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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on Friday –



The latest:

As COVID-19 public safety restrictions continue, the May long weekend that so many Canadians look forward to every year will be different than any other in recent memory. 

Plans for gradually reopening businesses and recreational activities in the coming days and weeks vary by province and territory, but all are asking people to continue physical distancing measures amid the fight to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Most provinces and territories are asking people to resist the urge to travel or hold gatherings they would have in years past.   

On Thursday, B.C. Parks reopened facilities such as trails, including backcountry trails, beaches, picnic areas, washroom facilities and boat launches for day use. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry emphasized the need for British Columbians to stay local and avoid travelling during the long weekend, as new cases of coronavirus continued to appear.  

“Let’s make this our summer of care and consideration for our families, our communities and our province. A summer for us all to remember to be kind, to be calm and to be safe,” she said in her Thursday media briefing. 

In Alberta, retail stores, hair salons, museums, daycares and day camps were allowed to open, with restrictions, across much of the province, amid warnings from the province’s chief medical officer that reopening did not mean going back to normal. 

Calgary and Brooks, however, which account for the majority of the active cases in Alberta, were told by the province to hold back, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday. 

Barber Salim Alhaj cuts the hair of a client in Airdrie, Alta., on Thursday. Many services, such as hairdressing, were allowed to reopen across much of the province, but not in Calgary, where there are still many cases of COVID-19. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

“Please, please, please, please don’t let up now,” Nenshi said. “Be safe, stay kind. Together we’ll save lives.” 

Ontario announced details of its first stage of reopening on Thursday. Beginning on Tuesday, retail stores outside of shopping malls that have street entrances will be allowed to open.

But “businesses should open only if they’re ready,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned, saying the province will be watching the COVID-19 case numbers closely. “We cannot let our guard down now.”

Golf courses, marinas and private parks will be allowed to open a few days earlier, on Saturday. 

Members of the grounds crew do maintenance as they prepare the opening of a golf course in Milton, Ont. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ontarians must continue to be in contact only with members of their own households, the provincial government said. Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province was studying when that restriction could change, as well as when religious gatherings might resume. 

Montreal continues to be the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. The city has recorded more than 20,000 cases and more than 2,100 deaths. 

On Thursday, Quebec Premier François Legault announced schools in the Montreal area won’t be reopening until the fall. Elementary schools in other parts of Quebec, where the number of cases is much lower than in the province’s largest city, started up again on Monday. 

Low-income neighbourhoods in Montreal have been especially hard hit. Public health experts say such neighbourhoods tend to be densely populated, and more residents work in front-line jobs — such as health care or grocery stores — where they are more likely to be exposed to illness.

In New Brunswick and in Newfoundland and Labrador, families are allowed to slightly relax their physical distancing measures over the holiday weekend thanks to recently implemented “double bubble” rules — in which two households can agree to spend time together exclusively. 

April home sales plunge to lowest level in 36 years

The economic uncertainty, lockdowns and physical distancing measures inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic put a dramatic chill on Canada’s residential real estate market in April — a time when sales normally tend to heat up, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Friday.

It was the worst April for home sales since 1984, the association said, but still didn’t have a significant effect on average home prices. 

Federal emergency wage subsidy program extension

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to provide details on Friday about extending the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy, which pays for up to 75 per cent of the payroll for eligible companies. 

The $73-billion program was initially scheduled to run until June 6. The program pays up to $847 per employee to help employers — who are facing plummeting revenues due to pandemic measures — keep their workers for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.

Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey data estimates the total number of jobs lost during the crisis at more than three million.

WATCH | At Issue: The politics of pandemic spending:

The At Issue panel discusses the political and economic costs of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and the calls for more fiscal transparency. Plus in this extended edition, the panellists look at the concerns about fraudulent CERB claims. 15:20

As of Friday morning, Canada had 73,401 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 36,104 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of COVID-19 deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC’s reporting stood at 5,576.

While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe disease or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19. 

Here’s what’s happening in other provinces and territories:

First Nations residents of northern Saskatchewan say highway bans and checkpoints put in place to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between different areas of the province has created a double standard and alienated them. Some residents say that although they’re supposed to be allowed to leave their communities for essentials such as shopping, that hasn’t happened — leaving them unable to access affordable groceries and supplies only available at larger stores in southern towns and cities. 

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King has laid out the basics on what will be expected of child-care providers when they reopen. “We know that we have to change how we deliver programs. Also, where some of these programs have been traditionally delivered will need to change as well,” the premier said. Read more about what’s happening in P.E.I.

The Northwest Territories could begin the first phase of its reopening plan — which includes allowing some businesses to reopen and small indoor gatherings — as soon as Friday, officials said. Read more about what’s happening across the North, including a story about a drop in emergency room visits in Yukon.

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

As of Friday morning, there were more than 4.4 million confirmed cases of coronvirus around the world, according to a database tracking system maintained by the coronavirus resource centre at Johns Hopkins University. A quarter of those cases (more than 1.4 million) were in the United States. 

According to the tracking system, COVID-19 has killed more than 302,490 people globally. It says the 10 most affected countries at this time, based on the reported number of deaths, are the U.S., the U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Germany and Iran. 

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Canada’s athletes began their Olympic journeys from humble beginnings



Parents, siblings and love of sport, although not necessarily their own Olympic sport at first, is a common origin story of how Canada’s athletes got started in their chosen sport.

A capsule look at some beginnings:

Tammara Thibeault, Shawinigan, Que., boxing

“I got into boxing when I was nine. My dad was a CFL player, a wide receiver with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. During his off-season, he’d go to the boxing club to stay in shape. He dragged his three kids along at the time and I fell in love with the sport.”

Phil (Wizard) Kim, Vancouver, breaking

“I started breaking because there was a local crew called the Now or Never Crew and they were performing in front of the art gallery in Vancouver, which is a very common busking spot. I saw it, it blew my mind. I was like ‘that would totally impress people. I could get girls with that.’ One of them actually came to my school. They were teaching hip-hop choreography, but I went up to him and I asked him if he taught breaking. He said yes and gave me a card.”

Eric Peters, Ottawa, archery

“I was a nerdy kid who played a bunch of video games and read a bunch of books and thought it was really cool. I decided I wanted to do this and then I found out it was in the Olympics. I was like ‘OK, I guess I really want to do this now.'”

Katie Vincent, Mississauga, Ont., sprint canoe

“I got into canoeing at the Mississauga Canoe Club, which is the local canoe club near my house. It was just their summer camp that my parents put my brother and I into when I was around 10. We’ve been members ever since, and it’s gotten me from summer camp to the Olympics.

Aaron Brown, Toronto, track and field

“The common denominator with all the sports that I did was that I was fast. It was a natural progression for me to get into track. I did soccer, I did football, I played basketball, a little bit of volleyball, some tee ball, and then track just for fun. When my club coach in high school Bill Stephens saw me run, he said, ‘hey, I think you should take this seriously and come up from a club team because I think you can go pretty far.'”

Fay De Fazio Ebert, Toronto, skateboarding

“I did track and cross-country when I was in elementary school. There was a March break lesson at Impact Skate Club. We went and we bought a board right after because I felt so connected to it. I don’t remember the exact feeling, but I remember feeling I’ve done it before. People were asking ‘has she done this before?’ and I said ‘No, I haven’t.'”

Sarah Mitton, Brooklyn, N.S., shot put

“I got into shot putting in junior high school. It was kind of the next sport on the docket and I was a super-athletic kid. Went out to a local competition and I ended up doing really well. This coach came up to me and she was like, ‘who are you? we need to get you throwing the shot put.’ I remember having to beg my mom to let me join like this track club after like one day of track and field.”

Felix Dolci, Laval, Que., gymnastics

“I started doing many sports such as hockey, soccer. I had too much energy. My mom said ‘you need something else. Something that is more demanding.’ She put me in gymnastics because she was a gymnast when she was younger. She thought it was a great idea because I was jumping everywhere on the walls.”

Charles Philibert-Thiboutot, Quebec City, track and field

“I tried all sports. The common denominator for all of those was that I was the quick one, or the one that never got tired. Against my will, my phys-ed teacher put me in cross-country and track every year in high school. That’s the sport I hated the most. I would rather run after a ball. By my last year of high school, it was pretty obvious the one sport I had the most talent in was track and field and middle-distance running.”

Olivia Apps, Lindsay, Ont., rugby

“I started playing in Grade 10 at high school. I played soccer all my life. Growing up, I actually wanted to go to the Olympics for soccer or for hockey, and then I found rugby. Anyone who plays rugby would say the same thing, the off-field environment and the passion for the game is pretty addictive.”

Cam Levins, Black Creek, B.C., marathon

“I started running, my parents would say as soon as I could walk. My first actual race was a short cross-country race in second grade. It was a 2k loop in our area and we got to race with the third graders. It’s like their last race of the year, and they let second graders do it. I really just wanted to do every sort of sport I could. I had an older brother, who was also doing it and quite good at it, and so I wanted to do everything he did as well. I ended up joining a local track club in seventh grade.”

Sanoa Dempfle-Olin, Tofino, B.C., surfing

“I went into surfing because of my oldest sister and my mom. My mom, she loved the ocean and she liked surfing when she got out there. My sister got into it. Because she’s almost three years older than me she kind of helped me get out there and anything she was doing, I wanted to keep up and do it as well.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

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10,000 unionized employees return to work, stores to reopen Tuesday: LCBO



TORONTO – Workers are back on the job today at Ontario’s main liquor retailer, but the Liquor Control Board of Ontario says stores won’t be open for business until Tuesday.

The union representing 10,000 of its workers announced Sunday members had ratified a new deal with the liquor retailer to end a strike that had closed its stores for two weeks.

The ratification came after the deal seemed to be up in the air on Friday.

Both OPSEU and the LCBO had announced a tentative agreement had been reached but the union said the strike would continue after the employer refused to sign a return-to-work protocol.

The retailer said the union had introduced new monetary demands and the employer would file an unfair labour practice complaint.

But the LCBO issued a statement on Saturday saying reopening plans were back underway, and a return-to-work protocol signed by both parties does not include any “new monetary items.”

OPSEU had said they believed Premier Doug Ford’s plan to expand alcohol sales to convenience and grocery stores would threaten union jobs and the public revenue the LCBO provides to the province.

Ford has sped up those plans since the strike began on July 5, allowing grocery stores already licensed to sell beer and wine to also sell ready-to-drink cocktail beverages as of Thursday.

The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.

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Markets bet on second Bank of Canada interest rate cut coming this week



Economists and market watchers are betting the Bank of Canada will deliver another interest rate cut this week amid mounting evidence that inflation issustainably easing.

Expectations that the bank will lower its overnight lending rate when it makes its scheduled announcement Wednesday have been high since last week’s release of the latest Statistics Canada inflation report, which showed annual inflation cooled to 2.7 per cent in June.

The inflation reading was less than the 2.8 per cent that markets had been expecting and has helped to build market confidence that the Bank of Canada may be poised for a second rate cut, on top of the 25-basis-point cut it announced last month.

“I think it’s very likely the Bank of Canada cuts rates again next week. It wouldn’t really make sense from a strategic point of view to only cut rates 25 basis points and then leave them there and see how the economy responds, because that wouldn’t really cause a lot of change in the trajectory of the economy or inflation,” said Royce Mendes, managing director and head of macro strategy at Desjardins.

“So it always made sense that the Bank of Canada was likely going to do at least two rate cuts in a row before pausing. And now recent data has reinforced that view.”

Last month’s interest rate cut, which reduced the central bank’s key rate from five to 4.75 per cent, was the first in more than four years.

In addition to the latest inflation report, Mendes said, recent data showing rising unemployment as well as subdued expectations for growth by Canadian businesses all support the prospect of another cut.

While inflation remains higher than the Bank of Canada’s two per cent target, Mendes said he believes delaying any longer could have negative repercussions.

“The interest rates at the levels they are (currently) are actually very restrictive. You can see it in consumer spending trends. You can see it in the housing market,” Mendes said.

“I would say if (the Bank of Canada) didn’t cut next week, it would signal a much greater willingness to tip the economy into recession, just for the sake of getting inflation down a few tenths of a percentage point more.”

The latest Statistics Canada report on retail sales Friday showed Canadians reined in their spending in May as retail sales dropped 0.8 per cent to $66.1 billion.

Sales were lower in eight of the nine subsectors tracked, the agency said.

“What the Bank of Canada is trying to do is just reduce the amount of restraint it is placing on the economy. It’s not trying to stimulate the economy, it’s just trying to reduce the amount of headwinds it’s providing,” Mendes said, adding a second rate cut could make Canadian consumers begin to feel more confident about spending again.

The most recent data on the Canadian job market shows the economy stalling in June, losing 1,400 jobs while the unemployment rate rose to 6.4 per cent, from 6.2 per cent in May.

The June result was the highest reading for the unemployment rate since January 2022, another indication that raises the odds of the Bank of Canada lowering rates this week.

But while most market watchers believe an interest rate cut will come this week and be followed by additional cuts later in the year, that view is not unanimous.

Clay Jarvis, mortgage and real estate expert for NerdWallet Canada, said this week’s decision could go either way.

“Considering how cautious the bank is, reducing the overnight rate when inflation is still well over two per cent would be fairly uncharacteristic,” Jarvis said in a note.

If the cut does happen, shaving 25 basis points off of variable interest rates is unlikely to be enough to shake up Canada’s housing market significantly, Jarvis added, as buyers grapple with the prospect of higher mortgage payments.

A survey conducted by CPA Canada (an organization which represents professional accountants) and BDO Debt Solutions conducted shortly after the June rate cut found half of Canadians say interest rate hikes have negatively impacted their debt loads, with seven out of 10 saying the June cut had no impact on their financial outlook.

The survey also found 52 per cent of respondents believe continued interest rate cuts won’t go far enough to reduce the financial strain.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 22, 2024.

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