How COVID might affect our food supply; Wedding delays might have hidden costs: CBC’s Marketplace cheat sheet

Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.

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Long-term care homes get written up for violations like incorrect use of personal protective equipment and failing to clean shared washrooms. But the number of violations recorded plunged when Ontario scaled back comprehensive inspections. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Advocates wonder why long-term care inspections were cut before COVID-19

Long-term care homes have emerged as one of the main battlegrounds in the fight against COVID-19 in Canada.

Almost half of all deaths from the virus in this country thus far have occurred in nursing homes, and experts say it’s not for lack of fair warning. 

In Ontario, a CBC News investigation found that oversight of infection control measures — key to keeping long-term care homes free of illness — plummeted when the province scaled back comprehensive annual inspections last year. 

Only nine out of 626 homes in Ontario actually received so-called resident quality inspections (RQIs) last year, and the number of recorded infection control violations also dropped.

Homes get written up for violations that could include incorrect use of personal protective equipment, failing to clean shared washrooms and insufficient training in protocols for minimizing the spread of viruses. 

Violations ranged from 150 to 250 per year for 2014 through 2017, but only 50 were recorded in 2019.

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Health experts say currency is no more dangerous right now than any other surface, but it does present a logistical problem for retailers trying to be vigilant about hygiene amid a pandemic. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/The Associated Press)

Bank of Canada asks retailers to keep accepting cash despite COVID-19 concerns

Some of Canada’s most vulnerable people rely on cash transactions and may be left out if stores decline to accept cash as the pandemic continues.

The Bank of Canada said this week it’s strongly encouraging businesses to accept cash for purchases.

Canadian health authorities say there is no specific danger from cash in terms of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19, as opposed to any other surface.

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A Plexiglas barrier protects a cashier at a grocery store in North Vancouver, B.C., on March 22. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

Pandemic could affect food supplies, power grids, telecommunications, says government document

As we enter our second month of physical distancing, many of us have questions about what might happen to Canada’s supply chains and infrastructure the longer the pandemic continues

A document prepared by Public Safety Canada and obtained by CBC News offers some insight into the future. 

According to the document, accelerating rates of illness could create labour shortages in essential services, but the two most “pressing” areas of concern are the procurement of medical goods and the stability of Canada’s food supply chain.

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When Mandy Duong and Jonathan Pham got engaged, they never expected a worldwide pandemic would turn their wedding plans upside down. (The Mariner Agency)

Thinking of postponing your wedding due to COVID-19? This couple says it might not be as easy as you think

For many couples, choosing to postpone their wedding has been a tough decision.

But for Torontonians Mandy Duong and Jonathan Pham, it was a no-brainer after Pham tested positive for COVID-19 while on vacation in Israel. 

What they didn’t know was that it could have cost them $25,000.

“We’ve been planning this for two years. I was planning our wedding before we were even engaged,” said Duong, who is currently working and self-isolating in New York.

Their venue allowed couples to postpone weddings, at no extra cost, until March 2021. But Pham and Duong paid a premium for a summer date, a premium the venue was initially unwilling to refund. 

Just days after Marketplace reached out to the venue inquiring about its policies amid COVID-19, the couple received an email saying that the venue had changed its policy, and is allowing them to postpone their wedding until June 2021 without any financial penalty. 

The venue also said that new government restrictions factored into its policy change.

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What else is going on?

‘Everyone wants them’: Rapid COVID-19 test kits made in Canada approved for use
The first shipments of a made-in-Canada, rapid COVID-19 test will begin arriving at federal and provincial health agencies this week, following approval of the new technology by Health Canada over the Easter weekend.

Are we close to antibody testing? Your COVID-19 questions answered 
From antibody testing to safely removing rubber gloves, here’s what you’ve been asking CBC News.

Massive replant of B.C.’s fire-ravaged forests threatened by fears of spreading COVID-19
This year’s unprecedented plan to revive B.C.’s forests — already delayed once by COVID-19 concerns — could now be axed completely.

The latest in recalls and notices

Marketplace needs your help

We’re still keeping an eye on price gouging across the country. If you’ve seen a product being sold for way over its usual price, please reach out to us at [email protected]

Are you considered an essential worker during the pandemic? From grocery store workers and couriers to bank employees, we want to hear how your employer is treating you. Send us an email at [email protected].

We know the COVID-19 pandemic is creating tough financial times for many of you. Rents and mortgages are coming due again, bills are mounting and groceries are a constant expense.

Banks and credit unions are offering some relief but their options don’t work for everyone, and not everyone is approved.

Meanwhile, alternative lenders are offering loans at high interest rates.

If you’re thinking of taking out a high interest loan, or have signed up recently, we want to hear from you.      

Send us an email at [email protected].

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