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May 5th Update from Federal and Provincial Governments

May 5, 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

UPDATE: May 5 6:40:05 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.


  • Ottawa has earmarked $252 Million as an initial payment to help the Agri-Food industry and farmers weather the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The money was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his daily briefing on the Government’s response to the pandemic.  The spending breaks down as follows:
    • Food processors will be able to draw on $77 Million to adapt their plants to protect workers in slaughterhouses and other food processing plants with more social distancing and Personal Protective Equipment. Particularly in Alberta, workers have been hard hit by COVID-19 in two large meat processing plants.
    • Beef and pork producers will be able to draw on a $125 Million Agri – Recovery Fund to cover the costs of keeping animals ready for delivery to processors on the farm. Drop-in demand and problems at food processors have delayed shipments for farmers, creating problems and expenses for farmers forced to keep feeding the undelivered Cattle and Pigs.
    • The Dairy sector will be assisted by an increase of $200 Million to the Canadian Dairy Commission line of credit. The additional money will be used to buy and store surplus butter, cheese and milk that producers have been forced to throw out as of late.
    • Ottawa will earmark $50 Million to buy food surpluses currently being produced. Trudeau said the program is designed to both provide income for farmers and food for the most vulnerable people in society.
    • The announcement falls far short of the $2.6 Billion in aid asked for at the end of April by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture.  But Trudeau said this aid is for the agricultural sectors most at risk right now. He said “more needs to be done” and that additional aid for other agricultural sectors will be forthcoming.


  • The Premier announced $12 Million in emergency funding toward mental health support to help Ontarians experiencing anxiety and depression, including frontline health care workers, during the COVID-19 outbreak. The emergency funding is helping mental health agencies hire and train more staff, purchase the necessary equipment and technology they need to help patients, and support the creation and enhancement of virtual and online supports for mental health services, including:
    • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Clients can self-refer to programs through the various service providers listed and be guided through their client journey to find the appropriate supports they need. Online iCBT is supported by therapists and available in English and French.
    • Support for frontline health care workers: Online iCBT is available to frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care, as well as weekly online peer discussion groups and access to confidential support from a clinician.
    • Virtual mental health support services: These include BounceBack telephone coaching and workbooks, and Kids Help Phone for children and youth.
  • In his press conference the Premier encouraged customers to wear masks or other face coverings while shopping.  He also reiterated that while there is a fabric shortage, the province is making every effort to get the supplies we need to continue making PPEs.
  • Without providing any details, the Premier said that hydro rate subsidies would continue, and to expect that announcement later this week/early next week.
  • The Premier expressed frustration with some of the health officials in various regions for under performing in their efforts to maintain testing levels (10,000 per day vs. 17,000 per day), but also commended the others who have performed at a high level. He also applauded the Province of Alberta’s model, where one CMO is held accountable.  While he stopped short of committing to adopting the Alberta’s centralized model, he did say that the province will be doing a thorough review of the current model to address any areas that need improvement.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario


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