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The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 19

Latest COVID-19 numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 8 a.m. on Sept. 19, 2020:

There are 142,318 confirmed cases in Canada.

  • Quebec: 66,653 confirmed (including 5,792 deaths, 58,218 resolved)
  • Ontario: 46,484 confirmed (including 2,826 deaths, 40,777 resolved)
  • Alberta: 16,381 confirmed (including 255 deaths, 14,702 resolved)
  • British Columbia: 7,842 confirmed (including 223 deaths, 5,797 resolved)
  • Saskatchewan: 1,776 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,639 resolved)
  • Manitoba: 1,540 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,199 resolved)
  • Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 272 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 267 resolved)
  • New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)
  • Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)
  • Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)
  • Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)
  • Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)
  • Nunavut: No confirmed cases

Total: 142,318 (0 presumptive, 142,318 confirmed including 9,206 deaths, 123,897 resolved)

 



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Conservative leader Erin O'Toole has tested positive for COVID-19

O'Toole positive for COVID

UPDATE: 7:45 a.m.

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole has tested positive for COVID-19.

O'Toole got the news late Friday, hours after Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet issued a statement that he too had tested positive.

Both men will now be unable to attend next week's throne speech.

O'Toole, who has been the Opposition leader for less than four weeks, was tested in Gatineau, Que., Thursday after one of his staffers tested positive.

His wife, Rebecca, and their children Mollie and Jack, all tested negative.

The party said in a statement Wednesday that O'Toole, 47, was experiencing no symptoms.

However his spokeswoman, Melanie Paradis, later said O'Toole had started to experience a sore throat on Wednesday. His symptoms are said to be mild, and the party said he is "feeling well."

Ontario Public Health requires an individual to isolate for at least 14 days from the day symptoms begin or they receive a positive test if they never had symptoms. Under that guidance, O'Toole would be required to stay in isolation until the end of September.

Paradis said O'Toole will discuss the situation with his doctor to determine how long he must remain in isolation.

Quebec's public health rules say a person who tests positive but doesn't have serious symptoms must stay isolated for 10 days. Blanchet had no symptoms as of Friday and will follow that guidance, the party said.

"He will stay in isolation at his home in Shawinigan until Sept. 26, in conformance with the instructions of Quebec public health," the Bloc said in a statement.

"He feels perfectly well."

Late Friday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said he will get tested for COVID-19 because he met with O'Toole earlier this week.

Legault said on Twitter that he would get tested as a precaution and isolate himself at home, adding that no one is immune.

Blanchet's wife, Nancy Déziel, tested positive for the illness earlier this week, after losing her sense of smell, and Blanchet said then that he would be tested as a precaution.

The Bloc leader was already in self-isolation, along with much of his caucus and other aides, after a staff member contracted COVID-19.


ORIGINAL: 7:20 p.m.

Erin O'Toole has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a release from the Conservative party, O'Toole has received a positive test for the virus.

"He is very relieved that his wife and children have tested negative. Mr. O’Toole remains in self-isolation and is feeling well," according to the party.



Man charged in Toronto stabbing, police say; mosque calls for hate crime probe

Charges in mosque stabbing

An arrest has been made in the death of a man who was fatally stabbed outside a Toronto mosque, police said Friday as the religious group called for the murder to be investigated as a hate crime.

Insp. Hank Idsinga, head of the Toronto Police Service's homicide unit, said a 34-year-old man from Toronto was arrested Friday morning and charged with first-degree murder.

"We have received information and support from the community. I thank them for that," Idsinga said at a news conference announcing the charge against Guilherme (William) Von Neutegem.

Idsinga said there is no known motive or a relationship between the accused and the victim, Mohamed-Aslim Zafis.

Zafis, 58, was seated outside the International Muslim Organization on Sept. 12 when police allege the suspect approached and fatally stabbed him before fleeing the scene.

Zafis' funeral, hosted metres away from where he was attacked, drew hundreds of mourners to the mosque parking lot in Etobicoke this week. He was remembered at the service as a gentle soul who was dedicated to helping others in need and was volunteering at the time he was killed.

A vigil is planned for Zafis on Saturday afternoon, where the International Muslim Organization said it will thank police for their work on the case, and ask that the possibility of a hate crime be explored.

"The IMO will be calling on the Toronto Police Service to investigate the murder as a potentially hate-motivated homicide," the organization said in a statement Friday.

Idsinga said it is too soon to exclude Von Neutegem from the investigation into another stabbing death that occurred in the city five days earlier.

However, he said it is also too soon to refer to the arrested man as a suspect in the killing of Rampreet (Peter) Singh.

Police allege Singh was stabbed multiple times under the bridge where he'd been living for several months.

Earlier this week, police said they were investigating whether the two murders were connected because of a number of similarities, though there was no evidence linking the two.

Both victims were men with brown skin who died of stab wounds after sudden attacks that happened within kilometres of one another.

Idsinga said Friday the investigation into Singh's death is still "very active," with "several different avenues" being explored, and it will take time to process all the evidence.



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Forecast models show hurricane Teddy could hit Maritimes next week

Teddy could hit Maritimes

The Canadian Hurricane Centre's top meteorologist is suggesting the combination of hurricane Teddy and a continuing pandemic should prompt Maritimers to plan well ahead for potential power outages.

The storm was churning northward southeast of Bermuda on Friday, with maximum wind speeds over 200 kilometres per hour.

A forecast from the centre said Teddy will approach the Maritimes early next week with impacts likely for parts of the region on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The forecast says the centre of Teddy could make landfall along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia late Tuesday, with possible impacts including strong, potentially damaging winds, storm surges along with pounding surf and heavy rainfall.

The hurricane centre's senior forecaster, Bob Robichaud, notes the potential track is currently 360 kilometres wide, meaning the eye could go into the Gulf of Maine south of Nova Scotia or pass to the province's east.

He says residents are advised to prepare for hurricane-related power outages this fall, given the need to socially distance when shopping for supplies before storms.

"Even in August we were saying, whatever you need to get through a storm, you should purchase it before the storm is on the map," he said during an interview on Friday.

"Now, not only is the storm on the map, it's heading this way."

In May, the hurricane centre in Halifax warned of another active storm season, with Robichaud noting that the COVID-19 pandemic could make it difficult for people to prepare for rough weather.

Earlier this year, the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also predicted an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season.

The American agency said it was expecting 13 to 19 named storms — six to 10 of which could become hurricanes. Teddy is the 19th named storm of the season.

Robichaud says various meteorological factors unfolding over the weekend could effect the storm's intensity.

As the storm moves out of the Caribbean over the North Atlantic, it will be over colder water, causing it to lose some power, said Robichaud.

In addition, there is a high pressure area moving from the west into the Maritimes, bringing pleasant fall weather.

"That area of high pressure, if it remains very, very strong, it will deflect the storm off one way or another," he explained.

The meteorologist said the potential hazards from Teddy are high winds and coastal storm surges.

"Those are the things people need to begin to think about as we head into the weekend," he said.

Nova Scotia Power activated its emergency operations centre on Friday and announced it is mobilizing personnel and resources in advance of the storm's arrival.

"We have been closely monitoring hurricane Teddy for several days and taking steps to prepare," said Matt Drover, Nova Scotia Power's storm lead.

The utility is encouraging customers to assemble an emergency kit that includes flashlights, a battery-powered radio and fresh water and to ensure backup generators are installed properly outdoors.

The province's emergency management office issued a release on Friday also encouraging citizens to prepare in advance.

"Nova Scotians should also remember that they need to continue to follow COVID-19 public health direction as they prepare. Stores often have longer lineups in advance of a storm, and physical distancing of two metres and mask wearing are still required," the agency said in a news release.



Trudeau calls byelections for late October, one day after Liberals name candidates

Trudeau calls byelections

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called two byelections less than a day after the Liberals named their candidates in each of the Toronto ridings.

A short notice from the Prime Minister's Office says the votes in York Centre and Toronto Centre will take place on Oct. 26.

The Liberals are hoping to hold the seats left vacant by the resignations of two government MPs.

The party named CTV broadcaster Marci Ien as its candidate in Toronto Centre, which was held by Bill Morneau before his sudden resignation as finance minister and MP in August.

Ien announced her candidacy for the nomination in a series of tweets on Thursday, only to be declared the party's standard-bearer by the end of day.

TD Bank Group executive Paul Saguil had previously declared his candidacy for the nomination and so had Scotiabank deputy chief economist Brett House.

The Liberals gave the same treatment to Ya'ara Saks in York Centre, a seat left vacant by the resignation of MP Michael Leavitt at the beginning of September.

Green party leadership hopeful Annamie Paul said she wants to run for her party in the Toronto Centre byelection but needs special permission to do so.

The Green party requires any of the eight people running for the leadership to ask permission if they want to run in a byelection before the winner is named Oct. 3.

Paul said the Liberals are making politically motivated decision to call the byelections now, when COVID-19 numbers in Toronto are spiking and before the government knows if it will survive a confidence vote on next week's throne speech.

She said the Liberals also know very well the Greens are two weeks away from picking their next leader, and that she was the Green candidate in Toronto Centre in 2019.

"The timing is fairly cynical," she said.

One of Paul's rivals for the Green leadership also has ties to Toronto Centre. Glen Murray was the Ontario Liberal MPP for the riding of the same name from 2010 to 2017.



Students anxious for more time as federal loan repayment freeze winds down

Student loan freeze ending

Ottawa's freeze on federal student loan payments and interest is weeks away from its end date, but students and graduates say extending the measure would offer relief from the lasting financial pressures of the pandemic.

Gloria Mellesmoen, who is working towards a PhD in linguistics at the University of British Columbia, said she used the interest-free period to make payments on her principal loan amount.

"It was nice to be able to get that number to start going down and not feel like it was as big of a thing over my head," Mellesmoen said in a telephone interview.

"Having such a big number, it was nice to be able to decrease the amount of interest I will have to pay and also to feel personally like I'm paying off my education."

Ottawa suspended repayments for approximately one million federal student loan recipients from March 30 to Sept. 30. No interest was to accrue on those loans during the same period.

But students and organizations say it's too soon to end the grace period.

Bryn de Chastelain, chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, said his group wants Ottawa to extend the moratorium.

"I think (it) would go a long way to ensure that students have some time to get on their feet," de Chastelain said from Halifax.

He noted the job market is still reeling from COVID-19, creating stress among students and recent grads juggling loans, high tuition costs and other bills.

The alliance commissioned an online Abacus Data survey of 1,000 students and released findings in June. Seventy-five per cent of respondents said they expected the pandemic to affect their financial situation and employment prospects beyond this year.

Emily Grant, a recent master's graduate in political management living in Ottawa, said the pandemic has had a noticeable impact on her job search.

Her field is competitive at the best of times, Grant said, but she's found employers that have moved operations online are scaling back hiring at the same time.

In-person networking opportunities have also disappeared due to the public health rules during COVID-19.

"That adds a whole other layer of not being able to go out and attend events where you can meet and interact with the people who could potentially be hiring you," she said by phone.

Grant said she's hopeful the loan freeze will be extended or the job market will expand, but the uncertainty adds stress and anxiety to financial and career planning.

"It's a whole mess of a situation, honestly, that wasn't expected," she said.

A Friday statement from a spokesperson for the office of federal Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough did not indicate plans to extend the loan moratorium.

The statement pointed to the Repayment Assistance Plan for those resuming repayment after the moratorium.

It also noted $1.9 billion in recently announced measures to support students this fall, though higher student grants and raising the weekly cap on low-interest student loans.

Meanwhile, the Undergraduates of Canadian Research Intensive Universities, a student union alliance, has proposed a two-year grace period for new graduates' loans as they ease into a disrupted workforce.

In their submission for this year's pre-budget consultations, the group argued extending the current six-month grace period would pay off while also assisting students in taking on less debt.

"The government will assist students searching for good jobs while taking on less debt, supporting Canadians and stimulating the Canadian economy in response to COVID-19," the submission document reads.

"With less pressure on repaying their student loans, students will be able to reconceptualize their life plans, moving towards home ownership and entering the middle class sooner than was possible before."

Statistics Canada's 2018 survey of graduates, published last fall, reported 54 per cent of university bachelor's degree grads had student debt at graduation, owing an average amount of $28,000.

Certified financial planner Jackie Porter said those preparing for loan repayments should be ready to pivot with the changing job market, as people in all stages of their careers have been forced to do this year.

"Business owners who are much, much closer to retirement are having the same conversation, so students actually have the benefit of time to make this all work out," Porter said by phone.

"The key thing for them ... is to not let their 'what now' scenario, from a mental standpoint, be their long-term scenario."

She suggested moving back home if possible to reduce costs, applying for a wider variety of jobs and taking additional courses to stand out in the applicant pool, while planning for the next few years.

Toronto personal finance expert Lesley-Anne Scorgie noted that while student debt is stressful and it's important to plan for repaying loans, it's a form of debt that is known to produce income growth down the line.

"It's a burden and it's a heavy one, but it's one of the better debts that you can actually take on," she said.



Provinces crack down as COVID-19 cases soar across much of Canada

Provinces crack down

Rapid increases in new COVID-19 cases could quickly spiral out of control, public health officials said Friday as some provinces continued to impose new and tougher public health measures.

Canada's top public health official, Dr. Theresa Tam, said it's too soon to declare a second wave of the pandemic across Canada, but daily case counts are increasing at an alarming rate.

"This situation increases the likelihood that we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels," she said. "Now is the time for Canadians to redouble their efforts with personal precautions that will slow the spread of the virus."

The provinces also have a role to play, Tam noted, ideally by taking a targeted approach to stem outbreaks on a regional basis.

To that end, Quebec announced Friday it would send police officers to 1,000 bars across the province over the weekend, with particular focus on eight regions that have seen a marked rise in cases and could face further restrictions if the trend isn't reversed.

"The goal behind this operation is to help our regions to go back to green and remain green for those that are already green," Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault said in Quebec City, referring to the province's colour-coded reopening framework.

The province, which has been the hardest hit by the coronavirus, announced 297 new cases on Friday.

Ontario, meanwhile, reported 401 new cases — a daily increase not seen since June — a day after it hiked fines for those organizing large social gatherings to $10,000 and cut down the maximum size of gatherings in three hot spot regions.

In Toronto, Ottawa and Peel region, only 10 people will be allowed to gather indoors — down from the current limit of 25 — while the number for outdoor gatherings will drop to 25 from 100.

But soaring case numbers are not limited to the two provinces that have been hardest hit by the virus.

British Columbia, for instance, reported 165 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday — an all-time daily high for the province where case counts started cresting in August in spite of a previously flattened curve.

By early afternoon, Canada was reporting 141,565 cases of COVID-19.

Among them is Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, who announced that he has gone into self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.



Man sentenced to seven years for gas-and-dash death of Alberta station owner

7 years for gas & dash death

A man who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the gas-and-dash death of an Alberta gas station owner has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski, who is 29, appeared by video link in the Court of Queen's Bench in Wetaskiwin, Alta.

He was charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in August to the lesser offence, as well as failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident.

The sentence includes six years for manslaughter and one year for failing to remain at the scene.

It will be reduced by more than three years for time served in jail prior to the guilty plea.

An agreed statement of facts submitted in the case said 54-year old Ki Yun Jo was killed after Sydlowski sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel.

It happened outside Jo's Fas Gas station in Thorsby, about 70 kilometres southwest of Edmonton, on Oct. 6, 2017.

A witness saw Jo hanging onto the van's passenger side mirror and, when the vehicle swerved, he was tossed to the ground and run over.

The Crown recommended a sentence of six to eight years, while Sydlowski's defence lawyer suggested it should be at the lower end of the Crown's recommendation because of his client's guilty pleas.

Shortly after Jo's death, the Alberta government moved to bring in legislation requiring drivers to prepay before filling up at gas stations.



Cases of infectious diseases plunge amid anti-COVID measures

COVID's silver lining?

Lockdowns and other tough measures implemented to fight the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a dramatic decline in other infectious illnesses such as influenza and sexually transmitted infections, public health data suggest.

While experts say delayed diagnoses likely contributed to the drop in reported cases, the numbers are nevertheless stark.

For example, the normal incidence of influenza, which typically kills about 8,000 Canadians a year when combined with pneumonia, dropped suddenly in mid-March as anti-pandemic restrictions kept people at home and idled businesses. In fact, the latest federal statistics indicate flu across Canada dipped to its lowest seasonal level in nine years — and has stayed there at least through much of August.

Similarly, the latest data from Ontario indicate a host of infections typically spread through sexual contact also dropped sharply compared with the same time last year. Reported chlamydia cases fell 50 per cent between March and June compared to the same months in 2019. Gonorrhea fell 40 per cent, while syphilis, which had seen a recent surge, and HIV fell more than 30 per cent. British Columbia has also reported noticeable declines in syphilis and HIV this year but provided no monthly breakdown.

"There's no question that the measures we've put in place to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 are clearly having an impact on a number of infectious diseases, and not just the respiratory infectious diseases," said Dr. Gerald Evans, chair of the infectious diseases division at Queen's University.

"If you wear a mask, if you stay two metres from someone, if you're washing your hands frequently, that is going to clearly reduce a lot of infections that are transmitted by those routes."

The ban on international travel also appears to have had an effect on illnesses such as measles, which is considered eliminated in Canada but persists abroad. Ontario, for example, which typically sees a handful of imported cases — 11 between March and June last year — has reported none this year.

Other countries have also reported drops in various diseases. One recent study of 12 common childhood illnesses in Massachusetts found significant declines.

"These data demonstrate the extent to which transmission of common pediatric infections can be altered when close contact with other children is eliminated," the authors write about their study reported in the journal Pediatrics. "Notably, three of the studied diseases, namely, influenza, croup, and bronchiolitis, essentially disappeared with (social distancing)."

Influenza reports from several countries in the southern hemisphere also indicate a dramatic drop in cases.

Experts, however, warn against drawing definitive conclusions, saying various factors besides social distancing could have influenced the declines. Those include infected people staying away from hospitals and health-care professionals for fear of contracting COVID-19, and laboratories that prioritized coronavirus testing over other suspected illnesses.

The drop in influenza — Ontario's reported incidence of flu and pneumococcal disease also fell drastically after lockdown — might have been related to a surge in people getting flu shots, as Australia has reported.

"It's a bit too early to tell whether these are real decreases," said Dr. Shelley Deeks, chief protection officer for Public Health Ontario. "It will be interesting to see what happens in the next six months of the year."

However, the authors of the Massachusetts study conclude that changes in care-seeking behaviour had a "relatively modest effect" on the observed declines in child infections.

Regardless, the apparent decline might be a rare silver cloud amid the gloom of a deadly pandemic and disruption of counter-measures that have wreaked social and economic havoc around the world.

Colin Furness, an infection-control epidemiologist with the University of Toronto, said he expected Canada would "knee-cap" influenza this winter.

"We sacrificed so much economically and in terms of our mental health just for COVID," Furness said. "We can all feel a lot better about everything that we sacrificed if we thought there were a whole other wide range of benefits."



Case against man accused of threatening PM in Rideau Hall incident put off again

PM threat case delayed

A Manitoba man accused of threatening Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in an incident at Rideau Hall has had his case put off until Oct. 16.

Corey Hurren is accused of ramming his truck through a gate at the Governor General's official residence on July 2.

Police said the military reservist and sausage-maker was heavily armed when he used a pickup truck to break through a side gate at Rideau Hall and headed toward a residence on the grounds where Trudeau and his family also live.

Neither the Trudeaus nor Gov. Gen. Julie Payette were on the grounds at the time of the incident.

Hurren was remanded Friday after he made a brief appearance by video link in an Ottawa court.

He faces 21 weapons charges as well as one of threatening the prime minister and has not yet had a bail hearing.

Police said several guns and an illegal magazine were found in Hurren's truck after he was peacefully arrested.



Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet tests positive for COVID-19

Bloc leader tests positive

Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet has tested positive for COVID-19.

Blanchet says in a statement that he feels healthy and will stay in isolation at his Shawinigan, Que., home until Sept. 26.

Quebec's public health rules say a person who tests positive but doesn't have serious symptoms must stay isolated for 10 days.

Blanchet's wife, Nancy Déziel, tested positive for the illness earlier this week.

He said he would be tested as a precaution.

The Bloc leader was already in self-isolation, along with much of his caucus and other aides, after a staff member contracted COVID-19.



The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sept. 18

COVID-19: latest numbers

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of Sept. 18, 2020:

There are 141,565 confirmed cases in Canada.

_ Quebec: 66,653 confirmed (including 5,792 deaths, 58,218 resolved)

_ Ontario: 46,077 confirmed (including 2,825 deaths, 40,600 resolved)

_ Alberta: 16,274 confirmed (including 254 deaths, 14,537 resolved)

_ British Columbia: 7,663 confirmed (including 220 deaths, 5,719 resolved)

_ Saskatchewan: 1,757 confirmed (including 24 deaths, 1,624 resolved)

_ Manitoba: 1,500 confirmed (including 16 deaths, 1,191 resolved)

_ Nova Scotia: 1,086 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,020 resolved)

_ Newfoundland and Labrador: 271 confirmed (including 3 deaths, 266 resolved)

_ New Brunswick: 194 confirmed (including 2 deaths, 189 resolved)

_ Prince Edward Island: 57 confirmed (including 56 resolved)

_ Yukon: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved)

_ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved)

_ Northwest Territories: 5 confirmed (including 5 resolved)

_ Nunavut: No confirmed cases

_ Total: 141,565 (0 presumptive, 141,565 confirmed including 9,201 deaths, 123,453 resolved)



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