daily: Tuesday, March 17

COVID-19 shuts down the border — mostly
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Mar 17, 2020
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau announced that the border would be closed to all but Canadian citizens and permanent residents. (Fred Chartrand/CP)



Good morning, Ontario.

Here's what we're following

Trying to contain the spread

It was a busy day yesterday at the federal and provincial levels of government, with major announcements about efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justice Trudeau announced that the border would be closed to all but Canadian citizens and permanent residents — with some exceptions, including diplomats, airline crews, immediate family members of Canadians, and U.S. citizens. Trudeau said the decision to continue to allow Americans into the country was because of the level of integration between the two nations.
He also said international flights would land at only four airports starting on Wednesday — Toronto Pearson, Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Vancouver International, and Calgary International Airport — and assured Canadians thatbeefed-up border measures would be put in place to screen people for coronavirus.

In a subsequent media briefing, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said, “Now is the time to pull out all the stops to flatten the curve.”

Province announces worker protections

At Queen’s Park, Premier Doug Ford announced measures to protect workers during the pandemic. These include no longer having obtain sick notes for employers and the assurance that workers wouldn’t lose their job if they have to self-isolate or stay home to take care of ill family members. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said the new legislation would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, when the first coronavirus case appeared in Ontario.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips announced the Ontario budget, scheduled to be released on March 25, would instead be replaced by a scaled-down economic and fiscal update that would address needs in the province’s health-care system.

And Health Minister Christine Elliott said Telehealth’s capacity would be boosted by 130 nurses to meet the rising demand for information from the public.

Yesterday’s new COVID-19 cases in Toronto included cases which were unlinked and suggested community spread, said Dr. Eileen de Villa, the city’s medical officer of health. She asked that the hospitality industry do its partto “flatten the curve” by stopping dine-in services in restaurants, and asked nightclubs, movie theatres and concert venues to close immediately.

As of last night, Ontario had 32 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 177, with 422 cases in all 10 Canadian provinces. Three additional deaths were reported in British Columbia yesterday, all from the Lynn Valley Care Centre in North Vancouver. This brings the total of COVID-19 deaths in Canada to four.

Watch now

The Agenda: COVID-19 update

Doug Ford and ministers
Sean Kilpatrick/CP

The Agenda presents the latest on Ontario's response to COVID-19 from Queen's Park. Then, Toronto Mayor John Tory explains what measures the city is taking. We also look at the economic realities of the global pandemic.

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Read now

COVID-19 moves north: How Sudbury is coping with the pandemic

Northeastern Ontario Hubs reporter Nick Dunne reports on what’s being done about the spread of COVID-19 in Sudbury. “Health Sciences North opened an assessment centre Friday at 56 Walford Road to ease pressure on the emergency room,” he writes. “To be eligible, you must have a fever and have travelled either internationally or to an affected area such as PDAC (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference) — or come into contact with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 or someone exhibiting symptoms who has travelled internationally.”

Tonight on TVO

The Agenda: Italy, COVID-19’s European epicentre

In the worst COVID-19 outbreak outside of China, cases and deaths continue to rise in Italy, overwhelming the health-care system. In response, the country of 60 million became the first democratic nation since the Second World War to impose a countrywide lockdown. The Agenda speaks to those on the ground to gain a better sense of how Italy is coping with the outbreak. Tonight’s guests are Ercole Rocchetti, a reporter at Italy’s national public broadcaster, RAI, and Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail’s European bureau chief.

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