Canada’s House of Commons. (Black Press file photo)

Parliament suspended, more closures amid COVID-19 recession warning

CN Tower set to close to visitors, several universities cancel in-person classes

The suspension of Parliament as a precautionary measure on Friday was among extraordinary steps public and private-sector organizations announced to curb a pandemic that has sparked concerns Canada is headed into a recession.

The all-party decision to stop sitting in the House of Commons until April 20 came as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau remained in precautionary self-isolation along with his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, who is recovering from a mild case of COVID-19.

“We’re doing well. I’m working from home,” Trudeau told CBC Radio’s The Current program. “We’re really focused on, obviously, the health side of things and the economic side of things, and we’re going to have lots of work to do.”

While financial markets bounced back somewhat from Thursday’s record-setting plunge, the country’s largest bank warned of more economic storm clouds on the horizon. Canada, the bank predicted, would fall into a recession this year in light of COVID-19 and the drastic decline in oil prices sparked by Saudi Arabia’s ramped up production.

The bank, which predicted the economy will recover in the final three months of the year, said its forecast relies on the assumption that the impact of the pandemic will abate over the next three months.

ALSO READ: Researchers and health workers further vaccine development, drive-thru testing

Canada has recorded more than 150 COVID-19 cases and one death in a pandemic that has swept much of the world. Experts say the disease poses little serious risk to most people, but they also say one of the most effective measures is to maintain at least a metre distance from others. Countries such as China, where the virus originated, and Italy have already taken drastic measures to curb its spread.

Trudeau acknowledged the financial anxiety people are facing as the country goes through a “really difficult time” economically. However, he was vague on what the government would be doing to alleviate those concerns beyond some income supports.

“We are going to be putting in place measures to support people, to make sure that they can make ends meet,” Trudeau said. “We are looking at everything.”

Toronto’s landmark CN Tower, a major tourist attraction, was set to close to visitors Friday as theatre companies tried to reassure reluctant patrons they were taking extraordinary measures to help combat the spread of the virus.

Cineplex, for example, said it was rolling out “enhanced cleaning protocols” at locations across the country and implementing policies to ensure hourly staff don’t suffer a financial hit for staying home, while Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre said it would limit tickets for the next four weeks and was asking movie-goers to maintain a three-seat distance within its cinemas.

ALSO READ: Sophie Gregoire Trudeau tests positive for COVID-19 — PMO

The House of Commons also said it was cancelling all public tours until April 20.

Thursday marked a dramatic ramping up of measures to curtail the spread of the virus. Provincial governments advised against international travel, Ontario announced the closure of schools for two weeks, and numerous major entertainment and sports events — the Juno Awards and professional hockey among them — were cancelled.

Announcements of closures and other anti-pandemic measures continued on Friday.

Nova Scotia, which has yet to see a COVID-19 case, said it would require public sector workers and public school children who travel abroad to isolate themselves for two weeks on return to Canada. The province also recommended organizations limit social gatherings to no more than 150 people.

Several universities, such as the University of Toronto, York, and McMaster in Hamilton, announced the cancellation of in-person classes. York said lectures were going online starting Monday and all non-essential events were being cancelled or postponed starting Friday.

“Take care of yourselves and each other,” the school’s president, Rhonda Lenton, said in the announcement.

ALSO READ: Disneyland closing for the rest of March amid coronavirus fears

Universities in Alberta called off classes for Friday but said they would re-evaluate on Monday.

Mosques across the country cancelled Friday prayers, though some in Vancouver and Montreal opted to limit the size of the prayers to less than 250 people.

Canadians scientists have joined their international counterparts in the scramble to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, which experts caution is likely at least a year away.

Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Just Posted

75-year-old woman rescued from near-drowning in Cowichan Lake

Victim taken to hospital, but expected to recover

Nanaimo, Royal Jubilee to be Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 frontline hospitals

Other Island hospitals will be admitting COVID-19 patients and will be used in a support role

Paramedics called to Oak Bay golf course as man crashes bike into sand trap

Oak Bay police respond to social distance concerns

Island liquor stores see spike in sales amidst COVID-19

Customers are buying go-to products in larger quantities

Friends, family suprise Current Swell singer and new wife with socially distant wedding

‘We just thought we were going over there to have a glass of champagne and do some paperwork’

Man charged after Langford shooting last year sentenced to 4.5 years

Justin Lemmen found guilty of firearms offenses

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

Not to become bored the game plan for COVID-19

Board game with an Island map developed by Island family just the remedy for filling time at home

Saanich moves forward with summer camp registration despite COVID-19

District to give full refunds if camps are cancelled

Vancouver Island teen earns $100,000 commerce scholarship to the University of Calgary

Matias Totz is graduating from St. Michaels University School

COVID-19: Vancouver Island man forges hearts for his community

Dave Kasprick has already given out approximately 400, plans to make it 600

After 37 years, Campbell River Arts Council annual members’ show goes online

38th Annual Members Show shifted from physical gallery to website

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Most Read