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.
‘We are now going to have to really tighten up once again’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had a stern and emotional message to Canadians as the country sees COVID-19 cases “spiking massively” - everyone needs to reduce their contacts “immediately.”
“I don’t want to be here, you don’t want me to be here – we’re all sick and tired of COVID-19. But this virus is not going away any time soon,” the PM started his message to Canadians.
“We need to do everything we can right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, to stop this spike in its tracks,” Trudeau said. “We are now going to have to really tighten up once again.”
“This is frustrating because I know we’ve all heard stories of people who have thrown up their hands and are not doing their part anymore, and it’s tempting for all of us to say, OK well maybe I can loosen up a bit more too, but the reality is we need to go in the opposite direction.”
The prime minister also spoke about how the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada are overwhelming hospitals, putting extensive pressure on frontline workers in the healthcare system.
“They’ve been on the front lines for almost 10 months now, putting in incredibly long hours, being creative in how they can save people and protect people, while at the same time trying to keep themselves safe, while at the same time having the same worries that each of us have about our loved ones, about our kids and schools, about our parents and grandparents,” Trudeau said.
“They keep showing up every single day to be there for us, putting their health, their lives and in many cases, their family’s lives on the line to keep us safe, and they’re tired, They have been heroes, they have been going above and beyond anything they might have thought they were signing up for. We need to help them.”
When asked about the Christmas holiday, the prime minister said that a “normal Christmas” is going to be “out of the question” this year but the extent of the regulations depends on the actions that Canadians take right now to limit contacts.
“I think the arrival of imminent vaccines on the horizon is both motivating people to say, OK we’re almost there, and others to say, OK that’s it I’m done, I’m just going to wait,” Trudeau said. “We’re not in a fair situation and all we can do is try and be there for each other as best we can.”
“If you were planning to see friends this weekend, maybe don’t. If there was a birthday party or a gathering for dinner you were thinking about doing, don’t do it.”
Although B.C. and Alberta governments have not adopted the federal COVID Alert app, the prime minister still urged people in those province to download it. He said he is still “hopeful” that local authorities will be able to provide that code for people to be identified as COVID-19 cases in the app, but also stressed it can still notify people in B.C. and Alberta if they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, who inputted a code into the app that they received from a test in another province.
Canada-U.S. border restrictions extended
Current border restrictions between Canada and the U.S. have been extended for another 30 days, until Dec. 21.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared the update on Twitter on Friday, stating that “non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted” until that date at the earliest.
This comes as federal officials released Canada’s latest modelling data, which showed that with the existing restrictions in place, the country will see 20,000 COVID-19 a day by the end of the year.
More than 100,000 COVID-19 cases reported in Ontario
Ontario reported 1,418 COVID-19 new cases on Friday, including 400 new cases in Peel, 393 in Toronto and 168 in York Region. This brings the total COVID-19 in the province over the 100,000 case mark.
Eight more deaths were confirmed in the province, bringing the total to 3,451.
The province is reporting that there are currently 518 in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19, including 142 in ICUs.
A total of 48,173 tests were completed in the 24 hours, with 46,609 tests under investigation.
There are 102 long-term care homes experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak currently, including 558 active resident cases and 507 active staff cases.
The province reported 91 new school-related COVID-19 cases, including 75 student cases and 16 staff cases.
One municipality in Manitoba has a 40% test positivity rate
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health health officer, revealed Friday that there are areas of the province that have incredibly high positivity rates, primarily in the Southern Health region.
The 10 day test positivity rate in Steinbach is 40 per cent. The Hanover area has a positivity rate of 30 per cent and Ste. Anne is at 20 per cent.
The positivity rate for Manitoba as a whole is 13.7 per cent, for the past five days.
“This virus is robbing us all of pieces of our normal lives but it is robbing family’s of their loved ones and we can do something about it, and we must,” Lanette Siragusa, the provincial lead of health system integration and quality, as well as chief nursing officer for Shared Health said.
Siragusa highlighted that hospitalizations in the province have increased by 338 per cent in less than four weeks and of the 100 ICU beds currently open, 90 were in use as of midnight. Manitoba has postponed 872 non-elective and elective surgeries in the past 25 days.
The province reported 438 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and nine more deaths. One of the deaths was a male in his 20s from the Winnipeg region.
Quebec premier presents ‘moral contract’ for Christmas
Quebec reported 1,259 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 294 cases in Montreal, 213 cases in Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean, 159 cases in Montérégie and 138 cases in Quebec City.
The province also confirmed 32 more COVID-19 deaths, including nine that occurred in the last 24 hours.
There are currently 624 people in Quebec hospitals with COVID-19, including 96 in intensive care.
This comes after Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that if people in the province isolate for a week before Christmas, gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted for four days during the holiday period, Dec. 24 to Dec. 27.
He said this “moral contract” would also require Quebecers to isolate for a period of one week following this four-day time period as well.