Here is the latest on the coronavirus.
MPs reach deal on emergency bill
The federal government reached an agreement in principle with the opposition parties late yesterday to approve billions in emergency aid to deal with the economic fallout of the new coronavirus pandemic.
After intense negotiations that followed opposition parties’ pushback of the Liberals’ plans to give themselves months of unlimited spending without parliamentary approval, the Liberals agreed to pull contentious measures in the legislation and to submit a new version that could be adopted by Parliament on Wednesday.
The latest version includes the $82-billion package of emergency spending measures and tax deferrals that Ottawa announced last week to help businesses and workers struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic. It also 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.
Meanwhile, nearly one million Canadians applied for unemployment benefits since the beginning of last week. The EI filings represent about 5 per cent of all employees in the country – and imply that the national unemployment rate may have nearly doubled.
New York is rapidly becoming the new epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, with the rise of infections accelerating twice as fast as previously predicted.
The state is the hardest-hit in the U.S., with more than 25,000 cases and 200 deaths, mostly centred on New York City. The rate of infection is doubling every three days. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warns that 26,000 people in his state could die if the federal government doesn’t help him acquire badly needed ventilators and other medical equipment.
But President Donald Trump said that by April 12 he wants to ease off on measures meant to control the virus, in a bid to limit the economic damage from social distancing, and he charged that it was up to Cuomo to get the equipment he needs.
A World Health Organization official said the U.S. has the potential to become COVID-19’s next epicentre. The country has more than 50,000 cases, the third-most in the world behind China and Italy, and nearly 700 deaths.
Meanwhile, the White House and congressional leaders reached a deal on a US$2-trillion economic stimulus package.
A kid’s birthday, in the age of ‘distancing’
Thomas Brunt’s seventh birthday was supposed to epic, with an indoor pool party, plenty of presents and lots of his friends and family around. But his parents didn’t count on a pandemic to interrupt their son’s big day. When it did, and the party was cancelled, their Dartmouth neighbourhood came to the rescue.
It’s no time for half-measures or abandoning the fight
André Picard: “When people like U.S. President Donald Trump talk about the cure being worse than the disease, and bemoan the economic impact of the shutdowns, they are exhibiting a disturbing level of crassness and shortsightedness.”
In a crisis, a loyal opposition is more necessary than ever
Editorial: “The Trudeau government is wrong to think that the need to work through Parliament is a barrier to swift decisions, or good decisions. Debate and scrutiny sharpen thought and action.”
A wartime economy is a very particular thing
Andrew Coyne: “Whole industries are being retooled to provide materiel for the ‘war,’ only today it is ventilators and test kits under requisition, not bombs and fighter jets.”
Has the era of Open Canada reached its end?
John Ibbitson: “What will happen in 2021? Will the Liberal government greatly increase the target to make up for 2020′s reduced intake, keep to the current level of 351,000 or set a lower one? In the midst of the chaos created by this pandemic, it’s too soon to know.”
End the lockdown, save the economy: Is there method in Trump’s madness?
Lawrence Martin: “While leaders of other countries are imposing more draconian measures to seclude their populations, Mr. Trump is bent on playing the role of heretic again.”
- Latest developments
- André Picard answers reader questions
- What can I do about COVID-19?
- Cleaning tips
- If you think you have the virus
- What essentials to buy
- How to self-isolate
- Employment questions
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Global markets rose on Wednesday in the wake of massive rebounds on the TSX and on Wall Street as the U.S. reached an agreement on a $2-trillion economic stimulus bill to alleviate the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Europe’s main markets in London, Frankfurt and Paris all opened 4%-5% higher after the Nikkei in Tokyo had risen almost 7% following some historic moves on Wall Street the previous day. U.S. stock index futures rose on Wednesday, putting Wall Street on course to extend its bounce.
TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON
While COVID-19 shuts down most book events, FOLD decides the show must go on(line)
For the Festival of Literary Diversity (the FOLD), adversity has become opportunity. The Brampton, Ont., festival’s fifth anniversary will be celebrated as planned from April 30 to May 3, but with two significant changes: Events are moving online and attendance is now free. As a result, the FOLD is able to offer its most accessible event to date.
Moving online gives the FOLD two new advantages in its mission to present diverse authors to a wide audience. “Geographically, it means we can reach almost anyone anywhere,” Richardson says. “It also means that folks for whom finances are a key barrier or hindrance can access the festival in a new way.”
MOMENT IN TIME
Greek civilization dates back to ancient times, but the country of Greece has existed less than two centuries. It won its liberty from the Ottoman Empire in a 12-year war that lifted a nearly 400-year occupation. Greeks celebrate their Independence Day on March 25 in remembrance of an 1821 event that is traditionally believed to have set off the revolution. The story goes that on this date, a bishop named Georgios Yermanos raised the revolutionary flag at a gathering of 5,000 at the Ayian Lavra monastery near Kalavryta. Yermanos blessed the crowd and proclaimed they would conquer or die. However, historians dispute aspects of this event, including whether it happened at all. Clashes did begin in March of 1821, as Greek militias in four towns wrested their own patch of sovereignty from the Sultan. Atrocities ensued on both sides, with towns besieged, island populations slaughtered, scattered or enslaved, and fire ships ravaging vessels full of sailors. In 1827, when the Turks had retaken Athens and the Greek cause appeared lost, a surge in military help from Russian, British and French powers turned the tide. Greece was the first nation to carve itself out of the Ottoman Empire – but not the last. – Joy Yokoyama