News & Media

May 4th Update from Federal and Provincial Governments

May 4, 2020

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


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.


  • The Federal Government is working on a bailout package for Canada’s airline industry, Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced at his daily COVID-19 briefing. He made the announcement on the same day that the country’s largest airline, Air Canada, announced it had lost just over $1B in the first three months of this year because of the pandemic.
  • Both Air Canada and WestJet, the country’s second largest airline, are using the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy program to keep paying its employees.  Under the program, the Federal Government pays seventy-five percent of an employee’s salary, up to $847 a week, as long as the employee is kept on the payroll whether or not they are actually working. Trudeau said more support for the airline industry would be coming in the future.
  • Trudeau also said there will be additional spending on finding a vaccine and subsequently manufacturing it to combat COVID-19.
  • Today Trudeau took part in a global virtual conference to support the World Health Organization aimed at raising $11B to find a vaccine to counter COVID-19.  He announced $850M as a Canadian contribution, however that funding had already been previously announced.  The Prime Minister said more money will be coming later.
  • On another matter, Trudeau was challenged on why the Government had appointed Tiff Macklin to be the next Governor of the Bank of Canada, instead of either a woman or a French Canadian. Trudeau said Macklin was “the best person during the crisis and in the next years of the recovery,” to be the Bank Governor.
  • On Sunday the Government announced a $240M program to provide for Mental Health and Primary Care online.
  • The Federal Government further announced a $175 MIL grant to AbCellera, a Vancouver company working on a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19.
  • For the month of May, people who receive the Canada Child Benefit will receive an extra $300 per child.


  • Today the Premier announced that Ontario has significantly increased testing and contact tracing capacity, allowing health experts to identify cases of COVID-19 and support efforts to stop the spread of the virus in the community, long-term care homes, and other congregate settings.

“We’ve been working around the clock to establish a vast and robust testing regime, which is critical in our fight against this deadly virus,” said Premier Ford. “We’re now exceeding our target of 16,000 tests a day, with many of those tests aimed at protecting our long-term care residents and staff.

  • The Premier further announced that the Ontario government has developed an integrated laboratory system which has established the province as a national leader in daily testing volumes per capita.

“This important milestone provides a strong foundation for gradually reopening our economy and getting people back to work, while protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

  • On May 2, 2020, the province released updated guidance to the health sector to ensure consistency across the province, and to help guide decision-making on the testing of priority population groups.
  • The new integrated laboratory system will support the province’s health care system and laboratory network far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The province-wide testing network consists of more than 20 organizations and is coordinating and leveraging the diverse expertise located throughout the province. This is being achieved through daily check-ins and processes that address operational needs, such as:
    • Levels of supplies, expected supply consumption per day, inventory replenishment and other supply chain issues
    • Equipment information
    • Technical capacity and advances
    • Test turn-around times and the shifting of test samples to laboratories that have spare processing capacity
    • Ongoing scientific and technical review of test performance
    • Alternative approaches to processing
    • Emerging technology
  • Ontario has also helped expand the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management. Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 provided $100 million in additional investments for public health units to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including funding to support enhanced contact tracing. This funding enables public health units to hire more personnel.
  • When the Premier was asked about the uneven playing field that Greenhouses & Nurseries are against because big box stores can also sell these products without the same COVID-19 social distancing restraints the Premier acknowledge that he felt it was not fair and advised to stay tuned because good news was coming later this week.
  • The Premier commented during questions from the media today that province is moving towards community testing now that the crisis seems to be in a manageable state.
  • Earlier this morning, Deputy Premier & Minister of Health, Christine Elliott along with Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, released  a statement to acknowledge Mental Health Week.

“During this unprecedented time in Ontario, many people are facing great challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. During Mental Health Week this year, we are dedicated to raising awareness around an issue that affects over one million Ontarians each year.

  • The government confirmed their support to those dealing with Mental Health issues and have taken immediate action to ensure everyone in the province can access the high-quality care they expect and deserve.
  • Recently, the government announced up to $12 million in emergency funding to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports. This brings additional access to care for people across the province and specific services to our frontline heroes.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario


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