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Coronavirus Updates Canada: Alberta Is Facing 25% Unemployment, Kenney Says

Canada to help Alberta's crippling oil and gas sector, two provinces have now banned Airbnb, and a remote Indigenous community in northern Ontario confirmed its first COVID-19 case.
April 7, 2020, 12:57pm
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney
Alberta's oil and gas industry is struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Jason Franson/CP

Unemployment in Alberta could hit 25 percent during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, said Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

As COVID-19 continues to plunder the economy—hitting the oil and gas sector particularly hard— Alberta could see the worst economic collapse it has seen since the Great Depression, Kenny said on Tuesday at the Scotiabank CAPP Energy Conference.

Kenney’s grim projections come after oil and gas CEOs penned an open letter to Canadians, asking for support from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the pandemic and an ongoing price war with Saudi Arabia and Russia have decimated oil prices.

“A barrel of Western Canadian Select now costs less than a foot-long sub,” the tycoons write. “After five years of a downturn, and many critical wounds, we have nothing left with which to fight.”

Canada’s federal government has said that funding for the oil and gas industry is coming soon, despite calls from critics to bail out workers, not corporations.

Kenney is expected to address Albertans Tuesday evening with more information about the province’s economic state.

Canada making 30,000 respirators

Canada has finally secured medical-grade face masks to protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 after U.S. President Donald Trump reached a deal with the company 3M that will allow for the export of equipment.

Last week, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, which was supposed to compel companies like 3M to keep N95 masks in the U.S.

Trump even blocked shipments over the weekend.

But 3M has dissented since Trump first issued the order, and said fewer shipments to Canada would mean fewer masks for Americans.

A new deal was signed on Monday, hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters the province only has enough N95 masks to last one more week.

Trump and 3M confirmed that Canada and Latin America will continue to receive respirators as well.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland referred to the global scramble to access medical equipment as the “Wild, Wild West.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is working with the private sector to ensure made-in-Canada critical medical equipment is made.

Thornhill Medical, CAE, and StarFish Medical are producing 30,000 ventilators, Trudeau said, and several companies, including Canada Goose, are producing medical gowns and additional personal protective equipment.

Trudeau said he is also focused on acquiring medical equipment from other countries, including N95 surgical masks from 3M.

Ontario outlaws Airbnb

Ontario joined Quebec on Monday when it temporarily banned Airbnb from operating, unless they’re helping vulnerable Canadians.

The province issued an emergency order that limited online, short-term rental services to those “who are in need of housing during the emergency period.”

Several U.S. states and municipalities have already banned short-term rentals, including Poconos, Pennsylvania and Florida.

COVID-19 hits Indigenous communities

COVID-19 has made its way into Eabametoong First Nation--the first case to afflict a northern Ontario First Nation.

According to CBC News, the man, who is in his 40s, is now in self-isolation.

But many Indigenous communities lack the infrastructure to fight COVID-19, including clean running water, adequate housing, and medical supplies.

Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation is asking the provincial and federal governments for urgent supplies.

CERB launches smoothly

Monday marked day one for Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit, which pays eligible people who have lost income because of COVID-19 $2,000 per month for four months.

More than 300,000 people applied for the CERB during its first day live.

The government asked people to stagger their applications based on birth moment to prevent a system crash.

Canadians born between January and March were asked to apply on Monday, and many took to social media to say the application process went smoothly. People born between April and June should apply on Tuesday.

Canada cases still soaring

As of Tuesday morning, the country had 16,667 probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 323 deaths.

Here is the latest breakdown of confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases across Canada:

British Columbia: 1,266

Alberta: 1,348

Saskatchewan: 253

Manitoba: 204

Ontario: 4,347

Quebec: 8,580

Newfoundland and Labrador: 226

New Brunswick: 103

Nova Scotia: 293

Prince Edward Island: 22

Yukon: 7

Northwest Territories: 5

Nunavut: 0

On Sunday, the global total of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpassed 1.2 million, with more than 67,000 deaths.

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