COVID-19: Ontario to legislate three paid sick days; Toronto teams with Vaccine Hunters

Top COVID-19 stories and news

COVID variants have led to a decline in vaccine hesitancy in Canada

Doug Ford’s mea culpa smells like a cover-up for a government in disarray

Here’s the list of people eligible for vaccines in Phase 2

Here are the rules for Ontario’s new stay-at-home-order

Ontario to legislate three paid sick days during pandemic

3:55 pm The Ford government will introduce legislation to give all workers in the province three paid sick days during the pandemic, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced today.

The provincial sick-day plan is “COVID-specific,” he said. The law would require employers to provide employees with up to $200 in pay for up to three days if they miss work due to COVID-19.

Ontario deliver the program through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, and reimburse employers up to $200 per day for each employee.

The paid-sick days will be retroactive to April 19 and will end on September 25.

“If a warehouse worker is told to self-isolate, she can do so without losing her paycheque,” McNaughton said during a press briefing at Queen’s Park. “There are no sick notes required.”

Asked why the program is temporary, he added the legislation aligns with the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). “The goal is to get Ontario and our families through COVID-19,’ he said, explaining it could be extended if need be.

The province will also top-up payments under the CRSB via the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit that will allow workers to access a total of $1,000 a week for four weeks, effectively doubling the amount currently available through the federal program.

However, Ottawa has yet to agree to Ontario’s plan.

“I am confident Prime Minister Trudeau and [Finance] Minister Chrystia Freeland will do the right thing,” Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said, adding he hasn’t “put out a number” on the cost of the program.

Ontario has faced months of criticism from the medical community and opposition politicians for not heeding calls from mayors and science advisors to bring in paid sick days to protect lower-wage workers deemed essential. The Ford government has voted down several paid sick day plans introduced by opposition parties in recent weeks.

McNaughton said the province did not act sooner because it was waiting to see if Ottawa would enhance the CRSB, which has been criticized as being slow and insufficient. Freeland’s April 19 budget did not include enhancements, which is why the province is acting now, he said.

To be eligible for the CRSB, workers must be required to isolate for longer than 50 per cent of the time they would have otherwise worked in a week due to a positive COVID-19 test or risk of exposure.

One of Premier Doug Ford’s first acts upon taking power in 2018 was to scrap the previous Liberal government’s paid sick days program, among other labour reforms.

Toronto to begin installing CafeTO curb-lane patios on May 8

2:15 pm The city will begin installing curb-lane CafeTO patios on May 8 so restaurants and bars will be ready to go once outdoor dining is no longer prohibited under Ontario’s shutdown framework.

The work will take three weeks, Mayor John Tory said today during a press briefing.

“Restaurant operators must ensure that the areas are not used for congregation, public seating or dining purposes while outdoor dining remains prohibited and the provincial Stay-at-Home order is in place,” the city said in a statement.

City staff are reviewing 720 curb lane cafés and 71 public parklet locations for outdoor dining this spring and summer, the mayor added.

More patio installations and additional registration periods are planned throughout the spring and into the summer. In the latest registration – which ended yesterday – the city received hundreds more applications.

Ontario reports 3,480 new COVID-19 cases, 24 deaths

11:10 am Ontario is reporting 3,480 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 deaths on April 28.

The province detected 3,265 new cases on Tuesday, 3,510 on Monday and 3,947 on Sunday. The seven-day rolling average has decreased for the seventh consecutive day to 3,783.

Ontario has administered 116,173 vaccines in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 4,907,203 doses administered in the province and 365,166 people fully vaccinated.

The province completed 50,194 tests in the past 24 hours, marking a positivity rate of 6.9 per cent.

Despite a slight downward trend in total new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and intensive care patients are still hitting record-breaking levels almost every day.

There are currently 2,281 people hospitalized due to the virus and 877 people in intensive care, up two from the day before. Of those patients, 605 are on ventilators. There are currently 38,853 active cases in the province.

In Toronto, the daily case count fell below 1,000 with 961 new infections confirmed, provincial data showed.

One person between the ages of 20 and 39 and one person between the ages of 40 and 59 died in the past day among the 24 deaths reported.

Variants of concern continue to spread; 34 additional P1 cases, 21 additional B1351 cases and almost 3,000 more confirmed B117 cases.

There have been 455,606 total COVID-19 cases to date in Ontario and 7,988 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Toronto teams up with Vaccine Hunters to provide info on appointments

11 am The city is partnering with the volunteer-run Twitter account Vaccine Hunters Canada to provide daily updates about available vaccine appointments at nine city-run immunization sites.

At the end of each day, city officials will send Vaccine Hunters clinic appointment availability for the next day. As vaccine supply ramps up next week, Toronto expects updates to happen frequently.

Currently, on the Toronto Congress Centre and Cloverdale Mall have a few appointments available. There are also appointments available for the week of May 10 at all city-run clinics.

Here is the eligibility to book at a city-run clinics:

  • All those who are 60 years of age or older (born in 1961 or earlier)
  • Those who are 45 years of age or older (born in 1976 or earlier) and live in one of the 53 hot spot areas of Toronto based on postal code
  • Pregnant women
  • Teachers who work in hot spot areas
  • Teachers who live in hot spot areas
  • Childcare workers in licensed child-care settings (effective April 29)

Pregnant women, teachers and child-care workers must call the provincial booking system at 1-833-943-3900 as the online booking system can’t be used for those groups.

New COVID-19 cases in Ontario on April 28

The following regions reported five or more new COVID-19 cases:

Toronto = 961

Peel = 589

Niagara Region = 341

York Region = 290

City of Hamilton = 255

Durham Region = 221

Ottawa = 180

Middlesex-London = 133

Halton Region = 116

Region of Waterloo = 66

Simcoe Muskoka District = 65

Windsor-Essex County = 38

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph = 34

Brant County = 30

Haldimand-Norfolk = 23

Eastern Ontario = 19

Southwestern = 17

Hastings Prince Edward = 12

Leeds, Grenville & Lanark = 12

Sudbury & Districts = 11

Peterborough = 10

Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington = 8

Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge = 8

Huron Perth = 8

Lambton = 7

Thunder Bay = 6

Northwestern = 5


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