COVID-19 Updates: April 14-21

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced an extension to the province's state of emergency until June 9, 2020 Image credit: CityNews

By: Laura Steiner

This space is for updates on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic for the week of April 14-21.

Key Developments from last week:

  •  Canadians could apply for the Emergency benefit beginning last Monday.  The standards for the wage subsidy program were relaxed so that businesses could use a 15% loss in March. Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new business loan program allowing business owners to access a $40,000 loan through their banks.
  • Emergencies Act: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has consulted with the provincial premiers regarding the use of the Emergencies Act.  The majority of premiers are against it, but the final decision belongs to the Prime Minister.
  • Ontario increased testing capability to include first responders, and those in vulnerable communities.  The province is also protecting parents by prohibiting daycares for charging parents for their programs.  The province has received over 14,000 submissions through its Ontario Together web portal for medical equipment, supplies and services.   The province also relaxed noise bylaws allowing construction on key infrastructure to operate 24 hours a day.
  • Milton/Halton: The Town of Milton unveiled its own aid package for businesses.  The Downtown Milton Street Festival has also been cancelled.

April 14: More help for Northern communities, Ontario Extends State of Emergency

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more money to help northern communities.  Additional funding includes: $72.6 million to the governments of Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut  to support their efforts in fighting COVID-19 as well as $25 million to Nutrition North Canada to increase subsidies so families can afford much-needed nutritious food and personal hygiene products.  Trudeau is also hinting that it will be weeks before restrictions can be lifted.

Ontario meanwhile has extended its state of emergency until May 12, 2020.  “We cannot let our guard down,” Premier Doug Ford said.  All orders passed so far will remain in effect.  Education Minister Stephen Lecce has indicated the schools will remain closed longer than May 4, 2020, with the details set to be revealed later this month.  Ontario recorded 483 more cases overnight, bringing the province’s overall total to 7,953.  The Region of Halton has an overall total of 335 confirmed cases.  66 of these are in Milton.  The Region’s stats show 11 residents have so far died of COVID-19.

Milton Fire Department is adopting a zero tolerance approach to open air burning.  “Those who forgo obtaining a permit could face penalties” Acting Fire Chief Kevin Foster said.

Update: 15/4/2020: More Workers to access CERB, Council Updated on Town Staff’s Response

Rules for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are being loosened up to allow seasonal workers, and people making less than $1,000/month.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement this morning during his daily briefing.  “We will do whatever we can to help you do your job and support you through this time,” Trudeau said.

Ontario cases rose by 494 overnight to 8,447.  Region of Halton cases increased by 11 to 344.  Milton is sitting at 67 cases, with 9 classified as “probable cases.”  Milton Council was given an update yesterday on Town Staff’s handling of the pandemic.

April 16: Canada Expands the Small business Aid

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has expanded the small business support measures.  The new measures include

  • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.
  • Announcing its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic

“We are committed to helping Canadians through this difficult period,” Finance Bill Morneau said.

Ontario also passed measures to enable insurance companies to provide temporary rebates to drivers.  “We are in an unprecedented time and people are experiencing extraordinary financial pressures,” Finance Minister Rod Phillips said.

April 17: 2pm- Canada Day Goes Virtual, Ontario Prepares Hospitals

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $1.7 billion new funding to help clean up orphan wells in British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.  “Cleaning them up will bring people back to work and help many land owners who have had their wells on their property for years, but haven’t been able to get them taken care of and the land restored,” Trudeau said.  The measure could help maintain approximately 5,000 jobs in Alberta.

Canada Day will be  a “virtual affair.”  “Together we are meeting one of the greatest challenges in our history, and this year more than ever, Canada Day will highlight the strength that unites us,” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said in a news release.  More information to come.

Ontario introduced a plan to help Long-Term Care homes cope with COVID-19.  “There is nothing more important than protecting the health and well-being of our loved ones in long-term care,” Long Term Care Minister Dr. Merrilee Fullerton said.  The plan includes a directive restricting staff to one long-term care home instead of working at multiple homes.

Ontario hospitals are also prepared to face all scenarios when battling COVID-19.  The province is adding an addition 2,000 acute care and critical care beds.  “As we’ve said from the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario will be prepared to respond to any outbreak scenario, including having plans in place for the worst-case scenario,” said  Health Minister Christine Elliott.  Ontario reported an additional 564 cases bringing the province’s overall total to 9,525 today.  Halton Region cases rose to 359, with Milton sitting at 72 cases.

17/4/2020- 11:30 pm-  Canada Orders All travelers to Wear Non-Medical Masks, Milton Launches PPE Portal

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau has announced an order that would require all air travellers to wear a non-medical mask at all screening checkpoints, and wherever it’s impossible for them travellers to maintain the 2 metre social distancing standard.  The new order is effective as of 12pm Monday April 20, 2020.

Canada, and Ontario have partnered on a new program that would see agriculture and agri-food workers matched with potential employers.  “Our government is doing everything possible to ensure we support our farmers, and fill job vacancies,” Ontario Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister Ernie Hardeman said.  Interested businesses are invited to call 1-877-424-1300 for more information.

The Milton Chamber of Commerce has started its own Procurement portal for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  “We heard from many members of our community who wanted to help but didn’t know where to turn.  This portal is now a resource that anyone can turn to,” Milton Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Parm Gill said.  The idea is to match those with small supplies of the valuable equipment, with those businesses who might need them.  For more information visit the website

April 18: Border Closure agreement, new money for Indigenous Businesses

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Ontario also promised to invest another $20 million in medical research.

April 19: Ontario partners with Rogers, Apple on E-learning initiatives

Ontario has announced a partnership with Rogers and Apple to make e-learning initiatives easier for students living in rural areas.  Apple will distribute iPads through the school boards, and support materials to parents and teachers. “This important partnership will enable students to learn while making technology accessible for those that truly need it,” Education Minister Stephen Lecce said

Halton Region’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Hamadiah Meghani released the following video update on COVID19:

April 20: Parliament Resumes, Ontario Releases New Modelling

Parliament is resuming regular sittings on a reduced schedule.  The plan is to hold one in-person sitting per week on Wednesday featuring a reduced number of Members of Parliament (MPs).  Question Period will be a 90 minute session twice/ week Tuesdays and Thursdays.  the weekly in-person meetings will include a 2 hour question session for cabinet ministers.  The Liberals, Bloc Quebecois, and NDP have agreed on the deal.

Ontario has released its updated models.  The good news is that the province appears to have reached its peak in terms of community spread, and is trending towards a best case scenario.  A danger zone remains long-term care homes.  “COVID-19 continues to be a clear and present danger, especially to our seniors and most vulnerable citizens,” Premier Doug Ford said.  Ontario reported an increase of 608 cases overnight, and an additional 2 outbreaks.

The Region of Halton reports 383 cases overall, and an additional 56 cases listed as “probable.”  77 cases are in Milton, with an additional 14 listed as probable.

Milton was out again to make some noise for first responders on Saturday.  This week they included an appearance from Spider Girl.