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Fears for workers excluded from government’s furlough scheme – Channel 4 News



17 Apr 2020

The Government has today extended its multi-billion pound support scheme to pay an 80 per cent wage subsidy to firms forced to furlough their staff during the crisis.

Now the Government has today extended its multi-billion pound support scheme to pay an 80 per cent wage subsidy to firms forced to furlough their staff during the crisis. It will now run until the end of June.

But there are gaps – hundreds of thousands of workers who were about to start a new job were not eligible. After pressure from campaign groups, the government this week extended that cut off date. But experts say huge numbers of workers are still excluded.



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Here are the government’s biggest failures in the coronavirus response



WASHINGTON — We’ve seen the U.S. government fail several times over the last 20 years – the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, the debt-ceiling debacle, the government shutdowns.

But history will likely be most unkind of all to the federal government’s initial response to the novel coronavirus over the last two months.

Let’s count the ways the whole federal government has failed to date, starting at the very top.

1. President Trump at first downplayed the coronavirus, and then he later sent mixed messages about it.

2. Trump and his administration saw the virus – and initially reacted to it – primarily as an immigration/travel/border issuerather than a health one.

3. Trump consistently attacked critical Democrats (like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and most recently Sen. Chuck Schumer), while he singled out Republicans for praise.

4. The administration didn’t heed classified warnings from the intelligence community — back in January and February — about the dangers the coronavirus posed for the global community.

5. The administration, in 2018, disbanded its National Security Council pandemic team.

6. The administration eliminated a CDC job dedicated to detecting outbreaks in China.

7. The Department of Homeland Security, which plays a vital role in responding to disasters, remains staffed with an acting secretary, an acting chief of staff, an acting general counsel and a vacancy at deputy secretary.

8. The Centers for Disease Control’s initial coronavirus test failed, resulting in a lost month to combat the virus.

9. The Food and Drug Administration’s requirements stymied university labs from conducting tests

10. The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is nearly depleted.

And in just the past day, we learned…

11. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, who is helping to lead the effort to replenish supplies of personal protective equipment, admitted that the administration is delivering products it acquires to medical supply companies – rather than delivering them directly to the hospitals in need, per NBC’s Geoff Bennett. (Bottom line: The federal government is not taking over the supply chain.)

12. The U.S. Navy relieved the captain who sounded the alarm about an outbreak of COVID-19 aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

13. The Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told Congress that the projected demand for ventilators required for coronavirus-stricken patients “outstrips the capacity” of the Strategic National Stockpile.

14. And as NBC News has reported, it wasn’t until Thursday night that banks received their 31 pages of guidance from the Treasury Department on how to lend the money in the $350 billion small-business relief program — and some banks haven’t even decided whether they can participate on the opening day.

Many of these failures — see the Top 4 on this list — can be traced directly to the president, but the rest have so many other fingerprints on them.

How many of those failures were due to poor leadership at the very top? How many were systemic? A combination of the two?

Americans 40 years and older have seen this country’s government do big things — go to the moon, expand civil rights, end the Cold War, help build the internet, combat AIDS.

But if you’re in your 20s or 30s, you’ve mostly seen the government fail again and again.

And the government’s response to the coronavirus – just two months into the crisis — is the biggest failure of all.

Tweet of the day

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

245,135: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,907 more than yesterday morning.)

5,916: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 1,082 more than yesterday morning).

1.29 million: The number of coronavirus TESTS that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

701,000: That’s the number of jobs the U.S. economy lost in March, according to the Labor Department’s latest report.

3.5 million: The number of Americans who have likely lost employer-based health insurance, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute.

75: The number of inmates at facilities run by the Bureau of Prisons who have tested positive for the virus

31: The number of pages of guidance that lenders received last night from the Treasury Department on how to administer small business aid, leading some to say they aren’t ready to start accepting applications

Nearly half: The number of states that currently lack funds to pay out unemployment claims.

About 13 percent: A guess at the current unemployment rate, according to one new estimate.

Another week and a half: How long it will take the first Americans to start receiving stimulus checks, which are now expected to start rolling out the week of April 13.

Democrats postpone their convention to August. What else will they change?

“The Democratic National Committee is postponing its summer convention in Milwaukee over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic,” per NBC News.

More: “The four-day convention, set to take place in Milwaukee beginning July 13, will now take place the week of August 17.”

Our question: What ELSE might Democratic convention planners change? Will there be an arena of packed delegates? Or will it be held virtually?

2020 Vision: Judge keeps Wisconsin’s election on track for April 7 — but with some changes

“A federal judge Thursday kept next week’s presidential primary on track but allowed more time to count absentee ballots after excoriating Wisconsin officials for not doing more to protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.

“The ruling — which was immediately appealed — will allow absentee ballots to be counted if they arrive by April 13, six days after election day. U.S. District Judge William Conley also gave people until Friday to request absentee ballots and loosened a rule requiring absentee voters to get the signature of a witness.”

Ad watch from NBC’s Ben Kamisar

Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is up with a new ad playing up his role in the congressional coronavirus response, employing a strategy to similar other incumbents who are leaning on their official work to prove to their constituents that they deserve to stay in office.

But Daines has to contend with a dynamic that many incumbents facing reelection do not — his opponent, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, is at the helm of the state’s closely-watched response.

And while Bullock certainly faces political pressure to deliver (to say nothing about the more important issue of doing right by his state during a pivotal time), governors often see their favorability rating skyrocket during crises, as long as their constituents believe they’re responding well.

So with Daines’ campaign having already booked more than $100,000 in broadcast time through the end of the month, according to Advertising Analytics, Montanans may be seeing a lot more of that message —centered on Daines’ push for things like paid leave, financial relief and expanding testing — as the nation continues to confront the virus, and as Democrats have hit him on health care in their own ads.

Oversight this

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday the creation of a House Select Committee on the coronavirus crisis chaired by Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn. According to Pelosi, the panel will provide oversight on the coronavirus relief legislation and it will have subpoena.

“It would have subpoena power that’s for sure, it is no use having a committee unless you have subpoena power. We would hope that there would be cooperation because this is not an investigation of the administration – it is about the whole – there are things that are so new and the rest and we want to make sure there are not exploiters out there,” Pelosi said on Thursday.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded to the committee creation saying that he thinks it isn’t the time to create new committees.

“I have a couple of concerns about this. One who she is naming: Clyburn is concerning to me because Congressman Clyburn is the one who thought this crisis was an opportune time to restructure government. That’s not what we should be doing. We should be taking care of the American public keeping our economy strong and moving forward. The other concern that I have the standpoint is inside the bills that we passed we did put in oversight and this seems really redundant,” McCarthy said.

The Lid: What’s up, Wisconsin?

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we explained the big controversy over Wisconsin’s not-budging primary date.

ICYMI: What ELSE is happening in the world

Politico reports on how Bernie Sanders’ fortunes have been reversed in Wisconsin.

Jonathan Allen looks at how Joe Biden is avoiding a bombastic approach in attacking Trump during the crisis.

A Senate committee’s probe into Hunter Biden is still moving forward.

Problems with Florida’s unemployment system are making Republicans jittery about Trump’s ability to hold the state in November.

The New York Times talks to congressional candidates who don’t have health insurance.



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The government’s reasoning for social distancing – Channel 4 News



16 Mar 2020

Our health and social care correspondent was at today’s briefing at Number 10, where the Prime Minister told people they should stop all non-essential contact and travel to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Our health and social care correspondent was at today’s briefing at Number 10, where the Prime Minister told people they should stop all non-essential contact and travel to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.



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Court rejects federal government’s bid to put Indigenous child welfare ruling on hold


OTTAWA — The Federal Court has rejected a request from Ottawa to press pause on a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering compensation for First Nations children who were unnecessarily removed from their families and communities due to underfunding of the on-reserve child welfare system.

The decision means the federal government will have to submit a plan to the tribunal by Jan. 29, 2020 detailing how compensation could be paid out. However, Ottawa will continue to fight the tribunal’s ruling in court, arguing there are flaws in its decision.

The government maintains it does want to compensate First Nations children who suffered due to underfunding of child and family services. On Monday, federal ministers announced Ottawa is looking to negotiate compensation through a separate class-action lawsuit that would cover a larger number of people than the tribunal ruling.

“Nothing changes our strong belief that we must compensate First Nations children harmed by past government policies,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller’s office told the National Post in a statement on Friday. “We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation for First Nations children in care.”

The case concerns a human rights complaint initially filed in 2007 by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations. In September, the tribunal found the government wilfully and recklessly discriminated against First Nations children by underfunding child and family services on reserve and in the Yukon, which created an incentive to remove Indigenous children from their homes and communities. It found each child who was unnecessarily taken into care starting on Jan. 1, 2006 is entitled to $40,000 in compensation.

It also ruled the government should pay compensation to parents and grandparents and to Indigenous children who were denied essential services covered under Jordan’s principle, which states that the needs of First Nations children should take precedence over jurisdictional disputes about who should pay for them.

The government filed a legal challenge of the decision in October, and also asked the Federal Court to stay the ruling pending the outcome of that judicial review.

We will continue to seek a solution that will provide comprehensive, fair and equitable compensation

A hearing on the motion to stay was held in Ottawa earlier this week. On Friday, Federal Court Justice Paul Favel denied Ottawa’s request to put the process on hold, finding there would be no harm in the government discussing a compensation plan with the other parties. He pointed out that Canada doesn’t yet have to pay out compensation — it just has to make a plan.

“I’m pleased with it, because it allows the tribunal to continue with its work on the compensation process, so that’s the most important thing,” said Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the Caring Society, in an interview.

She said the decision brings First Nations children one step closer to receiving compensation, but added that Canada continues to throw up roadblocks. “Are they going to stop fighting and do the right thing for kids, or are they going to continue to fight?” she said. “In which case, we will meet them in every courtroom.”

The tribunal originally ordered the parties to submit a compensation plan by Dec. 10, but this week pushed that deadline back to Jan. 29. In a letter on Wednesday, the tribunal wrote that the approaching deadline and Canada’s refusal to enter into discussions left it feeling “cornered.” There is no set date when Ottawa would have to start paying compensation.


Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society.

Codie McLachlan/Postmedia/File

During the hearing on Monday, a Justice Department lawyer argued the tribunal’s decision was flawed in part because it ordered the government to pay each child the same amount — the maximum $40,000 in compensation the tribunal is allowed to award. Robert Frater argued the decision took a “one-size-fits-all” approach that didn’t make distinctions “based on harms actually experienced.” He estimated the ruling would require payment of at least $5 or $6 billion.

Frater also argued the decision forces Canada to “take a piecemeal approach to settling,” because the ruling only affects Indigenous people who were involved in the child welfare system since 2006.

In contrast, the class-action lawsuit the government wants to settle covers children affected by the underfunding of child and family services dating back to 1991, but not their parents.

However, the Caring Society argues the children covered by the tribunal ruling shouldn’t have to wait longer simply because others also suffered. “If we wait for perfection, we’ll be back here again and again and again and again, and we’ll never have a solution,” said Barbara McIsaac, a lawyer for the Caring Society, during Monday’s hearing.

The Caring Society had sought to have the judicial review put on hold until the tribunal has issued another order with details about the compensation process. But Favel denied that motion as well, meaning both the tribunal process and the legal challenge seeking to have it overturned will proceed simultaneously.

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