COVID-19: What you need to know for March 17 — morning edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By staff - Published on Mar 17, 2020



For today's COVID-19 news, click here.

This article was last updated at 12:15 p.m. reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 


  • A man in Barrie has become Ontario's first recorded fatality as a result of COVID-19. He is described as having been in his seventies and was infected through close contact with someone who had themselves tested positive. 

  • At a news conference today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, "Don't go out unless you absolutely have to" and announced that all national parks and historic sites will be closed to visitors as of Wedneday: "Pretty much anything with a door will be closed."
  • Trudeau also signalled that a major economic announcement would come tomorrow. He said that he has "directed the House Leader to engage with his counterparts to discuss a brief return of the House of Commons so that we can bring in emergency economic measures,” adding that they will be looking at the Emergency Measures Act.
  • Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet have enacted a provincewide state of emergency, invoking the government's broad powers under the Emergency Management and Civil Preparedness Act. The emergency measures so far extend until March 31, the longest period the government is allowed under the law.

  • Ford announced the following mandatory measures, building on recommendations from public-health officials yesterday: all gatherings over 50 people are prohibited, and the following locations are required to close immediately — all facilities providing indoor recreational programs; all public libraries; all private schools as defined in the Education Act; all licensed child-care centres; all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery; all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and concert venues. "This is not a provincial shutdown," he said. "I repeat: this is not a provincial shutdown."

  • Ford also announced the first stage of an emergency-relief package, which would involve an investment of $300 million for "immediate measures."  ($200 milion will come from the federal government.) He'll arrange for 75 additional critical beds, 500 post-acute beds, and 25 more COVID assessment centres, introduce increased resources for monitoring and testing, and bring in more equipment, such as masks, and backfill for 1,000 nurses and 1,000 personal-support workers.
  • The province has put a stop to evictions. “In addition, Sheriff’s offices have been asked to postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders currently set for this week,” a Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson tells the Toronto Star.

Greater Toronto Area

  • Toronto mayor John Tory issued a statement about Ontario's state of emergency.
  • Tory has asked residents to refrain from participating in the usual St. Patrick's day festivities. Instead, he said in a tweet, he'll declare a "St. Patrick's Day 2" on a "nice spring day" after the pandemic is under control.


  • A live webinar on COVID19 and Indigenous communities will be held Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

  • Indigenous Climate Action has put together a list of Indigenous media to enjoy while you are self-isolating.

  • Grand Council Treaty #3 issues a reminder that First Nations individuals covered under Non-Insured Health Benefits (Indigenous Services Canada) can request up to 3 months of their prescriptions during this time.

  • A COVID-19 information sheet is available on Ontario governments website in many languages, including ᐊᓂᐦᔑᓂᓃᒧᐏᐣ (Oji-Cree), Kanien’kéha (Mohawk), Nishnaabemwin (Eastern Ojibwe), and Swampy Cree.

  • The Ontario Native Women’s Association announce that offices will be closed temporarily as of March 16. All ONWA programming is suspended until further notice. 

  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fidler announces the development of a task team to lead NAN’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Oneida Nation of the Thames has closed its administration and political offices until further notice and has closed its school, daycare, and Headstart programs until April 6. "Stay in touch with your families and make sure they are all okay," community administration said in a notice dated Friday.
  • Nbisiing Secondary School, daycares, library, and bingo are closed at Nipissing First Nation.

  • The Moose Cree First Nation band office has been closed to the public.

  • Chief Mark Hill and Nurse-In-Charge Debra Jonathon provided an update on Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation and announced that all "Six Nations schools, daycares and parks and recreation facilities will be closed until at least April 6th, with the exception of those providing essential community services. We have instructed all Six Nations elected council employees to work from home until at least April 6th, as well as implemented a travel ban for all of our council and staff,” says Hill.


  • The Limestone District School Board's mental-health team posted tips and strategies for talking to children and youth about the virus and its impact.

  • In a video address recorded from her home, Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien urged people to work from home, following the city's first confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • Ottawa mayor Jim Watson announced that the city is suspending parking enforcement on unsigned residential streets to help support residents who are working from home.


  • The Timmins Chamber of Commerce is cancelling all events until mid-April.
  • Sault Ste. Marie has closed recreation facilities, but the civic centre (where city hall is) remains open.



  • Two more people in the London-Middlesex region have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the provincial COVID-19 information website, little other information is available at this time in connection with patient age and gender or whether the two people had recently been out of country. Both are self-isolating at home. 

  • The London courthouse is closing its doors today to do an intensive cleaning after one worker tested positive for COVID-19.

  • My Sister's Place, a popular downtown London outreach program run by CMHA Middlesex that provides supports to vulnerable women, has asked the public to hold off donating goods for now. "We are focusing our efforts on preparing & distributing meals, basic needs & harm reduction," an organization spokesperson said via Twitter yesterday.

  • The Region of Waterloo's acting medical officer of health has announced that people should avoid gatherings of 50 or more people. She has also called for the closure of all recreational programs, private schools, daycares, faith-based settings, and bars and restaurants (with the exception of those that can shift to takeout or delivery). The region currently has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • The Shaw Festival will be cancelling all public events and performances from April 2 to April 30.

  • Lambton County has now closed all of its 25 library locations until April 6, according to a news release issued on Monday.

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