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Updates on COVID-19 from the City of Burlington

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward COVID-19 Updates

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 2021, Click Here

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 2021, Click Here

Please Note: For the Updates from 2020, Click Here

Friday, April 22, 2022:

  • Masking Requirements Continue in Select Indoor SettingsNews Release
    • As Ontario continues to effectively manage the sixth wave of COVID-19, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is maintaining existing provincial masking requirements in select higher-risk indoor settings until June 11, 2022.
    • Provincial masking requirements which were set to expire on April 27, 2022 are being extended in current settings until 12:00 a.m. on June 11, 2022, including:
      • public transit;
      • health care settings (e.g., hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics that provide health care services, laboratories, specimen collection centres, and home and community care);
      • long-term care homes;
      • retirement homes; and
      • shelters and other congregate care settings that provide care and services to medically and socially vulnerable individuals.
    • A complete list of settings where masking requirements continue to apply is available online.
    • The Chief Medical Officer of Health will also maintain the CMOH Directives currently in effect until June 11, 2022, after which the ministry will issue guidance on personal protective equipment recommendations for infection prevention and control in health care settings.
    • To further expand the tools available to protect Ontarians and reduce hospital visits, the province will start to receive supplies of Evusheld, an antibody treatment for immunocompromised individuals who are not positive for COVID-19 at the time of administration. Following two single-dose injections, the treatment provides protection from COVID-19 for six months.
    • Based on advice from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), Evusheld will be available to individuals with the highest-risk of a severe outcome from COVID-19 in the coming weeks, including:
      • solid organ transplant recipients;
      • stem cell transplant recipients;
      • CAR-T therapy recipients; and
      • other hematologic cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Thursday, April 14, 2022:

  • Update on COVID-19 Projections- Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus TablesSlide Deck
    • Ontario is well into wave 6 of the pandemic, driven by the new, more transmissible BA.2 subvariant, waning immunity, and lifting of public health measures.
    • There is significant uncertainty around the impact of case growth on our health system and deaths.
    • Wastewater surveillance suggests that community transmission may have peaked. Regardless, modelling indicates that hospital occupancy is likely to continue to rise for some time, with uncertainty in the timing and height of the peak.
    • The slowdown of growth is variable between regions
    • COVID-19 infections in healthcare workers are as high as in the last Omicron wave. High infection rates combined with potentially high hospitalization rates will reduce Ontario’s ability to provide care for non-COVID-19 patients.
    • Infected individuals, especially the unvaccinated, are at risk of developing Long COVID, which is associated with serious neurologic illness, heart attacks, stroke, and long-term impairment.
    • Individuals with Omicron symptoms should stay home and isolate. At least two negative rapid antigen tests using proper sampling (mouth, throat and nose, see video link below), separated by at least 24 hours are required to be confident that an individual is not infected.
    • Masking in indoor areas will substantially reduce the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 as will improvements to ventilation.
    • A complete vaccine series (currently 2 doses in children, 3 doses in adolescents and adults, 4 doses in older adults and high-risk groups) provides strong protection against hospital and ICU admission and is the best defence against getting symptoms and spreading COVID-19.
    • Access to vaccination, testing and treatment continues to be uneven across socio-economic groups. It is critical that all Ontarians have equitable access.
  • VIDEO: COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test: Sample Collection for Omicron

Monday, April 11, 2022:

  • Key messages from Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore:
    • Make sure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine boosters.
    • If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please consider getting vaccinated now.
    • If you are in a high risk group antivirals are now available. Speak with your health care practitioner about them now.
    • They are reviewing the extension of the mask mandates for long term care homes, hospitals and transit. Extending the mandate beyond April 27, “makes sense.” Will be making a recommendation to the government.
    • The sixth wave will last until the middle or end of May.
    • Watching numbers in Peel and Halton Region.
  • Ontario Expanding Access to COVID-19 Antivirals – News Release
    • As part of its plan to stay open and manage COVID-19 for the long-term, the Ontario government is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 antiviral treatments and PCR testing to more high-risk individuals. Doing so will offer increased protection to the most vulnerable and ensure hospital capacity remains stable.
    • Effective immediately, the following higher-risk groups are eligible to be tested and assessed for antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, in Ontario:
      • Individuals aged 18 and over who are immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications);
      • Individuals aged 70 and over;
      • Individuals aged 60 and over with fewer than three vaccine doses; and
      • Individuals aged 18 and over with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one risk condition (e.g., a chronic medical condition)
    • Anyone who is eligible for an assessment is now also eligible for a PCR test at any testing centre in Ontario.
    • Beginning April 12, Ontario is making it easier for eligible individuals with a prescription to access antivirals by expanding dispensing locations to include participating pharmacies across the province. A list of pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid will be available at Ontario.ca/antivirals as of Wednesday, April 13 at 8:00 a.m. The list will be regularly updated as the list of participating pharmacies expands.
    • Treatment for antivirals must be started within five days of symptoms in most cases. Individuals who are part of higher risk groups and who have COVID-19 symptoms should immediately seek testing and care, by contacting their health care provider or visiting a clinical assessment centre. Individuals can contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 for more information about where to find a clinical assessment centre or to determine if they are at higher risk.
    • Individuals can access Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if they are at higher risk and should be assessed for treatment. A positive rapid antigen test, PCR or rapid molecular test is required as part of the assessment for antiviral treatment. Rapid antigen tests remain available for pick up at no charge from over 3,000 retail locations in the province. Clinical assessment centres continue to be available to assess and test patients as well as to prescribe and dispense antivirals.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022:

  • Ontario Expanding Fourth-Dose Eligibility – News Release
    • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is expanding eligibility for fourth doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals aged 60 and over as well as First Nation, Inuit and Métis individuals and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and over starting on April 7, 2022. Expanding booster eligibility will provide an extra layer of protection against the Omicron and BA.2 variants and, in addition to antivirals, are another tool the province is using to live with and manage COVID-19.
    • Starting on Thursday, April 7 at 8:00 a.m., eligible individuals will be able to book their fourth dose appointment through the COVID-19 vaccination portal or by calling the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre at 1-833-943-3900, directly through public health units that use their own booking systems, through Indigenous-led vaccination clinics, participating pharmacies, and participating primary care settings.
    • Locations and timing for additional boosters may vary by public health unit based on local planning and considerations.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022:

  • Ontario Introduces a Plan to Stay OpenNews Release, Backgrounder
    • Ontario is introducing A Plan to Stay Open, which includes legislation that, if passed, will expand on policies and measures already in place to ensure the province is able to stay open by building a stronger, more resilient health care system that is better able to respond to crisis.
    • The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that historically, Ontario had not done enough to protect and prepare the province for a crisis. Stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE) were depleted or expired, emergency protocols were under-developed and out-of-date and the province’s health care system was chronically underfunded and understaffed. A Plan to Stay Open, which includes the Pandemic and Emergency Preparedness Act, 2022, will, if passed, recruit and retain more doctors, nurses and personal support workers, further expand domestic production of critical supplies like masks and vaccines and will continue building health care infrastructure so hospitals have the capacity to deliver high-quality care to treat more patients.
    • Highlights of the proposed plan:
      • Expanding Ontario’s Health Workforce: Invest $142 million to launch the new “Learn and Stay” grant. The program will start with $81 million over the next two years to expand the Community Commitment Program for Nurses for up to 1,500 nurse graduates each year to receive full tuition reimbursement in exchange for committing to practice for two years in an underserved community. Make the temporary wage enhancement for personal support (PSWs) and direct support workers (DSWs) permanent.
      • Shoring-up Domestic Production of Critical Supplies: Launch a life sciences strategy that will support early-stage companies, attract new investment and encourage early adoption of Ontario-made innovations in our hospitals and health system. Leverage the province’s extensive manufacturing capability wherever possible to maintain a healthy stockpile of quality PPE and CSE.
      • Building More Hospital Beds: Implement a capital plan expansion with more than 50 major projects that would add 3,000 new beds over 10 years​ and invest to support the continuation of over 3,100 acute and post-acute beds in hospitals and alternate health care facilities, and hundreds of new adult, paediatric and neonatal critical care beds.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022:

Saturday, March 19, 2022:

Thursday, March 17, 2022:

  • Update on COVID-19 Projections- Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus TablesSlide Deck
    • COVID-19 case numbers, hospital and ICU occupancy have stopped declining; there is considerable regional variation.
    • Ontario’s COVID-19 wastewater signal stopped declining and is now increasing slightly
    • Lower income neighbourhoods continue to be hit hardest by the pandemic, also during the fifth wave caused by Omicron
    • Given the relaxation of public health measures and consequent increase in transmission, hospital and ICU occupancy will likely increase over the next few weeks, but less than in January 2022 and for a limited period of time if changes in behaviour are only moderate.
    • The extent of this increase, and of a person’s risk of contracting COVID-19, will depend on the number of close contacts (especially indoors without masking), vaccination status, and the spread of the more transmissible BA.2 subvariant.
    • Masks are still an effective public health measure to reduce COVID-19 transmission.
    • Public health measures, including increased ventilation and filtration, physical distancing and wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask can help reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in places where people gather indoors
    • Older adults, immunocompromised, unvaccinated and marginalized individuals and groups are still susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19.
    • A complete vaccine series (currently two doses in children, three doses in adults, four in long-term care residents and other eligible high-risk groups) is the best defence against getting and spreading COVID-19.
    • Future scenarios in Ontario will depend on population immunity, the virulence and severity of future variants
    • Ontario built strong pandemic control tools, which can be used to maintain readiness
    • Ontario remains vulnerable as long as the global pandemic continues
  • Statement from spokesperson for Minister of Health re: latest modelling:
    • “Ontario has done significantly better than the best case scenario provided in the latest modelling… our hospitals can manage any range in these latest projections.” #onpoli
  • Covernment of Canada will remove pre-entry test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers on April 1News Release
    • Today, the Government of Canada announced that effective April 1, 2022 at 12:01 AM EDT, fully vaccinated travellers will no longer need to provide a pre-entry COVID-19 test result to enter Canada by air, land or water. Fully vaccinated travellers seeking to arrive in Canada before April 1, 2022, must still have a valid pre-entry test.
    • For partially or unvaccinated travelers who are currently allowed to travel to Canada, pre-entry testing requirements are not changing. Unless otherwise exempt, all travellers 5 years of age or older who do not qualify as fully vaccinated must continue to provide proof of an accepted type of pre-entry COVID-19 test result:
      • a valid, negative antigen test, administered or observed by an accredited lab or testing provider, taken outside of Canada no more than one day before their initially scheduled flight departure time or their arrival at the land border or marine port of entry; or
      • a valid negative molecular test taken no more than 72 hours before their initially scheduled flight departure time or their arrival at the land border or marine port of entry; or
      • a previous positive molecular test taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before their initially scheduled flight departure time or their arrival at the land border or marine port of entry. It is important to note that positive antigen test results will not be accepted.
    • All travellers continue to be required to submit their mandatory information in ArriveCAN (free mobile app or website) before their arrival in Canada. Travellers who arrive without completing their ArriveCAN submission may have to test on arrival and quarantine for 14 days, regardless of their vaccination status. Travellers taking a cruise or a plane must submit their information in ArriveCAN within 72 hours before boarding.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022:

  • Federal government to end pre-arrival COVID testing for travellers entering CanadaCBC News Article
    • The federal government is expected to announce as soon as tomorrow that travellers entering Canada will no longer have to take a pre-arrival COVID-19 test, CBC News has learned.
    • Sources with knowledge of the matter confirm Canada is removing the testing requirements at airports and land border crossings.
    • That testing requirement will be dropped by the end of the month, the sources said.
    • The federal government will continue to randomly test travellers upon arrival in Canada because it’s a good way to identify and track variants, the sources said.
    • The government’s vaccine mandate for domestic and international flights departing from Canada, for VIA Rail and Rocky Mountaineer trains and for cruise ships expires this month. It’s expected to be extended.

Thursday, March 10, 2022:

  • Ontario likely won’t return to widespread COVID-19 PCR testing: health minister – Global News Article
    • Ontario’s health minister says the province likely won’t return to widespread PCR COVID-19 testing.
    • Christine Elliott made the remarks while speaking to reporters at Queen’s Park Thursday.
    • “Unless we have a rapid surge in cases, it’s not anticipated that we will return to widespread PCR testing because we do have the rapid tests so conveniently available now,” Elliott said.
    • Elliott was then asked if that meant the province will never know the true number of COVID-19 cases, as positive rapid tests are not recorded in the province’s system.
    • “Well, we will know because of the PCR tests that are being done but we also know from other things,” she said.
    • “We can take a look at hospital capacity, we can take a look at the number of people that are being admitted to hospital, people that are being admitted to intensive care. We also have the wastewater surveillance system as well that is giving us good indicators.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2022:

  • Province Announces Lifting of its Mask Mandate March 21 – What Does This Mean for Burlington?
  • Statement from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health on Mask Mandate Update – Statement, Technical Briefing
    • With the peak of Omicron behind us, Ontario has been able to cautiously and gradually move through its reopening milestones.
    • The majority of public health and workplace safety measures have now been lifted, and key public health indicators continue to improve or remain stable.
    • As we continue on this path, we are able to take a more balanced and long-term approach to Ontario’s pandemic response.
    • With continued improvement in trends, Ontario will remove the mandatory masking requirement for most settings on March 21, with the exception of select settings such as public transit, health care settings, long-term care homes and congregate care settings.
    • As a society, we must remain kind, considerate and respectful toward those who continue wearing a mask. We must also expect indicators, such as cases and hospitalizations, to increase slightly as Ontarians increasingly interact with one another. However, thanks to our high vaccination rates and natural immunity, as well as the arrival of antivirals, Ontario has the tools necessary to manage the impact of the virus.
  • Additional comments from Dr. Moore:
    • Masks will still be required on public transit on March 21 until April 27
    • The province will maintain a “robust surveillance strategy.”
    • To determine if masking would need to be reinstated the Province will use testing data, their surveillance information as well as the burden on the hospital system
    • He doesn’t expect any significant rebounds once the masking mandate has been lifted.
    • A robust education strategy about when to wear a mask is required. He said this would be done by local public health units. “We must remain considerate and kind to those who chose to wear a mask.”
    • Dr. Moore was asked if he would continue to wear a mask in public. He said he won’t when he was outdoors, but that he would in a shopping mall or busy box store.
    • He encouraged people to conduct their own individual risk assessment
    • “We are moving from a mandate on masking to a choice.”
    • “The risk is now less. Can’t mandate masking forever. People have the right now not to wear a mask in public. We need to learn to live with this virus.”

Friday, March 4, 2022:

  • Legislation to increase access to rapid testing across the country receives Royal AssentNews Release
    • Today, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, welcomed the Royal Assent in Parliament of Bill C-10 – An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19. This bill provides Health Canada with $2.5 billion in funding and the statutory authority to purchase and distribute COVID-19 rapid tests across Canada.
    • With this funding, the Government of Canada will ship hundreds of millions of additional COVID-19 rapid tests to provinces and territories and Indigenous communities over the next three months, free of charge. The funding also allows Health Canada to continue to provide tests for distribution through partners such as the Canadian Red Cross, chambers of commerce and pharmacies.
    • Bill C-10 allows Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada to:
      • Remain competitive in the procurement of rapid tests and quickly distribute the rapid test kits across the country in response to increased demand;
      • Help small, medium and large-sized businesses maintain safe environments for their employees and patrons;
      • Continue to support provinces and territories in securing the COVID-19 rapid tests they need; and
      • Deliver rapid tests to community organizations, their personnel, and the people they serve, free of charge, through an ongoing partnership with the Canadian Red Cross.
    • Organizations with 200 or more employees, including federally regulated businesses, are able to receive free COVID-19 rapid tests directly from the Government of Canada.

Friday, Feb. 25, 2022:

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022:

  • Vaccines, masks required at universities despite broader relaxing of restrictionsCP24 News Article
    • Several Canadian universities are maintaining COVID-19 precautions such as vaccine mandates and masking for students attending in-person classes even as governments roll back pandemic restrictions.
    • In Ontario, Western University, York University and the University of Guelph say they’re keeping their COVID-19 vaccination and masking requirements in place for students and staff until at least the end of the current winter semester.
    • Other schools in Ontario, including the University of Toronto, say they aren’t making any changes to their COVID-19 vaccine policies and continue to consult with the government and public health officials on the issue.
    • Ontario’s top doctor said last week that vaccine policies at post-secondary institutions have served their purpose and should be dropped.
    • The province is ending its vaccine certificate system on March 1, when capacity limits in public settings and restrictions on social gathering sizes will fully lift as well, though masking requirements will remain for now.

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022:

  • Ontario’s top doctor says vaccine policies ‘no longer necessary’ come March 1Article
    • Ontario’s top doctor wants to end workplace COVID-19 vaccination policies by early next month.
    • Dr. Kieran Moore says he’s reviewing letters of instruction sent last year to various sectors including hospitals and post-secondary institutions, which required that they develop immunization policies.
    • Most sectors were instructed to require people get regularly tested for the virus if they are not vaccinated, but many took their policies further and required all workers get the shots.
    • Moore says he thinks the period of highest COVID-19 risk is over and that means vaccination policies are “no longer necessary.”
    • He says they would ideally lift on March 1, when proof-of-vaccination rules are set to lift for customers in businesses and other indoor settings.
    • Moore noted that a vaccine mandate for long-term care workers came from the minister responsible for that sector, not the chief medical officer. He also did not specifically mention whether a vaccinate-or-test policy would remain for school employees.

Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022:

Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022:

  • Travellers will no longer need a PCR COVID test to get into CanadaCP24 Article
    • Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos says vaccinated travellers will no longer need a molecular COVID-19 test to enter Canada starting Feb. 28 because the COVID-19 situation in Canada has improved.
    • Travellers can instead opt for a rapid antigen test approved by the country they are coming from.
    • Unvaccinated children travelling with vaccinated adults who come to Canada will no longer have to isolate from school or daycare for 14 days.
    • Some fully vaccinated travellers might still be randomly selected for a molecular test at the airport, but they will not be required to quarantine while they wait for the result.
    • Unvaccinated Canadians will need to be tested at the airport and isolate upon arrival.
    • The government also plans to lift its advisory urging Canadians to avoid all non-essential travel outside the country due to the risk of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
  • Government of Canada lightens border measures as part of transition of the pandemic responseNews Release
    • Today, the Government of Canada announced a series of adjustments to the current border measures, representing the beginning of a phased easing of travel restrictions. The ability of the country to transition to a new phase at the border is a result of the actions of tens of millions of Canadians across the country who followed public health measures, including getting themselves and their families vaccinated.
    • As of February 28, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. EST:
    • We will be easing the on-arrival testing for fully-vaccinated travellers. This means that travellers arriving to Canada from any country, who qualify as fully vaccinated, will be randomly selected for arrival testing. Travellers selected will also no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result.
      • Children under 12 years old, travelling with fully vaccinated adults, will continue to be exempt from quarantine, without any prescribed conditions limiting their activities. This means, for example, they no longer need to wait 14 days before attending school, camp or daycare.
      • Unvaccinated travellers will continue to be required to test on arrival, on Day 8 and quarantine for 14 days. Unvaccinated foreign nationals will not be permitted to enter Canada unless they meet one of the few exemptions.
    • Travellers will now have the option of using a COVID-19 rapid antigen test result (taken the day prior to their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) or a molecular test result (taken no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight or arrival at the land border or marine port of entry) to meet pre-entry requirements. Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.
    • The Government of Canada will adjust its Travel Health Notice from a Level 3 to a Level 2. This means that the Government will no longer recommend that Canadians avoid travel for non-essential purposes.
      • Travellers should understand the risks that are still associated with international travel given the high incidence of Omicron, and take necessary precautions.
      • On February 28, 2022 at 16:00 EST, Transport Canada’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) that restricts where international passenger flights can arrive in Canada will expire. This means that international flights carrying passengers will be permitted to land at all remaining Canadian airports that are designated by the Canada Border Services Agency to receive international passenger flights.
    • All travellers, regardless of how long they were away from Canada, continue to be required to submit their mandatory information via ArriveCAN (free mobile app or website), including proof of vaccination in English or French and a quarantine plan prior to arriving in Canada.
    • To prove a previous COVID-19 infection, the Government of Canada will continue to only accept molecular test results, taken at least 10 calendar days and no more than 180 calendar days before entering Canada.
  • Federal Government declares a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act to end disruptions, blockades and the occupation of the city of OttawaNews Release
    • Yesterday, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, with the support of the Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the Queen’s Privy Council in Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, announced the declaration of a public order emergency under the Emergencies Act, to end disruptions, border blockades and the occupation of Ottawa’s downtown core.
    • The public order emergency grants the Government the authority to apply the following temporary measures:
      • Regulating and prohibiting public assemblies, including blockades, other than lawful advocacy, protest or dissent
      • Regulating the use of specified property, including goods to be used with respect to a blockade
      • Designating and securing places where blockades are to be prohibited (e.g. borders, approaches to borders, other critical infrastructure)
      • Directing specified persons to render essential services to relieve impacts of blockades on Canada’s economy
      • Authorizing or directing specified financial institutions to render essential services to relieve the impact of blockades, including by regulating and prohibiting the use of property to fund or support the blockades
      • Measures with respect to authorizing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to enforce municipal and provincial laws by means of incorporation by reference
      • The imposition of fines or imprisonment for contravening on any of the measures declared under this public order emergency
    • In order to declare a public order emergency, the Emergencies Act requires that there be an emergency that arises from threats to the security of Canada that are so serious as to be a national emergency. Threats to the security of Canada may include the threat or use of acts of serious violence against persons or property for the purpose of achieving a political or ideological objective. A national emergency is an urgent, temporary and critical situation that seriously endangers the health and safety of Canadians that cannot be effectively dealt with by the provinces or territories, or that seriously threatens the ability of the Government of Canada to preserve the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Canada. It must be a situation that cannot be effectively dealt with by any other law of Canada.
    • When a declaration of a public order emergency is made under the Emergencies Act, it allows the federal government to make orders and regulations that it believes are necessary for dealing with the emergency, on reasonable and proportional grounds.
    • Anyone participating in the blockades is urged to return to their communities peacefully and immediately. The Government’s top priority remains to keep people and communities safe, and to protect jobs, trade, and our economy. These blockades must be brought to an end, and the federal government will continue working on every option to end them.
  • Details on Canada’s Emergencies Act:  Backgrounder
    • There are four types of national emergencies that can be declared under the Emergencies Act: a public welfare emergency, a public order emergency, an international emergency, or a war emergency.
    • The Emergencies Act requires consultation with provinces and territories before a public order emergency can be declared, unless the provinces and territories cannot be adequately consulted without unduly jeopardizing the effectiveness of the proposed action.
    • Once the Government makes a formal declaration of a public order emergency, the declaration is effective for up to 30 days. However, the Houses of Parliament must confirm this declaration, and it has the power to revoke it at any time, as does the Government.
    • When the Emergencies Act is invoked, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Charter) continues to protect individual rights as the Government of Canada takes the necessary steps to safeguard the safety and well-being of Canadians. In deciding on measures to take, the Government must respect constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, including the rights of citizens to enter Canada and the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as well as Canada’s obligations under international law. The Charter allows the Government to balance the rights of the individual with the interests of society where limits on guaranteed rights and freedoms can be justified in a free and democratic society.
  • Remarks by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance regarding the Emergencies Act Remarks
    • This occupation and these blockades are causing serious harm to our economy, to our democratic institutions, and to Canada’s international standing.
    • The world’s confidence in Canada as a place to invest and do business is being undermined.
    • We fought tooth and nail to protect Canada’s privileged trading relationship with the United States during the NAFTA negotiations and in the face of the illegal and unjustified 232 tariffs.
    • We will not allow that hard-won success to be compromised. The world is watching. Our jobs, our prosperity, and our livelihoods are at stake.
    • As part of invoking the Emergencies Act, we are announcing the following immediate actions:
      • First: we are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use. These changes cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies.
        1. As of today, all crowdfunding platforms, and the payment service providers they use, must register with FINTRAC and must report large and suspicious transactions to FINTRAC. The government will also bring forward legislation to provide these authorities to FINTRAC on a permanent basis.
      • Second: the government is issuing an order with immediate effect, under the Emergencies Act, authorizing Canadian financial institutions to temporarily cease providing financial services where the institution suspects that an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations. This order covers both personal and corporate accounts.
      • Third: we are directing Canadian financial institutions to review their relationships with anyone involved in the illegal blockades and report to the RCMP or CSIS.
    • As of today, a bank or other financial service provider will be able to immediately freeze or suspend an account of an individual or business affiliated with these illegal blockades without a court order. In doing so, they will be protected against civil liability.
    • Federal government institutions will have a new broad authority to share relevant information with banks and other financial service providers to ensure that we can all work together to put a stop to the funding of these illegal blockades.

Monday, Feb. 14, 2022:

  • Ontario Moving to Next Phase of Reopening on February 17 News Release
    • With key public health and health system indicators continuing to improve, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is cautiously and gradually easing public health measures sooner, with the next phase of measures being eased on February 17, 2022 at 12:01 a.m.
    • Effective February 17, 2022
      • Ontario will further ease public health measures, including, but not limited to:
        1. Increasing social gathering limits to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors
        2. Increasing organized public event limits to 50 people indoors, with no limit outdoors
        3. Removing capacity limits in the following indoor public settings where proof of vaccination is required, including but not limited to:
          1. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
          2. Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms
          3.  Cinemas
          4. Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
          5. Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
          6. Indoor areas of settings that choose to opt-in to proof of vaccination requirements.
        4. Allowing 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity at sports arenas
        5. Allowing 50 percent of the usual seating capacity for concert venues and theatres
        6. Increasing indoor capacity limits to 25 per cent in the remaining higher-risk settings where proof of vaccination is required, including nightclubs, restaurants where there is dancing, as well as bathhouses and sex clubs
        7. Increasing capacity limits for indoor weddings, funerals or religious services, rites, or ceremonies to the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance. Capacity limits are removed if the location opts-in to use proof of vaccination or if the service, rite, or ceremony is occurring outdoors.
      • Capacity limits in other indoor public settings, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, retail and shopping malls, will be maintained at, or increased to, the number of people who can maintain two metres physical distance.
      • In addition, as of 8:00 a.m. on Friday, February 18, 2022, Ontario is expanding booster dose eligibility to youth aged 12 to 17. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system and the Provincial Vaccine Contact Centre, as well as at select pharmacies administering the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments will be booked for approximately six months (168 days) after a second dose. To book an appointment online, individuals must be 12 years old at the time of appointment.
    • Effective March 1, 2022
      • Ontario intends to take additional steps to ease public health measures if public health and health system indicators continue to improve. This includes lifting capacity limits in all remaining indoor public settings.
      • Ontario will also lift proof of vaccination requirements for all settings at this time. Businesses and other settings may choose to continue to require proof of vaccination. Masking requirements will remain in place at this time, with a specific timeline to lift this measure to be communicated at a later date.
      • To manage COVID-19 over the long-term, public health units can deploy local and regional responses based on local context and conditions.

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022:

  • Ontario Gradually Resuming Surgeries and ProceduresNews Release
    • With the steady decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and ICU admissions in addition to stabilizing health human resources, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Ontario Health, is lifting Directive 2 to begin a gradual and cautious resumption of non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures across the province.
    • Resumption of non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures will follow a planned phased approach across the province, in alignment with guidance provided by Ontario Health. As these services cautiously resume, the province’s hospitals will continue to work in partnership to ensure that all regions have the capacity to resume services and no one is left behind, and when local conditions permit.
    • +Extra-curriculars Return to Schools:
      • In addition, effective immediately, Ontario students can once again benefit from extra-curricular activities, including high-contact sports in schools. In alignment with advice from public health officials, layers of protection will remain in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including masking and daily on-site confirmation of screening.
      • Students and other participants will be required to wear a mask while on school premises but may temporarily remove their mask where required, to enable active participation in activities such as playing basketball or musical instruments. Indoor curriculum-based programs including health and physical education and music, will continue with similar masking and other health and safety requirements in place.

Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022:

  • Ontario Expanding Access to Free Rapid Tests for General PublicNews Release
    • To further support the province’s cautious easing of public health measures, the Ontario government is expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use. As a result of the province’s direct procurement, Ontario will be distributing 5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as 500,000 each week through community partners in vulnerable communities. In total, the province is making 44 million rapid tests available to the public for free over the coming weeks.
    • Starting February 9, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations will provide free rapid tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit. Participating retailers will receive additional supply from the province each week and have the ability to determine how tests are distributed in order to best serve the community, including through appointment bookings, at checkout or through online orders. The province intends to bring additional locations online in the coming weeks, including independent grocers and pharmacies. A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at Ontario.ca/rapidtest.
    • To support access to tests for communities that have been impacted disproportionately by COVID-19 and face barriers to testing, including language, income and transportation, lead agencies working as part of the High Priority Communities Strategy will be distributing rapid tests through existing local partnerships, such as community centres, community health centres, places of worship, and food banks. Lead agencies will also have discretion to provide additional boxes depending on individual circumstances, such as a multi-generational home or an immunocompromised family member.
    • Providing expanded access to free rapid testing kits to the general population builds on Ontario’s comprehensive testing strategy focused on the province’s priority sectors and workplaces. Over 10 million rapid tests are deployed weekly to these sites and any other sector eligible for the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. As of February 8, over 75 million rapid antigen tests have been deployed since November 2020, with over 33 million deployed to priority sectors to provide an additional layer of protection for hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes. Additionally, approximately 26 million tests have been deployed to support school and licensed child care settings.
    • PCR testing is available for eligible individuals at over 250 assessment centres or community labs, in addition to over 760 participating pharmacies, many of which offer pick-up/drop-off of self-collection kits. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtestinglocations to find a testing location.

Friday, Feb. 4, 2022:

  • Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on Feb 4, 2022 Speech
    • What the latest data show is that, while two doses of COVID-19 vaccines offer reasonably good protection against severe disease, receiving an mRNA booster dose offers superior protection, keeping more people out of hospital and preventing more deaths. In general, data show that protection against hospitalizations is over 90% with an mRNA booster dose, which is 15% to 40% higher effectiveness than with just two doses.
    • Given the very large number of Canadians with a confirmed or apparent infection during the Omicron surge in particular, it is also important to highlight that previously infected people benefit from starting or completing their COVID-19 vaccination. Hence, for the best possible protection against severe illness now and going forward, health authorities continue to strongly recommend up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination for all eligible people, including for those who have had a COVID-19 infection.
    • Today, NACI is releasing updated recommendations on suggested intervals for administration of booster doses for those who have been previously infected. Notably, NACI suggests that an mRNA booster be given at least 6 months after the previous dose or three months following infection, whichever is longer.
  • Ontario Easing Temporary Visiting Restrictions at Long-Term Care Homes News Release
    • With key public health and health care indicators continuing to show signs of improvement, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is cautiously and gradually lifting temporary public health measures at long-term care homes starting February 7, 2022.
    • Effective February 7, the maximum number of designated caregivers per resident is increasing from two to four and will continue to be subject to a limit of two per resident at one time. In addition, residents who have had at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be able to resume social day trips.
    • Effective February 21, general visitors five years and older who have had at least two doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be able to resume visits to long-term care residents. The number of visitors at a time, per resident will also increase from two to three, including caregivers. In addition, all residents, regardless of vaccination status, will be able to resume social day trips, and residents who have had at least three vaccine doses will be able to enjoy overnight social absences.
    • The return of general visitors to homes will mean adult day programs can resume along with the return of entertainers and external personal care services in the homes. Social group activities should remain small, with up to 10 individuals.
    • Effective March 14, general visitors under five years old will be able to resume visits and the number of visitors at a time, per resident will increase from three to four, including caregivers. All residents regardless of their vaccination status will also be able to enjoy social overnight absences.
    • Testing requirements for all staff, caregivers and visitors continue to be in place. The government will closely monitor the situation in long-term care homes and continue to adjust measures as necessary to keep homes safe for residents and staff.

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022:

  • Science Advisory and Modelling Consensus Tables – Update on COIVD-19 ProjectionsPresentation / Key findings:
    • It is challenging to model the spread of COVID-19 because of changes in testing, but other indicators suggest this phase of the Omicron wave has plateaued or is in decline.
    • Public health measures helped control this phase. Relaxation of these measures will increase the spread of COVID-19. The size of any resurgence is difficult to predict and will depend on vaccination, the spread of Omicron, and changes in behaviour (e.g., mobility, masking).
    • Mobility, which is correlated with contacts between people, remains below previous levels.
    • Surveillance will be important to detect changes in the trajectory of the pandemic.
    • Hospitals are now caring for the highest number of people with COVID-19. Admissions are at highest levels across all age groups. ICU occupancy continues to be high. Staffing in hospitals remains critical.
    • Expect hospitalizations and ICU occupancy to rebound after reopening on January 31, and to remain at a prolonged peak, except under the most favourable assumptions.
    • Ontario data shows that vaccination (including third doses) provides strong protection against serious illness. Increasing vaccine uptake across all groups will reduce the impact of the pandemic.

Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022:

  • Province of Ontario shares additional clarifying and housekeeping amendments to part of last week’s approach to exiting Modified Step 2 of its Roadmap to Reopen plan:
    • Allowing food or drink services at indoor sporting events, concert venues, theatres and cinemas, bingo halls and other gaming establishments, and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Individuals will be required to remain seated when consuming food or drink in these venues, limiting the number of close contacts while masks are removed. Masks will continue to be required when individuals are not eating or drinking.
    • Removing the legal requirement to work from home except where necessary. The Chief Medical Officer of Health recommends that individuals who are able to work from home continue to do so, helping to limit mobility and reduce the number of daily contacts.
    • Removing the requirement for most businesses to collect patron information for contact tracing. This is aligned with recent changes to the testing and case and contact management guidance and will allow businesses to focus their efforts on the enforcement of other public health measures in their settings, such as masking requirements. Public health units continue to have the ability to raise awareness of significant exposures warranting notification, such as through news releases.
  • The Province also announced that with careful monitoring of hospital capacity they intend to take a “phased approach to resuming some health services that were paused.” This first phase will allow for the resumption of the following paused services as early as January 31. This doesn’t mean that all hospitals will immediately resume the surgeries and procedures listed below. Hospitals will need to meet certain criteria first. The Ministry of Health is working with Ontario Health and the health care sector on this first step and will share additional details in the coming days:
    • Paediatrics
    • Diagnostic services
    • Cancer screening
    • Some ambulatory clinics
    • Private hospitals
    • Independent health facilities.
  • Some key messages from Dr. Moore’s update:
    • With Omicron we cannot eliminate the risk. We must learn to live with it.
    • In this wave we have focused on protecting our health care system, not trying to eliminate the virus. The sacrifices people have made have allowed the health care system to function.
    • Regarding adding the third dose/booster to the vaccine passport. “This is a government decision” that he would provide recommendations on. No direction has been provided by the Federal government on this.
    • To anxious Ontarians, who feel the approach to reopening is too aggressive. “We are taking a balanced, data driven approach to reopening. For the last two years we have let our lives be controlled in a significant amount of fear. We must learn to live with this virus. We are taking a balanced and proportional approach. Sometimes we were too cautious.”
    • How will you know if things are getting worse? The Province will be using the following “important surveillance tools”: the per cent positivity of PCR tests, they are doing approximately 40,000/day, hospital and ICU admissions, the number of people that continue to get vaccinated (2 million additional people since January 5).
    • Regarding the lifting of public health measures, he said that by March and April there will be a much lower risk for everyone. He said they don’t these measures to stay in place for any longer then they have to.

Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022:

Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022:

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022:

  • Applications Now Open for Ontario Business Costs Rebate ProgramNews Release
    • Eligible businesses required to close or reduce capacity due to the current public health measures put in place to blunt the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 can apply for the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program starting today. Through the new program, the government will provide eligible businesses with a rebate payment of up to 100 per cent for property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these restrictions.
    • Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs.
    • Businesses will be required to submit proof of costs associated with property tax and energy bills as part of the application process. All eligible businesses must submit an application to be considered, including those that received previous COVID-19 support payments. To learn more, including to find a full list of eligible businesses, visit the online application portal here.
    • The government is also improving cash flows for Ontario businesses by making up to $7.5 billion available through a six-month interest- and penalty-free period for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. This penalty and interest-free period started on January 1, 2022. This supports businesses now and provides the flexibility they will need for long-term planning.
    • The government is also introducing a new COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant that will give businesses subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen a $10,000 grant. The money will flow to eligible businesses in February.
  • Ontario Cuts Electricity Rates to Help Workers, Families and Small BusinessesNews Release
    • The Ontario government is providing 21 days of electricity-rate relief to support families and workers spending more time at home, as well as small businesses, consistent with the length of time the province is in modified Step Two public health measures. As of 12:01 AM today electricity prices are lowered to the off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour — less than half the on-peak rate — 24 hours per day.
    • Electricity customers won’t have to do anything to benefit from the rate cut, it will be applied automatically to both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans on the bills of residential customers, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB).
    • The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program provides eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022:

  • Ontario Invests in COVID-19 Test Kits Made in Thorold – News Release
    • The Ontario government is supporting a more than $13 million investment by Norgen Biotek to scale up production of its COVID-19 saliva-based test kit, with $1 million in support through the Ontario Together Fund.
    • Norgen is investing in its Thorold facilities to support upgrades, modifications and equipment and production materials. The project will scale up production of COVID-19 saliva-based diagnostic kits, including the component saliva collection and preservative devices, ribonucleic acid (RNA) isolation/purification kits, and viral detection kits. Forecasted production capacity upon project completion is 100,000 diagnostic kits per day. This investment is expected to create 105 jobs.
    • Unlike swab-based test kits, Norgen Biotek’s COVID-19 saliva-based diagnostic PCR test kit does not require specialized training to use and aligns with the latest diagnostic testing trends.
  • Government extends loan forgiveness repayment deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account News Release
    • The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced that the repayment deadline for CEBA loans to qualify for partial loan forgiveness is being extended from December 31, 2022, to December 31, 2023, for all eligible borrowers in good standing.
    • This extension will support short-term economic recovery and offer greater repayment flexibility to small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, many of which are facing continued challenges due to the pandemic. Repayment on or before the new deadline of December 31, 2023, will result in loan forgiveness of up to a third of the value of the loans (meaning up to $20,000).
    • Outstanding loans would subsequently convert to two-year term loans with interest of 5 per cent per annum commencing on January 1, 2024, with the loans fully due by December 31, 2025.
    • The government is also announcing that the repayment deadline to qualify for partial forgiveness for CEBA-equivalent lending through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is extended to December 31, 2023.
    • The CEBA program was open for applications from April 9, 2020, to June 30, 2021. It has provided more than $49 billion in liquidity to over 898,000 Canadian businesses.
    • CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses to help cover their operating costs during a time where their revenues have been reduced. These loans are partially forgivable. With the extension announced today, repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2023, will result in loan forgiveness of up to 33 per cent (up to $20,000).
  • City of Hamilton introduces COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all City employeesNews Release, Policy
    • The City of Hamilton is implementing a policy that requires all City employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by May 31, 2022.
    • To date, approximately 93 per cent of City employees have provided proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
    • Currently, 474 City of Hamilton employees are participating in the City’s COVID-19 Rapid Testing Program and have not provided proof of both doses of their COVID-19 vaccinations.
    • To date, 68 employees have been placed on an unpaid leave of absence for refusing to disclose their vaccination status or participate in the rapid testing.

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022:

  • Ontario Launching School-based Vaccine Clinics as Students Return to In-person LearningNews Release
    • With elementary and high school students returning to in-person learning on January 17, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, was joined by Dr. Kieran Moore, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health to announce the launch of school-based vaccine clinics for youth and staff, along with a significant deployment of rapid antigen tests. These new measures build on the province providing millions of high-quality masks for staff and students and thousands more HEPA filtration units.
    • Vaccination is the province’s best defence against the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Current vaccination rates among children aged 12 to 17 years old are encouraging with more than 82 per cent having received two doses. Of children aged five to 11 years old, nearly 50 percent have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, but more can be done to encourage and support vaccination, which is why Ontario will launch school-based vaccine clinics when students return to in-person learning. To further encourage voluntary vaccination for children aged 5 to 11, the government has asked school boards to work with local Public Health Units (PHUs) to add school-day vaccination clinics for students (i.e. during instructional hours). School boards are also expected to work with local PHUs and share documents and other information with families, such as resources available at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-vaccines-children-and-youth.
    • In the coming days, parents will receive a form offering the opportunity to safely and conveniently provide public health units the authority to vaccinate their child at a school-based vaccine clinic.
    • To help stabilize workforce and student participation, beginning the week of January 17, the Ontario government will also provide rapid antigen tests for students and staff in public elementary and secondary schools*, along with children and staff in child care settings. Over 3.9 million rapid antigen tests are being shipped to school boards this week, with additional tests to be delivered next week. The use of the tests is for symptomatic individuals, who will be required to take two rapid tests 24 hours apart, and upon negative results can return to class.
    • Additional measures in place to prepare for the return to in-person learning include the following:
      • High-Quality Masks: Providing access to more than 10 million non-fit-tested N95 masks to all education and child care staff – the only province to do so – with more than four million three-ply cloth masks for students recently shipped for use in schools.
      • Stricter Screening: Updated and stricter screening requirements for students and staff, including daily onsite confirmation of screening.
      • Enhanced Cohorting and Cleaning: New time-limited cohorting protocols to limit direct and indirect contacts by pausing high-contact extracurricular sports, stricter lunch cohort requirements, and elevated cleaning requirements at all schools.
    • To further support staffing stability and reduce disruption for students, families, and education and child care staff, the government is further expanding access to vaccines by:
      • Supporting a mass vaccination clinic at the International Centre with dedicated times for education and child care staff
      • Opening 10 vaccination clinics across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area that offer dedicated time slots for education and child care staff
      • Encouraging public health units to support accelerated access to boosters.
    • Reopening schools is supported by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local Medical Officers of Health, and the Children’s Health Coalition, representing Ontario’s pediatric hospitals, children’s mental health agencies and children’s rehabilitation centres. New interim guidance has been issued for PHUs – COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Schools and Child Care: Omicron Surge – highlights and link below.
    • *During the Q and A Minister Lecce said that initially RATs will be distributed to all staff and students in elementary schools along with children and staff in child care settings. RATs will be distributed as needed in high schools for symptomatic purposes.
  • COVID-19: Interim Guidance for Schools and Child Care: Omicron SurgeDocument
  • Symptom-based PCR and RAT Testing
    • PCR tests or RATs (contingent on provincial testing supply), may be used when a child/student or staff member is exhibiting the following symptoms:
      • Fever and/or chills; OR
      • Cough; OR
      • Shortness of breath; OR
      • Decrease or loss of taste or smell; OR
      • Two or more of:
        1. Runny nose/nasal congestion
        2.  Headache
        3. Extreme fatigue
        4. Sore throat
        5. Muscle aches/joint pain
        6. Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. vomiting or diarrhea)
    • The use of take-home PCR self-collection kits will only be used in limited circumstances. These kits are to be provided only to symptomatic elementary/secondary students and education staff who become symptomatic while at school that would require PCR testing, as listed above. 
    • PCR self-collection kits will not be provided to individuals experiencing single symptoms that only require isolation until the symptom is improving for 24-48 hours (e.g., runny nose), or to entire cohorts/school populations.
    • While awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, or if testing is not available, the individual and their household members, regardless of vaccination status, must remain at home and isolate as per the instructions below:
    • Where an individual is experiencing symptom(s) listed above and does not have access to a PCR test or RAT:
      • The individual is presumed to have COVID-19 based on their symptoms and should isolate as per the below criteria for those who test positive on a RAT or PCR test. The number of Omicron cases is rising rapidly in Ontario such that individuals with symptoms indicative of COVID-19 can be presumed to be infected with COVID-19.
    • All household members of the symptomatic individual, regardless of vaccination status, should isolate while the symptomatic individual is isolating due to the high rate of transmission that may occur within households.
    • If they develop symptoms, they should follow isolation directions for symptomatic individuals and seek testing if eligible for testing.
    • Where an individual has only one of the following symptoms, or a different symptom (e.g., pink eye), the individual should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present), and household members are not required to isolate:
      • Runny nose/nasal congestion
      •  Headache
      • Extreme fatigue
      • Sore throat
      • Muscle aches/joint pain
      • Gastrointestinal symptoms (i.e. vomiting or diarrhea)
    • Positive COVID-19 Test (PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen) Individuals who test positive on a COVID-19 test (PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen) should isolate immediately. Isolation requirements are outlined on page 4 of the document.
    • A positive RAT is highly indicative that the individual has COVID-19. A positive RAT does NOT need to be confirmed with a PCR test.
    • Positive RATs do NOT need to be reported to the public health unit, school or child care.
    • Note: There is no requirement for parent(s)/guardian(s) to report their child’s PCR/RAT results to the school or child care as part of absence reporting.
    • If two consecutive RATs, separated by 24-48 hours, are both negative, the symptomatic individual is less likely to have COVID-19 infection, and the individual should isolate until symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present). The household members of the symptomatic individual with two negative tests may also discontinue isolation if there are two consecutive negative RAT results, separated by 24-48 hours.
    • All cases (i.e. people who test positive on PCR, rapid molecular, or rapid antigen test OR who are presumed positive) should notify high-risk contacts of their exposure.
    • Individuals only exposed at school with all public health measures in place are not generally considered high-risk contacts. However, depending on the nature and frequency of the interactions, specific individuals could be considered a high-risk contact (e.g., breakroom close unprotected contact).
    • Public health units will no longer be dismissing cohorts. Any dismissals or closures of a school or child care will be contingent on operational requirements determined by the school board, school and/or child care operator.
    • Given the widespread transmission and inability to test all symptomatic individuals, schools will not be routinely notifying students/pupils in classes with a positive case, or if a child/student or staff is absent due to symptoms associated with COVID-19.
    • Employers must continue to follow reporting requirements outlined in: COVID-19 and workplace health and safety

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022:

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds 36th call with premiers on COVID-19 response – Readout
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Dominic LeBlanc held the 36th call with Canada’s provincial and territorial premiers to discuss their ongoing collaboration to address the COVID-19 pandemic on January 10, 2022.
    • First Ministers discussed the COVID-19 Omicron variant of concern, noting that its high transmissibility makes it different from previous variants. They expressed concern over the strain on health care systems, businesses, workers, and families across the country, and discussed ways to continue working together to keep Canadians safe. They raised the need to strengthen health care systems, noting the particular challenges with health human resources capacity.
    • The Prime Minister reiterated that the federal government will continue to provide the tools provinces and territories need to respond to the spread of COVID-19, including vaccines, rapid tests, and therapeutics. Premiers noted the measures they are implementing in their respective jurisdictions, and emphasized the importance of vaccines, rapid tests, and therapeutics as part of their response efforts.
    • The Prime Minister provided reassurance that the federal government has secured enough vaccine doses for all eligible Canadians to receive a booster as well as a fourth dose, if that becomes necessary. The Prime Minister also noted that the federal government continues to procure rapid tests, with 140 million tests planned for delivery to provinces and territories in January alone. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government has purchased over 425 million rapid tests, at a total cost of almost $3 billion. Additionally, the Prime Minister noted that antiviral treatments are currently being reviewed by Health Canada. The federal government is working closely with provinces and territories to ensure quick deployment, if these treatments are approved.
    • The Prime Minister highlighted measures taken by the government to support Canadians and businesses during this challenging time. These include the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, which provides $300 a week to eligible individuals who cannot work due to a COVID-19 lockdown, as well as the expansion of the Local Lockdown Program, which provides wage and rent subsidies to employers facing capacity restrictions.
  • Ontario Continues to Add Hospital Beds and Build Up Health WorkforceNews Release
    • The Ontario government is continuing to accelerate its efforts to add hospital beds and build up the province’s health care workforce to ensure patients can continue to access the health care they need when they need it.
    • The province is collaborating with Ontario Health (OH) and the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) on initiatives to deploy internationally educated nurses to hospitals and other health care settings in need of staffing support to work as part of a team under the supervision of a regulated health care provider, such as a registered nurse or doctor. More than 1,200 internationally educated CNO applicants have expressed interest in participating in these initiatives so far and matching with health-care providers is expected to begin later this week, with onboarding new staff in the weeks ahead.
    • Expanding opportunities for internationally educated nurses is one more way Ontario is increasing the health care workforce. Since March 2020, the government has launched emergency programs that have already added over 6,700 health care professionals to the system, including acute care settings, long-term care homes and home and community care settings that help to preserve hospital capacity. These programs will also provide hospitals with the capacity to add another 6,000 additional providers to high-need hospitals to support staffing pressures due to COVID-19 by March 31, 2022, including the deployment of nursing students and other health care providers-in-training.
    • Ontario has also built unprecedented hospital capacity since the start of the pandemic, including $5.1 billion to add 3,100 beds across the province for a total of approximately 17,000 medical and surgical beds. Through additional investments, the province now has a total of 2,436 adult and paediatric ICU beds. Approximately 600 ICU beds remain available today, with the ability to add nearly 500 additional beds if required.
    • The province has also reinstated Directive #2 for hospitals and regulated health professionals, which instructs them to temporarily pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity. While this was not an easy decision, this time-limited measure will help preserve and increase hospital bed capacity by making between 1,200 to 1,500 acute/post-acute beds available as needed.

Friday, Jan. 7, 2022:

  • City of Burlington News Release: City of Burlington Introduces COVID-19 Vaccination Mandate for all City Employees
  • Ontario Providing Supports for Small Businesses, Workers and FamiliesNews Release
    • The Ontario government is providing targeted relief for businesses and people impacted by the current public health measures aimed at blunting the spread of the Omicron variant. As part of this plan, the government is introducing a $10,000 grant for eligible businesses that are subject to closures under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen and is providing additional electricity-rate relief for businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home.
    • As part of a comprehensive plan to support workers and businesses, the government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.
    • Eligible small businesses include:
      • Restaurants and bars;
      • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
      • Performing arts and cinemas;
      • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
      • Meeting or event spaces;
      • Tour and guide services;
      • Conference centres and convention centres;
      • Driving instruction for individuals; and
      • Before- and after- school programs.
    • Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.
    • The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate. The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility and will benefit customers on both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans.
    • Further, online applications for the previously-announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on January 18. This program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.
    • Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal.
    • The government is also improving cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing up to $7.5 billion through a six-month interest- and penalty-free period starting January 1, 2022 for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. Building on Ontario’s efforts to improve cash flows for businesses, the province continues to call on the federal government to match provincial tax deferral efforts by allowing small businesses impacted by public health restrictions to defer their HST remittances for a period of six months.
    • Businesses subject to 50 per cent capacity restrictions are not eligible for the new Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant.

Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022:

  • City of Burlington News Release: City of Burlington Hosting Another COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall on Jan. 19 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Ontario Accelerating Boosters for Education and Child Care Staff Statement
    • Today, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement on additional measures and supports to protect children, staff, and families as Ontario responds to the Omicron variant:
    • “As part of our government’s response to the Omicron variant, we are providing greater access to COVID-19 booster shots for education and child care staff. Starting tomorrow, these staff in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area will have planned access to vaccines at the International Centre in Mississauga as we work with all other public health units to urgently set up more clinics across Ontario. This is in addition to existing vaccine clinics with dedicated access for education and child care staff, including for example at CHEO in Ottawa, and select City of Toronto run clinics.
    • We are also further strengthening our protections for child care centres by introducing additional safety measures, including stricter screening protocols and deploying non-fit-tested N95 masks to support frontline workers.
    • Acceleration of COVID-19 Boosters
      • To accelerate access to vaccines, starting January 7, the provincial mass vaccination clinic at the International Centre in Mississauga will support priority booking for education staff, including educators, custodial staff, administrative staff, and school bus drivers, and child care staff. The clinic will operate seven days a week, with specific appointments being made available for education and child care staff from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
      • Eligible staff are encouraged to book their appointment through the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900.
      • These measures being announced today build on the government’s previous efforts and investments to improve safety in schools during the pandemic. Measures currently in place include:
        1. providing optional non-fit-tested N95 masks to all education staff, scheduled to arrive by the end of this week
        2. updated and stricter screening requirements to help limit the spread of COVID-19
        3. ventilation improvements measures at every school across Ontario, including more than 70,000 HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices already deployed to schools, with an additional 3,000 units being provided
        4. access for school boards to $1.6 billion in resources to protect against COVID-19.
    • Child Care Safety Measures
      • The below measures have also been put in place to ensure children, staff, and communities remain as safe as possible:
        1. providing optional non-fit-tested N95 masks for staff in licensed child care settings starting January 10, 2022
        2. updating and enhancing child care screening measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
      • The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health are working together with an aim of making more rapid-antigen tests available to support the ongoing operations of child-care centres, and schools when they return to in-person learning.
      • Starting January 10, 2022, the following some of the workers (full list of eligible workers) eligible for free emergency child care:
        1. education staff who are required to attend schools to provide in-person instruction and support to students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning
        2. child care workers, including those staffing the emergency child care programs
        3. truck drivers and transit workers
        4. construction workers
        5. grocery store and pharmacy workers
        6. public safety (police, fire, paramedics, provincial inspection/enforcement), justice/court and correctional system workers.
      • To confirm whether or not your family is eligible for access to emergency child care, please contact your local service system manager. See a full list of eligible workers.

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022:

Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022:

  • City of Burlington News Release: Impacts on City of Burlington Services as Ontario Moves to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Re-open
  • The Government of Canada launches applications for the expanded Canada Worker Lockdown BenefitNews Release, Backgrounder
    • On December 22, 2021, the Government of Canada announced that it would be expanding eligibility for the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) to better support Canadian workers. Today, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced that the expanded access to CWLB is now in effect and Canadians in designated regions affected by lockdowns or qualifying capacity restrictions can apply for the benefit.
    • Currently, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut are included in the list of designated lockdown regions. This list will be updated as provincial or territorial governments introduce changes to public health restrictions.
    • The government will continue to ensure Canadians have the support needed to deal with the impacts related to the evolving Omicron variant, while also supporting a strong economic recovery. Building on measures included in Bill C-2, the government has approved new regulations that:
      • Expand the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced or acknowledged capacity restrictions of 50% or more. This benefit will provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown, and who have lost 50% or more of their income as a result. Affected Canadian workers in newly designated lockdown regions can apply for the benefit today. Payments will be retroactive to December 19, 2021. To be eligible for the CWLB, you must meet the eligibility criteria which includes, but is not limited to:
        1. You earned at least $5,000 in 2020, 2021, or in the 12 months leading up to the day you apply for the benefit;
        2. You filed a 2020 tax return;
        3. A region where you work or provide a service is designated as a COVID-19 lockdown region during the application period;
        4. A designated COVID-19 lockdown in your region resulted in one of the following during the application period:
          1. you lost your job and are unemployed
          2. you are self-employed but unable to continue your work
          3. you are employed or self-employed but had a reduction of at least 50% in your average weekly income as compared to the previous year.
    • These updated regulations will apply from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022.
  • GTHA Mayors and Chairs Working to Protect Essential and Critical Municipal Services, Continue Vaccination Rollout in Wake of Omicron VariantNews Release
    • Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area met to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 and Omicron variant across the region.
    • As the Omicron variant continues to spread, all GTHA municipalities are working to protect essential and critical municipal services as we see increasing staff absences due to COVID-19 illness, isolation requirements and caregiving.
    • The rapid spread of the Omicron variant here and around the world has created a challenge for hospitals across the GTHA. We are committed to helping confront this challenge including continuing the rollout of vaccinations – first, second and third doses – and doing everything we can to support school boards and the province to safely return to in-person learning in two weeks.
    • We know this is an incredibly difficult time for residents and businesses across the GTHA. We continue to encourage both the federal and provincial governments to urgently provide as much direct support as possible to those impacted by public health measures, especially smaller businesses including those in the hospitality sector. We encourage all GTHA residents to support their local restaurants and shops – order take out and shop local.

Monday, Jan. 3, 2022:

  • Ontario Temporarily Moving to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to ReopenNews Release
    • In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is temporarily moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with modifications that take into account the province’s successful vaccination efforts. These time-limited measures will help blunt transmission and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as the province continues to accelerate its booster dose rollout. As part of the province’s response to the Omicron variant, starting January 5, students will pivot to remote learning with free emergency child care planned for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.
    • In response, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.
    • These measures include:
      • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
      • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
      • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
      • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
      • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
      • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
      • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
      • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
      • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
      • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
      • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
      • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
      • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
      • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.
      • All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
      • School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.
      • During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.
    • Please view the regulation for the full list of mandatory public health and workplace safety measures.
    • In addition, on January 5, 2022 the Chief Medical Officer of Health will reinstate Directive 2 for hospitals and regulated health professionals, instructing hospitals to pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
    • In recognition of the impact the Omicron variant and additional public health measures have on small businesses, the government is expanding the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program. Eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity will receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs, while businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. A full list of eligible business types will be made available when applications for the program open later this month. To improve cash flows for Ontario businesses, effective January 1, 2022, the government is also providing up to $7.5 billion for a six-month interest- and penalty-free period for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, supporting businesses now and providing the flexibility they will need for long-term planning.
    • The government is also exploring options for providing further targeted and necessary supports for businesses and workers impacted by the province’s move into a modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen, including grants. The government will also continue to call on the federal government to come to table and help us support Ontario businesses and Ontario workers by allowing eligible businesses to defer HST and to enhance supports available to workers affected by current public health measures.
  • Q-and-A from Today’s Provincial Briefing:
    • What metrics will you be using to make decisions? Dr. Moore replied the Province is tracking hospitalization rates, not daily case counts. He expects these numbers to ramp up quickly and begin to subside at the end of January. “This intervention is deemed to be short term. We will not be able to stop it, just blunt it.”
    • A few days ago you said should open January 5, what changed? Premier, case counts and hopsitalizations. “ I was told that there would be thousands of daily hospital admissions.” He said that CEOs of large companies were calling him telling him that they were experiencing large absenteeism rates. “I took me 30 seconds to make this decision. We are using every tool in our toolbox.”
    • How can parents plan ahead? How can they trust you? Premier, “My number one priority is that kids can learn on line.” He went on to say we have to protect hospitals, the economy and businesses. “We will not spare a penny to get through this next wave.”
    • Is there anything you will be doing in the next 2 weeks to make schools safe? The Premier, called Minister Lecce a rock star. “He has done everything in his power to keep schools safe. No other jurisdiction in Canada is providing N95 masks.” He was distributed 11 million tests. “This may be a bump in the road, a pretty big bump.”
    • You’ve said that schools should be the last to close and the first to open. Can anyone promise that schools will reopen before other businesses? Premier, replied that we need make sure that teachers are in schools and people are in factories to keep the economy going. “This isn’t just about keeping schools safe. We saw a vertical spike in cases. We need to maintain a strong health care system.”
    • The directive on pausing non-emergency procedures, you said this wouldn’t happen again and it is. What are the factors around this decision? Minister Elliott, “ We need the beds and staff to treat people with Omicron. Hospitals are facing absenteeism issues due to Omicron cases in staff.” Dr. Moore said to expect absenteeism rates of 20-30% in the coming weeks. An additional 1,200-1,500 beds need to be provided for Omicron cases.
    • How many procedures will be affected by this directive? Matt Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health said that 8,000-10,000 procedures/week will be impacted. “These decisions were not taken lightly. We recognize there is a cost.”

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

 

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Email:  mayor@burlington.ca

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