daily: Friday, June 28

Ontario’s top-billing doctors, a carbon tax decision, and a look back at the Treaty of Versailles
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on June 28, 2019
Canadian embassy in Cuba
File photo of the Canadian embassy in Cuba (Desmond Boylan/AP/CP)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

Toronto Star reveals Ontario’s top-billing doctors

A Mississauga eye specialist has billed OHIP for $42 million since 2011. A GTA neurosurgeon who has been sued for malpractice in the U.S. at least 12 times raked in $4.6 million from OHIP from 2017 to 2018. Those are just two of the doctors profiled in a Toronto Star investigation into physician billings in Ontario. The newspaper waged a five-year battle just to get the information: the Ontario Medical Association took the Star all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to try to prevent it from publishing the data. In April, the court sided with the newspaper. Billings, however, are not the doctors’ take-home pay and don’t take into account overhead expenses such as staffing, equipment, and rent.

Tory nepotism controversy keeps rolling along

iPolitics reports that Etobicoke Centre MPP Kinga Surma’s father snagged a government job shortly after the Tories took power last year. Miroslaw Surma, whom several sources confirmed is Surma’s dad, is listed in the government’s directory as a policy adviser to the minister of economic development.

Stories about family and friends of senior Progressive Conservative officials getting taxpayer-funded jobs are starting to overwhelm the Ford government’s agenda. On Thursday, Minister of Government and Consumer Services Lisa Thompson got no questions about a digital and data task force she was unveiling; instead, reporters peppered her with questions about the patronage scandal

Carbon tax decision expected today

At noon, Ontario’s Court of Appeal will release its decision on the constitutionality of the federal carbon tax. On May 3, Saskatchewan’s Court of Appeal ruled the tax constitutional in a 3-2 decision. Regardless of what the Ontario court decides, the Supreme Court of Canada will likely have the final say: it’s scheduled to hear an appeal of the Saskatchewan case in December.

Ontario francophones still hope for French-language university

The Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario says it’s “heartened” that the province has sent a letter to the federal government asking to discuss co-funding a new French-language university in Ontario. While institutions such as the University of Ottawa and Laurentian University offer French-language programs, a stand-alone French university has long been a dream of the province’s francophone community. NDP critic for francophone affairs Guy Bourgouin warned Premier Doug Ford “not to play political games” with the university issue. “We will not allow Ford to make pre-election promises, using the university to help his party during the federal election, only to disappoint everyone again after the election,” he said in a statement.

What we're tracking

The Agenda in the Summer kicks off on Monday with Nam Kiwanuka at the helm, and from the federal election to historical fiction, this season has it all. “This summer I read a record 27 books, including ones by Barry Callaghan, Esi Edugyan, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead,” says Kiwanuka. Among her favourites? “A book that should immediately be made into a movie is The Perfect Predator, the story of a scientist who sets out to save her physician husband after he contracts a deadly superbug while on vacation. It’s a book that you can’t put down.”

Watch now

The Agenda: Canadian-Cuban diplomacy

Canada's relationship with Cuba has been strong for decades, as cultural exchanges, tourism, and business investment built a special bond between our two countries. But all that began to change in 2017, when U.S. embassy staff began experiencing health issues due to what the Americans believed were sonic attacks by the Cubans. Eventually, diplomats at the Canadian embassy also began raising concerns, resulting in Ottawa pulling out half of its staff. Laura Macdonald, a Carleton University political science professor, joins The Agenda to discuss the issue.


In 2014, ISIS destroyed the Yazidi city of Shingal in northern Iraq, murdering thousands of men and enslaving more than 3,000 women and girls. Through the eyes of an older man, a teenage boy, and a family, this documentary profiles the perseverance of family bonds against a backdrop of genocide, sexual slavery, and forced exile. Yazidi refugees search for the kidnapped women and dream of returning home to Shingal, which has been reduced to rubble.

Read now

What ER visits for self-harm reveal about Ontario’s mental-health system

As anxiety and depression rates rise among Canadian youth, the number of patients showing up in emergency rooms for self-harm injuries indicates a need to improve the mental health care system. As journalist Brianna Sharpe notes, self-harm visits to the ER in Ontario more than doubled between 2009 and 2017. “Both sexes experienced an increase, but female visits rose at a rate almost five times faster than that of males,” she writes. “Experts say that the findings highlight flaws in the province’s mental-health system — and that change is needed if it is to meet the needs of youth with mental-health issues.”

Tonight on TVO

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Versailles, 100 years later

On June 28, 1919, the world’s leaders came together in the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, one of the world’s most opulent locales, to close the book on the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles has since been considered a massive failure, with Europe leading the world into another war just 20 years later. With the help of author Tim Cook, The Agenda looks at this historic treaty to examine what went wrong, what worked, and why it’s more relevant than ever.

From the archive

July 9, 1999 — Earth views

And now, your moment of Zen. In this archival segment of The Apollo Years, spectacular views of Earth  from space are accompanied by Bach concertos and inspirational quotes such as David Bowie’s “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do,” and some Bugs Bunny wisdom: “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.”

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