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

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

10:00 p.m. EDT

Alberta announces new rules for health staff, as well as seven new COVID-19 deaths

As Alberta announced the most new deaths in a single day from COVID-19, including four in a nursing home, its chief medical health officer unveiled new measures to prevent staff from spreading the disease.

“We know we have a problem with cases in long term care facilities. We have several outbreaks and we are doing everything we can to prevent any more outbreaks and to deal with the ones that we currently have,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during a news conference.

The province recorded 49 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday for a total of 1,500. There were also seven new deaths, four of which Hinshaw said were at the McKenzie Towne Continuing Care Centre in Calgary.

They bring the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 at the centre to 17.

Hinshaw said changes will mean that all workers in continuing care facilities will be required to wear masks at all times when providing direct patient care, or when working in patient care areas within two metres of others.

- The Canadian Press

6:00 p.m. EDT

Feds names group to ensure disabled Canadians included in COVID-19 response

The COVID-19 pandemic takes a particularly heavy toll on Canadians with disabilities and more efforts are needed to ensure they’re included in national efforts to respond to the crisis, the minister overseeing accessibility issues said Friday as she appointed an advisory group to take on the task.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough said disabled residents have been sounding alarms about a host of concerns related to the outbreak, which has already killed at least 550 Canadians and sickened a minimum of 22,000 others. In a statement announcing the advisory group, Qualtrough said greater efforts are needed to ensure disabled voices are heard during a troubling time.

- The Canadian Press

6:00 p.m. EDT

Quebec asks to cancel or postpone large gatherings and events this summer

The Quebec government is asking for festivals, sporting and cultural events scheduled for this summer to be cancelled or postponed because of COVID-19.

The request announced today is in order to respect physical distance measures expected to be in place for an extended period.

The government says it is exploring ways to help festivals and events financially.

Major events in Montreal like the International Jazz Festival and a festival of Francophone music, both scheduled for June, have been cancelled, as has Quebec City’s popular July summer music festival. Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival has been put off until September.

- The Canadian Press

12:15 p.m. EDT

Canada supports ‘concerted approach’ to end global oil glut

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said that efforts to ease the global oil glut should be done in a “concerted” way, without indicating whether the country would limit its own output.

“We recognize that this is a global challenge for many, many different countries and having a concerted approach is extremely important,” Trudeau said of efforts to stabilize oil prices, speaking at a daily news conference.

Energy ministers of the G20 club of the world’s most industrialized nations, which includes Canada, are holding talks via a video conference on Friday to discuss how they can help the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies stabilize oil prices.

Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan is due to speak with reporters later on Friday after the talks. Canada is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, extracting some 4.9 million barrels in February.

The coronavirus pandemic has slashed oil demand as countries shut down much of their economies, and OPEC has also flooded the world with additional oil in a dispute with Russia.

- Reuters

Trudeau changes schedule for Easter Weekend

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s schedule is about to change as the federal government continues to avoid invoking the Emergencies Act.

Trudeau will be at the House of Commons on Saturday as the government attempts to pass the wage subsidy bill.

The prime minister primarily has been working from home since March 12 when his wife tested positive for COVID-19. He says he will conduct his daily televised address to the country from parliament on Sunday.

Trudeau calls the wage subsidy bill the largest economic measures Canada has seen since the Second World War.

The bill will allow companies to get a 75-per-cent subsidy on each employee’s wages.

The prime minister will not conduct daily press conferences Sunday and Monday, saying he will spend more time with his family.

Meanwhile, Trudeau is not planning to invoke the emergencies act, which would give the federal government sweeping powers.

- The Canadian Press

11 a.m. EDT

Ontario reports 478 new COVID-19 cases for total of 6,237 and 222 deaths

Ontario is reporting 22 new deaths linked to COVID-19 today, bringing the total in the province to 222.

The province is also reporting 478 new cases of the virus for a total of 6,237.

The backlog of cases under investigation also grew for a fourth day in a row to nearly 1,600.

And in spite of Premier Doug Ford’s insistence that testing be increased to the province’s daily capacity of 13,000, just 5,573 tests were processed on Thursday.

Of those sickened, 673 are hospitalized, and 260 are in intensive care — most on ventilators.

The province says 73 long-term care homes are experiencing outbreaks, accounting for 931 cases.

- The Canadian Press

10 a.m. EDT

Trudeau to highlight interest-free loans to help small business weather pandemic

While Canadian businesses wait for Parliament to approve a $73-billion wage subsidy program, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to highlight today another measure that will tide some companies over in the meantime.

At his daily briefing on the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Trudeau is expected to draw attention to the Canada Emergency Business Account.

Under the program, the federal government is backing interest-free bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profit companies that have seen their revenues drop as the economy has deteriorated.

Qualifying companies must be able to demonstrate that they paid between $50,000 and $1-million in total payroll last year.

Canada’s banks and credit unions began offering the loans on Thursday.

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

The loans are intended to give small businesses some operational cash to keep afloat until other measures kick in, particularly the massive wage subsidy program.

The government has recalled Parliament for Saturday to vote on legislation required to implement the program, under which companies will be able to get a 75-per-cent subsidy on each employee’s wages.

Throughout the past week, the Liberals had tried to secure unanimous consent for the bill before recalling Parliament, in order to ensure it can be passed within a few hours, bypassing the usual lengthy legislative process.

But although there’s broad agreement on the bill itself among all parties, negotiations bogged down over the Conservatives’ insistence that there must be regular, in-person sittings of the House of Commons in order to hold the government to account throughout the health crisis.

That issue remains unresolved but the government decided to push ahead with a Saturday sitting of the Commons anyway. Liberals hope the Conservatives, like all the other parties, will agree to pass the wage subsidy bill quickly and continue separate discussions on the longer-term issue of how Parliament should function during the crisis.

Trudeau has signalled that he favours virtual sittings of the Commons, which would allow more MPs from all parts of the country to participate and keep Commons staff safer.

For Saturday’s sitting, just 32 MPs — primarily within driving distance of the capital and in proportion to each party’s share of the seats — are to be in the chamber.

Scheer has proposed a similar arrangement for regular sittings four days a week going forward.

To help curb the spread of COVID-19 and consistent with public health advice that all Canadians should stay home as much as possible, Parliament has been adjourned since March 13.

It was recalled for one day two weeks ago to pass the first phase of emergency aid to Canadians and businesses.

- The Canadian Press

Ottawa says 5 million are receiving Canada Emergency Response Benefit

Figures from the federal government this morning show that 5.08 million people are receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The figure includes about two million workers who previously qualified for employment insurance benefits after March 15, but were moved to the new benefit when it became available on Monday.

So far this week, 3.08 million people have filed claims for the benefit, including just over 615,000 claims alone on Thursday.

The $2,000-a-month benefit is available for up to 16 weeks for eligible workers affected by COVID-19.

- The Canadian Press

8 a.m. EDT

Easter services, celebrations across Canada adapt to COVID-19 restrictions

With gatherings banned and public health officials urging everyone to stay home, families, faith communities and congregations across Canada are finding ways to mark what are considered key religious and cultural events together — from a distance.

A new online survey conducted this week by the Angus Reid Institute found 25 per cent of respondents who identified as Christian, Jewish or Muslim planned to follow a religious service online. Nine per cent said they would pray with family or others over a video chat.

Another seven per cent of participants said they would use an app for prayer or meditation, and two per cent said they would talk to a religious leader on the phone.

More than a quarter of respondents, however, said they would pray on their own at home using a holy text or scripture.

In Montreal, the city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese has set up a phone line for those wishing to speak with a priest, operating daily in the afternoons in both official languages.

Liturgies, masses and a vigil will be livestreamed during Holy Week, though the commemoration of the Last Supper did not include the customary foot-washing ceremony.

Worshippers can follow the traditional Way of the Cross procession remotely on Friday morning as it’s broadcast on the archdiocese’s YouTube page.

- The Canadian Press

7 a.m. EDT

Some Montreal health care workers say shops, banks turning them away

Olijah Springer, a nursing assistant and technician at the Montreal General Hospital, voiced his displeasure on Facebook last week after he was told he couldn’t shop at a Pharmaprix in the Montreal borough of LaSalle.

Springer was asked by a clerk when he entered the store if he had any symptoms, or if he had been exposed to anyone with symptoms of COVID-19. He said no but explained he worked in a hospital. He says he was then told that someone would shop for him.

The pharmacy referred questions to parent company Loblaw, which said in a statement that such measures have been adopted by up to a quarter of Quebec pharmacists and “are not corporately directed.”

Bertrand Bolduc, president of Quebec’s order of pharmacists, said all pharmacies across the province have strict hygiene measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. About a quarter of them have gone even further and operate under “closed-door” conditions.

Those pharmacies are closed to the public, he said. Employees will do the shopping for customers and make home deliveries or hand off products to clients in the parking lot.

As for the businesses that refuse to let certain health workers into the stores, Bolduc said it’s the pharmacy owner’s decision to make.

The TD Bank says it recently met with an unhappy customer who says she was refused service at a branch in Montreal’s West Island because she is an intensive care nurse.

Golda McLean, told radio station CJAD that when she went to the branch March 30, she was asked if she had any contact with the coronavirus.

When she said yes, she said she was told: “No, I’m sorry — you guys might be angels but we’re not serving nurses right now.”

Carla Hindman, manager of corporate and public affairs of TD Bank said bank officials have since met with McLean and “resolved her needs.”

- The Canadian Press

4 a.m. EDT

Ontario jail guards protest over protective gear

Guards at several jails in Ontario have staged work refusals for not being allowed to wear protective gear as cases of COVID-19 creep into the institutions.

The union representing provincial correctional workers says some institutions allow guards to wear protective equipment such as masks and gloves while others do not.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union spokesman Chris Jackel says the issue came to a head when an inmate in Monteith Correctional Complex near Timmins, Ont., began showing symptoms of COVID-19 last week.

He says guards there refused to work on several occasions because they were not allowed to wear masks and gloves.

Jackel says they were allowed to wear the gear after the inmate tested positive for the disease over the weekend.

The Ministry of the Solicitor General says the inmate was isolated and tested and has taken measures to protect correctional workers.

- The Canadian Press


April 9: B.C. ramps up mental health support for health care workers; Manitoba to issue fines for public gatherings

April 8: Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador release coronavirus projections

April 7: Care home workers are the frontlines of Canada’s COVID-19 outbreaks; Quebec projects 1,236 deaths by end of month

April 6: Boris Johnson in intensive care; 3M to resume exports of N95 masks to Canada