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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern): 11:30 p.m.

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


11:30 p.m.

A federal government official in Ottawa says Canada and the United States are working out the details of a mutual ban on non-essential travel between the two countries to try to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The official, responding to a report by CNN citing American government figures, spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose details of talks that are still ongoing.

The network reported tonight that the two countries are working on a joint statement that would be issued in within a day or two.

The restrictions would be designed to ensure that cross-border trade and commerce can continue.


11:20 p.m.

The future of the 2020 Calgary Stampede is up in the air after 80 per cent of its staff were laid off today as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stampede CEO Warren Connell says the organization had laid off a total of 890 workers -- 608 were casual part-time and the other 282 that were regular part-time and full time.

He says the Stampede is a not-for-profit group and can't afford to keep things operating as usual.

Connell says the remaining staff will continue the planning process to see if it's possible to hold the annual event.

He says it's premature to say at what point that the Stampede would have to be cancelled.


9:54 p.m.

Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs have postponed all meetings and discussions about a draft deal that centres on Indigenous rights and land titles.

Hereditary Chief Na'moks, who also goes by John Ridsdale, says it is a precaution to ensure the safety and health of their elders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says they have no set date for continuation of clan-nation discussions.

Na'moks says they also plan to keep size of gatherings and cultural activities to a minimum.

He says he has no symptoms but is in self-isolation because he recently attended large meetings and gatherings.


9 p.m.

The Federal Court of Canada has indefinitely adjourned all hearings that were scheduled to occur between now and April 17 in a bid to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

All general sittings of the court are also cancelled during that period.

The court says it will make exceptions for urgent matters and matters that need to proceed on schedule for "exceptional reasons."

For example, it says applications for a stay of release from detention or for a stay of removal from Canada will be considered urgent if the release or removal is scheduled to occur before April 17 or shortly thereafter.

An application for seizure of a ship would also be considered urgent, as would matters in which hardship or substantial financial consequences are likely to result.


8 p.m.

A federal prison in central Alberta has been locked down as a precaution as some inmates who showed flu-like symptoms await test results for COVID-19.

Correctional Services Canada says there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Bowden Institution, but a group of less than 10 inmates has been tested for the novel coronavirus.

A spokeswoman says these people have been isolated from other inmates as they wait for the test results.

The medium security facility near Innifail, Alta., can house up to 470 inmates.

Correctional Services Canada says the health and safety of its employees, offenders and the public is its top priority and it continues to take preventative measures, including testing any offenders as required.

It says it has its own health care services in its institutions and can handle cases of influenza and respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19.


7:15 p.m.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have declared a state of emergency for 62 First Nations due to COVID-19.

The move includes closing reserve borders to non-essential travel.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas says First Nations do not have the physical housing ability to socially isolate and must take extra precautions.

The Southern Chiefs' Organization also declared a state of emergency earlier Tuesday saying First Nations are at risk due to chronic overcrowding, lack of equitable health care and poor infrastructure.

None of the 15 cases of the novel coronavirus in Manitoba have been reported from a First Nation.


6:30 p.m.

British Columbia has declared a public health emergency after reporting three new COVID-19 deaths today.

The province now has had seven fatalities during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, says six of the deaths stem from a care home in North Vancouver.

She says a man in his 80s died on Monday in hospital in the Fraser Health region.

The province also recorded 83 new cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of COVID-19 cases in B.C. to 186.


6:20 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 23 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 97.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, says the cases include 70 people in the Calgary zone and 20 in Edmonton zone.

Hinshaw says Alberta Health Services is postponing scheduled and elective surgeries until further notice.

She says urgent, emergency and oncology surgeries will continue as well as scheduled caesareans.

Hinshaw, who had placed herself in self-isolation, says her test for the novel coronavirus came back negative.

Earlier Tuesday, the province declared a state of public health emergency, banning gatherings of more than 50 people including worship gatherings and family events such as weddings.


6 p.m.

The Manitoba government has announced seven more presumptive cases of COVID-19.

The new cases include a man in his 60s, a man in his 30s, a woman in her 40s, two women in their 50s and two women in their 60s.

The majority are in Winnipeg but two are from a community in the southern health region.

It brings the total in the province to 15.


5:15 p.m.

The Saskatchewan government is changing labour laws to provide unpaid leave for workers during a public health emergency.

The government made the announcement as it confirmed its eighth positive COVID-19 test, one more than a day earlier.

Health officials say the new case is someone in their 50s who was tested in Regina after returning from a dental conference in Vancouver.


4:30 p.m.

Alberta is declaring a state of public emergency in reaction to COVID-19.

As part of that effort, Premier Jason Kenney announced that any gathering larger than 50 people will be cancelled — including weddings.

Public recreation facilities, casinos, bingo halls, bars, museums, art galleries will also be closed.

Kenney says any worship service or conference of more than 50 people should be cancelled.

Nonprofit community kitchens, soup kitchens and religious kitchens can remain open under strict sanitation rules.

Grocery stores, shopping centres, health-care facilities and airports may also remain open.

He says his government would spend $60 million on charities and non-profit groups helping people cope with the effects of the virus.


4:06 p.m.

Costco says it has had a surge of business since the COVID-19 outbreak, and is going to start controlling the number of customers allowed in its warehouses in response.

The company is also reducing some services and is asking customers and employees to practice social distancing in its stores.

Limits have been placed on the number of certain items customers are allowed to buy at once and the company is working with suppliers to make sure in-demand items are available.

Costco has also stepped up sanitation of its carts, cashes and product shelves.


3:50 p.m.

The number of coronavirus cases in Quebec has jumped to 74.

The province added 11 more cases this afternoon, in addition to the 13 reported earlier today.

The new cases are scattered across several different regions, including a total of five in the Lanaudiere and Laurentides regions north of Montreal, and two in the Monteregie southeast of the city.


3:15 p.m.

The B.C. government is suspending all in-class instruction in the province's schools indefinitely.

Education Minister Rob Fleming says his department is working with school districts and teachers to figure out a plan to continue learning, but not in classrooms.

The suspension of classes will not affect students who are scheduled to graduate this spring.

Fleming says all students who are on course to graduate from Grade 12, and those progressing to the next grade, will do so.

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan is promising a provincial plan in the next day or two to help companies and workers deal with COVID-19.

He says the province is waiting for the final details of the federal government's plan before announcing its measures.

But Horgan says there will be financial support for businesses and changes to the Employment Standards Act to prevent workers from losing their jobs.


2:45 p.m.

The New Brunswick legislature has passed legislation to delay the municipal elections planned for May. They could be delayed up to a year.

The legislation also makes it possible to postpone two provincial byelections if necessary. They are currently set for June 15.

After passing the election legislation, the Legislative Assembly rose today until further notice.

Premier Blaine Higgs also called on banks to consider what they can do to help small businesses stay afloat.


1:40 p.m.

New Brunswick's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Jennifer Russell says the province has a new presumptive case of COVID-19.

The newest case is a 10-year-old boy who is a close contact with one of the two confirmed travel cases in the province.

New Brunswick now has a total of eight cases, two confirmed and six presumptive.


1:30 p.m.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault is imploring youth to abide by rules in place forbidding gatherings amid a rising number of cases of COVID-19.

Legault made the plea today to athletes, artists, YouTubers and influencers — anyone with a young audience — to transmit the message that it's not the time to be holding parties.

He says the province is launching a blitz to get that message across to younger people, who apparently haven't heeded the advice of health officials.

The province is reporting an additional 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since Monday, bringing the total to 63.


1:30 p.m.

The East Coast Music Awards have been cancelled in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The conference and festival was scheduled to run from April 29 to May 3 in St. John’s, N.L.

A statement from the East Coast Music Association’s board of directors says the event was cancelled after considering recommendations from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the regional health authority and the City of St. John’s.

The association is looking into alternative ways to honour award winners and “celebrate the accomplishments of our world-class regional talent.”


1:20 p.m.

British Columbia Premier John Horgan, flanked by his finance and education ministers, speaks to the province later today in an announcement expected to focus in part on upcoming plans for the school system.

Elementary and secondary public school students are currently in the early days of a two-week spring break but there have been calls to extend the break to prevent transmission of COVID-19.

The hard-hit tourism industry and other sectors have also appealed for a provincial assistance package to blunt the effects of measures aimed at combating the spread of the new coronavirus.


1:20 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says the Liberal government is "urgently reviewing" whether to stay the course on allowing U.S. citizens to keep coming into Canada, noting "nothing is off the table."

She says the Canada-U.S. border is a "lifeline" to Canada and that includes how we get many important supplies, including groceries and medicines.

Freeland is also urging all U.S. citizens who do not need to be in Canada to stay away.

She says now is not the time for residents of either country to cross the border for non-essential reasons.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says Canadians who live near the U.S. border and are used to crossing over to pick up packages or buy cigarettes, alcohol or groceries should refrain from doing so.


1:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump is acknowledging Canada's decision to continue letting American citizens into the country, even though the borders have been closed to other foreign nationals.

Trump says the U.S. is working very closely with Canada, and also with Mexico, but he's refusing to say if the White House will close the doors to either country's citizens.

In a news conference today, Trump singled out the new North American trade deal, which Canada finally approved last week, and described the relationship with both countries as "outstanding."

The federal Liberal government says the exemption for U.S. citizens is to accommodate those people who live and work on opposite sides of the Canada-U.S. border.

The move has been panned by opposition critics who say it risks exposing Canadians to a potentially significant source of the virus.


1:10 p.m.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says he is in close contact with airlines as well as Via Rail about the unprecedented impact on their operations.

He says the demand for air travel has dropped in “an almost precipitous manner.”

Asked about compensation, Garneau says he is in discussions with the sector but does not have anything specific to share at this time.


1:00 p.m.

Prince Edward Island still has only one confirmed case of COVID-19 but health officials are alerting anyone who was on West Jet flight 3440 on March 7 from Toronto to Moncton, N.B., to self isolate.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer says the woman who is the confirmed case on the Island did return on that flight after travelling on a cruise ship.

Morrison also says all restaurants and bars will close in-room dining and dental clinics will be closing for 14 days.

She also says wakes at funerals will be family only with gatherings limited to no more than 20 people.


12:57 p.m.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the federal government is preparing to isolate irregular border-crossers after they're intercepted and processed by the authorities.

People who walk across the border between official crossings to seek asylum are by definition not subject to the screenings most travellers get.

Those screenings have been expanded in recent days as the government tries to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Blair says creating facilities to hold irregular crossers is needed.


12:53 p.m.

Manitoba has announced that licensed daycares and preschools are being closed at the end of the day on Friday.

Premier Brian Pallister says it may be possible for a few to stay open as an essential service, and home daycares will continue to be available.

The province has also announced that all casinos will close tomorrow due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

There are eight cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba, and all but one have been confirmed at the national lab.


12:26 p.m.

Canada's top doctor says most of the more than 440 COVID-19 cases in the country are still among people who have recently travelled.

That includes eight Canadians who were repatriated from the Grand Princess cruise ship who are currently in quarantine at Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

But Dr. Theresa Tam, the chief public health officer, says officials are concerned about the increase of cases in Ontario, particularly three cases being investigated as coming from community transmission.

She says there are also a number of cases in several provinces connected to a large dental conference that took place in Vancouver.

Tam also underscores the need to avoid large gatherings and stay home as much as possible.

She encourages Canadians to keep donating blood, and noted that Canadian Blood Services has all the procedures in place to keep people safe.


12:10 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador has announced two more presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total number of cases to three.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province’s chief medical officer of health, says the woman and man live within the Labrador-Grenfell Health region, which covers Labrador and part of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula.

The cases are linked to contact with the province’s first presumptive case announced on Saturday.

Dr. Fitzgerald recommended the closure of public spaces including fitness facilities, arenas, bars, performances spaces and said all St. Patrick’s Day celebrations scheduled for tonight should be cancelled.


12:07 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the Emergencies Act is a tool the federal government can use to enact measures it would otherwise not be able to enact.

He says the Liberal government is looking at other ways to impose new measures without calling a state of emergency.

Trudeau also says that with three million Canadians living or travelling abroad at any time, it would not be possible to expect that everyone would be able to come home immediately.

Trudeau also says Canada is in a good fiscal position to be able to invest in Canadian individuals and businesses to make sure the country gets through this difficult time and continues to "prosper and grow" once this moment is over.


12:00 p.m.

Quebec's finance minister is delaying the deadline for individuals and businesses to pay their taxes in order to ease financial pressure caused by the novel coronavirus.

Eric Girard said today individuals and businesses will have until June 1 to file a return and until July 31 to pay their taxes.

The finance minister says the measures will affect about two million individuals and 500,000 businesses and will immediately liberate about $7.7 billion worth of liquidity into the Quebec economy.

Quebec is the only province that requires individuals and businesses to file separate provincial and federal income tax returns.


11:55 a.m.

Health officials in Ontario are confirming the province's first death in a patient with COVID-19.

A spokesman for the province's health minister says the 77-year-old man in the Muskoka region was not a confirmed case, but the illness was discovered after his death.

The exact cause of his death is still under investigation.

It's the first Canadian fatality outside British Columbia linked to the novel coronavirus.


11:55 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also says he expects to make a major announcement on economic actions tomorrow.

He says the Liberal cabinet is meeting again this afternoon.

Ottawa will have more to say about the upcoming tax season this week.


11:50 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Parliament might be recalled for a brief period for the federal government to pass legislation needed to roll out assistance for Canadians who need help weathering the economic storm caused by COVID-19.

He says the Liberal government is also looking at the Emergency Measures Act to see whether it is necessary or if there are other ways to protect Canadians from the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Trudeau also says Parks Canada is suspending all visitor services at national parks and historic sites beginning tomorrow.

He once again encourages all Canadians to stay home whenever possible in order to help frontline health-care workers do their jobs and protect neighbours and vulnerable people in the community.


11:45 a.m.

Nova Scotia reports two new presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positives in the province to seven.

The two new presumptive cases are travel-related and connected to earlier cases.

One of the initial three presumptive positive cases have now been confirmed by the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.

The affected individuals are in self-isolation and recovering at home.


11:20 a.m.

New Brunswick RCMP is limiting front counter services at its headquarters in Fredericton and detachments across the province, as part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

In-person services such as fingerprinting, criminal records checks, vulnerable sector checks and general information requests are now suspended until further notice.

Front counter service is still be available for reporting of crimes and/or non-emergency complaints.

The public is asked that whenever possible they call rather than report to a detachment in person.


11:00 a.m.

Alcoholics Anonymous is temporarily closing many of its meetings across Canada in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

AA, which typically meets in churches, legion halls, and other public meeting rooms, is directly affected by government mandates to close facilities where groups may gather.

Meeting lists in Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver show several groups have temporarily closed with warnings that more are expected.


10:43 a.m.

Ontario is reporting eight new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the province to a total of 185.

Five of the new patients are in Hamilton, two are in the Middlesex-London area and one is in York Region.

All are in self-isolation, but information on their ages and how they became infected is unavailable for all but one case.

A man in his 60s in York Region had recently travelled to Costa Rica.

The 185 includes five cases that have been fully resolved.


10:00 a.m.

COVID-19 is having an effect on the multi-billion dollar LNG Canada project in northwestern British Columbia.

In a post on its website, LNG Canada says out of concern for its workers, staff will be cut by 50 per cent at its Kitimat construction site over the next several days.

It says most of the cuts are being made by reducing the number of workers flying in on rotation but, if necessary, staff could be cut to levels required only to maintain site security and environmental controls.

LNG Canada is a consortium of five global energy companies, including PetroChina and South Korea's KOGAS, building a 40-billion dollar liquefied natural gas production and export facility.


9:20 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day won't be a party in Vancouver as health authorities have asked all bars and restaurants in the city to close their doors for the day.

The request from the Vancouver Health Authority came just hours after the city's mayor said the shutdown would help efforts to control COVID-19 by keeping people away from packed St. Patrick's Day events.

Gatherings of more than 50 people are now banned in British Columbia.

The province's latest official count of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus is 103, including four deaths and six patients under care in hospital.


9:15 a.m.

Quebec political leaders have announced the provincial legislature will be closed until April 21 after today's sitting due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Simon Jolin-Barrette, the government house leader, made the announcement today alongside counterparts from Quebec's other major political parties.

Jolin-Barrette says the suspension is to limit the spread of novel coronavirus and to allow legislators to work from home.

He says legislature members also need to be available to constituents in their ridings.


8:45 a.m.

A new survey suggests half of Canada's small businesses have already seen a drop in sales due to the economic effects of COVID-19.

The survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business also says four in 10 of those affected businesses are also reporting a drop of more than 25 per cent.

The CFIB survey found the sectors most negatively affected were hospitality, arts and recreation, retail and personal services.

It says 43 per cent have reduced hours for staff and 20 per cent have started temporary layoffs.

Thirty-eight per cent say they have experienced supply chain issues.

8:30 a.m.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is declaring a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state of emergency prohibits organized public events of 50 or more people in Ontario until March 31.

Effective immediately, all public libraries, private schools, licensed child daycares, theatres, cinemas and other public venues in the province must close.

All bars and restaurants must close except to provide takeout food and delivery.

Essential services such as grocery stores and pharmacies will continue to operate.


6:21 a.m.

Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce is changing the hours at its bank branches and temporarily closing some that do not offer over-the-counter cash and banking services.

The bank says 816 of its locations will remain open, but operate under modified hours, while 206 will temporarily close tomorrow in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

CIBC says any employee affected by the temporary changes will continue to receive their full pay.

The bank is also introducing assistance for clients impacted by job loss or other circumstances and urged those that need help to contact the bank.

The Canadian Press

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