Good evening, today the federal government shared more details about coronavirus relief measures and started talking tougher about quarantine. Let’s start with our top stories:
Ottawa to provide $2,000 a month to help workers affected by coronavirus
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa will provide workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic with $2,000 a month for the next four months.
The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be available to unemployed Canadians who do not qualify for Employment Insurance.
Trudeau said an application portal will be launched quickly and Canadians should be able to get money within 10 days of applying. But he noted that money is unlikely to start flowing until April 6.
The details come after a scaled-down House of Commons approved the emergency legislation in the early hours of today. A last-minute addition by the Liberal government that would give it unchecked powers to tax and spend led lengthy behind-the-scenes negotiations. The new legislation allows the government to spend on emergency health-care measures without parliamentary approval until Sept. 30 of this year as opposed to Dec. 31, 2021, in the original proposal.
The Senate also passed the bill, which received Royal Assent today and is now law.
Canada to begin enforcing 14-day self-isolation for travellers
Health Minister Patty Hajdu told the Senate today she will use powers afforded to her under the Quarantine Act at midnight to ensure that Canadians returning from other countries are subject to a mandatory 14-day self-isolation upon their arrival.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said separately that it will be a “legal obligation” to self-isolate for those returning to the country. Essential workers are excluded, she said, adding that information on specific penalties will come later today.
Shutdown of non-essential businesses in Ontario, Quebec lead to more factory closings, job losses
The government-mandated shutdown of non-essential business in Ontario and Quebec this past midnight is leading to more factory closures and job losses. France’s Airbus joined TC Transcontinental, Bombardier and many other major manufacturers in suspending some operations.
Separately, Leon’s Furniture is laying off 3,900 employees or about half its total current work force as it deals with the pandemic. It is temporarily closing 72 of its 205 corporate-owned stores across Canada.
And Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler plan to extend a current shutdown of vehicle production in North America into April as the coronavirus pandemic continues, people briefed on the matter say. They had previously said they would halt production until March 30.
Britain: The first in line to the British throne, Prince Charles has tested positive for the new coronavirus and is self-isolating in Scotland with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who does not have the virus. Buckingham Palace confirms that Prince Charles last met the Queen on March 12.
United States: The U.S. Senate is expected to vote in favour of a US$2-trillion bipartisan coronavirus-related economic relief package by the end of today.
Also, chef Floyd Cardoz, who competed on Top Chef, won Top Chef Masters and operated successful restaurants in both India and New York, including now-defunct Tabla, has died of coronavirus complications. The 59-year-old travelled this month from Mumbai to New York via Frankfurt, Germany.
Russia: One week after declaring the coronavirus outbreak was “under control” in Russia, President Vladimir Putin has been forced to postpone an April 22 referendum on proposed constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in power until 2036.
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Sentencing in Tess Richey murder case: Kalen Schlatter, the Toronto man who sexually assaulted and strangled 22-year-old Tess Richey, has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years following his first-degree murder conviction Monday.
Canada’s main stock index climbed again today, after the approval of the emergency stimulus package to help people and businesses deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 568.15 points or 4.52 per cent at 13,139.23.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 482.38 points or 2.33 per cent to 21,187.29, the S&P 500 gained 27.66 points or 1.13 per cent to 2,474.99 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 33.56 points or 0.45 per cent to 7,384.30.
The plague of Donald Trump
“Trump is untouchable in a world where human touch literally kills. If the U.S. is to survive the pandemic, we need more than medical intervention. We need to get rid of the host.” - Sarah Kendzior, author
Geopolitical folly is deepening Iran’s sprawling coronavirus crisis
“Iran’s request for global financing should be heeded. This is not the time to play geopolitics with the fate of people’s health and lives.” - Bessma Momani, professor, University of Waterloo
How artificial intelligence can accelerate our response to global pandemics
“With its power to filter and parse vast arrays of disparate data, AI has become an essential tool in this global struggle by enabling pattern-discernment, real-time tracking and analysis of the pandemic.” - Alan Bernstein, founding president of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research during the SARS epidemic
Maybe it’s your kids who feel their missing out if their friends get together. Maybe it’s a parent who wants to pop by for a visit. It can be hard to convince family and friends to take social distancing seriously. Here are some tips on gently coaxing them to do the right thing:
- Give them the benefit of the doubt: They may not be as up-to-date as you on what’s now acceptable.
- Share your position and explain why: You could mention, for instance, that some provinces are threatening to fine those who fail to comply with public health measures.
- Avoid disputes on social media: If someone in your social circle shares false information about the coronavirus through social media or e-mail, don’t engage with them online. If it’s someone you care about, phone them to talk to it.
LONG READ FOR A LONG COMMUTE (OR SOME SOCIAL DISTANCING DOWNTIME)
Urbanites run for country homes, cottages amid coronavirus outbreak, creating tensions with year-round residents
Leslie Hoyt and her husband, Ken, are feeling grateful for the world of difference that lies between the Eternal City and Cottage Country this week. It was only last week that the Ottawa couple were escaping Italy after a vacation was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday, they were comfortably holed up in self-quarantine at their winterized cabin near Plevna, Ont. – part of a growing cohort of Canadians fleeing cities for the natural social distance and fresh air of the country.
The trickle out of cities has provided an escape valve for some families. It has also created tension in regions such as Ontario’s Muskoka and B.C.'s Gulf Islands, where some year-round residents are anxious about an influx of urbanites bringing the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 and overwhelming local health care.
The flight to well-appointed lakes and islands has also exposed an uncomfortable divide in the way different classes of Canadians are able to cope with the virus, with many low-income city residents struggling to pay rent, even as others retreat to second homes. Read Eric Andrew-Gee and Frances Bula’s full story here.