Good evening – here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.
- Ottawa will subsidize 75 per cent of wages for for small businesses
- US passes $2.2-trillion emergency aid bill
- Italy passes China in number of coronavirus cases
Number of the day
75 per cent
The government will subsidize wages up to 75 per cent for small businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today. The subsidy, up from a promise of 10 per cent last week, is part of the emergency package for small-business owners announced today.
- Also included in the measure: Government-backed loans of $40,000. The first year is interest-free and $10,000 will be forgivable.
Additional program details will be announced Monday, the Prime Minister said.
Coronavirus in Canada
4,564: cases in Canada reported; with 257 recoveries and 53 deaths.
- In Ontario, at least 16 of the province’s nursing homes have confirmed COVID-19 cases among residents or staff. But that’s not a fact the Ford government or health officials have made known to the public. Also in the province, a McDonald’s employee is charged after allegedly faking COVID-19, forcing restaurant to close.
- Manitoba reported its first COVID-19-related death. Starting Monday, the province will ban public gatherings of more than 10 people.
- “Glimmers of hope” are emerging in British Columbia as it appears social distancing efforts are helping flatten the curve, the province’s health officer said. The province is moving to provide drug users with a take-home supply of regulated substances as part of its response strategy for vulnerable populations.
- Saskatchewan announced nine new cases, including two staff at a Saskatoon jail.
- A man in New Brunswick was arrested for allegedly coughing in someone’s face and uttering threats. The province announced seven new cases, all related to travel.
- Nova Scotia confirmed five new cases, possibly connected to a St. Patrick’s Day event on March 14th.
- In Quebec, 10 more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 18. Quebecor temporarily cut 10 per cent of its workforce, while Cogeco Media laid off 25% of its workers and La Presse implemented a pay cut for some employees as advertising revenue dries up because of coronavirus.
In Ottawa, a prominent leader in the Senate called for a “temporary guaranteed livable income for all adult Canadians.” The goal would be to keep the economy in a “state of suspended animation” so workers and households can meet their basic needs and companies can remain solvent.
Also today, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report that said the economic fallout of COVID-19 remains extremely uncertain, but could lead to the weakest GDP figures in decades and a deficit of more than $112.7-billion.
- The report is an illustrative example of what could happen based on a set of economic assumptions, including maintaining current social distancing measures until August.
- The estimate of a $112.7-billion deficit in the fiscal year that starts April 1 does not include the measures announced this week following the passage of Bill C-13, the government’s emergency stimulus legislation.
- The PBO notes that the legislation contains “un-costed” measures.
Coronavirus around the world
566,652: cases confirmed around the world; with 127,797 recoveries and 25,433 deaths reported.
- Doctors and nurses in the United States, which yesterday became the world leader in confirmed cases, are raising the alarm about the shortage of medicine, supplies and trained staff. One New York City doctor says she fears the “worst case” scenario. The House of Representatives approved a $2.2-trillion aid bill, the largest in American history. President Donald Trump signed it into law.
- In China, violent clashes erupted on a bridge between Hubei province and neighbouring Jiangxi province. Police vehicles were overturned and police scuffled with each other amid large crowds of shouting people, according to a series of videos posted to Chinese social media.
- Italy passed China in the number of coronavirus cases with more than 86,000 cases recorded. More than 9,000 people have died. “We haven’t reached the peak and we haven’t passed it,” a public health official warned.
- Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minister, tested positive for coronavirus. The Prime Minister is now self-isolating and said he would continue to lead by videoconference.
- In Iran, health care workers are begging the public to stop drinking methanol, an industrial alcohol that has been widely, and incorrectly, touted as a remedy for coronavirus. Local media report 300 people have been killed and more than 1,000 sickened as a result of ingesting methanol. The army has set up a field hospital in Tehran.
- South Africa reported its first coronavirus deaths as three-week lockdown begins.
Coronavirus and business:
What happened today?
The Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate to 0.25 per cent – matching its all-time low – and announced a new program for a minimum $5-billion-per-week of market purchases of Government of Canada bonds.
- The move marks the bank’s first-ever foray into large-scale asset purchases.
- The bank says it will adjust the program “as conditions warrant" and will continue “until the economic recovery is well underway.”
“A firefighter has never been criticized for using too much water,” Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in a conference call with reporters.
Elsewhere: Despite massive layoffs, in some pockets of the economy, some companies are hiring rapidly.
- Walmart Canada, Amazon and Dollarama are hiring. Some grocery and drug store chains, medical supply makers, some cleaning and security services and IT firms that enable remote work have also posted want ads.
While job openings are a rare bit of good news, these new positions are, at best, a buffer against further economic devastation.
What happened in the markets?
- On Bay Street: The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed down 5.11 per cent.
- On Wall Street: The Dow closed down 4.06 per cent. The S&P 500 fell 3.37 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite finished the day down 3.79 per cent.
Question: There seems to be a lot of conflicting information. Who can go for a walk?
Answer: Anyone can go for a walk who:
- Has not been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- Does not have symptoms of COVID-19;
- Has not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days.
That means most people can go out for a walk, but they should not congregate and they should practise social distancing by keeping at least two metres from others.
But the official advice is also stay at home as much as possible.
The Globe’s health columnist André Picard answered other reader questions.
Need more answers? Email email@example.com
More Globe reporting and opinion:
- Hospitals across the country postpone surgeries and treatments to make space and staff available for a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.
- The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit upended old EI rules: For one, CERB is not tied to the recipient’s previous employment income, meaning it helps lower income workers more.
- Canadian flour mills and sugar refineries are working around the clock to meet the surge in demand.
- A&W Canada is asking landlords for a two-month rent deferral.
- Trapped inside our houses, it is to the arts that we turn. It is how we find escape but also how we seek meaning.
- “We are just hoping that we can see this through by being as creative as we possibly can,” said one bookseller who is now selling a $100 mystery book bag.
- Vincent Lam: If we are to mitigate this tragedy, we must accept the fundamental disconnect between what each of us must do, and our own personal health outcomes.
- Andrew Coyne: "What [the government] can do is try to limit the damage: to put a floor under incomes, yes, but also a ceiling on expenses.”
- Gary Mason: “While the evidence shows that children run less risk of contracting the disease, they will still deal with enormous pain from it.”
- Doug Saunders: The population density of a megalopolis means it’s the place where viruses often begin and where epidemics can explode. But the biggest cities are also the safest places in the world.
An act of kindness
Have you witnessed or performed acts of kindness in your neighbourhood? Share your stories, photos and videos and they might be included in the Globe and Mail. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The blood-donation agency has seen a “dramatic” influx of Canadians willing to roll up their sleeves, said Graham Sher, chief executive officer of Canadian Blood Services (CBS).
The organization made a public call for donors on March 16 after seeing a spike in cancellations due to concerns over the new coronavirus. Since the request, the organization has seen not only a return of its regulars, he said, but an increase in first-time donors and visits from individuals who have not donated in a long time.
“Regardless of how bad things are, there are so many people who have it much worse,” Wes Schollenberg said after his 156th donation this week.
Here are some recommendations for what to read, watch and activities to do.
For the TV and movie buff:
- Every television series worth watching on Canadian streaming services, for every kind of viewer
- Every movie worth watching on Canadian streaming services, for every kind of viewer
- Every streaming service available in Canada, including options beyond Netflix, both paid and free
- 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
- Here’s what you should do if you are newly laid off; how to apply for EI and other financial benefits; and other coronavirus and employment questions answered.
- How to minimize damage to your credit score; how to manage retirement anxiety during difficult times; and things to think about if you’re considering home delivery.
- Here are the expectations for self-isolation; tips for managing anxiety; and protecting your mental health.
- How to get social distancing right; measures condo buildings are taking to encourage social distancing; and what you can do to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
- Here are the essentials to stock up on; the best pantry staples; foods to eat to maintain an immune system-friendly diet; and how to keep a healthy diet while working from home.
- How to break a bad habit (like touching your face) and what to do if you think you have the virus.
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