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Quebec manufacturing and construction sectors warn against new COVID-19 lockdowns – CTV News Montreal



Quebec’s manufacturing and construction associations say there will be major damage to Quebec’s economy if the government imposes a strict COVID-19 lockdown similar to what occurred last spring.

Veronique Proulx, CEO of Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Quebec, reacted Tuesday to multiple media reports saying Premier Francois Legault is set to close non-essential manufacturing businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“The worst scenario for us would be to go back to the same situation we had last spring,” Proulx said in an interview. She said Quebec manufacturers lost $4 billion in sales when they were shut during the first wave of the pandemic and she expects a similar situation if manufacturers are forced to close again.

Legault is scheduled to hold a news conference late Wednesday and was meeting with opposition leaders Tuesday. According to multiple reports, the province may, for the first time since the spring, order “non-essential” manufacturers and the construction sector to close and extend the current closure of schools.

Quebec reported 2,508 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 62 more deaths, including 17 that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said COVID-19 hospitalizations rose by 23, to 1,317 — the highest number since late May — and 194 people were in intensive care, an increase of six.

The province says 2,529 doses of vaccine were administered Monday, for a total of 32,763. The test positivity rate in Quebec was 11 per cent on Jan. 3, the most recent date for which data is available, with 20,716 tests conducted.

Quebec has reported 215,358 cases of COVID-19 and 8,441 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Proulx said that if Quebec were the only jurisdiction in North America to order factories to close, it would put the province’s manufacturing industry — which employs 450,000 people and accounts for 14 per cent of the provincial GDP — at a severe disadvantage.

“If we’re shutting down and consumers continue to buy, as they did during the last shutdown, they’ll be buying from Amazon and they’ll be buying from other manufacturers who can actually continue to produce,” she said.

“The market share that these foreign companies are gaining is there to stay; it’s very difficult for Quebec manufacturers to win them back.”

Proulx said manufacturers have put measures in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19, adding that while there may be room for stricter rules in some parts of the industry, she said hasn’t seen the data that supports shutting down the whole sector.

About 27 per cent of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Quebec workplaces were identified in the manufacturing industry during the week ending Dec. 19, according to the most recent government data. Those outbreaks were tied to 1,336 infections @out of a total of 3,367 infections linked to active workplace outbreaks that week.

Retail stores accounted for about 22 per cent of workplace outbreaks during the same period, while the construction sector was responsible for about 9 per cent.

Guillaume Houle, spokesman the Association de la construction du Quebec, said Tuesday his organization wants the government to keep construction sites open.

He said the small number of outbreaks in his industry — which employs about half a million people in Quebec — suggests the measures currently in place are working. Houle, however, said the industry is open to having new discussions with health officials and unions about stricter measures that would allow sites to stay open.

With construction contributing around $1 billion to Quebec’s GDP every week, Houle said the economic cost of another shutdown would be “unprecedented.”

But Eric Boisjoly, director general of the construction wing of one of Quebec’s main labour federations, said measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 on work sites aren’t being enforced as much as they were when the industry reopened in the spring. He said the problem is more acute on smaller sites.

Workers, however, won’t be happy if construction sites are closed, he added. One of the big challenges, he explained, is uncertainty, because workers don’t know what kind of support will be available if they aren’t able to work.

Karl Blackburn, the president and CEO of Quebec’s largest employer group, the Conseil du patonat du Quebec, said his organization wants the government to take a more targeted approach.

He’d like to see the government identify specific problem areas and use a “surgical” approach to deal with the spread of COVID-19 in those sectors.

That would avoid the need for a full lockdown that could be “catastrophic” for Quebec’s economy, he said.

Blackburn said he’d also like to see stricter sanctions for people and organizations that don’t follow public health rules.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 5, 2021.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Sunday –



The latest:

  • Health Canada approves Spartan Bioscience’s previously recalled rapid COVID-19 test.
  • The pros and cons of naming workplaces that have COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Israel includes teens in vaccination drive, plans to close Ben Gurion Airport to nearly all flights.
  • Belgium bans foreign tourism to avoid third COVID-19 wave.
  • New Zealand reports 1st community case in more than 2 months.
  • Montreal woman says mother with dementia accidentally given Pfizer vaccine after receiving dose of Moderna.
  • P.E.I. to ease some COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Tracking the coronavirusWhere is the pandemic getting better or worse?
  • Do you have a tip or question about the pandemic? Email us at

An Ottawa company’s made-in-Canada rapid COVID-19 test has been approved, Health Canada confirmed on Saturday.

The test developed by Spartan Bioscience is performed by a health-care professional and provides on-site results within an hour, a spokesperson for the federal agency said.

The company originally unveiled a rapid test for COVID-19 last spring but had to voluntarily recall it and perform additional studies after Health Canada expressed some reservations about the “efficacy of the proprietary swab” for the device.

WATCH | Health Canada approves Canadian-made rapid COVID-19 testing system:

Canada’s health authority approved Spartan Bioscience’s rapid COVID-19 testing system. 3:12

Meanwhile, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer, warned that COVID-19 continues to strain the health-care system even as daily case counts decline in several long-standing hot spots.

“Stringent and consistent efforts are needed to sustain a downward trend in case counts and strongly suppress COVID-19 activity across Canada,” Tam said in a statement. “This will not only prevent more tragic outcomes but will help to ensure that new virus variants of concern do not have the opportunity to spread.”

What’s happening across Canada

As of 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 746,406 cases of COVID-19, with 63,625 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 19,065.

In British Columbia, 20 people in custody at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam have tested positive for COVID-19. The Fraser Health Authority announced the outbreak on Friday and said it is working to identify others who may have had contact with those who tested positive at the jail.

Alberta saw 573 new COVID-19 cases and 13 additional deaths on Saturday.

Saskatchewan recorded 274 new COVID-19 cases and three new deaths.

WATCH | CBC medical contributor answers your COVID-19 questions:

The CBC’s John Northcott puts your coronavirus-related questions to family physician and CBC medical contributor Dr. Peter Lin. 9:28

Manitoba announced 216 new cases and three more deaths. The latest update comes on the day strict restrictions for much of the province eased, following recent drops in case numbers.

Ontario reported 2,417 new COVID-19 cases and 50 more deaths on Sunday.

WATCH | Teenage long-term care worker dies of COVID-19:

The CBC’s Natasha Fatah talks with London-Middlesex’s Associate Health Director, Dr. Alex Summers, following the death of a teenage Long-Term Care worker. 9:34

Quebec on Sunday registered 1,457 new cases and 41 additional deaths, which were reported between Jan. 17 and Jan. 22.

New Brunswick reported 17 new cases on Saturday. Ten of those cases were in the Edmundston region in the northwest, which was set to go into a lockdown first thing Sunday morning.

Nova Scotia saw one new case on Sunday. On Friday, Premier Stephen McNeil said almost all of the province’s public health restrictions will remain until at least Feb. 7, but some restrictions in sports, arts and culture will be eased starting Monday.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on both Saturday and Sunday after seeing one new case on Friday; one person remains in hospital in the province due to COVID-19.

In Prince Edward Island, larger organized gatherings and later hours for bars and restaurants are now allowed as the province eases some of its COVID-19 restrictions.

Nunavut announced a second active case in the hard-hit community of Arviat. The new case comes a day after the territory confirmed its first new infection since Dec. 28.

What’s happening around the world

As of Sunday, more than 98.9 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 54.6 million of the cases considered resolved or recovered, according to the coronavirus tracking tool maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The global death toll stood at more than 2.1 million.

In Europe, Belgium is banning residents from taking vacations abroad until March to limit the spread of more infectious coronavirus variants and avoid a deadly third wave of COVID-19 cases. The government says travel into or out of Belgium for recreation or tourism is prohibited from Jan. 27 to March 1.

Police check documents at a train station in Brussels on Friday. (Reuters TV)

Belgium has one of the world’s highest per-capita death tolls from COVID-19. It has had nearly 700,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths. But it now has a lower rate of infections than its neighbours and has avoided the total lockdowns of Britain, the Netherlands and Germany.

Meanwhile, in the U.K., police broke up an illegal rave in the London borough of Hackney, where about 300 people gathered under a railway arch. The BBC reports nearly 80 fines were issued for breach of lockdown restrictions.

In the Middle East, Israel expanded its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday to include 16- to 18-year-olds in what the government described as an effort to enable their attendance at school exams.

Israel, which has the world’s fastest vaccine distribution rate, is hoping to begin reopening its economy next month.

Israel will also be closing Ben Gurion Airport to nearly all flights to help bring the coronavirus outbreak under control, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

“We are closing the skies hermetically, except for really rare exceptions, to prevent the entry of virus mutations,” he said.

Tomer, who is 18, receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday. (Jack Guez/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli media said the closure of the country’s busiest international airport, 25 kilometres southeast of Tel Aviv, would begin on Tuesday and remain in effect until Jan. 31.

New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in more than two months, although there was no immediate evidence the virus was spreading in the community.

Ashley Bloomfield, the director general of health, said on Sunday that the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.

Like other returning travellers, she spent 14 days in quarantine and twice tested negative before returning home on Jan. 13. She later developed symptoms and tested positive.

Bloomfield said health officials are investigating to see whether its possible she caught the disease from another returning traveler who was staying in the same quarantine facility.

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WestJet Boeing 737 MAX Grounded After “Potential Fault” – Simple Flying




A WestJet Boeing 737 MAX was heading out of Calgary yesterday when it returned to its gate after push back due to a potential fault. The aircraft had 35 passengers on board, who then had to transfer to another flight to head to their destination of Toronto.

WestJet 737 MAX
WestJet’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have only been back in commercial action since Thursday. Photo: WestJet

Verification was needed

The crew members on the 737 MAX were planning to fly out from Calgary International Airport to travel to Toronto Pearson International Airport. They were ready to perform flight WS658, which had a local departure time of 08:00. However, this service had to be canceled during the push back process.

Simple Flying reached out to WestJet for comment on what occurred in Calgary on January 21st. A WestJet representative confirmed that a potential fault needed to be looked at. Altogether, the airline could not make these checks while customers were on board the plane.

“After a normal engine start, a standard function of the health monitoring system indicated a potential fault that needed to be verified and reset. This process takes time and requires a subsequent engine run, which we do not perform with guests on board,” the spokesperson for the airline told Simple Flying.

“In the interest of our guests’ time, we cancelled flight 658 and its return 665 (Toronto/Calgary) and we rebooked them on the next available flight to ensure a timely arrival in Toronto. The aircraft was cleared by maintenance yesterday morning and will return to service tomorrow Sunday, January 24 as planned.”

Switching flights

All of the passengers that were on board the 737 MAX instead departed for Toronto on WestJet’s Boeing 787 that was planned to perform flight WS662. Ultimately, the carrier apologizes for the inconvenience and appreciates the patience of its customers.


WestJet 787
WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to Toronto left Calgary at 09:53 local time. Photo: WestJet

Back in action

This event occurred just a day after WestJet flew its first commercial flight with the MAX after nearly two years. The Canadian outfit was also only the fifth airline around the world to resume operations with the type. Therefore, there was already plenty of attention on the return of the previously grounded aircraft.

Nonetheless, The WestJet spokesperson emphasizes that yesterday’s flight was canceled only because the airline moved its passengers to the Dreamliner flight instead of having to wait for the maintenance team to clear the initial plane. The company would have operated the flight yesterday. However, the customers were already on their way to their destination.


WestJet 737 MAX 8
In total, WestJet holds 13 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, WestJet took the most efficient approach following the initial concerns that were raised. The plane is ready to fly out from Calgary again tomorrow at 08:00. So, the potential issues raised have been addressed by those on the ground at the airport.

What are your thoughts about this WestJet Boeing 737 returning to its gate at Calgary Airport? Were you on board this aircraft yesterday? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.

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Canada reports 146 more COVID-19 deaths as feds approve rapid PCR test – Global News



Another 5,124 cases of COVID-19 were identified in Canada Saturday as the federal government approved its first domestically produced rapid PCR coronavirus test.

Saturday’s data pushed the national caseload to 742,531, of which over 658,000 patients have since recovered. Another 146 deaths were reported by provincial health jurisdictions as well, with the country’s death toll standing at 18,974.

The new cases paint a limited snapshot of the virus’ spread across the country however, as provinces like B.C. and P.E.I., as well as all the territories do not report new COVID-19 data on the weekend.

Read more:
Health Canada approves 1st rapid PCR coronavirus test, Spartan Bioscience says

The rapid test, according to its developer Spartan Bioscience, is an on-site “point-of-care” kit made to be administered by health-care professionals.

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A press release Saturday from the company said that it was the first “truly mobile, rapid PCR test for COVID-19 for the Canadian market.”

Health Canada’s approval of the test also comes amid further warnings from the country’s top doctor, who said that the virus continued to strain health-care systems despite a decline in average daily case counts from several hard-hit areas.

“As severe outcomes lag behind increased disease activity, we can expect to see ongoing heavy impacts on our healthcare system and health workforce for weeks to come,” said Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam in her Saturday statement.

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“This situation continues to burden local healthcare resources, particularly in areas where infection rates are highest.”

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Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Toronto police make arrest at ‘large gathering’ downtown despite COVID-19 measures'

Coronavirus: Toronto police make arrest at ‘large gathering’ downtown despite COVID-19 measures

Coronavirus: Toronto police make arrest at ‘large gathering’ downtown despite COVID-19 measures

Tam also made a plea to Canadians to continue to follow more stringent and consistent efforts to “sustain a downward trend” in new case counts, as well as to potentially prevent the creation of new virus variants.

“Unless we continue the hard work to suppress COVID-19 activity across Canada, there is a risk that more transmissible virus variants could take hold or even replace less transmissible variants, which could result in a significant and difficult to control acceleration of spread,” wrote Tam.

Click to play video 'Canadian couple accused of vaccine queue jumping in Yukon'

Canadian couple accused of vaccine queue jumping in Yukon

Canadian couple accused of vaccine queue jumping in Yukon

Tam’s warning comes as health officials in Ontario confirmed Saturday that the new U.K. coronavirus variant, which is believed to be more contagious, was found at an outbreak in a long-term care home in Barrie.

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Ontario registered another 2,359 coronavirus infections on Saturday, as well as 52 more deaths. The province has now overtaken Quebec with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a total caseload of 252,585.

Quebec reported another 1,685 cases on Saturday, raising its total caseload to 252,176. The province, which announced another 76 fatalities, still maintains the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths with a total of 9,437.

Read more:
COMMENTARY: Should Olympic athletes get vaccinated ahead of the public?

Alberta added another 573 cases on Saturday, pushing its total infections to 120,330. Another 13 deaths were recorded in the province.

Saskatchewan added another 274 cases and three more deaths, while Manitoba recorded 216 more cases and three deaths as well.

In Atlantic Canada, only New Brunswick reported new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, with an additional 17.

Worldwide, cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise with a total of 98,529,000 infections so far, according to Johns Hopkins University. A total of 2,115,124 people have since died after contracting the virus, with the U.S., Brazil and India continuing to lead in both cases and deaths.

— With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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