COVID-19 Government and International Response: March 23, 2020

What to Know

Globally there are nearly 375,000 cases of COVID-19. Canada reports more than 2,000 cases, up from 873 on Friday. The City of Toronto announced its first death as a result of COVID-19 this weekend.

As well, the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees announced they would not send athletes this year and urged the organizers to push the event into 2021. Canadian IOC member Dick Pound said that he expects the games will be postponed.

Air Transat is the latest airline to announce that it will temporarily lay off 70% of its workforce, including all flight attendants. Executives who remain employed, as well as its board of directors will take a voluntary pay cut.

An Air Canada flight of Canadians repatriated from Morocco landed in Montreal yesterday. The company announced yesterday that it would soon fly two additional flights out of Morocco to repatriate an additional 444 Canadians. Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne also announced three Air Canada flights to Peru which will take place later this week.

Shopify has developed a list of government relief programs for SMEs affected by COVID-19, including measures taken by Canada, the U.S., Spain, Singapore, Japan and others.


In his daily address, Prime Minister Trudeau took some time to firmly reiterate the importance of practicing social distancing measures. The Prime Minister stated that those who ignore repeated calls from government and healthcare leaders to social distance are putting themselves and others at risk. “Enough is enough,” said the Prime Minister.

Today’s primary announcement is $192-million for existing research projects across the country to find treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19 more quickly. The Prime Minister highlighted some companies across Canada, including Toronto-based BlueDot, which the government is working with to manage and monitor the spread of COVID-19. Also announced at this morning’s news conference were supports for Canadian farmers and food processors and producers.


Premier Doug Ford took a similarly firm tone at his news conference this afternoon as he announced the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. The closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves.

According to the government news release: Businesses that can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt. Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.

Ontario schools will also remain closed past the previously announced April 6 timeframe. More information is expected in the coming days.


Mayor Tory has announced a state of emergency for the city of Toronto. Taking the same tone as the Prime Minister and Premier, Mayor Tory said he continues to hear that people are not social distancing and that this behaviour is “selfish, unacceptable and it cannot continue”. By declaring a state of emergency, the Mayor will be able to “act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.” He declined to say which powers he would make use of, should the situation require it, but stated his purpose for declaring a state of emergency is to protect frontline medical staff and other at-risk individuals.


  • The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is growing rapidly, with 42,161 cases reported, up from 16,621 on Friday. The United States now has the third highest number of cases in the world, behind Italy and China.
  • Currently there are 81,116 cases in China, up from 80,967 on Friday. Of China’s total cases, 72,703 have recovered, while 5,182 are active, with 3,231 deaths.
  • India’s number of COVID-19 cases has grown from 223 on Friday to 468.
  • Europe continues to be hard hit by COVID-19. Italy now reports nearly 64,000 cases, up almost 17,000 from Friday. Spain is up nearly 13,000 cases since Friday, now at 33,089.
  • Iran, now reports 23,049 cases, up from 19,644 cases on Friday.
  • In South America, Brazil has more than doubled its reported cases since Friday, now at 1,629 and Chile reports 746 cases.

What to Watch


Tomorrow, the Province will provide a full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open during the non-essential business closure.

The Province’s fiscal update is still expected on Wednesday.