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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

YMCA Okanagan cancels Healthy Kids Day due to COVID-19 concerns

The YMCA also plans to reschedule its YMCA Cycle for Strong Kids for this fall

West Kelowna RCMP looking for three stolen E-bikes

The bikes were stolen over a week dating back to April 1

Former Kelowna cop accused of sexual harassment may have disciplinary record revealed in court

Brian Burkett is accused of abusing his position as a cop to sexually harass women involved in his cases

Peachland photographer selling postcards, proceeds to go to local hospitals

Doug Oggelsby’s photos include birds from all over North America

‘Overwhelming, incredible’ support for foreign workers following West Kelowna COVID-19 outbreak

‘…Our team seems to be recovering well — symptoms are resolving’

WATCH: Salmon Arm artist hosts virtual art show amid COVID-19

Roxi Hermsen’s show “Into the Cosmos” is a tribute to her father Bill Sim

Canadian country star Jess Moskaluke to headline Penticton Peach Festival’s country night

Multi-award winning country artist will perform on the Peters Bros. main stage in Okanagan Lake Park

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Little lamb born in time for Easter in Kelowna

The lamb was born on a Kelowna property

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Canadians urged to include pets in their COVID-19 emergency plans

That includes plans about who will care for them if the owner is hospitalized

COVID-19: Don’t get away for Easter weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry warns

John Horgan, Adrian Dix call 130 faith leaders as holidays approach

Most Read