Federal wage top up and CFL head in the spotlight; In The News for May 7

The Canadian Press

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of May 7 ...

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COVID-19 in Canada ....

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce today cost-sharing agreements with a number of provinces to top up the wages of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those agreements are expected to involve a transfer of federal funds to the provinces, each of which will be able to decide for itself which essential workers most need a pay boost.

The flexible agreements are intended to allow provinces to tailor the program to suit their different needs.

However, it was the continuing tragedy in long-term care homes — residents of which account for more than 60 per cent of Canada's some 4,200 deaths so far — that first prompted Trudeau several weeks ago to offer a federal assistance to boost wages.

Specifically, he proposed a pay boost for personal support workers and other front-line health workers in long-term care facilities who earn less than $2,500 per month.

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In other Canadian news ...

VANCOUVER — Mobility data from Apple Maps suggests enormous drops in personal transportation for Canadians as the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Since mid-January, Canadian users of the software have made 80 per cent fewer requests for directions on transit.

Routing requests from drivers dropped 42 per cent and pedestrian requests for maps fell 40 per cent over the same period.

Meghan Winters, a health sciences professor at Simon Fraser University, says the pandemic puts the country at a crossroads when it comes to transportation choices.

She says drops in revenue and shifting attitudes about shared spaces are putting transit systems at risk, while traffic increases add a heavy burden on cities.

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Also this ...

VICTORIA — British Columbia has reached the point in the COVID-19 pandemic where it will start a gradual reopening of the economy while also allowing social interactions between families, friends and communities to increase.

The plan to restart the province begins with certain health services, retail outlets, restaurants, salons, museums and parks resuming some operations in mid-May, Premier John Horgan said at a news conference Wednesday.

All of the government's reopening plans are based on organizations and businesses developing plans that follow provincial guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19, he said.

B.C.'s plan to lift restrictions implemented in mid-March to fight COVID-19 are a result of the steady decline of positive case numbers in recent weeks, but the reopening must be done carefully to prevent a resurgence of the virus, Horgan said.

Premier John Horgan said B.C.'s reopening will look different than other provinces because much of the economy was not shut down.

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COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has shelved a set of detailed documents created by the nation’s top disease investigators meant to give step-by-step advice to local leaders deciding when and how to reopen public places during the still-raging pandemic.

Those public places include mass transit, day care centres , restaurants and bars.

The report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was supposed to be published last Friday.

A CDC employee says that agency officials were told the report "would never see the light of day."

The Trump administration has been closely controlling the CDC's release of information during the coronavirus pandemic.

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COVID-19 around the world ...

LONDON — The Bank of England has warned that the British economy could be nearly a third smaller by the end of the first half of this year than it was at the start of 2020 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

In forecasts published today, the bank said the British economy would shrink by about 25 per cent in the second quarter of the year, but would then start to recover as lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.

The gloomy scenario outlined came as the bank's Monetary Policy Committee decided to keep its main interest rate unchanged at the record low of 0.1 per cent and opted against a further expansion of its bond-buying program.

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COVID-19 in sports ...

OTTAWA — Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie will be back in the spotlight Thursday night.

Just over a week after news broke that the CFL has asked the federal government for up to $150 million in assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambrosie is to testify at the House of Commons standing committee on finance.

Ambrosie will appear via videoconference during a panel on arts, culture, sports and charitable organizations.

The CFL's request sparked debate about whether professional sports leagues should be entitled to federal funds during the COVID-19 crisis.

A day after the CFL's request became public last Tuesday, the Canadian Premier League confirmed it was asking for $25 million from the federal government. The professional soccer league began play last season.

If the 2020 season is wiped out, Ambrosie has said the CFL's long-term future would be in peril.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2020

The Canadian Press

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