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COVID-19 Updates: Worldwide coronavirus cases cross 6 million | 13 new cases, one new death reported in Alberta – Calgary Herald

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It is the ninth case in the area in just over a week after a health-care professional, who contracted the coronavirus outside the province, didn’t self-isolate after he returned to New Brunswick.

The new case, which is under investigation, is an individual in their 70s.

To date, there have been 129 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick and 120 people have recovered from the illness.

Three people are hospitalized and there are no patients in intensive care.

– The Canadian Press


Saturday

India extends lockdown in high-risk zones, to allows partial reopening elsewhere

A young child from a migrant workers family waits for transport with others to return to their hometowns in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states after police stopped them from crossing the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on foot as the government eased a nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in New Delhi on May 17, 2020. SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images

India extended its coronavirus lockdown until June 30 in high-risk zones but permitted restaurants, malls and religious buildings to reopen elsewhere from June 8 despite a record high number of cases detected nationwide on Saturday.

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Popular West Island pub asks recent patrons to monitor health after employee tests positive for COVID-19 – CTV News Montreal

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MONTREAL —
A popular pub in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue is the latest in the greater Montreal area to go on hiatus after a COVID-19 case that could have exposed patrons to the virus.

Annies Sur Le Lac has temporarily closed so that its staff – about 20 people – can get tested for COVID-19 after a member of management tested positive.

The pub’s manager, Kevin O’Connel, told CTV News the measure wasn’t required by public health but was taken out of an abundance of caution. 

“This is all new to us,” he said.

He also wanted to publicize the situation so that anyone who visited the bar on Friday, Saturday or Sunday can be aware, monitor their health and go get their own tests if needed.

Employees wear personal protective equipment and practice proper hygiene, O’Connel said. The person who tested positive also didn’t interact directly with customers.

Still, that person had been at the pub over the weekend, and was in contact with other staff, so they aren’t taking any chances, he said. 

Annie’s reopened on June 22 with health protocols in place, O’Connel said. More than two dozen tables were removed from the outdoor terrace to allow two metres of distance between patrons. They made it easier for people to wash their hands and put protective equipment on staff.

O’Connel says he called public health authorities at Info-Santé and was told the bar isn’t under any obligation to close, but they decided to “pull the plug” anyway. 

They’ll reopen once all the staff have been tested—15 to 20 people—and the entire establishment can be sanitized. A cleaning company is coming in on Friday to do the deep clean.

None of the other staff is showing symptoms. If all the test results come back this week, it’s possible the bar will reopen this weekend.

In the meantime, the bar has posted a sign on the door that explains the closure.

After a much bigger outbreak in Montérégie, which involved a bar in the South Shore, Quebec released new rules today for bars. They include cutting off alcohol sales at midnight, limiting capacity to 50 per cent and banning dancing.

O’Connel said his bar had reopened for the spring and summer season for a single day in March when the pandemic forced it to shut. Now, after reopening for just two weeks, he says he’s very disappointed about all the stops and starts but wants to put safety first.

He went for his own test this morning in Mercier, he said.

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Annual pace of housing starts in Canada increased in June: CMHC – BNNBloomberg.ca

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OTTAWA – Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says the annual pace of housing starts rose in June as starts of multi-family projects rose, offsetting a decline in single-detached homes.

The federal housing agency says the seasonally adjusted annual rate of housing starts came in at 211,681 units in June, up from 195,453 in May.

Economists on average had expected an annual pace of 198,000 starts, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

The result came as urban starts of apartments, condos and other types of multiple-unit housing projects rose 13.0 per cent to 154,602 units in June, while urban starts of single-detached homes fell 4.5 per cent to 42,073.

Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15,006 units.

The six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates of housing starts rose to 199,655 in June, up from 197,063 in May.

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Extend wage subsidy program, not individual response benefits – The Globe and Mail

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Part of a cheque for the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), a taxable award from the Canadian government, is photographed in Toronto, on April 16, 2020.

CHRIS HELGREN/Reuters

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a sharp contraction to economic activity in Canada. The halt to non-essential activity and physical-distancing measures imposed over March and April were required to slow the spread of the virus, avoid a health care crisis and mitigate the impact on the health of Canadians.

But these measures have left the economy and the labour market operating far below normal levels. Policy makers and business leaders must now deal with a problem they have never faced – how to restore the economy while holding the number of COVID-19 cases at bay.

The normal stabilizers that exist in our economy were not built to withstand its unprecedented seizure. This extraordinary situation called for an equally unparalleled government response.

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The two most important features of the federal government’s support response are the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The CERB transfers $2,000 a month directly to individuals and applies to anyone who has lost their employment due to the COVID-19 shutdown. The CEWS is a subsidy to employers that covers 75 per cent of employees’ wages, topped at $847 per employee, provided the company experienced a substantial drop in revenues.

Roughly three million Canadians lost employment in March and April, and millions more worked only reduced hours. According to the federal government, over less than a three-month period from mid-March to June 4, $43.51-billion was paid out from the CERB. The program has been widely praised for its efficiency in getting income quickly to individuals who need it to cover expenses during the crisis.

In May, Canada entered a recovery phase and national employment increased by 296,000. While this is only a tenth of what has been lost, all provincial and territorial economies are indeed in the process of slowly reopening for business.

But for the recovery to become firmly entrenched, companies will need access to workers as capacity ramps up. The CERB as a disincentive for workers to re-enter the labour force is a real risk. Currently, at $2,000 a month, the CERB is equivalent to an average hourly wage of just less than $15 for an average 33-hour work week – well above the minimum wage in most Canadian jurisdictions.

The resulting incentive for workers, particularly those in lower-wage occupations, is to not return to work as the market opens. Keep in mind that less than six months ago, the Canadian economy registered more than 560,000 unfilled positions, or 3.3 per cent of total labour demand.

Accommodations and food services, as well as retail trade, are two sectors that pay lower wages and have been severely affected by the pandemic. In fact, they accounted for more than a quarter of these job vacancies. Employers of all types are already anecdotally facing labour shortages in a period of record levels of unemployment.

Additionally, the effects of operating a business while the novel coronavirus remains a risk is a costly challenge. New health and safety regulations means that many businesses will have to operate well below capacity while those same regulations are more labour intensive. The result is lower revenues and higher costs – a situation that will endure until a treatment or vaccine is found and distributed, possibly taking up to a year or more. In the interim, what support measures can best help lay a path to full recovery?

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The CEWS is key to helping business deal with the high costs of running a business while COVID-19 is still a threat. The program has received little uptake so far because businesses are just starting to reopen and because companies have been struggling to interpret whether they qualify.

The federal government initially slated $74-billion for the CEWS but that amount was reduced to $45-billion, despite the program’s extension into August. Yet use of the program will grow, and additional support will be necessary. The CEWS should be extended well beyond August, especially for those industries where a return to normal is much further down the road. Moreover, qualification rules, especially for companies with foreign affiliate sales, need to be clarified.

Shifting funding away from the CERB and into the CEWS would be a good strategy to help lift consumer and business confidence and accelerate the recovery. It will give Canadians an incentive to return to work, and employers the certainty that assistance is available to them until the economy returns to normal.

The CEWS is key to helping many businesses operate and hire in a high-cost environment. And hiring will boost household confidence and spending – creating a virtuous cycle in redressing the economy. Going forward, policy measures must now focus on encouraging businesses to open. We need to move workers off the CERB and back into employment.

Pedro Antunes is the chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada.

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