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Good morning,

Here’s the latest on the coronavirus, which continues to dominate the headlines:

Ottawa to unveil nearly $30-billion economic aid package

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Ottawa will unveil nearly $30-billion of emergency financial aid on Wednesday to help struggling Canadians and businesses cope with the economic fallout from the new coronavirus crisis, sources say.

The package will include immediate financial relief, but part of the almost $30-billion will be set aside to boost the economy toward the end of the crisis, insiders say. Further measures are also planned to target hard-hit sectors of the economy in the coming weeks, the sources said.

In addition, late Tuesday, Canada’s six largest banks announced that hard-hit customers will be allowed to defer mortgage payments by up to six months, as part of a co-ordinated relief effort by the banking sector.

In a joint statement Tuesday evening, all of the Big Six banks said they would provide “flexible solutions,” on a case-by-case basis, for people facing pay loss, additional child-care burdens or illness due to COVID-19.

Canadian companies say they need immediate and direct help from the federal government’s economic stimulus package if they are to survive the severe downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With each day, more companies are shuttering their doors – either because of government directives or their own precautions – to reduce the spread of the virus. The resulting situation is virtually without precedent as some companies see their revenues halt in an instant, and for an unknown period.

The Canadian economy is set to shrink dramatically, and many forecasters expect a second-quarter contraction that approaches or exceeds the worst results from the financial crisis of 2008-09, making the road to recovery even steeper.

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The federal government is in discussions with Canadian manufacturers on how they could step in to fill critical shortages of medical supplies needed to fight the coronavirus, including the possibility of switching over their production lines from goods such as auto parts.

Canada and the United States will announce a deal to partially close the border on Wednesday, while allowing trade and commerce to continue, sources say. To stem the spread of COVID-19, the two countries are finalizing a deal to close the border to non-essential travel.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province that bans organized public events of more than 50 people and compels bars and restaurants to close. Alberta has also declared a state of emergency. And British Columbia has declared a public health emergency after reporting new COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday.

The organizers of a dental conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre that’s blamed for a “significant” number of new coronavirus transmissions say they had consulted with health officials prior to the event and were given a green light to proceed.

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry said this week that at least four recent confirmed cases, and possibly more, are linked to the conference and that all attendees should self-isolate immediately, until March 22. An estimated 15,000 people attended the conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre on March 5 through 7.

The spread of the coronavirus has stranded a rapidly growing number of Canadian travellers as the combination of sudden border closings, cancelled flights and shrinking airline networks erase options for getting home. The largest and youngest group, 17 members of a Toronto judo team, saw their trip to Ukraine spiral from disappointment to bewilderment, with the team of 12- to 15-year-olds stuck in a faraway hotel.

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Opinion:

To combat the coronavirus, we need a unified message from coast to coast

André Picard: “Enough of this nonsense of every jurisdiction – Ottawa, 10 provinces, three territories, hundreds of regional health units and countless cities and municipalities – having different messages. Enough of the pussyfooting around in the name of provincial autonomy and constitutional division of powers.”

Explainer:

Coronavirus guide: What you need to know about COVID-19 and its toll around the world

Have you had to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus? We want to hear your story. Email: tips@globeandmail.com

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This is the daily Morning Update newsletter. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for Morning Update and more than 20 more Globe newsletters on our newsletter signup page.

Got a news tip that you’d like us to look into? E-mail us at tips@globeandmail.com Need to share documents securely? Reach out via SecureDrop

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

White House pushes for relief cheques amid pandemic havoc

The Trump administration is backing a plan to give direct cash payments to Americans as part of an up-to US$1-trillion legislative package meant to shore up the U.S. economy as the country’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic passes 100, with more than 6,000 people testing positive.

The pandemic even wreaked havoc on the presidential election campaign. In Ohio, the Governor used public health laws to shut down all voting locations, cancelling that state’s primary. Florida, Illinois and Arizona went ahead with voting, but some polling stations opened late or not at all after clerks resigned en masse.

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Joe Biden defeated Bernie Sanders in all three states, gaining a near-insurmountable lead in convention delegates.

MORNING MARKETS

Global stocks, oil sliding again: Global stocks stumbled back into the red on Wednesday with Wall Street futures pointing to more losses ahead as fears over the coronavirus fallout eclipsed large-scale support measures rolled out by policymakers around the globe. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 4.82 per cent just before 6 a.m. ET. Germany’s DAX fell 5.10 per cent. France’s CAC 40 dropped 4.54 per cent. In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei finished down 1.68 per cent while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 4.18 per cent. The Canadian dollar was trading at 69.74 US cents.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

The need for parks: In a time of sickness, we all need to take a breath

Alex Bozikovic: “As we enter a long period of huddling at home, it’s clear that places like High Park will be necessary escapes. For the millions of us who live in cities and lack a lush backyard, green space is something we’ll have to seek out – in order to stay healthy, in body and in spirit.”

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In these dire times, the Trump-Trudeau border truce could unravel any moment

Lawrence Martin: “Mr. Trump, in contrast to other presidents, holds Canada in no special regard and his attitudes can turn on a dime. With his electoral survival at stake, anything can be sacrificed, including sensible dealings with his neighbours to the north.”

TODAY’S EDITORIAL CARTOON

By Brian Gable

Brian Gable/The Globe and Mail

LIVING BETTER

Every movie worth watching on Canadian streaming services, for every kind of viewer

Barry Hertz provides a guide to films available on the vast wild-west streaming world to make these next few weeks (at least) speed by.

MOMENT IN TIME

Youths of different colours react by hugging each other, after hearing the outcome ot the South African referendum concerning President Frederik De Klerk reforms, on March 18, 1992 in Cape Town. (Photo by Philip LITTLETON / AFP) (Photo credit should read PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP via Getty Images)

PHILIP LITTLETON/AFP/Getty Images

After 340 years of absolute white power in South Africa, it was left to president F.W. de Klerk to sum up the landslide referendum on this day in 1992. “Today, we have closed the book on apartheid,” he said of the racial segregation policies that had existed for the previous 44 years. The referendum that ushered in wholesale change was akin to rolling the dice for de Klerk, a passionate bridge player who insisted he was “not a gambling man.” After the by-election defeat of a candidate from his National Party the previous month, the president announced he would call a plebiscite to determine whether white South Africans favoured the political reform his party was trying to negotiate with the non-white population. If the motion to do so was defeated, he promised to resign. But whites turned out in record numbers at the polls (85.7 per cent of the electorate) to vote Yes, with the government winning 68.7 per cent of the total vote, and all but one of the 15 referendum regions. Only Pietersburg, a rural right-wing stronghold in the Northern Transvaal, where Conservative Party leader Andries Treurnicht held his riding, rejected the possibility of change. – Paul Attfield

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