The head of the Air Canada component of the Canadian Union of Public Employees says about 3,600 of the company’s flight attendants will be laid off starting in April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CUPE says all of Air Canada Rouge’s 1,549 flight attendants are also facing lay-off. Air Canada says the layoffs are temporary and employees will be returned to active duty status when the airline is able to ramp up its network schedule.
These are unprecedented times. As we band together by distancing ourselves for the greater good, safety remains our top priority. Please be assured we are working around the clock to serve our customers and help Canadians get home. Stay safe. And stay kind. #FlytheFlag 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/gqcYKHFLIP
— Air Canada (@AirCanada) March 19, 2020
Ottawa is expected to announce additional efforts to secure supplies of needed medical equipment today to stay ahead of the rapidly multiplying cases of COVID-19 across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has hinted at new measures to come, including involving industry and the military in the production of ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear. Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, says there has been no specific request for ventilators yet but the federal government is trying to pre-empt that by acquiring things that may be needed as the number of cases surge. Yesterday Tesla’s Elon Musk offered to help produce more. He told his Twitter followers that if there is a shortage he would step in to make ventilators so patients in intensive care can breathe as their bodies battle against the illness.
Since the beginning of #COVID19, we’ve consulted with experts from around the world and supported Canadian researchers to help combat this new virus. Today, I’m announcing that we’re doubling the number of coronavirus research projects we’re funding. https://t.co/PO9n3HWDRX
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 19, 2020
The Canada-U.S. border is slated to close in a matter of hours. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says they’re continuing to work on the fine-tuning. Essential cross-border workers — like health-care professionals, airline crews and others — will be permitted to cross.
— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) March 20, 2020
Federal Financial Relief:
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is urging Ottawa to not to wait until legislation is approved before it starts accepting applications for emergency financial aid. Parliament is to be recalled sometime next week and opposition parties have all signalled their willingness to quickly approve the legislation needed to get a promised $82-billion dollars in direct financial assistance and tax deferrals flowing. In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Singh says he’s alarmed that many people who are without income won’t likely get any of the emergency federal financial help until April or even May.
If you have to stay home but don’t have paid sick leave, our new Emergency Care Benefit can help you out. If you’re facing unemployment, look for the Emergency Support Benefit. And if you’re worried about laying off workers, we’re offering a wage subsidy so you can avoid that. https://t.co/n2r7VGRWdy pic.twitter.com/f6uyEFfvBI
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) March 20, 2020
Toyota Shutting Down:
Toyota has announced they are shutting down their plants in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico until early April. Manufacturing facilities will be closed from Monday through April 3 and resuming production on Monday April 6. In Kitchener, suspended operations began yesterday afternoon. Their service parts depots and vehicle logistics centres will continue to operate.
Ontario Worker Protection:
Yesterday a reduced group of Ontario MPP’s passed emergency legislation providing job protection for workers forced to stay home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Premier Ford was among about two-dozen legislators who respected social distancing guidelines at the legislature where the bill received unanimous support. It applies employees being treated for COVID-19, those in quarantine or isolation and those providing care to someone related to the virus, including for a school or daycare closure. MPP’s also passed legislation amending municipal acts to allow councils to meet via teleconference.
COVID -19 update March 19th. We are continuing to take the action needed to protect you and your family. pic.twitter.com/LL7QJMYNZG
— Doug Ford (@fordnation) March 20, 2020
Ontario Driver’s Licenses And Plate Stickers:
The province is suspending renewals of driver’s licences, licence plate stickers and health cards due to the coronavirus outbreak. Premier Doug Ford says that will mean one less thing for Ontarians to worry about during the health emergency. Ford says all eviction notices are also suspended until further notice. And he says municipal noise bylaws that ban deliveries during certain times will be lifted to bolster supply lines amid hoarding and panic buying.
Until further notice, you will not need to renew these products, even if they have expired:
• health cards
• driver’s licences
• licence plate stickers
• Ontario Photo Cards
• Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates
• and more
— ServiceOntario (@ServiceOntario) March 19, 2020
Canada’s top doctor says it might be months before it’s evident if social distancing measures are slowing the spread of COVID-19. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam also suggests the virus is here for the long term. She says the country will need to be prepared for several waves of infection. There are 871 confirmed or presumptive cases, including 12 deaths, across the country. Ten cases have been classified as resolved.
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) March 20, 2020
First responders across the country are looking at ways they can adjust how they respond to emergency calls in order to preserve capacity in the face of the pandemic. Vancouver’s fire chief says his department is looking at reducing the number of medical calls it responds to, so that firefighters only respond to the most urgent cases.
Ontario Health officials are suggesting the province’s second death linked to COVID-19 likely came through community spread. Halton Region’s medical officer of health says the man in his 50’s from Milton had an underlying health condition but he did not travel outside of Canada and does not have a known link to another confirmed coronavirus case. The province reported 43 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing the total to 257.
— Halton Region (@RegionofHalton) March 19, 2020
A team of Western University researchers has begun working on a vaccine to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19. University officials say experts have united in a bid to develop and test a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. They also hope to create a “vaccine bank” of several ready-made vaccines that could be used if another strain sparks a new coronavirus outbreak. The team is building off of work begun by Chil-Yong Kang, a professor emeritus at the Schulich Medicine & Dentistry school who has been working on a vaccine for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome.
Yesterday was a surprisingly good day on the markets. A record surge in the price for oil pushed Bay Street higher. Crude prices rose more than 24 per cent, the largest percentage gain ever. After initially dropping about three per cent, the TSX closed up 449 points or 3.8 per cent. In New York, the Dow gained 188 points after shaking off a rocky start.
American COVID-19 News:
South of the border, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo compared the coronavirus pandemic to 9/11 because “one moment changed everything.” Testing in the state shows that 4,152 people now have the disease. As of yesterday, there were 1,769 new cases in New York State. Meanwhile, Florida has closed all of their beaches to stop Spring Break partiers from congregating. California has ordered a state-wide lockdown. The Governor has asked everyone to stay home.
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 20, 2020
Again today hospitals are not accepting visitors. Again today the overnight and parking restrictions are not being enforced. And the Beer Store and LCBO are still on reduced hours. The Beer Store is still not accepting empties. Today is the deadline for U of Waterloo students to move out of residence. Conestoga students have until tomorrow.
Announcement: Our Response to COVID-19
— The Beer Store (@TheBeerStoreON) March 18, 2020
Waterloo Region Public Health has confirmed 2 new cases of COVID19 in the region and they are “community spread”. The first works in the healthcare system. The woman, in her 20’s, is the region’s 11th case. She is an employee at St. Mary’s General Hospital, although she does not provide direct patient care. She is now self-isolating at home. Officials say she developed symptoms on March 11, was tested March 13, and released from hospital the same day. She was symptomatic at work on March 13. The president of St. Mary’s Hospital says they have introduced new measures to help reduce exposure by controlling entry of visitors and actively screening staff and visitors. The 12th case was also community spread. She is a woman in her 20’s that was tested at an assessment centre in Toronto and is self-isolating at home.
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) March 19, 2020
Even with municipal buildings all around us closing, the Region of Waterloo International Airport has announced it will remain open. It has been designated as critical infrastructure in the area. Everything will function as usual but administrative offices and the flight centre will be closed.
Waterloo North Hydro is making some changes due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They have extended the ban on residential disconnections until June 30. Hydro companies don’t do disconnections on people that are behind on their bill during the cold winter months. That moratorium was coming up soon though so this is welcome relief for lots of people.
The region has announced that they are continuing waste collection. But they are asking all of us to do our part to keep their workers safe. They are asking that we place used tissues and napkins in the garbage, rather than the green bin. Use liner bags (either paper or certified compostable plastic) in the green bin. Put all garbage in garbage bags, not loose in garbage cans. And finally … If you are sick, please place any item that has come into contact with your mouth, nose or eyes right into the garbage. This includes items you would normally put in the blue box, such as water bottles, pop cans, milk/juice cartons, etc.
Contains files from the Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Prime Minster of Canada via Twitter