The latest COVID-19 news from Toronto and Canada. This post will be updated regularly
5:52 pm Toronto has 339 cases of COVID-19
Toronto’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said on Thursday that the number of cases of COVID-19 in the city went up by 31 over the day before. There are now are 339 confirmed cases as of 1 pm. Of those cases, 22 are in hospital including 10 in intensive care units. There have been four deaths and 13 people have recovered.
Approximately 25 per cent cases were transmitted through community spread, de Villa said.
She added that there are 10 long-term care homes, one retirement home, 17 chronic-care and/or rehab hospitals and three reactivation care centres in Toronto with at least one staff or one resident that has COVID-19.
An outbreak in a care home is defined as two or more cases of infection. There are three such outbreaks in Toronto facilities.
5:35 pm John Tory again urges landlords to help tenants affected by COVID-19 crisis
Fresh out of quarantine, Mayor John Tory appeared at today’s city press conference on the coronavirus pandemic and repeated his message that landlords should proactively help tenants who have lost work and are unable to make rent payments.
“While the city has no power to direct landlords, I strongly encourage all property owners – big and small – to find ways to help their tenants who need help,” he said.
Tory met with private landlords on Monday and said that many have already started working with tenants, but that “but far too many – far too many – had not and have not yet communicated anything to reassure anxious tenants who, in the ordinary course, have rent payments due on April 1.”
He encouraged residents who are able to pay rent and mortgages to make those payments on time. He also asked residents and businesses able to pay property tax on time to do so as well.
“Please pay on time if you can,” Tory said. “The city obviously has a continuing need to finance the services that we continue to provide to the citizens of Toronto.”
5:22 pm Social service agencies call for free transit during COVID-19
More than 30 organizations are urging the mayor and TTC to implement a fare-free transit service during COVID-19.
Transit agencies across Canada, including Hamilton, Guelph and Mississauga, are already offering fare-free transit to ensure physical distancing between riders. Vancouver and Montreal have suspended fare collection on buses during COVID-19.
The TTC, meanwhile, has implemented a rear-door boarding policy on buses and stopped accepting cash, tokens, and paper tickets as of March 24. Social service organizations say the shift has caused additional barriers for those who can’t afford a Presto card or can’t access one at a Shoppers or subway station.
“Unclear communication about the shift to rear-door boarding and the end of tokens and cash fares on buses has caused stress and confusion for people who do not have access to Presto,” says Susan Bender, manager of the Toronto Drop-In Network.
3:25 pm Luminato Festival is cancelled
Multidisciplinary arts festival Luminato has officially pulled the plug due to coronavirus.
The event was scheduled to take place June 11-28 and would have been the first festival programmed by new artistic director Naomi Campbell.
In a statement, organizers said they cancelled “following government advice, and to protect the safety of our audiences, artists and all our staff and volunteers.
“Given Luminato’s origins as an initiative to help rejuvenate Toronto after SARS, we are keenly aware of how important it is to work as a community in challenging times like these,” organizers said in a statement. “Over the coming months and year ahead, we will work alongside our community and all levels of government to help ensure that Toronto’s artistic community survives this critical period and continues to contribute to the cultural fabric of Toronto.”
Ticket holders will be contacted. The festival will return for its 15th year in June 2021.
2:53 pm Toronto-area malls shut down
Toronto shopping malls, including the Eaton Centre, Yorkdale, Dufferin Mall and Sherway Gardens, have officially closed their doors due to COVID-19.
Cadillac Fairview and Oxford Properties, the city’s two largest mall operators, have shut down all their properties for at least 14 days, effective midnight on March 25.
Yorkdale has added that select stores within the mall, including the Shoppers Drug Mart and Scotiabank, will remain open.
Meanwhile, the Dufferin Mall is closed until further notice, though a number of stores deemed essential, including Shoppers, No Frills and LCBO, will remain open.
For more info on what’s stlll open in Toronto, see our roundup.
12:55 pm Ontario restaurants can now sell alcohol for delivery and takeout
Ontario has amended the Liquor License Act to allow licensed restaurants and bars to sell alcohol as part of takeout or delivery orders.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) said on Thursday that the establishments can sell beer, wine and spirits effective immediately until December 31, 2020.
“All liquor sales licensees are automatically permitted to begin selling liquor for takeout or delivery along with food – they do not have to apply, request permission, or notify the AGCO,” the regulator said.
There are several rules, including that alcohol be sold with food and containers are sealed. Hours of sale are 9 am to 11 pm.
Read the full story here.
12:45 pm Ontario reports 170 new cases of coronavirus
The province has confirmed 170 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in Ontario to 858. The increase is the largest spike in cases since the outbreak began.
Of the new cases 12 are listed as hospitalized, including two people in their 20s.
Eight cases have been resolved and 13 people have died. There are 10,965 cases under investigation and 26,727 have tested negative.
9:18 am Signs posted in Toronto parks and playgrounds
Last night, the city shut down playgrounds and park amenities to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Today, signs are going up in parks to reinforce the move and remind residents to stay home and stay apart from one another – “about the length of a hockey stick” – to practice physical distancing.
9:15 am Charities make urgent plea for $10-billion “stabilization fund”
A coalition of Canda’s top charities has released an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for a $10-billion “stabilization fund” to continue operations.
The letter signed by the heads of 140 of Canada’s major charities states that “Without immediate support from the federal government, most Canadian charities will have to lay off massive numbers of employees, greatly impeding their ability to support vulnerable people and communities.”
The letters says that many of Canada’s charities, “are facing a very real threat of permanent closure.”
The charities include War Child, UNICEF Canada, United Way, the Canadian Cancer Society, Daily Bread Foodbank, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Women’s Shelters Canada, among others.
The open letter also asks for loan guarantees from Canada’s banks, an increase in the Charitable Donation Tax Credit (through to the end of 2021) from 50 per cent to 75 per cent, and access to financial recovery programs offered businesses.
Samantha Nutt, president of War Child Canada says that “The impact of current events on charities cannot be overstated.”
David Morley, CEO of UNICEF Canada says the situation is dire. “We risk losing the core of the non-profit sector in Canada.”
9 am Toronto reports 319 cases of COVID-19, three more deaths
During yesterday afternoon’s press briefing, the city’s medical officer of health Eileen de Villa said Toronto had 319 cases of COVID-19 as of 1 pm on March 25. The number was up by 39 cases over the day before and 16 per cent of those cases were transmitted through community spread.
She also reported three new deaths: an elderly man with pre-existing health conditions who was tested at North York General Hospital, and two residents of Seven Oaks long-term care home.
Of the people with COVID-19 in the city, 22 are hospitalized and less than 10 of those cases are in the intensive care unit.