Canada's COVID-19 death toll passes 4,000 as provinces ease restrictions

The number of people in Canada killed by COVID-19 passed the 4,000 mark on Tuesday, as provinces eased anti-pandemic restrictions and the government announced new aid for farmers. 

Canada has now seen 62,000 cases in every province and territory except Nunavut

A stop sign in English, French and Inuit is seen in Iqaluit, Nunavut. So far every province and territory except Nunavut have confirmed cases of COVID-19. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The number of people in Canada killed by COVID-19 passed the 4,000 mark on Tuesday, as provinces eased anti-pandemic restrictions. 

The grim fatality milestone came as the country's two largest provinces each reported a jump in novel coronavirus-related deaths, although the overall increase in new cases was relatively modest. 

Canada has now seen 62,000 cases in every province and territory except Nunavut. 

Although Ontario reported no new nursing home outbreaks, the number of long-term care deaths in the province passed 1,000, with another 31 residents dying. 

In all, 61 new deaths were reported, bringing the province's total to 1,361, according to latest government data. 

The country's hardest-hit province, Quebec, also reported 118 new deaths, bringing its total to 2,398. Premier Francois Legault said about 11,200 health-care workers were off the job because of illness, vulnerability to COVID-19 infection, or fear of going to work. 

After more than two weeks without any increase, New Brunswick recorded its first new case on Tuesday. 

Despite the increases in cases and deaths, chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the signs were encouraging. 

"Overall we are seeing a continual slowing down of the epidemic itself," Tam said. 

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides up to $2,000 per month to anyone who lost a job, earns under $1,000, or whose job prospects have been affected by the pandemic. 

Across the country, provinces have been taking tentative steps toward returning to normalcy by easing some of the stiff anti-pandemic stay-home and business closure directives. 

For example, Quebec has allowed retail stores outside Montreal to reopen, while seasonal businesses such as garden centres have restarted in Ontario. Other provinces are allowing some health services and limited outdoor activities to resume. 

Most Canadians, it would appear, are largely happy with the pace of reopening the economy. A new poll by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies suggests between 60 and 70 per cent of people supported the slow easing of measures, while 16 to 30 per cent indicated wanting to see things move even more slowly. 

One consequence of the stay-home measures has been a sharp increase in people dying in fires, Ontario's fire marshal said. 

To date this year, fires have killed 51 people, a 65 per cent increase from last year. While it's not clear how many deaths might have been due to the increase in home cooking, the office did say unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires.



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