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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world April 30 – CBC.ca

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The latest:

As a number of provinces outline plans for relaxing restrictions and reopening their economies, Canada’s parliamentary budget officer warns the federal deficit for the year could hit $252.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Those numbers are based on the nearly $146 billion in spending measures the government has undertaken in response to the pandemic, the decline in the country’s gross domestic product, and the price of oil remaining well below previous expectations.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the government’s spending in his daily COVID-19 press briefing Thursday, saying Canada needs to invest now to make sure an economic recovery will be possible, “as quickly as possible.”

“Canadians are strong and resilient people, and our economy was in great shape before going into this,” Trudeau said. “There will be a time after this is all done … where we will have to make next decisions on how that recovery looks, but right now our focus is on getting through this as a country.”

A sign on a closed theatre encourages local residents in High River, Alta., amid the worldwide COVID-19 flu pandemic. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a three-stage plan to reopen Alberta’s economy Thursday. The plan will begin next week with the resumption of some non-urgent surgeries and office reopenings for service providers such as dentists, physiotherapists, speech and respiratory therapists.

Provided there is no surge in infection rates, the province will move to Stage 1 of its relaunch May 14, when some retail stores and businesses will be able to reopen. Those will include clothing and furniture stores, hair salons and barber shops, museums and galleries, and restaurants and bars, as long as they maintain only 50 per cent capacity.

“A full return to normal won’t come until there is an effective vaccine or treatment, or until the virus is no longer here to threaten us,” Kenney said in a news conference from Edmonton.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a 3-stage plan to reopen Alberta amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Access to provincial parks and public lands will also be reopened using a phased-in approach. Alberta Parks’ online reservations will be available May 14 to book site visits beginning June 1. 

Physical distancing guidelines will be maintained and gatherings will be limited to 15 or fewer people. Arts and culture festivals, major sporting events, and concerts, movie theatres, theatres, swimming pools, recreation centres, arenas, spas, gyms and nightclubs will all remain closed.

Stage 2, which has no firm date attached, would see things like the potential reopening of kindergarten to Grade 12 schools, and access to more personal services, such as artificial tanning, manicures, pedicures, waxing and massage. Theatres could also reopen under specific restrictions and larger gatherings would be permitted. 

Stage 3 would see the return of arts and culture festivals, nightclubs, gyms and pools, and non-essential travel. 

Earlier in the day, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, unveiled a five-stage plan for relaxing public health restrictions in that province.

The plan comes as the province marks the fourth straight day with no new COVID-19 cases. The only immediate rule change is the expansion of the household “bubble” — the immediate group that people live and interact with under public health restrictions. Now, households can pick a second household to spend time with.

Fitzgerald’s update came on the same day as Ontario Premier Doug Ford offered further guidance to businesses on how they should go about reopening. In a news briefing, Ford said he was “laser-focused” on reopening the province’s economy, as the infection curve in Ontario is flattening. 

Manitoba unveiled its own phased plan for reopening some sectors of the economy on Wednesday. Prince Edward Island and Quebec have also offered glimpses of what the coming months might hold.

Also on Thursday, Nunavut reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19, according to a media release. In the release, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, wrote that such news “was only a matter of time” and that the individual is currently in isolation and doing well.

“We ask people not to place any blame, not to shame and to support communities and each other as we overcome COVID-19 in Nunavut,” Premier Joe Savikataaq was quoted as saying in the release.

WATCH | Nunavut confirms first COVID-19 case in the territory:

As of 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were 53,236 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases in Canada, with 21,437 of the cases considered resolved or recovered. The CBC tally puts coronavirus-related deaths at 3,279 in Canada and another two deaths of Canadians abroad.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death. The Public Health Agency of Canada says the risk varies between and within communities, “but given the increasing number of cases in Canada, the risk to Canadians is considered high.” 

Read on for a look at what’s happening in Canada, the U.S. and around the world.

What’s happening in the provinces and territories

Police in British Columbia have made visits to some 500 homes in the province to make sure recently returned travellers are following rules to self-isolate. “They perhaps didn’t take this as seriously as we like,” said MLA Ravi Kahlon, who is responsible for overseeing the process for the B.C. government. “So a local officer would knock on their door and say, ‘Hey, the province is trying to get ahold of you — you need to call them back.'”  Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

A meat processing plant in Alberta that is at the centre of a COVID-19 outbreak is set to reopen on May 4 with one shift, a decision the union for workers at the High River facility has described as “incredibly concerning.” The Cargill plant has been linked to more than 1,200 cases. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta. 

WATCH | Fort McMurray tries to manage devastating flood during pandemic:

Some COVID-19 restrictions for physical distancing have had to be removed in Fort McMurray as it tries to mitigate further damage from a devastating flood that has forced more than 13,000 people from their homes. 1:53

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe is clamping down on travel between communities in the far north of the province as the region deals with an outbreak of COVID-19. Moe says he’s ordering a ban on non-essential travel between northern communities. The government is also sending $20,000 to La Loche to fund public safety and food security. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba is going to start easing some of its COVID-19-related restrictions starting on Monday by allowing dentists, physiotherapists, retail stores, hair salons and restaurant patios to open at no more than 50 per cent capacity. Campgrounds, museums, libraries and art galleries will also be allowed to reopen, and all will have to maintain physical distancing and comply with public health restrictions. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

At his daily briefing on Thursday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced 65 new safety guidelines for businesses as the province prepares for a gradual reopening. “We’re on the path to reopening the economy because we see that curve is flattening,” Ford said. “I’m laser focused on opening things up as quickly as we can.” The province reported 459 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, a figure consistent with new daily case counts seen throughout much of April. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

The death rate from COVID-19 in Quebec will remain very high for the foreseeable future, Premier François Legault warned Thursday, even as he sought to address criticism of his government’s plan to ease pandemic restrictions in the coming weeks. Of the 98 new deaths recorded in the past 24 hours in the province, 92 have been of seniors in care. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

WATCH | It’s time to be more disciplined than ever, Legault says

Quebec Premier François Legault says despite plans to reopen Montreal, he won’t hesitate to delay it if people don’t behave appropriately. 1:02

New Brunswick  reported no new cases for the 12th day in a row.  Still, Premier Blaine Higgs extended emergency measures for another two weeks, with some revisions.  Read more about what’s happening in N.B

WATCH | How New Brunswick avoided a potential COVID-19 catastrophe:

New Brunswick is home to Canada’s oldest and unhealthiest population, but has so far come through the COVID-19 pandemic with few hospitalizations and no deaths. 2:01

Health officials have identified 12 new cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, bringing the province’s total to 947, while the number of deaths remains at 28. Most of the deaths have occurred at the Northwood long-term care facility in Halifax. The home is facing the most significant outbreak of any facility in the province, with 208 residents and 73 staff infected as of Wednesday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island’s premier is reminding people that the first phase of reopening that begins this week doesn’t mean a return to normal. “All of us, we have had to make painful and disruptive adjustments to our lives. I wish I could tell you that that would end on May 1, but that wouldn’t be the truth,” Dennis King said. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I, including how the virus’s spread is ensuring tourists won’t be coming to the Island anytime soon

WATCH | COVID-19 could be more severe in people with asthma:

People with asthma aren’t at higher risk of getting COVID-19, but an infection could result in more severe symptoms. 0:52

Newfoundland and Labrador unveiled the provincial government’s five-stage plan for relaxing public health restrictions Thursday, including benchmarks that need to be met as the province progresses from present conditions — what it calls Level 5 — to living with COVID-19, which is Level 1. The first step was announcing the expansion of the household “bubble” — the immediate group that people live and interact with under public health restrictions. Now, households can pick a second household to spend time with.  Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

Nunavut reported its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday, with the individual reportedly in isolation and otherwise good health. The Northwest Territories has released a broad overview of how it plans to handle reopening amid COVID-19The plan, which begins with a “response” stage, then a “recovery” stage, before moving to “resiliency,” had few specifics, sparking concern from the opposition. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

What’s happening in the U.S.

From Reuters and The Associated Press, updated at 7:00 p.m. ET

Confirmed infections globally have reached about 3.2 million, including one million in the U.S., according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The true numbers of deaths and infections is likely much higher because of limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments.  

Volunteers prepare groceries to be given out at a drive-thru Three Square Food Bank emergency food distribution site at Boulder Station Hotel & Casino in Nevada Wednesday in response to an increase in demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. (David Becker/AFP/Getty Images)

Government figures released Thursday showed that 3.8 million laid-off workers applied for jobless benefits in the U.S. last week, raising the total to about 30.3 million in the six weeks since the outbreak forced the shutdown of factories and other businesses from coast to coast.

The U.S. unemployment rate for April is due late next week, and economists have said it could range as high as 20 per cent  — a level last seen during the Depression.

Later Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said U.S. state and local governments could need close to $1 trillion US in aid over several years to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic, as lawmakers began plotting more coronavirus relief legislation.

Also Thursday, world equity benchmarks saw their best month in 11 years as a rebound in oil prices, expectations of more government stimulus, and encouraging early results from a COVID-19 treatment trial helped ease the pain of February and March.

WATCH | Excitement, caution follows upbeat news about trial of antiviral drug for COVID-19:

‘We were looking for a win,’ said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, but he tempered that optimism by pointing out the need to have a look at all the data and determine how remdesivir can be used.   7:28

Meanwhile, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday ordered all state beaches closed after people flocked to the seashore in a few locations last weekend. The governor said he hopes the order won’t last very long. But he said he felt he had to do it to protect public health.

An Orange County official, where one of the state beaches is located, called it “an overreaction,” as residents have been following physical distancing guidelines. Some beaches under county jurisdiction have already been closed during the crisis.

What’s happening around the world

From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 3:30 p.m. ET

Spain recorded its lowest daily coronavirus death tally in six weeks on Thursday, but data showing the economy shrank by the widest margin on record in the first three months of the year laid bare the heavy cost of measures to control the outbreak. The death toll stood Thursday at about 24,500 after an increase of 268 in the last 24 hours, or 57 less than the increase the day before. The caseload is officially more than 213,000, although Spain is not counting untested infections or those that are becoming known through antibody tests, which mostly identify patients after they have passed the COVID-19 disease.

Staff direct traffic as key workers arrive for a test for COVID-19 at a drive-in testing centre at Glasgow Airport on Wednesday. (Andrew Milligan/AFP/ Getty Images)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain was now past the peak of its coronavirus outbreak and promised to set out a lockdown exit strategy next week, despite rising deaths and criticism of his government’s response. The government has been criticized for failing to catch most cases of COVID-19 and now says wide-scale testing will be key to controlling the virus and easing a nationwide lockdown. Earlier this month it vowed to perform 100,000 tests a day by April 30. The number has been climbing steadily, but the highest daily total reached so far is 52,000.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel says authorities will allow religious services to resume and let museums, zoos, galleries and playgrounds reopen as part of the gradual loosening of the pandemic lockdown. Merkel said after meeting with governors of Germany’s 16 states that it was important to remain “disciplined” to ensure successful efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak aren’t undone. 

She acknowledged the impact that the lockdown measures have had on the economy and social life, but said officials wanted to wait until next week before considering lifting restrictions on kindergartens and most schools.

General view of a drive-in coronavirus testing facility in Berlin on Thursday. (John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images)

Denmark, the first country outside Asia to ease its lockdown, said the spread of COVID-19 has not accelerated since the gradual loosening of restrictions began in mid-April. 

COVID-19 appeared to come late to Russia, compared with North America and Europe, but now, it’s striking with a vengeance, the damage compounded by the lack of personal protective equipment for hospital workers. The country surged past 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with approximately 1,000 reported deaths. Those are extremely low numbers compared with the experience of western Europe. Still, many doctors — even those sympathetic to the government — have told CBC News part of the challenge is that Russia’s tests return an unusually large number of false negative results. On Thursday, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin told President Vladimir Putin that he had been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to extend the ongoing coronavirus state of emergency beyond its scheduled end on May 6. Abe said Thursday that hospitals are still overburdened and medical workers are under severe pressure to deal with the still-rising number of patients. Abe said he will consult with experts to decide how long the measures should be extended. Local officials and medical experts have called for another month’s extension nationwide. Japan still had more than 200 new cases overnight, bringing a national total to some 14,000 cases, with 415 deaths.

South Korea reported no new domestic cases. The national tally stood at 10,765, while the death toll rose by one to 247.

Indonesia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have surpassed 10,000. The government reported nearly 350 new cases, bringing the country’s total to over 10,000 with almost 800 deaths as of Thursday. The country also reported there are more than 1,500 patients who have recovered.

A medical worker wears a protective suit after checking the homeless in Jakarta after Indonesian authorities prepared the sports halls for homeless people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

Total reported coronavirus cases in Brazil soared to 78,162, with 449 deaths in the last 24 hours.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says coronavirus cases across the continent have increased 37 per cent in the past week. Africa now has more than 36,000 cases, including more than 1,500 deaths.

Trucks wait in a line on the road to enter Uganda in Malaba, a city in western Kenya, on Wednesday. All truck drivers must take a test for COVID-19 and wait 24 hours to get the result. The driver must stay inside the truck and is only allowed to get off to unload at the destination. (Brian Ongoro/AFP/Getty Images)

While the continent’s capacity to test for the virus is growing, shortages of test kits remain across Africa. That means more cases could be out there. But the head of policy with the Africa CDC, Benjamin Djoudalbaye, tells reporters that the virus “is not something you can hide.”

In South Africa, which has the most cases in Africa with more than 5,300, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says that authorities are “very hopeful we have averted the first storm.”

The country has been praised for testing assertively and will slightly loosen a five-week lockdown on Friday.

WATCH | Dr. Theresa Tam on WHO response to COVID-19, reopening Canada:

Part 3 of 3 of Rosemary Barton’s exclusive interview with Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on the WHO’s response to COVID-19, reopening Canada and the personal stresses that come with her job. 11:55

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The latest on the coronavirus outbreak for Nov. 23 – CBC.ca

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Aarhus in Denmark is placing 100 waste bins around the city that can hold about 3,000 face masks. The containers have a clamped lid, which ensures that neither birds nor wind can spread the waste. (Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix/Reuters)

P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador hit pause on Atlantic travel bubble

Residents of the four Atlantic provinces have been able to travel relatively freely across each other’s borders without quarantining, but that came to a halt on Monday after announcements from Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island. Both provinces cited rising cases in recent days in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“The Atlantic bubble has been a source of pride … but the situation has changed,” Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey said in announcing a two-week pause from unfettered travel.

Travel to and from Newfoundland and Labrador will only be for essential reasons, Furey said.

P.E.I. said it will re-evaluate on Dec. 7, but beginning Tuesday, those arriving on the island from the other Atlantic provinces will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Over the last number of days, it has become apparent that our neighbours in Atlantic Canada, especially Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, are experiencing a second wave,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer. “I’m concerned it may already be here with some people,” she added.

Those coming to the province from the other three Atlantic provinces will once again need to apply for entry, and students who return to P.E.I. will need to self-isolate for two weeks.

Click below to watch more from The National

Canadians’ fears about contracting COVID-19 kept many people from going to the emergency room. New data shows ER visits were down by nearly one million and there is concern about the impact on the patients who didn’t get the care they needed. 1:59

IN BRIEF

Workplace compensation claims reflect COVID-19 toll on Canadian workers

CBC News has reached out to provincial workers’ compensation boards across the country and found that more than 26,000 claims have been filed by people who contracted COVID-19 at work, the first concrete indication — though not fully complete — of how many workers are getting COVID-19.

Jeffrey Freedman, who was among those 26,000, felt he had no choice earlier in the pandemic but to work at his tile company despite the risk of infection. Freedman spent 44 days in hospital and still can’t work or drive a vehicle due to lingering health effects.

“I have brain fog. I have permanent damage to my vocal cords from the ICU and tubing for 33 days. I have constant neck and bicep pains,” he said.

In Ontario and British Columbia, the data shows that most claims have come from workers in health-care facilities and agriculture.

A quarter of workers in Ontario are not covered at all by the workers’ compensation system, compared with B.C., where all workers have coverage. In addition to variations across the provinces in terms of eligibility, data collection is a challenge as there is no standard accounting of how many people have fallen sick while at work due to a patchwork of provincial and federal tracking. What’s more, the system does not capture COVID-19 cases among workers who are ineligible.

Read more about what the claims tell us

National grief strategy needed for COVID-19 losses, advocacy group says

With over 11,000 Canadians dead from COVID-19, an organization called the Canadian Grief Alliance has been pushing the federal government for a national strategy to help people cope with the increased loss society is facing. The alliance hopes the government will invest $100 million over three years.

Shelly Cory, executive director of Canadian Virtual Hospice and one of the founders of the alliance, says the pandemic’s impact on Canada and the number of people who are grieving is “astounding.” The alliance is calling for a national consultation to help understand the impact and scope of the issue.

“We’ve never dealt with grief from a pandemic. We need to understand where the pressure points are and where we need to provide resources to suffering Canadians,” said Cory, who noted that grief during the pandemic doesn’t involve dealing with the death of a loved one only.

Health Canada says it has funded Wellness Together Canada, a portal that provides Canadians with access to free, credible information and supports to help reinforce mental wellness and address mental health and substance use issues.

The agency also said it has received the proposal from the Canadian Grief Alliance, and officials have been engaging with the organization to discuss its proposal.

Read more about the initiative

Distribution, national registry key issues in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

The past two weeks have provided encouraging news on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, including on Monday from AstraZeneca, but there will be challenges in distributing and tracking vaccine usage in a country as vast as Canada.

In an interview on Rosemary Barton Live, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called for “national criteria” to guide the country’s distribution efforts.

“Vulnerable people, and, of course, front-line workers, are going to get it first. We all agree with that. But we need to also come to a national agreement on those criteria because it isn’t going to be here all at the same time,” said Pallister.

The head of the committee advising the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) on the use of vaccines also spoke to Barton. Dr. Caroline Quach-Thanh says another challenge, aside from prioritizing who gets the vaccine, is that there is no national registry to oversee and track vaccination records.

“I think that most provinces have registries so that they’re able to follow up on who gets what, and it’s now the time to really be able to use it,” said Quach-Thanh.

Co-ordination and communication between levels of government will be critical. Even in the first few days after positive news regarding the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, there appeared to be confusion between some provinces and the feds on how many doses were being allocated.

Read more about the distribution challenges

(CBC News)

Stay informed with the latest COVID-19 data.

THE SCIENCE

University of Guelph researchers look for answers regarding COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’

Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario are trying to determine why months after infection with COVID-19, some people are still battling crushing fatigue, lung damage and other symptoms of the novel coronavirus.

Jackie Loree, a respiratory nurse in Kitchener, Ont. is a COVID-19 long-hauler. She tested positive for coronavirus in April, and eight months later she is still experiencing its effects.

“My circulation is poor. I still have bouts of nausea. I lost a great deal of my hair throughout this process, and every day is different,” she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo’s The Morning Edition. “I always have symptoms every day and it’s very difficult.”

Dr. Melanie Wills, director at the G. Magnotta Lyme Disease Research Lab at the university, said when the pandemic hit in early spring, they saw a potential similarity between COVID-19 and Lyme disease — some patients just don’t seem to get better.

“It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill with COVID now, and so my question is: if we are seeing a chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia syndrome emerging from the COVID, is that finally going to shine a spotlight on these types of diseases that have been really ignored to our own peril?” said Wills.

What researchers find will be crucial in treating those with lasting symptoms and trying to prevent new infections from lingering.

AND FINALLY…

Consistency key to adopting new fitness routines during pandemic, researchers say

A jogger runs on a track at Bear Creek Park in Surrey in June 2020. ((Ben Nelms/CBC))

With several provinces entering a more restrictive phase of lockdown that often affects gyms and recreation centres, health researchers in B.C. say it’s important to fight against apathy and still find ways to incorporate a regular fitness routine.

“It’s not something to sort of push off,” says University of Victoria Prof. Ryan Rhodes, who studies health psychology and how people approach and do exercise. “We have to accept that this is a new reality and find new routines to get our physical activity going,” he said.

Rhodes and Guy Faulkner from the University of British Columbia worked on different studies looking at how Canadians were exercising during the initial response to the pandemic. They found a noticed drop-off even among regular exercisers.

Early in the pandemic, it was learned that people with dogs more easily kept up with exercise by walking their pets. People who had exercise equipment at home, bought new equipment or even turned to YouTube for exercise videos also fared better in keeping up with a routine.

Some tips: exercising at the same time of day to build a routine; emphasizing the activities you like most; and taking a walk in the morning and at the end of the working day as a sort of faux commute.

Read more exercise and motivation tips here

Find out more about COVID-19

Still looking for more information on the pandemic? Read more about COVID-19’s impact on life in Canada, or reach out to us at covid@cbc.ca if you have any questions.

If you have symptoms of the illness caused by the coronavirus, here’s what to do in your part of the country.

For full coverage of how your province or territory is responding to COVID-19, visit your local CBC News site.

To get this newsletter daily as an email, subscribe here

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CRA warns 213,000 Canadians that they might have to pay back CERB overpayments – CBC.ca

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The Canada Revenue Agency says it’s warning about 213,000 Canadians who may have been paid twice through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program that they could be called upon to repay the money.

But repayment isn’t required right away, says the agency. The CRA has suspended collection of debts for the duration of the pandemic emergency.

“The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has issued letters to individuals who may have applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from both Service Canada and the CRA, and who may be required to repay an amount to the CRA,” a CRA spokesperson said in an email. “The letters did not require immediate payment; rather they informed the taxpayer that there may be a requirement to repay amounts received.

“We will resume collections activities when it is responsible to do so, including collection of debts related to CERB payments,”

The CRA was responding to CBC’s question about individuals being asked to repay pandemic benefits. The agency says it is still recommending that people pay back any CERB funds to which they’re not entitled by the end of the year, warning that if they don’t, the sum will appear on T4A tax slips and will need to be reported as income on next year’s tax return.

‘An honest mistake’

In emails to CBC News about possible repayments, CRA was careful to avoid suggesting that all those who received letters warning they might have to repay CERB money had been caught in any kind of unethical behaviour.

A CRA spokesperson noted that “applicants may make an honest mistake when applying” for CERB.

It’s also possible that some of those who have received letters about repayment already had returned the money voluntarily, or had incorrectly repaid the money to Service Canada instead of the CRA, the spokesperson said.

According to the latest figures, 945,000 pandemic benefit repayments — including for CERB and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit — have been conducted through the CRA’s My Account online portal. The large number has been blamed on confusion over how to apply for the benefits in the early days of the pandemic.

Last week, a Conservative MP raised concerns about CRA figures indicating more than 800,000 non-tax filers had received CERB payments. But several economists were quick to point out that Canadians can qualify for CERB even if they haven’t previously filed taxes — and only people who owe money to the CRA are required to file a return.

For Canadians who do have to return some pandemic benefits, the CRA says it can come up with individual arrangements based on their ability to pay.

In cases where the CRA can’t come to such an arrangement with a taxpayer, it would turn to collections measures. Those measures remain on hold during the pandemic but they could include taking away future tax credits and refunds or garnishing wages, a spokesperson said.

The CRA also has warned Canadians to be aware of CERB repayment scams, including texts, emails or phone calls that appear to come from the CRA and ask for money or personal information.

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Coronavirus: Canada tops 330K cases ahead of new COVID-19 restrictions – Global News

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Regions across Canada braced for a host of new public health restrictions on Sunday as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic sent case counts soaring from coast to coast.

Surging case counts that reached record heights in several provinces over the weekend spelled the short-term end to restaurant and retail service in some infection hot spots, while others prepared to further cap public and private gatherings in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

Across the country, health authorities identified a total of 4,792 new cases of the virus as well as 49 more deaths. The new infections, which now place Canada in its sixteenth day of daily-identified cases topping the 4,000 mark, bring the country’s total cases to 330,201.

Read more:
How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

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A total of 11,455 people have also succumbed to the virus, while at least 261,201 patients have since recovered. Over 13.7 million tests have also been administered.

In Ontario, which reported 1,534 new cases and 14 additional deaths on Sunday, shoppers flocked to local stores in Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region a day before both districts were slated to enter the lockdown phase of the provincial pandemic response plan.

Janet Reid visited Toronto’s Eaton Centre on Sunday afternoon to do some last-minute shopping in the hours before non-essential retailers close their doors to in-person visitors.


Click to play video 'Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19'



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Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19


Ski resorts seeing busy season start thanks to COVID-19

She said she hoped the restrictions, which also include the closure of salons and the suspension of indoor dining at local restaurants, would help bring the COVID-19 numbers down.

“It’s going to take everybody to do it, and not just a few people to do it,” Reid said.

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Read more:
Coronavirus Christmas: Canadians should celebrate outdoors, virtually, experts say

Public health officials in Atlantic Canada have also announced new limits on gatherings as the region saw a recent increase in COVID-19 cases, marking a reversal from the stable figures reported for months.

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Nova Scotia’s Hants County and the Halifax area will be under stricter rules as of Monday, including a limit of five people who can gather without social distancing, down from the previous cap of 10.

The province reported 11 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing its number of active diagnoses to 44.

“I know this will not be easy, but it’s an initial step to contain the community spread and avoid the potential to overwhelm our health-care system,” Dr Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said in a Friday statement outlining the new rules.

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In Newfoundland and Labrador, which reported three new cases on Sunday, Memorial University announced plans to postpone staff members’ scheduled return to work, originally set for the coming week.

The small town of Deer Lake, N.L., also sounded the alarm over a regional spike in cases when it announced a two-week closure of some municipal buildings and asked local businesses to follow suit.

The slew of pending restrictions is in line with advice from Canada’s top public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, who on Sunday urged people to limit gatherings and only go out for essentials ahead of the holiday season.

Tam said Canada is seeing “rapid epidemic growth,” as the country has now recorded 330,492 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

Alberta added to that tally with 1,584 new cases on Sunday, marking the fourth straight day the daily count has reached a record high.


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Ottawa opens new COVID-19 emergency rent subsidy for businesses

Health officials in Nunavut reported 18 new cases on Sunday in Arviat, a small community on Hudson Bay that now has 98 active infections.

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The territory, which went into a two-week lockdown on Nov. 18, currently has 128 active COVID-19 cases. No deaths have been reported.

“Health teams are working around the clock in Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet to trace, test, isolate and contain the spread of the virus,” Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported 1,154 new COVID-19 cases and 23 additional deaths on Sunday, bringing the highest provincial total in the country to 132,042 cases and 6,829 deaths since the pandemic began.

Officials in New Brunswick reported six new COVID-19 cases and warned that three schools may have been exposed to the virus. The province set a single-day record on Saturday with 23 new cases.

Saskatchewan logged 236 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, while Manitoba recorded 243 new instances of the virus and 12 related deaths.

Manitoba’s most recent round of stringent measures took effect Friday. The Hanover School Division, which includes Steinbach, about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg, will switch to remote learning only on Tuesday.

Worldwide, cases of the virus surpassed 58.5 million according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. A total of 1,386,454 have also succumbed to the virus, with the U.S., Brazil and India leading in both cases and deaths.

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— With files from Global News and CP’s Anita Balakrishnan in Toronto, Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton and Sarah Smellie in St. John’s.


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Small businesses struggling to meet bottom line in COVID-19 pandemic

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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