RECENT NEWS: James Barry Responds to Decision of Provincial Government to Deem Construction as Essential
Read the letter here: IBEW Response to Ontario Govt Re: Construction Workplaces as Essential Workplaces
UPDATE: April 27 7:59:55 PM
Message from Executive Secretary Treasurer, James Barry:
Below is the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Today the Prime Minister advised that Ottawa and the Provinces are discussing shared national principles for opening up economic activity across the country.
- He further advised that 10,000 companies had applied for help under the Federal Government’s Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program in the first five hours that applications were accepted this morning.
- It was noted that Saskatchewan and New Brunswick are already taking tentative steps to reopen parts of their provincial economies.
- The Prime Minister reiterated that the wage subsidy will pay up to $847 a week for every employee a companies keeps on their payrolls during the pandemic, whether or not they have any work to do. People who are not connected to a company but who have lost their income can apply for $2,000 a month from the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) program offered by the Federal Government. People who qualify for the CERB must reapply each month.
- Prime Minister Trudeau cautioned that despite warmer weather and the desire to get outside, Canadians have to stay disciplined and continue to follow the rules to stay home, wash their hands often and self distance when they are near anyone other than family members by at least two metres.
- He said history showed in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918 and 1919, that conditions were difficult in the spring of 1918 but they were even worse in the fall of that year.
- The Prime Minister said rushing to re-open the economy and returning to pre-pandemic conditions too quickly could cause a repeat of that experience.
“Normal is something that is a long way off for all of us,” he said.
- Today the Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures that are currently in place.
- The Premier advised that the efforts of Ontarians are paying off. He said that working together, our health experts are telling us we are in the peak of the crisis and we are now in a position as a province to set the conditions to move towards reopening our economy.
- The Premier advised that the government is planning a 3 stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely.
- Stage 1:For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
- Stage 2:Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
- Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.
- Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.
- To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:
- A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
- Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
- Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
- Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.
- Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.
- The Premier was clear that the framework is about how Ontario will re-open the economy, not when we will re-open. He reiterated that as long as there is a threat of the virus, we will continue to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of the public. We cannot take anything for granted and cannot take unnecessary risk.
- The Premier advised that the government will not set hard dates until we are ready. We must ensure that our plan reflects Ontario’s unique position. He said the decisions must be responsible, they must be measure and they must be guided by the Chief Medical Officer, the command table and our medical experts.
- The Minister of Health, Christine Elliott said that we have dramatically reduced the number of cases in Ontario because of the resolve of Ontarians. It is because of this resolve that we can look at measures to re-opening the economy.
- When the Premier was asked by media about what he would say to those disappointed that there are no dates or hard timelines in the framework the Premier advised that we are just now in a position to start to look at how we can re-open and what measures need to be in place. He advised that we don’t want to be pre-mature and have a second wave.
- When asked about sports and concerts the Premier confirmed that Minister MacLeod has been working closely with stakeholders this sector but doesn’t feel that we will be in a position to see full stadiums any time soon.
- When questioned if there was various parts of the province he would open up before others, he advised that it is important to open up the economy together. This is to ensure that there would be no community spread from one region to another. Again, he said we would like to do it slowly, methodically and safely.
- With the weather getting better, the Premier commented that he hopes that people of Ontario will not stop following guidelines and continue to use common sense. He said “if we can hang in there, we can get there.”
- The Premier commented that he is confident that we can get our economy up and running again post COVID-19. He commented that before the crisis, the government had created the right environment in the province and had ramped up the economy, showing great progress with regards to job creation and that he is confident we can do it again.
- The Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips advised that the government adjusted quickly and accordingly at the beginning of the crisis by building in a record amount of prudence for the spring economic statement. He further advised that the next financial update is scheduled for August, at which time the province will advise how revenues have been impacted by COVID-19.
- Supporting the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Minister Phillips, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward. The government and Members of Provincial Parliament will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the post-secondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario