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Some of Ontario’s local medical officers of health “just aren’t performing,” Premier Doug Ford said yesterday. The province’s Tuesday COVID-19 update showed just 10,654 completed tests, down from more than 16,000 last week. “I’m calling them out right now. You’ve got to pick up the pace,” Ford said. New Democrat opposition leader Andrea Horwath later called the premier out for throwing public-health leaders “under the bus.”
Ottawa pledges $252 million for agri-food sector
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $252 million in aid to help farmers and food-processing businesses operate safely during the pandemic. It will also be used to purchase surplus food and send it to organizations that address food insecurity. The Canadian Federation of Agriculture had requested $2.6 billion, but Trudeau said the announcement was just a starting point.
Union calls for criminal investigations into long-term-care deaths
SEIU Healthcare, which represents 60,000 front-line health care workers in Ontario, is calling for public inquiries and criminal investigations into COVID-19 deaths in long-term-care homes. “Both frontline workers and the elderly in our long-term care system are saying the same thing: keep us alive,” union president Sharleen Stewart said in a press release. “That’s why we're calling for urgent investigations that will keep people alive and hold negligent operators responsible for the death of our healthcare heroes.”
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Queen's Park has announced expanded access to online mental-health supports, at no cost to patients. Hosts Steve Paikin and John Michael McGrath discuss the details of the plan and dig into yet another dip in the province's daily testing numbers.
Recent polls suggest that people are drinking more than usual while stuck at home. By the time restrictions are lifted, will alcohol habits have changed? The Agenda welcomes Catherine Paradis, senior research and policy analyst for the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction; and Rod Phillips, a Carleton University professor who researches the history of alcohol.
Lionfish are now invading the Atlantic — apparently the result of aquarium fish being released into the sea. In these regions, the tropical reef species might be a greater threat to the existing ecosystem than global warming or pollution.
Food writer Jessica Huras explores how Ontario’s fine-dining restaurants — including Toronto’s Marbl — are pivoting to at-home eating. She writes: “Marbl owner Peter Girges has added shepherd’s pie and macaroni and cheese to a menu that typically features braised lamb shank and Atlantic cod. ‘If we did the regular menu, it would make no sense,’ says Girges, adding that the new additions are already among Marbl’s best-sellers for takeout. ‘It goes to show that people really want that comfort food.’”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s opioid crisis has quietly gotten worse. Journalist Audrey Carleton speaks with Meghan O’Leary of Kingston Community Health Centres about the challenges that come with providing life-saving support from a safe distance. Carleton writes: “Clients of the Kingston community-health centre have to line up at the door to be screened for symptoms of COVID-19. ‘We're screening people at the door, and they can't come in, but they have nowhere to go to the bathroom or get drinking water,’ O’Leary says. Clients who do make it in the doors are permitted to spend only a limited amount of time inside.”
Tonight on TVO
8 p.m. — The Agenda: What we’ve learned about COVID-19
Doctors and researchers are learning more about COVID-19 every day. Joining The Agenda to discuss some of the latest findings are Allison McGeer, an infectious-diseases physician and senior clinician scientist at Sinai Health System; and Adrienne Chan, an infectious-diseases physician at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine.
9 p.m. — Sylvia Plath: Inside the Bell Jar
Poet and novelist Sylvia Plath's semi-autobiographical The Bell Jar shone a light on 1950s gender politics, sexual identity, and mental health. This film offers unprecedented access to people who knew Plath, many of whom are speaking publicly for the first time.