COVID-19: What you need to know for March 24 — evening edition

The latest coronavirus updates from across the province
By TVO.org staff - Published on Mar 24, 2020

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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​​​​​​​

  • As of 5:30 p.m., there were 572 confirmed active positive cases in Ontario. Eight have been resolved; eight people have died.
  • Calling it a recognition of shared sacrifice by Ontarians, Premier Doug Ford confirmed at Queen’s Park this afternoon that time-of-use billing will effectively be suspended in the province: residential, small-business, and farm customers will pay the lowest off-peak rate for electricity for the next 45 days.
  • Ford also addressed why the government is allowing condo-construction sites to continue to operate despite mandatory closures elsewhere, saying that some sites have homes days or weeks away from completion and that the government wants families to be able to move into new homes as quickly as possible.
  • The office of government house leader Paul Calandra has given media guidance for what to expect with tomorrow's "mini-budget" session of the legislature. All parties will be given 55 minutes to respond to the finance minister's budget speech (20 minutes each for the Tories and NDP, with the balance provided to independent MPPs). After the budget motion is passed, the legislature will adjourn until April 14, when the government will need to ask MPPs to either extend the current state of emergency or let it expire.

  • Community Legal Education Ontario, a group dedicated to educating the public about their legal rights, has published a guide on its website with answers to legal questions many Ontarians have as a result of COVID-19. Topics include family law, employment law, and housing.

  • The Ontario Real Estate Association is urging all members to stop any and all face-to-face business with clients. Last week, OREA urged all members to suspend public open houses, suggesting they use virtual open houses instead. 

Greater Toronto Area

  • Toronto's medical officer of health, Eileen de Villa, said that, as of 1 p.m. today, the city had 280 confirmed cases of COVID-19; 18 people were in hospital. She noted that about 10 per cent of cases were the result of community transmission, with no known link to travel.

  • The Four Seasons Hotel Toronto has closed until further notice and will not be accepting new reservations until April 15. 

  • The CEO of St. Clair O'Connor, a long-term-care home in Toronto, has confirmed two cases of COVID-19 at the centre. Neither resident has been hospitalized.

  • The City of Toronto has announced a second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the shelter system. Both individuals are recovering in isolation, and the cases are not known to be connected.

  • Brampton, Durham Region, and Halton Region have declared states of emergency.

  • The City of Toronto's social-housing provider, Toronto Community Housing, announced today that it will recalculate the monthly rents for tenants who have lost their income as a result of COVID-19 and are part of the city's rent-geared-to-income population, or about 90 per cent of TCH's tenants. Those tenants who pay market rents will have their cases assessed individually. Mayor John Tory is also calling on private landlords to accomodate their tenants whenever possible. "[T]he Mayor strongly urges all property owners to find ways to help tenants who need it to stay in their homes during these unprecedented times," a city press release stated.

Indigenous

  • The Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization, has declared a state of emergency for First Nations. "The AFN is pressing for immediate increases in funding for First Nations and full involvement in all discussions with governments on planning and preparedness to ensure the unique needs of First Nations are addressed," it said today in a press release.

  • Netimizaagamig Nishnaabeg First Nation is implementing a complete lockdown of the community effective Tuesday night and a nightly curfew that will be in effect from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. 

  • The Anishnawbe Business Professional Association is calling for specific financial federal supports for First Nations companies in northern Ontario, as they face a "much more challenging environment than their non-Indigenous counterparts." 

Northern

  • The Ontario Provincial Police has confirmed its first presumptive case in a uniformed member. The member, who's with the West Nipissing detachment, is in self-isolation. 

  • Fort William First Nation has reopened the community to outsiders but imposed an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew on its members. Chief Peter Collins and his council had passed a resolution Monday evening to entirely close the community.

  • Sault Ste. Marie has established business-help phone line and waived property-tax interest until May 31. According to a press release, "These are initial steps only. Once we move our focus from community health measures to the financial impacts to the community, there will be more opportunity to assess business and community needs and supports from other levels of government to refine our approach."

  • Dryden has suspended the recreational use of MyLift transit. The wheelchair-accommodating vehicles will remain available for grocery, banking, and medical needs.

  • The Timiskaming Health Unit has reported the first case of COVID-19 in its district. 

  • Thunder Bay Shelter House has suspended its SOS program. The homeless shelter's outreach van serves homeless people living outdoors, handing out clean needles, blankets, condoms, and other health necessities.

Eastern

  • Canada's chief of the defence staff has ordered the Royal Military College of Canada to send officer cadets home in order to "immediately reduce the student population on campus as much as possible," according to a communiqué from RMC Commandant Brigadier-General Sebastien Bouchard and principal Harry Kowal. Students will be expected to complete their studies online and to "be ready for follow-on tasks that could include force employment."

  • Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, has confirmed that 210 of the 228 Canadians repatriated from the Grand Princess cruise ship have finished their quarantine and departed from CFB Trenton. Passengers who tested positive, as well as their "asymptomatic contacts whose quarantine period was reset," will stay in Trenton until their new quarantine period is over.

  • The Renfrew County District School Board has announced that, starting immediately, all the schools in the board have been designated as public Wi-Fi hotspots. Members of the public can access the internet for free outside the schools. 

  • In a YouTube update, Kingston mayor Bryan Paterson announced that the city has acquired a pair of properties to "ensure a safe environment and adequate social distancing" for the city's most vulnerable people. The Kingstonist reported that one of the sites is the former Fairfield Manor West. 

  • The City of Peterborough has announced that the Peterborough Sport and Wellness Centre will be converted into an emergency shelter space for the city's most vulnerable residents. The Brock Mission and the overflow-shelter program will be relocated to the sports centre. 

  • The City of Kawartha Lakes has declared a state of emergency in order to allow the municipality to "mobilize local resources" to support its COVID-19 efforts. 
  • The City of Belleville announced Tuesday morning that it will move forward on major capital projects, including the Bell Boulevard widening project, the Sagonaska Bridge rehabilitation project, and the Moira Street West watermain replacement. The city says that it has "moved quickly to implement social distancing requirements and cautionary measures during the COVID-19 crisis" to allow the projects to proceed. 

Southwestern

  • Kitchener has announced it will be waiving penalties and interest charges for property tax and utility payments until May 31 and putting other short-term financial supports in place.

  • There are now two confirmed cases in the Huron Perth region, the area's public-health unit announced today. The public-health unit says that, so far, 101 people have been tested. Of those, 73 were negative; results for the 26 remaining are pending. The health unit is also advising people who attended an evening event on March 14 at the Seaforth Ag Hall to self-monitor for symptoms. "Waterloo Region Public Health has made HPPH aware of a confirmed COVID-19 case in one of their residents who attended," the health unit said in today's update.

  • Huron County's warden has declared a state of emergency. "This action will enable the County to do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and take further steps to ease the burden on our health care sector," said Jim Ginn in a news release today.

  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health confirmed today that a man in his eighties has COVID-19. The man is in stable condition at St. Joseph's Health Centre in Guelph.

  • One case of COVID-19 has been confirmed for each of the following regions: Grey-Bruce, Windsor-Essex, and Brant County. Waterloo Region has two new cases; one of the patients is in hospital.

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