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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada


The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 


Health Canada is waiving some of its usual regulatory requirements to increase supplies of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, swabs and personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns used to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

Due to "unprecedented demand" for such products, Health Canada says it will temporarily allow them to be sold in this country even if they don't meet the normal regulatory requirements.

The temporary waiver will apply to products that are already authorized for sale in Canada but aren't fully compliant with Health Canada regulations on things such as bilingual labelling or the type of packaging to be used.

7:25 p.m.

Alberta has announced 22 new cases of COVID-19.

That brings the total in the province to 119.

The province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, says six of those people are in hospital.

Three of those patients are in intensive care.

7:20 p.m.

The Alberta government is providing $50 million for people forced to stay at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Jason Kenney says Albertans who meet the government's criteria for self-isolation can apply online for one-time payments of $573.

He says Alberta families need financial relief because of the outbreak as well as tanking oil prices.

Residents will also be able to defer their electricity and natural gas bills for the next three months.

And there will be a six-month, interest-free moratorium on student loan payments.

7 p.m.

Ontario is closing provincial parks as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The province says the closure includes parking, camping and day use, along with all public buildings on the park lands.

The parks will be closed from March 19 to April 30.

6:15 p.m.

Manitoba has announced two new cases of COVID-19.

That brings the total to 17 — including four that are still presumptive.

The new cases are a woman in her 50s and a man in his 70s who both live in Winnipeg.

Officials say they appear to be travel-related.

The province also opened its first drive-in testing site in Selkirk, north of Winnipeg, on Wednesday afternoon.

6:10 p.m.

Ontario is reporting two new cases of COVID-19 this evening.

That's in addition to the 23 the province reported this morning.

The development brings the total in the province up to 214.

6 p.m.

British Columbia announced 45 new cases of COVID-19 in the province today.

The cases include a man who lives at the Haro Park Centre in Vancouver, marking the spread of the virus to a third long-term care facility in the province.

Thirteen people are hospitalized including seven in intensive care.

There were no new deaths today and the new figures bring British Columbia's total cases to 231.

4:45 p.m.

The Northwest Territories' health minister has declared a public health emergency.

Diane Thom says the declaration takes effect immediately and will stay in place until at least April 1.

All three territories have now made the declaration, although none have any confirmed cases of COVID-19.


4:36 p.m.

Saskatchewan has declared a provincial state of emergency to give it broader powers to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has prohibited public gatherings of more than 50 people.

Gyms, fitness centres, casinos and bingo halls are ordered to close until further notice.

Residents are also advised to limit non-essential travel outside of Saskatchewan.

4 p.m.

Saskatchewan says it has eight additional cases of COVID-19, doubling its number of cases to 16.

Officials say in a news release that there are two confirmed cases and 14 presumptive positives.

Chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab says one case has not yet been linked to travel.

The government says 15 of the 16 people are well enough to self-isolate at home, and one is in hospital for reasons not related to the positive COVID-19 test.

3:25 p.m.

British Columbia's Solicitor General Mike Farnworth is declaring a state of emergency in British Columbia.

The move follows yesterday's declaration of a public health emergency in the same province.

Farnworth says the declaration gives the government increased powers to preserve supply chains delivering groceries and other essential items.

He also says it means a quicker, co-ordinated response between federal, provincial and local governments, calling it an "all hands on deck" approach.

3:15 p.m. 

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he will convene a special virtual council meeting on Thursday with an aim to gain support for the declaration of a local state of emergency during the COVID-19 outbreak.

He says that measure would allow the city to take action against people who are hoarding as well as businesses that have remained open when they should be closed to prevent the spread of the disease.

Stewart says he is concerned that people are not taking the pandemic seriously.

3 p.m.

Yukon's chief medical officer has declared a public health emergency.

Dr. Brendan Hanley says all public schools will be closed at least until April 15, as are public recreational facilities.

All three Yukon hospitals are closed to visitors, with some exceptions.

The territory has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

2:40 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador has declared a public health emergency, making previous recommendations from the province's chief medical officer of health enforceable by law.

There are three presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Under the order, businesses including bars, cinemas, theatres, gyms and arenas must close effective immediately and gatherings of more than 50 people are not permitted.

Travellers returning from international travel are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

2:40 p.m.

Nunavut's chief medical officer of health is asking anyone who has returned from outside the territory to self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Michael Patterson says the request extends to people who were travelling in other parts of Canada.

Family members of those under self-isolation are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms and limit contact with other people.

Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and Yukon have no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

2:20 p.m.

Conservative MP Dan Albas says his party wants to make sure small businesses get as much help from the federal government as possible.

Reacting to the promise of $27 billion in direct federal support for employers and workers, Albas says the Tories want the measures in place fast but also to be sure they're targeted in the right way.

He says he's seeking more clarity on how help for business, in particular, will be doled out.

2 p.m.

Canada's top public-health doctor says to expect the virus that causes COVID-19 to stick around for a long time.

Dr. Theresa Tam says we need to be prepared for more than one wave of the novel coronavirus.

She says we don't know whether COVID-19 will fade and resurge as seasons pass.

But Tam says we can expect to learn a great deal from the current fight and get better and better prepared.

1:45 p.m.

New Brunswick has announced three new presumptive cases of COVID-19.

They bring the number of presumptive and confirmed cases in the province to 11.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russel, says the new cases include a woman between 60 and 70 years old who had recently been on a cruise and a man in the same age range who had recent contact with a traveller.

The third patient is a woman between the ages of 50 and 60 who had travelled to the U.K.

1:20 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government is working "very energetically" with the U.S. to figure out exactly when the Canada-U.S. border will close to non-essential travellers.

Freeland nonetheless says it is a matter of days — or hours.

She also has a clear message for anyone thinking of crossing the border as a tourist even before the action is taken: don't do it.

1:15 p.m.

Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez says all parties have agreed to head back to the House of Commons in order to pass new economic measures for the COVID-19 crisis.

He says he expects this to happen next week.

The government will need to send a request to Speaker Anthony Rota and once he accepts, the House can be recalled within 48 hours.

There needs a quorum of 20 MPs to sit and Rodriguez says the number of MPs representing each party will represent the current composition of the House.

1:15 p.m.

Quebec is reporting its first death from COVID-19.

Premier Francois Legault says the death was an elderly person from the Lanaudiere region, northeast of Montreal.

Legault says the province now has 94 confirmed cases, of which six are hospitalized and four are in intensive care.

The province hopes to be able to administer 5,000 tests daily as of Friday.

1:05 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says those who will remain allowed to travel across the Canada-U.S. border includes people who work in hospitals on either side.

He also says that international students, workers with visas and temporary foreign workers will be allowed to enter Canada but will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Blair also notes that $2.7 billion in trade takes place across the border every day and that the plan is meant to protect vital supply lines.

12:45 p.m.

Ontario is reporting 23 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the provincial total to 212.

All of the new cases are in people who are in self-isolation.

Most of those people have a recent travel history to places such as the United States, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe, or they are close contacts of other confirmed cases.

Transmission information is listed as "pending" for five of the new cases.

12:40 p.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the government is hoping to roll out the direct economic aid within three weeks.

He says if it can be done earlier than that, it will be.

He says the government is working to find ways to make sure delivery of the plan works.

12:40 p.m.

Nova Scotia now has three confirmed cases and nine presumptive cases of COVID-19.

Five new cases were identified today.

Four of the cases are travel-related and one is connected to an earlier case.

The 12 individuals affected range in age from early 30's to mid-70's.

They are all in self-isolation and recovering at home.

11:50 a.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says Canadians will now have until June 1 to file taxes.

And if the Canada Revenue Agency determines individuals or corporations owe any taxes, they will have until Sept. 1 to pay them.

He says he has also been speaking with banks about finding ways to help Canadians through this difficult time, including six-month deferrals for mortgage payments and allowing people to skip a payment on their credit cards.

Morneau is encouraging Canadians to speak directly with their banks about the support they need.

11:15 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he is confident that parliamentarians of all political stripes will work together to pass the legislation.

He says Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez and Sen. Marc Gold, the government's representative in the upper chamber, are working with the opposition parties.

Trudeau, who is in self-isolation after his wife tested positive for COVID-19, says he is feeling well.

He says his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, has flu-like symptoms, including a headache and intermittent fever, but she is otherwise doing well.

11:00 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is not keeping any options off the table.

Trudeau says his government is looking at using the Emergencies Act, but he recognizes that would be a major step he does not think is necessary today.

Trudeau gave this response when asked whether his government was looking at restricting travel within Canada.

10:55 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the $82-billion economic package also includes a wage subsidy for small-business owners to help keep staff on the payroll during the slowdown.

Any Canadians who learn they owe taxes will now have until August 2020 to pay them.

The federal government is planning to boost the Canada Child Benefit to help parents cover the cost of child care or other impacts of having to at home. 

Other measures include a GST credit for low-income Canadians, boosting support for shelters to help those escaping gender-based violence and a six-month moratorium on student loan repayments.

10:50 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Liberal government is going to provide $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses to help them get through the economic crisis sparked by the COVID-19 outbreak.

There will also be $55 billion to help Canadians meet liquidity needs through tax deferrals.

There will be an emergency care benefit for those for those who fall ill, need to self-isolate or have to take care of family member with COVID-19 but fail to qualify for employment insurance.

There will be an emergency support benefit for those who lose their jobs and don't qualify for EI and this includes self-employed workers who have to close up shop.

10:45 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump this morning and they agreed to temporarily restrict non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border.

He says travellers will no longer be allowed to cross for recreation or tourism.

He also says essential travel will continue, as it is critical to preserve the supply chains that bring both countries food, medicine and other important products.

10:17 a.m.

Porter Airlines says it is temporarily suspending all flights as part of the public health effort to contain COVID-19.

The airline says the cancellations will take effect after the end of the day on Friday, March 20, in the hope of allowing passengers to return home.

The airline plans to resume service June 1.


9:49 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says the Canada-U.S. border will be closed "by mutual consent" to non-essential traffic.

In a tweet, Trump says trade will not be affected and more details will be forthcoming.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is set to make an announcement at 10:30 a.m.


8:45 a.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the head of the Bank of Canada are promising details of the federal government's economic supports to see the country through the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They're due to speak on Parliament Hill right after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears outside his home, where he's in self-isolation, to explain what the government will do for workers and businesses struck by restrictions on travel, outings and public gatherings.

Private forecasters say Canada is in for a recession as a result of the pandemic unless governments move fast and hard to reassure Canadians that the blows to their finances will be cushioned.


8:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office says he'll speak at 10:30 Eastern Time this morning to update the country on what the federal government is doing about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday he said to expect imminent announcements about supports for the economy, workers and businesses hit by border shutdowns and bans on public gatherings.

Canada and the United States are also working on the terms of restricting traffic crossing between them while allowing trade and other essential trips.


8 a.m.

Canada's big banks are offering some financial breathing room to customers hurt by the steps taken to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The big six banks say they will allow customers to defer mortgage payments for up to six months among other changes.

They are urging Canadians or business owners facing hardship to contact their bank directly to discuss options that may be available.

The banks are temporarily limiting branch operating hours and reducing the number of branches, while maintaining critical services.

7:30 a.m.

Air Transat says it's starting a gradual suspension of flights until April 30 and is halting sales for departures before the same date to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The Montreal-based company says it will still operate repatriation flights for the next two weeks to bring customers back to their home country.

Air Transat says a date for a full halt to operations will be announced soon.

The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version carried an incorrect name for Yukon's chief medical officer. It is Dr. Brendan Hanley, not Dr. Brenda Haley. It also said the Alberta government was making $572 available to individuals.

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