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Latest headlines:

What is the reopening plan in my province? A guide


9:00 p.m. EDT

‘Significant changes’ made to visiting protocols for B.C.’s long-term care homes

British Columbia has updated its guidance on COVID-19 protocols at long-term care facilities to clarify who is allowed to visit during the pandemic.

The updated guidance, released this week, is in response to concerns by members of the public that an earlier order allowing essential visitors only was being interpreted differently by different care staff and facilities.

Some facilities believed this to mean end-of-life visits only, for example, while the new guidance states explicitly that an essential visitor can be someone assisting with personal care, communications or decision-making. Designated representatives for people with disabilities are also allowed, including to provide emotional support.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix said the revision is intended to give health care providers clear guidance about considerations they need to make when deciding whether a visit is essential.

- Andrea Woo


9:00 p.m. EDT

Ontario PC caucus pushes for restaurant patio expansion

Members of Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservative caucus are pushing for the expansion of outdoor patios when bars and restaurants are allowed to reopen in the province, including moving into parking lots, parks or closing off streets.

Toronto-area PC MPP Gila Martow proposed the idea in the legislature this week, asking her colleagues to work with municipalities and the province’s liquor licensing commission to expand patio locations and hours as the government considers the next stage in its COVID-19 reopening plan.

Attorney-General Doug Downey told The Globe and Mail that many MPPs have heard from businesses and municipalities on the issue, and the government is readying for when restaurants and bars can reopen safely, including removing some red tape for temporary liquor licences.

“The part that I’m working on is creating the tools so that they can get expanded when they get the go-ahead,” Mr. Downey said.

“Anything we can do to responsibly support restaurant workers and bar workers and the businesses, we have to have a hard look at, absolutely.”

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Ms. Martow, who represents Thornhill, a suburb in York Region, said the idea is feasible because streets have previously been blocked off for festivals, and physical distancing is easier to maintain outdoors.

- Laura Stone


7:30 p.m. EDT

Youths report feeling sad, afraid of novel coronavirus during pandemic: survey

Lily Francois battled insomnia for a solid week, waking up at 3 a.m., and then struggling to get back to sleep.

So the 13-year-old from Cole Harbour, N.S., decided to switch things up, pitching a tent in her living room and camping out with her younger sister.

Like most Canadian kids, Francois said she’s felt the emotional toll of COVID-19.

“There’s some days where I’m fine and I feel pretty motivated to do things like clean up around the house, do my schoolwork, work out,” Francois said. “But sometimes it’s really hard… when you’re just stuck in your house and you’re doing the same thing over and over again.”

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Most Canadian teenagers say they’re experiencing feelings of sadness due to the global pandemic, according to a survey released Thursday that sheds light on youths’ feelings, behaviours and attitudes.

The Social Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Youth web survey asked kids aged 12 to 17: How fearful are they of catching the coronavirus? How do they feel about online schooling? Who do they reach out to for information?

“The feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, even though there is a mixed range of emotions, they’re still very high and prevalent,” Ashley Manuel, assistant director of the Association for Canadian Studies, which conducted the study in partnership with Experiences Canada and the Vanier Institute of the Family, said during an online news conference.

- Canadian Press


2:10 p.m. EDT

Twenty-eight soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in care homes

The Canadian Armed Forces is reporting a dramatic increase in the number of military personnel who have contracted COVID-19 while working in long-term care facilities in Ontario and Quebec.

A total of 28 service members deployed in such facilities have tested positive for the respiratory illness, the military said in a statement Thursday. That compared with only five who had been found to have caught COVID-19 last week.

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Military officials had previously indicated they were only to provide such updated numbers every two weeks. The Armed Forces now says it will publish a daily update, suggesting it expects more cases as service members continue to work in long-term care homes.

Sixteen of the positive cases reported Thursday were from service members deployed in long-term care homes in Quebec, the military said, while the other 12 were in Ontario.

Nearly 1,700 members of the Forces are working in 30 long-term care homes where regular staff have been overwhelmed by COVID-19, providing medical assistance but also serving in support roles such as cleaning, serving food and assisting with residents’ basic needs.

Twenty-five of those homes are in Quebec, which has been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 outbreaks, including one in the Montreal area where residents had been nearly abandoned by the staff. The other five facilities are in Ontario.

The Forces says all service members deployed to such facilities have been equipped with personal protective equipment and training in how to use it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that the risk of infection was something the military knew about going in.

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“There are always risks in what they do and they go into that knowingly and willingly and that is why we offer them our deepest gratitude every day,” he said on Friday.

“At the same time, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to protect them, so we will look at the protocols in place and see if and how they can be strengthened, as well as ensuring that cases of COVID-19 don’t spread through the Canadian Armed Forces and others who are serving their country.”

Trudeau has said the Forces are considering hazard pay for troops deployed in care homes, akin to what they would get on a dangerous assignment overseas.

- Canadian Press


1:30 p.m. EDT

New Brunswick reports first new case of COVID-19 in more than two weeks

New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 – the province’s first new case in more than two weeks.

Officials say the person is under the age of 19 and lives in the Campbellton region in the north of the province.

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There have now been 121 cases in New Brunswick and 120 of them have recovered.

There have been no deaths from COVID-19 in the province, and there are no active cases in hospital.

To date, 21, 74 tests have been conducted in New Brunswick.

The province is scheduled to move to the next phase of reopening businesses and services on Friday.

12:40 p.m. EDT

Manitoba eyes loosening of restrictions on businesses, public activities

The Manitoba government is looking at loosening more restrictions on public and business activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Brian Pallister has released a draft plan for bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants and other establishments to reopen.

The draft also proposes that film productions and organized sports for adults and youth restart.

There is no date set for the changes, and Pallister says a timeline will be set in the coming days based on public input.

Pallister also says schools might reopen on Aug. 31 to add some teaching days and to make up for lost time this spring.

Manitoba has registered only one new COVID-19 case in the last eight days and the number of active cases has dropped to 23.

- Canadian Press


10:55 a.m. EDT

Ontario reports 413 new COVID-19 cases, 31 more deaths

Ontario is reporting 413 new COVID-19 cases today, and 31 more deaths.

That brings the province to a total of 24,187 cases, which is an increase of 1.7 per cent over the previous day.

Ontario’s growth rate in cases has steadily hovered between 1.5 and 1.9 per cent for 11 of the past 12 days.

The province’s case total includes 1,993 deaths and 18,509 resolved cases.

The numbers of people in hospital with COVID-19, in intensive care and on ventilators all declined in the past day.

Ontario completed 10,506 tests in the previous day, marking a fourth straight day the province has fallen short of its goal of doing at least 16,000 tests per day.

- Canadian Press


4:15 a.m. EDT

New York rappers raise money for Ottawa charities

The Wu-Tang Clan is raising money to help three Ottawa charities “Triumph” over COVID-19.

The New York City-based rap collective announced its official partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, the Ottawa Food Bank and the Ottawa Mission shelter this morning.

The group is selling T-shirts, hand sanitizer, and meals through their online 36 Chambers store, with proceeds from all three items going to the charities.

The Wu-Tang Clan began supporting the Ottawa Food Bank on April 2, after they were tagged in a tweet by Adam Miron, a local businessman.

The group replied to Miron’s tweet saying they had contributed to the Food Bank and encouraging others to join them.

The rap group says that led to an additional $280,000 being donated within the next 48 hours.

- The Canadian Press


Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer, takes part in a press conference on Parliament Hill on Wednesday, May 20, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

4:15 a.m. EDT

Face masks are dangerous, problematic for some people, Tam says

In recommending people wear masks in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19, national chief public health officer Theresa Tam has also warned against judging those who can’t wear them.

“Be very aware of those with different types of cognitive, intellectual disabilities, those who are hearing impaired and others,” Dr. Tam said.

“Don’t assume that someone who isn’t wearing a mask or is wearing something different doesn’t have an actual reason for it.”

Asthma Canada president and CEO Vanessa Foran said simply wearing a mask could create risk of an asthma attack.

She said if a mask inhibits the ability of someone to breathe in any way, they recommend not wearing one.

- The Canadian Press


4 a.m. EDT

Pandemic highlights need for more public toilets, experts say

The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting the need for more public toilets in communities across Canada, particularly as softening restrictions encourage people to spend more time outside their homes, advocates and experts say.

The health crisis is drawing broader attention to an issue that has long been a barrier for racialized, trans and disabled people, as well those dealing with homelessness or poverty, the experts say.

Scarce access to washrooms was recently raised as a hurdle for essential workers, such as transit and truck drivers who could no longer rely on coffee shops and other businesses once those were ordered closed.

Some Canadian cities, including Toronto and Ottawa, have installed temporary portable washrooms and handwashing stations to help offset the closure of commercial and civic spaces.

- The Canadian Press


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