Canada’s House of Commons. (Black Press file photo)

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

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

An aerial view over Oak Bay. (Black Press Media File Photo)
An aerial view over Oak Bay and the Marina. Oak Bay residents pay the highest taxes on Vancouver Island. Don Denton/Black Press
Oak Bay secondary suites study considers units old and new

Secondary suites draft report due in new year

Westcoast Impressions plans to organize a COVID-19 friendly version of the event in 2021 at the Mary Winspear Centre after having cancelled the 2020 version against the backdrop of pandemic. The opening night of the 2019 Sidney Street Market featured more than 150 vendors lined along Beacon Avenue. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sidney Street Market plans for 2021 return at Mary Winspear Centre

Tentative plan calls for the event’s return to Beacon Avenue after COVID-19 pandemic

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read