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COVID-19 LIVE UPDATES: Ontario and Quebec order all non-essential workplaces to close – Financial Post

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force drastic social distancing measures, the economic ramifications continue to unfold. Financial Post technology reporter James McLeod is maintaining a liveblog of market updates and key developments for Canadian business. 

Refresh this page regularly for fresh information throughout the day, and if you have business-specific tips, announcements and information that should be included here, please email jmcleod@postmedia.com.

2 p.m. — Ford says he wants business to be responsible: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that they will take enforcement action to keep non-essential workplaces closed for two weeks, but business can continue as long as workplaces are shut down.

“A lot of companies haven’t even needed this order. They’ve closed their shop or closed their office,” Ford said.

“It doesn’t mean closing business. It means your facility, we don’t want people in a facility”

Ford said he doesn’t want to use the police to enforce this, and hopes that business will recognize the severity of the situation.

“We’re all in this together. We’re a team. It’s not about government versus business,” Ford said.

Details of exactly who will be designated as essential and non-essential coming Tuesday.

1:51 Ford says schools will stay closed: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he’s deferring to his Education Minister, but he doesn’t anticipate schools reopening early next month.

“The kids won’t be going back to school on April 6 … This is changing hour-by-hour, day-by-day,” Ford said.

1:45 p.m. — Ontario premier says just don’t gather in groups: Premier Doug Ford said that if you’re leaving the house, go out by yourself or your partner, but keep it limited.

1:42 p.m. — Ontario economic update coming Wednesday: Finance Minister Rod Phillips said that a fiscal and economic update will be released on Wednesday.

“I can tell you that it’s going to be the most prudent statement that any finance minister in Ontario has ever made,” Phillips said.

He said that Ontario’s fiscal response and aid measures will be coming on Wednesday too.

1:37 p.m. — Specifics on Ontario shutdown coming tomorrow: Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a specific list of the workplaces that must close for 14 days will be released tomorrow.

Ford said large construction sites must close. He said there will be a long list of essential services, and a long list of non-essential services to provide clarification on what will be allowed to operate during the COVID-19 shutdown.

1:30 p.m. — Doug Ford shutting down all non-essential business: Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that all non-essential workplaces must close for 14 days.

“If you can, stay home. Only leave if necessary,” Ford said.

1:11 p.m. — Quebec closes all businesses except essential services: Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he is ordering all businesses to close by tomorrow evening for three weeks. Essential services can remain open. Legault said groceries, pharmacies, and the supply chains to support those stores will remain open.

“We must put Quebec on pause until Easter for a possible restart on April 13,” Legault said.

“All non-essential economic activities must stop.”

Legault said that construction and aluminum smelters are included. It includes manufacturing.

1:03 p.m. — Ottawa is developing an app: Health Minister Patty Hadju said that the federal government is developing an app which people can use to cope with the mental health strain relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hadju didn’t give much detail, but said that an announcement with more information will be provided in the coming days.

12:55 p.m. — Markets down, again: At midday, major North American markets are down significantly. The TSX/S&P composite is in the red by about 3.25 per cent, or 385 points. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down by 240 points, or 1.25 per cent.

Looking at the bigger picture, as of today the TSX/S&P composite is down by 32.5 per cent from February.

12:44 p.m. — It’s all about social distancing: To be blunt, there’s not a lot of specific news updates coming out of today’s briefing by federal ministers, but qualitatively, the emphasis is very heavily on the necessity of social distancing, and the possibility of more significant enforcement.

Both from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and various government ministers, the message has basically been that people should be looking at all options to spend more time at home, and refrain from contact with other people as much as possible. This message is going out to citizens and businesses.

Qualitatively, it appears that the imperative for stricter guidelines and enforcement actions could be coming.

12:40 p.m. — Hadju looking at more strict social distancing: Health Minister Patty Hadju said that international travellers need to be more diligent about self-quarantining, not even shopping for groceries or leaving the house for any reason.

Hadju said that random inspections, reporting hotlines, and other enforcement measures are being considered to maintain social distancing.

12:32 p.m. — Foreign agricultural workers: Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau said that the federal government is negotiating with Guatamala to bring temporary foreign workers to Canada to aid with the farming season.

12:20 p.m. — Bains says Feds funding vaccine trials: Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said that the federal government is funding clinical trials by a Quebec City company called Medicago, which has identified a potential vaccine for the COVID-19 global pandemic.

12:10 p.m. — COVID-19 1,474 cases and 20 deaths: Federal ministers and officials are providing an update on the COVID-19 situation. Dr. Theresa Tam said that so far they have 1,474 confirmed cases, and 20 deaths. She said they are seeing infections not linked to travel.

Tam said that strict public health and “unrelenting” social distancing measures are necessary. Tam said this will provide time for research and innovation to fight the virus.

11:36 a.m. — Enforcement actions being considered: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he’s considering enforcement actions. He also wouldn’t rule out the possibility of closing provincial borders during the crisis.

Trudeau said he’s calling on Canadians to be more diligent about physical distancing to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“If we see that measures aren’t being taken up properly, aren’t being followed, we will look at different measures to enforce these rules,” Trudeau said.

“Those who are not doing their part are putting at risk everyone else, including the eventual recovery of our economy.”

11:35 a.m. — Trudeau applauds Canadian Olympic team: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he supports the Canadian Olympic team’s decision to pull out of the Olympic games this year. Trudeau said he’s encouraging anybody who’s thinking about organizing a large public gathering, and that includes the International Olympic Committee.

“Stay home, please,” he said.

11:27 a.m. — Trudeau calls on business: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on businesses and institutions to provide any masks or other medical supples. He called on businesses to visit BuyandSell.gc.ca to see how they can help.

Trudeau also said that the government has entered into a contract with Toronto-based BlueDot which uses AI to track the spread of the virus, and the government is looking at the possibility of using 3D printing to create more masks for health care workers.

11:25 a.m. — $5bn for farmers: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more money for farmers through the Farm Credit Canada program. Trudeau said $5 billion dollars will be made available to food producers to keep the farmers operating through the pandemic.

11:19 a.m. — Trudeau implores Canadians to stay home: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau started his daily news briefing with a call to maintain social distancing. Trudeau said that the government is trying to inform people, with a big advertising blitz coming soon but he also said that enforcement measures may be imposed if people won’t stay in their homes.

“Enough is enough. Go home and stay home. This is what we all need to be doing,” Trudeau said.

10:10 a.m. — Household cash reserves running out: The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that nearly half of renting households have less than a month of savings. From the news release:

“As more Canadians lose their incomes to COVID-19 every day, hundreds of thousands of families could soon be forced to choose between buying groceries and paying the rent,” said Ricardo Tranjan, political economist and senior researcher with the CCPA Ontario office. “It’s good that the Government of Canada has announced plans to support lower-income Canadians, but many families can’t wait for support by April or May – they need it now. A lot of out-of-work tenants will be in dire straits before the end of the month.”

9:45 a.m. — Markets open down: After a brief flicker of optimism based on massive macroeconomic stimulus from the U.S. Federal Reserve, publicly traded markets opened down Monday morning.

From Reuters: “The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 145.62 points, or 0.76%, at the open to 19,028.36. The S&P 500 opened lower by 14.21 points, or 0.62%, at 2,290.71. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.23 points, or 0.47%, to 6,847.28 at the opening bell.”

8:57 a.m. — Lightspeed POS makes some products free: Montreal-based Lightspeed POS announced that it is making its delivery software free for restaurants, along with other software products for retailers. Lightspeed’s technology is focused on point-of-sale systems for restaurants, hotels and retailers — sectors of the economy that have been hit hard by COVID-19 social distancing measures.

9:05 a.m. — U.S. Fed unlimited buying program: Early indications are that the public markets are responding positively to an announcement that the U.S. Federal Reserve will be putting an unlimited amount of money behind maintaining liquidity in the markets.

From this Bloomberg article: “The Fed will buy Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities ‘in the amounts needed to support smooth market functioning and effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions and the economy,’ and will also buy agency commercial mortgage-backed securities, according to a statement. The Fed had said a week ago it would buy at least US$500 billion of Treasuries and $200 billion of agency MBS.

8:50 a.m. — Keep an eye on the Bank of Canada: Financial Post columnist Kevin Carmichael remains one of the smartest writers in Canada when it comes to big-picture economics, and now is a moment when that kind of perspective is critical. Check out his column on the Bank of Canada’s policy options, and what to watch for in the coming weeks.

March 23, 2020: Good morning! After a busy weekend, Monday is shaping up to be another eventful day for the economy and Canadian business on the COVID-19 file. Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Campagne announced that he has secured three Air Canada flights to bring Canadians home from Peru.

Meanwhile, stock futures markets have been swinging wildly over the weekend, so markets could be moving substantially throughout the day.

Also, once again Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will speak from self-quarantine at his residence in Ottawa, followed by a larger news conference of government ministers led by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. We will continue posting economic updates and information relevant to Canadian business throughout the day.

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'No easy path': PM Trudeau on national COVID-19 death projections – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Under the current public health measures up to 44,000 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the months ahead. However, federal modelling shows the death rate could skyrocket if efforts stopped.

Speaking to these projections during his daily address on Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said keeping the number of deaths as low as possible depends on what each person does now, but it will “take months of continued, determined effort.”

Federal projections released by Health Canada detailed the overall best- and worst-case scenarios for the pandemic’s spread and impact in Canada, varying on the degree of actions taken by governments and Canadians.

Referencing the data, Trudeau said the peak of cases in Canada may come in late spring, with the end of the first wave in the summer.

“We have the chance to determine what our country looks like in the weeks and months to come. Our healthcare systems across the country are coping for the time being, but we’re at a fork in the road, between the best and the worst possible outcomes,” Trudeau said. “The best possible outcome is no easy path for any of us.”

“There will likely be smaller outbreaks for a number of months after that. This will be the new normal, until a vaccine is developed,” he said, adding that some estimates show that some level of public health measures could be needed for the next six to eight months, or for as long as a year and a half.

Trudeau said this, coupled with more than one million jobs being lost in March, is obviously “difficult news.” 

“We are unfortunately going to continue to lose people across this country in the coming weeks… We can continue to do what is necessary for the coming weeks and months to get through this first wave in the right way so we can get back to being there for each other in the coming year,” he said. 

The prime minister also said that the work underway to develop more sophisticated testing and contact tracing is going to improve the global grasp on the virus that’s kneecapped global economies and changed how societies act.  

WIDE RANGE OF SCENARIOS

The scenarios indicate that, depending on the containment efforts, between 4,000 and 300,000 people in Canada could die from COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic. Though, the current reality of the virus has Canada closer to the lower end of that spectrum and the two more developed scenarios from Health Canada under the current strong measures show that the range is likely somewhere between 11,000 and 22,000 Canadian deaths.

The short-term federal projection on the spread of COVID-19 shows that between 500 and 700 Canadians could die from COVID-19 in the next week, with the number of cases rising to between 22,580 and 31,850 cases.

If 2.5 per cent of the population contracts the virus, that would mean:

  • 934,000 Canadians get sick;
  • 73,000 could be hospitalized;
  • 23,000 people could end up in the intensive care unit; and
  • 11,000 people could die.

If the percentage of the population that gets sick hits 5 per cent, that would mean:

  • 1,879,000 contract COVID-19;
  • 146,000 could be hospitalized;
  • 46,000 people could end up in the ICU; and
  • 22,000 people could die.

If that grows further to 10 per cent of the population, approximately 44,000 people in Canada could die.

With no control efforts in place, up to 80 per cent of Canadians could contract the virus. That scenario could result in a summertime peak and more than 300,000 deaths, which is approximately equivalent to the total number of deaths from all causes in Canada each year.

Health Canada says the current pandemic parameters Canadians are living under are considered strong controls, such as physical distancing, and quarantining travellers, whereas if fewer people stay home or do not act like they could be carrying the virus there will be a weaker hold on the disease.

The data and modelling released Thursday is informing the current national public health measures in place to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam called the numbers “stark,” but cautioned that these possible scenarios are imperfect given the different regional epidemics, and the outcomes will ultimately be determined by Canadians’ actions.

Tam said that means everything that can be done, must be done, to keep Canada’s trajectory within the range of best-case scenarios, “despite all the hardships and cost.”

Tam said that community transmission in Canada started later than in other countries, our per capita testing rate is higher than most countries, and the increase in total number of cases has been slower here than in other nations.

“In the last weeks a lot has been done, and we will need to monitory every single day the evolution of the outbreak and the trajectory so we can recalibrate as needed,” she said. 

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question a news conference in Ottawa, Thursday April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

PEAK ‘WON’T BE THE END’

Under all scenarios the peak appears to be coming sometime between late spring and early fall.

Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said it appears that the first wave of the virus will last until the summer, and “that won’t be the end.”

He said it’ll be up to each region of the country to monitor their curves and change their local public health approach accordingly.

As Trudeau echoed, Health Canada cautioned that in the absence of a treatment or vaccine, the fight against the disease is likely going to require waves of epidemic controls, spanning months.

For example, Canadians could still be instructed to distance themselves from others and practise hand hygiene; international and domestic travel restrictions could remain in place; and incoming travellers could face mandatory 14-day isolations.

Calling the potential second and third resurgences of the novel coronavirus that could come before a cure is found “wavelets,” Trudeau said Canadians will be “much better equipped” to handle them.

“We will have developed both tools and habits that will allow us to be much more resilient and resistant to further outbreaks and spreads,” Trudeau said. 

Also playing a factor in the scenarios is the increase in health care capacity, from stocking up on lifesaving supplies like ventilators, to having enough workers able to respond to the surge of patients.

Prior to physical distancing and other steps being taken, Health Canada estimates that each infected person in Canada passed the respiratory disease on to more than two people on average, but that has since been decreased, but we have not yet reached the point of stopping all spread.

Several provinces have already released their best- and worst-case projections for the number of deaths and cases, as well as how long they estimate it will take to contain the virus that’s already infected more than 20,000 Canadians and killed more than 500 people nationwide.

‘CAUGHT OFF GUARD’

Facing questions about how Canada ended up a month into a global pandemic with months ahead of us and thousands of deaths expected, Trudeau said countries around the world were “caught off guard” by COVID-19.

“The challenges that we’ve faced in terms of getting Canadians protected are echoed in challenges faced around the world, and some countries are handling it better than others… And of course, there’ll be lots of lessons learned from this,” the prime minster said.

“I think we all know that this was a situation that we’re adjusting as best we can to. We took the advice of experts, we move forward in significant ways. As we look back at the end of this I’m sure people will say: ‘Oh you could have done this a few days before, or maybe you did this one too quickly and you could have taken a few more days to reflect on it.’ Every step of the way we make the best decisions we can, given the information we have. And if it’s not exactly right, we fix it and we try and get it better as we move forward.” 

WAR-TIME LANGUAGE 

Evoking war-time language, and noting that Thursday marks the anniversary of the start of the First World War battle of Vimy Ridge, Trudeau said Thursday that things will get better, but first Canadians will have to sacrifice and do what can be done to prevent as many deaths as possible. 

Almost 3,600 Canadians died during this battle, and more than 7,000 were injured.

“As historians have noted reflecting on Vimy, it was a moment ordinary people did extraordinary things… And their legacy lives on in our women and men in uniform who are there for us in times of need, in our nurses and doctors who put themselves in harm’s way for us all to stay healthy, in everyone who steps up, and asks what they can do for their fellow Canadians,” Trudeau said. 

“That’s what makes Canada strong. And that will always be our path forward, no matter what tomorrow may bring.”  

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Even with strict containment measures, officials project up to 22,000 COVID-19 deaths in Canada – CBC.ca

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Federal health officials are projecting there could be nearly 32,000 cases of COVID-19 and between 500 and 700 deaths in Canada by April 16, and even with relatively strong control measures in place, there could be between 11,000 and 22,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic.

The figures came Thursday morning as officials released modelling on how the COVID-19 crisis could unfold in the country, and suggested that containment measures such as physical distancing and quarantines could be in place for months to come.

The longer-term projections look at scenarios for when strong controls are followed (one-10 per cent of the population infected, called the “green zone”), weaker controls (25-50 per cent infected, called the “blue zone”) and no controls (70-80 per cent infected, called the “red zone”).

With strong controls, if about 2.5 to five per cent of the population became infected, that would mean between 934,000 and 1.9 million cases. That would also mean up to 22,000 deaths and between 23,000 and 46,000 ICU admissions.

If no containment measures had been taken, which was not the case in Canada, there would be a worst-case scenario of about 300,000 deaths. 

Officials said the caseload in Canada is doubling every three to five days, which is considered a relatively positive trajectory compared to other countries. Tam said that is in large part because of lessons learned from other countries about how strong control measures can limit the spread of the virus.

Tam said she is hopeful Canada can stay in the green zone and keep infections and deaths relatively low. 

‘Prevent every death that we can’

She warned that measures that can create “hardships” are critical to keep ICU admissions and deaths as low as possible.

“We can’t prevent every death, but we must prevent every death that we can,” she said.

Tam said it’s early to know how close Canada is nationally to seeing a “peak” in transmission. But she cautioned that even as there’s a decline in transmissions, Canadians must stay the course with preventative measures as there is a risk of the virus re-igniting.

“What we do together now will buy us more time to further understand the virus and to develop treatments and vaccines,” she said.

“We are the authors of our fate. Together we can plank the epidemic curve.”

Tam said if 2.5 per cent of the population were infected, there would begin to be strains on the health-care system.

Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says models are “imperfect” but that they can help understand the state and trajectory of the pandemic and the effect of public health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. 1:03

The analysis of how many people could become infected, get sick or die from the virus comes just before the long holiday weekend.

Tam said models are “imperfect” but they can help understand the state of the pandemic and where it might go, along with the effect of public health measures on the transmission of the virus.

Repeated advice

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly told Canadians that how fast and far the virus spreads will depend largely on how stringently Canadians follow public health advice, including physical distancing, handwashing and staying home whenever possible.

Several provinces have already released projections. Ontario estimates the number of deaths in the province could reach between 3,000 and 15,000 people over the course of the pandemic, which could last up to two years. 

Tam has cautioned that models that try to predict how many people could become infected and die from the coronavirus are not “crystal balls,” and that it’s important to focus on data on what is happening in real time.

How projections actually play out depends largely on actions taken by individuals and governments, she said.

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Canadians overwhelmingly support stronger measures to fight COVID-19, Ipsos poll suggests – Global News

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A new Ipsos poll suggests a strong majority of Canadians would support a wide range of government measures to further limit the spread of COVID-19, from stricter physical distancing laws to limiting personal movement.

The poll, released Thursday on behalf of Global News, also found 84 per cent of Canadians surveyed would support whatever deficit that Ottawa would say is necessary to get Canada through the coronavirus pandemic.

While the poll found strong support for extending or strengthening measures already in place, like enforcing physical distancing, it also suggests a majority of the country would accept even harsher measures — even down to invading personal privacy.


READ MORE:
Coronavirus: One quarter of Canadians still not fully social distancing, poll suggests

The highest majorities were found when Canadians were asked about more empathetic initiatives. Ninety per cent of those surveyed said they would either strongly or somewhat support the military building field hospitals for COVID-19 patients, while 87 per cent were supportive of the government using empty hotels to house the homeless.

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The same majority of Canadians surveyed — 85 per cent — supported both stricter physical distancing measures enforced by legislation, and large fines for anyone caught breaking those orders. Those moves would strengthen existing laws and penalties meant to keep people apart.

Yet the poll also suggests that 76 per cent of Canadians would approve of government-imposed restrictions on who can leave their home and when, a measure that has gained traction in other parts of the world.






1:14
Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?


Coronavirus outbreak: Is Canada considering using phone tracking to enforce social distancing?

A relatively slim majority of those surveyed, 65 per cent, said they would even support the federal government using cellphone data to track Canadians who are supposed to be self-isolating. If enacted, the move would echo measures taken by governments from South Korea to Poland.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Ipsos CEO Darrell Bricker said the fact that majorities were found across the board suggests that Canadians are prepared for the government to do “whatever it wants” to fight the pandemic.

“We’ve had some commentary from experts saying the government has overstepped some of its boundaries of what they consider appropriate for this circumstance,” he said. “But they have pretty strong public support for doing whatever is necessary in order to deal with this situation.

“Whatever the limit is, we certainly didn’t find it in this survey.”

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READ MORE:
Countries opt for phone tracking amid coronavirus — should Canada?

While most of the above measures found strong support across gender, age groups, provinces and household incomes, both phone tracking and running deficits saw their support dip among some groups. Respondents in more conservative provinces like Alberta and Saskatchewan were less supportive of allowing a deficit, for example, while younger people were more wary of the government invading their privacy.

Many provinces and municipalities have threatened to both fine people and put them behind bars if they continue to gather in large groups or not self-isolate. The Canadian government has enacted legislation that requires all returning travellers to self-isolate for 14 days, with fines up to $750,000 and jail sentences up to six months for those who don’t comply.

Another recent Ipsos poll suggested a full quarter of Canadians admit they’re not following social distancing guidelines as much as they should, even though 95 per cent of those surveyed believe social distancing will slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.






2:43
Coronavirus outbreak: WHO searches for balance between privacy and protecting communities


Coronavirus outbreak: WHO searches for balance between privacy and protecting communities

Bricker said the two polls together highlight a mentality among some Canadians that other people are the problem, not themselves.

“If you look at the initiatives that we’re asking people to approve of, one is limiting my own personal movement, but almost everything else is really things that they feel should be done to other people,” he said.

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Health Minister Patty Hajdu has said the federal government is prepared to use “every measure in our toolbox” to battle the pandemic, including enforcing self-isolation and even physical distancing.

But Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam has expressed resistance to limiting personal freedoms like privacy and mobility, arguing a “proper balance” is needed.


READ MORE:
Is giving up your phone privacy a fair trade if it slows coronavirus spread?

With officials saying Canada must brace for physical distancing measures to remain in place until at least the beginning of summer, Bricker says the poll data suggests people are transitioning from fear of the virus to frustration over when life will return to normal.

“People don’t really have a significant amount of fear about the potential damage to their own health; really, the effect they’re feeling much more directly is the effect that [the pandemic] is having on their ability to earn an income,” he said.

“What they really want to have happen is for government to take whatever action is necessary both to guarantee their income … and get people behaving in the right way so we can move on and put this issue behind us.”

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos.” This poll was conducted between April 3 and April 7, with a sample of 1,006 Canadians from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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