Premier Ford is asking health officials to deliver a plan next week to test as many people as possible for COVID-19. Ford made the call after Ontario’s testing rates dropped after a testing blitz of every long-term care resident and staff member was finished over the weekend. The premier says he’d like expanded testing to include people without symptoms, because that’s the only way for Ontario to get a true picture of asymptomatic cases. But he acknowledges there may be a difference between what he wants and what will actually happen.
Here is Premier Ford’s news conference from yesterday:
Yesterday Ontario reported 413 new cases of COVID-19. The case count now is just over 24,000, including 1,993 deaths. 18,509 cases are now considered resolved. Nationwide, there are 81,277 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 in Canada. Quebec continues to have the bulk of infections at 45,495 cases and 3,800 deaths.
— Christine Elliott (@celliottability) May 21, 2020
Via Rail to Resume Some Routes:
Via Rail is restoring some train service between Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal next month. It had reduced passenger service at the end of March due to COVID-19 but says it’s resuming some routes as of June 3rd as restrictions are easing in Ontario and Quebec. It says three more trains will be added from the Toronto-Kingston-Ottawa route and two will be added to the Toronto-Kingston-Montreal route. Via is reducing the number of seats that can be booked per train in line with physical distancing protocols and is advising passengers they should wear non-medical masks.
Tam on Air Travel:
Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam says how Canadians could safely resume air travel is a subject under scrutiny. Tam says a lot of questions need to be answered about how to make planes safe both for travellers’ confidence but also public health. Tam also warned yesterday about getting too loose as some provinces open up more services in the COVID-19 pandemic. She cautions it could cause a big setback.
It’s Still Not Clear If Trudeau Help Air Passengers:
Many Canadian travellers feel they’ve been left up in the air by the airlines. Some airline policies are leaving them with travel vouchers rather than refunds for trips cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government is looking at the issue, but must weigh the demands of the airline industry and Canadian customers. He says his government is looking at what other countries are doing.
The federal government is allocating $75-million dollars to organizations that help Indigenous people living in urban areas and off reserves. Prime Minister Trudeau says the government had previously promised $15-million in funding for services such as counselling, health care, food and supportive housing. But more than a million Indigenous people live in cities or off reserves and Trudeau says they deserve good services that are culturally appropriate. The Liberals have promised $290-million for organizations representing First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, primarily on reserves and in Indigenous communities.
Here is Prime Minister Trudeau’s news conference from yesterday:
Lawyers Calling For Financial Aid:
The closure of much of the country’s court system due to the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a financial toll on many lawyers. They say the problem is acute for trial lawyers, especially solo practitioners and newcomers to the bar. The Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers wants law societies to waive fees and consider emergency grants. They say many affected lawyers don’t qualify for emergency federal aid but need help.
Shopify Plans to Keep Working From Home:
The head of Shopify says there’s no going back. The company is moving to a permanent remote-work model for most employees. Its head, Tobi Lutke, says Shopify is now a digital-by-default company. Shopify offices will remain closed until 2021, and then re-open with a significant shift in purpose. Lutke says they’ve jumped into the driver’s seat, instead of being passengers.
NHL Players Vote Could Be Known Tonight
The NHL Players’ Association’s executive board is voting on a 24-team playoff proposal as the return to play format. Results of the vote could be in as soon as Friday night. Even if the executive board votes to approve the format, it doesn’t seal the deal for the NHL season resuming. The league and players’ union still need to negotiate health and safety protocols.
Teen Survey Confirms Anxiety:
Most Canadian teenagers say they’re experiencing feelings of sadness due to COVID-19. The Social Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian Youth survey, asked kids aged 12-to-17 about their feelings, behaviours and attitudes during the global pandemic. According to the study, 72 per cent of kids aged 15-to-17 reported feeling sad often or sometimes, while 59 per cent of youth in the 12-to-14 age group did.
Domestic Violence Increase:
Ottawa police say a secure text and online service offering support to victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic has seen double the expected volume. Police say more than 300 people reached out for text support since the Unsafe at Home Ottawa service launched on April 14th. About a third were seeking safety planning, another third were asking for help to support friends and family and another 20 per cent were looking for emotional support. The head of Ottawa Victim Services says the results demonstrate the need for survivors to have a secure, confidential means to reach out for support while being in isolation.
British researchers testing an experimental vaccine against COVID-19 say they are moving into advanced studies. They now aim to immunize more than 10,000 people to determine if the shot works. Last month, scientists at Oxford University began immunizing more than a thousand volunteers with their vaccine candidate in a preliminary trial designed to test the shot’s safety. Earlier this week, drugmaker AstraZeneca said it had secured its first agreements for 400 million doses of the Oxford-developed vaccine.
Honda Indy Cancelled:
The Honda Indy Toronto has officially been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement comes nearly a week after race promoters said the event would not be run on its original scheduled dates of July 10th to 12th. That decision came after the city announced it was cancelling permits for major events and festivals for July and August because of the pandemic. Promoters said at the time they were looking to find a new date for the race, but announced Thursday that IndyCar has removed the race altogether from its 2020 schedule.
— Honda Indy Toronto (@hondaindy) May 21, 2020
Stratford Festival Request Financial Aid:
The Stratford Festival says it has a $20-million-dollar hole in its budget despite its best efforts to protect its finances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization has asked the House of Commons standing committee on finance for $8-million-dollars to help get them back on their feet. They say the rest of the shortfall can be raised through donations from the private sector. They outlined measures the festival — a huge economic driver for the Stratford area — has taken in recent weeks to recover from a steeper $40-million-dollar deficit projected about a month ago.
Waterloo Region Numbers:
It was more good news from Waterloo Region Public Health yesterday. They reported no new deaths and only 7 new COVID-19 cases. The Regional total is now at 1,056 and 687 (65%) are now resolved. There was only 1 new case reported yesterday in Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph. They now have 355 cases. Guelph has 135, Wellington has 60 and Dufferin County has 152 cases.
Waterloo Region to Resume Bulk Waste Collection:
Bulk waste pickup is ready to resume again in the Region. It starts in Kitchener and the Townships next week and in the Cities of Cambridge and Waterloo the week of June 1, on your regular waste collection day. The standard rules apply. Details are on your local city or municipality website.
Food and Empties Drive In Cambridge Tomorrow:
Just a reminder, the Cambridge Self Help Food Bank is teaming up with Golden Triangle DKI to host a bottle and food drive tomorrow. It happens from 9am until 3pm at 505 Eagle Street. It’s all contactless. Just open your trunk and the volunteers will grab any bottles or food you wish to donate. They will be accepting empties and non-perishable food donations.
Contains Files from The Canadian Press
Photo Credit: Via Rail