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Good evening, here are the coronavirus updates you need to know tonight.

Top headlines:

  1. Trudeau prorogues Parliament, says new Throne Speech will address COVID-19
  2. U.S. Republican senators preparing US$500-billion pandemic relief proposal
  3. Ford accuses school boards of “playing politics” by opposing Ontario’s back-to-school plan

In Canada, there have been at least 122,872 cases reported. In the past week 2,740 new cases were announced, 3 per cent more than the previous week. There have also been at least 109,059 recoveries and 9,032 deaths. Health officials have administered more than 5,157,754 tests.

Worldwide, there have been at least 21,881,858 cases confirmed and 774,034 deaths reported.

Sources: Canada data is compiled from government websites, Johns Hopkins and COVID-19 Canada Open Data Working Group; international data is from Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus explainers: Updates and essential resourcesCoronavirus in maps and chartsLockdown rules and reopening plans in each provinceGlobal rules on mask-wearing[New] How schools are reopening

In less than a month, millions of kids will return to school. What do parents need to know?

Join André Picard and Nicole MacIntyre for a live Q&A on Aug. 19

Photo of the day

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Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to reporters next to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada August 18, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick DoylePATRICK DOYLE/Reuters

Number of the day

23.4 per cent

Home Depot reported same-store sales jumped 23.4 per cent in its second quarter as stay-at-home measures lead to more home DIY projects.

  • Shares of the retailer fell about 1 per cent in morning trading after analysts cautioned that its sales might have hit their peak.
  • Record-breaking sales of US$38.1 billion in the second quarter ended Aug. 2 meant the company paid out its highest ever profit-sharing to its hourly employees.

Coronavirus in Canada

  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford said teachers’ unions are “playing politics” by opposing his government’s back-to-school plan. The unions and some parents have expressed concern that the plan does not limit number of students in each class.
  • The government of Quebec outlined a plan to improve long-term care in the province based on nine areas of intervention, along with an additional $106-million for public health measures.
  • Over the weekend, British Columbia and Alberta reported hundreds of new cases as the proportion of young adults set a new record. B.C. reported 236 new cases, while Alberta added 359 new cases over the weekend.

COVID-19 and schools: Parents are facing tight deadlines to choose between in-person and remote learning, with some boards requiring students to lock in their decisions for as long as early 2021.

And: It is unclear how remote learning will work for elementary school students, and whether teachers adopting new methods of instruction will be able to overcome the significant challenges of online schooling.

In Ottawa, Chrystia Freeland was sworn in as the new Finance Minister, replacing Bill Morneau – who announced he is stepping down from cabinet and his Toronto Centre seat – as the government announced it will prorogue Parliament until September.

  • Yesterday, Morneau resigned but said he was not pushed out by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Mr. Morneau says long-term leadership is necessary to guide the country’s finances through an extended and challenging recovery from the pandemic. Morneau said he does not intend to run in the next federal election.
  • Today, the Prime Minister announced the federal government will prorogue Parliament, to return with a Speech from the Throne followed by a confidence vote on September 23. Documents related to the now-cancelled WE Charity contribution agreement will still be released.
  • With prorogation, all legislation and committee work dies. However, existing bills and committee studies are not necessarily ended for good, as MPs can approve motions that will reinstate bills and studies back to the stages they were at at the time of prorogation.

At a news conference on Parliament Hill, Mr. Trudeau said a reset is required for the government to help the country recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The prorogation is about gaining or testing the confidence of the House, he added.

Coronavirus around the world

  • A U.S. Republican senator said GOP senate leaders are preparing a US$500-billion coronavirus relief package that will include extended payments for unemployed people. Negotiations between the White House and congressional Democrats over a far larger coronavirus relief bill are expected to resume after Labor Day.
  • Frontline health care workers in dozens of countries, including South Africa and Columbia, are experiencing violence from fearful communities.
  • The British government said the work of Public Health England, which has taken blame for the country’s uneven response to the coronavirus, will become part of a new body, the National Institute for Health Protection.
  • Poland’s Health Minister resigned, the second resignation in two days from the ministry, which has faced growing criticism for its handling of the coronavirus crisis.
  • Watch: The World Health Organization has said it is concerned that COVID-19 spread is being driven by people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many of whom are unaware they have been infected. WHO’s president said today that nations that hoard possible COVID-19 vaccines while excluding others will deepen the pandemic.

Coronavirus and business

The end of the CERB will leave a large number of unemployed workers with less generous benefits, potentially reducing consumer spending and adding uncertainty to Canada’s economic recovery.

  • Several economists project that hundreds of thousands of people will receive less than the $500 provided weekly under the CERB, a shift that could mean a slowdown in the pace of recovery.
  • The government aims to get more people to accept work that is available, without harming those who still need some degree of support – moving people off the CERB and on to an expanded EI program, or a “parallel benefit.”
  • Low-wage workers have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, with their employment dropping by 14.6 per cent from February to July, compared to a 2.6-per-cent drop for all other paid employees.

And: Smart lockers in demand as touchless package delivery becomes the office norm.

Globe opinion

  • Lori Turnbull: “With [Morneau’s] Monday resignation as Finance Minister, it will fall to Chrystia Freeland to convince financial markets that Ottawa has a serious plan to prevent a record deficit from becoming the new normal.”
  • Robyn Urback: “So, Mr. Morneau instead delivered a cheap and unconvincing story about how Canada needs a finance minister for a long-term recovery, and since he never intended to run for more than two elections, the appropriate time for him to resign was now: just 10 months after campaigning for re-election, in the middle of a global pandemic.”

More reporting


🎧 For the theatre-deprived podcast fan: Three new episodes to stream right now

  1. Metamorphosis – A Viral Trilogy: From the Giller-winning author André Alexis comes a pandemic-inspired audio drama in three parts
  2. Playing On Air: A series launched in 2012 to present short plays. While the plays are bite-sized, they’re not short on big names, with actors Ed Asner, Elizabeth Ashley or Adam Driver delivering performances.
  3. Ghosts of the Royal Alex: A six-part tale about Toronto’s historic (and apparently haunted) Royal Alexandra Theatre that gives listeners a chance to submit ideas on what should happen next.

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