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PM, Scheer to donate pay raise and a goat invasion; In The News for April 1

The Canadian Press logoThe Canadian Press 2020-04-01
a couple of sheep walking across a street © Provided by The Canadian Press

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of April 1 ...

 

COVID-19 in Canada ...

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer are among the MPs who are promising to donate an automatic increase in their salaries to charity, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages the economy and puts thousands of Canadians out of work.

The raise goes into effect today, as does the latest increase in the federal carbon tax.

Trudeau has been under pressure to cancel both.

However, he has ruled out scrapping the planned increase in the carbon tax and there's nothing he can do about the salary hike without recalling Parliament, which has been adjourned until at least April 20 as part of the nation-wide bid to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

Under legislation passed in 2005 to de-politicize parliamentarians' pay, salaries paid to MPs and senators increase automatically on April 1 each year, based on the average increase negotiated by major bargaining units in the private sector.

This year, MPs are entitled to a 2.1 per cent hike, which will increase their base salaries by just over $3,750 to $182,656.

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Also this ...

A historic Canadian undergarment factory famed for long johns and boxer shorts is about to rapidly reinvent itself as a domestic producer of medical gowns.

Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro, N.S., is among five firms that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Tuesday have received letters of intent to manufacture personal protective equipment and clothing for front-line health workers.

Jon Stanfield, the chief executive of the fifth-generation family firm, said in an interview he's already sourced approved fabric from nearby Intertape Polymer, and is ready to be producing medical clothing within days.

The 48-year-old says once the federal government provides details of its offer, the company could bring back over 75 of its over 200 staff who were sent home earlier this month as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He describes the restart as a "pivotal" signal that Western governments are moving to ensure there are domestic suppliers of medical gear and gowns crucial to public safety in the future.

Stanfield said the firm has patterns and machinery that would initially produce more than 2,000 gowns daily per shift to help feed a Canadian demand for garments that emerged after the pandemic sliced supply from China.

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COVID-19 in the U.S. ...

President Donald Trump warned Americans to brace for a “hell of a bad two weeks” ahead as the White House projected there could be 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from the coronavirus pandemic even if current social distancing guidelines are maintained.

Public health officials stressed that the number could be less if people across the country bear down on keeping their distance from one another.

“We really believe we can do a lot better than that,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the co-ordinator of the White House coronavirus task force. That would require all Americans to take seriously their role in preventing the spread of disease, she said.

Added Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, “This is a number that we need to anticipate, but we don’t necessarily have to accept it as being inevitable.”

Trump called it “a matter of life and death” for Americans to heed his administration’s guidelines and predicted the country would soon see a “light at the end of the tunnel” in a pandemic that has killed more than 3,500 Americans and infected 170,000 more.

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COVID-19 around the world ...

As increasing numbers of European hospitals buckle under the strain of tens of thousands of coronavirus patients, the crisis has exposed a surprising paradox: Some of the world’s best health systems are remarkably ill-equipped to handle a pandemic.

Outbreak experts say Europe’s hospital-centric systems, lack of epidemic experience and early complacency are partly to blame for the pandemic’s catastrophic tear across the continent.

“If you have cancer, you want to be in a European hospital,” said Brice de le Vingne, who heads COVID-19 operations for Doctors Without Borders in Belgium. “But Europe hasn’t had a major outbreak in more than 100 years, and now they don’t know what to do.”

Last week, the World Health Organization scolded countries for “squandering” their chance to stop the virus from gaining a foothold, saying that countries should have reacted more aggressively two months ago, including implementing wider testing and stronger surveillance measures.

De le Vingne and others say Europe’s approach to combating the new coronavirus was initially too lax and severely lacking in epidemiological basics like contact tracing, an arduous process where health officials physically track down people who have come into contact with those infected to monitor how and where the virus is spreading.

During outbreaks of Ebola, including Congo’s most recent one, officials released daily figures for how many contacts were followed, even in remote villages paralyzed by armed attacks.

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COVID-19 in entertainment

Un-baaaaa-lievable: This wild bunch is completely ignoring rules on social distancing.

With humans sheltering indoors to escape the new coronavirus, mountain goats are taking advantage of the peace and space to roam in frisky clumps through the streets of Llandudno, a town in North Wales.

Andrew Stuart, a video producer for the Manchester Evening News, has been posting videos of the furry adventurers on his Twitter feed and they are racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

He said the goats normally keep largely to themselves, in a country park that butts up against Llandudno. But now emboldened by the lack of people and cars, the long-horned animals are venturing deeper into the seaside town. The U.K. has been in lockdown for the past week to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

“There’s no one around at the moment, because of the lockdown, so they take their chances and go as far as they can. And they are going further and further into the town,” Stuart told The Associated Press in an interview Tuesday from his parents’ pub in Llandudno, where he is waiting out the pandemic.

His videos show the goats munching on people’s neatly trimmed hedges and trees in front yards and loitering casually on empty streets as if they own the place.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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