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

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

APRIL 2: Six new COVID-19 deaths: provincial health officer

Thousands of ‘PPE’ donated in Surrey, where one care home is ‘preparing for the worst’

SafeCare BC’s Operation Protect drive involves drop-off dates in Guildford

Psychologist’s advice on parenting in the pandemic

SFU psychology prof Dr. Tanya Broesch, with expertise in child development, discusses short and long-term impacts COVID-19 pandemic is having on children and parents alike

‘Shocking decision’: Surrey soccer club won’t offer refunds to 350 teams for cancelled tourney

Registration fees would top $171K for Surrey Mayor’s Cup, called off due to COVID-19

Bayside rugby director makes pitch for season shift

Andy Blackburn suggests COVID-19 cancellation could be impetus for BC Rugby change

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

B.C. health care workers gain access to virtual health care options

During COVID-19 many clinics have closed, leaving health care workers with nowhere to turn

Tax collectors, auditors to help field ‘historic’ numbers of benefit-seeking callers

‘If you work for CRA, people think we are just there to take money from your pockets.’

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

Abbotsford man who tries to start gas-station fight gets sprayed with gasoline

Suspect returns with knife and throws it at victim, but is quickly arrested by police

Abbotsford family of 5 who was stuck in Vietnam is now back home

Janzen family sends ‘huge and heartfelt’ thank you to everyone who helped

Most Read

l -->