COVID-19 deaths pass 5,000 in Canada; seniors to get direct financial aid

COVID-19 deaths pass 5,000 in Canada; seniors to get direct financial aid

TORONTO — Canada’s death toll from COVID-19 passed the 5,000-mark on Tuesday as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the pandemic had exposed serious cracks in Canada’s hard hit long-term care that governments will have to fix.

As he pledged new financial help for seniors, Trudeau noted nursing homes fall under provincial jurisdiction but said Ottawa will help provinces improve the system once the pandemic emergency is over. He gave no details.

The help for seniors will see the federal government send $300 cheques to millions of people who qualify for old age security, plus $200 for those receiving the guaranteed income supplement.

“They are facing additional costs,” Trudeau said. “We need to support people right now.”

Canada’s caseload of COVID-19 climbed above 71,000 on Tuesday, with at least 5,167 of those fatal. Most deaths have been in long-term care facilities

Quebec accounted for 118 new deaths, for a total of 3,131. Ontario, which extended its state of emergency to June 2, reported a modest 1.8 per cent increase of 361 new cases along with 56 more deaths, meaning 1,725 people in the province have died from the virus. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases.

The impact of the pandemic will likely be felt well into the future, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said. The country won’t see mass gatherings, non-essential travel, or everyone leaving home for work any time soon, she said.

“A lot of what fundamentally characterizes Canadian daily life will not look the same,” Tam said. “The new normal means that Canadians — each and every one of us — continue to observe some very core public health practices. One of the most difficult is staying home when you’re sick.”

One longer-term effect is being felt at universities whose campuses have been shut down. Several schools have said classes will be primarily online when the new academic year begins in September. One student, Griffin Schwartz, expressed disappointment at having to take classes remotely for the start of his final year.

“This past semester we had two weeks of online classes,” said Schwartz, a third-year honours physics student at McGill. “They’re not the same. It’s a lot harder to pay attention, focus, and just motivate myself to do the work.”

Conditions in the country’s prisons have become the subject of a new COVID-related lawsuit, with human rights organizations filing a constitutional challenge against the federal government over prisoner safety. In all, 333 federal inmates have been infected, two fatally, as have scores of guards.

Several groups have been calling for a controlled release of prisoners to allow for physical distancing, along with sharply higher testing for inmates and correctional staff.

Anti-pandemic measures, which have shut down a wide range of sports and entertainment, prompted the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto to cancel this year’s 18-day event due to start Aug. 21. The popular fair has only cancelled once before in its 142-year history, during the Second World War.

With large-scale events cancelled around the globe, an ill-considered social media post that sparked cries of racism prompted an apology from Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, whose gig in England was scrapped because of coronavirus fears. Adams had blamed the pandemic on “bat eating, wet market animal selling, virus making greedy bastards.”

The singer apologized on Tuesday to “any and all that took offence,” saying he was promoting veganism and ranting about “animal cruelty in the wet markets.”

Globally, more than 4.3 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported, with deaths approaching 300,000.

Back in Ottawa, Trudeau was non-committal on reopening the border with the United States even though the two countries have discussed plans to deal with higher cross-border traffic as states and provinces begin reopening. Only essential travel has been allowed since March, but the partial closure was set to expire next week.

Trudeau did say Ottawa was looking at beefing up protocols around a requirement that any newcomers to the country self-quarantine for two weeks.

“We’re going to be very careful about vectors of infection into Canada,” he said.

—With files from Canadian Press reporters across the country

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 12, 2020

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta Health Services' central zone jumped from 162 active COVID-19 cases to 178 on Friday. Five additional deaths were reported provincewide, bringing the toll to 323. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
622 new COVID-19 cases set another daily high Friday

Province confirmed 622 additional cases Friday

City of Wetaskiwin Mayor presenting the AUMA Above & Beyond Award to John Maude and Susan Quinn. Ren Goode/ City of Wetaskiwin.
Wetaskiwin County residents win the AUMA Above & Beyond Award

John Maude and Susan Quinn are being recognized for their role in Wetaskiwin’s sustainability.

Alberta children whose only symptom of COVID-19 is a runny nose or a sore throat will no longer require mandatory isolation, starting Monday.
477 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Alberta on Thursday

Changes being made to the COVID-19 symptom list for school-age children

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Pilots Ilona Carter and Jim Gray of iRecover Treatment Centres, in front of his company’s aircraft, based at Ponoka’s airport. (Perry Wilson/Submitted)
95-year-old Ilona Carter flies again

Takes to the skies over Ponoka

Children’s backpacks and shoes are seen at a daycare in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Alberta Children’s Services Minister Rebecca Schulz says the province plans to bring in a new way of licensing and monitoring child-care facilities. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Alberta proposes legislation to change rules on child-care spaces

Record-keeping, traditionally done on paper, would be allowed digitally

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shakes hands with US Vice-President Joe Biden on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, December 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
A Biden presidency could mean good news for Canadian environment policy: observers

Experts and observers say even a U.S. outside the Paris agreement may ultimately end up in the same place

People take a photo together during the opening night of Christmas Lights Across Canada, in Ottawa, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. The likelihood that most Canadians will enjoy a holly jolly Christmas season of gatherings, caroling and travel is unlikely, say public health experts who encourage those who revel in holiday traditions to accept more sacrifices ahead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Ho, ho, no: Experts advise preparing for a scaled-back COVID holiday season

Many of the holiday season’s highlights have already been scrapped or are unlikely to take place

Sen. Kim Pate is shown in Toronto in an October 15, 2013, file photo. The parliamentary budget office says a proposed law that would give judges discretion on whether to apply a lesser sentence for murder could save the federal government $8.3 million per year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Judicial discretion for mandatory minimum sentences for murder would save $8.3M: PBO

The result would be fewer people in long-term custody at federal correctional institutions, experts say

Husky Energy logo is shown at the company’s annual meeting in Calgary on May 5, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Husky pipeline spills 900,000 litres of produced water in northwestern Alberta

The energy regulator says environmental contractors are at the site

Most Read