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.”
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.
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:
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
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:
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:
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-19. The 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on May 28 – CBC.ca
As Canada’s total number of COVID-19 cases climbed to more than 88,500 on Thursday, New Brunswick began ramping up testing in a region of the province where it’s feared a new cluster of three cases could grow.
At least 150 people have been exposed to a medical professional in the Campbellton region who has COVID-19 and saw multiple patients over a two-week period following his return to New Brunswick from Quebec. Gilles Lanteigne, head of the Vitalité Health Network, said those exposed include 50 health-care workers at the Campbellton Regional Hospital and 100 people in the community.
“We could see some transmission around the province,” Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, told a briefing on Thursday, adding that two of the three new cases of COVID-19 are health-care workers.
Quebec and Ontario remain the hardest-hit provinces in terms of the number of cases and the daily increases.
Quebec has reported 563 new cases, while Ontario has reported 383 new cases. As of 5:50 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 88,504 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 46,844 considered resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,961.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, said the country is seeing a “series of regional epidemics” with Quebec and Ontario experiencing the vast majority of cases and severe outbreaks.
Within those provinces, you have to home in on certain areas and offer assistance to hard-hit areas, said Tam, who praised a move by the health officials in Toronto to release more “granular data” about COVID-19 cases.
When asked about a recent decision in New Brunswick to reimpose some restrictions on one region after new cases emerged linked to a returning traveller who didn’t self-isolate, Tam said she thinks every medical officer of health agrees on the need to be “really careful” as activities resume and restrictions are lifted.
WATCH | RCMP to look into new cluster of cases in New Brunswick:
“I think there’s always been the message in different jurisdictions that there’s a flexibility in the public health system to reinstate or pull back on some of the measures as they see fit, based on their own epidemiologic context,” she said at a Thursday briefing.
New Brunswick had gone an extended period with no new cases, but with the new cases, it’s now rolling back the easing of some restrictions in Zone 5, an area that’s home to 25,000 people and includes the Campbellton-Dalhousie Region.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not hold his daily briefing on Thursday because he was opening a UN conference on financing issues around health and development and how they have been affected by COVID-19, including questions about liquidity and debt.
Trudeau told heads of state and government that “our citizens need to have confidence in international institutions that leave no one behind and are capable of overcoming global challenges.”
Read on for a look at what’s happening in your region, and to get the latest details on how provinces are handling the pandemic and the tentative process of lifting restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the novel virus.
Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia reported nine new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday — including one new outbreak at Nicola Lodge, a long-term care home in Port Coquitlam — for a total of 2,558 cases in the province. There have been 164 COVID-19-related deaths in B.C., including two more in long-term care homes in the Fraser Health region.
Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer, announced the outbreak of COVID-19 at Mission Institution, where dozens of inmates had fallen ill, has now ended. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta reported 29 new coronavirus cases on Thursday and two new deaths. That brings the province’s total number of confirmed cases to 6,955 with 143 deaths.
On Wednesday, the province reported its lowest number of active cases since the end of March, at 679. That number was down to 652 on Thursday. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, where health officials are investigating a possible case of Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), an inflammatory syndrome associated with the novel coronavirus.
Saskatchewan announced two new cases of COVID-19, one in the province’s northern region and one in the Saskatoon area. There are now 61 active cases out of 639 cases and 568 recoveries, with four people in hospital for treatment of the disease. Ten people in the province have died of the illness. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba is on track to enter the next phase of its reopening on Monday, when it will allow restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses shuttered by COVID-19 restrictions to open with stepped-up public health measures in place.
There were two new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba on Thursday, bringing the province’s total to 294. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
WATCH | Brian Pallister talks about moving Manitoba into the next phase of reopening:
In Ontario, Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that he’s sick of “taking bullets” for unionized government inspectors who, he said, refused to go into the province’s long-term care homes to carry out inspections in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic because of safety concerns.
WATCH | Release of COVID-19 hot spot data in Toronto can help prevent spread of coronavirus, says epidemiologist:
On Wednesday, the province announced it’s taking over the management four of the five long-term care homes that were the subject of a Canadian Armed Forces report alleging “horrific” conditions, including poor hygiene and aggressive behaviour toward residents. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.
In Quebec, Premier François Legault talked more about plans to recruit and train 10,000 support staff, or orderlies, to work in long-term care homes. He said they would be full-time positions with pensions and benefits.
Provincial Justice Minister Sonia LeBel confirmed that courthouses in Quebec would reopen on June 1. She said there will be a limited number of people allowed inside, physical distancing rules and Plexiglas barriers for judges.
Many long-term care homes in Quebec are in desperate need of medical personnel and continue to struggle to bring down the number of COVID-19 infections, a military report on its mission inside the province’s seniors’ residences says. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, which has had 49,702 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
WATCH | Military reports staffing, PPE issues in Quebec long-term care homes:
In New Brunswick, officials say they expect hundreds of people to be tested within the next couple of days after a new cluster of COVID-19 cases in the Campbellton region. Premier Blaine Higgs on Thursday said the development is “very concerning,” but he remains optimistic that with contact tracing, the province will be able to curb the spread of the respiratory illness. Read more about what’s happening in N.B., where the legislature, which just reopened on Monday, has been adjourned until June 9 in a bid to ensure MLAs don’t contribute to spreading the virus.
New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, both with low numbers of COVID-19, were considering a proposed interprovincial bubble that would see travel resume across the Confederation Bridge in late June or early July. Higgs, New Brunswick’s premier, told CBC News such a plan now depends on what health officials learn about the new cluster of cases in northern New Brunswick in the next couple of weeks.
Nova Scotia is set to allow more businesses to reopen next week, saying everything from restaurants and bars to gyms and personal services like hair salons can open on June 5 under enhanced public health protocols. “We are still moving slowly, but this is a good first step,” Premier Stephen McNeil said Wednesday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S., which reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday.
Prince Edward Island’s state of emergency has been extended until June 14. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I., which has no active cases of COVID-19.
New information on seasonal residents. How they will be screened and when they might arrive on PEI. The province will only be processing 500 applications per week for instance. Details tonight on Compass.<br>Long term care home visits can begin, outdoors, on June 1st. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/PEICOVID19?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#PEICOVID19</a>
Newfoundland on Thursday reported one new case of COVID-19, ending the province’s 20-day streak of zero new cases. The Department of Health says the new case, affecting a man between 40 and 49 years old, is related to travel. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.
The chief public health officer of the Northwest Territories said she “wholeheartedly” supports the idea of people taking staycations this summer, including visits to regional hubs. But Dr. Kami Kandola said people in the territory need to “stay on our game,” as the risk associated with COVID-19 has not passed. Meanwhile, in Nunavut, the public health emergency has been extended until June 11. Nunavut is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has not had a confirmed coronavirus case. Read more about what’s happening across the North.
Here’s what’s happening around the world
The novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19, 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 virus labelled SARS-CoV-2 first emerged in China in late 2019, before spreading around the world.
WATCH | Why Iceland has been so successful at contact tracing:
According to a Johns Hopkins University case tracking tool, as of Thursday afternoon there were more than 5.9 million coronavirus cases worldwide, with nearly 358,000 deaths reported.
The U.S. accounts for almost 1.7 million of the cases and more than 100,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins.
WATCH | COVID-19: What parts of the world are big concerns right now?
WATCH | COVID-19: What parts of the world are big concerns right now?
Canada sees fewer than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for 3rd consecutive day – Globalnews.ca
For the third day in a row, the number of new coronavirus infections in Canada remained below 1,000.
But every province except for Prince Edward Island reported at least one new case on Thursday, with New Brunswick reporting a cluster of cases linked to a health-care worker who failed to self-isolate after returning from Quebec.
Canada reported 994 new cases of COVID-19 — slightly more than Wednesday’s 872 — and 112 new deaths, for a total of 88,501 cases and 6,877 deaths.
Nearly 47,000 people across the country are deemed recovered, and more than 1.6 million tests have taken place, the majority of them in Ontario and Quebec.
The two provinces together account for more than 86 per cent of Canada’s cases, and 94 per cent of the national death toll.
With the exception of PEI, all the Atlantic provinces reported new cases on Thursday.
Saskatchewan company creates coronavirus decontamination unit using ozone gas
New Brunswick saw three new cases linked to a health-care worker, casting a pall on provincial reopening plans and bringing the total number of cases to 126. Zero deaths have been reported so far.
Premier Blaine Higgs has said the “irresponsible” health-care worker had been in contact with “multiple patients” over two weeks. The worker could be charged with violating public health orders, he added.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case, for a total of 261, including three deaths and 255 recoveries.
Nova Scotia saw two new cases, bringing its figures to 1,055 cases. Fifty-nine people have died so far, many of them linked to a long-term care home in Halifax. More than 970 people have recovered.
Quebec saw 563 new cases and 74 new deaths. The province has seen nearly 48,000 cases, with more than 15,000 recoveries, and 4,302 deaths. Premier Francois Legault has asked the Canadian military to remain in long-term care homes till the fall.
Coronavirus: Toronto wants ability to reopen at its own speed amid COVID-19 pandemic
Ontario announced 383 new cases — nearly 100 more than the previous day’s report — and 34 new deaths, bringing its figures to almost 26,900 cases and 2,189 deaths. More than 20,600 people are considered recovered from the virus.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba reported two new cases each. Saskatchewan has seen 10 deaths so far and 639 cases, including nearly 570 recoveries. Seven people have died in Manitoba, which has 283 cases.
Alberta reported two new deaths and 29 new cases on Thursday. One hundred Albertans over the age of 80 have died of COVID-19 so far, out of 143 fatalities.
The province has seen close to 7,000 cases overall, including more than 6,000 recoveries.
British Columbia reported nine new cases and two new deaths. The province also declared a major outbreak in a prison was officially over. B.C. has seen 2,558 cases — 84 per cent of them recovered — along with 164 deaths.
All cases resolved
Prince Edward Island is currently the only province without any active cases, after it declared all 27 of its cases resolved weeks ago.
The Northwest Territories and the Yukon also have no active cases, with all cases resolved for weeks now.
City of Toronto map shows COVID-19 hotspots across city
Nunavut remains the only region in Canada that hasn’t seen a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Globally, there are more than 5.8 million cases of COVID-19 around the world as of Thursday evening, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 360,000 people have died.
The U.S. accounts for the majority of cases and deaths, with more than 1.7 million infections and more than 100,000 deaths.
— With files by The Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada, allies condemn China on Hong Kong law after contentious Meng ruling – CBC.ca
Canada joined with its major allies Thursday in condemning China for imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong, one day after a contentious B.C. court ruling in the Meng Wanzhou affair.
The statement of “deep concern” with the United States, Australia and Britain comes as experts warn that two Canadians imprisoned in China could face retaliation because Wednesday’s court ruling in the Meng case didn’t go the way the People’s Republic would have liked.
The Chinese Embassy in Ottawa angrily denounced the decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Heather Holmes in the extradition case of the Huawei executive, who is wanted on fraud charges in the U.S., as it once more called for her immediate release.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, to reporters after an online UN conference, that Canada’s independent judicial system “rendered a judgment without any political interference.” He noted Meng would “undoubtedly avail herself of” further legal moves to fight the extradition request.
The Meng dispute — which has plunged Sino-Canadian relations to an all-time low — did not dissuade Canada from signing on to the statement that criticizes China for imposing a national-security law on Hong Kong.
Watch: Trudeau comments on B.C. court decision on Meng Wanzhou:
The Chinese territory is supposed to have autonomy under a “one country-two systems” agreement.
The statement said the law is “in direct conflict” with China’s “international obligations under the principles of the legally binding” agreement that saw Britain hand over its administration of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997.
“Hong Kong has flourished as a bastion of freedom. The international community has a significant and longstanding stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” the statement said.
“Direct imposition of national-security legislation on Hong Kong by the Beijing authorities … would curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode the autonomy and the system that made it so prosperous.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wouldn’t say if the security law violated the agreement between China and Britain when asked about it during a virtual press conference with Trudeau on Thursday afternoon.
The sharp criticism comes as the Trudeau government has been dealing with its own China crisis since December 2018.
Michael Kovrig, an ex-diplomat working for the International Crisis Group, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who did business in North Korea, have been in Chinese prisons with no access to lawyers or their families since they were detained nine days after Meng’s arrest by the RCMP on Dec. 1, 2018.
They are accused of violating China’s national security interests, and they have been denied regular monthly visits by Canadian diplomats since January because of COVID-19 restrictions on Chinese prisons.
“We will continue to advocate for the two Canadians arbitrarily detained in China and I take this opportunity to thank the international community for standing by so strongly with Canada in this situation,” Trudeau said.
Some analysts say their treatment could get a lot worse, especially based on Chinese government statements leading up to the ruling.
The fate of Michael Spavor, Michael Kovrig
“The PRC authorities’ statement of consequences of ‘continuous harm’ to Canada if Ms. Meng is not returned to China forthwith suggests that there will be further retaliation,” said Charles Burton, a China expert with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, who has been a diplomat in Beijing.
“I am concerned that Kovrig and Spavor may be forced to make false confessions on Chinese TV followed by a sham secret trial and possible sentences of death, usually suspended for two years before commutation to life imprisonment.”
David Mulroney, the Canadian ambassador to China between 2009 and 2012, said China is furious over the Meng case.
“Unfortunately, two innocent Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, will bear the brunt of that anger. It is likely that the detentions will be extended until China has some clarity as to Ms. Meng’s eventual fate. Unfortunately, that could take some time,” said Mulroney.
“China will also seek to lash out at Canada.”
‘Delaying the inevitable’
Fen Hampson, a global security expert with the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University, said Canada should rethink whether it needs to intervene politically to end the case rather than let it play out in the courts for years.
“You’ve got two Canadians who are in jail under fairly perilous circumstance, given COVID-19, and broader considerations at play in terms of Canada’s trade and investment relations with China,” said Hampson.
“Whatever happens, it will end up on the desk of the justice minister — he’s the one who has to decide whether she gets extradited or not. In some ways, you’re delaying the inevitable. The government is still going to have to make that decision.”
The roots of Canada’s current problems with China predate the Meng-Kovrig-Spavor affairs, said Wendy Dobson, an author and China expert who is co-director of the Institute for International Business at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
The government’s current preoccupation with “diversifying” its trade relations with other Asian countries reflects a long-standing inability to do just that, she said. “We’ve been saying this to ourselves for years, but we haven’t gotten very far,” Dobson said.
“We have not done a very good job of educating Canadians and deepening their understanding of who this partner is, where this partner comes from, and how to contribute in a way that is useful to both of us in the long term.”
The president of Canada Hong Kong Link said her group and others planned to launch a comprehensive lobbying and educational effort aimed at different parties, and especially members of key Commons and Senate committees to influence Canada’s foreign policy towards China.
Gloria Fung said a minority Parliament gives her group and other greater leverage to affect change.
“It is very important for Canadian voters, civil society, to realize the kind of power we have towards our government,” she said. “I think, so far, the Liberal government has been very weak, as far as the foreign policy towards China is concerned.”
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