Coronavirus: Everything you need to know in Montreal today

Apr 16 2020, 1:30 pm

Every day in Canada, a lot of news regarding COVID-19 comes out nationally and locally.

And for now, we will be putting together Montreal and Canada’s top headlines daily to help digest the news in one place.

Throughout the day, you can see all the headlines in real-time here.

Top coronavirus stories for April 16, as of 5 pm ET:  

143 new coronavirus deaths in Quebec as total cases near 16,000

The Quebec government revealed that the province’s COVID-19-related death toll has increased to 630 total after announcing 143 new deaths.

As part of his daily briefings, Quebec Premier François Legault prefaced that the increased death toll is not entirely attributable to cases within the past day.

“The number is high, however these are not deaths for the most part that have come in the past 24 hours,” said Legault. “There was a change in the method in the way public health takes the data. There was an epistemological test on patients who died in the past week.”

After offering his condolences to the family and loved ones of the new victims, Legault said Quebec now has 15,857 known cases and said 1,018 are hospitalized, 209 of whom are in intensive care.

A total of 132,714 cases have turned up negative throughout Quebec.

Trudeau offering rent assistance for businesses, expands loans qualifications

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new financial aid program to help businesses and commercial property holders struggling with rent payments due to the pandemic and will expand loan qualifications for small and medium-sized businesses through existing programs.

On Thursday, Trudeau unveiled the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, which is meant to help small businesses and commercial property holders pay rent for April, May, and June.

“Our government is here to help you through these challenging times and we make changes when the programs we have aren’t reaching enough people,” Trudeau said.

Montreal announces $40 million loan initiative for small businesses affected by crisis

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante announced the city is launching a loan initiative for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

The city will advance a $40 million loan from the Quebec government, lending small businesses a maximum of $50,000.

Businesses will not have to pay back the principal on loans for the first six months and the initiative will extend to up to 1,000 local businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. The interest rate will be set at 3%.

WestJet lays off 1,700 pilots due to “dramatic reduction” in flights

WestJet has confirmed that 1,700 pilots across WestJet, WestJet Encore, and Swoop have received layoff notifications that are effective either May 1 or June 1.

The layoffs are a result of the ongoing global crisis that is shutting borders, encouraging only essential trips outside the home, and forcing a dramatic reduction in air travel, the company said.

All of these factors have reportedly grounded almost 75% of the WestJet fleet.

SkipTheDishes giving $15,000,000 to Canadian restaurants

A Canadian food delivery service is giving a total of $15 million to support restaurants who are being impacted by the crisis.

SkipTheDishes is giving an additional estimated $10 million back to communities and restaurant partners, on top of their original $5 million donation at the start of the pandemic.

“Restaurants are the heart and soul of communities across Canada and the industry is facing unprecedented hardships. Though we know our support package doesn’t solve all of the challenges our restaurant partners are facing, we’re hoping it will help make an impact as we all work together to get through these exceptional times,” Kevin Edwards, CEO of SkipTheDishes said.

Facebook to inform users if they’ve engaged with posts containing coronavirus misinformation

Facebook is boosting its efforts to combat misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic on its platform.

The company announced Thursday that it will begin displaying messages in the News Feed to users who have liked, reacted, or commented on “harmful misinformation” about the pandemic that Facebook has since removed.

Indigo to donate $1 million in books to children across Canada

The Indigo Love of Reading Foundation has committed $1 million in books and educational resources to support Canadian children in high-needs communities during the pandemic.

Indigo’s Response Fund is part of the foundation’s efforts to support literacy to communities across Canada that need it.

“Books are critical to education and as a vehicle to ‘travel’ to new places and ‘meet’ new people. This is important always and especially at this moment,” said Heather Reisman, chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation. “I want to thank our customers for the special role they play in helping to support our Foundation. I also want to thank our employees whose commitment every day plays an equally important role.”