Schools in the hard-hit Montreal area won’t be reopening until the fall amid continued concern over the coronavirus pandemic, Quebec Premier François Legault announced at his daily briefing on Thursday.
Except those for children of essential service workers, daycares in the region will not reopen before June 1. Legault had previously announced high schools, colleges and universities wouldn’t reopen until late August; the new decision now includes elementary schools.
The province has opened daycares and primary schools outside the Montreal region, though attendance is voluntary.
WATCH | Montreal mayor on 2 key COVID-19 decisions made by Quebec:
In Ontario, the fate of the school year is not yet known, but the premier announced the province will enter Stage 1 of its reopening plan next week.
The plan, which begins Tuesday, includes resuming construction projects, as well as the reopening of some workplaces, seasonal activities and health-care facilities.
Still, Premier Doug Ford stressed caution, and warned that plans could change if caseloads increase.
WATCH | Premier Ford announces further opening of Ontario economy:
“Businesses should open only if they are ready,” Ford said in a briefing on Thursday.
“We can’t fully predict where things will go … we cannot let our guard down now.”
Ontario’s reopening also includes retail stores outside of shopping malls with street entrances, and involves “gradually restarting” scheduled surgeries, along with allowing libraries to open for pickup. Property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance, will also resume.
Ahead of the premier’s expected announcement, Health Minister Christine Elliott put out a tweet saying as the province plans for a gradual reopening, it will expand testing guidelines so that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can be tested.
“Doing so will help identify and contain new cases and monitor any shifts in community spread to keep Ontarians safe,” Elliott said in the tweet. The new guidelines from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams will say anyone with symptoms can be tested.
Elliott, who did not provide specifics on what had changed or how the expanded testing would be implemented, said the province has “nearly completed” testing for all long-term care home workers and residents, and will now expand testing to other vulnerable populations, including people in retirement homes and other group settings like group homes and shelters.
Alberta lifts restrictions — but not for the whole province
Alberta, meanwhile, is taking a step forward on Thursday as a range of businesses — including stores, daycares and hair salons — are being allowed to open across most of the province. Calgary and Brooks, which account for the majority of the active cases in the province, won’t reopen at the same pace.
At a briefing on Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the decision to keep some restrictions in the two cities was a provincial call, one that he found out about only a day earlier. Nenshi asked citizens to continue to respect the restrictions, and encouraged them to order food from local restaurants, some of which had ordered food and rehired staff in preparation for reopening over the long weekend.
“Please, please, please, please don’t let up now,” Nenshi said. “Be safe, stay kind. Together we’ll save lives.”
Alberta’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, warned that reopening doesn’t mean going back to normal.
She said she’s received reports of some businesses opening earlier than they should, but that she’s seeing more and more people wearing masks and following distancing rules.
Hinshaw asked people to consider wearing masks to protect people around them.
Edmonton businesses get back to work as Stage 1 of Alberta’s relaunch kicks off <a href=”https://t.co/SLOejT4YN3″>https://t.co/SLOejT4YN3</a> <a href=”https://t.co/9ArtgLvvNE”>pic.twitter.com/9ArtgLvvNE</a>
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to speak with the premiers Thursday evening in a weekly call to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, which has left more than 70,000 Canadians infected and led to sweeping public health measures aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.
Trudeau used his daily briefing to outline a support program for fish harvesters, announcing $469 million in federal funding for fish harvesters who have been ineligible for other aid initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also announced that some federal historic sites and parks, which have been closed as part of the response to the outbreak, will be reopening as of June 1. He said parks would open in phases, and some parks — including Arctic parks — won’t be reopening any time soon.
Dr. Michael Ryan, the WHO director of emergencies, said Wednesday that “this virus may never go away.”
“This virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities,” he said Wednesday, noting that other previously novel diseases such as HIV have never disappeared, but that effective treatments have been developed to allow people to live with the disease.
When asked about that remark at his briefing on Thursday, Trudeau said, “We know there are things that we took for granted last year and years before that have changed.”
WATCH | PM asked about WHO official’s remark that novel coronavirus may be here to stay:
Also Thursday, Canada’s spy agencies warned that Canadian COVID-19 research is a “valuable target” for state-sponsored actors. A joint statement from the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada’s foreign signals intelligence agency, and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) warned of an “increased risk of foreign interference and espionage due to the extraordinary effort of our businesses and research centres.”
It comes just a day after U.S. intelligence agencies warned of China-backed hacking of institutions and companies researching vaccines, treatments and tests for the novel coronavirus.
The CSE and CSIS statement doesn’t name the state actors suspected of posing a threat and neither agency would say whether they have witnessed specific attacks.
As of 8:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, 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 the provinces and territories
Fifteen more people in British Columbia have been diagnosed with COVID-19, while the province announced three more deaths in the past 24 hours. At the same time, the province’s chief health officer is asking people not to travel over the long weekend if it’s not essential. “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,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said Thursday. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta is starting the first phase of its relaunch plan on Thursday — but not for the whole province. The premier had words of caution as he announced the details, saying: “If we slack off … maybe people we love will suffer. And if cases and hospitalizations spike, we’ll have to reintroduce either regional or provincewide restrictions again.”
The province announced 50 new cases for a total of 6,457, with one death bringing the total to 121. There are 1,131 active cases, with 65 in hospital and 10 in intensive care. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.
WATCH | Alberta releases relaunch plan with some COVID-19 restrictions:
Saskatchewan schools are closed for the rest of the education year, and no decision has yet been made on whether students will return to in-person learning in the fall. The school year was formally ended earlier this month. Universities have said they will be returning to digital classrooms in the fall. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, and one probable positive case has now been ruled out, public health officials say. The province said it is opening up testing so that people with cold or flu-like symptoms can go directly to a testing site. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
WATCH | Does Canada need to ramp up testing before reopening the economy?
Ontario reported 258 new cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 21,494 cases. According to the province, 16,204 of those cases are considered resolved. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario, where officials are set to expand testing.
Quebec Premier François Legault has announced that schools in the Montreal area will not reopen until September. He said it’s possible children won’t be back in school before the end of September, and students with special needs may return even later in the year. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec, where non-contact sports such as tennis and golf will be allowed to resume.
New Brunswick Education Minister Dominic Cardy says there’s risk in reopening daycares, but some risk is necessary if the province is “going to come out on the other side of this … with a functioning economy.” Cardy stressed that operational plans and precautions around safety will be required at every facility that reopens. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.
Health officials in Nova Scotia reported two new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the provincial total to 1,026 with 909 of those considered recovered. To date, the province has reported a COVID-19 death toll of 51, with the vast majority of the deaths linked to a long-term care facility in Halifax. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.
WATCH | An inside look at Canada’s COVID-19 detectives:
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.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new coronavirus cases on Thursday, marking its seventh straight day with no new cases of COVID-19. Read more about what’s happening in N.L., including a story about a plan by universities to do most learning online next fall.
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
WATCH | England has cautiously started to reopen, but the decision has been met with trepidation on the streets of London:
As of 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, there were more than 4.4 million reported coronavirus cases, with more than 300,000 deaths, according to a database maintained by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. According to the university’s case tracking tool, more than 85,000 of those deaths were in the U.S., which has more than 1.4 million cases.
Ontario to extend state of emergency; health officials remind of COVID-19 risk while protesting – Toronto Star
The latest coronavirus news from Canada and around the world Tuesday (this file will be updated throughout the day). Web links to longer stories if available.
11 a.m.: A livestream of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s daily news conference is available at thestar.com
10:48 a.m.: Ontario is reporting that there were 15,244 tests completed in the previous day, the second day in a row the province did not meet its goal of 16,000 a day amid a push to increase testing levels.
10:18 a.m.: Ontario’s patient ombudsman is launching a systemic investigation into the resident and caregiver experience at Ontario’s long-term-care homes homes after receiving 150 complaints. The investigation will focus on staffing levels, visitor restrictions, infection prevention and control procedures and communication of information. About 1,700 nursing home residents have died and more than 5,000 are infected.
9:55 a.m.: Tokyo issued an alert to residents for the first time urging additional caution against the coronavirus pandemic, after a spike in new cases.
The Japanese capital saw 34 new infections on Tuesday, the most in a single day in more than three weeks. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike triggered what she has dubbed a “Tokyo Alert,” aiming to heighten Tokyo residents’ awareness of the state of the pandemic, and which could lead to businesses in the capital again being asked to close their doors should a surge continue.
While the alert itself won’t immediately lead to new restrictions, if cases continue to climb in the city the government has said it could reinstate its call for companies to shut and residents to stay at home.
Of the 34 cases Tuesday, 13 came from a cluster at a hospital in Koganei in the west of the city, where more than 30 infections have been reported to date. Koike also said that many of the cases over the past week came from Tokyo’s nightlife districts, with dozens of the infections linked to areas populated by hostess clubs and other such entertainment venues.
9:40 a.m.: The college football season opener between Notre Dame and Navy has been moved out of Ireland because of the cornavirus pandemic.
The Irish and Midshipmen were scheduled to meet in Dublin on Aug. 29, but instead will seek to play at the Naval Academy during the Labor Day weekend. The decision to move the venue came after discussions between the Irish government, medical authorities and the leadership teams at Navy and Notre Dame.
“Our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved,” Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk said. “I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large.”
Notre Dame and Navy planned to stage the 94th consecutive installment of the longest continuous intersectional rivalry in the United States at Aviva Stadium in Ireland. Instead, the schools will strive to play at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland, on Sept. 5 or 6. This will be the first time the Fighting Irish will play at Navy’s 34,000-seat stadium. The game is usually played at a larger alternative site when the Midshipmen host.
8:49 a.m.: It looks like hockey fans will be able to cheer on their favourite NHL team this summer but Canadians have issued a collective shrug about whether the Stanley Cup is hoisted on their home ice.
Less than one-quarter of those who took part in a recent survey said it was very important that a Canadian city be host to some of the playoffs.
The web survey, conducted by polling firm Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies, found 47 per cent thought it wasn’t important that the puck drop in a Canadian arena.
The NHL plans to resume its 2019-20 season, brought to a halt in March by the COVID-19 pandemic, with games played in two hub cities.
Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto are among the 10 possible locations, but Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for people entering the country remains in place and could scuttle the prospect of hockey north of the 49th parallel.
8:38 a.m. Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed his government to take quick steps to repair economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin reported to Putin on Tuesday that the Cabinet’s plan contains measures designed to stimulate economic growth, raise incomes and reduce unemployment.
A partial economic shutdown that Putin ordered in late March to stem the country’s outbreak badly hurt an economy already battered by a sharp drop in oil prices.
The Russian leader says the nation is now past the peak of contagion, allowing regional officials to gradually ease the restrictions. However, some experts warned that a daily increase of about 9,000 confirmed cases makes a quick lifting of the lockdown dangerous.
On Monday, Putin set July 1 as the date for a nationwide vote on constitutional amendments allowing him to extend his rule until 2036, if he chooses.
8 a.m. The two main Russian Orthodox cathedrals in Moscow have reopened their doors as officials take more steps to ease the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
The Christ the Savior Cathedral and the Epiphany Cathedral at Yelokhovo welcomed parishioners again on Tuesday.
The move was co-ordinated with federal and city officials. Church-goers are supposed to wear medical masks and maintain a proper distance from others during services.
Other churches in the Russian capital are scheduled to reopen on Saturday. Moscow churches have been closed to parishioners since April 13.
Orthodox churches in many other regions across the vast country already have reopened as provincial authorities started lifting restrictions intended to stem the outbreak.
Russian officials say that the nation is now past the peak of contagion, making it safe to gradually ease lockdown measures. Some experts warn that with new confirmed cases increasing by about 9,000 daily, lifting restrictions quickly is dangerous.
8 a.m.: South Africa’s total confirmed coronavirus cases have jumped to more than 35,000 while the province anchored by Cape Town remains a worrying hot spot with more than 23,000.
South Africa has the most confirmed virus cases of any nation in Africa. The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the total number across the continent is now above 152,000.
South Africa took another step in easing lockdown restrictions on Monday with alcohol sales allowed again. Authorities have warned that the rate of new cases is expected to quicken.
South Africa has seen cases double roughly every 12 days while cases in the Western Cape have been doubling every nine days.
A major test lies ahead this weekend as places of worship are allowed to operate with a limit of 50 people, despite warnings from some religious leaders about the risk of spreading the virus.
7:47 a.m.: Global stock markets rose Tuesday as more economies reopened for business after long and painful shutdowns to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
While the social unrest in the U.S. continued to provide a gloomy backdrop, international investors remained focus on the prospects for global economic growth. More countries and sectors are reopening, though activity is expected to remain subdued as social distancing rules complicate plans to get back to business.
Futures for the Dow and the S&P 500 indexes on Wall Street were up 0.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent, respectively.
In Europe, France’s CAC 40 jumped 2.1 per cent to 4,863 as the country opened restaurants, cafes, parks and beaches and launched a contract tracing app to help keep tabs on new contagions. Germany’s DAX, which had been closed Monday, caught up with previous global markets’ gains and surged 3.9 per cent to 12,033. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 1 per cent to 6,2130.
In Southeast Asia, where shutdowns are beginning to ease, Indonesia’s benchmark jumped nearly 2.0 per cent and Singapore’s surged 2.3 per cent.
Despite the bright mood across, fears persist about a possible resurgence in coronavirus outbreaks in some countries.
There were 34 new confirmed cases in Tokyo on Tuesday, seeming to reaffirm growing risks as people begin to mingle more in crowded commuter trains with the reopenings of more offices, schools, restaurants and stores. The daily numbers had dropped below 20 recently.
7:21 a.m.: Formula One will finally get underway with back-to-back races at the Austrian Grand Prix in July as part of an eight-race European swing.
The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg will host races on July 5 and 12, governing body FIA said in a statement on Tuesday.
The next race will be in Hungary on July 19 followed by consecutive races at the British GP at Silverstone on Aug. 2 and 9 after the British government exempted elite sports from an upcoming quarantine on foreign visitors.
Further races are scheduled for Spain on Aug. 16 and Belgium on Aug. 30, with Italy completing the European swing on Sept. 6.
“Over the past two months Formula One has been working closely with all partners, authorities, the FIA and the 10 teams to create a revised calendar that will allow a return to racing in a way that is safe,” the FIA said. “Due to the ongoing fluidity of the COVID-19 situation internationally, the details of the wider calendar will be finalized in the coming weeks.”
There will be no spectators allowed to attend, although there may be later in the year if health conditions allow it.
7:13 a.m.: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte marked Italy’s national day with an appeal to citizens to work together to revive the country, as his government prepares to lift restrictions on domestic travel from Wednesday.
With the number of new coronavirus cases continuing to decline, Italians will be allowed to travel freely around the country again, ending almost three months of confinement to their home region to limit transmission of the disease.
Conte is sticking with the plan announced last month despite threats from officials in the south to turn away citizens from Lombardy. Italy’s richest and most populous region around Milan was the epicenter of one of Europe’s most-extensive outbreaks.
“Let’s combine and concentrate all our energy in the shared effort to pick ourselves up and begin again with maximum determination,” Conte said in a message posted Tuesday on Facebook, evoking efforts to rebuild the nation after World War II.
“Everyone must do their part, as it has always been in the most difficult moments in our history,” he added. “Italy, our community, is our strength.”
6:30 a.m.: The City of Toronto urged the province Monday to immediately begin collecting race-based and occupational data on COVID-19 cases, calling preliminary information showing the pandemic’s disproportionate impacts “disturbing.”
In a letter addressed to top provincial health officials, Toronto Board of Health chair councillor Joe Cressy (Spadina-Fort York) highlighted data collected by Toronto Public Health which shows that areas of the city with the highest percentages of people who are low-income, racialized, and recent immigrants have the highest case rates of COVID-19.
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“It is clear that this is a virus that preys on poverty and existing health inequities. In order to tackle COVID-19, we must fully understand the virus, and who is most at risk,” Cressy writes, noting that city council voted last week to send the request.
“We need to have access to this data on a province-wide scale,” the letter adds.
5:30 a.m.: Ontario is expected today to extend its state of emergency until June 30.
The measure bans gatherings larger than five people.
It also orders the closure of some businesses such as restaurants and bars, except if they offer takeout or delivery.
If the vote passes, the measure — which had been set to expire today — will be extended for another 28 days.
Independent legislator Randy Hillier has said he will vote against the measure, saying it gives the government too much authority.
Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17 as COVID-19 cases began to climb in the province.
5:15 a.m.: As protesters keep up their anti-racism rallies on both sides of the border, top health officials are hoping they don’t forget about the risk of COVID-19.
Canadian health officials are not suggesting people avoid protests, but they are stressing the importance of hand sanitizer and masks.
With physical distance being nearly impossible in some of these settings, rally-goers may have to find other ways to try to keep themselves safe.
Protests have taken place in several Canadian cities in the aftermath of a black man dying last week in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck.
George Floyd’s death has sent throngs into the streets in several U.S. and Canadian cities to decry systemic racism and police brutality.
Meanwhile, House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota is scheduled today to appear at a committee on procedure and House affairs.
He is expected to discuss the hybrid Parliament and how it is functioning during the pandemic.
The Senate Finance Committee also meets today with many major industry leaders set to appear.
3 a.m.: South American countries at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic are choosing to reopen even as case numbers rise, ignoring the example set by Europe in which nations waited for the worst to pass.
Meanwhile in the U.S., there are concerns that widespread protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man pinned at the neck by a white police officer, could cause new outbreaks in a nation where the virus has disproportionately affected racial minorities.
And a new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office cautioned the damage to the world’s largest economy could amount to nearly $16 trillion over the next decade if Congress doesn’t work to mitigate the fallout.
Experts are concerned about what’s happening in South America.
“Clearly the situation in many South American countries is far from stable. There is a rapid increase in cases, and those systems are coming under increasing pressure,” said Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization’s emergencies program.
His warning came as some of Brazil’s hardest-hit cities, including the jungle metropolis Manaus and coastal Rio de Janeiro, were starting to allow more activity. Brazil has reported more than 526,000 cases of the virus, second only to the 1.8 million reported by the U.S.
Elsewhere in the region, Bolivia’s government has authorized reopening most of the country, while Venezuela has unwound restrictions. Ecuador’s airports are resuming flights and shoppers are returning to some of Colombia’s malls.
Further north in Mexico, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador kicked off the nation’s return to a “new normal” Monday with his first road trip in two months as the nation began to gradually ease some of its virus restrictions.
Monday 10 p.m. Large public gatherings, including anti-racism protests, pose health risks during a pandemic, British Columbia’s top health officials said Monday.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said people in B.C. have the right to protest and express their feelings, but warned there could be COVID-19 health consequences associated with a weekend protest in downtown Vancouver.
“Peaceful demonstration is our right, one that is important to all of us, but we cannot forget we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” she said at a news conference in Victoria.
Henry said she saw many people wearing masks and practising safe distancing but she urged those who attended to monitor their health over the coming days.
“We also know right now large gatherings remain very high risk, even outdoors,” she said. “Those who were there (Sunday), you may have put yourself at risk.”
An estimated 3,500 people gathered in Vancouver following protests across the United States over the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
B.C. has a public health order limiting the size of gatherings to 50 people.
“Weigh your options, think about the impacts, particularly if you are a health-care worker or have vulnerable people in your circle, in your household, in your family,” Henry said.
The province reported 24 new COVID-19 cases since Saturday and one death of an elderly resident at a Metro Vancouver long-term-care home.
B.C. now has 2,597 cases of COVID-19 and there have been 165 deaths. The province says 2,207 people have recovered from the illness.
Monday 6:50 p.m. Ontario’s regional health units are reporting a spike in new COVID-19 infections on a day that saw the fewest reported deaths in nearly two months, according to the Star’s latest count.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, the health units have reported a total of 30,044 confirmed and probable cases, including 2,336 deaths.
The eight new deaths reported since Sunday evening marked the first day with fewer than 10 new fatal cases since April 5, back when both cases and deaths were still growing rapidly in Ontario. That day also saw eight deaths reported in the province.
The rate of deaths is down considerably since peaking at more than 90 in a day in early May, about two weeks after the daily case totals hit a first peak in mid-April.
Meanwhile, the 458 new cases since the same time Sunday ended a string of six consecutive days with fewer than 400 cases. Unlike in recent days that have been dominated by case growth in Toronto and Peel Region, Monday’s case spike included a very large increase outside of the GTA, including more than 100 confirmed infections in Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen dozens of cases in an outbreak among migrant farm workers.
Earlier Monday, the province reported 781 patients are now hospitalized with COVID-19, including 125 in intensive care, of whom 89 are on a ventilator — numbers that have fallen sharply this month. The province also says more than 22,000 patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus have now recovered from the disease — about three-quarters of the total infected.
The province says its data is accurate to 4 p.m. the previous day. The province also cautions its latest count of total deaths — 2,276 — may be incomplete or out of date due to delays in the reporting system, saying that in the event of a discrepancy, “data reported by (the health units) should be considered the most up to date.”
The Star’s count includes some patients reported as “probable” COVID-19 cases, meaning they have symptoms and contacts or travel history that indicate they very likely have the disease, but have not yet received a positive lab test.
We need to get all Canadian students online quickly in the face of pandemic uncertainty – CBC.ca
This column is an opinion by David Fowler, vice-president of marketing and communications at the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) in Ottawa. He currently serves on the board of directors for Media Smarts and CENTR. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.
What would you do if your internet connection suddenly stopped working? What if you couldn’t get back online for months? With millions of students across Canada forced to do their schooling from home due to COVID-19, internet access has never been more important.
Unfortunately, high-quality internet connections remain too expensive for some Canadians or are simply unavailable where they live. Meanwhile, students who need the internet more than ever have lost their sources of reliable connection through schools or public libraries.
In 2016, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) declared broadband internet a basic service and set ambitious speed targets that internet service providers (ISPs) have to make available to all Canadians.
Four years later, CRTC data shows that 11 per cent of Canadian households still do not have internet access at home. For those who that do have connections, there are massive disparities between the speeds that rural and urban households receive.
Imagine how difficult online learning, applying for college, or staying in touch with friends and family would be without a high-quality internet connection in your house. Some families and communities have had to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure their kids don’t fall behind.
The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, for example, has told students to hunker down in school parking lots to access free Wi-Fi if they don’t have the internet at home.
In Alberta, rural schools have set up outdoor bins for students who have no internet access to pick up and drop off hard copy assignments.
In Manitoba, the northern Garden Hill First Nation was forced to cancel the remainder of its school year, citing poor internet connectivity and lack of household computer adoption as contributing factors.
Not only are kids without reliable internet access at risk of falling behind in their education, they are putting themselves and their families’ health at risk by venturing out into the world to find an open wi-fi hotspot or pick up school work.
Obviously, education during COVID-19 would be much easier if every child had access to a high-quality internet connection. Unfortunately, connectivity isn’t the only challenge families are facing.
When it comes to bridging the digital divide, getting one internet-connected device per household is tough for many families. Getting one device per child comes at significant financial cost that is often out of reach.
Educators in rural Alberta, for example, report that access to internet-connected devices like laptops, desktop computers and phones is far from universal.
Thankfully schools, school districts, charitable organizations, and various levels of government are stepping up to deliver laptops, tablets, and other devices to students in need.
The Winnipeg School Division estimates that 40 per cent of its students don’t have access to an internet-enabled device at home, and it is looking at lending devices to students until the social distancing restrictions are relaxed.
The city of London, Ont., has distributed more than 10,000 iPads and Chromebooks to students since the pandemic began.
Before the CRTC’s landmark decision in 2016, a lot of public discussion centred on whether the internet was truly a basic service like water or electricity. At the time, skeptics said that videoconferencing and food delivery apps amounted to little more than luxuries.
Flash forward to 2020, and it’s clear that the internet is the key infrastructure holding our education system, economy, and social lives together. From this vantage point, it’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has settled the “is the internet a basic service?” debate once and for all.
With concerns that widespread social distancing could continue for up to a year and that future waves of the disease could force more school closures down the road, it is essential that we do everything in our power to get all our kids online before a generation is set back.
Closing the digital divide during COVID-19 is a litmus test for internet service providers, educational institutions, and all levels of government across this country. Our children have never needed the internet more to succeed.
Canada sees lowest daily coronavirus death toll in 2 months, 759 new cases – Globalnews.ca
The novel coronavirus pandemic has claimed 31 more lives across Canada, yet the number represents the lowest daily death toll in two months.
Monday also saw just 759 new confirmed infections across only six provinces — nearly matching Sunday’s number of new cases and marking a full week with numbers below 1,000.
Canada has now seen 91,694 lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Of those, 7,326 people have died and 49,739 patients have since recovered from the illness.
The last day the country saw a death toll as low as Monday’s was on April 2, when 27 people died. The number of new deaths has trended downward since Saturday, after weeks that saw an average of 100 people and more dying daily.
While the number of new cases has been trending downward since the beginning of May, the past week has seen a sharper decline since May 26, when fewer than 1,000 infections were confirmed for the first time since March 29.
Monday saw Ontario, with 404 new cases, surpass the total reported by Quebec at 295. The last time that happened was on March 22, as Quebec has regularly topped the country in new infections — often by wide margins.
Yet both provinces recorded their lowest death tolls in weeks: Quebec saw 20 more deaths, while in Ontario, 10 people died over the past 24 hours.
Nova Scotia was the only province in Atlantic Canada to report any cases Monday, and only saw one new infection.
Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau calls for more ‘granularity’ on COVID-19 data
In the west, Alberta announced 34 more cases, while British Columbia recorded 24 new cases — representing numbers over the past 48 hours — and one additional death. Saskatchewan also reported a new case while announcing a previously-reported case had come back negative after retesting.
Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick reported no new cases after seeing upticks in recent days. Prince Edward Island and the three northern territories have gone several weeks without new cases.
Every province and territory has now relaxed some physical distancing and economic shutdown measures, with an eye towards reopening businesses and public spaces.
The federal government is now setting its sights on contact tracing and supporting municipalities and provinces. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday said Ottawa is rushing $2.2 billion in expected infrastructure funding to Canada’s cities.
Worldwide, the coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 6.25 million people and killed over 375,000 people. The United States remains the country with the most confirmed cases, at 1.8 million, while its death toll of 105,000 is also the highest globally.
Canada is currently the 14th most infected country in the world based solely on the number of cases confirmed, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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