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The latest developments on COVID-19 in Canada on April 21

Alberta is reporting 187 news cases of COVID-19, and two additional deaths.
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, orange, emerging from the surface of cells, grey, cultured in the lab. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID-RML via AP

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

The latest news on the COVID-19 global pandemic (all times Eastern):

6:15 p.m.

Two meat-packing plants in southern Alberta have been tied to more cases of COVID-19.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer, says there are 401 cases at the Cargill plant in High River, up from 360.

And there are 77 cases at the JSB plant in Brooks, up from 67.

Cargill announced yesterday it will temporarily close its facility because of the outbreak, and there are calls for JSB to do the same.

6 p.m.

Alberta is reporting 187 news cases of COVID-19, and two additional deaths.

That brings the total number of cases in the province to 3,095 and the death toll to 61.

So far, 1,273 people have recovered from the virus.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer, says a resident at a continuing care centre in High Prairie is among the new deaths.

5:50 p.m.

Vancouver Coastal Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 among staff at a chicken processing plant.

Twenty-eight employees of United Poultry Company Ltd. in Vancouver have tested positive for COVID-19.

Vancouver Coastal Health says it first became aware of a potential outbreak after receiving a positive lab test on Sunday from an employee of the plant.

Health officials tested 71 staff on Monday, which resulted in 27 additional positive cases of COVID-19.

They say the plant was closed the same day.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there is no evidence to suggest that food is a likely source or route of transmission for the virus.

3:40 p.m.

Saskatchewan health officials announced four new confirmed cases of COVID-19 bringing the provincial total to 320.

The death toll remains at four and so far 252 people have recovered.

Saskatchewan's Ministry of Health says more than 24,000 tests for the virus have been done.

This week Premier Scott Moe is expected to announce a plan for how some businesses and services may be allowed to start reopening if case numbers stay low.

2:10 p.m.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is taking a pay reduction as he pushes for cuts in the public sector.

Pallister says he is foregoing 25 per cent of his $94,000 base salary as a member of the legislature while the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Part of that — about seven per cent — is a previously announced wage freeze that Pallister and all other legislature members have accepted since 2016 on their base pay.

Pallister is asking public sector workers to accept reduced work weeks, job-sharing or temporary layoffs to help the government redirect spending to health care during the pandemic.

1:38 p.m.

New Brunswick is reporting no new cases of COVID-19 today, leaving the provincial total at 118.

Chief medical officer of health, Dr. Jennifer Russell, says to date 102 people have recovered.

She says five patients remain in hospital, and one of those is in intensive care.

Russell says the province is increasing the scope of testing.

1:20 p.m.

There are no new cases of COVID-19 on Prince Edward Island today, leaving the provincial total at 26 confirmed cases.

So far 23 of those cases are considered recovered.

Premier Dennis King says the province is looking at a plan to begin easing some restrictions in early May.

Chief Public Health Officer, Doctor Heather Morrison says the "Open P.E.I." plan would start with allowing some outdoor activities and elective procedures in the health-care system.

1:17 p.m.

Quebec is announcing it has broken through a grim milestone after recording more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19.

Premier Francois Legault said today 102 people died compared with yesterday, for a total of 1,041 deaths out of 20,126 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.

The province currently has 201 patients in intensive care, an increase of three people compared with yesterday.

Legault says the infection rate in long-term care homes and senior residences continues to be a major challenge, adding there are 80 such facilities where he says the virus is not under control.

12:45 p.m.

The federal government says it hopes to process 90 per cent of applications for wage subsidies from employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by May 5.

Jean-Yves Duclos, the vice-chair of the cabinet committee on COVID-19, offered the timeline after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this morning that applications for wage support will be open next Monday.

However, neither Trudeau nor Duclos could say when money would actually start to flow to employers.

Employers whose bottom lines have been hit by the pandemic will be able to apply for the federal government to cover up to 75 per cent of employee wages, retroactive to mid-March.

12:41 p.m.

Canada's chief medical officer Dr. Theresa Tam says she and her provincial counterparts are considering ways to ease restrictions around COVID-19.

But she says the fight against the pandemic remains a "marathon" and there are lots of unknowns at play.

Tam is urging individual sectors to start thinking about innovative ways of reopening while preventing the illness from spreading, as immunity against COVID-19 across the country is "not high."

12:37 p.m.

Newfoundland & Labrador once again reported no new cases of COVID-19.

The number of cases remains at 257 for the province.

One hundred and ninety-four people have recovered from the virus, while 6,431 people have been tested.

Chief medical office Dr. Janice Fitzgerald once again reminded citizens to follow guidelines and practice social distancing, and also explained to citizens on how to properly wear masks.

12:30 p.m.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister says employers across the province will get a refund on their workers' compensation premiums to help them handle the economic fallout from COVID-19.

Pallister says next month, employers will get a credit equal to 20 per cent of last year's premiums, worth a total of $37 million.

He also says the province will take part in a new federal program that offers loans to commercial landlords who reduce rent for small businesses during the pandemic.

11:57 a.m.

Nova Scotia is reporting another death related to COVID-19, bringing the province's total to 10.

The death occurred at the Northwood long-term care home in Halifax Regional Municipality.

Nova Scotia is reporting 16 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 737 confirmed cases.

Two hundred and eighty-six individuals have now recovered in Nova Scotia and their cases of COVID-19 are considered resolved.

As of yesterday, there are 10 licensed long-term care homes and unlicensed seniors' facilities in Nova Scotia with cases of COVID-19, involving 128 residents and 62 staff.

11:55 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says two airplanes that were supposed to pick up protective equipment for frontline medical workers in China were forced to leave that country empty because of delays on the ground.

Trudeau says the equipment was supposed to deliver equipment ordered by the federal government and one province, which he declined to identify.

Trudeau says planes are only allowed to remain in China for short periods of time while checkpoints and other challenges make movement on the ground difficult.

11:30 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says companies whose businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying for a promised wage subsidy on April 27.

Trudeau says the Canada Revenue Agency is setting up a calculator so employers can see how much they can expect to receive from the program, which will provide up to $847 per employee per week.

11:25 a.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government plans to provide $350 million to Canada's charities sector.

Charities have seen a severe drop in donations since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, with donors hurting financially themselves and an inability to hold fundraising events.

Trudeau says some of the money will go to smaller, independent organizations while the rest will flow to national groups such as the United Way and Canadian Red Cross.

10:33 a.m.

Ontario is reporting 551 new COVID-19 cases today, and 38 new deaths.

The new provincial total of 11,735 cases is a 4.9 per cent increase over Monday's total, which is the lowest growth rate in weeks.

The total includes 622 deaths and 5,806 resolved cases — which is nearly half.

10:30 a.m.

A survey of nearly 1,300 British Columbia businesses reveals just over half of those already closed to due COVID-19 restrictions expect to reopen.

The BC Chamber of Commerce and several partners took part in the Mustel survey, which shows a further 38 per cent of businesses are unsure about reopening and eight per cent already know they won't be back.

Of the small businesses still operating, the survey shows 43 per cent estimate they can only survive for a maximum of three more months under current restrictions.

More than half report revenues have plunged 75 per cent or more and almost eight in 10 are not confident they will be able to attract enough customers or revenue to stay alive when normal operations resume.

10:15 a.m.

The COVID-19 pandemic will keep court procedures in Ontario on hold for at least an extra three months.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice suspended regular operations on March 17 and either adjourned or suspended criminal and civil trials until June.

But the court has issued a new notice saying criminal and civil jury selections and trials will be paused until September at the earliest.

It says it will keep assessing the public health situation and plans to offer further direction next month.

The Canadian Press

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