Ontario has reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. Most are travel-related, but transmission information is marked as “pending” for four of the new cases. The number of confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada has risen to 727. Quebec also announced its first death related to the virus, bringing the national death toll to nine.
Worker Protection Legislation:
Ontario MPP’s will be back at Queen’s Park today, where they’re expected to pass emergency legislation to protect workers forced to stay home due to COVID-19. But in the name of social distancing, there will only be 24 members in the house: 12 governing Progressive Conservatives, eight New Democrats, two Liberals, one Green and the Speaker. The bill will apply to employees under investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19 and it is expected to pass unanimously.
Parliament is expected to be recalled next week so MP’s and senators can quickly pass new financial measures aimed at helping Canadians weather the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Trudeau announced yesterday the federal government will deploy up to $82-billion dollars in direct spending and deferred taxes. The package will beef up Canada Child Benefit payments for families and GST tax credits for low- and middle-income earners. It will also provide a wage subsidy for small businesses, pause Canada Student Loan payments for six months and establish emergency benefits for people who don’t qualify for employment insurance.
Here are the highlights of the Prime Minister’s announcement:
Iran is reporting a nearly 15 per cent spike in COVID-19 deaths. The country says 147 more people have died from the virus, raising the death toll to 1,135, with 17,361 infections. However, many in Iran are reportedly ignoring warnings to stay home. People are packing food markets and crowding highways with traffic as families travel ahead of the Persian New Year on Friday. Italy reported 475 new deaths from Covid-19, just a day after it looked like Italian coronavirus infections had started to slow there. Italy’s Civil Protection Agency announced 4,207 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total to 35,713.
LCBO / Beer Store
Today the hours change at the LCBO. They will be open from 11am-7pm. Now the Beer Store has modified their hours and announced a big change. Starting today, the Beer Store will only be open from 10am to 7pm, Monday through Saturday. They have also stopped accepting empties until at least March 31st. They ask that you hang on to your empties and not throw them in the Blue Box.
Announcement: Our Response to COVID-19
— The Beer Store (@TheBeerStoreON) March 18, 2020
As of today, most hospitals are no longer accepting visitors. They say there are very limited exceptions to the new rule. Many have also asked most volunteers to stay away from the hospital.
We are making immediate and significant investments to enhance the province's ability to respond to #COVID19. Together with our health system and public health partners, we are doing everything we can to contain this virus and protect Ontarians. pic.twitter.com/Nn4zmZ4k6a
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) March 18, 2020
The closure of the world’s longest undefended border is expected to begin today as Canada and the U.S. continue to work out the details of banning non-essential travel between the two countries. Prime Minister Trudeau and President Trump announced the ban yesterday, saying it was meant to curtail the rapid spread of COVID-19 without disrupting the flow of essential goods and services. Also announced yesterday was 82-billion-dollars in federal financial aid and tax deferrals to help take the sting out of the pandemic’s effect on the economy.
— Canada Border Services Agency (@CanBorder) March 19, 2020
Canadians On A Cruise Ship:
At least 77 Canadians are among the more than 1,400 people on board a trans-Atlantic cruise ship that has several COVID-19 cases among its passengers. Global Affairs Canada says it is standing ready to provide consular assistance to the Canadians on board Costa Luminosa, which is heading for the French Mediterranean port of Marseille. French authorities say the ship will arrive in Marseille port waters today, but it’s not known if passengers will be allowed off, given the current stringent anti-virus movement rules imposed in France.
The supply of hand sanitizer should be increasing soon. Health Canada is waiving some of its usual regulatory requirements to increase supplies of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, swabs and personal protective equipment such as masks and gowns used to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Health Canada says due to “unprecedented demand” it will temporarily allow them to be sold in Canada, even if they don’t meet the normal regulatory requirements. The temporary waiver will apply to products that are already authorized for sale in Canada but aren’t fully compliant with Health Canada regulations.
Making Hand Sanitizer:
A number of Canadian distilleries are switching from making drinkable alcohol to the type that can protect you from germs. Grit City Distillery in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Toronto-based Spirit of York Distillery Co. and Small Batch Distillers in Beamsville, Ontario have all shifted their production towards making hand sanitizer, which has been flying off the shelves in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the companies say they will either sell the sanitizer at a low price to cover costs or provide it for free.
The Ontario government has announced the temporary closure of all provincial parks through April 30. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use and all public buildings. Refunds will be applied automatically.
Many municipalities are currently not enforcing time limits or restrictions on street parking. With so many people staying home to self -isolate, parking has become an issue in many homes. Check with your local authorities for local information.
I am focused on making sure we do everything possible as a City to make everyday life easier for Toronto residents now during this difficult time. Thanks to the #TTC & @TorontoPolice for making changes to parking & fare enforcement as part of our ongoing response to #COVID19. pic.twitter.com/IBZil9TvVl
— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 18, 2020
Toyota has announced they will be closing down all automobile and components plants in North America on Monday and Tuesday, including the plant in Cambridge. Toyota says this to “ensure the health and safety of our employees, and due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The company said it will also be doing a thorough cleaning of its manufacturing facilities during the shutdown. Production will resume on March 25. Meanwhile, GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler have agreed to close all North American factories. Ford says its plants will shut down after tomorrow night while GM says it will begin a “systematic orderly suspension: of production — both through at least March 30th. Honda has also announced plans to temporarily close its North American factories for about one week starting on Monday.
Waterloo Public health has given us some new numbers on COVID-19 here in Waterloo Region. Yesterday a woman in her 40s who recently travelled to Pakistan was named the 10th confirmed case. Dr. Wang, our chief medical officer of health says we have had 10 confirmed. 330 have been tested and confirmed negative. They are waiting on the test results of about 200 more and they are actively monitoring about 225 people.
Update March 17: Dr Hsiu-Li Wang provides additional Public Health measures to prevent the spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Waterloo Region. Read the statement online https://t.co/LCIcWRV6Qa pic.twitter.com/No5gxaJnce
— Region of Waterloo Public Health (@ROWPublicHealth) March 17, 2020
Last night was the deadline for most Laurier students to move out of residence. Tomorrow is the deadline for Waterloo students. Conestoga students have until Saturday.
Contains files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Global News