National News

COVID-19 cases, deaths surge ahead of long weekend, PM announces food bank funding

By The Canadian Press

Published 10:34 PDT, Fri October 9, 2020

OTTAWA — Canadians headed into a long weekend with COVID-19 infections surging to new highs across the country, spreading to regions outside well-established hotspots and pushing weekly deaths to highs unseen since mid-June.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday the nation was "at a tipping point in this pandemic."

"Not only is the second wave underway, yesterday we hit the highest daily recorded cases — well above what we saw this spring," Trudeau said as he announced emergency funding for food banks, groups serving vulnerable communities, and businesses that can't make rent.

"I know this is discouraging, especially going into Thanksgiving weekend. But remember this: when things were at their bleakest during the first wave, Canadians pulled together and flattened the curve."

As of Friday morning, there were 177,597 confirmed cases in Canada.

Ontario notched yet another daily record with 939 new cases, 336 of them in Toronto, 150 in Peel Region and 126 in Ottawa. But five new deaths and a worrying increase in hospitalizations to 225 from 192 patients intensified calls for tighter restrictions.

Cases also spiked in Quebec, where 1,102 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours and the death toll is now at 5,936.

Quebec reported 433 people in hospital, up eight patients from the day before, with 67 people in intensive care, one less than the day before.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths over the past week ending Oct. 8 reached 244, according to a Canadian Press tally of daily statistics from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

That is more than the total number of deaths in the previous five weeks combined, and the largest weekly death toll since June 18 reached 294 deaths. The highest single week tally of deaths was the first seven days of May, with 1,198 deaths.

Trudeau urged Canadians to do everything they could to slow the virus in coming weeks, acknowledging that Thanksgiving would have to be a curtailed affair.

"We are all committing together to do everything we can to slow the spread of the virus over the coming weeks, so that we can have a chance to get together in person at Christmas with our loved ones," Trudeau said in French.

Trudeau also touted job gains, noting 378,000 jobs were added in September when many Canadians were able to return to work as children returned to school.

The unemployment rate fell to 9 per cent Friday, but Statistics Canada noted it was still taking mothers longer to return to the workforce than men.

There were 1.8 million Canadians unemployed in September, with about 1.5 million of them looking for work.

StatCan says the unemployment rate would have been 11.9 per cent in September had it included in its calculation people who wanted a job, but didn't look for work.

With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa

— Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press

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