Top COVID-19 stories and news Canada's.
9:21 pm Ontario allows cannabis stores to offer delivery and curbside pick-up
After delisting private cannabis retailers from the list of essential businesses, the province is allowing authorized dispensaries to offer delivery and curbside pick-up services.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) said in a statement on Tuesday night that this “temporary measure is the result of an emergency order introduced by the government of Ontario to help fight against the illegal cannabis market.”
The order will last 14 days and could be extended if the province’s emergency order to close businesses is extended.
Stores will be allowed to sell, deliver and offer curbside pick-up from Monday to Sunday, between 9 am and 11 pm. The maximum purchase amount is 30 grams of dried cannabis (or equivalent) per transaction.
During this period, the AGCO is also pausing the issuing of cannabis retail store licenses but will continue processing retail operator licenses and process store authorization applications so new businesses can move forward when the emergency measures are lifted.
Toronto retailers Bonnefire and One Plant were open for only one day before being forced to close due to the emergency order. A coalition of cannabis retailers had been lobbying the province to allow delivery and curbside pick-up.
5:45 pm New COVID-19 case in city’s shelter system
Toronto’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said today there is a new case of COVID-19 in the shelter system at Seaton House. “The client is currently in self-isolation, as is the one other client with whom he shared a room and my team is actively following up with any other close contacts identified,” she said.
De Villa added Toronto Public Health is working with Seaton House staff to enhance infection prevention and control measures as well as physical distancing measures are in place. Capacity had already been reduced at the site and the use of bunkbeds had already been limited. Today, Seaton House moved 20 clients to hotels and other facilities. More clients will be moved by the end of the week, de Villa said.
5:34 pm Toronto reports 148 new cases of COVID-19, 10 new deaths
As of 12:30 pm today, there are 1,449 cases of COVID-19 in Toronto, including 1,218 confirmed cases and 231 probable cases. There are 142 cases hospitalized and 63 in intensive care units. There have been 10 new deaths in the city, bringing Toronto’s death toll to 42, and 82 people have recovered.
3:12 pm Long-term care workers union demands more testing, personal protective equipment
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing hospital, long term care and home care workers in Ontario, has issued an open letter asking the province for better cooperation when it comes to decisions on the distribution of personal protection equipment (PPE).
The workers are not covered by the province’s order passed March 30 which prioritizes personal protective equipment for frontline nurses. The SEIU is asking the province to include its 250,000 members in the province’s directive. According to the union, some 3 per cent of its members have tested positive for the virus, a rate that’s four times higher than the general public.
The union is also asking the government to “immediately order Ontario industry to urgently produce these vital products” and ramp up testing, particularly among vulnerable populations, to help contain the spread of the virus.
“Ontario has the lowest rate of COVID-19 testing of any province,” the letter says. “Jurisdictions with aggressive COVID-19 testing have much lower levels of mortality.”
2:55 pm Toronto recalls thousands of faulty surgical masks
Toronto is recalling more than $200,000 in surgical masks that do not meet the required specifications, city officials said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 4,000 boxes containing 50 masks per box were received and 1,252 boxes – or 62,600 masks – were distributed to long-term care homes on March 28. There were reports of ripping and tearing and it was determined the masks were not up to standard.
Occupational health and safety staff have been contacted to investigate how many employees in care homes were wearing the masks while caring for patients and to determine if exposure to COVID-19 took place.
The masks will be returned and the vendor, who the city did not name. The vendor is providing a refund.
In the meantime, the city will dip into its stockpile of surgical masks and begin a quality control review of its supply chain. A new order is being placed to prevent a shortfall of masks and the province has been contacted to expedite the order.
“All future orders of personal protective equipment will be subject to heightened verification to ensure the products it receives meet the specifications ordered,” the city said.
1:05 pm George Brown College launches COVID-19 relief fund for students
George Brown College and the school’s Student Association are launching a relief fund for domestic and international students in need of financial support.
The fund is intended to give short-term support to students facing financial, food or housing insecurity, unemployment and unexpected financial hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that some students have lost their jobs, have no way to pay their rent or even to purchase food,” George Brown College president Anne Sado said in a statement. “We have launched this fund to help ease their hardships and alleviate some of their anxiety so they can focus on their education.”
Eligible students must be studying full-time in the winter 2020 semester and fill out an application form.
The college’s COVID-19 Relief Fund currently has more than $850,000 thanks to the school and student association, the George Brown Foundation and the province’s emergency funding for post-secondary schools. The school is aiming to raise $1 million through online donations. More info here.
12:55 pm Toronto Finge Festival cancelled
For the first time in its 32-year history, Ontario’s biggest performance festival is not happening. The Toronto Fringe Festival, which was due to take place July 1-12, is the latest major summer event to shut down to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“The safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and audience is our top priority as we navigate this difficult time, which is why the 2020 festival cannot move forward as planned,” organizers said in a statement. “In addition, Toronto Public Health’s announcement on April 1 regarding a timeline of 12 weeks of continued social distancing makes it impossible for our artists to move forward with rehearsals, and for our staff to execute the logistics of the 2020 festival.”
Read more here.
12:04 pm Canadian companies are manufacturing 30,000 ventilators: Trudeau
In his morning press briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canadian companies are currently producing up to 30,000 ventilators. The companies are Thornhill Medical, CAE and Ventilators for Canadians.
When asked if Canada will need to use all 30,000 ventilators, Trudeau said he hopes that they won’t all be necessary, but “we need to be ready for any circumstances…if we make more than we need, we’ll have the supply to share with other countries.”
There are currently around 5,000 ventilators in Canada.
Trudeau also announced the government is also partnering with apparel companies Canada Goose and Arc’teryx to make medical gowns.
11:40 am TTC confirms fare inspections are not being conducted
On a new information page created to inform riders of policies during the coronavirus pandemic, the TTC confirms that the service’s fare inspectors “are not conducting fare inspections at this time.”
“Our fare inspectors have been deployed to stations to assist with customer service and help people navigate through the station,” the page adds.
Some additional changes have also been made to fare payment policies in order to allow for better social distancing measures. Specifically, those using cash, TTC tickets and tokens on buses are not required to pay their fare at this time due to back-door boarding. “You should pay your fare at your earliest transfer opportunity, or when you enter a station,” they say.
Additionally, Wheel-Trans vehicles will not accept cash, TTC tickets or tokens, and riders will not be penalized if they don’t have a Presto card to pay with instead.
11:02 am More than 788,000 people apply for CERB
By midnight on Monday, 788,510 people applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Revenue Agency said.
The federal government’s application portal opened at 6 am on April 6 and the CRA processed almost 1,000 applications per minute, on average. According to the CRA, 572,503 applications were submitted online through and 215,781 were submitted through the Interactive Voice Response phone line. Call centre agents also assisted 226 Canadians withmore complex requests.
The government has asked Canadians to apply for the CERB on specific days according to their birth month.
The CERB is available to people who have lost work or income completely due to the coronavirus pandemic, or people who are not receiving payments through the 75 per cent business wage subsidy. It provides up to $2,000 per month and is retroactive to March 15.
10:30 am Ontario has 4,726 cases of COVID-19
Public health officials said on Tuesday that there are now 4,726 cases of COVID-19 in the province. As of 4 pm on April 6, the number of cases in Ontario went up by 379 since the day prior, an 8.7 per cent increase 1,802 cases have been resolved and 153 people have died.
The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 is 614. There are 233 in intensive care and 187 are in intensive care on ventilators.
A total of 81,364 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the province and there are 691 cases under investigation.
8:30 am Yonge + St. Clair BIA creates funds for online stores
The Yonge + St. Clair BIA has created a $15,00 Digital Support Fund to give member businesses a $500 grant to start an online store, launch online classes and generally transition their business to digital platforms. The grants are available on a first-come, first-serve basis for 30 eligible businesses on an ongoing basis. The money does not need to be repaid. Find out more info here.
8:15 am 3M to continue sending masks to Canada
Minnesota-based mask supplier 3M will continue exporting N95 respirator masks to Canada after reaching a deal with Trump administration.
On Monday night, the company said in a press release that it worked with the White House to find a way to meet demand for the masks in both the United States and Canada and Latin America, where 3M is the primary source of supply for the in-demand N95 masks.
The agreement will see 3M import 166.5 million respirators to the U.S. from its plant in China, avoiding “further humanitarian implications for countries currently fighting the COVID-19 outbreak,” 3M said in a statement.
President Donald Trump had issued an order under the 1950 Defense Production Act to block exports of the respirators, which health care workers are in need of on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.
Earlier on Monday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said a shipment of 3 million N95 masks was stopped at the border and only 500,000 masks were able to pass through. He added the province risked running out of the respirators within a week.
8 am Canada has 16,667 COVID-19 cases
As of Monday, there are 16,667 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 4,347 cases in Ontario. The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized. The total number of people tested in Canada is 336,806 and 16,414 have tested positive.
Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. People age 65 and over and people with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of contracting a severe case.