COVID-19 in Canada: Alberta, B.C. break single-day record for cases as Premier Jason Kenney enters isolation

Elisabetta Bianchini
·8 min read
FILE - This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province's economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
FILE - This June 9, 2015 file photo shows then-Canadian Defence Minister Jason Kenney in Warsaw, Poland. He is now the premier of Alberta. Alberta is investing $1.1 billion in the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, a project that Kenney says is crucial for the province's economy. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

For more on today’s top stories and the spread of the novel coronavirus across the country, please refer to our live updates below throughout the day, as well as our COVID-19 news hub.

Alberta premier isolating after cabinet minister tests positive

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is isolating after municipal affairs minister Tracy Allard tested positive for COVID-19. The premier is not known to have any COVID-19 symptoms at this point.

Transport minister Ric McIver and multiple MLAs are also considered close contacts to this case.

This comes as the province reports a significant increase in daily cases, hitting 406 on Wednesday, breaking the single-day record in Alberta. There are now 3,372 active cases in the province, with the majority of cases in the Edmonton zone.

Three more deaths were reported in the province, two in Edmonton and one in Calgary.

Ontario premier defends bill that would provide liability protection for long-term care homes

At a press conference on Wednesday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford was pushed to answer questions about a new bill that was introduced Tuesday, which would provide liability protection to some workers, businesses and non-profits against COVID-19-related lawsuits.

When asked about long-term care homes, and families of residents in these facilities being able to hold these institutions accountable for their actions (particularly after the number of deaths due to COVID-19 infections), Ford reinforced that the bill would not prevent individuals from suing long-term care homes for “gross negligence.”

“This does not protect the long-term care homes, 100 per cent by any means,” the premier said, adding that he specifically asked about that fact yesterday.

A statement from Donna Duncan, CEO of the Ontario Long Term Care Association, released Tuesday, supports the proposed legislation.

“Long-term care homes care for more than 79,000 residents across Ontario and they deserve quality healthcare and safe accommodations,” the statement reads. “Liability protection is a necessary measure to stabilize and renew Ontario’s entire long-term care sector.”

“Without it, many insurance companies will cease coverage, as they have already begun to do, putting homes across the province at risk and jeopardizing their expansion and renewal.”

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath slammed the bill and its impact on families of seniors in long-term care, who are victims of poor care and management.

“Today, the Ford government tabled a bill obviously designed to shield itself and for-profit long-term care corporations from accountability,” Horwath’s statement reads. “More than 1,900 people have died in long-term care during this pandemic, shattering thousands of families.”

“Doug Ford didn’t protect them — but is now protecting the very companies that let them die in horrible conditions. I’m appalled at this move to deny families the justice, accountability and day in court they deserve.”

Manitoba increases fines for not following public health measures, emergency orders

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced the province is increasing fines for people and corporations who are not complying with public health measures.

Effective immediately, the fine for individuals will increase from $486 to $1,296. The fine for corporations was previously $2,542 and is being raised to $5,000. As of Oct. 12, 134 tickets were filed for failing to comply with public health and emergency orders.

The provincial government will also increase enforcement of these public health measures through the RCMP and other police agencies, the Health Protection Unit, Manitoba Conservation and Climate, Workplace Safety and Health, and the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority.

Pallister said the Manitoba government is in the process of writing regulations to support local governments by amending current provincial regulations that enable municipal bylaw officers to enforce public health and emergency orders.

“COVID is diligent and we must be even more diligent about COVID,” the premier said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Pallister indicated there is a “small minority of people” who are ignoring the advice from public health experts. He said he hopes that people “get the message” and are deterred by the possibility of having money taken away from them.

“Protecting each other is the job that we face, all of us have that obligation, and at the end of the day additional enforcement measures are needed to get us back on track,” the premier said.

Manitoba reported 135 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with 102 cases in the Winnipeg area.

OUTBREAKS AND CASES

Ontario’s testing rate continues to be significantly lower than provincial capacity

Ontario reported 790 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, with 321 cases in Toronto, 157 in Peel, 76 in York Region and 57 in Ottawa.

Nine more deaths were reported in the province, bringing the total to 3,062.

The province completed 32,646 COVID-19 tests in the last day, significantly less than the 50,000 daily testing capacity in Ontario.

There are currently 260 people in hospitals and 71 in ICU. Ontario reported 86 outbreaks in long-term care homes, with 216 active cases in residents and 260 active cases in staff.

The province identified 144 new school-related COVID-19 cases, 66 student cases, 13 staff cases and 65 are not identified.

Transmission among organized sports teams in Ottawa

Ottawa Public Health advised that public that the local health authority is “actively investigating” several situations where COVID-19 transmission was linked to organized team sports.

At this point, Ottawa Public Health determined this spread may have occurred in a variety of ways including during team play, in locker rooms, carpooling with players from different households, teammates, team staff and families eating together, and individuals not wearing masks.

“We are working closely with local sports organizations to inform them of the situation and to provide further guidance on the importance of taking preventative measures while participating in team sports,” the advisory from Ottawa Public Health reads.

City health officials have made a number of recommendations to prevent COVID-19 transmission in these settings:

  • Minimize social gatherings of participants and spectators both before and after the activity, including spectator stands, change rooms ( both closed during the modified Stage 2) and areas outside of recreational facilities

  • Limit carpooling and meals (in homes or at restaurants) to those within your household

  • Limit gatherings inside and outside the facilities, ensure a two-metre physical distance and wearing masks if parents and/or participants are socializing in the facility parking lots

  • Wear a face mask at all times unless engaged in strenuous athletic activity

  • Do not coach or play for more than one team

  • Maintain physical distance of at least two metres from other people before, during and after the activity

  • Clean and disinfect equipment between uses

  • Do not share your sports gear with other people

  • Practice frequent hand hygiene by using an alcohol-based hand rub or washing your hands with soap and water

  • Play outside rather than indoors

Quebec sees jump in daily case count

Quebec’s daily COVID-19 cases jumped up on Wednesday, with 1,072 new confirmed cases. There are 223 cases in Montreal, 212 in Montérégie and 190 in the Quebec City region.

Two deaths were identified in the last 24 hours and an additional 15 COVID-19 deaths were confirmed between Oct. 14 and Oct. 19. There are currently 565 people are in hospitals in Quebec, with 94 in ICU.

B.C. reports more than 203 new COVID-19 cases, new school outbreak

B.C. reported a single-day record high of 203 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including three epi-linked cases.

There are currently 1,766 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 4,294 people under “active public health monitoring.”

There are also two newly confirmed COVID-19 death in B.C., bringing the total to 256.

Three new healthcare facilities are reporting outbreaks, Three Links Care Centre, Fort Langley Seniors Community and Baillie House. A total of 18 long-term care or assisted-living facilities and two acute-care facilities in the province have active outbreaks.

B.C. officials also reported a new school outbreak at École de l’Anse-au-sable in Kelowna, with three people in that school community testing positive for COVID-19.

“Many of the new cases and recent community clusters of COVID-19 are directly connected to weddings, funerals and celebrations of life – times when we traditionally gather with family and friends,” the joint statement from Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.'s provincial health officer, and Stephen Brown, deputy minister of health, reads. “With COVID-19 still in our communities, we have seen that even small gatherings are risky right now.”

“A wedding is meant to be a time of celebration, yet weddings and other important life occasions are a significant source of community transmission; transmission that has spread to health-care facilities, workplaces and schools.”

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