Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada on May 16

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Health Canada has approved the first Canadian clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. If successful, it will be produced and distributed in Canada. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, here's what's happening across the country.

1st Canadian clinical trials for a vaccine now approved by Health Canada

Some good news from around the world this week

2 years ago
Duration 3:03
With much of the world struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still some good-news stories to report. Here's a brief roundup.

The latest:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Health Canada has approved the first Canadian clinical trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine, to be carried out at the Canadian Center for Vaccinology in Halifax.

If successful, the vaccine will be produced and distributed "here at home," Trudeau said at a briefing Saturday outside his residence in Ottawa.

"Research and development take time and must be done right, but this is encouraging news," he said.

Trudeau said the government would also invest $100 million to ensure the Red Cross can keep responding to COVID-19-related issues while also preparing for possible floods and wildfires, the prime minister said.

He reiterated that the government will boost the Canada Child Benefit for the month of May by an additional $300 per child, a one-time payout to help families cope with the economic devastation wrought by the pandemic.

Families that were entitled to the benefit in April and still have an eligible child in their care this month will get up to $300 extra per child as part of their regular monthly payment.

Trudeau is also expected to highlight various federal measures aimed at helping charities and women's shelters weather the crisis.

Travel between provinces, territories discouraged

Most provinces and territories are advising people not to travel to cottages or hold gatherings on this holiday weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cottage life is something people are longing for these days, for its spiritual and mental health benefits, Terry Rees, executive director of the Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations, told CBC News earlier in the week.

He said travelling to the cottage is not illegal, but people visiting their vacation properties need to be mindful to the fact that people living in those communities have legitimate worries.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has asked British Columbians to avoid travel around the province unless it's absolutely necessary, and if they do hit the road, they should pack their own food and not visit stores in other communities.

Police checkpoints set up last month to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus are coming down on Monday in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa, which will allow Ontario residents to go to cottages in the Gatineau Hills.

While Trudeau held his daily briefing Saturday on the pandemic outside Rideau Cottage, a 22-room heritage home on the grounds of Rideau Hall, he'll give no updates Sunday or Monday, when he's expected to join his family at his official country residence at Harrington Lake, Que.

Trudeau's travel between the two locations caused something of a furor when he posted an Easter weekend photo of him posing with his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, and their three children at Harrington Lake.

But the way Trudeau sees it, he's simply travelling between his work in Ottawa and his family's home 30 minutes away, across the river in Quebec — just like many other Quebecers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks during his daily news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic outside his residence at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

"Since I work at the residence in Ottawa and I do press conferences every day, it was not ideal for the children to stay there, so they went to the other official residence (at Harrington Lake)," he told popular Quebec television talk show Tout le monde en parle a couple of weeks ago.

"And I spend several nights a week with the family, then I go down to work in the city like many Quebecers who live in the Outaouais."

He added: "I think people understand that I have to work in Ottawa even if I live a lot with my family in Quebec."

A worker sprays sanitizer on a golf cart before handing it off to golfers at the Loch March Golf & Country Club in Ottawa on Saturday. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Ahead of the long weekend, Alberta's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the province is increasing the limit on outdoor gatherings. Up to 50 people can now gather, raised from the previous limit of 15. Still, Hinshaw warned, Albertans must continue to practise physical distancing.

"In well-ventilated, open spaces, there can be less of a risk in those contexts as long as people are following the guidelines," Hinshaw said at a Friday briefing 

New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are similarly allowing families to slightly relax their physical distancing measures over the holiday weekend thanks to recently implemented "double bubble" rules in which two households can agree to spend time together exclusively. Nova Scotia additionally announced public beaches will be opened, though physical distancing will need to be observed and groups can be no larger than five people. 

Emergency wage subsidy extended until end of August

The federal government's emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended until the end of August to help employers keep their workers on the payroll during the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

The $73 billion wage-subsidy program, which covers 75 per cent of an eligible company's payroll up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, was originally set to expire next month.

WATCH | Some good news from around the world this week:

Air Canada to lay off 20,000 workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic

2 years ago
Duration 1:35
As the pandemic wreaks havoc on the travel industry, Air Canada is laying off about half of its 38,000 employees.

Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey data estimates that more than three million jobs have been lost during the COVID-19 crisis.

Heading into the weekend, Air Canada said it will lay off about 20,000 of its employees, more than half its total workforce, by June 7. The company says even with the now-extended federal wage subsidy program, it does not see the industry returning to normal in time to save those jobs.

Air Canada has been forced to ground some 225 airplanes and slash flight capacity by 95 per cent due to border shutdowns and a sharp drop in demand for travel.

WATCH | Air Canada to lay off 20,000 workers:

Lobster fishermen must learn how to physically distance on a small boat

2 years ago
Duration 3:19
'It's a different year,' as new safety protocols are required because of COVID-19, says Steve Watts,  a fisherman from Prince Edward Island.

Meanwhile, Amazon says it will be ending its pandemic-related pay incentives for workers in its Canadian warehouses at the end of the month.

Company spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman confirmed Saturday the online retail giant will stop paying employees the extra $2 per hour and double overtime incentives they had been receiving since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Amazon's pay incentives were initially supposed to end at the end of April but the company extended the program in the U.S. and Canada through May 30.

The retail company has been criticized by employees in the U.S. and Canada for allegedly not doing enough to protect workers from COVID-19 and for not offering adequate support to employees who fall sick from the virus.

An Amazon warehouse is seen north of Calgary in Balzac, Alta., on May 4. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Canada had 75,864 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases, with 37,832 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of COVID-19 deaths based on provincial health data, regional information and CBC's reporting stood at 5,782.

While most cases of coronavirus are mild or moderate, some people — particularly the elderly or those with underlying health issues — are at higher risk of severe disease or death. There are no proven vaccines or treatments for the novel coronavirus, which causes an illness called COVID-19. 

Here's what's happening in the provinces and territories:

Newfoundland and Labrador marked its ningth straight day without new cases on Saturday. There are eight active cases remaining in the province, and 249 people have recovered from the virus. Read more about what's happeneing in N.L.

Nova Scotia identified three more cases on Saturday. To date, there have been 1,037 positive COVID-19 cases, 930 recoveries and 55 deaths.

The province is entering the second phase of reopening, Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Robert Strang announced Friday. The province is introducing an immediate-family bubble, which would let two households come together without physical distancing. Read more about what's happening in N.S.

New Brunswick reported one more COVID-19 recovery on Saturday, for a total of 120 recoveries, meaning all cases in the provinces have been resolved. It has been 10 days since the province has reported any new cases. But Dr. Jennifer Russell is reminding the public to protect themselves over the upcoming long weekend by keeping to their respective two-family-household bubbles and following physical distance guidelines. Read more about what's happening in New Brunswick. 

In Prince Edward Island, more restrictions are being eased this weekend. The province's palliative-care facilities will be increasing the number of designated visitors allowed for compassionate reasons. Beginning Saturday, up to two visitors per patient will be permitted in palliative care, intensive care, neonatal intensive care, obstetrics and pediatric care.

P.E.I. has had no confirmed cases in the past 17 days. All 27 previous cases have recovered. Read More about what's happening in P.E.I.

WATCH | Lobster fishermen must learn how to physically distance on a small boat:

The Quebec government is donating one million masks to the greater Montreal region and $6 million in funding for public transit in the region, Premier François Legault announced Friday. Meanwhile, four Canadian soldiers serving in Quebec long-term care homes have tested positive for COVID-19, as did one soldier assisting with long-term care homes in Ontario. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed news of the infections at his Friday morning media availability but did not provide details.

"There are always risks in what they do and they go into that knowingly and willingly, and that is why we offer them our deepest gratitude every day," Trudeau said. Read more about what's happening in Quebec

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are shown at Residence Yvon-Brunet, a long-term care home in Montreal, on Saturday. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

In Ontario, a Hamilton retirement home has been emptied of its staff and residents after 49 residents and 13 staff members tested positive, and one resident died.

"It's been cleared out at this point," said Dr. Ninh Tran, associate medical officer of health for the city, adding it's the first time he's aware of a home in Hamilton being emptied after an outbreak. "It's clearly something very significant and given the situation that was arising it was the right thing to do."

Fifty-two people at the 64-bed Rosslyn Retirement Residence have been transported to hospital, according to a statement from St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton Saturday. Tran said two other residents found places to stay with family or friends. Read more about what's happening in Ontario.

Ambulances are seen outside the Rosslyn Retirement Residence in Hamilton on Friday. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Manitoba marked its fifth straight day with no new cases on Saturday. Two people in the province are in hospital with the illness, one of whom is in intensive care, the province said in a news release on Saturday afternoon.

The release said many community testing sites will keep their regular schedules during the long weekend. On Monday, the Sargent Tommy Prince Place testing site and assessment clinic in Winnipeg will be open, as will the Bison Drive drive-thru site. Read more about what's happening in Manitoba. 

In Saskatchewan, medical health officer Dr. Rim Zayed declared the outbreak at the La Loche Health Centre to be over after going 28 days without a new case. 

The outbreak was declared on April 17, 2020. At least five people at that centre contracted virus. There are still more than 100 positive cases in the northern Saskatchewan community itself. Read more about what's happening in Saskatchewan.

WATCH | Sask. teacher retrofits truck into portable classroom:

Alberta is relaxing restrictions around outdoor gatherings, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced Friday. Outdoor gatherings can now consist of as many as 50 people, as long as members of different households stay two metres apart. 

Earlier, Hinshaw said the province should know within a week if yesterday's reopening of bars, restaurants and some other businesses in most areas will lead to a surge in new cases. Read more about what's happening in Alberta

In British Columbia, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced 21 new on Saturday, bringing the total to 2,428. One additional person has died, bringing the total number of deaths to 141. There are no new community outbreaks, but the province continues to monitor an ongoing outbreak at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, where six staff and two patients have tested positive. Read more about what's happening in B.C.

WATCH | B.C. announces part-time, voluntary return to school starting June 1:

The Northwest Territories is entering the first phase of its COVID-19 recovery plan, affecting both indoor and outdoor gatherings, as well as the reopening of some businesses. Read more about what's happening across the North, including Yukon's announcement that they will also begin to ease restrictions.

WATCH | How Air North aims to keep flights safe amid pandemic:

Here's a look at what's happening around the world

As of 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, there were more than 4.6 million confirmed cases of coronvirus around the world, according to a database tracking system maintained by the coronavirus resource centre at Johns Hopkins University. More than 1.4 million cases are in the United States. 

According to the tracking system, COVID-19 has killed roughly 310,000 people globally. It says the 10 most affected countries at this time, based on the reported number of deaths, are the U.S., the U.K., Italy, France, Spain, Brazil, Belgium, Germany, Iran and Canada. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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