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Coronavirus Updates Canada: Trudeau Says We're Heading in the 'Right Direction'

Ontario is tracking towards a best-case scenario; COVID-19 hotspots in care homes and prisons; Alberta's energy sector is suffering from negative oil prices as pandemic rages on.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is urging provinces to coordinate their COVID-19 responses, as some governments are starting to see more progress in fighting the virus than others. Photo by Justin Tang/CP

Updated at 1 p.m. (EDT): Cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are headed in the “right direction,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters on Sunday, as provinces continue to rein in concerning outbreaks.

As of Sunday night, Health Canada reported 34,786 COVID-19 cases, with 1,580 deaths.

Community transmission of COVID-19 has peaked in Ontario, according to a government statement released on Monday, but “emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.”

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According to the release, Ontario is on track for a “best-case scenario.”

"The modelling clearly demonstrates that we are making progress in our fight against this deadly virus,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said.

At the start of April, original projections estimated 1,600 deaths by the end of the month, and anywhere between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths during the course of the pandemic.

As of Monday morning, the province reported 11,184 cases and 584 deaths.

As of last week, the total of COVID-19 cases was doubling every 10 days or so, according to Canada’s top doctor, Dr. Theresa Tam. In March, cases were doubling every three days.

But worrisome outbreaks continue to rage on across Canada, especially in long-term care homes and other crowded facilities.

A Brampton prison is relocating inmates to a Toronto South Detention centre after 60 prisoners and eight staff tested positive for the virus, the Toronto Star reported.

In Alberta, High River, a town with about 13,000 residents and sits half an hour south of Calgary, has reported 358 cases, including long-term care home staff.

The cases are linked to the Cargill Ltd. plant, one of Canada’s largest slaughterhouses, the Globe and Mail reported.

According to the Globe, four out of five High River-based long-term care workers live with Cargill staff.

Ongoing outbreaks are still being reported in long-term care homes in Toronto, Montreal, Nova Scotia, Calgary, and Vancouver, as well as in prisons and oil and gas sites.

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Relaxing physical distancing won’t be possible for weeks, Trudeau said repeatedly last week, and new measures continue to be introduced.

Effective Monday at noon, Canadians will be required to wear face masks when travelling on planes. Anyone without a mask to cover the nose and mouth will not be allowed to board, according to Transport Canada.

Easing physical distancing will be gradual

Toronto Mayor John Tory met with city officials over the weekend to discuss the city’s eventual reopening, before posting an update to his social media accounts.

Tory said all efforts to ease physical distancing will have to come in phases, but didn’t offer a timeline.

“We are not there yet,” Tory said. “We are very much still waging war against the virus.”

Provinces that have reported low numbers of cases and slow growth—Saskatchewan and New Brunswick, for example—have floated the idea that they might be able to start considering reopening businesses soon.

No governments have offered a concrete timeline.

On Saturday, Trudeau urged provincial governments to coordinate their actions.

Alberta’s oil prices drop to below $0 a barrel

Alberta’s oil and gas sector took yet another hit late Sunday night as prices for Western Canada Select Oil plummeted to below $0 per barrel, tweeted the province’s premier, Jason Kenney.

The news comes two days after Trudeau announced financial aid for the energy sector: $1.7 billion for orphan well cleanup in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia; a $750 million emission reduction fund through pollution reduction efforts, with a focus on methane; and $75 million to help cut offshore emissions in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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The investment is supposed to create at least 10,000 jobs and simultaneously fight climate change.

“We appreciate last week’s federal announcement to create oil field service jobs through well reclamation; to help companies create jobs,” Kenney said. “But significantly more action is urgently needed to ensure a future for an enormous part of Canada’s economy.”

Several industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 economic downturn, including airlines and service industries, with millions of Canadians out of work. As of Friday, 7.5 million Canadians had been paid thanks to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which pays $2,000 per month for up to four months to people who have lost their jobs or cannot work as a result of the pandemic.

Cases in Canada still climbing

As of Sunday night, Canada had 34,786 cases and 1,580 deaths.

Here’s a breakdown of confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases across the country:

British Columbia: 1,618

Alberta: 2,562

Saskatchewan: 315

Manitoba: 253

Ontario: 10,578

Quebec: 18,357

Newfoundland and Labrador: 257

New Brunswick: 118

Nova Scotia: 675

Prince Edward Island: 26

Yukon: 9

Northwest Territories: 5

Nunavut: 0

Late Sunday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 surpassed 2.2 million, with more than 152,000 deaths.

Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.