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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.

Please Note: For the Updates from 2020, Click Here.

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

Please Note: For the Updates from 2020, Click Here

Thursday, June 17, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Accelerated Second Dose Eligibility Continues Ahead of ScheduleNews Release
      • With a majority of Ontario adults having received a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and over three million doses of the Moderna vaccine arriving in June, the province is continuing to accelerate its vaccine rollout by expanding eligibility for second doses ahead of schedule.
      • With a majority of Ontario adults having received their first dose of the vaccine, providing a strong level of protection from COVID-19, the province is accelerating eligibility to book a second dose appointment as follows:
        1. As of Monday, June 21, 2021 at 8:00 a.m., all Ontarians who received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on or before May 9, 2021 will be eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment at a shortened interval.
        2. As of Wednesday, June 23, 2021 at 8:00 a.m., individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 30, 2021 and who live in the catchment area of one of the 10 public health units identified as Delta hot spots (Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Peel, Porcupine, Simcoe-Muskoka, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph, and York public health units) will be eligible to book or rebook their second dose appointment at a shortened interval.
        3. Starting the week of June 28, 2021 (days / sequence to be confirmed) all Ontarians aged 18 and over who have received their first dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine will be eligible to book their second dose appointment. The appointment will be scheduled at least 28 days after the first dose, per the recommended interval.
      • Expanding the number of Delta hot spots and rapidly expanding second dose coverage in these areas will help to minimize the risk of the variant’s spread throughout the province.
      • In addition, effective June 14, 2021, individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine are also eligible to receive a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at an interval of eight to 12 weeks, with informed consent. This can include a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine.
      • Ontario’s allocation of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine meant to arrive during the first two weeks of July will be lower than initially projected (decreased from approximately 885,000 to 348,000 doses) and is planned to catch up during the last two weeks of July. The government will adjust and mitigate any impacts of this decrease to the provincial vaccine rollout.
      • The province will continue to expand eligibility for accelerated second doses across Ontario as additional vaccine allocations and shipment timelines are confirmed by the federal government.
      • From May 7 to June 17, more than 50 provincially supported mobile and pop-up clinics have administered over 86,000 vaccines at workplaces and community hubs in Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Toronto, Peel and York region hot spots, working closely with public health units. Mobile clinics are returning to these sites to focus on second doses beginning the week of June 20. Provincial mobile teams will also assist Region of Waterloo Public Health as it works toward preventing the spread of the Delta variant by helping to administer first and second doses to priority populations in COVID hot spots.
      • Individuals who are eligible to receive an accelerated second dose are invited to schedule their appointment through the provincial booking system, directly through public health units that use their own booking system, and through participating pharmacies. Select primary care providers will also be reaching out to book appointments.
      • All vaccines provided as part of Ontario’s vaccine rollout provide strong protection against COVID-19 and its variants, including the Delta variant. In addition, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has confirmed that a mixed vaccine schedule can be completed safely and is effective. To ensure maximum protection against COVID-19 and the Delta variant, Ontarians are encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as they can and to receive their second dose within the recommended interval.
    • Question Period:
      • In the U.S. some venues will only allow people who have been fully vaccinated with an FDA approved vaccine, what about people who have been fully vaccinated with Astra Zeneca? Solicitor General Jones said that Premier Ford has been in discussions this week with the Federal government regarding the reopening of the border and that he is working to ensure consistency in the requirements. They are working to ensure that Canadians we have been fully vaccinated with Astra Zeneca, have the same rights as people who have been vaccinated with other Health Canada approved vaccines.
      • Will guidance be issued for people who have been fully vaccinated? Minister Elliott said that guidelines would be released about what people can do in all three situations – not vaccinated, single dose, fully vaccinated.
      • How will you avoid the problems that were experienced this week on the Provincial booking system? Minister Elliott, “we are very fortunate that so many people want to get vaccinated.” She thanked the people of Ontario. They are working with the Public Health Units to make sure that as eligibility opens up that appointments are available.
      • Ottawa doesn’t have enough vaccine supply to keep up with current eligibility. Solicitor General Jones  and Premier Ford spoke with Mayor Watson this week. When Public Health Units deplete their supplies (use up what’s in their freezers) the Province will send them sufficient supplies. On their weekly calls with PHUs, they are being told they must use up the supply they have. “Don’t keep supply in the freezer.” She went on to say they have “confidence that larger supplies will be coming from the federal government.”

Wednesday, June 16, 2021:

Monday, June 14, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Accelerates Second Doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine – News Release
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, including the Ontario Science Advisory Table, is further accelerating the second dose interval for individuals who received their first dose of an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to eight weeks, with informed consent, from 12 weeks.
      • With informed consent, individuals can choose between a second dose of AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine, at an eight to 12-week interval, recognizing that while waiting 12 weeks helps to ultimately provide more protection, some may choose to receive their second dose sooner to have the increased protection provided by a second dose earlier. All of these options provide protection against COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and have been deemed safe.
      • This decision is based on emerging clinical evidence about the administration of two doses of different vaccines, as supported by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Evidence from multiple studies indicates that mixing of COVID-19 vaccines (receiving an mRNA vaccine after an AstraZeneca vaccine) at dosing intervals between eight and 12 weeks is safe and demonstrates a beneficial immune response. There is evidence that a longer interval between two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine (such as a 12-week interval) provides higher protection.
      • Beginning Monday, June 14, 2021 at 8:00 a.m., individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be eligible to book their second dose appointment at an interval of eight weeks or more with informed consent.
      • Individuals who wish to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose can book an appointment through the provincial booking system, through public health units that use their own booking system, or a participating pharmacy. For individuals who wish to receive second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, individuals can contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose.
    • Ontario lifting interprovincial border restrictions with Quebec, Manitoba on WednesdayArticle
      • The Ford government announced it will lift land and water border restrictions allowing for interprovincial travel between Quebec and Manitoba as of this week.
      • Solicitor General Sylvia Jones says the order will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday and those entering Ontario must “continue to follow the public health measures in place in the province.”
    • Ontario Releases Plan for Safe Return to Sport – News Release
      • The Ontario government is releasing a framework for select Ontario professional and elite-amateur sport leagues and events that outlines the minimum requirements that must be met for a safe return to play.
      • A small number of professional and elite-amateur sport leagues and events will be able to return to play under stringent public health and safety protocols developed in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. This is in advance of the broader return to play for amateur and recreational sport that will be enabled through the Roadmap to Reopen, which will allow sport and recreation to resume in incremental steps throughout summer.
      • In addition, events hosted by a National Sport Organization (NSO) that is either funded by Sport Canada or recognized by the Canadian Olympic Committee or the Canadian Paralympic Committee, may also return to play if:
        1. The event exclusively includes athletes, coaches and officials competing to be a part of Team Canada at the next summer or winter Olympic Games or Paralympic Games; or,
        2. The event is an International Single Sport Event (ISSE) authorized by Sport Canada.
      • Key elements of the framework include: private COVID-19 screening and testing, assigned cohorts with limited or no interaction between different cohorts; practice, training and competition protocols; accommodation and travel/transportation services protocols; and individual control measures when not training or competing such as physical distancing and the use of face coverings. Details of the framework are available on the government of Ontario website.
      • A return-to-play framework, which sets out minimum expectations for return-to-play plans to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for participants, workers and the general population was developed in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
      • Return-to-play framework for professional and elite amateur sport leagues and events

Thursday, June 10, 2021:

  • Joint Statement: Statement to the Community from Mayor Meed Ward on behalf of the City of Burlington, Burlington Fire and Halton Regional Police Service to Encourage Responsible Park Use
  • Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Table Update on COVID-19 Projections – Presentation
    • Cases, percent positivity, and hospitalizations have all dropped sharply thanks to the commitment of Ontarians.
    • Testing has declined. Continued strong monitoring will be critical for control of the pandemic
    • Cases should continue to decline for the next 10 days. As vaccination continues, it will be important to monitor carefully for new variants and continue assessing for signs of breakthrough and serious infection.
    • If we continue to control COVID-19, we can drop below 200 COVID-19 patients in ICUs by mid-July and begin to resume normal hospital operations
    • The Delta variant is more transmissible and may be more dangerous. It will likely be the dominant form of the virus this summer. It is critical to control the spread of this variant.
    • The 2nd vaccine dose is more than 2x as effective against the Delta variant –it is key to get 2nd doses in arms
    • To avoid a fourth wave, we need to continue to ensure first and second doses in high-risk communities, continue tailoring vaccine clinics to community needs, and ensure strong testing and case and contact tracing.
    • Benefits of continuing a focus on high-risk communities
    • Compared to a pure age-based allocation, continuing a high-risk community strategy reduces the overall case count by 39% (both with 2nddose eligibility at 6 weeks)
    • Much of the reduction in cases are in lower-risk communities; benefitting all communities
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on June 10, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,396,798 cases of COVID-19 and 25,843 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • As immunity is still building up across the population, public health measures and individual precautions remain crucial for COVID-19 control.
      • The latest national-level data show a continued downward trend in disease activity with an average of 1,646 cases reported daily during the latest 7 day period (June 3-9), down 33% compared to the week prior and down 81% compared to the peak of the third wave.
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 1900 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (June 3-9), which is 22% fewer than last week. This includes, on average 817 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), 21% fewer than last week. Likewise, the latest 7-day average of 31 deaths reported daily (June 3-9) is continuing to decline, showing a 13% decrease compared to the week prior.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Further Accelerates Second Doses in Delta Hot SpotsNews Release
      • As Ontario prepares to move to Step One of its Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, June 11, 2021, the province is further expanding eligibility for accelerated second doses in Delta hot spots to ensure a strong level of protection against COVID-19 and variants.
      • As of June 10, 2021, the province’s public health units, mass vaccination clinics, hospital sites, pharmacies, and physicians have administered more than 10.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians. Over 73 per cent of adult Ontarians are benefitting from the protection of a first dose of vaccine, and more than 11 per cent are fully immunized.
      • Administration of accelerated second doses to individuals aged 80 and over began on May 31, and expanded ahead of schedule on June 4 to individuals aged 70 and over as well as to individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before April 18, 2021. This acceleration includes more than 151,000 individuals aged 18 to 49 in hot spot communities who were eligible to receive the vaccine at mobile and pop-up clinics beginning in early to mid-April. In addition, this includes more than 706,000 individuals aged 50 and over in hot spots who became eligible to book a first dose on April 9 through the provincial booking system.
      • The province is further expanding eligibility to help stop the spread of COVID-19 variants and protect communities with the highest rates of Delta (B.1.617) variant transmission. Beginning 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 14, 2021 individuals who live in Delta hot spots in Halton, Peel, Porcupine, Toronto, Waterloo, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph and York public health units and also received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before May 9, 2021 will be eligible to book their accelerated second dose appointment through the provincial booking system (for Peel and Toronto public health units), directly through public health units that use their own booking system and through participating pharmacies. Primary care providers will be reaching out to book appointments.
      • Mobile vaccine units supported by province operated pop-ups and employer-led clinics that provided first doses in Peel, Toronto and York public health regions will also begin operating second dose clinics beginning the week of June 20, 2021. Increasing first and second dose coverage in Delta hot spots will help to minimize the risk of the variant’s spread in Ontario, protecting all neighbourhoods provincewide.
      • The province will further expand eligibility for accelerated second doses across Ontario as additional vaccine allocations and shipment timelines are confirmed by the federal government, including the recently announced Moderna vaccines.
    • Ontario Dramatically Ramping Up Delivery of Rapid Test Kits – News Release 
      • Ontario has now delivered 12.3 million rapid antigen test kits for COVID-19 to over 2,600 work sites across the province. The effort is helping businesses and other organizations keep employees and their families safe by helping keep the virus out of their workplaces.
      • A recent success of the antigen screening program came with the involvement of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Less than a month after the launch of its COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative, Ontario has shipped nearly 2.4 million kits to local chambers. These kits will help small and medium-sized businesses across the province stay safe and stay open.
      • Businesses are encouraged to get their own rapid antigen screening kits by contacting their local chamber of commerce or by registering at ontario.ca/testingonsite.
      • Rapid antigen screening goes hand in hand with public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene. Any positive results from a rapid antigen point-of-care test must be confirmed with laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
      • A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g., on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes about 15 minutes to yield a result.
      • Rapid antigen screening does not replace public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene. Any positive results from a rapid antigen screening test must be confirmed with laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
    • Ontario Introduces Streamlined Employment Supports – News Release
      • The Ontario government is making it easier for people to restart their careers and support their families through the creation of an integrated and seamless employment services system. The new system will combine employment programs from social assistance, such as Ontario Works Employment Assistance and Ontario Disability Support Program Employment Supports, into Employment Ontario. This modernized approach will ensure clients have continued access to the services they rely on while helping them succeed in their search for long-term and sustainable employment.
      • Jobseekers will be offered services that are specifically tailored to connect them with jobs in their communities, including job searching, job matching and job coaching support. A wide range of services and opportunities will also be available for employers to help them find workers and coordinate training.
      • This new approach includes the establishment of service system managers, who will oversee the planning, design and delivery of employment services in each catchment areas. This initiative builds on the success of three prototype regions in Peel, Hamilton-Niagara and Muskoka-Kawarthas, which began in 2020.
      • The integrated employment programs will offer workers and employers access to online self-serve options, in addition to phone and in-person service.
      • As of May 2021, 733,000 people were unemployed. The provincial unemployment rate was 9.3 per cent, up from the pre-COVID rate of 5.5 per cent in February 2020.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021:

Monday, June 7, 2021:

  • City of Burlington News Release: Burlington’s Beachway Open For Use
  • City of Burlington News Release: Summer Temporary Patios and Sidewalk Detours Coming to Burlington
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario to Move to Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen on Friday (June 11) – News release
      • Based on Ontario’s vaccination rate and continuing improvements in key public health and health system indicators, Ontario will move to Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen at 12:01 am on Friday, June 11.
      • As of June 6, 2021, at 8:00 pm, 72% of the 18+ population had received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with over 10 million doses now having been administered.
      • Ontario needed to have 60% of adults vaccinated with at least one dose for two weeks or longer to begin Step One.
      • Step One of the Roadmap to Reopen focuses on the resumption of outdoor activities with smaller crowds and limited reopening of indoor settings.
      • Step One includes:
        1. Outdoor gatherings and organized public events with up to 10 people
        2. Outdoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services, capped at the number of people that can maintain a physical distance of two meters
        3. Indoor religious services, rites, or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services permitted at up to 15% capacity of the particular room
        4. Non-essential retail permitted at 15% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
        5. Essential and other select retail permitted at 25% capacity, with no restrictions on the goods that can be sold
        6. Outdoor dining with up to 4 people per table, with exceptions for larger households
        7. Outdoor fitness classes, outdoor groups in personal training and outdoor individual/team sport training to be permitted with up to 10 people
        8. Day camps permitted to operate in a manner consistent with the safety guidelines for COVID-10 produced by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
        9. Overnight camping at campgrounds and campsites, including Ontario Parks, and short-term rentals
        10. Concert venues, theatres and cinemas may open outdoors for the purpose of rehearing or performing a recorded or broadcasted concert, artistic event, theatrical performance, or other performance with no more than 10 performers, among other restrictions
        11. Outdoor horse racing tracks and motor speedways permitted to operate without spectators
        12. Outdoor attractions such as zoos, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens with capacity and other restrictions
      • The government is enabling school boards for public and private elementary and high schools to invite students back for brief outdoor end of year celebrations. Guidelines for these celebrations can be found here.
      • The province will remain in Step One for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators
      • If at the end of the 21 days, 70% of adults have one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 20% of adults have two doses, and there are continued improvements in public health and health system indicators, Ontario will move to Step Two of the Roadmap.
      • All public health and workplace safety measures currently in place will remain in effect until June 11, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

Friday, June 4, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on June 4, 2021Speech
      • Nationally, COVID-19 disease activity and severity trends continue to decline. The latest 7-day average for daily cases is just over 2,300, which is 73% lower than the peak of the third wave. The latest 7-day average for the number of people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day has dropped 47% since the peak to just over 2,300 daily. Of these, on average, 1,000 were being treated in intensive care units, down 31% since the peak, and average daily deaths are down 35% to 34 deaths being reported daily.
      • As of today, over 25 million doses have been administered across Canada, with close to 2.8 million Canadians getting a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the past week alone! As of May 29th, 65% of the population, aged 12 years or older, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
      • As of May 30th, there have been 44 national reports of rare but serious blood clots with low levels of blood platelets following immunization with the AstraZeneca vaccines in Canada. Of those, 30 have tested positive for PF4 antibodies, meeting the definition of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia, or VITT. Laboratory testing on the remaining 14 individuals is ongoing. Sadly, among these confirmed cases of VITT, there have been 5 deaths reported. We offer our most sincere condolences to the loved ones of those who have passed away.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Expanding Accelerated Second Dose Booking to More Ontarians Ahead of ScheduleNews Release
      • Due to an increasing supply of vaccines, the province is inviting individuals aged 70 and over as well as individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) on or before April 18, 2021, to book an accelerated second dose appointment ahead of schedule.
      • Ontario expects to receive approximately 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in June and approximately 3.54 million doses in July. The province has also received 193,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine. This reliable and increased supply of vaccines has allowed the province to rapidly expand access to vaccines in all public health units and through various channels, including mass immunization clinics, hospital clinics, pharmacies and primary care settings, providing convenient access across Ontario.
      • As of 8:00 a.m. on Monday, June 7, 2021, individuals turning ages 70 and over in 2021, as well as individuals who received their first dose of an mRNA vaccine on or before April 18, 2021, will be eligible to schedule an appointment to receive their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a mass immunization clinic through the provincial booking system and call centre. Some public health units using their own booking system may expand eligibility sooner.
      • Beginning on June 4, 2021, these groups are eligible to receive their accelerated second dose appointment through pharmacies and primary care settings participating in the vaccine rollout. In addition, individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and are opting to receive either a second dose of AstraZeneca or a mRNA vaccine can now schedule their second dose appointment at a participating pharmacy. There are now 327 pharmacies in the Toronto, Windsor-Essex and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington public health units offering the AstraZeneca vaccine, and nearly 450 additional pharmacies offering the Moderna vaccine.

Thursday, June 3, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Updating AstraZeneca Second Dose Guidance – News Release
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is providing updated guidance for individuals who received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and who have not yet received their second dose, to allow for the mixing of COVID-19 vaccines if desired. This decision is in alignment with updated guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommendation.
      • Effective June 4, 2021 and in alignment with NACI’s recommendation, Ontarians who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can choose to either receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, or an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine for their second dose. Both second-dose options available to individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine are safe and provide strong protection against COVID-19 and will count as a completed series. These second dose options will be provided at the recommended 12-week interval.
      • Beginning June 4, 2021, individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine 12 weeks ago and who would like their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, can contact the pharmacy or primary care provider where they received their first dose to book an appointment. Individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and are opting to receive an mRNA vaccine have the option to schedule their second dose appointment at a participating pharmacy where the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are administered. Primary care settings and pharmacies may also be reaching out to eligible Ontarians.
      • In addition, expected the week of June 7, 2021, individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine and who choose to receive an mRNA vaccine for their second dose can register for a “second dose only” at a 12-week interval through the provincial booking system. Eligible individuals will also be able to schedule their second dose appointment directly through public health units that use their own booking system.
      • Combining similar vaccines from different manufacturers in a series is not a new concept. Different vaccine products have been safely and effectively used to complete vaccine series for influenza, hepatitis A, and others. Individuals are encouraged to speak with a health care professional for help understanding the options available to them so that they can make an informed decision on their vaccination.
      • NACI’s guidance also advises that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines can be safely interchanged for first and second doses if the original mRNA vaccine is not readily available. Ontarians who received a first dose of an mRNA vaccine should be offered the same mRNA vaccine for their second dose. If the same mRNA vaccine is not readily available, another mRNA vaccine can be offered instead to complete the vaccine series.
    • Ontario Easing Restrictions on Long-Term Care – News Release
      • Thanks to high levels of vaccination in long-term care homes and improvements in key public health care indicators, Ontario is allowing long-term care residents to enjoy more social connections with their loved ones. The changes take effect Wednesday, June 9.
      • Working with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Directive #3 has been updated, as well as the Ministry of Long-Term Care’s visitor policy and guidance document, to set out the following:
        1. Residents who have been fully immunized can leave their long-term care homes for day and overnight social outings and trips.
        2. Residents with mobility limitations or health conditions (essentially, factors unrelated to weather) that make participating in outdoor visits highly unlikely or impossible may have one general visitor at a time inside the long-term care home, in addition to an essential caregiver.
        3. Regardless of resident and visitor vaccination status, brief hugs can now take place. Where both the resident and visitors are fully immunized, close physical contact, including handholding, can now take place safely. It continues to be important that residents and visitors adhere to public health measures in the home, including good hand hygiene and appropriate masking.
      • The province continues to actively monitor COVID-19 activity, particularly in this vulnerable sector. The health and safety of residents and staff, including their mental and emotional wellbeing, remains our top priority.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today by Premier Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health announced that to best protect Ontario families from the fast growing B.1.617.2 variant, and to allow for higher rates of vaccination of students, staff, and families, the Ontario government has made the difficult decision to continue with remote learning for all elementary and secondary students across the province for the remainder of this school year. This will allow the province to continue its focus on accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to support a safer summer and return to in-person learning in September for the 2021-22 school year. – News Release
      • Recent modelling presented by the Science Advisory Table revealed that if Ontario reopened schools to in-person learning the province could see an increase of six to 11 per cent in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases. It is unknown how many of these would be the new, more dangerous B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India, which has entered the province through Canada’s borders.
      • An increase in cases and the spread of variants would also threaten Ontarians’ hard-fought progress in beating the third wave and could delay the safe return to many summer activities for kids, including day and overnight camps, sports leagues and public pools, among other important activities that support children’s physical and mental wellbeing.
      • Ontario’s plan supports the largest investment in mental health and the largest summer learning program in Ontario history, with supports available to students through the summer and when they return to in-person learning in September. The government is working to ensure that students can look forward to a return to normal and enjoy outdoor and extracurricular activities as soon as it is safe to do so.
      • School boards will continue to have safety plans in place for students who are experiencing or could be expected to experience mental health challenges. This will help them to have continued access to remote or in-person services through the school, community child and youth mental health service providers or local health care partners. Schools will continue to remain open for in-person learning for special education students who cannot be accommodated through remote learning until the end of June. Students, parents and families also have a number of mental health resources that are available to them through their school board as well as through other providers, including Kids Help Phone, which offers 24/7 counselling and referral services across the province, as well as resources through School Mental Health Ontario and services through child and youth mental health agencies across the province.
      • Students have worked incredibly hard throughout the pandemic, with important milestones like graduation ceremonies impacted. Ontario students deserve this positive conclusion to their academic journey, safely. The government will allow school boards to invite graduating students in elementary schools (by class) and secondary schools (by homeroom/quadmestered class) to return to school in June for a short, outdoor celebration, where physical distancing is possible.
      • The Premier said the Province may be able to move to Step 1 before June 14. They are waiting on advice from Dr. Williams.
    • Question Period:
      • Will vaccinations be mandatory in September for students that are old enough to receive them? The Premier said he does not support forcing people to get vaccinated. “I encourage everyone to get vaccinated. It works.”
      • How early could we move into Step 1? The Premier said that he is waiting on advice from Dr. Williams and the health table.
      • Are you choosing the economy over schools? Premier, “no not all. I am avoiding sending 2 million kids indoors for 2 or 3 weeks.” He said that right now we don’t have enough teachers or kids vaccinated. “All I have heard from the docs is indoors – bad, outdoors -good.” He again spoke about the “lax border controls” that are allowing the variants to come into Ontario. “This could have been avoided if the borders were tightened up.” He  said the federal government is, “sitting around twiddling their thumbs” and not doing anything to protect our borders.
      • Are you acknowledging that not enough has been done to keep schools safe? The Premier did not agree with that statement. He said Ontario has done everything right with respect to schools and is looked at as a model.
      • You asked for consensus. Why ask for advice if you are going to do the opposite? “There wasn’t consensus. They refused to answer the questions (asked in his letter).” With the presence of the Indian variant the Premier said, “it would be irresponsible to put 2 million kids in school.”
      • Ontario students have been out of school for 23 weeks, more than any other province in the country. What do you say to that? “There is no comparison between Ontario and any other province in the country. They don’t have 134,000 people crossing land borders.” He said the population of Ontario cannot be compared with other provinces. “I don’t want to cut off kids’ summer. The variants are taking hold.” He said, “every medical advisor agrees that the new framework is great. We have to just stick with the program.”
      • Can you give people any idea when we might be able to enter Step 1? “No one wants the province to open up sooner than I do, but it has to be done cautiously and carefully.” Minister Elliott, said that they are encouraged that case numbers are going down. They look at a range of factors when considering when to reopen.
      • You said schools were safe and that kids were a priority. Did you mislead the public? “No.” It was the emergence of the variants. Kids and teachers can now get vaccinated, which they couldn’t before. “I don’t want to risk it. I don’t want to risk their summer.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2021:

Monday, May 31, 2021:

  • STATEMENT FROM MAYOR MEED WARD: Supporting a Regional Approach to Safely Reopening Schools in Ontario
  • Region of Halton News Release: Halton Residents 80+ Can Reschedule 2nd Dose Appointments at Shorter Interval Starting June 2
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Ontario To Appoint New Chief Medical Officer of HealthNews Release, Backgrounder
      • On Monday, May 31, 2021, the Ontario government will table a motion in the Legislature to appoint Dr. Kieran Moore as the province’s next Chief Medical Officer of Health to succeed Dr. David Williams upon his retirement on June 25, 2021. Should the motion be passed, Dr. Moore would assume office effective June 26, 2021.
      • To ensure a seamless transition into his new role, Dr. Moore will work alongside Dr. Williams for a few weeks, starting Monday, June 7, 2021.
      • Dr. Kieran Moore has served as the Medical Officer of Health for Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health since July 1, 2017. Dr. Moore has also had the distinction of serving in a variety of other roles, including as a Program Director for the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program at Queen’s University, as a Professor of emergency, family medicine and public health sciences, at Queen’s University, as an attending physician at Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and Hotel Dieu Hospital (HDH), and as a principal investigator at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network.
      • The Ontario government thanks Dr. Williams for his dedicated service to the province, including the last five years as Chief Medical Officer of Health, a position he has held since February 16, 2016. Dr. Williams has been at the forefront of Ontario’s pandemic response and his tireless work and measured advice have helped the government to keep Ontarians safe and informed. Dr. Williams had previously postponed his retirement to continue guiding the province through the pandemic and on November 23, 2020 was reappointed as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health from February 16 up until September 1, 2021.
  • Ontario Mandates Immunization Policies for Long-term Care Homes – News Release
    • Ontario is taking further action to protect long-term care home residents by becoming the first province in Canada to make it mandatory for homes to have COVID-19 immunization policies for staff and to set out the minimum requirements that need to be included in these policies.
    • Under the immunization policies to be put in place at all long-term care homes in the province, each staff member must do one of the following:
      • Provide proof of vaccination of each dose;
      • Provide a documented medical reason for not being vaccinated; or
      • Participate in an educational program about the benefits of vaccination and the risks of not being vaccinated.
    • Homes will be required to track and report on the implementation of their policies, including overall staff immunization rates. The immunization status of individual staff members will not be shared with the province.
    • By encouraging more workers to get vaccinated, the likelihood of infections and outbreaks is reduced — which allows for additional easing of restrictions in homes and more opportunities for residents to enjoy activities that support their wellbeing and quality of life.

Friday, May 28, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Accelerates Rollout of Second Shots Targeting a Two-Dose SummerNews Release, Backgrounder
      • Ontario has reached a key milestone in its fight against COVID-19, having achieved its target to administer first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over ahead of schedule. Ontario is also preparing to roll out the eligibility for accelerated second dose appointments starting with individuals aged 80 and over, beginning on May 31, 2021. If there is sufficient vaccine supply, it is anticipated that the majority of Ontario residents who choose to receive the vaccine will be able to be fully vaccinated by the end of summer.
      • With over 8.6 million doses administered, and over 8 million people having received at least one dose, the province has reached its target to administer first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.
      • With two-thirds of the adult population having received at least one dose, Ontarians have been provided with a strong level of protection against COVID-19. Now Ontario is beginning to accelerate second doses for all Ontarians. While the interval between first and second doses can be up to 16 weeks, Ontario will begin to offer second dose appointments at an earlier interval, based on availability of vaccines. The timing of second dose appointments may vary based on local considerations, vaccine supply and the date of first dose appointment.
      • The following is an anticipated schedule for eligibility to book a second dose appointment based on confirmed supply:
        1. Week of May 31: individuals aged 80+
        2. Week of June 14: individuals aged 70+
        3. Week of June 28: individuals who received their first dose between the week of March 8 to April 18, on a “first-in, first-out” basis. For example, this included individuals with the highest-risk health conditions and special education workers.
        4. Week of July 19: individuals who received their first dose between the week of April 19 to May 9, on a “first-in, first-out” basis. For example, this included individuals aged 50 and over, as well as individuals with high-risk health conditions.
        5. Week of August 2: individuals who received their first dose between the week of May 10 to May 30, on a “first-in, first-out” basis. For example, this included individuals who cannot work from home and individuals who have at-risk health conditions.
        6. Week of August 9 to 16: individuals aged 12 to 25
        7. Week of August 9: individuals who received their first dose from the week of May 31 onwards on a “first-in, first out” basis, respecting the recommended intervals.
      • Individuals who received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine from March 21 onwards will be eligible to receive a second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine from May 31 onwards at a 12-week interval, with appointment dates based on the timing of their first dose.
      • Ontarians who have had their first dose and are eligible for an accelerated second dose may be able to return to the same site or channel where they received their first dose for their second dose appointment, or may choose to book an appointment at a different site or channel. Second dose appointments can be rebooked through the provincial booking system and through pharmacies. For those in public health units who use their own booking system, or who received their doses from the primary care provider or through a pop-up clinic, more information will follow on how and when second dose booking and rebooking will be available. Second dose appointments can also be booked (without a first appointment) in the provincial booking system.
      • The province will provide further guidance based on advice expected shortly from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) with respect to administering doses of two different vaccine types. This advice will be provided in advance of the 12-week interval when most people are needing to receive their second dose.
      • To ensure as many youth as possible are fully vaccinated before the start of the school year, the province expects to provide a first dose to all willing youth aged 12 to 17 before the end of June, and a second dose before the end of August 2021.
      • As of Friday, May 28, 2021, more than 300 additional pharmacies across the province will begin offering the Pfizer vaccine, and more than 370 pharmacies began offering the Moderna vaccine as of Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Visit ontario.ca/pharmacycovidvaccine to find a pharmacy offering a COVID-19 vaccine and to book an appointment
    • Question Period from Premier’s Briefing:
      • Regarding Premier Ford’s letter to Medical Officers of Health and education groups, etc. about reopening schools. Are you afraid to make this decision on your own? Premier, “I have never been afraid to make tough decisions. I know where Dr. Williams stands, I want to hear from others. I don’t want to rush this. If it take a couple of extra days, so be it. This is a massive decision.” He once again spoke about his concerns about the borders and the Indian VOC. He said the federal government “has no plan for borders.”
      • What do you say to critics who say you are looking for someone else to blame if things go wrong? Premier, said he takes full responsibility for decisions. “I want to make sure the kids and teachers are safe. Do you want to go backwards again? I don’t.” He said the decision about schools could affect the reopening plan.
      • You have no plan to help seniors rebook their appointments. The Premier, strongly disagreed and said the Province has “a very strong plan. We have a well oiled machine.” Minister Elliott, said that while the Province is accelerating the second dose schedule people did not have to rebook. “They can get their second dose in a variety of ways including pharmacies.”
      • How many Astra Zeneca does will be wasted? Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, explained that when the pause on first doses was put in place they collected all the Astra Zeneca doses. They are now redistributing doses after they have conducted a quality assurance check on them. Doses are going to Kingston, Windsor and Toronto for second dose appointments.
      • Since vaccination rates are where you wanted them to be for step on, might you reopen patio dining sooner? The Premier said that moving to step one is more than just achieving the 65% vaccination rate. “It kills me to keep these businesses closed. We are going to reopen cautiously and carefully.”

Wednesday, May 26, 2021:

Friday, May 21, 2021:

  • City of Burlington News Release: Update on City of Burlington Services & Outdoor Facilities as Province Announces Reopening Outdoor Recreational Amenities Prior to End of Stay-at-Home Order
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Government of Canada extends quarantine measures and travel restrictionsNews Release
      • Today, the Government of Canada is extending the temporary travel measures restricting entry into Canada by foreign nationals until June 21, 2021. To continue managing the elevated risk of imported COVID-19 cases into Canada, the Government of Canada has extended the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) restricting all direct commercial and private passenger flights to Canada from India and Pakistan until June 21, 2021 at 23:59 EDT. The government is also extending the requirement for air passengers who depart India or Pakistan to Canada, via an indirect route, to obtain a COVID-19 pre-departure test from a third country before continuing their journey to Canada.
      • As the science and evidence evolve and knowledge of the virus and variants increases, the policies to keep Canadians safe will evolve as well. Current data shows that Canada’s pre-arrival, on-arrival, and post-arrival testing requirements, as well as mandatory hotel stay for air travellers, are working. The Government of Canada’s response will continue to prioritize protecting the health and safety of Canadians, while also ensuring the safe flow of goods and services that are necessary for the Canadian economy.

Thursday, May 20, 2021:

  • From Mayor Meed Ward: Province Announces Reopening Plan Details: Outdoor Activites Expand Starting May 22
  • Joseph Brant Hospital News Release: A Message to the Community from Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall — May 20, 2021
  • Burlington COVID-19 TASK FORCE MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: Burlington COVID-19 Task Force Meeting 21
  • PROVINCIAL UPDATES:
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators. In response to recent improvements to these indicators, Ontario will allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with restrictions in place, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. – News Release
      • Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:
        1. Step One: An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
        2. Step Two: Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
        3. Step Three: Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.
      • The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:
        1. Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
        2. Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
        3. Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
      • Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.
      • Due to the continuing success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures to date, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the province will reopen outdoor recreational amenities with restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing. These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will remain in effect.
      • At this time, publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.
    • Question Period from Premier’s Briefing:
      • Is there any possibility schools will reopen? Premier said there were differing opinions regarding schools – Dr. Williams is in favour of opening them. Some doctors on the Science Table do not support reopening. The Science table data shows an increase in cases of up to 11% if schools reopen.
      • Will schools reopen before Step 1? Premier, “we need consensus before we reopen.” He said that teachers’ unions have threatened an injunction. “we can’t afford an 11% in cases.”
      • When do you expect us to get to 20% fully vaccinated? Minister Elliott did not answer this question, instead she said that movement from one step to another was based on the number of people who were vaccinated along with several other indicators. She said that the modelling shows that the timelines and targets are achievable.
      • What do you say to the people who say this is too slow? We are almost at 60% vaccinated now. The Premier said that it takes 2-3 weeks for the vaccine to take effect after people get vaccinated. “The good news is people will be able to launch their boats and play golf.”
      • If there isn’t a consensus on schools are writing off the school year? Premier, “I hear ya, but the 11% increase is very concerning. I still want to get approval, consensus from the doctors. We also want to get kids vaccinated. I am not going to rush into this.”
    • Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables Update on COVID-19 ProjectionsPresentation
      • Cases, positivity and hospitalization rates are decreasing. Control of the pandemic is improving due to current public health measures and the efforts of Ontarians. Greatest progress made in hotspot areas.
      • Case positivity rate is declining across Ontario.
      • Hospitalization rates are down, ICU occupancy has dropped slightly.
      • Continues efforts to control spread of COVID-19 can help limit the impact of all variants of the virus. Reopening June 2, with 130,000 vaccinations/day will result in approximately 500 new cases/day by end of July. Reopening June 16 with 130,000 vaccinations/day will result in approximately 200 cases/day by end of July.
      • Schools opening in June could result in a 6-11% increase in new daily cases.
      • The access to care deficit continues but high-priority surgeries are being performed at higher rates.
      • Maintaining progress on vaccinations and maintaining some public health measures until mid-June can help ensure a good summer:
        1. School re-opening will create an increase in cases, but this may be manageable.
        2. Outdoor activities are much safer than indoor activities and should be encouraged.
      • Select examples of safer outdoor activities:
        1.  Camping-
          1. Local camping with your own household is safer
          2. Camping elsewhere with your own household is not safer
          3. Camping with people outside your household is not safer
        2. Basketball-  with masks is safer
        3.  Tennis
          1. Single tennis is safer
          2. Doubles tennis with masks is safer
        4. Singing and playing music – Singing outside where there is social distancing is safer
        5. Note: Indoor facilities associated with outdoor recreation (e.g., change rooms and clubhouses) present a greater risk and should remain closed at this time

Tuesday, May 18, 2021:

  • Summary of National Advisory Committee on Immunization statement of May 18, 2021 – Recommendation
    • The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has issued new advice to the federal, provincial, and territorial governments on the recommended use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. NACI previously issued advice on the use of this vaccine in adolescents 16 to 18 years of age when it was authorized for this age group in December 2020.
    • On May 5, 2021, Health Canada authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age, following the results of a Phase 3 clinical trial in this population.
    • NACI recommends that a complete series with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine should be offered to individuals 12 to 18 years of age who can receive the vaccine.
    • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for adolescents.
    • Clinical trial evidence showed 100% efficacy in adolescents 12 to 15 years of age against confirmed COVID-19 illness.
    • Safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in adolescents will continue to be monitored in clinical trial participants and those receiving the vaccine through public health programs. NACI will closely monitor evolving evidence and update its recommendations if needed.

Friday, May 14, 2021:

  • Statement from the Small Urban GTHA Mayors: Small Urban GTHA Mayors Meet with Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on May 14, 2021Speech
      • On a national level, we’re seeing hopeful signs that we’ve passed the peak of the 3rd wave. The latest 7-day moving average of daily case counts is more than 20% lower than the peak in April, dropping to less than 7,000 cases daily for the first time since early April.
      • We are also beginning to see reductions in the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness, with less than 4,000 people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day, including less than 1,400 in intensive care, and an average of 48 deaths being reported daily. This is important progress, but the numbers are still too high. We must drive infection rates down much lower, while getting our vaccination rates as high as possible.
      • To date, over 17 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across Canada.
      • As our modelling shows, by maintaining control measures until at least 75% of eligible adults have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and at least 20% of these have had their second dose, we would drive infection rates low enough and raise vaccine protection high enough to allow for lifting of restrictions without overwhelming heath systems.
      • We need to aim for at least 75% of everyone who is eligible for vaccination getting fully vaccinated – and we can’t go half way, so it is very important to get that second dose. The good news is that our first target is within sight. Four weeks ago, less than 25% of adults had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and now we’re at just over 50%. This month with significant increases in vaccine supply, ramping up of vaccination programs, and Canadians coming forward as well as encouraging others, we’re making great strides and can look forward to enjoying an outdoor summer that gets us back into many of the activities we’ve been missing.
      • In very general terms, this means we’ll be able to get back to small outdoor gatherings with family and friends. Camping, outdoors sports, and small reunions at picnics, parks and patios will begin to bring us together in-person again. We will still have to follow local public health advice and keep up with individual measures like physical distancing and wearing a mask as recommended.

Thursday, May 13, 2021:

  • Mayor’s Satement: Statement from Burlington Mayor Meed Ward on Extending Closures of Outdoor Activities with Stay-at-Home Order to June 2
  • Joseph Brant Hospital News Release: A Message to the Community from Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall — May 13, 2021
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • With the new, more contagious variants continuing to pose significant risks, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended the Stay-at-Home Order (O. Reg. 265/21) until at least June 2, 2021. All public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will also remain in effect. During this time, the government will prepare to administer the Pfizer vaccine to youth between the ages of 12 and 17, beginning the week May 31, 2021, as the province also finalizes plans to gradually and safely re-open the province. – News Release
      • Thanks to the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures, the province continues to make considerable progress in the fight to control the third wave of COVID-19. This past week (May 2 to 8), the provincial cases rate decreased by 14.8 per cent, with the positivity rate also decreasing to 7.7 per cent compared to 8.6 per cent the previous week. From May 5 to 12, the number of patients with COVID-related critical illness in intensive care has decreased from 877 to 776.
      • Despite improvements, key indicators remain high and more time is required before the province can safely lift the Stay-at-Home Order. From May 3 to 9, the provincial cases rate remained very high at 134.9 cases per 100,000 people, and per cent positivity was above the high alert threshold of 2.5 per cent. Hospitalization and ICU admissions also remain too high and well above the peak of wave two.
      • Based on this data, the government has extended the provincewide Stay-at-Home Order that is set to expire on May 19 until at least June 2, 2021. The impacts of these measures will continue to be evaluated over the coming weeks, with consideration being made to the reopening of outdoor recreational amenities on June 2, subject to current trends continuing.
      • In addition, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data is to be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.
      • Beginning the week of May 31, youth in Ontario between 12 and 17 years of age and their family members who have not received a vaccine will be eligible to book an appointment to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, including at special dedicated youth and family clinics throughout the weeks of June 14 and 21.
      • The province will work with public health units to offer both doses of vaccine to youth aged 12 to 17 by the end of August, in collaboration with school boards and other partners. The rollout will be informed by the work of the Children’s COVID-19 Vaccine Table and will provide access to multiple channels to support vaccinating this group, including mass vaccination clinics, community or school pop-ups, and pharmacies.
    • Question Period:
      • Why haven’t you reopened sports fields? What will reopen on June 2? The Premier, said “there’s nothing wrong with golf, but people go back and have a few pops – that’s the problem.” He said that ICUs are still at risk, “we can’t risk it. Just hang in there for a couple more weeks.” Dr. Williams said the numbers have been coming down steadily, “but we still have a way to go.” The vaccine program is going well and the per cent positivity is going down.
      • Will you be ramping up enforcement for the May long weekend? The Premier did not answer this question, instead he spoke about our “porous borders” and “the different sets of rules for people who fly on private jets.” “We need to close the loopholes at the land borders.” He also spoke about the four letters he has written to the Prime Minister and the lack of response “just crickets.” “I don’t believe a one dose summer is good enough. If we get the supply we will have a 2 dose summer.”
      • Any chance schools will reopen in June? The Premier said some doctors are saying yes, but teachers’ unions are threatening an injunction. Dr. Williams has been in discussions with public health units throughout the province as well as the Ministry of Education.
      • Why haven’t you been speaking directly to the people of Ontario? Premier, “no Premier across the country has done as many briefings as I have.” He spoke about his capable Ministers and the fact that everyone has been working hard.
      • What levels do we have to reach on June 2, before the stay at home order can be lifted? Premier said they want to vaccinate as many people as possible. “We can’t open up too quickly. I want people to have as normal a July and August as possible.” Dr. Williams said that we are in a different reality now with the variants of concern and having people vaccinated – two things that we didn’t see during the second wave. He said the various tables are meeting now. “We need to see the numbers go down. We didn’t get of the 2nd wave before we started the 3rd wave. We want to reopen and stay open.” He spoke about moving slowly.
      • The recommendation to cabinet was to extend the stay at home order for 4 weeks, why did you go with 2 weeks? The Premier did not answer this question. He again spoke about the porous border. “If the Feder government secures our borders, I would be more confident. I want them to do their job. We are doing ours.”
      • What is the target number of cases for reopening? Dr. Williams said that with the variants of concern the numbers must be below 1,000. “I am looking at a number well below 1,000 for several days. We also want to see what the impact of vaccinations is.”
      • The reason you are talking about the borders is to deflect away from how you handled things. What do you say to this criticism? Premier, “Justin Trudeau is responsible for only 2 things (during the pandemic) – making sure we have enough vaccines and we see how he did there, and protecting the borders. He knows there’s a problem and he is not doing anything. 90% of people with COVID got it from travel. What gives? Protect the people of Ontario. Protect Canadians.”

Wednesday, May 12, 2021:

  • Ontario Continues to Expand Access to Rapid Testing for Workplaces – News Release
    • To ramp up its fight against COVID-19 in workplaces, and in addition to the recently-announced partnership between the province and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Ontario government has launched a new rapid testing portal to make it easier for all essential businesses to access free rapid testing to help keep employees and their families safe.
    • Through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program, Ontario has already delivered more than nine million rapid testing kits to nearly 1,600 workplaces. Test shipments to essential businesses have more than tripled since the beginning of April.
    • Businesses are encouraged to participate in the program by registering at ontario.ca/testingonsite. It provides free rapid antigen screening kits to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 that might otherwise be missed. It is one more way that businesses can help workers and their families stay safe and keep the virus out of workplaces. Program eligibility was recently expanded to include any business that is allowed to be open and requires staff to work on-site.
    • The recent launch of a rapid testing initiative run jointly by the Ontario government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has already proved to be successful. In just two weeks, Ontario has received orders for more than 850,000 rapid tests and is quickly delivering them to small- and medium-sized businesses in more than 40 communities across the province.
    • As the results of positive PCR tests are already reported to local public health units (PHUs) through the provincial lab network, the Ministry of Health is updating program requirements so organizations providing rapid antigen screening will no longer have to report preliminary positive results to PHUs, nor will they be required to report results of confirmatory lab-based PCR tests to the province. These changes will help encourage greater use of rapid testing by reducing the administrative burden and implementation barriers for all organizations and workplaces, while still maintaining strong public health and safety measures.
    • Organizations participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program can now search for a service provider offering point-of-care rapid testing services through a directory on the Ontario Together website. Service providers offering point-of-care COVID-19 testing services can also apply to be listed.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021:

Monday, May 10, 2021:

Friday, May 7, 2021:

  • Region of Halton News Release: Halton’s Medical Officer of Health Issues Instructions to Help Businesses Respond to COVID-19 Workplace Outbreaks
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Prime Minister announces additional support for equitable access to new COVID-19 medical solutionsNews Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced additional funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. This $375 million contribution will help develop, produce, and distribute diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines to low-and-middle-income countries.
      • Today’s announcement builds on the work that Canada has been doing to support vulnerable countries through this crisis, including by providing access to vaccines, tests, and treatments. Since the start of this crisis, we have committed more than $2.5 billion to support the global COVID-19 response.
      • We cannot beat the COVID-19 virus here at home unless we beat it everywhere around the world. Canada will continue to work with our partners through the G7, the G20, and other international organizations to beat the pandemic, support vulnerable countries, and build a stronger and more resilient world. Only together can will we tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow.
    • Government of Canada increases access to COVID-19 rapid testing for workers News Release
      • Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, are encouraging businesses and organizations to apply for free rapid tests for workplace screening projects. Workplace screening is another layer of protection for workers, the people they serve and their communities from COVID-19. Across the country, these rapid tests have already helped to identify and stop the transmission of over 11,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
      • This initiative builds on previous successful rapid testing projects supported by the Government of Canada, including through the Creative Destruction Lab Rapid Screening Consortium. Through these projects, we have directly provided more than 1 million rapid tests to screen more than 100,000 close-contact employees across Canada in 58 organizations including Air Canada, Canadian Blood Services, McCain Foods Canada, Sobeys and Teck Resources.
      • Rapid tests will be available to employers through:
        1. Shoppers Drug Mart locations in COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
        2. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce will enable local chambers to distribute rapid tests to smaller organizations, based on the successful StaySafe Rapid Testing Program in Waterloo Region;
        3. Non-profit, charitable and Indigenous community organizations can pre-register now to access rapid tests through the Canadian Red Cross;
        4. Since April, larger organizations with close-contact employees have been able to request rapid tests directly through a new federal portal; and
        5. More federal workplaces where workers are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 can launch workplace screening programs using rapid tests.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Expands COVID-19 Rapid Testing Across Province – News Release
      • The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has launched the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative for small and medium-sized businesses across the province.
      • The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative will provide free rapid antigen tests for employees of small and medium-sized businesses through participating local chambers of commerce and other organizations. The program will screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to keep workers and their families safe and businesses open.
      • This initiative has quickly garnered significant interest with chambers of commerce across the province. More than 760,000 rapid test kits have already shipped to 28 chambers and more than 50 others have expressed interest in participating.
      • Ontario has already begun delivering rapid testing kits through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program to workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, the supply chain, mining, construction and food processing. As of April 30, about 7.6 million rapid antigen tests had been sent through the program to nearly 1,500 workplaces. This includes nearly 200 essential industry sites, most of them in hot spot areas.
      • The COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative builds upon the success of this existing program and delivers tests into the hands of small and medium-sized businesses across the province.
      • Making COVID-19 rapid tests accessible to all small and medium-sized businesses is part of a greater strategy to decrease the impact of COVID-19 on the people of Ontario and the economy. This includes stay-at-home measures, paid sick days, education campaigns on how to stay safe, significant testing and tracing capacity, and a robust vaccination distribution plan to make sure that every Ontarian who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated.
      • To contact participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade about the COVID-19 Rapid Screening Initiative, visit the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
    • Ontario Supports Families, Businesses and Workers during COVID-19News Release
      • Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued the following statement in response to today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada:
      • “Employment in Ontario decreased by 152,700 in April. Driven by new, more contagious variants, the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create unprecedented challenges for individuals, families and businesses across the province. These job numbers serve as a stark reminder that as we continue to do everything possible to support Ontarians, there is much work ahead of us.
      • As of May 6, more than 5.8 million vaccine doses have been administered across the province, and the percentage of people in Ontario who have received first doses is rising dramatically as vaccine supply increases. The 2021 Budget provides more than $1 billion to support the administration, distribution and rollout of Ontario’s COVID‑19 vaccination campaign.
      • In addition to investments totalling $16.3 billion to protect people’s health, the Ontario government is providing $23.3 billion to protect the economy through this pandemic and beyond. We must continue working together and building a solid foundation to help Ontario emerge from this pandemic and position our economy for job creation and long‑term prosperity. This includes unprecedented support for families, workers and Ontario’s small businesses. Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan support now totals $51 billion.

Thursday, May 6, 2021:

Monday, May 3, 2021:

Friday, April 30, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • The Premier held a briefing today. He did not make any announcements.
      • He said that he welcomes the report from the Commission on long term care. “I will not stand here and make excuses and try to pass the blame.” The Premier is committed to doing everything in his power to deliver better homes and better care.
      • By the end of today 40% of Ontario adults will have received their first dose of vaccine.
      • “Not enough is being done to keep variants out of Canada – they didn’t swim here. They got in because of weak borders.” If he had the power the Premier would shut down Pearson.
      • He also spoke about the need to “close the massive loop holes at our land crossings.”
    • Question Period:
      • The Ontario Science Table said three days of sick leave isn’t enough. Why do you think your plan will have and impact? The Premier, “we closed the gap with the three days. We also have on the table increasing the federal program.” He reviewed the Provincial program, three days at up to $200/day and offering an additional $500 /week for four weeks. “This should hopefully get people over the hump.”
      • The Science Table doesn’t agree with choices the government has made. It seems like you are not listening to them when it comes to addressing workplace outbreaks. Premier, “I appreciate everything the Science Table is doing. I also listen to what hospital CAOs are saying and my Chief Medical Officer of Health.” Regarding workplaces the Premier said that the variants are coming into them from “our porous borders.” “You can’t have two sets of rules. One for airport entry and another for land borders.”
      • You promised the best sick day program in North America. Wasn’t that an over blown promise? The Premier said Quebec did not have a better plan. The federal program is currently only offering people minimum wage. He said the Provincial plan offers people $4600/month. “No one else across the country is offering this much.”

Thursday, April 29, 2021:

  • Mayor’s Statement: Statement from Burlington Mayor on Supporting Youth Calling for the Safe Restart of Sports
  • Joseph Brant Hospital Statement: A Message to the Community from Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall — April 29, 2021
  • PROVINCIAL NEWS
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections from the Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Table – Presentation
      • The efforts of Ontarians are making a difference – cases are cresting at very high level. Pockets of growth remain in hotspots.
      • Variants, which transmit faster, are responsible for 90% of cases.
      • ICU occupancy is at record highs and continues to climb –our system is under incredible pressure.
      • Ontarians are respecting the stay-at-home order
      • Workplace mobility remains too high. Limiting essential workplaces and keeping sick workers at home, will help control cases.
      • Cases are decreasing earlier and faster than projected but will only reach February levels under the best case.
      • Best case assumptions of cases include: effective sick pay, short list of essential workplaces, lower mobility, continued focus on vaccinating high risk communities.
      • Clearing the surgical backlog will be an enormous challenge.
      • Vaccination distribution is more equitable because it is focussing on hotspots. Continuing this progress is essential.
      • Vaccination by neighbourhood risk is improving and remains key to controlling case growth.
      • Ontarians can make outdoor activities safer with distancing and masking when close to those outside their household. Indoor activities pose a significant risk.
    • AMO Update: Province Introduces Paid COVID-19 Leave
      • The Province introduced legislation today to create a temporary COVID-19 focused provincial sick day program. This legislation, if passed, will require employers to provide workers with up to three days of pay, up to $200 per day, if missing work because of COVID-19. This will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021, the same date the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) program will expire.
      • The WSIB will administer the program but it will be funded by the Province, not by the WSIB who relies on employers to fund their programs. At the time of writing the draft legislation was not available on the Legislative Assembly website, but when it is posted it should be found here.
      • The Province has said that these temporary sick days, when passed into law, are not be stacked on top of employer provided benefits if those benefits already provide for 3 or more sick days as part of the employment entitlements. As the employer is to manage the provision of these temporary COVID-19 focused provincial sick days, it is presumed that the employer will make sure this does not occur.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Ontario to Introduce Paid COVID-19 Leave – News Release
      • While the Ontario government continues to work with the federal government to further support vulnerable workers by doubling payments made through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, will offer up to three days of paid COVID-19 leave per employee.
      • On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, will introduce legislation that would, if passed, require employers to provide employees with ups to $200 of pay for up to three days if they are missing work because of COVID-19. This program will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021, the date the CRSB will expire.
      • By providing time-limited access to three paid leave days, the province is ensuring employees can pay their bills as they help to stop the spread of the virus, including by getting tested, waiting for their results in isolation or going to get their vaccine. The province will partner with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to deliver the program and reimburse employers up to $200 per day for each employee.
      • The province has also offered to provide funding to the federal government to double CRSB payments to Ontario residents, adding an additional $500 per week to eligible individuals for a total of $1,000 per week. Combined with the province’s proposed three days of paid COVID-19 leave, doubling the CRSB would provide Ontario workers with access to the most generous paid leave in the country.
      • If an eligible worker learns that they must isolate for longer than the 50 per cent of the time they would have otherwise worked for the week, whether because of a positive COVID-19 test or risk of exposure, they may apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit if they haven’t take a paid leave day under this proposal.
      • This latest measure builds on the other existing provincial supports like job protected leave and access to isolation facilities, making Ontario’s approach the most comprehensive COVID-19 sick leave in the country.
      • Employers and their workers can call a dedicated COVID-19 Sick Days Information Centre hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about the proposed Ontario COVID-19 paid leave days.
    • Lack of Pandemic Preparedness and Poor Infection Control Practices in Long-Term Care Contributed to COVID-19 Impacts: Auditor GeneralNews Release, Report
      • No requirement to prepare for a pandemic, coupled with long-standing, unaddressed weakness-es in infection control and prevention in Ontario’s long-term-care homes contributed to the tragic impacts of COVID-19 on long-term care residents, concluded Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk in her special report on COVID-19 Readiness and Response in Long-Term Care
      • The audit found that long-term-care homes were ill-prepared to prevent or minimize COVID-19 outbreaks due to chronic staffing shortages and inconsistent practices in infection prevention and control prior to COV-ID-19. As well, many residents were in rooms with three or four occupants, in homes which had not yet been required to redevelop to the one- to two-occupant standards set by the province in 1999. The audit found that homes with more than two residents sharing rooms tended to experience more severe outbreaks.
      • The audit, which has 16 recommendations, also notes that the long-term-care sector is largely disconnected from other institutions in the health-care sector. The report notes that many homes were not able to draw on the staffing and infection prevention and control expertise of hospitals and public health units when they needed it most
    • Ontario responds to Auditor General’s Report on Long-Term Care – Statement
      • Today, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement in response to the release of the Auditor General’s Report on Long-Term Care:
      • “What happened in long-term care homes during this pandemic was decades in the making and a tragic result of years of neglect and underfunding of this sector.
      • From the earliest stages through to the latest wave of COVID-19, our government has taken extensive, ongoing measures to protect the health, safety and well-being of long-term care residents, staff and their families.
      • The Auditor General’s recommendations will inform the work that is already underway to modernize and improve Ontario’s long-term care sector.
      • The previous government took nearly ten years to build just 611 new beds across the province.
      • We are investing $2.6 billion, to make good on our commitment to repair and rebuild capacity in long-term care. We have 20,161 new and 15,918 upgraded spaces in development – more than 60 per cent of our goal of creating 30,000 new spaces in a decade.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2021:

  • Joint Statement by Halton’s Mayors & Regional Chair: Halton’s Mayors and Regional Chair Urge Immediate Sick Leave Program
  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Government of Canada assists Ontario with COVID-19 responseNews Release
      • Today, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, the Honourable Bill Blair; the Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan; the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu; and President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc confirmed that the Government of Canada will be providing more help to Ontario in response to the province’s request for assistance to support the ongoing fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • In response to this request, the federal government is prepared to deploy federal health human resources, provide support from the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and fund the redeployment of the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) to augment or relieve staff within medical care facilities. In addition, the CAF will be providing airlift of medical personnel from Newfoundland and Labrador and possibly other jurisdictions.
      • The CAF is preparing to deploy up to three multi-purpose medical assistance teams (MMATs), which are scalable healthcare provider teams primarily composed of Nursing Officers and Medical Technicians as well as additional CAF members for general duty support as applicable. The MMATs will be rotated in and out of the province rather than deployed simultaneously to ensure that CAF support is sustainable. Work is currently underway to complete on the ground assessments, which will determine the exact number of CAF personnel who will be dedicated to this request.
      • Tomorrow morning, Royal Canadian Air Force personnel will be flying medical personnel from Newfoundland and Labrador to Toronto to help in Ontario medical facilities.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Introduces Legislation to Strengthen Health Workforce Accountability and Enhance Data-Driven COVID-19 Response – News Release, Backgrounder
      • Today, the Ontario government introduced legislation that, if passed, will help strengthen Ontario’s health care workforce and support the delivery of high-quality care by regulating personal support workers, physician assistants and behaviour analysts. This legislation would also enhance the province’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting the timely reporting of COVID-19 vaccine data to the Ministry of Health. The proposed legislation is part of the government’s commitment to build a more connected, patient-centred health care system.
      • The Advancing Oversight and Planning in Ontario’s Health System Act, 2021, would, if passed, further recognize the important role of select health and supportive care staff in delivering high-quality care to patients across the province. Specifically, the legislation would:
        1. Establish a new legislative framework to support greater uniformity of education and training standards for personal support workers and would build on their capacity to provide care services to the most vulnerable Ontarians, including children, older adults and people with disabilities;
        2. Regulate physician assistants as new members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, to improve their integration within Ontario’s health care system and facilitate quality of care and patient safety;
        3. Regulate behaviour analysts as a new profession under the College of Psychologists of Ontario, to sustain the quality and safety of care provided to Ontarians;
        4. Support timely reporting to the ministry of all relevant data from COVID-19 vaccination sites, including voluntary socio-demographic information.
      • A new oversight body, called the Health and Supportive Care Providers Oversight Authority would be established for the registration of PSWs and would have defined roles, responsibilities and accountabilities. Further details will be set out in regulation following extensive consultation with the sector.

Monday, April 26, 2021:

Friday, April 23, 2021:

  • MPs adopt motion calling for flights from COVID-19 hot spots to stop – Article
    • MPs unanimously agreed Canada should suspend international flights from countries where COIVD-19 outbreaks are raging just a few hours before the federal government is expected to announce new restrictions on incoming travel.
    • The House of Commons adopted a motion from the Bloc Quebecois this afternoon calling for flights carrying non-essential travellers from certain countries, such as India and Brazil, to be barred.
    • Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said at a briefing this afternoon that ministers were looking at data about incoming flights, testing and variants of concern, including metrics that show an increase in cases coming in on flights from India.
  • Ontario Confirms First Case of Rare AstraZeneca-linked Blood Clotting- Statement
    • Today, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement on the province’s first confirmed case of vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine:
      • “We have confirmed the first case of the rare blood clotting condition known as vaccine-induced immune thrombotic thrombocytopenia (VITT) in Ontario. The patient is a male in his 60s who had received his first dose of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine. The patient has received treatment and is recovering at home. Additional details will not be publicly released to protect the patient’s privacy.
      • This case marks the fourth case of VITT out of more than 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine that have been administered in Canada to date. We will continue to actively monitor the evolving situation and safety of all COVID-19 vaccines with our partners across the country.”
  • Government of Canada secures vaccine supply beyond 2021 – News Release
    • Today, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement, announced that Canada has secured COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer for 2022 and 2023, with options to extend into 2024.
    • The agreement guarantees access to 65 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with access to up to 120 million more if all options are exercised. In addition to providing booster vaccine doses, the agreement provides flexibility to procure future COVID-19 vaccine formulations from Pfizer, such as those to protect against variants of concern and vaccines developed for children.
    • Importantly, these doses are in addition to the 48 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine arriving before the end of September 2021 as part of Canada’s existing agreement.
  • Statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) on the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 VaccineStatement
    • Based on international evidence on VITT, as well the risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 in Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has updated its recommendations on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. The recommendations have been updated based on an assessment of the risk of VITT, COVID-19 exposure risk and the benefits of the vaccine in preventing serious COVID-19 disease for various age groups. NACI has lowered the age threshold for the AstraZeneca vaccine and has provided jurisdictions with considerations that will help us determine how to achieve the greatest benefits from the use of this vaccine. There are no clear risk factors for VITT; it occurs across a range of ages. However, age is a key factor in the risk of serious complications of COVID-19.
    • A complete series with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine may be offered to individuals 30 years of age and older without contraindications  only if the individual does not wish to wait for an mRNA vaccine AND all of the following conditions apply:
      1. The benefit-risk  analysis* determines  that  the  benefit  of  earlier  vaccination  with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine outweighs the risk of COVID-19 while waiting for an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine; AND
      2. The benefits and relative risk* and consequences of VITT and COVID-19 for the individual are clearly outlined, factoring in the anticipated waiting time to receive an mRNA vaccine as well as the availability of other effective personal public health measures to mitigate risk  of  COVID-19,  and  the  individual  makes  an  informed  decision  based  on  an understanding about these risks and benefits; AND
      3. There will be substantial delay to receive an mRNA vaccine.

Thursday, April 22, 2021:

  • Joint Statement from Halton’s Mayors & Regional Chair on Measures to Combat COVID-19
  • Joseph Brant Hospital Statement: A Message to the Community from Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall — April 22, 2021
  • City of Burlington News Release: Burlington Mundialization Committee Coordinates Virtual Celebration of Spring, Including Live Stream of Japanese Cherry Blossoms in Spencer Smith Park
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • The Premier acknowledged that they moved quickly to put measures in place to reduce mobility. “We moved too fast, we made a mistake. We left a lot of people angry and upset. I am sorry and I sincerely apologize.”
      • Regarding his ability to isolate – “it’s not lost on me that unlike many people, I am able to isolate and continue to work.”
      • People’s jobs should be safe if they have isolate and they should also not have to worry about paying rent or putting food on their tables.
      • He said Monday’s Federal Budget did not do enough to address sick leave.
      • “Many people are still unhappy. Let me clear we can’t waiver when it comes to protecting lives.”
      • He said that there were no easy choices left.
      • During the briefing the Premier became quite emotional and was fighting back tears at one point.
    • Question Period:
      • The new sick leave benefits you will be introducing will they only be in place during COVID? Premier said their program would be to bridge the gap 2 to 3 day gap in the Federal program, but did not specific if it would permanent.
      • Will you be revisiting who is eligible to get vaccinated? The Premier did not address that question specifically but instead spoke about the current focus being on getting vaccines to 13 identified PHU hot spots in the Province.
      • You have said the buck stops with you. People are calling for your resignation. What do you say to them? The Premier said his “team is strong and united. I have the best caucus. We will continue to lead and get through the pandemic. I’m not one to walk away from anything.”
      • You have said you do not want to mislead the public. Why should we trust you to lead us through the third wave, when you’re the reason for the third wave. The Premier said “Haworth and DelDuca have the right to say what they want. I have been at this 24/7. To say that I am responsible for the third wave…” He went on to say that he wasn’t responsible for the borders staying open or for the vaccine supply issues.
      • What exactly are you sorry for and what are you going to do about it? “Once we saw the modelling and the cell data, when had to address mobility. I’m sorry we acted too quick on the measures. All I hear is limit mobility. When it comes to playgrounds people said to limit mobility. We have never closed parks. We moved too quickly to have people pulled over – if you want to call it carding.”
      • Scientific advisors wouldn’t agree that you moved too quickly. You did the opposite of what advisors called for, how can you say you moved too quickly? He said, the modelling showed numbers going up to 15,000 cases per day. “We have the strictest measures in the country. This is all about mobility. We didn’t say people couldn’t go ride their bikes or get some exercise.” He spoke about consulting with several doctors and getting different views, “I talk to 10 doctors and get 11 different answers.”
      • When will we see details of the sick leave program? Premier said they are working on it. “It will be the best plan. No other province in the country will have this kind of program.”
      • Why did it take so long to introduce this program? The Premier referred to the $700 million of Federal money “that is sitting there.” “There were no changes announced in the Federal budget. We will have the best program.”
      • This is the first time I have seen you so emotional in a long time, why? The previous government introduced paid sick leave, you didn’t move ahead. Do you regret this decision? The Premier apologized for getting emotional. He spoke about the huge responsibility. “Does it hit you sometimes – yeah it does.” He said he doesn’t believe in putting the burden of paid sick days on the back of businesses.
      • You said your government is not responsible for the third wave. The Science Table provided guidance and you clearly ignored what the experts said. Premier, “from the get go we have taken the advice of Dr. Williams and others. We have taken extreme measures – the strongest in all of North America. I know people are frustrated.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021:

  • Under pressure, Ontario government scrambles to launch a provincial sick leave program – Article
    • Premier Doug Ford hopes to shake a political headache with a provincial paid sick leave plan that would bolster federal efforts to prevent people from going to work ill and spreading COVID-19.
    • While Ford has long insisted he didn’t want to duplicate Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan — criticized as stingy and clumsy — Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said Ottawa’s failure to improve it for workers has created an opening.
    • The move comes after months of pressure from public health experts who say paid sick leave will contain the workplace spread of the virus that has killed 7,757 Ontarians in the past 13 months.
    • “We saw what wasn’t in that (Monday federal) budget and we’ll have their backs,” McNaughton told reporters Tuesday.“Clearly there are gaps in the system.”
    • It is expected the provincial scheme could be unveiled as soon as Wednesday by Ford.
    • Local public health officers, mayors, opposition parties and the government’s science table of advisers have long urged paid sick days for workers whose employers don’t provide them.
    • On Tuesday, both Peel and Toronto public health ordered employers with more than five recent COVID-19 cases to temporarily close as a way of stemming the spread.
    • Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy conceded something needed to be done by Queen’s Park.
    • “Workers need to know they have immediate access to this program. The government will continue to plan for Ontarians and the sickness benefit they deserve,” said Bethlenfalvy.
  • Fighting COVID-19 in Ontario: The Way Forward from the Science Table COVID-19 Advisory for Ontario
    • If we want to bring cases under control, protect our health system and reopen as quickly as possible, this is the way forward.
    • What Will Work:
      • Essential workplaces, only: Some indoor workplaces have to remain open, but the list of what stays open must be as short as possible. This means permitting only truly essential indoor workplaces to stay open and strictly enforcing COVID-19 safety measures in those places. Essential workers must wear masks at all times while working indoors, or when close to others outdoors, and must be supported in doing so.
      • Paying essential workers to stay home when they are sick, exposed or need time to get vaccinated
      • Accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and those who live in hot spots: This means immediately allocating as many doses as possible to hotspot neighbourhoods, vulnerable populations, and essential workers. It also means accelerating the distribution and administration of vaccines overall, making it easier for at-risk groups to get vaccinated, and promoting the vaccine with more intensive and effective on-the-ground community outreach.
      • Limiting mobility: This means restricting movement between regions of the province and restricting movement into the province. COVID-19 is not a single pandemic, because different regions of Ontario and Canada face distinct problems. Moving around the province risks creating new hotspots, especially because the variants of concern are so transmissible. Simply put, Ontarians need to stay in their local communities.
      • Focusing on public health guidance that works: This means Ontarians can’t gather indoors with people from outside their household (with the very limited exception of safe indoor work in essential workplaces). It means Ontarians can spend time with each other outdoors, distancing two metres, wearing masks, keeping hands clean.
      • Keeping people safely connected: Maintaining social connections and outdoor activity are important to our overall physical and mental health. This means allowing small groups of people from different households to meet outside with masking and two-metre distancing. It means keeping playgrounds open, and clearly encouraging safe outdoor activities.
    • What Won’t Work:
      • Policies that harm or neglect racialized, marginalized and other vulnerable populations will not be effective against a disease that already affects these groups disproportionately. For these reasons, pandemic policies should be examined through an equity lens to ensure that all communities benefit.
      • As noted in repeated studies from around the world, inconsistent policies with no clear link to scientific evidence are ineffective in fighting COVID-19.
      • Policies that discourage safe outdoor activity will not control COVID-19 and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have access to their own greenspace, especially those living in crowded conditions.

Monday, April 19, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Additional support for Ontario to fight the COVID-19 outbreakNews Release
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced (the announcement was made yesterday) that the federal government is working to provide additional, emergency support to fight the COVID-19 outbreak in Ontario.
      • This includes:
        1. Sending federal health care staff and equipment to the front lines in Ontario to care for people across the province, particularly in areas that are most impacted.
        2. Boosting rapid testing to help stop the spread of the virus, and working with municipalities and businesses to deploy them to hot spots across Ontario, support contact tracing and isolation, and make workplaces safer.
        3. Investing $84.2 million to support voluntary safe isolation sites, including across Ontario. These sites have already helped 3,900 Ontarians isolate safely to prevent the spread of the virus.
        4. Signing a bilateral agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to enhance virtual health services in the province. This agreement comes with $46 million in funding to expand Ontario’s efforts on virtual health care during the pandemic.
        5. Providing an additional supply of tocilizumab and other needed drugs for Ontario through reallocation from other provinces and territories. Tocilizumab is used to treat severe pneumonia in COVID-19 patients.
      • These measures build on yesterday’s announcement that the federal government is providing a two-month extension on two Mobile Health Units (MHU), until June 30. These MHU were approved in January and are currently deployed in Toronto and Hamilton. The federal government also stands ready to deploy the Canadian Red Cross to help the province with its mobile vaccination teams, and the Canadian Armed Forces is working with partners to determine what additional support they can provide to Ontario.
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on April 19, 2021Statement
      • On this last stretch through the COVID-19 crisis, we can gain strength from good news and focusing on the things we’re grateful for. I have been heartened by the many ways Canadians are helping to support their community. One such example comes to us from the Canadian Caribbean Association of Halton, in Ontario. Members of this community have come together to develop the ‘Beat the COVID-19 Blues’ program, which focusses on supporting individuals who need to self-isolate with healthy and nutritious meals. And their support does not end there, they have also arranged a program of free online family entertainment, including concerts and virtual cooking classes, to support a sense of community.
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,121,498 cases of COVID-19, including 87,925 active cases and 23,623 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 8,669 new cases daily (Apr 9-15), a 26% increase compared to the previous seven days.
      • For the week of April 4 to 10, there were on average of 124,247 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 6.5% were positive for COVID-19, an increase from 5.1% the week prior.
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 3,428 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Apr 9-15) representing a 34% increase over last week. This includes, on average 1,049 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 22% higher than the previous week. Mortality trends are also increasing, with a 7-day average of 41 deaths reported daily, which is 38% higher than the week prior.
      • As of April 18, a total of 62,522 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, including 59,911 involving B.1.1.7 variants, 2,196 P.1 variants and 415 B.1.351 variants. Although B.1.1.7, continues to account for the majority of variants of concern in Canada and has likely replaced the original virus in some areas, there has been a concerning rise in P.1 cases in recent weeks. Early evidence suggests that the P.1 variant may reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, making it even more important to control its spread.

Saturday, April 17, 2021:

Friday, April 16, 2021:

  • City of Burlington News Release: Province Announces More COVID-19 Restrictions: Update on City services & Program Shutdowns to Flatten the 3rd Wave Curve
  • Region of Halton News Relaes: Halton Region Offering Emergency Child Care to Health Care and Frontline Workers During Remote Learning
  • Ontario’s Big City Mayors Caucus News Release: Ontario’s Big City Mayors Encourage Ontarians to get Vaccinated
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections – Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables Presentation
      • COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU occupancy are at their highest levels since March 2020 and variant cases continue to rise sharply.
      • Ontario testing rates are flat – the increase in cases is because there are more cases, not more tests being done. The number of variant cases continues to rise and variants  now dominate, but even the original strain is rising.
      • ICU occupancy is compromising care for all patients.
      • A 6 week stay-at-home order with a vaccination rate of at least 100K doses per day is the only way to flatten the curve. If this is done we could see 2,500 cases/day by mid-May. With the weakest restrictions in place cases will rise to 20,000/day by mid-May and over 30,000 per day in early June.
      • Under every scenario, more vaccines mean a faster resolution in the long-run
      • Ontarians can help themselves and others by limiting mobility to truly necessary trips and always wearing a mask and keeping 6 feet distant when in contact with anyone outside their household.
      • Although improving, vaccination is not reaching people at high-risk fast enough to overcome the level of serious illness in our communities and our hospitals.
      • Without stronger system-level measures and immediate support for essential workers and high-risk communities, high case rates will persist through the summer.
    • Question Period:
      • What strong public health measures are required? Dr. Brown, “there is no silver bullet.” He said it was a combination of: keeping the list of what’s open as small as possible; making sure workplaces that are open are safe through enforcement; more benefits for paid sick leave (“people should not have to chose between putting food on their table and staying home when they are sick”); limiting mobility around and into the Province; wearing a mask; staying distanced and staying at home.
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is strengthening enforcement of the province’s Stay-at-Home order while imposing new travel restrictions and further strengthening public health measures. These urgent actions are targeted at stopping the rapid growth in COVID-19 case rates and relieving mounting pressures on the province’s health care system. – News Release
      • To increase public compliance with the Stay-at-Home order and stope the spread of COVID-19, amendments to an emergency order (O. Reg 8/21 Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) have been made that will provide police officers and other provincial offences officers enhanced authority to support the enforcement of Ontario’s Stay-at-Home order.
      • Effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., police officers and other provincial offences officers will have the authority to require any individual to provide their home address and purpose for not being at their residence. In addition, police officers, special constables and First Nation Constables will have the authority to stop vehicles to inquire about an individual’s reasons for leaving their home. This additional enforcement tool will only be in effect during the Stay-at-Home order and exclusively to enforce the Stay-at-Home order.
      • Both the provincial declaration of emergency and the Stay-at-Home order (O.Reg 265/21) have been extended for an additional two weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
      • In order to limit the transmission of the variants of concern, the government is also restricting travel into Ontario from the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec with the exception of purposes such as work, health care services, transportation and delivery of goods and services or exercising Aboriginal or treaty rights.
      • The government also intends to implement the following public health and workplace safety measures effective Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:
        1. Prohibit all outdoor social gatherings and organized public events, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone or a caregiver for any member of the household;
        2. Close all non-essential workplaces in the construction sector;
        3. Reduce capacity limits to 25 per cent in all retail settings where in-store shopping is permitted. This includes supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies; and,
        4. Close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as golf courses, basketball courts, soccer fields, and playgrounds with limited exceptions.
      • In addition, effective Monday, April 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is limiting the capacity of weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 10 people indoors or outdoors. Prohibiting social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, except for with members of the same household or one other person from outside that household who lives alone. Drive-in services will be permitted.
      • All other public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake (i.e., curbside pick-up and delivery only), will continue to apply.
      • To further support “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods, as part of Phase Two of the government’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, the government is committed to dedicating 25 per cent of future vaccine allocations to the 13 public health regions with historic and ongoing high rates of death, hospitalization and COVID-19 transmission.
      • Emergency orders currently in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended until May 5, 2021, as the province continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. In addition, orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, with the exception of O.Reg. 241/20 (Special Rules Re Temporary Pandemic Pay), have been extended until May 20, 2021.

Thursday, April 15, 2021:

  • Joseph Brant Hospital News Release: A Message to the Community from Joseph Brant Hospital President & CEO Eric Vandewall
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Supporting Business Investment and Prosperity during COVID-19 – News Release
      • The Ontario government is proposing new red tape and burden reduction measures intended to minimize existing barriers on businesses and support a long-term recovery plan. Today, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, announced Ontario’s Spring Red Tape Reduction Package and introduced the Supporting Recovery and Competitiveness Act.
      • The proposed legislation is the latest in a series of actions that will help businesses and government deliver clear, modern and effective rules that promote public health, safeguard the environment and create jobs. If passed, the act will help more individuals, families and small businesses recover from the economic effects of COVID-19 and prepare them for future opportunities.
      • The proposed legislative changes in the act, along with other measures in the package, include:
        1. Helping consumers save money on electricity by making it easier for them to track their energy usage
        2. Helping to ensure Ontario remains a global leader in the connected and automated vehicle industry by supporting innovative pilot programs – like consulting on adding new vehicle types such as automated farm vehicles, and removing certain restrictions around modified automated vehicles
        3. Modernizing Ontario by bringing more processes and services online, including developing new applications that will allow online sticker renewal for heavy commercial vehicle licence plates in mid-2022
        4. Enhancing protections for workers by strengthening policies that keep them safe – like reviewing the working at heights training program to improve standards for training content and delivery
        5. Supporting the not-for-profit sector and other corporations by allowing them to continue to hold virtual meetings during the pandemic.
    • Ontario Supporting the Non-Profit Sector during COVID-19 – News Release
      • The Ontario government is providing more than $42 million to help 559 non-profit organizations across the province to support staff and volunteers, reimagine programing and renovate facilities as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • The Resilient Communities Fund provides grants of up to $150,000 to eligible non-profit organizations to cover a broad and flexible range of needs, such as:
        1. Mental and physical health and wellbeing supports for staff or volunteers
        2. Support to adapt or reimagine program delivery and services to meet the needs of communities, employees and volunteers, incorporate new health and safety processes, or purchase new technology and personal protective equipment
        3. Renovations and facility updates to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve.
      • The Ontario Trillium Foundation’s $83-million Resilient Communities Fund continues to help more eligible non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19. Application details will follow soon. For more information on the OTF’s Resilient Communities Fund, including a full list of grant recipients, please visit the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s website.
    • Ontario Announces Emergency Child Care for Critical Frontline WorkersNew Release, Backgrounder
      • The Ontario government is providing eligible health care and other frontline workers with free emergency child care for school-aged children, starting Monday, April 19, 2021. The announcement was made following the province’s decision to move elementary and secondary students across the province to remote learning following the April spring break.
      • During the remote learning period, emergency child care will be provided at no cost to school-aged children of eligible health care and other frontline workers. The service is intended for workers performing critical duties in the province’s continued fight against COVID-19 who cannot work remotely and who have elementary school-aged children.
      • The provision of safe, quality child care remains a priority for the Ontario government and the role that child care workers have played has been vital to supporting children and families and keeping child care safe throughout the pandemic. In order to protect child care workers and keep child care settings open and available for working families, child care workers, including Registered Early Childhood Educators (RECEs), are eligible to be vaccinated as part of Phase Two of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. This is in addition to the strong health and safety standards in place to protect workers and children across child care settings.
      • The move to remote learning was made in light of a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the concerning spike in hospital admissions. With appropriate measures in place, child care and schools have been kept safe throughout the pandemic, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health.
      • Eligible parents and guardians with a school-aged child or children looking to access an emergency child care program should contact their local service system manager for information on availability, program locations and registration.
      • The complete eligibility list can also be found at the following link (please refer to Schedule 5). This list will be updated by Friday, April 16, 2021.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy Targets High-Risk NeighbourhoodsNews Release
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Toronto announced how Ontario is rolling out vaccines to “hot spot” regions across the province as part of Phase Two of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Through this initiative, 114 highly impacted neighbourhoods, as identified by postal code, will be reached through mass immunization clinics, mobile teams and pop-up clinics.
      • Individuals aged 18 and over in designated hot spots, as identified by postal code, are eligible for vaccination through mobile teams and pop-up clinics in targeted settings. Starting in Peel and Toronto, the province will be providing additional resources to support more mobile vaccination teams, expanding to hot spots in other public health units in the future.
      • Mobile teams and pop-up clinics will administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, and faith-based locations in hot spot neighbourhoods. Upcoming mobile and pop-up clinics will be promoted locally within their target communities and local public health units, and will not use the provincial booking system.
      • Ontario is also working with public health units, business groups and large employers to explore employer-operated onsite vaccination clinics, with a focus on hot spot communities at greatest risk. These clinics will be set up, operated and funded by participating employers within hot spot areas and will vaccinate employees aged 18 and over as well as members of the local and neighbouring communities. This capacity will supplement publicly-run vaccination clinics.
      • Employer-operated onsite clinics must have the support of local public health units and hospitals as the program needs to be consistent with local plans.
      • Employers interested in hosting an onsite clinic must meet the following criteria:
        1. The workplace must be located within an identified hot-spot community and have had a previous COVID-19 outbreak or is at risk of an outbreak.
        2. The onsite clinic will vaccinate employees that cannot work at home, many of whom reside in hot-spot areas.
        3. The employer will also vaccinate those in the local community, either at the onsite clinic or an alternative location in consultation with the local public health unit.
        4. The employer will take on the responsibility of setting up, operating and funding the onsite vaccination clinic as well as the community clinics being sponsored if not onsite.
      • As of April 12, 2021, special education workers across the province and education workers in Peel and Toronto hot spots will be eligible to register for vaccination by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1‑833‑943‑3900, or directly through those public health units who are using their own system. These education workers will have been notified directly by their school board of their eligibility. Vaccinations will roll out in the near future to education workers in other hot spot communities in York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham.
      • Phase Two of Ontario’s vaccine rollout will also prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions in April 2021. If the province receives a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government, over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021.
    • Question Period:
      • When will people aged 18+ in other hot spots be vaccinated? Premier said it all depends on the supply from the Federal government, “I know they are working hard. It’s coming soon.” Solicitor General, “as soon as we have sufficient supply – if you can’t work from home we will make sure you are vaccinated.”
      • The roll out of the vaccination program lacks clarity. Premier, “for the folks that find it confusing – 2.8 million people didn’t find it confusing… folks it’s very simple.” He then shared the booking phone number. He went on to say as they move into hot spots with clinics like the one he was at today, groups will reach out to the community to assist with booking appointments.
      • People 18 – 49 can’t sign up for vaccination appointments. Was this misleading? Premier, “ I never mislead anyone. I am very clear. If you are in a hot zone and if you are 18 you can get vaccinated.”  ** People 18+ living in a targeted high-risk settings are eligible for a vaccine as part of a mobile or pop-up clinic in hot spot areas. Health units in hot spots have begun these mobile or pop-up clinics and the province will provide additional resources to support them in the hardest hit neighbourhoods, starting in Peel and Toronto. To book an appointment, “host” organizations (e.g. faith based organizations, community settings, employer-hosted workplace clinics) will promote mobile or pop-up clinics and schedule appointments. Eligible individuals can visit their local PHU website to get details on upcoming clinics in their community and how to book an appointment.

Monday, April 12, 2021:

  • Joseph Brant Hospital News Release: Joseph Brant Hospital Ramping Down Non-Urgent Surgical Care Starting April 12
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Moves Schools to Remote Learning Following Spring Break – News Release
      • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the difficult decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April break. This move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.
      • With appropriate measures in place, schools have been safe places for learning throughout the pandemic, as confirmed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health and have demonstrated low rates of in-school transmission. However, increasing rates of community spread pose a threat to the health and safety of school communities. As a result, all publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the April break on April 19, 2021. Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021. This action is being taken in support of the Government’s broader efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and health officials will be consulted to determine when it will be safe to resume in-person learning.
      • Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided. To protect the most vulnerable, boards will make provisions for continued in-person support for students with special education needs who require additional support that cannot be accommodated through remote learning.
      • With students moving to remote learning, vaccine prioritization of education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting with Peel and Toronto, will continue. Starting today, special education workers across the province and education workers in Peel and Toronto hot spots will be eligible to register for vaccination by calling the provincial vaccine booking line at 1‑833‑943‑3900. More information is available at Ontario.ca/covidvaccine.
    • Question Period from Briefing:
      • What changed between yesterday, when Minister Lecce issued a statement saying schools would remain open and today? Premier, “the pandemic and the variants move quickly. When received information late in the afternoon and acted immediately.” Dr. Williams said that they were previously using the 7 day rolling average, but with the variants moving more quickly “we must be more nimble.” He also said they are not expecting numbers to improve.
      • Can you explain what you meant when you said Ontario is doing pretty well? Premier, “you know exactly what I meant. Vaccinations are going extremely well.” The Premier said he is very concerned with the situation.
      • Will teachers outside of the hotspots of Toronto and Peel be vaccinated? Minister Lecce said the Province made a commitment to get every front line worker vaccinated. As more vaccine supply is received teachers in regions like Halton, Hamilton, York and Durham will receive “accelerated access to the vaccine.”
      • There was no return to school date mentioned, when will you let parents know? Minister Lecce, “we want kids to be in school.” He said that as soon as they receive the go ahead from Dr. Williams and others they will communicate this to parents, with ample notice.
      • Why did you write a letter and then less than 24 hours later announce something that is completely the opposite? Minister Lecce said what he communicated yesterday was a plan. “Today we acted quickly and made a decision.”
      • A few weeks ago you increased capacity to indoor dining. What happened? What went wrong? The Premier said he doesn’t look at it that way. “I don’t make decisions myself.” He said the decisions made to ease restrictions were ones that were supported and called for by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local Medical Officers of Health and mayors Tory, Crombie, Brown and all the mayors in York Regions. “We have never hesitated to move quickly. (Even with easing of restrictions) The vast majority of the GTA was in lockdown. We are getting more people vaccinated than anywhere else in the entire country.”
      • Is the surge in cases from the Easter weekend? Dr. Williams said the impact from the Easter weekend will be seen this week. Normally the impact on ICUs is delayed, however this is not the case with the variants of concern. As case numbers rise, ICU admissions are also rising.

Friday, April 9, 2021:

Thursday, April 8, 2021:

Wednesday, April 7, 2021:

  • Mayor’s Statement: Provinces Announces Stay at Home Order Effective Tomorrow
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today 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 the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a third provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA). These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province’s hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants. – News Release
      • Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise , or for work that cannot be done remotely. As Ontario’s health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.
    • Retail
    • In addition, the province is also strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake. Measures include, but are not limited to:
      • Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions;
      • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
      • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
      • Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
        1. Safety supply stores;
        2. Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
        3. Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
        4. Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
        5. Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
        6. Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
        7. Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
        8. Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
      • These additional and strengthened public health and workplace safety measures will be in effect as of Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
    • Education
      • Keeping schools and child care open is critical to the mental health and well-being of Ontario children and youth. Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted, with strict safety measures in place.
      • In addition, beginning next week, education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, will be eligible to register for vaccination. Vaccinations will commence during the April break starting with priority neighborhoods in Toronto and Peel, then rolling out to priority neighborhoods in other hot spot regions, including York, Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton and Durham. This will be followed by a rollout across the province as supply allows.
    • Vaccinations
      • As part of Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, people living in regions with the highest rates of transmission will be prioritized to receive a vaccine, starting with the most at-risk in the Peel and Toronto public health regions. This initiative will be expanded to additional “hot spot” regions based on established patterns of transmission, severe illness, and mortality.
      • To support this expanded vaccination effort, mobile teams are being organized to administer vaccines in high-risk congregate settings, residential buildings, faith-based locations, and locations occupied by large employers in hot spot neighbourhoods to individuals aged 18 or over. Pop-up clinics will also be set-up in highly impacted neighborhoods, including at faith-based locations and community centres in those hot spots, in collaboration with public health units and community organizations within those communities. The province will provide additional resources to support these mobile and pop-up clinics in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods.
      • The government will also extend booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to more age groups through its provincial booking system, for public health regions with highly impacted neighbourhoods, on Friday, April 9, 2021. Booking eligibility will be extended to include individuals aged 50 and over for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at mass immunization clinics in high-risk areas as identified by postal code, using the provincial booking system.
    • Workplace Inspections
      • Health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will increase inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in regional hot zones to continue protecting essential workers while on the job.
    • Comments from the briefing:
      • Premier –
        1. Limit mobility, limit spread. Allow more people to get vaccinated.
        2. we have two part strategy – get needles in arms and get vaccines where they will have the greatest impact.
        3. Goal over the next 28 days is to have 40% of Ontario adults vaccinated
      • Solicitor General – asked people to restrict travel outside of their home region
    • Question Period:
      • The Health Table warned about this situation 3 weeks ago, why did you wait? Premier, “  have been listening to the health and science and Dr. Williams. The ICU numbers have taken off beyond what the projections were. We acted immediately, once I found out about the ICU numbers.” Dr. Williams spoke about how they have implemented the framework all along the way and the Public Health Regions have been moved around the framework as required. Younger people are being admitted into the ICUs quicker and sicker. He went on to say that they have tried to limit mobility, but over the weekend they saw “less than full adherence to the restrictions.” “We have been stepping things up.”
      • Why haven’t you started workplace vaccinations sooner? The Premier commented that he is “tired of all the politics, municipal, provincial and federal.” He spoke about the targeted approach that is being taken. They want to limit mobility and get needles in people’s arms. “Your life is in jeopardy if you don’t get vaccinated.”
      • How will the stay at home order be enforced? The Premier pleaded with people “please just stay home. We did it before.” Solicitor General, “enforcement is not just about police and bylaw. It’s also about labour inspectors.” She said they have been working to make sure people know what the rules are. “When the rules are broken there are a number of enforcement tools. We are hoping people will do the right thing.”
      • Relying on people to do the right thing hasn’t been working so far. What makes you think people will do it now? Premier, “we did it before. I am confident we can do it again. I know everyone is frustrated. Now is not the time to give up. Let’s look at the positive. We are hammering out more vaccines than anywhere else in the country. Please let’s stick together and follow the rules. We have strong strategy and a strong plan.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2021:

  • Province of Ontario News Release: Ontario Moving to Phase Two of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan Supporting Rollout by Postal Code in “Hot Spot” Communities
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS:
    • Highlights from today’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced that the Ontario government is moving into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods. In addition, this phase will prioritize individuals with the highest-risk health conditions in April 2021. With a steady supply of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government, over nine million Ontarians will be offered their first vaccination between April and end of June 2021. – News Release, Backgrounder: Populations eligible for Phase 2 COVID-19 Vaccination
      • Phase Two is focused on age and at-risk populations to prevent further death, hospitalization and transmission. To support this, Ontario is increasing vaccine allocations to COVID-19 “hot spot” communities across 13 public health units (Halton is one of the 13), targeting historic and ongoing areas with high rates of death, hospitalization and transmission. Delivering vaccines to people who live in these areas is critical to reducing the impact of COVID-19 as quickly as possible, and the Ministry of Health is working with public health units to ensure timely access to vaccines among the identified communities through all available vaccine delivery channels, including pharmacies, mass vaccination clinics, and mobile teams. The province is supporting regions to vaccinate individuals aged 50 and over by postal code in these COVID-19 hot spot zones.
      • In addition, starting as early as April 6, 2021, individuals with the following highest-risk health conditions will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Ontario:
        1. Organ transplant recipients;
        2. Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
        3. People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
        4. Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
        5. Sickle cell disease;
        6. Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
        7. Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above.
      • The province is expecting to reach the majority of this group through hospital clinics by the end of April 2021. Patients in the highest-risk clinical groups will be contacted by their health care providers to set up an appointment for a vaccination. The Ministry of Health is working with Ontario Health, as well as networks like the Ontario Renal Network and other clinical organizations and vaccination partners, to identify and vaccinate these patients and their caregivers as soon as possible.
      • Other groups that will become eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program include:
        1. Individuals with specific health conditions which make them at high-risk or at-risk, as well as some primary caregivers;
        2. People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers; and,
        3. Certain workers who cannot work from home (e.g., elementary / secondary school staff, food manufacturing workers, high-risk and critical retail workers, and more).
      • Ontario continues to work with public health units to offer vaccines to remaining Phase One populations. Public health units have been directed to consider accessibility issues in their plans and have local solutions, as well as work with community partners to develop executive strategies to remove barriers to access and improve uptake in at-risk communities.
      • As of April 5, 2021, at 8:00 p.m., over 2,621,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, with over 85 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose. More than two-thirds of residents aged 75 to 79 have now received their first shot. Over 322,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including 92 per cent of long-term care residents.
    • Question Period:
      • The Premier was asked to comment on the situation in Hamilton yesterday when hundreds of appointments went unfilled because the provincial booking system could not respond quickly enough to a change requested by the Hamilton Public Health Department. The Solicitor General  said that as of this morning in Hamilton people 60 and older could book an appointment. She went on to say that more people need to book appointments.
      • Is allowing teachers in Niagara to get vaccinated next week allowing people to jump the queue? The Premier did not answer this question directly instead he explained that over 88,000 people 80 and over have not yet booked an appointment. Over 108,000 people 75 to 79, over 280,000 people 70-74 and 618,000 people 65-69 have not booked appointments. He urged people to get their appointments booked. Minister Elliott, explained that the vaccination plan is based on age and risk.
      • When will you be vaccinating people who work in essential workplaces? The Premier said things would be rolled out in the coming days. Their focus is on first the most vulnerable and elderly, then people in hot spots and then high priority essential places of employment. He said they are working on a plan for teachers.
      • You said you were meeting with the Dr. Williams about what you are seeing in retail outlets. Did you do enough? The MOH in Peel, Toronto and Ottawa are calling for a stay at home order. Premier, “this virus is changing day by day, hour by hour. I think we made a massive move.” He hinted that there would be further restrictions moving forward. “York, Peel, and Toronto account for 60% of the cases.” He said they would be focusing on “hot zones.”
      • You said there would be further restrictions. Is this suggesting a stay at home order is coming? Premier, “we will be discussing this tomorrow.” He commented about driving by Yorkdale and not seeing any parks spots available. “Going to a mall is not essential.”
      • Children will be learning from home this week in Peel and Guelph. Parents are confused, does that mean schools aren’t safe? The Premier said schools are safe and aren’t where the problem is. The problem is when kids go back out into the community, like they did during the Christmas Break. They are contracting COVID in the community and then bringing it to school.
      • If you are going to announce a stay at home order, why not just tell us now? Premier, “you can’t just make a decision and hope it sticks for two weeks. This virus is moving hour by hour, and we need to be nimble and quick. We are going to be very clear tomorrow.” He said they would be targeting big employers and neighbourhoods in hot areas.
      • You keep talking about how you need more vaccines, but you can’t get appointments filled and there are vaccines sitting in freezers, why can’t this get done faster? Premier said that Ontario has more people vaccinated then anywhere else in the country. Regarding the vaccines in freezers, “what people don’t know is that we just got the 1.3 million doses two days ago.” He explained that it takes time to allocate and distribute them. “Let’s be honest with people, we need more vaccines.”
      • There have been calls to get education workers vaccinated next week, what is your response to this? The Premier said that was an option, “everything is on the table. In the next day or two we will be making recommendations.” Minister Elliott, went on to say that if you make a change you are taking (vaccine) supplies away from seniors. “We are constantly reevaluating.”

Thursday, April 1, 2021:

Wednesday, March 31, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Province Doubles Support for Parents With New Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit – News Release
      • The Ontario government is providing parents with $980 million in direct support as part of the Ontario COVID-19 Child Benefit. Under this new round of funding, payments will be doubled to $400 per child and $500 for a child with special needs to help offset additional learning costs. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.
      • The government is automatically providing this round of payments to parents who received Support for Learners payments, and they can expect money to begin flowing on April 26, 2021. Parents who did not apply for or receive the Support for Learners program can apply for the new funding starting May 3 with a deadline of May 17.
      • Parents will receive $400 for each child aged 0 to Grade 12 and $500 for children and youth 21 years old or younger with special needs, doubling the $200 and $250 received in the last round. This brings the government’s direct support to parents since the start of the pandemic to more than $1.8 billion.
      • In the 2021 Budget, Ontario also announced that, to help parents with the cost of child care and return to the workforce, the government is proposing a 20 per cent enhancement to the Childcare Access and Relief from Expenses (CARE) tax credit for 2021. This would increase support from $1,250 to $1,500, on average, providing about $75 million in additional support for the child care expenses of over 300,000 families. The CARE tax credit gives eligible families the flexibility to pick the child care option that works best for them, including child care provided in centres, homes and camps.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021:

Monday, March 29, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board announced that the Ontario government is providing an estimated $100 million for a new one-time Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant and $100 million for a new one-time recovery program. – News Release
      • This significant investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health & Our Economy, and will support the province’s tourism industry as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19. Total support from the Ontario government for the tourism, culture, sports, recreation, and heritage industries since the start of the pandemic now totals $625 million.
      • Prior to the pandemic, tourism generated more than $36 billion in economic activity and supported approximately 400,000 jobs in Ontario. As a direct result of the pandemic, the tourism sector has lost more than $18 billion in revenue alone and more than 200,000 jobs.
      • The Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses including hotels, motels, travel agencies, amusement and water parks, hunting and fishing camps, and recreational and vacation camps including children’s overnight summer camps. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify. Any small businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will not be eligible for this new grant.
      • The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will protect critical jobs in communities across the province and sustain for-profit tourism businesses, which have had to fully or partially shut down during the pandemic. The program will launch later this year and support tourism businesses across the province as they adjust operations to reopen safely and focus on the domestic market during the ongoing crisis. The program will support businesses as they innovate, adapt and create new tourism offerings and experiences to attract visitors from around the world when it is safe to do so.
      • The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will support established and proven tourism businesses that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. These are key employers and tourism generators in all regions of the province, including the North. Examples of eligible businesses could include resorts, tour boat operators, amusement and water parks, northern lodges and other tourist attractions.
    • Question Period:
      • With cases on the rise are you considering postponing the upcoming April school break? The Premier said that he and Minister Lecce are keeping a “sharp eye on this.” He said that he doesn’t want to predict what will happen two weeks from now.
      • The Premier was asked to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision on carbon pricing. Does he have any regrets spending $30 million to fight this in court? The Premier said he has no regrets. “If you think $30 million is high wait until you see the prices of gas get jacked up.” He said that he and the PM have agreed to disagree on this issue. He went on to say that he will work collaboratively with the Federal government on a way forward.
      • When will you be opening up appointments for younger age groups? The Premier said that it comes down to vaccine supply. “We are getting a shipment of Pfizer, but the Moderna we have been expecting isn’t coming. I can’t understand how the Feds can’t give us notice on when shipments are coming.”
      • The Premier was asked to comment on PEI suspending the use of AstraZeneca on people 18-39. Will you be speaking to Dr. Williams about this? The Premier said they are taking the advice of Dr. Williams and the Federal government on the use of vaccines. “I won’t hesitate to cancel the use of it if it will put anyone in harm.”
      • Won’t what you are saying contribute to vaccine hesitancy? The Premier say they received an update from the Federal government yesterday evening. He said the concerns are for people under 35.
      • What options do you have regarding carbon pricing? The Premier said that they will work with the Federal government to come up with a plan. He spoke about the investment in the production of battery operated vehicles that was made.
      • Can you say anything more about the April break? The Premier said that by the end of the week they would have a “clear direction about the April Break.”
    • Other announcements:
    • Ontario Expands COVID-19 Vaccination Booking to Individuals Aged 70 and over in Additional Regions – News Release
      • The Ontario government is extending booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to individuals aged 70 and over through its online booking system and call centre in 11 additional public health units on March 29, 2021, following its expansion in Toronto that began on March 27, 2021.
      • As of 8:00 a.m. on Monday, March 29, 2021, all individuals aged 70 and over in the following public health units will be eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccination appointment at a mass immunization clinic through the provincial online booking system and call centre:
        1. City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
        2. Grey Bruce Health Unit;
        3. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
        4. Lambton Public Health;
        5. Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit;
        6. Niagara Region Public Health;
        7. Ottawa Public Health;
        8. Peel Public Health;
        9. Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit;
        10. Timiskaming Health Unit; and
        11. York Region Public Health.
      • As of March 27, 2021, over three-quarters of Ontario residents aged 80 and over have received at least one dose. Over a third of residents aged 75 to 79 have now received their first shot.
      • As vaccine supply is delivered across the province and additional public health units begin vaccinating individuals aged 70 and over, vaccine administration rates may differ based on local context. Rollout and timing has been further impacted by the latest delay in shipment of the Moderna vaccine, initially planned for March 30 but now delayed until April 7. For more information on local vaccine rollout, individuals are encouraged to contact their local public health unit.
      • Eligible individuals can schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting Ontario.ca/bookvaccine, or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488. The Provincial Vaccine Information Line is open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can provide assistance in 300 languages.

Friday, March 26, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Highlights from today’s Premier’s briefing:
      • Today Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Prabmeet Sarkaria, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton South, and Amarjot Sandhu, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brampton West announced that the Ontario government is delivering a long-awaited new hospital for the people of Brampton. The 2021 Budget includes an additional $3 billion investment in health care infrastructure over 10 years, which will support the transformation of the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness (“Peel Memorial”) in Brampton from a day facility into a new inpatient hospital with a 24/7 Emergency Department. The 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, brings the government’s total investment to protect people’s health to $16.3 billion. – News Release
      • Currently, Peel Memorial is an urgent care centre that provides a range of day procedures and outpatient services. To support the transformation of Peel Memorial into a new hospital, the province will fund the construction of over 250 net new beds at the site. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2023. The province is also providing up to $18 million in 2021-22 to expand the urgent care centre to 24/7 operations, paving the way for an eventual emergency department as Peel Memorial expands into an inpatient hospital.
      • The investments in Peel Memorial will allow the people of Brampton have access to 24/7 hospital services including urgent care, complex continuing care, enhanced mental health, and rehabilitation for patients and their families.
      • Last year, William Osler received up to 87 hospital beds to help alleviate hospital capacity pressures and reduce wait times as part of the government’s investment of $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province.
    • Question Period:
      • Are you looking at making vaccinations mandatory for employees of long term care homes? Minister Elliot said, “at this point we are not mandating anyone to get vaccinated.” They are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated. “All the vaccines are safe.”
      • With the increasing cases and numbers in the ICU aren’t you concerned that loosening measures in grey zones is sending a mixed message? Premier, “I wouldn’t call it a mixed message.” He says he is still very concerned, “don’t let your guard down. What I want is people to do is just follow the protocols. We should all be on high alert.”
      • There were questions regarding how vaccines were distributed throughout the Province. Toronto seems to have excess supply while other regions, like Ottawa don’t have enough. Will you commit to equitable distribution of the vaccine when it does get delivered to the Province? The Premier, did commit to this. He was very frustrated with the Federal government, “they aren’t even giving us a date when the AstraZeneca will be delivered. I have been very diplomatic, but enough is enough. This is becoming a joke…they’ve dropped the ball.” He urged all mayors to “start calling your MPs. I’m done.” General Hillier said allocation decisions are made on Fridays and are based on the percentage of the population.
    • Today’s other announcements:
      • Ontario Moving Two Regions to New Levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework – News Release, Backgrounder – Ontario Adjusting Public Health Measures for Activities in Grey-Lockdown Level
        1. Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving two public health regions to new levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, including moving the City of Hamilton public health region to the Grey-Lockdown level. Decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.
        2. To further support businesses and promote fitness during the pandemic, the government is making limited, targeted adjustments to public health and workplace safety measures in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework, allowing the safe resumption of select activities where the risk of COVID-19 transmission can be minimized. This includes:
          1. Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting outdoor fitness classes, outdoor training for team and individual sports and outdoor personal training, subject to public health and workplace safety measures, including, but not limited to: a maximum of 10 patrons, every person maintaining a physical distance of at least three metres from another person, requiring a reservation and active patron screening.
          2. Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting marinas and boating clubs to operate clubhouses or any restaurant, bar and other food or drink establishment for outdoor dining, subject to public health and workplace safety measures.
          3. Effective Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., personal care service settings including but not limited to barber shops, hair and nail salons, and body art establishments, will be permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity or five patrons (whichever is less) subject to physical distancing, including by appointment only, and other public health and workplace safety measures.
        3. Please view the regulations for full details.
        4. The province is also modifying outdoor capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies held in regions in all levels of the Framework. Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies, will be adjusted to allow for the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance. This change does not apply to social gatherings associated with these services, such as receptions.
        5. Targeted enforcements are being applied, with an enhanced focus in public health regions identified in the Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels. This includes conducting field visits to check for compliance with the Reopening Ontario Act.
        6. To ensure the continued health and safety of individuals and families, as public health measures are cautiously adjusted, the government is modifying the activation of an “emergency brake” which would allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, to advise the immediate reimplementation of the previously lifted provincewide Shutdown measures if a public health region experiences a rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health system is at risk of becoming overwhelmed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021:

Tuesday, March 23, 2021:

Sunday, March 21, 2021:

Friday, March 19, 2021:

  • Burlington Economic Recovery Network News Release: City of Burlington & Team Burlington Calling for Increased Supports for Restaurants and Hospitality Industry
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Moving Eight Regions to New Levels in the COVID-19 Response FrameworkNews Release
      • On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving eight public health regions to new levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. Decisions were made in consultation with the local medical officers of health and are based on the trends in public health indicators and local context and conditions.
      • Based on the latest data, the following eight public health regions will be moving from their current level in the Framework to the following levels effective Monday, March 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:
        1. Red-Control: Brant County Health Unit; Chatham-Kent Public Health; and Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
        2. Orange-Restrict: Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.
        3. Yellow-Protect: Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; North Bay Parry Sound District; Porcupine Health Unit; and Timiskaming Health Unit.
      • In consultation with the local medical officers of health and based on current trends, which has seen increasing case rates and per cent test positivity rates in the last week, the Peel and Toronto Public Health regions will remain in the Grey-Lockdown level at this time.
      • In addition, effective today at 12:01 a.m., the government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health moved Ottawa Public Health to the Red-Control level in the Framework. The decision was made at the request of the local medical officer of health due to the concerning trends in public health indicators in the region.
      • To support the province’s economic recovery, the government is cautiously adjusting dining capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the Framework, effective Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
      • For regions in the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels, capacity limits for indoor dining will be adjusted and based on a standard, scalable calculation that will allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public, subject to physical distancing rules. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in Red-Control and 100 patrons in Orange-Restrict.
      • In addition, while indoor dining continues to be prohibited for areas in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework, outdoor dining would be permitted for regions in Grey-Lockdown, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures.
      • Please view the regulations for full details.
      • To ensure the continued safety of patrons and workers, public health and safety measures in indoor and outdoor settings would be strengthened in the Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels in the Framework. These measures include, but are not limited to:
        1. Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers;
        2. Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and
        3. A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Government of Canada welcomes interim report from the COVID Alert Advisory Council – News Release
      • Today, the Minister of Health, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Digital Government, the Honourable Joyce Murray, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, welcomed the Council’s Interim report on the Social and Economic Determinants of App Adoption, Retention and Use.
      • The report highlights that the Government of Canada has worked quickly on many of the recommendations of the Council such as the features to narrow the exposure window, allowing users, specifically health care workers, to turn the app on and off, and allowing users to clear the exposed state following a negative test result.
      • COVID Alert has been downloaded over 6 million times, and 20,000 people have since entered a one-time key (OTK) following a positive COVID-19 test result, notifying other users that they may have been exposed to the virus. While these numbers have steadily increased, there is a gap between the number of positive cases and the number of one-time keys entered in the app.
      • As noted in the report, the number of one-time keys currently being entered into the app is low compared to the number of positive COVID-19 cases across Canada. For the app to be an effective tool, it must be easy for users to receive and upload a one-time key following a positive diagnosis.
      • The Government is committed to urgently resolving this issue. Currently, provinces and territories are responsible for issuing one-time keys, as they are the ones that can confirm positive diagnosis and the process can be different in each jurisdiction.
      • Canadians can help by asking for a one-time key from their local public health authority if they do not immediately receive one from their public health unit following a positive diagnosis. Individuals can also consult the app or contact their local health authorities to find out how to get a one-time key.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Making it Easier to Administer Rapid COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace – News Release
      • The Ontario government is making it easier for businesses to test for COVID-19 in the workplace by providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual. Based on the success of the initial deployment of rapid antigen testing, the government is also expanding the program to more sectors including first responders, emergency medical services, trucking and transportation, wastewater management, and post-secondary institutions.
      • Rapid antigen testing can provide an additional layer of safety in workplaces and provide reassurance to employers and employees alike. By clinically endorsing supervised, voluntary self-swabbing for asymptomatic individuals, Ontario is helping businesses reduce the administrative costs of using antigen tests by allowing staff to consider the option of taking their own swabs under the supervision of a trained individual.
      • The province has also removed regulatory barriers governing the use of COVID-19 tests that are approved by Health Canada for point-of-care use to make it easier for organizations to offer onsite testing and support a safe return to work. This change will especially benefit rural and remote communities including Northern Indigenous communities where health professionals required to administer testing are limited.
      • Although point-of-care rapid test devices currently deployed in Ontario are easy to use, their safe and appropriate usage is supported through additional clinical and public health protocols outlined in the updated provincial testing guidance and training materials and webinars that are freely available.
      • As the Provincial Antigen Screening Program continues to expand in the coming weeks, it will see the deployment of over one million tests per week across these and other priority sectors.
      • An antigen technology-based COVID-19 test that is authorized by Health Canada for point-of-care use can be performed at workplaces by trained individuals and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. Frequent screening with rapid antigen tests increases the chances of early identification of cases in otherwise asymptomatic individuals.
      • Individuals who test positive through rapid antigen tests still need to take a confirmatory lab-based PCR test at an assessment centre or participating community lab.

Monday, March 15, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Provides Additional Protection for Retirement Home Residents and Staff – News Release
      • The Ontario government is investing $30 million to help the retirement home sector cover COVID-19 related costs such as hiring, training and testing additional staff, and sanitizing residences and purchasing supplies to prevent and contain the spread of infection. This funding is in addition to the $30.9 million that the province provided retirement homes earlier in the pandemic.
      • Ontario has more than 770 licensed retirement homes and many are run by small operators who urgently need the government’s support to deal with rising costs related to fighting COVID-19. Ontario’s retirement homes have been working cooperatively with public health officials across the province to ensure best practices are being followed to prevent and control COVID-19 and to help get residents and staff vaccinated.

Friday, March 12, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • First Ministers mark the first anniversary of the global COVID-19 pandemic – News Release
      • Yesterday marked  one-year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Following a teleconference, First Ministers issued the following statement to recognize this anniversary:
      • “First Ministers honoured Canadians and others around the world who lost their lives to the pandemic. They acknowledged the tremendous personal sacrifices Canadians have made to keep themselves and their neighbours safe. This pandemic has disrupted our lives and livelihoods, and it is thanks to this personal sacrifice that Canadians have been able to reduce the spread of the virus and its variants.
      • First Ministers expressed their deep appreciation for all health and other essential front line workers, who ensured Canadians had continued access to care, reliable supply chains, and support for their loved ones and our children. These workers are the heroes of the pandemic.
      • They also noted the unprecedented collaboration between both orders of government, including the largest immunization campaign in Canada’s history. First Ministers agreed to continue these and all other efforts necessary to end the pandemic. Through these efforts, and through the continued vigilance of Canadians in following public health measures, First Ministers are hopeful Canada is on the path to recovery. The past year has been difficult but better days are ahead.”
    • Government of Canada invests in new COVID-19 research projects across the countryNews Release, Backgrounder
      • We have seen progress on many fronts including the rollout of the first vaccines, but the pandemic continues to rapidly evolve and negatively affect people, communities and health systems. Additional research is needed to understand and address persistent issues related to COVID-19 and the threat of future coronavirus and other infectious disease outbreaks.
      • Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canada’s Minister of Health, announced an investment of approximately $25.2 million in 52 research projects to further improve our understanding of COVID-19 and tackle persistent evidence gaps linked to this disease. Led by researchers across the country, the new COVID-19 projects will focus on topics such as variants of the virus, vaccine development and uptake, testing, mental health, and the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is having specific impacts on women, racialized populations, and Métis, Inuit and First Nations Peoples. This investment will enable research teams to target priority areas and advance our knowledge and management of COVID-19 related issues. The findings will serve to provide decision-makers with guidance to improve the health of our populations.
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Continues to Support Business Owners, Workers and Families during COVID-19Statement
      • Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued the following statement in response to today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada:
      • “Employment in Ontario increased by over 100,000 in February. In the last nine months Ontario has regained over 829,000 jobs overall, including 27,000 more men and women working  in our manufacturing sector.  Despite these positive numbers, thousands of workers, families and businesses — individual Ontarians, not simply numbers in a statistics report — continue to feel the impact of the global pandemic.
      • To-date we have provided more than $1 billion in Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments. Nearly 100,000 businesses have received a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 in support after having to close or significantly restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown. Applications remain open until March 31, 2021.
      • Our government is also providing $600 million for property tax and energy cost rebates to support businesses required to close or significantly reduce services because of public health restrictions.
      • In addition, we recently expanded 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). Small businesses with two to 19 employees in all eligible sectors — expanded from two to nine employees — including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, businesses can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support.
    • Ontario Investing in Music Industry During COVID-19News Release
      • The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million through the Unison Benevolent Fund’s COVID-19 Relief Program and the Canadian Live Music Association. This funding will help ensure Ontario’s music industry is strong, vibrant and remains a source of pride for the province.
      • Unison Benevolent Fund will receive a one-time grant of up to $2 million to immediately support individual musicians and industry workers, many of whom have lost their sources of income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unison Benevolent Fund’s COVID-19 Relief Program provides direct emergency financial assistance to members of the industry to cover necessary costs so they can continue to enrich our communities through music.
      • The Canadian Live Music Association will receive a one-time grant of up to $500,000 to support local communities that wish to develop and implement music city strategies in a post-COVID-19 economy. A music city is a community of any size with a vibrant music economy, where municipal governments, music stakeholders and community members work together to help artists and music businesses reach their full potential. This co-operation offers a range of benefits, including economic growth, job creation, tax revenue and cultural development.
      • Find out more about the Unison Benevolent Fund.
      • Read more about the Canadian Live Music Association.

Thursday, March 11, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement by the Prime Minister to mark one year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemicStatement
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to reflect on the year that has passed since the World Health Organization declared COVID‑19 a pandemic:
      • “One year after the World Health Organization officially declared COVID‑19 a pandemic, more than 22,000 Canadian families have lost a loved one, many people have lost their jobs and businesses, health care and front line workers have faced great risk and challenge, and all Canadians have made sacrifices to keep others safe and healthy.
      • “Today, on the National Day of Observance for COVID-19, we honour every individual who lost their life to this disease, and we stand with the people they loved as they continue to cope with this unimaginable loss. Together, we also recognize all who have been impacted by the pandemic, and we reaffirm our commitment to work as Team Canada to beat this virus.
      • “As we look back on the challenges of this past year and reflect on how far we have come, we must also keep one eye on the road ahead. The largest immunization campaign in our country’s history is well underway, and we are on track to have a vaccine available for every Canadian who wants one, by September. But the pandemic isn’t over, and until all Canadians have access to a safe and effective vaccine, we all need to continue to follow public health advice. That means working from home if you can, keeping two metres apart from others, wearing a mask, and downloading the COVID Alert app.
      • “Today, we acknowledge the heavy toll that the global pandemic has taken and continues to take, both here at home and abroad. To date, more than 2.6 million people have died globally from COVID-19, including 22,000 Canadians. They are more than just numbers. They were our mothers, fathers, grandparents, and loved ones. They were our neighbours, friends, and colleagues. We honour their memory, and renew our commitment to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to keep people safe and supported through this crisis.
      • We also take this opportunity to thank our front line workers who have been working tirelessly every single day to keep us safe and healthy. We owe these everyday heroes an immense debt of gratitude, and we will continue to offer the support they need.
      • “Since the first case of the virus was diagnosed in Canada in January 2020, close to 850,000 Canadians have recovered from this terrible disease, but many in communities across the country continue to suffer its effects. We will continue to work together to set Canada – and the world – on the path to recovery and to build back better for everyone. The past year has been difficult, but better days are ahead. We will come out of this pandemic a more resilient country in a stronger global community.”
  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Update on COVID-19 Projections from the Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Table – Presentation
    • Key Findings:
      • Vaccination in long-term care has paid off.
      • Progress otherwise has stalled. Declines in community cases and test positivity have levelled off. Cases are increasing in most Public Health Units as we see mobility rise.
      • Cases are increasing or past “restrict” in most Public Health Units.
      • Variants of concern continue to spread across Ontario. The variants of concern spread more easily than early variants. Our ability to control the rate of spread will determine whether we return to normal or face a third wave of infection. We know what works: continued masking and distancing are essential to controlling variants of concern.
      • Modelling shows- best case scenario – just under 2,000 cases/day within three weeks. Worst case scenario – 8,000 cases/day within three weeks.
      • Our behaviour over the next few weeks is critical in determining the quality of our summer.
      • High volumes of postponed care and missed screening and preventative care mean that there will be a substantial and prolonged surge in need for care across sectors. Our actions now affect our ability to access care later.
      • Controlling cases, increasing vaccinations where they will have the greatest impact, and accelerating vaccinations overall are how we beat the pandemic.
      • In long term care homes staff and resident cases continue to decrease and deaths have flattened (no resident deaths in last five days)

Wednesday, March 10, 2021:

  • Ontario News Release: Ontario Takes Further Action to Protect Homeless Shelters during COVID-19
    • Ontario government is providing $255 million to help municipalities and Indigenous program partners respond to an increase in COVID-19 cases in some emergency shelters and help keep vulnerable people safe. The new funding will protect homeless shelter staff and residents, and help prevent more people from becoming homeless.
    • The Region of Halton will be getting $11,802,864.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021:

Monday, March 8, 2021:

  • FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Statement by the Prime Minister announcing a National Day of Observance for COVID-19 – Statement
      • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement to announce the Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance to commemorate the people who lost their lives and the significant impacts we have all felt because of COVID-19:
      • “Today – one year after the first known death of a Canadian to the disease – we now mourn the tragic loss of more than 22,000 parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.
      • COVID-19 has infected over 864,000 other Canadians, and has had an immeasurable impact on how we all work and learn, connect with friends and family, and live our daily lives. All Canadians have experienced sacrifice and loss over the past year. Our kids have missed birthday parties, seniors have felt isolated from the ones they love, and for far too many, this virus has meant the loss of their job or the closure of their business.
      • We all have a role to play in ending this pandemic, and the crisis is not over yet. In recognition of how far we have come and how far we still have to go, the Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance. On this day, I invite all Canadians to join together in honouring the memory of those we have lost, and the people they left behind. We will also recognize everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19, and pay tribute to all those who continue to work hard and make incredible sacrifices in our fight against the virus. Together, we will beat COVID-19”
    • Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on March 8, 2021Statement
      • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 886,574 cases of COVID-19, including 22,239 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date.
      • Recent expert analysis of the efficacy and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada supports that priority vaccination programs are providing strong benefits for those at highest risk of severe outcomes or exposure.
      • Currently, there are 30,268 active cases across the country. Although COVID-19 activity had been declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February, daily case counts have since levelled off. The latest national-level data show a 7-day average of 2,866 new cases daily (Feb 26-Mar 4).
      • Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 2,125 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Feb 26-Mar 4), including 559 of whom were being treated in intensive care units. During the same period, there were an average of 41 COVID-19-related deaths reported daily.
      • For the week of February 21-27, there were on average of 103,189 tests completed daily across Canada, of which 3.0 % were positive for COVID-19. Over the past month, genomic sequencing capacity has rapidly increased across Canada, with 10,568 high quality SARS-CoV-2 genomes from 11% of cases sequenced during that time period. As of March 7th, a total of 1,963 variants of concern have been reported across Canada, including 1,834 B.1.1.7 variants, 116 B.1.351 variants and 13 P.1 variants.

Thursday, March 4, 2021:

  • PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT NEWS
    • Ontario Provides Additional Support for Municipalities During COVID-19News Release, List of Municipal Allocations
      • The Ontario government is providing an additional $500 million to help the province’s 444 municipalities address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs. The new financial relief will help ensure the delivery of critical services and keep capital projects on track.
      • Ontario’s funding is being prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic and can be used to address the unique needs of each community based on COVID-19 related operating pressures. This funding is being allocated based on a combination of a base amount using Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) household data and an amount based on the proportion of provincial COVID-19 cases (from January 1, 2021 to February 18, 2021) in the municipality’s respective Public Health Unit.
      • This provincial investment builds on the $1.39 billion in operating funding that was provided to municipal partners through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. The second phase of the Safe Restart Agreement was allocated to all Ontario municipalities in December, to ensure that no community entered 2021 facing an operating deficit from 2020.
      • “This additional $500 million for 2021 builds on a record of provincial government support under the 2020 Safe Restart Agreement and the life-saving Social Services Relief Fund,” said Graydon Smith, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “It will help offset the impact of COVID-19 on 2021 municipal budgets in every part of Ontario. By protecting the municipal services people and business rely on most, and preventing delays in capital projects, this funding is an important investment in Ontario’s economic recovery.”
      • Burlington’s Allocation is – $2,860,354
      • In his remarks Minister Clark said the funding would flow in two installments: one in May and one in December.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021:

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:

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*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist.

 

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Media Specialist: John Bkila
john.bkila@burlington.ca
905-335-7600