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.
As of 5:30 p.m., there were 667 confirmed active positive cases in Ontario. Eight have been resolved; 13 people have died.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips has presented the provincial fiscal and economic update — a “mini-budget” — to the legislature. The government is projecting a $20 billion deficit, nearly triple what it had previously projected for the 2020-21 fiscal year (a deficit of $6.7 billion). Among the measures the government announced today:
$3.3 billion in new health-care spending, including $1 billion in funding for hospitals to meet emergency needs, $243 million for long-term-care homes, $160 million in public-health spending, and $61 million for vaccines;
- $3.7 billion in supports for people and businesses to contain the economic damage of COVID-19, including doubling the provincial benefit for low-income seniors (GAINS), suspending OSAP payments for six months, and increasing the exemption for the Employee Health Tax so that businesses with a payroll of $1 million and under will not need to pay the EHT until January 1, 2021;
- $10 billion in tax and premium deferrals, delaying both WSIB payments and provincially administered taxes (including tobacco, alcohol, and gasoline taxes) for six and five months, respectively;
- $1.8 billion in property-tax deferrals for municipalities, which will have 90 extra days before disbursing taxes they collect to school boards, giving cities more flexibility with that money; and
- A new corporate income-tax credit, the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit, will give businesses a 10 per cent refundable tax credit for certain investments made outside of Ottawa and the Greater Golden Horseshoe.
Stay up to date!
Get Current Affairs & Documentaries email updates in your inbox every morning.
Federal health minister Patty Hadju has announced that travellers returning from overseas must self-isolate for a period of 14 days or face legal penalties under the Quarantine Act. The federal government had previously "requested" that travellers self-isolate; doing so will now be compulsory.
- The Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario is echoing warnings from other medical groups, saying that the province is already seeing shortages of personal protective equipment, such as masks, and that the health-care system needs to prepare for an “exponential increase” in the demand for equipment. The RNAO is also warning that the province’s supply of ventilators is inadequate.
- Ontario Power Generation has announced that it will be donating 500,000 surgical masks and 75,000 N95 masks to the Province of Ontario.
President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy has tested negative for COVID-19. Last week, Bethlenfalvy announced that he had started self-isolating after feeling flu-like symptoms.
Greater Toronto Area
- In her daily news briefing, Eileen de Villa, the city's medical officer of health, announced three new deaths in the city. As of 1 pm. today, there were 319 confirmed active cases in Toronto, up 39 from yesterday; 22 people were in hospital. De Villa said that 16 per cent of cases could be attributed to community spread.
- The City of Toronto is closing its playgrounds and other park amenities in the latest measure to stop the spread of COVID-19. "While the public has been advised that fresh air and exercise is good if you are not ill, and if so, you should stay home, it has been observed that individuals are using parks and their amenities to congregate" in defiance of the guidance to stay away from close contact, a city news release stated.
The City of Toronto has announced that it will alter parking rules by relaxing rush-hour enforcement and towing.
- Brampton West MP Kamal Khera has tested positive for COVID-19. Khera says that she will continue to serve her constituents as best she can while self-isolating during the illness.
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has cancelled all of its scheduled April concerts, as well as one performance in early May, according to a bulletin published on the orchestra's website.
- The University of Toronto has cancelled all spring 2020 convocation ceremonies, which were previously scheduled to take place from June 2 to 19.
Fort William First Nation, across the river from Thunder Bay, is blockading residential areas of the community to restrict access to members only. On Tuesday, Chief Peter Collins and his council imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on the community's 850 members.
Muskrat Dam First Nation will be closing the Muskrat Dam borders as of midnight on March 27
The Owen Sound Transportation Company will be delaying the opening of the M.S. Chi-Cheemaun ferry-service spring operating season.
- The 2020 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed until next year.
The City of Thunder Bay has told all non-essential workers to stay home. City manager Norm Gale says that jobs will be "protected" and added that "people will be paid this Friday as they normally are. Beyond that we are sorting out details."
The City of Greater Sudbury has waived city parking fees. According to a press release, "payments for the April 2 tax due date will not incur interest or late-payment penalties until June 4, 2020."
Timmins City Council has voted in favour of waiving penalties and interest on tax payments.
- The City of Sault Ste. Marie will be waiving property-tax interest and penalties until May 31, accommodation taxes until June 30, and interest on user-fees accounts receivable until June 30.
Peterborough's Downtown Business Improvement Area has started an initiative to help keep local businesses afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Downtown Peterborough is selling $50 gift certificates for businesses, and, for a limited time, buyers will receive $25 in extra "downtown money" for each purchase, to be used when the downtown reopens.
Kingston Health Sciences Centre says that visitors will not be permitted at their hospital sites — Kingston General Hospital and Hotel Dieu Hospital — until further notice. This includes family members of patients, and people accompanying patients to appointments.
OPP's East Region Twitter account has posted a warning to drivers to stay home if they're sick. It was accompanied by a photo of a truck that ended up in a swamp northwest of Kingston because the driver started coughing and sneezing and lost control of the vehicle. No injuries were reported, and police say they kept an "appropriate" distance during the incident.
Peterborough Public Health says that there are now seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area, up from five on Tuesday. There are 282 cases still under investigation.
- The City of Brockville has started putting up signs around town illustrating the importance of social distancing in slowing the spread of COVID-19. The signs asks residents to "keep a distance of six feet when going for walks or shopping for groceries."
- Lambton Public Health announced today that five people have tested positive for COVID-19. These are the region's first cases; all are hospitalized at Bluewater Health, and all are over the age of 60. Sudit Ranade, the medical officer of health for the County of Lambton and Lambton Public Health, told TVO.org that it's not yet clear where they contracted the virus but that he would not be surprised if some cases had been the result of community transmission. None of the patients, he says, comes from long-term care — although one woman is in a retirement home.
London is waiving its $1.50-per-bag fee for garbage dropped off at its envirodepots until May 3, but it's asking residents to store any household special-waste items at home until further notice because it has closed public access to the household special-waste depot. Yard waste will continue as scheduled, according to a city news release issued today.
For more information:
- COVID-19: What you need to know for March 25 — morning edition
- Latest news from the Canadian government
Ontario Hubs are made possible by the Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.