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COVID-19 in Canada: COVID-19 is slowing in Canada but don't think we're in the clear yet, PM urges

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As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians seem to be increasingly concerned about their health and safety

Currently, there are more than 93,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Canada and more than 7,500 deaths.

Check back for the latest updates on the coronavirus outbreak in Canada.

For a full archive of the first month of the pandemic, please check our archive of events.

June 4

1:15 p.m.: Canada could see more than 107,400 COVID-19 cases and 9,400 deaths by June 15

A breakdown of COVID-19 cases across the country.

The latest modelling data on COVID-19 in Canada is encouraging, showing the country is continuing to make progress, with a low in many communities, with the ability to trace where they came from.

“That’s an encouraging sign that the virus is slowing, and in places even stopping. But I want to be clear, we are not out of the woods, the pandemic is still threatening the health and safety of Canadians,” Trudeau urged Canadians.

The projected short-term epidemic trajectory, which uses actual case data, estimates Canada could see between 97,990 to 107,454 cases by June 15.

Public Health Agency of Canada

It also shows the country could see between 7,700 to 9,400 COVID-19 deaths by the same date.

National trends reflect a series of regional epidemics

The second wave still looms

Public Health Agency of Canada

The dynamic models presented show as exiting restrictions are lifted, core public health measures must be maintained in order to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases in the fall, until a vaccine is widely available. These core measures include personal physical distancing, detection and isolation of cases, and tracing and isolating contacts.

“At the end of the day, it all depends on what Canadians do across the country,” Dr. Howard Njoo, Canadian deputy chief public health officer said. “If we do that as a country then I think we’re in a good shape and not going to have this resurgence of cases in the fall.”

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, stressed the country is seeing “regional epidemics,” with 90 per cent of cases over the last 14 days coming from Ontario and Quebec, primarily in and around Toronto and Montreal.

Public Health Agency of Canada

The effective reproduction number (Rt) nationally has remained under one for nearly two weeks. Federal health officials have indicated any increases in this rate over the past month has largely been driven by ongoing transmission around Toronto and Montreal.

“We will need to keep Rt consistently below one for more than three weeks before we can be sure that our public health measures are effectively controlling the pandemic,” Dr. Tam said.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Aside from regional differences in the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada, there are a number of more specific communities that have been identified more vulnerable to the virus.

“COVID-19 has exploited social and economic vulnerabilities, and inequality,” Dr. Tam said.

She went on to say there is a disproportionate number of cases in overcrowded areas, communities with lower incomes and health disparities. Crowded spaces can lead to what Dr. Tam called “larger cluster” or “super spreading” events.

Canada’s chief public health officer said although national information on ethnic specific data is not available at this point, the outbreaks that have been present to date have shown links with racialized populations and communities with more crowded living spaces.

“The outbreaks themselves, when we looked at them, points to the fact that a lot of the workers who support long-term care, who work at some of the workplaces like the meatpacking plants, are in those populations who are in a lower socioeconomic spectrum,” Dr. Tam said. “They have more crowded housing and they are in some of the racialized populations. We can tell that there’s a disproportionate impact.” 

11:45 a.m.: Seniors to get additional one-time aid payment week of July 6

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced seniors in Canada will receive the one-time Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-up aid on the week of July 6.

Seniors who are eligible for OAS will receive $300 and those eligible for the GIS will receive an additional $200.

“If you are one of the 2.2 million elders receiving both OAS and GIS, you’ll get an additional $500 to help you with everyday expenses,” Trudeau said. “This COVID crisis is tough on seniors and that’s why these additional funds will make a difference, with up to $900 for single seniors and up to $1,500 for couples.”

The prime minister also said new modelling data on COVID-19 will be released later on Thursday, teasing Canada is “continuing to make progress.”

He said there are many areas with a low number of cases that can call be traced, with active cases even stopping entirely in some regions.

Trudeau did still maintain COVID-19 is a threat and everyone across the country should still maintain safe physical distancing measures, frequently wash their hands and wear a non-medical face mask when it is not possible to keep two metres away from others. 

10:45 a.m.: Toronto preparing for reopening, expansion of patios for restaurants

Toronto Mayor John Tory announced the CafeTo program to help restaurants and bars in the city restart patio service. He described it as a “quick start” program to make it easier for these businesses to open and expand their patio space, and to make more room for physical distancing.

The program will provide more outdoor area for dining and the consumption of beverages by identifying space in the public right of way that can be used. The city is expediting the current permitting process for sidewalk cafe and parklets, and will be waving expanded patio fees.

Tory said “active discussions” with province are being had, particularly with regards to liquor laws. The mayor said there is a “mutual desire” to “cut red tape” and the province is keen to support this initiative.

Tory said, in advance of the province lifting the current order on any in-person dining at restaurants and bars, those with existing patios can get ready to open. More details on how to register for additional patio and parklet space will be shared in the coming days.

When asked if there are sections in the city identified as having good potential for expansion, the mayor said there has been particular interest in the downtown and midtown areas but he hopes more people in suburban regions will want to take advantage of this program as well.

Toronto mayor ready to play on Doug Ford’s team against commercial rent evictions

Tory also responded to questions about commercial rent evictions in the city and landlords not taking advantage of the rent relief program, which allows property owners to receive 75 per cent of what they would collect for rent from tenants.

“I’ve been calling for some time for a ban on commercial evictions,” Tory said. “I saw premier Ford saying he’s ready to play hardball on this, well I’m on his team, if he’s got some team sweaters to be issued I’ll wear one, happily.”

“I think the time for the hardball has come...This is a program to help you, it’s time to say there will be no evictions.”

June 3

6:30 p.m.: COVID-19 questions of the day

6:15 p.m.: Alberta could move into next stage of reopening earlier than expected

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, confirmed she has taken forward considerations for “perhaps moving forward the stage two of relaunch a little bit earlier.”

Dr. Hinshaw said some final discussions are still taking place but an announcement would be expected early next week.

She also said there has been a “slow, steady rise” in the total number of tests being conducted in Alberta. Dr. Hinshaw said close to 5,000 tests were processed in the last 24 hours and only 19 new cases were discovered.

“This is helping us confirm...the majority of the province has very few active cases,” the chief medical officer of health said.

Dr. Hinshaw also indicated more information is still required related to antibodies and immunity to COVID-19 through serology testing. She said it is important to understand if someone who has been infected with COVID-19 has immunity and for how long.

“Alberta’s provincial laboratory is in the final stages of validating a number of different type of serology tests,” Dr. Hinshaw said.

She said initially, these tests will be used for research purposes “to determine the proportion of Albertans who have been exposed to COVID-19.”

“Serology test are not used to diagnose an active infection  but rather a past infection,” Dr. Hinshaw said, adding that the province’s focus remains on diagnosing active infections and preventing spread.

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health advised people in the province to be “very cautious” about products being marketed as home serology tests.

“These tests may not be accurate and could produce false results, either false positive or false negative,” she said.

Domestic tourism in B.C. will ‘break records,’ premier says

British Columbia Premier John Horgan commented on the status of the cruise and tourism industry, and how that will impact the province.

“I think that the industry has taken a bit of a black eye through this period,” Horgan said about cruises.

He said the market will decide the fate of the cruise industry but he’s not sure how many people are waiting to get back on these ships with a number of COVID-19 outbreaks linked to cruises.

“It’s going to be a challenging period,” Horgan said.

The premier also indicated he does not see value in having public health measures loosened on a regional basis in B.C.

As Horgan anticipates domestic tourism and travel by British Columbians within their own province will increase, he said these travel patterns will “break records” this year, while international travel still remains problematic.

2:15 p.m.: Ontario considering loosening restrictions on patios, ‘bubbling’ of contacts

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said as the province looks at a regional approach to the next stage of reopening, considerations are being made to open patios.

Ford said the health table is currently looking at loosening these restrictions and the decision should be made “within the week.”

Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said provincial officials are also considering increasing the number of people who can gather, currently set to five people. She said the province is currently “looking at what the appropriate number is” for a gradual expansion.

Elliott said the province continues to move forward with identifying hot spots for COVID-19 spread, which will impact any future loosening of public health measures.

“We’re looking at where there might be hotspots, where there might be breakouts, where we can send out mobile teams...to deal with some of those hotspots,” she said.

Surgeons may have to be transferred to other hospitals

As the province continues to manage outbreaks in long-term care homes, Elliott said Ontario will continue to has hospital staff redeployed to assist in these facilities, particularly when military personnel leave.

She said this could mean some surgeons may have to be moved to other hospitals to continue with some medical procedures, while filling the gaps for hospital healthcare workers stationed in long-term care homes.

Ford provides limited details on outbreaks between temporary foreign workers

Premier Ford spoke about the recent outbreak in migrants workers in Ontario, with 164 cases in Norfolk County. One 31-year-old temporary foreign worker has died in Windsor after working at Woodside Greenhouses Inc., a pepper farm in Kingsville.

Ford said 137 farms have been inspected to date and more will continue. When asked if he can confirm these individuals have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), as they work and live in close quarters, the premier said the farms received $2 million to buy PPE “and hopefully the farmers have.”

$150 million for broadband services

The Ontario government also announced $150 million will be invested in broadband and cellular service in rural, remote and underserved areas.

This is part of Ontario’s $315 million initiative called Up to Speed: Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.

“As we carefully restart the economic engine of Canada, every region and every community will play a role in bringing jobs and prosperity back to our province,” Ford said in a statement. “By investing in reliable broadband and cellular service, we are helping to create greater opportunity for our families, farmers and small business owners in rural and remote areas of this great province.”

1:00 p.m.: Rules for face coverings for transportation workers

Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, said effective Thursday, existing requirement in the aviation sector for face coverings for passengers will extend to flight crews and airport workers in restricted areas of a terminal, when they are not able to physically distance. An exception is being made for pilots while on the flight deck.

Garneau said it is also recommended that rail operators make face coverings available for all workers and ensure that they are worn whenever possible, “keeping safety in mind.”

Rail operators can also ask passengers to wear a face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

COVID-19 has ‘drawn our attention’ to racism against Asian people in Canada

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland commented on racism in Canada at the press conference on Wednesday, particular with relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the coronavirus has also drawn our attention to racism against people of Asian descent,” Freeland said. “We have to take it seriously in our country.”

She also went on to discuss the recent reports from long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec, saying it is right for Canadians to be “very concerned” about this “historic” reports from military officials.

“We are committed to working...closely with province and territories to really profoundly transform long-term care in Canada,” Freeland said. “What we have learned has been happening cannot continue, we have to make it better and we will.”

“It’s important to do this work in close collaboration with the province, it does fall under their jurisdiction.”

June 2

7:30 p.m.: COVID-19 question of the day

7:00 p.m.: ‘Testing...can be unreliable’

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said some businesses in the province have been looking to incorporate testing and screening for COVID-19 in their operations, but she stressed this should not be the only measure in place.

“Testing does not replace the many steps that are required to keep everybody safe,” Dr. Henry said. “Testing...right now, can be unreliable, particularly for people who don’t have symptoms or have very mild symptoms that they may not even recognize.”

The provincial health officer did go on to say testing can help be helpful with identifying people who are positive and rapidly isolating individuals.

She also spoke about serology testing, indicating work is still being done to understand what antibodies mean. For example, how long immunity lasts and how many antibodies are required for an individual to be immune.

Dr. Henry said the province will also determine who should be prioritized for a serology test when they are made available, including people who are epidemiologically linked to a case or individuals who had a “COVID compatible illness” during the previous few months.

There is also a research project with random serology samples from different age groups of people in B.C.

$120 million distributed to frontline workers in Manitoba

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced the province has committed $120 million to provide additional funds to frontline workers.

This payment is available to workers who were employed on a part-time or full-time basis from March 20 until May 29, who either worked a minimum 200 cumulative hours or would have worked that amount but had to self-isolate.

Each person’s total pre-tax employment income during the eligibility period must be less than $6,250, $2,500 per month for 2.5 months, and they cannot be enrolled in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

The premier said about 100,000 people would be eligible, with about $1,000 distributed per person.

Workers eligible for this one-time benefit includes store shelf stockers, retail salespersons, cashiers, cooks, security guards, light-duty cleaners in retail facilities, early childhood educators, licensed home-based child-care providers, social workers, nurses and nurse practitioners, paramedics, health-care aides, community services workers, correctional officers, and long-distance truck drivers and bus drivers.

Online applications will be accepted starting Wednesday, with the deadline set to June 18. The province will issue payments via direct deposit.

Quebec to recruit, train orderlies

The Quebec government has launched a new program to recruit 10,000 orderlies to work at long-term care facilities in the province by September.

“Our goal is to mobilize 10,000 people to take care of our most vulnerable,” premier Francois Legault said.

The premier said this is a “critical” step to prepare for a possible second wave of COVID-19.

The Montreal suburb of Cote St-Luc has become the first city in Canada make masks mandatory. Although Legault has stressed everyone in the province should consider wearing a mask when leaving their home, he does not intend to make this a mandatory measure across the province.

2:45 p.m.: ‘It’s totally irresponsible’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford commented on MPP Randy Hillier and others protesting on the front lawn of Queen’s Park against the public health restrictions in place and the state of emergency.

“It’s totally irresponsible,” Ford said. “I’m disappointed in Randy and he should know better.”

The premier went on to say it’s important for the province to “reopen safely.” 

Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott responded to questions about a CBC News story reporting 700 positive COVID-19 tests in Toronto were not flagged to public health officials.

Elliott said it was “due to a misunderstanding between the hospital and the lab that conducted the tests.”

“That has been rectified to make sure that it won’t happen again,” she added. “Notices have been sent out to the hospitals or the assessment centres, wherever it is the tests are being conducted, indicating that it is their responsibility to notify public health.”

More Ontario manufacturers to make PPE

The Ontario government also announced more businesses will receive financial support through the Ontario Together Fund to re-tool their processes to make personal protective equipment (PPE).

The three new companies receiving financial support includes Southmedic in Barrie to make oxygen masks, ETCO2 masks and eye and face shield.

Sterling Industries in Concord will be able to increase its output of face shields from 200,000 per week to more than a million per week. SRB Technologies in Pembroke will convert a portion of its production from emergency lighting solutions for the nuclear, aerospace, construction and defence sectors to manufacturing medical-grade face shields.

1:45 p.m.: Canadian companies looking for ‘breakthrough solutions’ for rapid testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government is now funding four Canadian companies working on “breakthrough solutions” for COVID-19 rapid testing.

Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, explained the four companies will receive funding from the National Research Council of Canada. These businesses are Deep Biologics in Guelph, Nicoya Lifesciences in Kitchener and Metabolic Insights in Kelowna.

“These tests, if approved, would diagnose individual effected by COVID-19 within 3 days of the start of their symptoms using an easy to collection patient sample,” Bains said. “These companies have found a way to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus in saliva.”

Trudeau also highlighted the government has signed a contract for millions of syringes to have the supplies needed when a vaccine is ready to be administered.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said Canada “needs to plan” for when there is eventually a viable vaccine for the public.

“We are making sure that when a viable vaccine is discovered, Canada is ready for its administration,” Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement said at a press conference on Tuesday.

June 1

7:15 p.m.: COVID-19 questions of the day

7:00 p.m.: ‘Large gatherings remain very high risk, even outdoors’

Following the protests in Canada and the U.S. over the weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said “large gatherings remain very high risk, even outdoors.”

“Those who were there yesterday, you may have put yourself at risk and you may bring that back to your home,” Dr .Henry said. “You need to monitor yourself carefully over the next coming days to two weeks.”

She went on to thank people who participated in the Vancouver protest who were wearing masks and trying to keep a safe distance. Anyone who does become symptomatic is asked to self-isolate and get tested for COVID-19.

Monday also marked the first day in-class learning could resume in B.C. Dr. Henry said about a third students returned to school in the K-5 age group.

‘It’s in our hands to keep those numbers running stable’

Alberta's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said there are 10 COVID-19 cases linked to gatherings in Edmonton, with investigations still ongoing.

She said over the weekend, she called for assistance with a loud party occurring in her neighbourhood. Dr. Hinshaw indicated there was a delay before getting through to an operator who told her noise complaints were “very significant” at the moment. She has not had a chance to ask police if this is particularly unusual for this time of year.

“It’s in our hands to keep those numbers running stable and not increasing,” Dr. Hinshaw said. “Unfortunately, the only protection we have against COVID right now are the measures we take to prevent spread from one person to another.”

Dr. Hinshaw said public health measures will be in place until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment where there would not be severe outcomes from the virus.

Alberta's chief medical officer of health also commented on the recent protests, saying any event where people are gathered together “has the potential for spreading COVID-19.” She said, as much as possible, two metres should be observed between people and if it could be difficult to maintain, non-medical face masks should be worn by as many people as possible.

$400 for Quebec’s cultural sector

Quebec officials have announced a $400 million investment in the cultural sector of the province.

This includes financial support for film and television productions, assistance to cultural organizations as they resume operations, promotion of Quebec projects and support for performing arts, music, writers and digital projects.

Culture Minister Nathalie Roy announced as of June 8, audiovisual productions in Quebec can resume, including preproduction and postproduction activities.

Roy said she is confident venues like  concert halls, theatres and cinemas could reopen before June 24.

“We’re going in the right direction in our fight against the virus but we must not let our guard down,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said. “If we don’t want it to come back this summer, we all have a role to play.”

More links between temporary foreign workers and COVID-19

Manitoba's chief medical health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said one case confirmed over the weekend was in a temporary foreign worker. 

“All the appropriate actions were take,” Dr. Roussin said. “There was appropriate self- isolation...very limited contacts.”

Two other cases have been linked to truck drivers who were travelling between Canada and the U.S.

Shared Health’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa shared guidelines have been developed for in-patient visits in the province, with more details to be released to the public later this week.

Siragusa added Victoria General Hospital in Winnipeg has decided to do a pilot program to allow family visits for “medically stable patients.” 

4:00 p.m.: Outbreak in Haldimand—Norfolk region of Ontario

Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health, confirmed she is aware of an existing outbreak in the Haldimand—Norfolk region with 85 temporary foreign workers involved, 25 people with symptoms and five admitted to hospital. 

She said the local health unit is working closely with the employer and ensuring anyone with symptoms is isolated in appropriate accommodations.

Of the 404 cases confirmed on Monday, Dr. Yaffe said 120 are from Toronto and 103 are from Peel.

The associate chief medical officer of health said anyone who was part of the large protest in Toronto over the weekend should self-monitor for any COVID-19 symptoms for the following 14 days, and should get tested if any appear.

Dr. Yaffe also commented on families of residents in long-term care homes wanting to see their loved ones. She indicated the province is “considering family visitation policies” in a way that balances the physical and mental health of residents.

“We do not want to...take a chance to introduce COVID-19 into the facilities,” Dr. Yaffe said.

2:30 p.m.: Rise in COVID-19 cases in Ontario linked to migrant workers

Premier Doug Ford said the jump to 404 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province on Monday is linked to 81 migrant workers in sourthwestern Ontario testing positive for the virus.

“When they first came here...they were self-isolating for two weeks,” Ford said.

The premier added he will be working with public health officials to get all migrant workers in the province tested for the virus.

Change in electricity rates

The Ontario government has announced new initiatives related to electricity bills in the province. Beginning on June 1, customers who pay time-of-us (TOU) rates will be billed on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

This rate will be in place until Oct. 31and beginning on Nov. 1, Ontarians can choose either TOU electricity rates or tiered pricing, a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption.

There will also be an extension of the Ontario Energy Board's winter disconnection ban until July 31 and $9 million is being provided for the Energy Assistance Program (CEAP), to support consumers struggling to pay their energy bills during the pandemic.

Mobile testing units begin in Scarborough

The premier share that mobile units are out in the field and on Tuesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., testing will be begin in Scarborough at 1250 Markham Rd. He urged anyone in the area who is symptomatic, or even those who currently aren’t experiencing any possible COVID-19 symptoms, to get tested.

Ford indicated these mobile testing units will be making their way around the GTA as the province tries to move forward with a regional approach to reopening.

“This regional approach is very, very complicated,” the premier said.

He also commented on the federal government’s recent announcement that the full 2020-2021 Federal Gas Tax Fund will be available to municipalities in advance, indicating additional funds should be committed.

“It’s existing money, it’s already in the budget,” Ford said “We need new money.” 

“I’ve committed to come to the table and help these municipalities...I’m in there, we need you to be in there. We need more money.”

1:00 p.m.: More race and ethnicity information related to COVID-19 cases to come

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, confirmed cases being reported from provinces and territories do not include race and ethnicity information, but the federal government is trying to get that data.

“Those who are in certain more disadvantaged populations, socioeconomic areas...and certain groups of people in Canada are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 and that’s already evident,” Dr. Tam said.

She said getting access to this information could be “really important” with certain communities, particularly in Toronto and Montreal, seeing a disproportionate number of cases.

Minister of Health Parry Hajdu was asked about the possibility of a national contact tracing app in Canada.

She privacy is of the “utmost importance” and recognized that an app would be helpful in particular jurisdictions.

Hajdu said the federal government is continuing conversations with provinces and territories.

Following the protests across the U.S. and Canada over the weekend, Dr. Tam provided some advice for how gather in large groups as safely as possible during COVID-19.

She indicated wearing a mask would be a good option in this context. Dr. Tam indicated “shouting and making really loud projections” can potentially increase the risk of spreading the virus so one might want to choose other means of messaging, like signs.

12:00 p.m.: $2.2 billion for municipalities

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $2.2 billion for municipalities through the Federal Gas Tax Fund, making the full 2020-2021 funds available now.

“This is strong support to keep Canadians safe and our communities strong,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister this is an “initial” initiative to bring forward funds municipalities would have received six months from now.

“Yes, we need to do more and we will do more,” Trudeau said, adding subsequent investments will happen hand-in-hand with the provinces.

How is COVID-19 impacting different ages, races?

He was also asked about collecting national data on how COVID-19 is impacting people along socioeconomic lines.

Trudeau says Canada doesn’t even have age data for a “large portion” of the cases in the country.

“Certainly in the early days, collection of data was done in a very disparate way across the country and collating all that data, while people were trying to scramble to ramp up to respond to this crisis, was extremely difficult,” the prime minister said. “We need to do much better than that.”

He said the federal government is currently working with the provinces to establish a data collection strategy to allow information to be compared across the country.

“We do know that COVID doesn’t hit everyone the same way,” Trudeau said. “Racialized communities are living this very differently than others, people who are already vulnerable for different reasons can become more vulnerable to COVID-19.”

10:30 a.m.: Andrew Scheer won’t answer questions about Conservatives using wage subsidy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was asked several times at a press conference on Monday about the party using the wage subsidy.

Scheer maintained it’s a decision the party made and it will be up to the new leader of the party to determine what to do and answer for the decision, not revealing any personal thought on the matter.

The Conservative Leader also said Trudeau is “letting down Canadians” as millions of people across the country remain jobless throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 29

7:00 p.m. COVID-19 questions of the day

6:30 p.m.: Anyone in Alberta can be tested for COVID-19

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, announced testing for COVID-19 is being expanded to include anyone in the province, whether they have symptoms or not.

“This will provide data to further understand the impacts of moving to Stage 2 of Alberta’s relaunch strategy,” Dr. Hinshaw said. “Expanded testing will also help us understand where there might be undetected positive cases and therefore prevent further spread of the virus.”

She said if anyone in Alberta thinks they have been exposed, they can arrange testing through the online assessment tool, which is currently operational for Calgary and will be implemented for the rest of the province next week.

Dr. Hinshaw said the priority for tests will be given to symptomatic individuals or close contacts to known COVID-19 cases.

This expanded testing strategy is meant to boost “population surveillance” to understand the virus’ presence on all communities, while the previous framework focused on people who were at highest risk of exposure.

Dr. Hinshaw said there is the potential for concern about false positives with this more widespread testing, but indicated the test is “quite specific” and every positive case will still be investigated.

New Brunswick premier had ‘significant reservations’ about family reunification across the Canada-U.S. border

With two new cases in Zone 5 of New Brunswick, the Campbellton region, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell is urging people in the province to be vigilant with all public health measures in place.

“People living outside that region are in the circle of transmission,” Dr. Russell said. “This cluster could easily spread to other regions of New Brunswick.”

She said the investigation of the cluster is still ongoing and public health in the region are trying to trace any close contacts of the cases in Zone 5. The eight active cases in the province are believed to be linked to one health-care professional, who did not self-isolate after a recent trip to Quebec.

“It is vital that if you are contacted you must be truthful with public health and you must follow their directions to the letter,” Dr. Russell said. “We really rely on you.”

For anyone who is disappointed that these new cases have resulted in a slowing of reopening measures, the chief medical officer said the province needs to determine the extent of the spread and “really did need to protect others.”

Dr. Russell said since the beginning of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, the Campbellton area had the highest number of tests per capita. She indicated 81 contacts from one case were able to be traced in 24 hours, and phone numbers and names of all the people the health-care worker has been involved with are known.

New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said officials are also trying to determine what information was given to the individual at the border.

The premier went on to share his thoughts on the possibility of a family reunification modification to the Canada-U.S. border restrictions.

“I did have some significant reservations,” Higgs said.

He went on to say he has spoken with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and is now feeling “very reassured about how the process would be developed.” Higgs said it could be through an application process and each person will be in Canada for at least two week, so existing quarantine protocols can be followed.

Size of gatherings increases to 10 people in Nova Scotia

Effective immediately, people in Nova Scotia can now gather in groups of up to 10 people.

This limit is the same indoors and outdoors, but social distancing of at least two metres must be maintained.

Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia, said this limit also applies to businesses whose core operations relate to gatherings.

Gatherings of up to 15 people are permitted for outdoor weddings and funerals. Dr. Strang said anyone working at these events, like a photographer at a wedding, is counted in the 15 people limit.

Additionally, Nova Scotia’s 20 provincial camping parks are set to reopen in June, with the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park opening on Monday.

Provincial campgrounds will open on June 15, with the number of available campsites reduced by 30 per cent. Campsite reservations will open over four days starting on June 8.

Quebec not on board with adapting Canada-U.S. border restrictions

Quebec Premier Francois Legault was asked at a press conference on Friday about where he stands on reuniting families separated by the Canada-U.S. border.

The premier said that during his call with provincial and federal leaders, the more western provinces were open to having border restrictions eased earlier.

He said Quebec’s government agrees essential workers must be able to cross to and from Canada, but the country should wait longer before lifting any additional exceptions to the non-essential travel ban.

2:30 p.m.: Ontario reveals new testing approach, considers regional reopenings

The Ontario government has announced a new strategy for COVID-19 testing, which the premier said could lead to a regional reopening strategy moving forward in the province. 

This is something Doug Ford has been particularly against in the past, citing concerns about people moving from one community to another to access more services.

Why test? Ontario's testing plan's goals

“The more data we have, the better we understand what is happening on the ground,” Ford said.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, said it will be important to consider how any regional variations in COVID-19 measures are communicated to the public, so the rules are respected.

He agreed with the sentiment that two regions adjacent to each other will be much hard to keep separate than areas further apart.

Symptomatic people in Ontario and those who are asymptomatic but have concerns about being exposed to COVID-19, including through essential work like healthcare employees and grocery store workers, can get tested and will not be turned away at any of the province’s 131 assessment centres.

At a technical briefing on Friday, public health officials revealed they are working on “targeted campaigns” with workplaces and particular sectors, like auto manufacturers, major retailers and agri-food businesses, to expand testing. For example, employees with the LCBO have been offered tests in the past days, as part of this strategy.

There will also be mobile testing teams that can be deployed to particular communities of concern in the province.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner, said provincial public health officials are working closely with Toronto Public Health and and Peel Public health to effectively respond to specific concerns in those areas. This could include bringing a team to a particularly facility to do swabbing.

Matthew Anderson, president and CEO of Ontario Health, said the goal is to create a four-week rolling calendar to test various groups and communities across the province. 

The premier and public health officials all said this enhanced testing protocol will likely lead to more cases being discovered, but the more information the province has, the more officials can know about hotspots in Ontario and if there are any new outbreaks have occurred.

Moving forward: The plan for Ontario's testing

“We want to know how the virus is spread,” Ford said. “We want to know how many new people a case is infecting.” 

Dr. Vanessa Allen with the Public Health Ontario said serology testing could “become a more helpful tool.” Dr. Allen did indicate if these tests are conducted too soon, it will have a negative result and there is a high probability of a false positive, about 50 per cent. She also said more information is required about how protected people with these antibodies will be.

Dr. Allen said the province is planning to increase its testing capacity, currently around 20,000, by the fall to prepare for additional respiratory infections that are present in the season, but no set target has been identified at this point.

‘I support what the prime minister’s recommending’

The premier also addressed a statement made earlier by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the possibility of reuniting families across the Canada-U.S. border.

“I support what the prime minister’s recommending and it’s relatively small group, I hear,” the premier said.

He added that it is “critical” to ramp up testing at the border to make sure everyone undergoes adequate screening.

11:45 a.m.: ‘Modification’ to Canada-U.S. border restrictions could be made

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said there have been conversations with provincial leaders about family unification across the Canada-U.S. border.

“We have been looking at ways of perhaps allowing close family members, children, spouses or parents, of Canadian citizens or permanent residents to be able to reunite, under strict conditions, through a slight modification of the directives,” Trudeau said.

The prime minister said this would not change the approach to close the border to non-essential travel until the end of June, possibly beyond.

Trudeau indicated a number of premiers believe this would be a valid adjustment, while other expressed concerns about loosening the restrictions currently in place.

Giving Canadian airfare refunds and supporting the airline industry

The prime minister commented on Canadians given vouchers instead of refunds for cancelled flights, indicated he has “clearly” heard the concerns and the federal government will continue to work with the airline industry to “find a fair way through this.”

Trudeau stressed, as did the Minister of Transport Marc Garneau earlier on Friday, Canada wants to make sure there is an airline industry when the COVID-19 subsides.

Soldiers in long-term care homes is ‘not a long-term solution’

Trudeau also stressed as the country moves through the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada needs a longer term solution to care for seniors.

He said the federal government will support province and territories to “get control” over these facilities, including money and resources.

“Soldiers in our nursing homes is not a long-term solution, it’s a short-term fix,” the prime minister said. “The situation going on in Quebec and Ontario is extremely worrisome.”

10:00 a.m.: Cruise ships prohibited from Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31

Minister of Transport Marc Garneau provided an update on cruise ships in Canada.

Cruise ships with overnight accommodation and a capacity for more than 100 people, including passengers and crew, will be prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31.

Ships with the capacity of more than 12 will continue to be prohibited form entering Arctic coastal waters until at least Oct. 31 as well.

As of July 1, all other passenger vessels must look to provincial, territorial, local and regional health authorities for operating timelines and conditions.

Garneau said Canadians are urged to “limit non-essential travel for the time being.”

The minister also said he is monitoring the situation with airlines in Canada, to ensure the country “can maintain an airline industry” when this pandemic is over.

For Canadians who only received vouchers for cancelled flights, not cash refunds, Garneau said he has “enormous sympathy” for them but if airlines had to immediately reimburse all tickets it would have a “devastating” impact on the industry.

He highlighted airlines have lost more than 90 per cent of their revenues.

$650 million in funding for Indigenous communities

Minister of Indigenous Services, Marc Miller, announced $650 million in funding for Indigenous communities as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and is ready to increase the number of healthcare professionals by up to 40 per cent.

“I know everyone is concerned about he possibility of a second wave, and we are acting,” Miller said. “We are ready to support Indigenous communities when they will need it, according to their needs.”

“We need to be better and together, we need to make sure that no one is left behind.”

An additional $270 million will be provided to increase the Income Assistance Program to First Nations on reserve.

Miller also announced an additional $44.8 million over five years to build 12 shelters in First Nations communities to help protect women and children, with a million dollars a year of ongoing support for women and girls fleeing violence.

The Minister of Indigenous Services said there are significant concerns about a second wave of the virus spreading in Canada, indicating Indigenous communities will be particularly vulnerable.

May 28

7:20 p.m.: COVID-19 questions of the day

7:00 p.m.: B.C. hotels, resorts could resume operations as early as mid-June, provincial health officer says

Dr. Bonnie Henry, British Columbia's provincial health officer, said if the COVID-19 situation continues as it is now, around the middle of June or “certainly” into July, the province can look at possibly beginning opening travel outlets, like hotels and resorts, to local travellers.

“We don’t want our contacts to go back to where they were before,” Dr. Henry said. “That’s why the focus has been on, how can we do things that are sustainable.”

She said physical distancing will still have to be maintained, as well as hand hygiene and small numbers of people present to not extend contacts too much, so the virus can’t “take off.”

What does B.C. think of Toronto’s numbers?

B.C.’s provincial health officer commented on Toronto releasing geographic data on the cases in the city, saying the province is looking at how to do something similar.

Dr. Henry did indicate the Toronto map “doesn’t tell you a story that you need to understand,” because it shows where cases live but not where they were exposed or what community the risk was in.

“I think the important thing that they show in the city of Toronto is that some of the lower income neighbourhoods or more ethnically diverse neighbourhoods...people who live there seem to be more affected,” Dr. Henry said.

She said the province is hoping to have more geographic data in the coming days.

Dr. Henry also spoke about any sort of exception that could be possible for the NHL if a “hub city” was in the province. She said there have been discussions about how it could be done safely but has not seen a formal proposal yet.

“I do see how we could potentially have small numbers of people cohorting together and in self-isolation,” Dr. Henry said.

Three new COVID-19 cases New Brunswick delays opening plans

New Brunswick has postponed the next phase of its reopening plan, originally scheduled to occur on Friday. It has now been pushed back by one week to June 5.

“This will allow us time to see how widespread the outbreak is,” premier Blaine Higgs said.

There are now three COVID-19 cases in Zone 5, the Campbellton region, which New Brunswick’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, said are all originally linked to an individual who travelled to Quebec earlier this month and did not self-isolate when they returned.

The openings and operations being delayed include:

  • Outdoor public gatherings of 50 people or fewer

  • Indoor religious services, including weddings and funerals, of 50 people or fewer

  • Low-contact team sports

  • Swimming pools, saunas and waterparks

  • Gyms, yoga and dance studios

  • Rinks and indoor recreational facilities

  • Pool halls and bowling alleys

The following rules apply to Zone 5 only:

  • A two-household bubble is permitted. Your household can join up with one other household, if both households mutually agree. You must not have close contact with anyone else. You cannot join up with more than one household or bubble.

  • Non-regulated health professionals and businesses such as acupuncturists and naturopaths cannot operate at this time.

  • Personal services businesses such as barbers, hair stylists, spas, estheticians, manicurists, pedicurists, and tattoo artists cannot operate at this time.

4:00 p.m.: Still ‘evidence of community spread’ in Ontario

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health, was expected the province would see an uptick in cases tomorrow, around a week after the Victoria Day long weekend.

He indicated the majority of cases in the province are in Toronto, Peel and York regions.

Dr. Williams said he was made aware that data from the long-term care survey are still being processed but there is still “evidence of community spread” in Ontario and health officials need to determine where people are acquiring the virus.

2:15 p.m.: Daily cases over 400 could lead to slower reopenings in Ontario

Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said if the daily case numbers start going into the 400s and 500s, the province may have to “be a bit slower” with the next phase of reopening.

She said the province expected the numbers to increase somewhat when Ontario began reopening, but the minister indicated she and Dr. David Williams, the chief medical officer of health, “both feel relatively comfortable” with the number of cases increasing to 383 on Thursday.

Elliott said at least one week needs to go by before the province will contemplate going into the next stage of reopening.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he has been “taking bullets everyday” for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) with long-term care inspectors “refusing” to go into these facilities, resulting in these audits being conducted over the phone.

“They refused to go in,” Ford said. “I understand, they were scared. They were nervous about their families, they were worried about their health.”

“You’re dealing with a union and inspectors are saying they’re not going in there.”

The premier went on to say the province “didn’t just sit on our hands” and tried to guarantee inspectors personal protective equipment.

Ford did go on to applaud OPSEU president Smokey Thomas for the resumption of in-person inspections.

1:00 p.m.: ‘Protecting the Canadian population remains the key objective’

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, said increasing resources for contact tracing with an app is important, particularly when preparing for case numbers to increase.

She said she was happy to see more granular data coming out of Toronto, which identifies areas of the city with larger case numbers. Dr. Tam said this information can now be used for targeted testing and resource allocation to help control the spread of COVID-19.

Canada's chief public health officer also commented on the post-infection, multi-system inflammatory syndrome, which has been reported in children. She said paediatricians in Canada have been alerted and doctors are looking for specific cases.

Dr. Tam indicated there is still data being collected on this inflammatory response but looking for antibodies in patients with this syndrome could be an option, when serology tests are available.

“This is a rare condition but if your kids have a high fever that’s lasting longer than a couple of days, you have rashes, swollen limbs or other concerns, please call your paediatricians,” she said.

The chief public health officer also indicated discussions about the possibility of an NHL hub city in Canada are occurring, particularly with regards to concerns about the mandatory isolation required for anyone coming into the country.

“Protecting the Canadian population remains the key objective,” Dr. Tam said. “For now, our strict mandatory 14-day quarantine applies at the international border.”

May 27

7:30 p.m.: Toronto COVID-19 hotspots revealed

The City of Toronto has created a geographic map of COVID-19 hotspots in the city.

The community in the city with the most cases, totalling 400, is Rouge, the northeastern part of Scarborough. This is followed by Mount Olive-Silverstone-Jamestown with 384 cases, the northwestern corner of Etobicoke. The majority of additional cases are around these regions of the city.

“At this time, based on the last two weeks of activity, our mapping indicates that people living in the northwest and the northeast parts of the city now have the highest number of positive cases,” Dr. Eileen de Villa, medical officer of health, said in a statement.

The regions with the highest concentration were:

  • Glenfield-Jane Heights, 286 cases

  • West Humber-Clairville, 258 cases

  • York University Heights, 250

  • Islington-City Centre West, 211 cases

  • Woburn, 199

Dr. de Villa stressed that just because there are more cases in one area the public shouldn’t “mistakenly” believe the is “an elevated risk of infection by going to certain parts of the city.”

“The reality is you are at risk of getting COVID-19 anywhere when you are in close contact with the respiratory droplets of someone who is infected with the virus,” she said.

“By knowing where those impacted by COVID-19 live, and by assessing other important risk factors, we are better able to inform our preventive actions, we can better identify where proactive testing can be helpful, and we can take targeted action to reduce virus spread.”

7:00 p.m.: ‘We will not waive the rules,’ B.C. says

British Columbia Premier said he was “horrified” to read the reports from long-term care facilities in Ontario.

“I can say with great certainty that the providers are giving the best care possible under extraordinary difficult circumstances, and the horror stories that we’re seeing out of Quebec and Ontario are not being duplicated here in British Columbia,” Horgan said.

“Are care homes in British Columbia perfect? Absolutely not,” Minister of Health Adrian Dix added. “We have to continue to make improvements but I am very proud of the work our teams have done and very sorry for all of those whose family members have died before they should because of COVID-19.”

Horgan also spoke about the 14 day isolation rule possibly enticing professional sports leagues, and the film and entertainment centre, to look at other locations to resume operations.

“We will not waive the rules...of Canada, which is you require a 14-day isolation period when you are coming into the country,” the premier said. “We fought very hard...to make sure those rules were being enforced, not just in B.C. but indeed across the country.”

He added that the NHL is looking to resume play in July. He said “in COVID year that’s a thousand years from now” but is looking forward to continuing discussions with the hockey league.

“Those rules are in place today at our urging and we will ask for them to be diminished at a time when we believe it’s safe to do so,” Horgan said.

First possible case of inflammatory response to COVID-19 in Alberta

Alberta is reporting one possible care of the multi-system inflammatory syndrome in the province, similar to Kawasaki’s disease.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said this syndrome responds to treatments like steroids. 

The reported cases in a variety of jurisdictions involve children and adolescents recently infected with the virus showing symptoms about a month later.

Fever is a key feature and other symptoms include rash, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It is now a reportable condition in Alberta.

4:45 p.m.: Restaurant, gyms can open in Nova Scotia on June 5

As of June 5, Nova Scotia will allow most businesses that had to stop operations to reopen.

This includes:

  • Restaurants for dine-in, as well as takeout and delivery

  • Bars, wineries, distilleries and taprooms

  • Personal services, such as hair salons, barber shops, spas, nail salons and body art establishments

  • Fitness facilities, such as gyms, yoga studios and climbing facilities

  • Veterinarians

Other health providers can also reopen on the same date if they follow protocols in their colleges’ and associations’ plans, as approved by public health. These include:

  • Dentistry and other self-regulated health professions such as optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy

  • Unregulated health professions such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy

Lounges are not permitted to reopen at this time and the current goal is to reopen the childcare sector by June 15.

Beginning on June 1, eligible businesses, non-profits, charities and social enterprises can also apply for a new $25 million Small Business Reopening and Support Grant.

2:20 p.m.: Ontario to expand inspections of long-term care facilities

Ontario Premier Doug Ford was asked about calls for the removal of the province’s Minister of Long-term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, following the release of the report from the Canadian Armed Forces on Tuesday.

“Absolutely not, I stand behind my minister 100 per cent,” he said. 

The premier said the province has started the process to take over management of five additional long-term care homes, Eatonville Care in Etobicoke, Hawthorne Place in North York, Altamont Care in Scarborough, Orchard Villa in Pickering and Camilla Care in Mississauga.

Ford also announced Canadian Armed Forces members will remain in these facilities until June 21.

The province will also expand “rigorous inspection and monitoring” of long-term care homes of particular concern for a period of two weeks, with additional random spot checks across Ontario.

“In the face of those accusations, in the face of these problems, we’re using every tool at our disposal,” Ford said. “We need boots on the ground. I want eyes and ears in the homes we are most worried about.”

The premier said the “independent commission” into long-term care homes will begin in July. He said it can involve investigation into the provincial government, the premier’s office and the ministry’s office. 

“We want this to happen...100 per cent I’ll be a witness,” Ford said.

The premier indicated the provincial government is “fully prepared” to take over management of more homes, pull licenses and shut down facilities, if necessary.

“I want to see if they’ve corrected the problems that the Canadian Armed Forces put out into their report,” Ford said. “I won’t hesitate to take the long-term care patients out of those homes and put them in another home, or the hospital if we have to.”

“What we saw yesterday is the worst of the worst.”

Dr. Fullerton said it was the “staffing crisis” that was pre-existing and “amplified” by COVID-19 that was a care factor in current conditions at these long-term care homes.

1:30 p.m.: Quebec to train 10,000 to work in long-term care facilities

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said the situation still remains difficult in long-term care facilities in the province, primarily due to staffing difficulties.

“Our biggest challenge remains the staffing...in our health network, especially in senior homes,” Legault said.

The premier said there were not many surprises about what was in the report from the Canadian Armed Forces, particularly because for many years these facilities have needed thousands more staff members.

He indicated it is important to keep the same employees at “hot” and “cold” zones, and staff must be able to use personal protective equipment effectively to prevent the spread of the virus.

Legault said the province is launching a campaign to train 10,000 orderlies. They will be paid $21 per hour for the training, expected to last three months, and $26 per hour for their full-time job to follow.

The premier has also asked for the military to continue their work in long-term care homes until mid-September.

12:45 p.m.: Canada must avoid ‘jurisdictional fights’ on long-term care issues

Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said it was “very difficult” to read about the conditions at long-term care homes in Quebec and Ontario but the federal government is looking at “all options” to assist premiers.

“As the prime minister repeatedly said this morning, we have to have very serious and collaborative discussions about how we look after seniors,” he said. 

Duclos said his experience with long-term care facilities in his riding was “very good” but there was more work that could be done in terms of time and resources allocated to looking after seniors.

“What I did notice is that there was a lot of work to be done, not only the physical work but the psychological,” the treasury board president said. “It’s not difficult for me to imagine how difficult that work must be now, in the last few weeks.”

In terms of a national approach to supporting long-term care homes, Duclos said it is a joint responsibility, and should not be put forward and implemented without collaboration with provinces to avoid “jurisdictional fights.”

CERB will come to an end

Duclos also commented on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), indicating the intention is the benefit will conclude as more employers resume operations, with employees transitioning to the wage subsidy.

He said the intention is for the wage subsidy to “replace” the CERB in as many cases as possible, also as a way to support the recovery of businesses in Canada.

11:40 a.m.: ‘We need to do a better job of caring for seniors’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on a “troubling” report from the Canadians Armed Forces on 25 long-term care homes in Quebec.

The problems identified include inadequate staffing, issues about isolating COVID-19 positive residents and people not following the rules on personal protective equipment (PPE). 

“We need to do a better job of caring for seniors...they deserve better,” Trudeau said. “We will be there to help.”

Although the prime minister did not specify exactly how the federal government will assist in these settings, Trudeau said he will raise what is happening on a call with Canada’s premiers on Thursday.

“Coming out of this pandemic...we need to make sure we’re doing a better job of supporting our seniors,” he said. 

Trudeau said after reading the report about Quebec long-term care homes, just after a report about Ontario facilities was shared, he has pride and “even deeper respect” for the Canadian military, who assisted in these settings.

“Going forward, Canadians want to see us doing better by our elders,” the prime minister said. 

Will the CERB be extended?

The prime minister was also asked about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the wage subsidy. Trudeau said as Canada begins reopening the economy, the federal government will “look very carefully at how we end certain programs” like the CERB, while modifying others. Currently the government is touting the extension of the Canada Wage Subsidy as a way to strengthen the relationship between employee and employers to help kickstrat

10:30 a.m.: Ontario extends emergency orders

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders until June 9. 

“We are extending these emergency orders to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families as we begin to gradually and safely reopen our province,” premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

The current orders include the closure of outdoor playgrounds, bars and restaurants for in-person dining and social gatherings are restricted to five people.

“To build on the progress we have made to contain COVID-19, people should continue to follow these simple public health guidelines, practise physical distancing, wear a mask when it is a challenge to physical distance, and wash their hands regularly,” a statement from Ford reads.

‘Don't be like Toronto’

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is urging people in the city to keep their distance and avoid crowding in parks, saying “don’t be like Toronto.”

His comment comes after thousands of people gather at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Saturday, going against physical distancing rules.

“We have a beautiful city that is full of green spaces and there are great opportunities to get together in your own neighbourhood, in non-traditional spaces,” Nenshi said in his update on Tuesday. “A lot of this is going to be self regulating, people want to stay safe, they want to keep the physical distance.”

May 26

7:30 p.m.: COVID-19 questions of the day

7:00 p.m.: B.C. ‘not bending the rules’ for NHL

British Columbia's provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said although she is pleased Vancouver is being considered as a “hub city” for the NHL, the province does not intend to make exceptions to its public health measures for players.

“We have been very clear...that we’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk,” Dr. Henry said.

As the province continues to look into local spread of COVID-19, B.C. is actively looking at serology testing as a way to better understand the impact of the virus.

B.C. is currently conducting a survey of people in the province to find out more about citizen experiences throughout the pandemic. Of the more than 300,000 people who have taken the survey so far, more than 200,000 indicated they would be interested in participating in serology testing.  

COVID-19 fight heightened in Montreal with heat concerns

With the weather forecast predicting warmer temperatures in much of Quebec, the city of Montreal must balance preventing the spread of COVID-19 while battling a heat wave.

This is particularly difficult when public spaces with air conditioning, like shopping malls and libraries, are still closed due to the pandemic.

Regional public health director Dr. Mylène Drouin said a request has been made to open splash pad at municipal parks as soon as possible.

Seasonal residents of P.E.I. to undergo risk assessment

Dr. Heather Morrison, the chief public health officer of Prince Edward Island, stressed anyone coming to the province must have pre-approval through public safety and a self-isolation plan in place before arrival.

Residents who are returning do not need pre-approved travel but their plans for self-isolation must be in place.

With increasing questions about seasonal residents, Dr. Morrison said more clarity will be provided later this week but there will be a risk assessment process that considers where people are coming from, the effectiveness of their isolation plan and if testing may be a requirement for them as well.

“We will not want to...jeopardize our capacity with operation isolation based on our intake of people coming into P.E.I.,” Dr. Morrison said.

People who travel off the island for essential work may be exempt from self-isolation. Those who are home for less than 14 days can be tested weekly for COVID-19 but the first time they are tested, they must be isolated waiting for the results.

“If they are still in P.E.I. seven days later they will be tested again,” Dr. Morrison said.

The provincial chief public health officer also reminded the public about how the virus can spread from person to person.

“It does not shoot across the room,” Dr. Morrison said. “It also doesn’t soak through your skin on your arm.”

“It’s really important we continue to use enhanced cleaning measures so these droplets don’t remain on surfaces another person can touch.”

4:00 p.m.: ‘We don’t want anyone left uncared for’

Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, briefly commented on the report from the Canadian Armed Forces on long-term care facilities, released on Tuesday.

“We don’t want anyone left uncared for during this time of the outbreak,” Dr. Williams said.

When asked about the possibility of people in Ontario being allowed to see loved one in long-term care homes, in light of the recently released information, the chief medical officer of health said officials are looking at when Ontarians can be given the “green light,” but the direction will come from the Ministry of Long-term Care.

With the daily case count down to 287, Dr. Williams called this number “encouraging” but reminded the public to take the data “with a grain of salt” because it is only one day.

He said some areas have seen significantly fewer COVID-19 cases than other but the province has significant concerns about any regional restrictions in Ontario, with the assumption that people in an area with more public health measures in place will travel to other regions to access more services.

“By doing regional responses, can you restrict travel...especially to adjacent areas,” Dr. Williams said. “Intraprovincial blockage is a challenge.”

2:30 p.m.: Ontario Premier says reports from five long-term care homes is ‘appalling’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a report from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on long-term care homes in the province is “heartbreaking” and “horrific.”

“We knew these homes were having serious problems and needed help,” Ford said. “We didn’t know the full extent.”

“It’s gut wrenching and reading those reports was the hardest thing I’ve done as premier.”

The report claims there was fecal contamination, rotten food, cockroaches, and residents not being cleaned and bathed.

“It’s absolutely appalling,” Ford said. “These are just standard operating procedures to clean someone.”

“It’s so disturbing when I read this, it was heard to get though it.” 

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, said these facilities have been the government’s “top priority” throughout the pandemic.

“We will continue to be transparent with the people of Ontario,” Dr. Fullerton said. “We have said all along that our long-term care system needs to be repaired.”

She said there has been “significant improvement” in the five homes since the report was released.

“As our population aged, as the staffing became more problematic into a crisis, just before COVID, that had been on my radar and as a minister of long-term care, I was looking to address that,” Dr. Fullerton said. “This is a national issue, this is something that everyone has known about for years, our population was aging, long-term care was ignored.”

Premier Ford has now requested to extend their current mission in long-term care for 30 days and called for additional assistance from the federal government.

“Support us as we move forward...we can’t fix it alone,” Ford said.

1:30 p.m.: Deputy Prime Minister calls report on Ontario long-term care homes ‘serious and truly heart wrenching’

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister of Health Parry Hajdu both commented on the report from the Canadian Armed Forces about long-term care homes in Ontario.

Hajdu called the report “extremely disturbing” and said although these facilities are provincial jurisdiction, the federal government intends to support the province to ensure seniors can have a “dignified life.”

She added that as a result of the report being shared, the Minister of Defence “took appropriate action.”

Freeland said the government is “grateful” for the people who stepped forward to collect this information, calling the report “serious and truly heart wrenching.”

The Deputy Prime Minister also commented on the possibility of asylum seekers in Quebec working in long-term care facilities being able to stay in Canada through immigration applications. 

“We understand there is a very specific situation right now where many people in Canada and Quebec are particularly grateful to refugee claimants,” Freeland said. “We know also that it’s very important in all issues...to do things properly and carefully.”

She added that Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, is looking into this with the province “very carefully and closely.”

12:00 p.m.: Trudeau calls report on Ontario long-term care homes ‘deeply disturbing’

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he has read “deeply disturbing” information from a report by the Canadian Armed Forces about what was witnessed in Ontario long-term care facilities.

“There are things in there that are extremely troubling and we need to take action,” Trudeau said, also indicating he spoke to Ontario Premier Doug Ford earlier on Tuesday and offered federal support.

The prime minister went on to say that when he read the report he had emotions of anger, sadness, frustration and grief.

“We need to do a better job of supporting our seniors in long-term care right across the country through this pandemic and beyond,” Trudeau said. “This is a situation that has gone on for a long time, we need to take action as a country.”

More information on the report is expected to be released later on Tuesday.

The prime minister also announced the federal government has secured a contract with General Motors to produce 10 million face masks. A new contract has also been signed for 10,000 ventilators in partnership with Vexos.

For a full archive of the first month of the pandemic, please check our archive of events.