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

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

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This article was last updated at 11:09 a.m.

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

Provincewide

  • At a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau confirmed earlier reporting and presidential tweeting that the US-Canadian border is closing to all non-essential travel.

    Trudeau also announced $82 billion in support for the Canadian economy, including $27 billion in direct support to people and $55 billion to help businesses meet their liquidity needs through deferring taxes. This amounts to stimulus equivalent to 3 per cent of Canada’s gross domestic product.

    People who are forced to stay home due to COVID-19 will be eligible for payments every two weeks for 14 weeks if they are not eligible for employment insurance.

    People who have already filed their taxes and owe the government money will have until August to pay.

    Small businesses will get a three-month temporary wage subsidy equivalent to 10 per cent of their salary for three months to help keep their workers employed.

    The government will also temporarily boosting the Canadian Child Benefit in coming months.

    Trudeau also announced several substantial increases in housing programs to assist municipalities and First Nations during this time. “In Canada, public health should never hinge on financial considerations,” Trudeau added. The full details of the government's economic plan are available here.

  • Canada's six largest banks have collectively announced relief measures for Canadians affected by COVID-19. "This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products," the Royal Bank of Canada said in a morning news release.

  • Honda is shutting down North American plants.

  • The government has cancelled standardized testing, such as EQAO, for the 2019-20 school year. Education minister Stephen Lecce said, “I want to be clear: this cancellation will not impede student graduation."

  • The LCBO has cut back its hours of operation. As of March 19, they will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
  • The Ontario Provincial Police is restricting access to its facilities, including detachments, across the province until further notice.

  • IKEA Canada is shutting down stores nationwide.

Greater Toronto Area

  • All students will have to vacate residences at Victoria College and University College by 8 p.m. on March 19, unless they get special approval from the Office of the Dean of Students.

Indigenous

  • The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe have declared a state of emergency for the community of Akwesasne. An emergency-0perations centre has been activated at both the MCA and SRMT. 

  • Atikameksheng Anishnawbek has closed its office indefinitely, and non-essential service staff will be working remotely. All programs will be cancelled for the next month and then reassessed. 

  • Waasegiizhig Nanaandawe’iyewigamig, in Keewatin, is closed to further admissions.

  • Akwesasne residents will not be affected by border-travel restrictions at Massena and Cornwall ports of entry.

  • Fort Albany First Nation closes all non-essential travel and social gatherings. Anyone returning from international travel is asked to self-isolate for two weeks. Any travel within Canada will require self-monitoring of symptoms. Essential travel includes out-of-town medical appointments.

  • The province committed an initial sum of money today to address immediate food-security concerns for both on- and off-reserve Nishnawbe Aksi Nation members. Plans are being discussed to set up staging areas in Timmins, Thunder Bay, and Sioux Lookout.
  • The Assembly of First Nations is rescheduling the Leadership Forum on First Nations and Family Services and Self-Determination. 

Northern

  • Timmins mayor George Pirie  will ask city council to authorize the treasurer to wave the interest on taxes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In Sault Ste. Marie today, a COVID-19 assessment centre has opened. According to a news release from the Sault Area Hospital, the clinic will test those who might have been exposed to the virus so as to minimize “the significant number of patients presenting themselves to the Emergency Department at SAH.” There has not yet been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Sault Ste. Marie.

Eastern

  • The University of Ottawa asks all students living in residences to "fully vacate their rooms as soon as possible." The request does not apply to international students and "those with exceptional circumstances."

  • Prince Edward County council approved new measures on Tuesday to deal with the impact of COVID-19, including giving the chief administrative officer certain financial and decision-making authorities. and granting permission for electronic participation in council meetings and committees.

  • CFB Kingston, CFB Trenton, and other Canadian Forces Bases across the country have implemented new protocols to slow the spread of the virus. For the next three weeks, visitors will not be allowed to enter bases, and large gatherings will be prohibited.

  • An Ottawa Senators player has tested positive for COVID-19. The player has had mild symptoms and is in isolation.

Southwestern

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