Facing months of increasing pressure, Ontario announced Wednesday that the province will provide a plan for paid sick days.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton is introducing legislation that would require employers to provide workers with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if an employee has to stay home because of COVID-19.
This program would be retroactive to April 19, 2021, and effective until Sept. 25, 2021.
Employers will be reimbursed for costs of up to $200 a day for three days.
McNaughton also said the province has offered to provide funding to the federal government to double the Canada recovery sickness benefit payments for Ontario residents, adding an additional $500 per week to eligible individuals, for a total of $1,000 per week.
For months, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has resisted bringing in a provincially-run program, arguing the federal sick leave program was adequate.
The province on Wednesday reported 3,480 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 additional deaths. Hospitalizations stood at 2,281, with 877 people in intensive care units as a result of COVID-19.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 3:45 p.m. ET
What’s happening elsewhere in Canada
WATCH | Nova Scotia enters lockdown:
As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Canada had reported 1,202,743 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 83,354 considered active. A CBC tally of deaths stood at 24,117.
People in Nova Scotia are under new rules Wednesday after officials imposed a provincewide lockdown for at least two weeks to deal with an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
Health officials in the province reported 96 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday — a new single-day high — followed by 75 on Wednesday.
The restrictions, which will be in place until at least May 12, call for strict rules around gatherings, sweeping closures and a shift to remote learning.
“We won’t hesitate to use whatever means that we need to do,” Rankin said, noting that he has confidence that, “Nova Scotians, by and large, will follow these orders.”
In New Brunswick, meanwhile, health officials on Wednesday reported eight new cases of COVID-19 and no deaths. A lockdown that was in effect for nearly three weeks in the Edmundston and Upper Madawaska regions ended, though a lockdown at the Fredericton’s campus of the University of New Brunswick had to be extended through Sunday because of an outbreak at one of the residences.
The province lifted the order overnight Tuesday, placing that section of the Edmundston region, Zone 4, under the less restrictive orange COVID alert level.
Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, including its first case of the P1 COVID-19 variant of concern, which was first identified in Brazil. The province has confirmed 46 cases in April so far, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald says the majority of those have now been linked to variants.
The province has also had a case of the B1167 variant of interest, which first emerged in India, as well as several cases of the B1351 variant, first detected in South Africa.
There were two new cases reported by Prince Edward Island.
In Quebec, health officials on Wednesday reported 1,094 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations, as reported by the province, stood at 643, with 161 people in intensive care.
The province’s public health director says the government is studying the possibility of vaccinating children between the ages of 12 and 16 over the summer. Dr. Horacio Arruda says he is following the ongoing studies involving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and said the province could move quickly if the shot is authorized for those under 16.
WATCH | Inside a Montreal ICU where COVID-19 patients are getting younger:
Across the North, Nunavut reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the number of active cases in the territory to 50. Health officials in Yukon reported that more than 70 per cent of people in the territory have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. The Northwest Territories had no new cases Wednesday.
In the Prairie provinces, Manitoba reported 189 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and three additional deaths, including two people in their 20s. The province is expanding vaccine eligibility to include more hard-hit regions. Individuals 18 and older living in the designated neighbourhoods, as well as people working in specified front-line jobs, will be able to book appointments for a COVID-19 vaccine at one of the province’s supersites or pop-up clinics.
Saskatchewan reported 213 new cases and four additional deaths Wednesday. Despite the province’s chief medical health officer saying Saskatoon is on “red alert,” the province is not imposing any new restrictions for now.
WATCH | Millions of rapid COVID-19 tests unused across Canada:
Alberta on Wednesday reported 1,839 new cases of COVID-19 and an additional six deaths as a result of the illness. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that the province would make all of its expected shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, expected Monday, available to the two hardest hit areas in the province — the Wood Buffalo and Banff areas. Age of vaccine eligibility in the areas will be 30 and older for both the J&J and AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines.
Today, I approved a three-step change to Alberta’s vaccine rollout to help protect residents in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Banff areas. <br><br>These areas are being hardest hit by the third wave, yet seeing lower than average vaccine coverage. 1/7
In British Columbia, health officials reported 841 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday and five additional deaths. COVID-19 hospitalizations stood at 515, with 171 in intensive care. A provincial court judge sentenced a man who turned his condo into a makeshift nightclub during a lockdown in January to a day in jail plus 18 months probation.
“If someone who had been at your party was infected and died, as far as I’m concerned, you’re guilty of manslaughter. If someone who had been at your party was infected and passed it on to grandma, as far as I’m concerned, you’re guilty of manslaughter,” Judge Ellen Gordon told Mohammad Movassaghi.
-From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 6:30 p.m. ET
What’s happening around the world
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 149 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The global reported death toll stood at more than 3.1 million.
In Europe, the European Commission’s lawsuit against drugmaker AstraZeneca over vaccine supplies began at a Brussels court, where the bloc’s lawyers pressed for immediate deliveries from all factories. The parties agreed to hold two more hearings on May 26.
The Netherlands on Wednesday became the latest European country to begin cautiously relaxing its lockdown even as infection rates and intensive care occupancy remain stubbornly high.
The Dutch follow Italy, Greece, France and other European nations in moving to reopen society and edge away from economically crippling lockdowns.
In the Middle East, Iran has found three suspected cases of the coronavirus variant discovered in South Africa, its health minister said.
Authorities in Lebanon on Wednesday recommended a ban on travellers arriving from hard-hit India and Brazil unless they had been out of the two countries for more than two weeks.
In the Asia-Pacific region, Pakistan recorded more than 200 deaths in a day for the first time since the start of the pandemic, while the COVID-19 death toll in India topped 200,000. The country also reported 362,757 new infections in one day, a global record.
South Korea said it will offer some exemptions to mandatory quarantine measures for people who have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.
In Africa, Egypt’s daily reported cases of coronavirus have surpassed 1,000 for the first time in months amid a surge in infections in the Arab world’s most-populous country. The health ministry recorded 1,003 cases and 61 fatalities in the past 24 hours.
South Africa has resumed giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to health-care workers after a more than two-week pause in the use of the only vaccine in the country. South Africa implemented the pause on April 13 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported the J&J vaccine might be linked to rare blood clots. The country’s drug regulatory body determined the vaccine is safe.
In the Americas, Mexico will produce Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine domestically, its foreign minister said on a visit to Moscow.
A Senate inquiry into the Brazilian government’s handling of the pandemic kicked off on Tuesday, with lawmakers launching what may be a major headache for the president ahead of next year’s election.
-From The Associated Press and Reuters, last updated at 5:00 p.m. ET