COVID-19: The week in review (August 31-September 4)

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Sep 04, 2020

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This article was last updated at 4:29 p.m.

TVO.org reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 

Provincewide

  • Per today's government report, there are 148 new cases in Ontario, for a total of 42,834 since the pandemic began; 66 people are in hospital, 13 of them in intensive care and eight on ventilators. To date, 2,811 people have died. 
  • According to data from the Ministry of Long-Term Care, there are 17 outbreaks in long-term-care facilities, 10 confirmed active cases of positive residents, and 32 confirmed active cases of positive staff. To date, there have been 1,848 confirmed resident deaths and eight confirmed staff deaths.

  • The Ontario government announced yesterday that it is extending a protection that prevents temporary layoffs from automatically turning into permanent job losses. "Under Ontario labour laws, termination of an employee after 13 weeks of being temporarily laid off triggers costly payouts which, for many businesses, could be the difference between survival and closure," a press release states. "This regulatory amendment delays these terminations and severance liabilities."

  • Stephen Lecce, Ontario's minister of education, and Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister of families, children and social development, yesterday announced nearly $147 million in additional funding for licensed child-care providers and EarlyON child and family centres. "In 2020-21, [Canada-Ontario Early Learning and Child Care Agreement] funding supported measures to minimize the impacts of COVID-19," a press release states. "It will also continue to support initiatives outlined in the initial three-year agreement, including increased access for families and professional learning for staff."

  • On Wednesday, the Ontario government released an updated visitor policy for long-term-care homes. "Bringing comfort and care, caregivers make a vital contribution to the overall well-being of long-term care residents," Minister of Long-Term Care Merrilee Fullerton said in a press release. "Today's announcement will ensure that guidelines on their visits are applied consistently across homes so that all residents get the support they deserve."

  • On September 8 and September 9, Premier Doug Ford and Quebec premier François Legault will meet in Mississauga for the first-ever Ontario-Quebec Summit, which will "advance shared priorities on economic recovery and health preparedness, issues important to the people of the two provinces."

  • The Ontario government announced Wednesday that it is partnering with public-transit operators to support public-health measures. "The government has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents and is providing significant funding to cover lost revenue, enhanced cleaning and other costs incurred because of COVID-19," a press release states.

  • Farmers experiencing a loss of markets primarily due to COVID-19 are seeking changes to a national risk-management program that helps steady their income during times of crisis, the London Free Press reports.

Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area

  • According to data as of September 3, there are 43 new cases in Toronto, for a total of 16,205 cases in Toronto since the pandemic began; 30 of them are in hospital. In total, 1,175 people have died.
  • On August 31, Mayor John Tory presented Toronto's COVID-19 Resurgence Plan, "which outlines priorities and associated actions that the City will implement in the event of a resurgence of COVID-19."
  • Starting September 8, services related to marriage licenses, mobile licensing, and business licensing will be available by appointment in Mississauga.
  • Organizers of Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition indicate said Wednesday that its future is in question, the Toronto Star reports. The cancellation of the 2020 edition resulted in a $6 million loss.
  • A COVID-19 case has been reported at a Winners in Markham's Markville Mall, CP24 reports. "The affected client acted quickly and responsibly by immediately contacting Cadillac Fairview and Public Health," the mall's manager wrote in a memo. "The client and CF have taken necessary actions as advised by Public Health by arranging a deep-clean of the client space." Other malls, including Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Scarborough Town Centre, and Sherway Gardens, also reported cases this week.
  • According to a memo from Director of Education Carlene Jackson that was obtained by CTV News Toronto, more than 700 public high-school teachers in the Toronto District School Board will be shifted to online learning this fall.
  • McMaster HealthLabs, Air Canada and the Greater Toronto Airports Authority announced yesterday that they will be partnering on a voluntary COVID-19 study of international travellers at Toronto Pearson International Airport. "The study’s core purpose is to gather information to explore the effectiveness of various quarantine periods for travellers," a press release states.
  • A McMaster University study based on a provincewide survey of about 7,400 parents finds that the pandemic has resulted in worsening mental health for parents and their children, the Hamilton Spectator reports. About 60 per cent of Hamilton parents in the study meet the criteria for clinical depression, and roughly 40 per cent of respondents caring for children reported that their child's mood or behaviour has gotten worse during the pandemic. 

  • The chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said Tuesday that she was "very concerned" about crowding on school buses. The Spectator reports that the board does not yet know how many passengers buses will need to take to and from class. 

  • Families in rural areas tell CBC Hamilton that they're scrambling to figure out transportation options for students. Local school boards are offering busing only at the start and end of the school day. This means that students who would be sent home midday for remote learning have to make their own way or wait somewhere in school and do online class from there. 

  • After complaints over bad behaviour and cleanliness at local beaches, Port Colborne councillors voted last week to enact a locals-only bylaw banning non-residents from beaches. Council had previously voted against such a bylaw. One representative told Niagara This Week she had been hearing many complaints about beaches but has heard none since the law took effect.  

Indigenous

  • Unable to secure enough funding to address pandemic risks, Dennis Franklin Cromarty, a school for students from 24 First Nations in Ontario’s remote north, has decided to offer virtual learning for the first seven weeks, reports the Globe and Mail. For now, most of its anticipated 150 students will stay in their communities instead of moving to Thunder Bay, and teachers will deliver the curriculum in virtual classrooms.
  • The Assembly of First Nations has released a fact sheet on First Nations education infrastructure to provide information about the state of schools and teacherages, projected capital needs, and student-space discrepancies between First Nations and the provinces.

  • The deputy grand chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, which represents 49 First Nations in northern Ontario, told CTV's Your Morning on Thursday that the 9,000 elementary- and high-school-aged children in those communities are facing difficulties from the isolation brought about by the pandemic. Two schools in NAN communities have pushed back their reopening dates until October, and Fox said that others are "definitely at risk of closing indefinitely." The issue, he said, is a lack of funding for measures to fight the spread of novel coronavirus in the schools. NAN has asked the federal government for $33 million to cover additional costs for teachers, nurses, and mental-health support workers, as well as for personal protective equipment, sanitation materials. 

  • Wintergreen Learning materials has partnered with VIO Volunteers to raise funds to supply nine First Nations communities in northern Ontario with masks for the school year. “Ontario’s Ministry of Education is requiring students in Grades 4 through 12 to wear masks, but cloth masks are not a solution for communities without access to clean water for regular washings,” reads the Go Fund Me page. “For Indigenous children, many of whom travel outside their communities for classes, the risk of exposure is heightened. COVID-19 could spread rapidly if carried from schools to homes in regions with a higher incidence of underlying conditions and where multigenerational and overcrowded housing is common.”

  • Walpole Island First Nation is planning a staggered start for students at Bkejwanong Kinomaagewgamig, its elementary school, the Chatham Daily News reports.

Northern

  • Six library locations will reopen in the City of Greater Sudbury on August 17. Branches will be open for half days. Some regular library materials — such as newspapers, puzzles and games — will not be available, as they cannot be properly sanitized. Staff will, however, copy newspaper articles on request, at no charge.

  • The City of North Bay will be hosting a town hall to discuss all municipal matters, including the 2021 budget, on September 10 at 6 p.m.

  • Algoma Public Health reported the district's 29th case on September 3. It is the only known active case in the district. 

  • While the province is allowing outings for long-term-care residents, one facility in Thunder Bay says that residents will have to wait a while longer to leave for an outing. Pioneer Ridge in Thunder Bay says the directive is “confusing” and appears to contradict current guidelines, reports TBNewsWatch.

  • Doors Open Thunder Bay has launched a virtual tour of the city’s historical, architectural, and cultural sites; it will be available online until November 30.

  • THe Matawa Education and Care Centre in Thunder Bay welcomed back about 45 students for in-person leaning this week, TBNewsWatch reports.

  • Thunder Bay's public libraries will be moving to Stage 5 of their reopening plan next week; no-contact holds, pickups, and returns will be offered at each of the city's five locations, according to TBNewsWatch

  • Thunder Bay’s drug-strategy coordinator, Cynthia Olsen, says that the pandemic is partly to blame for a rise in fatal drug overdoses in the province. Olsen says that the toxicity of the drug supply has increased and that people’s willingness to seek help has decreased, the CBC reports.

Eastern

  • The Carling Cineplex, in Ottawa, has temporarily closed after a worker tested positive for COVID-19, the Ottawa Citizen reports.
  • According to a press release from the City of Ottawa, "Despite a loss of 53,600 jobs between February and July, stable government employment, increased government spending during the pandemic and a robust technology sector mean that Ottawa’s economic contraction will be less than the national average. Tourism, Ottawa’s third largest economic driver, is one of the most affected sectors, with an estimated $1.4-billion decrease in visitor spending this year."
  • The City of Kingston is inviting public input on the strategic priorities it established in 2019. “Council developed an ambitious plan for this term based on key strategic priorities and City staff have been hard at work making that vision a reality," Mayor Bryan Paterson said in a press release. "The current pandemic has had a significant impact on our community and on City resources, so it’s important that we review our priorities in light of these emerging needs and constraints. Your comments will help guide us as we take stock of where we are and set a refreshed course forward.” 
  • Queen's University, in Kingston, has added a COVID-19 assessment tool to its existing mobile safety app. "The tool will allow users who arrive on campus to fill out a brief COVID-19 survey," a press release states. "Based on their answers—to questions about symptoms and travel for instance—the app will signal to users whether it is safe to proceed with their visit."
  • The Township of Douro-Dummer plans to reopen its municipal office on September 8, the Peterborough Examiner reports.

Southwestern

  • Fanshawe College has deferred in-person convocation ceremonies scheduled to take place in a number of southwestern Ontario communities — including London, St. Thomas, and Woodstock — because of COVID-19 public-health restrictions on large gatherings. The ceremonies are tentatively scheduled for the spring, the college said in a Thursday news release.
  • Thirty per cent fewer students will be moving into residence at Western University in London, the CBC reports.
  • As schools in the Thames Valley District School Board prepare for opening, a number of teachers with the board are discovering that they have been reassigned to online classes, the CBC reports.
  • Windsor-Essex is one of the areas involved in a pilot project to check the spread of COVID-19 through wastewater, the CBC reports.
  • Air travel at Windsor Airport is beginning to return to normal as pandemic restrictions lift, the Windsor Star reports.
  • Bike-store owners tell the Windsor Star that there is a shortage of bikes, as people are seeking an easy way to get exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This week, Chatham-Kent reopened municipal centres in Blenheim, Ridgetown, Tilbury, and Wallaceburg, the Chatham Daily News reports.

  • In two school boards serving the Lambton-Kent school district, nearly 14 per cent of students enrolled will be studying at home, the Sarnia Observer reports.

  • It will take four to five months to clear the surgeries and medical procedures that had to be put on hold because of COVID-19 emergency measures, an official with Bluewater Health tells the Sarnia Observer.

  • Thirty-one cases of COVID-19 have been linked to one Sarnia-Lambton family, the Sarnia Observer reports.

  • Daytrippers tired of COVID-19 restrictions are finding their way to the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula in record numbers, prompting local officials to introduce paid parking and generating worry for local residents. The deluge is “putting an incredible strain on our roads, our garbage, bylaw, policing” and “if unmanaged, can be quite disruptive to local residents and their quality of life,” Northern Bruce Peninsula councillor Megan Myles tells the Owen Sound Sun Times.

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