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Ontario adds 151K new jobs in July, majority are part-time positions – CTV Toronto

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TORONTO —
Ontario added 151,000 new jobs in July, the country’s national statistics agency said, but the majority of them were part-time positions.

After losing more than one million jobs in a three-month time span following the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario added about 378,000 jobs in June. In July, employment in the province grew by 2.2 per cent.

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) released on Friday, which used the week of July 12 to 18 as a sample, said that businesses and workplaces across Canada have continued to reopen after being shuttered due to COVID-19 restrictions. At the same time, the survey was conducted while much of the province was still in Stage 2 of Ontario’s economic reopening plan.

“Although public health restrictions had been substantially eased in most parts of the country—with the exception of some regions of Ontario, including Toronto—some measures remained in place, including physical distancing requirements and restrictions on large gatherings,” Statistics Canada said.

Of the 151,000 jobs added in Ontario, Statistics Canada said that about 145,000 were part-time positions. The agency attributed that number to the fact that part-time workers were hit hardest by the shuttered economy months ago.

“This was due to a number of factors, including part-time work being more prevalent in industries that were most affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown, namely retail trade and accommodation and food services.”

Ontario’s unemployment rate has now fallen to 11.3 per cent, down from 12.2 per cent the previous month.

In Toronto, employment also rose by about 2.2 per cent, with close to 26,000 jobs added in the city. Statistics Canada says that employment in Toronto has now reached 89.9 per cent of its February, pre-COVID-19 level.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford posted a brief message on social media Friday afternoon saying he was happy to see the July labour numbers.

“What I love are the job numbers today, 150,000 people going back to work, the premier said in a video on Twitter, noting that there is still work to do to rebuild the province’s economy.

“That is great news for the people of Ontario.”

About 419,000 jobs were gained across Canada in the month of July, reducing the national unemployment rate to 10.9 per cent. 

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WATCH: 'Virtual' Rotaryfest 2020 at 7 pm – SooToday

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Despite an unprecedented year of obstacles, one of Sault Ste. Marie’s longest-running traditions returns in a brand new format. The Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie is present Virtual Rotaryfest, streaming on SooToday.

“Our Rotary Club has been celebrating Rotaryfest for almost 100 years – so when it became clear it couldn’t happen in the way it always has, we knew we had to find a creative way to still bring some of the fun of the festival to Sault Ste. Marie,” shared Rotary Club of Sault Ste. Marie President, Megan Wigmore. “With the virtual format this year, not only do we get to see some of our favourite local bands and performers that have become festival fixtures; we get to bring in some former Saultites to join the party as well!”

One of those former Saultites is Crystal Shawanda. The JUNO Award winning Canadian songstress will headline the virtual event with a Rotaryfest-exclusive performance. The online celebration of music will also include performances from crowd favourites Jay Case and Frank Deresti, Jackson Reed, Mustang Heart, Kelly MacGillivray, Kt Antler & Kyle McKey, Bone Yard, and Tyson Hanes.

This year’s Virtual Rotaryfest has been made possible through the generous support of OLG, SooToday, and Canadian Heritage.

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Fourth patient dies as Foothills hospital outbreaks continue to grow – Calgary Herald

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A fourth patient has died as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks in three units of Foothills Medical Centre.

Alberta Health Services confirmed the death of the patient at the northwest Calgary hospital Saturday, the latest development in Alberta’s largest active outbreak.

The outbreaks continued to grow Saturday, as two more patients and one more health-care worker tested positive for the novel coronavirus. In total, 20 patients and 18 hospital staff have been infected amid the outbreaks.

COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at three units of Foothills: one in the general medicine ward as well as two cardiac units.

As well, AHS confirmed to Postmedia Friday three additional units had been placed on “outbreak watch,” meaning they were being monitored for potential COVID-19 cases. Those units on watch include one cardiac unit and two in the general medicine ward.

AHS did not provide an update Saturday on the number of staff members forced to isolate as a result of the outbreaks. On Friday, they said 136 staff members had been asked to quarantine.

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COVID-19 causing stress, depression and obsessive behaviour: survey – CTV News

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EDMONTON —
An online survey of Albertans who have reached out for help during the COVID-19 crisis suggests the pandemic is taking a toll on mental health, with increased signs of obsessive behaviour, stress and depression.

“We did not expect people to be experiencing this level of anxiety, depression or stress,” said Vincent Agyapong, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta and co-author of a newly published paper.

Agyapong’s research has focused on the lingering mental-health effects of public traumas such as the Fort McMurray wildfire. He and his colleagues have been asked by provincial and private agencies to help design a public mental-health response to COVID-19.

The paper, published in Environmental Research and Public Health, is an attempt to assess those needs.

“We thought it would be useful to collect baseline data,” Agyapong said.

In late March, the researchers contacted about 33,000 Albertans who subscribed to Text4Hope — a government initiative that sends out a daily supportive text message written by mental health professionals. They asked subscribers to complete a survey that contained standard measures of anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour.

About 6,000 people responded.

The survey, funded by a group of Alberta charitable health foundations, found that about 60 per cent of respondents had become worried about dirt, germs and viruses since the COVID-19 outbreak. About 54 per cent had begun washing their hands “very often or in a special way” that could be considered a symptom of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Nearly 50 per cent were considered probable candidates for anxiety disorders and more than 40 per cent were likely to be clinically depressed. Almost 85 per cent of respondents reported moderate to high stress.

The results were consistent between men and women. Symptoms and anxiety levels tended to increase with age and education levels.

Agyapong is cautious about the results. The survey sample isn’t representative of the Alberta population. And some level of stress and unusual behaviour is understandable when people are losing their jobs and seeing society shut down around them.

But something is going on, he said.

“It’s not diagnostic, but it is indicative,” said Agyapong. “It doesn’t necessarily mean (the results) aren’t representative of what’s going on.”

Although research suggests about one-quarter of the general population will show some obsessive compulsive symptoms at some point in life, the incidence of the actual condition is only about two per cent — much lower than the figure in Agyapong’s survey.

Agyapong points out his findings are consistent with studies done in other countries such as China.

He said simple measures can help — even the daily reassurance provided by Text4Hope. Preliminary results suggest that in six weeks, anxiety levels in subscribers fell by 20 per cent.

“It may not work for everybody, but if you can get it to work for even half of those who are struggling, then it means that you don’t need more (expensive) resources at a population level,” Agyapong said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2020

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