Deal Reached For Essential Worker Pay Increase – Full COVID-19 Update

Pay Increase For Essential Workers:

Prime Minister Trudeau says low-wage workers who are risking their health to keep the country moving deserve more pay. Trudeau announced yesterday that the federal government, provinces and territories are putting $4-billion-dollars toward boosting wages for essential workers making minimum wage during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details are still to be finalized with some provinces about how the program will roll out. It will be up to each province to decide which workers count as “essential” and how much more these workers will earn.

Resuming Surgeries in Hospitals:
The Ministry of Health has laid out guidelines for hospitals to resume thousands of surgical procedures that were put on hold March 15th due to the COVID-19 crisis. Health Minister Christine Elliot says there is no timeline for when procedures will be allowed to resume, but it is “several weeks” away. Elliot says it will be up to individual hospital and health regions to assess when they feel it’s safe to resume the surgeries, including hip and knee replacements. But they will need to reserve 15 per cent of beds for patients with COVID-19 and meet a number of other criteria including a stable supply of personal protective equipment.

Ontario Cottage Country:

Premier Ford is urging cottage owners not to bring a pack of visitors when they go up north for the May long weekend. Ford says cottage country mayors told him during a call on Wednesday that they want seasonal cottage owners to stay away — but the premier didn’t go quite as far in his daily COVID-19 briefing. Instead, he urged cottage owners to follow physical distancing rules and to bring their own supplies so they don’t have to shop in smaller communities. Ford says it’s not going to be a typical May 24th weekend, but there will be plenty of other long weekends to come.

Here is Premier Ford’s news conference:

Ontario Financial Outlook:

Ontario’s fiscal watchdog is expected to deliver a report on the province’s financial outlook next week. The Financial Accountability Office says it will release its annual budget outlook despite the province having not released its annual spending plan because of the COVID-19. Ontario instead released a $17-billion-dollar spending package in March to support the province through the pandemic. Finance Minister Rod Phillips says the province will release a full budget on November 15th.

Ontario Numbers:

Yesterday Ontario reported 48 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the provincial total to nearly 1,500.  There were 399 new cases for a total of 19,121. More than 13,000 patients in Ontario have recovered from the virus. The province says just over 15,000 tests were conducted in the 24-hour period.

Stats Can Jobs Report:

Statistics Canada is set to report later today on how many workers lost their jobs in April or had their hours cut because of COVID-19. Multiple analysts are expecting the unemployment rate to hit 15% for the first time in Canadian history. Last month, Stats Canada estimated that just over one-million jobs were lost in March at the outset of the pandemic. The figures for April are widely expected to be much higher, with private sector estimates of between 2-million and 4.5-million job losses.

Here is Prime Minister Trudeau’s news conference from yesterday:

Canadian Contact Tracing Privacy:

Privacy watchdogs across the country are issuing a united call for caution around the government use of smartphones to trace the movements of Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis. Alberta has already introduced such an app and several other provinces are considering the idea. The federal privacy czar and other commissioners have released a set of guidelines for provinces, urging them to be transparent and accountable about how their apps work and what is being done with users’ personal information.

Trust in The COVID-19 Era:

A new survey suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has given Canadians almost absolute trust in doctors. A Proof Strategies trust index survey conducted this month suggests almost nine in 10 Canadians say they now have trust in doctors, and more than eight in 10 trust scientists. Four in 10 Canadians reported trust in their governments — a little higher than when the same survey was conducted in January. But trust in media has dropped to just 33 per cent, and CEO’s similarly saw trust fall to an all-time low of just 30 per cent.

Ontario Foreign Workers:

Advocates for temporary foreign workers in Ontario’s agriculture sector say the provincial government should do more to protect them during the pandemic. Advocacy group Justice for Migrant Workers has written Premier Doug Ford and is asking him to increase farm inspections and bolster cleaning practices. Roughly 20,000 migrant workers come to Ontario each year to work on farms and in greenhouses. Cases of COVID-19 infections have been reported at four separate farms in Chatham-Kent and Windsor-Essex.

U.S. Economy:

More than half of America’s small businesses could be wiped out because of the devastation caused by coronavirus, a study has claimed.  The findings are the result of research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  It found that around 14 million businesses could shut for good, forcing millions more people into unemployment.  A massive 52% of small companies in the survey said they expect to be out of business within just six months.

 More U.S. Airlines To Require Masks:

United, JetBlue and Delta will require masks for all passengers and soon American and Southwest will follow suit as pilots and flight crew voice concerns of full planes.  Frontier Airlines will implement temperature screenings for all passengers and employees prior to boarding aircraft, making it the first major U.S. airline to announce plans to do so.  Starting June 1, the carrier said it will use touchless thermometers and those with a temperature 100.4 degrees or higher will be denied boarding in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. Frontier said if a passenger’s temperature exceeds that number, and flight departure time allows, customers will be “given time to rest” and receive a second temperature check.

Waterloo Region Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health confirmed only 16 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. The total is now 887 with 418 (47 per cent) of those resolved. They also announced four more deaths in Waterloo Region, linked to the coronavirus. They were all in long-term care homes. That means 98 people in the Region have now passed away. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph announced just 3 new cases yesterday.


Waterloo Fly-Over:

We are getting somewhat of an airshow on Tuesday. The Waterloo Warbirds say they will salute our healthcare professionals, other frontline workers and emergency responders, as they all battle COVID-19. Their Canadair T-33 Mako Shark will flyover hospitals, police stations and long-term care facilities across The Region. There will also be a separate flight over Guelph to honour Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, one of six Canadian Armed Forces members lost in the recent helicopter crash. The flights are scheduled to leave the Region of Waterloo International Airport at 11:30am on Tuesday. Flight paths will be posted on their Facebook page on Monday.

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: CPAC via YouTube screenshot


Posted in COVID19, News
Scott Fox and Kat Callaghan