Canada province promises justice after nursing home patients left in dirty diapers

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s most populous province on Tuesday promised justice after soldiers helping manage the coronavirus outbreak in nursing homes saw staff leaving people in soiled diapers and ignoring calls for help.

Nursing homes account for around 80% of all deaths attributed to the new coronavirus in Canada. The situation is dire in Ontario and neighboring Quebec, where around 1,400 soldiers are working.

A report by the armed forces on five of the worst-affected Ontario homes revealed residents were left in soiled diapers, and patient rooms were filled with “significant fecal contamination,” cockroaches and ants.

At one point “patients (were) observed crying for help with staff not responding for 30 mins to over two hours,” it said.

“It’s heart wrenching, but there is going to be justice,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters, saying he was sure other homes had troubles too.

A full probe is underway and one death has been referred to the chief coroner for further investigation. Police could decide to lay criminal charges for neglect, he said.

Although the government knew the system of long-term care was “totally broken”, the scale of the problem remained hidden until now, Ford said. Critics were not convinced.

“Much of what the military found is NOT new … we have begged to improve staffing,” tweeted Doris Grinspun, head of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was shocked and angry, reiterating Canada needed to do a better job of caring for seniors. Quebec and Ontario want the soldiers to stay longer than planned, and Ottawa is likely to agree, Trudeau said.

Earlier this month, Trudeau referred to “heartbreaking tragedies” in the facilities, mentioning overworked employees and understaffed homes.

Official data showed the total coronavirus Canadian death toll had edged up by just under 2% to 6,566 from Monday.

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Canada bans assault-style weapons after Nova Scotia mass shooting

PM Trudeau says the country is banning the use, trade of more than 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the country is banning the use and trade of assault-style weapons immediately.

Trudeau announced the ban of more than 1,500 models and variants of assault-style firearms on Friday, including the AR-15 and other weapons that have been used in a number of mass shootings in the United States.

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Citing numerous mass shootings in the country, including the killing of 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19, Trudeau said: “Canadians need more than thoughts and prayers.”

The Cabinet order does not forbid owning any of the military-style weapons and their variants but it does ban the trade in them. He said the order has a two-year amnesty period for current owners, and there will be a compensation programme that will require a bill passed in Parliament.

In the meantime, they can be exported, returned to manufacturers, and transported only to deactivate them or get rid of them. In certain limited circumstances, they can be used for hunting.

“You do not need an AR-15 to take down a deer,” Trudeau said. “So, effective immediately, it is no longer permitted to buy, sell, transport, import or use military-grade, assault weapons in this country.”

‘No place for such weapons’

He said the weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: To kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time.

“There is no use – and no place – for such weapons in Canada,” Trudeau said.

Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, but Trudeau said they are happening more often. Trudeau noted he was nearby in Montreal when gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique college in 1989. The Ruger Mini-14 Lepine used is among weapons included in the ban.

Trudeau has said his government would introduce further gun control legislation prohibiting military-style assault weapons, a measure that had already been planned before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the current parliamentary session.

“As of today, the market for assault weapons is closed. Enough is enough,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said.

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CANADA FX DEBT-Canadian dollar sticks to tight range ahead of Poloz speech

    * Canadian dollar rises 0.1% against the greenback
    * Loonie trades in a range of 1.3972 to 1.4007
    * Price of U.S. oil increases 0.6%
    * Canadian bond yields trade mixed across a flatter curve

    TORONTO, May 25 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar strengthened
against the greenback on Monday as global stocks rose, but the
loonie traded in a narrow range as U.S. financial markets were
closed for a public holiday and ahead of a speech by Bank of
Canada Governor Stephen Poloz.    
    A survey showing German business morale rebounded in May
boosted investor sentiment. Shares globally          gained
0.4%, while U.S. crude futures        were up 0.60% at $33.45 a
barrel.
    Oil is one of Canada's major exports.
    The Canadian dollar        was trading 0.1% higher at 1.3985
to the greenback, or 71.50 U.S. cents. The currency, which rose
0.8% last week, traded in a range of 1.3972 to 1.4007. 
    Poloz, who is retiring next Monday, will speak on monetary
policy at 1:30 p.m. (1530 GMT). Last week, he said Canada was
still on track to meet the best-case scenario for recovery that
the central bank released in April.             
    Since March, the Bank of Canada has slashed its benchmark
interest rate to a record low of 0.25% and begun its first ever
large-scale bond-buying program.
    Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a flatter
curve, with the 10-year yield             down 1.1 basis points
at 0.496%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith
Editing by Nick Zieminski)
  

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CANADA FX DEBT-Canadian dollar falls as U.S.-China tensions threaten global outlook

 (Adds strategist quotes and details throughout, updates prices)
    * Canadian dollar declines 0.3% against the greenback
    * Price of U.S. oil increases 1.3%
    * Canada shed 226,700 nonfarm payroll jobs in April
    * Canadian bond yields were mixed across a flatter curve

    By Fergal Smith
    TORONTO, May 21 (Reuters) - The Canadian dollar weakened
against its U.S. counterpart on Thursday as rising tensions
between the United States and China weighed on investor
sentiment, with the loonie paring some of this week's advance.
    Wall Street's main indexes eased from more than two-month
highs hit in the previous session as President Donald Trump said
the United States would react strongly if China imposes national
security laws for Hong Kong in response to last year's often
violent pro-democracy protests.             
    "There are increasing threats to global growth in the
deteriorating U.S.-China dialogue," said Adam Button, chief
currency analyst at ForexLive.
    Canada runs a current account deficit and is a major
exporter of commodities, including oil, so the loonie tends to
be sensitive to the global economic outlook. Investors also
worried about the pace of a recovery from a coronavirus-fueled
economic slump.    
    Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said the world was in
an era where interest rates were probably going to stay low and
would not go back to where they were 20 or 30 years ago.
            
    On Tuesday, the chief executive officer of Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation said that the national housing agency is
forecasting a decline in average house prices of as much as 18%
in the coming 12 months.
    "The dire forecast from the CMHC is causing some soul
searching in the Canadian dollar," Button said.
    The loonie          was trading 0.3% lower at 1.3944 to the
greenback, or 71.72 U.S. cents. The currency, which was up 1%
since the start of the week, traded in a range of 1.3891 to
1.3970.        
    The decline for the loonie coincided with payroll services
provider ADP reporting that Canada shed 226,700 nonfarm payroll
jobs in April, when efforts to contain the coronavirus outbreak
shut down much of the economy.             
    Canada's retail sales report for March is due on Friday.
    The price of oil, one of Canada's major exports, rose to its
highest since March, supported by lower U.S. crude inventories,
OPEC-led supply cuts and recovering demand. U.S. crude oil
futures        settled 1.3% higher at $33.92 a barrel.
                
    Canadian government bond yields were mixed across a flatter
yield curve, with the 2-year            rising 2.6 basis points
to 0.333%.

 (Reporting by Fergal Smith; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant
McCool)
  

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Canada air force aerobatics team member dies in plane crash

Canadian forces’ Snowbirds jet crashes in British Columbia on a tour to lift spirits during coronavirus pandemic.

A member of the elite Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) aerobatics team has died and another has been injured when a plane crashed during a performance to honour public efforts against the coronavirus.

The aircraft, part of the team known as the Snowbirds, crashed into the front yard of a house in Kamloops, British Columbia, shortly after taking off on Sunday morning.

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“It is with heavy hearts that we announce that one member of the CF Snowbirds team has died,” the RCAF tweeted late on Sunday. In an update on Monday, it said the other person’s injuries were not considered life-threatening.

The person killed was identified by the RCAF as Captain Jenn Casey, a public affairs officer with the air force.

Witness accounts

Witnesses said the pilot managed to eject from the plane with a parachute before it crashed, landing on the roof of a house.

Video shot by a witness showed two of the team’s Canadair Tutor single-engine aircraft taking off. One of the planes reared up almost immediately before plunging to the ground, exploding just after the pilot ejected.

In another video taken by a passer-by, the burning wreckage of the aircraft can be seen in front of a house as people gathered outside.

Photos from the crash scene also appeared to show debris burning in front of the building, part of which was on fire.

“No noise, it was strange, and then the plane just did a cartwheel and fell right out of the sky. Just boom, straight down, and then a burst of black, black smoke,” witness Annette Schonewille told Radio Canada.

Public broadcaster CBC quoted another witness, Nolyn Mcleod, as saying the plane passed about three metres (9.8 feet) over his roof.

“We saw the pilot eject like maybe two stories high, and then the plane with no pilot in it went right between me and my neighbour’s house,” before finally hitting the neighbour’s bedroom window, he said.

“It was complete chaos. People were yelling and screaming. We thought we were getting bombed or something. That’s how hectic it was.”

The plane was scheduled to fly over British Columbia as part of a tour dubbed Operation Inspiration launched earlier this month to pay tribute to Canadians’ efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Snowbirds’ signature nine-jet formation, with trailing white smoke, began its tour in Nova Scotia and was to perform aerial displays over cities from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans, at elevations as low as 150 metres (500 feet).

The incident was the second recent accident involving the Snowbirds. One of the team’s jets crashed into an unpopulated area last October before a show in Atlanta – after the pilot ejected.

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Canada to give seniors one-time payment to help with coronavirus costs

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will give seniors living on a fixed income a one-time payment ranging from C$300 ($215) to C$500 to deal with increased costs linked to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Tuesday.

Seniors Minister Deb Schulte said the tax-free payments would help seniors who need money for food deliveries and other services. It will also aid those who are taking taxis to avoid using public transport.

“We are seeing a variety of situations where seniors, through no fault of their own, through following the rules and protecting themselves… are seeing an increase in costs,” she told a briefing.

The total value of the payments – which will help 6.7 million people – is C$2.5 billion. Ottawa has already committed more than C$160 billion in direct spending – more than 7% of gross domestic product – on a range of programs to help businesses and people deal with the outbreak.

Treasury Board Minister Jean-Yves Duclos noted a couple eligible for the maximum payments would receive a one-time payment of C$1,000 in addition to their pensions.

“This is clearly not a fortune… but I think C$1,000 will greatly help these seniors get through the crisis,” he said.

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Canada's total coronavirus death toll rises 6% in a day: official data

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The total number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada rose by 6% to 3,082 in a day, official data posted by the public health agency showed on Thursday.

The figure for those diagnosed with the coronavirus had climbed to 52,056, according to a statement. On Wednesday there were 2,904 deaths and 50,373 positive diagnoses.

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Canada's export agency will backstop bank energy loans – document

TORONTO, April 22 (Reuters) – Canada’s export credit agency will backstop loans to hard hit oil and gas producers, a document seen by Reuters showed, in the latest move by Ottawa to free up credit for the struggling energy industry.

The relief comes as banks review borrowing limits in the sector and could head off bankruptcies of small and mid-sized energy firms pummeled by the collapse in oil prices.

Canadian banks have eased some lending standards but are expected to chop credit lines as they recalculate energy companies’ borrowing bases to account for a 75% drop in U.S. oil prices since the start of the year.

The “dramatic fall in prices will force borrowing base redeterminations downwards, in some cases, below the level where current facilities are drawn,” Export Development Canada (EDC) said in a slide presentation, dated April 17.

Under the program, called a reserve-based lending guarantee, the agency will backstop up to 75% of a bank loan, to a maximum of C$100 million, for at least one year, the document said.

“EDC will provide an incremental guarantee of over and above the (banks’) borrowing base to partially mitigate the current oil prices,” it said.

EDC did not immediately respond to questions.

The program is targeted at Canadian firms with production no greater than 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, according to the presentation.

Canada on Friday said it would offer commercial loans worth between C$15 million to C$60 million to producers through the Business Development Bank of Canada, in addition to C$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in aid to help the industry weather fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has estimated the need for liquidity in the sector at C$15 billion to C$30 billion.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Friday said more needed to be done to ensure large businesses had access to credit, and promised details soon. (Reporting by Jeff Lewis Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Canada offers C$2.5 billion in aid for hard-hit energy sector, death toll hits 1,250

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada will invest around C$2.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in measures to help the hard-hit oil and gas industry survive during the nation’s coronavirus outbreak that has killed 1,250 people, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday.

The sector, which accounts for 10.6% of Canada’s gross domestic product, has urged Ottawa to free up credit and cash to help tackle the pandemic and rock-bottom oil prices.

Trudeau, saying energy sector workers faced “layers of calamity,” said Ottawa would invest C$1.7 billion to help clean up orphan and abandoned oil and gas wells in three provinces.

“Our goal is to create immediate jobs in these provinces while helping companies avoid bankruptcy and supporting our environmental targets,” he told a daily briefing, saying the measures would maintain around 10,000 jobs.

Ottawa is also setting up a C$750 million fund to provide repayable loans to companies so they can cut emissions of gases such as methane and help Canada meet its climate targets.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, who last week said the province’s energy sector needed up to C$30 billion in liquidity, thanked Trudeau for the aid.

Trudeau said Ottawa was working with the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to expand credit support for at-risk medium-sized energy firms.

Officials would study the energy industry and see whether more help was needed, he added.

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Finance Minister Bill Morneau told a separate briefing that companies were not interested in Ottawa taking an equity stake.

Meanwhile, environmental advocacy group Greenpeace Canada said the announcements would provide “much-needed jobs while cleaning up some of the oil industry’s existing mess.”

Funding to clean up orphan or inactive wells is welcome news for farmers who rent parts of their land to oil companies, said Todd Plandowski, owner of a company that negotiates lease agreements for farmers.

“Some are concerned about gas leaks. They’re concerned about farming around these things,” he said by phone.

Ottawa has unveiled around C$115 billion ($82.08 billion) in direct spending to help companies and individuals deal with shutdowns designed to fight the health crisis. Officials said on Friday Canada’s death toll had hit 1,250, up from 1,048 on Thursday.

Many of the 30,670 confirmed coronavirus cases have been recorded in seniors residences. Trudeau said 125 troops with medical experience would be sent to help staff in long-term care homes in the province of Quebec.

Trudeau also said Ottawa would give C$962 million to regional development agencies to help small businesses and invest C$500 million to support arts, culture and sports.

The shutdowns will extend to the July 1 Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, which usually attract around 10,000 people, officials said.

Morneau, asked about promised aid packages for the airline and tourism sectors, said more needed to be done to ensure large businesses had access to credit and promised details soon.

Finance ministry officials told unions representing airline workers on Wednesday they are mulling whether to provide low-interest repayable loans to companies, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

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WRAPUP 1-Canada's TSX notches biggest weekly gain since 2009

TORONTO, April 9 (Reuters) – Canada’s main stock market rallied on Thursday and notched its biggest weekly gain in 11 years, as investors focused on a new Federal Reserve program to support the U.S. economy rather than data showing a record jobs loss for Canada.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index closed up 1.7% at 14,166.63, led by a near 10% advance in gold stocks. For the week, the TSX was up nearly 9.5%, its biggest advance since January 2009.

The index, which will close for the Good Friday holiday, has recouped about 45% of its recent plunge which could spur some investors to adjust their portfolios.

“It might draw out some rebalancing,” said Diana Avigdor, a portfolio manager and head of trading at Barometer Capital Management. “I don’t think a lot of people, especially the smaller mom and pop, had a lot of time to get out of the market and rearrange their risk tolerance as the sell-off was happening.”

Wall Street also climbed on Friday as the Fed rolled out a massive $2.3 trillion program to bolster local governments and businesses hammered by the coronavirus outbreak.

Canada’s coronavirus death toll is set to soar from the current 461 to as high as 22,000 by the end of the pandemic, health officials said, while the economy lost a record 1 million jobs last month as several provinces closed non-essential businesses.

“As long as we’re closed you can expect these numbers to continue to be this way,” Avigdor said. “The question is how long and what normalization will look like and when.”

Ottawa is rolling out more than C$200 billion in measures to support the economy, while the Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates to 0.25% and has begun quantitative easing, a program of buying government bonds on a large scale.

Gold climbed nearly $40 to about $1,685 an ounce, while the price of oil, one of Canada’s major exports, settled 9.3% lower at $22.76 a barrel. Investors doubted the emerging supply-cut agreement between members of OPEC and its allies would adequately address the collapse in global fuel demand caused by the pandemic.

The Canadian dollar strengthened 0.3% to 1.3972 per U.S. dollar, or 71.32 U.S. cents. For the week, the loonie was up 1.1%.

Canadian government bond yields fell across the curve, with the 10-year down 5.3 basis points at 0.760%. (Reporting by Fergal Smith; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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