COVID-19: What you need to know for March 18 — evening edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By staff - Published on Mar 18, 2020


X reporters and editors are tracking stories about the coronavirus pandemic in all regions of the province. Here's what Ontarians need to know. 


  • The office of MPP Paul Calandra, the government house leader, says that the legislature will be recalled for an emergency session on March 19. Two pieces of emergency legislation will be debated "in an expedited manner" with a reduced complement of 24 MPPs present: Speaker of the House Ted Arnott, 12 from the Progressive Conservative benches, eight New Democrats, two Liberals, and Green party leader Mike Schreiner. "Members will be permitted to sit at any desk and vote from any desk to ensure there is appropriate space between them," the release noted.

  • CTV is reporting that the amalgamation of major parts of Ontario's health-care bureaucracy, planned for April 1, has been postponed.

  • The Beer Store is cutting hours and eliminating recycling at its locations until March 31. New hours will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Locations that currently operate on Sundays until 6 p.m. will be unaffected.

  • Ontario's Telehealth line is experiencing technical difficulties as a result of increased demand. The province is recommending that people call their local public-health units. Health Minister Chrisine Elliott says that the province is working with the vendor to resolve the issue and has added 300 additional lines (more will come in days ahead).

  • Ontario's chief medical officer of health, via the ministers of health and seniors and accessibility, today asked that, until further notice, licensed retirement homes admit only visitors there to see people who are very ill or dying.

  • Porter Airlines announced that, as of Friday, it will be suspending operations until at least June. All change and cancellation fees will be waived at this time.
  • The Ontario Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of the regular season. There were 56 games left in the schedule.

Greater Toronto Area

  • Toronto Police will be putting parking enforcement on hold for a number of offences.

  • The City of Toronto has fired Charles Jansen, the director of its Office of Emergency Management, reportedly saying that the office needed to go in “a different direction” and that  Jansen “might not be the right fit.” (The City of Toronto noted that Fire Chief Matthew Pegg has led the office since the COVID-19 outbreak began.)

  • Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health, says that there are seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Toronto. She also says that community transmission seems to be increasing: 11 cases are now under investigation, up from three.

  • Starting March 19, and until at least April 5, customers of Hamilton Street Railway will be asked to "board buses from the rear doors only & to keep a fair distance from operators and customers." Until further notice, HSR will not be collecting fares.


  • Matawa Education is looking to provide food hampers for Matawa membership families who live in Thunder Bay and are in need. Email your name and address and what community you are from to Stephanie Gerrie, Education Coordinator at

  • Of $304 million in funding announced by the Ontario government, $4 million will go to Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health-care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.

  • The Indigenous Screen Office is asking Indigenous screen-based creators and workers to keep an inventory of all lost income and additional unforeseen expenses during this time. The ISO is going to start tracking lost-revenue projections for the Indigenous screen-based industry. 

  • North Spirit Lake First Nation has issued an emergency food order that will arrive Friday. The chief and council have ordered that the community's motel be closed and used for quarantine, if necessary. They're seeking extra staff for the water plant and cleaners for the nursing station.

  • The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians will be closing its office and move to a work-from-home arrangement for all staff.

  • All Indigenous Services Canada offices, where people can apply for Indian Status and for status cards, are closed until further notice.
  • The Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada YouTube channel has a series of videos on COVID-19 dealing with such topics as self-Isolation in Indigenous communities and regional support for Indigenous communities. 




  • Chatham-Kent has announced its first confirmed case of COVID-19. The 52-year-old man picked up the virus on a cruise, a news release today from the municipality said. The man is self-isolating at home  "doing well," the release says.
  • A London woman in her sixties and a Grey Bruce man in his sixties are among the latest 23 people to test positive for COVID-19, according to today's update from the province

  • Lambton County declared a state of emergency earlier today, joining two of its lower-tier municipalities — Sarnia and Warwick Township — in doing so.

  • Western University Students' Council is operating a digital food. "We know many of our students are also living with #FoodInsecurity during #COVID19," the council said in a tweet earlier today

  • Starting 4:30 p.m. today, all Sarnia's public facilities, including city hall, will be closed until further notice, the city has announced. Essential services, including emergency services and public transit and public works, will remain up and running. Online services will also remain in operation. The city has also established a COVID-19 hotline to handle service inquiries from residents. It can be reached at 1-877-472-7642.

For more information:

Ontario Hubs are made possible by the Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust & Goldie Feldman.

Related tags:
Thinking of your experience with, how likely are you to recommend to a friend or colleague?
Not at all Likely
Extremely Likely

Most recent in Coronavirus