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.
“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.
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.
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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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All three levels of government, police, organizers granted full standing on inquiry
OTTAWA — The commissioner of the inquiry examining Ottawa’s use of the Emergencies Act to bring an end to the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protest in February has granted standing to the organizers, police and representatives of all three levels of government.
The decision by Paul Rouleau means those granted standing will be given advance notice on information submitted into evidence before the inquiry, and also gives them certain privileges, such as the opportunity to suggest or cross-examine witnesses.
Those granted full standing in the public inquiry include the federal, Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, the cities of Ottawa and Windsor, Ont., the Ottawa Police Service, Ontario Provincial Police and the organizers of the convoy, including Tamara Lich, Tom Marazzo and Chris Barber.
Former Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly will be allowed to produce documents, make submissions on factual, evidentiary and policy-related issues and examine witnesses, and the Manitoba government has been granted permission to provide written submissions.
However, Rouleau denied standing to the Conservative Party of Canada and several participants of the protests, some of whom had their bank accounts frozen under the Act.
Rouleau said it is important that the inquiry remain an independent, non-partisan process, noting there is also the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the Declaration of Emergency reviewing the use of the Act’s powers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Ottawa police say they're ready to shut down Canada Day occupation attempts – CBC.ca
Ottawa city officials say they are prepared for a “unique” Canada Day, with plans to keep anti-government protests from turning into another occupation.
The traditional nationally broadcast shows are returning for the first time since 2019, this time from the plaza in front of the Canadian War Museum because of ongoing construction on Parliament Hill.
Ottawa police say they expect more protests and larger crowds than usual during Canada Day celebrations as groups related to the Freedom Convoy continue to plan demonstrations. Some in those groups have indicated they’d like to protest through July and August.
“This is expected to be a unique Canada Day, with larger crowds and a larger event footprint,” interim Ottawa police Chief Steve Bell said during a Monday news conference.
“We’ve developed our plans in the shadow of the unlawful protests and Rolling Thunder event. We’ve been speaking with community members and businesses and we’re very aware of the lingering trauma and concern about what they’re hearing after those events.”
Bell said officers will allow legal protests while shutting down illegal activities, including setting up structures or speakers without a permit and the threat of occupation, like on downtown streets in the winter.
He said police have been following online commentary and trying to talk to people who’ve said they’re coming to protest.
“[We’ve] planned, we’re prepared and we have the resources,” Bell replied when answering a question about whether police were ready to step in again like they did in late April, when attempts to gather near the Rideau Centre mall were shut down by officers.
Provincial police and the RCMP have offered help to shut down occupation attempts as long as there’s a risk, he said.
The Ottawa Police Services Board received an update on plans for Canada Day when it met Monday evening.
Bell spoke about the toll recent months have taken on officers, noting the demand is not “sustainable” and describing police as “fatigued” ahead of the long weekend.
“For this event we’ve actually had to cancel days off, we’ve cancelled discretionary time off, called people back from annual leave,” said the chief. “This is an all hands on deck event, but that has a cost on the health and wellbeing of our members.”
At least 5 days of traffic control
Last week, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson told people thinking of coming to the capital “not to be intimidated by individuals who may be coming to Ottawa to cause trouble.”
He said Monday he wants this to be a safe, festive event for children and families and that people who “come to disrupt” will be dealt with, without a warning.
Bell told the police board that the force has been clear with its expectations for demonstrators, and that harassment won’t be tolerated.
“If there is a hate or bias crime incidents, if there’s intimidation or threats, we will actively investigate those,” he said, adding police know residents have “scars” from the occupation.
“I want to reassure you that those feelings, that trauma that our community has felt is front and centre in all of our planning efforts and will be front and centre in our response efforts.”
Overall, Bell said police are expecting hundreds of thousands of people downtown. For comparison, an estimated 56,000 people went to the shows on Parliament Hill in 2019 and that doesn’t count everyone celebrating nearby.
There will be the traditional Canada Day road closures Friday July 1 and early Saturday, though there are more closures near LeBreton Flats because of that change in show location.
But Ottawa police are establishing another “vehicle exclusion zone” — similar to what was set up in late April for the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally — with no street parking at all and no protest vehicles allowed in from 8 a.m. this Wednesday until at least 6 a.m. on Monday, July 4.
Those plans may change if needed, officials said Monday. People are asked to plan ahead, expect delays and check city pages and local media for updates.
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