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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on April 25 – CBC.ca

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Health Canada cautioned against the use of malaria drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19 on Saturday.

The Canadian health department said the two drugs may cause serious side effects, including serious heart rhythm problems. It advised use of the two drugs only if prescribed by a doctor.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also cautioned against the use of malaria drugs in COVID-19 patients on Friday.

Earlier, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it’s premature to talk of so-called “immunity passports” for Canadians because the science is unclear about whether people who have recovered from COVID-19 are protected from catching it a second time.

As some provinces began opening up their economies from COVID-19 lockdowns, Trudeau said on Saturday none of those recovery plans hinge on people being immune to catching COVID-19 twice.

Trudeau said he spoke to premiers Friday and they discussed a basic framework that provinces will use as they reopen businesses, schools and other institutions. The focus, he said, is on preventing the spread of the virus through physical distancing and personal protective equipment.

“It is very clear that the science is not decided on whether or not having had COVID once prevents you from having it again,” he told reporters. “It’s something we need to get clearer answers to and until we get those clearer answers, we need to err on the side of more caution.”

Trudeau was responding to a recent World Health Organization brief stating there is no evidence that people who have recovered from the virus have antibodies that protect them from getting infected again.

The WHO issued the brief in the context of certain countries announcing the possibility of providing so-called “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” to citizens who have already been infected.

WATCH | Tam says it’s ‘premature’ to consider immunity passports:

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said that without a clear understanding of immunity tests for COVID-19, it’s too early to think about issuing passes for those who might be protected. 0:53

Also on Saturday, Canada’s top doctor says there isn’t enough evidence to back herd immunity as a way to reopen society.

Herd immunity is conferred when enough people in a given population have been infected with a virus, marking them immune to reinfection and slowing down the rate at which the virus spreads on its own. 

“The idea of … generating natural immunity is actually not something that should be undertaken,” Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said Saturday, urging people to be “extremely cautious” about the concept.

Sask. and N.B. unveil multiphase plans

As the global death toll from COVID-19 topped 200,000 on Saturday, countries and jurisdictions around the world took cautious steps toward easing some lockdowns, while fears of infection made even some pandemic-wounded businesses reluctant to reopen.

At his regular news conference at Rideau Cottage on Saturday, Trudeau said any plans to reopen the economy will be based on science, data and expert advice.

Trudeau said Canada shouldn’t be reopening any sector without a plan to protect workers, which hinges on adequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE). He says planeloads of PPE are expected in the coming weeks, and domestic production will be on line soon.

WATCH | Trudeau details joint guidelines to reopen economy:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed how Canada’s provinces are working on a jointly-drafted set of guidelines to establish principles for reopening the country’s economy. 0:42

In addition to multiphase plans unveiled by New Brunswick and Saskatchewan this week, the federal government has circulated a set of draft guidelines that could form the basis of the joint document. The federal guidelines were prepared largely by the Public Health Agency of Canada and include feedback from provincial medical officers.

N.B. Premier Blaine Higgs released early details of a phased reopening plan for that province Friday afternoon. Also on Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that his government will offer some details early next week about its reopening plans.

The framework will provide a “gradual and measured approach” to opening up, Ford said, adding that health and safety will “always come first.”

WATCH | Some good news from around the world on Saturday:

With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here’s a brief roundup. 2:53

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer has called for a national plan, expressing concern about a “possible patchwork approach across the country.”

Higgs said New Brunswick’s plan would begin immediately with the loosening of physical distancing restrictions to allow two-household gatherings. Post-secondary students, who require access to their campus to fulfil their course requirements, will be able to do so, but elementary, middle and high schools won’t reopen until at least September.

Further steps would see the province eventually reopen elective surgeries, child-care facilities, barbers, churches and other facilities in stages over the coming weeks, as long as cases in the province remain low.

$62.5M for fish and seafood sector

Also Saturday, Trudeau announced $62.5 million to support fish and seafood processors.

The prime minister said the money will help processors buy personal protective equipment, adapt to new health protocols and support physical distancing.

He says the funding can also help pay for other equipment, such as freezers, so that companies can store food products while they adapt their factories to ensure workers can maintain a safe distance from one another.

WATCH | Trudeau says new funds will help industry adapt to COVID-19 challenges:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that new funds for Canada’s fish and seafood processors will help them adapt to challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 0:58

According to a Johns Hopkins University database, there are now more than 2.8 million known COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 200,000 deaths. The U.S., where some states are also taking steps toward reopening, accounts for more than 906,000 of those cases, as well as 52,000 deaths.

As of 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 45,354 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 16,438 listed by provinces and territories as resolved or recovered. A CBC News tally of coronavirus-related deaths, which is based on provincial data, local public health information and CBC reporting, put the death toll at 2,555 in Canada, plus two deaths abroad.

Public health officials caution that the numbers don’t capture the full story, as they don’t include people who haven’t been tested or potential cases that are still being investigated.

A resident and staff wave at Orchard Villa Retirement Residence in Pickering, Ont., on Saturday. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, has urged people to behave as though there is coronavirus in their community, even if there aren’t any officially recorded cases. There are no proven treatments or cures for the novel virus. 

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

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia reported two new deaths on Saturday, including the province’s first death related to COVID-19 in a First Nations community. B.C. also reported 95 new cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says there are no new outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

The province also announced it is enacting a public safety order to move homeless people living in tent city encampments into hotels in Vancouver and Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministers Mike Farnworth, Shane Simpson and Judy Darcy made the announcement, along with representatives from BC Housing, on Saturday morning. The plan is supported by an order under the Emergency Program Act and the ongoing provincial state of emergency. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

A notice is seen posted outside a homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Saturday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

In Alberta, the government has authorized the finance minister to borrow up to $25 billion to deal with the crisis. The opposition NDP supports the move, but has suggestions on how that money should be spent. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta. 

Saskatchewan is reporting that seven of its eight new COVID-19 cases are in the province’s far north. In total, there were 349 cases in Saskatchewan Saturday, and four people have died.

Premier Scott Moe announced Friday that non-critical travel to the province’s north was being restricted as the region deals with an outbreak in the remote community of La Loche, about 600 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon. Moe said the far north had 25 active cases — more than anywhere else in the province. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

WATCH | See how Saskatchewan plans to handle a phased reopening:

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe unveiled the province’s plan to start easing COVID-19 restrictions starting in May. 2:03

Manitoba is set to ramp up surgeries after a month of postponements due to COVID-19. The number of new coronavirus cases continues to be low enough that health officials say they can pivot some of the system’s resources back toward surgeries. 

“Our numbers have been looking like they’re in the right direction, and we’re at a position right now where we can start to plan on gradually loosening some of these restrictions,” Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Brent Roussin said. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba. 

WATCH | First Nations take extreme measures to prevent COVID-19 spread:

For remote First Nations communities, keeping COVID-19 at bay is particularly crucial. 2:00

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says front-line workers, including people working at shelters and long-term care homes, will receive a raise of $4 per hour for the next four months as they help in the fight against COVID-19. Ford says eligible workers will also receive an extra payment of $250 per month if they work more than 100 hours in a month. The provincial government says 350,000 workers will be eligible for the pay premium.

Also on Saturday, Ford called anti-lockdown protesters at Queen’s Park “a bunch of yahoos” and said they were being “selfish” and “irresponsible” for demonstrating against provincial emergency orders in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

A family doctor receives a bag of KN95 medical masks during a donation drive for personal protective equipment and medical supplies to benefit long-term care homes, shelters, family physicians and hospitals in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda has changed his guidance on masks, now recommending people wear them if they anticipate being in a situation where distancing isn’t possible. He said people should closely follow guidelines the government released yesterday for masks, including washing hands before putting one on and removing them. Arruda said people could make their own masks, as long as they are clean and have at least two layers of fabric.

Arruda had been adamant before that his fear was masks would provide Quebecers with a false sense of security because they may be more inclined to touch their face when wearing one. He also didn’t want people to purchase masks in short supply that would be more useful to health-care workers. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec

Paramedics transfer a patient to an ambulance from Notre-Dame-des-Anges seniors residence in Montreal on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

New Brunswick’s gradual recovery plan has already started, with physical distancing restrictions loosened to allow two households to partner in a “two-family bubble.” Public health reported no new cases on Saturday, marking one week since there was a positive case. Read more about what’s happening in N.B. 

Nova Scotia is reporting six more deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total to 22. Five deaths occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality, while a man in his 80s with underlying medical conditions died in the Western Zone of the province. He was not a resident of a long-term care home.

The province is reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 865 confirmed cases. There are 10 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors’ facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19, involving 191 residents and 90 staff. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island is working on a plan to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions in May, but gatherings with people outside of one’s household still are not permitted for now, said Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer. More details on P.E.I.’s plan to ease restrictions are expected in the coming week, said Premier Dennis King. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

Newfoundland and Labrador announced one new case on Saturday, after going a full week without any new COVID-19 cases. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer, on Friday praised people for the “dedication” they have shown and urged everyone to keep following public health rules. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

The Northwest Territories government is revamping its rent assistance program to help during COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening across the North.

Here’s a look at what’s happening in the U.S.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is urging careful science to prove whether any of the drugs being explored as COVID-19 treatments actually work. Fauci, the infectious diseases chief at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, said Saturday during an online meeting of the National Academy of Sciences that the only way to get answers beyond perpetual ambiguity is by doing randomized controlled trials.

“We need something out there, but safety and efficacy is something we owe to the global population,” Fauci said.

Fauci also stressed that caution is needed as economies reopen, pointing to a step-wise approach with restrictions gradually lifted as areas reach certain milestones.

Medical staff administer COVID-19 tests at a parking lot in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. (Bryon Houlgrave/The Des Moines Register via AP)

“Any attempt to leapfrog over these almost certainly will result in a rebound, and then we can set ourselves back,” he said. “If we don’t get control of it we will never get back to normal. I know we will, but we’ve got to do it correctly.”

Fauci also cautioned against looking for a magic number of available tests needed as the U.S. reopens.

“We don’t want to get fixated on how many tests you need,” Fauci said. Instead, places must “have enough tests to respond to the outbreaks that will inevitably occur.”

Vehicles line up at a food donation drive in Baltimore, Md., on Saturday. (Julio Cortez/Associated Press)

Meanwhile, many governors warned it might be too soon to reopen their states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo repeated his warning on Saturday that reopening businesses too soon was risky, while Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo pushed back against a protest at the State House in Providence as short-sighted, arguing it could force her to delay her restart date.

“At this point to violate social distancing rules, it’s just selfish,” Raimondo told a briefing, referring to the protest against a lockdown in effect until at least May 8.

“If everybody today went out and violated the rules I will definitely have to push back the date at which we can reopen the economy.”

Nurses and an EMT stand in counter-protest in response to a demonstration against stay-at-home orders at the State House in Providence, R.I., on Saturday. (Michael Dwyer/Associated Press)

Cuomo said Saturday that his state began conducting antibody tests of nurses, doctors, police officers, grocery clerks and other essential workers while also allowing local pharmacies to collect samples for diagnostic tests.

The focus on testing comes as the crisis appears to be subsiding in New York, the epicentre of the pandemic in the United States, with hospitalizations falling to their lowest in three weeks. “Twenty one days of hell, and now we are back to where we were 21 days ago,” Cuomo told a daily briefing. “Testing is what we are compulsively or obsessively focused on now.”

Yet New York also reported an additional 437 coronavirus-linked deaths, up from 422 a day earlier and the first rise in four days. New Jersey, its neighbour to the south, disclosed 249 more deaths. Together the two states account for about half of the nearly 53,000 fatalities in the United States.

People wearing face shields are seen at a New York City park on Saturday. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that while his curve of cases was “undeniably flattening” he would not yet open parks or beaches and suggested he would move cautiously with broad parameters of the state’s reopening plan to be disclosed as soon as Monday.

“We need to see more progress and more slowing before we can begin implementing any effort to get ourselves on the road to the new normal that awaits our state on the other side of this pandemic,” Murphy told a daily briefing.

Here’s a look at what’s happening around the world

Italy has reported 415 deaths and 2,357 new cases in the last 24 hours. The Italian health ministry puts Europe’s highest death toll at more than 26,000. The total known infections stand at more than 195,000.

The Lombardy region registers the most cases in Italy, adding some 700 on Saturday for a total of nearly 72,000 cases there since Italy’s first case in that northern region on Feb. 20.

Meanwhile, nearly 200,000 Italian companies have asked authorities for permission to be able to operate during the lockdown, either because they help essential businesses or because they deem themselves strategic for the national economy during the coronavirus pandemic. The interior ministry said Saturday that a streamlined procedure is being implemented that “trusts the sense of responsibility of individual business persons” in allowing companies to resume operations.

People wave and chant from their windows with the Italian flags draped on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Italy’s Liberation Day in Rome on Saturday. (Andrew Medichini/Associated Press)

Spain’s health authorities say 2,944 new infections were confirmed in the previous 24 hours, taking the total to nearly 206,000 cases. There were 378 reported deaths in that period, bringing the death toll since the start of the pandemic in Spain to nearly 23,000.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced in a televised address Saturday that Spaniards will be allowed to leave their homes for short walks and exercise starting on May 2 after seven weeks of strict home confinement “if the evolution of the epidemic remains favourable as it has recently.”

Since the start of the state of emergency, Spaniards have only been allowed to leave home for essential shopping, except those workers in industries who cannot work from home. Sanchez also announced that he would present a detailed plan on the “de-escalation” of the lockdown on Tuesday that he hopes to put into effect in the coming weeks.

A volunteer in protective gear take samples at a COVID-19 testing centre at the seaport city of Hondarribia, Spain, on Saturday. (Ander Gillenea/AFP via Getty Images)

France’s President Emmanuel Macron is aiming to ease some lockdown measures on May 11 with schools reopening first, although the government has yet to finalize how it might work in practice. 

France has also offered retailers some relief by saying it wants them to reopen when the lockdown is due to end on May 11, although some curbs could remain in certain areas to delay a new wave of the coronavirus.

The country’s health ministry reported 369 new deaths on Saturday, bringing the toll to 22,614.

People wearing face masks practice social distancing as they waits to buy produce in Groslay, France, on Saturday. (Thibault Camus/Associated Press)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be back at work on Monday, a Downing Street spokesperson confirmed on Saturday. Johnson has been recovering from COVID-19 at Chequers, his official country residence, after spending three nights in intensive care earlier this month.

The government says 20,319 people with COVID-19 have died in British hospitals, an increase of 813 from the day before. The figure doesn’t include deaths in nursing homes, which are likely to number in the thousands.

There are signs the United Kingdom outbreak has peaked, with the number of people hospitalized declining. But the government says it is too soon to ease a nationwide lockdown imposed on March 23 and extended to May 7. Still, some businesses are planning to reopen after implementing physical distancing measures. Several automakers say they will restart production in May.

People wearing protective masks walk past a social distancing banner in London on Saturday. (Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press)

China for the 10th straight day reported no new deaths. Twelve new cases were reported on Saturday, 11 of them brought from overseas and one local transmission in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang bordering Russia, according to the National Health Commission.

Just 838 people remain hospitalized with COVID-19, while another 1,000 people are undergoing isolation and monitoring for being either suspected cases or having tested positive for the virus while showing no symptoms.

China, widely believed to be the source of the global pandemic, has reported a total of 4,632 deaths among 82,816 cases.

People wearing face masks pose for a selfie at a public park overlooking the Forbidden City, which remains closed to the public, in Beijing on Saturday. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

In Brazil, there are concerns Latin America’s largest country is veering closer to becoming a pandemic hot spot.

Medical officials in Rio de Janeiro and four other major cities warned that their hospital systems are on the verge of collapse or already overwhelmed.

In Manaus, the biggest city in the Amazon, officials said they have been forced to dig mass graves in a cemetery. Workers have been burying 100 corpses a day — triple the pre-virus average.

A health worker is seen at Tide Setubal public hospital, where three workers died from suspected coronavirus disease, in Sao Paulo. (Amanda Perobelli/Reuters)

South Africa plans to reopen its agriculture sector and allow some manufacturing and retail to resume as the country balances the need to restart the economy and curb the spread of the coronavirus, Trade Minister Ebrahim Patel said on Saturday.

Iran says it registered 76 more deaths in the previous 24 hours. That puts the reported death toll from COVID-19 at 5,650 and confirmed cases at over 89,000. Iran is the country hardest hit by the virus in the Middle East.

Health Ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour says more than 1,100 new confirmed cases were detected from the previous day. Jahanpour added nearly 3,100 patients are in critical condition.

Shoppers wearing face masks and latex gloves buy produce from a merchant in Tajrish Bazaar in Tehran on Saturday. (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

South Korea on Saturday reported no new deaths for the second straight day. The figures released from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brought national totals to 10,718 cases, while deaths remained at 240.

While a slowing caseload has allowed South Korea to relax its social distancing guidelines over the past week, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun raised concern over possible transmissions by “quiet spreaders” and instructed officials to conduct antibody tests in Daegu and nearby towns.

Chung also called for stronger financial tools to ease the epidemic’s economic shock, which has caused severe cash flow problems for airlines while also hurting major exporters, such as carmakers and shipbuilders. The government is looking to create a 40 trillion won ($45 billion Cdn) fund through bonds issued by state-run banks to protect jobs in key industries, but the plan needs parliamentary approval.

People sit far apart from each other during an exam in Seoul on Saturday. (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press)

Turkey’s health ministry has documented 106 new deaths, bringing the death toll to 2,706. Minister Fahrettin Koca shared daily figures Saturday, showing 2,861 new confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed infections has reached 107,773. 

“The rate of positive tests is decreasing,” Koca tweeted and urged continued precaution.

Turkey ranks seventh in the world for the number of confirmed infections, according to Johns Hopkins University. But experts believe the actual toll of the pandemic around the world is higher than the tally.

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Ontario, Quebec continue to account for majority of Canada’s new novel coronavirus cases – Globalnews.ca

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Despite hundreds of new novel coronavirus cases still being reported in Ontario and Quebec, the number of overall cases across Canada continued to trend downward Friday.

More than 600 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday raised the national tally past 94,000 cases overall. More than 52,000 people are considered recovered, with more than 1.9 million tests conducted.

The national death toll went up by 66 deaths, for a total of 7,703.


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

Quebec accounted for the majority of the daily death toll once again. The province has been the hardest-hit region in Canada for the past few weeks, with 55 per cent of the national caseload and nearly 5,000 deaths (more than 60 per cent of Canada’s death toll).

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Quebec reported 50 new deaths and 255 new cases on Friday. More than 17,700 people are deemed recovered in the province.

Ontario reported 344 new cases and 15 new deaths, leaving the province with nearly 30,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths. More than 23,000 people have recovered from the virus.






1:46
Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals


Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals

B.C. reported one new case and one new death, for a total of 2,628 cases and 167 deaths. The province has seen 2,272 people recover so far.

The Prairie provinces recorded new cases in the single digits. Alberta saw seven new cases — the lowest daily number recorded by the province since March 12.

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Manitoba reported two new cases, bringing its total to 289 cases and seven deaths, while Saskatchewan reported one new case.

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READ MORE:
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada could see up to 9,400 total deaths by June 15, new modelling shows

All four Atlantic provinces reported no new cases or deaths on Friday. Prince Edward Island’s 27 cases have been resolved for weeks now, Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases left out of 261 cases and three deaths, and Nova Scotia, where 61 people have died so far, saw bars and restaurants reopen.

New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday and has mandated face coverings in public buildings. Out of 136 cases, 121 are recovered.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data

The Northwest Territories and the Yukon continue to see no new cases, having resolved all their cases for some time. Nunavut remain the only region in Canada that hasn’t reported a positive case of COVID-19 so far.

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Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 6.7 million cases and nearly 394,000 deaths, according to figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.

“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.

“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”

Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.

Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.

The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.

Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.

“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential.  And that it is expensive.”

With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello

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Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.

Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.

The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.

“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible. 

For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.

“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.

Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.

For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.

The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.

NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS

In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.

One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.

The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.

“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”

Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.

“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.” 

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