Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- Nearly one million Canadians have applied for employment insurance after sweeping shutdowns.
- Liberals pull controversial tax-and-spend measure from emergency aid bill.
- Ontario to slash hydro rates as work force stays home.
- The World Health Organization says the United States could become new coronavirus epicentre.
Number of the day
5 per cent
Nearly one million people, or 5 per cent of all employees in Canada, applied for unemployment benefits in the past week.
- The government received an estimated 929,000 EI claims in the week of March 16-22, during a period of escalating social isolation requirements across the country. The national unemployment rate may have nearly doubled in just seven days.
Layoff numbers could climb again as Ontario and Quebec implement bans on all non-essential businesses tonight.
Coronavirus in Canada
2,583: cases in Canada reported; with 112 recoveries and 25 deaths.
- In Ontario and Quebec, bans on non-essential business come into effect tonight. In both provinces, grocery and convenience stores, the LCBO and SAQ, laundromats, utility services and shelters were deemed essential. In Ontario, exceptions were made for the entire construction industry – a move the union opposed. A labour union called for a shutdown of construction work, saying many job sites lack hot water or soap, and social distancing measures are not possible. In Quebec, a more narrow exemption was made for emergency construction services and maintaining vital infrastructure.
- Also in Ontario: The province will temporarily cut hydro rates to offset higher consumption as more people work from home. The province reported 85 new COVID-19 cases.
- Yesterday, Alberta said it will focus on tests for high-risk residents; those with mild symptoms were urged to self-isolate at home. The province reported its second COVID-19-related death, a woman in long-term care home in Calgary.
- Manitoba suspended non-essential medical testing to protect health-care workers and patients.
- Nova Scotia reported a total 51 confirmed cases.
In Ottawa, the House met briefly at noon, then suspended. Behind-the-scenes negotiations continued on emergency spending legislation. As of 6:30 p.m. ET, no deal had yet been reached. This is a developing story, check here for updates.
Earlier today: “I believe in our democratic institutions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at his daily press conference. Late last night, the government removed from the draft spending bill a measure that would allow tax-and-spend powers without parliamentary approval for 21 months. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer called the move a “power grab.”
- The legislation includes measures that could help auto manufactures retool their factories to produce ventilators, and $500-million for the provinces to purchase medical equipment.
Also today: As Ottawa prepares a multibillion-dollar oil and gas sector bailout, an open letter from environmental and labour groups called on the federal government to make workers and families, not corporations, the top priority. “Giving billions of dollars to failing oil and gas companies will not help workers,” the letter said. Actions requested in the letter include:
- Income support for oil and gas workers, including more access to EI;
- Retraining programs in “emerging low-carbon sectors"; and
- Money to hire workers to clean abandoned wells.
Bailout funds should be in line with established federal priorities, namely fighting climate change, said Julia Levin of Environmental Defence.
Coronavirus around the world
- The United States has the potential to become the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic because of a “very large acceleration” in infections there, the World Health Organization said. Despite the surge in cases, President Donald Trump suggested the U.S. economy should open up again by mid-April.
- Britain’s newly imposed lockdown has gotten off to a confusing start with growing uncertainty over who should go to work and how the measures will be enforced.
- As social distancing measures ease up throughout China, Beijing’s roads and restaurants are growing crowded and scientists warn a second coronavirus wave is “inevitable.”
- A sudden drop in foreign tourists due to coronavirus has forced the closing of dozens of elephant parks and similar tourist attractions, putting more than 1,000 elephants in Thailand out of work and endangering their futures.
- Watch: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the government would impose a nationwide lockdown from midnight for 21 days to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
- Two front-line Italian COVID-19 doctors share their stories of fatigue, sorrow and hope with The Globe’s Eric Reguly
Around the world: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged leaders of the world’s 20 major industrialized countries to adopt a “wartime” plan including a stimulus package “in the trillions of dollars” for businesses, workers and households in developing countries trying to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus and business:
What happened today?
The S&P/TSX Composite Index surged 11.96 per cent, lifted by hopes of a federal stimulus packages.
- And: After U.S. lawmakers said they were close to a deal for an economic rescue package, the Dow had its biggest one-day percentage gain since 1933.
Also today: Small-business owners are scrambling to pay next month’s rent with minimal revenue coming in. Landlords say they also have bills to pay. Business groups say the government should cover some rent for affected small businesses.
- Previously, business groups called for Ottawa cover a significant share of employee wages to prevent mass layoffs.
Elsewhere: Rob Carrick has tips for financial survival during the pandemic. Three things to do this week:
- Stop the self-flagellation about your stock market losses;
- Create a “wartime” family budget to slash costs where required;
- Prepare for your bank to get nosy about your finances.
This is Rob Carrick’s Pandemic Personal Finance Update, practical tips and actionable ideas to manage personal finances during difficult times. Email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: What do Ontario and Quebec consider “essential” businesses in a coronavirus pandemic?
Answer: Ontario and Quebec have ordered all non-essential businesses to be closed, at least in physical offices or stores.
An overview of key similarities for “essential services":
- Food: Grocery and convenience stores are open, as are restaurants (takeout and delivery only) and businesses involved in food production or delivery. That includes pet-food stores.
- Liquor: The LCBO and SAQ will continue to operate, but check with the stores near you to find out how their hours are affected.
- Laundry: Laundromats and dry cleaners are open.
- Utilities: Energy, water, telecom and garbage-collection utilities will continue to run. Check with your local municipality to learn more about whether billing for those utilities has been waived or postponed near you.
- Shelters: Both provinces have deemed shelters for homeless people and victims of domestic violence essential.
Emergency measures have restricted business in other provinces, but these bans in Ontario and Quebec are the furthest-reaching so far. The full definition of essential services from governments in Ontario and Quebec is available in our guide.
Need more answers? E-mail email@example.com
More Globe reporting and opinion:
- Three Conservative leadership candidates called for a delayed vote.
- “Knock, drop and go”: Canada Post implements new service procedures to help protect the health of workers and customers.
- Nearly 7,000 WestJet employees to leave company
- Parenting teenagers can be difficult at the best of times, even more so during the coronavirus pandemic, with parents and teens cooped up at home.
- Stella is an eight-year-old pit bull-Labrador mix. She doesn’t know know anything about COVID-19. All she knows is that she’s suddenly getting way more attention.
- Not in the stars: Canadian horoscopes dish outdated advice during coronavirus outbreak
- Andrew Coyne: While we are not technically at war, extraordinary measures are needed to address this economic crisis
- Lawrence Martin: “In trying to save the economy while limiting the impact of the virus [President Donald Trump] is trying to have the best – or least worse – of both worlds.”
- Joshua Gans: In a few short weeks, demand for health services will exceed supply. We need a plan to make sure we are prepared.
- Adam Minsky, Yair Szlak, and Ezra Shanken: As governments roll out economic stimulus packages, it’s crucial that non-profit organizations are part of them, so they can continue to do the vital work they do
- How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada? The latest maps and charts.
- Coronavirus guide: The latest news on COVID-19 and the toll it’s taking around the world
- Snacking all day long? Leslie Beck has tips to maintain a healthy diet while working from home
- How to minimize damage to your credit score through the financial slog to come.
- Here’s how to self-isolate and how to get social distancing right. How are condo buildings are encouraging social distancing and how can you help slow the spread of 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.
What are we missing? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you know someone who needs this newsletter? Send them to our Newsletters page.