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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

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