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.
Latest worldwide spread of the coronavirus
Russia has tightened curbs in major cities as authorities blame the new Delta variant for spiking cases and deaths, while neighbouring Ukraine has registered its first two cases of the more infectious virus type.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
* Eikon users, see COVID-19: MacroVitals https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1592404098 for a case tracker and summary of news
* The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has said the more contagious Delta variant, first identified in India, will represent 90% of all SARS-CoV-2 viruses circulating in the European Union by the end of August.
* Spain has vaccinated half of its 47 million population with at least one dose and nearly 32%, or over 15 million people, have been fully inoculated.
* The share of infections caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus has doubled in Germany in a week and is likely to gain more traction over other variants.
* Greece will end the mandatory wearing of face masks outdoors and ease other remaining restrictions.
* Japan is suspending approval for companies to inoculate staff amid concerns that an increase in such applications will hamper smooth delivery of vaccines.
* Alcohol, high-fives and talking loudly will be banned for the reduced numbers of Olympic ticket holders allowed into venues.
* Australia’s largest city of Sydney reintroduced “soft touch” curbs to contain a widening outbreak of the Delta variant.
* A Brazilian Senate committee has formally approved a request to call representatives of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify in an ongoing probe into the government’s handling of the pandemic.
* Canada will further relax border restrictions in the weeks to come as long as the science supports such a move, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
* Federal authorities have seized at U.S. airports unauthorised versions of remdesivir destined for distribution in Mexico, the Wall Street Journal reported. [nL2N2O51U0]
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* South Africa’s health regulator said it had received documentation for China’s Sinopharm vaccine and will evaluate the data to assess the efficacy of the shot.
* Israel empowered health officials to quarantine anyone deemed to have been exposed to the especially infectious Delta variant.
* Bahrain will extend by three months a government support program for businesses hard hit by the pandemic.
* Rare cases of heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults are likely linked to vaccination with the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna shots, a group of doctors advising the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
* Vaccines made by AstraZeneca and the Pfizer-BioNTech alliance remain broadly effective against Delta and Kappa variants. [nL3N2O43IN]
* The University of Oxford said it was testing anti-parasitic drug ivermectin as a possible treatment for COVID-19.
* Wall Street and global equity markets were broadly higher on Wednesday after reassurances from U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that the central bank is not rushing to hike interest rates, while European stocks remained under pressure. [MKTS/GLOB]
* A period of high inflation in the United States may last longer than anticipated but should still ease over time as the economy settles back to normal, two U.S. Federal Reserve officials said.
* Euro zone business growth accelerated at its fastest pace in 15 years in June as the easing of lockdown measures unleashed pent-up demand and drove a boom in the dominant services sector but also led to soaring price pressures.
(Compiled by Ramakrishnan M. and Juliette Portala; Edited by Arun Koyyur)
Canada’s M&A boom fuels hiring spree, higher pay
Record-breaking dealmaking in Canada is encouraging investment banks to beef up staffing, but the increased demand for bankers is forcing some to pay up in unique ways to attract new hires.
Canadian mergers and acquisitions (M&A) year to date surged to a record $206.5 billion and IPOs hit an all-time high of $5.6 billion, according to Refinitiv, after the pandemic crushed dealmaking in the first three quarters of 2020.
HSBC, JPMorgan Chase & Co and National Bank of Canada are expanding their M&A teams.
“It continues to be an active market with lots of active discussions with clients going on as well, and so that has absolutely spurred on a need to fortify the ranks within the teams,” said Scott Lampard, head of global banking for HSBC Bank Canada.
HSBC plans to boost overall investment banking headcount by 20%-25%, mainly at the analyst level to support pitching and executing deals, Lampard said.
With the pace of transaction expected to continue at pace, banks are paying more to hire and retain existing teams, offering a range of new services, like sending in a consultant to create the ideal home office, recruiters say.
“We’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and we’ve never seen a market like this,” said Bill Vlaad, CEO at recruitment firm Vlaad and Company. “Everybody is scrambling,”
“Many of the banks have increased base salaries quite dramatically, mostly in 2021,” he said, adding salaries had increased 20%-40% across M&A roles.
“Now if you want to attract, you have to put something else on the table.”
To poach talent, banks are adding signing bonuses, extra vacation days, healthcare increases, special programs for mental wellness and home office perks, all tailored to individual requests, Vlaad said.
TD Securities, Barclays, CIBC World Markets are the top M&A advisers year to date. All three declined to comment on hiring plans.
Of the top deals announced this year, Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($16.2 billion) bid for Shaw Communications Inc and Canadian National’s bid $33.6 billion offer for Kansas City Southern are the two biggest.
Despite the pandemic, five of the top six Canadian banks paid an average of C$3.1 billion ($2.50 billion) in total bonuses last year, up from C$2.9 billion ($2.34 billion) in 2019, an analysis of filings by Reuters showed.
Headcount at National Bank Finance will be up by four or five people in M&A versus the same time last year, David Savard, head of M&A at the bank, told Reuters.
That put the team at 28 for the large-cap M&A team and 10 for the mid-market team, he said, adding both areas were “booming”.
“There seems to be some pent-up demand for entrepreneurial-led companies and private companies doing M&A coming out of COVID,” he said.
David Rawlings, CEO for JPMorgan Canada, agreed headcount would be likely higher in the near future.
“We think activity will continue to be strong and are currently looking to selectively hire with a particular focus on senior diverse candidates,” said Rawlings.
($1 = 1.2453 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Maiya Keidan; Editing by Denny Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)
French court overturns ruling saying sale of cannabidiol is illegal
France’s highest appeals court on Wednesday overturned a ruling that stores in the country can’t legally sell cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychotic compound related to cannabis that is being researched for a variety of medical applications.
Based on the free trade of goods within the European Union, the Cour de cassation ruled that judges could not find the sale of CBD in France illegal if it had been legally produced in a member state of the bloc.
The Court of Justice of the EU ruled last year that no national law can prohibit the sale of CBD legally produced in a member state, the French court also said.
“Without considering whether the substances seized had not been legally produced in another member state of the European Union, the court failed to provide a basis for its decision,” it said, referring to a ruling of a lower appeals court.
The Cour de cassation did not rule whether selling CBD in France was legal or not, and ordered a lower court to rule again on a case involving the owner of a shop selling CBD.
“We are happy”, CBD shop owner Mathieu Bensa, who was not involved in the case, told Reuters after the ruling.
“We did not understand why France was the last country in the European Union that had not given access to the sale of hemp plants”, he said.
Derived mainly from the hemp plant, CBD is increasingly used as a relaxant.
Cannabis stocks have attracted growing interest on world stock markets, particularly on the Toronto stock exchange after Canada became one of the first major economies to legalise the recreational use of marijuana.
Cannabis use is outlawed in France but the country has one of Europe’s highest consumption rates.
(Reporting by Matthieu Protard, Benoit Van Overstraeten and Ardee Napolitano; Editing by Mark Potter)
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