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Easing restrictions and ; In The News for May 4 – National Post

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 4 …

COVID-19 in Canada …

A new phase in the COVID-19 pandemic starts today with several provinces beginning the process of slowly loosening some of their lockdown restrictions.

Quebec, hardest hit of all provinces by coronavirus, is reopening retail stores outside Montreal while those in the greater Montreal area are to reopen next week.

Ontario, the other epicentre for the virus, is allowing a small list of mostly seasonal businesses to reopen, including garden centres with curbside pick-ups, lawn care and landscaping companies, and automatic car washes.

Manitoba’s museums, libraries and retail businesses — including restaurant patios — can reopen today, though at only half capacity. The province, along with Saskatchewan and Alberta, are also allowing non-essential medical activities, such as dentistry and physiotherapy to resume.

B.C. has yet to release its reopening plan, however, details are expected this week.

The Maritime provinces, where COVID-19 caseloads have been trending downward, began relaxing some restrictions over the past week, while Newfoundland and Labrador plans to loosen some public health and recreation restrictions on May 11.

Though some restrictions are being eased, physical distancing rules still apply.

In other Canadian news …

VANCOUVER — A British Columbia psychiatrist specializing in youth mental health says academics will initially need to take a back seat to students’ emotional needs when schools reopen across the country.

Doctor Shimi Kang says some students have taken to using substances to self medicate during the pandemic while others are spending far too much time online outside of their schoolwork or ignoring physical distancing needs.

She says teens in particular are having a tough time coping with the disruptions and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19.

Most schools already have a way to help them when they resume classes, but Kang says so-called social emotional learning aimed at teaching students how to be more aware of their emotions and becoming more resilient must now be made a priority.

Shelley Morse, president of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, echoes that sentiment and says some students will have experienced trauma without support from the usual connections they make at school.

Morse says she’s concerned Quebec may not be prepared to deal with such issues as primary schools reopen this month, though the Education Ministry there says teachers will be vigilant in supporting students.

Also this …

MISSION, B.C — A justice advocacy group says it wants prisoners at a federal institution in Mission, British Columbia ravaged by a COVID-19 outbreak to know there are people in the community fighting for their safety.

Meenakshi Mannoe of the Vancouver Prison Justice Day Committee says members were rallying outside Mission Institution Sunday and making noise from their cars or at a safe physical distance.

The committee is calling for the urgent care of all prisoners across Canada and the immediate release of detainees to ensure adequate physical distancing and quarantine measures.

Mannoe says inmates’ sentences should not include exposure to a potentially fatal respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The group is also calling for broader testing of all prisoners, and daily updates with details of the situation for their family members.

Mission Institution is experiencing the largest prison outbreak in Canada. The B.C. government said Saturday that 133 inmates and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Across Canada, 290 federal inmates have been infected, with 155 having recovered, according to federal figures released Saturday.

COVID-19 in the U.S. …

WASHINGTON — The Senate will gavel in today as the coronavirus rages.

The senators face a deepening national debate over how best to confront the deadly pandemic and its economic devastation.

With the House staying away due to the health risks, but the 100 senators meeting for the first time since March, the conflicted Congress reflects an uneasy nation.

Tops on the Senate agenda isn’t the next virus aid package, but confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees.

Senate Republicans are reluctant to spend more money on virus relief and are counting on the country’s re-opening to kick start the economy and reduce the need for aid.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is quietly crafting the next relief package and Democrats say more must be done.

COVID-19 around the world …

There are signs today the coronavirus pandemic is easing significantly in some parts of Europe but getting worse in India and Russia.

While people around the world started taking advantage of an easing in lockdowns to enjoy the outdoors, health experts warned of a potential second wave of infections unless testing is expanded dramatically.

As Italy prepared to reopen parks and public gardens today, health officials reported 174 deaths, the lowest number since a national lockdown began on March 10.

Like Italy, Spain has seen a significant downward trend in reported new cases. And Belgium was also relaxing some of its lockdown measures, confident enough that the outbreak there was on the wane.

But in India, new infections have been rising rapidly. The lockdown of the country’s 1.3 billion people was extended two more weeks, but with some measures relaxed, as reported cases reached 42,000 with nearly 1,400 deaths.

And in Russia, new reported cases exceeded 10,000 for the first time, bringing total cases to about 135,000 with nearly 1,300 deaths.

Meanwhile, in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he got so sick from the coronavirus that doctors had discussed what to say if he had died.

COVID-19 in Entertainment

NEW YORK — Lesley Stahl says that instead of covering COVID-19 news for C-B-S News, she’s become part of the story.

The “60 Minutes” correspondent says she’s finally feeling better after a battle with COVID-19 left her in the hospital for a week.

Stahl says she fought pneumonia caused by the virus for two weeks before being admitted, a journey she says left her “really scared.”

Stahl is 78, and is the dean of correspondents at the C-B-S newsmagazine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2020.

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Federal government to provide $14B to provinces, territories to 'safely' restart economies – CBC.ca

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The federal government is providing $14 billion to the provinces and territories to help them “safely and carefully” reopen their economies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage this morning.

Trudeau also announced that Canadians with disabilities will receive a one-time payment of up to $600 to help offset the higher costs of living during the pandemic.

The government has announced emergency aid for unemployed Canadians, students, businesses and seniors, but advocates say that people with disabilities were falling through the cracks.

Many face increases in the cost of living, such as higher grocery bills and delivery service fees.

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Bouncing back? Canada added 290,000 jobs in May – CBC.ca

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After losing more than three million jobs in March and April, Canada’s economy added 290,000 jobs in May, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

The data agency reported that 290,000 more people had paid employment in May than in April. The surge means May was the best one-month gain for jobs in Canada in 45 years, although it happened from an admittedly low bar. It also  means the labour market has bounced back by about 10 per cent of the hit it took from COVID-19.

Despite the job gains, Canada’s official unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, as 491,000 more people were looking for work in the job market, notably students, whose search for summer work isn’t normally recorded in the months before May.

In February, Canada’s jobless rate was 5.6 per cent. It increased to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April. The number of unemployed Canadians has more than doubled since February.

Blows away negative expectations

The job gains came as a pleasant surprise to economists, most of whom were expecting more job losses for the month.

The average expectation for the job numbers from economists polled by Bloomberg was for a loss of about 500,000 more jobs. But not all of them thought the number would plunge again.

Economist Benoit Durocher at Desjardins was one of just two to forecast the adding of jobs — 400,000 to be precise.

That was his call before the numbers came out, and his optimism proved prescient.

His reasoning was simple: as many Canadian provinces cautiously reopened in May, some of those people who were laid off temporarily in March and April would trickle back to work and show up in May’s employment numbers.

“Employment should rebound and return to positive territory in May, but the extent of the rebound remains unclear,” Durocher said ahead of the numbers coming out. “Under these circumstances, the unemployment rate should begin trending downwards. However, the return to pre-COVID-19 levels could be fairly slow.”

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Should everyone be tested for COVID-19? Most Canadians think so, poll shows – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Experts say widespread testing for COVID-19 is one of the most effective defences against a second wave of infections, a measure most Canadians support according to a recent poll.

More than three in five Canadians say they are in favour of testing every Canadian for the novel coronavirus, according to a Nanos Research poll commissioned by CTV News.

The random survey of 1,009 Canadians, which took place between May 26 and 28, revealed that 28 per cent of respondents support and 33 per cent somewhat support widespread testing measures, while more than one in three opposed the idea.

Polling data shows that residents of Atlantic Canada and Ontario have a higher intensity of support for universal testing than residents in Western Canada.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, provinces are working to expand their testing criteria to include people with very mild or even abnormal COVID-19 symptoms, an effort Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says will help spot possible community cases that would otherwise go undetected.

Officials are also working to roll out the country’s first antibody test as rapidly as possible to help determine how much of the population may have been infected.

But some provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have routinely fallen behind their diagnostic targets. The criteria for who can get tested also ranges widely between each province.

Nanos polling also shows that Canadians are more likely to say they are confident that there will be a vaccine available to fight COVID-19 within the next 12 months. However, four in ten respondents are not confident in that timeline.

Tam has noted that officials are working to understand how administering an eventual vaccine would be prioritized to certain segments of the population while considering “the maximum number of Canadians who may wish to be vaccinated.”

 

MOST CANADIANS HAPPY WITH PROVINCIAL RESPONSE

According to the poll, more than three in five Canadians are confident that their public health authorities have an accurate count of the number of COVID-19 cases in their province.

However, Ontario residents were less confident in the province’s data, with the majority of respondents doubting the official case count.

Ontario, one of the hardest hit provinces, has had several instances of reporting errors since the beginning of the outbreak.

On Thursday, the province recorded a spike in the number of deaths due to COVID-19 after days of relatively lower numbers. However, officials said the increase may have been due to a lag in reporting from local public health units. This comes just days after officials revealed nearly 500 COVID-19 patients were not flagged to local public health agencies for contact tracing due to a reporting error.

When it comes to the economic ramifications of the outbreak, nearly eight in ten Canadians say the opening up of the economy in their province is being done in a safe (33 per cent) or somewhat safe (46 per cent) way.

Residents in B.C. and Atlantic Canada were the most confident in the safety measures being taken to reopen the economy.

However, when asked which approach Canada should take to opening its border with the U.S., 40 per cent of Canadians say Canada should keep the border closed to non-essential traffic until the end of the summer. Thirty-one per cent say Canada should keep the border closed until there is a vaccine.

Twenty per cent of Canadians say the border should open to non-essential traffic once businesses are allowed to open, even if social distancing is still in place, with residents of the Prairies the most likely to be in favour of reopening.

 

METHODOLOGY

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,009 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between May 26 and April 28, 2020. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey online.

The margin of error this survey is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The research was commissioned by CTV News and was conducted by Nanos Research. 

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