Canada coronavirus deaths jump 20%, Ottawa offers reservists full-time jobs

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The number of people killed by the coronavirus in Canada has jumped by just over 20% to 258 in a day, officials said on Sunday, while Ottawa offered full-time jobs to reservists in the armed forces.

Kirsten Rainer looks up from her book while reading in front of the Library and Archives Canada building, as efforts continue to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

By 11:05 eastern time (1505 GMT), the number of those diagnosed with the coronavirus had risen by almost 12% to 14,426, the public health agency said. The respective figures on Saturday were 214 deaths and 12,924 positive diagnoses.

The outbreak looks set to tip the economy into recession and the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already announced stimulus measures totaling C$105 billion ($74 billion) in direct spending, or 5% of gross domestic product.

Trudeau said officials were contacting reservists to offer them full-time jobs for the coming months.

“Bolstering the military’s ranks will help offset some of the economic consequences of COVID-19 and ensure our communities are well supported,” he told a daily briefing.

Canada has around 31,000 reservists, most of whom serve one evening a week and one weekend a month. There are just over 67,000 full-time members of the armed forces.

Trudeau said on Friday that members of the Canadian Rangers, a group of reservists based in remote regions, would be deployed to northern Quebec to help provide healthcare to the isolated aboriginal population.

Late last month, U.S. President Donald Trump authorized the secretaries of homeland security and defense to call up military and Coast Guard reservists to active duty.

Trudeau said he had yet to speak to Trump about his demand that exports of respirator masks to Canada be blocked. Trudeau said on Saturday he would not retaliate, while noting some Canadian health professionals living along the U.S. border work in hospitals south of the border.

“We’re continuing to engage constructively with the entire American administration to highlight how important it is that goods ... continue to flow both ways,” he said.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News on Saturday that “some exports” of masks to Canada would continue.

Almost half the cases in Canada are in the province of Quebec, where premier Francois Legault said on Sunday he hoped to see new diagnoses peak in a number of weeks. He also told reporters he was extending a shutdown of non-essential businesses for another three weeks to May 4.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Nick Zieminski