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Ontario passes emergency COVID-19 bills
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Mar 22, 2020
Sioux Lookout has 5,200 residents, but its local health-care facilities treat thousands more — many of them from the 33 remote First Nations to its north. (Jon Thompson)

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Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

COVID-19 death indicates local spread in Halton

A Milton man in his 50s is Ontario’s second COVID-19-related fatality. The patient, who had an underlying heart condition, sought treatment last week for what was thought to be pneumonia. He died Wednesday in Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital. “The individual did not travel outside of Canada recently. Nor was he a contact of a known case of COVID-19,” Halton Region’s medical officer of health, Dr. Hamidah Meghani, told a news conference. “The indication is there is local transmission.”
 
In Durham Region, public health officials reported that four elderly residents of a long-term-care home in Oshawa have tested positive for the infection. As of yesterday evening, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario was 258. Of those, two people have died and five others have recovered.


Premier thanks Ontarians for pulling together

Premier Doug Ford yesterday thanked businesses and Ontarians for their contributions to the fight against the spread of coronavirus. He also praised the media and Ontario’s union leaders, singling out OPSEU’s Smokey Thomas and Unifor’s Jerry Dias. Ford made the comments in his now-daily address at Queen’s Park as he was flanked by senior cabinet ministers.

He and Health Minister Christine Elliott said they have asked automakers to see if they can retool their facilities to be able to manufacture ventilators for hospital use. Distillers have also been asked to switch production from liquor to hand sanitizer. Other new measures he announced included a temporary suspension of eviction orders as well as granting an extension for renewal of driver’s licences, licence plate stickers, and health cards. The government also plans to waive the three-month waiting period for new and returning Canadians to get OHIP coverage.


Legislature passes emergency bills

In an unusual emergency session of the Ontario legislature, only 24 members sat in the house to comply with new social-distancing guidelines. The parties agreed to allow for 12 Progressive Conservative MPPs to sit, eight MPPs from the New Democratic Party, two Liberals, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner, and the Speaker. They passed legislation announced earlier this week aimed at protecting workers during the COVID-19 crisis. They also voted to allow 24-hour truck delivery for essential services to grocery stores and drugstores.


Border to shut down tonight

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that details of the Canada-U.S. border closure for non-essential travel were still being worked out but he expected it to happen late Friday night or early Saturday morning.


TVO.org publishing daily COVID-19 roundup

Each morning, TVO.org will publish a collection of news items from across the province about the COVID-19 pandemic and will update it throughout the day. Please visit TVO.org for the latest. Here is Thursday evening’s edition.


Listen now

#onpoli: Ep. 7 — Ontario passes emergency COVID-19 legislation

It was supposed to be a quiet week in the legislature, with MPPs on a scheduled break. Instead, MPPs gathered in the house yesterday to pass emergency COVID-19 legislation. The meeting took place shortly after officials reported another coronavirus-related death. Podcast hosts Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath discuss the developments out of Queen’s Park.


Watch now

The Agenda: Politics and the pandemic

The Globe and Mail’s Laura Stone gives an update on the Ontario government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And with anxiety about the spread of coronavirus on top of an already-rough cold and flu season, thousands of Ontarians have been left to struggle with their pain management. The Agenda welcomes Dr. Hance Clarke, staff anesthesiologist and director of pain services at Toronto General Hospital, to discuss the issue.


Off the Beaten Track with Kate Humble

Kate Humble and her Welsh sheepdog, Teg, explore mid-Wales. In Ponterwyd, they herd sheep for the market and talk to farmers. At the Teifi Pools, Kate discovers that Wales is a world leader in protecting its dark skies.


Read now

Bracing for COVID-19 in a northern health-care hub

Sioux Lookout has 5,200 residents, but its local health-care facilities treat thousands more — many of them from the 33 remote First Nations to its north. Northwestern Ontario reporter Jon Thompson visited the community to find out how it’s preparing for a possible COVID-19 outbreak. He writes: “An hour after Premier Doug Ford declared a provincewide state of emergency on Tuesday morning that mandated the closure of restaurants and bars, Sioux Lookout mayor Doug Lawrance announced the closure of all municipal buildings. ‘I felt like, for two months, we were watching a movie called Coronavirus, and then we were in the movie,’ Lawrance says. ‘So we’d better act our part and listen to the experts.’”

What it’s like to be an international student in Ontario right now

According to the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities, there are 169,689 international post-secondary students in the province. Northeastern Ontario reporter Nick Dunne speaks to some of them about the difficult choices they’re making during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Tonight on TVO

7 p.m. — Secret History of the British Garden

On his journey through 400 years of British gardens, Monty Don explores the extraordinary transformations of the 19th century. In the 1800s, the combination of an expanding empire, scientific and technological innovation, and social change made British gardens more exotic, colourful, and accessible than ever.

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Lessons from SARS

As Ontario fights the spread of COVID-19, what lessons from the 2003 SARS epidemic have informed the decisions being made now? The Agenda welcomes key players from that crisis: Tony Clement, the former Ontario minister of health; Paul Cantin, who was then the minister’s press secretary; Mike McCarthy, then a senior policy adviser to the Ministry of Health; and Kristina Gentes, then a policy adviser to Premier Ernie Eves. 

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