In the news today, Feb. 27

Seven stories in the news for Tuesday, Feb. 27

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GENDER EQUALITY LIKELY TO BE KEY THEME IN BUDGET

Gender equality and the birth of a national pharmacare plan are expected to be key elements of today's federal budget. One thing Finance Minister Bill Morneau's spending plan is not expected is balanced books, nor a revised timeline for erasing the deficit. The budget is instead expected to include investments in scientific research, conservation and child welfare and housing for Indigenous communities.

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EX-ONTARIO HEALTH MINISTER TO LEAD PHARMACARE EFFORT

Sources say today's federal budget will set up an advisory group to work on a national pharmacare program with former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins at the helm. Hoskins quit both his cabinet position and his seat in the legislature yesterday, saying he was leaving "to continue building better health care for all Canadians." The parliamentary budget watchdog calculated last fall that a national pharmacare program could cut the overall price tag for drugs in this country by more than $4 billion annually.

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BROWN ABANDONS ONTARIO PC LEADERSHIP BID

Patrick Brown has abandoned his bid to lead Ontario's Progressive Conservatives. He says the leadership race had taken a toll on his family and distracted from the party's ultimate goal of beating the Liberals in the June election. Brown's short-lived leadership campaign, which was triggered by his resignation as party leader last month amid sexual misconduct allegations. The party will name a new leader from among Christine Elliott, Caroline Mulroney, Doug Ford and Tanya Granic Allen on March 10.

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TINA FONTAINE REPORT TO BE RELEASED

The Manitoba government has committed to releasing a report into how child welfare workers dealt with Tina Fontaine before the teenager disappeared, died and was dumped in the Red River. Current law forbids the provincial children's advocate from publicly releasing special investigation reviews into child deaths, but Families Minister Scott Fielding's office says that will be changed very soon. The man accused of killing Tina, Raymond Cormier, was found not guilty last week.

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HUDSON BAY SUMMIT TODAY IN MONTREAL

Officials from 27 communities that ring Hudson Bay meet today in Montreal to discuss climate change and the impact of development. Scientist Joel Heath, who helped organize the conference, says the vast region could be affected by a series of major industrial plans currently in the pipeline. Area residents say new developments combined with climate change are altering the sea ice they depend on for hunting and travel.

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WINNERS OF BIG LOTTERY WIN COULD BE KNOWN THIS WEEK

We'll soon know exactly how many small-town Newfoundlanders have become instant millionaires with a history-making Lotto Max jackpot. The massive $60 million windfall is expected to inject big money into multiple rural Conception Bay-area communities about an hour's drive from St. John's. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation says an official announcement will likely happen later this week.

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CHEERS, FLAGS GREET RETURNING OLYMPIANS

Hundreds of fans filled the arrival sections at airports Monday to cheer the return of Canadian Olympians and their record number of medals. In London, Ont., fans sang the national anthem and wave Canadian flags to welcome champion ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Virtue aid they have yet to come down from Cloud 9 after the performances in Pyeongchang. Cheering crowds also greeted returning athletes in Vancouver and Montreal.

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ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:

— Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer will respond to he federal budget on Parliament Hill.

— The seventh round of the NAFTA renegotiations are being held in Mexico City through March 5.

— The Nova Scotia legislature resumes sitting.

— The new leader of the Alberta Party will be announced in Edmonton.

— Liberal Ben Stewart will be sworn in as B.C.'s newest MLA.

— Two banks — BMO and Scotiabank — will release their first-quarter results.

— Details about a November expedition to the South Pole using the first hybrid vehicle will be announced in Edmonton.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved. 2018

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