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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada


The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):

8:00 p.m.

Global Affairs Canada says the first in a series of Air Canada flights to bring Canadians home from Peru departed Lima today, with others planned for later this week.

The government says an additional flight from Morocco is being planned as well as previously announced flights from Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Tunisia and Ukraine.

It says it is prioritizing its assistance to airlines in locations where there is greatest need, factoring in lack of local air service or local restrictions on travel.

The government says in the past week WestJet, Air Transat and Sunwing have brought home tens of thousands of Canadians from around the world, with more flights on the way.

To date, 93 loans have been approved through the Emergency Loan Program, totalling $170,000, with 80 loan applications pending.


6:25 p.m.

British Columbia is reporting an additional 145 cases of COVID-19 over the past 48 hours, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 617.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says 78 people were diagnosed with the disease in a 24-hour period that ended this afternoon, and 67 tested positive in the 24-hour period before that.

Henry says 59 people are being treated in hospital, including 23 people who are in intensive care.

The number of cases where people have fully recovered stands at 173, or 28 per cent of those who have had the novel coronavirus.

Henry says the province has also cleared a backlog of cases in its testing system.


6:10 p.m.

Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says there are four cases of community transmission of COVID-19.

Dr. Saqib Shahab says these are cases without a clear exposure history.

He says one case is around Regina, two are from the Saskatoon area and the last is from central Saskatchewan.

Shahab also announced six new cases in the province bringing the current total to 72.


5:45 p.m.

Alberta says a second person in the province has died of COVID-19.

The woman was a resident at a long-term care centre in Calgary, where two other residents and a staff member have also tested positive for the virus.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical health officer, says 11 other residents at the facility are also showing symptoms.

The province reported 57 new cases today, bringing the total to 358.


4:40 p.m.

Hundreds of officer cadets are being sent home from their military colleges in Ontario and Quebec after being confined to the campuses for more than a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commandants of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., and the Royal Military College Saint-Jean ordered the suspension of classes today and directed officer cadets to return home where they will finish their final three weeks of studies and final exams online.

The unprecedented move follows an order on March 14 from defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance that the officer cadets were to stay on their campuses and could not receive any guests due to COVID-19.

The two military colleges have also cancelled their convocation ceremonies.

Graduating officer cadets will receive their commissions as full officers in the Canadian Armed Forces when they join their respective units.


4 p.m.

The Manitoba government is suspending any rent increases, starting April 1, in order to help tenants deal with reduced income due to the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The province is also halting all non-urgent hearings before the residential tenancies branch to put off any evictions resulting from non-payment of rent.

Premier Brian Pallister says the measures should reduce uncertainty and stress for tenants.

Pallister says he is not considering further measures such as direct payments to people.

He says employment insurance and recently announced help from the federal government should be enough to help people get by.


3:15 p.m.

The Saskatchewan government is announcing six new cases of COVID-19 bringing the province's current total to 72.

The Ministry of Health didn't say how the persons came to be infected or where they were tested.

The chief medical health officer has said most of Saskatchewan's cases are linked to travel and there's no evidence of community transmission.


2:30 p.m.

Catholic churches in Toronto will shut down immediately amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cardinal Thomas Collins of the Archdiocese of Toronto has told its priests to close the doors of the churches in the city after Ontario deemed places of worship non-essential.

He says masses will continue, but with no one inside, including those for the upcoming ones on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.


2:30 p.m.

Ukrainian Ambassador Andriy Shevchenko says about 250 Canadians are scheduled to return to Canada on a flight from Kyiv to Toronto that is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Ukraine International Airlines flight was organized by the Canadian and Ukrainian governments.

Shevchenko says the plane will then load up with Ukrainians, some of whom are on their way to Toronto Pearson International Airport from as far as Vancouver, and return to Kyiv on Thursday.

He says future flights are possible depending on demand.


2:30 p.m.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. says roughly half of its 14,000 employees will leave the company — some temporarily — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 6,900 departures comprise early retirements, resignations and both voluntary and involuntary leaves after WestJet asked staff to choose one of those options or reduce their hours or pay, said CEO Ed Sims.

Up to 600 Air Canada pilots will also go on unpaid leave in the coming months due to the fallout from the virus, their union said Tuesday.


2:20 p.m.

An internal planning document from the Saskatchewan Health Authority estimates COVID-19 could lead to the deaths of between 9,000 and 15,000 people in the province.

It also estimates that while 300,000 people may become infected, most of them will be able to remain at home.

A spokesman for the authority says the presentation contains some early modelling and worst-case scenarios.

So far, the province has reported 66 cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.


1:50 p.m.

New Brunswick announced one new case of COVID-19 on Tuesday. That brings the number of confirmed cases in the province to 18.

The newest case is a woman between the ages of 20 and 30 from southeastern New Brunswick who recently returned from international travel.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, chief medical officer of health, says all cases so far in New Brunswick have either been travellers or close contacts to people who travelled.

Russell stressed the need to self-isolate and social distancing.


1:30 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador has announced 11 more presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.

There is now a combined total of 35 presumptive and confirmed cases of the disease in the province.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, says all the new cases are in the Eastern Health authority and all are related to travel or a cluster of previous cases.

Fitzgerald ordered all private health clinics, including dentists, physiotherapists, psychologists, to close, with exceptions for physician and nurse practitioner clinics.


1:25 p.m.

Hundreds of Indigenous health managers from across Canada will meet online tomorrow to discuss how the novel coronavirus pandemic is affecting their communities.

Marion Crowe of the First Nations Health Managers Association says the meeting will allow managers to compare notes on their specific challenges of fighting the virus.

She says it's hard to hand-wash when tapwater isn't drinkable and impossible to self-isolate in overcrowded homes.

She adds many Indigenous people have bitter memories of the health-care system and don't trust its officials.

Still, she says many lessons were learned during 2009's H1N1 epidemic.


1:17 p.m.

Quebec now has 1,013 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but no additional deaths to report today, with the provincial tally steady at four.

Premier Francois Legault says 67 people are hospitalized, including 31 in intensive care.

Legault says about 2,500 people are awaiting test results while 12,200 have received negative tests.

The premier sought to reassure Quebecers that measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus are temporary and necessary to save lives.


1:15 p.m.

The Assembly of First Nations has declared a state of emergency.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde says Indigenous communities need immediate increases in funding and full involvement in all discussions with governments on planning and preparedness.

He says while the announced federal funding is a good start, more will be required.

The assembly's motion says that special consideration must be given to Canada's 96 remote, fly-in Indigenous communities.

The motion also affirms support for all First Nations that have already declared states of emergency, travel bans and other measures.


1:05 p.m.

The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee say postponing the 2020 Tokyo Games was the right decision.

The organizations issued a statement in response to an announcement earlier today by the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC said the Games would be rescheduled to next year in light of COVID-19.

The COC is holding a news conference on the issue by telephone shortly.


12:55 p.m.

Canada's chief medical health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says an equal number of Canadians who have tested positive for COVID-19 contracted the virus from travel and from community transmission.

Deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said since last week, nearly 90 per cent of cases reported to the public health agency came from spread of the virus within the community.

Tam says this represents a fundamental shift in the spread of the virus in Canada.

If Canada is going to get a handle on community spread, she said social distancing and maintaining a two-metre barrier between people is essential.

Tam also said 220 passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship who have completed their 14-day quarantine at CFB Trenton and are symptom-free were repatriated earlier today.

Nearly 120,000 Canadians have been tested for the coronavirus, with an average of 10,000 people tested per day.


12:50 p.m.

The Manitoba government is reporting one new probable case of COVID-19, bringing the total of confirmed and presumptive cases in the province to 21.

Health officials say the latest case involves a Winnipeg man in his 40s and there is no information yet on whether it is travel-related.

There have been no community-transmitted cases confirmed in Manitoba to date, but Dr. Brent Roussin, the chief public health officer, says he expects it will come.

He says COVID-19 cases started in Manitoba some time after Ontario, British Columbia, and all the initial cases there were travel-related as well.


12:46 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is braced for the possibility of a worsening COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, but that the current travel restrictions at the border will suffice — for now.

With President Donald Trump opening musing about letting people go back to work, Trudeau says Canada will continue to base its decisions on science and keeping people safe and healthy.

Trump has been growing more impatient by the day with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and wants Americans back on the job sooner rather than later.

He insists it's possible for them to take prudent, responsible steps such as social distancing at the same time.


12:40 p.m.

Prince Edward Island has no new cases of COVID-19 to report today, leaving the provincial total at three positive cases.

Dr. Heather Morrison, the province's chief medical officer of health, says it's important that people continue to self-isolate and social distance to help flatten the curve.

She says all playgrounds are closed, and anyone using convenience stores needs to get in, get what they need and get out.

Morrison says she still expects to see new cases on the Island and an increase in hospitalization.


12:30 p.m.

Conservative MP Scott Reid says he's defying his party to enter the House of Commons today and resist the quick passage of a package meant to cushion the economic hit from COVID-19.

The eastern Ontario MP says he's there to object to the way the Commons approved two particular things in the minutes before shutting down more than a week ago.

In a message posted online, Reid says measures to allow government spending through an emergency period shouldn't have been included in a big, complex motion that Friday, since they hadn't had their first presentation in the Commons yet.

Reid says he's worried about the constitutional precedent that sets.


12:17 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting a total 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, with 10 new ones identified yesterday.

The cases are travel-related or connected to earlier reported cases.

Several of the new cases are connected to groups or families who have returned to Nova Scotia following travel outside of Canada. None of these cases are from spread within the community.

The 51 individuals affected range in age from under 10 to mid-70s.


12:12 p.m.

Parks Canada is restricting vehicles in the national parks and national historic sites after people flocked to the popular areas on the weekend.

The national agency says it is still noticing high visitation despite the suspension of visitor services and the closure of facilities.

Officials will now suspend all motor vehicle access by visitors starting at 12:01 a.m. tomorrow.

Highways and roadways that go through the parks and historic sites will remain open.


12:10 p.m.

The emergency sitting of the House of Commons has been suspended after only a few minutes.

A small group of 32 MPs were to begin debate on emergency legislation to provide billions in financial aid to help Canadians weather the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the sitting had no sooner begun than government House leader Pablo Rodriguez asked that it be suspended.

It appears that the government is continuing to negotiate details of the legislation with opposition parties after the Conservatives balked at a provision that would have given the government sweeping powers to unilaterally spend, borrow and change taxation levels without the approval of Parliament.


12 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians have his "unwavering commitment" to uphold the country’s democratic principles.

The comment follows Opposition anger over draft legislation that promised $82 billion in emergency aid for those struggling the COVID-19 pandemic, but also gave the federal cabinet extraordinary powers to control taxes and spending.

Trudeau says the pandemic is moving extremely quickly, which is why the government was looking at measures to respond just as fast.

However, he also says Canada has a "Parliament that works" and the government is working with opposition parties to draft the appropriate legislation to ensure Canadians are safe and supported.


11:49 a.m.

The union representing Air Canada's pilots says up to 600 of its members will go on unpaid leave in the coming months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Capt. Michael McKay, head of the Air Canada Pilots Association, says the union has agreed to a plan for a maximum of 600 pilots on furlough.

The 4,400 pilots have also agreed to reduced pay across the board and "simplified contract language" to allow pilots to retire earlier.

McKay says a "precipitous drop in passenger demand and the challenging operating environment" have prompted the changes.

He is joining other unions in calling on Ottawa for financial relief for the aviation industry.


11:45 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 85 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial total to 588.

The large increase includes one more death, meaning seven people have now died in the province.

Complete information is not listed for most of the new cases, but the latest death is a man in his 90s from Durham Region.


10:20 a.m.

Bombardier Inc. is temporarily halting production in Canada and suspending its 2020 financial forecast due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company says it is stopping all non-essential work in the country, including aircraft and rail production in Quebec and Ontario.

It says employees impacted by the shutdown will be placed on furlough, with workers as well as executives forgoing pay.

Board members have also agreed to forgo compensation for the remainder of the year.


10:15 a.m.

Health coalitions in several provinces from the Maritimes to British Columbia are urging the federal government not to allow the COVID-19 crisis to be used to dismantle universal, public health care.

In a joint statement, groups including the Canadian Health Coalition and Friends of Medicare say all levels of government must work together to reclaim and increase the capacity of the public health-care system.

In addition to ensuring all services from testing to vaccination and hospital stays remain available free of charge, the coalitions support Spain's decision to bring for-profit health care facilities under public control.

They say a robust public health-care system is the best defence against challenges like the novel coronavirus but they argue it has been eroded by decades of austerity and needs a renewed commitment.


10:10 a.m.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his MPs will help pass emergency economic measures that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced last week to cushion the blow from COVID-19.

But Scheer says Conservatives won't give the consent the Liberals would need to take massive new taxing and spending powers for the cabinet, without Parliament's supervision.

Scheer says he wants to ensure Canadian families and workers receive financial help to pay their bills and put food on their tables.

That's why Scheer says he doesn't want conversations about new powers for the Liberal government to get in the way of that assistance getting to Canadians.


9:49 a.m.

A statement from G7 finance ministers and central bankers says the group will do "whatever is necessary" to restore economic confidence and protect jobs and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nations, representing seven of the world’s leading economies, are also asking other countries to do the same.

Among the nations is Canada, represented by Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the Bank of Canada.

The statement says countries affected by COVID-19 should expand their budget spending and support to financial institutions to mitigate the negative shock from the pandemic – and do so for as long as possible.


9:20 a.m. Conservative Finance critic Pierre Poilievre says there's no deal between the Liberal government and the Opposition over the proposed emergency aid bill.

A draft of the bill that circulated yesterday suggested it would give cabinet, not MPs, extraordinary power over taxes and spending, so ministers could act without Parliament's approval for months.

Late last night, House Leader Pablo Rodriguez said the government would make changes.

But Poilievre says the bill contains several problems and he is concerned the Liberals won't address all of them.

He's calling for a copy of the bill - which has yet to be formally introduced - to be given to the Parliamentary Budget Officer immediately, so the watchdog can review it in tandem with MPs and let the public know its real implications before the vote.


9:15 a.m.

The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau are asking residents to limit interprovincial travel between their two cities.

The economies of the two cities, divided by the Ottawa River, are closely linked.

In a joint statement, the mayors say the situation with COVID-19 is likely to develop differently on either side of the river.

They say they want to make sure people don't spread the virus outside of their neighbourhoods or across the provincial border.


8:45 a.m.

Ontario is expected to announce a temporary cut in hydro rates as many people work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A senior government source, who wasn't authorized to discuss the announcement publicly, says the province will lower rates for the next 45 days.

The source says it will be done by moving all of the current time-of-use pricing to off-peak rates.

Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement at 1 p.m alongside the province's minister of energy and other officials.

The Canadian Press


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