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Retail sales plunged 26.4 per cent in April: StatsCan

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says retail sales fell by more than a quarter in April as motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency says retail sales fell 26.4 per cent to $34.7 billion in April leaving them down 33.6 per cent since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March.

Economists on average had expected a drop in April of 15.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.

While essential services like grocery stores remained open, most retailers did not offer in-store shopping in April due to public health restrictions meant to slow the spread of the pandemic.

However, many retailers started or expanded their online presence and curbside pick-up services in response to the closures.

Statistics Canada says online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market.

Juneteenth in Tulsa: freedom still a distant, delayed dream for Black America

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Friday, Jun 19th, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — Black Americans are gathering today to mark the anniversary of an emancipation that came two and a half years late — liberty that many say feels like it never came at all.

It’s been 155 years since slaves in Texas learned of their freedom on June 19, 1865, nearly 30 months after Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863.

In 2020, as protests against racially motivated police brutality continue in cities and towns across the U.S., Black activists say Juneteenth will be even more bittersweet.

That’s especially true in Tulsa, the scene of a race riot in 1921 that many historians consider the single worst eruption of racial violence in American history.

It’s also where President Donald Trump has chosen to relaunch his presidential re-election campaign.

Trump’s “Keep America Great” rally was originally scheduled to take place today, but it was later rescheduled for Saturday —a controversy the president credits for making what he calls an otherwise unknown holiday “very famous.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2020.


The Canadian Press

Trudeau government passes confidence test with support from New Democrats

LEE BERTHIAUME, THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

The federal Liberal government avoided defeat with help from the NDP on Wednesday as the two joined forces to pass a multibillion-dollar spending bill in the House of Commons and avert a summer election.

The result had been considered a foregone conclusion after the Liberals assured the New Democrats’ support – and their own survival – by extending Tuesday the $2,000-a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit another eight weeks.

In return, the NDP supported the government in passing the supplementary spending estimates – some $87 billion in planned government spending, most of which is aimed at pandemic-related support for Canadians and businesses.

Only about $6 billion actually involves new spending; the other $81 billion had already been approved by Parliament.

Because the Liberals hold only a minority of seats in the House of Commons, they needed the support of at least one party to pass the spending bill or risk plunging the country into an election.

Any bill involving government spending is typically considered a confidence matter. A government that fails to win a vote of confidence in the Commons is deemed defeated.

“The prime minister says he has heard us and is extending support through CERB through the summer,” NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a statement prior to the estimates being approved.

“This is what we were calling for in the short term. We’ll keep working to make sure help is there for Canadians who need it in the long term.”

Trudeau announced Tuesday that the CERB would be extended to a maximum of 24 weeks instead of 16 weeks for people who lost their jobs or saw their hours slashed due to the pandemic.

The extension means the first cohort of applicants who signed up in April and were set to max out their payment periods in early July won’t have to worry if they have no jobs to go back to over the summer or are unable to work because of health reasons.

Yet while the supplementary estimates were approved – on division, which means with some opposition but no recorded vote – there was still no resolution to an emergency aid bill that stalled last week as the government butted heads with opposition parties.

That bill included measures to deliver a one-time, tax-free benefit of up to $600 to Canadians with disabilities, an expansion to the wage subsidy program and fines or jail time for Canadians who deliberately defraud the CERB program.

The government needed unanimous consent to quickly pass the bill in a matter of hours last week but none of the opposition parties would support it.

It then offered to deal with the disability benefit separately, which was supported by the NDP and the Bloc but the Conservatives blocked that idea.

The bill remained on the order paper Wednesday, meaning the government could have theoretically tried again, but that wasn’t in the cards.

The government will instead try to work out other ways to deliver the disability benefit and other measures without needing legislation.

The approval of the supplementary estimates followed almost five hours of parliamentary debate that was preceded by Singh being kicked out of the House of Commons for calling a Bloc Quebecois MP racist over an NDP motion on systemic racism in the RCMP.

The debate coincided with news that Canada had lost its bid to win a temporary seat at the United Nations’ Security Council, which prompted several sharp exchanges between the Conservatives and Liberals over the cost of the campaign.

The prime minister was not present for the proceedings, which mark the end of an unprecedented parliamentary sitting that saw the House of Commons – like much of the rest of the country – all but shut down because of COVID-19.

Trudeau instead left it to his ministers to respond to opposition questions and concerns, including Conservative complaints about a lack of transparency and accountability over the government’s response to the pandemic.

The Conservatives and Bloc had been calling for the resumption of Parliament rather than the special COVID-19 committee that has been holding hybrid hearings for the past few weeks with some MPs attending in person and others virtually.

The Liberals announced Wednesday that they will provide a “snapshot” of the country’s economy on July 8.

N.S. inmates worry housing during COVID-19 could end unless funding extended

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

HALIFAX — Several advocacy groups in Nova Scotia say 20 provincial inmates who shifted to community housing during the COVID-19 crisis could lose their residences by the end of the month unless a fresh source of funding can be found.

A release from the John Howard Society of Nova Scotia, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, and Coverdale Courtwork Society says the groups have been providing emergency housing in two hotels for the inmates, and helping them gradually find other accommodations.

The inmates have also been receiving support and services from on-site staff during the pandemic thanks to the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, which was receiving money from the federal Reaching Home program.

However, the agencies say the program — supported by Employment and Social Development — is wrapping up its support, and without some other source of about $60,000 per month, the assistance to the inmates would end this month.THE CANADIAN PRESS

Emma Halpern, the regional advocate of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, says the groups are looking for help from the provincial Justice Department to help keep the inmates from a return to jail or life on the street.

She says a request has been sent asking for at least three months of support to give the societies more time to find housing for the former inmates.

Halpern says to date there has been no recidivism among the 33 people who have used the program.

To date, 13 have found supported housing where they could continue to meet the conditions of their release. However, Halpern says the agencies haven’t been able to find housing for the remaining clients yet.

“As of June 30, we could have people going back to jail because they have nowhere to live, and their conditions require them to have somewhere to live,” she said.

“Could we just keep some funds so we could find a way to resettle those people?”

She said most of those released from provincial facilities were “released either because of compromised immune systems or … they were there because they didn’t have an address and we sometimes use jail as a homeless shelter.”

Mary Doucette, a 64-year-old woman who used the program and now has her own apartment, said she thanks God it was there for her.

“There was no place for me and (police) called the Elizabeth Fry Society and they put me in a hotel and kept me there until they found me an apartment,” Doucette said in an interview.

“The support was there. Everything you needed was there. You weren’t left on your own.”

Ashley Avery, executive director of the Coverdale Courtwork Society, said it would save the province money to help continue the program.

She said the average daily cost per adult in custody is $271 per day, while the program has been operating at about $125 per day.

“Not only is this model incredibly successful, it is cost-effective,” Avery wrote in a news release.

A spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Department of Justice referred all questions to the federal government, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 18, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Stakes high for second debate of Conservative party leadership race

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Thursday, Jun 18th, 2020

The stakes are high tonight for the four contenders for leadership of the Conservative party as they face off in what’s likely the final debate of the race.

All four will be fresh off last night’s French-language debate, a nearly two hour event that largely saw Erin O’Toole and Peter MacKay dominate in heated exchanges on everything from carbon taxes to abortion.

But tonight, the other two candidates are aiming to score some points of their own.

Both Leslyn Lewis and Derek Sloan acknowledged that with only basic French skills they could only go so far in the first event.

But Lewis says the English language debate will put the four on more equal footing and potentially help her continue building the momentum she’s had behind her campaign in recent days.

Sloan says his goal is to show he is “ready to rumble” and suggested he will aim to bolster his support in the West.

Conservative party members will elect a new leader at some point after Aug. 21, the deadline to return their ballots by mail.

During the French debate, MacKay repeatedly went after O’Toole, calling him an “angry man,” accusing him of flip-flopping on his platform and pushed him on the fact he wouldn’t say whether he was in favour or against abortion.

O’Toole grew increasingly angry, accusing MacKay of being a liar, and said afterwards he was frustrated by MacKay’s attacks, calling them divisive and disappointing.

MacKay suggested they’d presented a fair exchange of ideas to Francophone voters.

The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. on June 17, 2020:

There are 99,467 confirmed and presumptive cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 54,146 confirmed (including 5,269 deaths, 22,350 resolved)

_ Ontario: 32,554 confirmed (including 2,538 deaths, 27,431 resolved)

_ Alberta: 7,482 confirmed (including 151 deaths, 6,882 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 2,756 confirmed (including 168 deaths, 2,416 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,061 confirmed (including 62 deaths, 997 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 684 confirmed (including 13 deaths, 631 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 293 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 292 resolved), 11 presumptive

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 261 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 257 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 163 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 131 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 27 confirmed (including 27 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Yukon: 11 confirmed (including 11 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 99,467 (11 presumptive, 99,456 confirmed including 8,213 deaths, 61,443 resolved)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.

The Canadian Press

Conservative leadership debate and India-China clash; In The News for June 17

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what’s on the radar of our editors for the morning of June 17 …

N.B. Premier meets with First Nations leaders …

FREDERICTON — New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs will likely face some tough questions today when he meets with First Nations leaders.

The meeting follows the deaths of two Indigenous people were shot by police.

First Nations leaders have come forward to say there should be some kind of Indigenous-led investigation into the deaths.

Imelda Perley, a well-known elder, says some kind of Indigenous presence would ensure cultural sensitivity.

Earlier this week, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said Indigenous people in New Brunswick are feeling mistrust about the existing investigation.

The ongoing probe is being led by Quebec’s independent police watchdog agency, known as the BEI, because New Brunswick has no oversight body of its own.

Inflation figures on tap …

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada is set to release its latest inflation reading today.

The consumer price index for May reflects a month that saw the gradual reopening of businesses that were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economists on average expect the consumer price index to remain unchanged compared with a year ago — meaning an inflation rate of zero.

That would compare with a year-over-year decline of 0.2 per cent in April, when energy prices plunged.

The consumer price index measures price changes for a fixed basket of goods and services.

COVID-19 in Ontario …

TORONTO — Insurance companies have provided $685 million in relief to Ontario drivers using their cars less during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the province’s finance minister says more should be done.

The regulatory body says about 70 per cent of policy holders are receiving some form of relief, with an average savings of $150.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority says the $685 million in relief amounts to about five per cent of the total annual premiums Ontario drivers pay.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips says 10 out of the 14 major insurance companies have provided rebates to customers.

Phillips announced a regulatory change in April to enable the companies to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the emergency has ended.

Phillips says he will look at the companies not supporting their customers and will publicly name them if necessary.

“I believe there’s still more that can be done,” he said in an interview. “I don’t believe all of the companies are participating at the level that they should.”

Cue the debate …

OTTAWA — Four federal Conservative party leadership candidates face off against each other for the first time tonight in a race that’s been repeatedly upended by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tonight’s debate, being held in French, will be followed by another one tomorrow in English, both taking place in downtown Toronto and livestreamed online.

None of the four candidates — Leslyn Lewis, Peter MacKay, Erin O’Toole and Derek Sloan — are fluently bilingual.

So tonight’s debate will be a key indicator if any of them can adequately manage to debate the issues in one of the country’s official languages.

MacKay’s French is expected to be under the microscope, with his campaign having made several mistakes earlier on in the race that made him the subject of much mockery in Quebec.

But eyes are also on Lewis, the lone non-politician of the bunch who has been steadily gaining support in recent days, and the debate marks a debut of sorts for her in the broader public eye.

India-China clash …

A clash high in the Himalayas between the world’s two most populated countries claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers in a border region that the two nuclear armed neighbours have disputed for decades, Indian officials said Tuesday.

The clash in the Ladakh region Monday — during which Indian officials said neither side fired any shots — was the first deadly confrontation between India and China since 1975. Experts said it would be difficult for the two nations to ease heightened tensions.

The Indian and Chinese troops fought each other with fists and rocks, Indian officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose the information.

The Indian Army initially said in a statement that three Indian soldiers had died, but later updated the number to 20 and said 17 “were critically injured in the line of duty at the standoff location and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain.” The statement did not disclose the nature of the soldiers’ injuries.

China accused Indian forces of carrying out “provocative attacks” on its troops without offering more details and did not disclose if any of its soldiers died.

After the clash, the two sides “disengaged” from the area where the fighting happened, the Indian Army statement said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020

The Canadian Press

Annual inflation rate in May sinks to 0.4%

The Canadian Press | posted Wednesday, Jun 17th, 2020

Statistics Canada says inflation pulled back even further in May as businesses shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic began to reopen slowly.

The agency says the consumer price index fell 0.4 per cent compared with a year ago, making it the second month in a row for negative inflation after a 0.2 per cent drop for April.

Prices rose in four of the eight major components on a year-over-year basis.

Transportation prices contributed the most to the overall decline, mainly because of lower gas prices compared with May last year.

Statistics Canada says that excluding gasoline, the consumer price index rose 0.7 per cent, the smallest increase since January 2013.

Economists on average expected the consumer price index to remain unchanged compared with a year ago – meaning an annual inflation rate of zero.

A look at how provinces plan to emerge from COVID-19 shutdown

THE CANADIAN PRESS | posted Tuesday, Jun 16th, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province entered “Alert Level 3” on June 8 in its five stage reopening plan. It means groups of up to 20 people are now permitted, as long as they observe physical distancing. Up to 19 people are allowed on public transit.

Private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, can open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons.

Travel within the province is also permitted, including to second homes, parks and campgrounds. And 11 government service centres will reopen to offer in-person services that can be booked by appointment, including written tests, driver exams and identification photos.

During Level 4 some businesses such as law firms and other professional services were allowed to reopen along with regulated child-care centres, with some restrictions.

Outdoor games of tennis were allowed to resume, though players must bring their own equipment and not share it.

Pet grooming services began operating May 25, with companies ordered to ensure their employees have personal protective equipment.

Municipal parks, golf courses and driving ranges as well as recreational hunting and fishing were also allowed to reopen in previous weeks.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the province could move to the next alert level by June 22nd.

At Level 2, businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen, while Level 1 would represent “the new normal.”

Nova Scotia

Provincial campgrounds reopened June 15 at reduced capacity to ensure a minimum of six metres between individual sites. Private campgrounds had already been given the green light to reopen, but only at 50 per cent capacity. They must also ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distancing between campsites.

Licensed child-care centres and family daycare homes also reopened across Nova Scotia June 15.

On May 29 Premier Stephen McNeil announced a new gathering limit of 10 people, doubling the limit of five that was imposed in late March.

Physical distancing of two metres is still required, except among members of the same household or family “bubble.” The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with exceptions for outdoor weddings and funeral services which can have 15 people.

The gathering limit also applies to arts and culture activities such as theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings, and sports and physical activity. Businesses such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities also must adhere to the 10-person limit.

Nova Scotia has allowed summer day camps for children to open as long as they have a plan to follow public health measures to guard against COVID-19. The plans must cover areas such as increased cleaning, staggered pick up and drop off times and the screening of staff and campers.

Most businesses ordered shut in late March were allowed to reopen on June 5, if they have a plan that follows physical distancing protocols. The list of businesses includes bars and restaurant dining rooms, hair salons, barber shops, gyms and yoga studios, among others.

Some health providers were also able to reopen, including dentistry, optometry, chiropractic and physiotherapy offices. Veterinary services can resume business along with some unregulated professions, such as massage therapy, podiatry and naturopathy.

McNeil earlier said there would be no return to school this year. However, the province has announced an exemption to allow some public celebrations for high school graduations. Strict physical distancing rules will apply, and the exemption will last until June 30.

Trails and provincial and municipal parks can reopen along with garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses, but playground equipment is still off limits.

Public beaches have reopened along with outdoor activities like archery, horseback riding, golf, paddling, boating and tennis, with the proviso that social distancing and hygiene be maintained. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use.

Drive-in religious services are now allowed, if people stay in their cars, park two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island Premier Dennis King says people wanting to travel to seasonal residences must apply, and those will be put through a risk assessment before approval. Seasonal residents will also be tested for COVID-19 before completing the two weeks they must spend in self-isolation after arriving in the province.

The province moved into the third phase of its reopening plan June 1, which allows such things as in-house dining at restaurants, small groups to participate in recreational and some sporting activities and libraries to reopen. Phase three also allows gatherings of up to 15 people indoors and 20 people outdoors and the reopening of child-care centres.

As well, family and friends can visit residents at long-term care homes. The visits require an appointment and must take place outdoors.

Under phase 2, non-contact outdoor recreational activities were permitted, and retail businesses could reopen with physical distancing measures in place.

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1.

The P.E.I legislature resumed May 26.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick moved to the “yellow phase” of its COVID-19 recovery plan on May 22, allowing barbers and hair stylists to reopen as well as churches and fitness facilities. Dental care, massage, chiropractors and other “close contact” businesses and services could also reopen.

But the Campbellton region, which extends from Whites Brook to the Belledune, had to take a step backwards to the “orange” level on May 27. Residents were told to once again avoid contacts outside their two-household bubble. Non-regulated health professionals and personal service businesses that opened May 22 also had to close again. And people should only be travelling in and out of Zone 5 for essential reasons.

Restrictions in the yellow phase of the province’s recovery plan were lifted on June 5. The activities now allowed include outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people, indoor religious services of up to 50 people, low-contact team sports and the opening of a long list of facilities including swimming pools, gyms, rinks, water parks, and yoga and dance studios.

People must now wear face coverings in any building open to the general public. Children under the age of two, children in daycare and people who cannot wear face coverings for medical reasons are exempt from the requirement.

Licensed daycares started reopening May 19. Children don’t have to wear masks or maintain physical distancing but are being kept in small groups.

Anyone who has travelled outside of New Brunswick will not be allowed to visit early learning and child-care facilities for 14 days.

Retail businesses, offices, restaurants, libraries, museums and seasonal campgrounds were earlier allowed to reopen providing they have clear plans for meeting public health guidelines. The resumption of elective surgeries was also part phase two of the province’s reopening plan.

Phase one, which started on April 24, allowed limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Post-secondary students could return if it was deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services were again permitted, providing people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart.

The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.


Quebec began allowing outdoor gatherings with a maximum of 10 people from three families with social distancing in place on May 22.

On May 25 some retail businesses reopened in the greater Montreal area. Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on May 11.

Parks and pools can reopen across the province but are still be subject to physical distancing and other health measures

Day camps across the province will be allowed to open as of June 22, with physical distancing and other COVID-19 health measures in effect. That means smaller groups of children and frequent handwashing. Sleep-away summer camps won’t be allowed to reopen until next year.

Sports teams resumed outdoor practices on June 8, and matches can resume at the end of the month. That includes baseball, soccer and any other sports that can be played outdoors. But players will have to keep a safe distance between them.

Lottery terminals have reopened after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only.

Quebec’s construction and manufacturing industries have resumed operations with limits on the number of employees who can work per shift. Elementary schools and daycares outside Montreal reopened on May 11, but high schools, junior colleges and universities will stay closed until September.

Elementary schools in the greater Montreal area will remain closed until late August.

Courthouses across the province were permitted to reopen on June 1, with limited seating capacity and Plexiglas barriers protecting clerks and judges.

Camping is now allowed outside the Montreal and Joliette regions, as are cottage rentals.

Hairdressers, nail salons and other personal care businesses in the Montreal area reopened June 15. These types of businesses, along with shopping malls, located outside the Montreal area were allowed to reopen earlier this month.

Checkpoints set up to slow the spread of COVID-19 came down on May 18 in various parts of Quebec, including between Gatineau and Ottawa.

Meanwhile, Quebecers hoping to drive to Iles-de-la-Madeleine this summer will be permitted to travel through New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island to take the ferry as of June 26. Quebec travellers will need to get a document permitting the trip and they won’t be able to cross the provincial borders without it.


All regions of Ontario except for Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex will be in Stage 2 of the province’s phased reopening plan as of June 19.

The current pandemic restrictions will stay in place for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas, which have a high concentration of COVID-19 cases. Border regions such as Windsor-Essex, Lambton County and Niagara, as well as Haldimand-Norfolk, which has seen an outbreak among migrant workers, are also barred, for the time being, from moving to Stage 2.

The second stage includes restaurant patios, hair salons and swimming pools.  Child-care centres across Ontario can also reopen.

Meanwhile, the limit on social gatherings increased from five to 10 provincewide, but people must still stay two metres away from anyone outside their own household. The new guidelines mean physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same circle.

Restrictions on wedding and funeral ceremonies across the province are also being eased as part of the phased reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people allowed to attend an indoor ceremony is restricted to 30 per cent capacity of the venue, while outdoor events are limited to 50 people. However, the number of people allowed to attend all wedding and funeral receptions remains at 10. Participants must follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing from people not from the same household or their established 10-person social circle

Ontario began its first stage of reopening May 19 by lifting restrictions on surgeries. Most retail stores with a street entrance were also allowed to reopen with physical distancing restrictions, and curbside pickup and delivery.

Ontarians can now resume visiting loved ones in long-term care homes, with restrictions in place, including that they test negative for COVID-19.

The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario says the profession is in Stage 2 of its three-phase reopening plan. Dentists had previously only been allowed to practice emergency or urgent care on patients in-person but can now offer other essential services with enhanced precautions.

All construction has resumed, with limits also lifted on maintenance, repair and property management services, such as cleaning, painting and pool maintenance.

Golf courses can reopen though clubhouses can only open for washrooms and take-out food. Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches can also open, as can private parks and campgrounds for trailers and RVs whose owners have a full season contract, and businesses that board animals.

Other businesses and services included in the stage one reopening included regular veterinary appointments, pet grooming, pet sitting and pet training; libraries for pickup or deliveries; and housekeepers and babysitters.

Drive-in movie theatres and batting cages reopened May 31 with physical distancing measures in effect.

Short-term rentals including lodges, cabins, cottages, homes and condominiums were allowed to resume operations on June 5.

Backcountry campers returned to provincial parks June 1 with certain stipulations. No more than five people can occupy a single campsite, unless they live in the same household. Provincial parks also expanded permission for picnics and off-leash pet areas.

Ontario schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year and this summer’s Honda Indy Toronto has been cancelled.


The Manitoba government has lifted its one-month limit on people’s prescription drug supplies, allowing people to again get prescriptions filled or refilled for 90 days.

Its health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists can also reopen. Retail businesses can reopen at half occupancy providing they ensure physical spacing.

Museums and libraries can reopen, but with occupancy limited to 50 per cent.

Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts have reopened as well, along with parks and campgrounds.

On May 22 the province began allowing groups of up to 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.

On June 1, the province eased a ban on people visiting loved ones in personal care homes. Homes can now offer outdoor visits with a maximum of two guests per resident. Visitors will be screened upon arrival and must practice physical distancing.

Community centres and seniors’ clubs are also getting the go-ahead with limits on customer capacity and rules for physical distancing.

Bars, tattoo parlours, dine-in restaurants, fitness clubs and pools could reopen June 1 under limited capacity.

Elementary and high schools stopped in-class instruction in March and will not reopen this school year. But they were allowed, as of June 1, to offer tutoring or student assessments in small groups. Some extracurricular sports and other activities can restart.

At universities and colleges, some specific instruction such as labs and arts studios can resume for up to 25 students and staff at a time.

Amateur sports and recreation programs, as well as bowling alleys, can also resume operations.

A ban on non-essential travel to the province’s north was also eased starting June 1. Southern residents can now travel directly to cottages, campgrounds and parks, but are being told to avoid visiting northern communities.

Film productions can resume, as well as outdoor religious services with no crowd limits providing people stay in their vehicles.

Movie theatres and casinos must remain closed. Concerts, professional sporting events and other large public gatherings won’t be considered until at least September.

Manitoba extended its province-wide state of emergency until mid-June, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


The third phase of Saskatchewan’s reopening plan started June 8 with the province lifting a ban on non-essential travel in the north.

More businesses can also reopen, including places of worship, personal care services such as nail salons, tattoo parlours and gyms.

Saskatchewan has increased the size of gatherings allowed for church services and graduation ceremonies.

The government says up to 150 people or one-third the capacity of a building, whichever is less, can attend church services, including weddings and funerals.

The province says outdoor graduations can be held with a maximum 30 graduates per class and an overall attendance of 150 people. The previous limit was 15 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

Restaurants and bars can open at half capacity, with physical distancing between tables, and child-care centres can open their doors to a maximum of 15 kids.

The province’s five-phase plan started May 11 with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also included reopened golf courses and campgrounds.

Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening, while in Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.

The Saskatchewan government says students will return to regular classes in September.


In Alberta, everything from gyms and arenas to spas, movie theatres, libraries, pools and sports activities got the green light to reopen on June 12.

More people were also allowed to book campsites and sit in restaurants at the same time.

Fifty people can now gather indoors and up to 100 can congregate outside.

Among the other activities allowed to go ahead are casinos and bingo halls, community halls, instrumental concerts, massage, acupuncture and reflexology, artificial tanning and summer schools.

The 50 per cent capacity for campgrounds has been lifted, and all sites are to open for reservations by the end of the month.

There is no cap on people attending worship services as long as they physically distance and practise proper hand-washing and other hygiene protocols.

Restaurants can open at full capacity, but no more than six people are allowed per table.

Major festivals and sporting events remain banned, as do nightclubs and amusement parks. Vocal concerts are not being allowed, given that singing carries a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Alberta aims to have students back in classrooms this September with some health measures in place to deal with COVID-19.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange says a decision will be made by Aug. 1.

British Columbia

The provincial government allowed a partial reopening of the B.C. economy starting May 19.

The reopening plans are contingent on organizations and businesses having plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19. Hotels, resorts and parks will follow in June.

Parents in B.C. were given the choice of allowing their children to return to class on a part-time basis starting June 1. The government said its goal is for the return of full-time classes in September, if it’s safe.

Under the part-time plan, for kindergarten to Grade 5, most students will go to school half time, while grades 6 to 12 will go about one day a week. A mix of online and classroom post-secondary education is planned for September.

Conventions, large concerts, international tourism and professional sports with a live audience will not be allowed to resume until either a vaccine is widely available, community immunity has been reached, or effective treatment can be provided for the disease.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories announced on May 12 a three-phase reopening plan, but the government didn’t say when it would be implemented.

The plan includes more gatherings and the possible reopening of some schools and businesses. However, the territory’s borders remain closed indefinitely to non-residents and non-essential workers.

There are several requirements that must be met before any measures are relaxed: there must be no evidence of community spread; travel entry points in the territory are strong and secure; risks are reduced from workers coming into the territory; and expanded community testing is available.


In the Yukon new guidelines have been released for long-term care facilities that will allow for visits with one designated person at a pre-set location outdoors.

The territory also says bars with an approved health and safety plan can reopen at half capacity under certain other restrictions starting June 19.

Travel restrictions will be lifted between Yukon and B.C. after July 1 under the second phase of the territory’s pandemic restart plan. After that date, travellers between the province and territory will no longer be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

The territory says monitoring the status of neighbouring jurisdictions will determine if it’s safe to further lift restrictions.

Yukon has been gradually easing pandemic restrictions since May 15 with dine-in restaurants, day cares and recreational centres reopening.

Territorial parks and campgrounds have also reopened.

Two households of up to 10 people in total are currently able to interact with each other as part of a “household bubble.”

The territory’s reopening plan outlines five phases including a period after a vaccine is available.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 16, 2020

The Canadian Press

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