Good evening everyone,
I hope you enjoyed your weekend as best you could given the circumstances.
The Prime Minister announced that his government will be making amendments to the Federal Quarantine Act that will require asymptomatic travellers who cannot provide a credible quarantine plan to self-isolate in a hotel for 14 days. This change comes into effect tonight at midnight.
The Prime Minister announced four plane loads of N95 masks and other PPE had arrived in Canada. Together with domestic supplies, the Prime Minister said the federal government had 1.1 million N95 masks, millions of pairs of gloves and soon more protective gowns to send to the provinces in coming days.
Health Canada has approved a new rapid test for the coronavirus by Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience. The test can show results in less than an hour and uses a portable hand-held device, which means there is no need to send samples to a lab. The government will prioritize distribution of these tests for remote areas that have less access to more centralized laboratories – specifically northern and Indigenous communities. Ontario has ordered nearly one million testing kits, while Alberta's contract is for 100,000 kits.Health Canada greenlit the device on Saturday and Spartan says it will begin shipments “immediately.” Spartan says the test can be operated by non-laboratory personnel in a variety of locales such as airports, border crossings, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and clinics.
Federal Minister of Seniors Deb Schulte released the government’s updated guidelines for long-term care homes. Even though these facilities fall under provincial and territorial jurisdiction, the new recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada will help ensure consistent guidance across Canada. The guidelines were drafted in consultation with the provinces and territories, and based on the experience in other countries. Among the key recommendations:
- Restricting visitors and volunteers;
- Screenings before shift for staff and before any essential visitor enters;
- Prohibiting staff with symptoms from coming to work;
- Mandating masks and other personal protective equipment;
- Limiting employees to working in a single facility;
- Cancelling any non-essential outings; and
- Maintaining physical distance during meals.
Our caucus has been calling for these changes for some time in Ontario. It won’t be enough for the government to simply say staff can’t work in multiple long-term care homes; it will be important to address the reasons why they had to do this in the first place. Otherwise, we will continue to see staff leave to take second jobs to make ends meet.
A reminder for anyone with questions about EI, CERB, etc. to please contact your federal MP as these are regulated federally. In Windsor West, you can contact Brian Masse, and in Windsor-Tecumseh you can contact Irek Kusmierczyk.
The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until April 23. This includes maintaining the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places, bars and restaurants and restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price gouging.
The provincial government is redeploying hospital resources to deliver additional support to long-term care homes in Ontario, calling the situation a “wildfire.” To date, 114 long-term care homes have reported cases of COVID-19, representing roughly 14 percent of the 626 facilities in Ontario. Noting that Ontario’s hospitals have capacity as “they have not seen the surge we thought we would,” the Premier gave credit to the people of Ontario for following social distancing guidelines. The government will issue an emergency order later this evening to prevent workers from working in multiple long-term care facilities. Ford also noted that the government will be raising the minimum wage for part-time caregivers as well.
It was announced today that Ontario is committed to doubling the number of COVID-19 tests to 8,000 a day by April 15 and 14,000 a day by April 29. Ontario will be pre-emptively testing for priority populations, including:
- Hospital inpatients;
- Residents of long-term care and retirement homes;
- Health care workers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics, and first responders, including police and firefighters;
- Remote, isolated, rural and Indigenous communities;
- Other congregate living centres, including homeless shelters, prisons and group homes;
- Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant persons, newborns and cross-border workers; and
- Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders.
The provincial government announced that Alberta has donated vital supplies to Ontario. The care package from Alberta includes 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million procedural masks, 50 million gloves, 87,000 goggles and 50 ventilators.
There was an update issued regarding Ontario Together, the province’s program set up to allow government to connect them with supplies of essential medical products. To date, the portal has received more than 14,000 submissions, offering to provide everything from hand sanitizer to gowns and coveralls to masks and face shield to testing equipment and ventilators. This has led to the purchase of 91 million supplies, including 5.1 million surgical gloves, 20 million surgical masks, and 250,000 face shields. The province has also been able to source 50,000 units of hand sanitizer and has provided them for police officers.
The provincial government confirmed that students will not be returning to school on May 4, however this does not mean that the year is necessarily cancelled. The Minister of Education Stephen Lecce will be providing updates in the coming days.
The Official Opposition is calling on the government to give all Ontario drivers a 50 per cent break on auto insurance payments for three months, and let people who have lost a job or income defer payments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported the region’s largest jump in deaths related to COVID-19 yet. Five more people have died due to COVID-19 in recent days, bringing the number of deaths for the region to 13. Windsor-Essex now has 349 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Please take care of yourselves and check in with friends and family. As always, please wash your hands often, and continue to practice social distancing.