Students Are Going Back To School On Monday – Full COVID-19 Update

Students Are Going Back To School On Monday – Full COVID-19 Update

A senior government source has confirmed that Ontario students will return to the classroom on Monday January 17th. Schools were shut down right before they were due to resume last week. The government blamed the strain on the health system and pandemic-related staff shortages.  Shipments of N95 masks were sent to school boards and school authorities on Monday, and some shipments to child-care centres are going out this week.

Trudeau Facing Mounting Pressure To Fund Hospitals:

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the provincial and territorial leaders spent yesterday afternoon discussing the growing health crisis caused by the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The Liberals are under pressure from health experts and the Conservatives to fix flaws in the health-care system and improve surge capacity. Provincial and territorial leaders want to boost the federal share of health spending from 22 per cent to 35 per cent, to about 71-billion dollars while Ottawa has committed to a 4.8 per cent increase, bringing the total for 2022-23 to about 45-billion. A statement issued by Trudeau’s office says he assured the premiers there are enough vaccine doses available for all eligible Canadians to receive third booster shots. It also said provinces and territories will receive a combined 140-million rapid tests this month, although the statement did not say exactly when. Trudeau reportedly emphasized the need to promote support programs — such as the federal wage subsidy — to help people and businesses survive the latest lockdowns.

Opposition Demanding An Investigation Into Trudeau Collecting Cell Phone Data:

Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs are calling for a Commons committee to hold an emergency session to examine the collection of millions of Canadians’ mobile-phone location data during the pandemic. Conservative critic for Ethics John Brassard says the pandemic should not be used as an excuse for invading people’s personal privacy. He fears it could become permanent. Brassard says it is extremely alarming that a government body would use the pandemic as an excuse to secretly collect the mobile data.

Ontario Allowing Retired Teachers To Work More:

Ontario is nearly doubling the number of days that retired teachers are allowed to work this year to help offset COVID-19-related staff shortages at schools. It says a new agreement with the Ontario Teachers’ Federation will allow retirees to work 95 days until the end of June, up from the previous limit of 50 as the Omicron variant drives up infections. Education Minister Stephen Lecce says the change will help run remote lessons and in-person learning when students return to class. But the OTF says it doesn’t anticipate many retirees are interested in working during the pandemic and more measures should be taken to address the teacher shortage. 

Some Paramedics Being Delayed In Responding To Calls:

Toronto’s fire chief says the city’s emergency and essential services have been operating with an average unplanned absence rate of 11.9 per cent since just before Christmas. Matthew Pegg says that jumped to 12.8 per cent this weekend amid the surging Omicron wave of the pandemic. He says there were times over the weekend when more than 50 Toronto Paramedic Services ambulances were unavailable as they waited to transfer patients to the care of a hospital. Pegg says off-load delays are the most significant factor contributing to ambulance availability and mitigation plans continue to be implemented to ensure essential services are delivered across the city.

We Are Rapidly Losing Interest in COVID-19:

A new poll suggests the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to recede as a top priority in the minds of Americans. The survey from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds the pandemic is increasingly overshadowed by concerns about the economy and personal finances, particularly inflation. The poll found just 37 per cent of American respondents said COVID-19 is a top priority for the US government to work on in 2022, compared with 53 per cent at the start of last year. Instead, 68 per cent of those polled named the economy as the US government’s top concern.

Canada on the US Travel Advisory List:

Canada has been moved to the CDC’s highest-risk category for travel.  Canada recorded 294,437 new cases for the week ending January 8.  That was enough for the CDC to elevate the risk of traveling to the north. Canada is joined by one other destination — the Caribbean island of Curaçao — in moving up to the CDC’s Level 4: Covid-19 Very High category yesterday.

Fortin gets A Win In Court:

A Canadian general’s battle for reinstatement as head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution campaign can go on. The Federal Court of Appeal has agreed to consider the case of Major-General Dany Fortin, who wants to be reinstated as head of Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution campaign. He lost the position after an allegation of sexual assault dating back to 1988. Government lawyers had asked the Appeal Court to quash Fortin’s case.

Quebec’s Top Health Official Resigns: 

Quebec Premier Francois Legault will hold a news conference this afternoon to address the resignation of the province’s director of public health. Dr. Horacio Arruda tendered his resignation Monday, and Legault’s office tells The Canadian Press the premier accepted it. Arruda had been Quebec’s public health director for almost a decade and has led the province’s pandemic response. But he says comments about the credibility of their opinions over COVID-19 have caused an erosion in public support for health measures as Quebec grapples with record hospitalizations. He considered it appropriate to offer Legault the chance to replace him before his three-year term ends in mid-2023. 

Another Chinese City in Lockdown Over The Olympics:

A third Chinese city has locked down its residents because of a COVID-19 outbreak. About 20-million people are now confined to their homes in China, with three weeks to go before the Winter Olympics open in Beijing. It wasn’t clear how long the lockdown of Anyang city, home to 5.5 million people, might last, but mass testing is underway. Another 13-million people are locked down in Xi’an and 1.1-million in Yuzhou.

Ontario Numbers:

438 people with COVID-19 are in Ontario ICUs, and more than 2,400 are in hospital. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that number may not be accurate as not all hospitals submit data over the weekend. The province is also reporting 12 new deaths yesterday and just over 9,700 new infections. Public Health Ontario has said the daily numbers likely underestimate case counts because of a government policy limiting access to tests to certain groups deemed at higher risk.

Waterloo Region / Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Numbers:

Waterloo Region Public Health says there are now 94 people in area hospitals being treated for COVID-19. Only 13 of them are in the ICU. That’s roughly 14%. There were 2 reported deaths over the weekend. The region now has 6,058 active cases.  

Public Health of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health says there are now 26 people hospitalized with COVID. 2 of them, or roughly 7% are in the ICU. There are 2,318 active cases. 

Contains files from The Canadian Press

Photo Credit: Global News Kitchener

After 9 Podcast - 91.5 The Beat