WHAT TO KNOW
Globally there are 2,101,164 cases of COVID-19 at 3:30 today. The United States dominates the new global caseload, responsible for all but 8,767 reported new cases. Canada is now reporting 29,925 cases of COVID-19, up from 28,205 cases yesterday. While the number of cases grew by 1,700 in Canada, the curve continues to show a positive trajectory. Ontario is now reporting 8,961, up from 8,447 cases up yesterday, of which, 4,194 have been resolved. The province has now tested 128,093 individuals and reports 4,323 tests are currently under investigation. More information here.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced new measures for Canadian business this morning, including more details about the federal government’s plan to help SMEs manage their rent costs. The Prime Minister announced the government’s intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), which aims to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.
To implement the program, a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments will be required since the provinces and territories are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The Prime Minister will be speaking with Premiers this afternoon. More details on the program are expected soon.
The Government of Canada is also expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and is intended to address the challenges faced by SMEs to cover non-deferrable operating costs.
While the government continues to roll out plans and programs to support Canadians through the COVID pandemic, attention is turning toward efforts that will be required to kick-start the economy when it is safe to do so. Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna told the Globe and Mail she is looking at the role infrastructure spending could play to get Canadians back to work. Much of Ottawa’s $180-billion pot of infrastructure money remains unspent, so the Minister says her first order of business will be to get that money out the door, with shovel ready projects. More information here.
While the Canada/U.S. agreement to shut the border to non-essential travel is set to expire in the coming days, Prime Minister Trudeau said it will still be a “significant amount of time” before restrictions would be loosened. More information here.
At today’s daily briefing, Premier Ford, Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Long-Term Care Dr. Merrilee Fullerton announced the Province has added more than 2,500 acute and critical care beds to hospitals.
The government says hospitals across the province have taken steps to make more beds available for COVID-19 patients in every region of the province. As a result, Ontario has a total of 20,354 acute care beds with a potential for an additional 4,205 more acute care beds by April 30, 2020. Of Ontario’s 3,504 critical care beds, 2,811 are now equipped with ventilators, up from 1,319 when the outbreak first started. More information here.
Ontario employment dropped by 403,000 jobs in March, more than four times larger than the previous record monthly job loss in January 2009, during the global financial crisis according to a new report by the Financial Accountability Office. As a result, Ontario’s unemployment rate jumped to 7.6 per cent in March, up from 5.5 per cent in February, marking the largest monthly increase in the jobless rate on record.
Almost all the job losses were related to the COVID 19 pandemic. The FAO estimates that about 1.2 million Ontario workers were directly affected by shutdowns through either job losses or sharply reduced hours, representing almost one in six jobs in the province. More information here.
To help streamline donations of personal protective equipment, cash, and other donated goods the City of Toronto has launched DonateTO, an online portal which allows residents to submit their donations. More information here.
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