By JIM FOX
Tax to improve Medicare unlikely
The Canadian government has essentially decided against imposing a dedicated health-care tax in order to improve Medicare.
Finance Minister John Manley said Canadians wouldn't likely trust the government to use such a tax to improve the health system, so money will have to be found in existing budgets.
"What I hear from people is, 'We pay enough and if you've got to save health care, then stop paying on something else, please"' Manley said.
A Senate committee recommended that a dedicated health tax be used to inject $5-billion into the health care system annually.
The government wants to wait to see recommendations late this month from the royal commission on the future of Medicare.
Money is a concern for Manley as he prepares a budget that will likely show a surplus of only about $1-billion, with $3-billion set aside in a contingency reserve -- much lower than anticipated.
Chretien commits to Iraq
Canada is willing to commit troops, ships and planes to a U.S.-led coalition force in Iraq if an attack is necessary, Prime Minister Jean Chretien says.
The United States has asked Canada to contribute to a combat force in the Mideast, where Canadian troops are involved, he said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said Canada is discussing the issue of military cooperation with the United States and no decisions have been made.
-- Four doctors, the Canadian Red Cross and U.S. pharmaceutical company Armour face charges, including criminal negligence, in the tainted-blood scandal of the 1980s. Thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV and hepatitis C. A five-year investigation recently ended, and Mounties say more charges are possible.
-- A government committee is reviewing Commons security after a protester crashed a ceremony involving Chretien and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. A man swept past security officers and waved a small U.S. flag behind Mulroney to protest his political ties with America. Mulroney's official portrait was being unveiled.
-- Statistics Canada reports young people are abandoning farms. Only 11.5 percent of Canada's farmers are younger than 35, about half the figure of a decade ago, with more than a third older than 55. The number of farmers is 346,200.
Facts and figures
There is little change in the value of Canada's dollar at 63.15 U.S. cents while a U.S. dollar returns $1.5835 Canadian before bank exchange fees.
The Bank of Canada key interest rate is unchanged at 2.75 percent as is the prime lending rate of 4.5 percent.
Canadian stock exchanges are lower, with the Toronto index at 6,449 points while the Canadian Venture Exchange is 943 points.
Lotto 6-49: (Nov. 16) 20, 24, 26, 27, 33 and 41; bonus 8.
-- Robert Pickton, accused of killing 15 women who disappeared from Vancouver's eastside since 1978, will appear in a British Columbia court Dec. 2 for a preliminary hearing.
-- The Canadian government is considering ending most of the remaining Atlantic cod fishery because of the decline in fish stocks. The government has no plans for special compensation for thousands of workers, sources say.
-- New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord is promising a balanced budget and tax incentives for small businesses. The Conservative government said a taxpayer protection act will be introduced and that an election is expected next summer or fall.
-- Vancouver residents elected former British Columbia coroner Larry Campbell, 54, mayor of Canada's third-largest city. Observers say the left-leaning municipal government's ambitious social agenda will run up against the provincial Liberal's restraint philosophy.
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From the Times wire desk
From the AP