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Canada over worst of coronavirus outbreak, U.S. spike a cause for concern: Trudeau

June 29, 2020
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Canada’s PM Trudeau attends a news conference in Ottawa

By David Ljunggren and Kelsey Johnson

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada is over the worst of the coronavirus outbreak but a spike in cases in the United States and elsewhere shows Canadians must remain vigilant as the economy reopens, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.

“After a very challenging spring things are continuing to move in the right direction,” Trudeau told a daily briefing.

By contrast, some southern U.S. states are reporting huge jumps in daily cases. Authorities in Mexico, Brazil and Russia are also struggling to control outbreaks.

“What the situation we’re seeing in the United States and elsewhere highlights for us is that even as our economy is reopening, we need to make sure we are continuing to remain vigilant,” Trudeau said.

The province of Alberta, home to the world’s third-largest oil reserves, said it would accelerate a corporate tax cut and invest C$10 billion ($7.31 billion) in infrastructure projects to jump-start its spluttering economy.

Canadian medical officials released their latest forecasts on Monday, showing the number of overall deaths could be between 8,545 and 8,865 by July 12. The current toll is 8,522.

The United States and Canada have banned non-essential travel between the two nations. The measures are due to expire on July 21, and Trudeau said discussions were taking place about what to do next.

He also said Ottawa had the fiscal room to respond if a second wave of the coronavirus struck later this year. The Liberal government has so far unveiled measures worth more than C$160 billion ($117 billion) in direct spending, or around 7% of gross domestic product.

As part of an initial effort to tackle the pandemic, Ottawa allowed businesses to defer the repayment of sales taxes until June 30. The finance ministry said on Monday that deadline would not be extended.

(Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa and Jeff Lewis in Toronto; Editing by Bill Berkrot, Dan Grebler and Tom Brown)

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