This article was last updated at 11:25 a.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.
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that, as part of the emergency legislation currently being debated in the Senate, the Government of Canada will introduce the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit, which will provide $2,000 a month for four months to anyone who has lost income due to COVID-19. This single benefit will replace the two benefits the government announced last week. A website will be up as soon as possible, and money should be paid to recipients within 10 days, Trudeau said.
- As of 10:30 a.m. this morning, there were 671 active confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario (100 more than yesterday); eight cases have been resolved; nine people have died. The number of pending test results has risen slightly to 10,489, and the total number of people approved for testing is now 35,635.
- Ottawa has passed emergency legislation to make $82 billion available for COVID-19 relief. The bill is now on its way to the Senate; the government is aiming to have it passed into law by Wednesday afternoon.
A new Abacus Data poll shows a pronounced gender divide on COVID-19: only 32 per cent of men say they are “extremely concerned” about the virus, while 47 per cent of women say they are.
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Lisa MacLeod, Ontario's minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture Industries, will host a "tele-town hall" tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. to talk about the government's response to COVID-19. She will be joined by the CEOs of the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Olympic Committee, and the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.
The Ontario government has opened a hotline for businesses to call with questions about their obligations under the mandatory closure order that came into effect at midnight. Businesses needing guidance can call 1-888-444-3659.
Greater Toronto Area
- One worker at an Eglinton Crosstown work site has tested positive, and two others are presumptive positive; the site has since been closed.
- The City of Vaughan has closed all facilities within its parks.
- The Toronto Transit Commission has announced that one of its subway operators has tested positive. "At this time," the press release states, "Toronto Public Health has advised that there is no increased risk to other employees or customers."
- A Brampton Transit operator has also tested positive.
- AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde has released a video urging First Nations communities to stay at home, let only essential services into the community, and protect the elders.
Starting March 25, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation will be selling fuel only to residents and workers in the community.
Atikokan has declared a local emergency. All council meetings have been suspended.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation has requested 30,000 test kits for nursing stations in its 49 mostly remote First Nations in northern Ontario. There are an estimated 45,000 NAN members.
Muskrat Dam First Nation, located nearly 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, is closing ice roads.
- The closure of the Local Area Planning Tribunal has postponed the hearing for Sudbury's Kingsway Entertainment District.
Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health has released an update indicating that there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Kingston area as of 10:52 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson has declared a state of emergency. There are currently 25 cases of COVID-19 in the community. He says the state of emergency will allow the city to provide services in a more "nimble" way and is urging everyone to practise social distancing. "Stay home. Don't meet up with family and friends, unless it's essential," Watson told residents during a council meeting Wednesday morning.
The Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region says that it is experiencing a higher volume of calls than usual, meaning that callers can expect to wait longer to speak with a responder. The centre's phone lines remain open 24/7. The call centre answered 59,000 calls in 2019.
- Ottawa's Parkdale Food Centre announced that it will be putting its food-bank services "on pause" for one week, as one of their staff members has gotten sick. According to its Facebook post, although it is likely not COVID-19, it is taking "the greatest precaution possible."
If you want to visit the Bruce Peninsula over the next few weeks, officials there have a message for you: please stay home. Milt McIver, mayor of Northern Bruce Peninsula, a popular summer tourist destination, tells the Owen Sound Sun Times that the request is temporary. The municipality, which declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, notes that its hospital in Lion's Head has only four beds. The Bruce Peninsula National Park has been closed since Monday; all national parks are closed as of today.
Waterloo Region and its seven member municipalities have declared a state of emergency. "The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in our region and the next few days are critical in our ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19," the region said in a news released issued today.
Waterloo Region public health has announced on its website plans to provide public information about community-exposure locations and flight exposures. According to the Record, the information will list the specifics of location, day, and time "to help people self-identify if they were potentially exposed to the respiratory virus."
Wajid Ahmed, Windsor-Essex's chief medical officer of public health, wants health-care workers to restrict their work to one institution during the COVID-19 pandemic. A news release yesterday from the local health unit says that travel by health-care workers across the Windsor-Detroit border remains a concern, and it hopes to work with the provincial and federal governments on the issue.
Windsor is working to ensure that emergency-support workers have access to child care while on the job. The city has listed a number of licensed child-care providers who are still open and have spaces and is polling front-line workers across Windsor and Essex County "to identify if any emergency childcare centres are needed in our community," it said in a news release yesterday.
- As more and more businesses shut down, that's creating a logistical problem for bus drivers in London, especially at night: drivers' options for pit stops are dwindling. The city's transit commission is allowing drivers to go off route if needed, but doing so isn't always practical; Andre Fournier, president of ATU Local 741, the union that represents bus drivers in the city, tells the London Free Press that he hopes local businesses will help out.
London city council approved two months' worth of financial-support measures at its meeting yesterday to help city residents during the COVID-19 outbreak. Residents unable to pay the next property-tax installment by the March 31 deadline will not be charged a late penalty or interest for two months; interest and penalties on unpaid water and wastewater billings will be deferred for 60 days; and business owners with community-improvement-plan loans will have their loan repayments deferred, interest free, for 60 days.
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