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.
WATCH | At Issue: The politics of pandemic spending:
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.
Anti-black racism protests, vigils planned across Canada – CBC.ca
Canadians continued to rally and demonstrate against anti-black racism and police brutality on Saturday, a day after thousands attended protests and vigils across the country.
The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis, Minn. A police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Many are calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam on Friday urged demonstrators to “take care of themselves” and follow public health guidelines such as physical distancing as much as possible and using hand sanitizers.
Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.
Thousands demonstrated in two separate protests in Toronto against anti-black racism. The first protest began at Nathan Phillips Square, while the second began at Trinity Bellwoods Park.
Twanna Lewis, a Toronto resident at Trinity Bellwoods Park, said she was protesting for the first time on Saturday because she felt the need to take a stand for people who are voiceless. She has an 18-year-old black son, cousins, uncles and a brother.
“It’s 2020 and we need to be doing better,” Lewis told CBC Toronto. “It’s a shame that we have to be having this conversation in this day and age, when we think that we have gone so far.”
WATCH | Hand sanitizer, masks handed out at Toronto protest:
At Nathan Phillips Square, demonstrators chanted, held placards and posters, and listened to speakers. Then the protesters marched to the U.S. consulate and onward to Yonge-Dundas Square.
“I can’t breathe,” the crowd chanted at one point at Nathan Phillips Square, in a reference to some of Floyd’s last words before his death on May 25.
People held up signs that read “No Justice No Peace” and “Yes it’s here too Ford.” Ontario Premier Doug Ford had said Canada doesn’t have the “systemic, deep roots” of racism as the U.S.
WATCH | Protesters, police speak at Toronto demonstration:
Thousands of people kneeled on the lawn of Confederation Building in St. John’s during a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter.
The rally, organized by newly established Black Lives Matter NL, featured speeches and performances from members of the area’s black community sharing their own stories of racism.
Crowds were able to physically distance during the rally, spreading themselves across the lawn of Confederation Building. There was a small police presence, but no incidents were reported.
Zainab Jerrett, who came to Newfoundland in the 1990s and is a professor at Memorial University, was one of the speakers on stage and was overwhelmed by the public support.
“That shows that this problem is effecting everybody, and everyone wants to chip in to bring a solution,” Jerrett said. “I almost got emotional because there’s so many people … young people of all cultures in Newfoundland.”
“This is an awakening. The people are interested in listening to the black community” she added. “[But] we are all the same. The more we come together as a human race, the better.”
“I am almost speechless. I am about to cry,” she says. “I feel like I am a Newfoundlander in spirit and soul.” <br><br>The audience yells back at her “you are!” <a href=”https://t.co/rZXj08NvIT”>pic.twitter.com/rZXj08NvIT</a>
A vigil is scheduled for 4 p.m. MT outside Calgary’s Olympic Plaza in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
“We must all come together to speak against murders by police officers and the institutions defending them,” organizers said in a Facebook post.
They also encourage attendees to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines like wearing masks and physical distancing.
Thousands attended a similar demonstration in Calgary on Wednesday.
Fort McMurray, Alta.
Elsewhere in Alberta, a Black Lives Matter rally was held at Fort McMurray City Hall.
The rally comes as Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation Chief Allan Adam says Wood Buffalo RCMP officers beat and arrested him in a Fort McMurray parking lot earlier this year.
In London, Ont., hundreds gathered at Victoria Park for an anti-racism rally.
Mayor Ed Holder said he supports the purpose behind the rally but declined to attend in person to comply with physical distancing rules recommended by health authorities in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Hundreds of Londoners are here at Victoria Park for an anti-black racism protest <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://t.co/PVevHrYQGV”>pic.twitter.com/PVevHrYQGV</a>
Rally is so big it fits down Queens Street, around the block in both directions. <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/LdnOnt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#LdnOnt</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BLM?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BLM</a> <a href=”https://t.co/3a6bzJFVwy”>pic.twitter.com/3a6bzJFVwy</a>
Volunteers handed out bottles of water and squirts of hand sanitizer to marchers in Guelph, Ont., as thousands of demonstrators descended upon city hall. Organizer took COVID-19 precautions after health officials urged protesters to adhere to public health protocols.
A similar demonstration in Kitchener on Wednesday saw thousands of people walk through the downtown core holding signs.
‘They’re targeting us’: Why some advocates want to defund Canadian police – Global News
In recent days, protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality have erupted across the U.S. and Canada in response to the deaths of Black Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Now, some advocates are calling for police forces to be defunded and taxpayer money to be redirected — a conversation that is also happening in Canada, stemming from the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Black and Indigenous woman who fell from her Toronto apartment balcony after police entered the unit.
Police claim they were responding to a reported assault, but the family has questioned the role of the police in her death. The Special Investigations Unit, Ontario’s police watchdog, is currently investigating.
Defunding the police means redirecting the budget for Canada’s police forces to other services that focus on social supports, mental health and even spaces like transit, said Sandy Hudson, one of the founders of Black Lives Matter Toronto and a law student at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There’s no reason why we can’t start a service that is another emergency response service where people can call a number and have someone who is trained in de-escalation,” Hudson said.
Now, with more incidents of police brutality in the news, calls for defunding the police both in the U.S. and Canada are louder than ever.
The history of police in Canada
This is hardly the first time defunding the police has been talked about in Canada, experts told Global News.
Examining the way police uphold and participate in anti-Black racism and violence towards Black and Indigenous communities in Canada has been a discussion for decades, said Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a sociology professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
“Part of it is discrimination within policing — both implicit and explicit — but then the other parts of it are how the police operate and what we’re asking police to do,” he said.
Regis Korchinski-Paquet death: Toronto protesters march in memoriam, against anti-Black violence
The origins of policing in the southern United States were based on preserving the slavery system, as Time magazine reports, and police were primarily tasked with being “slave patrols” to prevent Black slaves from escaping. After the Civil War ended, these patrols still existed to uphold segregation and discrimination towards Black people.
Police in Canada were historically also tasked with “clearing the land” to steal the property of Indigenous Peoples, said Hudson.
“Those two focuses of the police, Indigenous and Black people, controlling us … there’s a through line to today and how the police interact with our communities,” she said.
Policing has been used to enforce the dominant narrative in Canada, which is colonization, said Alicia Boatswain-Kyte, a social work professor at McGill University whose research examines systemic oppression.
“These institutions are a product of (colonialism); they stem from that,” she said. “Right now we’re seeing what it looks like at this stage … and it gets manifested in the form of police brutality.”
Mental health, homelessness and other social issues
Experts are concerned that police in Canada are tasked with issues related to poverty, mental health and homelessness, and they are “ill-equipped and an inappropriate resource to be addressing those issues,” Owusu-Bempah said.
A 2018 report on racial profiling by the Ontario Human Rights Commission found that a Black person was 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fating shooting by Toronto police. The report was the result of an inquiry launched after Andrew Loku, a father of five who was experiencing mental health issues, died after being shot by police.
A coroner’s inquest ruled that Loku’s death was the result of a homicide and recommended that police are better trained if they are to deal with mental health calls.
“The violence we see inflicted by the police are often happening with people who are having a mental health crisis,” said Hudson.
Shifting the money to fund organizations that understand the nuances of mental health issues and the challenges faced by racialized communities would be a better use of taxpayers’ money, she said.
How racism affects Black mental health
Out of the nearly one million calls the force responds to, Toronto police respond to about 30,000 mental health calls every year, spokeswoman Meaghan Gray told the Canadian Press.
The force’s mobile crisis intervention teams — which include a trained officer and a mental health nurse — attend only 6,000 of those calls each year because they do not go to calls where a weapon may be involved.
Annual training for the force includes courses on communication and deescalation techniques, said Gray.
“The Toronto Police Service believes that mental health is a complex issue that requires the involvement of multiple entities, including but not limited to community support, public health, and all levels of government, to render any meaningful change,” she said.
It would be better if a mental health nurse or some other trained expert was always present, Boatswain-Kyte said.
“Are they (police) really the ones that are best suited?” she said.
“Social workers, for instance, go to school to understand how to form relationships, to understand how people are excluded and what factors contribute to their exclusion.”
By making police the body available to provide help in these situations, Boatswain-Kyte said, it sends a message that people with those health issues aren’t welcome in our society.
“Regardless of the amount of training … the implicit bias as a result of what (police) have been socialized to believe and understand about the ‘dangers’ of Black and brown bodies is going to influence them at the time when they have to make a decision.”
Boatswain-Kyte points to a study published in May from Columbia University that found there is “no evidence that enhanced police training focused on mental health crises” can reduce fatal shootings towards those having a mental health crisis, or racialized people in general.
By the numbers
In Toronto, the largest portion of a resident’s property tax bill — around $700 out of an average bill of $3,020 — goes to the Toronto Police Service. The lowest portion of property taxes goes to children’s services, Toronto employment and social services and economic development and culture.
The situation is similar elsewhere in the country, as the Vancouver police budget has grown by more than $100 million in the last decade, representing about one-fifth of the city’s $1.6-billion 2020 operating budget.
Backlash mounting over Premier Doug Ford’s comments on racism in Canada
A 2014 report published by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute found that policing budgets in Canada had doubled compared to the GDP since 2004, even though the public calls to police have “remained stable.”
“Police associations have been happy to stoke public fears about safety, but the correlation between numbers of officers, crime rates and response times has long been shown to be spurious,” the report said, authored by Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at Queen’s University and Royal Military College.
Police work that is essentially unrelated to policing could be done by other groups, Leuprecht explains.
Owusu-Bempah is calling on city mayors like Toronto Mayor John Tory to review which roles and functions we want the police to provide and which should be provided by other agencies.
“Then we need a lot of (the) funding currently spent on police … given to other organizations” that are better equipped to help with issues like homelessness and mental illness, he said.
Given the recent incidents of anti-Black racism and brutality perpetuated by police, Hudson says defunding the police would also give agency and safety to Black communities.
“How could the body that is ostensibly meant to provide safety for our communities … be one of the the the the reasons we keep getting hurt?” Hudson said.
“Most people don’t have to interact with police at all … but for our communities, they’re targeting us.
“We just want to live like everybody else.”
— With files from the Canadian Press
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Ontario extends emergency orders to June 19, as province reports 455 new COVID-19 cases – CBC.ca
Ontario is extending its emergency orders for another 10 days, the same day the province reported an additional 455 cases, 68 of which were the result of a reporting delay.
The province’s emergency orders had been set to expire June 9 but Ontario announced Saturday that they are being extended until June 19.
Those orders include banning people from dining in bars and restaurants, and gathering in groups larger than five.
They also include the closure of child-care centres, though Premier Doug Ford has said that a phased reopening plan for them will be announced early next week.
Extending the emergency orders also means the continued closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery, libraries except for curbside pickup or delivery, and theatres.
Ontarians looking to use playgrounds, or beat the heat at public pools and splash pads are also out of luck as a result of the extended orders.
“Extending these emergency orders will give employers of frontline care providers the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people and the public as the province gradually and safely reopens,” the Ontario government said in a release issued Saturday morning.
Additionally, the province says it is extending the suspension of limitation periods and time periods for legal proceedings until Sept. 11, ensuring people “will not experience legal consequences” if the original time requirements of their case are not met while this order is in effect.
This news comes after Ontario’s state of emergency, which permits the government to issue emergency orders like these, was extended earlier this week to June 30.
Ontario’s cumulative cases surpass 30,000
Meanwhile, the province reported 387 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, as well as 68 others that were impacted by a reporting delay.
According to new data released by Ontario’s Ministry of Health, the lag in reporting was the result of a “laboratory-to-public health reporting delay.”
That delay stemmed from a “breakdown in communication” between an assessment centre and a hospital lab where a number of positive tests were not communicated to the public health units, Public Health Ontario told CBC Toronto in an email.
When combined, those 455 newly reported cases represent a 1.5 per cent increase in total cases, a spike when compared to increases in new cases seen earlier this week, which hovered around 1.2 per cent.
The province’s cumulative number of cases now sits at 30,202. Some 23,947 of those cases are considered resolved.
Ontario’s network of about 20 labs processed some 23,105 tests on Friday, the most on any single day since the outbreak began in late January and the first time that figure has surpassed 23,000.
Ontario has now broken its record number of tests processed for the third straight day, though the province’s partnership of about 20 public, commercial and hospital labs have capacity to handle up to 25,000 samples per day.
Watch l Ontario struggles to keep COVID-19 under control:
The province’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by 35 and now sits at 2,407. A CBC News count based on data compiled directly from regional public health units puts the real toll at at least 2,434 as of Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Just over 64 per cent of COVID-19-linked deaths were residents in long-term care homes, a drop of 15 per cent from the province’s previous update.
The province has tracked outbreaks in 311 long-term care facilities, while 88 remain ongoing, a drop in 78 homes since yesterday.
Public Health Ontario that significant drop stemmed from the the fact that many long-term care outbreaks that were classified as “open” also included an “declared over” date, which signals that the outbreak is over. That error has since been rectified, Public Health Ontario said in an email.
The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 76, down to 673.
Those being treated in intensive care units fell by one, to 117, while patients requiring a ventilator increased by three, to 97.
Despite steady new case numbers, Ford says he will reveal details next week on Ontario’s second phase of loosening pandemic restrictions.
Although Stage 2 won’t begin immediately after details are revealed, Ford says the province will give notices to businesses that will be given the green light to reopen.
“We encourage businesses to begin preparing to reopen, so when the time comes, they will be able to protect employees, consumers and the general public,” Ford said in the statement Saturday.
Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of downtown Toronto Friday to protest against anti-black racism — you can read more about that here.
2nd migrant worker dies in Windsor
The Windsor region is reporting the death of a second migrant worker from COVID-19.
Windsor Regional Hospital says a 24-year-old man was first admitted to a different hospital on Monday, and died at their facility on Friday.
The hospital says they have contacted the man’s family in Mexico.
It is with regret that we confirm the death of a second migrant worker in our region due to COVID-19 and announce plans for a multi-partner commitment for mass testing of thousands of migrant workers and other vulnerable settings in our region. <a href=”https://t.co/lvxyjxnvCg”>https://t.co/lvxyjxnvCg</a>
A news release also says that local hospitals and health organizations will jointly conduct a “mass swabbing” for COVID-19 of 8,000 migrant workers in Windsor-Essex starting on Tuesday.
Another temporary foreign worker in the Windsor area who came to Canada in February and tested positive for the virus on May 21 died last weekend.
Approximately 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses — many of them from Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean — and this year have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
Outbreaks that have affected dozens of migrant workers have been reported in Chatham-Kent, Windsor-Essex, Niagara Region and Elgin County.
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