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Updates on COVID-19 from the City of Burlington

Marianne Meed Ward - Wear a Mask

Welcome to the Mayor Meed Ward’s standing page dedicated to COVID-19 updates from the City of Burlington and our public health professionals and experts.

This page will be updated has often as new information is available and released.

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, Mayor Meed Ward declared a state of emergency for the City of Burlington.

A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.

If you have questions about what the state of emergency means, please head to the COVID-19 FAQ page (bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ) – this page is continually updated with new questions as we encounter them from the public.

The City of Burlington also has a dedicated page for Q-and-As from COVID-19 Public Town Halls, please click the link.

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, please visit Halton Region Public Health’s website at halton.ca/coronavirus for further instructions about diagnosis and testing.

The Province of Ontario has an online self-assessment tool for anyone experiencing some symptoms but are unsure, please click the link to access it.

Click this link for what Physical (Social) Distancing Means and how best to employ it: Physical (Social) Distancing Infographic.

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

The City of Burlington has a dedicated COVID-19 webpage on resources for residents and non-profit organizations at burlington.ca/covid19resources.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.

HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:

COVID-19 UPDATES

Monday. March 1, 2021:

Friday, Feb. 26, 2021

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections – Presentation
    • Key findings:
      • Declines in cases, hospitalization and ICU occupancy are slowing. Public health measures have decreased transmission and slowed spread of variants of concern.
      • Variants of concern such as B.1.1.7 continue to spread across Ontario. Cases, hospitalizations, and ICU admissions will likely soon increase.
      • Focussed LTC vaccination, together with lockdowns, have rapidly reduced infections and deaths in LTC
      • Evidence-based approaches to key public health measures, such as focusing vaccination where it has the biggest impact on deaths and hospitalizations, are key to controlling the impact of the pandemic.
      • The next few weeks are critical to understanding the impact of the variants. There is a period of remaining risk before the pandemic likely recedes in the summer.
      • We can keep the gains we have made by watching spread very closely and by loosening public health measures only carefully. We must be nimble in applying  public health measures to extinguish flare ups quickly
    • The next few months are key to maintaining our gains and a declining pandemic in the summer:
      • A combination of vaccination and public health measures should help reduce transmission
      • Strong public health measures brought cases down and slowed spread of new variants of concern
      • Vaccination in long-term care has helped bring down deaths and cases
      • Vaccination of older age groups and high-risk communities will drive hospitalizations and deaths down further
      • A changing environment for COVID-19 will help decrease transmission
      • Warmer weather will increase time outdoors and decrease time in crowded or closed-in places
      • Increasing vaccination should confer immunity more reliably and safer than historical models (1918 Influenza pandemic) that had to rely on the spread of infection alone
      • The major challenge becomes how to protect the health system over the next few months and closely monitor the spread of all types of cases while accelerating vaccination
      • We should expect flares in communities and settings where risk factors make people vulnerable

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Government of Canada introduces legislation to increase number of weeks for EI regular benefits and to prevent international travellers from qualifying for recovery benefits during mandatory quarantine – News Release
      • Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, introduced Bill C-24, to increase the maximum number of weeks available to workers through EI regular benefits and give them the certainty they need should their job be affected by COVID-19. The proposed legislation would provide workers with up to a maximum of 50 weeks for claims that are established between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
      • In addition, self-employed workers who have opted in to the EI program to access special benefits would be able to use a 2020 earnings threshold of $5,000, compared to the previous threshold of $7,555. This change would be retroactive to claims established as of January 3, 2021 and would apply until September 25, 2021.
      • As part of this proposed legislation, all international travellers who need to quarantine or isolate upon their return to Canada, including people returning from vacation, would be made ineligible to receive support from any of the Canada Recovery Benefits for the period of their mandatory quarantine or isolation. These changes would be retroactive to October 2, 2020.
      • As announced on Feb. 19, 2021, the Government will be increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefits through regulations. This includes:
        1. increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks, extending the maximum duration of the benefits from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks; and,
        2. increasing the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from the current 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 25, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 855,126 cases of COVID-19, including 21,807 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • As of February 24th, a total of 895 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including over 854 B.1.1.7 variants, 40 B.1.351 variants and 1 P.1 variant.
      • Currently, there are 30,393 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 2,992 new cases daily (Feb 18-24). Following the decrease in COVID-19 activity over many weeks, severe outcomes continue to decline as expected for these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,329 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 18-24), including 564 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 55 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Ontario Taking Steps to Make it Easier and Safer to Participate in Provincial Elections – News Release, Backgrounder
      • The Ontario government is taking steps to make it easier and safer for people to vote, become a candidate and protect provincial elections against outside influence and interference. The Protecting Ontario Elections Act, 2021 would, if passed, help guard against threats such as the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, under-regulated third-party advertising, irregular campaign spending and collusion.
      • The proposed reforms build on the Ontario legislature’s 2016 decision to ban corporate and union donations to political parties and help ensure individuals remain at the centre of the electoral process.
      • To protect Ontario elections, 19 legislative amendments have been proposed to:
      • Make it more convenient and safer for people to vote in a COVID-19 environment by increasing advance polling days from five to ten, changes first proposed by Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer;
        1. Double the amount individuals can donate to a candidate, constituency association, leadership contestant or party from $1,650 to $3,300 per year, protecting the essential voice of Ontarians in campaigns;
        2. Extend third-party advertising spending limits from six to 12 months before an election period and introduce a definition of collusion to help protect Ontario’s elections from outside influence and interference; and
        3. Clarify the rules that allow Members of Provincial Parliament to maintain individual social media accounts before, during and after a writ period, as well as pave the way for the legislature to set other social media rules.
      • Elections Ontario has reported that the scale of third-party advertising in Ontario is greater than at the federal level, and Ontario is the only province in Canada where third-party spending is counted in the millions of dollars, rather than in the thousands. In 2018, third parties spent over $5 million during the election period and the six months prior to the election.
      • Several of the proposed reforms fulfill recommendations of Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer from a special report on election administration and the COVID-19 pandemic, released in November 2020.
      • In response to requests from the municipal sector, the government is also proposing changes to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 that would enable clerks to allow municipal election candidates and third-party advertisers to submit their forms electronically.
    • Municipal Elections
      • In response to requests from the municipal sector to modernize election services, Ontario is proposing changes to make the election process more efficient for local staff, potential candidates and third-party advertisers.
      • The proposed amendments to the Municipal Elections Act would:
        1. Enable clerks to allow candidates and third-party advertisers to submit their nomination and registration forms electronically;
        2. Allow registered third-party advertisers to end their advertising campaigns before voting day; and,
        3. Clarify that if a third-party advertiser files a nomination to run for office, their advertising campaign automatically ends.
      • The proposed changes would come into effect upon Royal Assent and would apply to municipal by-elections held during the current term as well as future regular municipal elections (beginning in October 2022).

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from General Hillier’s briefing:
      • Where we are now: 250,000 people have been completely vaccinated (received both doses)
      • More than 600,000 people have received one dose
      • Averaging 15,000-18,000 vaccinations/day. The process is slower because they are taking the vaccine to people.
      • They are revisiting LTC homes and high risk retirement homes to provide residents with their second dose.
      • In the first week of March they will transition out of Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout.
      • With more vaccines being delivered they will be able to complete LTC homes and restart vaccination of front facing health care professionals. Operation Remote Immunity will continue.
      • Public health units throughout the province are collaborating with pharmacies and health care professionals – they know their communities best.
      • The Province has completed the contract with pharmacies where approximately 10-20% of vaccinations will be done.
      • In the third week of  March vaccinations will begin for people 80 + years of age.
      • On March 15 they will launch the online booking portal and customer service line. Only people 80 +, or someone acting on their behalf will be able to book an appointment then. He encouraged people to support their loved ones in making their appointments online.
      • Local public health units are reaching out to 80+ people in their communities now.
      • The Province will be sending flyers to all households. They will also be communicating via briefings, PSAs, through the media and phone calls. PHUs will be communicating about how and when you can book an appointment.
      • He shared the following vaccination schedule: April 15 – 75 + will begin to get vaccinated, May 1 70+, June 65+.
      • When the online booking portal is launched only those 80+ or people acting on their behalf will be able to book appointments. You will be able to book both appointments at the same time.
      • Your postal code will be used to indicate which vaccination clinic you should attend.
    • Highlights from Premier Ford’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities announced that the Ontario government is investing over $115 million to train up to 8,200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. In collaboration with Colleges Ontario, all 24 publicly assisted colleges will offer this innovative, fully funded program starting in April 2021. This is part of the government’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, one of the largest PSW recruitment and training drives in the province’s history. – News Release
      • The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework, and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. Registration for the program will be available through the Ontario College Application Service and is expected to open in early March.
      • The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing PSW program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training.
      • Before taking questions the Premier said that Ontario has more people fully vaccinated than the entire country does. He said the main thing holding the process back is the lack of vaccines.
    • Question Period:
      • When you compare Ontario to where province’s like Alberta are in their vaccine rollout, are we not falling behind? Premier, “we are ahead of everyone.” He went on to say that Alberta’s website went up and then crashed, and Quebec has not administered the second dose to anyone yet. “We are focussed on the task at hand.”
      • Can you tell us about the prioritization of essential workers for Phase 2? Premier, “we are focusing on the priority populations now, we are still a ways from that.” The priority now is we need more vaccines.
      • Today in Alberta, people 70 and older can book their appointment, what is the delay in Ontario? Premier, “the population in Alberta is 4 million people, in Ontario it is 16 million people. We have many more residents living in long term care homes and retirement homes than they do.” Minister Fullerton also repeated that we have more people and staff in long term care homes than other Provinces do. “We have the capacity to vaccinate, but we need more vaccines.”

Monday, Feb. 22, 2021:

  • City Media Release: City of Burlington and Team Burlington Calling for Renewed Funding to Support Future Proofing & Digital Adoption for Local Business
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Public Health Agency of Canada to begin COVID-19 testing at land borders on Monday – News Release
      • It is mandatory for travellers arriving at Canada’s land ports of entry, unless exempted, to present proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours before entry into Canada or proof of a positive COVID-19 test conducted between 14 and 90 days before arrival.
      • As of February 22, 2021, to meet day 1 arrival requirements, travellers entering Canada at land borders, unless exempt, will be required to take a test using a self-swab kit. This test can be taken either at the traveller’s quarantine location or at a border testing site.
      • To help travellers meet this mandatory requirement of a COVID-19 molecular test on day 1 upon entry to Canada, self-swab kits will be handed out at all 117 land points of entry. There will be on-site testing provided at five high-volume land ports of entry as of February 22, 2021, and 11 additional ports of entry as of March 4, 2021. The kit will include instructions on how and when to collect their second required test on day 10 of their 14-day quarantine.
      • Five high-volume ports of entry will offer on-site testing as of February 22: St. Bernard de Lacolle (Highway 15), QC; Queenston-Lewiston Bridge, ON; Douglas, B.C.; Coutts, AB; and, St. Stephen 3rd Bridge, NB.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Emergency Orders Extended
      • Ontario Emergency Orders, which were to expire on February 19th in force under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA), have been extended until March 21, 2021.
      • Orders under the ROA include the Province’s ability to implement rules on public gatherings, business closures, and managing outbreaks in hospitals or long-term care homes. This extension does not change the length of how long a region is in lockdown.
      • The ROA must be extended every 30 days and the government must notify the public on which orders have been extended.
      • The full list of orders being extended by the Ontario government can be found here.

Friday, Feb. 19, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Prime Minister’s briefing:
      • The PM said that an updated vaccine delivery schedule would be shared with Premiers
      • Vaccines are his top priority
      • Millions of rapid tests have been sent to the Provinces and Territories.
      • He spoke about a pilot program with 12 employers across the country using rapid tests
      • “What Provinces, cities and Canadians have done over the last few weeks is working, but variants are here. We must continue to follow public health measures.”
      • He is focussed on testing, vaccines and public health measures
      • At the meeting with Premiers they spoke about not opening up too fast.
      • Bill C-22 was introduced yesterday. This legislation is meant to “make our justice system more just.” (The proposed amendments to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act reinforce the Government’s commitment to address the opioid crisis. They would provide space to treat simple drug possession as a health issue, rather than as a criminal one, by requiring police and prosecutors to consider diverting people to treatment programs or other supportive services, instead of charging and prosecuting simple drug possession offences.)
      • The PM announced that the Canada Recovery Benefit and The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit will be extended by 12 weeks
      • The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will be extended for a total of four weeks.
    • Today’s other news:
      • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds 27th call with premiers on COVID-19 response – Readout
        • The Prime Minister provided an update on the vaccine rollout, highlighting that Canada is approaching a significant increase in the delivery of vaccines. He reiterated that Canada will receive 2 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of March. He emphasized once again that by September, all Canadians who want to receive a vaccine will be able to. Minister LeBlanc provided an update on the work federal, provincial, and territorial governments are undertaking to build up Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.
        • First Ministers discussed the continued monitoring of the newly identified variants of the virus and Dr. Tam updated premiers on the latest modelling data.
        • Building off this presentation, the Prime Minister spoke about the critical importance that public health measures will play in the coming weeks to prevent a third wave of the virus. He stressed the importance of wide-scale rapid testing, contact tracing, quickly identifying and isolating new variant cases, and ensuring an effective rollout of vaccines. He also spoke about the need to work with the private sector and third parties like pharmacies to roll out rapid testing.
      • Transport Canada fines two individuals for presenting falsified COVID-19 test results – News Release
        • Following a comprehensive investigation, Transport Canada has issued fines to two individual passengers for $10,000 and $7,000 respectively, for presenting a false or misleading COVID-19 test and for making a false declaration about their health status. In both cases, the individuals knowingly boarded a flight to Canada from Mexico on January 23, 2021, after having tested positive for COVID-19 only a few days before their flight.
        • Under Interim Order Respecting Certain Requirements for Civil Aviation Due to COVID-19, travellers must obtain a negative result on a COVID-19 molecular test within 72 hours of boarding any flight inbound to Canada or a proof of a positive test result within at least 14 days and no more than 90 days prior to arrival, and present the results to the air crew prior to boarding their flight. Passengers are also prohibited from knowingly providing false or misleading COVID-19 test documentation. Any passenger failing to comply with the Interim Order could be subject to fines of up to $5,000 per violation.
      • Update on COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling – Presentation
        • COVID-19 daily case counts continue to decline nationally
        • Fewer health regions are reporting high rates of COVID-19 infraction
        • Incidence rates are declining across all age groups
        • Number of outbreaks in long-term care homes appears to be declining
        • Impact of COVID-19 is higher among Indigenous populations
        • Hospitalization rates are declining in most provinces across the country
        • Daily COVID-related deaths continuing to decline nationally
        • Short-term forecast predicts a flattening of the trajectory, reflecting the slowdown in the rate of epidemic growth
        • Longer-range forecast based only on non-variant COVID-19 indicates Canada’s epidemic is on track to come under control
        • More contagious SARS-CoV2 Variants of Concern detected in all provinces, with increasing prevalence and spread
        • New longer-range forecast that includes Variant of Concern indicates a strong resurgence unless we have stringent measures and strict adherence
        • International experience shows that stringent measures and strict adherence can control spread of variants of concern while vaccine programs expand
        • Variants of Concern increase the threat for a spring resurgence, but a strong collective effort can see us through
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided an update on the Province’s vaccine rollout program. News Release
      • The Ontario government has administered over 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Phase One priority populations, which now includes adults 80 years of age and older. At the same time, the province is working with public health units to build and expand its capacity to immunize Phase Two populations by increasing delivery networks and preparing a booking solution and customer service supports for mass vaccination clinic registrations. Ontario has administered more vaccines than any other province.
      • The unexpected reductions in supply and delayed shipments in early February forced Ontario to quickly adjust its vaccination plan to accelerate its focus on vaccinating the province’s highest risk resident populations. Last week, Ontario reached its target to offer a first dose of the vaccine to residents of all long-term care homes across the province and has now administered over 167,000 doses to long-term care and retirement home residents.
      • When all reasonable steps have been taken to complete first-dose vaccination offers to all staff, essential caregivers and remaining residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement homes and First Nations elder care homes, and adults in Indigenous communities, first-dose vaccinations will be made available, pending supply, to the remainder of Phase One populations, including those ages 80+. Public health units are currently planning for how they will reach this group, with timing slated for early March.
      • The province continues to expand capacity and ramp up efforts for Phase Two of its vaccination rollout, expected to begin in April 2021. Public health units have developed plans to operate mass immunization clinics as soon as enough supply becomes available, as well as continuing to offer mobile clinics to vaccinate our most vulnerable.
      • Ontario is developing an online booking system to support the next phase of vaccination roll-out. A customer service desk will be made available to those who are unable to book an appointment through the online tool. Details will be provided over the coming weeks.
      • Operation Remote Immunity, led by Ornge, is vaccinating adults in the 31 fly-in First Nations communities and Moosonee in Northern Ontario. As of February 17, 2021, over 8,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Sioux Lookout and communities within the Operation’s scope.
      • As the vaccination rollout continues, it remains critically important that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible and continue following regional public health measures, restrictions, and advice to protect our most vulnerable populations and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
    • Question Period:
      • Can we create herd immunity without vaccinating people under 16?  Minister Elliott, said that other vaccines may be approved that will be suitable for children.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on 7-11’s application to the AGCO.  He said the AGCO is an arm’s length organization. “I want to help restaurant folks. I also believe we have to have convenience and choice. That’s our goal.” He ended by urging 7-11 to expand in Ontario and create more jobs.
      • Are you ignoring the federal modelling data by reopening? Premier, “I respectfully disagree. I never, ever ignore the advice of the medical experts. I have never waivered.” Minister Elliott, “we are not reopening the Province. We are gradually and cautiously transitioning back to the Framework.” She said that the Emergency Break is an available measure if case numbers begin to rise.
      • The PM urged restraint. Was the Federal data not available to you? The Premier, said that the reporter was misleading people by saying the Province is reopening. “You’re making it sound like we’re opening up the doors, everyone’s out there having a good time. If mayors and local medical officers or health want to shut down, they will. I will always listen to health and science and will not waiver.”
      • Is COVAXON, a good name for the online booking site? Solicitor General said that the online portal will be one way to get information about vaccines and where to book appointments. Local public health using will also be providing information.
      • When will 70-60 year olds get vaccinated? General Hillier said that all 80+ people will not be done by the end of March. The next age group will be done in April and May. “Everything depends on vaccine supply.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Stay-at-Home Order Extended in Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions Along with North Bay-Parry Sound – News Release
        • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officers of health, the Ontario government is maintaining the shutdown, the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures for an additional two weeks in the Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions, along with the North Bay-Parry Sound District. The York Public Health Region will transition out of the shutdown and into the revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.
        • In the Toronto and Peel Public Health Regions, and the North Bay-Parry Sound District, the shutdown measures and the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until at least Monday, March 8, 2021, based on key public health indicators and following consultation with the local medical officers of health. While the Peel and Toronto regions have seen a reduction in COVID-19 transmission from the period of February 8 to 17, 2021, rates still remain too high in the regions, with case rates of 83.4 cases per 100,000 people for Peel and 67.9 cases per 100,000 people for Toronto, both well above the provincial average. During this same period of time, North Bay Parry Sound District has also seen its case rate increase by 11.5 per cent to 14.6 cases per 100,000 people. Variants of concern also remain a serious risk to community transmission and health system capacity.
        • Based on a general improvement in trends of key indicators, York Region Public Health will be moving back to the Framework at the Red-Control level and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order. In addition, Lambton Public Health will be moving from the Orange-Restrict level to the Red-Control level as a result worsening public health trends in the region over the past week. These changes will come into effect on Monday, February 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
        • “While the health indicators have improved enough to allow us to return an additional region to the Framework, we are not yet at the point where we can safely transition back the remainder of the province,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Everyone is strongly advised to continue staying at home, avoid social gatherings, only travel between regions for essential purposes, and limit close contacts to your household or those you live with regardless of which level of the Framework you are in.”
      • Ontario Launches Education Campaign to Help Workplaces Reopen SafelyNews Release
        • The Ontario government is launching new health and safety education campaigns, with a particular focus on helping small businesses across the province reopen safely. The on-the-ground assistance includes a comprehensive suite of resources business owners can access at no cost to ensure they are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
        • Starting next week, provincial offences officers will be visiting businesses in regions opening into grey, red and orange zones, such as the regions of Wellington-Dufferin Guelph, Durham and Eastern Ontario, with a focus on businesses that were closed during the provincial shutdown. The officers will be carrying out inspections to ensure businesses are complying with the Reopening Ontario Act and adhering to capacity limits, appropriately screening workers and customers, enforcing masking requirements and having adequate safety plans in place. Businesses visited will include stores, gyms and personal care services.
        • The full suite of government educational supports available includes:
          1. Free webinars on how to operate a business safely, and comply with health and safety requirements, during COVID-19.
          2. A free 30-minute online course on infection prevention and control provided by the Public Services Health and Safety Association.
          3. Provincial Employment Standards Call Centre (webes@ontario.ca) and Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre (webohs@ontario.ca) to answer small business health and safety questions.
        • For more information on these tools, visit covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-help-businesses-ontario.

Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021:

  • Burlington Public Library Update: Re-entering the Red-Control Zone
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 18, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 834,182 cases of COVID-19, including 21,435 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • Over the past week (Feb 7-13), there were on average of 101,072 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.1% were positive for COVID-19. As of February 17, all provinces have reported detections of variants of concern.
      • From routine national surveillance data, we are observing a steady decline in COVID-19 activity. Currently, there are 32,986 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 2,886 new cases daily (Feb 11-17).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,461 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 11-17), including 578 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 62 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Investing in Wearable Contact Tracing Technology to Help Protect Workers from COVID-19 – News Release
      • The Ontario government is providing Facedrive Inc. with $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund to accelerate the deployment of its wearable contact tracing technology, TraceSCAN, which alerts users within a workplace who have been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. The company anticipates manufacturing about 150,000 devices under this project and creating 68 new jobs, including software, firmware and hardware engineers and machine learning specialists.
      • Facedrive developed TraceSCAN’s made-in-Ontario AI-powered solution, which can track staff exposure to COVID-19 without GPS information, in partnership with the University of Waterloo.  Workers simply wear the device and the wearable technology will communicate with others within a workplace environment. If users are less than six feet apart, the device beeps to alert the users. If anyone in the working premises reports COVID-19 positive, HR or health and safety officials can log in to the online reporting dashboard and see who they have been in contact with and their risk level, then send an exposure notification. Contact tracing will be made simple with all of the close proximity contact having been recorded.
      • The technology is designed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 for workplaces and settings where smartphone use is limited or prohibited, such as airlines, schools, construction sites, and long-term care homes. It will add another layer of safety and protection through identification and isolation of new COVID-19 cases, tracing back the interactions and helping to stop the contamination.

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021:

  • Burlington Recreation Programming Re-opening Safely
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 17, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 831,577 cases of COVID-19, including 21,397 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • Over the past week (Feb 7-13), there were on average of 101,072 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.1% were positive for COVID-19. As of February 16, all provinces have reported detections of variants of concern.
      • Currently, there are 35,669 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 2,969 new cases daily (Feb 10-16).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,585 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 10-16), including 599 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 70 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
      • Aiming to have the fewest interactions with the fewest number of people, for the shortest time, at the greatest distance possible is a simple rule that we can all apply to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while vaccine programs expand to protect all Canadians.

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • International Monetary Fund praises Canada’s COVID-19 economic response plan – News Release
      • Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, welcomed the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s annual Article IV mission report that found Canada’s strong and decisive actions at the onset of the pandemic “provided crucial support to the economy and the functioning of financial markets, and helped protect lives and livelihoods.”
      • The IMF noted that “Canada’s strong history of prudent policymaking afforded it the policy space to respond forcefully to the crisis and avert much steeper declines in economic activity and employment.” The report also highlighted the unprecedented size and scope of Canada’s policy actions, which have provided support for households, businesses, and vulnerable groups.
      • It also highlighted Canada’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, and commented that Canada’s price on pollution could be a “valuable prototype for an international arrangement among large emitting countries.”
      • In its report, the IMF forecast real GDP in Canada will expand by 4.4 percent in 2021 as the pandemic is brought under control.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Ontario Expands Eligibility for Main Street Relief Grant – News Release
      • The Ontario government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province. Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors – expanded from 2-9 employees – including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support. The expansion is being made as more parts of the province enter the strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework, which allows for the gradual and safe reopening of in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores.
      • This one-time grant reimburses main street businesses for up to $1,000 in PPE costs incurred since March 17, 2020. Eligible businesses for the Main Street Relief Grant now include those with 2 to 19 employees in the following sectors:
        1. retail trade;
        2. accommodation and food services;
        3. repair and maintenance;
        4. personal and laundry services;
        5. gyms and yoga studios; and
        6. arts, entertainment, and recreation.
      • The grant can be used to help cover the costs of a variety of PPE, including installing plexiglass or purchasing gloves and masks. Eligible businesses can apply for this grant and other COVID-19 financial supports – like the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and property tax or energy cost rebates – through a simple online application.
    • Ontario Continues Unprecedented COVID-19 Response During Upcoming Legislative Sitting – News Release
      • During the next sitting of the legislature the Ontario government plans to continue its unprecedented response to COVID-19 while laying the foundation for a strong economic recovery. It is also proposing to break down barriers to justice for Ontarians and accelerate the government’s modernization of Ontario’s legal sector, as well as build on Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy.
      • The legislature itself will be operating under ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols including masking requirements, physically-distanced voting in the lobbies adjacent to the Chamber, cohorting of Members to reduce close contact, and the use of video-conferencing technology in committee meetings.
      • In the first weeks of the winter sitting, the government plans to proceed with important labour and public safety legislation, and support Ontario’s recovery by proposing changes to help people resolve their legal matters with fewer delays.
    • Province Supports Ontario Heritage Trust during COVID-19News Release
      • The Ontario government is providing the Ontario Heritage Trust (OHT) with $4.3 million to ensure it can carry out its important work during COVID-19. This one-time investment will protect jobs, while ensuring Ontario’s cultural and natural heritage properties remain supported and accessible. The OHT will also continue to offer province-wide programming, ensure compliance with public health protocols and fund necessary preservation efforts.
      • “Our government is proud to support the Ontario Heritage Trust and its work protecting our province’s heritage,” said Minister MacLeod. “This funding will help keep facilities safe and ensure the preservation of historic landscapes including buildings, museums, cultural artifacts and natural lands and trails for all Ontarians to enjoy.”
      • The OHT continues to operate and support the recovery of the culture and heritage sectors in Ontario. For more information on their COVID-19 measures and operations of their public facilities, please visit the OHT’s website.
      • The Ontario Heritage Trust plays an important role in promoting local tourism in Ontario and provided an economic impact of more than $39.1 million in 2019-20 for local communities.
      • Doors Open Ontario participants spent more than $11 million in 2019 while learning about heritage conservation and local history.

Friday, Feb. 12, 2021:

  • Halton Enters Red-Control Zone on Feb. 16 — What That Means for Burlington
  • Statement from Randall Smallbone, Chair of Burlington Economic Recovery Network, Regarding Fairness for Local Business During COVID-19
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM provided an update on vaccine supply. He has spoken with the Pfizer’s Global CEO, who confirmed we will be receiving all 4 million doses by the end of March. An updated delivery schedule will be shared with Provinces.
      • By the end of September we will have received 40 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer.
      • An additional 4 million doses have been purchased from Moderna and will be delivered throughout the summer. We will receive 10 million doses between April and June.
      • In total we will receive 84 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer and Moderna, by the end of September. Ensuring that anyone who wants to be vaccinated will be.
      • Stricter measures for our land borders will be in place starting today.
      • This afternoon more details on the new testing and quarantine measures that will be in place starting February 22 (see announcements below for details). The measures are to ensure the safety of Canadians.
      • $53 million will be used for the Variants of Concern Strategy.
      • He reminded Canadians that even with cases going down across the country, “we must continue to be vigilant. Nobody wants a third wave to start.”
    • Question Period:
      • Is there an update on the Moderna schedule? The PM continues to get assurances from Moderna, that they will deliver our 2 million doses by the end of March.
      • He was asked about the changes to the travel rules. PM, “the goal is not to punish people, but to discourage any non-essential travel.” He said the government would be “thoughtful and compassionate, we are not trying to punish people, we are trying to keep them safe. If people have to travel we want to make sure they are doing it safely.”
      • The Canadian Civil Liberties Union says there must evidence in order to keep people quarantined in the Federal quarantine hotels. The PM explained that the PCR tests that will be done upon arrival can take up to 3 days for results. Staying in the hotel is “not a punitive measure.” It is to allow time for the results to come back. If they come back within a day, people will be released from the hotel and sent home to quarantine.
      • Is it responsible for Ontario to reopen? PM, “we need to be worried about the variants. We are going to need to be extra vigilant and keep our contacts down.” He said we must continue to follow public health measures even with the lifting of certain restrictions.  Canadians must continue to make careful choices.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Government of Canada expands restrictions to international travel by land and airNews Release
        1. For travellers arriving to Canada by land, as of February 15, 2021, all travellers, with some exceptions, will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours of pre-arrival, or a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival. In addition, as of February 22, 2021, travellers entering Canada at the land border will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.
        2. All travellers arriving to Canada by air, as of February 22, 2021, with some exceptions, will be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test when they arrive in Canada before exiting the airport, and another toward the end of their 14-day quarantine period. With limited exceptions, air travellers, will also be required to reserve, prior to departure to Canada, a 3-night stay in a government-authorized hotel. Travellers will be able to book their government-authorized stay starting February 18, 2021. These new measures are in addition to existing mandatory pre-boarding and health requirements for air travellers.
        3. Finally, at the same time on February 22, 2021, all travellers, whether arriving by land or air will be required to submit their travel and contact information, including a suitable quarantine plan, electronically via ArriveCAN before crossing the border or boarding a flight.
      • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, February 12, 2021 – Speech
        1. There have been 817,163 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 21,088 deaths and 37,747 active cases across the country. Disease activity continues to decline nationally, with an average of close to 3,350 new cases reported daily over the past week.
        2. Over the past week, an average of under 3,050 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day, including 688 in critical care, and 82 deaths were reported each day.
        3. There are now eight provinces reporting more than 429 B.1.1.7 variants, 28 B.1.351 variants and 1 P.1 variant (first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, respectively). At least three of these provinces are reporting evidence of community spread and variants have been linked to outbreaks in various settings.
        4. To tackle this latest hurdle, we need to keep doing what we’ve been doing, but with even more diligence to counter these more contagious variants. This means keeping up individual public health practices at all times to limit the spread of the virus, protect people and populations at highest risk, and allow time for vaccine programs to expand to protect all Canadians.
        5. To date, almost 1.2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across Canada. Based on data up to February 6, over half (55.4%) of prioritised healthcare workers, over 31% of adults in the territories and 11.6% of elderly adults over 80 years of age having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021:

Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021:

Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, February 9, 2021Speech
      • There have been 808,120 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 20,835 deaths and 40,175 active cases across the country.
      • Over the past week, there were on average over 103,000 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.7% were positive for COVID-19.
      • National daily case counts have been declining for several weeks. Over the past week, there were an average of just over 3,500 new cases reported daily, which is less than half the early January peak of over 8,100 daily cases.
      • Over the past 7 days, the average daily number of people with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals has declined by 15% to just under 3,300, including 728 in critical care, and fatal cases have dropped by 20% to 100 deaths being reported each day.
      • With now more than 355 B.1.1.7 variants, 25 B.1.351 variants and 1 P.1 variant [first found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, respectively] reported in Canada, together with evidence of community spread in at least three provinces and links to outbreak activity in long term care homes and other congregate settings, including a workplace – the risk is very real.
    • COVID Alert updated to help evaluate its effectiveness in reducing the spread of COVID-19Media Release
      • Today, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, and the Minister of Digital Government, the Honourable Joyce Murray, announced that the COVID Alert app will be updated to help measure its uptake, performance and effectiveness in limiting the spread of COVID-19. This will be done through the collection of certain metrics, while maintaining strong privacy measures to protect confidentiality.
      • COVID Alert will collect aggregate metrics on:
        1. the number of active users and downloads per province or territory;
        2. the number of exposure notifications sent;
        3. the number of users who enter a one-time key after receiving a notification; and
        4. technical performance to help ensure the app is working correctly.
      • Update the app and see how COVID Alert works, with user statistics being published on Canada.ca/COVIDAlert in spring 2021.
    • Minister McKenna and Community Foundations of Canada launch intake for COVID-19 resilient projects under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative – Media Release (City of Burlington staff are reviewing this funding opportunity), Canada Healthy Communities Initiative,
      • Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister and Member of Parliament for Halifax, joined Andrea Dicks, President of Community Foundations of Canada and Mary W. Rowe, President and CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute, to launch the first application intake for projects under the Canada Healthy Communities Initiative.
      • The Government of Canada will fund eligible projects that fall under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. The goal is to fund projects that can quickly help communities adapt to the challenges presented by COVID-19 as they continue to navigate the pandemic.
      • Projects could include widening sidewalks and adding signage to support physical distancing in busy areas, expanding community gardens and farmers’ markets to increase access to healthy and affordable food, building pop-up lanes for bikes, scooters, and personal mobility devices to allow people to move around their communities safely, or developing apps or other digital tools to allow residents to safely access services remotely.
      • Applicants can apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $250,000 for eligible projects, within an overall envelope of $31 million in federal government funding.  Local governments and a variety of community-led organizations are eligible to apply, including  charities, Indigenous communities, and registered non-profit organizations.
      • The application period for the first round of funding will close on March 9, 2021 at 5:00PM PST.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Supporting COVID-19 Response in High Priority Communities – Media Release
      • The Ontario government continues to implement its  High Priority Communities Strategy  to provide targeted supports to 15 communities hardest hit by COVID-19. As part of the strategy, the province is providing $12.5 million to local lead agencies to work in partnership with Ontario Health, public health units, municipalities, and other community partners to help high risk neighbourhoods contain the spread of the virus and access services to better protect individuals and families.
      • The province is also investing up to $42 million under the High Priority Communities Strategy to create about 1,500 spaces in approximately 11 COVID-19 isolation centres so people can self-isolate and keep their families and communities safe. The voluntary centres provide a range of wraparound supports and services, including meals, security, transportation, and links to health and social services, free of charge. The strategy will support other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk (e.g. Black and other racialized populations).
      • To further help those impacted by COVID-19 and in need of financial assistance, the government is also providing emergency income support to people who are facing a crisis situation and not receiving support from Ontario Works, or the Ontario Disability Support Program. A single individual could receive up to $733 a month in emergency income support.
      • In addition, more than 160 Community Ambassadors have been engaged and more than 225 are being hired to deliver much-needed targeted outreach and communications to members of these communities. This outreach includes providing contact information and details on financial and isolation supports in multiple languages. In addition, through collaboration with local partners, the province is implementing and expanding multiple testing approaches including the opening of mobile and pop-up clinics and rapid testing. 184 testing sites have been opened and nearly 9,800 PPE kits have been shipped and distributed to community members.
      • The 15 high-needs communities are:  Bramalea, Brampton, South West Mississauga, East Mississauga, North West Mississauga, North Etobicoke Malton West Woodbridge (Peel), North Etobicoke, Malton West Woodbridge (Toronto), East Toronto, Scarborough North, Scarborough South, Western York Region, Eastern York Region, North York West, Durham West, Central Ottawa
    • Ontario Helping Keep Seniors Safe and Connected During COVID-19Media Release
      • The Ontario government is investing $4.5 million through the Seniors Community Grant Program to support over 180 diverse community projects. This year’s funding focuses on helping older adults stay connected with their communities while self-isolating from the safety of their home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
      • The funding will help non-profit organizations, local services boards and Indigenous groups develop programs by:
        1. Helping older men and women receive the support they need in their community, reducing demand on acute and long-term care
        2. Ensuring older adults are less at risk for neglect, abuse and fraud, and that their rights and dignity are protected
        3. Making sure more seniors are connected and engaged and not as socially isolated
        4. Providing more opportunities for older adults to achieve greater financial security
      • The application period for this round of the Seniors Community Grant (SCG) Program opened on June 24 and closed on August 7, 2020.
      • Unincorporated and incorporated not-for-profit organizations, local services boards, and Indigenous groups were invited to apply for funding from $1,000 up to $100,000.

Monday, Feb. 8, 2021:

  • Mayor’s Statement: Premier Announces Plan to Gradually Return to COVID-19 Response Framework
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on February 8, 2021 – Statement
      • Due to reduced reporting over the weekend, national seven-day averages have not been updated in today’s statement. These data are still being collected and analyzed.
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 804,260 cases of COVID-19, including 20,767 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 44,727 active cases across the country. Likewise, the latest national-level data indicate a continued downward trend in daily case counts, with a 7-day average of 3,947 new cases daily (Jan 29-Feb 4) and 107,609 tests daily, with 4.2% positive for COVID-19 (Jan 24-30).
      • Following the recent decrease in COVID-19 activity, we remain on a gradual decline in severe outcomes as expected with these lagging indicators. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,633 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 29-Feb 4), including 736 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 121 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
      • To date, 1,068,690 of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered, with 52% of prioritized healthcare workers, 27% of the adults the territories and 11% of elderly adults over 80 years of age having received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine
  • Other news:
    • GTHA Mayors and Chairs Stress Safe Reopening Includes Safe Schools, More Small Business Capacity and Safe Restart 2.0 Agreement – Media Release
      • The Mayors and Chairs welcomed the priority placed on the safe reopening of schools. We also support the staging of the reopening that Premier Ford announced today which will also help to safely address some the unfairness that has resulted from big businesses being open and not smaller ones.
      • Given that public health officials are very concerned about the variants, the Mayors and Chairs share the province’s concern around the variants and continue to urge great care as the reopening proceeds. We firmly believe we should be careful in our reopening, so that when places are able to reopen they are able to stay open. We believe reopening should be accompanied by consistent standards consistently applied to local public health circumstances.
      • The Mayors and Chairs look forward to working with the Province to ensure the vaccination information system is as user-friendly and effective as possible, particularly given the system will be at the front end of locally driven vaccination programs and will be relied upon to produce useful data.
      • The reopening of the GTHA will be crucial to the successful restart of Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy as a whole. That’s why ahead of several meetings with federal officials this week, the Mayors and Chairs reiterated the need for the federal and provincial governments to come forward with funding for municipalities through a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0. As cities plan their 2021 budgets, the vaccine distribution and ongoing efforts towards fighting the pandemic including variants, it is absolutely vital that they have funding commitments to help plan out their continued response.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”).
      • To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.
      • Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.
      • Based on the improving local trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, the following three regions will be moving back to the Framework at the Green-Prevent level on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order:
        1. Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
        2. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
        3. Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
      • Due to the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will be amended and individual orders making it applicable to each public health region will be made except for the three above. It is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, it is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, February 22, 2021. Final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.
      • Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.
      • In addition, the provincial emergency declared under s 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) will be allowed to terminate at  the end of February 9, 2021. While the provincewide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, 2021, everyone is strongly advised to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and limit close contacts to their household. Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
      • Orders currently in force under the EMCPA have been extended to February 23, 2021 and will be extended further if necessary. O.Reg.55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes) is currently in effect until February 19, 2021.
    • In-Person Shopping at Retail Stores Permitted with Public Health and Safety Requirements in Place – Backgrounder (details for all the coloured stages in the framework are included). The following measures will be added to of the Framework to protect the health and safety of retail patrons and workers:
      • Grey-Lockdown Level
        1. In person shopping permitted for retail sales, with capacity limits;
        2. In addition of the previous restriction of 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies:
          1. 25 per cent capacity limit for all other stores that engage in retail sales to the public, including, big box stores;
        3. Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted;
        4. Require store capacity limit to be posted publicly;
        5. Require businesses and organizations to screen in compliance with any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health or other public health official by, among other things:
          1. Posting signs at all entrances to the premises, in a location visible to the public, that informs individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises;
          2. Actively screening every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises; and
          3. Actively screening patrons entering indoor malls;
        6. Require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering, including when attending organized public events and other gatherings, with limited exceptions.
      • Red-Control Level
        1. In person shopping permitted for retail services, with capacity limits;
          1. 75 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores, and pharmacies; and
          2. 50 per cent capacity limit for all other retail businesses that engage in retail sales to the public, including big box stores;
        2. Curbside pick-up and delivery permitted;
        3. Require store capacity limit to be posted publicly;
        4. Require all retailers and other sectors to have a safety plan and post it;
        5. Require businesses and organizations to screen in compliance with any advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health or other public health official by, among other things:
          1. Posting signs at all entrances to the premises, in a location visible to the public, that informs individuals on how to screen themselves for COVID-19 prior to entering the premises;
          2. Actively screening every person who works at the business or organization before they enter the premises; and
          3. Actively screening patrons entering indoor malls;
        6. Require individuals to maintain at least two metres of physical distance and wear a face covering, with limited exceptions.
    • Question Period:
      • Please speak about the changes to the retail rules. Premier said “health and safety trumps everything.” He did comment on the recent unemployment numbers and his concern for the impact this is having on people. “We are going to do everything we can to help these people.” Solicitor General,  said the 25% capacity limits acknowledges that they think small businesses can open safely. “We want to give people hope.”
      • The hydro relief is set to expire tomorrow will it be extended? Premier said yes it will.
      • Is it correct that the majority of Ontario will have to wait at home for another week before they know what colour in the framework they will be at. Minister Elliott, “we still need to get the numbers down before announcing where regions will end up in the Framework.”
      • Can you clarify the Emergency Break? Minister Elliott, “ we need the Emergency Break so we can act quickly when the new variants emerge in a region.” This mechanism allows the CMOH to put regions into grey lockdown. It does not allow for the implementation of Stay at Home order.

Friday, Feb. 5, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Prime Minister’s briefing:
      • The PM spoke today about vaccines. He assured Canadians, “we are on track to getting the 6 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of March,” as per our agreements with them.
      • He reaffirmed everyone who wants to, will get vaccinated by the end of September.
      • The presidents of Pfizer and Moderna have “assured” him that we will get all the doses we are contracted to receive.
      • He acknowledged how tired everyone is with COVID.
      • Health Canada is reviewing three other vaccines, AstraZeneca, Janseen Inc, and Novavax Inc.
      • Changes to land border crossings will be announced soon.
      • In his call with First Ministers yesterday, as Provinces look at reopening their economies, he encouraged the use of rapid testing.
      • “Our plan is working. I want to reassure everyone watching at home. From the beginning we have been there for Canadians and we will continue to be there for them.”
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds 26th call with premiers on COVID-19 response – Readout
      • Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc held the 26th call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • The Prime Minister provided premiers with an update on Canada-U.S. relations, including recent calls with President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Presidential Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. He outlined the opportunities in working on shared priorities with the U.S. and the importance for First Ministers to work collaboratively, through the Team Canada approach, to defend Canadian interests, protect and create jobs, and support our industries and businesses.
      • First Ministers discussed the continued vaccine rollout and Minister LeBlanc provided an update on vaccine shipments. In response to questions raised on the call, the Prime Minister assured premiers that the federal government is in regular contact with vaccine manufacturers, including Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. He noted that he was assured that Canada would receive 2 million doses from Moderna and 4 million doses from Pfizer by the end of March, as the companies committed to in their contracts.
      • The Prime Minister emphasized that Canada has been assured by the European Union that their measures on vaccine exports will not impact vaccines destined for Canada. First Ministers also discussed the importance of further building domestic capacity for vaccine production and the approval of new vaccines by Health Canada.
      • The Prime Minister updated premiers on international travel and border measures, including the implementation of strengthened measures at airports, whose cost is being covered by the federal government, and the range of potential measures at land border crossings.

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021:

  • Ontario Provides Clarity on Pet Grooming Exceptions in COVID-19 Provincial Regulations
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Supports Air Monitoring Technology to Better Protect People from COVID-19 – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is providing CEM Specialties Inc. (CEMSI) $2 million through the Ontario Together Fund to help commercialize and accelerate production of its airborne COVID-19 detector Kontrol BioCloud (BioCloud). This innovative technology will add another layer of protection by monitoring in real time the air in places where people gather, such as schools, offices, long-term care homes, hospitals, public transit, and manufacturing facilities. The company anticipates accelerating the production of the BioCloud will create up to 250 direct jobs and up to 750 indirect jobs.
      • Kontrol BioCloud (BioCloud), developed by CEMSI (a subsidiary of Kontrol Technologies Corp), is a made-in-Ontario real-time COVID-19 detection device that continuously monitors the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air. The technology promotes air circulation, monitors air quality and samples continuously for pathogens like viruses, bacteria and fungi. When the presence of the virus is detected, BioCloud provides an alert in the cloud or over a local intranet. CEMSI has received all approvals required to commercialize and produce the technology.

Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021:

  • Halton Mayors Outline COVID-19 Relief Measures & Priority Requests for Federal and Provincial Governments
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Enhanced Safety Measures in Place as In-Person Learning Resumes Across Ontario Media Release
      • Today, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced the dates for the return of in-person learning in all remaining Ontario public health units (PHUs). The government’s decision was based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the unanimous recommendation of the Council of Medical Officers of Health, and with the support of local Medical Officers of Health.
      • Elementary and secondary schools in the following PHUs will return to in-person learning on Monday, February 8, 2021:
        1. Brant County Health Unit
        2. Chatham-Kent Public Health
        3. Durham Region Health Department
        4. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
        5. Halton Region Public Health
        6. City of Hamilton Public Health Services
        7. Huron Perth Public Health
        8. Lambton Public Health
        9. Niagara Region Public Health
        10. Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
        11. Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
        12. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
        13. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
      • Elementary and secondary schools in the following PHUs will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16, 2021:
        1. Peel Public Health
        2. Toronto Public Health
        3. York Region Public Health
      • In the PHUs that are permitted to return to in-person learning on February 8, before and after school child care programs are permitted to resume on that day, therefore February 5 will be the last day for emergency child care.
      • To support the safe return of in-person learning, Ontario has introduced new measures to continue to protect students and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom. These measures include:
        1. Provincewide access, in consultation with the local PHU, to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff;
        2. Mandatory masking requirement for students in Grades 1-3, and masking requirement for Grades 1-12 outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
        3. Providing 3.5 million high quality cloth masks to schools as back-up supply for Grade 1-12 students;
        4. Enhanced screening for secondary students and staff;
        5. Guidance discouraging students from congregating before and after school; and,
        6. Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels, following high levels of absenteeism.
      • PHUs continue to reserve the authority to close schools to in-person learning based on local circumstances.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021:

  • Mayor Meed Ward Statement: ‘Supporting Ontario’s MOHs’ Message That Reopening Schools is Essential’
  • Mayor Meed Ward Statement: ‘Dog-Grooming Essential to Pet Health’
  • FEDERAL GOVERMNET NEWS
    • New support to produce COVID-19 vaccines and treatments in Canada – Media Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax to pursue the production of its COVID-19 vaccine at the National Research Council of Canada’s Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal.
      • The Prime Minister also announced investments to support vaccine, therapeutic, and biomanufacturing projects in Canada. These include:
      • Up to $25.1 million to Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI), a Vancouver-based biotechnology company, to expand our ability to produce ribonucleic acid vaccines and future genetic medicines in Canada. PNI will build a $50.2 million biomanufacturing centre to produce vaccines and therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as infectious diseases, rare diseases, cancer and other areas of unmet need.
      • Up to $14 million to Edesa Biotech Inc. (Edesa), a biopharmaceutical company based in Markham, Ontario, to advance work on a monoclonal antibody therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is the leading cause of COVID-19 deaths. Edesa’s $18.7 million project has received Health Canada approval to conduct its phase 2 clinical trials, and has begun administering its treatment to clinical trial participants in Canada.
    • Government of Canada investments in COVID-19 vaccines and biomanufacturing capacity Backgrounder
      • Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, highlighted investments to build Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity and talked about the next steps in Canada’s immediate response to COVID-19.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided details today about the Province’s vaccination program. – Media Release
      • Ongoing vaccine delays and reduced shipments have forced the Ontario government to update its goal of completing the administration of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents in each long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care home to February 10. Amidst these delays, vaccination teams will be distributing vaccines in First Nations fly-in communities in the north as part of Operation Remote Immunity, beginning this week.
      • Last week, Ontario developed a plan to accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending this week’s delivery dates.
      • Since that time, the federal government has confirmed Ontario’s allocation of the Moderna vaccine will be significantly reduced by 18,200 doses, to 63,400 doses. With the reduced shipment anticipated to be received late this week, doses will be delivered to public health units across Ontario to ensure residents of these homes are offered their first dose by February 10, 2021.
      • The decrease in supply of the Moderna vaccine is in addition to further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments from the federal government, which resulted in no deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021, and a reduced shipment of just over 26,000 doses for the first week of February.
      • The province’s initial approach was to offer vaccination to all residents, staff and essential caregivers working at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes to provide the opportunity for best overall protection. In response to the reduction in vaccine supply, the province prioritized the vaccination of residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes.
      • The province is expecting approximately 310,000 doses to be delivered in the remaining weeks of February. Once sufficient doses are available, vaccinations will resume to provide first doses for staff and essential caregivers in settings with the most vulnerable populations.
      • The province also continues to protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose.
      • As of February 1 at 8:00 p.m., over 344,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, including over 91,000 doses administered to long-term care staff and retirement home staff, over 138,000 doses administered to health care workers and over 90,000 doses administered to long-term care and retirement home residents.
    • Question Period:
      • Could the government have saved lives (of the seniors who died in long term care homes) if they vaccinated long term care residents before health care workers? Premier, “it was our goal. But we were instructed by Pfizer that we couldn’t move the vaccine.” The Province took the approach to vaccinate the PSWs and staff of long term care homes who could come to the vaccination centres. When they did not come to get their vaccines, rather than have vaccines go to waste health care workers were vaccinated. “When we had the flexibility to move the vaccine we did. It’s tragic what happened in long term care homes.”
      • Other jurisdictions, like Quebec, moved the Pfizer vaccine. Why didn’t Ontario do this? Did you ask Pfizer if the vaccine could be moved? General Hillier, “we took the advice of the medical professionals and pharmacists who were working with Health Canada and Pfizer.” He said they didn’t have permission from Pfizer until January to move the vaccine.

Monday, Feb. 1, 2021:

  • Burlington Mayor Takes Look Back at 2020 & Outlines What’s Ahead for 2021 in Virtual State of the City Address
  • Provincial News Release: Ontario Community Support Program Extended until 2022 — This Will Help Ensure Seniors and People with Disabilities Have Access to Food and Medicine During COVID-19
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Briefing with Education Minister Lecce and Dr. Williams
    • Ontario Making Additional Investments to Keep Students and Staff Safe – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • As more students return to class today, the Ontario government is providing an additional $381 million, provided through the federal Safe Return to Class Fund, to keep schools safe from COVID-19. Although transmission in schools has been low, this funding will be used improve air quality and ventilation in schools, support online learning, promote student mental health and hire additional staff. With this new funding, schools will have been provided with more than $1.6 billion to better protect students, staff, and families.
      • As of February 1, 2021, more than 520,000 students across Ontario will be able to learn in-person. To support their safe return, and on the best advice of experts, Ontario is introducing additional measures to further protect students and staff, including:
        1. Provincewide access to targeted asymptomatic testing for students and staff, using a combination of lab-processed PCR and rapid antigen tests;
        2. Mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3, including outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained;
        3. Enhanced screening of secondary students and staff;
        4. New guidance discouraging students from congregating before and after; and
        5. Temporary certification of eligible teacher candidates who are set to graduate in 2021 to stabilize staffing levels, following high levels of absenteeism.
      • Teachers and staff will be provided clear direction to discourage students from congregating and to ensure that all school safety guidance is followed With the requirements for masking in schools being expanded, parents/guardians are expected to provide masks for their children to attend school each day. To ensure a back up supply is available if needed, the Government of Ontario will be providing an additional 3.5 million masks for students with a high-quality standard.
      • Targeted asymptomatic testing has helped to identify cases early, inform public health action, and manage outbreaks. Expanding access to targeted asymptomatic testing will be a valuable tool for local public health units and schools. To support the expansion of targeted asymptomatic testing, the Ministry of Education has procured test collection capacity for up to 50,000 tests per week, to be deployed at the discretion of local public health units in collaboration with schools.
    • Backgrounder
      • The next phase of the program will expand asymptomatic testing to schools and child care settings that are resuming in-person learning. Testing will be initiated at the direction of local public health units and will continue to be offered at no cost to families and staff. Testing will be voluntary, and consent will be required from parents or guardians for students under 18 years.
      • The use of less invasive testing approaches (e.g. saliva and lower nasal swabs) will be encouraged wherever possible.
      • School boards will communicate with families about the availability of testing.
      • At scale, up to 50,000 tests per week could be administered. Targeted COVID-19 testing in schools and child care settings will support the safety of students, staff and children as schools return to in-person learning and child care settings continue to operate. These tests will offer an additional layer of protection and help keep schools and child care centres safe by:
        1. Identifying cases that might otherwise have gone undetected;
        2. Reducing transmission of COVID-19 from community into schools and within schools; and,
        3. Reducing barriers and making it easier to get a test in your community.
    • Question Period:
      • Why are you holding the news conference today, you aren’t announcing anything new. Will children get to go back to in class learning on February 10, yes or no? Minister Lecce said getting children back to school is important. “We hope to provide certainty in the coming days.” Dr. Williams said in terms of getting children back into schools they are looking for two things: 1. Community transmission rates to go down and 2. Are the systems in place to keep schools safe? The systems he is referring to are the availability and access to “proper” testing for children and quick turnaround of results. “We want reassure parents that schools are safe for children.”
      • Are you giving any consideration to cancelling March Break? Minister Lecce, said this is being considered and he waiting on the advice form the CMOH. Once a decision had been made they will be making an announcement.
      • What metrics are you using to decide when to reopen schools? Dr. Williams said there isn’t an exact number they are looking for, community transmission rates need to be going down.
      • London and Ottawa schools opened today, but Brant County has a lower case count/100,000 and they did not reopen, why not? Dr. Williams said that a variety of metrics are used including trends, are the systems in place and consultation with local Chief Medical Officer of Health. That is what happened in Brant. The local CMOH was not comfortable with kids going back to school today.
      • What would you like to see in the hot spots before schools reopen? Dr. Williams, “we have done what we need to do, now local medical officers of health have to put their plans in place.” The Province is “ready” to re-open schools on February 10, as long as local public health units feel they are adequately prepared to reopen safely.

Friday, Jan. 29, 2021:

  • Provincial News Release: Over 1,000 Stores Visited during Ontario’s COVID-19 Inspection Blitz
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Government of Canada introduces further restrictions on international travelMedia Release, Backgrounder
      • Today, the Government of Canada announced new rules on international travel, in addition to the multi-layered approach on COVID-19 already in place. The government and Canada’s airlines have agreed to suspend all flights to and from Mexico and Caribbean countries until April 30, 2021. This will be in effect as of January 31, 2021.
      • Further, effective midnight (11:59 PM EST) February 3, 2021, in addition to proof of a negative pre-departure test, Transport Canada will expand the existing international flight restrictions which funnel scheduled international commercial passenger flights into four Canadian airports: Montréal-Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Calgary International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport. The new restrictions will include scheduled commercial passenger flights arriving from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and South America, which were exempted from the previous restriction. Private/Business and charter flights from all countries will also be required to land at the four airports. Flights from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and cargo-only flights will remain exempt.
      • As soon as possible in the coming weeks, all air travellers arriving in Canada, with very limited exceptions, must reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, and take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost. More details will be available in the coming days.
      • The Government of Canada will introduce a 72-hour pre-arrival testing requirement (molecular test) for travellers seeking entry in land mode, with limited exceptions such as commercial truckers. In addition, we continue to collaborate with partners in the United States to strengthen our border measures and keep our countries safe.
      • Travellers entering Canada have a responsibility to make suitable arrangements for mandatory quarantine, which begins on the day they enter Canada. They are also required to submit COVID-19 related information electronically daily.
      • Flights from the United States, Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean, as well as from Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon, were exempted from this restriction and continued to operate and land at other Canadian airports.
      • Effective midnight (11:59 PM EST) February 3, 2021, the restrictions will be expanded to include the following flights to Canada which will also be required to land at the four Canadian airports noted above:
        1. Scheduled commercial passenger flights from the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America;
        2. International business / private passenger flights from all countries; and
        3. International charter passenger flights from all countries.
      • Flights from Saint-Pierre-et Miquelon and cargo-only international flights will still be exempt from this new requirement.
    • Canada to implement new testing and quarantine measures to reduce COVID-19 infection related to non-essential international air travel – Backgrounder
      • Canadians are strongly advised to cancel or postpone any non-essential travel plans outside of Canada. Now is not the time to travel. Additionally, air travellers who decide to travel for non-essential reasons will face new expenses when they return to Canada. This is in addition to providing proof of a negative pre-departure test.
      • In the coming weeks, they will be required to:
        1. take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival at their own cost;
        2. reserve a room in a Government of Canada-approved hotel for three nights at their own cost, while they await their test results.
      • Travellers will stay in and pay for their hotel, as well as all associated costs for food, cleaning and security, while they await the results of the COVID-19 molecular test they received on arrival.
      • Travellers are still required to complete a mandatory 14-day quarantine. To ensure travellers’ awareness and compliance with quarantine requirements, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with security companies to help complete compliance checks for travellers arriving in Canada. As part of this partnership, PHAC has awarded contracts to four security companies: The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, G4S Secure Solutions (Canada) Ltd., Garda Canada Security Corporation (GardaWorld), and Paladin Risk Solutions.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Takes Immediate Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 Variants – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is taking immediate and decisive action to stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants throughout the province. It is implementing a six-point plan which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of international travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.
      • Ontario’s first COVID-19 UK variant case was confirmed last month and was due to international travel. Since that time, 51 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the province.  Evidence shows that the UK variant could be up to 56 per cent more transmissible. Recent evidence shows Ontarians’ efforts to contain COVID-19 are working, with provincial trends in most key public health indicators trending down. However, recent modelling suggests that the UK variant and other new variants remain a significant threat to controlling the pandemic and could become the dominant strain of the virus in the province by March 2021, posing an increased threat to public health and hospital capacity.
      • Ontario’s six-point variant action plan enhances the existing coordinated and ongoing efforts of the province to detect, track, trace, and contain the spread of COVID-19. The plan includes:
        1. Mandatory Testing of Travelers: To address the risks associated with variants of concern to the health of Ontarians, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is issuing a Section 22 order under Section 77.1 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating on-arrival testing for international travellers at Toronto Pearson International Airport effective at 12:01 p.m. on February 1, 2021 and  exploring additional testing measures at Pearson International Airport and land border crossings in the coming weeks.
        2. Enhanced Screening and Sequencing: Led by Public Health Ontario, the provincial diagnostic lab network is ramping up capacity to screen all positive COVID-19 tests in Ontario for known variants within two to three days of initial processing. This new measure will take effect as of February 3, 2021. Public Health Ontario (PHO) will also undertake and coordinate genomic sequencing efforts to identify new and emerging variants by sequencing up to 10 per cent of all positive tests by February 17, 2021.
        3. Maintain Public Health Measures: Given the emerging evidence that the variants of concern are more transmissible and may cause more severe disease in some individuals, lifting of public health and workplace safety measures will not be considered at this time until more information on variant spread is known and overall trends in public health indicators improve. The declared provincial emergency and stay-at-home order were recently extended until February 9, 2021.
        4. Strengthen Case and Contact Management: The provincial workforce will continue supporting public health units to ensure cases and contacts are reached as soon as possible and monitored through their quarantine period. All asymptomatic contacts will be asked to repeat testing on or after day 10 of their quarantine, and the entire household of all contacts and symptomatic individuals will be asked to stay home until the contact has a negative test.
        5. Enhancing Protections for Vulnerable Populations: Dependent on supply from the federal government, the province will continue with the accelerated vaccination of residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes. The province is also introducing a provincial antigen screening program for the expansion of rapid testing in high priority settings, such as long-term care homes, retirement homes, essential workplaces, schools and congregate living settings.
        6. Leveraging Data: The province will work with a made-in-Ontario technology company DNAstack to immediately establish a genomics databank and real-time analytics dashboard to empower the province’s public health officials and improve the government’s planning related to pandemic response. This will enhance the province’s capacity to identify known and emerging variants of COVID-19.
    • Question Period From Presser:
      • How much will tickets be for refusing to be tested? Tickets will be $750.
      • Flights to Florida and Arizona are not on the Federal list of suspended flights, will you be speaking to the PM about this? The Premier said that everyone will be tested upon arrival at the airport. He said that they are working collaboratively with the Federal government.
      • Dr. Fauci is recommending double masking in response to the variants. Is this being considered in Ontario? Dr. Williams said they are looking at the research on double masking. “One well fitting mask is better than two sloppy fighting ones.” A review of all the public health guidelines as they relate to the variants is being done.
      • With the recent news parents are wondering what impact it will have on the Feb. 10 date for a return to in class learning? Premier, “I hear you loud and clear. I know parents are stressed to the max.” He is concerned about the mental health impacts not being in school is having on children. The ultimate goal is to get kids back in the classroom. Dr. Williams, said that they continue to be concerned about community transmission when is comes to a return to in class learning. They have been working on putting things in place to ensure that testing for children is quick, convenient and easily accessible. They are working with local medical officers of health and the school nursing program to put things in place. They would like to have schools prepared for rapid testing by February 10, but they don’t know if that will be when schools reopen.
      • Are you considering banning inter-provincial travel or requiring tests? The Premier urged people from Manitoba and Quebec to stay at home and not visit Ontario now.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021:

  • Burlington Mayor’s Statement for Bell Let’s Talk Day: The Importance of Practicing Self-Care and Staying Connected
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections – Presentation
      • Cases and positivity are down across public health units, but testing volumes are also slightly down. Sustained high testing volumes will be important to control the pandemic. At the current rates of increase daily cases are projected to be between 1000-2000 cases/day by the end of February.
      • Cases are declining across long-term care homes but deaths continue to rise (215 in the last seven days).  The number of resident cases has been decreasing for the past 10 days. We are still likely to surpass total deaths from the first wave. Interventions to reduce deaths in long-term care will be critical.
      • 296 long term care homes have COVID-19 outbreaks (41% of all homes), 80 outbreaks involve just one case.
      • Hospitalizations are declining but strained ICU capacity continues. COVID-19 has an outsized impact on our health care system. This access to care deficit continues to grow and will have short and longer-term negative impacts on health.
      • There has been some reduction in mobility. But essential work is still strongly associated with risk of infection. Safe workplaces will be important to control COVID-19.
      • The new variant of concern (B.1.1.7) is spreading in Ontario and is a significant threat to control of the pandemic. The transmissibility of the new variant is at least 30% higher. However, modelling and international examples suggest that maintaining public health measures will support continued reductions in cases, even with a return to school.
      • Vaccines are likely still effective on the new variant. Other variants are likely to emerge.
      • No clear information on when the Stay at Home order would be lifted, when businesses could reopen, or when children in the GTHA could return to in school learning.
      • When things reopen the framework will be used to guide the reopenings.

Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021:

Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021:

  • City Council, Team Burlington Calling for Renewed & Expanded Funding to Support Local Businesses During COVID-19
  • Provincial Government News Release: Further Action Needed to Protect the Border and Stop the Spread of COVID-1 — Ontario Makes Steady Progress Testing Travellers at Pearson Airport
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Prime Minister said that Canada has some of the “strictest border and travel measures in the world”. The border has been closed to since March “to everyone for whom Canada is not home.”
      • Current measures include the two week quarantine when returning to the country and a mandatory negative COVID test before returning home.
      • US is now following Canada’s example and is requiring a negative COVID test before entering the country.
      • “Nothing is off the table” when it comes to protecting Canadians. He said there would be an announcement in the coming days regarding stricter travel measures. “The bad choices of few will never be allowed to put everyone else in danger.”
      • To date the Federal government has shipped 15.4 million rapid tests to Provinces.
      • The Federal government is partnering with Canada’s largest financial institutions to launch the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability program. This program will provide low interest loans of up to a million dollars for Canadian based businesses. The loans, secured by the federal government, can be used for rent, utilities or to help with payroll. Applications will open on February 1. Details will be provided by Minister Ng, (Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade). See media release below.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions about the travel restrictions. Why isn’t the PM announcing them now? How can further discouraging non-essential travel impact supply chains? The PM reminded Canadians about the strict border measures that are already in place. “We are looking at ways to improve the measures we have in place.” He explained that Canada is reliant on supply chains from around the world and that any new restrictions must not impact this international supply. Many commercial planes carry both passengers and goods. “We need to make sure we aren’t interrupting the supply chain.” An announcement will be made “very soon.”
      • Are you concerned about President Biden’s buy America Strategy? The PM said over the past four years under President Trump “we saw an unpredictable and extremely protectionist” approach. Canada was still able to keep our essential supply chain going. “We will continue to be effective in advocating for Canadian interests.” He referred to the US as “our nearest ally and closest friend.”
      • What if the EU blocks our Pfizer shipments? The PM said “the close working relationship between Canada and Europe reassures me.” He said he will continue to work closely with the EU to ensure that we get delivery of the vaccines that we have contracts for.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Further Action Needed to Protect the Border and Stop the Spread of COVID-19 Media Release
      • Over 6,800 international travellers have been tested for COVID-19 as part of the Ontario government’s voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. This program was implemented to help quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province.
      • Despite this steady progress, the province is calling on the federal government to take further action to protect the border, including mandatory testing of all incoming international passengers and a temporary ban on direct flights from countries where new variants are detected.
      • On January 6, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Ontario began offering COVID-19 testing at Pearson Airport for incoming international travellers who are staying in the province for at least 14 days. Since its launch, over 6,800 tests have been collected. For those participants that have received confirmed results from an Ontario lab, 146 cases, or 2.26 per cent, have tested positive. Participants receive their results within 24 to 48 hours of completing the test. The pilot program is working to detect positive cases even with the federal pre-departure requirement for travellers bound to Canada. Recent data shows that 1.8 per cent of all COVID cases are related to international travel.
      • Ontario is further calling on the federal government to strengthen enforcement of quarantine measures, including exploring new approaches that have worked in other jurisdictions, such as isolation hotels, to ensure compliance with the 14-day minimum quarantine requirement for incoming travellers.
    • Minister Steve Clark’s Speech at the 2021 Rural Ontario Municipal Association ConferenceSpeech
      • Last year, our government joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and AMO in calling on the federal government for one-time emergency funding.
      • I want to thank Premier Ford for his leadership and being a champion for Ontario’s municipal partners during the Safe Restart negotiations.
      • Thanks to Premier Ford’s tireless advocacy and negotiation, we secured a historic deal with the federal government to provide up to $4 billion in emergency funding for all 444 municipalities.
      • This funding is helping to ensure that 2020 municipal operating deficits are balanced, and transit systems keep running.
      • As we announced in December – with the joint federal-provincial funding that we were able to secure … we are helping municipalities begin 2021 on a stable footing.
      • And because of all your efforts, there was nearly $300 million in excess funding left – even after we committed funds to municipalities who applied for extra help …
      • But we know there will be additional pressures in 2021.
      • That’s why we allocated this funding to all 444 municipalities in Ontario – so you could not only start the year with a clean slate from 2020…But could also start off 2021 with additional, new funding.
      • I want you to know that our government will continue to call on the federal government for assistance as we deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
      • With the support of our municipal partners, we’re accelerating critical projects by making Minister’s Zoning Orders. And I want to take this opportunity to make two things very clear:
      • First – Every single MZO that we’ve made on non-provincial land has been at the request of the local municipality…we are committed to working with you to take advantage of this important tool.
      • And, secondly, our commitment to protecting the Greenbelt remains steadfast – and I am not prepared to consider any MZOs or development within the Greenbelt.
      • We are also proposing to empower municipalities with the flexibility to provide property tax relief to small businesses, along with a provincial commitment to consider matching these reductions. This initiative could provide small businesses with as much as $385 million in property tax relief by 2022-23.

Monday, Jan. 25, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 25, 2021 – Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 747,383 cases of COVID-19, including 19,094 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 63,668 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate a recent downward trend in daily case counts (past 10 days), with a 7-day average of 6,079 new cases daily (Jan 15-21). While this suggests that community-based measures may be starting to take effect, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend.
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,651 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 15-21), including 870 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period (Jan 15-21), there were an average of 149 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
      • We know that these impacts can also affect our mental health. Later this week, we will mark Bell Let’s Talk Day. This year’s theme – “Be There” – reminds us of the powerful impact we can have on the mental health of those around us. The pandemic has affected all of us in different ways.
      • No matter what challenges this pandemic has brought into your life, know that you are not alone. It’s normal to feel angry, lonely, sad or worried. It is okay to feel many different emotions during this time, or not to feel much at all. If you are struggling – if intense emotions are long lasting or interfering with your daily routines – there is help. Please reach out.
      • Through Wellness Together Canada, Canadians of all ages across the country can access free supports such as information and practical tools to feeling better, self-guided programs, peer-to-peer support and confidential sessions with social workers, psychologists and other professionals. Supports are provided online as well as by phone and text for those without internet access. There are also immediate supports:
        1. Adults: Text WELLNESS to 741741
        2. Youth: Text WELLNESS to 686868
        3. Front Line Workers: Text FRONTLINE to 741741
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier spoke with Israeli officials today about their vaccination roll out. They have been recognized for the effective mass vaccination roll out. Predictable vaccine supply is critical.
      • Adjustments to the Province’s vaccination program were announced today. The adjustments are being made following notification by the federal government of reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is accelerating the vaccination of residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care homes by a new target date of February 5, 2021. To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups and up to 42 days between the two doses for all other groups.
      • On January 19, 2021, the federal government notified the province of further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. Ontario will not receive vaccine deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021 and will receive just over 26,000 doses for the first weeks of February. As of today, Ontario has not been provided its allocation for the weeks of February 8, 2021 and February 15, 2021, creating further uncertainty for the province’s vaccine rollout.
      • In response to the significant reduction in distribution by the federal government and the uncertainty of future shipments, the province and vaccination sites have worked together to develop a plan to accelerate vaccination of the province’s most vulnerable. Second doses will continue to be administered based on availability of supply provided by the federal government. Actions being taken include:
        1. Accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending week of February 1, 2021 delivery dates.
        2. Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be reallocated to 14 public health units to ensure vaccines are administered at each long-term care home in the province.
      • The government is ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and expand the number of vaccination sites as soon as doses are received. Ontario has capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people per day and is building capacity to triple or quadruple that capacity pending federal government supply.
      • Today, the government extended the declared provincial emergency for another 14 days. The declaration of emergency made under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), originally declared on January 12, 2021, will now expire on February 9, 2021, unless extended further. All orders under the EMCPA, including O. Reg 11/21 (Stay-at-Home Order), O. Reg 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) and O. Reg 13/21 (Residential Evictions) were also extended. Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) continue to be in force.
    • Question Period:
      • Why haven’t you requested Military support for Roberta’s Place in Barrie? Premier, “when I asked if it was required I was told we don’t need them.” He said the Red Cross is on site. Minister Elliott said that two local hospitals were also provided the home with assistance.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the hesitancy from front line medical staff regarding being vaccinated. The Premier said he could appreciate their concerns, “but I encourage all health care workers to get vaccinated. It’s absolutely critical that they get vaccinated.” He spoke about the need to get to the root cause of the problem and since long term care residents are not leaving the homes COVID-19 is being brought in by staff and/or visitors. Minister Elliott, “we know about the hesitancy. In Israel they also experienced more vaccine hesitancy than they expected. Once the mass vaccination program was rolled out people became less hesitant.” Once they saw that there were few people experiencing any side effects. The Premier said that once the vaccine supply becomes more reliable he and the others at today’s media briefing would all be vaccinated, “to reassure people.”
      • Why did you change your strategy on who would get vaccinated first? General Hillier, “we did what we could with what we had.” He explained that when they first received the Pfizer vaccine and they weren’t able to move it, they vaccinated long term care and hospital staff, rather than residents who weren’t able to leave the homes. The change in strategy now is due to the shortage in vaccine supply.
      • Are we “flying blind” on the new variant? Minister Elliott said 9,000 testing samples have been done on variants and “we are detecting it very quickly.” Premier, again spoke about the need to get to the root cause. “We need to test every person who comes into the country.” He spoke with the PM last week about the need to limit entry into the country to only Canadians. “Mandatory testing (at the airports) needs to happen now.” The positivity rate on the voluntary testing the Province is doing at the airport is 2.5%
    • PREMIER EXTENDS STAY AT HOME ORDER
      • Under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, a declaration of emergency lasts for a maximum of 14 days unless renewed. The Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) can renew a declaration of emergency once for a maximum of 14 days; Following one renewal by the LGIC, the Legislative Assembly can renew a declaration for up to 28 days at a time. Orders made pursuant to a declaration of emergency last for a period of 14 days at a time, and can be renewed by LGIC for periods of up to 14 days at a time. Orders can exist past the end of the emergency declaration, extendable by LGIC for periods of up to 14 days at a time, and only if they are deemed necessary to deal with the effects of the emergency.
      • As Premier Ford has indicated, the Stay-at-Home Order will be in effect for a minimum of 28 days. That is why, consistent with the legal requirements under the EMCPA, the government today extended the provincial emergency and the Stay-at-Home Order until February 9. We continue to monitor the situation closely and will rely on expert public health advice regarding any further extensions.
    • Today’s other announcements:
    • GTHA Mayors and Chairs call for federal and provincial action on sick pay – Media Release
      • Despite some positive movement in case counts, the Mayors and Chairs emphasized very strongly that fighting COVID-19 is indeed a marathon and that we are still a long way from the end. Pending vaccinations do offer hope but it was agreed that we must enlist citizens in the task of doing even more to respect public health guidance, especially to stay home.
      • Despite the ongoing lockdown, the GTHA continues to see extremely large and troubling outbreaks in essential workplaces. Despite the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit from the Government of Canada and provisions by the Government of Ontario to protect employment for those who are ill, we know that people continue to come to work with COVID-19. The best advice from our public health professionals right now is to address this issue with improved sick pay benefits for those with COVID-19.
      • This would at the very least include during the pandemic an enhanced benefit which comes closer to replacing income, a simpler application process and an immediately available benefit. Failure by the federal or provincial governments to address this issue will result in people continuing to avoid testing and continuing to come to work sick.
      • The Mayors and Chairs strongly urge the provincial and federal governments to take urgent action on sick pay. Please step up and make this guarantee for the duration of the pandemic.
      • The Mayors and Chairs also discussed the matter of travel and how to best ensure that people coming and going to and from Canada doesn’t make the COVID problem worse. It was agreed that stricter travel measures now would be appropriate.
    • Ontario Expanding Eligibility for Emergency Child Care During Extended Remote Learning Period Backgrounder
      • The Ontario government will be further expanding eligibility for the targeted emergency child care program to additional workers who are performing critical roles in their communities.
      • This benefit will take effect on Wednesday, January 27, 2021 and builds on the existing list of eligible workers.
      • New additions to the list of those eligible for emergency child care is available in the backgrounder.
    • Today Marks the One Year Anniversary of the First COVID-19 Case in Ontario – Statement
      • Today, Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued the following statement to mark significant milestones since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ontario on January 25, 2020.
      • A year ago today, we were presented with one of the most difficult challenges in our history with the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Ontario. The rapid spread of the virus through the province, the country and around the world would lead the World Health Organization to declare COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020.
      • Since then, Ontario has tragically lost 5,846 lives to this deadly virus. We mourn the passing of each and every person and offer our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.
      • Since the start of the pandemic, the health and safety of Ontarians has been and remains our government’s top priority. We were one of the first provinces to declare an emergency in response to COVID-19 to protect individuals, families and workers.
      • We acted quickly to protect our seniors, our most vulnerable populations, and those who care for them. We introduced reforms to our long-term care system, including a commitment to deliver a nation-leading standard of an average of four hours of care per day for each and every long-term care resident. To fulfill this commitment, we launched the largest recruitment and training effort for long-term care in a generation. We also invested over $510 million to date in the Social Services Relief Fund to support our food banks, shelters, and other community organizations.
      • Our government is also using every tool at our disposal to support our hospitals as they respond to COVID-19. That is why we invested $2.5 billion more in our hospitals this year, the largest year-over-year percentage increase in a decade, including the investment in the creation of more than 3,100 new beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province.
      • Late last year, a beacon of hope emerged on the horizon with the approval of two COVID-19 vaccines. In response, our government launched a three-phase COVID-19 vaccination plan and received our first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
      • COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on businesses of all sizes. In response, our government is providing significant financial support through a variety of programs to help them through the Provincewide Shutdown. We offered rebates on property tax and energy bills, provided funding to offset the cost of PPE, and introduced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant which provides eligible business owners a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help them through these tough times. We are confident that our economy will come back with a vengeance when this crisis is over.
      • Time and again, the people of Ontario faced extraordinary challenges this past year – and time and again, they stepped up, did their part, and showed the true Ontario spirit. Thank you to everyone who made incredible sacrifices and put in countless hours to keep us safe and keep the province running smoothly.

Friday, Jan. 22, 2021:

  • Burlington Council Unanimously Approves Extending COVID-19 Related Bylaws to Dec. 31, 2021
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Prime Minister spoke with the Queen about the resignation of the Governor General. Chief Justice of Canada, Richard Wagner will serve as the interim Governor General.
      • Monday will mark once year since the first case of COVID-19  was recorded in Canada.
      • 750,000 vaccine doses have been distributed throughout the country.
      • The PM spoke with the President of Pfizer. The week of February 15 Canada will receive hundreds of thousands of doses. We will receive all expected Pfizer doses before March 31. During this time period we will also be receiving 500,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
      • During his meeting last night with First Ministers he discussed the border and travel. His message to Canadians – “no one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve got a trip booked, cancel it.” Regarding spring break – don’t book a trip.
      • Provinces are telling people to stay home, now is not the time to travel across the country either.
      • The recent spike in cases has caused a strain on hospitals, particularly in Ontario. To assist the Federal government will sending two mobile health units to Ontario, which will be deployed in the GTA. The units will provide 200 additional hospital beds and will free up ICUs.
      • He said that more rapid tests have been deployed to provinces.
      • Premiers also discussed the Keystone XL Pipeline decision by the US. “We will stand up for good Canadian jobs.” He said that the Federal government is ready to work “shoulder to shoulder” with the US on economic recovery and battling the virus.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions about travel. PM said that he has been “very, very clear” that Canadians should not be planning any non-essential travel at this time. He said the Federal government could be bringing in new measures “that could impede your ability to return to Canada without warning.” He had a long conversation with Premiers about options to limit travel and we could see announcements about these measures in the coming days. “It’s not the time to travel internationally or throughout Canada. It’s the time to hunker down”, particularly with the concerns regarding the new variants.
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds 25th call with premiers on COVID-19 response – Readout
      • Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, provided an update to First Ministers on Canada-U.S. relations following the inauguration of Joe Biden as President of the United States. The Prime Minister reiterated his disappointment with the decision on Keystone XL, and emphasized that the federal government has engaged with the new administration in support of the project.
      • First Ministers discussed their priorities for engaging the new administration and the Prime Minister noted the importance for all First Ministers to work together to defend Canadian interests, protect and create jobs, and support our industries and businesses. The Team Canada approach will continue to be instrumental to advance our priorities toward economic growth, climate change, and clean jobs.
      • The Prime Minister provided an update on the vaccine rollout. First Ministers discussed the recent announcement by Pfizer that they were temporarily delaying their shipments of the vaccine to Canada and to other countries. The Prime Minister noted that he was assured during a call with the CEO of Pfizer that the company would honour its contract to provide Canada with four million doses of the vaccine by the end of March. He emphasized that, despite this delay, we are on track to ensure every Canadian who wants a vaccine by the end of September can get one.
      • First Ministers also discussed the importance of avoiding all non-essential travel, domestic or international, and enhancing border screening measures for returning travellers. While the measures enacted since March have reduced the number of travellers, the Prime Minister raised his ongoing concern with people choosing to travel for non-essential reasons.
      • He assured premiers that the federal government will not hesitate to implement new measures to enhance screening and reduce the numbers of travellers. He noted that the government continues to monitor the potential importation of the newly identified variants of the virus.

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Reminds Public to Stay Home and Travel Only When NecessaryMedia Release
      • The Ontario government is working with transportation agencies and providers to support the Stay-At-Home Order and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Using tools like provincial network signs and transit communications systems, the province is reminding drivers and transit passengers, such as GO Transit, Ontario Northland, intercommunity buses and ferries, to only leave home when necessary to pick up essential items, attend a medical appointment, exercise or go to work if you can’t work remotely.
      • To support the Stay-At-Home Order, customers on Ontario Northland will receive a reminder when booking travel to stay home and only travel when necessary. This is in addition to safety messages on 210 signs across the provincial highway network, 20 ONroute locations and on Wolfe Island and Glenora ferries and terminals. The province is also working with municipal transit providers to remind passengers of the Stay-At-Home order.
      • The province is also working with its transportation agencies to revise services to meet customer demand while still ensuring safe travel for passengers and employees. Starting January 23, 2021, GO Transit is temporarily replacing select GO train service with buses and reducing service on UP Express. Ridership on GO Transit and UP Express has decreased by more than 90 per cent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 20, 2021 – Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 719,751 cases of COVID-19, including 18,266 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 71,055 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,469 new cases (Jan 13-19). COVID-19 is spreading among people of all ages, with high infection rates across all age groups.
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,737 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 13-19), including 878 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period (Jan 13-19), there were an average of 141 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Over 100,000 Ontario Students Return to Class Beginning Next week – Statement
      • Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement to provide an update on which schools can resume for in-person learning:
      • To ensure schools remain safe, the government is introducing additional measures including provincewide targeted asymptomatic testing, enhanced screening, mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3 and outdoors where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
      • Based on the most recent data and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, elementary and secondary schools in the following Public Health Units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person learning on January 25, 2021:
        1. Grey Bruce Health Unit
        2. Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
        3. Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit
        4. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Health Unit
        5. Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
        6. Peterborough Public Health
        7. Renfrew County and District Health Unit
      • On January 12, 2021, Ontario announced that elementary and secondary students in Windsor-Essex, Region of Peel, Toronto, York Region and Hamilton PHUs will continue to learn remotely. The Ministry of Education, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, will continue to closely monitor public health trends in these regions.
      • To support families during this period, child care will remain open and available for non-school aged children across the province. Where elementary schools continue to be closed for in-person learning, before and after school programs continue to be closed and prohibited from charging parent fees. Emergency child care will be extended to support those workers that require it during this period.
      • To support students facing mental health difficulties, the Government announced an additional and immediate $10 million from its phase 2 federal funding allocation to support student mental health and expand access to services in both rural and urban communities. This funding builds on the Government’s investment of more than $32.5 million in student mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment supports up to 475 additional staff to support student mental health and compliments the addition of 625 school-based public health nurses and expanded mental health education.

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing by the Prime Minister:
      • The PM referred to Pfizer’s global supply issues as “not ideal”. “The situation with the Pfizer delay is temporary.” He assured Canadians that every Canadian that wants to be vaccinated will be able to get vaccinated by the fall 2021.
      • To travelers, he said now is not the time to be travelling abroad. “If you made plans to travel cancel them.” With the emerging virus variants “we are once again asking Canadians to stay in the country.” He also said the Federal government could issue additional orders without notice.
      • “Now is not the time to abandon our efforts.”
      • He spoke about the situation in long term care homes in Ontario and said that Federal government is working hard to get the vaccine to residents and staff as soon as possible.
      • Regarding the stricter  measures that have been put in place across the country and for those Canadians that fear for their jobs and future, “we are here to help you for as long as you need.”
      • He referred to the inauguration tomorrow as the “new chapter in the incredible relationship between the two countries.”
    • Question Period
      • Regarding travel, what other measures are you considering? PM, “we are closely watching the situation on the virus mutations.” He strongly recommended that no one take any non-essential trips. “We have some of the strictest quarantine measures in place.”
      • What are you saying? Are you telling people who have travelled to come home? He said the constitution guarantees all Canadians have the right to freedom of movement but “we have an obligation and a right to impose additional measures to protect Canadians.”
      • The EU will only be affected for one week by Pfizer’s retooling while Canada will be impacted for four weeks. The PM said they will continue to work with Pfizer to ensure they fulfill their contract and deliver the promised supply of vaccines to Canada in the first quarter of 2021. “We always knew there would be challenges in supplying a vaccine globally.” That is why Canada made sure they had contracts with several manufacturers. The PM went on to say that at the beginning of December 2020 there were no approved vaccines. He commented on the herculean efforts of scientists to develop and approve safe and effective vaccines.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier briefing:
      • Ontario has reached a key milestone in the fight against COVID-19, completing the first round of vaccinations ahead of schedule in all long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor-Essex, the four regions with the highest COVID-19 transmission rates. The first round of vaccinations has also been administered at all long-term care homes in the Ottawa Public Health Region, Durham Region and Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit.  – Media Release
      • To date, more than 40 percent of all long-term care homes across the province have had an opportunity to receive the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 83,000 long-term care residents, staff and essential caregivers have been vaccinated.
      • Progress continues to be made with the goal of administering vaccines in all long-term care homes across the province by February 15, 2021.
      • As part of Phase One of its vaccine implementation plan, Ontario will continue to focus on vaccinating vulnerable populations, and those who care for them, as more supply becomes available. On January 15, the province was alerted by the federal government that due to work to expand its European manufacturing facility, production of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine will be impacted and Canada’s allocations of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the remainder of January and early February will be reduced.
      • To respond to this change in supply of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided updated direction on the administration of second doses:
        1. Long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents and their essential caregivers, who have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, will receive their second dose in 21 to 27 days.
        2. Staff who were vaccinated within the homes at the same time as the residents will also follow the same schedule.
        3. All other recipients of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine must receive their second dose after 21 days and before 42 days.
        4. For individuals who received the Moderna vaccine, the dose schedule of 28 days will remain.
      • The province’s vaccine strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable populations first, including residents of long-term care homes and retirement homes in regions with high COVID-19 transmission rates, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
      • As of January 19 at 12:00 p.m., over 226,000 doses have been administered across the province.
    • Question Period:
      • With no Pfizer vaccines coming next week how angry does that make you? Premier, “very angry. I am not angry at the PM or the Deputy PM.” Referring to how he would deal with the head of Pfizer over the supply of vaccines to Canada, “I’d be up that guy’s ying-yang so far with a firecracker he wouldn’t know what hit him. We have to be on this guy like a blanket.” He also called on incoming President Biden when talking about the Pfizer plant in Michigan, “you have a new President. No more excuses.” He went on to say that a G7 country Canada’s supply should not be impacted this way. General Hillier said,  that he would not take a “sky is falling approach. I have to remain focused on my mission.” Moving forward the approach would have to be more cautious.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the PM calling out Ontario for our LTC situation. The Premier wasn’t aware of the PM’s comments, but did say it was easy to point fingers, which he wasn’t going to do about the vaccine. “This is Team Canada. We are doing everything we can. If we had the vaccines we would be getting them into people’s arms” “I’ll focus on long term care and to the PM, you focus on getting the vaccine and everything will be hunky dory here.”
      • Why is Niagara not considered a hot zone for vaccines? Will more areas be designated as hot zones? Minister Fullerton, said that long term care homes and high risk retirement homes were the main priority. She said, “the most important issue people need to understand is community spread.” Minister Elliott, said the vaccination plan was drawn up with the original four hot spots, Toronto, Peel, Ottawa and Windsor Essex.  She said Niagara is receiving vaccines. General Hillier, “Niagara is getting vaccines and will get more.” He explained that everyday his team looks at vaccine allocations throughout the Province and makes adjustments.
      • Are you on track for Phase 3 of the plan (vaccinating the general population) for the end of July beginning of August? General Hillier said that everything hinges on the arrival of the vaccine. Each public health unit in the Province has been asked to build a capacity for vaccinating a minimum of 10,000 people per day. “We will have the capacity, everything will depend on the vaccine.”
      • With the inauguration tomorrow do you have any security concerns? The Premier said that he was confident in Chief Ramer and the OPP. The Premier made a request to incoming President Biden, “as your third largest trading partner, the least you could do is give us a million vaccines to get us over the hump. You have 100 million.”
      • Looking at where we are now with vaccinations, were there mistakes made? Premier, “if you look at what we have done, it’s spectacular.” General Hillier, spoke about the frustration of initially not being able to move the Pfizer vaccine to the long term care homes. He said that they weren’t able to get as many staff and PSWs to the hospitals to get vaccinated as they wanted. Once they learned they were able to move the Pfizer vaccine things changed. Minister Fullerton, “it’s disgusting that Andrea Horwath is using inaccurate information to cause fear amongst the residents of long term care homes and their families.”

Monday, Jan. 18, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 18, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 708,619 cases of COVID-19, including 18,014 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 75,281 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 7,616 new cases (Jan 8-14).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,705 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Jan 8-14), including 875 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period (Jan 8-14), there were an average of 137 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Extends Reopening Ontario Act Orders – Media Release
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) for another 30 days.
      • Most of the orders under the ROA are extended to February 19, 2021, with the exception of O. Reg. 75/20 (Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works) which is not being renewed. O. Reg. 82/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage One) was amended to ensure government infrastructure projects are able to continue as essential construction activities.
      • The list of orders under the ROA and the EMCPA can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website. Throughout the period of the declared emergency, orders under the ROA remain in effect, along with orders under the EMCPA.
    • Highlights from today’s Premier briefing:
      • The Ontario government is providing up to $125 million to immediately add over 500 critical care and high intensity medicine beds to hospitals in areas with high rates of COVID-19 transmission. A portion of the funding will also be used to temporarily transition Mackenzie Health’s Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital into a systemwide resource supporting the province’s COVID-19 response when the new hospital is scheduled to open on February 7, 2021. These initiatives will help relieve pressures on nearby hospitals due to rapid increases in hospitalization and ICU occupancy rates. – Media Release
      • Initially, Mackenzie Health’s Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital will provide a total of 185 beds, including over 35 critical care beds and 150 general medicine beds, which will support patients from other hospitals and alleviate hospital capacity pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Once COVID-19 capacity pressures have stabilized, the new hospital will provide care and services to patients from across the western York Region as originally planned, including emergency and modern surgical services, and offer advanced diagnostic imaging capabilities, intensive care beds, medicine, birthing, pediatrics and mental health services, as well as the York Region District Stroke Centre.
      • To further support frontline health care workers caring for patients during the pandemic, Ontario has also amended O. Reg 74/20 (Work Redeployment for Certain Health Services Providers) in response to the increasing demands on hospitals and retirement homes. The amended order will allow hospitals to temporarily redeploy health care workers to other hospitals or retirement homes that urgently need additional support. The order was previously amended to allow hospital staff to temporarily work in long-term care homes.
      • As Ontario’s first net new hospital in over 30 years, Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital was built to help solve hospital capacity challenges in the Greater Toronto Area and end hallway health care.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the vaccine shortage. Premier said that they are working with the federal government and Pfizer regarding supply. Minister Elliott, “we are working with the federal government to get more supply.” She said Pfizer is retooling their plant in Belgium which is impacting supply.
      • When will the 500 new beds be in operation? Minister Elliott, said they are working with hospitals throughout the province to try and repurpose beds in underused areas/departments/space or facilities.
      • How many field hospitals might we see? Minister Elliott, “we have been in discussions with the Federal government about two additional field hospitals.” She also said that they are also working on moving health care workers around the province to where they are most needed.
      • What is the reduction in the vaccine supply? Minister Elliott, said the next two shipment sill be 20% less and the following shipment will 80%. Larger shipments are expected in late February and March.
      • What about seniors who do not live in long-term care homes, are they not a priority for vaccinations? Minister Elliott, “all seniors are important regardless of where they live.” The surge in cases at long term care homes must be addressed first. She explained that seniors who live in their own homes have the ability to isolate and stay apart from others, something seniors living in long term care or retirement homes are not able to do. Once a larger supply of the vaccine is available vaccinations will expand to those 80 and older and then move in 5 year increments.
      • Why is the Provincial government resisting implementing paid sick days? The Premier said that as part of the safe restart funding negotiations the Premiers negotiated that the Federal government would fund paid sick days. “If the program isn’t working then it may need to be changed. There is no reason why the Province should duplicate a program offered by the federal government.” He said that only a portion of the funding that was budgeted for paid sick days is currently being used.

Friday, Jan. 15, 2021:

Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on January 14, 2021 – Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 681,328 cases of COVID-19, including 17,383 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 79,293 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 7,727 new cases (Jan 7-13).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,509 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day (Jan 6-12), including 839 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. Over the past 7 days (Jan 7-13), there were an average of 145 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Increasing Workplace Inspections during COVID-19 – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is taking additional measures to protect workers in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Beginning this Saturday and Sunday, approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, will be visiting big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. The blitz will focus on ensuring workers and patrons are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and following every health and safety measure. Workplace health and safety inspectors will have the authority to ticket supervisors, employees and patrons who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, temporarily close a premise and disperse groups of more than five people.
      • These efforts build on the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign announced earlier this week, which will focus workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and provide resource materials to employers and workers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.
      • The campaign targets workplaces with heightened risks that have been identified by using data from local public health units and information reported directly to  the province. Inspectors will focus on workplaces in the following sectors:
        1. Workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks
        2. Manufacturing
        3. Warehousing
        4. Distribution centres
        5. Food processing
        6. Publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores
      • Individuals and businesses who are not following the rules can be fined. The set fines are:
        1. $750 for not following the rules;
        2. $1,000 for preventing others (including employees or other workers) from following the rules.
      • Maximum fines can be up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation.
  • OTHER NEWS
    • Police do not have power to stop drivers to enforce new stay-at-home order, Ontario tells police chiefs – Article
      • Under Ontario’s new emergency measures, police officers do not have the authority to stop a car solely to check compliance with stay-at-home measures, and individuals don’t have to tell officers why they’re outside, according to a government memo.
      • Sent to police chiefs Wednesday on the eve of Ontario’s emergency measures coming into effect, the government memo provides some guidance to police and by-law officers now enforcing the province’s stay-at-home order after confusion over officers’ role.
      • According to the memo, the new measures do not allow police to enter any dwellings or give them the authority to stop a vehicle solely to check compliance with the stay-at-home order.
      • “In addition, individuals are not compelled to explain why they are out of their residence,” states the memo, which notes that being outside should not automatically be considered “evidence of a failure to comply with the stay at home order.”
      • The memo also notes that workers are do not have to provide proof from their employer that they are travelling to or from their workplace.
      • “Notwithstanding the above, police are encouraged to make reasonable inquiries to determine if individuals are in compliance with the orders,” the memo states.
      • “We will not be randomly pulling people off the street, or out of their cars, to check whether or not they have a reason to be outside,” Joe Couto, spokesperson for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, said.
      • Officers also have the authority to temporarily close premises and disperse individuals who violate outdoor gathering limits of up to five people.

Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier opened today’s briefing by telling people to “stay home unless it’s essential”. He said getting groceries, attending medical appointments, going to work and exercising were essential. “You must stay home – it’s the law and it will be enforced.
      • He did acknowledge that essential means something different to everyone. “If you aren’t sure if something is essential then it probably isn’t.”
      • Anyone who can work from home, must do so.
      • General Hillier provided an update on the vaccine distribution plan. – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase Two of the government’s vaccine implementation plan, which aims to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as supply is available.
      • As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has mapped out the next steps for transitioning into Phase Two and has adopted an approach for identifying the next groups to receive the vaccination as early as March 2021. In order to vaccinate Ontarians as safely and quickly as possible, the government is expanding the list of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines.
      • Phase One of the vaccine implementation program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated. Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes has begun in many parts of the province, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than February 15, 2021. The vaccination of all staff and residents in long-term care homes in four areas with the highest rates of transmission, Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor Essex, is expected to be completed by January 21, 2021.
      • Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program will include:
        1. Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
        2. Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
        3. Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, teachers, food processing industry); and
        4. Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.
      • Phase Two is expected to be completed by end of July 2021 and Phase Three for the general population could begin as early as August 2021, pending availability of vaccines. Vaccination of populations in Phase One will continue until all vaccinations are complete.
      • The first municipally run vaccination site will be opening on January 18 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The site will be administering vaccines to Phase One priority populations, including select frontline health care workers. It will be an initial proof-of-concept for municipally run vaccination centres, with a small number of doses to start with, from which learnings will be used to inform other locations across the province.
      • As the vaccine supply increases, and guided by the Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Ontario is also enabling more health care providers to administer the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible.
      • Health care professionals who are able to administer the vaccine can register and apply through Ontario’s Matching Portal. This could include nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered practical nurses, along with pharmacists, pharmacy students, interns and pharmacy technicians.
    • Question Period:
      • As a short term measure what is the harm in bringing the Military back into to long term care homes? The Premier said that he just spoke with the Prime Minister who offered any help we needed to support long term care homes including the military or Red Cross. The Premier once again urged PSWs and all long term care staff to get tested. “If you want to stop this you have to go to the root  cause. The root cause is the virus.” He said that security guards are in place at all homes to ensure that anyone who enters has been tested. Minister Elliott said that vaccinations would provide the “iron ring” and that rapid tests would also be deployed to long term care homes.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the impact the new measures will have on small business. “At the end of the day we need to crush this virus. It’s about movement, which needs to be restricted.” He went on to list all the supports both the Province and Federal government have put in place to assist small business.
      • What do you say to small business owners? Premier said that he represents small business to cabinet every single day, and “my heart breaks.” “I hate closing small business, but health trumps. There is no second chance with health. For small business we will be there for them. There is no confusion stay home. Forget about big box stores and support small business.”
      • If you received 20 million doses of the vaccine over the weekend would you be ready? Premier, “the fact is we are not getting them. The PM said we aren’t getting them.” General Hillier refused to answer a theoretical question like this, but did say with the current vaccination centres that are in place they could do up to 50,000 vaccinations/day. Each health unit throughout the province has been asked to be prepared to deliver 10,000 vaccinations/day, larger units will be expected to do more. Regional health unit vaccinations plans will be coming in next week.
      • Are the armed forces coming back into Ontario? The Premier said he never refuses help.
      • How is it that non-front line health care workers are receiving vaccinations before front line workers? General Hillier explained that “speed trumps perfection” and that in some instances, early on, when they were told they couldn’t move the Pfizer vaccine, non front line workers did get vaccinated. He said that he would not apologize for early missteps and that he “had the backs” of the staff running the vaccination centres.
      • How will you ensure that the most vulnerable are not over policed as a result of enforcing the stay at home order? Premier, “the message is very, very clear stay home.” The Solicitor General explained that the police have already been enforcing the Reopening Ontario Act as have by-law officers. Under the orders they can ask for a person’s name, address, and date of birth in order to issue a ticket.
      • After the last question the Premier went on to say this, “ I hear this is some confusion about the order. Some elected officials are saying there is confusion. There is no confusion – stay at home, stay at home! For any elected officials who say there is confusion – stay home. If you have ask yourself if you should go out. The answer is simple, stay home.”

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021:

  • City of Burlington Ready to Support Vaccine Rollout & Offer City Facilities as Needed
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table announced that in response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province’s hospital system and alarming risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). – Media Release
      • Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.
      • In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the government will enact the following additional public health measures:
        1. Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
        2. Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres. 
        3. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
        4. Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
      • These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
      • New Enforcement Measures
      • Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.
      • In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.
      • Schools and Child Care Centres
      • Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools in the following public health units (PHUs) will not return to in-person instruction until February 10, 2021: Windsor-Essex, Peel Region, Toronto, York, Hamilton.
      • By January 20, 2021, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling. Before- and after-school programs can be offered when in-person instruction resumes. Schools in northern PHUs will continue to remain open.
      • To continue to keep students, staff and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:
        1. Masking for Grade 1-3 and requirements for mask wearing outdoors;
        2. Enhanced screening protocols; and
        3. Expanded targeted testing.
      • Workplace Safety
      • The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.
      • Evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections to date shows the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working. However, when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene.
      • In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.
      • The orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) remain in effect until January 20, 2021. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time, and the government must continue to report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
      • A full list of emergency orders under the EMPCA as well as orders under the ROA can be found on the e-Laws website and at Ontario.ca/alert.
    • Ontario Continues to Support Employers and Workers during COVID-19 Backgrounder
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections from the Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables – Presentation
      • Growth in cases has accelerated and is over 7% on the worst days
      • Almost 40% of long-term care homes have active COVID-19 outbreaks. Since January 1, 198 long term care residents and 2 long term care staff have died of COVID-19. Forecasts suggest more deaths in wave 2 in long term care than in wave 1.
      • Projections: Second wave cumulative long term care residents deaths due to COVID-19 >2,600 by February 14 in worst case scenario
      • COVID-19 ICU occupancy is now over 400 beds. Surgeries are being cancelled and the access to care deficit will continue to increase with real consequences for health. Projections: ICU occupancy around 500 beds in mid-January, potentially over 1,00 beds in February in more sever, but realistic scenarios
      • Mobility, and contacts between people have not decreased with the current restrictions. Survey data show that the majority of Ontarians are helping limit spread by following them. However, case numbers will not decline until more of the population follows their example.
      • Despite some reduce mobility from “grey zone” restrictions there was a pre-holiday spike.
      • Grey zone restrictions do not affect the proportion of people working from home; holiday decreases are not likely to persist
      • A new variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 (B117) could drive much higher case counts, ICU occupancy and mortality if community transmission occurs. The doubling time for cases could drop by more than 2/3. This new variant is now in Ontario.
      • Without significant reductions in contacts, the health system will be overwhelmed and mortality will exceed the first wave totals before a vaccine has time to take effect.

Monday, Jan. 11, 2021

Friday, Jan. 8, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM opened today’s briefing with comments about what happened in Washington this week. “What we witnessed was an assault on democracy by violent rioters incited by the current President and other politicians. As shocking, deeply disturbing and frankly saddening as that event remains, we have also seen this week that democracy is resilient in America.”
      • He said that “democracy is not automatic” and should not be taken for granted.
      • Canadians expect debate with a shared acceptance of the facts.
      • Regarding the First Ministers meeting held on Thursday he said that the Federal government is doing everything they can to obtain as much vaccine as they can as quickly as they can. Close to 195,000 Canadians have received their first dose of the vaccine.
      • He spoke again about the Federal government being there for Canadians, “we will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”
      • He urged Canadians to keep doing their part – wear a mask, avoid gatherings and download the COVID Alert app. The app has been upgraded making it possible to download it on older devices.
    • Question Period:
      • Were you able to give Premiers a schedule on the delivery of vaccine? PM, “we are working together. Predictability is essential.” The schedule for January deliveries was shared. The federal government is working with the manufacturers to get the delivery schedule for February and March, which will be shared with Provinces as soon as it is received.
      • Do you worry about damaging Canada’s relationship with the US by your remarks? The PM said that standing up for democracy is important. “We heard what the President said and we saw the scenes of the violent crowds. It reminds us all that as politicians the words we chose have consequences.”
      • Some countries are paying a premium to get the vaccine sooner. Have you considered doing this? The PM said that Canada worked very hard early on to secure the greatest variety of vaccines for Canada and the largest supply per capita for Canadians. He said that the Minister Anand  is in ongoing discussions with manufacturers to accelerate deliveries of the vaccine.
      • Are you still confident that all Canadians will be vaccinated by the fall? “Medical experts are confident that we can vaccinate every Canadian that wants a vaccine by September. Three million Canadians will be vaccinated by March.”
      • Did you ever expect that Donald Trump’s presidency would end this way? PM, “we learned early on that the Trump Presidency was unpredictable.” He said that they found away to work the President while respecting and upholding Canadian values and interests. He spoke about the successful renegotiation of NAFTA. “There will be much said and written in the history books about this time.”
    • Other News:
      • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with premiers on continued efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19 Readout
        1. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc held the twenty-fourth call on Thursday with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
        2. The Prime Minister and Ministers spoke about the shocking and deeply disturbing violence that unfolded in the United States yesterday. He emphasized the need to work together to keep our democracy strong, healthy, and vibrant. First Ministers discussed the importance of protecting our democracy by upholding democratic principles and institutions, and agreeing on grounding debate on common sets of facts. The Prime Minister noted the strong collaboration between all orders of government since the outset of the pandemic.
        3. First Ministers discussed the continued rise in COVID-19 cases across the country and the collective measures they are taking in response. They agreed to continue to work together closely and in partnership to contain the spread of the virus. While there is light at the end of the tunnel with promising vaccine advancements, they acknowledged the critical work that must continue to protect the health and safety of Canadians. They agreed that the Team Canada approach is the best way to tackle this important challenge. This includes making the best use of testing capacity and resources, such as rapid tests.
        4. First Ministers agreed to continue working together to allocate, distribute, and administer vaccines as efficiently and equitably as possible. With vaccinations of the most vulnerable Canadians well under way across the country, the Prime Minister discussed the significant progress that has been made since the spring to get to this point. First Ministers reiterated the importance of combatting misinformation, and encouraging Canadians to get vaccinated once it becomes available to them.
        5. Across the country, long-term care homes are facing a new round of outbreaks. Protecting the most vulnerable Canadians is the top priority, and First Ministers discussed opportunities to strengthen safety measures and agreed on the importance of sharing best practices and applying innovative solutions to minimize the risk to long-term care residents.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier made no announcements about any changes to public health measures/restrictions today.
      • By the end of next week Ontario will be out of vaccines. During yesterday’s first ministers meeting with the PM he spoke about the need for a more reliable supply of vaccines.
      • Our best and only defense now is to follow public health measures. He urged people again not to gather. People need to “hunker down.”
      • “If basic measures are ignored the consequences will be dire – the lockdown won’t end and more extreme measures will be necessary.”
    • Question Period:
      • Why can’t you get a handle on the situation in long term care homes? Minister Elliott, said that they are making sure that every long term care home is associated with a hospital that can provide them with the supports they need. She did refer to anything new that was being done.
      • What did you demand of the PM? Premier, “the PM is working his back off. They aren’t millions of doses of the vaccines sitting in freezers in Ottawa.” He urged Health Canada to approve the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
      • Minister Lecce was asked for details on the increase safety enhancements for schools and the asymptomatic testing. He said that they have been working on a plan, “for weeks”, that was going to be rolled on Monday, when elementary schools were supposed to return to in school learning. Asymptomatic testing will be expanded and kits will be available to  every public health unit in the province. There will also be more money available for HVAC improvements.
      • Why aren’t you doing more today? Will you wait until next Friday to announce new measures? The Premier said that new modelling data would be released early next week. “It will be a wake up call for people. You’re gonna fall off your chair.” He went on to say, “no matter what the federal, provincial or municipal governments do this will get out of hand” if people don’t follow the public health measures. “Everything is on the table. There will be further measures.”
      • Will Ontario be put pack into the lockdown we were in in the spring? The Premier said that this is the most serious situation we have ever been in since the pandemic started. He warned that the modelling is “very scary.” Dr. Yaffe, said that today’s numbers “are scary.” “More and more people are being hospitalized, more and more people are on ventilators and more and more people are in the ICU. Hospitals are cancelling elective surgeries.” There is more spread in the community. There is also the mutation of the virus, which is more contagious. “We must consider all possible measures. We don’t want to scare people, but there has been too much complacency. We are all sick and tired of this.” As they look at the modelling they are considering more serious measures, like we saw in the spring. They are looking at what other jurisdictions are doing.
      • The Premier was asked about opening ski hills in northern Ontario? He said that he was concerned that people form southern Ontario would travel there to ski and the health care systems in the north would become overwhelmed. He did admit, “the last thing on my mind right now is ski hills.”
      • Regarding support for small businesses impacted by closures. He said that there has been low uptake on the supports the Province has put in place. He encouraged small business owners to advantage of the programs.”
      • You are calling on people to follow the rules, but when people see that politicians like Rod Phillips aren’t following the rules how do you expect Ontarians to? The Premier said that he addressed the Rod Phillips issue decisively. “We are going to make people accountable no matter who you are. We are in a crisis, it is scary and we need to work together. If you aren’t listening this is gonna continue to get of control. It’s gonna be one heck of a bumpy road from now to the spring.” The plan is to vaccinate the general population in April, May and June at a rate of 160,000 vaccinations a day.
      • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Continues To Support Businesses, Workers and Families during the COVID-19 Pandemic – Statement  
        1. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued the following statement regarding today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada:
        2. “Employment in Ontario decreased by 11,900 in December. Despite this decrease, employment in the manufacturing sector increased by 16,400. In the last seven months, Ontario’s employment increased by 893,300. Today, 29,600 more men and women are working in the manufacturing sector than pre-COVID.
        3. While the shutdown is intended to keep people safe, we are acutely aware that people across Ontario continue to struggle during this challenging period. And that’s why we are providing significant support to businesses, workers and families as we continue to plan for our economic recovery and the future.
        4. To help businesses that are struggling we are introducing a new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners who needed to close or significantly restrict their services during the shutdown. Each eligible small business will be able to use this funding in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. People will be able to apply for this support beginning later this month.
        5. Our government is also providing $600-million for property tax and energy bill rebates to support businesses required to close or significantly restrict services because of public health restrictions.
        6. In addition, we are providing tax relief which includes a proposal to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property taxes for small businesses and reduce business education taxes. The province has also permanently increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) payroll exemption to $1 million, meaning 90 per cent of employers pay no EHT.

Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Extends Teacher-Led Online Learning Until January 25 to Keep Students and Staff Safe in Southern Ontario – Media Release
      • As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout the province, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is extending certain measures to keep students, education staff, and residents of Northern Ontario safe. This includes extending in-person learning until January 25, 2021 for elementary school students in the 27 Southern Ontario public health unit regions and extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario for another 14 days, aligning with the shutdown period in Southern Ontario.
      • These time-limited measures are being taken to help ensure that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, while at the same time being responsive to the fact that Northern Ontario students are not able to learn at home as effectively due to limited access to reliable Internet service.
      • Targeted testing done among students and staff in December 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission. However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply. Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.
      • In response to increasing community transmission, in-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in these regions. Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.
      • Returning students to school now with community transmission and positivity rates so high risks losing the hard-fought progress made in keeping schools and students safe. The Ministry of Education will continue to act on the best advice of medical and health experts to ensure that students in Northern Ontario are able to return to school safely and, when safe to do so, students in Southern Ontario as well.
      • To support families during this extended school closure, child care centres, and home-based child care services will remain open. Ontario is also expanding eligibility for the Ministry of Education’s targeted emergency child care program for a broader number of frontline health and safety workers.
      • Financial support is also available for families during this temporary remote learning period through the Support for Learners program. Starting on January 11, 2021, an expanded Support for Learners program is providing $200 for each child or youth up to Grade 12 and $250 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs. Applications will be open until February 8, 2021.

Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021:

  • Ontario Launches Innovative Testing Program at Pearson Airport — New Free and Voluntary Pilot Program Will Support Early Detection of COVID-19
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • New pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirements come into effect for all air travellers flying into Canada – Media Release, Backgrounder
    • Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, issued an Interim Order formalizing new COVID-19 testing requirements for all air travellers coming to Canada, and providing additional guidance to airline operators and the travelling public regarding the new pre-departure testing requirement that was announced on December 31. This Interim Order supports COVID-19 health requirements made by Canada’s Minister of Health under the Quarantine Act.
    • Effective midnight on January 7, 2021 (00:00 EST or 05:00 UCT), regardless of citizenship, all travellers five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative laboratory test result for COVID-19 to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using one of two types of COVID-19 tests–either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP)–and must be conducted within 72 hours of the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada.
    • All travellers coming to Canada must present this information at the time of boarding.  Failure to do so will mean an automatic denial of boarding by the airline operating the flight to Canada.
    • At the outset, there are time-limited flexibilities for travellers departing from some countries in recognition of the need for testing systems to adjust. Travellers departing from Saint Pierre et Miquelon are exempt from the requirement to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test until January 14, and travellers departing from Haiti, until January 21, 2021, but they are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test once they arrive in Canada. Travellers departing from the Caribbean or South America can use tests conducted within 96 hours of departure (instead of 72 hours) until January 14, 2021.
    • There are only a limited number of exceptions where an individual is not required to show proof of a negative test. These are:
      • children who are four years of age or younger (i.e., children who are five on the day of their travel must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test);
      • air crew members or a person who seeks to enter Canada only to become such a crew member;
      • transiting passengers (not entering Canada through a border port);
      • emergency, law enforcement or border personnel;
      • specific individuals or groups identified by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer or the Minister of Health; and
      • Individuals or a group of individuals that have been granted an extra-ordinary exemption from Transport Canada.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today at Pearson airport by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced the launch of a new innovative, voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport for eligible international travellers returning to Ontario to help quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province. – Media Release
      • “With over 60,000 international passengers coming into Pearson airport every week, we can’t take any unnecessary risks,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we’re putting in place this new pilot program to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and respond to new threats like the recent strain of the virus we’re seeing in an alarming number of countries without the same travel restrictions as the U.K. The test will be free for eligible travellers and I encourage everyone to take the test to protect yourselves and your loved ones.”
      • Recognizing the increased risk that inbound international travellers may pose, including the potential to spread the new UK COVID-19 variant, the government is fulfilling its commitment to quickly implement airport testing to help contain this deadly virus. Beginning today, the province, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, will offer free and voluntary COVID-19 testing for international travellers arriving and staying in the province for at least 14 days.
      • Eligible travellers will be able pre-register for the program or proceed to get tested when they arrive at the airport. Those choosing to participate in the pilot will receive a free, self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be supervised by a health care provider either in-person or by video as the traveller self-administers the test. Switch Health, a health service provider, will provide the monitored self-swabbing tests in a convenient and dedicated space in the airport. Switch Health has been delivering testing services in the Windsor-Leamington area and Peel Region, and can support the needed volumes and timing requirements for the testing pilot.
      • Test results will be reported into Ontario’s Lab Information System within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on all positive tests. All international travellers will continue to be required to follow the federal requirement for a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving or returning to Canada, regardless if they have a negative or positive test.
      • Inbound international travellers can register to participate in the program at torontopearson.com/testing. Registration can be done in advance of arrival at the airport or upon arrival at Toronto Pearson airport.
      • Individuals requesting a COVID-19 test for outbound international travel clearance are not eligible for a publicly funded COVID-19 test in Ontario.
    • Question Period:
      • With case numbers rising and hospitals overwhelmed, is the government doing enough? Should you be doing something similar to Quebec? Premier, “we are working with our Chief Medical Officer on that right now. We need more vaccines. I know the federal government is doing everything they can.”
      • Are you considering a curfew? Premier, “everyone is tired of this pandemic. The quicker we get the vaccines into people’s arms the better.”
      • What happened with the Pfizer vaccine? Did you make a mistake? The Premier said that they have been following the instructions provided by the federal government and Pfizer, which were not to move the vaccine. Minister Elliot said that the instructions from Pfizer have now changed. The Province is conducting a trial in Ottawa now with the Pfizer vaccine.
      • The Premier was asked to clarify if he did  know that Rod Phillips had travelled outside of the country. Premier, “I did not contradict myself. I called him shortly after he arrived and that’s when I found out. We take this very seriously. I made it very clear to everyone they were not to travel.”
      • Do you know of any other members of your caucus or staff that travelled? The Premier dodged this question and again said, “ I made it very clear to everyone they were not to travel.”
      • Should Dr. Tom Stewart be fired? The Premier said this was up to the board to decide. “It’s a tough decision, I made the tough decision with my minister.”
      • Is not reopening schools next week on the table? The Premier said that he will be getting advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health on that. “We will be announcing this in the next few days.”
      • How seriously are you considering what Quebec is doing? The Premier will be speaking to Premier Legault this evening and the health table today. “We will be making a decision in the next few days.”
      • The Premier was asked for his thoughts on the vaccination of federal inmates? Premier, “when I first heard it I didn’t believe it. I asked my staff to confirm that it was true. Giving the most dangerous criminals in the country the vaccine before the most vulnerable – how do you square that? The minister responsible dropped the ball. I encourage the PM to stop this.”

Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from Prime Minister Trudeau’s briefing:
      • The PM said that with the approval of two vaccines we have reasons to be optimistic. It is essential that provinces carry out the vaccinations quickly.
      • By September there will be enough vaccines for every Canadian that wants a vaccine/to get vaccinated.
      • He stressed that now is not the time to vacation out of the country. The Canada Sickness Benefit is for Canadians that don’t have paid sick benefits, not to cover the quarantine period for people who have travelled out of the country on vacation.
    • Question Period:
      • Do you believe a curfew is the right thing to do? PM said that the federal government has supported Provinces from the beginning. “We are at the beginning of the end with the vaccines.” The Federal government will continue to support the efforts of the Provinces.
      • Is the Federal government considering national measures, like the Emergency Measures Act? PM is, “not at all interested in imposing the Federal Emergency Measures Act.” He said there are different situations across the country and “a one size fits all” approach would not work. “We have been working well with the Provinces.”
      • He was asked about the slow roll out of the vaccine in Canada. “All Canadians are frustrated, including me, to see vaccines in freezers. We will be working with the Provinces on ways that the Federal government can help them get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.” He went on to say the Federal government has been working with Provinces since May on the rollout of the vaccine. “We have seen some challenges getting the vaccines into arms.”
      • Will legislation be tabled about the Canada Sickness Benefit (to correct the loophole that is allowing people who are quarantining after a vacation to access it)? “We need to remember what the Canada Sickness Benefit was designed for. No one dreamt that the benefit would  be used for people who aren’t following the rules. We want people to have the support they need if they aren’t feeling well and can’t go to work.”
      • What does politicians vacationing out of the country do to your messaging? PM, “continuing to demonstrate that we are all in this together is important. It is unfortunate to see politicians not take their own advice. I am frustrated, like Canadians are, with those who did not follow the rules. It is disappointing to see those who should have known better travelling outside of the country.”
      • Is the slow vaccination rate impacting discussions with vaccine suppliers? The PM said that he has no concern that any vaccines will be wasted, “there are protocols in place to ensure they do not go to waste. We want to get the vaccine into the arms of the most vulnerable. We will be working on accelerating this process.” He stressed that the Federal government would be there to support the Provinces.
      • Will we be on target to have the majority of Canadians vaccinated by the Fall? PM, “yes I am confident that every Canadian who wants to be vaccinated will be by the fall.”

Monday, Jan. 4, 2021:

Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020:

Monday, Dec. 21, 2020:

Friday, Dec. 18, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, December 18, 2020Statement
      • There have been 488,638 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 13,916 deaths. There are 76,310 active cases across the country. The national average case count is now over 6,650 cases reported daily over the last 7 days.
      • Over the past week there have been on average almost 4,000 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including 650 in critical care, and 115 deaths reported each day.
      • We can do more to save lives – both during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond – and must redouble our collective efforts to expand the availability of evidence-based harm reduction services – like supervised consumption sites and take home naloxone programs – and of treatment options, including safer, pharmaceutical alternatives to the toxic illegal drug supply. For anyone experiencing issues with substance use, know that there are options available to help and The Wellness Together Canada online portal is a place to start that includes free of charge supports. By showing compassion towards people who are struggling and knowing what to do if you witness an overdose, every Canadian can help save lives. Visit Canada.ca/opioids to learn more.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Ontario Supports Employers and Employees Impacted by COVID-19 Media Release
    • Ontario Supports Production of Inclusive Made-in-Ontario Face Masks Media Release
    • Ontario Taking Further Action to Limit Spread of COVID-19 – Media Release
      • As the province engages with public health experts and frontline partners on what additional measures may be necessary to break trends in increased cases and hospitalizations, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health, is moving six public health regions to new levels per the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.
      • After assessing trends in key public health indicators, Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health will remain in the Grey-Lockdown level to be re-assessed on January 4, 2021.  In addition, five public health regions will be moved to levels with stronger public health measures, including moving the City of Hamilton Public Health Services to Grey-Lockdown. One public health region will be moving to a lower level.
      • The government and the Chief Medical Officer of Health are actively consulting with local medical officers of health and local communities in these regions to determine what additional measures are required. In addition, earlier today Premier Doug Ford and Minister Elliott convened an emergency meeting with Dr. Williams and Ontario’s hospital leaders to discuss next steps to address the concerning trends in cases and hospital capacity in our province.
      • Based on the latest data, the following public health regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective Monday, December 21, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. with Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health remaining in lockdown until at least January 4, 2021:
        1. Grey-Lockdown: City of Hamilton Public Health Services.
        2. Red-Control: Brant County Health Unit and Niagara Region Public Health.
        3. Orange-Restrict: Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health.
        4. Yellow-Protect: Timiskaming Health Unit.
        5. Green-Prevent:  Public Health Sudbury & Districts.
      • The province will continue to monitor local trends of key public health indicators across the province to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a different level. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.
    • Statement by Toronto Mayor John Tory on the Province extending lockdown restrictionshttps://twitter.com/JohnTory/status/1340034105086492674/photo/1
      • “Given the increased case counts we are seeing and based on advice of our public health officials, this makes sense. It also makes sense in my view that the province would consider further restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and to do everything possible to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system and our frontline healthcare workers in the New Year. Taking additional measures is the right thing to do.
      • I want to thank Premier Ford and his cabinet for considering further restrictions and committing to making an announcement on Monday. It is absolutely clear from everything we are hearing from our public health professionals and hospital officials right now that further action on a larger, more region-wide basis is needed in order to save livers and protect the health of all of our residents.”
    • Statement from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombiehttps://twitter.com/BonnieCrombie/status/1340032290269896704/photo/1
      • “I firmly believe keeping Peel in lockdown will avoid more COVID-19 hospitalizations, further spread in our long-term care homes and preventable deaths in Mississauga. I believe these continued measures will help us avoid a larger and longer lockdown in the New Year.
      • What is becoming evident from the aggregate cellphone data we have is that people across the GTHA are moving from one region to another much more than they did in the first wave. And unfortunately, this is also leading to more community spread.
      • I am calling on the Province to issue a GTHA-wide lockdown on Monday to drive down case numbers across the larger region and to protect our hospitals.”

Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020:

  • Statement from Halton Mayors and Regional Chair – Dec, 17, 2020
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on December 17, 2020Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 481,630 cases of COVID-19, including 13,799 deaths reported in Canada. Currently, there are 75,885 active cases across the country with an average of 6,614 new cases (Dec 10-16) being reported daily.
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,096 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Dec 10-16), including 629 of whom were being treated in intensive care units.
      • I would also like to highlight new national data released yesterday showing that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen the overdose crisis. Between April and June 2020, there were 1,628 apparent opioid toxicity deaths across Canada, which is the highest number ever recorded in a single quarter since national level surveillance began in 2016.
      • These devastating increases in overdose deaths and harms since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic are due in part to the increasingly toxic and unpredictable illegal drug supply as supply chains have been disrupted by travel restrictions and border measures. A number of other factors have also likely contributed to a worsening of the overdose crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes increased feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety, which may lead to increased substance use, and limited availability or accessibility of services for people who use drugs, which may increase the risk that people will use drugs alone with no one there to help in the event of an overdose.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Ontario Declares Santa Claus an Essential Service – Statement
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today at George Brown College’s Waterfront Campus Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Effie Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care announced that the Ontario government is launching one of the largest recruitment and training drives in the province’s history to deliver on its commitment to improve care for seniors in long-term care homes. The province released its long-term care staffing plan that sets out actions to hire more staff, improve working conditions for existing staff, drive effective and accountable leadership, and implement retention strategies. – Media Release
      • Acting on expert recommendations, and building on the government’s 2020 Ontario budget commitment to increase hours of daily direct care to an average of four hours per day for each long-term care resident, the new staffing plan focuses on six key areas of action to be delivered over four years:
      • Investing up to $1.9 billion annually by 2024-25 to create more than 27,000 new positions for personal support workers, registered nurses and registered practical nurses in long-term care to meet the direct care commitment; in addition, providing a 20 per cent increase in direct care time administered by other health care professionals such as physiotherapists and social workers.
      • Accelerating and expanding education and training pathways in order to prepare and train the tens of thousands of new staff that will be required.
      • Supporting continued professional development and growth of long-term care staff to improve retention.
      • Improving working conditions for staff by coordinating with long-term care employers to increase full-time employment and promote innovative approaches to work and technology.
      • Driving effective and accountable leadership in homes across the province to improve oversight, guidance and medical outcomes in long-term care homes.
      • Measuring progress against key performance indicators.
      • Fixing the challenges in Ontario’s long-term care system will require partnerships between professional associations, labour unions, regulatory bodies, long-term care homes, and education and training providers to recruit and educate tens of thousands of new staff over the next four years. The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development currently facilitates partnerships and training opportunities, including opportunities in the health and long-term care sectors, through initiatives, such as the SkillsAdvance Ontario, the Ontario Bridge Training Program, and the Second Career program.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the call from the Ontario Hospital Association for a mass lockdown. The Premier, “I appreciate their input.” He said he speaks to hospital CAOs everyday and the situation is very concerning. “Right now everything is on the table.”
      • If there are going to be further lockdowns are you considering additional financial supports? The Premier said that they have been in discussions with the Federal government regarding EI benefits and he said that he is also concerned about small businesses. He said there would be “additional forms of assistance” for them.
      • Are you considering a curfew? No a curfew is not being considered. He said the concern is people who continue to socialize with friends and family. “Everything is on the table.” He said the greatest growth of cases is in the GTHA, “I’ll throw Hamilton in there too, with the exception of Halton. We have to bend this trend.”
      • Are you considering a Province wide lockdown and extending the school break? And when will you let people know? “Everything is on the table. We can’t keep going on like this.” He said that there were many issues to consider before any decisions could be made including – how long the measures would be in place (2 weeks, 3 weeks or 28 days), are hotels available for people who need to isolate away from their families, the impact on schools and children, supports for small business, and options for hospitals (do temporary hospitals need to be put in place.) “You can’t rush out there and make a snap decision.”

Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020:

  • City of Burlington will receive $2.2M in Transit Funding under the Ontario Safe Restart Program
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Introducing a simplified process for claiming the home office expenses for Canadians working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemicMedia Release, Backgrounder
      • This year has been filled with unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Canadians unexpectedly had to work from home which resulted in millions of Canadians setting up their work space in their kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms.
      • In response, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, provided today additional details on how the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has made the home office expenses deduction available to more Canadians, and simplified the way employees can claim these expenses on their personal income tax return for the 2020 tax year. Employees with larger claims for home office expenses can still choose to use the existing detailed method to calculate their home office expenses deduction.
      • Employees who worked from home more than 50% of the time over a period of a least four consecutive weeks in 2020 due to COVID-19 will now be eligible to claim the home office expenses deduction for 2020. The use of a shorter qualifying period will ensure that more employees can claim the deduction than would otherwise have been possible under longstanding practice.
      • A new temporary flat rate method will allow eligible employees to claim a deduction of $2 for each day they worked at home in that period, plus any other days they worked from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 up to a maximum of $400. Under this new method, employees will not have to get Form T2200 or Form T2200S completed and signed by their employer.
      • To simplify the process for employees choosing the detailed method, the CRA launched today simplified forms (Form T2200S and Form T777S) and a calculator designed specifically to assist with the calculation of eligible home office expenses.
    • Consultation on the simplification of Form T2200, Declaration of Conditions of Employment, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic –  Backgrounder
    • Employer-provided benefits and allowances: CRA and COVID-19Backgrounder

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020:

  • Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force Updatesbit.ly/COVIDVaccineUpdates
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier and General Hillier spoke about the launch of the vaccination program in Ontario yesterday. They both thanked the “thousands” of people involved in making this happen.
      • General Hillier called yesterday an emotional day. In 2-3 weeks he expects to have 90,000 more Pfizer vaccines in Ontario which will be distributed to 19 (includes Toronto and Ottawa sites) sites throughout the province
    • Question Period:
      • Where will the Moderna vaccine go first? General Hillier said that it will go to long term care homes in lockdown and hot spot regions. He said it may also go to retirement homes in those areas. Both residents and staff will be vaccinated.
      • When we begin to receive the vaccine in bulk what is the maximum number of people that will be vaccinated in one day? General Hillier, said it would be thousands/day. He expects that by the first quarter of 2021, 1.2 million Ontarians could be vaccinated. “We can vaccinate people faster than we can get the vaccines”
      • With the numbers going up in the lockdown areas, do you think the lockdowns are really working? Premier, “what would have happened if we didn’t do anything? We can’t let our guard down.” Minister Elliott, “had we not done anything we could see case counts of 6,500 cases/day.” She said that today’s numbers were disturbing, “we know that people in some area are not following the public health guideline and are continuing to gather with outside of their households.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on Limeridge Mall in Hamilton extending its hours to accommodate shoppers from lockdown regions. Minister Elliott was aware of this and encouraged people NOT to travel to lower zones. She reminded people that we should be celebrating the holidays only with people from our households. “We will be able to resume holiday events this time next year.”
      • Should teachers be prioritized to receive the vaccine? The Premier said he is receiving calls from many groups about being moved to the top of the list for vaccinations. Minister Elliott said the vaccine task force will make recommendations to cabinet on who should be prioritized for vaccinations.
      • Have you ruled out using the Pfizer vaccine in long term care homes? General Hillier said that the Pfizer vaccine can not be moved from where it has been currently delivered. “Moving long term care residents to vaccination sites is to risky.” Vaccinating personal support workers and other staff provides a layer of protection until the Moderna, or other vaccines that are more stable than the Pfizer vaccine are approved. When approved the Moderna vaccine, which can be moved, will be used to do vaccinations in long term care homes.

Friday, Dec. 11. 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister hosts First Ministers’ Meeting on fighting COVID-19 and strengthening health care – Media Release
      • The global COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious public health crisis Canada has ever faced. Protecting Canadians from the virus is our top priority, and beating it will take a collaborative effort.
      • And now, throughout this crisis, the government continues to work with provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous communities to support Canadians and keep them safe and healthy. The government has provided more than eight out of every 10 dollars spent in Canada to fight COVID-19 and support Canadians, and made over $24 billion in direct support available to provinces and territories.
      • We have helped to scale up testing and tracing, secured the most extensive and diverse vaccine portfolio of any country in the world, and procured personal protective equipment to help our essential workers and protect the most vulnerable. And we will continue to work with our partners to do whatever it takes – for as long as it takes – until we get through this pandemic.
      • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the Government of Canada will cover 100 per cent of the cost of procuring vaccines for all Canadians, and the supplies needed to administer them. As safe and effective vaccines are approved and made available, the government will work with the provinces and territories, as well as Indigenous and public health partners, to immunize Canadians through a process that is fair and well-coordinated.
      • The Prime Minister proposed the following areas in which to begin work, supported by new federal investments: improving long-term care and health care delivery for people across the country, increasing mental health services, coordinating on digital platforms and information sharing between jurisdictions, and making progress on a national, universal pharmacare program while lowering the cost of drugs. On pharmacare and high-cost drugs, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, will create a new Canadian Drug Agency, and build on the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare.
    • Prime Minister announces Canada’s strengthened climate plan to protect the environment, create jobs, and support communities Media Release,
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced Canada’s strengthened climate plan, A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy, which will help achieve our economic and environmental goals. The proposed plan, supported by an initial $15 billion in investments, will make life more affordable for Canadians, make communities more livable, and, at every turn, focus on creating jobs, growing the middle class, and supporting workers in a stronger and cleaner economy.
      • The plan’s measures will:
        1. Make the places we live and gather more affordable by cutting energy waste: We will cut pollution, make life more affordable, and create thousands of good new jobs by making it easier for Canadians to improve the energy efficiency of the places where they live and gather, including through investments in retrofits.
        2. Make clean, affordable transportation and power available in every community: We will build cleaner communities and help Canadians get around in more affordable ways, by expanding the supply of clean electricity through investments and other measures to increase renewables and next-generation clean energy and technology.
        3. Continue to ensure pollution isn’t free and households get more money back: We will give more money back to households in a way that leaves the majority of them better off, and reduce pollution, by continuing to put a rising price on pollution through to 2030.
        4. Build Canada’s clean industrial advantage: We will create economic growth, cut pollution, and ensure Canadians continue to have good-paying and long lasting jobs by helping Canadian businesses reduce emissions and make low-carbon products that the world wants to buy now and into the future.
        5. Embrace the power of nature to support healthier families and more resilient communities: We will cut pollution, clean the air we breathe, create jobs, and make our communities more resilient to extreme weather by planting two billion trees, supporting sustainable farming, and better managing, conserving, and restoring our nature.
      • In the recent Fall Economic Statement, the Government of Canada proposed to support the economy’s clean and competitive transition by providing grants to help Canadians make their homes greener and more energy-efficient. It will provide additional funds for the installation of new charging and refueling stations for zero-emission vehicles, and more support for large-scale clean power transmission projects.
      • The government also proposed in the Fall Economic Statement to invest in nature-based climate solutions, including to restore degraded ecosystems, protect wildlife, and establish a new Natural Climate Solutions for Agriculture Fund.
      • While some of the proposed measures in this plan will take effect almost immediately, others will require work and collaboration with provinces and territories and through nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, and government-to-government relationships, as well as with many economic sectors, to ensure a strong, workable plan that we can deliver together.
    • Other Federal Announcements:
      • Government of Canada Announces pan-Canadian Vaccine Injury Support Program – Media Release
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force outlined the three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as they are received. Phase One will begin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. – Media Release
      • As part of Phase One, Ontario will be participating in a COVID-19 vaccine readiness pilot in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer-BioNTech. Two pilot sites at University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to health care workers who are providing care in hospitals and long-term care homes.
      • This pilot will help inform the province’s preparedness plan to receive larger vaccine quantities as it moves forward in Phase One, providing the opportunity to test the logistics of delivery, reconstitution of the vaccine, clinic management, and post-vaccine surveillance. The pilot also affords the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those being immunized so lessons learned can be shared with sites that will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.
      • The two locations were selected for the pilot because this will test the travel logistics in two different regions of the province. In addition, these sites already have the equipment necessary to safely store the Pfizer vaccine at -70 degrees and the trained staff to handle the vaccine. Since this vaccine cannot be transferred beyond the initial delivery location at this time, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers in high-risk areas such as long-term care and critical care units in the Toronto and Ottawa regions.
      • Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:
        1. Based on per capita allocations, an expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
        2. Deliveries of an expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, will enable vaccinations to be expanded to long-term care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.
        3. In early 2021, expansion of additional hospital sites providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
        4. It is anticipated that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
        5. An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and remote Indigenous communities.
      • When an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021. During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit individuals.
      • Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.
      • The province’s decision to identify key populations to receive the vaccine first is based on the advice of medical experts and ethicists, recommended by the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommendations.
    • Questions:
      • What security concerns and risks were considered with each site that will be completing the first round of vaccinations? General Hillier said that a complete security check “from stem to stern” was conducted at each hospital to ensure the appropriate security measures were in place. The two hospitals that are being used are use to handling controlled substances. He said that they have not identified any specific threats for this vaccine compared to any other controlled substance. He did say they had also considered cyber security threats. The Solicitor General referred to the vaccine as “liquid gold.”
      • Do you have any concerns that the US may prevent the vaccine from coming into Canada? General Hillier, “we can’t control what happens there.” He said that Pfizer was responsible for getting the vaccine into Canada. Vaccinations will begin on Tuesday which he referred to as “V day.”
      • The Premier was asked for his reaction to the Prime Minister’s announcement on the increase to the carbon tax. Premier, “ I can’t understand how anyone would want to put a burden on the backs of the hardworking people of this province.” He said that he “was all for protecting the environment.”  “I was floored when I heard this.” He said that it would make the Province uncompetitive and that his hands were now tied when it comes to bringing and keeping businesses in Ontario. “I’ve never, never been more disappointed in an announcement.” He went on further to say, “God bless the environment… but is your health and the wellbeing of your loved ones more important than some green scam?”
      • General Hillier was asked to comment on Ontario’s phase one approach to reserving the two doses of the vaccine for people, while other provinces are maxing out their first shipments. General Hillier said that given the limited information they have on when exactly they will receive the next shipment, “we decided to err on the side of caution by only vaccinating 1,500 people in each location.”
    • Other Provincial Announcements:
    • Ontario Moving Regions to New Levels with Stronger Public Health MeasuresMedia Release
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, is moving seven public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures, including Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and York Region Public Health moving into Grey-Lockdown. These steps are being taken to stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open in the regions where in-class learning is permitted, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations. The regional levels and specific public health measures are set out in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.
      • Based on the latest data, the following public health regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:
        1. Grey-Lockdown: Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and York Region Public Health.
        2. Red-Control: Middlesex-London Health Unit, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
        3. Orange-Restrict: Eastern Ontario Health Unit.
        4. Yellow-Protect: Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.

Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Ontario Premier Doug Ford will no longer hold daily COVID-19 briefingsArticle
      • Ontario Premier Doug Ford will no longer hold the daily COVID-19 briefings that have been a hallmark of his government’s response to the pandemic since its beginning.
      • The change comes less than a month after Ford refused to release the confidential advice given to him by his health table, telling reporters that people can find out what he knows at “at one o’clock every single day.”
      • “I am the only elected official in the entire country that comes out here every single day, never missed a day unless it is a holiday, and takes questions and tough questions too,” Ford said on Nov. 16. “So I don’t shy away from it at all and I am going to continue coming out here every day informing the people of Ontario.”
      • The end of the daily briefings coincides with the legislature adjourning for a two-month winter break. It will not sit again until Feb. 16.
      • Ford’s office has not provided a specific reason for the end of the daily briefings but has said that the premier will continue to be available when there is important news to share.
    • COVID-19 pandemic to cost municipalities $6.8 billion over two yearsMedia Release, Full Report
      • Today, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released a report that provides an overview of municipal budgets, estimates the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on municipalities, and assesses the adequacy of federal-provincial financial support.
      • The COVID-19 pandemic will result in significantly lower revenues and higher expenses for municipalities in 2020 and 2021. Before taking into account cost savings measures implemented by municipalities and federal-provincial financial support, the FAO projects a negative financial impact on municipalities’ budgets of $4.1 billion in 2020 and $2.7 billion in 2021, for a combined negative impact of $6.8 billion over two years. The most significant revenue losses for municipalities are from transit fees and fees from recreation, culture and other services. On the expense side, municipal spending will increase largely for temporary housing and homeless shelters, public health, and social and family services (including long-term care facilities).
      • In response to the pandemic, municipalities implemented cost savings measures in 2020 and the Province announced up to $4.0 billion in financial support to municipalities, which included federal government support through the Safe Restart Agreement. For 2020, the FAO estimates that savings of $1.1 billion from municipal cost savings measures and a projected $3.0 billion transfer in financial support from the Province will allow municipalities to completely mitigate the $4.1 billion financial impact from COVID-19 in 2020.
      • Looking forward, without additional support from the Province or federal government, municipalities may be required to implement additional mitigation measures in 2021 to either increase revenue or reduce spending, utilize reserve funds set aside for budget stabilization (estimated to be a combined $1.8 billion by 2021), or, if possible, run reduced budget balances.
      • Municipalities within the Greater Toronto Area will experience the largest relative financial impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, with a loss equivalent to 7.5 per cent of revenue over two years, or $4.6 billion.
    • Other Provincial announcements:
      • Ontario Extends COVID-19 Orders – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending all orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) until January 20, 2021. This extension will support the safe delivery of health care and other critical services until COVID-19 vaccines are approved and widely available.
        2. Ontario continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by taking the actions needed to support and keep Ontarians safe. Effective December 7, 2020, under the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, the government, in consultation with health officials, amended O.Reg. 363/20 (Stages of Reopening) to move three public health units to new levels. This action imposes stricter public health measures in an effort to reduce transmission in these regions and avoid broader closures.
        3. The government also made amendments to O. Reg 82/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage 1) under the ROA, which applies to public health unit regions in the Stage 1 lockdown. These amendments, which came into force December 4, 2020, permit indoor farmer’s markets that primarily sell groceries, to be open.
        4. The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website.
      • Ontario Expands Funding for Supportive HousingMedia Release
      • Ontario Increasing Supports for Young Victims and Survivors of Human TraffickingMedia Release, Backgrounder
      • Ontario Permanently Allowing Alcohol with Food Takeout and Delivery Media Release
      • Governments Helping Ontario Agri-Food Businesses Increase Online SalesMedia Release

Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, December 8, 2020 – Statement
      • There have been 423,054 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 12,777 deaths. Nationally, there are over 71,540 active cases across the country. Over the past week, labs across Canada have tested an average of over 80,000 people daily, with 8.0% testing positive.
      • Yesterday, 6,499 cases were reported nationally. In addition, there were over 1,370 new cases reported for Saturday and Sunday. This brings the average daily case count to over 6,415 cases for the past week. The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Over the past 7 days, there were on average over 2,680 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including about 530 in critical care and an average of over 92 deaths were reported each day.
      • Pending regulatory approval assuring quality, safety and effectiveness, Pfizer is set to provide us with up to 249,000 early doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in December. But it is important to stress that, as welcome as this news is, it does not mean that control of COVID-19 will be quick. Initial supplies of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited, but supply will gradually increase until there is enough to provide access for all Canadians. During these initial stages of vaccine rollout, it is crucial that we all continue with public health measures to protect ourselves and others.

Monday, Dec. 7, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Canada to receive early delivery of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccineMedia Release
      • The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced today that following successful negotiations, Canada will receive up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020, contingent on Health Canada authorization of the vaccine.
      • These doses are part of the up to 76 million doses Canada has secured through its existing agreement with Pfizer. As with all COVID-19 vaccine candidates, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be authorized by Health Canada before being administered to Canadians.
      • Pfizer, the Public Health Agency of Canada with the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Provinces and Territories are working together to finalize preparations at the first point-of-use sites this week, including training on how to handle the product, which must be transported and stored at -70 degrees Celsius.
      • Important logistical tests are planned, beginning with a dry run with Pfizer this week, led by the National Operations Centre. This dry run will be used to confirm the ordering, shipping and importation processes from the point of manufacture to the point of use across Canada. In this initial dry run with Pfizer, a shipping container with dry ice and a data-logger will simulate a shipment of the vaccine.
      • The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with all levels of industry, government and health agencies to have 14 locations across Canada ready to receive the Pfizer vaccines in December 2020.
      • Up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in a series of shipments, not all at once.
      • The Government of Canada has purchased 126 freezers to store COVID-19 vaccines, including 26 freezers to store ultra-low temperature vaccines such as the Pfizer vaccine. To date, 9 ultra-low temperature freezers have been delivered.
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on December 7, 2020 – Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 415,182 cases of COVID-19, including 12,665 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • At this time, there are 73,379 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 6,168 new cases (Nov 27-Dec 3) and 74,596 people tested daily, with 7.4% testing positive (Nov 22-28).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,490 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Nov 27-Dec 3), including 489 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 87 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force provided details on the government’s plans to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are received, beginning with vaccinating vulnerable populations and those who care for them. – Media Release
      • As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups. The government’s approach is informed by science and prioritizes population groups that are at greatest risks of COVID-19.
      • Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:
        1. Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
        2. Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
        3. Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
        4. Adult recipients of chronic home health care.
      • Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones. The immunization program will focus on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in those regions.
      • At first, COVID-19 vaccines are expected to only be available for non-pregnant adults over the age of 18 years old based on early clinical trials. As further information becomes available from clinical trials and from Health Canada approvals, the groups for which the vaccines are authorized for use could change.
      • Ontario’s approach is based on evidence available, the guidance of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, as well as recommendations from the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. Members, including ex-officio members, of the task force include experts in public health and immunization, health and clinical domains, ethics, behavioural science, operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, and information technology and data.
      • As further information is made available about the various type of vaccines and availability of doses, additional details related to the implementation of the COVID-19 immunization program will be provided based on the latest medical advice and scientific evidence.
      • General Hillier outlined a three phase approach to the roll out:
        1. Phase 1 – will go to the most vulnerable including those in long-term care homes in hot zones and health care workers. This would last 2-3 months. He asked for people’s patience as there may not be enough vaccine available for everyone who qualifies in phase 1 to be vaccinated.
        2. Phase 2 – will begin in April and will take to 6-9 months.
        3. Phase 3 – will look like other vaccination programs that are in place such as the flu vaccination program.
    • Question Period:
      • Will you mandate that everyone gets vaccinated? Premier, “constitutionally I don’t think we can mandate that people get vaccinated. I highly recommend that people get vaccinated.” Minister Elliott also encouraged people that can get vaccinated to be vaccinated. She also said that there may be some restrictions, for example when travelling that may require people to have a COVID vaccination in order to travel.
      • Do we currently have the capacity to store the vaccine? General Hillier said that we do. He said the storage capacity that is required is relatively small (the vaccines won’t need a lot of room.) He also explained that the packaging that is used to ship the vaccine is a temporary freezer, which the vaccines can stay in for 15-20 days. He believes that the vaccines will be distributed before they need any further storage in an ultra-low freezer.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on today’s report from the Auditor General. Premier, “I love this report. It gives me the ammunition I need to sit down with my ministers. This is the stuff I need to hold everyone accountable.” He said that every Minister and Deputy Minister “is going to get dragged into my office.”
      • General Hillier was asked to comment on the roll out of the first batch of the vaccine. He said that he expects Ontario will receive 85,000 doses of the 249,000 doses Canada is expecting to receive. He said that he would like to use the first batch to “test the system.” He said the distribution should take approximately 10 days.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on people going to their secondary residences over the holidays. The Premier asked people that would be going to a secondary residence to ensure that all their supplies and groceries are purchased before they go and that they stay at their residence while they are there. “We want to avoid transmission in these communities that have lower cases.” Minister Elliott once again asked that people celebrate Christmas with just the people they live with and not have big holiday parties.
      • Will you be going right into long term care homes to vaccinate people. General Hillier said that the stability of the Pfizer vaccine may be an issue (moving it once it arrives). Long term care residents may have to come to vaccination centres to be vaccinated. If residents aren’t able to come to the centres  because of their medical conditions personal support workers, nurses and other staff will be vaccinated, which will also protect residents.  “Until we can move the vaccine into long term care homes, we will make them as safe as we can by having staff vaccinated”

Friday, Dec. 4, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Ontario Appoints Members of the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • Today, the Ontario government announced the appointment of nine members of the new Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. The task force, chaired by General (retired) Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, will oversee the delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
      • Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, confirmed the following individuals will join General Hillier to advise on the planning and execution of the province’s COVID-19 immunization program:
        1. Dr. Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s Chief Coroner and Coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response
        2. Dr. Homer Tien, trauma surgeon and President and CEO, Ornge
        3. Dr. Maxwell Smith, bioethicist and assistant professor, Western University
        4. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases consultant and internist, Toronto General Hospital
        5. Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation
        6. Dr. Regis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy and Integrated Pain Services, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
        7. Linda Hasenfratz, CEO, Linamar Corporation
        8. Angela Mondou, President and CEO, TECHNATION
        9. Mark Saunders, former Toronto Police Chief
      • The task force will work in partnership with several ministries to provide the government with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, health and clinical domains, behavioural science, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data.
      • Beginning immediately, the task force will focus on several key areas, specifically delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach. This morning, General Hillier led a successful tabletop exercise on the distribution of the first 100,000 doses. The task force will hold its inaugural meeting at 1 p.m. today to discuss priority populations for receiving the vaccine. Premier Ford will participate in this meeting and, as such, will not hold a press conference this afternoon.

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that the government is investing more than $115 million to support 850 patients across the province with high, complex care needs access services in the comfort of their own homes, while also expanding virtual care options for patients across the province. This funding is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which will enable the province to respond to future surges and waves of the virus, while preserving hospital capacity. – Media Release
      • The new High Intensity Supports at Home program helps patients with high care needs transition from a hospital back to their home or community setting with the right supports, also known as alternate level of care patients. This program provides integrated, team-based care where multiple types of services are wrapped around the patient. This can include up to 11 hours a day of personal support services and nursing services per patient. Other community services may include Meals on Wheels, homemaking and transportation to medical appointments.
      • With this investment, the province will add more capacity in hospitals, provide approximately 484,000 nursing and therapy visits, and approximately 1.4 million personal support worker hours.
      • As part of Ontario’s continued response to the COVID-19 outbreak and in alignment with the Digital First for Health Strategy, Ontario is investing $14.5 million to support the expansion of virtual care for Ontario Health Teams and frontline home and community care service providers. Ontario has seen a significant increase in the number of visits provided virtually across Ontario. This investment will equip health care providers with the support needed to sustain current capacity and improve the quality of care delivered virtually. Virtual care in home and community care settings will also benefit rural and remote area regions where access to care is more challenging.
      • An investment of $9.5 million will go towards remote patient monitoring programs delivered by various health care organizations, including Ontario Health Team member organizations like hospitals. This will support the delivery of remote patient care, monitoring and symptom management at home to support COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable populations. The implementation of these remote patient monitoring programs will allow patients to connect virtually with a health care provider for routine checkups, symptom monitoring, referral to other providers, and escalation where necessary to a virtual or in-person medical assessment.
      • As part of this funding, $5 million will be invested in virtual home and community care capacity by providing funding directly to frontline home and community care service providers. This investment will help purchase technologies for video conferencing, remote monitoring and secure messaging that will enable care to continue to be delivered at home, minimizing face-to-face visits where appropriate, and keeping clients and families out of the hospital.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions today regarding the letter from major retailers urging the Premier to lift restrictions on non-essential retailers and allow them to open with a limited capacity. Premier, “I understand that they want things to open up, but I have to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. Health trumps my personal beliefs. Do we try and push them sometimes, yeah we do.” Minister Elliott, said that making these decisions to put regions into lockdown is not easy and have to be based on the health aspects. She said that York University released a study today that demonstrated the positive impacts lockdowns have on reducing community spread.
      • It has been suggested that after the vulnerable and front line health care workers, people who work in essential services like grocery stores or driving taxis should receive the vaccine next. What are your thoughts? The Premier said he would not disagree with that, but it is up to the task force. Minister Elliott, “we are considering those issues.” There is a bioethicist on the team that will help ensure that the decisions on who gets the vaccine when are made fairly and equitably.
      • Why can’t big box retailers be told to cordon off non-essential items? The Premier explained that the health table is trying to limit the number of stops people make when they are out, therefore limiting the number of contacts people have with others. “I know it’s not fair but, if you go to a big box retailer you make just one stop.” Minister Elliott, “we don’t want people to have numerous contacts by going from shop to shop.” She asked people to only buy essentials when they are at the big box stores and to order online from small local retailers and do curbside pickup.
      • How many regions are tracking up towards control or lockdown? Minister Elliott said they are having discussions about that now. After the Tuesday numbers come in Dr. Williams has discussions with the regional Chief Medical Officers of Health. Decisions won’t be made until he has those discussions and after the Thursday numbers are in.

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, spoke about the Provincial government collaborating with leaders and experts in a wide variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, health care and logistics, to develop a plan for the safe and efficient distribution of COVID-19 vaccines when they become available. Partnerships across these sectors are critical as Ontario prepares to handle one of the largest vaccine rollouts in its history. – Media Release
      • Minister Elliott, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, toured McKesson, a pharmaceutical distribution company. McKesson’s warehouse in Brampton is the type of facility that could be instrumental in the storage and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine.
      • Ontario will be leveraging the expertise and resources from both the public and private sectors, who already play an important role in supporting the storage, distribution, transportation, administration, tracking and monitoring of pharmaceuticals, including vaccines, in the province. These partnerships will be essential in supporting the province’s large-scale logistical efforts for Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination program led by General Hillier. Distribution channels will depend on the details provided by the federal government about the requirements for specific vaccines, such as ultra-cold storage, timing of delivery, and priority populations for vaccination.
      • The planning and implementation of the immunization program will build on lessons learned from personal protective equipment logistics, including timely distribution of vaccines and ongoing communication and engagement with stakeholders to make sure all Ontarians are able to be immunized as doses become available. It will also benefit from the province’s previous experience and massive organization in the rapid opening of COVID-19 assessment centres.
    • Question Period:
      • Can you provide details on who will get the vaccine first? Minister Elliott said they are working on that now. “A bioethicist will help with the decision making.” She did say that the “most vulnerable” and front line health care workers would be at the top the of list.
      • When the members of the vaccine distribution task force be made public and can you share more details about the roll out? Minister Elliott said they would be sharing the names of those on the task force “in the next very short while.” Distribution will be determined by who is vaccinated first. She also said that the different vaccines have different storage requirements. General Hillier, also said that he believes that the most vulnerable should be first on the list to receive the vaccine followed by front line health care workers. He said that they will be ready by December 31. “The bulk of our work will be done in the next two weeks. After visiting the McKesson facility today, I don’t worry about the distribution.” He said once the plan is complete, they will “exercise the plan” in preparation for roll out December 31.
      • The Prime Minister said that we may get our first shipments of the vaccine in the first quarter of 2021. How does that impact your plan? Minister Elliott, “clarification from the Federal government is critical. We are working closely with Minister Hajdu.” General Hillier, “ we don’t control when the vaccine gets to us.” Other nations are going to be administering the vaccine before us including the US. He referred to this an “incredible opportunity to learn from their experiences.” He went on to say that “we know the men and women of Ontario are tired.” This isn’t the first time Canadians have had to face challenges and stand tall. “We can do it again.” Others have fought in battles, “we can sit on our couches and get through this.”
      • What percentage of Ontarians need to get vaccinated in order for us to get back to normal? Minister Elliott said that it was difficult to answer that question as currently there is no vaccine suitable for people under 18. We also don’t know how the vaccine will affect those with comorbidities (presence of one or more additional conditions often co-occurring with a primary condition).
      • Will the vaccine be mandatory? Minister Elliott, “no. The Premier has made it clear that he does not want to make it mandatory.”
      • What will the protocols be once people are vaccinated? Can households that have been vaccinated safely visit with other households that have been vaccinated? Minister Elliott indicated that they are still working on the protocols as well as “what will be presented as evidence” that someone has been vaccinated.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Supports Local Manufacturers Producing Masks for Adults and ChildrenMedia Release
        1. The Ontario government is investing $550,000 to help local manufacturers retool their operations and increase capacity in the manufacturing of masks for both adults and children. These initiatives will help keep the province safe by making Ontario self-sufficient in the production of critical PPE. Funding is being provided through the Ontario Together Fund.
        2. The two companies receiving support are:
          1. Viva Healthcare Packaging — Ontario is investing $450,000 in Viva Healthcare Packaging to retool its operations and begin making 3-ply, disposable surgical masks in both regular and children’s sizes at its Toronto facility. Production will start at 7.5 million masks per month and ramp up to 22.5 million masks per month by March 31, 2021.
          2. Ckdpack Packaging — Ontario is investing $100,000 in Ckdpack Packaging to purchase cutting, fabric welding and sewing equipment at its Straffordville facility in southwestern Ontario to automate and expand its current production of surgical masks and disposable gowns. With Ontario’s support, the company will significantly increase its capacity to make 300,000 certified surgical masks per month, which is a 900 per cent increase from its current production.
        3. Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is continuing to deliver targeted investments that will increase the province’s stockpile of made-in-Ontario products and PPE. This increased manufacturing capacity will help the province to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak and prepare for potential challenges in the future.

Monday, Nov. 30, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, at the Civic Centre Resource Library in Vaughan announced that the Ontario government is providing financial relief for families facing new education-related expenses in the COVID-19 era with support totaling $380 million. Starting today, parents or guardians residing in Ontario can complete a simple online application through the Support for Learners web page. Applications will remain open until January 15, 2021. – Media Release
      • The new Support for Learners program will provide direct one-time payments to help offset additional learning costs, whether their children attend school in person, online or a mix of both. Funds can assist with additional education expenses during COVID-19, such as workbooks, school supplies, technology and developmental resources. The funding also assists with additional childcare costs, whether the child is in child care or at home. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.
      • Parents or guardians residing in Ontario can complete one application per child to receive a one-time payment of:
        1. $200 for each child aged 0 to 12; or
        2. $250 if their child or youth is aged 0 to 21 with special needs
        3. The deadline to apply is January 15, 2021.
      • You are eligible if your child:
        1. attends a publicly funded school
        2. attends a private school
        3. attends a First Nation operated or federally operated school
        4. attends school in-person or online
        5. is homeschooled
        6. is enrolled in child care
        7. is at home
      • The government is committed to expanding support for those who need it most. Support for Learners is available to parents if their child is attending a publicly funded, private, First Nation operated or federally operated school (either in-person or online), is homeschooled, is enrolled in child care, or is at home.
    • Question Period:
      • With the alleged fraud that has taken place do you have any concerns with the integrity of this program? The Premier said that they have put stronger security measures in place i.e. spot audits, additional qualification rules and bank validations.
      • November has been the deadliest month, with half the deaths coming from long term care homes. What do you say to the families who lost loved ones? Premier, “my heart breaks. This weighs on you.” The Health Table is looking a further measures that can be implemented in long term care homes, “we need to lock it down tighter than we have.”
      • Where are you now with your comfort on vaccines? Premier, “no. I need to get answers from the federal government.” He has a call this afternoon with Pfizer to ask “when we can expect our fair share. We can’t find out at the last minute.” He said that no having a delivery date  is “unacceptable”

Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020:

  • STATEMENT: Burlington Mayor Asks Residents to Stay in their Regions During Lockdown, Support Local Businesses Through Online Shopping & Curbside Pickup
  • ‘Tis the Season in Burlington with Santa’s Holiday Magic Trail and Story Time
  • Tim Hortons Free Holiday Skating Returns to Burlington; Household Rentals to Become Available
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health provided details regarding how to celebrate the holidays. the Ontario government, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and input from the Public Health Measures Table, is providing preliminary guidance on how to safely celebrate this year and protect your loved ones. – Media Release
      • No matter where you live in the province, the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household as a safe way to spend the holidays.
      • While public health measures to keep Ontarians safe may be different in communities across the province, the following is some general advice to consider when planning your holiday season (full list in the release – click hyperlink).
      • While the above is recommended advice from public health officials, please remember you must adhere to public health and workplace safety measures and rules in your region.
      • A new holiday web page will be launched shortly to provide more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe holiday season.
      • Ontarians are advised to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in their community, and check with their public health unit for any additional information or restrictions. Advice may also vary by the level a public health unit is in, which can change depending on public health trends in the region as the holiday season approaches.
      • Social Gathering Limits by Level under the Regulations
        1. In all levels, people are required to comply with public health guidance on physical distancing;
        2. Indoor and outdoor limits cannot be combined to increase the applicable limit;
        3. The specified limits apply to gatherings even if in a private dwelling, including houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences;
        4. The limits do not apply to a gathering of members of a single household.
      • Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect and Orange-Restrict: The limit for indoor social gatherings is 10 people. The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 25 people.
      • Red-Control: The limit for indoor social gatherings is five people. The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 25 people.
      • Lockdown (Stage 1): Indoor social gatherings are not permitted, except for a gathering of members of a single household, or a gathering that includes members of a household and one other person from outside that household who lives alone. The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 10 people.
      • Before taking questions the Premier made a number of comments about the Auditor General’s report. “I have serious, serious problems with this report. To say Dr. Williams wasn’t leading the response – it just isn’t right. It’s actually wrong. The report undermines the province’s health team and I won’t stand for it.”
    • Question Period:
      • After the actions of the owner of Adamson’s restaurant and protests that are being planned it seems like you are losing people’s support. Why should people trust you? Premier, “we are leading North America with lowest number of cases per 100,000. I get it people are frustrated. I was nice to the guy yesterday, but buddy you need to shut down. It’s absolutely irresponsible.” Regarding opening businesses, “I am not going to bend. I am not going to start reopening businesses.”
      • There were several questions regarding the Auditor General’s report. The Premier’s responses were quite heated. “The Auditor General’s role is to find value for money, it’s not to give medical or health advice. Don’t start pretending you’re a doctor or a health professional because I’ll tell you, you’re not. Stick to the numbers.” He said in the time he has been Premier he has never criticized the Auditor General, “but when you start throwing hand grenades at Dr. Williams and Minister Elliott, it is totally unacceptable.”

Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Government of Canada signs new agreement for a COVID-19 antibody therapy – Media Release
      • Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Eli Lilly for an initial order of up to 26,000 doses of their COVID-19 monoclonal antibody therapy Bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555).
      • Under the agreement, deliveries of Bamlanivimab will begin in December 2020 and be completed in February 2021. Beginning in March 2021, Canada will have the option to purchase additional allocations, based on the current medical need in Canada and the global product availability.
      • Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses. Bamlanivimab (LY-CoV555) is a monoclonal antibody designed to block the virus from attaching to and entering human cells, thus potentially preventing the virus from causing COVID-19 illness.
      • Eli Lilly co-developed this therapy with AbCellera Biologics, a Vancouver-based technology company that searches, decodes and analyzes natural immune systems to find antibodies that can be developed to prevent and treat disease. The partnership combines AbCellera’s advanced antibody therapy discovery platform with Eli Lilly’s development, manufacturing and distribution capabilities.
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, November 24, 2020Speech
      • There have been 337,555 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 11,521 deaths. Nationally, there are close to 57,000 active cases across the country. Over the past week, labs across Canada have tested an average of over 75,500 people daily, with 7.6% testing positive.
      • Yesterday 5,713 cases were reported nationally. In addition, there were over 1,300 new cases reported for Saturday and Sunday. This brings the average daily case count to over 5,050 cases for the past week.
      • Following last week’s epidemiology and modelling update, it’s clear that we need to strengthen our response. Specifically, to bring down the rapid rate of growth, we need to combine a range of public health measures with tightened prevention practices by individual Canadians. In many ways, we have more to bring to this round of the effort in terms of experience, tools and knowledge. But things are different this time; there are more regions of the country with high infection rates and it is clear that COVID-19 knows no bounds. Communities, jurisdictions and whole regions that were little, if at all, impacted in the past are now seeing community spread. Some areas are experiencing very high rates of infection for the first time. Nunavut has implemented territory-wide restrictions, some of the Atlantic provinces have seen an increase in cases, and the Prairie provinces now have some of the highest infection rates in the country and are feeling a heavy strain on their healthcare systems.
      • Although it is still too early to know the impact of strengthened public health measures implemented in areas across Canada, we do know from the experience of many other countries that to be successful a package of measures is required and it’s not one size fits all. Most importantly, we know that public participation is vital to success.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Minister Elliott Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care announced that the Ontario government has deployed new COVID-19 rapid tests to provide faster results in regions of high transmission and rural and remote areas. As an additional tool to help keep essential workers safe, rapid tests will also be used to screen staff in long-term care homes and select workplaces. These new tests will provide Ontarians with more access to innovative testing options and will help to quickly identify and manage outbreaks to stop the spread of COVID-19. – Media Release
      • Ontario has received approximately 98,000 ID NOW tests that are initially being used in hospitals and assessment centres in rural and remote communities, as well as to test people as part of early outbreak investigations in hotspot regions where there are high concentrations of COVID-19 cases. Two hospitals are using ID NOW, with 20 additional hospitals preparing to launch rapid testing. Hospitals will be able to test people, such as staff and patients, who are either symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
      • ID NOW tests continue to be distributed in Simcoe Muskoka, Southwestern Ontario and Eastern Ontario, and the program will be expanded to other areas of the province beginning in December. Continued rollout of this test is planned for in Toronto and Peel and work is underway with Ontario Health and local public health units to support rapid testing deployment across the province. Ontario also continues to work closely with Toronto Public Health and Peel Regional Health Unit to bring rapid testing into the regions’ outbreak response, using rapid testing to help with early identification and investigation of outbreaks.
      • The province has also received 1.2 million Panbio rapid antigen tests that will support a screening program for long-term care homes and other workplaces. To date, Panbio tests have been deployed to six long-term care operators for potential deployment in over 30 long-term care homes, 27 retirement homes, eight hospitals, and 11 industry partners such as Ontario Power Generation, Air Canada and Magna, with plans to expand further across province. Ontario is expecting to receive up to 1.5 million more Panbio tests by the end of December.
      • Panbio tests will also be used in a broader eight-week pilot for participating employers in the private, public and non-profit sectors, prioritizing access for health care settings, essential frontline settings, and congregate settings.
      • The ID NOW test uses molecular testing with a nasal, nasopharyngeal or throat swab. Molecular testing detects genetic material of COVID-19 to diagnose people with symptoms.
      • The Panbio test uses antigen testing with a nasopharyngeal swab only. Antigen testing detects specific proteins from the virus to screen and identify people who need further testing.
    • Question Period:
      • With 1 in 3 schools in Toronto having active cases of COVID have you been down playing the issue in schools? Premier, “no. I never down play what’s happening.” He spoke about his transparency with the public. “We need to focus on the education system.” He spoke about the rapid tests and what a “game changer” they will be. Minister Elliott, said that the decisions about lockdowns were based on data and the importance of keeping essential services open and keeping children in schools. “We want to make sure children will be safe in school. It is important to both their physical and mental health.” She said they have a very “rigorous plan in place” for schools.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the situation at Adamson BBQ (a restaurant in Etobicoke that opened for inside dining in spite of the lockdown rules). Are you angry that by-law officers aren’t ticketing people? Premier, “I can’t get angry at a business person. They’re hurting right now and are struggling to stay afloat. But they have to follow the rules. The quicker we get things under control the sooner we can reopen.” He urged people to “please follow the rules.”
      • In response to comment from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business the Premier was asked, will you stand by the rules that you have put in place for the lockdown for the full 28 days? The Premier again said the situation isn’t fair. “This is what the health table put in front of us. You can’t shut down every other aisle (in Walmart) – it’s just not feasible. I will always follow the health advice. I’m doing everything I can to support businesses. This is what frustrates me the most watching small business suffer. I hear you. I want to get through this as quickly as possible.”
      • You referred to people who held private parties as those who’s “cheese has slide off the cracker” why the change in tone regarding Adamson’s BBQ, who was publicly defiant of the new rules? Premier said he did not condone the behavior, “I just want the guy to shut down.” He said that he differentiates between a person renting a storage locker for a party and a business owner “holding on by his fingernails. My heart breaks.”

Monday, Nov. 23, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on November 23, 2020 Statement
      • At this time, there are 54,999 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,739 new cases (Nov 13-19) and over 58,400 people daily, with 6.6% testing positive (Nov 8-14).
      • Provincial and territorial data, indicate that an average of 1,840 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Nov 13-19), including 376 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 71 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily. This situation is putting pressure on local healthcare resources and forcing hospitals to make the difficult decision to cancel elective surgeries and procedures in several areas of the country.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier, Minister Elliott and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced the creation of the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, building on the steps the government has been taking to prepare for the delivery of a vaccine. The task force will advise the province’s development and implementation of an immunization program, including the ethical, timely and effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Ontario. – Media Release
      • Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces and Commander of the NATO-led forces during the War in Afghanistan, has been named Chair of this new task force, leading the largest vaccine rollout in a generation. His extensive leadership experience in providing governance, strategic and public policy advice, and leading multiple national and international endeavours will help lead Ontario in the successful implementation of the COVID-19 immunization program.
      • The COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force members will include cross-government and external representation with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial relations, health and clinical domains, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data. The task force will provide advice and recommendations on the timely and efficient execution of Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program. It will ensure the province can immunize people as quickly and safely as possible, as the various vaccines in development become available. The task force will advise on:
        1. Delivery, storage and distribution of the vaccines;
        2. Support for health care system partners to deliver a phased vaccination program that initially prioritizes vulnerable populations and follows with mass immunization;
        3. Clinical guidance on vaccine administration and surveillance of vaccine uptake;
        4. Data, reporting, and technology to provide timely, relevant and accurate information to clinicians conducting vaccine administration, decision-makers, and the public; and
        5. Implementation of a broad and sustained public education and community outreach effort to encourage vaccination.
      • Other members of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force will be announced in the coming days.
      • The province is planning the early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine program with vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna. Planning is already underway with federal and provincial partners to prepare for the receipt and rollout of the vaccine. Confirmed allocations of the number of doses and schedules for delivery to Ontario is expected shortly. The government will provide updates as more details are available.
    • Question Period:
      • Why is The Bay on Queen Street completely open when small businesses had to close? He said to small business owners, “we are there to support you.” Dr. Yaffe, “regardless of what’s open or not – the advice we are giving is don’t go out if you don’t need to.” (The guidelines were changed over the weekend to remove discount and department store-type retailers from the permitted list for Grey or lockdown regions)
      • Big retailers in Manitoba who sell essential and non-essential items have to cordon off the non-essential items. Why didn’t Ontario do this? Premier, “I know this is unfair, but we have put additional supports in place” for small businesses. Logistically it would be very difficult for big box retailers to block off non-essential items in their stores. He has spoken to retailers about their experience in Manitoba and it hasn’t been easy.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the motion to reappoint Dr. Williams. Premier, “I don’t believe in changing your dance partner in the middle of the dance especially when he is an incredible dancer.” He talked about the work that Dr. Williams has done to date.
      • Can you provide any further details on the roll out of the vaccine? Premier, “the easy part is to cut a cheque to get the vaccine. The hardest part is the logistics. This will be a massive undertaking and will require military precision.” Minister Elliott, “first we need to know when we will be receiving the vaccine and how much we will be getting.” She expects the first tranche will come in March. As the vaccine requires two vaccinations within 21 days she said the record keeping will be extremely important. She talked about the diversity of the people on their task force.
      • If people got private COVID testing done would this be a way they could gathering for Christmas? Premier, “it would help.” Minister Elliott, “we are recommending that if you don’t have to go out don’t. Stay within your household.” She said that people need to follow the guidelines that are in place for their region.
      • Small businesses are being forced to close during the busiest time of year. Would you consider appointment shopping or smaller numbers in stores? Dr. Yaffe, “it is very unfortunate that our public health measures are having a negative impact.” She said that there more deaths and more impact on hospitals. “The bottom line is health is the most important thing. We can’t just let the numbers keep going up without doing anything. We are trying to take a balanced approach without impacting on civil rights.” She spoke about some countries putting curfews in place.
      • Dr. Williams’ performance has been criticized, especially his communications. What do you have say about that. Premier, “I have the utmost respect for all medical professionals, but don’t criticize unless you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes.” He commented on Dr. Williams’ integrity and honesty. “He could easily walk away, but he didn’t. This is nothing to brag about, but we still have the lowest numbers for a region our size and Dr. Williams and his team played a big role in getting us there.”
      • What data are you looking at to support closing small retailers. The Premier said that last week the media was “bringing our every doctor who said we should be closing things down. This week they’re bringing out small business owners.” Dr. Yaffe, said that the data is somewhat limited. For one third of the cases they can’t identify where people contracted the virus, that means there is community spread. “We know people are getting infected when they are around other people in small spaces, that aren’t well ventilated. I’m not saying this is happening in small retailers, but it could be.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Motion Tabled to Reappoint Chief Medical Officer of Health – Statement
        1. Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued the following statement announcing that Dr. David Williams has agreed to remain Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, should the motion be passed:
        2. “I am very pleased to announce that in response to a request from government, Dr. David Williams has agreed to stay on as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.  This morning we tabled a motion to reappoint Dr. Williams. Should the motion be passed, Dr. Williams will be reappointed commencing February 16, 2021 up until September 1, 2021.

Friday, Nov. 20, 2020:

  • Ontario Extends COVID-19 OrdersMedia Release
    • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) until December 21, 2020.
    • The extension of orders under the ROA is part of Ontario’s multi-faceted response to the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 13, the government updated its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework to lower the thresholds for each level in the framework. The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures and allows for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It provides for five levels of public health measures that could be applied to public health unit regions: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort.
    • The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website.
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the PM gave what was referred to by the media as a “raw and emotional plea to Canadians”
      • “I don’t want to be here again, you don’t want me to be here again. We need to do everything we can to stop the spike.”
      • He said cases are spiking massively across the country.
      • “We are going to have to really tighten up again. We have to do this for another few weeks, another few months. We have done this before.”
      • He said that all orders of government have come together to stop the spread.
      • The best way to protect the economy is to get the virus under control. “Doing the things to protect people’s health is the best way to minimize long term damage to our economy.”
      • He reminded Canadians that the federal government will continue to be there for businesses and citizens if there are further shutdowns. “Going into lockdown and supporting businesses while in lockdown is a better way of ensuing success than trying to tough through a virus running around unchecked”
      • He spoke emotionally about the toll the pandemic has taken on front line health care workers and the health care system.
      • Canada could have up to 20,000 cases a day by December 31
      • He asked Canadians not to travel, to stay home and asked employers to make work from home arrangements, where possible for employees. He will be working from home as much as possible and will once again address Canadians from in front of his house.
      • He confirmed the border between Canada and the US will remain closed until December 21, 2020.
    • Question Period:
      • What went wrong? PM, “we are seeing spikes around the world. Lots of things are contributing to this. There are lots of things we all could have done differently. I am seeing Premiers, mayors and public health officials across the country putting tighter restrictions in place.”
      • Are you prepared to do anything about inter-provincial travel? PM, “I am telling people NOT to go out if they don’t have to and not to travel if you don’t have to. I am not contemplating invoking the Emergency Measures Act to shut down provincial borders.” He said he would not be using a “federal hammer.”
      • Are you recommending a nation-wide lockdown? “No I am not.” He said he wanted to remind Canadians that the federal government “had their backs”
      • Why did you reference a lockdown specifically?  He said the federal government is here to assist and support decisions made locally by Provinces. “There isn’t one approach that will work for all parts of the country. We will be here to support individuals and businesses.” He said his job was not to judge or criticize the decisions made by provinces.
      • Is part of the problem mixed messaging or are people just tired of all this? PM, “people are tired of this. People want this to be over.” The arrival of vaccines may have led people to think they did not have to follow the public health protocols. “We need to know the end is near, but we aren’t there yet. It was simpler in the spring when I could tell everyone to stay home but millions of Canadians suffered. It was a blunt tool. Targeted actions are better. It is unfair and frustrating – there is no question. Everyone is sick and tired of this.”
    • Update on COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling – November 20, 2020
      • National daily case counts of COVID-19 are increasing significantly. There have been 4,776 cases on average for the past 7 days.
      • Rapid growth is occurring in several provinces
      • More health regions are reporting higher rates of COVID-19 infection. 48 health regions are reporting > 50 cases per 100,000 population
      • Each new case in Canada is spreading to more than one person keeping the epidemic in a growth pattern
      • The percentage of people testing positive is increasing nationally
      • Escalating incidence among high-risk adults, aged 80 years and older
      • Number and size of outbreaks are increasing in a variety of settings
      • Hospitalizations have also increased following the increase in reported cases
      • We are seeing an increase in the number of COVI-19 related deaths following weeks of increased disease in Canada (65 deaths/day on average in the past 7 days)
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
    • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, the province is moving certain public health unit regions to new levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, which includes moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown. These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations. – Media Release
    • Based on the latest data, the government intends to move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. This action is being taken to help stop the spread of COVID-19, while prioritizing the continued opening of schools, child care centres and other key services to the fullest extent possible.
    • Measures under Lockdown include, but are not limited to:
    • Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
    • Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
    • No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
    • Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
    • Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;
    • Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
    • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
    • Personal care services closed;
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
    • Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
    • To further support public health regions, the province is making additional enforcement mechanisms available to local medical officers of health who have applied additional measures based on their local conditions and needs. The government is amending Ontario Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act, allowing for a ticket to be issued for any contravention of a COVID-19 specific communicable disease class order issued by a medical officer of health. The government will also ask the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to establish a set fine to be attached to any ticket issued for violating a section 22 order relating to COVID-19 made by a local medical officer of health.
    • Based on the latest data, the following public health unit regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:
    • Red-Control: Durham Region Health Department and Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services.
    • Orange-Restrict: Huron Perth Public Health, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, Southwestern Public Health, and Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
    • Yellow-Protect: Chatham-Kent Public Health, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Grey Bruce Health Unit, Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health, Peterborough Public Health, and Thunder Bay District Health Unit.
    • Trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level. The Ministry of Health will continue to communicate regularly with local medical officers of health on local context and conditions to help inform the classification of their public health unit region.
    • For retirement homes, homes in public health regions that are in Red-Control or higher will be in high alert with visitor restrictions as outlined in the Retirement Homes COVID-19 Visitor Policy. Homes will continue to be notified of their alert status by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority.
    • The Ontario government is now providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover. Call 1-855-216-3190 for more information.
    • In her remarks Minister Elliott made mention of a changes in the gathering size (5 indoors and 25 outdoors) for regions in the red zone, however I was not able to find this change in the release or on the website. Dr. Williams did indicate that more details will be coming along with a phone number that people can call for clarity.
    • Question Period:
    • Will the Province be providing any guidance regarding Christmas, similar to what Premier Legault has provided?  Premier, “over the next few days we will be rolling out that guidance for the holidays.”
    • Is there a travel restriction in place? Premier said this was discussed in depth. Dr. Williams, “ we are asking people in the higher areas to not go to lower coloured areas. We haven’t put travel restrictions in place, but we are asking people not to travel.”
    • Clarification was requested regarding malls. Minister Elliott, said the essential service stores in malls can be open for in store shopping. Other stores can only provide curbside pickup, which the Minister expects will take place out side in the mall parking lot. They do not want to see large crowds gathering indoors.

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020:

  • Joseph Brant Hospital COVID-19 Outbreak on Inpatient Unit
  • Apply to run an Outdoor Neighbourhood Ice Rink; Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond to Open in December
  • Letter from Burlington Mayor and Team Burlington on 2020 Provincial Budget sent to Finance Minister, Premier
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford and Minister McNaughton announced the launch of a series of education and enforcement campaigns to ensure businesses across the province are taking the necessary steps to keep employees, consumers and the public safe. These campaigns will support the current efforts of police, municipal by-law officers, and public health inspectors to educate businesses and enforce the COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Officers will be asking employers to produce their workplace safety plans. – Media Release
      • The campaigns are being carried out in strategic locations, drawing on a team of more than 200 provincial offences officers from across ministries. To date, three education and enforcement campaigns have taken place. Almost 1,000 workplaces have been visited, and the response from business owners and operators has been overwhelmingly positive. No tickets have been issued and all contraventions were resolved with compliance assistance.
      • In Peel Region, where a two-day campaign was carried out from November 6-7, 2020, 50 provincial offences officers and six by-law officers visited 330 retail establishments with a focus on supermarkets, big-box stores and shopping malls. More than 82 per cent of businesses were found to be compliant with public health requirements under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“Reopening Ontario Act”).
      • If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, they could be ticketed with a fine of $750 under the Reopening Ontario Act. Where prosecuted without issuing a ticket and on conviction, individuals could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000. Any individual convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act could also receive a term of imprisonment of up to one year. The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act is $10,000,000.
      • Certain businesses and establishments in the Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown levels are required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and make it available in writing for review. Whether workplaces are currently operating or planning to start up, employers need a plan to put controls in place to make the workplace safer for everyone. Employers can use current public health and workplace health and safety information or guidance to help develop their plan.
    • Question Period:
      • Regarding Bill 218, Burlington was preparing to do public consultation on ranked ballots. Why would you prevent cities from moving to ranked ballots? Premier, “we want standardization across the Province, We have been voting this way for 100 years. It’s very simple, first past the post. We don’t want to confuse people.”
      • He was asked to comment on the letter to the Minister of the Environment from Halton mayors regarding Bill 299, that proposes changes to the Conservation Authorities Act. The Premier said that he would consult with the Minister of the Environment and “ask him to get to Halton.”
      • Will there be any additional supports announced for business (to assist with any tough measures that may be coming)? The Premier said that there is $300 million “on the table now” from the Province together with billions from the Federal government. “We will never turn our back on them. I know there is nothing better than keeping your doors open.”
      • Can you give us a sense of the scale of closures you are looking at (for the hotspots)? The Premier said that he hasn’t received the recommendations from Dr. Williams yet. Dr. Williams, “the recommendations are with Minister Elliott and the other tables for review.” He did not comment on what he has actually recommended.
      • The Governor of New York is closing schools. Are you giving any thought to closing schools in Toronto? The Premier again said the safest place for children right now is in schools. Dr. Williams said the table that reviews education and public health is looking at the data New York used to make their decision.

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care announced the Ontario government is providing $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams across the province to provide better, connected care to patients. These teams are a new way of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as one coordinated team to improve patient outcomes. This new collaborative model is helping the province respond more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 and end hallway health care. – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals, home care providers or long-term care homes, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. As Ontario Health Teams are established, patients and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services. This includes enabling the further expansion of virtual care for patients through dedicated funding to maintain access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the addition of 13 new Ontario Health Teams, the province now has a total of 42 teams which will cover over 86 per cent of the province’s population at maturity.
      • The Ontario Health Team model has already proven how a collaborative team can support each other in times of need such as when there is a significant outbreak at a long-term care home. These teams were able to come together and respond quickly to address staffing shortages; infection, protection and control measures; and support keeping residents and staff safe during COVID-19.  These stronger partnerships between hospitals, primary care, home and community care and long-term care homes will create a connected health care system that focuses on the needs of patients and is a key recommendation by the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.
      • To further protect long-term care home residents, staff and visitors, the Ontario government is also updating testing guidance in communities with greater transmission of COVID-19. Starting next week, in long-term care homes in public health unit regions in the Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Lockdown levels under the COVID-19 Response Framework, the following changes will be made:
        1. Staff, essential caregivers and support workers who provide direct care to residents need to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and show proof of a negative test result.
        2. Support workers who do not provide direct care to residents must verbally attest to having received a negative COVID-19 test result in the past two weeks and not subsequently tested positive.
      • For long-term care homes in regions at the Green-Prevent and Yellow-Protect levels, testing will continue every two weeks for staff, volunteers, caregivers and visitors.
      • Premier Ford said the numbers in Toronto, Peel and York region are extremely troubling. “We are staring down the barrel of another lockdown.” He said new measures will be discussed at Cabinet in the coming days and announcement will be made on Friday.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced that the Ontario government is providing over $37 million to significantly expand mental health services across the justice system. The funding will be used to expand mobile crisis teams across the province, hire additional staff, and support the creation of tailored programs for First Nations communities. This is part of the government’s $176 million investment this year in the Roadmap to Wellness, Ontario’s plan to build a comprehensive and connected mental health and addictions system. It is also a key component of Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. – Media Release
      • The impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, including prolonged physical distancing, financial uncertainty, and being constantly inundated with new information about the virus, have caused many Ontarians to experience a range of mental health and addictions challenges, which has led to an increase in the demand for services and supports. As part of the $176 million investment, the province is providing mental health and justice services that will lead to better supports for individuals with mental health and addictions challenges, including help to reduce their interactions with police. This includes:
        1. Over $6.5 million for mobile crisis services.
        2. $5 million for safe bed programs to support mobile crisis teams
        3. Over $14 million for supportive housing programs designated for justice involved individuals
        4. $2 million for addictions/withdrawal specialists to support safe beds.
        5. $4 million for enhanced addictions programming within adult correctional institutions
        6. $2 million for mental health and addictions peer support for offenders under community supervision.
        7. $2.25 million for a corrections peer support program.
        8. $1.1 million for mental health and addiction supports to vulnerable and marginalized persons as part of the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Justice Centres
      • In addition, Ontario continues to build strong evidence-based research on post-traumatic stress disorder and occupational stress injury ― two common mental health challenges affecting Ontario’s frontline heroes. These findings will help identify new tools and programs to support the mental health and well-being of these brave women and men, as well as other public safety personnel.
    • Question Period:
      • Minister Lecce announced that he is looking at a possible extended Christmas shut down. How should parents prepare? The Premier said, “parents want their kids in school. Minister Lecce will have an announcement soon so they can prepare.”
      • What should parent do right now to prepare? Premier, “let’s not confirm that right now. It may not happen.”
      • The 10 person limit for indoor dining in large restaurants seems unfair. Premier, “everything about COVID is unfair. After I heard about the 6,500 projected cases we had to act.” Minister Elliott, “we have been consulting with the Chief Medical Officer and the public health table and their have been direct links between COVID spread and restaurants and bars. It is unfair, but we need to do this now so things don’t get worse.”
      • Dr. Williams yesterday said that he hopes all regions in Ontario will be in the green zone by Christmas. Shouldn’t people be planning for a smaller Christmas? The Premier said we need to be very cautious about Christmas. He hasn’t spoken to Dr. Williams but said that he is “a glass half full” person. Minister Elliott, ‘”we are very hopeful all of Ontario will be in green but it’s not something we can count on. Dr. Williams is being very optimistic, which is his nature.”
      • How long would the Christmas break be extended? Premier, “ I think parents want to keep schools open as long as we can.” He said Minister Lecce would be discussing this with Dr. Williams and they would bring a proposal to the cabinet for a decision.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Opens COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream for MunicipalitiesMedia Release
      • To build on governments’ commitment to protect the health and well-being of individuals and families during the pandemic, Ontario is now accepting applications from municipalities for local infrastructure projects under the new Local Government sub-stream of the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream to allow local governments to proceed with tendering and procurement as soon as possible.
      • On October 28, Ontario announced up to $1.05 billion in federal-provincial funding through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to build or renovate health and safety-related projects in long-term care, education and municipalities that will help Ontario respond to the impacts of COVID-19. This includes up to $250 million for the Local Government sub-stream that will help municipalities to address critical local infrastructure needs, which they can start applying for today.
      • Eligible projects include infrastructure to support physical distancing, social infrastructure, active transportation and disaster mitigation projects. Each municipality is allocated a certain amount of funding for which they can apply, with a minimum allocation of $100,000. Successful projects will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and be nominated by the Province to the federal government for approval by March 2021.
      • The application deadline is December 21, 2020, for municipalities submitting single projects and January 7, 2021, for those with multiple projects through the Transfer Payments Ontario website.

Monday, Nov. 16, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on November 16, 2020 – Statement
      • At this time, there are 49,723 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,348 new cases (Nov 6-12) and 54,668 people tested, with 5.8% testing positive (Nov 1-7). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada, including increased activity among vulnerable populations and settings (elderly adults, long-term care residents, and Indigenous communities). Although the size can vary from just a few cases to larger clusters, outbreaks are being reported in a range of settings including long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and social gatherings.
      • With colder weather, we are moving indoors. Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus. Jurisdictions continue to highlight informal social gatherings and activities as an important driver for spread. In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices, can lead to many exposures and infections. For these reasons, it is recommended that everyone wear a non-medical mask when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade announced the establishment of Supply Ontario, a new centralized procurement agency that will enable a whole-of-government approach to purchasing goods and services, saving taxpayers money. Supply Ontario will ensure that schools, hospitals, and the entire public sector always have the critical supplies and equipment they need to keep individuals and families safe, while supporting job creation and economic growth. – Media Release
      • During the height of COVID-19, the government’s experience of sourcing PPE and critical supplies and equipment (CSE) shed light on the fragmented nature of Ontario’s supply chain system. Supply Ontario will provide tangible results, including:
        1. Delivering the best value by sourcing high-quality goods at scale to serve the public interest in a financially responsible way.
        2. Stabilizing access to critical products, including PPE.
        3. Stimulating job creation and economic growth by purchasing more Ontario-made goods.
        4. Driving innovation of emerging technologies.
        5. Connecting small businesses and entrepreneurs to government and its customers by acting as a first purchaser for emerging technologies and paving pathways to the marketplace to drive innovation in Ontario.
      • By centralizing the government supply chain and streamlining complex procurement processes, small and medium sized businesses will face less administrative burden.
      • The government recently secured a contract with PRIMED Medical Products to manufacture levels 1 and 2 surgical/protective masks in Ontario through a competitive procurement process. Beginning this fall, PRIMED will produce 50 million masks annually over the next five years. This will provide health care and essential service providers across the province with a secure, local supply they can rely on. This initiative will help Ontario’s public health officials plan ahead and reduce the province’s reliance on strained global supply chains.
      • The new supply chain agency is part of Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government, which includes more than 30 projects that will change the way people and businesses interact with government. Projects in the Action Plan fall into four categories:
        1. Making government services more digitally accessible
        2. Reducing red tape and simplifying policies
        3. Improving government purchasing
        4. Creating more responsive and flexible public services
    • Question Period:
      • Are you prepared to make the advice you received from the public health table public?  While the Premier spoke about transparency, he did not  answer this question.
      • Public Health Ontario recommended thresholds four times lower that what your original guidelines included. Do you admit you were wrong? Premier, “Dr. Williams signed off on the recent changes to the guidelines. I will take responsibility for everything in the province. I will take the advice from our doctors. We will continue to be transparent.” The Premier went on to say that he is “the only politician in the country that comes out everyday and takes questions. And the questions are tough. I am going to keep coming out here every day.” Minister Elliott, “we have been transparent with the people of Ontario. We do daily briefings. Dr. Williams does briefings twice a week with no politicians. We will continue to keep the public fully informed.”
      • How much has the holiday shopping season impacted your decision on a lockdown? Premier, “health and safety is the top priority. If numbers continue to spike I won’t hesitate for a minute to shut things down.” Minister Elliott, “the health and well being of the people of Ontario is our number one priority.” She said we need to be careful that malls do not become super spreaders, so we need to limit the number of people going to malls at one time. She encouraged people to shop online.
      • Have you discussed how people should be celebrating Christmas? Premier, “be cautious. Follow the protocols.” He said that we shouldn’t be having large gatherings. Minister Elliott said that she and Dr. Williams have been in discussion about this. “We may have to do thing differently this year.” She said that she hoped to have some information to share shortly.
      • Why was Halton grouped together with regions like Peel, that are doing a lot worse? Premier said that seeing the projections of 6,500 cases per day was a “wake up call.” “Our focus is on lowering and flattening the curve. We have an opportunity to get out hands around this now with the help of the people.”

Friday, Nov. 13, 2020:

  • Halton Region Moves into Control Stage with Support of Medical Officer of Health, Mayors & Chair; What it Means for You
  • Red/Control Phase Brings Changes to City of Burlington Recreation Programs and Facilities
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM spoke about yesterday’s twenty-first call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic. – Readout
      • First Ministers discussed the recent and alarming increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, and the need for all orders of government to keep working together to keep people safe and to protect jobs. Premiers provided updates on the situations in their jurisdictions.
      • Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that responding to the pandemic remains the Government of Canada’s top priority.
      • He said that they spoke about the additional needs they may have. He also said that the federal resources are not infinite.
      • First Ministers also discussed Canada-U.S. relations following the United States’ presidential election in early November. First Ministers were joined by Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, who participated in this discussion.
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the details of an investment of $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements (WDAs) with provinces and territories. This investment will help Canadians in underrepresented groups and those in sectors that have been hardest hit by the pandemic – such as construction, transportation, and hospitality – quickly access supports to re-enter the workforce. It could include skills training, on-the-job training, employer-sponsored training, financial assistance and benefits, employment counselling and services, and job opportunities. This funding is in addition to the $3.4 billion provided to provinces and territories in 2020-21 under the WDAs and Labour Market Development Agreements (LMDAs). – Media Release
      • Today’s announcement is part of the government’s plan to make the largest investment in Canadian history in training for workers. This will help us reach our goal of creating over one million jobs. Working with the provinces and territories, we will support Canadian workers as they build new skills in growing sectors, help them receive education and accreditation, and connect them to employers and good jobs.
      • All provinces and territories have accepted the Government of Canada’s offer of additional funding through WDAs. The $1.5 billion investment will be allocated as follows (rounded to the nearest million): Ontario: $614 million
      • Under the WDAs and LMDAs, provinces and territories have flexibility to support their individual recovery efforts from the pandemic. For example, the scope of eligible expenses under these agreements has been broadened to include costs associated with online training, new physical distancing requirements, and mental health supports.
    • Question Period:
      • You said that you told Premiers that federal resources were not infinite, what was the context of this? The PM, “we are there to support them, but there is a threshold if cases continue to surge, where we may have chose to help one region over another. We want to see the case numbers drop.”
      • Do you trust the Ontario government’s approach to COVID? PM, “we had a good conversation with all the Premiers about their efforts. We are seeing a troubling surge across the country. Dr. Tam’s projection of 10,000 cases/day in December is a wake up call for everyone. It is best if we move quickly and firmly.” He said the job of the Federal government is to continue to be there for provinces and territories and for our citizens. “Whatever it take for as long as it takes.”
      • Quebec has said that they may extend their Christmas Break for schools. Will you support parents during this time? PM, “we are here for Canadians. We will help them get through this pandemic. Quebec hasn’t made a decision yet. Our approach is to be there for Canadians. I need to reassure families that our government is there for them.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government is taking immediate action to respond to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and is updating the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, by lowering the thresholds for each level in the framework. These necessary updates will help limit the spread of COVID-19 while keeping schools open, maintaining health system capacity, protecting the province’s most vulnerable, and avoiding broader lockdowns. – Media Release
      • The framework changes are in response to the current data and trends, and will lower the threshold for each of the five levels for: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission. Based on these new thresholds, the followin public health unit regions would be moved to the following levels in the framework:
        1. Red-Control: Hamilton Public Health Services, Halton Region Public Health, Toronto Public Health, York Region Public Health
        2. Orange-Restrict: Brant County Health Unit, Durham Region Health Department, Eastern Ontario Health Unit, Niagara Region Public Health, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Region of Waterloo Public Health
      • Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.
      • Please visit Ontario.ca/COVID19 for the full list of public health region classifications that will come into effect as of Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Toronto Public Health will move into the framework on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.
      • Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.
    • Question Period:
      • Why did you wait so long? Why are you so resist to what  Premier, “the modelling I saw yesterday is not the modelling I saw 10 days ago. I can reassure that if I saw 6.500 cases ten days ago I would have made changes. I have been decisive. I have been here every day. I will continue to be decisive.
      • You keep talking about your heart breaking for the business owners what about the families of people who have died? Premier, “this weighs on me. I am one of the few politicians in the country that takes calls from people directly.” The Premier was quite emotional when responding to this question.
      • Why is Halton moving to the red Zone. Dr. Williams said that Halton would be moving to the orange zone, but with the changing thresholds they moved to the Red.

Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020:

  • Female Ontario Mayors Joint Statement: Support Women-led Businesses Key to Economic ‘She-covery’
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on November 12, 2020 – Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 277,061 cases of COVID-19, including 10,685 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. Though the cumulative number is high and continues to increase, with several regions experiencing accelerated growth, it is important to remember that the vast majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. This is why it is important for everyone to continue with individual precautions that will keep ourselves, our families and our communities safer.
      • At this time, there are 43,177 active cases across the country. The latest national-level data indicate daily averages of 4,015 new cases (Nov 4-10) and 54,668 people tested, with 5.8% testing positive (Nov 1-7). Outbreaks continue to contribute to COVID-19 spread in Canada. Although the size can vary from just a few cases to larger clusters, outbreaks are being reported in a range of settings including long-term care and assisted living facilities, schools, congregate living settings, industrial work settings and large social gatherings.
      • With colder weather, we are moving indoors. Canadians should avoid the 3Cs settings – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations – wherever possible. Larger clusters tell us that closed spaces with poor ventilation, crowded places where many people gather and close contact situations can amplify spread of the virus. Spread in informal social gatherings and activities is also occurring. In these more relaxed settings, such as family and holiday celebrations and recreational activities, letting our guard down and not consistently maintaining public health practices, can lead to many exposures and infections. For these reasons, it is recommended that everyone wear a non-medical mask or face covering when spending time indoors with people from outside of your immediate household.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today’s Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Donna Skelly, Parliamentary Assistant for Job Creation and Trade joined Mayor Fred Eisenberger in Hamilton to congratulate Heddle Shipyards on their new long-term agreement with Vancouver-based shipyard Seaspan to fabricate Ontario-made ship components under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. – Media Release
      • In the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, the government has taken significant steps to make the province more attractive to businesses and manufacturers like Heddle Shipyards. Through a plan to create growth, including lowering job-killing electricity prices, investing in the skilled trades, and providing tax relief, the government is creating an environment for future investment, job creation and a strong economic recovery.
      • Over the next decade, Heddle Shipyards will be the primary supplier for ladders, gratings and handrails for the JSS 1 (currently under construction), JSS 2, and an Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel. These components will be manufactured at their facilities in Hamilton, St. Catharines, and Thunder Bay, creating jobs across Ontario’s advanced manufacturing supply chain. These projects will generate tens of millions of dollars in economic activity in Ontario, employ at least 50 workers, and create the potential for additional opportunities, such as supplying larger ship modules in the future.
      • Seaspan and Heddle have also partnered to bid on the construction of the Polar Icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. If won, Heddle will support the construction through its modular fabrication program.
      • This announcement reinforces Hamilton’s status as a critical transportation hub sitting at the crossroads of trade and commerce for the province and the country. The City of Hamilton was recently designated as a Foreign Trade Zone by the federal government, joining Niagara and Windsor. Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) attract new investment and encourage Ontario and Canadian businesses to expand internationally by providing local businesses with access to tariff and tax exemption programs, while importing materials or goods. The FTZ designation further positions Hamilton as an international transportation hub.
      • The Premier asked bikers not to visit Port Dover tomorrow for the annual Friday the 13th gathering. He asked people to be “responsible.” He called the numbers, “alarming and concerning we have to stay on high alert.”
      • He says he knows there is COVID fatigue, but says “we need to stick together.”
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to respond to Andrea Horwath’s call for a two week shut down. Premier, “that’s her perspective. We are taking a more balanced approach. How can you measure the mental health impacts on small business owners.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the story that said he ignored advice regarding the new framework. Premier, “this is totally inaccurate and I am sorry to hear that. That’s one doctors perspective.” He said Dr. Williams approved the framework. “The easy thing to do is to shutdown the province. It’s easy for people who are guaranteed a pay cheque every week to say to shut down the province. We are taking a balanced approach.”
      • Why is there no consistency in reporting “bad actors” who do not follow public health rules? Premier, “people have to be responsible. We need everyone to follow the protocols.” He said he was really disappointed that “after being up here every day preaching that people don’t follow the protocols.” Mayor Eisenberger said that as of yesterday, upon request, council will name businesses.
      • How do you stick to this approach in light of what is happening? You don’t seem to be doing a lot. “I respectfully disagree. This framework gives us the flexibility to move quickly. It allows for transparency and we are going forward with it. But we are open to changing it, nothing is concrete during a pandemic.”
      • Regarding the PM invoking the Emergency Measures Act. “It wouldn’t go over very well at all. We don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do.” He was also not in favour of the federal government funding Public Health units directly.

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM spoke about the rising cases across the country. He said, “beating COVID is the only way to protect the economy.”
      • The federal government is here to help communities. With the record spikes across the country the PM urged “Premiers and mayors to do the right thing now.” He said that if something is missing the supports  – “reach out.”
      • “The situation is a great concern to me. Job one is keeping people safe.” He said that 3.3 million rapid test have been sent to provinces and territories and more will follow.
      • Health Canada has approved a new hand held rapid test. This test will provide results in 15 minutes.
      • The PM and the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, announced $20 million in new funding to create a temporary Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund. This will provide financial support to Veterans organizations who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are in need of immediate support. – Media Release
      • The $20 million will be provided in the form of grants to non-profit and charitable Veterans organizations, including The Royal Canadian Legion ($14 million), ANAVETS ($1 million), True Patriot Love ($1.5 million) and VETS Canada ($850,000) to cover a portion of their operating expenditures. These payments will all be made before the end of the year.
      • Additionally, an application process is now open for the remainder of this fund so that additional Veterans organizations affected by COVID-19 may access support.
    • Question Period:
      • Why did you appeal to Premiers and Mayors today? Are you concerned they loosen restrictions too quickly? PM, “we have seen a spike in cases. The Federal government is there to support businesses and Canadians. This gives local authorities the ability to act. The best thing to do to protect Canadians and our economy is to protect the health of Canadians. To make those decisions easier the Federal government is there. We are making it easier for the provinces and territories to do the right thing and shut down. We need to put the health of Canadians first to protect the economy.”
      • Are you seeing any local shortfalls? PM, “we are there to respond to local needs. We are asking provinces and municipalities if there is more we need to do to help them make the right decisions quickly.”
      • Was not invoking the Emergency Measures Act the right thing to do? PM, “we have worked extremely well with the provinces and territories right from the beginning. We are seeing a big spike in cases as winter is approaching and we will be moving to spending more time indoors.” He said that acting quickly, and shutting down early is better than delaying and waiting for COVID to go away on it’s own. He spoke about targeted shutdowns and putting limits in where necessary. “We need to act quickly to prevent challenges further down the line. As a federal government we are here to support Canadians.”
      • What are you seeing that is worrisome? PM, “we are seeing a strong resurgence and record numbers of daily cases in regions where they could be doing more. Our role is not to tell provinces and territories to shut down, but we are there to make it easier for them to do the right thing. We will support businesses and Canadians. We aren’t doing businesses any favours by keeping them open when we are seeing a surge in cases. The only way to ensure our economy will be strong moving forward it to do the right thing now.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, and Stan Cho, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance provided detail about the Ontario government’s  proposal to give municipalities the flexibility to target property tax relief to small businesses. The province is also considering matching these reductions, which would provide small businesses with as much as $385 million in municipal and provincial property tax relief. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.Media Release
      • Through the 2020 Budget, the government also announced that it will level the playing field by lowering high Business Education Tax (BET) rates for over 200,000 employers, or 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, starting January 1, 2021. This will create $450 million in immediate annual savings and represents a reduction of 30 per cent for many businesses currently subject to the highest BET rate in the province.
      • Property taxes are one of the most unavoidable costs businesses face. They must be paid, even when business is slow, as it has been for so many this year. In Ontario, there is a wide range of BET rates across the province, despite promises made by governments over the last 25 years to fix this inequity. This creates an unfair challenge for businesses operating in communities where rates are higher.
      • “Time and time again, we have heard that unfair property tax rates in some parts of the province are creating barriers to job creation and growth,” said Minister Phillips. “We heard loud and clear that levelling the playing field and addressing unfair property tax rates is one of the most important things we can do to support small business in our communities.”
      • Rates will be reduced to 0.88 per cent. For many employers, this represents a reduction of 30 per cent.
      • Taken together, these property tax measures could mean a business like a bakery shop in Toronto could receive $5,000 in municipal tax relief and $4,000 in provincial property tax relief if the local government applies a 30 per cent discount with the proposed new small business property subclass. Combined with a $1,500 BET reduction, this bakery shop owner would receive a total of $10,500 in property tax savings in 2021.
      • The Ontario government is also helping main street businesses stay open and stay safe by offering a grant of up to $1,000 for the costs of personal protective equipment (PPE), with applications for the $60-million Main Street Relief Grant becoming available online on November 16, 2020. Small businesses with two to nine employees in the retail, accommodations and food services, repair and maintenance, and personal and laundry services sectors can apply for this one-time grant. Eligible businesses, whether applying for the Main Street Relief Grant for PPE or for property tax or energy rebates in affected regions, will be able to do it all through one application on a new online portal. For more information, please visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness.
    • Question Period:
      • What are the measures and indicators in the orange restrict zone? Premier, “we have a strong, strong framework that gives communities guidance. Within any jurisdiction the local medical officer of health can add more restrictions. It’s a baseline that provides an opportunity for early intervention.”
      • If you have trouble articulating the measures after all the briefings you have received how to you expect regular Ontarians to understand them? The Premier said that the messaging has not been confusing and that the framework provides clear guidelines.
      • Was the PM speaking to you today? Premier, “I don’t know if he was. I want to thank him for his support, but we need ongoing support for small businesses.”
      • Can a local medical officer of health issue a complete lockdown? Premier, “yes, but we have never taken that approach.” Mayor Tory, “what we have learned is that the system is more complex than it needs to be. We have been working together to keep people safe. We have been working respectively in collaboration with the province.”
      • Some people are saying that the cure (lockdowns, restrictions, etc.) is worse than the disease. What do you think? Premier, “some people have that opinion. I rely on the health and science. Health is number one and the economy is slightly behind that.”
      • Manitoba is moving to a provincial lockdown, are you talking about that for the GTA? “we are not ruling anything out. We will be working together with the local medical officers of health and the local mayors on any decisions. If numbers get totally out of control I won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes.”
      • We keep hitting daily record numbers. What are your options? “I never give up. We will get through this. Am I concerned, 100% I am. We are throwing everything we can at this.”

Monday, Nov. 9, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an investment of $1.75 billion to help connect Canadians to high-speed Internet across the country, grow businesses, and create jobs. This investment will connect 98 per cent of Canadians across the country to high-speed Internet by 2026, with the goal of connecting all Canadians by 2030. – Media Release
      • Announced originally in Budget 2019 as $1 billion, today’s additional funding of $750 million for the Universal Broadband Fund will help advance projects with partners, like the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to connect Canadian households and businesses in underserved communities over the next six years. This includes a $150 million Rapid Response Stream with an accelerated application process to allow shovel-ready projects to get started right away. With today’s announcement, the federal government has made $6.2 billion available for universal broadband since 2015.
      • Today’s announcement is the largest one-time federal investment in broadband and will make a real difference in the lives of Canadians and businesses across the country. It will support Canadians living in rural, remote, and northern communities and move forward the Government’s commitment to create over one million jobs.
      • The Government of Canada will work with partners to provide all Canadians with at least 50 megabits per second download speeds and 10 megabits per second upload speeds, no matter where they are in the country. These speeds will allow Canadians to telework, participate in e-learning, and access telehealth resources.
    • Backgrounder
      • Multi-pronged approach to getting Canadians connected
        1. Rapid Response Stream – To help accelerate the timeline for connecting all Canadians, the Government of Canada is including a Rapid Response Stream for the Universal Broadband Fund, making up to $150 million available for projects that will be completed quickly and will provide Canadians service by November 15, 2021.
        2. Large-Impact Projects – Canada needs a combination of projects to solve our connectivity challenge—large and small, regional- and community-based, driven by large ISPs and by local companies and communities.  To advance large, high-impact projects, with the ability to leverage many sources of funding, ISED is looking to partner with the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB), with a view to identifying larger projects with strong economic fundamentals. These projects must be transformative in terms of results and scope—targeting a large number of households. As a business case, it makes sense to involve the CIB, which is available to offer low-cost loans for broadband projects.
        3. Support for a Diversity of Projects -The Connect to Innovate program supported a range of projects—projects from small ISPs, municipal-led projects, Indigenous projects, as well as projects from the larger ISPs. To ensure a diversity of applicants that reflect community needs, the Universal Broadband Fund is dedicating resources to help applicants that need support to build partnerships, understand available sources of funding and navigate the application process. This will ensure the Universal Broadband Fund can support the needs of all applicants, but especially smaller applicants such as municipalities or Indigenous groups. The pathfinder service includes support via phone or email, ongoing updates to frequently asked questions, and webinars.
        4. Mobility Projects Benefitting Indigenous Peoples
      • Eligibility and Selection
        • The Universal Broadband Fund allows almost any Canadian entity to submit an application; however, individuals and federal entities are excluded from applying to the program. Eligible applicants must have the ability to design, build and run broadband infrastructure and must identify who will build, own and operate the broadband network.
        • Projects will be selected using a three-stage assessment process that will ensure that applications from a wide variety of applicants across Canada can be considered. Ultimately, the projects that will be selected will be those that best meet the objectives of the program.
        • It is anticipated that successful projects will be announced starting in early 2021.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, at Interior Finishing Systems Training Centre in Woodbridge announced that the Ontario government is investing $511,100 in the Pathways to Post-Military Employment program to support the return of 180 military veterans and reservists to civilian life. This program, administered by non-profit organization Helmets to Hardhats Canada, will help veterans draw upon their unique skills and experience and connect them with good jobs in the construction industry.  – Media Release
      • Pathways to Post-Military Employment will offer job matching with employers in the construction sector, provide formal skills evaluations and support on-the-job training. This program will provide opportunities for veterans and reservists in several fields, including skilled trades, management, administration, planning, scheduling, logistics, security, engineering, and accounting.
      • Helmets to Hardhats is delivering the Pathways to Post-Military Employment program in partnership with Canada’s Building Trades Unions, the Council of Ontario Construction Associations, the Electrical Power Systems Construction Association, the Construction Labour Relations Association of Ontario, Veterans Emergency Transition Services Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command, and Good Shepherd Ministries.
      • Since launching in 2012, Helmets to Hardhats has placed 1,040 veterans into highly skilled, well-paying construction industry opportunities as they start their second career. Forty per cent of those placements were in Ontario.
      • This investment will also help provide homeless veterans with housing, aftercare support, food, clothing, medical care, addiction support, mental health services and crisis intervention in Toronto.
    • Question Period:
      • Given the numbers are you questioning the strategy? Premier, “as you know this is world-wide. The numbers are going up world-wide. We have the lowest number for a large jurisdiction. I respect what the Peel Chief Medical Officer of Health is doing.” He said that the more we follow the protocols the quicker we will get through this.
      • He was asked to respond to the criticism from epidemiologists about the new guidelines.  Aren’t you creating a false economy? Premier, “ I respect all the epidemiologists. I am not going to get into what one doctor says versus another. I listen to the docs on our health table.” He thinks it is healthy to have differing opinions.
      • What does it say about your guidelines, if Peel’s Chief Medical officer of Health added more restrictions. Premier, “this framework gives regions the flexibility to add extra guidelines as they see fit. I have said this before no one knows better what their communities need than the local Chief Medical Officers, the mayors, councillors and MPPs.” He said the provincial framework is required for early intervention.
      • Are the numbers we are seeing our new normal? Is keeping businesses open our only option? The Premier said he is trying to keep a happy balance. “They are coming at me from all ways. I never make a decision without consulting with stakeholders.” Minister Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, “when you change people’s routines it impacts their mental health.” He said there has been an increase in suicides, relapses and addictions.

Friday, Nov. 6, 2020:

  • Fitness and Team Sports to Return to Burlington Facilities; Tansley Woods Pickleball Season Extended
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • While in Ottawa Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Cultural Industries announced the Ontario government is investing nearly $45 million to create up to 254 more beds in hospitals and alternative health facilities in Ottawa, including nearly $18 million to address ambulance offload times in Ottawa and the hiring of more frontline staff. This is part of the government’s $15.2 billion investment in health care announced yesterday in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. The first pillar of the Action Plan ― Protect ― outlines how the province is protecting people during the COVID-19 pandemic by improving access to care and reducing surgical backlogs. – Media Release
      • In Ottawa, Ontario’s investment for up to 254 total patient beds will help alleviate hospital capacity pressures and reduce wait times. This includes:
        1. 120 beds at the Greystone Village Retirement Home, operated by Bruyere Continuing Care;
        2. 56 beds to be operated by the Queensway Carleton Hospital;
        3. 39 beds and 20 ambulatory offload spaces at the Ottawa Hospital;
        4. 10 beds at Montfort Hospital; and
        5. 9 beds at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO).
    • The Premier also announced that at the request of the local medical officer of health, and with the support of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Toronto Public Health would remain in a modified Stage 2 until November 14, 2020.Media Release
      • As of Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., public health unit regions would be moved to the following levels:
        1. Lockdown: No public health unit regions.
        2. Red-Control: Peel Regional Health Unit.
        3. Orange-Restrict:  Ottawa Public Health and York Region Public Health.
        4. Yellow-Protect: Brant County Health Unit; City of Hamilton Public Health Services; Durham Region Health Department; Eastern Ontario Health Unit;  Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit; Halton Region Public Health; Niagara Region Public Health; Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services; Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit; and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
        5. Green-Prevent: Algoma Public Health; Chatham-Kent Public Health; Grey Bruce Health Unit; Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit; Hastings Prince Edward Public Health; Huron Perth Public Health; Lambton Public Health; Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit, Middlesex-London Health Unit; North Bay Parry Sound District; Northwestern Health Unit; Peterborough Public Health; Porcupine Health Unit; Public Health Sudbury & Districts; Renfrew County and District Health Unit; Southwestern Public Health, Thunder Bay District Health Unit; Timiskaming Health Unit; and  Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
      • Trends in public health data will be reviewed weekly. At the same time, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a different level.
    • Question Period:
      • You said the new framework was meant to give businesses certainty. Why is this announcement coming out so late? The Premier said that restaurants can still be open in the red zone with limited capacities. “The numbers in Peel are going through the roof, especially in Brampton. I absolutely hate making these kinds of decisions.” He noted that as uncomfortable as it is to close businesses we have seen that it works. “Folks in Brampton have to hunker down.” Minister Elliott, “the numbers in Peel are escalating, actions need to be taken. Percentage positive rate is 11%, we would like it at 2.5%” Supports are being sent to Peel to assist with contact tracing.
      • With the role public health has played in the pandemic why wasn’t there any new funding for them in the budget? Minister Phillips, “we have invested $170 million to support public health and community based supports.” He also spoke about the support to municipalities they have provided.
      • With the property tax breaks for businesses will residential property taxes go up? Minister Phillips, “we are giving municipalities the flexibility.” Municipalities can choose whether or not to implement this option.
      • Putting Peel in the red zone is actually loosen restrictions. Dr. Loh asked that Peel remain in modified stage 2 for another week, why didn’t you follow his advice? Premier, “this discussion has been going on since last night. I have spoken with the mayors.” He said where they ended up is a “fair compromise, while protecting the integrity of the framework. We collaborated and cooperating with the Mayors, and worked with the local chief medical officer of health and Dr. Williams. This is a relatively fair compromise. I don’t want to have to lockdown the Province again.”
      • Gyms and restaurants have been closed for 28 days, they did not contribute to the increase in cases, why keep them closed? Premier, “ I listen to the advice of the medical experts. I have two choices, I ignore them or I take their advice. There are over 100 doctors giving us advice.”

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020:

Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020:

  • Halton Medical Officer of Health Issues Statement in Response to Province’s new COVID-19 Response Framework
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure and MPP for Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, were at the local Haliburton County Public Library in Minden Hills. They announced a historic investment of nearly $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province. The $680 million being announced today is on top of the $315 million to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This funding will be used for shovel-ready projects starting in 2019-20, will create jobs, and connect unserved and underserved communities during COVID-19 and beyond. – Media Release
      • The investment announced today doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. This program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario.
      • Over 1.4 million people in Ontario do not have broadband or cellular access, and as many as 12 per cent of households in Ontario, mostly in rural, remote or Northern areas, are underserved or unserved from the perspective of broadband, according to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) data.
      • In October, the province released Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government. Improving access to broadband and cellular service is one of the initial projects. Through Ontario Onwards, the province will help make government services more efficient and the lives of people and businesses better. Today’s announcement is another example of the government’s commitment to making Ontario the world’s leading digital jurisdiction.
      • ICON was launched in July 2020. The program leverages partner funding by inviting applicants like telecom companies, municipal governments, First Nation communities, and non-profits, to submit innovative proposals and lend their investment, expertise and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The province funds a portion of each approved project.
      • Over the past several months, Ontario has partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) to invest $71 million in a $213 million project to improve access to cellular service and mobile broadband in Eastern Ontario.
      • The province is investing in the $190 million Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project to bring high-speed broadband to 50,000 more homes and businesses across Southwestern Ontario. In the past few months, SWIFT Inc. has awarded contracts to bring high-speed Internet to thousands of residents in Lambton, Wellington, Norfolk, Oxford, Dufferin, Essex and Caledon. More contracts are expected in the coming months.
    • Question Period:
      • Are there specific projects in mind for this funding? Minister Scott, “we want more connectivity for all of Ontario. This is the start of many conversations with municipalities and telecom providers.” She said that she is also looking forward to the federal government coming to the table with funding.
      • Are the thresholds in the Red zone (of the Province’s new framework) set too high? Premier, asked if the people who made these comments had read the whole plan. “This is about early intervention. This is a good plan with unprecedented transparency.”
      • Is the target of 100,000 test daily an achievable target? Premier, “other than going door to door I’m not sure what else we can do to get people tested.” He said the Province’s capacity was up to 50,000 test per day and that the Province was looking at different types of tests. “If you have symptoms, please get tested. We can’t force people to get tested.”
      • Are there specific types of technology you want to see (for the broadband projects)? Minister Scott, “ we are looking at everything. Innovation is on the table.”
      • Some experts and medical professionals are saying these guidelines are too late in the game. Has your new plan missed the mark? Premier, said that many stakeholders were consulted. “It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback. I think we did a really good job and simplified things. But, there is only so much government can do.”
      • What role did the Province’s fiscal situation play in the development of the plan? Minister Phillips, “we have made unprecedented investments to protect Ontarians. It’s about balance. We must understand the many determinants of health including mental health.”
      • Will there be ways to increase revenues in the budget? Minister Phillips, “you will have to wait until tomorrow for the details of the budget. There will be no new taxes or charges. The focus is on protecting and supporting Ontarians, while setting a foundation for recovery. We will have the resources and we will not be raising taxes.”

Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020:

  • Ontario Releases COVID-19 Response Framework of Preventative Measures to help avoid Broader Closures
  • Temporary Outdoor Patios & Tents: Burlington City Council Approves Bylaw Amendments, Program Changes & Extension to Encourage Economic Recovery During COVID-19
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that in consultation with consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework – Media Release
      • The framework is meant to ensure that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
      • The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally.
      • It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
      • As the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.
      • To provide the utmost transparency, each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below. These will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.
    • Supporting Businesses affected by COVID-19 Public Health Measures
      • The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown.
      • Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas.
    • Public Health Unit Region Classifications
      • As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.
      • Yellow-Protect:
        1. Brant County Health Unit;
        2. City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
        3. Durham Region Health Department; and
        4. Halton Region Public Health.
    • Question Period:
      • What your proposing seems to have more emphasis on businesses than prevention. Premier, “this emphasis is still on prevention. This will help us put the measures in place earlier.”
      • There is no mention of schools in the new guidelines. Dr. Williams, “schools have reopened with enhanced measures.” He said they are finding that students are coming to school with COVID, they are not being infected at school. What we need to do is a better job at protecting ourselves from catching COVID, this will prevent children from catching it and then bringing it into schools.
      • Can Ontarians feel safe dining indoors now? Premier, “we still need to be super cautious. We can’t let our guard down.” The Premier also said that the new dashboard would provide “unprecedented transparency.” Dr. Williams said these new approach can be referred to as “harm reduction.” Providing the public with the information about what businesses are supposed to be doing at each level will help people make informed choices about where the go and what they do. He said that they are asking the public to be even more engaged and “turn the decision making over to the public.” He admitted that the Province had to do more communications.

Monday, Nov. 2, 2020:

  • Mayor Meed Ward’s Op-Ed in Hamilton Spectator: Halton Leaders and MOH are on the same page
  • Important Changes to Joseph Brant Hospital COVID-19 Testing Service
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, announced that the Ontario government is increasing the hours of direct care for each long-term care resident to an average of four hours per day. This commitment will make Ontario the leader among Canadian provinces in the provision of care for long-term care residents. The announcement was made in advance of the release of Ontario’s 2020 Budget on November 5, 2020.  – Media Release
      • This new commitment to improve quality of care includes:
        1. Average daily direct care of four hours a day per resident. Direct hands-on care is provided by nurses or personal support workers to support individual clinical and personal care needs.
        2. Hard targets set over the next four years to achieve this standard by 2024-25. Progress against these targets will be measured and reported regularly.
        3. Unprecedented changes to educate and recruit the tens of thousands of new personal support workers, registered practical nurses and registered nurses that will be required. As part of the province’s COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan, the province is taking the first step by recruiting an additional 3,700 frontline workers for its health workforce.
      • The increase in average daily hours of care builds on supports recently announced for long-term care, including investing $1.75 billion over five years to increase long-term care capacity and spaces for seniors, as well as the government’s commitment to build 30,000 new long-term care beds over 10 years. The government is also driving the development of new long-term care homes through the Accelerated Build Pilot Program, adding 1,280 beds by early 2022.
      • Minister Phillips said that the 2020 Budget has three pillars. Today he announced that “protect” was the first pillar.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked about the Cabinet meeting today to discuss the plan for reopening of restaurants and gyms. He said that Cabinet would be reviewing the recommendations from the health table. He said that he would be in discussion with the mayors in all the regions. “We will review what the health table has brought to us and will have an announcement soon.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the data that was shared last week. If he had that information before the decision to move regions to the modified stage 2 would he have closed gyms and ended indoor dining? He said that Peel and Toronto account for 28% of the province’s population and 67% of the cases. Premier, “I have to rely on the advice from the doctors. We have to follow health and science.” Mayor Crombie, “we closed down at the right time. We’re not see the transmission in restaurants and gyms. When it is safe to reopen restaurants and gyms the Premier will reopen them.” She said that the cases were coming from private gathers and events.
      • What do you think is happening in Ottawa to get their numbers down? The Premier complimented Mayor Watson on his efforts. He said that Mayor Crombie and Brown were also working really hard. “I have never seen so much cooperation between the 444 municipalities, the Province and the Federal government before.”
      • What’s going on with the flu shots? The Premier said that the Province has ordered a million more flu shots than they normally do and everyone who wants a flu shot should be able to get one. To Rexall Pharmacies, “don’t overbook people. You know how many flu shots you ordered.”
      • Given Ontario’s current case numbers and the seven day rolling average, why would you consider loosening the restrictions on restaurants and gyms? Premier, “I am trying to do a happy balance. I will take the advice from the health table. We are doing pretty good as a Province.”

Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
        • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Doug Downey, Attorney General, Jeff Lehman, Mayor of Barrie and Dennis Darby, President & CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, at Napoleon, in Barrie the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), with the support of the Ontario government, is launching a new Ontario Made Consumer Directory. This guide will make it easier for shoppers to find made-in-Ontario products, while supporting local businesses and manufacturers. By promoting Ontario-made products, this initiative will support good-paying jobs and set the province down the path to further growth, renewal and long-term economic recovery. – Media Release
        • Ontario’s manufacturing sector is the economic engine of Canada, directly accounting for over 12 per cent of the province’s economy, with nearly $300 billion in annual shipments and $200 billion in exports. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers across the province stepped up to innovate by ramping up or shifting their production lines to produce more food, personal protective equipment, and other essential supplies. In September alone, an increase of 51,700 jobs pushed Ontario’s manufacturing employment 17,000 jobs above pre-COVID levels.
        • Consumers can easily find these made-in-Ontario goods in the new online, searchable directory at SupportOntarioMade.ca. This includes products that are made in local communities, participating retailers and company profiles.
        • The Ontario Made program is helping the province’s manufacturing base regain and recover revenues lost due to COVID-19. Manufacturers and producers are encouraged to register and promote their products on the SupportOntarioMade.ca website and use the Ontario Made logo. Regional webinars where manufacturers can learn more about the program will be hosted by CME to increase the volume and variety of registered Ontario Made products for consumers.

       

    • Question Period:
      • Will regions ins modified stage 2 go back to stage 3 after the 28 days? When will they be notified, a day before? Premier, “we will need to take a surgical approach.” He gave the example of Peel, where Caledon is “complaining that they are getting punished” because of the case numbers in Mississauga and Brampton. He said that today’s modelling numbers were a little good news. He did not answer the question about when they will be notified.

Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on October 28, 2020 – Statement
    • Address by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to the Toronto Global Forum: Canada’s plan for a strong economic recovery from COVID-19 – Speech
      • We are doing everything in our power to keep Canadians healthy, safe and solvent.
      • This approach is, of course, fully in line with our government’s values. We believe passionately in a Canada where we take care of each other, particularly the most vulnerable among us – seniors, women, young people, Indigenous Peoples, Black and other racialized Canadians. And, I am proud to say, that is what Canadians are doing, with our government’s support, from ocean to ocean to ocean.
      • Our policies have a heart, to be sure. But they are driven just as powerfully by a prudent, dispassionate economic calculus. One that is extraordinarily important.
      • It is just not practically possible, never mind fair, to ask workers to stay home, or businesses to shut their doors, without providing the financial support they need to compensate for lost income.
      • So, the concern about pandemic spending is not about our aims or our intent. It’s about capacity. Canadians are careful about the nation’s finances. I know this very personally. I am from rural northern Alberta, which is not, culturally, a place much steeped in the ideas of helicopter money. And the question I hear from there, and in downtown Toronto too, is this: Can we afford it?
      • I am going to start with a simple answer, and then I will elaborate.
      • The simple answer is – yes, we can.
      • While advocating expansive fiscal policy to battle COVID-19 – and to grow our way out of the coronavirus recession – I am not among those who think Canada should have a fling with Modern Monetary Theory, which holds that deficits don’t matter for a government that issues debt in its own currency.
      • Whether on Bay Street or Main Street, there are no blank cheques, and there are no free lunches.
      • Our fiscally expansive approach to fighting the coronavirus cannot and will not be infinite. It is limited and temporary
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care announced the Ontario government is providing up to $1.05 billion in combined federal-provincial funding through the new COVID-19 Resilience infrastructure stream to build or renovate health and safety related projects in long-term care, education and municipalities. – Media Release
      • The funding is part of the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program and reinforces the commitment of both the federal and provincial governments to protect the health and well-being of individuals and families during the pandemic.
      • Eligible projects under the COVID-19 Resilience stream will fall under four main categories:
        1. Community, recreation, health and education renovations (e.g. retrofits, repairs or upgrades to long-term care homes, publicly funded schools and co-located childcare centre facilities, recreation centres or shelters);
        2. COVID-19 response infrastructure (e.g. heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, new builds or renovations to enable physical distancing);
        3. Active transportation (e.g. parks, trails); and
        4. Disaster mitigation, adaptation, or remediation (e.g. flood mitigation).
      • The COVID-19 Resilience stream will deliver:
        1. Up to $700 million for education-related projects to be nominated and administered by the Ministry of Education;
        2. An allocation-based program that will deliver $250 million to municipalities to address critical local infrastructure needs, including $6.5 million that will be directed toward Indigenous and on-reserve education, through the Ministry of Infrastructure in collaboration with the Ministries of Education and Indigenous Affairs; and
        3. Up to $100 million for long-term care projects to be identified and administered by the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
      • Eligible projects must begin by September 30, 2021 and be completed by December 31, 2021. Additional details about the COVID-19 Resilience stream and intake opening dates will be available in the days and weeks ahead.
      • The COVID-19 Resilience stream will be 80% cost-shared by the federal government and 20% cost-shared by the Province for public infrastructure ― further reinforcing the support being provided to build and renovate health and safety-related projects in long-term care, education and municipalities.
    • Question Period:
      • Pharmacies are turning people away for flu shots because they just don’t have the supply. Premier, “we ordered a year in advance. We ordered more than we usually do and have ordered additional supplies. We ordered 5. 1 million doses and have distributed 4.8 million doses so far. I think we ordered enough.”
      • The Premier was asked a number of questions about MPP Oosterhoff again today.  If your MPP didn’t get the message has your message not been clear? What is the way you are handling MPP Oosterhoff’s behavior saying to restaurant and small business owners? Premier, “he made a mistake and he has to do better. We all have to do a better job.” Regarding the message to restaurants and small business owners, “I understand what you are saying.”
      • Goodlife Fitness is saying that after 6 million workouts there have been no cases. Will you consider reopening gyms? Premier, “no one wants to reopen the economy more than I do. I am in contact with the mayors in the four hotspot regions. We have to be collaborative and work together on a plan that the Chief Medical Officers are comfortable with. I am pushing to get things opened up.”
      • Did you say we are flattening the curve? Premier, “I wouldn’t go as far as flattening, but we see it going in the right direction. But, I have said that before. Things are looking positive and it’s put me in a good mood. I am so proud of all the people in Ontario. I am very proud of all my ministers.”
      • People are saying that no matter how many sacrifices they make they aren’t seeing things change. You see the fatigue and frustration in people. Premier, “I see the fatigue in people. But I am here to give people hope. We are doing so much better than anywhere else in the world. We will do everything we can to get the gyms open. Let’s look at the glass at being half full, not half empty.”

Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020:

  • Statement from Dr. Hamidah Meghani, Halton Region Medical Officer of Health — Oct. 26, 2020
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Mayor Patrick Brown and Dr. Naveed Mohammad, President and CEO of William Osler Health System were in Brampton as the announcement of  $116.5 million to create up to 766 more beds at 32 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province. This investment will help reduce surgical backlogs and improve access to care during COVID-19. The funding is in addition to the $2.8 billion the province is providing in the government’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan. – Media Release
      • The new beds announced today are in addition to the $234.5 million investment for 139 critical care beds and up to 1,349 hospital beds included in Ontario’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. This brings the total investment to $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province. These beds will add more capacity for hospitals in COVID-19 hotspots such as Toronto, Ottawa, Peel and York region. It will also help those facing occupancy pressures and support the continuation of surgeries and procedures.
      • William Osler Health System will be receiving up to 87 total patient beds to help alleviate hospital capacity pressures and reduce wait times. This includes 41 beds at Osler’s Brampton Civic Hospital and 46 beds at Osler’s Etobicoke General Hospital.
    • Question Period:
      • Why does Brampton have only one testing facility? Minister Elliott responded and said that the Province has increased testing capacity and has now tested almost 5 million people in the Province. She said pharmacy testing was available for asymptomatic people. Pop up testing centres are also being used for people who don’t feel comfortable coming in for testing.
      • Will you commit to setting up another testing location in Brampton? Minister Elliott said she would commit to looking into whether another site was needed in Brampton.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the different approach being taking in Alberta, where they are also seeing a spike in cases. Premier, “we are taking a more cautious approach than Alberta.” He said that Ontario has a larger population than Alberta. “I do like what they are doing at the Calgary airport.” A pilot is being done where travelers are being tested at the airport to determine if they need quarantine during their visit.
      • What do you think about the motion your nephew is taking to Toronto city council about food delivery service commission caps? Premier, “we have to protect restaurant owners. Some delivery companies are charging 30%.” He urged companies to “give back, help out and support the restaurants. You’re making a fortune, give back.”
      • You called people who skirted the rules yahoos and you said you would be on them like an “800 pound gorilla”. Is MPP Oosterhoff a yahoo? Will you be coming down on him like an 800 pound gorilla? Why are there no repercussions for him? Premier, “ I encourage everyone, it is absolutely critical that when you go into a restaurant you have to wear face covering. MPP Oosterhoff came out, he apologized and he said it’s not going to happen again. He acknowledged a mistake was made, I accept that. I take him at his word. Everyone makes mistakes. I support him. He understands.”

Monday, Oct. 26, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Ontario government will release its 2020 Budget on Thursday, November 5, 2020. It will focus on protecting the health and safety of the people during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing much-needed supports to families, workers, and employers, and laying the foundation for future growth, renewal and economic recovery. – Media Release
      • The Budget will build on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, which was updated this summer to make available a projected $30 billion in response to the global pandemic.
      • Since releasing Ontario’s Action Plan in March, Ontario businesses, families, and workers have benefited from initiatives put forward by the government:
        1. Providing relief to over 63,000 small business tenants through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program (CECRA).
        2. More than 19,000 emergency supplies leads have been converted into more than $880 million in purchases of critical supplies and equipment to support staff on the front lines, including 148 million masks, 439 million gloves, and 29 million gowns through the Ontario Together portal.
        3. Providing $75 million for 194,000 seniors by doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment from April to September 2020.
        4. Building domestic capacity to manufacture 10,000 ventilators through an innovative partnership between O-Two Medical Technologies and Linamar and producing 50 million N95 masks annually beginning in early 2021 through a joint federal-provincial investment in a new 3M facility in Brockville.
        5. Saving businesses over $330 million by reducing red tape and the elimination of unnecessary paperwork.
        6. Helping students with six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and accrual relief.
    • Question Period:
      • You said there would be a decision today about Halton and Durham. Did the letter from the mayors and MPPs have an impact? Premier, “I spoke with Mayor Burton. This is unique. None of the mayors, MPPs, or the chair agree. I encouraged them to a write a letter. It was twisted in the around in the media to suggest we don’t agree. The number one focus is the safety of people, right next to that is the economy. I always reach out to the mayors and MPPs first and then I reach out to the small business owners.”
      • Was there a decision about Halton and Durham over the weekend. Do politicians now have a say in the decisions about shut downs, I thought decision were made based on the medical advice? Premier, “politicians are always consulted.” He said the Halton situation was very unique in that none of the local politicians, the MPPs or the MP agreed with the Medical Officer of Health. He suggested that a letter be written. He commented on his incredible MPPs Jane McKenna and Parm Gill.
      • What is the Province’s strategy regarding the shut downs. Are they working? Premier, “there are of raft of things I get briefed on before we make any decisions on closures.” Minister Elliott, “we consider a consistent set of issues – number of new cases, ability to test and trace, hospital capacity and the opinion of the local medical officer of health.” She said what we are seeing now are the impacts of Thanksgiving. “The numbers in some areas are going down.”
      • Are you seeing a push back from some regions? Premier, “I feel confident. There’s always been push back. It’s not easy. We are trying to stay down the middle of the road, balancing health and economics.”
      • Was the letter successful? The Premier said he spoke with Mayor Burton and told him I need your support.  “We don’t make decisions based on letters. This was unique situation where all the local politicians did not agree with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.”
      • Do you still have confidence in MPP Sam Oosterhoff? “I have 100% confidence in Sam. He apologized. Everyone makes mistakes. He is a great representative and I am proud to have him on the team.”
      • Where does Halton stand now? Minister Elliott, “it is something we are still considering. We are looking at the medical evidence and will be in discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and will consider the factors I mentioned earlier – number of new cases, ability to test and trace, and hospital capacity .”

Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020:

Friday, Oct. 23, 2020:

  • YWCA Hamilton’s Women of Distinction Awards – Nominations Open for Halton Region
  • City Looks to Help in Winter Planning for Burlington Restaurants
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister announces funding to advance the development of Canadian COVID‑19 vaccine technologies – Media Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an investment of up to $173 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) in Quebec City-based Medicago to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 and future preparedness. The project, valued at a total of $428 million, will advance Medicago’s virus-like particle vaccine, developed on the company’s unique plant-based production platform, through clinical trials. It will also establish a large-scale vaccine and antibody production facility to increase Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.
      • The government has signed an agreement with Medicago to secure up to 76 million doses of their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, enough to vaccinate 38 million people. This is the first domestically developed vaccine candidate the Government of Canada has secured.
      • The government will also invest up to $18.2 million in Vancouver-based biotechnology company Precision NanoSystems Incorporated (PNI) through the SIF. This investment will support a $24.27-million project to help advance the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate through pre-clinical studies and clinical trials. The government is also providing up to $23.2 million in funding through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to advance six COVID-19 vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials.
      • At this time, there are no vaccines authorized for the prevention of COVID-19. All vaccine candidates must go through pre-clinical and clinical trials. Health Canada will continue to review evidence of safety, efficacy, and manufacturing quality for each vaccine candidate as it becomes available to decide whether the product will be approved for use in Canada.
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, October 23, 2020 – Speech
      • Canada’s public health community has mobilized and collaborated like never before to stand up and sustain this response. We’ve all had to adapt and adjust as new information emerged, while at the same time navigating through the sea of uncertainties. And yet, the public health workforce has endured, and remains steadfast in the commitment to protect and improve the health and resilience of the populations we all feel privileged to serve.
      • But despite public health’s efforts – no one sector can solve a pandemic alone. Pandemics are whole of society events. That means the impacts extend across society, not only by affecting those who become ill, but also by impacting the health, social and economic systems that affect our overall wellbeing. It also means that minimizing the pandemic’s impact, both today and in the future, depends on all of our actions, now.  The longer a pandemic goes on and the less we all do to minimize the related disruptions the more its impacts will be felt.
      • The public in public health means, as practitioners, we serve the population but also that the collective actions of the public are a vital part of the power and success of our solutions!
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services announced that the Ontario government is investing an additional $8.7 million to support the planning and design of the new Quinte Health Care Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital in Picton. Once complete, this new state-of-the-art hospital will replace the existing aged facility, expand capacity, improve access to quality care and help end hallway health care for patients and families in Prince Edward County – Media Release
      • The new Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital will provide patients and families in the region with the following:
        1. Six additional in-patient beds, bringing the total to 18 beds in private rooms, with the ability to expand to 23 beds for future capacity;
        2. A larger, 24/7 emergency department that will provide more space for staff and patients;
        3. Modern surgical suites to deliver care with the best technology available;
        4. Dialysis treatments and diagnostic imaging; and
        5. Outpatient care services including minor surgical procedures such as endoscopies.
      • The helipad currently located at the hospital will be relocated to a nearby location, ensuring patients continue to receive emergency air transport and access to critical care services. Following design of the new hospital, project procurement is expected to begin in 2021. The procurement process will ensure a fair, open and transparent selection of a proponent to begin construction on the new hospital.
      • Rural hospitals like Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital play a critical role in ensuring equitable access to high quality care for patients and families across Ontario. This new hospital in Picton is part of Ontario’s investment of $27 billion over 10 years to build new and expanded hospital infrastructure.
    • Question Period:
      • Beyond the 28 day closures are there other things the Province can do? Premier, “ I hate having to shut things down. We need to have a balance between public safety and the economics.” He said the health table has been pragmatic with their recommendations. “We want to keep our hands around this, while balancing the economy.”
      • Will Halton Region be moving to a modified Stage 2? Premier, “Halton’s numbers are concerning. We will be having a discussion over the weekend. I have spoken to the Mayors. We will have a decision on Monday.”
      • When will flu shots be available for everyone? Minister Elliott said that September shipments were sent to long term care homes and hospitals. Since then shipments have been distributed to pharmacies and then to public health agencies who sent them to doctors offices, nurse practioners, etc. “We are expecting another shipment next week.” They have also ordered another supply from the federal government. She again said that this isn’t a shortage of doses. The Premier said that he was waiting for everyone else to get their flu shot before he got his. He wasn’t going to jump to the front of the line.
      • Will Durham be part of your discussions over the weekend? Premier, “we will be discussing all regions that have increases over the weekend.”

Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA) spoke about the new legislation that was introduced. A package of legislative and policy measures that would, if passed, accelerate the building of key infrastructure projects to create jobs and lay the foundation for a strong economic recovery. The Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 would support the construction of better-connected highways and public transit networks, transit-oriented communities, and affordable housing – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • The proposed legislation, introduced by Minister Mulroney earlier today, would reduce barriers in the planning, design and construction of major infrastructure projects like highway and public transit networks, and support the growth of transit-oriented communities.
      • If passed, the suite of additional measures would help to further reduce risk and costs, mitigate unnecessary delays and could encourage competitive bidding associated with transit projects. In addition, the government would work to modernize policies and align processes for consistency to improve public services.
      • The government is also helping to address zoning, land availability and site plan approval concerns for priority long-term care home development by leveraging support from the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and by recognizing that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has existing authority to make Minister’s Zoning Orders under the Planning Act. This approach is already benefiting communities like Ajax, Mississauga and Toronto.
      • Additional measures announced today will also support more private sector investments to potentially fund and accelerate broadband expansion in communities across the province.
      • Accelerated delivery of these projects would also boost Ontario’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, getting more people back to work more quickly. In order to support this ambitious infrastructure plan, Ontario requires a strong skilled trades and professional workforce. That’s why the government remains committed to helping workers and employers seize opportunities by increasing apprentice registration and training opportunities through major infrastructure projects.
      • Following introduction, the Ministry of Transportation intends to post a link to the bill on the Environmental Registry of Ontario for a 30-day comment period and, if required, would provide additional opportunities for public engagement.
      • The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is seeking, through proposed legislative changes, to:
        1. Extend authorities under the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020 (TOC Act) to other provincial transit projects, such as GO Heavy Rail and light rail transit which would be specified in regulation.
          1. Amend the TOC Act to extend authority to provide exemptions from the Hearings of Necessity provisions in the Expropriations Act to other provincial transit projects for TOC.
          2. Amend the TOC Act to provide authority to enter into new types of commercial arrangements for other provincial transit projects for TOC to the Minister of Transportation and provide the Minister of Transportation with the ability to delegate this authority by regulation to Metrolinx or other government agencies.
      • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) will consult with municipalities to identify what additional authorities or tools they may need to be granted/delegated to expedite the delivery of critical local infrastructure projects.
    • Question Period:
      • Yesterday you fired a warning shot to insurance companies. Are you wiling to regulate them? Premier, “I’ve had it with these insurance companies. They are refusing to insure people. I am onto these guys. The people are the priority – not these insurance companies that have been making millions for years.”
      • What happens after the 28 days (in the communities that are in modified stage 2)? Are you concerned about Toronto’s positivity rates? “Yes I am super concerned. I really hope we can bring the numbers down. “ He said that they are looking at what he referred to as the “poop report”, the wastewater study.
      • Minister Elliott says there is no flu shot shortage, but seniors are saying they can’t get the high dose flu shot. The Premier, said that people should call ahead before going to a pharmacy for a flu shot. “We have ordered 5.1 million doses, more than any previous year.” He committed to getting the exact numbers of doses the Province has received, when the balance is expected and where the flu shot have been distributed. He also committed to sharing this information.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020:

  • All Sport Games Paused on City of Burlington Sports Fields and in Facilities
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues announced that the government is providing $24.3 million in targeted investments to hire additional staff, increase access to counselling and therapy, create new programs to help manage stress, depression and anxiety, and address eating disorders and other challenges facing children and youth. This funding is part of the government’s $176 million investment in the Roadmap to Wellness, a comprehensive plan to build a fully connected mental health and addictions system across the province. – Media Release
      • The government is making targeted investments in community-based mental health supports and services for children and youth with a focus on evidence-based and innovative programs including:
        1. $11 million for over 80 children and youth mental health service providers to enhance capacity and access to critical frontline child and youth mental health services, including:
          1. Hiring additional staff;
          2. Purchasing and developing additional resources to increase access to services such as counselling and therapy, intensive and crisis services; and
          3. Supports for families and caregivers of children and youth with mental health and addictions challenges.
        2. $5.8 million for youth wellness teams at 10 Youth Wellness Hubs across Ontario. These youth-friendly service locations are designed for youth, and offer walk-in access to primary care and mental health and addictions services for people between the ages of 12 and 25;
        3. $3.7 million for a new eating disorders program. This early intervention program will help prevent and support children and youth up to the age of 25 that may be struggling with an eating disorder. There will be four pilot sites to start, with plans to expand the program across the province;
        4. $2 million for the implementation of an Ontario Structured Psychotherapy Program for families, children and youth. This new program will provide evidence-based mental health supports for children, youth and their families that will help them develop skills to manage stress, depression and anxiety in a healthy way;
        5. $1 million for child and youth mental health services delivered in congregate settings. This funding will help provide care that will better meet their needs; and
        6. $800,000 to support the creation and operation of Eating Disorders Ontario, which will help with quality improvement across the whole eating disorders sector.
    • Question Period:
      • Where are we with the testing backlog? Premier said people should now be able to get their results within 24-48 hours. “We are geared up to do 50,000 tests a day, but 50,000 people aren’t coming in to get tested.” Minister Elliott, “25,000-30,000 test can be processed within 24-48 hours. This is very important to all Ontarians. We are up to date on testing. There is no backlog.”
      • The Premier was asked about the liability protection legislation that was introduced. Does that mean families who lost loved ones in long term care homes can’t sue? Premier, “ families can continue to sue long term care homes that were reckless and careless.”
      • Long term care homes can be sued, but the threshold of proof for families is increased. What do you say to families? Premier, “this does not protect long term care homes 100%. I asked about this and they told me it we had to include all these businesses.”
      • Who are you protecting, people or your friends like Mike Harris? Premier, “I am protecting the small business owners, that’s who I am protecting. Small business owners who are being gauged by insurance companies.”
      • You have ticked off people who have lost loved ones in long term care homes. What do you have to say to them? Premier, “speak to your lawyer. Continue suing them they will be held accountable. We are not protecting negligent long term care homes.”
      • Regarding the legislation that will prevent the use of ranked ballots – you were elected using a ranked ballot system. Premier, “we don’t need any more complications with ranked ballots, we’ve been voting with first-past-the-post since 1867.” News article

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020:

  • Virtual Remembrance Day Ceremony in Burlington for 2020
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Robin Martin, MPP for Eglinton—Lawrence announced the Ontario government is investing $550 million to build 20 new schools and eight permanent school additions across the province in 2020-21. These new projects will create nearly 16,000 new student learning spaces and 870 new licensed child care spaces as part of the government’s ongoing efforts to improve and build modern schools. – Media Release
      • Today’s announcement was made at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto, where the Toronto Catholic District School Board will receive $24 million from the Capital Priorities Program to create 620 new student spaces through upgrades to the existing building infrastructure.
      • The government is investing over $12 billion in capital grants over 10 years, including $500 million in 2019-20 and the $550 million for 2020-21, and working with school board partners to identify other priority large-scale school-based capital projects. Today’s announcement continues to build upon the government’s up to $1 billion commitment over five years to create up to 30,000 new child care spaces, including up to 10,000 spaces in new schools
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked about the change for dance studios. Owners of boutique fitness studios are accusing your government of picking winners and losers. The Premier explained that dance studios are teaching groups of students that are in “cohorts” similar to schools while the fitness studios have different groups of people coming in a different times. “I am doing everything I can to get these places open as soon as possible.”
      • Why aren’t masks required in dance classes in hotspots? Premier, “they have cohorts like schools.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the conflicting messages regarding Halloween – people are frustrated and tired of the confusing guidelines. Premier, “the guidelines are clear. I have to take the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. I am not cancelling Halloween. We are asking people not to go door to door in the hotspots. .”
      • What is the plan regarding enforcing the Halloween rules? “The plan is to trust people. We don’t have enough police to enforce Halloween house parties or if parents decide to drive their kids to other areas to trick or treat. The only way we will get through this is by following the rules. I understand that people are on edge.”
      • What’s going with testing (only 24,000 tests were done yesterday)? The Premier said that the backlog was caught up and anyone going for a test now should get their results in 1-2 days. “We can’t force people to get tested. I’ve never seen anything like this. We are geared up to do 50,000 tests but people are not coming in to get tested.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Extends COVID-19 Orders to Protect the Public – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). This extension will be in effect until November 21, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to contain the spread of COVID-19.
        2. Orders in effect under the ROA have been extended by 30 days with the following exceptions:
          1. Electricity Price for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Consumers has only been extended until October 31, 2020.  Beginning November 1, 2020, time of use customers will have the option of choosing between time of use electricity rates or tiered pricing.
          2. Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record will expire on October 22, 2020 as changes to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, that recently came into force, make the order unnecessary.
        3. Ontario is also amending emergency orders for regions under modified Stage 2 regulations (Toronto, Ottawa, York and Peel Regions) to clarify that classes delivered for the purpose of teaching or training amateur or professional dancers in dance techniques are permitted to operate provided specified conditions are met. This change to the regulation recognizes that dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, and ballroom, can still be taught and practised safely when certain public health measures are followed, similar to other permitted activities, such as cheerleading and gymnastics. Dance classes that do not meet the specified criteria (e. g. a Zumba class) would not be permitted.
        4. Additionally, regulations Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and Rules for Areas in Stage 3 have been amended to remove restrictions on in-person teaching and instruction for fire departments. The amendments, similar to what is currently in place for police training, are critical for public safety and the safety of fire department personnel.

Monday, Oct. 19, 2020:

  • Halton Medical Officer of Health Issues Community Letter Responding to Rising Cases of COVID-19
  • Provincial Government Message: Stay Safe and Follow Public Health Advice This Halloween
  • Provincial Government Media Release: How to celebrate Halloween during COVID-19 — download window displays to let trick-or-treaters know you’re giving out candy
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Chair of the Future State Modernization Committee, released an action plan to make government services simpler, easier to use, and more convenient and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Ontario Onwards: Ontario’s COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government includes more than 30 projects that will improve the way people and businesses interact with government, saving them both time and money. – Media Release, Backgrounder, Digital Identity Backgrounder
      • The Action Plan is a roadmap to make public sector services more customer-focused and digital- and data-driven, while increasing the speed of government operations and decision-making. Through it the government is focusing on:
        1. Making government services more digitally accessible, such as providing new and improved digital health solutions to frontline care personnel, so they can rapidly and securely access a patient’s health records from anywhere and from any device.
        2. Reducing red tape and simplifying policies while protecting public health and safety, such as reducing barriers to development and construction approval by allowing a digital application process to get shovels in the ground faster on transit and housing projects.
        3. Improving government purchasing by leveraging the combined bulk-buying power of the province, while taking advantage of the world-class capabilities of local Ontario businesses, to transform how the government purchases goods and services, so the province can have the supplies it needs.
        4. Creating more responsible and flexible public services, such as re-designing core internal processes or permit applications, so citizens can get what they need faster and easier, such as driver’s licences and health cards.
      • One of the projects identified in the Action Plan is developing a digital identity, based on digital wallet technology. Starting in January 2021, the government will consult with industry on how the province could introduce a secure digital identity for Ontarians by the end of 2021, allowing citizens to safely verify their identity, online or in person. A digital identity will make life easier and more convenient, while protecting people’s data and helping to combat identity fraud. For example, using a digital identity:
        1. A senior could check in to a doctor’s appointment online. This touchless registration would support COVID-19 safety protocols;
        2. A small business owner could cut through red tape by registering for licences and permits and opening accounts online; or
        3. A student could skip a trip to the bank to open their first account by verifying their ID online.
      • The Premier said that cabinet will be meeting to discuss dance studios today.
    • Question Period:
      • What’s behind the cancelling of Halloween? Premier, “we aren’t cancelling Halloween. We’re asking people to celebrate Halloween differently. I hate doing this.” Dr. Williams, “It’s not something we want to do. We are concerned with level of community transmission in hotspots. We have provided alternatives. Be safe, have fun and do it in a safe way.”
      • You are encouraging people to do things outdoors. People are allowed to eat on a patio, but you won’t allow kids to walk outside to collect pre-packaged candy. Premier, “I am following the advice of medical experts. Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York didn’t want it – I feel terrible about this”
      • Is public policy being driven by fear? Premier, “ I am going on the medical advice.” Dr. Williams, “this is our first Halloween with COVID. This is about collective activity.” He said that they want to keep schools open. The groups kids go trick or treating with aren’t necessarily the same kids they go to school with. They want to keep the school co-horts safe. The concern is that there will be too many people in close contact, some would follow the rules and some wouldn’t.
      • How is it fair that civil servants have kept their jobs, while you are putting people out of work by shutting down restaurants and other businesses. Premier, “COVID sucks, what can I say, it’s terrible.” He said that members of the public service have been working from home. He also said that he and the Minister of Finance have returned 105 of their salaries. Minister Bethlenfalvy, “more than 60% of the public service has been working in their work places. We are all in this together.”
      • Confusion about the public health advice coming from the Province. It seems that the advice is all over the place sometimes. Premier, “kids are in co-horts at school. On Halloween kids are going to hundreds of doors. I think this is as clear as it can get.” Dr. Williams, “we are trying to keep our messages consistent. What’s happening in schools is going very well.” There are a lot of people weighing in about what they think. He feels this is what is getting people confused. He encouraged people to go to the Provincial website for details. “We have to understand the nuisances of particular settings (dance studios for example).”

Friday, Oct. 16, 2020:

  • All City of Burlington Indoor Fitness Classes to be Paused, Sport Groups Limited to Training Only in City Facilities as of Oct. 17
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with premiers on continued efforts to address the impacts of COVID-19 – Readout
      • Yesterday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs Dominic LeBlanc held the twentieth call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Canada’s Ambassador to the United States, Kirsten Hillman, provided an update to First Ministers on Canada-U.S. relations in the lead up to the United States’ presidential elections.
      • First Ministers continued discussions on the recent and significant increase in COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the country. They emphasized the importance of encouraging Canadians to be vigilant and follow public health advice. The Prime Minister highlighted the federal government’s assistance to provinces and territories in need of additional support, and updated premiers on the procurement and distribution of rapid testing solutions. The Prime Minister also highlighted the need for all orders of government to work together to ensure the health and safety of seniors in long-term care facilities. The Prime Minister also updated premiers on international travel restrictions.
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, October 16, 2020 – Speech
      • The resurgence of COVID-19 cases affecting many parts of the country is concerning and something we must keep top of mind to plan safer activities for ourselves and our families during the Fall and Winter.
      • I encourage everyone to heed the advice of local public health authorities, as their recommendations are based on the local situation. In order to keep COVID-19 activity at a manageable level, particularly in areas experiencing high infection rates, restrictions or limitations may be imposed on higher risk settings or activities.  But regardless of the local situation, if you have symptoms, even mild ones, stay home and self-isolate.
      • Getting the flu shot protects you and those around you, providing you protection from infection and serious illness, and reducing the likelihood of you spreading the illness to others. By keeping you and others healthier, the flu shot is also an important prevention measure to help reduce the burden on Canada’s health care system during this unprecedented time.
    • Government of Canada launches new COVID-19–related challenges to help reduce environmental impact of PPE in Canada – Media Release
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Ontario Moving Additional Region to Modified Stage 2
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade welcomed the decision by Roche to invest $500 million over five years to establish a Global Pharma Technical Operations site to oversee its global supply chain in Mississauga. This investment is expected to create 500 jobs ― 200 by the end of 2020 and up to 300 more by the end of 2023. It will enhance Ontario’s competitiveness and leadership in the life sciences sector. – Media Release
      • The Global Pharma Technical Operations site will be responsible for supporting Hoffmann-La Roche Limited’s global manufacturing and supply chain operations, including monitoring safety, quality and distribution of pharmaceutical products shipped around the world. In 2012, Roche Canada established Mississauga as a Product Development Site, overseeing clinical trials both in Canada and globally. The success of this site, along with Ontario’s highly skilled science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce, world-class colleges and universities and competitive business environment, saw the province win out over 12 international locations and Roche sites to secure this new investment, while positioning the province for future opportunities.
      • Through the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, the government is further reducing regulatory burdens and encouraging investment in the life sciences sector by allowing businesses to write off in-year capital costs on new equipment and delivering on the government’s commitment to cut corporate income taxes through the $3.8 billion Ontario Job Creation Investment Incentive.
      • In order to position Ontario as a top tier destination for job-creating investment, the government has established Invest Ontario, a new investment agency that will be a “one stop shop” for targeting investors, with an initial focus on advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and technology. Invest Ontario will bring a private-sector approach to business development and build on the many benefits of Ontario, including: a high quality of life, world-class education and research institutions, a highly skilled workforce, a strong and growing innovation sector, and being a jurisdiction that is squarely focused on reducing red tape and lowering the cost of doing business.
      • The Premier also announced that effective on Monday at 12:01 a.m. York Region will move into a modified Stage 2 for 28 days.
      • There was no mention of Halloween during the briefing.
    • Question Period:
      • How did you decide to move York Region into modified Stage 2 and not other regions like Halton? Premier, “we saw the numbers going up.” Minister Elliott, “the trends in York have been in the wrong direction and we need to act now.” The Premier spoke about Halton Region and the issue with pick up hockey and drinking in the dressing room after a game. “I am begging the people of Halton, please follow the guidelines!”
      • What is the long term plan for communities that are in modified stage 2? Do business owners have to wait for decision every 28 days? Premier, “(this decision) bothers me. I have to listen to the experts. We have to weigh the economic issues against the health issues.”
      • Pharmacies are frustrated about the “shortage” of flu vaccines. Minister Elliott, “we do not have a flu vaccine shortage. Everyone who wants a flu shot will be able to get one – including the high dose.”
      • The Premier was asked about MPP McKenna’s release asking people from outside of Halton to come to area. Premier, said he spoke with Jane McKenna and Mayor Burton. People from hotspots are coming to Halton to work out in gyms. He asked people to stay within their regions. “Follow the protocols and guidelines.”
      • If things are so bad in York, why are you waiting until Monday? Premier, “you get criticized if you do it too soon.” He said that cabinet asked the doctors to give restaurateurs a few days to use up their inventory. He encouraged people to get take out in York Region. “We are trying to maintain a balance.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Supports the Production of Critical Supplies to Fight the Spread of COVID-19 – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government continues to work together with businesses and the manufacturing sector to expand production of domestic PPE to ensure preparedness, both now and for the future. To support the fight against COVID-19, Greenfield Global is investing a total of $75 million at their facility in Johnstown Ontario to produce the medical-grade alcohol critical to making hand sanitizers used by Ontario individuals, families, and front-line workers.  The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund in support of this project.
        2. With Ontario’s support, Greenfield will undertake a major upgrade of the Johnstown facility’s distillation technology to produce over 114 million litres, or the equivalent of over 150 million one litre bottles, of specialty medical-grade alcohol annually, which will be used in hand sanitizers and other applications that rely on high purity alcohol. The project will help reduce Ontario’s dependency on other jurisdictions as a source of high-grade alcohols and will strengthen the province’s position as a leader in PPE production, while creating new jobs.
        3. Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is delivering targeted investments that will increase the province’s stockpile of Ontario-made products and PPE. This new manufacturing capacity will help the province to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak and prepare for potential challenges in the future, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province.

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020:

  • Joint Media Release from Burlington MPP McKenna and Mayor Meed Ward
  • Burlington Providing $124K to 59 Local Businesses in 1st Round of Safe Restart COVID-19 Relief Grants
  • Ontario’s Big City Mayors call for Relief, Recovery as they Respond to Second Wave of COVID-19
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on October 15, 2020 – Statement
      • As the number of individuals who test positive continues to increase nationally, more health regions are reporting elevated rates of infection that inevitably put a strain on local public health resources. Although there are still areas of the country where disease activity remains low, none of us, anywhere, can afford to be complacent.
      • Maintaining physical distancing is a key measure to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. I recognize this is not easy for everyone. Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in crowded places, closed spaces with poor ventilation and close-contact situations where you cannot maintain physical distancing of at least two metres. The virus is transmitted by people when they sneezing, coughing, talking, shouting and singing. When everyone wears a mask we all protect each other. Visit Canada.ca for more information on how to wear a non-medical mask or face covering correctly.
      • To get COVID-19 infection rates down to a manageable level, reduce the number of in-person close contacts and adhere to proven effective public health practices, like washing your hands frequently and staying home if you have symptoms, even mild ones. We all have different circumstances, but when it comes to being in close contact with others, remember that every person you encounter brings their whole network and contact history with them. Every one of our actions, in every moment matters.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlight from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Jamaal Magloire, Canadian NBA All-Star and Toronto Raptors team ambassador spoke about the Ontario government working with some of the most influential brands in Canada, including Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, to encourage more people to download the made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app and help protect people across the country from the pandemic. – Media Release
      • To support businesses large and small, the government is launching a new webpage that will provide them with the tools they need to promote the app and build on its success to-date.
      • Today, Nova Scotia joins Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and almost 4.5 million Canadians, in this national effort to download the COVID Alert app and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
      • Ontario is working with major employers from a variety of sectors, from banking and insurance to large retailers, telecommunications, media and entertainment companies, to promote the COVID Alert app. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Argonauts, Toronto FC and the Toronto Maple Leafs used their voice to encourage people across the province to download COVID Alert to protect themselves and their loved ones.
      • More than 1,130 one-time keys have been entered by app users in Ontario who have tested positive for COVID-19, in turn notifying Ontarians of potential exposure to the virus and allowing them to take necessary public health precautions.
    • Question Period:
      • How many rapid tests is Ontario expecting and where will they be used? Minister Elliott, “we expect the first shipments very soon.” They have been conducting an analysis of the best use of these tests. The Minister said that using them in long term care homes and northern communities were some of the options.
      • Has the Premier received a commitment from third party delivery companies yet? The Premier issued his “second warning” to them today, before “putting down the hammer.” “Be part of the team – don’t be greedy.”
      • Is there a plan to balance the budget by 2023-24? The Premier said he doesn’t believe in raising taxes, he would rather “drive efficiencies.” He said that the government could save $2.3 billion by centralizing procurement, “the party is over.” Minister Bethlenfalvy, “we will spare no expense to keep the people of Ontario safe. There will be a time to look at the books, but now is not the time.”
      • Dance studios feel unfairly lumped in with gyms for closures in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. The Premier said, “I am going to address it, I am on it. I will drill down for you.” He said that he may not always agree, but he has to listen to the advice of the health experts. He talked about the need to balance the health concerns with impacts on the economy when making these decisions. Minister Elliott urged people with concerns about what is open or closed to contact their local medical officer of health or reach out to the Ministry of Health.
      • What about people travelling from hotspots to other regions, like Halton to work out? The Premier asked that people workout at home. Minister Elliott, “please stay within your regions. We are watching every part of the province.”
      • What happens if people don’t listen? Premier, “if the spread continues, we will have to close things in other regions.”

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on October 14, 2020 – Statement
      • Fall is upon us, and so is the start of flu season. Influenza, or the flu, is a serious and highly contagious respiratory infection. This year it is more important than ever to get your flu shot.
      • The flu shot provides protection against infection with influenza A and B viruses that are expected to circulate in the Canadian population this fall and winter while COVID-19 activity continues. Although the flu shot doesn’t provide protection against infection with the virus that causes COVID-19, it will help reduce the risk of you getting the flu before, during or after a possible COVID-19 infection. Having both illnesses close together in time, or at the same time, could put you at higher risk for severe illness.
      • Getting the flu shot protects you and those around you, providing you protection from infection and serious illness, and reducing the likelihood of you spreading the illness to others. By keeping you and others healthier, the flu shot is also an important prevention measure to help reduce the burden on Canada’s health care system during this unprecedented time.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the Ontario government is expanding case and contact management to help track, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19. – Media Release
      • The province has hired 100 new contact tracers, many of whom are starting work this week, with up to 500 more recruits expected to be hired by mid-November. These new positions are part the province’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which dedicates $1.376 billion to enhance and expand testing and contact tracing in the province.
      • To expedite the onboarding of these additional staffing resources, the government is partnering with Ian Martin, an Ontario-based recruitment firm that has extensive experience in supplying COVID-19 staffing resources.
      • Ontario Public Service (OPS) staff are also volunteering for redeployment to provide surge support for contact tracing this fall and winter, and over 600 Statistics Canada employees have been onboarded since July to assist with contact follow-up.
      • There are currently more than 2,750 case and contact management staff active across all public health units, tracing and managing COVID-19 cases ― up from approximately 1,500 staff in the spring. These 600 new recruits and 600 personnel from Statistics Canada will bring the total number of case and contact management staff to nearly 4,000. The members of this critical and growing workforce are all working to keep Ontarians safe and healthy.
      • In addition, Ontario has also successfully implemented a centralized Public Health Case and Contact Management (CCM) I&IT System in public health units across the province. This user-friendly system significantly reduces duplication, speeds up processes and allows for more efficient case and contact management work to be completed. Direct integration with the Ontario Laboratory Information System eliminates the need for health unit staff to re-type COVID-19 data into the province’s former integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS).
    • Question Period:
      • Is there a Province-wide message regarding end of life visits for families? Premier, said he understands the pain people are going through. “We will do what we can to get you into the hospital.” Dr. Yaffe, “the policy should be that close visitors are allowed to come in, following proper protocols.” She said she will be following up with Ontario Health to make sure there is a clear communication about this.
      • The Premier was asked about the TTC being packed and people not wearing masks. The Premier reminded municipalities that he fought hard to get proper funding for transit agencies and communities from the Federal government. He also reminded Toronto and the TTC that they received $400 million of funding.  Dr. Yaffe, “we need everyone on public transit to wear a mask. If the bus you are going to get on is full, you have to weigh the risk.” She said people need to consider how much personal risk they want to take. What is the length of their trip? Can they wait for another bus to come? “Everyone must wear a mask, and practice good hand hygiene.”
      • The spin studio outbreak in Hamilton was raised again today. Is the Province looking at sector closures as a result? Dr. Yaffe, was well aware of the outbreak at SpinCo. “We need to review the guidelines for spin studios and gyms.” She has made recommendations to the Health Table that are currently under review.
      • What is going on with the supply of flu vaccines? Minister Elliott, said that there is no shortage of flu vaccines. The first shipments were sent to priority settings like hospitals and long term care homes. “Shipments are coming in regularly. The next shipments will be sent to pharmacies and primary care physicians.” She suggested that people call ahead to pharmacies before going in to get a flu shot to ensure they have received their shipment.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the Prime Minister’s comment “blaming” provinces for the lack of testing and contact tracing. Premier, “he must not be talking about Ontario, we are kicking butt when it comes to testing.”
      • Why were gyms grouped with restaurants in the recent closures in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa? Premier, “I will always follow the advice of the health experts.” He also said the $300 million in funding assistance announced for businesses is not just for businesses in the three hotspots. It is available to all business that were impacted by the closures throughout the province. Dr. Yaffe, “there is evidence that there has been exposure in these types of establishments.” She said that before making decisions about closures the benefits and risks are always considered. “We try to come up with the best balance to minimize exposure and minimize the impacts on business.”

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today, Premier Doug Ford, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MPP Christine Hogarth, were at Mamma Martino’s Restaurant in Etobicoke to highlight government support for the industry. – Media Release
      • The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to support local restaurants and the food services industry during COVID-19.
      • To provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new public health measures, Ontario announced $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.
      • The government is also supporting small business through its Main Street Recovery Plan by:
        1. Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
        2. Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
        3. Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
        4. Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work;
        5. Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today;
        6. Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
        7. Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
        8. Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.
      • The Premier said the Province is working on how to get the money out to businesses quickly.
      • He urged big third party delivery companies to drop their commissions. “Do the right thing.”
      • He also urged Ontarians to get take out once a week to support local restaurants.
    • Question Period:
      • Do you have plans to move any other communities back to Stage 2? Premier, “as of today we don’t. I am praying we don’t have to expand this.”
      • In light of the outbreak at a Hamilton gym, Spin Co, the Premier was asked if he would be tighten how gyms operate or issuing a Province wide closure. Premier, said that what they are seeing in the contact tracing is upwards of 50 to 100 contacts per person in some cases. “This one of the reasons we had to close them down.” Regarding the Hamilton situation specifically, he said that he would be speaking with Dr. Williams, the health table and Hamilton’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, “we will see what they say.”
      • What numbers are you looking for after the 28 days?  Premier, “I can’t give you an exact number now.”
      • Why has the Red Cross been called into Ontario long-term care homes? Premier, “it’s all hands on deck.” He thanked Minister Blair for his support. “We want to make sure we have all the supports we need in long term care homes.”
      • What do you say to those who are saying this is all a hoax? Premier, thanked the media for their support throughout the pandemic. “The media has been phenomenal. Without the media we would not have been able to get our message out. There is no hidden agenda. This is real, as real as I am standing here. I am telling you what I know. I am sharing the facts. I am here to protect the people of Ontario and their families.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Governments Investing $26.6 Million to Further Protect Ontario Agri-Food Workers During COVID-19 – Media Release
        1. The governments of Canada and Ontario are taking additional steps to help farmers better protect the health and safety of agri-food workers in the province during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the continued supply of locally grown food all year round.
        2. A new agreement between Ontario and the federal government will see Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada invest an additional $11.6 million to help support efforts by Ontario producers to stop the spread of COVID-19 on their farms. Actions such as building physical barriers for worker separation, upgrading HVAC systems and enhancing hand-washing facilities will be eligible for this funding.
        3. The federal funding that will be delivered by Ontario is in addition to the Ontario government’s commitment in June of up to $15 million to support workplace safety enhancements in the sector through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program.
        4. Under the expanded program, the amount farmers can claim for preventive expenses including a combination of workplace modifications, PPE, transportation and temporary housing will double to $15,000.
        5. The program will also include a new category for small capital projects of up to $100,000 for housing modifications, workplace modifications and equipment to allow greater physical distancing for workers.

Friday, Oct. 9, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Government announces new, targeted support to help businesses through pandemicMedia Release
      • Today the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, announced the government’s intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses and other organizations experiencing a drop in revenue. The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery, including:
        1. The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
        2. A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This follows a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to provide direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
        3. The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure is part of the government’s commitment to create over 1 million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.
        4. An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.
    • Prime Minister announces additional support for food banks and local food organizations – Media Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an additional investment of $100 million through the Emergency Food Security Fund. This investment will help improve access to food and increase food supply for vulnerable Canadians across the country, who are facing the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
      • The Government of Canada will provide this funding to national and regional organizations, who will then support food banks and local food organizations across Canada in order to help reach people experiencing food insecurity.
    • Government of Canada and provincial partners support research addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians – Media Release
      • The Government of Canada and provincial partners are joining forces to address the mental health and substance use challenges facing Canadians, which have increased because of the pandemic.
      • Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, announced an investment of more than $10.2M in COVID-19 mental health and substance use research. This investment will support 55 research teams from across the country to tackle the mental health and substance use crisis that is emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • The projects announced today will focus on priority populations, including individuals who use substances; families, children and youth; vulnerable and at-risk groups; front-line and health care workers; public safety personnel; aging populations; and Indigenous Peoples and communities.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATE
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Director of the Institute for Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation and the Dalla Lana Chair of Public Health Policy at the University of Toronto announced that in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis. – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these targeted measures are being implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. Measures under a modified Stage 2 include:
        1. Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
        2. Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
        3. Closing of:
          1. Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
          2. Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
          3. Indoor cinemas;
          4. Performing arts centres and venues;
          5. Spectator areas in racing venues;
          6. Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
        4. Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
        5. Reducing the capacity limits for:
          1. Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
          2. Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
          3. In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
          4. Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and
        6. Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).
      • Given the extraordinary costs associated with these functions, wedding receptions scheduled for this weekend may proceed under existing public health rules. Effective Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., updated public health measures will apply to wedding receptions, including new gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors at event spaces.
      • In addition to the measures being implemented in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is also urging all Ontarians to:
        1. Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
        2. Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
        3. Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
        4. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.
      • As these necessary public health measures come at a cost to small businesses, Ontario has planned to and will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.
      • This support will be provided by the province and will be made available in any region where these measures are necessary. More details will be released in the coming days.
    • Question Period:
      • Is there any thought to “locking down” those at the greatest risk? Dr. Williams, “in the first wave we did not lock down seniors, except those over 70.” He asked that seniors limit their contacts and activities.
      • Others have been pushing for these measures for some time, it seems like you were the last one to see this coming. Did you take too long? Premier, “I take the advice of our health table. I was briefed last night at 7 p.m. I made a decisive decision.” He said that he was immediately on the phone with the Minister of Finance regarding supports as well as with the Deputy Prime Minister, who announced funding for small businesses impacted by public health closures today. “This was the toughest decision I have made since becoming Premier. If I didn’t make this decision now I would have been negligent.”
      • What do you think went wrong? Dr. Williams put the blame on the public. Are you getting the best advice? Premier, “I have complete confidence in Dr. Williams and the other doctors and specialists around the health table.” The Premier compared Ontario to Quebec, which is the closest in size and is also seeing an increase in cases and community spread. Dr. Williams, “the responsibility is on all of us. You can’t test or contact trace your way out of this.” He said people got casual, with the public health measures and their social circles. Contact tracing in the first wave had contacts at about 3 to 5 people, now we are seeing contacts well over 10 and in some cases 100. “It’s our job collectively to work on this.”
      • Does the Province have the authority take these measures? Premier, “we do have the powers. We checked with legal. We have to act now.” Minister Elliott, “we have the legal authority to take the measures we are. It will be better for our economy if we take these steps now.”
      • Regarding the supports that are in place for affected business. Minister Phillips, we have been working with the Federal government as well as the municipalities regarding the property tax rebates. The Deputy Prime Minister was moved by the Premier’s request.” He said if there was an expansion of these public health measures to other communities the Provincial assistance would be available to businesses in those communities as well.

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020:

  • FEDERAL/PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s joint Federal and Provincial briefing:
      • Today the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, today announced their commitment to Ford Motor Company of Canada’s investment in its Oakville Assembly Complex. – Federal Media Release, Provincial Media Release
      • This project, valued at $1.8 billion, will include federal and provincial contributions of $295 million each. This will help secure 5,400 well-paying middle class jobs across Ford’s production workforce in Canada and grow our green economy, especially in Southern Ontario where thousands of Canadians are employed across the auto supply chain. A repurposed battery-electric vehicle (BEV) production plant for the Oakville Assembly Complex is in line with the Government of Canada’s commitment to sustainable growth. Electrification will allow us to position the innovative Canadian automotive industry as a global leader in BEV manufacturing.
      • Building electric vehicles here in Ontario is a critical component in securing future investments across the electric vehicle value chain. This includes opportunities for the province’s mining industry, because electric vehicle batteries require various minerals found in Ontario’s North. In addition to securing the future of the Oakville Assembly Complex, this investment is a major win for the auto parts industry in Ontario and its 63,000 workers who help build parts and components for vehicles assembled in the province and abroad.
    • Question Period:
      • The Prime Minister was about his thoughts on people going to private clinics for COVID tests. PM, “one of the foundational elements of our country is our universal health care system. No one should have to pay for a COVID test.” He said that he has asked the Health Minister to “lean into this” issue. “It is unacceptable for people to have to wait in line for hours to get a test, or for their results.”
      • The PM was asked to comment on the cancellation of the rebate program in Ontario for electric vehicles. The PM, said he would encourage government’s across the country to do their part.
      • The Federal government recruited thousands of volunteers to help with contact tracing. Were the Provinces asked if they needed the volunteers? PM, “contact tracing is essential. We knew we needed to make resources available to the Provinces. We let the Provinces know we had resources available to support them.” Premier Ford, thanked the PM for the offer of contact tracing assistance. “We will continue to train contact tracers.”
      • The PM and the Premier were asked about their relationship. The PM, “different orders of government have come together to work on the pandemic. Our goals are the same, to keep people safe and bring our economy back. People can have confidence that governments are working together to support them.” Premier Ford, “ it’s about working together to come up with solutions. We are all working together collaboratively, with all levels of government so we can come back stronger.”
    • Today’s other Provincial announcements:
      • Ontario Supporting Local Festivals and EventsMedia Release
        1. Ontario is investing $9 million through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program to support municipalities and event organizers during COVID-19. This funding will be used to maintain public safety requirements and allow people to reconnect with their communities through online, drive-through and other innovative experiences. Organizers will be developing creative programs such as virtual Remembrance Day events, reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year’s Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings.
        2. The application period for the Reconnect Festival and Event Program runs from October 8 to December 1, 2020.
        3. The Reconnect Festival and Event Program is open to organizers with a minimum $50,000 operating budget and the capacity to safely reconnect Ontarians with their communities.

Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on October 7, 2020 Statement
      • One important part of slowing the spread of COVID-19 is testing which helps to rapidly identify cases. This ensures cases can be isolated and cared for appropriately, and their close contacts reached as soon as possible. With elevated case numbers in a variety of regions across Canada, test and trace strategies need to be customized in order to address the local situation.
      • Currently approved testing methods include those which diagnose an active infection, such as molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These tests take nasal or throat swab samples and evaluate them in the laboratory. This method can be quite sensitive and provides results in about one to three days.
      • Rapid antigen testing is another type of diagnostic test, which can be done at a point-of-care, such as a pharmacy or doctor’s office, without the need of a laboratory. It still requires a nasal or throat swab, but can provide results in as little as 15 minutes. The antigen tests are not as sensitive as PCR laboratory tests, but are accurate in the early stages of infection when you are symptomatic and the viral load is higher. These can be helpful in regularly testing individuals in certain settings like remote work sites or crowded facilities as well as in outbreak settings to quickly identify those who have been exposed to ensure rapid public health action.
      • All tests currently available in Canada must be performed by a health care professional. At this time, there are no at-home test kits authorized for sale in Canada.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier started his remarks today by saying, very clearly that “we ask people to spend the holiday with only the people you live with. If you are alone you can pair up with another household.”
      • The Premier was joined by, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions today to announce that the government is providing an additional $176 million this year to help expand access for critical mental health and addictions supports during COVID-19. – Media Release
      • This funding is part of the province’s investment of $3.8 billion over 10 years and enables Ontario’s comprehensive plan, A Roadmap to Wellness, to deliver high-quality care and build a modern, connected and comprehensive mental health and addictions system.
      • The increased funding will help address urgent gaps in care, enhance access to mental health and addictions services, create new supports and expand programs in several priority areas, including:
        1. Community-based services in English and French, including services for children and youth;
        2. Mental health and justice services;
        3. Supportive housing for individuals with serious mental health and addiction challenges, and who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless;
        4. Community and residential addictions, including treatment and care for opioid addictions;
        5. Increased supports for Indigenous peoples, families, and communities; and
        6. More hospital in-patient beds for mental health and addiction patients.
      • As part of this funding, the province is investing in targeted community and residential addictions services including:
        1. $4 million for nurse practitioners for detox services to improve the medical management of clients who are withdrawing from substance use in residential withdrawal management facilities;
        2. $8 million for addictions day and evening care to increase access to intensive non-residential addictions and substance use treatment services for youth and adults;
        3. $3.5 million for in-home/mobile withdrawal management services to increase access to community withdrawal management services for hard to service clients, including those located in rural areas; and
        4. Over $900,000 for an additional four inpatient beds at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to support capacity pressures at CAMH.
      • Premier Ford, Minister Elliott and Minister Tibollo joined CAMH to celebrate the grand opening of the third phase of their historic redevelopment project. The McCain Complex Care and Recovery Building and the Crisis and Critical Care Building will transform mental health care in the province, with spaces that support recovery and promote community integration for patients in a connected and coordinated system of care.
    • Question Period:
      • Are there any additional supports coming for small businesses (something more meaty than what was announced today by Minister Sarkaria)? The Premier said that he was consulting with Ministers Phillips and Fideli and there would be a further announcement next week.
      • The City of Toronto feels they have provided you with the data required, to make a decision about restaurants. The Premier said that his decisions are based on the advice of Dr. Williams and the Health Table. He said, “I’m not going to the impact the lives of 7,600 business owners because of 20 bad actors. Can you imagine the impact that would have on their mental health? I can’t destroy 7,600 businesses over a few bad actors.”
      • Yesterday, you said twice we were flattening the curve? Isn’t it too early to say that? The Premier, “you are right. We have to be careful about saying that. I just want to make it through Thanksgiving with the protocols and guidelines we have in place.”
      • When will you and Dr. Williams respond to Dr. De Villa’s request? “I can’t speak for Dr. Williams.” “Sometimes the messaging isn’t as clear as it should be, including myself.” He said that all levels of government need to be clear with their communications. Regarding Dr. De Villa, “I know she feels that she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. We are going to work with her and her team.”
      • How concerned are you about Thanksgiving? Premier, “we are always concerned around holidays, because people are getting together. Please just stick to your household. Is it tough on everyone? Is it tough on our family? Yes it is.” Minister Elliott, “the numbers are very concerning and we are watching them very closely. That’s why we are asking people to only gather with their households over Thanksgiving.” She reminded people that the best course of action is to wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, physically distance and stay home if you aren’t feeling well.

Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier was joined by, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Yaffe, Associate Medical Officer of Health, and Matt Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health.  The Premier announced that  Ontario has completed over four million COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the pandemic and continues to lead the country in both the number of tests completed and daily testing capacity. – Media Release
      • In partnership with Ontario Health, Public Health Ontario, local public health units, hospital and community laboratories, the government has developed a province-wide integrated laboratory system. At the start of the outbreak, Ontario was conducting 4,000 tests per day. The province is now well on its way to building the capacity to process 50,000 daily tests by mid-October and 68,000 daily tests by mid-November to ensure readiness to effectively respond to any surges in cases or outbreaks.
      • Expanding the province’s testing capacity has been imperative to tackling the second wave of COVID-19. In an effort to expand this access, the province has expanded testing sites to participating pharmacies. Currently, 77 pharmacies across the province are collecting COVID-19 samples with over 5,800 samples collected since September 25, 2020. Ontarians who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are eligible for testing within provincial testing guidance may visit a select pharmacy by appointment for a free test, with or without a valid Ontario Health Card. Additional pharmacies will be offering testing in the coming weeks.
      • As the weather begins to get cooler, assessment centres have shifted to online booking to provide certainty and convenience for those who need a test. This will complement telephone booking that remains available where used.
      • The best way to combat COVID-19 is to continue to follow strong public health advice that reduces the risk of transmission and helps keep Ontarians safe.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked several times to clarify the message to Ontarians regarding Thanksgiving. Reporters said the messaging from the Province on this has been confusing. The Premier, “I am hearing the opposite.” He said that comparing people gathering in your home to people going to restaurants was like comparing “apples to bananas.” “At restaurants they have protocols in place, only six people are allowed at a table, they take everyone’s name.” He said that “Thanksgiving is going to make or break things. We have a big family. I told Karla only ten people.” He went on to say, “hang off the hugging and kissing.”
      • Is it 10 people or is it only the people in your household? The Premier, “stay within your household.” Dr. Yaffe, “COVID is spread from person to person. Minimize your interactions with people you don’t know. We are hoping people will stick within their household this year for Thanksgiving.” If someone lives alone they can be invited into your household. Dr. Yaffe said her son, who lives alone will be coming to her house for Thanksgiving.
      • How many people are you having over for Thanksgiving? The Premier, “I need to confirm.”
      • The Premier was asked again about closing restaurants. Premier, “I don’t want to target restaurants. They are holding on by their finger nails.” He said that he has spoken to Mayors Crombie, Brown and Watson and “they support what we are doing.” He said again that he hasn’t seen the “hard core data” to warrant closing restaurants.
      • It’s almost impossible to book a testing appointment in Toronto. Premier, “if you don’t have symptoms, don’t get tested.” Matt Anderson, “the key thing is safety. Having people without symptoms line up with people without symptoms to get a test isn’t safe.” He said that they wanted focus on safety and convenience. Booking appointments will allow for improved turn around times for results. He said that they will be working with hospitals to ensure testing capacity is being provided in the right places.

Monday, Oct. 5, 2020:

  • What’s Open and Closed at the City of Burlington on Thanksgiving Day
  • Mayor Meed Ward’s Weekly Update: October 5-12, 2020
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • At his briefing today the PM was joined by Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo.
      • The PM said the number of cases continue to rise throughout the country.
      • He urged Canadians to continue to wear masks, wash their hands frequently and maintain physical distancing. Seven provinces have now launched the COVID Alert app.
      • The government’s main priority continues to be everyone’s safety. “We will continue to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes.”
      • He spoke with Mayor Tory and will be speaking with the mayors of Ottawa, Brampton, Montreal and Quebec City.
      • Dr. Tam said that Ontario and Quebec account for 80% of the daily new cases. We must all remain vigilant. “Some communities have re-instated some community based health measures to prevent the spread.”
      • She called on Canadians to “redouble efforts to follow public health measures we know to be successful – wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering and stay home if you are feeling sick.”
      • Dr. Tam’s Remarks
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked to comment on private testing. PM, “it is important for Canada to have an accessible, universal health care system.” He said that he would be speaking to the Minister of Health.
      • Are we losing the battle? The PM, “people need to make responsible choices now – wear a mask, stay home if you are sick and wash your hands. All Canadians need to do their part.”
      • Why were we caught flat footed? “Everything we have in place, has not been enough. With everything governments (of all levels) are doing to prepare for the second wave, ultimately it comes down to Canadians making smart choices.”
      • The PM was asked how often he was getting tested. He said that right from the beginning, when his wife was diagnosed, he has been following public health advice. Earlier in September, he had a “tickle in his throat”, he spoke to his doctor who recommended he get tested. He did and the results were negative. He stayed home for a few days and then went back to work. “Every step of the way I have been following public health advice.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier and Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce announced that the government is $35 million to provide additional immediate school board supports in the communities of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto and York Region to enhance public health measures and protection strategies as they confront higher rates of transmission in their communities. – Media Release
      • This funding is part of the government’s robust and comprehensive $1.3 billion plan to safely reopen classrooms across the province, including additional resources to help school boards hire more staff, keep class sizes low, and enhance cleaning in schools.
      • To further enhance the safety of students and staff, this funding will be used for:
        1. Providing increased distancing between students through the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators, and educational assistants; and
        2. Providing increased remote learning supports, including the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators and educational assistants, as well as devices for students who have chosen to learn remotely.
    • Question Period:
      • Should people avoid going to Peel, Ottawa and Toronto? Dr. Williams said that there are no internal provincial travel restrictions in place. “We have asked people to limit their social contacts at this time.”
      • What numbers would you have to see, before you close schools? Minister Lecce, “we have an obligation to keep our kids in school.” Dr. Williams. “ we are all working hard to keep schools open.” He said that local medical officers health are also concerned about keeping schools open.
      • Is the Province looking at moving high risk areas back to Stage 2? Dr. Williams, “we are reviewing the data from Toronto and Ottawa. We implemented changes on Friday. Dr. De Villa has asked for more extensive measures. The Health Table will continue to look at their data. We are also looking at we can do Provincially and what they can do locally.”
      • Regarding shutting down restaurants. The Premier was very reluctant to shut down restaurants, “without the hard core data.” “We’ll do it in a heartbeat, but we have to see evidence before taking someone’s livelihood away from them and shut their lives down. I want to exhaust every single avenue before I ruin someone’s life.”
      • The Premier was asked if he thought his messaging was confusing and if he thought people were tuning him out? He said, “we all have to be on the same page.” Referring to all levels of government. He said that everyone was collaborating and working together. “What it comes down to is you have use your judgement. You have to use common sense.” He said we have been “loosey goosey” but now everyone has to tighten their circles.  Minister Elliott, said that regarding Thanksgiving people should not be holding large gatherings and that vulnerable people should be protected.

Friday, Oct. 2, 2020:

Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the PM, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Michael Sabia, Chair of the Canada Infrastructure Bank announced $10 billion in new major infrastructure initiatives to create jobs and economic growth. The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) Growth Plan will help Canadians get back to work and is expected to create approximately 60,000 jobs across the country. The three-year plan will connect more households and small businesses to high-speed Internet, strengthen Canadian agriculture, and help build a low-carbon economy. – Media Release, Backgrounder
      • The Growth Plan will invest in five major initiatives:
        1. $2.5 billion for clean power to support renewable generation and storage and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories, and regions, including to northern and Indigenous communities.
        2. $2 billion to connect approximately 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities, so Canadians can better participate in the digital economy.
        3. $2 billion to invest in large-scale building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and help make communities more sustainable.
        4. $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects to help the agriculture sector enhance production, strengthen Canada’s food security, and expand export opportunities.
        5. $1.5 billion to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.
      • To accelerate the delivery of projects in which the CIB intends to invest, it will also allocate $500 million for project development and early construction works.
      • Today’s announcement is part of the government’s campaign to create over one million jobs to rebuild from the pandemic, and our more than $180 billion commitment to invest in new infrastructure across Canada
    • Question Period:
      • In the red zones in Quebec some businesses have been forced to close. What is the government doing to help? The PM, “ we are here for families. We unanimously passed legislation to provide direct income support, through EI, of $500/week to people who have lost their jobs.” The government is also extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. “We are looking at targeted ways to help small businesses. The Federal government will continue to support Canadians throughout this pandemic.”
      • Is the Infrastructure Bank looking at supporting the hospitality sector? Mr. Sabia, “our priority is to implement the $10 billion investment plan. We remain interested in broadening what the bank is involved in. Our focus is on building new infrastructure.”
      • The Bank has been slow to get money out the door. The PM, “we put forward something very innovative that we had to figure out how to deliver. This is a new way to leverage public and private money that will create benefits for Canadians and long-term prosperity for companies.” Mr. Sabia said the plan is to make announcements in 2020. “We analyzed hundreds of projects before making today’s announcements. This plan is built on real projects.”
      • How difficult is it going to be to attract third party investors in this economy? Mr. Sabia, “Canada is attractive for global investors. The issue will not be how to attract capital.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health announced that the Ontario government is supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages. This investment will help the province attract and retain the workforce needed to care for patients, clients and residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. – Media Release
      • The province is providing a temporary wage increase effective October 1, 2020 to over 147,000 workers who deliver publicly funded personal support services:
        1. $3 per hour for approximately 38,000 eligible workers in home and community care;
        2. $3 per hour for approximately 50,000 eligible workers in long-term care;
        3. $2 per hour for approximately 12,300 eligible workers in public hospitals; and
        4. $3 per hour for approximately 47,000 eligible workers in children, community and social services providing personal direct support services for the activities of daily living.
      • The temporary wage enhancement will be reviewed on a regular basis and could extend through March 31, 2021, in connection with regulations made under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.
      • This temporary wage enhancement continues to build on the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, which includes an investment of $26.3 million to support PSWs and supportive care workers.
    • Question Period:
      • Why is this pay raise not permanent? The Premier, “we are the first government to stand up for PSWs. Stay tuned.” He said that he would fight for them at budget time in March.
      • What are the metrics you consider if you have roll things back? Minister Elliott, “there are a variety of issues we consider including daily increases, hospital admissions, and the “r” factor.” Dr. Williams said that a variety of metrics are used and each one has a different impact. He said that the numbers are reviewed with local medical officers of health. He said that while they look at these metrics, there is also a “nuancing of the metrics.”
      • Since wave 2 will be worse, what will you be considering when deciding if we have to go back to Stage 2. Premier, “the best way we can help businesses is to follow the health guidelines.”  Dr. Williams said that when Stage 1, 2, and 3 were developed they were thinking about reopening things and schools were closed then. “ We are not looking at closing schools now. The approach now is different. The opening was Province-wide, what we are looking at now is more specific.” He said we are not looking at a repeat of Stage 2, instead the approach will be more “strategic or surgical.”
      • Are you planning any additional measures for restaurants?  Premier, “everything we do is evidence based. There has to be a justification before we close things down. The cases we are seeing in restaurants are amongst staff not patrons.” Dr. Williams, “ we are looking at the data. Most of the infections have been with staff who need to be more stringent when they are not with patrons. Some reports of staff coming to work that aren’t feeling well and staff working at various locations. We are getting information and advice form the local medical officers of health.”
      • Is there anything imminent coming for restaurants? Premier, “not right now, But everything, is on the table.”

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020:

  • Important Changes to COVID-19 Testing at Joseph Brant Hospital’s Assessment Centre and Drive-Thru Clinic
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to explain his decision making rationale using the four key public health indicators outlined in their Stage 2 and Stage 3 plans. The Premier said that both Dr. Williams and Minister Elliott were very pragmatic when it came to making decisions. He said that Dr. Williams, “gets it. He is trying to ensure there is a happy balance between taking care of people’s health and keeping the economy moving.” Dr. Williams said that he works together with a collection of different specialists and experts. “The first wave came on more suddenly and was travel related.” For this wave some measures will need to be done in a more targeted way. “Decisions need to be timely, efficient and effective. There is no easy formula.”
      • Your message is not getting though to young people. Why not use different platforms?  The Premier said the Province would be using TikTok . “Let’s be honest, young people know. Their parents tell them, their friends tell them.” They need to consider how their actions could impact their loved ones.
      • For the second wave what would be the projected number of cases and deaths with no intervention? Dr. Williams, “the projection is that by the second week of October we could see over 1,000 cases per day, if we do nothing. We were able to flatten the curve during the first wave. We can do it again.” He said people have gotten casual. “If we all do what we’re supposed to do we can flatten the curve again.”
      • Cabinet will be considering advice today from Dr. Williams about returning parts of Ontario to Stage 2, related to restaurants. Are you willing to tell 45,000 people in two cities their jobs are on the line? Premier, “everything is on the table. We aren’t rolling things back today. I’m not saying it’s never going to happen.” Dr. Williams, “it’s premature to make conclusions about decisions cabinet may make. It’s a different time. We are giving recommendations and advice to cabinet for their consideration.
      • What is your thought process for balancing the COVID numbers and imposing restrictions? Premier, “we take a very measured approach. I don’t believe in taking a hatchet to things. When you are talking about shutting down the economy – that’s an extremely tough decision. You have to measure the impact on people’s livelihoods. We weigh everything.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Releases Updated COVID-19 Modelling for Second Wave – Media Release / COVID-19: Modelling Update
        1. The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows the province is experiencing a second surge in cases similar to what other jurisdictions have experienced. The province is providing the public with full transparency about the consequences if Ontarians are not vigilant in adhering to public health measures. The Chief Medical Officer of Health says Ontarians must be vigilant in adhering to public health measures to reduce the number of new cases and the spread of the virus.
        2. Key highlights from the modelling update include:
          1. Ontario is currently on an upward trajectory similar to what its peer jurisdictions, including Victoria, Australia and Michigan in the United States, have experienced.
          2. Cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days.
          3. The growth in cases was initially in the 20 to 39 age group but now cases are climbing in all age groups.
          4. Forecasting suggests that Ontario could be around 1,000 cases per day in the first half of October.
          5. Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady, but it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.
          6. Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow.
          7. In order to reduce the spread and the number of new cases, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing and wearing a face covering.

Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020:

  • City of Burlington Challenging all Businesses to join in the “POST Promise”
  • Burlington Safe Restart Program to provide eligible small businesses with grants of up to $2,500 towards COVID-19 reopening guidelines
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister co-chairs high-level meeting to address economic devastation caused by COVID‑19 and announces new funding to fight the pandemic Media Release
      • Today, the Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau of Canada and Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres convened the second High-Level event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID‑19 and Beyond.
      • Heads of state, governments, and international organizations met to discuss how to bolster and urgently accelerate our global response to the immediate significant economic and human impacts of COVID‑19, and advance concrete solutions to international development over the medium and long-term.
      • During the meeting, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an additional $400 million in international development funding this year. This new funding will go to trusted partners on the ground fighting COVID‑19, and will enable Canada to support the recovery and resilience of developing countries. It will also address short-term humanitarian and development needs caused by the pandemic and other crises.
      • The pandemic has caused immense social and economic distress throughout the globe but it has acutely affected low- and middle- income countries. Through the High-Level event, the global community is coming together to enable recovery and build a future that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient.
    • Government of Canada signs agreement for COVID-19 rapid tests and analyzersMedia Release
      • The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, today announced that the Government of Canada has signed an agreement with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics ULC to purchase up to 7.9 million ID NOW rapid point-of-care tests, pending Health Canada authorization of the tests.
      • If authorized, these tests would be deployed to provinces and territories to support them in ramping up surge capacity for COVID-19 testing.
      • Under the agreement with Abbott, the Government of Canada is also purchasing up to 3,800 analyzers, which are the devices that perform the test and deliver the rapid results.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlight from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merillee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that the Ontario government is investing close to $540 million to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes from future surges and waves of COVID-19. The funding is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. Media Release
      • As part of the Fall Preparedness Plan, the government is enabling necessary renovations and measures to improve infection prevention and control, shoring up personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles, and building a strong health care workforce.
      • The new investments include:
        1. $405 million to help homes with operating pressures related to COVID-19, including infection prevention and containment measures, staffing supports, and purchasing additional supplies and PPE;
        2. $61.4 million for minor capital repairs and renovations in homes to improve infection prevention and control. These repairs and renovations may include minor upgrades to support physical distancing, plumbing or water supply cleaning, updating HVAC systems, or repairing or replacing furniture and equipment that cannot be fully cleaned;
        3. $40 million to support homes that have been impacted by the changes in occupancy numbers due to COVID-19. As the sector has been directed to stop admissions of third and fourth residents to larger rooms, a key source of income for each operator will be impacted. This funding will help stabilize the homes through the transition to lower occupancy rooms;
        4. $30 million to allow long-term care homes to hire more infection prevention and control staffing, including $20 million for additional personnel and $10 million to fund training for new and existing staff. This new funding will enable homes to hire over 150 new staff;
        5. $2.8 million to extend the High Wage Transition Fund to ensure that gaps in long-term care staffing can continue to be addressed during the pandemic;
          1. Provide all long-term care homes with access to up to eight weeks of supply of PPE so they are prepared in case of outbreaks. This supply will be available starting the week of October 5, 2020. The province will also continue to deliver PPE within 24 hours of urgent requests;
        6. The government continues to look at innovative solutions to provide more care where and when people need it. Through the skills of community paramedics and working with municipal partners, the government will be making an investment to help people on the long-term care waitlist stay in their own homes longer.
      • The province will also be making changes to its visitor policy to long-term care homes, to ensure that long-term care homes in areas of highest community spread are able to continue to keep residents safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their homes. Effective Monday, October 5, 2020, visitors to long-term care homes in these areas will be restricted to staff and essential visitors only, which includes essential caregivers.
      • Residents and substitute decision-makers are encouraged to identify up to two individuals as essential caregivers. Doing so will ensure the continuation of visits and support the physical and mental well-being of residents at the home.
      • Essential caregivers must continue to follow all public health measures, including having a negative COVID-19 test within two weeks of a visit, passing active screening at the home, wearing a mask and additional PPE as directed, and practising frequent handwashing.
    • Question Period:
      • Isn’t it too late to be announcing money for renovations? The Premier said that they have made several previous announcements for long-term care homes. “We’re doing quite a bit.” Minister Fullerton, “many homes have not been in outbreaks. This announcement give homes the opportunity to provide more infection controls.”
      • Why are you making this announcement now, shouldn’t this have been done weeks ago? The Premier said there are 78,000 people living in long term care homes and there are currently only 78 cases of COVID. “We are throwing everything we can at this.” He told reporters to stay tuned for an announcement over the next couple of days regarding how the government will be supporting PSWs.
      • The Premier and Dr. Williams were asked to comment on the Toronto Medical Officer of Health saying that social bubbles aren’t working in Toronto. Dr. Williams said that the concept of social bubbles is one they value. But, the question is how vigilant people have been with their social bubbles. “People have become less disciplined and more casual. Can people be trusted to maintain the integrity of their social bubbles? We will see if there are any further measures needed in these hot zones (Toronto, Peel and Ottawa).”
      • Wait times at assessment centres are hours long, have you lost control of the situation? Premier, “absolutely not. I spoke with the Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister about the rapid test and now Abbott is coming out with a rapid test. This rapid test is a game changer. The whole country combined isn’t doing as many test as we are in Ontario.”
      • Shouldn’t you be closing things down now, like Quebec is doing? Premier, “things are very different in Quebec. Outbreaks are higher and they are doing less testing.” Dr. Williams, also said the situation in Quebec is very different than Ontario. “We are looking at further enhancing measures. We are trying to better understand what is causing the regional increases.”
      • What about Thanksgiving and Halloween? Dr. Williams said that both are being discussed at the Health Table. “We want people to tighten up their bubbles. There will be specific advice about Thanksgiving soon.”

Monday, Sept. 28, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on September 28, 2020 – Statement
      • As I have discussed previously, the ongoing increase in Canada’s daily case count is an indicator of accelerated epidemic growth in some regions of this country. While Canadians and public health authorities alike are rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be mindful that we are doing so in the midst of an “infodemic.” That is an overabundance of information about COVID-19, including rumours and misinformation, sometimes deliberately spread.
      • During any public health crisis, access to reliable, accurate and timely information is essential to protect our health. This is being recognized today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
      • Public health officials across Canada have been working tirelessly to provide Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19.
      • I urge everyone to consider the source of the information they share with others. And when we come across new information, we need to think critically about it, check the source and not share it further, if there any doubt about its credibility.
      • For additional trustworthy information about COVID-19, the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/coronavirus, is a good place to start. You can also find reliable information on your provincial and local health agency website, as well as from international agencies like the World Health Organization and the Red Cross.
    • Other news:
      • GTHA Mayors and Chairs committed to fighting COVID-19 resurgenceMedia Release
        1. Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area met to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the resurgence. They noted with serious concern escalating case count numbers in large parts of the region.
        2. The Mayors and Chairs thanked the provincial government for taking action on Friday to reduce restaurant and bar hours based on public health advice to help stop the spread of COVID-19. We believe strategic action like this is needed to target hot spots while keeping the vast majority of businesses open across the GTHA.
        3. All the Mayors and Chairs are consulting with their local Medical Officers of Health about what further action should be taken now in light of escalating case counts. A number of municipalities on the call indicated they were seriously considering further restrictions on restaurant capacity as part of a broader concern about the spread of COVID-19 in those settings.
        4. Concern was also expressed about capacity related issues as relates to banquet halls and the desirability of examining this sector from a health and consistency standpoint.
        5. Given that every public health action will have an impact on the businesses focused on, the Mayors and Chairs will continue to advocate for financial support from the provincial and federal governments to support businesses who are doing the right thing and complying with public health measures.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that the Ontario government is investing $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers to ensure our health care system can meet any surge in demand, while continuing to provide safe and high-quality care to patients and long-term care residents. This investment is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. – Media Release
      • In order to increase and stabilize the health care workforce, the province is investing an additional $26.3 million to support personal support workers (PSWs) and supportive care workers, including:
        1. $14 million for the Personal Support Worker training funds to continue training PSWs in the home and community care and long-term care sectors;
        2. $10.3 million for the new Personal Support Worker Return of Service Program, to recruit and retain recent graduates to work in long-term care homes and in the home and community care sectors. This program will provide a $5,000 incentive to 2,000 recent graduates for a six-month commitment to work in these settings;
        3. $1.3 million to train 160 supportive care workers to provide basic home support services; and
        4. $700,000 in accelerated PSW training for 220 students with prior health experience to practice in Ontario.
      • The province is investing an additional $26 million to support nurses, including:
        1. $18 million for Ontario’s Nursing Graduate Guarantee program, which provides full-time salary and benefits for over 600 nurses with a focus on recruiting in areas of need such as long-term care homes and acute care settings; and
        2. Up to $8 million to add over 800 nurses to the health system in areas of need across the province.
      • The province is supporting frontline workers, families and caregivers by:
        1. Investing $200,000 to improve the matching algorithm for the Ontario Matching Portal, which will enable employers to get faster matches that best meet their needs;
        2. Expanding training, tools and resources available to frontline workers across the social services sector; and
        3. Continuing to update visitor policies for congregate care settings, including long-term care, that promote family and caregiver involvement to support better care and reduce isolation.
      • The Premier confirmed that Ontario is in the second wave of COVID
    • Question Period:
      • How will the second wave be worse? Dr. Williams, said “the potential is that it can be worse, we are on the upward slope of the second wave. If its is a tsunami wave, it will be far worse, like we have seen in other countries.” He also said that the command table is watching key metrics like: hospitalizations, ICU usage, LTC cases, percent positivity, etc., which are nudging up, which is also why the Province wasn’t to get ahead of the curve. “We need to try and flatten this curve. We have to hunker down.”
      • Do we know if the virus has mutated? Dr. Williams said, “there have been some mutations taking place, but we do not know what affect it is having on the virus.” “We are doing a lot more testing now of young people than we were during the first wave. The first wave had a greater impact on the older population.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on Ontario Hospital Association’s request to move Toronto and other regions back to Stage 2. Minister Elliot, “ we can understand the concerns of hospitals. We are taking advice from Dr. Williams and the public health table. “We don’t want to have to go back to Stage 2, but we will do whatever we have to protect Ontarians.”
      • What are the thresholds for moving back to Stage 2? Dr. Williams, said they are watching things at the public health table. “Unlike the first wave where there were cases throughout the Province, most cases are now concentrated in dense urban areas. We have better data.” He also said that if measures had to be taken they would be done in connection with the local Medical Officers of Health and would be more selective and focused on specific areas of risk. “We know where the outbreaks are happening. It is presenting itself differently in different parts of the province. The approach will be different than before.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on a motion by Toronto Councillor Stephen Holyday asking that all City issued phones automatically have the COVID Alert APP loaded on them. The Premier supports this. “All government employees with a government phone, should download the APP. The cell phones are the property of the taxpayers.”

Friday, Sept. 25, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, September 25, 2020 – Speech
      • We are continuing to see an increase in daily case counts nationally, with the most rapid rises in Quebec and Ontario. The number of COVID-19 cases in hospital is also on the rise in these two provinces, as well as in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. These are worrying signs. We know how quickly the virus can spread. These surges in cases can overwhelm public health and health care system resources in localized areas.
      • The latest epidemiological analysis and modelling studies show that unless we work together now to slow the spread of the virus, we will face a big resurgence in areas currently experiencing increasing COVID-19 activity.
      • Local public health authorities cannot do this alone.  Each of us must take action to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.
      • This is why we all need to re-commit to following the individual protective measures that we know work, including physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing a non-medical mask in closed spaces, crowded places and close contact situations when distancing is difficult.  And most importantly, stay home and self-isolate if you experience any symptoms, even mild ones.
      • I also urge everyone to limit their in-person close contacts, as much as possible.  We all have different responsibilities when it comes to being in close contact with others, but remember that every person you encounter brings their whole network of contact history with them.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that the Ontario government is investing $741 million to help clear the backlog of surgeries and build more capacity in the health care system to effectively manage surges and outbreaks in COVID-19 cases. This is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. The plan will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities. – Media Release
      • To support the health care system as it works to reduce surgical backlogs and improve access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario has already taken the following actions:
        1. Released A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a comprehensive framework to help hospitals assess their readiness and begin planning for the gradual resumption of scheduled surgeries and procedures, while maintaining their ability to respond to COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season; and
        2. Invested in virtual care providing alternatives to in-person care that limit the transmission of COVID-19, while maintaining access to care.
      • Ontario is making the necessary investments to expand access to services and surgical and procedural backlogs by:
        1. Investing up to $283.7 million to support additional priority surgeries including cancer, cardiac, cataract, and orthopedic procedures;
        2. Extending diagnostic imaging hours at health care facilities for MRIs, CT scans, and other critical procedures;
        3. Adding an additional 139 critical care beds and 1,349 additional hospital beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province to support more surgical procedures; and
        4. Working to initiate a centralized waitlist and a program to optimize the use of the operating rooms to improve the use of existing resources and increase the number of surgical procedures in hospitals by hundreds on average per year, and improve patient flow by leveraging available surgical capacity in each region.
      • Ontario is also preparing to respond to any potential surges of COVID-19 without interrupting the delivery of routine health care services. For this reason, the government is investing $457.5 million to increase community capacity, including home and community care, to help reduce pressure on the health care system and expand the delivery of care.
      • Ontario will continue to protect the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians and ensure they can access the routine health services they need by:
        1. Expanding access to virtual emergency department services and giving patients the option of virtual pre- and post-surgery appointments, to support surgical care transitions when appropriate to do so;
        2. Helping up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the right level of care in a home or community setting to help add more capacity in hospitals; and
        3. Increasing home and community care service volumes by investing $100 million to add an additional 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.
    • Question Period:
      • You have said that the lineups for testing are because of Health Canada. We have talked to people in the lines and they say the lines are because children can’t go to school with a runny nose. Premier, “Health Canada plays a massive role in this. If we had the rapid test, we wouldn’t have the line ups.” Minister Elliott said the issue of runny noses as a symptom has been referred to the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Health table. The public health nurses will be available at schools soon and can help with evaluating symptoms.
      • Will kids be allowed to go to school with runny noses? Minister Elliott, “parents should continue to use the daily screening tool.” She also suggested that parents seek care from their family doctors.
      • Are we in a second wave? Minister Elliott, will leave that determination to the Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We are seeing a worrisome number of cases. A doubling of cases  every 10 days requires action.”
      • When did bars and restaurants become the problem? What changed? Premier, “we have to be precautionary.” He said that there have been some outbreaks in nightclubs and that Mayor Tory and other mayors have asked him for these changes.
        1. Modelling data will be released next week.
      • The Premier has said that municipalities could make these changes why is the province making them? The Premier, “the influx in cases is very concerning. I know restaurants are hurting. But, not too many people are having dinner at 12 and nightclubs have been concerning. The economy is important but the health and safety of Ontarians is more important.”
      • There was a question about the change in testing guidelines. Minister Elliott agreed that there was some confusion. She said that asymptomatic people that are essential workers should get tested at a pharmacy. People who have symptoms or have received an alert through the COVID app should go to assessment centres.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • New Public Health Measures Implemented Provincewide to Keep Ontarians Safe – Media Release
        1. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health experts, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, to tighten public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19.
        2. Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases. Private social gatherings continue to be a significant source of transmission in many local communities, along with outbreak clusters in restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments, including strip clubs, with most cases in the 20-39 age group. To ensure the continued health and safety of Ontarians, reduce the risk of transmission, and limit future outbreaks of COVID-19, the amended order will apply province-wide effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday September 26 and will:
          1. Apply additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. (including employees), and requiring establishments to close by 12:00 a.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m. except for takeout or delivery;
          2. Close all strip clubs across the province; and
          3. Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.
        3. In addition, the province will work with the municipal sector and other partners to encourage increased enforcement of existing businesses, facilities, workplaces, etc. to comply with all public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in the Stage 3 regulation.
        4. It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice in order to stop the transmission of COVID-19 and protect our communities This includes: staying home when ill or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms; practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle or at gatherings; protecting your circle; wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and adhering to gathering limits and rules.

Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Government of Canada introduces legislation to support Canadians through Recovery Benefits and extend access to funds for emergency measures – Media Release
      • Today, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the introduction of Bill C-2, to create three new temporary Recovery Benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
      • These new Benefits are being proposed as part of the Government of Canada’s plan to support Canadians as we work to build back a stronger, more resilient economy. Since the introduction of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) in the early days of the pandemic, at a time when we asked Canadians to stay home, close to 9 million Canadians have received the Benefit to help to pay their bills and support their families.
      • Subject to this legislation receiving Royal Assent, the new Benefits would provide income support to Canadians while promoting economic recovery by introducing measures that encourage people to safely return to work. Specifically, the legislation includes:
        1. A Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support. This Benefit would support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%. These workers must be available and looking for work, and must accept work where it is reasonable to do so;
        2. A Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. This Benefit supports our commitment to ensure all Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave; and,
        3. A Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine.
      • To help build a stronger workforce, the Government of Canada will also invest an additional $1.5 billion in the Workforce Development Agreements with provinces and territories to offer Canadians the skills training and employment supports they need.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, announced today that the Ontario government is building on the largest provincial testing initiative in Canada by providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management. The government is also immediately investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province’s long-term care homes, retirement homes and schools. These investments are part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. – Media Release
      • A critical part of Ontario’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan is encouraging people to continue to adhere to foundational public health measures and monitor public health trends carefully. That’s why the province is investing $1.07 billion to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19.
      • Ontario will strengthen public health measures and continue to expand testing and case and contact management through the following:
        1. More Testing Locations
        2. More Testing Options: Ontario will ensure health professionals can provide more people with timely and convenient tests by expanding the methods for COVID-19 testing. Less invasive collection methods, such as throat, nasal swabbing and saliva collection will now be used in addition to nasopharyngeal swabs to test for COVID-19. Starting this week, three Ontario hospitals are offering saliva collection, with more assessment centres offering this option in the coming weeks. The province continues to review innovative technologies, such as rapid and point of care tests, to ensure Ontarians have access to leading and faster testing options.
        3. More Testing Capacity: As a first step, the province will increase testing capacity to conduct up to 50,000 daily tests.
        4. More Case and Contact Managers: Ontario will continue to add case and contact management staff to prevent the spread of the virus.
      • Better Health Behaviour Information: Ontario will conduct health behaviour surveillance to track adherence to public health measures across Ontario and to help understand how to better communicate the importance and benefit of continuing to follow public health measures.
      • With the flu and cold season approaching and a potential second wave of COVID-19, Ontario will invest $30 million to build on its efforts to rapidly identify and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to comment on yesterday’s throne speech. He said that he didn’t believe that the federal government should be involved in areas that are Provincial responsibilities. “If the Federal government took over health care, I think it would be an absolute disaster. We don’t need their support with conditions. Every Premier feels the same way, that the Federal government should not be involved in things that are provincial responsibilities.”
      • Why does the draft plan (the CBC have) say that the Province won’t go back to Stage 2? Premier, “if the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Health Table say we should go back to Stage 2, we will. Everything is on the table.” Minister Elliott, “we will do everything we need to do to protect every Ontarian. We don’t want to have to go back to Stage 2. But, ultimately if it is necessary to take other steps we won’t hesitate to do that.”
      • Where will all these additional tests be processed? The Premier said they are trying to use every lab that is available and has capacity. He said it comes down to the capacity of lab technicians.
      • What guidance would you give parents who have a child that has been sent home from school with the sniffles? Premier, “no one showing symptoms will be refused a test.” Minister Elliott, said that the 500 public health nurses will be able to help with symptom management at schools. “They will determine whether children need to be tested, should stay at home or simply have a case of the sniffles.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Updates COVID-19 Testing Guidelines – Statement
        1. Today, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health issued the following statement outlining updated COVID-19 testing guidelines for Ontario:
        2. As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, the province must also adapt its approach to testing. With the upcoming flu and cold season approaching, we need to ensure Ontario’s publicly-funded testing resources are available for those who need them the most, such as school children and others with symptoms of COVID-19. That’s why, in consultation with health experts and Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel, Dr. David Williams and I have recommended Ontario update testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at the greatest risk, while shifting away from untargeted asymptomatic testing.
        3. Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if you are:
          1. Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
          2. Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
          3. A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit; and
          4. Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
        4. Starting on September 25, you can get tested for COVID-19 at select pharmacies if you are not showing symptoms and eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
        5. Our best defence against COVID-19 is still to follow all public health measures like practicing physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill even with mild symptoms, so we can stop the spread.

Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’sThrone Speech
      • At 6:30 p.m. The Prime Minister will deliver an address to the nation. It will be broadcast live on CTV, CBC, Global, Rogers TV, LCN, and CPAC.
      • There are two distinct needs. The first is to help Canadians in the short term, to do whatever it takes, using whatever fiscal firepower is needed to support people and businesses during the pandemic. The best way to keep the economy strong is to keep Canadians healthy. The second need is to build back better, with a sustainable approach for future generations. As the Government builds a plan for stimulus and recovery, this must be done responsibly.
      • Infrastructure
        1. To keep building strong communities, over the next two years the Government will also invest in all types of infrastructure, including public transit, energy efficient retrofits, clean energy, rural broadband, and affordable housing, particularly for Indigenous Peoples and northern communities.
      • Environment
        1. This pandemic has reminded Canadians of the importance of nature. The Government will work with municipalities as part of a new commitment to expand urban parks, so that everyone has access to green space. This will be done while protecting a quarter of Canada’s land and a quarter of Canada’s oceans in five years, and using nature-based solutions to fight climate change, including by planting two billion trees.
        2. As part of its plan, the Government will:
          1. Create thousands of jobs retrofitting homes and buildings, cutting energy costs for Canadian families and businesses;
          2. Invest in reducing the impact of climate-related disasters, like floods and wildfires, to make communities safer and more resilient;
          3. Help deliver more transit and active transit options;
          4. And make zero-emissions vehicles more affordable while investing in more charging stations across the country.
        3. The Government will launch a new fund to attract investments in making zero-emissions products and cut the corporate tax rate in half for these companies to create jobs and make Canada a world leader in clean technology.
        4. The Government will ensure Canada is the most competitive jurisdiction in the world for clean technology companies.
        5. Additionally, the Government will:
          1. Transform how we power our economy and communities by moving forward with the Clean Power Fund, including with projects like the Atlantic Loop that will connect surplus clean power to regions transitioning away from coal;
          2. And support investments in renewable energy and next-generation clean energy and technology solutions.
      • CERB
        1. With the economic restart now well underway, CERB recipients should instead be supported by the Employment Insurance system. For people who would not traditionally qualify for EI, the Government will create the transitional Canada Recovery Benefit. Over the coming months, the EI system will become the sole delivery mechanism for employment benefits, including for Canadians who did not qualify for EI before the pandemic. This pandemic has shown that Canada needs an EI system for the 21st century, including for the self-employed and those in the gig economy.
      • Businesses
        1. The Government will help businesses adapt for the future and thrive. This fall, in addition to extending the wage subsidy, the Government will take further steps to bridge vulnerable businesses to the other side of the pandemic by:
          1. Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
          2. Improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
          3. And introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier, together with Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that the Province is providing people with convenient and timely access to free COVID-19 testing at pharmacies in the province. As of Friday, up to 60 pharmacies in Ontario will begin offering testing by appointment only, with further locations coming online in the coming weeks. This initiative will expand testing capacity well beyond the province’s 150 assessment centres. – Media Release
      • Pharmacies may choose to provide testing for Ontarians who have no COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals, within provincial testing guidance, will be able to visit select pharmacies by appointment only, and they will be pre-screened and then tested at no charge. When visiting a pharmacy Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures, including wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.
      • The expansion of COVID-19 testing to pharmacies is part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities.
      • In addition, Women’s College, Mount Sinai and University Health Network―Toronto Western Hospital assessment centres will be offering saliva testing this week. More assessment centres will offer this less invasive method in the coming weeks, giving Ontarians more options to access testing for COVID-19.
      • Backgrounder (includes the list of pharmacies that will do tests, none in Burlington)
    • Question Period:
      • How many people are being turned away from testing centres? The Premier, said that more tests are being done in Ontario than anywhere else in the country. He said that people with symptoms should not go to a pharmacy to get tested.
      • Is there an accurate picture of community spread? Premier, “we don’t have a crystal ball. We are ramping up testing.” Minister Elliott, “we are preparing for the worst. Our Fall plan takes this into consideration. We are following case counts on a daily basis.”
      • With 180 school related cases now in Ontario, will you consider shutting down schools? Premier, “everything is on the table. But the plan we developed is working.” He said things need to put into perspective – there are 2 million students in Ontario.
      • How many tests can pharmacies do a day? Premier, “we will monitor things. I think it will put a big dent in the numbers.” The Premier went on to say that he is waiting on Health Canada’s approval of salvia testing. He feels it will have an impact on the line ups for testing. “It is affecting the whole system. We would be able to test more people.”
      • Is the Province seeing a decline in in-class learning because of the cases? Premier said he understands parents wanting to keep their children at home. “We have the safest classrooms in the country. The larger the community spread the greater the chance COVID will get into schools and long term care homes.
      • Why did pharmacy testing take so long to come to Ontario? Premier, “ we are way ahead of Alberta, BC and Quebec. We are kicking everybody else’s butt.”
      • We are also seeing a backlog in processing, what is the Province doing about this? Premier, “we are reaching out to the private sector to help with processing. It’s all hands on deck.” Minister Elliott, “results also need to be provided in a timely manner. We are working with the private sector, universities and hospitals regarding any spare lab capacity they may have.”

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020:

  • Burlington Launches Digital Service Squad to Help Small Businesses Adopt Online Technologies with the help of $50K Digital Main Street Ontario Grant
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Update on COVID-19 in Canada: Epidemiology and Modelling – Presentation: update-covid-19-canada-epidemiology-modelling-Sept 22 2020
      • Epidemic growth is accelerating nationally
      • Incidence rates are increasing in provinces west of the Atlantic region
      • Short term projections show there could be 155,795 cases and up to 9,300 deaths by Oct. 3
      • Incidence has remained highest among young adults (20 to 39) since late June
      • Rapid detection and response to outbreaks is key to controlling the rate and extent of COVID-19 spread
      • Hospitalizations lag behind increase in reported cases but show early signs of increase
      • COVID-19 related deaths remain low
      • If the current rate of infection is maintained, the epidemic is expected to re-surge – but if that rate increases, it is expected to surge “faster and stronger”
      • To keep transmission at low levels or a “slow burn” we need both:
        1. Public health authorities
          1. Detect cases and trace contacts
          2. Monitor case/contact isolation and quarantine
          3. Mange risk of importation
          4. Detect and respond to outbreaks
        2. Individual Canadians
          1. Wash hands frequently
          2. Maintain physical distancing
          3. Wear a mask when distancing is difficult
          4. Stay home if experiencing any symptoms, even if mild
      • Long range forecast – Canada is at a crossroads and individual action to reduce contact rates will decide our path
      • With rising case counts and activities shifting indoors, we need to be even more vigilant
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford and Minister Elliott announced that the Ontario government is implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history. The campaign is part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. The plan, titled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, sets out a series of steps to prevent, identify and respond to any outbreak scenario this fall. – Media Release
      • The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:
        1. Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
        2. Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
        3. Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
        4. Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
        5. Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
        6. Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.
      • Given the size and complexity of the Keeping Ontarians Safe plan, the province will release details over the coming days.
      • The annual spread of the flu presents an additional challenge to Ontario’s response to future waves of COVID-19. That’s why the province is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. Ontario has implemented several measures, such as:
        1. Ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
        2. Prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes;
        3. Investing an additional $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program;
        4. For the first time in Ontario’s history, improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies; and
        5. Launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot.
      • The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older.
      • Both the Premier and Minister Elliott urged people to get a flu shot.
    • Question Period:
      • People are looking for more than just flu shots. The Premier said the plan is very robust. “We want to make sure people understand the plan, that’s why we are rolling it out over several days.” Flu cases backlog hospitals, so getting a flu shot is important. Minister Elliott, “flu shots are just one element of the Fall Plan. Several thousand people are hospitalized annually because of the flu. We want to take this burden away from hospitals. Our plan is very integrated and complex.”
      • With the recent spike in cases what other measures are on the table? Minister Elliott, “we have already taken measures – we have reduced unmonitored social gathering sizes and we will not be implementing any new reopening measures for two incubation cycles. Other steps may need to be taken. We are looking at different measures.”
      • The Premier was asked what he thought about private COVID-19 testing being offered for $400 a test. He said it was a free market society, but he encouraged people to go to the public testing sites.
      • Your mood has changed. What do the latest modelling numbers suggest? Premier, “I am concerned. I really am.” He was on the phone with the Deputy PM urging her to get the rapid testing approved by Health Canada. “It plays such a massive part in our testing plan.” Minister Elliott, “the Premier and I are very concerned with the rapid increase in cases. It is up to all Ontarians to do their part. Please follow the public health measures.”
      • Will there be changes at long term care homes due to the recent increase in cases? Premier, “99% of long term care homes are clear. We have one outbreak in Ottawa.” Minister Elliott, said the Province’s fall preparedness plan was developed in co-ordination with other ministries including education and long term care. Long term care home patients will be the first recipients of the flu vaccine.
      • BC has reduced the list of school screening symptoms, will Ontario consider doing the same? Minister Elliott, the Chief Medical Officer and the Public Health Table are in discussion with the Ministry of Education about the symptom list. “This will be an active conversation. The 500 public health nurses have been hired and will assist with the symptom review.”
      • What is the timeline for the flu vaccines? Minister Elliott, “we expect the first shipment of vaccines in the next week.” First recipients of the vaccine will be long term care home patients and staff, hospitals, retirement homes and other congregate living settings. The next shipment will come shortly after that. 

Monday, Sept. 21, 2020:

  • Ontario Limits the Size of Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings across Entire Province
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford talked about the issues he wanted to see addressed in this week’s throne speech. He wants the federal government to immediately lay out a plan to fund provincial priorities, including responding to future waves and surges of COVID-19, strengthening health and long-term care, increasing testing and quarantine enforcement at the border, and making strategic investments in infrastructure projects to spur long-term recovery. – Media Release
      • The Premier is calling for an increase to the Canada Health Transfer to cover at least 35 per cent of provincial-territorial health spending starting this year. The funding will be used to enhance the province’s fall preparedness plan and help end hallway health care. The Ontario government is making an unprecedented investment of $67 billion in health care this year.
      • The pandemic further underscored the need for increased investment in the long-term care sector. Ontario is calling on the federal government to provide immediate and ongoing supports to long-term care residents and those who care for them, including investments for staffing, infection prevention and control, and infrastructure funding to help build new beds and redevelop existing ones to provide quality homes for vulnerable seniors. The Ontario government is investing over $4.8 billion in long-term care this year.
      • Enforcing public health rules at the border is critical to help contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. That’s why the Ontario government is asking Ottawa to play a more active role in testing and enforcing quarantine measures in order to keep Ontarians safe. Increasing testing and screening at the border and hiring additional federal staff to enforce the quarantine rules are necessary, especially with case numbers on the rise. The province is also calling on the federal government to ensure an effective strategy is in place to expand testing and screening at the border before any restrictions are loosened.
      • The province is calling on the federal government to invest an additional $10 billion per year over 10 years in infrastructure. Ontario alone has nearly $10 billion in shovel-ready infrastructure projects over and above the approximately 750 submissions to the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
      • Additionally, Ontario has four nationally significant subway projects in the Greater Toronto Area with a total value of $28.5 billion that will support over 22,000 jobs and reduce annual emissions by over one million tonnes.
    • Question Period:
      • Have any elements of the fall preparedness plan been implemented? Minister Elliott said the plan will be brought forward over several days. The province has already increased testing and will be increasing lab capacity as well.
      • Why is the fall plan taking so long to unveil? Premier Ford, “you need to understand the situation is fluid. Things are changing day by day.” Minister Elliott, “we have been working on the plan for several months. The plan is very complex and takes the flu season, and medical procedures at hospitals into consideration.” The plan also required additional funds from the Federal government and internally to fund additional testing and lab capacity. Elements of the plan have already started to be implemented. “We are looking forward to sharing the plan with the people of Ontario.
      • Should the messaging change to address the long line ups for testing? Minister Elliott, “we people who are concerned about COVID to get tested. We are looking at extended the hours at busier locations and bringing in pop up testing facilities.” Dr. Yaffe said that certain groups are a higher priority for testing – people with symptoms and people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. “Testing is not the be all and end all. People need to wear a mask, wash their hands, and  stay home if they are not feeling well.”
      • What actions are you looking at to further clamp down? Premier Ford, “people can’t let their guard down. People need to continue to follow the health protocols.” Dr. Yaffe, “75% of the cases are in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa, but we are seeing more cases in other regions.” They are monitoring outbreaks in different settings and looking at what should be done in specific situations.
      • The Premier was asked for his thoughts on the car rally held in Ancaster over the weekend. The Premier admitted to attending car rallies. He said that this event was not a “show and shine.” Instead this event was held at night and those in attendance were actually street racing. He said that if there wasn’t a backlog for MRIs he would have the organizers get an MRI because he doesn’t believe they have “anything in there.” “If they had brains they would be dangerous.” He said that the organizers would be tracked down. He also said the treatment of CHCH reporter Nicole Martin, was appalling. He said, “bullying a woman was weak,” and he called them cowards. “Get your acts together.”

Friday, Sept 18, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today, Premier Ford was joined by Québec Premier François Legault, the incoming chair of the Council of the Federation, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for a news conference ahead of the federal Throne Speech next week.
      • Premier Ford and his fellow Premiers pressed the federal government on critical priorities for the people of Ontario, including strengthening frontline health care and moving shovel-ready infrastructure projects forward. – Media Release
      • The need for additional health care funding is urgent with rising case numbers across the country, a potential secondary wave of COVID-19 on the horizon, and ongoing work to modernize hospitals, long-term care homes and other health facilities. Ontario joins provincial and territorial partners in calling for a significant increase to the federal Canada Health Transfer to cover 35 per cent of provincial-territorial health costs and help meet urgent challenges, prepare for the future, and build stronger health care systems.
      • Premier Ford is also calling on Ottawa to reduce delays in federal approvals for current infrastructure projects and step up with an additional $10 billion per year over 10 years for shovel-ready projects. The province is seeking at least 40 per cent of total costs for the nationally significant $28.5 billion subway plan for the Greater Toronto Area, along with additional funding for broadband to expand and improve service to more rural, remote, and Northern communities. Supporting these projects will accelerate economic recovery by creating more jobs, providing more opportunities for local businesses, and improving the quality of life in these communities.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on September 17, 2020 – Statement
      • The ongoing increase in new cases being reported daily continues to give cause for concern. With continued circulation of the virus, the situation could change quickly and we could lose the ability to keep COVID-19 cases at manageable levels.
      • In the spring, Canadians acted decisively and together to help the country slow the spread of the virus. By following public health advice, cases of COVID-19 steadily declined through the late spring and early summer. This undoubtedly saved lives, protected the healthcare system from being overwhelmed, and helped many businesses, facilities and public spaces reopen in COVID-friendly ways over the summer.
      • However, the ongoing increase in daily case counts over many weeks, including outbreaks linked to private gatherings and events where public health guidelines, such as physical distancing and wearing of masks, were not followed continue to increase the risk for COVID-19 spread getting out of hand.
      • Remember, local public health authorities can’t do this alone; the actions of individual Canadians are key to keeping COVID-19 cases at manageable levels. I am asking Canadians to redouble their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Follow the latest public health advice, including recommendations of public health authorities in your jurisdiction and local area. This includes:
        1. avoiding crowded places;
        2. ensuring your social contacts bubble is limited to the number of people recommended by your jurisdiction;
        3. washing your hands frequently, or using a Health Canada-approved hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available;
        4. keeping two-metres of physical distance apart from people outside your close contact bubble, and
        5. layering on additional precautions such as wearing a non-medical mask any time you are in closed spaces, crowded places or close contact situations and when physical distancing is difficult.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford announced that after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and local municipal leaders, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, setting a new limit reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in three regions (Ottawa, Peel and Toronto) experiencing higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas. – Media Release
      • To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the amended order will set a new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored social gathering or organized public event in three specific regions to:
        1. 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
        2. 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).
        3. Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. These are not accumulative and gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.
      • This amended order will come into effect on September 18 at 12:01am.
      • The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures, for these businesses and facilities continue to be in effect.
      • To support better compliance with public health guidelines, both within these three regions and across Ontario, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, create:
        1. A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order
        2. A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings
        3. Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.
        4. Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises.
      • With a recent increase in cases of COVID-19, it remains vital for the government to continue to protect vulnerable populations. As well, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has  extended orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) to October 22, 2020. Orders in effect under the ROA will allow the government to maintain the flexibility it needs to address the ongoing and emerging risks as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice. This includes: staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms; practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings; protecting your circle; wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and adhering to gathering limits and rules.
    • Question Period:
      • Do the fines apply only to hosts? Hosts will be fined $10,000 and people attending the parties will be fined $750. The Premier referred to the behavior of the party organizers and attendees as reckless and not fair. He said, “I wonder: they must be a few fries short of a Happy Meal these people. They blatantly ignore the rules.”
        • Are you going to now look at capping class sizes? The Premier said this was comparing apples to oranges. These parties include, “drinking, hugging, kissing and spitting.” Minister Elliott, “we are talking about two totally different things. These parties are unmonitored events.” Dr. Williams referred to the structure that was in place for schools that includes cohorting, teacher supervision, social distancing and mask wearing. People attending these events take none of these precautions.
      • Will police be directed to enforce these new guidelines?  The Premier, will not direct police. He said that this law “will send a message to people who are recklessly not following the rules.”
      • Why aren’t wedding included in these gathering limits? The Premier said that weddings usually take place at banquet halls and restaurants where there are strict guidelines in place like temperature checks, social distancing and mask wearing. “This is very different than these parties wear people are going hog wild, swinging off trees.”
      • Why not get out ahead of things and put these new gathering limits in place in other regions? Dr. Williams, “the Public Health table is reviewing the data and is then consulting with local Chief Medical Officers of Health. We are dealing with the areas of most concern now. We may look at other areas in the near future. We are monitoring the situation and will adjust as necessary.”
      • What about the backlog in getting test results? Minister Elliott said their fall plan, which will be released soon, includes boosting lab capacity.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Introduces Legislation to Freeze Residential Rent in 2021 – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The bill would provide the vast majority of Ontario’s tenants with financial relief as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
        2. The Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act also proposes to change the Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the temporary ban on evictions for commercial tenants. The ban was initially in place from May 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, to align with the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This temporary ban would continue to apply to businesses that are eligible for federal-provincial rent assistance through the CECRA for small businesses, but their landlord chose not to apply for the program. The ban will protect small businesses from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19.
        3. Extending the ban on commercial evictions would allow Ontario to continue to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet, so they can create jobs and help rebuild the economy.
        4. This proposed legislation would also create a single register of voters for municipal and provincial elections, which is expected to be more accurate, could mean fewer corrections for voters at polling stations, fewer delays for people on election day, and may reduce costs for municipalities.

Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister announces next steps for Safe Restart Agreement – Media Release
      • The Prime Minister shared the details of the investments that will be made through the Safe Restart Agreement. This will provide continued support to Canadians, as we safely restart our economy and build a more resilient Canada.
      • Through the Agreement, reached earlier this summer, the Government of Canada announced over $19 billion in federal funding to help provinces and territories safely restart the economy. Provinces and territories were asked to outline in a letter how these funds would best be allocated within their jurisdictions, based on their priorities. The premiers have now submitted the letters (Letter from Premier Ford)  and the federal funding will be transferred to the provinces and territories.
      • The Safe Restart Agreement supports measures to increase testing and contact tracing to protect Canadians from future waves of the virus. It will help support the capacity of our health care systems, including through services for people facing mental health challenges. It will also provide municipalities with funding so they can quickly deliver essential services, like public transit, that Canadians rely on every day, and secure a reliable source of personal protective equipment for essential workers.
      • The Agreement will also provide direct support to Canadian workers, including safe child care to help parents returning to work. It will also provide income support for people without paid sick leave, and takes steps to protect the most vulnerable, like Canada’s seniors.
      • Funding will support the provinces and territories in their delivery and management of COVID-related response under seven key priorities:
        1. Testing, contact tracing, and data management
        2. Health care capacity, including mental health and substance use
        3. Protecting vulnerable populations, including seniors in long-term care facilities
        4. Securing personal protective equipment
        5. Child care for returning workers
        6. Support for municipalities, including for public transit
        7. Sick leave
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool to assist parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors that is required before attending school. The results will let parents, students, and education staff know whether they should attend school each day or guide at-risk individuals to proper resources. This tool is another layer of prevention that the province is using to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the communities where they live and work. – Media Release
      • The new easy-to-use tool is voluntary and available for all parents, students and staff to use to help screen for symptoms of illness every day. Users will simply respond to clinician-informed symptom and risk questions, and the tool will then immediately inform users whether it is safe to attend school that day. The tool protects privacy and does not collect any personal health information. The tool was also developed in house by the Ontario Digital Service at no additional cost to taxpayers.
      • In addition, local public health units have filled over 530 nursing positions, or 85 per cent, of the additional 625 nursing positions created to help keep students and staff safe. The nurses will be providing rapid-response support to schools and school boards in facilitating public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies. In order to ensure that schools are supported from the start of the school year, several public health units have temporarily redeployed existing nurses while recruitment activities continue.
      • As part of Ontario’s commitment for transparency, and in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Ontario Digital Service, the Ministry of Education has also launched a webpage to report COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres.
    • Question Period:
      • Can you give a firm timeline on when people can expect to see shorter lines? Premier, said that it was positive news that people are getting tested. “We have been working out the details with the private sector. We will have thousands of locations where people can get tested.” The announcement will be coming very soon, he couldn’t provide an exact date for the announcement.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on complaints regarding increased hydro rates. “We have helped people with the office peak rates. We are speaking with the Minister of Energy.” He said the government would maintain the off peak rates for as long as possible.
      • What might you do about the gathering sizes, will there be fines? The Premier said that he is trying to meet with the mayors in Ottawa, Brampton, Mississauga and Toronto. He is also speaking with all the chief medical officers of health in those areas. “Nothing will happen until I have spoken with them.” There has been agreement on the policies and guidelines by the mayors and CMOH. He said there were going to be severe fines. The policies will be under provincial jurisdiction and will be some of the highest in the country.
      • What do the models predict for the next few weeks? Minister Elliott, said it was concerning to see the numbers going up. “We are preparing for the various scenarios that we might face.” Dr. Huyer spoke about the importance of considering the before, during and after of attending an event. Before – who will be there, how many people will be there, who are their social circles. During – wear a mask, wash your hands, clinking glasses. After – do you have symptoms, stay home if you aren’t feeling well, get tested.
      • Why does it seem like the government was caught off guard regarding testing? Premier, “we weren’t caught off guard. The numbers of cases were 100 and then it seemed like over night the cases increased. We have been working with a number of private sector partners. These things don’t happen overnight. We’re ready.” Minister Elliott, spoke up testing going up to 25,000-30,000 test per day. Mobile testing units will be used.
      • In response to questions about his own actions, i.e. going to Stan Cho’s wedding, having people over for dinner, etc. the Premier defended himself, saying he has been following all public health guidelines.
      • Have you thought about restricting testing to only people who have symptoms? The Premier said they will not be doing that now. Retail testing locations will be for people with no symptoms.

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade announced a $2.5 million investment at Guelph-based Linamar Corp through the Ontario Together Fund to support the retooling of its assembly line to manufacture ventilator components to produce 10,000 Ontario-made e700 ventilators. – Media Release
      • O-Two Medical Technologies partnered with Linamar Corp. and other partners, including Bombardier, to produce these lifesaving devices to enhance future preparedness and help patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.
      • Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is delivering targeted investments that will increase the province’s stockpile of Ontario-made products and personal protective equipment (PPE). This new manufacturing capacity will enable the province to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak and prepare for potential challenges in the future, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province.
    • Question Period:
      • Where are you on testing in pharmacies? The Premier said that he had a discussion on this issue this morning. Pharmacies would only be doing testing on people who are asymptomatic. “We are all over this.” They are working through the details.
      • Can you say then that testing will happen in pharmacies? “I can’t say that. I don’t want to say anything until we have all the ducks lined up.” He did say to stay tuned for an announcement on this later this week.
      • The Premier and Minister Elliott were asked about parents and children lining up to get tested. Minister Elliott, “the good news is people are going to get tested, but they deserve to get tested in a timely manner. We are looking at various testing facilities that can assist us with additional testing.” She said that the government expected longer lines when schools re-opened but “not to this extent.”
      • What is the Province going to do to reign in social gatherings? The Premier said that there are things the Province can do. He said he spoke with the Mayors of Toronto, Ottawa and Brampton about the situation and discussed their suggestions. He feels it is important to consult with the mayors as “they know their communities the best.” He said the Province was going to address some concerns right away but did not specify which areas he was referring to. “Over the next day or two we’re going to be rolling out announcement for the regions that have been affected, (Toronto, Peel and Ottawa).”

Monday, Sept. 14, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier made no announcements today, just some brief remarks and then took questions.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked what a second lockdown would look like. He said it would be regional. There are currently three/four hotspots in the Province. When he spoke with the medical officers of health in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa they said that cases were coming from people attending social gatherings. “We must continue to be vigilant.” Minister Elliott said “the most important thing people need to do is to follow the public health guidance, wear a mask, physical distance, follow proper hand hygiene and if you don’t feel well stay at home. We must continue to follow the rules.”
      • Minister Elliott was asked about the details for the second wave plan.  “We have a robust fall plan, that we will be  releasing soon.” She said the plan considers the flu season and the reduced hospital capacity because some people had to be moved from long term care homes into hospitals.
      • The Premier was asked about the long wait times for testing and recent surge in testing. “We will be increasing testing capacity. I spoke with the Deputy Prime Minister about this.” He said that the Province will also be working with the private sector to increase testing. “We are ramping up for more testing.”
      • What will trigger the roll back of measures? Minister Elliott, said the 28 day pause in any further reopenings was important. “We don’t want to have to close things up again, we will be taking a regional approach.”
      • Minister Lecce was asked about some classes being as large as 33 students. He said that some parents are still making up their minds about which route they want to take for their children. School boards are having to adjust their classes as parents adjust their decisions.
      • The Premier was asked what metrics he would use to determine when they would decide about closing things down. Minister Elliott said that decisions would be made using a combination of factors, including the number of new cases, the number of people in hospital and the number of people on ventilators. “We are watching the trends.”

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions announced that the Ontario government is providing an additional $14.75 million to increase access to mental health and addictions services across the province. This funding will help support people from all walks of life during this unprecedented time, including families, young people, children, frontline workers, and Indigenous communities. – Media Release
      • This investment was provided through the Support for People and Jobs Fund and will help community-based mental health and addictions programs meet increasing service demands. The funding is being distributed as follows:
        1. $7 million to safely expand in-person mental health and addictions services to bridge current gaps brought on by COVID-19, including community-based services, congregate living and supportive housing;
        2. $4.75 million to support culturally safe services for Indigenous communities, with a focus on children and youth; and
        3. $3 million to expand virtual and online services including addictions supports, Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) and an online peer support community for mental health.
      • The government also announced it is investing an additional $2.9 million in eight research projects that aim to support Ontario’s response to COVID-19. These projects will focus on a wide variety of areas such as supporting the mental health and well-being of families and children, assessing the long-term health effects of COVID-19, the development of an app to better manage the care of patients, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of wearing masks to block the virus.
      • These eight research projects were submitted through the Ontario Together portal. This is in addition to the 35 projects selected through the $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked if there were any plans to roll things back based on today’s number of cases. The Premier, said that 14 regions are reporting 0 cases and 14 regions are reporting 5 or less cases. “The increases are coming from large parties, not restaurants and bars. We are keeping our eye on the ball.”
      • The Premier was asked if there was any decision regarding whether they would appeal the court decision on the gas pump stickers. Minister Rickford said, “we respect the court’s decision, we don’t agree. We think Ontarians deserve to know where the additional costs are coming from.”
      • With the House resuming next week the Premier was asked what he thought the theme and tone would be like. Premier, “I think it will be collaborative. We all need to work together regardless of what political stripe you are.” He said he hoped people wouldn’t play politics.
      • Will you consider reducing the gathering sizes? Premier, “we aren’t there yet. We need put things into perspective. The spikes (in cases) are in four regions.” He committed to working with those regions. He spoke about the quarantine regulations and the fact that there were 623 violations and only 17 charges were laid. “The system is broken. I will work with the Feds on this issue.”
      • Isn’t the issue that police aren’t laying charges? The Premier explained that the police visit people who are quarantining but a Federal quarantine officer determines if a charge will be laid. Local police do not lay the charges. “This isn’t a knock against the Feds, it’s about all three levels of government working together.” He said he would be raising the issue with the Federal government.
      • The Premier was asked if families would be able to gather for Thanksgiving and whether children would be able to go out for Halloween. The Premier said that a month and a half is a long time for COVID. “Kids going door to door makes me nervous. We’ll have to see.”

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020:

  • Burlington’s 5th Tele-Town Hall on Sept. 23 to Help Answer COVID-19 Questions Heading into the Fall Season
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the PM, announced investments of up to nearly $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions – including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years – to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. – Media Release
      • This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses.
      • The program will include:
        1. up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.
        2. up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.
        3. up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.
      • The new program builds on the Government of Canada’s work to address systemic racism against Black Canadians. This includes taking steps to advance Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, justice reforms, modern policing structures and standards, and enhanced local community supports for young Black Canadians.
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked about the move to roll some measures back as some parts of the country are no longer in an emergency state. The PM said, “we are still living in an emergency and it will continue to be the case until we have a vaccine. We are not out of the woods yet. Canadians need to continue to be vigilant.” He reminded everyone to wear a mask, wash their hands and to not gather in large groups. “The last thing we want is to shutdown the economy again.” He also spoke about the CERB moving towards a more EI structure.
      • He was asked about the upcoming throne speech. He said that the government has no interest in seeing an election this fall. “We will be putting forward an ambitious and responsible plan. Making sure all Canadians have a fair chance to succeed.”
      • The PM was asked if he would meet with opposition leaders about the throne speech. “We will continue our engaged approach. We know it is better when we all work together. Our principle from the very beginning has been to be there for Canadians. We needed to be there for Canadians first.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford and Québec Premier François Legault held a joint media conference at the conclusion of their Ontario-Québec Summit. The two governments agreed to collaborate on accelerating economic recovery and job creation, working towards increasing health care funding sustainability and preparedness, and advancing other areas of mutual benefit for the people of Ontario and Québec. – Media Release
      • The Premiers and Ministers of the two governments agreed to work together to grow and strengthen the economy as it gradually and safely reopens. The provinces also agreed to press the federal government for fair, flexible, sustainable funding for other key priorities that support economic recovery and resilience, including infrastructure, transit, other sector-specific supports and broadband in order to accelerate access to high-speed Internet access for rural, remote, and Northern communities.
      • The two parties also agreed to collaborate on combatting U.S. protectionism, removing trade barriers, and promoting Ontario-made and Québec-made products to help protect and create more jobs for Ontarians and Quebeckers.
      • The governments will further work together to develop shared principles on the safe and responsible reopening of the Canada-U.S. border and ensure Ottawa has a clear plan before any restrictions are relaxed.
      • Both Premiers also spoke about the need to push the Federal government on increasing the Canada Health Transfer to all provinces and territories.
    • Question Period:
      • Premier Ford was asked if the Province was going to take ownership of reporting cases in schools. “We will be reporting cases – this is only the second day. We will be doing what we did with long-term care homes. I believe in being transparent. People will know what I know.”
      • Both Premiers were asked if BC rolling back the hours of night clubs was a sign of things to come. Premier Ford said he takes his advice from the health team and Dr. Williams regarding when we will roll things back, if we are going to roll them back. Premier Legault said the new cases in Quebec were not coming from bars, they are coming from private parties.
      • Premier Ford was asked if public gathering sizes were going to be rolled back. He said that local medical officers of health have the authority to roll back the numbers in their regions if they feel it is warranted. He will not be doing it province wide.
      • Mayor Tory has suggested that the province should mandate that bars in Ontario close earlier. Premier Ford said that Mayor Tory has the authority to do this, if this is what he wants.
      • Premier Ford was asked if the Province was to roll things back would they target specific things or would they go back to stage 2. The Premier said he “will not close the whole Province. It is not fair to the 16 regions that are not reporting any cases.” Mayors and Medical Officers of Health can adjust measures within their regions.
      • Premier Ford was asked why the Province was not reporting on outbreaks at companies. He said that he would not target individual businesses. He said the media has been reporting on these outbreaks.
      • Premier Legault was asked why Quebec was not adopting the COVID tracing app. He said that opposition parties are against the app as they are concerned it will collect personal information. He doesn’t feel that is the case, but at the moment they will not be going forward with the app in Quebec.
      • The Premiers were asked if it is realistic to expect the Federal government can increase health care transfers to the Provinces now. Premier Legault said the Federal spending on COVID has been one time expenditures and not a “recurring” expenditure.
      • Both Premiers were asked if they were sending mixed messages to people – people are following the rules set by the Province in terms of gathering size, but they are being told not to gather in large groups.  Premier Legault, “we do not want to have to close businesses down again. We want people to wear masks and social distance.” Premier Ford, “I am concerned about the people who aren’t following the rules. We have to create and environment where companies can prosper and grow.”

Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlight from Briefing:
      • Announcement from Min. Elliot about taking a pause on further reopening or loosening of public health rules:
        1. Based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario will take four-week pause – or two, 14-day cycles of the virus – before considering any further loosening of public health measures or reopening additional businesses, facilities and organizations.
        2. Taking a pause in further re-opening will help avoid broad-scale closures and shutdowns. And on the first day of school for many students, we need to do everything we can to limit the spread of COVID-19. The best way to keep our schools safe is to keep our communities safe.
    • Ontario Takes Extraordinary Steps to Reopen Schools Safely – Media Release
      • As students, teachers and staff return to school, the Ontario government is providing up to $1.3 billion in critical supports and has delivered more than 37 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to safely reopen classrooms across the province. These investments are part of Ontario’s comprehensive back to school plan which was developed in consultation with medical experts, school boards, and educators.
      • The government has taken the following steps to make schools as safe as possible:
        1. Providing more funding than any jurisdiction in the country to implement physical distancing measures, support hiring of up to 1,300 custodians and adopt enhanced cleaning protocols in schools and on school buses, and hire more teachers to reduce class sizes.
        2. Hiring up to 625 school-focused nurses to provide rapid-response support to schools and boards, and facilitate public health measures, including screening, surveillance testing, tracing and mitigation strategies.
        3. Working in collaboration with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to ensure that sufficient PPE has been delivered to all 72 school boards and 10 education authorities, including more than 19.5 million masks, 16 million gloves, 317,000 face shields, 320,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 218,000 containers of disinfectant, among other critical supplies; and,
        4. Providing students and families with clear and transparent standards for those that choose fully remote virtual learning, which is teacher-led, timetabled, live, synchronous, and on a regular daily schedule.
      • The following public health protocols and procedures will be implemented to help protect students, teachers, staff and visitors:
        1. Parents must screen their children and all staff must self-screen every day before attending school. Students and staff who are unwell must stay home from school.
        2. Schools must immediately report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the school to the local public health unit. Every day, school boards must report any staff or student absences due to confirmed cases of COVID-19 to the ministry.
        3. Students in Grades 4-12 will be required to wear face coverings (non-medical or cloth masks) indoors in school, including in hallways, entrances and during classes. Face coverings are not required but are encouraged for students up to Grade 3. The province is funding each school board to provide PPE to teachers and other school-based staff, including medical masks and eye protection (for example, face shields).
        4. Schools will teach and remind students about appropriate hand hygiene and provide breaks in schedules to allow students to wash their hands. Teachers and staff are also receiving additional health and safety training.
        5. Each student will be kept with the same group of children and teachers as much as possible throughout the school day.
        6. Schools will significantly limit visitors, including parents.
        7. Schools will keep rigorous daily class attendance records, seating charts, lists of bussed students, and approved daily visitors (e.g. supply and occasional teachers, custodians) for contact-tracing purposes.

Friday, Aug. 28, 2020:

Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020:

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020:

Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020:

  • AMO 2020 Virtual Conference: New Board Members Elected, Acclaimed for 2-Year Term
  • AMO 2020 Virtual Conference: Halton Region Delegation Meets with Ministers
  • Ontario and Municipalities Work Towards a Strong Economic Recovery — Successful AMO conference demonstrates critical partnership
  • City of Burlington has Distributed 16,500 Free, Non-Medical Masks: More Donations Welcome
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA) announced that the Province is one step closer to getting shovels in the ground on part of the largest subway expansion in Canadian history with the planned release of a Request for Proposals (RFP) tomorrow to advance tunnelling work on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. – Media Release
      • On August 20, 2020, the province will invite the selected teams from the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) process to respond to an RFP that details how they plan to design and deliver the tunnelling work for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. Upon evaluating the proposals received, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Metrolinx expect to award this tunnelling contract in mid-2021.
      • The release of the RFP is part of the government’s continued commitment to deliver the largest subway expansion in the country’s history to commuters and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). On August 5, 2020, Ontario announced three teams of bidders per project were shortlisted to advance tunnelling work on two of the four priority transit projects, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, included in the Subway Transit Plan for the GTA.
      • In April 2019, the province announced its historic new transportation vision, with a preliminary estimated cost of $28.5 billion. In addition to the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, this plan includes the all-new Ontario Line and the Yonge North Subway Extension. Planning is underway for all four priority projects and procurements will be staged to ensure each project is delivered successfully.
      • Once again during today’s announcement the Province called for the Federal government to come to the table with their share of the funding.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked about the government’s progress with retrofitting school HVAC systems. The Premier said things were going full steam ahead with the retrofits. He also said that Minister Lecce has communicated with boards that the start of the school year will be staggered by 2 weeks. 60% of school boards have locked down their plans.
      • The Premier was asked about the TDSB’s mandated wearing of masks for students from K-12. Premier Ford said that this was not the advice the Province was given, “but we will support them.” He said that it maybe difficult for the younger children to keep their masks on all day.
      • Will anything be added to the plan to reassure parents, teachers, students? Premier, “we have the safest plan in the country. I understand parents’ concerns. We are pulling out all the stops. We are listening and working collaboratively with all stakeholders.”
      • Has the safe restart money come from the Federal government yet and how much will be allocated to the 10 paid sick day program? The Premier said the money has not yet come in and he didn’t have the details yet on the 10 sick day program.
      • This is the second day the Premier has asked the Federal government to come to table with funding for the transit plan. This plan was announced in 2019 has the Federal contribution not been secured yet? The Premier said that he as all the confidence in the world in that the federal government will come to the table,  “we just haven’t seen the cheque yet.” Minister Mulroney, said she was also confident that the federal government will come to the table.
      • The Premier was asked if he was so confident why did he spend the last two days asking them to come to the table? The Premier “I am confident they will come to the table. I want them to get the message loud and clear. I have confidence they will come to the table, they have been great partners.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Invests in Made-in-Ontario Physician Scheduling Technology in the Fight Against COVID-19 – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government is investing $149,200 from the Ontario Together Fund in MetricAid’s physician scheduling solution to help physicians link their availability and expertise with needed hospitals and clinics, while reducing administrative burden so health care providers can focus on their patients.
        2. With Ontario’s support, MetricAid will expand its cloud-based physician scheduling software solution to a larger scale, delivering scheduling services to healthcare providers and health organizations through staff planning. This technology will also help distribute shifts and hours to ensure the needs of doctors, patients, and clinics are met. The expansion of the solution will improve patient wait times and optimize shift distribution for physicians. The company will also expand its range of service to support nursing homes.
        3. MetricAid is a Northern Ontario-based healthcare technology and service provider that has delivered a full-service scheduling solution for physicians throughout Canada since 2012. The company specializes in physician self-scheduling and staffing emergency departments to ensure that the physician supply meets patient demand.

Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020:

  • City of Burlington Fall Recreation Programs Re-Launching in September
  • Minister Steve Clark’s Speech at the 2020 Association of Municipalities of Ontario Virtual Conference
  • AMO 2020 Virtual Conference: City of Burlington Delegation Meets with Ministers
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA) announced that the Province is on step closer to  getting shovels in the ground on part of the largest subway expansion in Canadian history with the expectation that the Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance tunnelling work on the Scarborough Subway Extension will be issued in the coming days. – Media Release
      • On August 20, 2020, the province will invite the selected teams from the Request for Qualifications process to respond to an RFP that details how they plan to design and deliver the tunnelling work for the Scarborough Subway Extension. Upon evaluating the proposals received, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Metrolinx expect to award this tunnelling contract in mid-2021.
      • To expedite work on the Scarborough Subway Extension, tunnelling will begin first, to be followed by separate contracts for the balance of the work.
      • The release of the RFP is part of the government’s continued commitment to deliver the largest subway expansion in the country’s history to commuters and businesses in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). On August 5, 2020, Ontario announced three teams of bidders per project were shortlisted to advance tunnelling work on two of the four priority transit projects, the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, included in the Subway Transit Plan for the GTA.
      • Both the Premier and Minister Surma called for the federal government to come to the table with 40% of the funding for the Province’s $28.5 billion subway plan.
      • The Premier referred to their plan as “nation building investment for transit”
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked questions again today about the return to school plan.  Premier, “we have the best plan in the country. Dr. William’s supports this plan. We are pulling out all the stops.”
      • A survey of parents has called for the decision making about kids returning to school to be made by the Ministry of Health and not the Ministry of Education. The Premier said, “this is not the Doug Ford plan, this isn’t the Steven Lecce plan. It came from the best medical experts around the health table, which includes Minister Elliott.”
      • He was asked for his thoughts on Chrystia Freeland being named as the new Minister of Finance. “I think the world of Chrystia. One of the first phone calls, I’ll let her get settled in first, will be about our subway plan. There is no better person than Chrystia. I can’t wait to start working with her.”
      • Premier was asked to weigh in on the Federal Conservative Leadership race. He said that he would work with whoever gets elected.
      • He was asked if he was going to join in the call from the Prime Minister resignation. “I’m not getting into the Federal Politics.” He was grateful for Prime Minster Trudeau’s support.
      • What makes you confident the Scarborough subway will get built this time? Minister Surma, “we have one single, unified transit plan for Toronto and York Region. What was lacking in the past was the political will. We now have that at both the municipal and provincial levels.”
      • Phil Verster was asked when GO service will return to it’s regular schedule. He said that there has been steady increase in ridership over the last several weeks. On September 5, 8, and 12 service will be expanding on all lines. 154 new services will be added in September.
      • He was also asked about any new safety protocols. Polycarbonate screens will be installed between seats on all buses and trains to separate passengers. There are safety kiosks at stations with COVID information. All trains have a separate entrance and exit. Hand cleaning devices are at every door way on all buses and trains. He the customer response has been extremely positive.
    • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark addressed delegates at the AMO conference this morning. Remarks
    • Highlights:
      • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities said that at least $10 billion in emergency operating funding was needed nationwide.
      • Ontario’s portion would be $4 billion dollars, and that’s exactly the deal that was struck.
      • As much as $4 billion dollars will flow to municipalities – up to $2 billion for operating pressures and up to $2 billion for transit.
      • I want to thank each and every municipality for keeping their communities safe and finding innovative, new ways to deliver the services your residents rely on each and every day.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Drives Innovation in the Automotive Sector – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government is launching the next round of applications for the Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP). An important part of the government’s Driving Prosperity auto plan, the $10-million O-AMP provides auto parts companies with funding to invest in new technologies and support innovation in Ontario’s automotive supply chains.
      • Ontario Resumes Infant Hearing Checks – Media Release
        1. The Ontario government is providing $3.8 million to support hearing checks for infants who did not receive the universal newborn hearing screen due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the past several months, Infant Hearing Program lead agencies suspended the newborn hearing screen commonly provided pre-discharge from hospitals and in community locations based on the advice of health officials.

Monday, Aug. 17, 2020:

  • More Rec Facilities Opening Soon, Rental Rates Reduced and Recreation Fee Assistance Increased
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Premier Ford addressed AMO delegates this morning. Here is a link to his remarks.
    • Some highlights:
      • Everywhere I go, I meet with mayors and municipal officials. I hear firsthand the challenges and the successes.
      • You are leading the charge. As the level of government closest to the people, you’ve been on the front lines each step of the way.
      • Thanks to your hard work, all of the province has now entered into Stage 3.
      • But as Premier, I can’t stop and I won’t stop until we get every community back on its feet.
      • That’s why we negotiated with our federal partners to deliver over $7 billion for Ontario. This is money for health care, for transit, for childcare, and for testing and contact tracing.
      • Up to $4 billion will support the frontline services delivered by you, our municipal partners.
      • Up to $4 billion will support shelters, food banks, public health, child care, and transit.
      • This is a great deal for Ontario and it’s a great deal for our municipalities.
      • We are delivering $1.6 billion as part of this first round to help you address immediate needs.
      • We will continue to consult with you to see how the next round can respond to the most urgent needs in our communities.
      • No community will be left behind.
      • I won’t stop until every community is back on their feet.
      • Thanks to our municipal partners, thanks to our frontline heroes, thanks to the great people of Ontario, we are in the strongest position possible to recover, rebuild and prosper.
    • QUESTION PERIOD: The Premier held a Q and A session with the media this afternoon. The bulk of the questions were related to schools and more specifically about the TDSB.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the TDSB’s plan, which the Ministry of Education rejected. Was the TDSB being unreasonable? Premier, “they weren’t being unreasonable.” He said that the Province has responded to all the requests made by the teachers unions. “Throughout the pandemic, everyone has been flexible, except the teachers unions. Every other union has been easy to work with.” He called the teachers champions. Minister Lecce, “ we are trying to maximize the amount of time spent on in class learning, while keeping class sizes small. We are asking for flexibility.”
      • Minister Lecce was asked if he would respond to the concerns of supply teachers by putting the same measures in place as those for personal support workers (they were only allowed to work at one long term care home). Minister Lecce said that the Province’s plan includes guidelines about supply teachers being focused on one school or a small number of schools. He also spoke about the funding the Province has put in place for health and safety training for teachers and school staff.
      • The Premier was asked if there was a plan to assist parents and post-secondary students who have made housing arrangements that will no longer be needed because of the online learning that will be in place at colleges and universities.  He said he didn’t have an answer, but committed to getting one before the end of the day.
      • Will the first day of school be delayed? Minister Lecce, is comfortable with a staggered start, “by a couple of days.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the cancellation of the CFL season. He hopes the league comes back next season, “it’s important.”
      • The Premier was asked about his comments last week on allowing drinking in parks in Hamilton. The Premier said he did not want to “come down heavy on Mayor Eisenberger.” He said that his staff have reached out to the Mayor’s office to clarify that legislation had been passed permitting drinking in parks. The Premier aske the mayor and council to “step up and give the people a break, they need it. “ He also said that he was not going to turn this “into a big thing with Mayor Eisenberger.” He knew he was working really hard.
      • Minister Lecce was asked if the collective agreement with teachers was going to be reopened to address prep time. Minister Lecce, “what we are asking for is flexibility. Everyone has had to be flexible, this is not an unreasonable request. We will continue to work with the unions, school boards and teachers. We need teachers unions to be part of the solution.”

Friday, Aug. 14, 2020:

  • Condominiums and Apartment Buildings added to Burlington’s Temporary Mask By-law
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries announced that the Province, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is supporting the safe reopening of many sport, fitness and recreation facilities by applying a capacity limit on a per room basis to help more businesses reopen their doors, get more people back to work and promote the return to a healthy and active lifestyle for all Ontarians.
      • Beginning August 15, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these facilities can have up to 50 patrons for each indoor sport or fitness room, while ensuring physical distancing of at least two metres. – Media Release
      • The revised capacity limits are on a per room basis. They will apply to the gymnasiums, health clubs, community centres, multi-purpose facilities, arenas, exercise studios, yoga and dance studios and other fitness facilities that are able to follow the new guidance. The change was enabled by amendments to the Stage 3 regulation and a new plan and guidance document to apply a per room limit for sport and recreational fitness activities at facilities with the necessary space or layout.
      • Businesses, not-for-profits, and municipalities may need or choose to take more time before implementing this change in capacity limits. Facilities may also adopt their own protocols that are more restrictive than the guidance. The government will continue to work with sport and recreation organizations across the province on their safe return to sport.
      • The government is investing $8 million through the Ontario Amateur Sport Fund to help the province’s sports organizations, from Alpine Ontario to WushuOntario and every sport in between, to continue to serve athletes of all levels.
      • The funding will help them continue delivering high-quality programming and competitions to develop athletes, coaches and officials, and to promote health and wellness in communities across the province.
      • Based on community needs, some municipalities and local medical officers of health have implemented additional restrictions or requirements, such as mandatory face coverings in commercial establishments and indoor public places. Check with your local public health unit’s or local municipality’s website.
    • Questions:
      • Will amateur sports agencies be protected from liability if someone contracts COVID? Minister MacLeod said that she is working with the Minister of Finance and the Attorney General on the indemnity piece. She knows it’s and area of concern.
      • Why isn’t the Minister of Education allowing for a more staggered start to the school year? Minister Lecce referred to a memo he sent to school boards allowing “flexibility on the start of school in the first week.” He spoke about the staggering of class times and bus schedules. He recognized that “there is more to do.”
      • Will the Minister allow more than 30 students in a classroom? Minister Lecce, “we have been clear about the 1 metre separation between students. We have provided school boards with the latitude to do what makes sense in their communities.” He spoke about the Province’s layered approach to safety practices.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on OLG top executives receiving big bonuses in light of 15,000 casino employees being off work. The Premier said this should have been thought through more carefully. He spoke about some legal ramifications of not paying out the bonuses, which were for last year. “This is just not good. People are struggling while the bigwigs, fat cats get a bonus. For all these smart guys, they aren’t too friggin’ smart.” Although they are a separate agency, the Premier said they would be getting a “tongue lashing.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the 369 tickets issued by Hamilton Police to people for drinking in public. He said he did not agree with someone getting a ticket for having a drink outdoors in a park during COVID. He is in favour of responsible public drinking outdoors. “No big deal, just my personal opinion.” He said that he wasn’t blaming the police, he was blaming the mayor and council. He said he was “sticking up for the people of Hamilton.” “If they aren’t gathering in large groups and just want to drink a beer they should be able to do it.”
      • Minister Lecce was asked again about the staggered start to school. He said that he is open to working “in partnership with school boards” to keep kids safe. He referred to giving them “a tad more time.”
    • Other Announcements:
      • Ontario Takes Additional Steps to Better Protect Students and Staff Media Release
        1. The Ontario government is providing more than half a billion dollars in supports to school boards to ensure schools across the province will reopen safely in September and to protect students and staff. These supports will enable school boards to provide more physical distancing in classrooms and direct funding to utilize non-school community spaces, and will allow boards to make adjustments based on their local needs.
        2. The government is allowing boards to make necessary adaptations, in consultation with their local public health unit. Adaptations could include smaller class sizes and leasing additional space. Additional measures include:
          1. Unlocking access to reserves up to $496 million, an increase of $244 million, by allowing boards to access up to 2 per cent of their operating budget from their prior year accumulated surplus. This funding can be applied to local priorities of each board, based on the immediate needs on the ground to prepare for the start of school.
          2. Providing a record-setting $50 million in one-time funding to support improved ventilation, air quality and HVAC system effectiveness in schools. School boards will continue to maximize their use of existing school renewal funding, which totals over $1.4 billion this school year. Boards will focus on improving air systems in older schools, portables, and in neighbourhoods with higher rates of community transmission.
        3. The government is also releasing a Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM)  that ensures students receive a high quality and consistent teacher-led remote learning experience. This directive will significantly strengthen minimum expectations, as well as provide a consistent approach across the province to ensure students are fully engaged in their learning, and have a predictable timetable for synchronous, live learning.
        4. In addition, the government is ensuring accountability for parents and an improved remote learning experience by investing $18 million to help school boards hire principal and administrative support to better deliver and oversee synchronous, live learning. Students will continue to have several opportunities throughout the school year to re-enter classroom learning, and boards need to provide at least one re-entry point in the fall.

Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020:

  • A Look Ahead to AMO 2020 Virtual Conference Next Week
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Direct help for bright ideas to make safer, pandemic-resilient communitiesMedia Release
      • Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced that a new Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will help local governments and community partners as they adapt to local economic, health and social challenges.
      • The Canada Healthy Communities Initiative will provide up to $31 million in federal funding to support community-led solutions that respond to immediate and ongoing needs arising from COVID-19 over the next two years.
      • The Initiative will fund smaller-scale local projects under three main themes: creating safe and vibrant public spaces, improving mobility options, and digital solutions. The goal is to fund projects that quickly help communities, including rural and remote communities, adapt to the new reality of COVID-19.
      • Potential projects could include: expanding outdoor seating on our main streets, remodeling a playground to allow for proper physical distancing, building multi-modal paths that would allow bikes, scooters, and personal mobility devices to share space with pedestrians and cars, or creating digital apps to allow residents to access municipal services remotely.
      • The funding under the Initiative will be provided to a non-governmental not-for-profit organization, or group of organizations, selected through an open call-for-applications process.
      • Additional details on the application process will be available soon.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s Provincial briefing:
      • From Windsor the Premier, Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development announced that the Province will be  providing $30 million to municipalities through the Connecting Links Program for 2021-22 to build, repair or replace local roads and bridges. This investment will help create jobs and keep people and goods moving as the province continues to recover from COVID-19. – Media Release
      • The Connecting Links Program provides funding to eligible municipalities of up to 90 per cent of eligible project costs, up to a maximum of $3 million for road projects. In response to municipal feedback, the province is permanently raising the maximum amount of available funding for bridge projects from $3 million to $5 million to reflect the higher costs of maintaining and repairing bridges compared to roads.
        • Eligible costs include the design, construction, renewal, rehabilitation and replacement of municipal roads and bridges that connect two ends of a provincial highway through a community or to a border crossing.
      • Ontario has 77 municipalities eligible (Burlington is not one of them) to apply for provincial funding through the Connecting Links Program for 2021-22, comprised of 352 kilometres of connecting links and 70 bridges.
    • Questions:
      • The Premier was asked to respond to optometrists sending patients to emergency rooms as an act of protest to changes to their billing. The Premier said this was “not a great practice” and “that it was not fair to overload the system” during a pandemic. He said he was happy to sit down and speak with the group. He went on to say that he thought the action was backfiring.
      • US pediatricians are recommending that children as young as 2 could be wearing masks. The Premier said that Sick Kids are not recommending masks for younger children.  He suggested that maybe young students should wear face shields. He is consulting with the health table on this.
      • He was asked about a reopening for the Windsor Casino. Premier, “it’s not feasible for the Casino to reopen with only 50 people.” He said that he had to protect the jobs at the Casino. They are discussing options for reopening.
    • Today’s other Provincial announcements
      • Ontario Launches Consultations to Strengthen Privacy Protections of Personal DataMedia Release
        1. The Province launched consultations to improve the province’s privacy protection laws. People and businesses from a wide range of sectors, including technology, financial and service, and the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, will have the opportunity to contribute to strengthening transparency and accountability concerning the collection, use and safeguarding of personal information online.
        2. Through an online survey, written submissions and web conferences, the government is collaborating with the people of Ontario to create a legislative framework for privacy in the province’s private sector.
      • Ontario government announces extra funding for schools’ COVID costsArticle
        1. The Ontario government has announced new funding for schools to cover their COVID costs, including $50 million for ventilation systems, $18 million in supports for online learning and is allowing boards to dip further into their reserves to hire extra staff.
        2. Boards will be allowed to access about two per cent of their reserves, freeing up about $500 million, with the government filling in the gaps for the handful of boards that no longer have any reserves.
        3. The province is also mandating that students who opt for online learning this fall, and those who are in designated areas where teens are studying part-time at home, 75 per cent of it must be live video conferencing or “synchronous.”

Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020:

  • Ontario Mayors and Regional Chairs Discuss Recovery with Federal and Provincial Ministers
  • City of Burlington Receiving $6M in Federal and Provincial Emergency Funding this Fall
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), and Jim McDonell, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced the details of a funding package for municipalities. – Media Release
      • Municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. This funding will help municipalities protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario, while continuing to deliver critical public services, such as public transit and shelters, as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
      • Through the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, $695 million will help municipalities address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the first round of emergency funding, and over $660 million will support transit systems. The province is also providing an additional $212 million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help vulnerable people find shelter.
      • In Fall 2020, Ontario’s 444 municipalities will receive $695 million in Phase 1 funding to help address municipal operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will be allocated on a per household basis and would be shared 50/50 between upper- and lower-tier municipalities. Up to $695 million in additional funding will be available through Phase 2 to eligible municipalities after municipalities have provided the province with information on their estimated COVID-19 related financial pressures.
      • In addition to the support for municipalities, the government is providing over $660 million in the first phase of transit funding to the 110 municipalities with transit systems. The funding can be used to provide immediate relief from transit pressures, such as lower ridership, as well as for new costs due to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning and masks for staff. In the second phase, additional allocations will be provided based on expenses incurred to ensure the funding meets the needs of municipalities. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, up to $2 billion is being provided to support public transit in Ontario.
      • Burlington’s Allocation –  Municipal Funding Phase 1: $4,470,700, Transit Funding Phase 1:  $ 1,571,213  Municipal Funding Allocations
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Releases 2020-21 First Quarter FinancesMedia Release
        1. To protect the health and economic well-being of the people of Ontario, the government continues to invest and budget for further contingencies in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, including providing support to families, businesses, workers, municipalities, long-term care homes and those on the front-lines of the pandemic. These investments bring the government’s COVID-19 response action plan to a projected $30 billion, up from $17 billion announced in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 on March 25, 2020.
        2. Since announcing the first steps in the government’s response to the global pandemic, the government is making additional investments in the fight against COVID-19, including:
          1. An increase of $4.4 billion for a total of $7.7 billion to provide ongoing support for health care to build hospital capacity, prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, ramp up testing and purchase personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies.
          2. An increase of $7.3 billion for a total of $11.0 billion to support people and jobs, which supports investments in a temporary pandemic pay for more than 375,000 eligible frontline workers totaling over $1.5 billion, $4 billion in targeted funding to help municipal partners and transit agencies to continue to deliver critical services, and temporary immediate relief for residential, farm, small business, industrial and commercial electricity consumers.
        3. The government is now projecting a deficit of $38.5 billion in 2020-21, which incorporates the most up to date economic information and additional supports for the pandemic recovery period and the safe restart framework. Private-sector forecasts, on average, project that Ontario’s real GDP will decline by 6.6 per cent in 2020, down significantly from when the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update was finalized. Total revenue is projected to be $150.6 billion in 2020-21, $5.7 billion lower and program expenses are projected to be $13.1 billion higher than forecast in the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update.

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, Barbara Collins, President and CEO of Humber River Hospital, and John Tory, Mayor of Toronto were present for today’s announcement of a new long-term care home that will be built at Humber River Hospital’s Finch site in months, not years. – Media Release
      • The project is part of the province’s Accelerated Build Pilot Program. By working with Humber River Hospital and Infrastructure Ontario, the province intends to build up to 320 new long-term care beds at this site by the end of next year.
      • The pilot program is part of the government’s plan to create new long-term care beds across the province that include features such as air conditioning and private or semi-private rooms, beginning immediately. The pilot program was launched on July 21, 2020 in Mississauga where two new homes with up to 640 new beds will be built, and followed up with another project announced on July 28, 2020 in Ajax where 320 new beds will be built.
      • Through the use of hospital lands, and a range of accelerating measures such as modular construction and rapid procurement, the government and its partners are targeting completion of the project by the end of 2021, years faster than the traditional timeline for long-term care development. Humber River Hospital will work with Infrastructure Ontario to manage the day-to-day construction and commissioning oversight.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked if the fact that over 97,000 children in the US had tested positive for COVID was giving him any pause about the return to school. The Premier said again “we have the best plan. We won’t spare a penny to protect children.” He said that they had met with teachers unions 120 times.
      • He was asked to comment on the petition that is calling for smaller class sizes for elementary students and whether he would consider proactive testing. Premier, “we have the smallest class sizes, we have more guidelines and protocols. We are supplying face coverings. Most importantly we have to be flexible.” He said that if schools wanted to put up a tent or had other great ideas they should “go for it.” He did say he was “anxious” about the return to school. He said that he calls the Minister of Education frequently and “is on him like an 800 pound gorilla, and he’s a small guy.” “ I am proud of our plan, but there be bumps along the way.”
      • He said while there is $30 million for school boards in large urban areas, he is willing to invest more than $30 million if needed, but didn’t say how much.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Providing $2 Million in Urgent Financial Support to Help Those Affected by the Beirut Explosion – Media Release
        1. Today, Premier Doug Ford announced the Ontario government is providing $2 million to the Canadian Red Cross through the International Disaster Relief Program to help people and families affected by the tragic explosion that occurred in Beirut, Lebanon on August 4, 2020. This is one of the largest contributions the Ontario government has ever made towards an international humanitarian relief effort.
        2. The Ontario government’s contribution will help the Red Cross prepare for and respond to humanitarian needs as the situation continues to evolve in Lebanon, including for mobile health outreach. The Red Cross is working to coordinate emergency relief and recovery efforts, getting help to people in affected areas as quickly as possible.

Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier together with Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues announced that the government is investing more than $6 million over the next three years to help combat crime and build safer communities. – Media Release
      • The Proceeds of Crime Front-Line Policing Grant will be made available to 16 police services across the province to implement 21 crime prevention and community safety initiatives that help fight gun and gang violence, human trafficking, and sexual violence and harassment. The grant is supported with funds forfeited to the province during criminal prosecutions.
      • Before taking questions the Premier gave a “shout out” to PSWs. He said that PSWs “are grossly underpaid and overworked. We have your back.”
    • Question Period:
      • Hospital education plan emphasizes small class sizes and physical distancing, why didn’t you take their advice? The Premier, “we have the best plan, bar none. I will always take the advice of medical experts, over union leaders. There are some politics being played right now. I want to get as small classrooms as possible within certain parameters.” Minister Lecce, “we are spending more than any other province in the country. The plan called for a multitude of actions.” Minister Lecce referred to the plan “as a living document that will be strengthened over time. We have put the investments in place and are ready to do more.”
      • How will the restart monies from the Federal government be spent and when is it coming? “Hopefully sooner rather than later.” The Premier thanked the Federal government. “As soon as we have the money it will begin to flow.”
      • There has been a call for lower class sizes for elementary classes to 15. Have you considered using gyms, libraries and other creative options? The Premier, “I hear the parents loud and clear, we have the lowest class sizes in the country. Our number one priority is to keep kids healthy.” Minister Lecce said that he is not aware of any other province that has reduced class sizes.
      • There was a lot of reaction to his comment about wanting 5 kids in a class. Don’t you have control of your plan? The Premier says the government has “ full control of the plan.” “Do we want smaller classes? 100% but I think the plan is phenomenal.”
      • There was a question about the rationale for not allowing Canada’s Wonderland to reopen. The Premier “ I find it ironic that people want Wonderland to open, but they don’t want their kids to go to school. I have to take the advice of the health experts.” Minister Elliott, “Dr. Williams and his team feel the risk is still too great.”

Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020:

  • Mayor/Councillor Joint Statement: 2100 Brant Street Development Proceeds After All Parties Settle at LPAT
  • Burlington Transit Will Begin Collecting Fares Again Sept. 1, Downtown Terminal Reopens Aug. 19
  • Burlington Library Services Resuming Now and Coming Soon
  • EPUC Child Care Centre Community-Funded Project Breaks Ground Next Week
  • City of Burlington Gypsy Moth Control Program Update
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Infrastructure program expands to support COVID-19 community resilienceMedia Release
      1. Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, is announcing new steps to help provinces and territories deal with the pressures brought on by the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
      2. The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is being adjusted so that provinces and territories can use federal funding to act quickly on a wider range of more pandemic-resilient infrastructure projects. Whether retrofitting schools to allow kids to go to school safely, upgrading hospitals and long-term care homes to deal with social distancing requirements, building new parks, cycling and walking paths to help Canadians get access to nature to stay healthy, active and safe, or disaster mitigation projects that protect against floods and fires, these changes will help get more projects underway faster, and support longer-term goals of sustainable, economically healthy, low-carbon, and inclusive communities.
      3. Under a new COVID-19 Resilience funding stream worth up to $3.3 billion, projects will be eligible for a significantly larger federal cost share – up to 80 per cent for provinces, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in provinces, and raising it to 100 per cent for territorial and Indigenous projects designated under the new stream.
      4. A simplified funding application process will ensure that projects can get underway as soon as possible, and accelerated approvals will ensure that provinces and territories can address pressing needs in a timely manner.
    • Backgrounder:  Infrastructure program expands to support COVID-19 community resilience
      1. Ontario’s allocation – $1,184,648,346
      2. To be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Resilience stream, the project’s eligible costs must be under $10 million, construction must be started no later than September 30, 2021, and it must be completed by the end of 2021 (or by the end of 2022 in the territories and in remote communities).
      3. The COVID-19 Resilience stream will fund the following types of infrastructure projects:
        1. Retrofits, repairs and upgrades for provincial, territorial, municipal and Indigenous buildings; health infrastructure; and schools;
        2. COVID-19 response infrastructure, including measures to support physical distancing;
        3. Active transportation infrastructure, including parks, trails, foot bridges, bike lanes and multi-use paths; and
        4. Disaster mitigation and adaptation projects, including natural infrastructure, flood and fire mitigation, and tree planting and related infrastructure.
      4. Eligibility criteria in the Program’s existing streams has also been expanded. For projects that can start before September 30, 2021, the following additional flexibilities are available:
        1. Public Transit stream: now allows standalone pathways and active transportation projects; as well as public sector inter-community commuter transit services; and public sector commuter ferry infrastructure that are not part of an existing transit system.
        2. Green Infrastructure stream: also allows standalone pathways and active transportation projects.
        3. Rural and Northern Infrastructure stream: mobile and cellular projects under the broadband category; and energy efficiency or reliability projects for communities on established electricity grids under the Arctic Energy Fund.
      5. Under the new COVID-19 Resilience stream, Infrastructure Canada will provide accelerated approvals to ensure that provinces and territories can address pressing needs in a timely manner. Provinces and Territories will be able to submit lists of quick-start, short-term projects to Infrastructure Canada for consideration rather than project-by-project proposals.
      6. The application process will also focus on the essential elements required for Infrastructure Canada’s review and approval like asset class, location, description, dates, and financial information.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford was joined by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to announce an investment of $83 million through the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to provide grants to help eligible non-profit organizations, including food banks, child and youth programs and Royal Canadian Legion branches, recover from COVID-19 and continue the delivery of vital programming in their communities. – Media Release
      • The OTF’s Resilient Communities Fund will provide grants of up to $150,000 to help eligible non-profit organizations rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID-19 with support for:
        1. Equipping board members and employees with supports to implement new approaches, prepare for change and build resiliency (e.g. organizational training and coaching, strategic planning and implementation, research & development, mental and physical health and wellbeing supports);
        2. Improving and increasing ability to access financial resources and develop new and/or alternative sources of revenues (e.g. develop fundraising plans, identify fundraising and financial technology resources, seek opportunities for public-private partnerships and social finance);
        3. Adapting or re-imagining the delivery of programs and services to meet the needs of the community, employees and volunteers (e.g. identify new health and safety processes and required personal protective equipment, technology supports, staffing and volunteer recruitment and training);
        4. Procuring equipment or renovating spaces to meet the changing needs of the organization, its programs and services, and adapt to new ways of working (e.g. equipment and/or renovations to meet changing technology health and safety, and service delivery requirements); and
        5. Creating and/or adopting new approaches for organizations to work together to meet the needs of communities (e.g. peer learning, professional development, networking, resource, knowledge and data sharing).
      • For more information, visit the Ontario Trillium Foundation website on eligibility requirements and application deadlines.
    • Question Period:
      • Today the federal government announced the procurement of millions of does of vaccine how much do you expect Ontario to receive? The Premier said he will be speaking to the Deputy PM about this and expects Ontario to receive 38% of the procurement (we have 38% of the population).
      • Regarding the return to school plan, will there be any consideration to reducing the size of elementary classes? The Premier cited the following numbers regarding Ontario class sizes – Kindergarten capped at 30 with a teacher and ECE, grades 1-3 capped at 20, grades 4-8 capped at 24, grades 9-12 capped at 23. We have the lowest co-horts, at 15 in the country. “We also have more guidelines than any other province.” His number one priority is to protect the kids. He referred to an article where BC parents said they wanted Ontario’s plan. “I personally feel we have the best plan. I’m hearing from the vast majority of parents that they want to send their kids to school.” Ontario is investing more money/student than any other province. “Is it going to be perfect? No.” He feels we are prepared.
      • Is the $310 million for schools the final amount? “Never say never, but this is in the budget right now.”
      • Will the ban on cell phones be lifted in schools, so the COVID Alert app can be used? “We’ll take a look at that.”
      • Why is the Province not providing the funding to reduce elementary classes to 15? “We have provided the school boards with funding. If they need to hire more teachers for the elementary classes. There is $80 million on the table.”
      • Will the quality of the online instruction in the fall be better that what is was? The Premier said, “nothing is better than in-class teaching. Online is only a substitute.” The quality relies on the teachers, “we have great teachers.”
      • Is the decision (about elementary classes) being made because it is too costly to hire more teachers? We are relying on the advice of experts. “There is money on the table if school boards need it.” Premier won’t hesitate to close schools if there is a second wave. “If it were up to me we would have 5 kids in a classroom.”
      • Minister MacLeod was asked about why Canada’s Wonderland hasn’t opened yet? It has not opened on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We are not confident to reopen theme parks such as Canada’s Wonderland.” She was asked about why Marineland was allowed to open. She did not explain. She did say they are committed to continually reassessing the situation and understand that outdoor theme parks and attractions are seasonal operations.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Canada and Ontario invest in public transit and active transportation infrastructure for Southwestern Ontario residentsMedia Release
        1. Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; the Honourable Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks and Member of Provincial Parliament for Elgin-Middlesex-London on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and his Worship Joe Preston, Mayor of the City of St. Thomas, announced funding for 11 projects that will modernize and improve transit around Southwestern Ontario.
        2. The Government of Canada is investing more than $6.7 million in these projects through the Public Transit Infrastructure Stream (PTIS) of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is providing more than $5.6 million. The municipalities are contributing more than $3.9 million in total.

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020:

  • City of Burlington Reinstating Downtown Parking Fees
  • Mayor Meed Ward Acclaimed to the Large Urban Caucus of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario
  • Free Masks Available at City Hall and Select Burlington Public Library Locations; Donations Being Accepted
  • Halton Region Launches Public Consultation Period on Regional Official Plan Review
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today the Premier and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade announced the Ontario government is providing Clean Works Medical and Pure Life Machinery with $2 million from the Ontario Together Fund to help manufacture a one-of-a-kind, sanitizing device called the Clean Flow Healthcare Mini. – Media Release
      • This Ontario-made device can decontaminate up to 800 N95 masks per hour along with other personal protective equipment.
      • With Ontario’s support, the company will scale up the production of its Clean Flow Healthcare Mini portable disinfectant device to nearly triple its current capacity. The device is a Health Canada-approved innovation based on existing technology designed to disinfect fresh produce. The technology uses UV light, hydrogen peroxide and ozone to decontaminate surfaces. The technology can destroy up to 99.99 per cent of pathogens and viruses on surfaces, making them as sterile as an operating room.
      • Ontario’s funding will support 19 new jobs and the purchase and installation of metal fabrication, equipment assembly, and facility modifications.
    • Question Period:
      • What message does the Premier have for visitors to Niagara? The Premier reminded people to practice the “golden rule” of physical distancing and to wear a face covering. “Show consideration and be respectful.”
      • Some nurses still have not received their pandemic pay. The Premier, it is “out the door” on our end. “Hospitals get your act together. It has taken way too long.” People will not lose any pay, it will be retroactive. He said that he would release the list of hospitals that haven’t issued the pandemic pay.
      • When will social circles increase beyond 10? The Premier said that this is being discussed by the Health Table. The Premier committed to raising the issue at the Health Table. “This is going on until January, until we have a vaccine. I don’t want what happened in the US to happen here.”
      • Parents are concerned that the Province’s return to school plan is not safe for elementary students. “It’s not our plan. The health experts have come up with the plan.” He understands the concerns of parents. “We won’t spare a penny to keep kids safe.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Windsor-Essex Remains in Stage 2Media Release
        1. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the local medical officer of health, other health experts, and local authorities, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit will remain in Stage 2 as the province continues to monitor local transmission of COVID-19 and support efforts to contain its spread.
        2. Ontario is also implementing a three-point plan to support Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in reducing the risk of transmission on farms and throughout the community. This plan includes ongoing and expanded on-site testing, access to employment benefits and supports, and public health guidance specific to the agri-food setting. Local public health officials are assisting with the implementation of plans to ensure essential workers in the sector are able to return to work safely.
      • Ontario Improving Farm Animal Health and Agricultural ProductivityMedia Release
        1. The Ontario Government is investing $2.35 million in advanced animal research related to livestock health and well-being while also focusing on increasing productivity and competitiveness in the livestock sector. The findings will provide farmers with the latest knowledge and on-farm solutions for safely managing livestock so they can continue to be world leaders in the agriculture sector.
        2. Through the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance, the Province is funding livestock research projects to investigate innovative methods, practices and products that will help the sector better understand and support livestock health and welfare.

Friday, July 24, 2020:

  • Burlington Enters Stage 3 with Playgrounds Reopening and Changes to Beachway Parking
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • There was a federal briefing today with updates on COVID-19, featuring: Minister of Health Patty Hajdu; Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Medical Officer of Health; and Dr. Howard Njoo, Deputy Medical Officer of Health
    • Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu
      • Announcing new risk assessment tool on www.canada.ca/coronavirus
      • Last couple of weeks we’ve seen a concerning increase in cases across the country involving young people
      • I know we all want to get back to normal, for young people and people who live alone, it has been especially difficult
      • It can also be hard to keep track of all the regulations and safety risk associated with different activities
      • We know this virus likes the “3 Cs” – close talkers, closed spaces, crowded places
      • To help Canadians assess the risk associated with different activities, a new tool has been developed, at www.Canada.ca/coronavirus
      • Tool is available online now and will be linked to COVID-19 app later this week – tool outlines health and safety practices individuals should follow for various activities
    • Dr. Tam
      • Key numbers:
        1. There have been 112,672 cases in Canada
        2. Deaths: 8874
        3. Recovered: 87%
        4. Over the last week an average of 44,000 people testing with 1% positive.
      • We can’t reopen safely without being very focused on monitoring trends in daily case counts – look at average over the last 7 days vs. each day.
      • Most recently we are starting to see the daily case count average moving upwards
      • Latest 7-day rolling average is 487
      • Upward trend is worrisome.
      • We know we can’t eliminate cases completely but we have to keep an eye on cases to be able to trace, to keep epidemic growth in check
      • In particular younger Canadians, 20-39 years – highest incident rates in last 2 weeks.
      • You are not invincible against the virus
      • 60% of cases this past week were people under the age of 39, and one third were hospitalized.
      • For the younger adults – please, please observe the public health measures.
    • Question Period:
      • MNRA vaccine technology – US is funding companies working on this technology. Why is Canada not spending $ to do the same?
        1. – Min. Hajdu: Immunity and vaccine candidates that we put our money on are the ones that are the most promising and effective. We are examining domestic and international candidates, including MNRA technology.
      • What is the delay with the federal COVID-19 tracking app?
        1. – Min. Hajdu: “App is about notifying someone on their phone if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. It’s being tested with a variety of users right now. We wanted to make sure the launch is as close to perfect as possible so people will not be deterred by glitches in the early days. We need a large portion of Canadians using it to make it a success. Also wanted to ensure Canadians privacy was secure. Ontario is ready to go as the pilot province, hope to have it out as soon as possible, we are very close now.”
      • Why are we considering re-opening bars and restaurants when we see the increase in cases in places like the US?
        1. – Dr. Tam: It’s an on-going conversation with the provinces. Where people are not following the guidance, it is a massive concern. We do need to do better in reaching the younger population.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing, July 24:
      • Premier Doug Ford was joined by Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice Chancellor of York University, Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of Markham, Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Regional Municipality of York, and Billy Pang, MPP for Markham—Unionville, for today’s briefing
      • Announcing a new York University campus in Markham, planned for 2023
      • Over 200 jobs
      • $350 million in economic benefits
      • Update on other regions waiting to enter Stage 3 will come on Wednesday next week (not Monday). Health officials have asked for some more time
    • Question Period:
      • Premier was asked about rise in cases among young people, at what point do you put a measure in place to curb large gatherings? – “It’s not little Johnny I’m worried about, it’s Johnny’s grandparents. Guys, just don’t go to the party. We have such a vast area in Ontario, you can’t compare large urban areas to smaller ones. I welcome local chief medical officers to use their authority and put in the protocols they need.”
      • A lot of large businesses are not able to open up yet, even in Stage 3, e.g. Cineplex – “We have been in communication with this company, I understand it does not make sense for them to have 50 people in the entire theatre complex vs. 50 people in a theatre. I am following the advice of the chief medical officer and if they say we are not ready then we’re not ready.”
      • Premier asked about complaints from Barrie and Orillia for increased fares for parking at boat launches for non-residents, is this price gouging? – “I’d say its price gouging. I will talk to the representatives from these areas and we will jump on that. I can’t stand when organizations take advantage of people in a crisis. It’s disgusting in my opinion. Be fair to everyone, people are coming to spend their money in local stores. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”
      • Windsor-Essex – is it time for mandatory testing for all agricultural workers? – “I think we’re at the point now that we need to look into mandatory testing. It makes everyone feel more comfortable. But we have to check the Constitution, the lawyers, federal government. I appreciate the migrant workers, I really do – the least they could do is get a test. There’s a lot that are still refusing to get a test and that’s really what burns me up.”
      • Did you move too fast moving Windsor-Essex into Stage 2? – “No, we have to separate the farming community from the other residents. We have to support that one group. If everyone could just go get tested, we could isolate the problem and fix it. I need the cooperation of the folks who aren’t feeling well to get tested. If you have migrant workers, get them tested. Full stop. It’s frustrating when I beg and plead up here and they are just ignoring it.”
    • Other News:

Thursday, July 23, 2020:

  • Encouraging all Burlington Businesses to make the POST Promise as we head into Stage 3
  • COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Clinic Now Open at Joseph Brant Hospital
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Safe Restart Agreement helps Canadian communities get back on their feet. Media release
      • This morning, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced that up to $2 billion in federal funding will be made available to cities and towns across Canada. The funding will support front line workers and critical municipal services
      • Provincial and territorial governments will continue to support municipalities, and will cost-match federal supports with investments made this fiscal year.
      • The Government of Canada has also agreed to match approximately $1.8 billion of provincial and territorial funding to support local public transit.
      • For Ontario this will mean an additional $1 billion in federal transit funding, Minister McKenna announced today.
    • Statement from Dr. Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer on July 22
      • “After months of being at home, everyone wants to make the most of the summer months, but this summer is not like any other. With the COVID-19 pandemic still active in Canada and worldwide, it means that how and where you choose to enjoy the summer will determine your risk for exposure to COVID-19.”
      • “To protect yourself and others, I urge everyone to avoid or strictly limit the time you spend in high-risk settings and situations.
      • “Whether you are considering patio time, BBQs, or picnics, outdoor gatherings are better than indoors, and fewer people and limiting contacts in your small social bubble is best. Camping, swimming and field/beach sports can be great outdoor activities too but we need to be mindful of exposure risks in crowded areas or shared facilities, such as change rooms, rest rooms and canteens.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing, July 23:
      • Ontario Building and Expanding Schools across the Province – media release
      • Premier Doug Ford was joined by Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Patrick Brown, Mayor of Brampton, for today’s briefing in Brampton
      • $12 billion over the next ten years to build new schools and refurbish old ones, including 2 new schools in Brampton
      • Will add 30,000 new childcare spaces in these new schools
      • Minister Lecce: it is vital that we lay the foundation where everyone can succeed in a modern, safe learning environment – $500 million for this year, 30 schools and 900 new childcare spaces
      • We know parents and students are looking for clarity about the fall – we are finalizing those plans with medical officer of health and they will be shared next week.
    • Question Period:
      • Min Lecce asked about funding announcements in the short term to help with hand washing, air filtration, etc.: “Many schools require modernization and close to 90 of these updated schools will open in time for Sept. 2020. We continue to be focused on a safe, ‘new’ conventional plan for back to school that we will share next week.”
      • Min. Lecce asked about change in regulation that allows directors to be from non-teaching background: “We believe in having the best leader, with right skill set to guide hiring/promotions, right now, it is rather prescriptive. We have an opportunity to do better and reflect the communities we serve, have to expand the eligibility.”
      • Premier was asked about GTHA mayors asking for more health measures regarding bars: “I fully agree with the guidelines especially in large urban areas. Each MOH has the authority to put in place any measures they see fit.”
      • Min. Lecce asked about only 40% of daycares open right now, how confident are you that they will be at 100% by September: “when it comes to getting parents back to work, we want parents to feel confident. Last week we announced we’re scaling up the cohort from 10 – 15 to increase capacity.”
      • Min. Lecce asked about funding for short-term help for schools: “Our good work in flattening the curve has made it possible for us to look at a plan that involves 5-day school week. We are taking the time to get this right so we don’t have the same issues some other jurisdictions are experiencing after reopening.”
    • Other Announcements:
      • Ontario Government announces five new Ontario Health Teams – Media release
      • Ontario supports Indigenous business during COVID-19 – Media release

Wednesday, July 22, 2020:

  • Halton Region Moving to Stage 3 of Reopening as Mandatory Mask By-Law also comes into Effect
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing, July 22: Ontario Legislature Adjourns after Significant Sitting in Response to COVID-19 – Media release
      • Premier Doug Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Paul Calandra, Government House Leader, for today’s briefing
      • Concluded a historic legislative session, passed 6 bills
      • Minister Calandra – house is now adjourned until September
    • Question Period:
      • Premier was asked about MPP from Cambridge re: is this a message that MPPs better get in line? “We have a phenomenal relationship, she never said anything to me. This legislative is absolutely critical to helping the people of Ontario. It is transparent. We cannot afford to wait 3 or 4 weeks to call back the legislature to put orders in place. I wish her all the best.”
      • Premier: “Caucus members can disagree, we’re all a part of a team. I’m not going to waiver when it comes to protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario. You need to vote on an important piece of legislation like this. I’ll leave it at that.”
      • House Leader: “The legislature has been seized with COVID-19. Given the importance of the legislation, I liken this to a budget bill where all members are expected to support it.”
      • Will MPP from Cambridge be allowed back in caucus? House Leader: “This is a decision the full caucus will make, if she indicates she would like to return.”
      • Will you shuffle your cabinet in July and August? Premier: ”We have deep, deep talent in caucus. Right now, we have a great cabinet and I’m thankful for how they’ve been working so hard.”
      • Premier was asked about Ontario Auditor saying Bill 197 was illegal because it didn’t allow for 30 days of consultation as outlined in the Environmental Bill of Rights. Premier: “That is not correct. Consultations will continue to ensure that we keep the environment safe.”
      • Premier was asked about education and what government is doing to get kids back in class 5 days a week: “Families want certainty when they go back to work. The reason we have three options is, god forbid, we have a second wave, then you have to have a back-up plan. Our goal is to get elementary kids back in the classroom five days a week. High school kids? They can take care of themselves.”
      • Premier was asked about Halton District School Board rejecting hybrid model – Premier: “People want certainty, and I want to give them that certainty. I think everything is going to come together, I’m pretty confident. This is another hurdle we need to get over together.”
      • What about other ideas, e.g. other spaces like theatres, outdoor classrooms is the government considering to get kids back 5 days a week? Premier: “Will leave that up to the Education Minister for innovative and creative ideas. I’ve never seen so many kids itching to get back to school.”
      • Premier was asked about adjourning the legislature while the pandemic continues: “We’ve had great collaboration, but people have to get back to their ridings and start talking to their people and leave the “bubble of Queen’s Park. It is a misnomer to say that you aren’t working if you’re not sitting.”
      • Premier was asked, what are you doing to assure Ontarians these powers will not be abused – Premier: “this legislation is to protect the people of Ontario, bottom line, full stop. It’s fully transparent, any MPP can call me, I’m always available, I’ll do whatever I can to reassure them.”
    • Other Announcements:
      • Ontario Strengthens Protections for Tenants – Media release
      • Canada and Ontario invest in bridges and a road for rural communities in Southern Ontario – Media release

Tuesday, July 21, 2020:

  • Mayor Sends Letters to Condo, Apartment Associations Requesting Support With Mandatory Mask Guidelines
  • Regional Council Approves Direction to Keep Property Taxes low in 2021 Budget
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s provincial briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford was joined by Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, Michelle DiEmanuele, President & CEO of Trillium Health Partners, and Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga for today’s briefing, on location in riding of Mississauga Lakeshore
      • Partnership between Trillium Health and Heart Health Hospice for new 220 bed long-term care facility and hospice was announced in Dec. 2019
      • Today, announcing an accelerated new build pilot project to build the 2 new long-term care homes in Mississauga – 320 beds in each, by 2021 (in seven months) vs. typical 36 months to build a long-term care home
      • Rapid procurement, use of hospital lands, modular construction will allow for faster construction.
    • Question Period:
      • Premier Ford was asked about Ontario’s $7 billion from Safe Restart Agreement – how will money be allocated? “Working with federal government to get the details. Will be a boost for municipalities and transit.”
      • Premier Ford was asked about the extension of noise bylaws to allow for more construction, will it be rolled back? “No, we need to get these projects done.”
      • Premier asked about increase in COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, what is the strategy to combat? “What concerns me is the percentages of young people, 57% of all new cases are 39 year olds and younger. Hold off on parties. Enough. We have to keep this under control.”
      • How bad would things have to get to go back to Stage 1? “We have the brightest smartest people coming out of our colleges anywhere in the world. The percentage that are going ‘hog wild’, need to reign it in. This is no time for partying, we are in the middle of a pandemic.”
      • Premier asked about hospitals trying to deal with back log for surgeries/procedures. “Our goal is to get the back log cleaned up quickly. Will ensure resources are available to do it and also keep in mind the capacity – is it there with staffing.”
      • Premier was asked about Leamington and testing at farms. “Emergency team from Sunnybrook Hospital is currently there, all-hands on deck and will continue testing on as many farms as possible, each day, collaborating with farmers.”
      • Premier asked about strategy of education vs. enforcement for those not following physical distancing rules – why not ramp up enforcement? “People are hurting right now, they can barely pay rent. There is always the odd bad apple, but we have to keep moving forward. Most people have been incredible.”
    • Other News:
      • Minister of Health, Christine Elliott commented about today’s COVID-19 reporting of new cases on her Twitter account: Ontario is reporting 203 cases of #COVID19, a 0.5% increase. Today’s uptick is the result of localized increases: there are 43 of new cases in Ottawa, 57 in Peel and 24 more in Windsor-Essex. Looking at the age of today’s new cases, 116 of them or 57% are 39 years old or younger.
      • While one day of data, today’s increase is concerning. Ontarians of all ages need to continue to adhere to public health guidelines: maintain only one social circle of 10 people, physically distance with anyone outside of it and wear a face covering when doing so is a challenge.

Monday, July 20, 2020:

  • Mayor’s Statement on Province Adding Halton to List of Municipalities Entering Stage 3
  • Online Reservation System for Visitors to Burlington’s Lowville Park Begins July 30
  • Can Businesses Refuse Me Service if I’m Not Wearing a Mask?
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s provincial briefing:
      • Ontario Moving More Regions into Stage 3 – Media Release
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance at today’s briefing.
      • As of Friday, July 24 at 12:01 a.m. – 7 more Regions will enter stage 3, including:
        1. Durham Region Health Department
        2. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
        3. Halton Region Health Department
        4. Hamilton Public Health Services
        5. Lambton Health Unit
        6. Niagara Region Public Health Department
        7. York Region Public Health Services.
      • 1,000 more businesses will be able to open up
      • Toronto, Peel, Windsor remain in Stage 2
      • Have to stay vigilant, more important than ever to follow public health to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We are watching other areas that have re-opened and if needed, we’ll make adjustment based on how things are going.
      • Implementation of a new cloud-based case and contact management system has begun as of July 17 – first users include Peel, Kingston, Grey Bruce and Halton. Other public health units expected to be on board by end of September. New system enables health units to accelerate case and contact management
      • Minister Philips said details about how the federal Safe Restart money will be divided will be available in the days ahead.
      • Ontario.ca/COVID has over 180 resources for businesses about returning to work in Stage 3.  Visit emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659 Ontario.ca/COVID
      • Businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications.
    • Question Period:
      • Federal contract tracing app is expected to be released This Friday. Its launch will not be a factor in determining if the other three regions can go ahead to Stage 3
      • Premier was asked it opening of bars, is putting economy first over health? Number one priority is public health, these are the guidelines we are using. Local MOHs have authority to have put stricter measures in place if they want to.
      • School – if its part time, will there not be an enormous demand for daycare spaces? Premier supports have elementary students back in school 5 days a week. Talked to Minister yesterday, have to make sure we are ready for any scenario and taking advice of local school boards
      • COVID-19 positive tests – seems to be younger demographic. Is there a problem reaching young people? Premier: “you may feel invincible, it’s not just about yourself, it’s about your parents, grandparents, that’s who you need to think about. Do the right thing.”
      • Min. Elliott – there is a certain amount of COVID fatigue, but please remember, it is more important than ever to follow pub health measures – physical distance, masks, washing hands and ONE social circle
      • Could we expand the social bubbles, would this help younger people stay in their bubble. Premier: “Eventually we’ll get there. For now, use common sense – we’ll get back to having good times, can’t have big parties right now.”
      • Finance Minister: When will you announce the amounts for municipalities. Will the Province be matching? Took about 6 weeks to negotiate the $19 billion deal and it will take a few more days to work out how it will be distributed, it’s for municipalities, transit and others
      • 10 day paid sick leave in deal with Ottawa, will Ontario government support? Premier Ford confirmed that Ontario will abide by the 10-days paid sick leave that Ottawa demanded as part of the $19B funding deal last week. Federal government will administer it.
      • Long term care independent commission – who will lead it and when will it report back. Premier: do not have an exact date
      • Ontario truckers nervous to cross the boarder – can the province do anything to protect them? Working with trucking association to ensure they have all the PPE and protocols they need to keep them safe. Important that they stay vigilant.
      • Scarborough and north Toronto – what additional resources are these areas getting to help bring down the numbers. Premier: Pub Health is doing a lot including mobile units, drive-in testing unit off Hwy 27, multiple families in a dwelling is one of factors for these numbers. It’s been getting better but it’s not there yet.

Friday, July 17, 2020:

  • Financial Relief Comes to Municipalities with Ontario Getting $7B of Federal Government’s $19B “Safe Restart” Fund
  • COVID-19 Task Force Meeting #12 Highlights
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Other News:
      • More support for Canadians through the Safe Restart AgreementMedia Release
        1. The Prime Minister, announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart their economies and make our country more resilient to possible future waves of the virus.
        2. This investment, through the Safe Restart Agreement, will help address the key priorities, agreed upon by Canada’s First Ministers, for the safe restart of Canada’s economy over the next six to eight months.
        3. The agreement will also help get funding quickly to municipalities so they can deliver essential services that Canadians rely on every day, like public transit. In addition, it includes actions to help Canadian workers during this challenging time, such as ensuring the availability of safe child care to help parents returning to work, and providing income support for people who do not have paid sick leave so all Canadians can stay healthy.
        4. New federal funding will address seven priority areas:
          1. enhanced capacity for testing, contact tracing, and data management and information sharing to mitigate future outbreaks.
          2. investments in health care to respond to the pandemic, including support for Canadians experiencing challenges with substance use, mental health, or homelessness.
          3. support for vulnerable Canadians – including those in long-term care, home care, and palliative care – who are at risk of more severe cases of COVID-19.
          4. funding to secure a reliable source of personal protective equipment, and to recover some of the costs from previous investments made by provincial and territorial governments.
          5. support to ensure that safe and sufficient child care spaces are available to support parents’ gradual return to work.
          6. joint funding with the provinces and territories to support municipalities on the front lines of restarting the economy, including by putting in place precautions for public spaces and essential services to reduce the spread of the virus, as well as a dedicated stream of funding for public transit.
          7. a temporary income support program that will provide workers who do not have paid sick leave with access to 10 days of paid sick leave related to COVID-19.
        5. To access the funding, each province and territory will need to outline how they will invest these funds.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities, and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, were at Medical Innovation Xchange in Kitchener to announce a made-in-Ontario Intellectual Property Action Plan to help ensure the tremendous social and economic benefits of taxpayer-funded research and innovation stays right here in the province. In addition, the government unveiled the second round of research projects approved and supported through the $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. Through these efforts, researchers will be working to find ways to prevent, detect and treat COVID-19. – Media release
      • Premier Ford said, “through this action plan and research fund, we want everyone in the province to benefit from this trailblazing work and ensure Ontario is recognized as the best place in the world to carry out research and develop new technology and innovative processes.”
      • The government is strengthening Ontario’s intellectual property (IP) position through the Intellectual Property Action Plan. The plan will drive the province’s long-term economic competitiveness by prioritizing IP generation, protection, and commercialization.
      • The government is also creating the Special Implementation Team on Intellectual Property (SITIP), which will be comprised of the IP experts who previously served on Ontario’s Expert Panel on Intellectual Property.
      • Together, Ontario’s SITIP and Intellectual Property Action Plan will respond to the report prepared by the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property and will:
        1. Work with postsecondary institutions and research institutes to strengthen mandates related to commercialization entities within their organizations;
        2. Strengthen Ontario’s IP literacy by developing standardized, web-based basic and advanced IP education curriculums;
        3. Create a centralized provincial resource entity that will increase access to sophisticated IP expertise; and
        4. Develop a governance framework for organizations supporting entrepreneurial and innovation activities, which incorporates IP considerations.
      • As part of its strategy to strengthen the research and innovation economy, the Ontario government is funding an additional 20 proposals that were submitted in response to the government’s $20 million Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked when municipalities would know how much of the $7 billion they would receive and will the Province be matching the contribution. The Premier said that “they were dotting all the I’s and crossing all the t’s,” but expected the funding would roll out next week. He gave a shout out to all the 440 mayor in the Provinces who stood behind him. “It’s and incredible package.” He did not comment on the Provincial matching.
      • He was asked whether Toronto will get the $1.35 billion Mayor Tory has said they need. Premier, “we will do everything we can.” He said the Toronto has been able to find efficiencies and he expects every municipality to find them. He said municipalities that were able to find efficiencies and limit tax increases should be rewarded for their efforts not punished.
      • He was asked if there was any reason that we would see service cuts in Toronto (something Mayor Tory has said would happen if Toronto did not get the money they needed). The Premier referred to Toronto “as the elephant in the room.” He said the money would be split up equally. “You have no idea how hard I worked to get the money for the municipalities.”
      • He was asked about the Halton Board of Education (the reporter did not say which board) not planning for the part time school scenario because the were not enough day care spots to allow parents to send their children to school part time and to work. The Premier said with “91% of the day care spots are open,” why would this be an issue. “Halton Region is a good Region.” He promised to look into the issue and address it.

Thursday, July 16, 2020:

  • Here’s What You Need to Know About the Temporary Mask Bylaws Approved by City, Regional Councils
  • Service Burlington Counter at City Hall to Open for In-Person Payments: Online Payments and Services also Continue to be Available
  • Province extends emergency orders to July 29
  • FEDERAL/PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Federal/Provincial News:
      • The PM and Premier, separately announced that the Federal government and the Provinces have reached a deal on the Safe Restart program
      • Over $19 billion will flow to the Province and territories. Ontario’s share is $7 billion. (The Federal government had initially committed $14 billion to this program)
      • The PM said the funding will be for 7 priorities (significantly ramping up testing and contact tracing, securing a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, and ensuring health care systems have the capacity to manage future outbreaks. These investments will also provide support for vulnerable populations, help ensure the safety of child care centres for both children and educators, support essential municipal services, and provide paid sick leave)
      • The funding for municipalities will be for operational costs and transit. According to the PM these “investments to the municipalities will be shared equally by the Federal and Provincial governments.
      • Both the PM and the Premier referred to this an historic agreement.
      • The agreement is for 6-8 months.
      • The PM said that the Provinces will not be able to transfer funding allocated for one sector to the other. He said there was some flexibility, but did not provide details. The Provinces agreed to the conditions.
      • The PM confirmed that the border between Canada and the US would remain closed until August 21.
      • A media release on the funding agreement has not yet been issued.
    • Provincial News:
      • At his briefing today the Premier also announced additional funding for farmers.
      • The Ontario government is expanding the Risk Management Program a year earlier than planned by $50 million for a total of $150 million annually. This funding supports farmers with unforeseen challenges such as fluctuating market prices, extreme weather events like flooding or drought, and disease. – Media Release
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier said that $7 billion for Ontario is a good deal, even though he had been seeking $23 billion. He said everyone worked hard to reach this deal. “This is not a time for politics. The PM had the final say and stepped up and did a great job. I am so happy we were able to get a deal.”
      • He was asked to confirm whether the Province had reached a deal with the Blue Jays to play home games at Rogers Centre. He said that after discussions with the federal, provincial and municipal officers of health the Blue Jays were given clearance. He commented on the 150 page protocol that MLB has, “great guidelines for the players to follow.”
    • Other News:
      • Federal government to provide provinces and territories with $19B for ‘safe restart’ of economy – Article
        1. “COVID-19 isn’t just a health crisis. It’s an economic crisis, too,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Parliament Hill.
        2. “When we talk about the recovery phase, it’s not just about making sure we can detect, control and prevent future outbreaks. It’s also about helping people, businesses and entire communities adjust to our new normal.”
        3. Trudeau said the money will focus on seven priority areas, including enhanced COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line workers and businesses, funding for municipalities, a national sick leave plan and child care so that parents can get back to work.
        4. “We managed to get to an agreement where the money that is designated for safe child care spaces, for example, the money that is designated for PPE, the money that is designated for testing and contact tracing, actually will get spent in those areas,” said Trudeau.
        5. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said today that his province will get around $7 billion of the total, while Premier John Horgan said that British Columbia will get nearly $2 billion. Both premiers praised the deal.
        6. Trudeau said the federal government recognizes that there may a need for more funding beyond the next six to eight months, especially given that the development of a vaccine could be far off.
        7. Trudeau previously pledged $14 billion — but many premiers said that amount was not nearly enough to cover their needs.
      • Ontario Taking Additional Steps to Support Hospitality Workers and Businesses during COVID Recovery – AGCO Media Release
        1. The Ontario government is amending liquor laws to provide consumers with more delivery options and allow boat operators with liquor sales licences to temporarily sell and serve alcohol while their boat is docked. These changes, which come into effect today, are designed to support the recovery of workers and businesses as Ontario’s hospitality sector gradually reopens.
        2. Although the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will not require liquor licensed boat operators to apply or pay a fee for these temporary physical extensions, the operators must ensure they have municipal approval and meet all other applicable requirements. These measures will be in place until January 1, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020:

  • LUMCO Petitions Premier, Province to Mandate Mask Bylaw for Indoor Public Spaces
  • Borrow Sports and Play Equipment Safely in Burlington to Keep Your Summer Moving
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care announced a redesigned funding model that will lead to the building of additional, modern long-term care homes providing seniors with the quality care they deserve. This new approach will help break down historic barriers and accelerate the construction of urgently needed long-term care projects, and new and redeveloped beds. Over the next five years, the government is investing $1.75 billion in long-term care homes. It is also updating design standards to include air conditioning for any new and renovated homes, beginning immediately. – Media Release
      • The new funding model will help speed up construction by:
        1. Creating four new regional categories based on geographic location, each with a targeted home size: large urban, urban, mid-size, and rural. An increase to the province’s construction funding subsidy (CFS) will be tailored to each of these four categories, enabling the government to address the barriers and needs of different communities;
        2. Providing development grants, between 10 per cent and 17 per cent depending on regional category, to cover upfront costs like development charges, land and other construction expenses;
        3. Helping small operators in rural communities navigate the high cost of development, while ensuring larger urban centres can secure the loans and real estate they need; and
        4. Increasing funding to incentivize the construction of basic accommodation and continuing top-ups for small and medium sized homes.
      • By taking these steps the government is making it more attractive for operators to build long-term care homes and bring aging homes with 3-4-person ward rooms up to modern design standards. Currently, more than 38,000 people are on the waitlist to access a long-term care space, and new long-term care home construction has not kept pace.
      • The previous “one-size-fits-all” funding model has not spurred development nor accounted for how regional differences impact land, construction and other development costs.
      • Minister Fullerton also announced new visitation guidelines for long term care homes – effectively immediately 2 people will be able to visit a patient outdoors. Visitors will be screened, but will not require a negative COVID-19 test. Masking and physical distancing is required.
      • Starting July 22 – indoor visits will resume. Two visitors at a time can visit. They will be screened and will have to provide a verbal attestation.
    • Question Period:
      • Minister Fullerton was asked whether private for profit homes would be able to access the funding for installing air conditioning in homes? She said that ownership of the homes is not an issue. They are taking a “resident centred approach”, they want to be consistent regardless of the ownership.
      • Minister Fullerton was also asked if these standards apply to retirement homes. She said the government would be assessing the standards in all types of homes.
      • On what if loosening the visitation restrictions might result in a spike in cases. Premier, we must allow visitors in a safe way. Minister Fullerton, we have been working with the sector and we recognize the importance visitors can have on the well-being of patients. “We want to ensure the homes are ready. We are working with the Medical Officer to address any “sparks” that may come up.”
      • The Premier was asked about the TDSB’s plans for September. He said, “we value the input from the TDSB.” They are getting more money to hire more teachers ($24million). “We can’t predict what will happen two months down the road.” He spoke about the drop in the number of cases and the impact that would have on the decision. “Our goal is to have kids in school five days a week.” He said that school boards need to be prepared.
      • On how parents should prepare, the Premier said “we are working on this every single day. I wish I could see into the crystal ball.” He knows parents want certainty. “We are working extremely hard on this.”
      • The Premier was asked about the fake mask exemption cards. He has heard about this. “People need to be responsible. Don’t be a scammer. Wear a mask or face covering.”
      • He was asked to provide an update on the status of the contact tracing APP. He said that it is with the feds. Ontario is ready. “We are waiting on the green light from the Federal government.” Minister Elliott said “we intend to have a vigorous advertising campaign when it is launched.” The APP is only useful if people down load it. She assured everyone that is it completely anonymous.
      • Minister Fullerton was asked how much money was allocated for the installation of air conditioning in homes. She did provide a dollar amount, but said that, “air conditioning must be considered in the context of COVID-19.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2020:

  • Province Provides More Detail on Stage 3 Reopening Strategy
  • Burlington Public Library Expands Reopening: Four branches with limited services starts today
  • Community Support Fund Provides Funding for Innovative Programs and Projects that Foster Community Connections During COVID-19: Applications now being accepted
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade were in Cambridge today to announce $1,408,475  going to Eclipse Innovations Inc. from the Ontario Together Fund to scale up its operations to manufacture made-in-Ontario N95 masks. These masks are an essential piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) used to protect workers in healthcare and industrial settings. This investment is part of the government’s plan to increase the capacity of Ontario-made PPE, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province. – Media Release
      • Today also marked the beginning of the Premier’s tour across the Province to acknowledge and thank strong local businesses and exceptional individuals who have stepped up to help out during the outbreak of COVID-19. Over the coming months, Premier Ford will visit a number of communities to recognize those who have gone above and beyond, hear ideas from the people on how the government can help them succeed in the new environment, and support made-in-Ontario products as a key part of the province’s path to recovery.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked again today about NBC bringing American workers to Canada to do the broadcasting of the NHL games, are they essential workers? The Premier has no control over NHL contracts. He said, that he found out late about this arrangement.
      • Why have so many businesses been allowed to reopen when there is no school reopening plan in place yet. The Premier’s preference is to see all children in school everyday (doesn’t think schools should be closed one day for cleaning). “We need a plan for all scenarios. What if there is a second wave, we need to be ready. The safety of our children is a top priority.”
      • The Premier was asked what the Province was doing to prepare the health care system for a second wave. “There will be a plan rolled out shortly. We are so much better prepared now. We can’t let our guard down. We will not spare penny to protect the people of this Province.”
      • The Premier was asked to respond to the criticism that the Province is more focused on reopening bars than schools. He said that his concern is not the reopening of bars, but about “the businesses that own the bars… we have to help the restaurants get back on their feet.”
      • The Premier was asked about Mayor Tory’s comments that without Provincial and Federal funding that there would be service cuts in Toronto. The Premier said that they have been working well with the federal government. “I’d rather make no deal than a bad deal. We are very close to making a deal.” He is hopeful that something will be in place by the end of this week.
      • He was asked to comment on the COVID surcharges some businesses have implemented. Some are as high as $20. He didn’t think they should be charging that much.

Monday, July 13, 2020:

  • Burlington City Council Unanimously Approves Temporary Mask Bylaw Indoor Spaces Open to the Public, as of July 20, 2020
  • Burlington Mayor Sends Letters to MPs, MPPs Stressing Urgent Need for COVID-19 Financial Relief
  • Adult Summer Programming to Resume at Burlington Seniors’ Centre and Central Park on July 27; City exploring more virtual celebrations
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM said that the wage subsidy program will be extended until December.
      • He and the Deputy PM have been working with the Provinces on the safe restart program – there will be an announcement later this week.
      • He spoke to President Trump this morning about a number of issues.
      • The PM said he made a mistake by not recusing himself from the discussions regarding the WE contract because of his family’s relationship with the organization. He is sorry for his actions, which have created an unnecessary delay in getting this youth volunteer program started.
      • He said it is “frustrating because young people could be serving their country now, but because of me they have to wait.”
      • “As a government we will continue to work forward on delivering good programs for Canadians.”
      • “This mistake is on me. I take responsibility for it.”
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked to provide details on his conversation with President Trump. He said they spoke about the proposed aluminum tariffs. “It would be shame to see tariffs come in when we are celebrating the new NAFTA.” Tariffs would only slow down the recovery for both countries.
      • He was asked about the reopening of the Canada/US border. “The situation in the US is complicated.” Discussions are ongoing as we are a week away from the end of the current ban. We will work hard to keep Canadians safe. There will be an announcement later this week.
      • The PM was asked if a closer until the end of the year would be better based on what is happening currently in the US. The PM said the situation will continue to be discussed with our US partners. He said “making long-term predictions may not be the best idea. We will continue to make short and medium term decisions to ensure Canadians are safe.”
      • Most of today’s other questions were regarding the WE contract.
      • The PM said that he knew his mother and brother had worked as professional public speakers, but he wasn’t aware of their renumeration. “I should have followed up.”
      • He deeply regrets bringing his mother into this.
      • He repeated a number of times that he was sorry and that he should have recused himself from the discussions.
      • He was asked since this was his third ethics violation, if he was familiar with the Conflict of Interest Act and also if he would step down and how long would it take him to learn his lesson.
      • “I am very sorry. Young people who should have been out volunteering will now have to wait longer, because I made a mistake. I made a mistake and I sincerely apologize.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Ford, who was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education announced that 24 Regions in Ontario will be able to move to Stage 3 on July 17 at 12:01 a.m. (Halton is not one of the regions moving to Stage 3 on Friday) – Media Release
      • As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:
        1. Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
        2. Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
        3. Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.
      • Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.
      • Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.
      • The following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19:
        1. Amusement parks and water parks;
        2. Buffet-style food services;
        3. Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
        4. Overnight stays at camps for children;
        5. Private karaoke rooms;
        6. Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
        7. Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
        8. Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.
      • At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3.
      • As the province safely and gradually enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place. Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.
      • The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.
      • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
      • The following regions will remain in Stage 2, as additional time is required to assess and monitor any impacts and readiness to move into Stage 3:
        1. Durham Region Health Department
        2. Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
        3. Halton Region Public Health
        4. Hamilton Public Health Services
        5. Lambton Public Health
        6. Niagara Region Public Health
        7. Peel Public Health
        8. Toronto Public Health
        9. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
        10. York Region Public Health
    • Question Period:
      • How long will we be in Stage 3? Minister Elliott “we will remain in Stage 3 depending on the number of cases.” While in Stage 3 gathering sizes will gradually expand, depending on the number of cases.
      • Regarding providing financial support to businesses that will not be able to open in Stage 3. Minister Phillips said that the government wants to hear from these businesses. Businesses should develop reopening plans that will be reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health. If he is comfortable with their plans they will be allowed to reopen.
      • Minster Elliott was asked how long before the other regions will be able to move to Stage 3. She said that they need four weeks of Stage 2 data. “The next group to move to Stage 3 could hear on Monday (July 20), that they can move to Stage 3 on Friday (July 24).”
      • How are big sporting events and amusement parks expected to survive? The Premier, “if businesses like banquet halls and small amusement parks can come up with a reopening plan that gets approved by the Chief Medical Officer of Health they will be allowed to reopen, without any special orders.”
      • The Premier was asked if funding would be provided to assists businesses like gyms in reopening. The Premier said the Province could not afford to financially assist all these businesses.
      • Minister Elliott was asked why social circles were not expanded to groups of more than 10 (the groups that can touch and are not required to physically distance). “This may happen at some point but it will be gradual and safe.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the reopening of bars, based on what has happened in the US. He said that they are taking the advice of the Chief Medical Officer. He understands the concern, but dancing will not be permitted.
      • The Premier was asked to clarify how the 50 people indoors applied to multi-plex movie theatres. Regardless of the number of theatres at the complex currently only 50 people are permitted in the entire theatre, not counting staff. Minister Phillips, “Minister MacLeod has been working with the association on a safe reopening plan.”

Friday, July 10, 2020:

  • Looking for Ways to Cool off This Weekend? Burlington Reminds Residents to Stay Safe and Prevent COVID-19 Spread
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Dennis Darby, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, at Artistic Skylight in Vaughan, Ontario announced the government’s support of the launch of the Ontario Made program from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). This new program will promote the many world-class goods that are made across the province by helping consumers easily identify, access and purchase local products – Media Release
      • Funding for Ontario Made is made possible through the $50 million Ontario Together Fund launched on April 1, 2020. This funding will be used to help retailers and consumers identify local products by:
        1. Creating a new Ontario Made logo that manufacturers can use to help consumers identify their made-in-Ontario products. CME will also meet with major retailers to promote Ontario Made products in-store and increase visibility for customers;
        2. Launching a new SupportOntarioMade.ca website that will connect consumers and supply chain partners to manufacturers of made-in-Ontario products through one directory;
        3. Promoting Ontario Made through a digital newsletter to raise awareness of Ontario goods and products online and through social media.
      • The Premier said that never again will we be left at the mercy of other countries to supply us with PPE
    • Question Period:
      • Minister Lecce was asked about Toronto school boards reaching out the City of Toronto about space that could be used for classrooms in the fall. Minister Lecce said that the Province would assist school boards as they get ready. He continued to say that boards must developed plans for three scenarios. The deadline for these plans is August 4.
      • The Premier was asked whether there would be an reopening announcements on Monday. He joked and said he didn’t know if there would be something Monday, but there would be some “big announcements next week.”
      • On the Canada/US border. The Premier spoke to the Deputy PM and told her he is not in favour of the border reopening on July 21. “We will continue to be very cautious on the borders and reopening.” He doesn’t want to see what is happening in other countries happen in Ontario.
      • He was asked whether letting athletes from the US into Canada was a good idea. “The municipality, the Province and the Feds have agreed to the terms.” Players will be quarantined and will be tested regularly. He thinks people will enjoy being able to watch some baseball.
      • He was asked about the reopening of playgrounds. Playground equipment is hard to disinfect. “We will find other things for kids to do.”
      • On whether bars will be part of the Stage 3 reopening (bars have been found to contribute to the spread of the virus in other countries that have reopened them). Minister Fedeli, “we are consulting with medical experts and the business community. When Stage 3 is announced there will be complete details.”
      • The Premier was asked why his isn’t ruling out Toronto being a hub city for the NHL. He feels that the NHL’s policies are very stringent (players will be tested every day). He thinks people would also like to see some hockey.
    • Statement by Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and TradeOntario Focusses on Renewal, Growth, and Economic Recovery
      • Today’s employment numbers are an indication that Ontario’s economy is beginning to stabilize as we continue to safely and gradually reopen the province. According to Statistics Canada, employment in Ontario increased by 377,900 in June, including an increase of 66,200 manufacturing jobs. But the job numbers are much more than a statistic, they represent, families, business owners and workers back at work and contributing to Ontario’s economic recovery.
      • Earlier this week, we introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act. This legislation is the first step in our made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery. If passed, this bill will help get shovels in the ground faster on key infrastructure projects, lead to the creation of more jobs and investment, and cut red tape to help businesses adapt to the new environment.
      • As we look towards Stage 3 of reopening, we know we have a solid foundation upon which to continue building our future and emerge stronger than ever.

Thursday, July 9, 2020:

  • Province extends Emergency Orders to July 22
  • Patients and Visitors Required to Wear Masks at Joseph Brant Hospital
  • Oakville Council passes motion supporting mandatory region-wide mask by-law
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Jamil Jivani, Ontario’s Advocate for Community Opportunities announced new changes to the education system that will help break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and racialized students and provide all students with an equal opportunity to succeed. As part of this action, the province will move forward with ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses, proposing to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students, strengthening sanctions for teachers who engage in behaviour of a racist nature, and providing teachers with additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training. – Media Release
      • Through Bill 197, COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020, the government is proposing to eliminate discretionary suspensions for students from kindergarten up to Grade 3, beginning September 2020. Serious offences will still be subject to mandatory suspensions. The latest suspension data from 2018-19 shows that over 65,000 elementary and secondary students in Ontario were suspended during that school year.
      • Starting in September 2021, the government will begin the process of ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses. Currently, students enrolled in applied-level courses have multiple negative outcomes and limited opportunities for post-secondary advancement.
    • Question Period:
      • Minister Lecce was asked if parents should now have conversations with their employers about flexibility in the fall with respect to child care and school attendance. While not directly answering the question Minister Lecce did say that school boards were asked to be ready for three different scenarios. He said the government’s preference was for every day in class conventional learning, with heightened safety protocols. He said this decision would not be made by politicians but by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the health command table.
      • Minister Elliott was asked about the pandemic pay. She said that 375,000 people in the province would receive their pay this week. She said that their pay would not be weighted base on how much time in their day was spent specifically caring for COVID patients.
      • Premier was asked if he could provide details on what Stage 3 would look like e.g. what would be open. He said the list was at the Health Table now. He hopes to have an announcement very soon.
      • Minister Lecce was asked if he job was to provide clarity for parents regarding schools. He said his job was to prepare for every scenario. He understands that parents want a plan. Case data is moving in the right direction to support a day to day, every day conventional learning model.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Expanding Access to the Modern Digital EconomyMedia Release
        1. The Ontario government is expanding access to reliable broadband and cellular service in underserved and unserved parts of the province. The application intake for the $150 million Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON) opens today. This funding will help drive economic investment and job creation across the province, while allowing more people to work from home more efficiently, engage in online learning, and connect with family and friends.
        2. Any areas across Ontario that do not meet the national standards for broadband speeds would be eligible for provincial funding. Up to 12 per cent of households in the province – mostly in rural, remote or northern areas – don’t have adequate broadband service, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.
        3. Telecommunication service providers, municipalities, Indigenous communities and non-profits are invited to submit innovative proposals and lend their investment, expertise and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The preliminary application deadline for the first intake of the ICON program is August 21, 2020.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020:

  • Province Listens and Gives Councils Ability to Meet Electronically Post-COVID-19
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM shared highlights of the two day virtual cabinet retreat that was held this week. Cabinet discussed the response to the pandemic, which has been based on science and data – the only way to protect Canadians. Updated public health modeling will be released today.
      • Cabinet also developed a work plan on addressing systemic racism.
      • While the situation (pandemic) is stabilizing in Canada, we must still be careful. There are some hotspots still at long term care homes and farms.
      • We must continue to follow the health advice.
      • COVID-19 caused a health crisis and economic crisis . All sectors felt the impact, some more than other.
      • Many people lost their jobs overnight and the Federal government chose to support Canadians quickly.
      • The government went into debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to.
      • We have slowed the spread of the virus and we are now able to reopen the economy
      • The restart will see some sectors bounce back more quickly than others.
      • Now is not the time for tightening belts or austerity measures.
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked if federal programs would be reshaped in any way, as without child care parents will not be able to return to work. The PM said that’s what the $14 billion for the Provinces was meant to do – help ensure Provinces can provide more and safer child care.
      • He was asked if the federal aid programs were going to be extended. “People need help. Given the extremely low interest rates at the time, we decided to take on the debt so Canadians wouldn’t have to.” Canada is in a far better position than many of our allies. “Now is the time for the Federal government to step up and help Canadians and that’s what we did.” We need to create jobs and economic growth.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Ontario government is taking the first step in a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery. Today, the province introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, proposed legislation that lays the foundation to restart jobs and development, strengthen communities, and create opportunity for people in every region of the province. – Media Release
      • Details of the legislation were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.
      • If passed, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act will:
        1. Restart jobs and development to get Ontario’s economic engine roaring again by getting key infrastructure projects built faster, attracting more jobs and investment, and cutting red tape to help businesses adapt to the new environment.
        2. Strengthen communities by ensuring municipalities are equipped with the tools they need to continue to provide the critical services people rely on every day, including allowing municipalities and their local boards to continue to choose to hold meetings electronically at any time and putting in place a new community benefits charge to help municipalities pay for the infrastructure and services needed for growing communities.
        3. Create opportunity for people as they recover their lives and livelihoods by protecting consumers, modernizing services, improving the education system and removing the social and economic barriers that stand in the way of success for young people.
      • The legislation was referred to as an “omnibus bill” by the media. It includes changes on everything from environmental assessments, to education and the justice system.
    • Question Period:
      • How much money will there be for municipalities and will there be a qualifier for how they spend the money? Premier said that he is negotiating with the federal government. “I am pushing the feds. We will put money on the table.”
      • He was asked if the Province would backstop the need for municipalities. Would the Province bank roll the funding for the municipalities themselves. Premier, “ we want flexibility. We should get 38% of the $14billion, because we have 38% of the population. “We have the money – we are not asking for more than the $14 billion. It needs to be per capita.” He urged municipalities to talk to their MPs and the federal government.
      • He was asked what the sticking point was with the Federal government. “A day doesn’t go by without talking to a mayor. I am fighting for the municipalities. We want the per capita and the flexibility.”
      • He also said that the municipalities would also have the flexibility to spend the money where they need to. He did not get into the details
      • He thanked the media for the questions and raising issues that the Province can act on.
      • In response to Mayor Tory saying time is up. The Premier said he doesn’t want to “cut a bad deal for municipalities. I need to protect all regions, not just Toronto.”
      • There was a question about whether today’s new omnibus legislation related to COVID recovery was over reaching, as included changes to education and the justice system. The Premier said that all this services are related to the economic recovery. Minister Clark said that with the limited legislative calendar they wanted to get as much accomplished as they could.
      • The Premier was asked about the changes to the EA process contained in the proposed legislation. He said that we have lost employers because an EA can take up to six years. He stressed that the Greenbelt would be protected. “We aren’t going to dodge EAS, we are going to get them done faster and smarter.” Minister Clark “ EA’s need to met today’s needs.” Should an EA for large and small projects be the same?

Tuesday, July 7, 2020:

  • Burlington Councillor, Mayor Jointly Sponsor Proposed Temporary Mandatory Mask Bylaw
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • All of Ontario has now moved into Stage 2.
      • Premier ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones to announce the introduction of new  legislation that, if passed, would give the province the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The proposed legislation is part of the government’s plan for the continued safe and gradual reopening of the province once the declaration of emergency ends. – Media Release
      • The Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 would, if passed, ensure important measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. Specifically, the legislation would:
        1. Continue emergency orders in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) under the new legislation for an initial 30 days.
        2. Allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to further extend these orders for up to 30 days at a time, as required to keep Ontarians safe.
        3. Allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend certain emergency orders continued under the EMCPA if the amendment relates to:
          1. labour redeployment or workplace and management rules;
          2. closure of places and spaces or regulation of how businesses and establishments can be open to provide goods or services in a safe manner;
          3. compliance with public health advice; or
          4. rules related to gatherings and organized public events.
          5. Not allow new emergency orders to be created.
          6. Allow emergency orders to be rescinded when it is safe to do so.
      • The ability to extend and amend orders under the new legislation would be limited to one year, unless extended by the Ontario legislature.
      • While not included in the remarks it has been reported that the  government will introduce a motion on Wednesday to extend the Provincial State of Emergency until July 24, which would ensure there is no gap between the provincial declaration and when the new bill takes effect.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked why the emergency orders would need to be in place for 2 years. He said that it was to “protect the vulnerable people in the community.” “I am transparent.” The Solicitor General, said the “proposed legislation would allow us to extend certain orders. It gives us the ability to react and respond quickly.”
      • In response to why testing numbers were below 20,000 for two days in a row and is the Health Minister concerned. Minister Elliott commented that testing numbers are generally lower at the beginning of the week and that she is not concerned about the numbers. “Generally we are running 25,000 tests/day.”
      • Minister Elliott was asked to comment on the testing strategy moving forward. “Testing will increase to 50,000 tests /day. As we head into flu season we will increase testing volumes.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on whether the proposed legislation could been seen as an over reach of power. He said he would disagree with this statement. He is “dead against big government. We have to help the people of Ontario.” This new legislation would help the government move quickly.
      • He was asked about striking a balance, what about democracy? Cabinet meetings are held behind closed doors. He did not respond directly to this.
      • He was asked to comment on the videos of people not wearing masks, including the woman at the hospital. He said “when you go  into a hospital you have to wear a mask. Just follow the guidelines, it helps everyone.” He also made reference to people with breathing problems who aren’t able to wear masks being called out. “They should wear a t-shirt saying they have a breathing problem.”
      • Regarding whether gathering size would increase as part of stage 3. Minister Elliott said that public health doctors are looking at increasing gathering size in phases. “The gathering size increase will happen together with moving to stage 3.” As time goes on the gathering sizes will increase.
      • Premier Ford was asked to comment on members of the PC party referring to this new legislation as a “pandemic power grab.” The Premier “we are not doing this for a power grab. I’m not in favour of big government. We are doing it to protect the people. Nothing to hide. We’re doing it for the right reasons.” He did not expect that emergency orders would be extended for another two years, which the legislation could allow. “I want to wrap this up.”
      • The Premier and Minister Elliott were asked if they would consider changing the long term care legislation to mandate air conditioning in all homes. They both said yes. “No AC in this weather is unacceptable.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Canada and Ontario invest in public transit and active transportation infrastructure for Windsor and Tecumseh residentsMedia Release
        1. Strategic investments in public transportation infrastructure play a key role in supporting affordable and sustainable transportation services that allow Ontarians to get to work, school and essential services on time, and safely back home at the end of the day.
        2. Today, Irek Kusmierczyk, Member of Parliament for Windsor─Tecumseh and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities; Rick Nicholls, Member of Provincial Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Leamington on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure; and his Worship Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor, announced funding for nine projects that will better connect Windsor residents to public transit, encourage active transportation, and improve the quality of the public transit system overall, as well as one multi-purpose pathway project in Tecumseh.
        3. The Government of Canada is investing more than $12.6 million through the Public Transit Infrastructure stream of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is providing over $10.5 million, while the City of Windsor is contributing more than $25.1 million and the City of Tecumseh is contributing $580,314.

Monday, July 6, 2020:

  • Ontario Mayors United in Call for Immediate, Emergency Funding from Federal and Provincial Governments
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • There was no federal COVID-19 briefing held today.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s Provincial briefing:
      • Premier Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA)
      • The Premier announced a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery. This plan includes measures that would make it easier and faster to build provincial highways, major transit infrastructure projects and quality, affordable housing, while ensuring there are meaningful opportunities for community consultation and input. – Media Release
      • As part of the government’s plan, the province is proposing to accelerate key provincial highway construction and priority transit projects by establishing an exemption from the Hearing of Necessity process. Provincial Hearings of Necessity occur approximately 5-10 times per year on average for provincial highway projects. Each hearing adds months of red tape and construction delays for critical provincial infrastructure, costing up to five months for transit projects and up to 12 months for provincial highway projects.
      • The government would also enter into new commercial agreements with partners to build transit-oriented communities. This would allow for the development of more housing around transit in an integrated manner and put more job opportunities within the reach of more people. The measures would also save taxpayers money by having the development industry make direct, significant contributions to the cost of building transit for the benefit of communities, all transit riders, and Ontario taxpayers.
      • Ontario will continue to collaborate with the City of Toronto and York Region under the historic joint transit partnership agreements and Transit-Oriented Communities Memorandums of Understanding.
      • The Premier also announced that Leamington and Kingsville will be moving into Stage 2 tomorrow.
    • Question Period:
      • Minister Elliott was asked if there had been enough Stage 2 data yet to decide on when to move to Stage 3. Minister Elliott “the team is actively looking at the data so we can move into Stage 3 as soon as we can.”
      • Question regarding the fact that some front line workers have not yet seen any pandemic pay. The Premier “the vast majority of the money has flowed to employers.” The Province is working with over 2,000 employers on this program. The Premier said that “the money has flowed to 80-90% of the employers.”
      • The Premier was asked if there were any risks to the fast tracking of projects they announced today. The Premier “people are tired of waiting for projects to be completed. We won’t be taking any short cuts. We will be dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s.” Associate Minister Surma, “engaging with municipalities and local partners is key.”
      • On way the Province isn’t using less invasive saliva tests, which would may be useful for when schools reopen. Minister Elliott, “the saliva tests, while less invasive are less accurate.” Anyone administering a test on children must be “very experienced.”
      • Minister Mulroney was asked about the backlog for driving tests. She said there is a phased approach for the reopening of Drive Test Centres. Commercial driver road test will be done first, followed by G1 and G2 knowledge tests. G1 and G2 road tests will come later.

Friday, July 3, 2020:

  • LaSalle Pool Opening July 4; Mountainside and Nelson Outdoor Pools Opening July 11
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM held a briefing today while visiting a food bank in Gatineau, Quebec
      • The PM said that 2.8 M Canadians are back at work thanks to the wage subsidy program
      • Minister Morneau will release his economic snapshot on July 8
      • Seniors collecting the OAS will receive an additional $300 and for people on the Guaranteed Income Supplement they will receive an additional $200 – going out next week
      • Next week the PM will be holding a two day virtual cabinet retreat – Media Release
      • During the retreat, the Prime Minister and ministers will discuss how we move forward and continue to take concrete actions needed to fight racism in Canada, prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19, and safely restart the economy.
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked many questions about the WE organization cutting its ties with the Federal government to deliver summer student grant program. “The group decided to withdraw. We support their decision to withdraw. The way it unfolded is disappointing.” PM stressed that “ we will work hard to ensure youth can serve their country – but not through the WE Charity.” The Federal government will now deliver the youth grants. The government will not be able to deliver some elements of the program. “We will continue to ensure young people will have positive experiences this summer. We will need to look at how deliver better programs for youth without attracting this type of controversy.”
      • Regarding funding for Air Canada and the airline sector, the PM said, “we understood that some sectors have been hit harder than others. We will continue to work with the airline sector. We are disappointed that Air Canada has cut certain routes. We hope as the economy recovers they can restore this service.”
      • On whether the PM will follow the quarantine rules if he attends the tri-lateral summit in the US, the PM said he would follow all the rules that are in place if the decision is made to travel to the US for the summit. He said they were in discussions with the US and health officials regarding the summit.
      • He was asked whether the $14 Billion for Provinces included funding for child care. The PM said “one condition of the funding is directly focused on child care, including care for older children (6 and older).” He said Provinces need to strengthen their response to child care. “We hope the Provinces will agree to accept the money and help Canadians.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier acknowledged that everyone’s health and safety is a top priority as we reopen the economy.
      • Businesses have been doing the right thing and “we will do everything we can to support business”
      • The Premier and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development announced that the Province is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training for the first time. These virtual courses will make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while practising physical distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. – Media Release
      • Up to 100,000 job seekers can now take free online workplace health and safety training through Employment Ontario. There are 10 courses on offer, which include topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment.
      • Job seekers should contact an Employment Ontario service provider in their area to enroll.
      • In addition, worker and employer members of Joint Health and Safety Committees can now use video conferencing to take training in real-time with qualified instructors from training providers approved by Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer. The training includes sessions on how to establish a Health and Safety Committee, resolving health and safety issues, workplace inspections, and accident investigations.
      • Minister McNaghton stated that there are 139 sector specific guidance documents now available online
      • The Premier recognized and thanked the members of the Armed Forces for their service at long term care homes in Ontario
    • Question Period:
      • Some parts of the Province have been in Stage 2 now for almost three weeks. Why are we not yet in Stage 3? The Premier, “ we are moving cautiously. We will get there very shortly. Since it’s the last stage we want to make sure that our t’s are crossed and our I’s are dotted.”
      • He was asked about the timing and the impact this is having on some business owners who have not been able to open yet. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but you are probably close that it will be the end of July. We want to open up safely and cautiously.” He made mention of “incentives” as we move to fully restarting the economy but provided no details.
      • He was asked to comment on the reports regarding the September 1 start to the school year. The Premier said they are leaving things up to each school board/region. Kids have been out of school for 171 days. He said an earlier start may help them get reacclimate to schools sooner. “September 1, was only a suggestion. No one is going to put a gun to their heads.”
      • He was asked about Emergency Management Ontario being deployed to the Windsr -Essex area. He said that they had been along with the Red Cross and others, “I want to help them. Workers just want to work. The farmers just want to be able to run their farms and the doctors want to keep people safe.” Dr. Huyer, “It is all hands on deck, to keep the farm workers safe.”
      • The Premier apologized for saying the farm workers were hiding so they wouldn’t have to get tested. This was misinformation that he was provided.
      • Will everything that is still closed be reopened in Stage 3? “Everything, except large gatherings like baseball and hockey games and concerts.”
      • Regarding inspections that have been done since moving to Stage 2, 13,000 workplaces have been inspected by 500 inspectors.
      • The Premier was asked if he would shut down beaches. He said that he would be leaving that decision up to Chief Medical Officers of Health in each Region. Provincial beaches will not be closed. He urged people to go to beaches that were so crowded.
      • He was asked why it was taking so long to announce details on the Commission reviewing long term care homes. The Premier said it was because they wanted to make sure they had the right person leading things. “Enough talk, we want to see action.” He said he is looking forward to all the reviews.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Canadian Armed Forces Depart Ontario Long-Term Care HomesMedia Release
        1. The Ontario government expressed its gratitude to members of the Canadian Armed Forces who went above and beyond the call of duty to temporarily support high-priority long-term care homes during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak. The final team concludes its work today.
        2. Over the course of their mission, the Canadian Armed Forces teams supported the following homes: Orchard Villa, Holland Christian Homes Grace Manor, Altamont Care Community, Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Downsview Long Term Care, and Woodbridge Vista Care Community.
        3. In May, the Ontario government responded immediately to the findings of the Canadian Armed Forces report. The Ministry of Long-Term Care has been addressing issues around infection control, standards of practice/quality of care, supplies, local practices, communication, staffing and inappropriate behaviour. To-date, the following action has been taken:
          1. Each home identified at that time as high-risk has been inspected or has an inspection underway.
          2. Inspections at all the Canadian Armed Forces-supported homes have been completed and have since been expanded with inspectors remaining onsite.
          3. Temporary management has been appointed at Altamont Care Community, Camilla Care Community, Orchard Villa, Extendicare Guildwood, River Glen Haven, Downsview Long Term Care, Woodbridge Vista Care Community, Forest Heights and Hawthorne Place Care Centre.
          4. Each home identified as high-risk has been required to submit a plan to the ministry that details how they are improving care standards.
      • Ontario Supporting Restaurants as Province Safely ReopensMedia Release
        1. The Ontario government is helping restaurant and bar owners reopen and safely serve more customers by issuing a new emergency order and amending another under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which will allow municipalities to quickly pass temporary bylaws for the creation and extension of patios and allow covered outdoor dining areas to serve customers.
        2. Under the Planning Act, the process to pass temporary use bylaws to create or extend a patio could take several weeks or more. As restaurants are currently only permitted to host dine-in guests on outdoor patios under Stage 2, this exemption under the emergency order will cut red tape and reduce the process time for passing these bylaws to a matter of days.
        3. Municipalities would still be responsible for compliance activities and ensuring proper health and safety practices, like proper physical distancing.
        4. The government also amended an emergency order to clarify that outdoor dining areas can open if they have a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other covering. At least two full sides of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way. If the outdoor dining area has a retractable roof, the roof must be fully open and at least one full side must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked in any way.

Thursday, July 2, 2020:

  • Statement from Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward Regarding Mandatory Mask Order for the City
  • Burlington Hosting Another COVID-19 Tele-Town Hall July 16 Focusing on How to Make the Most of Summer, While Staying Healthy
  • Ontario Reviews Elevator Laws — Government Seeks Input to Help Improve Elevator Safety and Availability
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • There was no federal COVID-19 briefing today
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford and Minister Steve Clark announced the Province is providing municipalities and urban Indigenous community partners with an additional $150 million to continue to protect vulnerable people from COVID-19 by improving homeless shelters and creating opportunities for longer-term housing- Media Release
      • Municipalities and urban Indigenous community partners will be able to use this funding for long-term, innovative housing solutions resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. They can renovate shelters or purchase new facilities that will help with physical distancing in the short term and support longer-term, more sustainable solutions to homelessness. In addition, this funding could also be used to provide vulnerable people with food, shelter and supplies.
      • With this additional funding, the government is providing municipal service managers and urban Indigenous program administrators with $350 million through the Social Services Relief Fund.
      • Premier “this is just one way to support municipalities. We need the Federal government at the table.” The Premier called himself “a champion for communities.”
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions again today about the situation at the farms in Leamington and Kingsville. The Premier reiterated that they are trying to help the farmers and the workers. “Workers will not be sent home.”
      • He was asked why he wouldn’t name the farms. He said he didn’t want to do harm to the farmers.
      • The Premier was asked about the status of negotiations with the Federal government on the relief package. He said the negotiations are continuing, but said the issue was that the Federal government’s seven parameters “don’t work for all the Provinces. They should just cut us a cheque and give us the flexibility,” to apply the funding into the various categories. The Premier indicated that he has been the one pushing for funding for the municipalities.
      • He was asked if it was realistic for the Federal government to just cut the Provinces a cheque without any specific requirements. The Premier thought it was. “We will follow the guidelines, but we need flexibility. The Feds don’t know where the specific needs are in every Province. We will listen to the what the municipalities say they need.” “I am going to be the voice for the municipalities. All we are asking for is flexibility. Let the people decide.”
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Marks Historic Implementation of New North American Trade AgreementMedia Release
        1. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade issued a statement today on the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
        2. The Ontario government welcomes the implementation of this important trade agreement and looks forward to the greater certainty it provides to help businesses grow and protect jobs across the continent.
        3. Nearly one in five Ontario jobs depend on trade, and approximately $400 billion CAD in two-way trade in goods travels across the U.S. and Canadian border in Ontario every year.
        4. Our government’s top priority during the negotiations was to protect jobs for the hard-working people of Ontario. I want to thank the leaders and negotiators from all three countries who worked long hours and reached across party lines to secure this critical deal.
      • Canada and Ontario invest in roads and bridges for rural communities in Eastern OntarioMedia Release
        1. Today, the Honourable Francis Drouin, Member of Parliament for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, on behalf of the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Canada’s Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development; and the Honourable Steve Clark, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Member of Provincial Parliament for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes on behalf of Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, announced funding for five road and bridge projects in Eastern Ontario. They were joined by Mayor François St-Amour, The Nation Municipality; Mayor Nancy Peckford, Municipality of North Grenville; and Frank Prevost, Warden, United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
        2. The Government of Canada is investing over $9 million in these projects through the Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is contributing more than $6.5 million for these important infrastructure projects in these communities while municipalities are contributing over $3 million in total towards the projects.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020:

  • Ontario Celebrating Canada Day with Free Parks Admission and Extending Free Family Fishing
  • Provincial Courts Gradually Resuming In-Person Proceedings
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATE
    • No federal COVID-19 briefing today.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier Ford was joined by Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to announce that the Ontario government is celebrating Canada Day by offering free day use at all provincial parks, and beginning on July 4, 2020, the province is offering free fishing for two weeks, double the length of last year.
      • In addition, numerous Ontario attractions have special virtual experiences and events planned for July 1, 2020 which will help showcase Ontario’s artistic and musical excellence. – Media Release
    • Question Period:
      • Why is playground equipment still closed? Minister Elliott said the equipment is difficult to disinfect. “We are looking at it for Stage 3.” No timeline yet for Stage 3. Need at least one more week of Stage 2 data to inform the decision on Stage 3.
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the decision by Peel Mayors regarding masks being mandatory in indoor spaces. Premier, “the golden rule is in large groups wear a mask and practice social distancing.” Each public health agency in the Province can mandate mask wearing. He encouraged municipalities to do this. “Each municipality is different.”
      • Regarding the Province’s appetite for creating a hub in Ontario for the CFL. Minister MacLeod is having regular discussions with all major sports leagues. She met with her Federal counterpart today. They are working to ensure that all professional teams and leagues have the necessary health measure and rigors in place. “The CFL has discussed a hub in Ontario, in the Hamilton Burlington area.”
      • The Premier was asked since 20 of the 34 regions in the Province are reporting no new cases today, why not move the northern regions to Stage 3? The Premier said that he is being lobbied by everyone, “Santa Claus is getting restless up there (in Santa’s Village), but he knows the safety of our kids is the number one priority.” Minister Elliott, “things are going well in Stage 2. We accessing the situation on a daily basis.” They are also considering whether to move to Stage 3 regionally or Province wide. Where, when and what – are all being discussed. “We want everyone in every part of the Province to be safe.”
      • The Premier was asked why testing teams would be going to Niagara farms. He said that after seeing what is happening in Leamington and Kingsville it’s “better to be safe than sorry.” He also said they want to communicate with the workers, “we don’t want them to be scared.”
      • The Premier was asked if he supported mask wearing in schools. Experts have not recommended masks for younger students, but they are okay for high school students. “Each board across the Province has the flexibility to mover forward,” with what makes sense in their area. “We want to listen to the experts.”
      • On why the funding has not yet been received by day care providers. The Premier committed to following up with the Treasury Board. “Nothing gets to me more than government taking too long to respond.”
      • The Premier was asked about the situation with the Blue Jays. Minister MacLeod responded – there is a complication with the Blue Jays – they will be travelling, which is a different model than what other major league sports groups are suggesting.
      • The Premier stated that a Provincial mask wearing order will not be issued. He supports the decisions being made locally.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Encourages Support of Local Small Businesses – Media Release
        1. The Ontario Government is celebrating International Small Business Week with the launch of the “Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop with Confidence!” campaign, encouraging Ontarians to support their local small businesses and to shop safely while doing so.
        2. The province’s campaign asks for mayors, local leaders and groups to support our small businesses by committing on social media to “Shop Local, Shop Safe, Shop with Confidence,” while highlighting the best practices put in place by businesses to help keep shoppers safe while ensuring that the reopening of Ontario continues to be a success. For example, the principles of the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise encourage small businesses to strictly follow health guidelines and reopen with appropriate measures in place, so consumers can shop safely and with confidence, including:
          1. Washing and sanitizing hands
          2. Maintaining physical distancing
          3. Staying home if unwell
          4. Practicing respiratory etiquette
          5. Cleaning and disinfecting regularly

Monday, June 29, 2020:

  • Clarifying Canada-U.S. Border Travel & the Need to Remain Vigilant
  • Joseph Brant Hospital Easing Visitor Restrictions Starting Today
  • COVID-19 Task Force Meeting 11 Highlights
  • Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to July 10
    • The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020, while removing restrictions that were limiting access to certain sport training facilities.
    • The government has removed certain restrictions for Stage 2 indoor sports and recreational fitness activities facilities. This will enable the facilities to be used by more businesses and organizations to train amateur or professional athletes, or to run certain non-contact amateur or professional athletic competitions.
    • In all cases, facility owners would only be able to permit activities to occur in a way that meets public health requirements. These changes will also enable many sports and recreational organizations around the province to again offer sport training programming, helping more people return to sport in Ontario.
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM announced the Commercial Rent Subsidy program will be extended for another month.
      • The latest pubic health modelling will be released today. While there are some hotspots across Canada, hospitalizations and deaths are declining. “Canadians are doing their part.”
      • As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, the PM and Dr. Tam will no longer be doing daily briefings. They will be done a few times per week and as needed.
      • Daily case numbers will continue to be published.
      • New NAFTA comes into effect on Wednesday.
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked to comment on what is happening in the US and the impacts this will have on the Canada/US border. The PM said the safety of Canadians is a top priority. Border restrictions will  continue to be in place until July 21, “we will continue to assess the situation.” “Even as the economy reopens we must continue to be vigilant. We have to continue to be careful to ensure we don’t lose the important strides we have made.”
      • Regarding preparations for a second wave. The PM “we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” “The investments made in testing and contract tracing will allow us to respond quickly. We had one of the best balance sheets of any of the G7 countries going into this meant we were able to help so many businesses and families quickly.” We will have the capacity to help in the fall.  We want to ensure we have the measures in place to prevent a second wave.
      • Regarding a vaccine. When and if one becomes available people will not be forced to get vaccinated. “Canadians will do the right thing when it comes to a vaccine.”
      • On mask wearing. “Everyone will have to make their own decisions. As we relax restrictions it is really, really important that people are attentive to their individual behavior>”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier said he is deeply concerned by the corruption in the tow truck industry. There are a small group of “bad applies” that are lighting trucks on fire and getting involved in organized crime.
      • The Premier, together with the Minister of Transport and the Solicitor General announced that the Ontario government is establishing a task force to improve provincial oversight of the towing industry.  – Media Release
      • The task force will help develop a regulatory model that will increase safety and enforcement, clarify protections for consumers, improve industry standards and consider tougher penalties for violators. The government is taking this action in response to concerns raised about incidents of criminal activity and violence in the towing industry.
      • The task force will review a number of topics related to the towing industry, which could include provincial oversight of safety, consumer protection, improved industry standards, training and background checks.
      • As part of the review, the task force may consider opportunities for increased protections for consumers against the first-to-scene unethical business practices, insurance savings through a crackdown on insurance fraud rings or improved consumer choice for payments and repairs. The province is also reviewing ways to improve our transportation system by clearing accidents more quickly which would minimize lane reductions and reduce congestion on our highways.
      • Membership of the task force will include representatives from the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of the Solicitor General, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, the Ministry of Finance and the Ontario Provincial Police. Once the task force has developed proposals for discussion and comment, it will be consulting with industry, municipalities, and public safety experts.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions about the numbers being reported in Windsor- Essex (the highest since the start of the pandemic). The Premier does not believe that the outbreak is contained to one farm. “A whole team” has been dispatched to the area to help. The team includes nurse practitioners and translators. “My heart breaks for the people in Leamington and Kingsville. We want to save the crops and the farms. We will get through this.”
      • The Premier was asked why the practice of farm workers moving from one from to another was not banned. Premier – we will work together to solve this issue like all the others we have dealt with.
      • The Premier was asked if there would be more supports to help the small businesses who may not survive until Stage 3. He poke about the delays in getting approvals and permits. He said he didn’t want approvals to be skipped but it shouldn’t take 4 to 6 years to get projects completed. “We have to start cutting red tape and get infrastructure project going and get people back to work.”
      • Regarding the towing task force Minister Mulroney was asked if provincial licensing was being considered. “We are looking at all options.” We will be strengthening Provincial oversight, which includes licensing.
      • She was also asked about “first on the scene” policies. “This contributes to the violence and the concerns people have about personal safety”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the 10% cut to the Toronto Police, that is being considered. Premier “we would never step in. Each municipality is responsible for these decisions. When people call 911 they expect to have a police officer show up. The Solicitor General spoke about the minimum standards the Province has set for police response.
      • The Premier was asked about the Blue Jays playing in Toronto. He said he was on the phone over the weekend with them. They are just waiting on approval from the Federal government regarding the quarantine period. He expects that they will be starting practices on July 1.

Thursday, June 25, 2020:

  • City of Burlington now Accepting all Development Applications for Digital Review
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM spoke about the various programs that are in place to help students – Media Release
      • He announced the launch of the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG), which will support post-secondary students and recent graduates as they volunteer to serve in their communities’ COVID-19 response and gain valuable experience at the same time. The CSSG will provide these volunteers with a one-time payment of between $1,000 and $5,000 based on the number of hours they serve. To find not-for-profit organizations looking for help during the pandemic, post-secondary students and recent graduates can use the new I Want to Help platform, which also launched today.
      • The Government of Canada is also helping young Canadians find paid work placements and get the skills they need to start their careers. These activities include:
        1. Supporting an additional 20,000 job placements for post-secondary students in high demand sectors.
        2. Creating 10,000 new job placements for young people between the ages of 15 and 30 through the Canada Summer Jobs program.
        3. Creating 5,000 new internships through Mitacs for college and university students across Canada with small and medium-sized businesses. Funding of $40 million will also help develop partnerships with new industries, and offer internships to students in more areas of study.
        4. Increasing funding to the Digital Skills for Youth (DS4Y) program by $40 million to help post-secondary graduates gain professional work experience. DS4Y provides wage subsidy opportunities to help connect young people with small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits.
        5. Creating over 3,500 new job placements and internships through the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.
        6. Providing $6.7 million for the Computers for Schools Plus (CFS+) program.
        7. Creating 5,000 to 10,000 more work-integrated learning opportunities through the Business + Higher Education Roundtable (BHER).
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions today about the role of the Federal government in long term care homes. The PM said that we need to do better for our seniors. He said the current system, which is a Provincial responsibility has not worked. He said “the Provinces have failed to serve our seniors. We want to respect the Provincial jurisdiction. Do we need Federal standards or do the Provinces just need to increase their?” The Federal government is ready to do more through funding or guidelines. These are the issues he will be discussing again tonight on his weekly call with Premiers.
      • In response to a the Provinces asking for more health care transfers. The PM said he would not negotiate in public, but that this is something that will be discussed with the Premiers.
      • The PM was asked about Premier Legault’s decision to no longer publish daily case numbers or the number of deaths. He said that every Provinces situation is different for example PEI hasn’t seen any new cases in days, but Quebec is different and still has significant daily cases and deaths. “I hope that Premier Legault will continue to be open and transparent with the citizens of the Province.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier together with Jill Dunlop Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues announced the 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund recipients. – Media Release
      • The 2020 Youth Opportunities Fund will provide financial support to 43 community organizations that will benefit youth aged 12 to 25, and their families.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions to the Premier on Mayor Tory’s motion on “detasking” the Toronto Police of several responsibilities. The Premier feels it is an mistake to defund police. He does not believe in cutting police budgets, he feels their budgets should be increased. “Remember if you call 911 – they are already short 100 officers” “Do not cut front line officers.” We need to get more money from the federal government. He said he would like to sit down and speak with Mayors as well as the Police.
      • On calls from the tourism industry to open borders and let travelers from certain countries into Canada and doing away with the 14 day quarantine. The Premier “spoke to an expert” on this, “and what about the second wave. It will happen when we fully reopen and let people in from other countries.” States like Florida and Texas are seeing big spikes and he is not comfortable opening up the border to the US.
      • On the Quebec’s decision to no longer release daily numbers. Minister Elliott. “The Premier has committed that the people of Ontario will know what he knows.” Ontario will continue to report daily numbers. The people of the province are entitled to those numbers.
      • He was asked when kids can go back to using playgrounds. He said probably in Stage 3. Dr. Williams and the health table will provide guidance on this. Local Chief Medical Officers have the authority to decide what makes sense in their communities.
      • If there is a second wave is there a plan in place to go back to Stage 1. The Premier said “we are better prepared now than we were at the start of this. We’ve lived the experience . Everyone joined together and we got through it.”
      • He was asked to respond to comments made by the PM during his briefing today, saying that “Provinces failed seniors.” The Premier “put your money where your mouth is. I am a little shocked at his comments. We’re all in this together. We need a partnership. I’m not knocking the guy, because he’s been pretty good. But we need his help.”
    • Other announcements:
      • Businesses and Services to Reopen in Windsor-Essex, with ExceptionsMedia Release
        1. The Ontario government is allowing Windsor-Essex to move into Stage 2 of reopening on Thursday, June 25, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., with the exception of the Municipality of Leamington and the Town of Kingsville.
        2. These areas are being held back due to the higher transmission rates in the local agriculture and agri-food sector. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local Medical Officer of Health of Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020:

  • Burlington’s Spray pads to open June 26; Redesigned summer camps and outdoor pools open July 13
  • Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to July 15
  • LaSalle Park Community Marina Announces Marina and Sailing Programs Closed for 2020 Summer Season
  • Burlington Chamber of Commerce’s 2020 Business Excellence Awards Go Virtual
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Prime Minister Trudeau did not hold a COVID-19 briefing today.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s  Provincial briefing:
      • The Premier announced that parts of Windsor-Essex will be able to move into  Stage 2 tomorrow, however Leamington and Kingsville will remain in Stage 1.
      • He also announced a three point plan to help address the outbreaks at farms. – Media Release
      • The three-point plan builds on the work already underway by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and enhances the coordinated efforts of the province, federal and local authorities. The plan’s three points are as follows:
        1. Ongoing and expanded on-site testing
        2. Access to Employment Benefits and Supports
        3. New Public Health Guidance
      • Minister McNaughton spoke about the new inspections that will be starting, a joint effort between the Provincial and Federal governments. Inspections will be of the work sites and bunk house (the federal government has the authority to inspect bunk houses)
      • Migrant workers are entitled to the same rights and protections as all workers in Ontario
    • Question Period:
      • There was a question of clarity regarding the new health guidance that would allow asymptomatic workers, who tested positive to work in isolation. Dr. Williams said that Ontario was one of the first provinces to do this type of testing. Workers who have tested positive and are asymptomatic are put together in clusters. They work and live together.
      • The Premier was asked about an inappropriate comment made to him in the legislature today by an NDP MPP. He said he’s never heard any swear in the legislature before. “It’s water off a duck’s back. I forgive the guy”
      • Premier can’t wait to go Windsor-Essex to get his haircut.
      • Premier was asked why he wouldn’t name farms with outbreaks, the way they named long term care homes. “It’s comparing apples to oranges” “We need to walk a mile in the farmer’s shoes.” He spoke about how easily farmers could lose their businesses and the need to protect them and their workers who have come to Canada to make a living. “Everyone is working together.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the racial slurs migrant workers in Brantford have been subjected to. He said he would not tolerate this. People here are not willing to do the work the migrant workers have come to Canada to do. “They are putting the fruits and vegetables on the table that we all eat.”
      • Regarding Crystal Beach only being open to locals. Premier “beaches should be available to everyone” But he understand that there were problems last weekend.
      • He closed by saying that the money the federal government has offered is not enough. Regarding funding for municipalities he said the Province would step up and put “our money where our mouth is” to support municipalities.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to July 15 – Media Release
        1. In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 15, 2020. This extension, approved by the Ontario Legislature earlier today, provides Ontario with the additional time, flexibility, and the necessary tools to safely and gradually allow more places to reopen, while continuing to support frontline health care providers in the fight against COVID-19.
        2. Emergency orders in force under the Declaration of Emergency include those allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff to areas most in need, limiting long-term care and retirement home employees to working at one home, and enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support the province’s enhanced case management and contact tracing strategy.
        3. These measures continue to be needed to protect seniors and other vulnerable populations from the threat of COVID-19. The extension of the Declaration of Emergency will allow the province to make or amend emergency orders as needed as it continues to ease restrictions in support of its phased reopening.
        4. The government will also continue to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as more places in the province are allowed to reopen in a safe and measured way.
        5. A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.
      • Ontario Investing to Help Franco-Ontarian Communities Grow and Support RecoveryMedia Release
        1. As the province begins its economic recovery, the government is launching the 2020-21 edition of the Francophone Community Grants Program to support Ontario’s francophone businesses and community organizations, as well as those that serve French-speaking Ontarians.
        2. The Francophone Community Grants Program is a two-stream, application-based funding program. Funding provided under the Economic Development stream helps francophone entrepreneurs and businesses improve front-line services and better serve their French-speaking clients and partners. Under the Cultural and Community stream, the Program invests in local cultural and community initiatives, demonstrating the government’s ongoing commitment to protecting and promoting the French language and culture.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020:

  • City of Burlington Preparing to Partially Open Lowville Park on June 29
  • Ontario Introduces New Math Curriculum for Elementary Students
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Prime Minister Trudeau did not hold a COVID-19 briefing today.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UDPATES:
    • Highlights from today’s Provincial briefing:
      • The Premier started his briefing today with a message to farmers urging them to co-operate. He encouraged farm workers to get tested and told them that if they did test positive and needed to self-isolate their time off of work would be covered by WSIB.
      • A plan to help farmers and move Windsor-Essex to Stage 1 will be released tomorrow.
      • The Premier and Minister Lecce announced the new math curriculum for elementary students. – Media Release
      • The curriculum was developed over two years in consultation with parents, math educators, academics and math education experts, and is designed to reverse a decade of declining math scores. It will be available to students across the province beginning in September 2020.
      • The new math curriculum for Grades 1-8 will:
        1. Build understanding of the value and use of money through mandatory financial literacy concepts;
        2. For the first time, teach coding or computer programming skills starting in Grade 1 to improve problem solving and fluency with technology, to prepare students for jobs of the future;
        3. Use relevant, current, and practical examples so students can connect math to everyday life;
        4. Put a focus on fundamental math concepts and skills, such as learning and recalling number facts.
      • The new math curriculum will be the first uploaded to the new Curriculum and Resources website, a digital space where anyone can access curriculum and learning resources. This platform will help parents, students, and teachers see connections between learning in different grades and subjects.
      • Minister Lecce also announced that for the 2020-2021 school year EQAO testing would be cancelled for grades 3 and 6.
    • Question Period:
      • On why the EQAO tests were being cancelled. Minister Lecce “we want students and teachers to focus on the new curriculum.”
      • With so much uncertainty about the coming school year is now the right time to unveil a new curriculum? Minister Lecce “we must take action now. We’ve got to do better at the foundations of math.” People asked us for this change.
      • The Premier was asked if he would get a haircut on Wednesday. He said that he would not get his haircut or visit a restaurant patio until the people of Windsor-Essex could do the same.
      • Minister Lecce was asked if it was fair to expect teachers to learn a new curriculum in the middle of a pandemic. “We will be teaching children math in September and our preference, as a government, is to move forward with a curriculum that will help children get jobs in the future.”
      • On whether the Province will make masks mandatory. Dr. Williams said that they were looking at the research on mask wearing. To date they have found that people have responded well to wearing them voluntarily. “We want everyone to do what they need to do. We have seen evidence on how people can pull together and do the right thing.”
      • The Premier said that policing mandatory mask wearing would be difficult. Minister Elliott, “ we don’t believe it is necessary to mandate people to wear masks. People are being sensible and responsible and wearing masks.”
      • The Premier was asked about restaurant owners in Hamilton being turned down for their patio requests. Premier “I’m not sure why the city is doing this.” He thinks it should be alright.
      • There were questions about the poor behavior on beaches over the weekend. The Premier’s message to young people “you can catch COVID.” He told them they need to be responsible. “If the behavior continues beaches will be shut down.”
      • The Premier was asked if his conciliatory tone today towards farmers was a result of phone calls from farmers. He did hear from farmers after yesterday’s briefing. He said the Province will support farmers. He said there was a lot of “tension” in Windsor- Essex right now and that “we need to work together.”
      • Dr. Hyer commented that the farm industry has been working closely with local health providers to ensure the best protection measures are in place for workers.  A “multi-disciplinary” health approach is being provided.

Monday, June 22, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The PM stated that 2.6 million Canadian have stayed in the workplace through the use of the Wage Subsidy program
      • Some industries have been hit harder than others, making it harder for people to find work
      • The PM announced funding for a Winnipeg based food plant that makes plant-based meat substitutes
      • During the federal ministers briefing it was announced that increased access to federal workplaces will begin, however many federal public servants will continue to work remotely. Access to federal worksites for the public and employees will be gradual.
    • Question Period:
      • There were several questions for the PM on temporary workers. PM said that anyone who works in Canada should be able to do so safely. “We need to do a better job ensuring that rules are being followed,” around how temporary workers are being treated. “Canada will continue to work with Mexico as we continue to receive workers to work on farms in Canada.”
      • The PM also said that rules were not followed in the cases of deaths of the three Mexican workers. “We have a quarantine period in place along with other protective measures (physical distancing).” Many facilities that employee temporary foreign workers have been following the rules. In the facilities that have not, “we are looking carefully into these cases, and there will be consequences.”
      • Canadian Airlines has asked the federal government to lift the international travel ban. “Reopening too quickly may led to a resurgence” that would mean we would have to shut things down again. If we allow visitors into Canada we do run the risk of another wave. “We are going to be very careful about when and how we reopen international borders.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier announced that as of June 24, at 12:01 a.m. Toronto and Peel Region would be moving into Stage 2 – Media Release
      • The threat of the virus is too great in Windsor- Essex so they will remain in Stage 1
      • Premier is doing everything in his power to address the situation. Mobile testing units have been sent to farms and food processing plants.
      • To ensure the region is able to move forward as soon as it is safe to do so, the province is building on the work completed by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to date and collaborating with federal and local authorities to support the implementation of a targeted and collaborative response that includes:
        1. Continuing with proactive targeted testing for agri-food workers, including enhanced on-farm testing;
        2. Conducting more than 200 Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on-farm inspections and investigations;
        3. Starting new joint inspections of farms with federal authorities to review current working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and local public health officials;
        4. Providing $15 million through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection program, which provides cost-share funding to improve employee and workplace health and safety on farms and in processing facilities. The funding can be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), put up physical barriers, make housing modifications, or provide alternate housing or other measures;
        5. Translating COVID-19 health and safety guidance documents into Spanish and posting them on Ontario.ca/covidsafety. Additional resources, including webinars and helpful posters, are also available, and will help farmers and other agri-food employers provide safe and healthy workplaces;
        6. Providing specific funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces; and
        7. Continuing to press the federal government to provide new funding to support priority sectors impacted by COVID-19, including the agricultural sector, as the province reopens and charts a path to economic recovery.
      • Minister McNaughton spoke about the collaboration between the federal and provincial governments on new enhanced farm inspections. These will begin this week.
      • Minister Elliott “never been more important to practice physical distancing and wear a face covering.”
      • Minister Phillips said they would have more details to share on Stage 3 soon. He said that reopening was “complex.” “Trust is the most important factor of this work.” He said he is seeing businesses innovate as they reopen.
    •  Question Period:
      • The areas in Windsor-Essex without temporary workers are not seeing increases. Premier “farmers are not cooperating. They are not getting workers tested. It is not fair to the businesses. We will continue trying,” to work with them. We will go to the extreme to make sure things get done. “We will bend over backwards to help. It is frustrating. Please cooperate!”
      • Minister Elliott was asked about the efforts of hospitals in Windsor-Essex. “They have gone above and beyond.” They have set up testing units. The Province will be sending mobile testing units to farms to do testing.
      • Premier said that this situation is “totally unfair” to the rest of Windsor. “Just cooperate. It’s not fair and I feel sorry for them.”
      • Premier was asked about the situation in Halton and Chief Tanner’s comments regarding the police’s limited ability to suspend officers without pay. The Premier said he would like to speak to Police Chiefs and the Police Association about this.
      • On questions regarding pictures of groups gathering an partying at Cherry Beach in Toronto and whether Toronto should ramp up enforcement. The Premier said the pictures “looked like Floridaand we know what happened there. This fight is not over. We need to continue washing our hands and practice social distancing”
      • Premier was asked about comments made by Tim Hudak regarding the use of empty building for classrooms. School boards have been “empowered” to come up with a plan that suits their community’s needs. August 4 is the deadline for these plans. Province’s number one priority is for kids to come back to a safe environment.
      • Regarding car insurance rebates. Minister Phillips said that working with the independent insurance regulator the information on companies that did not provide rebates will be shared. Minister Phillips said that he understands the Desjardins has not provided the support other companies have.
      • On when we will move to Stage 3. Minister Elliott “We want to see Windsor-Essex move to stage 1 first.” An analysis of the impacts of moving to stage 2 needs to be done before moving to stage 3. Minister Phillips, “we need 2 to 4 weeks between stages. The priority for stage 3 is a safe experience for customers and viability of businesses.”
      • Regarding talk of a pending cabinet shuffle.  Premier “Right now we have the best cabinet .” He loves his team.
    •  Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Announces Members of New Indigenous Women’s Advisory CouncilMedia Release
        1. the Ontario government announced members of the new Indigenous Women’s Advisory Council. The Council includes First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and LGBTQ2S leaders on violence prevention who will provide input on issues impacting their communities such as human trafficking and child, youth and family well-being.
        2. Today’s announcement is being made for National Indigenous Peoples Day.
        3. The Council will be co-chaired by Cora-lee McGuire-Cyrette, Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association. The other co-chair will be selected at the Council’s first meeting in early July 2020.

Friday, June 19, 2020:

  • Temporary Outdoor Patios: Burlington City Council approves bylaw amendments and program changes to encourage economic recovery during COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Task Force Meeting #10 Highlights
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • There was no federal COVID-19 briefing today. The Prime Minister did take questions while on a site visit.
    • Question Period:
      • The PM was asked about the $14 billion of funding for Provinces and the fact there this is still no agreement in place. Provinces do not want strings attached to the funding. The PM said the funding is to ensure all Canadians across the country are assured of a safe restart of the economy, which includes ensuring there are adequate supplies of PPE for workers as they get back to work, there are enough safe child care spaces for children as parents return to work and that municipalities do not have to lay off staff.
      • “We want to ensure that the money will be spent on the essential items necessary to restart the economy.”
      • Regarding the money for municipalities he was asked if the provinces were being told how much to give municipalities. He did not answer that question but did say he recognizes that municipalities are under provincial jurisdiction and that they are dealing with increased expenditures as a result of the pandemic. As the provinces are responsible for municipalities his expectation is that they will also providing funding for them.
      • He was asked what the hold up was on flowing the $14 billion to Provinces. He stressed that the funds are to ensure that every Canadian feels they are properly supported and protected. And while there is some flexibility the Federal government expects that the money will go where they want it to, “the money for municipalities goes to municipalities and is matched.”
      • He hoped that there would be some news to share soon on this agreement.
    • First Ministers Meeting Readout:
      • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland held their fourteenth weekly call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers yesterday.
      • First Ministers continued their discussion on measures being taken to safely restart the economy, including a contribution of $14 billion the Government of Canada is putting toward a federal-provincial-territorial agreement to address critical needs across the country over the next six to eight months.
      • This will help Canada minimize the impact of future waves of COVID-19, including by significantly ramping up testing and contact tracing, securing a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, and ensuring health care systems have the capacity to manage future outbreaks.
      • These investments will also provide support for vulnerable populations, help ensure the safety of child care centres for both children and educators, support essential municipal services, and provide paid sick leave.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • The Premier  and Minister Elliott were joined by the Minister of Education (by video).
      • Similar to the regional reopening that was taken for communities the reopening of schools will not be a blanket approach for the province. Instead the Province will empower school boards to prepare for reopening. – Media Release
      • The Ontario government released its safety plan for the resumption of class for the 2020-21 school year, outlining scenarios for how students, teachers and staff can safely return to classrooms in September.
      • The plan also provides choice to parents, enhanced online learning, and additional funding. While the decision to return to the normal school day routine will continue to be based on medical advice, boards and schools are being asked to plan for alternative scenarios that may need to be implemented in September depending on the province’s COVID-19 situation.
      • Ontario’s plan to safely reopen schools will provide options for parents – to send their children in-class or to enter online learning – with health, safety and well-being at its core. Boards will be asked to plan for the following three scenarios to be implemented in September, depending on the public health situation at the time:
        1. Normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols – Students going to school every day, in classes that reflect standard class size regulations.
        2. Modified school day routine – Based on public health advice, an adapted delivery model has been designed to allow for physical distancing and cohorts of students. Under this model, school boards are asked to maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time and adopt timetabling that would allow for students to remain in contact only with their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible. This model would require alternate day or alternate week delivery to a segment of the class at one time.
        3. At home learning – Should the school closure be extended, or some parents choose not to send their child back to school, school boards need to be prepared to offer remote education. Remote education should be delivered online to the greatest extent possible, including the establishment of minimum expectations for students to have direct contact with their teacher at the same time on a regular basis, also known as synchronous learning. Synchronous learning can be used as part of whole class instruction, in smaller groups of students, and/or in a one-on-one context.
      • The government is instructing school boards to be prepared with a plan, should it be required, that includes an adapted delivery model, which could include alternate day or alternate week attendance, staggered bell times and recess, and different transportation arrangements, among a variety of other considerations to ensure the safety of students and staff.
      • Parents have a choice, if they aren’t comfortable sending their children to school they will have the option of keeping their children at home.
    • Question Period:
      • Will there be a patchwork of health guideline throughout the province. Minister Lecce Provincial guidelines will be provided  to all school boards. As conditions in a community related to the number of cases get better schools boards can move up to a more conventional setting.
      • The cohorting approach (groups of 15) will allow kids to be kids.
      • Premier was asked about whether there would be a change in the number retail stat holidays. There will NOT. There are currently nine.
      • What about parents who have full time jobs?  Minister Lecce “We recognize the consequence of these decisions.” The province’s commitment is to keeping children safe. They was a positive, successful and safe return to school.
      • There were questions that what the province announced today did not provide clarity to parents. Minister Lecce – parents will have a choice. Schools will reopen in September. School boards have been asked to develop a plan for every scenario.
      • Minister Lecce was asked if there was a specific number of cases required before kids could move back to conventional classes. He did not specify.
      • On whether there will be enough teachers to provide instruction in this hybrid model. Minister Lecce said that teachers should be prepared to provide in class instruction in September and also to deliver on line learning. Professional development will be provided to teachers to assist them will delivering on line learning.

Thursday, June 18, 2020:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • PM spoke about Canada’s lost bid for a UN Security Council Seat.
      • He said that Canada will continue to work with its International partners on issues such as climate change, sustainable peace and women’s issues
      • He announced the release of a new national contact tracing mobile APP that will soon be tested in Ontario. Premier Ford will provide more details.
      • The APP will be completely voluntary. It will inform users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
      • It will work best when more people use it.
      • How it works – If you have tested positive Health Canada will help you upload your status to an anonymous national network. Other users who have been in contact with you will receive a notification that someone they have been in contact with has tested positive. You will be asked to contact your local public health department who will give you advice on the next steps.
      • No location service will be used. Privacy will respected at all times.
    • Question Period:
      • On the lost bid for the seat on the UN Security Council. PM  acknowledged his disappointment. “We worked hard to deepen our friendships on important issues. We were able to strengthen our ties around the world during these turbulent times.”
      • He will be speaking to Premiers tonight about working together on systemic racism.
      • He is “disappointed that the Bloc does not acknowledge that systemic racism exists” Recognizing systemic racism exists is the first step to making change.
      • There were several questions regarding the APP. He said that we learned from what happened in other countries. Other APPS drained phone batteries. This version can be downloaded and forgotten about. “Completely anonymous. No geo tagging.”
      • He spoke about three aspects of the APP – 1. It is a national APP, that will be adjusted for each Province. 2. The data will be held in a federal data bank located in Canada. There will be anonymous codes associated with phones for those who test positive and those who have downloaded the APP. 3. Public Health departments in every Province will have a role to play assisting people who receive an alert that they have been in contact with someone who tested positive.
      • The government worked with the Privacy Commissioner on the development of this APP>
      • The more people who download the APP the more helpful it will be. “If 50% of Canadians download the APP it will be extremely helpful”
      • It will be available in early July.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Prime Minister announces new mobile app to help notify Canadians of COVID-19 exposureMedia Release
        1. As Canada begins to ease restrictions and take steps to restart the economy, the Government of Canada is working closely with provinces and territories to keep Canadian families and communities safe and healthy.
        2. The app, originally developed by the Government of Ontario, will help Canadians and public health officials identify and isolate the spread of the virus more quickly, which is an important step toward containing the virus and safely restarting the economy.
        3. Use of the app will be voluntary.
        4. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, a health care provider will give them a unique temporary code, so they can upload their status anonymously to a national network. Other users who have downloaded the app and come in contact with that person will be notified, through the app, that they may have been exposed to the virus. The app will also provide users with information on steps they can take to keep themselves and others safe, and we are working with the provinces and territories so they can customize public health information based on their own jurisdiction.
        5. The app will be available to Canadians for free download in the coming weeks, with health authorities in Ontario being the first to distribute the unique, temporary codes to people who test positive for COVID-19.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Premier spoke about the province’s expanded testing and tracing efforts “If we trace we can track it”
      • He and Minister Elliott announced the province’s new Enhance Case Management and Contact Tracing Strategy – Media Release
      • The government’s enhanced strategy focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management by:
        1. Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;
        2. Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;
        3. Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and
        4. Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
      • Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached in a timely and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health units will:
        1. Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;
        2. Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;
        3. Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and
      • Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.
      • The Premier also announced the new, “made in Ontario” exposure notification mobile APP – COVID Alert.
      • Ontario is partnering with the federal government to launch the a new privacy-first exposure notification app, within the next two weeks.
      • One of the overarching principles is ensuring the privacy and security for all users, which is why the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province’s internal security reviews.
      • Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked how receptive he thought people would be to the APP and downloading it? “If we don’t have the co-operation of the people of Ontario it won’t work.” He assured people of their privacy. “It will protect us.”
      • He talked about there be three elements: health (PPE, wearing masks and ensuring hospitals were ready), testing and contact tracing. “I am so pleased today. Everything has come together.”
      • There were some questions about the fact that government was looking at extended the State of Emergency until July 15 and what impact that would have on the emergency orders that are in place. Even after the State of Emergency is revoked, any current emergency order can be continues in 14 day increments after. The province can’t amend those orders or create new ones.
      • Regarding the percentage of up take the APP needs to be effective. No one provided a definitive answer. Dr. Williams, “it’s a new thing. We’ll see how the public embraces it.”
      • In response to questions about the government’s position on the environment, Premier “We will never touch the Greenbelt.”