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Canadian COVID-19 round-up: Air Canada cuts 15,000 jobs, 90% of flights

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

These files, assembled from the Canadian Press, were posted by Black Press Media at 2:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

Massive job cuts at Air Canada as the airline cuts 90% of its flights

TORONTO — Air Canada will temporarily lay off more than 15,000 unionized workers beginning this week as the airline struggles with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs will continue through April and May amid drastically reduced flight capacity from the Montreal-based airline. Canada’s largest airline says the two-month furloughs will affect about one-third of management and administrative and support staff, including head office employees, in addition to the front-line workers.

The carrier is also cutting between 85% and 90% of its flights, cancelling most of its international and U.S. routes in response to the global shutdown. Earlier this month Air Canada’s flight attendant union said 5,149 cabin crew would be temporarily laid off.

Unforgiving march across Canada

OTTAWA — COVID-19 continued its unforgiving march into new areas of the country on Monday, sweeping through long-term care homes and religious communities and into vulnerable regions as the federal government brought in new domestic travel restrictions.Ontario reported its largest single-day increase by far, while hard-hit Quebec soared well past the 3,000-case mark and Newfoundland and Labrador reported the Atlantic region’s first death.

Canadian cases rise to 7,288 (Note, this file does not yet have the updated numbers released by B.C. at 1:30 p.m. today.)

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 11:01 a.m. on March 30, 2020:

There are 7,288 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

Quebec: 3,430 confirmed (including 25 deaths, 1 resolved)

Ontario: 1,706 confirmed (including 23 deaths, 431 resolved)

British Columbia: 884 confirmed (including 17 deaths, 396 resolved)

Alberta: 661 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 73 resolved)

Saskatchewan: 156 confirmed (including 3 resolved)

Newfoundland and Labrador: 148 confirmed (including 1 death, 7 resolved)

Nova Scotia: 127 confirmed (including 10 resolved)

Manitoba: 25 confirmed (including 1 death), 47 presumptive

New Brunswick: 68 confirmed (including 2 resolved)

Prince Edward Island: 18 confirmed (including 1 death)

Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed

Yukon: 4 confirmed

Northwest Territories: 1 confirmed

Nunavut: No confirmed cases

Total: 7,288 (47 presumptive, 7,241 confirmed including 71 deaths, 923 resolved)

Quebec reports another spike

Quebec is reporting another spike in the number of cases in the province to 3,430 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

In addition to 590 positive cases compared to Sunday, the province says three more people have died as a result of the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 25.

Legault says the brightest stat of the day was that 78 people were in intensive care, an increase of just six cases.

The premier says today that to give retail employees a break, stores will be closing on Sundays in April, with only pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores and takeout restaurants remaining open on those days.

Largest single-day increase so far in Ontario

Ontario is reporting 351 new COVID-19 cases today, the largest single-day increase by far.

Health officials say the jump is at least partly due to clearing a large backlog of pending test results.

The new total of cases in the province is 1,706 — including 431 resolved cases and 23 deaths.

The latest data for resolved cases had been stuck at eight for many days, and health officials had said to expect a large jump once the data caught up to a new definition for resolved.

The huge increase in the number of resolved cases also means there are actually fewer active COVID-19 cases in

Vancouver’s Nine O’Clock Gun to shift to 7 p.m. to support health care workers

A loud and beloved Vancouver tradition is being altered for the first time in its 164-year history to show the city’s appreciation for health care workers on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19.

The Vancouver Park Board says starting tonight and continuing for the month of April, the Nine O’Clock Gun a 12-pound cannon in Stanley Park fired every night at 9 p.m. will be fired two hours earlier, at 7 p.m.

That matches the time each evening when residents across the city stand on porches, balconies and street corners to honk horns, cheer, clap and bang pots in a show of support for health care workers.

The park board says the Nine O’Clock Gun has been silent just a handful of times since it was given to the city in 1856 and the firing schedule has never been altered, but the change reflects widespread public appeals.

Rest stops barring washroom access to truckers a ‘huge problem’ as virus spreads

Truck drivers face an uphill challenge as rest stops shut and owners bar access to washrooms amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teamsters Canada says truckers are increasingly being denied warm meals, hot showers or even a place to wash their hands.

Union spokesman Christopher Monette says the shuttered truck stops are a “huge problem” across Canada and the U.S.

He says highway rest areas for big-riggers are likely less risky than a grocery store or pharmacy, which can be more crowded.

On Sunday, Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton tweeted photos of signs barring bathroom access to drivers and called it a “disgrace,” saying that drivers “get goods to market” and deserve respect.

In a letter to the prime minister last week, Teamsters Canada asked Ottawa to force companies to clean trucks, trains and package cars between use to prevent transmission of the virus.

Major residential landlords signal flexibility for tenants in need during outbreak

TORONTO — Some of Canada’s biggest landlords say they’re committed to working with tenants who have lost their job because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The signals come as efforts to contain the outbreak have led to huge business disruptions and surging unemployment levels that have made many Canadians worried about how they will pay next month’s rent.

The unprecedented times have led some tenants to call for an all-out rent strike, but major rental companies are urging those who are able to pay their rent to do so, while offering assistance to tenants who find themselves in need.

Mark Kenney, CEO of Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust, says the company is committed to working with those who have suddenly lost their job, and is “violently against” evicting anyone who’s in distress.

He says, however, that he’s worried about the roughly 80 per cent of landlords in Canada who are small-scale owners of units who won’t have the same flexibility.

Various other major rental companies including Northview Apartment REIT, Greenwin Corp., MetCap Living, and Boardwalk REIT have also issued notices to tenants, asking them to reach out if they are in financial distress and have committed to various degrees of support.

Outbreak at nursing home is worst in Ontario

An Ontario health unit says one nursing home has seen seven COVID-19 deaths and at least 24 staff members infected.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has said the outbreak at Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon is believed to be the largest in the province.

The health unit says 10 other staff members are awaiting test results, and another person in the community has died in a case linked to the nursing home.

First federal prisoners test postive

Two inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 at a maximum-security prison in Quebec, the first confirmed cases involving prisoners in a federal institution.

The Correctional Service of Canada says that prior to the two inmates being diagnosed, nine employees who work at Port-Cartier Institution also tested positive for the virus.

The service says in a news release all of these employees are in isolation at home and are following direction from local health officials.

As of Saturday, 50 tests were conducted on inmates in institutions with 45 negative and two positive results, with three others pending.

Manitoba closes non-essential businesses

The Manitoba government is forcing non-essential businesses to close to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Starting Tuesday, salons, spas, bars and other establishments will be closed.

Restaurants can remain open for takeout or delivery only.

The closures do not affect health-care facilities, government services and other institutions.

The measures are similar to those already in place in some other provinces, and are in place until at least April 14.

Premier Brian Pallister says it was not an easy decision, but is an important step to battle the novel coronavirus.

New Brunswick now has 68 cases

New Brunswick chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell says there are two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the provincial total to 68.

So far in the province, one person has been hospitalized and two people have recovered.

Russell says a positive case in the province involves an employee of Shoppers Drug Mart in Saint John.

She says people who visited the Shoppers Drug Mart on the Old Hampton Road in Quispamsis, N.B. on March 18, 19 and 23 and the Shoppers Drug Mart on Landsdowne Avenue in Saint John on March 20, should take precautions.

First death in Atlantic Canada

The first reported death related to COVID-19 in Atlantic Canada has been linked to a cluster that originated at Caul’s Funeral Home in St. John’s earlier this month and has since been traced to 111 known cases of the illness.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Newfoundland and Labrador’s chief medical officer of health, says the 78-year-old man had underlying health conditions.

Fitzgerald announced 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 148.

She also ordered a ban on all funerals, wakes and visitations and said weddings and burials are limited to five people including officiants.

Federal government sets aside Emergencies Act for now

The federal government appears to be setting aside — for now — the use of powerful legislation to declare a national state of emergency.

Pablo Rodriguez, leader of the government in the House of Commons, says invoking the Emergencies Act is not currently on the table.

He says daily discussions with the provinces and territories provide confidence they have the tools they need.

The act can only be used in emergency situations where the federal government feels the need to override the provinces.

Feds: Don’t stockpile prescriptions

The federal government is warning people not to stockpile their prescriptions to avoid local shortages of medications.

While the government had encouraged people to make sure they were supplied with their usual medications, it now says people shouldn’t be hoarding more than they typically need.

The government has advised pharmacies not to dispense more than necessary, and is monitoring the supply of drugs.

Hotel and hospitality workers expect to be rehired last

The union representing thousands of hotel and hospitality workers across Canada says its members were among the first hit by the COVID-19 crisis and desperately need help.

Leaders of UNITE HERE say the union’s more than 18,000 members were some of the first laid off as hotels and restaurants closed, and expect to be among the last rehired as tourism slowly recovers.

Zalida Chan, president of the Unite Here local in Vancouver says the first step is an 80 per cent income replacement that keeps the mainly immigrant, single parent, female workers close to pre-crisis wages.

She says the union also must be part of the conversation when governments mull the use of shuttered hotels as care centres for COVID-19 patients.

24,000 Canadian troops ready for mobilization

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan says the military is getting ready to support COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

He says there are up to 24,000 regular and reserve force members prepared to roll out.

Sajjan says the work could include direct support to communities or help with logistics.

But he says the military has yet to receive a direct request for aid.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says so far, the federal government has received no request from the provinces or territories to call in the military to aid with COVID-19 response efforts.

But Trudeau says if that were to change, the Canadian Armed Forces are ready.

He says senior military officials will provide more details later today.

220,000 now tested in Canada

Canada’s chief public health officer says 220,000 people have been tested for COVID-19.

Dr. Theresa Tam says three per cent have been confirmed positive, and 93 per cent confirmed negative.

She says of the over 6,000 cases diagnosed so far, seven per cent have required hospitalization, three per cent are critical, and one per cent have been fatal.

NWT to help indigenous families who want to head to fishing and hunting camps

The government of the Northwest Territories says it will help Indigenous families who want to head out on the land as an alternative to physical distancing.

The N.W.T will administer a $2.6 million grant to help families buy the proper gear and supplies to head out to fishing and hunting camps.

Territorial chief public officer of health Kami Kandola says maintaining safe distances between people will be in many cases easier in such camps than in the overcrowded homes seen in northern communities.

The program, supported by Indigenous governments, will help pay for wood, fuel, food, First Aid equipment, transportation and other suitable items.

CFL postpones training camps

The CFL has postponed the start of training camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

League commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the spread of the pandemic has made it unsafe for players and coaches to gather together as scheduled.

The league has not given an indication of when camps might open.

Postponing training camps increases the likelihood of the CFL delaying the start of its 2020 regular season.

More details on wage subsidy program

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is revealing the details of a previously announced wage subsidy this morning.

Trudeau says the program will cover all businesses whose revenue has dropped by at least 30 per cent because of COVID-19.

There is no restriction on the number of employees a company must have in order to qualify.

Trudeau says the program will apply to non-profits and charities as well.

He says the government will cover 75 per cent of salary on the first $58,700 a person earns.

Stricken cruise ships with 250 Canadians are on the move

Two cruise ships carrying nearly 250 Canadians is on the move after being stranded off the coast of Panama after the novel coronavirus made its way on board.

The MS Zaandam has passed through the Panama Canal after being anchored on the west side of the canal with four dead and nearly 200 passengers and crew exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

Holland America says several people on its ship have tested positive for COVID-19.

Ottawa’s Catherine McLeod says she and her husband are among several hundred passengers who have been transferred to the Zaandam’s sister ship, the MS Rotterdam.

Ontario than Sunday’s data had indicated.

Ferry association wants people with COVID-19 should be banned from ferries

The Canadian Ferry Association is flagging concerns that Canadians displaying symptoms of COVID-19 have not been banned from boarding ferries as they have been barred from planes and inter-city trains.

Association president Serge Buy says people with COVID-19 should be banned from ferries except in emergency situations such as going to the hospital.

Buy says the respiratory illness has already worsened already severe work shortages in the ferry sector.

Statistics Canada provides details about confirmed cases

Statistics Canada is providing a detailed view of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in this country.

The data posted online this morning shows information such as whether the source was travel or community exposure, the person’s hospitalization status and health outcome status.

The information is available by age and sex for cases between January 15 and March 27, but the agency says it will be updated with help from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The agency has spent the last 10 days setting up the infrastructure necessary for employees to remotely collect vital data on the economy and society.

Chief Statistician Anil Arora says that the national statistics office is also launching an online survey to see how Canadians are coping through the pandemic by asking questions around child care, elder care, stress and mental health.