Here are the updates from today.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provided an update on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program this afternoon, announcing that government is loosening eligibility criteria. The new criteria for the CEWG relaxes the main eligibility criteria based on declining revenue. Companies now only need to show a 15 per cent decline in revenue for the month of March, as the impacts of COVID-19 weren’t felt until half way through the month. Businesses will also now have the option of using January and February to demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in revenue if they choose. In addition, non-profits and charities are now being allowed to exclude government funding in their calculations when applying.
Canada Summer Job’s employers will now be eligible for a subsidy of up to 100 per cent to cover the costs of hiring students, helping create up to 70,000 jobs for Canadians between the ages of 15 and 30. The timeframe for job placement will also be extended to the winter, as some jobs will start later than usual. Businesses will also be able to hire students part-time as well.
Trudeau said more support is on the way for seniors, acknowledging that the nation’s elderly are in a particularly difficult position, both because of the impact that COVID-19 has on their age demographic and the post-pandemic economic worries that many will face living off of a retirement salary.
Ontario saw the largest single-day increase in cases since the outbreak began, with a jump of 11.6% on Wednesday, bringing the provincial total of confirmed cases to 5,276.
This afternoon Premier Doug Ford, alongside Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton, announced that Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects, like critical projects in the health-care sector, to 24 hours a day. Minister McNaughton also announced a number of initiatives to keep workers safe on the job. These include:
- Extending an invitation to recently retired workplace inspectors to temporarily come back on the job and help keep jobsites safe.
- Deploying an additional 30 employment standards officers to help businesses understand and comply with health and safety requirements.
- Hiring an additional 30 specialists from health and safety associations to support employers and workers in the field.
- Additional health and safety guidance notes to support specific sectors.
- Doubling capacity of health and safety call centre from 25 lines to 50 lines.
Ford circled back on whether or not he would keep essential businesses like grocery stores open over the long weekend, as a means to prevent long lines and hoarding of food. Ford announced that stores will be open on Thursday, Saturday and Monday, and will be closed on Good Friday and Easter Sunday to give front line heroes a much needed and deserved break.
Ontario’s NDP is calling for the Ontario government to immediately use its COVID-19 testing capacity, including regular tests for frontline health care workers and seniors living in long-term care. Ontario has the lowest testing rate per capita in the country, and public health experts have expressed concern about the lag in testing. Health care workers alone make up at least one in 10 cases of COVID-19, demonstrating the urgency to increase testing, even of non-symptomatic health care staff.
Windsor Regional Hospital has restricted access to visitors. Starting today there will be no visitors allowed into the Intensive Care Units at either hospital. In Windsor, the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases has reached 244 and a seventh person has died.
As always, please take care of yourselves and stay safe.