News stories from the Star you should know about on Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Good morning. This is the Tuesday, May 9 edition of First Up, the Star’s daily morning digest. Sign up to get it earlier each day, in your inbox.

Here’s the latest on Ottawa’s national security efforts, a new Ontario health care law and online sales of sodium nitrite.


Canada is set to name foreign labs and universities that pose a risk to national security

The federal government is in the “advanced stages” of creating a list of entities that threaten national security, the Star has learned. According to documents reviewed by the Star, the list will include foreign-state-connected universities, research institutes and laboratories believed to be at “higher risk” of engaging in theft, unwanted knowledge transfers and interference in research. As Ottawa works on a policy to clarify where research collaborations with the entities would be ineligible for federal grants, top universities say they are prepared to avoid partnerships with the bodies. Joanna Chiu reports on how the move to protect Canada’s research could result in a loss of $100 million or more in annual funding.

  • Context: “Politicians in the US are starting to have these conversations, but Canada can rightfully say they’re leading the way,” said Jeffrey Stoff, a former US government analyst on technology protection and founder of the non-profit Center for Research Security & Integrity .
  • more: Numerous sources with knowledge of the government effort estimate the final list will include more than 50 entities with connections to China, Russia, North Korea and Iran. Many leading universities told the Star that they will work to strike a balance in their approach to avoid “profiling” researchers from certain countries.

Doug Ford’s government has passed a law to allow more surgeries in private clinics

In a move meant to ease surgery wait times, Ontario has passed a law to allow more publicly funded procedures to be performed in private clinics, reports Rob Ferguson. Critics, however, say the law will sabotage health care. The Ontario Nurses’ Association and other health-care unions warned that private clinics granted licenses to perform OHIP-covered surgeries could poach medical professionals from hospitals already struggling with staff shortages and making it even harder for the public hospital system to care for patients. Here’s what you need to know.

  • By the numbers: Under the legislation, approximately 14,000 more Ontarians will get cataract surgeries this year instead of waiting in the post-pandemic backlog, said Progressive Conservative MPP Robin Martin.
  • More numbers: There are already more than 800 private clinics in Ontario that provide cataract care and other OHIP-covered procedures such as diagnostic imaging.
  • Watch for: The government will begin taking applications for clinics this summer, and will decide which ones to license depending on local needs. Hip and knee replacement surgeries could be done in private clinics as early as 2024.

Families of suicide victims are targeting the online sale of a toxic chemical

In small quantities, sodium nitrite is used as a preservative salt in deli-meat preparations; but in larger, purer concentrations, it’s lethal. Last week, Peel police charged a man for allegedly selling the compound used by two Mississauga residents to end their own lives, Jason Miller and Omar Mosleh report. And researchers in Canada, the US and the UK have warned about a recent rise in suicides involving the substance. Now, parents of victims in the US and UK are calling on major online retailers to pull the substance from their shelves. Here’s what we know about the investigation and the action being taken by affected families.

  • On the home front: Peel police say their investigation now involves 1,200 packages allegedly sent to 40 countries.
  • more: If you are thinking of suicide or know someone who is, there is help. Resources are available online at or you can connect to the national suicide prevention helpline at 1-833-456-4566, or the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868


Conservative MP Michael Chong rises during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.


Natasha Stoynoff walks outside federal court in New York.

This Canadian woman might take down Donald Trump.


A man sunbathes on a hot spring day in Madrid in April.

MADRID: A man sunbathes on April 18 in drought-stricken Spain. Last month was the hottest and driest April since records began in 1961, the country says. International scientists found the temperatures were made 100 times more likely by human-caused climate change.

Thank you for reading FirstUp. You can reach me and the First Up team at [email protected]

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