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Fareed Zakaria says Canada needs to use its positive influence on the U.S. so America can contribute to international solutions for a world gripped by the coronavirus pandemic. The author and journalist was in conversation with Rudyard Griffiths of the Munk Debates. The Globe and Mail

The latest news:

Coronavirus guide: Updates and essential resources about the COVID-19 pandemic

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts


9:30 p.m. EDT

Two new outbreaks in B.C. hospital and long-term care facility

B.C. is reporting two new outbreaks of COVID-19 — one at a long-term care facility in Cranbrook and one at an acute care unit at the Ridge Meadows Hospital in Maple Ridge.

In a statement, the province said new cases have also been identified at four long-term care facilities where outbreaks had previously been declared over.

Outbreaks are now confirmed at 26 long-term care and assisted-living facilities and one acute care unit in the province.

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There have been three additional deaths in B.C., bringing the provincial death toll to 78, along with 14 new confirmed cases of the disease for a total of 1,575.

A new order from provincial health offiecer Dr. Bonnie Henry is also in place, requiring agricultural employers to establish and maintain infection control plans.

The province said temporary foreign workers are arriving in B.C. for the season and they must self-isolate for 14 days.

- Canadian Press


7:45 p.m. EDT

Alberta now over 2,000 COVID cases, outbreaks at care homes, work sites

Alberta has 162 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day report to date, and two more residents in long-term care homes have died.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, says one of the victims was a resident in the Manoir du Lac retirement home in northern Alberta and the other was in a care centre in High River.

Fifty people in Alberta have died so far from the novel coronavirus, and the total number of cases has reached 2,158.

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The deaths include 32 residents in care centres, and officials have been tracking outbreaks in 22 of these facilities.

Officials are also tracking outbreaks at the Kearl oilsands work camp north of Fort McMurray and at the Cargill meat packing plant in High River.

- Canadian Press


2:55 p.m. EDT

Manitoba to restrict non-essential travel to northern and remote regions

The Manitoba government is restricting non-essential travel to the province’s north and to remote communities to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Health officials say that while the province’s numbers remain low, travel remains the main factor in cases to date.

There are several exceptions, including for people who travel for medical care or work, people who share child custody, and people who deliver goods and services.

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Manitoba has four new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 250.The number of deaths remains at five, and 121 people have recovered.

- Canadian Press


2:15 p.m. EDT

Federal inmate dies from COVID-19 complications at prison in Mission, B.C.

An inmate has died from an apparent complication related to COVID-19 at a prison in B.C.

Correctional Services of Canada says it is the first death from the novel coronavirus at a federal prison.

The agency says in a statement the inmate died at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on Wednesday.

The inmate, who has not been identified, was serving time at Mission Institution.

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Correctional Services says 54 people have tested positive at the medium-security prison.

It says the inmate’s next of kin has been notified and the BC Coroners Service will review the circumstances of death.

- Canadian Press


1:45 p.m. EDT

Vancouver Aquarium’s closure could force permanent shut down

The Vancouver Aquarium says it is facing bankruptcy and could be forced to close permanently if it can’t arrange emergency funding.

A statement from the facility says animal care and habitat costs for 70,000 animals exceed $1-million a month but revenues have dropped to almost zero since the COVID-19 outbreak forced it close last month.

Ocean Wise Conservation Association, which operates the aquarium, says 331 staff members or 60 per cent of the aquarium’s work force, have already been laid off and the remainder are on reduced work weeks.

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The Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, which rescues and rehabilitates injured or abandoned animals has been closed and many other projects have also been cancelled.

The statement says a closure of this length is “catastrophic” for the not-for-profit facility and it expects to face bankruptcy by early summer if emergency assistance is not provided.

Lasse Gustavsson, CEO of Ocean Wise, says the “worst case scenario is ... permanent closure,” but even reopening by summer will set the facility back years in its ocean conservation, research and other goals.

Randy Pratt, chairman of the Ocean Wise board, called the situation “dire.”

“We can’t let this organization disappear,” he said in the statement.

“It brings so much to the community. From educational programs for youth, a much-loved volunteer program, not to mention a place for people to learn about the ocean and why it needs protecting.”

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The Vancouver Aquarium has been operating in Stanley Park since 1956.

- Canadian Press


11:55 a.m. EDT

Trudeau says many weeks before U.S.-Canada border reopens

The U.S.-Canada border isn’t opening again any time soon if Canada has anything to say about it.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it will be “many weeks” before the two countries can loosen restrictions that are keeping the frontier closed to all but goods and a small number of essential workers.

That’s to keep the virus that causes COVID-19 from crossing back and forth with travellers.

An agreement between Canada and the United States to limit border crossings is due to expire in days.

President Donald Trump says he’s eager to start returning to normal life, even as his country grapples with the world’s biggest outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

- Canadian Press


11:25 a.m. EDT

Loan program for pandemic-hit businesses expanding, Trudeau says

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is expanding a loan program for small businesses suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic and is working on a new support for companies having trouble paying rent.

The loan program will now be open to businesses that had payrolls last year between $20,000 and $1.5-million.

The Canada Emergency Business Account previously offered up to $40,000 in loans to business with payrolls between $50,000 and $1-million.

Trudeau also says a program is coming to help businesses cover rents for at least three months but the details still need to be worked out with the provinces and territories.

- Canadian Press


10:45 a.m. EDT

Trump hosts call with Trudeau and G7 amid differences on COVID-19 restrictions

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow G7 leaders are being hosted today by an impatient American president far more anxious than they appear to be to ease restrictions meant to control the spread of COVID-19.

President Donald Trump is leading a teleconference today with his counterparts because the U.S. holds the rotating chair of the G7 this year.

Trump has expressed enthusiasm about easing restrictions to reboot the American economy ahead of the November presidential election.

Trudeau said Wednesday that as impatient as people are to reopen businesses and ease social distancing, it would be “terrible” to prematurely ease restrictions and suddenly cause another big wave of the virus.

Other G7 countries enter today’s meeting facing an array of formidable challenges in their own fights against the pandemic.

The G7 also includes Germany, Britain, Japan, France, Italy and the European Union.

- The Canadian Press


Betty Fernandez waves at her 95-year-old mother Alicia Tamayo at Eatonville Care Centre, April 14, 2020, in Toronto, where several residents died of the coronavirus disease.

CARLOS OSORIO/Reuters

10:30 a.m. EDT

Ontario expands guidelines for priority COVID-19 testing

Ontario is expanding its testing for COVID-19 priority groups, including for residents and staff of homeless shelters and group homes, people living with health-care workers and cancer patients.

Premier Doug Ford has expressed frustration that Ontario has been processing a daily number of tests well below its capacity of 13,000.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott says the new guidelines will help Ontario take full advantage of the testing capacity it has built, and will help the province more effectively identify and contain cases among vulnerable populations.

The new guidelines say people living and working in “congregate” settings such as homeless shelters, correctional facilities and group homes should be tested as soon as possible if they have symptoms such as fever, pneumonia or “any new or worsening symptom.”

Essential workers, cross-border workers, and people living with health care workers, care providers and first responders are also now to be tested as soon as possible if they develop symptoms.

The guidelines also say people who need to be in frequent contact with the health system, including cancer patients, people undergoing dialysis and pregnant women should be tested as soon as they develop symptoms.

- The Canadian Press


Ontario reports 38 more deaths

Ontario is reporting 514 new COVID-19 cases today, and 38 more deaths.

That brings the province to a total of 8,961 cases, including 423 deaths and nearly 4,200 cases that have been resolved.

The province completed 9,001 tests in the previous day, surpassing a target the health minister set last week after the premier expressed frustration that Ontario had been testing well below its capacity.

- The Canadian Press


10:20 a.m. EDT

WestJet to lay off 1,700 pilots

WestJet Airlines is laying off 1,700 pilots as the Calgary-based carrier tries to slash costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has closed borders and halted most aviation.

The layoff notices were sent by e-mail to the pilots of WestJet and its Swoop and Encore subsidiaries on April 15, effective May 1 or June 1.

John Aaron, WestJet’s vice-president of flight operations, said in an internal company e-mail obtained by The Globe and Mail the company is in the “regrettable” position of needing to reduce costs to mitigate the impact of the virus outbreak, which has closed borders and halted most plane travel. The company’s remaining 569 pilots will work in Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

The pilots will be placed on inactive status and remain on the company’s payroll in the federal government’s emergency wage subsidy program, WestJet spokeswoman Lauren Stewart told The Globe and Mail.

- Eric Atkins


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland putts on the 14th green during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open at Hamilton Golf and Country Club on June 9, 2019.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

9:10 a.m. EDT

RBC Canadian Open cancelled

The 2020 RBC Canadian Open has been cancelled, a casualty of the PGA Tour’s announced shortened schedule because of the novel coronavirus.

The four-day competition was scheduled to begin June 11 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

The Canadian Open was first contested in 1904 and is the third-oldest continuously running tournament on the PGA Tour behind the British Open and the U.S. Open.

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy won the title last year at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

- The Canadian Press


6:55 a.m. EDT

Some Toronto bus drivers refuse shifts linked to COVID-19 safety concerns

The Toronto Transit Commission said 38 of its bus drivers refused to work on Wednesday over safety concerns linked to COVID-19.

TTC spokesman Stuart Green said in an email that 33 drivers initiated work refusals Wednesday evening.

He said the Ontario Ministry of Labour is reviewing what happened to determine if their actions were justified.

The TTC noted that earlier Wednesday five other drivers also refused work on the same grounds.

Green said in that case the provincial inspector ruled the circumstances reported did not meet the conditions of a work refusal under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

He said the inspector further determined that the TTC has measures and procedures in place for preventing hazards associated with COVID-19.

- The Canadian Press


6 a.m. EDT

Alberta reports outbreak at oilsands facility

Alberta has reached almost 2,000 cases of COVID-19 and is now dealing with an outbreak at the Kearl oilsands facility north of Fort McMurray.

Three workers have tested positive and six others have been tested and are isolating.

The facility is jointly owned by Imperial and ExxonMobil Canada.

Public health officials say the province is working with the companies to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading.

Alberta is reporting 126 new cases, bringing the total to 1,996.

- The Canadian Press


A sign about the Canada Emergency Business Account is seen a Toronto storefront on April 15 2020.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

4 a.m. EDT

Trudeau to announce more financial support for small businesses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today more financial help for small businesses struggling to survive the COVID-19 pandemic that has brought much of Canada’s economy to a standstill.

It’s likely to involve some changes to the eligibility rules for the Canada Emergency Business Account program that banks and credit unions began delivering last week.

Under the program, the federal government is backing interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for businesses with annual payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million.

One-quarter of each loan will be forgivable if the remainder is paid off by the end of 2022.

Some small and medium-sized businesses with payrolls just under or just over the threshold have complained that they’re not eligible for the loans.

In a motion passed Saturday during an emergency sitting of the House of Commons, the federal government effectively promised to expand the loan program.

- The Canadian Press


Manitoba adopts new emergency powers

The Manitoba government is adopting new emergency powers and stiffer penalties to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health crises.

The government introduced and passed several bills yesterday during a one-day emergency sitting of the legislature.

One new law gives Manitoba’s chief public health officer new powers to prohibit people from travelling to, from or within a given area.

Another new law allows the province to prohibit price-gouging during emergencies and set fixed prices for necessary goods and services.

That law also temporarily gives cabinet broad powers, for the next year, to make emergency orders to prevent serious harm to persons or property, and to limit economic disruption.

Premier Brian Pallister says these are unprecedented times and the government needs powers to act quickly.

The Opposition New Democrats have called for direct financial assistance to people who have lost jobs during the pandemic.

Pallister is hinting that some form of aid is coming next week.

- The Canadian Press


Winnipeg lays off hundreds

The City of Winnipeg says it will temporarily lay off hundreds of workers because of COVID-19.

The city says a total of 674 non-permanent staff who work in now-closed recreation centres, pools, arenas, and libraries will be laid off on April 25th.

Those facilities were closed about a month ago to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The city estimates the layoffs will save it about one-million dollars per month and says most employees should be able to access unemployment benefits.

- The Canadian Press


B.C. singer-songwriter Dan Mangan.

Vanessa Heins/Handout

4 a.m. EDT

B.C. premier hosts free virtual concert

Premier John Horgan is hosting a free livestream concert Thursday that features four British Columbia musicians, including Juno and Grammy award winners.

The line-up includes jazz-pop-soul artist Alex Cuba from Smithers, B.C. Cuba has won two Juno wards and two Latin Grammy awards.

Also on the bill is Vancouver musician Dan Mangan, a winner of Juno awards for best alternative album and breakthrough artist.

Folk artist Kym Gouchie from Summerland and soul singer Desiree Dawson from White Rock are also set to perform.

Horgan said musicians and artists have lost opportunities to entertain audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this concert could be the start of a regular event.

“Musicians are always looking for gigs so we felt that if we could find a virtual opportunity to get people making music, to get out there to be known, to be heard by broader audiences that would be a benefit to everyone,” said Horgan. “I’m looking forward to the initiative getting going and then duplicating it from this point on.”

The concert starts at 4 p.m. PT. To watch, visit the B.C. government’s Facebook page or visit the province’s YouTube channel.

- The Canadian Press


2 a.m. EDT

Parliament set to resume Monday with COVID-19 measures undecided

With a Monday deadline looming, federal parties are mulling whether in-person sittings of the House of Commons and the Senate should resume in Ottawa.

The House of Commons is currently suspended until April 20th and without a deal among the parties to extend this suspension or to come up with an alternative, such as virtual sittings, Parliament will resume that day.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer repeated his call yesterday to see MPs return to the House of Commons to question and scrutinize the Liberal government’s COVID-19 measures.

He sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this week saying in-person sittings of Parliament are an essential part of the democratic process.

He says Parliament must resume so that opposition parties can pose questions and hold government accountable.

A special sitting of Parliament was held over the weekend to pass the Liberals’ massive wage subsidy package.

The Liberals are leaning toward having a virtual Parliament.

The NDP does not agree with the notion of resuming a regular calendar of parliamentary sittings, instead proposing to sit in the House of Commons once a week with a reduced attendance.

- The Canadian Press


Archives

April 15: Trump looks to ease restrictions at Canada-U.S. border; B.C. looking at gradually reopening province

April 14: Ontario, Quebec revamp staffing at nursing homes amid ‘wildfire’ COVID-19 outbreak

April 13: Outbreaks at seniors’ homes linked to almost half of COVID-19 deaths in Canada

Author and journalist Malcolm Gladwell discusses the far-reaching impact of the coronavirus pandemic on refugees, conflict and the economy. Gladwell was in conversation with Rudyard Griffiths from the Munk Debates. The Globe and Mail

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