The latest news:
- COVID-19 prompts TransLink layoffs, service cuts for Metro Vancouver
- Ontario officials say province has reached ‘peak’ in COVID-19, but nursing-home situation getting worse
- COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta town linked to infections at nearby slaughterhouse
- Hospitals mull restart of paused services
- Canada tightens foreign investment scrutiny, citing economic impact of COVID-19
- Alberta plans to dramatically expand a COVID-19 testing system that already leads the country
- Doctors’ association says help from government is not enough to survive COVID-19
4:20 p.m. EDT
High River, Alta., meat-packing plant temporarily stopping production
The Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta is temporarily shutting down as the result of COVID-19.
The High River plant, which employs more than 2,000 workers, has been linked to over 350 cases of the novel coronavirus – both at the plant and in the community.
A company spokesman says it was a difficult decision to make as the plant is considered an essential service.
He is encouraging all employees to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.
Production is to stop once meat already in the plant is processed to avoid any food waste.
It’s not clear how long the plant will be shuttered or if workers will be paid during the shutdown.
- Canadian Press
3:55 p.m. EDT
Quebec suspends non-essential surgeries to add staff to long-term care homes
The Quebec government is delaying all non-essential activities in hospitals for the next two weeks to free up doctors and nurses to work full-time in long-term care homes hit hard by COVID-19.
Premier Francois Legault says the homes are facing severe staffing shortages due to people being ill or unable to work.
And with more than 4,000 long-term care residents infected with COVID-19, Legault says the homes need full-time staff to help stem the tide.
Legault reassured patients with cancer and heart problems that their surgeries, if deemed essential, will go ahead as planned.
But he says everything that can be postponed will be, in order to dispatch doctors and nurses to the long-term care homes.
The province has also arranged for hotel rooms and is calling on doctors and nurses from outside the Montreal area to lend a hand in the province’s hardest-hit region.
Quebec announced Monday the number of deaths in the province due to COVID-19 stands at 939, and the province added nearly a thousand more confirmed cases to reach 19,319 positive cases.
The provincial figures show 1,169 people are hospitalized and 198 are in intensive care.
Legault also ruled out province’s schools reopening by May 4, the date the province had targeted as a possible return to class.
- Canadian Press
2:55 p.m. EDT
France becomes fourth country with more than 20,000 coronavirus deaths
France on Monday officially registered more than 20,000 deaths from the coronavirus, becoming the fourth country to pass that threshold after Italy, Spain and the United States, and the pace of increase in fatalities and infections sped up again after several days of slowing.
“The epidemic is very deadly and is far from over,” France’s public health chief Jerome Salomon told a news briefing, adding that the death toll was now higher than that of the heat wave in the summer of 2003.
He said the number of people in intensive care had fallen for the 12th consecutive day, to 5,683 - the lowest since March 31 - suggesting the national lockdown is having positive effects in containing the disease.
Another encouraging signal was a decline for the sixth day in a row in people hospitalized for COVID-19, even though the total, at 30,584 versus 30,610 on Sunday, is going down only slowly.
While France is due to start unwinding some confinement measures from May 11, Salomon insisted on the importance of strictly complying with the lockdown.
2:45 p.m. EDT
Manitoba premier says limits on public to stay in place through May
The Manitoba government is extending its emergency health orders for the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of May.
Premier Brian Pallister says people must continue to follow the rules in order to keep the province’s numbers in check.
That means the closure of non-essential businesses and the ban on public gatherings of more than 10 people will continue for another month.
The order for inter-provincial travellers to self-isolate for 14 days is also being extended.
Provincial health officials are reporting one additional COVID-19 case, for a total of 254.
Health officials are also reporting the death of a woman in her 80s from COVID-19, bringing the death toll in Manitoba to six.
12:45 p.m. EDT
All inmates being moved after COVID-19 outbreak at Ontario jail
All inmates at a jail in Brampton, Ont., are being moved to another correctional facility after an outbreak of COVID-19.
The Ministry of the Solicitor General says 60 inmates and eight staff at the Ontario Correctional Institute have tested positive for COVID-19.
The ministry says it is temporarily closing the jail Tuesday and moving the inmates to the Toronto South Detention Centre.
- Canadian Press
10:55 a.m. EDT
Ontario reports increase in new cases
Ontario is reporting 606 new cases of COVID-19, the largest single-day increase, and 31 new deaths.
Despite the large increase, the new total of 11,184 cases is just 5.7 per cent higher than the day before, continuing a relatively low growth trend.
The total includes 584 deaths and 5,515 resolved cases.
The number of people in hospital confirmed to have COVID-19 and those on ventilator went down slightly, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable.
Ontario health officials are set to release updated COVID-19 modelling today.
The associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, has said the forecasts are “generally looking better,” but the province is not out of the woods yet.
- Canadian Press
4 a.m. EDT
Lack of deal sets stage for House of Commons to reopen today
The House of Commons is poised to reopen today despite the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to an impasse between the four main political parties.
The Liberals announced Sunday that they had an agreement with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois to have 32 MPs meet in the House in person each Wednesday starting this week, with up to two virtual sessions also added for MPs to ask questions of the government.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters it would be “irresponsible” to resume parliamentary sittings at a time when health experts are urging Canadians to limit their movement and work from home as much as possible to prevent the pandemic from spreading.
The House of Commons has already moved some business online with two parliamentary committees conducting hearings by video conference. The British Parliament is also poised to adopt a hybrid approach in which some MPs will grill ministers in person while others participate online.
But Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer rejected the proposal, suggesting there remained many unanswered questions about holding a virtual sitting of the House of Commons and insisting on three in-person sittings per week.
Negotiations were still underway Sunday evening, but all four parties needed to agree to prevent the House from officially resuming on Monday. The question then will be how many MPs show up and what they will discuss.
The government had suggested that if an agreement wasn’t reached, the House of Commons would resume business as usual with all 338 MPs and their staff, along with Parliament Hill clerks, interpreters, security and cleaners, returning to work in Ottawa.
Scheer, however, noted only 20 MPs need to be in the House for a sitting. He has accused the Liberals of misleading Canadians to put pressure on Opposition parties to accept fewer in-person sessions to hold the government to account for its pandemic response.
Except for two single-day sittings to pass emergency aid bills, Parliament has been adjourned since mid-March. Those two sessions were held with a limited number of Parliament Hill staff, which Scheer said could be easily replicated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The NDP was preparing to have three MPs, including Leader Jagmeet Singh and deputy leader Alexandre Boulerice, in the House of Commons on Monday if a deal could not be reached.
The political wrangling in Ottawa came as provincial health authorities reported at least 117 more deaths from COVID-19, bringing the national total to 1,587.
Yet while Ontario and Quebec also reported hundreds more positive tests, bringing the national total to more than 35,000, New Brunswick as well as Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases.
- The Canadian Press