News & Media

March 31st Update from Federal and Provincial Governments

March 31, 2020

UPDATE: March 31, 4:02:44 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.


  • The government announced that it will spend $2Billion to create a “Made in Canada” supply chain of Personal Protective Equipment for health care workers treating people infected with COVID-19, and for the patients involved.  The program was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at his daily briefing on federal responses to the pandemic. Further details were provided at a subsequent news conference by four cabinet ministers.
  • The government had called last week for Canadian industry to step up and identify how companies could retool their production to provide essential equipment for health care workers.  It has now identified eight companies to provide face masks, gowns, swabs, ventilators, test kits, and hand sanitizer.  Trudeau said there is a world wide demand for all these items, and Canada must have its own supply chain “to provide essential equipment for the coming days — and the coming months.”
  • Two of the eight companies selected had already been approached by Ottawa and will be delivering some equipment this week; Medicom Specter Bioscience in Ottawa and Thornhill Medical in Toronto.
  • The briefings also revealed the federal government is pressuring Canadian Banks to provide lower interest rates on credit card debt.  Moving that debt to lines of credit with lower interest rates.


  • Today the government announced that schools and child care centres will remain closed to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Schools will be closed to teachers until May, 1st and to students, May 4th.
  • Included in today’s announcement, the government outlined the components of the second phase of Learn at Home to support continuity of learning.  The Premier acknowledged that the decision to keep schools closed was not made lightly,  but was necessary to keep students and teachers safe, in what he has described as a “critical two weeks to push back against the surge of COVID-19”.
  • Highlights of the second phase of Learn at Home include:
    • Reconnecting students with teachers and other school staff, including mental health workers;
    • Re-establishing teacher-led learning by grade groupings as follows:
      •  Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy and math)
      • Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)
      • Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)
      • Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)
    • Leveraging digital resources and identifying alternative forms of teacher-student connectivity, such as phone and mail;
    • Developing a program of training for educators to support them in virtual learning delivery;
    • Requiring final report cards for all students;
    • Prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate;
    • Distributing laptops and/or devices from schools as needed, while observing public health direction;
    • Maintaining a responsive posture for health care and community partner requests; and
    • Establishing formal COVID-19 working groups with education sector unions to work together, share ideas and to find solutions in the support of students.
  • The provincial government also introduced support measures for post-secondary students, announcing that they will be easing financial burdens on students by temporarily deferring payments for their Ontario Student Assistance Program loans and making online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to post-secondary institutions. Student loans will be subject to a 6 month interest-free moratorium until September 30th, 2020 (no payments required during this time and no interest will accrue).
  • The government also announced $25M  to publicly-funded colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes to help in additional funding to address each COVID-19 related issues such as deep cleaning, purchasing medical supplies or offering mental health supports.

James Barry
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario

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