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Canadian unemployment could hit 15 per cent amid coronavirus pandemic, deficit to $113B

The coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe could send Canadian unemployment rates soaring to 15 per cent by the end of the year, a new forecast by the parliamentary budget watchdog suggests.

At the same time, the federal deficit could spike to $113 billion by the next fiscal year.

The current federal deficit sits at roughly $26.6 billion while the national unemployment rate in February was 5.6 per cent.

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux published a forecast report on Friday looking at what the economic and fiscal impacts could be on Canada of the coronavirus pandemic.

In it, Giroux cautioned that the forecast is built around a number of assumptions including that current isolation and social distancing measures will stay in place until August.

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But he noted that the office will continue to update projections as the situation evolves.

“We stress that this scenario is not a forecast of the most likely outcome,” he wrote.

“It is an illustrative scenario of one possible outcome.”

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Coronavirus: 2 new cases of COVID-19 in London-Middlesex, total rises to 23

The total number of COVID-19 cases in London and Middlesex rose by two on Friday after health officials with the Middlesex-London Health Unit confirmed cases involving people in their 20s and 30s.

One case involves a male in his 20s, who contracted COVID-19 through travel to an unspecified location. The other involves a woman in her 30s whose transmission source hasn’t been determined.

It comes after two cases were confirmed in the region on Thursday, one involving a hospitalized male in his 20s who contracted the novel coronavirus through undetermined means, and a woman in her 30s who became infected during a recent trip to the U.S.

Five local cases were also confirmed on Wednesday, involving a man in his 30s who got infected through close contact, a woman in her 60s whose cause is unclear, a woman in her 70s who travelled to Portugal, a woman in her 70s who travelled to the Philippines, and a woman in her 80s who contracted the virus through close contact and is in hospital.

Outside of London and Middlesex, Elgin County saw its fourth case of COVID-19 confirmed on Friday involving a male in his 70s who has been hospitalized. How they became infected is being determined, according to Southwestern Public Health.

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The county’s other three cases involve a man in his 70s who became infected through travel and is in hospital, a woman in her 30s who became infected through close contact, and a man in his 30s who became infected through close contact and is in hospital.

In Lambton County, health officials there reported the county’s sixth and seventh confirmed cases on Friday involving two patients, one in their 70s and one in their 80s, who are both in hospital.

According to Lambton Public Health, the two cases matched “the age demographic of others who have been previously identified in the hospital,” referring to the five hospitalized cases confirmed on Wednesday.

Those cases involve two women in their 60s and 70s, and three men, one in his 70s and two in their 80s.

“The investigation into their contacts is ongoing,” Lambton health officials said.

Ontario has confirmed at least 993 COVID-19 cases, as of mid-morning Friday. Of those cases, 967 are active, and eight have resolved.

At least 18 people have died from COVID-19 in the province. Three of the deaths were reported on Friday, including two at a nursing home in Bobcaygeon, Ont. where an outbreak has also left at least 14 staff infected.

Test results are currently pending on more than 10,000 Ontarians.

Nationally, more than 4,500 cases had been confirmed in Canada as of Friday afternoon, including 254 resolved cases, and 53 deaths.

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Coronavirus: Premier Doug Ford pleads for city residents to avoid rural cottages, properties

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is asking residents in urban areas to avoid heading to their cottages and rural properties across the province during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ford made the remarks during an update on the provincial government’s response to the pandemic Friday afternoon.

“I’ve been getting a tremendous amount of calls from cottage country mayors, if I can call them that, and residents too,” Ford said.

He said rural areas may have more difficulty replenishing essential items if there is an added demand.

“Also the hospitals, they don’t have the capacity we do in urban settings and as they all say, ‘We’re going to welcome you with open arms when we get through this,’ but right now it’s putting a lot of strain on their system out there,” Ford said.

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, which oversees part of cottage country, said the region is experiencing community transmission of COVID-19.

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Coronavirus: China sends medical supplies, personnel to Pakistan

China has sent a plane loaded with medical personnel and supplies to aid Pakistan in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus in one of the world’s most populous nations, the Pakistani foreign ministry said Saturday.

Across the Middle East, the outbreak has raised concerns that health systems strapped by multiple wars, refugee crises and unstable economies won’t be able to handle a growing numbers in cases. Iran is battling the worst outbreak in the region. Iranian state TV raised Saturday that the virus death toll by another 139 people, pushing the total fatalities to 2,517 amid 35,408 confirmed cases.

China has sought to portray itself as a global leader in the fight against the outbreak, which began a few months ago in its Wuhan province. The plane carrying aid to Pakistan was expected to arrive later Saturday.

Pakistan is a key link in China’s ambitious multi-billion-dollar One Road Project linking south and central Asia with China. China is also a key military supplier for nuclear-armed Pakistan, having supplied the country with missiles capable of carrying atomic weapons.

Pakistan, with a population of 220 million, currently has 1,321 confirmed cases of the virus, including 10 deaths from the illness it causes, COVID-19. Most of the infected people there were travellers returning from neighbouring Iran.

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Inmate at Toronto South Detention Centre tests positive for COVID-19

An inmate at a Toronto prison has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, Ontario’s Ministry of the Solicitor General confirmed.

A statement from the ministry sent out Wednesday said that an inmate at the Toronto South Detention Centre tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the statement, the ministry was informed by local public health that the inmate was a possible COVID-19-related case upon admission, and was immediately placed in isolation.

All infection prevention steps have since been taken by the TSDC, and screening procedures for respiratory illness will continue, the statement continues.

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Coronavirus: Two Montreal Neurological Institute staff members test positive for COVID-19

Two staff members working at the Montreal Neurological Institute have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the hospital confirmed.

The hospital says it was notified over the weekend by MUHC Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) that a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.

On Monday, a second member who was in close contact with the first affected also tested positive and was put in quarantine.

“Again, protocols established by Public Health and MUHC OHS were immediately implemented,” said a spokesperson in an email to Global News.

The hospital says steps were taken to track the contacts of the people who tested positive for the virus and that everyone in contact with them was in quarantine as of Saturday, March 21, as directed by Public Health.

Currently, the Neuro says it’s not under quarantine and does not have any patients infected with COVID-19.

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“The Neuro is not accepting admissions until further notice. Our partner the MUHC has agreed to admit additional neurology patients in the meantime,” the statement read.

It is not clear if the affected staff members are doctors or were in contact with patients.

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Coronavirus: 2 at snowmobile rally in northern Saskatchewan test positive for COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced on Wednesday that two people who attended an event in the province have tested positive for COVID-19.

The advisory went out to anyone who attended the Lakeland Snowmobile Club Wilderness Rally Supper in Christopher Lake between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. on March 14.

One person who served at the event tested positive for COVID-19, according to a press release.

Organizers said over 110 people attended the rally supper.

SHA said anyone who attended the supper needs to self-isolate immediately.

If you are outside the Prince Albert area, please contact 811. Anyone in this area can call the Prince Albert communicable disease team at 306-765-6504.

Christopher Lake is approximately 180 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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London couple talk altering wedding plans amid coronavirus pandemic

Sofia Eidsath and her fiancé Andrew Kinsella thought they had everything planned for their wedding at the end of May. She had the dress, the venue, the entertainment, but the one thing they weren’t budgeting for was the new coronavirus.

“We were about to send out official invitations and finalize a few small details,” Eidsath said.

Since the pandemic, the couple have had to put their happily-ever-after plans on hold for another year.

“Things just kept getting crazier and crazier outside, and we were starting to realize if we are going to have to socially distance ourselves in our houses, then it’s very unlikely by May 30, everything will be back to normal.”

Eidsath is American, and after meeting her fiancé while they were both studying at Western University, she made the move to Canada full time in 2014.

“We had been together for about eight years, and I was like, ‘You need to propose to me soon because I am losing my mind.’”

Although expecting the proposal, Eidsath said her fiancé still managed to surprise her during a family vacation in Muskoka.

Now, just two months away from their would-be wedding date, the couple have been working on getting things pushed back.

“The venue was really great to work with up until this happened,” Eidsath said.

She explains that after their date had to be moved, the venue started pressuring them to choose either a Friday or Sunday date still in 2020, which would not work, as they had many relatives travelling from the U.S. and other countries.

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After some work from her wedding planner at Unmistakably You, they were able to get May 8, 2021, but Eidsath said they are still facing other challenges with their photographer, who wants an extra 25 per cent to change the date.

“It does not sound crazy until you realize you’re already paying them $4,000 and then that’s an extra $1,000 and that’s a lot.”

The couple are now deciding if they will pay the extra $1,000 or lose their deposit and find a different photographer.

Eidsath has mixed feelings about having an extra year to plan, adding that they have most things ready to go, so it feels like things are just stalled. She says the most important thing is that their loved ones are all able to be there to celebrate on the day.

“You have to put what’s going on in the world over what would have been a happy time for us,” Kinsella said.

Eidsath and Kinsella are not the only ones having to alter their wedding day. Wedding planner Nicky Caralis, owner of Caralis Wedding and Events, told Global News many of her couples with upcoming weddings and even weddings a few months out are having to change course.

“With spring weddings there’s a bit of a panic, and people are not able to make decisions because there is just not a lot of information,” she explains.

“A couple of my couples are thinking about doing a virtual wedding in their living room where they will have all their guests call in.”

Caralis said right now there is a lot of uncertainty for her couples who don’t know how long the social distancing may last or even if their venue will be open.

She said it is also difficult for many wedding vendors, who are usually self-employed. Caralis adds many of the vendors she deals with are trying their best to be accommodating under the circumstances while also wondering if they will qualify for the support the federal government is promising.

For the couples who are due to get married soon, she has this advice: “Try to move forward with your wedding, life will go on, and we have to make the best of it.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

 

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Coronavirus: Toronto nursing home reports 2 residents with COVID-19

A Toronto nursing home has reported two residents have tested positive for coronavirus.

Mary Hoare, the CEO of St. Clair O’Connor Nursing Home, told Global News the two cases were confirmed March 21, a man and a woman in their 80s.

“They do not have severe symptoms and have not been hospitalized,” she said.

All residents are currently in isolation and all group activities have been cancelled, Hoare said.

Another long-term care home in Markham, Markhaven Home for Seniors, said it had one patient and one employee who tested positive. In an update on Wednesday, the home confirmed there are two more employees who tested positive.

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The news comes after an outbreak at a seniors residence in Oshawa was announced on March 18. As of Tuesday night, Hillsdale Terraces Long-Term Care Home now has five cases, including one death and four other tests pending.

Ontario health officials said Tuesday that cumulatively since the outbreak began, there have been 31 health care workers who have tested positive for coronavirus.

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Coronavirus: Canada Goose to start making medical gear for health-care workers

Canada Goose is joining the fight against COVID-19 by helping to manufacture medical gear for health-care workers amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The apparel maker, best known for its down-filled parkas, says it will start manufacturing medical gear at two of its facilities next week, including in Winnipeg.

Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Wednesday the province is “working hard” to ramp up health care services and is asking businesses to help out where they can with additional supplies.

“Across Canada, there are people risking their lives every day on the front lines of COVID-19 in health-care facilities, and they need help,” Canada Goose president and CEO Dani Reiss said in a release.

“Now is the time to put our manufacturing resources and capabilities to work for the greater good.”

The company says it will start by making scrubs and patient gowns at its Winnipeg and Toronto facilities, and it expects to have the gear ready to be shipped at no cost to hospitals across Canada next week.

Roughly 50 employees at each shop will take on the work with the goal of producing 10,000 units, and the company says it will extend production to additional facilities as needed.

Canada Goose stressed that it is enforcing strict health and safety protocols at its facilities and has created a support fund for employees impacted by store and manufacturing closures who are not eligible for government assistance.

To that end, Reiss says he will forego his salary for at least the next three months and that it will be used for the fund.

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“Our employees are ready, willing and able to help, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

“It’s the Canadian thing to do.”

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