TRENTON, Canada

The pandemic has now claimed more than 4,000 Canadian lives, even as provincial governments moved Tuesday to cautiously ease some restrictions designed to slow the spread of the virus.  

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 4,122 victims, plus two others who died abroad, 61,961 confirmed and presumptive cases, with 26,671 of those recovered or resolved. 

The daily increase has declined to about three per cent and Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, said that along with positive test results dropping means the pandemic is slowing. 

Meanwhile, the federal government continues to hand out financial aid to various economic sectors decimated by the pandemic. 

Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said $252 million will be targeted toward farmers and the agri-food industry. Of that, $77 million will be designed to keep workers safe in food processing plants. 

But already a third meat-processing plant near Calgary, Alberta, has seen a rise in coronavirus cases. The federal food inspectors’ union said the plant should be shuttered because health officials have determined 34 positive cases are tied to the plant. 

Agriculture Union President Fabian Murphy said the safety of employees should come first. 

“We have to put the health and safety of those employees working at those plants at the forefront here,” he said. “That has to be the top priority – people’s lives.” 

On another troubling front, nursing homes have been hit hard by the virus and the union that represents an estimated 60,000 Ontario health-care workers has called for a public inquiry into deaths attributed to the virus. 

As of Tuesday, the virus continues to wreak havoc in long term care homes, with more than 1,000 residents in Ontario dead along with a number of caregivers. There are more than 200 outbreaks at long term care homes. 

“A commission (inquiry) is urgently required because until we have a vaccine, or at a minimum, treatment available for the entire population, we must prepare now for consecutive spikes or waves of COVID-19,” said Sharleen Stewart, president of Service Employees International Union Healthcare, in a statement.

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