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In the news today: Details of new federal dental insurance plan to be released today

Dental instruments are shown in Oakville, Ont., Wednesday, April 5, 2023. Several government ministers are expected to launch today a new federal dental insurance plan that will provide benefits directly to eligible Canadian residents, though the first claims won't be processed until May. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Staff

Here is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to bring you up to speed on what you need to know today...

Federal government to announce dental-care plan

Several government ministers are expected to launch today a new federal dental insurance plan that will provide benefits directly to eligible Canadian residents, though the first claims won't be processed until May.

Government officials say the new program will be phased in slowly over 2024.

The officials provided a briefing to The Canadian Press ahead of today's announcement on the condition they not be named.

The insurance plan is a key pillar of the Liberals' supply-and-confidence deal with the New Democrats to secure the opposition party's support on key votes.

Israel battles militants in Gaza's main cities

Israeli forces were battling Palestinian militants in Gaza's two largest cities on Monday with civilians still sheltering along the front lines even after massive waves of displacement across the besieged territory.

Israel has pledged to keep fighting until it removes Hamas from power, dismantles its military capabilities and returns all of the scores of hostages still held by Palestinian militants after their Oct. 7 surprise attack into Israel, which ignited the war.

The U.S. has provided unwavering diplomatic and crucial military support for the campaign even as it has urged Israel to minimize civilian casualties and further mass displacement.

Here's what else we're watching ...

Quebec nurses, health staff launch four-day strike

About 80,000 unionized Quebec nurses and other health-care workers will be joining fellow public sector workers already on strike since last week.

The health workers are members of the FIQ, who will begin a four-day strike today, joining workers from four unions representing 420,000 Quebec public sector workers who began a weeklong strike on Friday.

Those workers include teachers, education support staff and lab technicians and are members of a group of four unions that calls itself the "common front.''

Calls for forestry changes after 2023 N.S. fires

As he stands near a Nova Scotia forest with soaring 150-year-old trees, Mike Lancaster sees a natural, long-term solution to the threat wildfires pose to city dwellers.

The director of the St. Margaret's Bay Stewardship Association says much of the 1,000 hectares that ignited in May — destroying 151 homes and businesses in Halifax's western suburbs — was young, dense, coniferous woodland that had grown after decades of intensive logging.

Pointing to the canopy of older-growth trees just three kilometres from lands scarred by wildfire, Lancaster describes how the space between the trees, the mixture of species and the higher branches decrease flammability.

Group opposes destroying Robert Pickton evidence

Advocates and families of victims who were murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton say they are opposed to recent applications filed by the B.C. RCMP to destroy or return thousands of pieces of evidence seized during the police investigation.

Pickton, who was a pig farmer, was found guilty in 2007 on six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of women who disappeared from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Ranchers seek funding for grasslands preservation

Fed up with taking heat for their industry's carbon footprint, Canadian ranchers say it's time for government to step up and fund a solution that will reduce emissions while also preserving one of earth's most threatened ecosystems.

The beef industry is casting itself as one of the last lines of defence in protecting Canada's native grasslands — the rippling expanse of natural prairie that once covered a significant swath of the western provinces but which has been largely lost over the past century to crop farming and urban development.

Ecologists say only 18 to 25 per cent of Canada's natural grasslands remain. Much of that land is owned or managed by livestock producers, who use it to graze cattle.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 11, 2023.

-- with files from the Associated Press

The Canadian Press

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