COVID-19 kills scores more in Canada; Greyhound to shut down all service

COVID-19 kills scores more in Canada; Greyhound to shut down all service

TORONTO — Scores more people in Canada have succumbed to COVID-19, authorities reported Thursday, as one of the country’s major inter-city bus carriers announced it would be shutting down completely due to a precipitous drop in passengers caused by the pandemic.

Of the new deaths, 121 were reported in Quebec, prompting Premier Francois Legault to delay reopening retail stores, schools and daycares in the Montreal area to May 25. Another 911 new cases were identified. Ontario reported 48 more deaths, with 399 new cases recorded over the previous 24 hours, continuing a trend of slowing growth.

Nova Scotia recorded three more deaths, all at a long-term care home in Halifax, bringing the Canadian total to above 4,400 as provinces begin easing stay-home restrictions.

However, the transit action by Greyhound Canada will leave people in Central Canada with fewer ways to travel and another 400 employees out of work as of May 13.

Ridership, the company said, had fallen 95 per cent and revenues plunged. With service cut in Western Canada two years ago and several other routes already reduced or suspended due to COVID-19, the company said it was unable to continue without government money.

“This decision came as a last resort option to address the uncontrollable consequences and devastating impacts of this pandemic,” Stuart Kendrick, senior vice-president, said in a statement. “We will continue our discussions with the provincial and federal governments.”

The closure of bus routes comes along with already drastically reduced commercial air and rail traffic as well as local transit options, leaving cars as one of the few ways to travel any distance.

“It is primarily women, low-income earners, seniors, and many essential workers who depend on these buses,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said as he urged the federal government to come up with the “relatively little” $26 million bus companies say they need to stay in business.

Across Canada, about 65,000 people are known to have contracted the novel coronavirus. The Canadian Armed Forces have deployed more than 1,000 troops in long-term care facilities and elsewhere, but Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan would not say how many members have fallen ill.

Most of the deployed personnel are in Quebec nursing homes, which have been hit brutally by the pandemic, but some members are at five homes in Ontario. Others are helping out in a variety of tasks in remote and rural areas.

Hospital capacity is of particular concern away from big centres, prompting the country’s chief health officer to advise people to avoid heading to their cottages or second homes. Besides spreading COVID-19 into those areas, Tam said a key issue is the potential for too many people in need of medical treatment in places that simply can’t handle a surge.

In Ontario, for instance, Premier Doug Ford stopped short of telling people to stay away from their secondary properties over the upcoming Victoria Day weekend but urged common sense and respect for health advice.

“It’s not the party weekend it’s been in the past,” Ford said. “I’m asking you — please don’t go up there with a whack of people.”

At his daily briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government would spend $3 billion for wage top-ups for essential workers. The money will go to provinces, which are putting up another $1 billion and will decide who gets extra cash.

Trudeau had previously offered federal wage assistance, particularly for personal support workers and other front-line health staff in light of the devastation in long-term care homes, where most of Canada’s 4,300 deaths have occurred.

Quebec and Ontario had already announced a $4-per-hour pay hike for workers in private long-term care homes and some other facilities, while Saskatchewan is supplementing wages by $400 per month for those working with seniors, in group homes and in child care.

Trudeau said he’s not overly concerned about the huge amounts of money the government is spending, saying cushioning the pandemic’s economic blow is his priority. The global outbreak, he said, has revealed problems — such as the plight of vulnerable workers — that need to be dealt with.

Reported cases globally have moved toward the four million mark, with deaths approaching 270,000. The U.S. accounts for more than one quarter of both totals.

-With files from Canadian Press reporters across the country

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press


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

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
City and County of Wetaskiwin reporting active cases

Both the City of Wetaskiwin and County of Wetaskiwin have active cases.

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates media on the Covid-19 situation in Edmonton on Friday March 20, 2020. nbsp;Alberta is reporting it's highest daily number of COVID-19 cases, with 364 new infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta confirmed 323 COVID-19 cases Tuesday

Central zone active cases at 145

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read