- Applications open for two new COVID-19 federal benefits.
- Canadians have returned 830,000 pandemic benefit payments, CRA figures show.
- 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Little Grand Rapids First Nation in Manitoba.
- COVID Alert app notification halts play at curling tourney in Ontario hub.
- WHO says ‘best estimates’ indicate 1 in 10 people worldwide may have contracted coronavirus.
- White House still optimistic Trump can leave hospital on Monday, Fox News reports.
- Fashion designer Kenzo Takada dies from COVID-19 at age 81.
As a second wave of COVID-19 takes hold in some parts of the country, Canadians struggling with the fallout of the pandemic are now able to start applying for two new benefits available from the federal government.
Starting Monday, people can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for a new sick leave benefit and a new caregiver benefit for those forced to take time off work to care for a dependent because of the pandemic.
The benefits come after legislation creating them was rushed through the House of Commons last week. Bill C-4 replaced the now-defunct $500-per-week Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), which came to an end after helping almost nine million Canadians weather the impact of the pandemic.
The first benefit available Monday is a caregiver benefit targeting people with young children forced out of school or daycare settings due to the virus. It provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to those with children under 12 who can’t work more than half-time due to pandemic-related caregiving responsibilities.
The benefit, which is only payable to one worker in a household, is also available to those who can’t work because their children or a family member is sick, has to quarantine or is at high risk of COVID-19.
The second benefit is a two-week paid sick leave worth up to $1,000 for workers who can’t work more than half the week because they have contracted COVID-19 or have an underlying condition that puts them more at risk of the illness.
Meanwhile, figures provided to CBC News by the CRA show Canadians have made more than 830,000 repayments of COVID-19 emergency aid benefits to which they were not entitled.
The figures include repayments from recipients of CERB and the Canada emergency student benefit (CESB). CRA said all of the repayments were voluntary.
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“There are various reasons why voluntary repayments have been made: if applicants applied in error for a CERB payment from both Service Canada and the CRA for the same period, if an applicant later realized that they were not eligible for the benefit, or if an applicant returned to work earlier than expected,” CRA spokesperson Christopher Doody said in an email.
Conservative MP and national revenue critic Philip Lawrence said he blames the high number of repayments on the federal government failing to explain the benefit programs to Canadians.
“During the pandemic, the Liberals continuously sent mixed messages to Canadians who were applying for emergency benefits. This caused confusion for many Canadians who were unclear if they were eligible for the benefits or not,” Lawrence said.
What’s happening in the rest of Canada
As of 8:15 a.m. ET on Monday, Canada had 166,156 confirmed or presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 140,243 of those as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 9,481.
In Manitoba, 19 people have tested positive for COVID-19 on Little Grand Rapids First Nation, the community’s leadership said on Sunday night.
“After receiving confirmation of positive cases within our community, we quickly responded and have moved into our next phase of pandemic planning to manage cases and keep the community safe,” Chief Raymond Keeper said in a joint news release from the First Nation and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.
On Sunday afternoon the province declared an outbreak in the remote northeastern community and moved the region to the red, or “critical,” level under its pandemic response system
Several people tested positive for the illness caused by the novel coronavirus after attending events at the local recreation centre between Sept. 24 and 27, the province said in a news release earlier Sunday.
Strict new rules have been implemented for people on the First Nation: no public gatherings are allowed, only one person per household can leave to get necessities and people have to wear non-medical masks when they go out — but those who work in essential services will still be allowed to go to work.
In Ontario, the remainder of a curling tournament has been cancelled after a player was notified by the COVID Alert app they had contact with a person who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
The Stu Sells Oakville Tankard was being played at the KW Granite Club in Waterloo. The Twitter account of the Brad Jacobs rink confirmed the cancellation of the remainder of the playoff rounds on Sunday afternoon.
“As a contact of a contact, other players are not required to isolate, but due to the nature of the virus, we will cancel the playoff round at this time,” organizers told CBC Sports in a statement.
Organizers said all players participating in the tourney were required to download the COVID Alert tracing app, and the decision to cancel the remainder of the event was out of an abundance of caution for the safety of all participants.
What’s happening around the world
According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, the global total of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at more than 35.2 million. More than 1,037,000 people have died while over 24.5 million have recovered.
The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says its “best estimates” indicate that roughly one in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus.
Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking Monday to a meeting of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19, said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”
The estimate — which would amount to more than 760 million people based on a current world population of about 7.6 billion — far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University. Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.
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In the United States, Fox News reported that President Donald Trump’s condition continued to improve overnight, and the White House is optimistic that he will leave the military hospital where he has been receiving treatments for COVID-19 later on Monday. Fox cited a statement from White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Meadows said he had spoken with Trump earlier on Monday morning, and that the president would meet with his medical team later on Monday morning to assess his condition, Fox reported.
This comes after Trump made a surprise drive-by visit to his supporters on Sunday outside the hospital.
He wore a mask as he waved from the back seat of a black SUV that crawled in a caravan of vehicles in front of the hospital, while supporters waving Trump 2020 flags chanted, “USA! USA!”
French authorities placed the Paris region on maximum virus alert on Monday, banning festive gatherings and requiring all bars to close but allowing restaurants to remain open, as numbers of infections increased rapidly.
Paris police prefect Didier Lallement announced the new restrictions would apply at least for the next two weeks. “We are continuously adapting to the reality of the virus. We are taking measures to slow down (its spread),” he said.
Starting on Tuesday, bars will be closed in Paris and its suburbs. Student parties and all other festive and family events in establishments open to the public will be banned.
Restaurants will remain open under strict conditions, to be detailed later on Monday. They are expected to include distance between each table, a limitation of the number of people and a request to register customers’ names and phone numbers.
The director of the Regional Health Authority, Aurelien Rousseau, said about 3,500 new cases of infection are confirmed on average each day in the Paris region, and 36 per cent of ICU beds in the area are occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Monday he will self-quarantine after a cabinet minister he was in contact with tested positive for the coronavirus.
Muhyiddin had chaired an Oct. 3 meeting attended by Religious Minister Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who confirmed Monday he has been hospitalized for treatment.
Cases in the country have soared in recent days, hitting a record high of 432 on Monday. Malaysia’s tally of virus cases is at 12,813 with 137 deaths.
Muhyiddin said he tested negative for the virus in the past three consecutive weeks, after returning from campaigning in eastern Sabah state on Borneo island, which is a hot spot zone.
But he said in a statement he will observe the quarantine and work from home until Oct. 16. All those at the meeting will also observe self-isolation.