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Ontario is making some changes to its public-health rules to deal with rising COVID-19 numbers and a massive 90,000-case testing backlog.

Public health officers say that schools and daycares should not be so insistent on seeing COVID-19 tests, as the swell of concerned parents and children has contributed to the overwhelming of assessment centres. The province is expected to make all centres appointment-only to reduce the long lineups.

The provincial government is also expected to announce new restrictions on mask wearing and business operations.

Other parts of the country appear to have the virus under more control, for various reasons. Atlantic Canada has managed to keep a tight lid on the virus’s spread, through advantages of geography, lower population density and, some say, sound political management. Atlantic Canadians are just hoping they can keep it that way.

And in Alberta, chief medical officer of health Deena Hinshaw is giving Halloween the go-ahead.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Health Canada has launched an accelerated review process for the coronavirus vaccine candidate being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

The federal government is putting $600-million more in its Regional Relief and Recovery Program for small- and medium-sized businesses, after the initial $962-million fund was spent. The partially forgivable loans and grants are being handed out by the government’s regional development agenices.

Small differences between the Employment Insurance system and the new Canada Recovery Benefit are providing economists with a “great experiment” into how clawing back income affects Canadians' willingness to work more.

The Senate has finally agreed on hybrid sittings. The chamber has so far struggled to debate emergency legislation since the pandemic started earlier this year. Senators have also now agreed to external oversight of their finances, some eight years after the Senate expenses scandal began.

Canada apparently banned the shipment of military goods to Turkey last year, but that did not stop a Canadians arms manufacturer from getting an export permit in May for a targetting system that’s since been used in drone attacks on Armenia. In an interview with The Globe, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan blamed Turkey for stoking the fires of conflict between his country and Azerbaijan, which is using the Canadian-made equipment.

And U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melanie Trump have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The President is in a high-risk category for how severe the effects of the virus could be, but he is apparently so far healthy. It is too early to say yet if he could end up like Canadian Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, who tested positive but showed no symptoms, or British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who ended up in a hospital’s critical-care unit earlier this year. Joe and Jill Biden, who were in the same room as Mr. Trump for the presidential debate on Tuesday, have tested negative.

Anita Agrawal (The Globe and Mail) on the federal pandemic programs to help small businesses: “For most small businesses, rents were so high even before COVID-19 that most months it was a tight race to make rent and still break even or pocket away a small profit. With highly reduced business traffic, or no business traffic at all for some, small businesses went through those savings pretty quickly. And without any effective government programs or supports to help small businesses with rent costs, most are just barely hanging on, and it’s inevitable that many more will close.”

Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on changes to the Canada Infrastructure Bank: “The other perceived obstacle has been bureaucratic resistance, with the Infrastructure Department not leaping to fast-track proposals by a new quasi-independent agency to lay claim to spending initiatives that might otherwise be handled by the public service. [Minister Catherine] McKenna now appears to be signalling to her department that the CIB has her trust, and the leeway afforded to the bank to pursue its new spending plans backs that up. Those obstacles removed, we’re about to find out whether the basic concept of the CIB is a sound one.”

John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on what could happen if the U.S. election result is disputed: “The worst of all worlds would involve political and judicial institutions struggling to settle on a duly-elected president, as demonstrators clash with increasing violence in the streets, and the global community splits into factions over which presidential claimant is legitimate. America as Venezuela. America as Ukraine.”

Robyn Urback (The Globe and Mail) on Trump’s beliefs: “U.S. President Donald Trump is probably too self-centred to be a bona fide white supremacist. White supremacists, after all, are preoccupied with the notion of a superior white race; Mr. Trump appears mostly concerned with the superiority of one particular white septuagenarian.”

Elizabeth Renzetti (The Globe and Mail) on the unfortunate qualities that Canada and the U.S. share: “Americans who flee to our fairer shores will find a country ankle-deep in reports about biased treatment toward racialized communities and First Nations. They might know about the gruesome reports that migrant women detained in ICE custody in their country were subject to forced sterilizations, but do they know that the same thing has been happening to Indigenous women in Canada for decades?”

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