OTTAWA – Canada and 10 of the country’s provinces will encourage payments for important workers such as employees in senior residences, which are linked to 80% of deaths from the corona virus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

“If you risk your health to keep the country moving and you make a minimum wage, you deserve a raise,” he said in a daily briefing.

The total number of corona-related deaths rose more than 4% to 4,280 from 4,111 on Wednesday, official data showed, further evidence that the outbreak had peaked. The number of positive diagnoses rose to 63,895 from 62,458.

Quebec, the province hardest hit by coronavirus, has launched plans to gradually restart its economy but on Thursday pushed back a second time when business could be reopened in Montreal, Canada’s second largest city.

Prime Minister Francois Legault cited a shortage of personnel in hospitals and said Quebec would offer higher fees to part-time medical workers. The Montreal company can now only be opened on May 25, not May 11 as originally planned.

“Montreal is fragile – the rest of Quebec is heaven. So, they are two completely different worlds,” said Quebec’s head of public health office Horacio Arruda.

The Canadian military is increasing its support in Quebec and aims to have more than 1,350 members in 25 different homes in the coming days, Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters.

Trudeau made the announcement the day before Statistics Canada released unemployment data for April. Analysts say they estimate that around 4 million people lost their jobs after a record 1 million was released from work in March.

Manulife Financial Corp chief executive Roy Gori warned against reopening the economy too quickly.

“The next wave of pandemic can create … greater destruction than we have seen,” he said.

Under the agreement with the provinces, Ottawa will contribute C $ 3 billion ($ 2.1 billion), representing 75% of the total cost of wage increases, the government said in a statement.

Provinces will be responsible for determining who is important and how much they receive.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, will slowly begin to proceed with elective and non-essential surgery, Prime Minister Doug Ford announced, starting with the most urgent procedures such as cancer and heart surgery.

Pacific Province of British Columbia said it would unveil plans to handle 30,000 non-urgent operations that had been postponed. This involves adding new capacity and recruiting and training staff.

(Additional reporting by Moira Warburton and Nichola Saminather in Toronto; Editing by Bill Berkrot and David Gregorio)



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