A federal economic stimulus package is expected to be announced Wednesday to help Canadian workers and businesses weather the COVID-19 storm.
The government spending is likely to be significant — approximately $25 billion by the estimates of many economists.
In addition to new spending, the government could make changes to the employment insurance program and upcoming tax deadlines, with those details expected later this week.
Quebec is giving residents and companies hurt by the novel coronavirus pandemic a break by extending the tax-filing deadline, from April 30 until June 1.
“Tomorrow we will be making another major announcement on economic actions to support Canadians as quickly as possible. By the end of the week, we will have more to say about changes for the upcoming tax season,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday.
“We’re looking at giving more flexibility for people to be able to make payments and for businesses to have more liquidity during this time,” he said.
WATCH | Trudeau says financial supports on the way for ‘millions of Canadians’:
In a news release late Tuesday, TD Bank announced that the country’s six largest financial institutions will also “provide financial relief to Canadians impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19.”
TD says the support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and “the opportunity for relief on other credit products.”
In another strict measure, Canada and the United States could temporarily close the border between the two countries, multiple sources have told CBC News. That announcement might come as early as today. The shutdown would affect tourists and shoppers, but goods would continue to ship across the border during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia on Tuesday all declared states of emergency in order to limit the size of public gatherings as the number of cases in Canada rose to 598, with eight deaths — seven in B.C and one in Ontario.
Efforts to slow the spread of the virus are being ramped up as the number of cases worldwide approaches 200,000. There are currently more than 198,000 confirmed cases in more than 160 countries and almost 8,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. However, for older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the virus in a matter of weeks.
In the U.S., the government is considering a stimulus plan worth at least $850 billion, which could include sending direct payments to Americans. U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal would include $250 billion US for small businesses and $50 billion US for airlines.
WATCH | Trump says Americans will defeat COVID-19:
The Trump administration is also considering a plan to turn back all people who cross the border illegally from Mexico, two administration officials said Tuesday, using powers they say the president has during pandemics like the coronavirus outbreak to mount what would be one of the most aggressive attempts to curtail illegal immigration.
The plan is under consideration and no final decisions have been made, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) called the outbreak the “defining global health crisis of our time,” noting that testing is the top priority.
“You cannot fight a fire blindfolded, and we cannot stop this pandemic if we don’t know who is infected,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test.”
Here’s a look at what’s happening in the provinces and territories
British Columbia is closing all schools indefinitely, Premier John Horgan announced in a news conference Tuesday, affecting students from kindergarten to Grade 12. It followed an announcement ordering all restaurants and bars in the Greater Vancouver Area to close on St. Patrick’s Day to prevent the spread of COVID-19. B.C.’s tourism association has also warned that with hotels and restaurants empty across the province, the visitor economy could collapse without financial relief from the government. Read more about what’s happening in B.C.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public emergency, prohibiting gatherings of over 50 people. Attendance at public recreational facilities will be prohibited, and he advised against attendance at events like weddings and funerals as well. “This is a serious moment in our history, and COVID-19 will test all of us,” Kenney said. “But I believe I know that this province is resilient, and we are ready for the test.” Read more about what’s happening in Alberta, and visit this site for a list of closures in Calgary.
Saskatchewan has postponed the release of its full 2020-21 budget. The opposition had asked for the delay amid the pandemic and market turmoil, which has seen falling oil prices. The province has also closed pre-K-12 schools, starting Friday, though all parents who are able were asked to keep children home as soon as possible. Besides schools, Saskatoon and Regina have announced numerous closures, while the province is overhauling its 811 HealthLine to keep pace with demand for the telephone service. Read more about what’s happening in Saskatchewan.
Manitoba says all of its reported cases to date are travel-related. Still, the province has enacted numerous restrictions, such as limiting acute-care centre visits to one visitor at a time and none at all at some seniors’ homes. There are currently four dedicated testing centres in Winnipeg and one in Thompson, with plans for more in rural areas soon. Read more about what’s happening in Manitoba.
On Tuesday, Ontario confirmed the first COVID-19 related death in the province, a man in his 70s who was in close contact with an infected person. All casinos in the province are being closed, and Metrolinx is reducing services starting later this week. In Ottawa, the city’s top doctor is recommending that people cancel events, and avoid going out for “non-essential” reasons, saying community transmission is likely taking place in the city. Read more about what’s happening in Ontario here.
Quebec pushed back its tax filing season to ease pressure on residents coping with the fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. The province — which declared a state of health emergency on Saturday — also increased its coronavirus testing capacity, from 1,600 to 6,000, starting Tuesday. “We will do that — test, test, test,” said Quebec’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda. Bars, clubs, gyms and movie theatres were ordered closed over the weekend, and the province’s rental board has suspended eviction hearings during the pandemic. Read more about what’s happening in Quebec.
New Brunswick’s government sought to free up acute-care beds by moving 65 seniors waiting for nursing home placement out of hospitals. Premier Blaine Higgs announced Tuesday the move was to make way for an anticipated influx of COVID-19 patients, and that the seniors will temporarily be moved into a nursing home within 100 kilometres of their permanent address. Read more about what’s happening in New Brunswick here.
Prince Edward Island, which declared a public health emergency on Monday, announced a financial relief package to help support those in need. Minister of Social Development and Housing Ernie Hudson announced a $500,000 fund for community partners delivering services to Islanders. Premier Dennis King also earmarked $500 per week for self-employed Islanders who are significantly affected. Read more about what’s happening on P.E.I.
WATCH | Debunking misinformation about COVID-19:
Nova Scotia indefinitely postponed elective surgeries, and is closing schools and daycares, which the premier cautioned could last for an extended period. “Our No. 1 priority will be the public’s safety and the health [and] safety of Nova Scotians and their children,” Stephen McNeil said over the weekend. In one nursing facility — home to some of the most vulnerable to the coronavirus — an office on the ground floor has been cleared out so residents and their loved ones can meet face to face, through a closed window. Read more about what’s happening in Nova Scotia here.
Newfoundland and Labrador officials say new cornavirus-related restrictions will likely last into the summer. Health Minister John Haggie said that includes a reduction in hospital services, including the cancellation of all non-urgent appointments and surgeries. Read more about what’s happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.
There are not yet any confirmed cases in Canada’s North. But Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief medical officer of health, said Tuesday “COVID-19 has the potential to have a much greater impact” on the territory than elsewhere in Canada. Overcrowded housing is a key obstacle to keeping the community healthy, said Premier Joe Savikataaq. Read more about what’s happening in Canada’s North here.
Here’s a look at the latest numbers in Canada. Presumptive cases are individuals who have tested positive, but still await confirmation with the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg.
- Ontario: 190 confirmed cases, including one death and five cases listed as resolved.
- British Columbia: 186 confirmed, including seven deaths and five cases listed as resolved.
- Alberta: 97 confirmed.
- Quebec: 74 confirmed.
- Saskatchewan: six presumptive, two confirmed.
- New Brunswick: six presumptive, two confirmed.
- Manitoba: eight confirmed, seven presumptive.
- Nova Scotia: six presumptive, one confirmed.
- Prince Edward Island: one confirmed.
- Newfoundland and Labrador: three presumptive.
- Canadians quarantined at CFB Trenton: nine confirmed.
Here’s what else is happening in the U.S.
From The Associated Press, updated at 6 a.m. ET
The White House has urged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people for the next two weeks and has called for bars, restaurants and other venues to close in states where local virus transmission exists. It is also urging Americans to work from home, if possible, and to home-school their children. Trump on Tuesday said the worst of the outbreak may not be over until July or August, if not later.
Also on Tuesday, U.S. hotel executives, whose bookings have swiftly dried up, took their worries to the White House for a meeting with Trump.
“I personally lived through many crises, starting with the S&L (savings and loan crisis), the 9/11 crisis, the Great Recession,” said Hilton’s CEO, Christopher Nassetta. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Never seen anything like it.”
New York City, meanwhile, may soon compel most people to stay in their homes, except in emergencies or when shopping for essentials, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
West Virginia confirmed its first positive case on Tuesday, meaning the virus has now been reported in all 50 states. Coronavirus infections across the country have reached approximately 5,200, and the death toll climbed to at least 103.
Here’s what’s happening in Europe
From The Associated Press and Reuters, updated at 4 p.m. ET. Tuesday
The leaders of European Union nations have agreed to institute a travel ban that prohibits most foreigners from entering the bloc for 30 days. EU leaders agreed on Tuesday to shut down the 27-nation bloc’s external borders immediately.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the proposal by EU officials “got a lot of support by the member states. It’s up to them now to implement. They said they will immediately do that.”
The virus case count in Europe has climbed to over 51,000 and more than 2,300 people have died.
WATCH | EU bans non-essential travel within the bloc:
Italy, the second hardest-hit nation after China in the world’s coronavirus pandemic, has announced new figures that show it has one-third of the world’s total deaths from the novel virus. The country added more than 3,500 new positive cases Tuesday, bringing its overall total to 31,506. In addition, another 345 people with the virus have died, bringing Italy’s total deaths to 2,503.
Doctors Without Borders says Italy lacks key medical equipment, like protective gloves or masks. “Nearly 1,700 health-care workers, or eight per cent of the total COVID-19 cases in Italy, have been infected whilst tirelessly caring for the rising number of severely ill patients who require long-term hospitalization,” the group said.
In the U.K., authorities have urged all residents to avoid unnecessary contact with others and that people in the most vulnerable groups should be isolated for almost three months. As of Monday, Britain had 1,543 confirmed cases and 53 virus-related deaths. Queen Elizabeth is to travel to Windsor Castle and has cancelled planned events, including garden parties, due to the outbreak, Buckingham Palace said on Tuesday.
Ireland is expecting the number of cases there to skyrocket in the next few weeks. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he expects to see upward of 15,000 cases by month’s end, up from the current 223, and has advised against all non-essential overseas travel. Schools, universities, childcare centres and bars have also been closed.
France’s government is pledging 45 billion euros ($70 billion Cdn) in aid for small businesses hurt by the spreading coronavirus. France now has more than 6,600 cases of the virus, including 148 deaths.
In Lithuania, the cargo truck line on the border to enter Poland stretched 60 kilometres long on Tuesday after Poland closed its border to foreigners.
Greece is imposing a compulsory 14-day quarantine on anyone entering the country and extending shop closures to fight the spread of coronavirus.
Madrid faced its third day of lockdown on Tuesday over the coronavirus outbreak. Spain, the fourth-most virus-infected country in the world, has been imposing a partial lockdown since Saturday night, allowing people to leave their homes only to go to work, buy food or visit a pharmacy or hospital. The government’s official coronavirus death toll rose by 182 overnight, to 491 on Tuesday. The number of infected topped 10,000 for the first time and now sits at 11,178.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in business and finance:
From The Associated Press, last updated at 6:30 a.m. ET.
U.S. stock index futures tumbled on Wednesday, pointing to another volatile session for Wall Street on fears that even dramatic stimulus measures would not be able to avert a deep coronavirus-driven recession.
S&P 500 futures were down 92 points, or 3.69 per cent at their daily down trading limit, while the SPDR S&P 500 ETFs tumbled 5.6 per cent.
Wall Street’s main indexes had bounced back up on Tuesday from a massive sell-off a day earlier, as the Trump administration pressed for a stimulus package and the Federal Reserve relaunched a plan to purchase short-term corporate debt.
However, with the COVID-19 disease still spreading rapidly across the globe, investors are alarmed about the extent of the blow to consumer spending, businesses and supply chains, sending financial markets into a tailspin.
Here’s a look at what’s happening in Asia
From Reuters, The Associated Press and CBC News, last updated at 6:30 a.m. ET.
China’s imported coronavirus cases outnumbered domestic transmissions for a fifth straight day as infected travellers passed through major transport hubs in Beijing, Shanghai, and the southern cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Mainland China — where the outbreak began late last year — had 13 new infections on Tuesday, the National Health Commission said, down from 21 a day earlier. A dozen of the new cases involved infected arrivals from abroad. The number of infections totalled 80,881, with 3,226 deaths.
There are currently 246 confirmed cases in Pakistan, most in the Sindh province where authorities have quarantined hundreds of people upon their return from Iran.
Bangladesh on Wednesday reported its first death from coronavirus.
India says it will bar all passengers — including Indian citizens — from entering the country on flights from the European Union, Turkey and the United Kingdom beginning Wednesday.
According to a statement issued by India’s aviation regulator, travellers coming from or transiting through the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar will be required to undergo a 14-day quarantine when they arrive. Arrivals from China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany are already subject to similar restrictions, while many border points with neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar have been shut.
The Philippine Stock Exchange was closed with no trading Tuesday after the president placed the northern part of the country, including Manila, under quarantine. The exchange’s CEO said the end of trading activity would be “until further notice.” The Philippines has 140 cases of infection and 12 deaths.
Sri Lanka says it will add more quarantine centres to help fight the coronavirus. An army general said 23 army vacation bungalows will be used as quarantine centres for a group of travellers who arrived recently from London. Sri Lanka has confirmed 28 cases of the virus, with no deaths so far.
In South Korea, officials reported a downward trend in new infections for the third day in a row Tuesday. There were 84 new cases, bringing the country’s total infections to 8,320 on Monday, according to the Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 81 people have died in the country, after six more deaths were reported Tuesday, most of them older and with underlying disease. South Korea has further postponed the beginning of the new school year by two weeks to protect students from the virus.
The vice-chairman of Japan’s Olympic committee, Kozo Tashima, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, escalating concerns about whether the Olympics can proceed as planned as the pandemic spreads.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday that G7 leaders had agreed to support a “complete” Olympics, but dodged questions about whether any of the leaders had brought up the possibility of postponement. Japan is dealing with around 700 local cases, as well as the passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship who tested positive.
The Bank of Japan is also looking at taking emergency measures to tamp down the impact of the outbreak on the country’s economy, NHK reported.
Here’s a look at some of what’s happening elsewhere in the world, including hard-hit Iran
From The Associated Press, Reuters and CBC News, updated at 6:30 a.m. ET.
- Iran has reported 147 more deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours. In total, the country has had 17,361 cases of COVID-19, state TV said on Wednesday.
- In Israel, the government has reported a 25 per cent spike in the number of cases. The country’s health ministry says 90 more people have tested positive, bringing the country’s overall number to 427, a day after authorities issued a new series of guidelines that put Israelis in near-shutdown mode.
- Gambia’s health ministry reported its first case of coronavirus on Tuesday, a 20-year-old woman who had recently returned from the U.K.
- Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue closed at day-end on Tuesday and won’t reopen for at least a week, as the governor of the state decreed a state of emergency. Brazil has recorded almost 300 confirmed cases, with more than half in Sao Paulo and the second-largest number in Rio, according to the health ministry. The country has one reported death.
- The UN’s humanitarian chief released $15 million US from the world body’s emergency response fund to help the WHO and the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) fund efforts to contain the coronavirus in vulnerable countries, where millions of people are already dealing with crises and needing assistance.
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