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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 9:45 p.m. A bill aimed at relieving the economic strains of COVID-19 has been granted royal assent.
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The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):

9:45 p.m.

A bill aimed at relieving the economic strains of COVID-19 has been granted royal assent.

The $73-billion wage subsidy program was passed by the House of Commons and the Senate earlier in the evening.

The legislation authorizes the federal government to pay companies 75 per cent of the first $58,700 earned by each employee — up to $847 per week for up to 12 weeks.

It is retroactive to March 15 and will be available to companies that lost 15 per cent of their revenue in March or 30 per cent in April or May.

 

9 p.m.

The Senate has passed a $73-billion wage subsidy program aimed at providing relief to workers and businesses hit by COVID-19.

Conservative Senate leader Don Plett called for the bill to be passed "on division" in that chamber to indicate that there was some opposition to the measures.

The House of Commons approved the bill earlier this evening, also "on division."

It is still awaiting royal assent.

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6:15 p.m.

The House of Commons has approved a massive $73-billion wage subsidy program aimed at helping businesses and workers survive the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill was passed "on division," meaning there was some opposition among the handful of MPs in the chamber but there was no recorded vote.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling it the most significant economic program since the Second World War.

The bill is expected to be passed by the Senate and receive royal assent later today.

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5:15 p.m.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says his province has more than enough protective masks, gloves and ventilators for its own COVID-19 needs, so it's sharing some of its surplus with other provinces.

Kenney made the announcement Saturday from an Alberta Health Services warehouse in Edmonton, where he noted it and eight other warehouses are full of supplies.

He says Ontario will receive protective masks, gloves and ventilators, Quebec will receive masks and gloves, and British Columbia will get masks.

The Alberta premier says the number of hospitalizations in the province are below numbers that had been predicted in models for this point, and he says that's due to Albertans following public health guidelines.

He also credits Alberta's early pandemic and planning for the surplus in supplies, as well as its buying power that he says comes from the provincial health system's central administration.

Despite past differences with some other provinces over pipelines, Kenney says he couldn't in good conscience sit on the surplus.

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3:20 p.m.

British Columbia is reporting 35 new cases of COVID-19 as well as three new deaths.

The province now has 1,445 total positive tests and 58 deaths.

Provincial health officer Bonnie Henry says 134 people are hospitalized, with 63 in critical care.

Henry says the province is working closely with federal counterparts to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak at a federal prison in Mission, B.C.

She also urged residents to stay home for the long weekend and avoid "unnecessary travel."

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2:55 p.m.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is raising concern about temporary foreign workers arriving in Canada to work on farms, saying he believes the quarantine rules for these workers are inadequate.

The federal government has exempted migrant workers from COVID-19 cross-border travel restrictions because of their importance to the Canadian economy.

Federal officials have said these workers will face health screening before travel and must isolate for 14 days upon their arrival in Canada.

But Blanchet says more than 100 temporary farm workers arrived in Quebec this week from Mexico, and he is concerned they are not being tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Canada and that their mandatory quarantine will happen on the farms where they will work, rather than in federal facilities.

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2:10 p.m.

Prince Edward Island is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 for the third consecutive day.

The Island's total of confirmed cases remains at 25.

None of the cases have required hospitalization and 17 people are now considered to be recovered.

Chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison is urging Islanders to "stay the course" over the Easter weekend and continue to practise physical distancing.

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1:40 p.m.

The Rogers Cup women's tennis tournament will not be played this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tennis Canada announced the event, scheduled for Aug. 7 to 16 in Montreal, is off the schedule.

Quebec's government announced Friday no sporting events could be held through Aug. 31, though it left the door slightly open for pro teams.

Tennis Canada says the women's event will return to Montreal in August 2021.

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1:30 p.m.

Quebec has seen another spike in the number of deaths in the province and now has 289 deaths linked to COVID-19.

Premier Francois Legault says the province also has 12,292 confirmed cases and 778 people are hospitalized — 211 in intensive care.

Legault is also resassuring Quebecers that he won't reopen schools and daycares without public health's blessing.

There were strong reactions from parents and teachers' unions after Legault suggested Friday those institutions — closed by the government until May 4 — could reopen ahead of that date as Quebec looks at ways to restart the economy.

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1:25 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says even if every possible precaution is taken, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could get worse before they get better.

He says Canada's determination to fight the virus and the country's commitment to look out for one another might be put to the test, but believes Canadians are up to the challenge.

Speaking in the House of Commons today during a special sitting of Parliament to pass the Liberals' massive wage subsidy program aimed at helping businesses and workers through the COVID-19 downturn, Trudeau delivered a speech outlining the challenges the pandemic have had on the country.

Trudeau likened the current situation to a war, but instead of a front line marked with barbed wire, he said the front line in this pandemic is everywhere — in homes, hospitals and grocery stores.

He called essential workers modern-day heroes that are making sure Canadians can heal, receive care and can stay home to ensure the virus does not spread.

He said Canadians stand physically apart but united in a collective resolve to do what must be done until COVID-19 is defeated.

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1:15 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault says 31 people have died at a west-end Montreal long-term care home that is now under trusteeship.

Legault said at least five patients at the Residence Herron in Dorval, Que., died after testing positive for COVID-19.

The premier says Quebec's Health Department has ordered an investigation and the province's Public Security Department has also asked for a police investigation.

Legault says the owner of the long-term care residence owns other such homes and they will all be inspected.

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1:05 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the province's number of confirmed cases to 241.

The two new cases are in the Eastern Health region.

Six people are in hospital due to the virus, with two of those patients in intensive care.

Health officials say 120 people have recovered from the virus while there have been three deaths from COVID-19 in the province.

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11:55 a.m.

Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 21 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 428 confirmed cases in the province.

So far, the province has had 13,632 negative test results, and two deaths.

The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 years old to over 90, with eight people currently hospitalized and four of those patients in intensive care.

Premier Stephen McNeil is urging people to stay home over the Easter weekend and avoid going to family dinners and get-togethers, saying "there will be other long weekends" and other times in the future to see family and friends.

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11:45 a.m.

Public Health in New Brunswick is reporting no new cases of COVID-19.

The province has a total of 112 confirmed cases with 64 travel-related, 36 close contacts of confirmed cases, six the result of community transmission and six that remain under investigation.

Health officials say five people remain in hospital with three patients in intensive care.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, says the results are encouraging but it is too soon to conclude that the spread of this pandemic is slowing in the province.

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11:30 a.m.

The Trudeau government has struck a deal with opposition parties to swiftly approve today a massive $73-billion wage subsidy program aimed at helping businesses and workers survive the economic ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passage of legislation needed to implement the program was assured after Conservatives dropped their attempt to tie the bill to the longer-term question of how Parliament should function in the midst of a national health crisis.

At a morning news conference just hours before the House of Commons was to meet for a rare emergency sitting on the Easter long weekend, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his party has agreed to support passage of the bill later today and to continue discussions on the future of Parliament later.

The program will provide companies that have experienced a 15 per-cent drop in revenues since March 15 with a 75 per-cent wage subsidy for each employee.

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11:20 a.m.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says his party will support the unanimous consent motion that will allow the Liberal government's wage subsidy bill to pass.

The bill aims to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scheer says Conservatives were able to negotiate changes to the program that will ensure businesses know up front whether they qualify for the 75 per-cent wage subsidy.

He says government could go even farther to help Canadian businesses suffering major economic losses as a result of the crisis, reiterating his party's call for GST payments that were remitted to government in the 12 months before the pandemic be rebated and for companies to be able use metrics other than revenue losses to qualify for the wage subsidy, such as lost orders or subscriptions.

Scheer says the work that Opposition parties did to improve the wage subsidy bill shows the importance of Parliament and the work of the Opposition.

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11:05 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 31 new deaths from COVID-19 in Ontario for a total of 253.

The province also reported 411 new cases of the virus, with the total number of cases at 6,648.

The Ministry of Health says 2,858 of the cases are resolved, which is just over 40 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.

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11 a.m.

Some Quebec parents and teachers' unions are pushing back against the idea of allowing children to return to schools and daycares this spring.

Quebec has cancelled classes until May 4 but Premier Francois Legault suggested during his briefing Friday they could resume ahead of that date, which quickly led to an emotional reaction.

One petition that began circulating after his comments, demanding the closure of daycares and schools be maintained until September, has garnered more than 132,000 digital signatures as of Saturday morning.

Legault has said children have been shown to be less at risk of having coronavirus complications, but took to social media later Friday to reassure parents.

"I repeat that any opening of schools will be done with the agreement of public health," he wrote. "We will not rush any decisions."

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10:15 a.m.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says his party believes in the importance of the wage subsidy program to ensure businesses remain viable through the pandemic, and said the bill will pass today.

He says his party successfully negotiated some additions to the bill that will see businesses get help with some of their fixed costs.

Blanchet said further improvements are needed to the wage subsidy program, including for seasonal workers.

Blanchet also raised concerns about temporary foreign workers from Mexico coming to work on Quebec farms — workers he believes are being subjected to less stringent quarantine criteria than residents of the province.

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9:40 a.m.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he wants the government to lift all criteria for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to allow any Canadian who is in financial distress due to COVID-19 to qualify for benefits.

Singh says he has heard from many Canadians who do not qualify for the emergency benefit program, which opened to applicants this week, including people who are still earning a small income, students and those who were unemployed before the pandemic began.

Singh says he is in negotiations with the Liberals and has received assurances from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that gaps in the program will be addressed.

But the NDP leader says Trudeau could go even farther and drop all criteria to ensure all those who need help can apply.

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9:30 a.m.

Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling for stricter enforcement of COVID-19 measures after seeing some people not take physical distancing seriously.

The mayor has pushed for tougher enforcement in a letter he sent to Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders and Carleton Grant, the municipal licensing and standards executive director.

Tory's letter says he believes the time has come for more tickets because authorities are still having informational chats with hundreds of people who aren't physical distancing.

Tory says the city has received reports of people who don't live together hosting bonfires on the beach, hanging out in groups in parking lots and playing pickup sports in closed areas.

The Canadian Press

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