Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- 500,000 Canadians applied for employment insurance this week as companies announced layoffs
- Ottawa to provide financial assistance to medical equipment companies
- Premier Doug Ford said schools in Ontario may not reopen this term. In Alberta, Premier Jason Kenney announced economic measures to blunt the combined impact of the virus outbreak and plunging oil prices
- Italy reported its largest day-to-day rise in deaths with 627 reported today
- Britain shuts down pubs and other businesses for 30 days
Number of the day
2.6 per cent
The federal government has received approximately 500,000 employment insurance applications in the past four days, a figure that represents 2.6 per cent of total Canadian employment. Only 27,000 applications were submitted during the same week last year.
- The spike in EI applications comes as companies in nearly every industry have begun laying off workers. "This is going to be very, very bad,” said one economics professor.
- On Twitter, one economist noted the number is in line with the percentage of job losses in July, 1932, the single worst week for layoffs during the Great Depression.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced additional income support for self-employed workers, or those who normally do not qualify for EI.
Coronavirus in Canada
934: cases in Canada reported; with 11 recoveries and 12 deaths reported.
- Premier Doug Ford said Ontario students may not return to the classroom this school year. The government is set to discuss ways to provide childcare for frontline health-care workers and first responders, Ford said.
- Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the province will provide extra cash and staff to set up overflow homeless shelters and establish spots for people who need to self-isolate. An oil sands worker, who lives in a 1,500-room oil sands camp north of Fort McMurray, is waiting for COVID-19 test result.
- Kenney also announced several economic measures designed to blunt the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Alberta and the recent crash in oil prices.
- A suburb of Montreal, Quebec with the highest proportion of seniors of any municipality in the province, confirmed its first COVID-19 case.
- Manitoba declared a state of emergency. The government will provide $27.6 million in funding for child-care spaces for frontline workers.
- Saskatchewan will open daycare spaces for frontline health-care workers.
- Nova Scotia extended the deadline to pay fines by 90 days.
The federal government will be providing financial assistance to companies to produce much needed medical equipment. “This initiative will help companies that are already making things like masks, ventilators and hand sanitizer to massively scale up production,” Prime Minister Trudeau said.
- Ottawa is preparing a multibillion-dollar bailout for the oil and gas sector. The package will be announced early next week, according to sources.
- Federal and Alberta government insiders are mum on details, but it is expected the sector will get more access to credit, especially for struggling small- and medium-sized operations, plus money to create jobs for laid-off workers.
Elsewhere: Canada’s deficit could surge to $100-billion, economists warn. However, Canada has some fiscal elbow room, as much as $41-billion in spending or tax cuts according to a February Parliamentary Budget Officer report. What would be cause for concern, according to the PBO, is if emergency measures become regular spending when the crisis is over.
Coronavirus around the world
- U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the Defence Production Act to get needed medical supplies to the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak and the private sector mobilized against it.
- Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, reported 627 new deaths Friday, its biggest day-to-day rise since the outbreak began, and said new cases also shot up. Italy has seen more than 4,000 deaths – surpassing that of China – and 47,000 infections. The soaring numbers came despite a nationwide lockdown.
- Britain faces a “massive shortage” of life-saving ventilators. The country has between 5,000-8,000 ventilators for a population of 67 million. The country, slow at first to respond to the outbreak, has closed pubs, restaurants and other businesses for at least a month. 145 people with have died from COVID-19 so far in the U.K.
- “You were close to a coronavirus carrier. You must go into isolation,” reads one text message sent by the Ministry of Health in Israel. The mass cellphone surveillance, previously a secret counterterrorism program, is a now being used as a public-health effort aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.
Coronavirus and business:
What happened today?
Canadian companies are laying off thousands of employees in what’s expected to be the first wave of massive job losses as global demand dries up and businesses shut down.
- Air Canada is laying off roughly 60 per cent of its flight attendants.
- Cirque du Soleil temporarily laid off most of its 4,500-person work force.
- The big four car companies are closing all North American factories.
Economists warn this is just the beginning. “My best guess is that we are very likely to do worse in March, 2020, than the worst month in the 1930s,” said one professor of economics.
What happened on the markets today?
The S&P/TSX Composite ended down 2.6 per cent, while the S&P 500 index dropped by 4.3 per cent, capping off the worst week for Canadian and U.S. stocks since 2008, each having lost 14 to 15 per cent.
What it means: Despite efforts by the Bank of Canada and federal and provincial governments, a dramatic slowdown in Canada’s economy is already underway.
Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We’d like to hear your story. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Question: Can I arrange playdates?
Answer: Sorry beleaguered parents, your snotty, noisy housemates may be distracting, especially if you’re working from home, but that’s still a hard no. Children are very hands-on when they play. You have to do the social distancing for them. Obviously, if you have more than one child they will interact, but minimize contact with the outside world.
More Globe reporting:
- With most in-person visits no longer feasible, what can you do to maintain your mental health care?
- There are as many as 4,000 Canadians still on board cruise ships around the world. A spokesperson for the minister of foreign affairs said the government is monitoring the approximately 70 ships still at sea.
- Brides of 2020 are staring down tough but necessary decisions to scale down or postpone their nuptials. It’s an emotional roller coaster that also affects planners, florists, caterers, photographers and other wedding specialists.
- Sobeys installed plexiglass barriers at checkouts.
- Despite social distancing, many frontline public workers feel the strain. "I want to bring home the bacon. I don’t want to bring home a pathogen,” said one TTC driver.
- Banks and insurance companies received won a court order allowing them to hold their AGMs online. [For subscribers]
- Leslie Beck: Your immune system relies on a steady stream of nutrients to function optimally. Here’s what you should be eating.
- “Can my employer temporarily lay me off because of COVID-19?”: Employment lawyer Daniel Lublin tackled reader questions on how the coronavirus will affect their jobs.
- Elizabeth Renzetti: “It’s clear that a good proportion of Germans breathed a sigh of relief that Angela Merkel is still in charge."
- Marcus Gee: Winston Churchill’s legendary turn as a wartime Prime Minister of the United Kingdom offers an invaluable example of how to lead in a time of danger and dread.
- Doug Saunders: Today’s priority is preventing an exponential spread of the disease. “But a simultaneous challenge, equally important, is to prevent those efforts from unleashing a second crisis.”
- Timothy Caulfield: Trust is complex and health-care providers and scientists are still relatively respected voices. But even a modest increase in suspicion can help fuel the spread of harmful misinformation.
- Tom Rachman: In Britain, a reckoning awaits. Is the wartime slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” appropriate?
- Brandy Schillace: Is it safe to gather in grief, as humans have been doing for centuries? Is it ethical to invite others to do the same? (Elsewhere: What’s the new social code?)
- How to minimize damage to your credit score through the financial slog to come.
- Parenting tips to keep a schedule and to keep kids entertained at home. This photo scavenger hunt can keep kids engaged and active.
- Here’s how to self-isolate and how to get social distancing right. How are condo buildings are encouraging social distancing?
- Wash your hands: How to help slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
- What to do if you think you have the virus and what essentials to buy if you think you might need to self-isolate. And how to clean your space effectively.
- How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts.
- Coronavirus guide: The latest news on COVID-19 and the toll it’s taking around the world
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