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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada on April 20

Canadian Armed Forces personnel arrive at the Villa Val des Arbes seniors residence, Monday April 20, 2020 in Laval, Que.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Here is the latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic. This file will be updated throughout the day (all times Eastern):

7:15 p.m.

B.C. is reporting 52 new cases of COVID-19 since Saturday, including five more deaths.

This brings the death total to 86 and the total number of cases to 1,699.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the testing strategy is now being expanded to determine how and when some of restrictions can be gradually lifted.

However, she says that won't begin until mid-May.

Henry also says the province is broadening tests to better track community spread of the virus.

6:30 p.m.

Yukon has two more cases of COVID-19, for a total of 11.

Yukon's chief medical officer Dr. Brendan Hanley says the latest cases are related to a cluster in Whitehorse that is connected to international travel.

Hanley says eight of the 11 people who have contracted the virus have recovered and are doing well.

He says each case has been traced to its origin and there has been no known community transmission in the territory.

6 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 105 new cases and four additional deaths related to COVID-19.

That brings the total to 2,908 cases and 59 deaths in the province.

So far, 1,230 people have recovered from the illness.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro says cases in care homes remain a concern and the government will be releasing a plan this week to help the facilities and workers.

5 p.m.

The Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta is temporarily shutting down as the result of COVID-19.

The High River plant, which employs more than 2,000 workers, has been linked to more than 350 cases of the novel coronavirus — both at the plant and in the community.

A company spokesman says it was a difficult decision to make as the plant is considered an essential service.

He is encouraging all employees to get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

4:57 p.m.

Toronto medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa says 74 people at a refugee shelter have tested positive for COVID-19.

The city says everyone at the shelter has been tested for the new coronavirus and many results are pending.

Doctors Without Borders is now in Toronto setting up a recovery centre to help deal with COVID-19 cases among the homeless.

4:55 p.m.

Ryan Meili, the leader of Saskatchewan's NDP,  says to help fight COVID-19 the doctor-turned-politician has renewed his medial licence.

He says it felt right to step up and help at a testing and assessment facility in Saskatoon.

4:50 p.m.

Saskatchewan is reporting one new case of COVID-19.

That brings the total number of cases in the province to 316, with health officials saying that 238 people have recovered from the illness.

The number of fatalities remains at four.

4:20 p.m.

The B.C. government is moving to get faster access to care for those living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Steps to improve health-care services include bringing in 55 new ambulances, five more fixed-wing planes or helicopters and housing options that will help people self-isolate in their home communities.

The government says its also bringing in new and faster virus testing technology — taking less than 45 minutes to complete — in an attempt to quickly stop the spread of the virus.

Indigenous Relations Minister Scott Fraser says Indigenous communities have been hit hard in past pandemics and elders, in particular, as keepers of knowledge and language, must be protected.

3:45 p.m

The Conservatives have lost their bid to have Parliament sit in person several times a week throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Liberal government motion calling for once-a-week in-person sittings, to be supplemented eventually by virtual sittings, passed in the House of Commons today with a vote of 22 to 15.

A Conservative motion to add more in-person sittings each week was defeated by the same margin, with the Liberals, Bloc Quebecois, New Democrat and Green MPs voting against it.

The motion was proposed after the Conservatives refused during a week of negotiations to give unanimous consent to the government's proposal, triggering the return of the House of Commons with a small contingent of MPs today.

3:15 p.m.

The Manitoba government is extending its state of emergency to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic for another month, until May 17.

Provincial health officials have yet to decide whether to extend public health orders that limit public gatherings and close non-essential businesses until May 1.

The province is reporting one additional case of COVID-19, bringing the total to 254 (246 confirmed, eight probable).

Officials also say a woman in her 80 has died from COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to six.

2:20 p.m.

Federal spending on an emergency benefit to workers out of a job due to COVID-19 has almost reached $20 billion.

Federal statistics posted today shows that $19.8 billion in payments has been paid out through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The Liberals had previously budgeted $24 billion for the program, which kicked in earlier this month.

So far, there have been 6.73 million unique applicants for the program, a figure that includes some two million people who previously applied for employment insurance benefits in March.

2 p.m.

Transit service across Metro Vancouver will see deep cuts over the coming weeks as the company that manages bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain and commuter rail services copes with monthly losses of $75 million.

A statement from TransLink says ridership is down 83 per cent due to COVID-19, forcing it to temporarily layoff 1,492 workers and suspend 18 bus routes this week and a further 47 by early May.

SkyTrain, SeaBus and the West Coast Express commuter rail line will see service reductions of up to 40 per cent, depending on day and time.

TransLink says the cost-saving measures come with a commitment from the province to ensure near-regular service can be restored by September.

1:50 p.m.

For the sixth time in 10 days, New Brunswick has reported no new cases of COVID-19.

Chief medical officer Dr. Jennifer Russell said there have only been four new cases in the last week.

Ninety-eight of the 118 total cases in the province have recovered, and there are only 20 active cases.

Russell said she is encouraged by the "trend" of fewer cases and more people recovering, but reiterated that New Brunswickers still need to respect provincial restrictions by staying home.

1:45 p.m.

Quebec is delaying all non-urgent activities in hospitals for the next two weeks to allow more medical professionals to work full time in the province's struggling long-term care homes.

Premier Francois Legault says the province is short 2,000 people to work in the homes, where the majority of the province's COVID-19 deaths have originated.

The province reported 62 more deaths due to COVID-19 for a total of 939, and 962 more cases for a total of 19,319.

Legault said 3,847 people have recovered from the illness.

12:45 p.m.

Newfoundland and Labrador says there are no new cases of COVID-19.

Chief Medical Officer Janice Fitzgerald says the total number of cases remains at 257 for the province, with the majority coming from the Eastern health region.

Despite there being no new cases, Premier Dwight Ball says the province still won't ease on any restrictions for the coronavirus.

12:41 p.m.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Prince Edward Island, leaving the country's smallest province with just 26 cases.

Twenty-three of those patients have recovered and there have been no deaths from the novel coronavirus in P.E.I.

The province's chief public health officer, Dr. Heather Morrison, says Canadians will need to learn to live with COVID-19.

She says a balance must be found between keeping people safe and returning to normal life.

12:20 p.m.

Ontario health officials say the community spread of COVID-19 in Ontario appears to have peaked.

They say restrictions such as physical distancing have moved up the peak to now, rather than in May, as predicted in earlier modelling.

But official say there are two types of outbreaks happening — community spread and long-term care spread.

They say spread in long-term care and other congregate settings such as homeless shelters seems to be growing.

12:15 p.m.

Dr. Theresa Tam said there are some provinces that have not seen any community transmission of coronavirus and that in the provinces where there has been, things are getting better.

But Tam warned that despite the positive signs, which are a testament to the efforts being made by Canadians, "now is not the time to slow down" physical distancing efforts.

12:04 p.m.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says Canada has been testing more than 20,000 people a day for COVID-19 over the last few days.

Tam said more than 555,000 people have now been tested, resulting in 36,216 confirmed cases as of this morning.

12 p.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting 46 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 721 confirmed cases.

Health officials say there are nine licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors' facilities with cases of the virus, involving 127 residents and 61 staff.

There have been nine deaths in the province and the provincial health lab has registered 21,769 negative test results.

The province says 12 people are currently in hospital, with four of those patients in intensive care, while 248 people have now recovered and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

11:45 a.m.

MPs are back in the House of Commons after the four main parties failed to reach consensus on keeping Parliament adjourned.

Now, a motion put forward by the Liberal government to sit once a week in person, and virtually otherwise, is being debated.

The Liberals have the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois for their proposal.

But the Conservatives disagree, saying more in-person debate and discussion of the government's COVID-19 response is necessary.

11:38 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is "heartbreak on top of heartbreak" when families whose loved ones were killed in Nova Scotia on Sunday cannot gather to mourn because of the COVID-19 physical distancing rules.

Trudeau says it is the same heartbreak felt by thousands of other Canadians who have lost loved ones to the virus, or to cancer or other illnesses.

He says there will be a virtual vigil on Friday night for all of Canada to support the community.

10:40 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 606 new cases of COVID-19, the largest single-day increase, and 31 new deaths.

Despite the large increase, the new total of 11,184 cases is just 5.7 per cent higher than the day before, continuing a relatively low growth trend.

The total includes 584 deaths and 5,515 resolved cases.

The number of people in hospital confirmed to have COVID-19 and those on a ventilator went down slightly, while the number of people in intensive care remained stable.

10:17 a.m.

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says Parliament will reopen this morning.

He is blaming the NDP and Bloc Quebecois for siding with the Liberals in trying to limit debate and discussion around the government's COVID-19 response.

All three parties have agreed to a single in-person sitting per week that can eventually be supplemented with virtual sittings.

But Scheer says that's not enough, and it is possible for Parliament to safely meet more often.

Without a unanimous agreement, Parliament simply resumes as normal though not all 338 MPs have to be present.

The Canadian Press

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