daily: Wednesday, March 25

Legislature meets for another special session
By TVO Current Affairs - Published on Mar 25, 2020
The provincial legislature will reconvene for a second special session today at 4 p.m. in the hopes of passing a “mini-budget” bill from the minister of finance. (



Good morning, Ontario.

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Ontario legislature to convene this afternoon

The provincial legislature will reconvene for a second special session today at 4 p.m. in the hopes of passing a “mini-budget” bill from the minister of finance. According to a press release from the office of the house leader, MPPs will be invited to a virtual lock-up at 1 p.m. to review the proposed legislation. The government expects “unanimous consent.” Like the previous special session, today’s will feature limited attendance to promote social distancing and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday evening, Ontario had 588 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Public health officials said the tally includes eight fatalities as well as eight people whose cases are resolved. Results are pending from another 10,074 tests.

Cellphone tracking data and the fight against COVID-19

Toronto Mayor John Tory told a group of tech entrepreneurs on Monday evening that the city was using anonymous tracking data from mobile carriers to see where people were gathering in large numbers, according to The Logic. On Tuesday, city staff said the city did not intend to collect such data. “The mayor was referencing an offer to share totally anonymous cellphone location information with the City to help explain where people were congregating together in large groups over the weekend to help Toronto Public Health as it works to further encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Don Peat, Tory’s executive director of communications.

Also Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government currently has no plan to use similar data, but that all options are on the table.

Domestic violence groups concerned about COVID-19 impact

As the province continues to promote staying at home and social distancing, domestic violence groups are concerned that people in abusive relationships are at increased risk. According to the Toronto Star, groups across the GTA say they are bracing for a rise in instances of domestic violence because of people spending more time in close quarters, increased economic anxiety, and decreased capacity in courtrooms. “It’s a bit of of a perfect storm,” said Felix Munger, the manager of the Canadian Municipal Network on Crime Prevention. The federal government announced last week that it would provide $50 million to organizations supporting women fleeing domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ford announces hydro rate cut

Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that the province would move hydro rates to off-peak pricing for at least the next 45 days to offset the cost of working from home. The cut, which will affect families, farmers, and small businesses, is expected to cost $162 million. “This means you will pay the lowest possible rate, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Ford said. It will apply automatically and require no action on the part of the ratepayer. publishing daily COVID-19 roundup

Every day, we will publish a collection of news items from across the province about the pandemic. Please visit for the latest. Here is Tuesday evening’s edition.

Watch now

The Agenda: The rise of zoonotic diseases

From Ebola to COVID-19, viruses that cross from animal to human are becoming more deadly. What can we do to stop their spread? Joining Steve Paikin is Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Her team recently isolated SARS-CoV-2  (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), the agent that causes COVID-19.

Political Blind Date: City Finances

This episode of TVO’s acclaimed series pairs Toronto councillor and budget chief Gary Crawford with former budget chief Shelley Carroll. They try to find consensus on how to manage the city’s finances during a shortfall. Crawford believes in finding efficiencies, while Carroll thinks new revenue-generating tools are needed to pay for the city’s growth.

Listen now

#onpoli: Ep. 10 – Pivoting to cope with the COVID-19 crisis 

Podcast hosts Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath discuss how the federal and provincial government are pivoting to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Plus, the latest measures from Queen’s Park to provide financial relief to Ontarians. 

Read now

Why Ottawa doesn’t need to declare a state of emergency

Justin Trudeau
File photo of Justin Trudeau (Justin Tang/CP)

Political columnist John Michael McGrath tackles the question on many minds across the country: should Ottawa invoke emergency powers? “It’s not even clear what the federal government would need the Emergencies Act to do, at this point,” he writes. “Close the border? Done. Shut down air travel? The economic shockwaves of COVID-19 are doing that, and, in any event, the government has that power already. Nearly everything you could name the federal government can do with other powers.”

19th-century NIMBYism and the typhus epidemic in Ontario

In the 1840s, thousands of Irish emigrants contracted typhus on their journey to Canada. Jamie Bradburn writes about their quarantine upon arrival and explains how the government worked to quell public fear.

Tonight on TVO

7 p.m.— Impossible Railways: The Need for Speed

Since the earliest days of railways, pioneering engineers have embraced the challenge of building faster trains. This episode explores the development of mighty steam locomotives, supersonic rocket-sleds, and hovering trains.

8 p.m. — The Agenda: Budgeting for COVID-19

In the middle of a provincial state of emergency, the Ontario government is set to release a fiscal update to address its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Finance Minister Rod Phillips joins Steve Paikin to discuss the government’s plans.

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