coming months to determine how the office can be improved.


Also this ...

HALIFAX — More than a year after a federal report became public revealing that police erased and suppressed evidence that might have freed him, Glen Assoun is wondering whether anyone will be held accountable for his wrongful imprisonment.

"It affects me in that the governments just don't care," he said last week in a phone interview from his Halifax apartment. "They have no feelings about what happened to me."

Assoun, now 64, spent almost 17 years in prison on a murder charge and five more years under strict parole conditions before a court declared his innocence in March 2019. He says he's suffering from mental illness and heart disease as a result of his years in prison.

And he is not alone in questioning who will answer for the actions that upended his life.

Ian Scott, the former head of the unit that investigates police misconduct in Ontario, backs Assoun's view that both a criminal investigation and public inquiry are warranted, saying his case fits a pattern of poor Canadian police accountability for wrongful convictions.


ICYMI (in case you missed it) ...

OTTAWA — The Canada Revenue Agency has temporarily suspended its online services after two cyberattacks in which hackers used thousands of stolen usernames and passwords to fraudulently obtain government services and compromise Canadians' personal information.

A total of 5,500 CRA accounts were targeted in what the federal government described as two "credential stuffing" schemes, in which hackers use passwords and usernames from other websites to access Canadians' accounts with the revenue agency.

The decision to suspend CRA's online services comes at a time when many Canadians and businesses have been using the revenue agency's website to apply for and access financial support related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is hoping to reinstate online access for businesses today, according to a senior government official. That is when companies struggling due to the pandemic can start to apply for the latest round of federal wage subsidies.

It wasn't immediately clear what impact the suspension of services will have in terms of other federal benefits, however, including the Canada Child Benefit and Canada Emergency Response Benefit for those affected by COVID-19.


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

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is calling the House back into session this week to vote on a bill prohibiting the U.S. Postal Service from implementing any changes to operations or level of service.

The action comes amid growing concerns that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency during the coronavirus pandemic while states expand mail-in voting options.

A senior Democratic aide tells The Associated Press that House Democrats are likely to discuss the schedule on a conference call today and are expected to be in session next Saturday.


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

TOKYO — Government data show that Japan’s economy contracted at a annual rate of 27.8 per ent in April-June, the worst downturn on record, as the coronavirus pandemic slammed consumption and trade.

The Cabinet Office reported today that Japan’s preliminary seasonally adjusted real GDP, the sum of a nation’s goods and services, fell 7.8 per cent quarter on quarter.

The annual rate shows what the number would have been if continued for a year.

Japanese media reported the drop was the worst for the nation since the Second World War.


Also this...

ROME — Cruise ship passengers had temperatures checked and took COVID-19 tests Sunday so they could set sail on what is being billed as the first Mediterranean cruise after Italy's pandemic lockdown.

The cruise ship company MSC has made the procedures, for crew as well as passengers, part of its new health and safety protocols.

The MSC Grandiosa departed from the port of Genoa on Sunday evening for a seven-night cruise.

Earlier this month, the Italian government gave its approval for cruise ships to depart from Italian ports.

The cruise around the western Mediterranean was limited to 70 per cent capacity but MSC declined to say how many passengers were on board.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 17, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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