UPDATE: May 19
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.
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that the Canada – United States border will remain closed to all but essential traffic for additional thirty days, until June 21st. He made the announcement at his daily briefing on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa.
- Essential traffic is defined as health care workers going between the two countries, and just as importantly, the hundreds of trucks that cross daily with cargo to keep North American supply chains working. The original agreement on the border was to expire later this week, on May 21st.
- Trudeau also announced that eligibility for loans from the Canadian Emergency Business Account is being expanded. Companies with payrolls between $20,000 and $1.5 Million are eligible for loans of up to $40,000. If the loans are repaid by the end of 2021 they are interest free and $10,000 of the loan is forgivable.
- The expanded eligibility means that companies with contract workers or which pay income in dividends to either the owner or others including family members will now be eligible for Emergency Business Account loans.
- Mr. Trudeau also said that supplies of Personal Protection Equipment has, in many cases, doubled and is ready to distributed to the Provinces.
- The Prime Minister was also asked if he would follow the example of U.S. President Donald Trump and take a drug called hydroxychloroquine to counter COVID-19. The drug is used as a treatment for malaria, but Trump has pushed the idea that the drug is an effective counter to the Coronavirus. It has not been approved as a treatment for COVID-19, and some medical professionals have warned that taking it could be dangerous. Asked if he plans to try hydroxychloroquine, Trudeau said, “I plan to follow the advice of the best medical professionals.”
- Today, the province entered the first stage of its Framework for Reopening the Province. In Phase 1 of the reopening, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas. Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will remain closed until later stages of the province’s reopening plan.
- The province also announced that all emergency orders currently in force have been extended until May 29, 2020. These include the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women’s shelters. The government is also allowing drive-in religious gatherings.
- In a statement earlier today, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, announced that the government will be launching an Independent Commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September. Details of the Commission will be finalized over the next several months, including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.
- The province has officially announced that they will be keeping schools closed for the balance of the school year and is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children and families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the Province. A gradual reopening of child care and summer day camps is expected to begin as part of Stage 2, which will use robust safety protocols.
- During his press conference, the Premier was asked about a rental freeze for small businesses, and said that he is still waiting on the details of the federal government’s relief package for small businesses scheduled for next week. He did reiterate that he expects landlords to continue to work with their tenants so that businesses can remain open.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario