Here are the headlines you need to know surrounding the novel coronavirus in British Columbia for March 31, 2020:
Wage Subsidy Impact
Canadians will learn today how much of a dent the emergency wage subsidy program will put in the federal books. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Small Business Minister Mary Ng are expected to provide more details about the massive emergency program later today. The wage subsidy program was not included in the $107 billion emergency aid package approved by parliament last week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also expected to update Canadians on government efforts to recruit industry to manufacture much-needed personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators. That announcement is scheduled for 8:15 am PT and can be watched live on CHEK’s Facebook Page or YouTube channel.
Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix will give a BC update coming at 3 pm PT this afternoon. That announcement is also available on CHEK’s Facebook Page or YouTube channel. As of Monday, BC reported 86 new cases of COVID-19 to bring the total up to 970. Dr. Henry has said that nearly 45% of reported cases have fully recovered.
Extended support for ageing BC youth
BC is taking emergency steps to make sure children in care who are ageing out of the system during the COVID-19 pandemic continue receiving support. Minister of Children and Family Development Katrine Conroy says youth deserve steady support during these uncertain times, and that support will not stop for those turning 19. The provincial government says youth currently living in foster care, contracted residential agencies or with relatives through the extended family program will be able to stay where they are. It says young adults who recently aged out will also get extra assistance and efforts are being made to locate them.
Cruise company carrying Vancouver Islanders cries for help
The nightmare continues for two Holland America ships, the Zaandam and the MS Rotterdam, as they have still not been given a guaranteed port to dock. Officials in Florida are meeting later today to make a decision whether they let the infection-plagued cruise ship ashore after more than two weeks at sea, however, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has said that the state’s healthcare resources are stretched too thin to allow the ship to dock. The two cruise ships have approximately 2,700 passengers and crew on board, including 248 Canadians and several Vancouver Islanders. On Monday, Orlando Ashford, president of Holland America Line, released a statement online saying, “it’s tempting to speculate about the illnesses that may have been avoided or lives saved if we’d gotten the assistance we sought weeks ago.” He also added that he is fearing more lives onboard are at risk. On Monday they passed through the Panama Canal after being anchored on the west side of the canal with four dead and nearly 200 passengers and crew exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
Canada Post asking customers to keep the door closed
Canada Post says more Canadians staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 makes social distancing more difficult for mail carriers — and increases their risk of dog bites. The post office is asking Canadians with dogs to keep their doors closed during deliveries, where possible The union representing Canada Post employees is also asking Canadians to clean and disinfect letterboxes, handrails and doorknobs to help reduce infection risk for mail carriers.
Canadian economy slowed before pandemic
Statistics Canada says economic growth slowed in January in a snapshot of the economy before the COVID-19 outbreak hit home. The agency says real gross domestic product grew 0.1 percent in the first month of 2020 compared with an advance of 0.3 percent in December. The result for January matched the expectations of economists, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. Statistics Canada says reduced trade with China and advisories against non-essential travel to the country affected potential growth in January. Since then, the agency says, the pandemic and a collapse in oil prices has significantly affected the economy.
ACROSS THE BORDER: USA sees most deaths in one day
On Monday, the USA reported over 500 deaths, the most of any day for the country so far during the virus. The death total south of our border now has risen over the 3,000 mark and is getting set to surpass China. There has been over 160,000 people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the United States, making it the new epicentre of the disease as it has now reported the most cases of any country.
There have been nearly 40,000 deaths worldwide from COVID-19 as of Tuesday morning.
With files to Canadian Press