The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada

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

8:45 p.m.

article continues below

An employee at an Ontario liquor store has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario says it learned Thursday night an employee at one of its Toronto stores tested positive.

The employee last worked on March 20.

The store has been temporarily closed and affected employees have been told to self-isolate.

While Ontario has ordered all non-essential businesses to close, liquor stores are allowed to remain open.

---

8 p.m.

The business licence of a Tim Hortons in Vancouver has been suspended over violations to limit the number of people allowed in the restaurant.

A statement from the City of Vancouver says inspectors visited the restaurant on four occasions and issued several warnings.

It says the failure to comply with the orders of the provincial health officer is considered a "gross misconduct" and the suspension is in effect for three days.

The city says its inspectors have checked nearly 7,000 establishments for compliance of the emergency order.

---

7:05 p.m.

Two more people in British Columbia have died as a result of COVID-19.

In its daily update, the province also reported an additional 67 new cases, for a total of 792.

The two deaths were in the Vancouver area, but no other details were released.

Sixteen people have now died as a result of COVID-19 in B.C.

The province says 275 people have recovered from the disease.

---

7 p.m.

Yukon has declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The territory is reporting one more case of the disease, bringing the total to four.

Yukon medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says all are doing well at home.

A statement from Yukon's government says residents who are flying into Canada with symptoms of the virus must quarantine at their arrival destination and those who don't have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days when they get home.

Hanley has also issued an order for all dentists to suspend non-urgent treatment until further notice.

Hanley says everyone entering Yukon to work in a mine must self-isolate for 14 days and workers can't carry out their regular duties during that two-week period.

---

6 p.m.

The Alberta government says landlords will not be able to evict anyone for not paying rent until at least the end of April while the province deals with the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The government says landlords will also not be allowed to hike rents while a state of public emergency remains in effect.

The province is forcing non-essential business, such as salons, dine-in restaurants, clothing stores and furniture stores to close.

The maximum size of groups is being reduced to 15 from 50 and vehicles are no longer being allowed into provincial parks.

Alberta is reporting 56 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 542.

---

5:30 p.m.

The COVID-19 crisis has prompted the B.C. government to suspend time limits on legal cases.

The attorney general and public safety ministers made the order under the Emergency Program Act, which protects public health.

The order suspends mandatory time limits on civil or family legal action in provincial court, B.C. Supreme Court and Appeal Court.

The order also provides that a person, tribunal or court may waive, suspend or extend a mandatory time period because of the health crisis.

---

5:11 p.m.

The Canadian military is being put on a war footing as it prepares to be thrown into the COVID-19 crisis.

In an unprecedented five-page letter to the troops, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance says military planners are busy identifying who will be asked to respond if and when a call for military assistance arrives.

In the meantime, he says the primary mission for all those at home is to stay healthy so they are ready and able to respond.

Vance also says overseas missions will be scaled back to protect the force, and anyone who does return will be required to be ready for duty after a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

---

5:10 p.m.

Two men in New Brunswick who had recently travelled to the Dominican Republic are facing assault charges after allegations that people were purposely coughed on in a rooming house.

Police says they responded to a call Thursday morning from a residence in Rothesay, where an individual had complained that two other people had allegedly failed to isolate themselves after returning home from abroad.

Kennebecasis police Chief Wayne Gallant says two men have been charged with assault.

---

4:30 p.m.

Montreal's mayor says she is declaring a state of emergency to help authorities better manage the spread of COVID-19 among the city's homeless.

Valerie Plante says the declaration gives the city other powers, such as the ability to spend money more easily as well as the authority to order police and firefighters to enforce public health directives.

She says new homeless shelters with a reduced number of beds to prevent the spread of the virus should open in the coming days, as should a series of day centres where homeless people can rest.

Plante says she made the declaration on advice from Quebec's director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda.

---

3:47 p.m.

Two staff at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Saskatchewan Government and General Employees' Union says the two cases raise alarm about the safety of its members.

The provincial government says the two workers have been directed to self-isolate at home and officials are notifying people they might have come into contact with.

The province also says it's working on how to manage the inmate population in light of the pandemic.

---

3:40 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting more than 100 cases of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health says there's nine new confirmed cases bringing the province's total to 104.

It says six cases are linked to community transmission while the rest are travel-related.

There are also six patients in the hospital, two in intensive care.

---

3:20 p.m.

Prince Edward Island chief public health officer Dr. Heather Morrison says the Island has two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 Friday, bringing the provincial total to 11.

The latest cases had both returned from international travel.

One case involves a woman in her 20s and the other is a woman in her 50s. Both live in Prince County.

Morrison says both women are self-isolating.

---

3:15 p.m.

The Manitoba government is setting up information checkpoints at some airports and interprovincial highway border crossings to inform travellers about their obligations to help the fight against COVID-19.

Staff will give travellers from out of province information about the need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Justice Minister Cliff Cullen says people will also be told about ways they can get groceries delivered to them instead of going to the store themselves.

The checkpoints will be at airports in Brandon and Winnipeg, and at some highway border crossings with Ontario and Saskatchewan.

---

2 p.m.

British Columbia has release its "worst case scenario" data related to the COVID-19 pandemic but the numbers show the province believes it will more closely mirror the South Korean experience, rather than the situation in Italy.

A briefing offered today by health officials, including B.C. medical health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, shows the province would be overwhelmed if it saw a scale of COVID-19 cases similar to Italy.

But officials say the model shows B-C is already developing a "cascading" approach to free up additional hospital and other capacity over time.

Data suggests travel restrictions and social distancing measures are beginning to have an impact and the trajectory of new cases in B.C. changed from a 24 per cent average daily increase to 12 per cent as of March 21 -- but experts aren't ready to predict that the curve is flattening.

---

1:55 p.m.

New Brunswick is announcing 12 new cases of COVID-19 in the province, for a total of 45.

Chief public health officer Jennifer Russell said today 11 of the cases are travel-related while one is being investigated as a possible case of community transmission.

Russell says one new case cannot be traced to an infection that occurred outside the province.

Premier Blaine Higgs today urged people in New Brunswick to stay home as much as possible and to self-isolate for 14 days if returning from abroad.

---

1:50 p.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau won't say whether a promised 75 per cent wage subsidy for employers struggling to pay their employees will have a cap, saying more details will be rolled out soon.

The federal government announced this morning that was increasing the wage subsidy from the 10 per cent announced last week so employers don't have to lay off their staff.

Morneau also says the support and loans promised for small businesses on Friday amounts to about $95 billion, which is in addition to the $52-billion in direct support to Canadians that was approved by Parliament earlier this week and $55 billion in deferred income tax.

---

1:27 p.m.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau says the federal government is deferring GST/HST payments from businesses until the end of June so companies have money to pay their employees and bills during the COVID-19 crisis.

He says the move will leave around $30 billion in cash in the hands of businesses.

Morneau also says small businesses that access up to $40,000 in government-guaranteed, interest-free loans from banks to help endure the crisis could be allowed to keep up to $10,000 if they repay the rest of the loan by the end of 2022.

The measures are part of a broader package of federal support for small businesses announced on Friday amid concerns about the impact the pandemic will have on the economy.

---

1:15 p.m.

Quebec is announcing 10 more COVID-19 deaths in the province, bringing its total to 18.

Premier Francois Legault said today the province recorded another 392 positive COVID-19 test results, for a total of 2,021 cases.

Legault says another 35 people have been hospitalized since yesterday, including seven more people who are in intensive care.

The premier is also asking Quebecers to avoid travelling to Montreal and to the Eastern Townships area, which he says are the two regions of the province with the highest number of COVID-19 cases.

---

1:05 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador has reported 20 more positive cases of COVID-19 and reported its first hospitalization from the virus today. The province has now reported 102 cases of the illness.

Nineteen of the new cases are in the Eastern Health authority and one is in Labrador-Grenfell Health.

Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, the province's chief medical officer of health, says 68 cases in the province are directly linked to an exposure at a funeral home in St. John's between March 15 and 17.

She says the funeral home incident illustrates the importance of distancing measures.

---

1 p.m.

Canada's deputy chief public health officer Howard Njoo suggests Quebec has been hard hit by COVID-19 in part because its March break was earlier than the rest of the country.

March break in Quebec was held from March 2-6, when the scope of the virus was still unknown and governments at all levels in Canada had yet to start enforcing stringent measures to prevent its spread.

Other provinces had their March break from March 16-20, after travel restrictions and efforts to start semi-isolating were starting to be implemented.

Njoo also says the current crisis is going to last months, not days or weeks.

---

1 p.m.

Prince Edward Island's chief medical officer of health says the province's schools and daycare centres will remain closed until May 11.

Dr. Heather Morrison also says all non-essential government services and businesses must remain closed indefinitely.

Morrison reported no new cases of COVID-19 on the Island. The province has nine confirmed cases. (edited)

---

12:45 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 17 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 90 confirmed cases.

Health officials say most of the cases are connected to travel or a known case.

None of the new cases reported Friday are connected to the St. Patrick's Day gathering March 14 in Lake Echo, outside of Halifax.

Officials say all of the attendees at the event are being contacted and at this point, public health cannot confirm a link to community spread.

---

12:40 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Freeland says Canadian officials are urgently following up with American counterparts following reports the U.S. may deport asylum seekers who are turned away by Canada and may be at risk in their native countries, contrary to international agreements.

Canada closed the border to illegal asylum seekers last week in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Freeland won't say whether Canada will reopen the border to illegal agreements, saying she did not want to negotiate with U.S. officials in public.

---

12:25 p.m.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland says it is up to the U.S. to say whether it has abandoned a plan to send American troops to the border with Canada, but that Canadian officials continue to oppose the idea.

Deputy public health officer Howard Njoo says federal health authorities are looking at ways to increase testing, including new technologies.

But he says authorities need to make sure any new approach is reliable.

---

12:20 p.m.

Manitoba has recorded its first death from COVID-19 - a woman in her 60s who was in critical condition earlier this week.

The provincial government is also reporting three new cases, bringing the total to 39.

The province is now only allowing public gatherings of 10 people, down from an earlier limit of 50.

---

12:05 p.m.

Ontario is reporting 135 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the provincial total to 993.

There are three new deaths, meaning 18 people have died of the virus in Ontario.

No information is available for any of the new cases, with all of them listed as "pending."

11:50 a.m.

The Manitoba government is offering free mental-health therapy to people suffering from anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy program will be offered to any Manitoban over the age of 15 for up to one year.

The program is being provided by human-resources firm Morneau Shepell, and the province says it will spend an estimated $4.5 million to provide the service.

Premier Brian Pallister says many people are worried about getting sick, losing jobs or being isolated, and the online tool should help.

11:45 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says special considerations will be made for those unable to access federal government services online after Service Canada decided to close its centres this week.

He said the centres were closed because of staff fears of COVID-19.

There have been concerns about seniors, Indigenous people and low-income Canadians who don't have access to computers and the internet being able to apply for support.

11:35 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government needs to hammer out the details around how supports for small businesses will be implemented, which he hopes to provide by Monday.

Trudeau says these are exceptional times and that the government needs to step up and support Canadians at a time when the economy is nearly at a halt.

Asked about paying for the measures, the prime minister says the government's economic foundations were strong before the pandemic and he expressed confidence the economy will bounce back after COVID passes.

11:28 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sidestepped questions about whether the U.S. has decided not to send troops to its border with Canada.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday night that American officials had nixed the plan following fierce push-back from Canadian authorities.

Reiterating the importance of keeping the border undefended, Trudeau said Canadian and American officials continue to have a range of discussions about the border and that the federal government would provide more information when it has it.

11:25 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will cover 75 per cent of salaries for workers of qualifying small businesses affected by COVID-19, an increase from 10 per cent announced earlier this month.

The measure is part of a broader effort to support small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.

Trudeau also says the government is working with banks to provide loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses, which will be interest-free for the first year and up to $10,000 could be waived for repayment.

The measures follow the Bank of Canada's decision this morning to cut its benchmark interest rate, a move that Trudeau says he supports.

11:10 a.m.

Yukon has three confirmed cases of COVID-19, but health officials in the territory are warning that some Whitehorse residents may have been exposed at two local businesses.

A statement from Yukon's Health and Social Services Ministry says anyone who was at Elias Dental on March 9, 13 or 16 or a Bethany Church gathering on March 8 or 15, may have been exposed.

The statement says two people have tested positive after one visited the church event and the other was at the dental office, and both are recovering at home with "no ongoing risk to the community."

Anyone who visited the church or the dental office on the listed dates is asked to monitor for fever, cough or difficulty breathing over the next 14 days, and to self-isolate and call 8-1-1 if symptoms develop.

---

10:05 a.m.

The grocery chain Longos says an employee at one of their stores tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

The company says it's the first confirmed case of the virus at one of their stores.

Longos says the location in Woodbridge, Ont., will be closed until Saturday morning after they perform a deep clean of the building.

---

9:15 a.m.

Parliament's budget watchdog is projecting that the federal deficit for the coming fiscal year could be $112.7 billion.

That's a jump of $89.5 billion from previous forecasts as government spending climbs to combat the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The report made public this morning also warns that the deficit for the current fiscal year, which closes March 31, could be $26.7 billion, which would be an increase of $5.5 billion compared to the budget officer's November forecast.

The projected deficit for the 2020-2021 fiscal year doesn't include extra spending the Liberals announced on Wednesday in the form of a new benefit for affected workers.

That measure pushed direct spending on the government's economic bailout package to $52 billion from $27 billion.

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux's report also predicts that the economy will contract by 5.1 per cent this calendar year, the weakest on record since 1962.

---

9 a.m.

A Yukon First Nation is calling on the territorial government to immediately take stronger measures to protect remote and Indigenous communities from COVID-19.

In a letter to Premier Sandy Silver, the Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation in Mayo says not enough has been done, given the dire consequences posed by the virus.

The First Nation has passed a resolution demanding a temporary halt to prospectors moving through the region to stake land and the closure of all mines, with staff only conducting care and maintenance.

The letter asks Yukon to consider Nunavut's robust measures to control COVID-19 and says failure to protect Yukon citizens could have "serious and irreparable consequences."

---

8:50 a.m.

A male in southern New Brunswick is facing an assault charge for allegedly coughing in someone's face.

Police say they were called Thursday morning to a home on Hampton Road in Rothesay where the occupants complained that two other people had failed to isolate themselves after returning home from travelling abroad.

The Kennebecasis Regional Police Force says one male was arrested for uttering threats and assault for "purposely coughing in someone's face while feeling ill."

Under the province's emergency rules for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone who returns to the province from international travel must isolate themselves from others for 14 days.

---

8:40 a.m.

Hamilton police say they've charged a teenage fast-food employee after she allegedly faked a doctor's note saying she had COVID-19.

Police say the 18-year-old woman worked at a McDonald's, which was immediately forced to close on Monday and send all its employees home to self-isolate.

Investigators say the restaurant was closed for several days and sanitized by a professional cleaning team.

She's facing multiple charges including mischief over $5000, fraud over $5000 and making and using a forged document.

---

12:45 a.m.

The Victoria Police Department's patrol officers paid tribute to hospital staff with a 15-car salute Thursday.

A news release says officers began their night shift by visiting the Royal Jubilee Hospital to acknowledge the health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A full watch of patrol officers circled the Royal Jubilee Hospital in their police cars with their lights activated around 7 p.m.

The officers got out of their vehicles outside the emergency room bay and took a moment to clap and celebrate the work of hospital staff and health care workers.

Chief Del Manak says as first responders, they recognize their "incredible" work during the crisis.

Note to readers: This is a corrected version of an earlier story. It corrects the spelling of New Brunswick chief public health officer Jennifer Russell's name in 1:55 p.m. item.

© Copyright Battlefords News Optimist