Here is a summary of the major developments that occurred on March 25, 2020 on the provincial and federal scene. These ranged from tabling of the province’s fiscal update with significant new investments to tackle COVID-19, the passage of the federal government’s aid package to new quarantine measures for international travellers.
Outlined below are the key developments at the provincial level.
Overview of Ontario’s Fiscal Update
Finance Minister Phillips tabled his March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update entitled, “Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID‑19”. The plan included:
$7 billion for health care and direct support for people and jobs, including $160 million in public health funding to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, and laboratory and home testing as well as for virtual care and Telehealth Ontario;
$10 billion for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve cash flow and protect jobs;
$1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund; and
$25B projected deficit and $2.5B reserve.
A more detailed overview of the fiscal update will follow.
Procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
the province procured around 7 million N-95 masks; and
Ontario manufacturing companies like Magna, Woodbridge and Linamar have stepped up to make PPEs for Ontario and Canada.
Despite pleas from construction workers and some unions to shut down construction sites, Premier Ford has asked the workers to stay at home if they feel unsafe and requested employers to keep their workplaces safe with appropriate measures for hand washing and sanitization.
Here are the latest developments on the federal scene.
Federal Aid Plan
The federal government’s aid package was passed today by the House of Commons and Senate; the opposition parties were able to change the bill to limit the time-frame in which the Finance Minister can exercise his new powers and the type of spending over the next six months;
Finance Minister Morneau announced $52B in direct support and another $55B through tax deferrals thus bringing the total federal funding to tackle the pandemic to $107B;
Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Emergency Response Benefit Program:
a new emergency benefit program will provide $2,000 per month for a period of four months to those who don’t have any income as a result of COVID-19, provided they have generated a revenue of more than $5,000 in the last year;
an online portal is expected to be launched on April 6th for the program with benefits being delivered within 10 days;
some 13,000 federal public servants are being reassigned to process claims; and
almost 1 million people have applied for EI and over 140,000 applications have been processed.
Quarantine Act Invoked:
Health Minister Hajdu invoked the Quarantine Act today. Beginning from midnight today, all travelers, irrespective of whether showing symptoms or not, will be:
forbidden to take any city buses, trains and subways; and
asked to quarantine at their city of landing for the 14-day isolation period; and
the Public Health Agency of Canada will be providing travel, food and accommodation for these travelers during those 14 days.
Funding for Indigenous and First Nation communities
$305M is being allocated to an Indigenous Community Support Fund, of which:
$215M will be provided to First Nations communities (each will get a base amount adjusted for population, remoteness and community wellbeing);
$45M and $30M will be provided to Inuit and Metis communities respectively; and
$15M will help regional, urban and Indigenous organizations support those living away from their community.
Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault expressed his appreciation to the Canadian Public Health Association, Canadian Medical Association and others for the information campaigns they’ve done in partnership with Canadian media and online platforms.
Status of cases in Ontario
The symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus, which can include fever and cough, are similar to other respiratory infections, including influenza. As a result, individuals who may simply have the flu are being tested out of an abundance of caution and in line with Ontario’s robust detection protocols. This means that most individuals who are tested are unlikely to be infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.
This web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information on the status of cases in Ontario, every day, seven days a week, at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET.
Negative > 124458
Currently under investigation > 210489
Confirmed positive > 3667
Resolved > 48
Deceased > 13
Total number of patients approved for COVID-19 testing to date 35,635
Last updated: March 25, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. ET
Learn about how the Ministry of Health is preparing for the 2019 novel coronavirus in Ontario. Find out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms by visiting: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus. This web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information on the status of cases in Ontario, every day, seven days a week, at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET.
Declaration of emergency
The province has enacted a declaration of emergency to help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public.
As a result, the following establishments are required to close immediately:
all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout and food delivery
all facilities providing indoor recreational programs
all public libraries
all private schools
all licensed child care centres
all movie cinemas
all theatres, including those offering live performances of music, dance and other art forms
all concert venues
Additionally, all organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.
These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, when the province will reassess for an extension or end the closures.
Current affected areas
The number of countries now reporting cases of COVID-19 has expanded and continues to change on a daily basis. The World Health Organization (WHO) is maintaining lists of affected areas/countries in their daily Situation Report, which can be found on the WHO website.
Information on the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for health care professionals
If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents and learning about:
occupational health & safety and infection prevention & control measures