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Ford said restrictions on shipments at the U.S. border have left the province with just one more week’s worth of personal protective equipment for health-care workers fighting the coronavirus outbreak in Ontario.
In a statement today, he says Ontario is ramping up its own production of personal protective equipment, but most of those supplies are weeks away from being in the hands of front-line health workers.
At least 451 health-care workers in Ontario have tested positive for COVID-19, representing about 10 per cent of all cases in the province.
In all, Ontario reported 309 new COVID-19 cases today, including 13 new deaths. There have now been a total of 4,347 cases in the province, including 1,624 patients who have recovered and 132 deaths.
Allies of the United States are complaining about its “Wild West” tactics in outbidding or blocking shipments to buyers who have already signed deals for medical equipment.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped reporters’ questions about the incident on Monday, saying his government was in productive talks with the United States and adding: “We expect those shipments to be delivered.”
Trudeau says he’s confident shipments of personal protective medical gear from the United States will continue to arrive in Canada, despite apparent efforts by President Donald Trump to keep the equipment on American soil.
The Trump White House has invoked the Defense Production Act to compel U.S. manufacturers of the equipment, such as 3M and Honeywell, to prioritize domestic orders co-ordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The White House has said those orders won’t interfere with exports that are in the national interests of the United States.
Trudeau says Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne had a conversation this morning with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and that lower-level talks between the two countries have been ongoing.
He says those conversations are proving “productive” and that the U.S. administration understands that trade with Canada is a two-way street that includes the raw materials that manufacturers need for gowns and masks, including the all-important N95 respirators.
Canada’s top public-health doctor says wearing masks is a way for people who might have COVID-19 without realizing it to keep from spreading the illness to others.
That’s a change from previous advice.
Dr. Theresa Tam says the change is due to increasing evidence that people with the virus can spread it without knowing they’re sick.
She says masks worn this way protect others more than they protect the people wearing them, and don’t exempt wearers from all the other measures they should take against COVID-19, including physical distancing and regular handwashing.
And Tam says medical masks still need to be preserved for front-line health workers, so cloth masks and other alternatives are the way to go.
Trudeau says 240,000 people successfully applied for emergency relief amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the first few hours after the federal government opened the process this morning.
Only people with birthdays in the first three months of the year can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit today, with the process opening more widely each day this week.
The benefit offers $500-a-week payments for workers who have lost all their income.
Trudeau says changes to the program will come soon to offer help for people whose hours have been slashed, but who are still working a little.
“Whatever your situation” Trudeau said, “we are working to get you the help you need.”
“We’ve moved quickly on it to try to help a many people as we possibly can, as quickly as possible,” he added.
He also is promising more details on how the government intends to help those who are earning less now than they would if they were receiving the 16-week benefit, citing care workers for the elderly as an example.
Trudeau didn’t say how many people have thus far today been unable to be approved for the benefit.
The Canada Revenue Agency, which is running the system, issued a request for patience as it expected large demand for the new benefit that the federal government expects to cost $24 billion.
Over the last two weeks, more than two million people have applied for employment insurance benefits, a giant spike from what the program normally sees even in previous recessions.
The outlook for the rest of the year has seen an equally dramatic drop from just a few weeks ago.
Two surveys from the Bank of Canada today provide a pre-pandemic picture of consumers’ and businesses’ plans for the disrupted year.
The survey of consumer expectations suggests more people anticipated searching for new jobs and expected they would quickly find something new, while fewer thought they would lose their jobs.
Canadians shouldn’t expect to return to normal life any time soon, Trudeau said Monday.
Trudeau said distancing measures designed to limit the spread off COVID-19 will likely remain in place for weeks or even months.
He said there will be a better idea of how long the crisis will last once models and predictions are developed, but success will depend on how fully Canadians practice distancing habits such as staying home.
“To stay at home, to continue this period of isolation and distance is the best way to get out as quickly as possible, but certainly it will be a case of several weeks, perhaps several months,” he said in his daily update.
Trudeau has himself been working from home since his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 13.
He said that while he expects to return to the office in the days to come, he will mainly keep working from home because “that’s what we ask of everyone.”
Asked for an update Monday on quarantining efforts in Canada, Trudeau said that anyone returning to Canada from abroad is subject to a mandatory quarantine order. They have to go straight home from the airport, he said, and stay home for 14 days. He said officials are following up with such people, especially presumed high-risk cases. Trudeau said authorities are confident that people are following the orders.
Foreign Affairs Minister Champagne says Canadian passengers on the Coral Princess cruise ship will be headed home today, after undergoing a health screening.
Champagne says in a tweet that Canadians who don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19 will be allowed to disembark the ship in Florida and get on a flight chartered by Holland America.
The minister says they’ll be screened again upon arrival and subject to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period.
Meanwhile, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer is calling on the government to increase the charitable donation tax credit.
He says this would help increase charitable contributions to hospitals, churches, food banks, women’s shelters and other worthy organizations.
Scheer also wants the government to immediately remove the capital gains tax on charitable donations of private company shares and real estate.
He says although many businesses are struggling, some are still thriving and should be encouraged to support the charitable sector.
Three more residents of a nursing home in central Ontario have died of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths at the facility up to 26.
The wife of a resident at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Ont., has also died from the novel coronavirus.
The outbreak at the seniors’ residence in Ontario’s cottage country is considered one of the worst in the country.
At least 24 staff members at the facility have also tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario’s first responders will be told before they come into contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says the alerts will ensure the health of those working on the front lines.
The information disclosed will be limited to the person’s name, address, date of birth and whether the individual has had a positive test result.
Halifax police say they issued 39 tickets on the weekend for violations of the province’s Health Protection Act and the Emergency Management Act.
Politicians in southeastern British Columbia are calling on the provincial health officer to close the B.C.-Alberta border to non-essential travel.
A statement on the Regional District of East Kootenay website says people are not heeding the message from health officials in both B.C. and Alberta urging everyone to stay home.
The regional district also wants all non-resident property owners to stay away and it is seeking closure of all private campgrounds, overnight and backcountry camping.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says he has received unanimous support from other premiers for a federal credit agency to help provinces deal with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pallister says the premiers have written to Prime Minister Trudeau asking for financial help.
The premier says he wants Ottawa to borrow on behalf of the provinces because the federal government gets a lower interest rate.
The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 3:25 p.m. on April 6, 2020:
There are 16,500 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.
— Quebec: 8,580 confirmed (including 121 deaths, 611 resolved)
— Ontario: 4,347 confirmed (including 132 deaths, 1,624 resolved)
— Alberta: 919 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 279 resolved), 331 presumptive
— British Columbia: 1,203 confirmed (including 38 deaths, 673 resolved)
— Nova Scotia: 293 confirmed (including 64 resolved)
— Saskatchewan: 249 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 67 resolved)
— Newfoundland and Labrador: 226 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 32 resolved)
— Manitoba: 190 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 17 resolved), 14 presumptive
— New Brunswick: 103 confirmed (including 30 resolved)
— Prince Edward Island: 22 confirmed (including 8 resolved)
— Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed
— Yukon: 6 confirmed (including 4 resolved)
— Northwest Territories: 4 confirmed (including 1 resolved)
— Nunavut: No confirmed cases
— Total: 16,500 (345 presumptive, 16,155 confirmed including 321 deaths, 3,410 resolved)