COVID-19 Government and International Response: March 31, 2020

What to Know

There are now more than 820,000 global cases of COVID-19, up from 765,000 cases yesterday. Canada reports 8,469 cases, up from 7,297 cases yesterday. Of those cases, 1,169 people have recovered. As of 10:30 this morning, there are 1,966 cases in Ontario, up from 1,706 yesterday. The province has now tested 51,629 individuals and is now only reporting 4,280 tests currently under investigation. The Province updates its numbers twice daily.

The Canadian Urban Transit Agency sent a request to Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna seeking more than $1-billion in emergency funds for local transit operators across the country. The Globe and Mail reports the TTC’s ridership is 70 or 80 per cent below normal levels.

Federal

During his daily news conference, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the federal government will spend $2-billion to procure more ventilators, tests, and protective equipment for front-line workers. The government expects some of these supplies will be ready in the coming days. The Prime Minister said more than 3,000 businesses across the country have stepped up, altering their production likes to produce needed medical supplies and equipment. Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand later told reporters the government has secured more than 157 million surgical masks and ordered more than 60 million N95 masks.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau and International Trade Minister Mary Ng are expected to outline further details about the wage subsidy, including costings and expectations. The news conference, which was scheduled for today, has been pushed to tomorrow as Ministers finalize the details.

Yesterday, Minister Morneau announced the government will waive ground lease rents from March 2020 through to December 2020 for the 21 airport authorities that pay rent to the federal government. The government will also provide comparable treatment for PortsToronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. This support aims to reduce cost pressures and preserve cash flow for airports. This will provide relief up to $331.4 million, reflecting payments in the same period of 2018.

Provincial

Important education announcements topped the Provincial agenda today. The Ontario government announced it will extend school and childcare closures, with public schools closed to teachers until at least May 1 and students until at least May 4. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed until April 13, according to the Declaration of Emergency, which only allows closures to be extended for one 14-day period at a time. To ensure students can continue learning, the Province announced the second phase of its Learn at Home program.

The government also announced it would ease the financial burden on students and make sure they can complete their studies during the COVID-19 outbreak by temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program loans and making online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to post-secondary institutions. More information here.

International

  • United States is reporting more than 180,000 cases of COVID-19, up from 155,705 cases, yesterday. 76,000 of those cases are in New York State, while New Jersey reports nearly 19,000 cases. Washington State, Michigan, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Illinois, Florida and California all report more than 5,000 cases each.
  • China continues to report low numbers of new cases. The government now reports 81,518 cases, up from 81,439 yesterday.
  • India, still on lockdown, now reports 1,397 cases.
  • Italy is reporting 105,792 cases, an increase of roughly 5,000 since yesterday. Spanish cases have grown by almost 10,000, now reaching 94,417, and Germany is reporting 68,692 cases.
  • The UK has 25,150 cases, up from 22,141 cases yesterday.
  • Videos of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro making false claims of COVID-19 treatments were blocked by Facebook and Twitter. The country now reporting 4,715 cases.