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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

Alberta announced millions in funding for sanitation and staffing at long-term care facilities and seniors’ homes on Tuesday, a move that came as Ontario said an independent commission will look into the province’s long-term care system.

Long-term care homes have been particularly hard-hit by the novel virus, which causes an illness called COVID-19. While most people who contract the virus experience mild to moderate symptoms, some — particularly the elderly and those with underlying health issues — are at increased risk of severe disease and death.

The vast majority of COVID-19-related deaths in Canada have been linked to care homes and long-term care facilities, with deadly outbreaks occurring in several provinces, including Alberta

The province announced the $170 million in spending on Tuesday, saying in a statement that it would allocate more than $14 million a month to help with COVID-19-related expenses at these facilities. The funding for staffing and sanitation, which will be retroactive to mid-March, will continue until orders from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, are lifted.

In Ontario, the Ontario Long-Term Care Association, opposition parties and the health-care union SEIU have all called for a full public inquiry into the sector. But Premier Doug Ford suggested that would take too long.

“I’m responsible at the end of the day to make sure we get the answers,” Ford said Tuesday after the province announced the commission, which is set to begin in September.

WATCH | Toronto respirologist tackles questions about COVID-19:

Dr. Samir Gupta comments on finding the balance in the economic reopening and the rising rate of the coronavirus among health-care workers.   6:12

Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton said COVID-19 has “broken” the long-term care system and the province cannot lose time addressing the situation by waiting for the findings of a public inquiry.

As of 7:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had 79,112 confirmed and presumptive cases of the coronavirus, with 40,063 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of the coronavirus death toll in Canada based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 6,011.

Public health officials have cautioned that official figures don’t capture data on people who haven’t been tested and cases that are still under investigation, and have urged people to take precautions like stepped-up hand hygiene and physical distancing even if there are no known cases in their communities.

Here’s what’s happening in the provinces and territories

British Columbia reported just two new coronavirus cases on Tuesday and three additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 146. The province has 2,446 confirmed cases, with 1,975 of those considered recovered. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.

Owner Rosanna Petan wears a face shield and Jack Willis wears a face mask as she cuts his hair at Frank’s Barbershop in Vancouver on Tuesday. British Columbia began Phase 2 of its plan to reopen its economy Tuesday, allowing certain businesses that were ordered closed due to COVID-19 to open their doors to customers if new health and safety regulations are followed. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Alberta reported 33 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total case number to 6,716, with 5,584 of those considered recovered. The province had no new deaths. Read more about what’s happening in Alberta.

Saskatchewan is allowing some health services to resume, including some additional non-urgent surgeries. The province said surgeons are working with patients to assess and sort out who meets the criteria for the expanded service. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.

Manitoba’s chief public health officer says if the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province continues falling, the province may accelerate its plan to ease restrictions on public and business activities. A 10-person limit on public gatherings is already set for review on June 1, and Dr. Brent Roussin said the limit may be raised sooner than expected. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.

Ontario announced Tuesday that publicly funded schools won’t be opening their doors to students for the rest of the academic year. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario.

WATCH | Parents face tough child-care choices as Ontario keeps schools closed:

Many parents are trying to figure out child care as Ontario starts to reopen but has closed schools for the year, cancelled summer camps and won’t restart daycare until at least June 1. 1:58

Quebec’s public health director said Tuesday that people need to keep up physical distancing even as the province lifts some coronavirus guidelines. Horacio Arruda said if the situation in the province gets worse in the coming weeks, officials will close some sectors again. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.

New Brunswick’s teachers will be back in the classroom in June — but without the students. The teachers will be finishing up the academic year’s work and preparing for the fall, officials said. Education Minister Dominic Cardy said it’s not yet clear what schools will look like in the fall. “We don’t know whether classes will be back or online because we don’t decide what happens to the coronavirus,” Cardy said. Read more about what’s happening in N.B.

Nova Scotia could lift some more restrictions put in place in response to COVID-19 in early June, the premier said Tuesday. Read more about what’s happening in N.S.

Prince Edward Island’s tourism association said companies that rely on travellers are in a “holding pattern” as they try to decide whether to open this summer as they wait for word on travel restrictions and ongoing efforts to fight the coronavirus. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.

WATCH | Communities with less COVID-19 want to reopen:

Some Ontario communities that have been less affected by the COVID-19 pandemic want to be allowed to reopen faster than areas with more cases, including the Greater Toronto Area. Media ID: 2:46

Newfoundland and Labrador on Tuesday reported no new cases of COVID-19. The province has now gone 12 days without a new case of the novel virus. Read more about what’s happening in N.L.

There were no new coronavirus cases in Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavut on Tuesday. Read more about what’s happening across the North, including the story of a Whitehorse educator who has been using driveway visits to check in on students while school buildings are closed.

Here’s what’s happening around the world

Students wearing protective face masks respect physical distancing as they walk past lockers at the College Rosa Parks school during its reopening in Nantes, as a small number of French schoolchildren headed back to class. (Stephane Mahe/Reuters)

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'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News

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TORONTO —
A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.

“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.

“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”

Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.

Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.

The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.

Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.

“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential.  And that it is expensive.”

With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello

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Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.

Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.

The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.

“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible. 

For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.

“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.

Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.

For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.

The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.

NEW ACCESSIBILITY PROGRAMS

In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.

One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.

The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.

“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”

Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.

“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.” 

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Canadian marches, vigils taking place to honour black lives lost at hands of police – CBC.ca

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Demonstrators plan to march from Parliament Hill through Ottawa streets mid-afternoon today to honour black lives lost at the hands of police.

The demonstrations follow days of protests across the U.S. after a video showed Minneapolis police killing a black man, George Floyd, unleashing a torrent of anger over persistent racism.

A police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.

Prosecutors on Wednesday expanded their case against the police who were at the scene of Floyd’s death, charging three of the officers with aiding and abetting a murder and upgrading the charges against the officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck to second-degree murder.

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, whose caught-on-video treatment of the handcuffed Floyd spurred worldwide protests.

Three other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. All four were fired last week.

Friday’s planned actions comes after rallies of a similar theme have taken place already this week in Saskatoon, Sydney, N.S., Burlington, Ont., and Calgary, among other locations. 

Read on to see what’s happening around Canada.

Ottawa

The Ottawa event is being organized by the group No Peace Until Justice.

The group says its goal is to bring together black activists and organizations and allies to stand in solidarity against police brutality and societal racism.

The event has touched off some online controversy about who is welcome to attend.

A poster stuck to a pole along Bank Street in Ottawa calls for solidarity with protesters in the United States. (Joseph Tunney/CBC)

Ottawa police were not invited at the request of the No Peace Until Justice organizers.

After Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson noted his intention to be there, the group said he was invited via Twitter by unaffiliated individuals. “The No Peace Until Justice organizers did not reach out to him or his office.”

The group says it opposes all streaming and the taking of videos or photos of the demonstration to protect the identity and safety of those attending.

WATCH l Calling for police reform in Canada:

A video of an aggressive arrest in Nunavut that sparked an investigation is among the recent arrests in Canada sparking questions about use of force, police funding and interactions with black and Indigenous Canadians. 2:05

For their part, the Ottawa police say public safety is a shared responsibility.

“We are working with organizers and all stakeholders to enable a safe, healthy and positive event,” the police service said Thursday.

“You have a right to be heard. And we will support that right by ensuring your safety,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in Ottawa on Friday he saluted those who are “standing up to speak out clearly” about systemic discrimination.

“We have thousands of people stepping forward to highlight the challenges and to show that they want to be allies,” he said.

Trudeau also said he saluted those who are “standing up to speak out clearly” about systemic discrimination.

“We have thousands of people stepping forward to highlight the challenges and to show that they want to be allies.”

WATCH | Trudeau welcomes peaceful protests:

With mass anti-racism demonstrations planned in several cities, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he looks forward to seeing Canadians peacefully protesting across the country. 0:32

Toronto

A similarly themed Toronto march is proceeding south from the Bloor-Yonge subway station on Friday, headed to city hall.

Several businesses on downtown Toronto’s Yonge Street and surrounding areas boarded up their windows in anticipation of the protest. Toronto Eaton Centre said it would be closed until Monday as a precaution.

Delsin Aventus, one of the organizers of the rally, told CBC Toronto that protesters hope to create dialogue between the community and civic leaders about issues of racism and violence.

“Today started as a march in solidarity both with lives lost both to racism and unfortunately some to police,” he said.

Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders met with protesters. 

Saunders could be seen on one knee with protesters, though some have criticized police officers kneeling with demonstrators as ringing hollow, considering reports of police violence at protests in recent days.

Saskatchewan

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said the video of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis late last month has spurred people to action and now they’re making their voices heard.  

“It can’t help but move people to say, ‘That’s not acceptable,’ and that’s one act of violence. But we know the frustration that’s coming out is also because of persistent inequality and people living in two societies too often in Canada and North America,” he said Thursday.

Clark acknowledged these issues are faced by Saskatoon’s Indigenous and newcomer populations and said it’s inspiring to see so many people speak out against racism and inequality.

In Regina, demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter rally were silent for eight minutes and 46 seconds before erupting into the lyrics of Amazing Grace.

Participants met at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum before 11 a.m. CST. They planned to march to the Saskatchewan Legislature, where a similar rally was held on Tuesday.  

People take a knee after a speech by Regina Police Chief Evan Bray on Friday. (Alex Soloducha/CBC News)

British Columbia

In B.C., an estimated 3,500 people turned out at the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 31 in an event inspired by the Floyd killing.

On Friday, a protest is being held at 4 p.m. PT at Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver, this time focusing specifically on the Canadian context.

“We need to magnify this,” said Jacob Callender-Presad, who has organized both events. “We need to talk about this because racism in Canada does exist.”

Organizers are taking COVID-19 precautions, he said.

Those measures include supplying hand sanitizer, masks and gloves at the event, Callender-Presad said, with physical distancing to be encouraged.

Events are also scheduled Friday on the legislature grounds in Edmonton and Winnipeg, at Parade Square in Halifax and in Repentigny, Que.

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