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Ford blames local health leaders for COVID-19 testing drop –



Premier Doug Ford slammed some of the province’s medical officers of health Tuesday, saying they aren’t getting enough COVID-19 tests done in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

At his daily briefing, Ford expressed frustration with some of the top doctors who he said are not ordering enough testing in their regions.

“Some just aren’t performing. I’m calling them out right now. You’ve got to pick up the pace,” Ford said. “We need to hold these people accountable.”

“I’m not going to name them. They know who they are.”

The premier’s office later explained the premier was referring to testing at long-term care homes specifically, saying provincial public health units are only in charge of testing at those facilities and have been given the tools they need to increase testing.

“Public health units are only in charge of testing LTC homes. We have been clear that testing residents and staff at LTC homes is a priority for the province, which is why the Premier was expressing his frustration that some public health units are outperforming others by a wide margin,” said spokesperson Ivana Yelich. 

“The province enables through guidelines, public health units implement.” 

Watch: Ford blasts local health leaders over COVID-19 testing

Premier unhappy as Ontario’s testing numbers take a dramatic drop amid pandemic 1:16

After several consecutive days of the province meeting or exceeding its 14,000 tests processed per day target, only 10,654 were completed in the last 24 hours. It is the lowest total in five days. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed stayed at over 6,000.

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, told reporters at a later news conference that testing is a provincial responsibility.

De Villa said local health units are just stepping up to help during the pandemic under provincial guidelines.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure that this is done in a timely and effective manner,” De Villa said in response to a question about Ford’s comments.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, said last week that a network of public, community and hospital labs now has the capacity to process up to 19,525 per day. 

Opposition says blame lies with government

At a news conference Tuesday, Williams told reporters many factors go into testing numbers and that his department is following up with local health units to determine what’s behind the low number — whether it’s an issue of lacking supplies, human resources, data not being entered speedily or another problem.

“We don’t need excuses … we need solutions,” Williams said.

Experts say ramping up testing will be key to containing the virus and lifting strict public health measures put in place to slow its spread. 

Ontario had been testing well below its capacity, and earlier this month Ford called for that to be ramped up.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she was shocked by Ford’s comments and the blame for the testing inconsistencies lies with his government.

Ford “determines how many public health units and labs we have, and how much funding they get, and he’s the one that spent the last year battling these organizations to make cuts to them,” she said.

“The buck stops with Mr. Ford.”

Ontario reported an additional 387 cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday as the number of patients hospitalized by the illness jumped considerably and deaths in long-term care homes pushed past 1,000.

Tuesday marks the third consecutive day of downward trending numbers after Saturday’s spike of over 500, Williams said. 

The new cases represent a 2.2 per cent increase, a figure on par with those observed over the last week. The cumulative case count in Ontario since the outbreak began in late January is now 18,310 — though nearly 70 per cent are now considered resolved.

Most deaths attributed to long-term care

About 16 per cent of all cases, or some 2,892, are health-care workers, according to the Ministry of Health. 

The official COVID-19 death toll sits at 1,361, an increase of 61 since yesterday. However data compiled from regional public health units by CBC shows the actual death toll to be at least 1,485.

Nearly three-quarters, or 1,003, of those deaths were residents in long-term care homes. The province says it is currently tracking outbreaks in 218 long-term care facilities, six more than in its last update. 

SEIU Healthcare, which represents over 60,000 frontline healthcare workers in Ontario, is now calling on the province and local police forces to launch a public inquiry and criminal investigations into COVID-19 related deaths in long-term care.

Ford said Tuesday that his government is doing “everything” in its power to help long-term care homes. “We’re pulling out all stops on this,” he said.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government is focusing all of its efforts on supporting those homes, and noted a number of steps the government has taken.

“We will continue to take those steps until these outbreaks are under control,” she said.

Ford hoping for eased restrictions on long weekend

The premier also reiterated his hope that by the Victoria Day long weekend, people will be able to head to their cottages — if case counts in the province continue to drop.

“Three weeks down the road, hopefully the numbers will be down,” he said.

Ford also said he recognized it’s “not fair” for some Ontarians to be able to escape cities for green space while others are holed up in small apartment buildings. He said, by the long weekend, more people will be allowed to go outside.

“We’ll have some good announcements going forward this week,” he said.

Hospitalizations in Ontario have increased by 59, up to 1,043 from 984. The number of patients being treated in intensive care units dropped slightly, from 225 down to 223. Of those, 166 are on ventilators, the Ministry of Health says, a decrease of nine since yesterday.

Williams has repeatedly said that hospitalization rates will be a key consideration in how soon the province can begin to ease emergency measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Ford said this week that retailers and other businesses should start preparing to reopen their doors, even if they don’t yet have a date for resuming business.

He called the province’s recent COVID-19 case numbers “encouraging,” and  said that if they continue their downward trend, parks and stores could reopen sooner than later.

Ford asked that businesses start preparing their supplies of masks and taking other steps needed to reopen in advance of a greenlight to reopen from public health officials. 

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Ontario, Quebec continue to account for majority of Canada’s new novel coronavirus cases –



Despite hundreds of new novel coronavirus cases still being reported in Ontario and Quebec, the number of overall cases across Canada continued to trend downward Friday.

More than 600 new lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported on Friday raised the national tally past 94,000 cases overall. More than 52,000 people are considered recovered, with more than 1.9 million tests conducted.

The national death toll went up by 66 deaths, for a total of 7,703.

How many Canadians have the new coronavirus? Total number of confirmed cases by region

Quebec accounted for the majority of the daily death toll once again. The province has been the hardest-hit region in Canada for the past few weeks, with 55 per cent of the national caseload and nearly 5,000 deaths (more than 60 per cent of Canada’s death toll).

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Quebec reported 50 new deaths and 255 new cases on Friday. More than 17,700 people are deemed recovered in the province.

Ontario reported 344 new cases and 15 new deaths, leaving the province with nearly 30,000 cases and more than 2,300 deaths. More than 23,000 people have recovered from the virus.

Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals

Coronavirus: Ontario resumes short-term rentals

B.C. reported one new case and one new death, for a total of 2,628 cases and 167 deaths. The province has seen 2,272 people recover so far.

The Prairie provinces recorded new cases in the single digits. Alberta saw seven new cases — the lowest daily number recorded by the province since March 12.

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Manitoba reported two new cases, bringing its total to 289 cases and seven deaths, while Saskatchewan reported one new case.

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Coronavirus outbreak: Canada could see up to 9,400 total deaths by June 15, new modelling shows

All four Atlantic provinces reported no new cases or deaths on Friday. Prince Edward Island’s 27 cases have been resolved for weeks now, Newfoundland and Labrador has two active cases left out of 261 cases and three deaths, and Nova Scotia, where 61 people have died so far, saw bars and restaurants reopen.

New Brunswick reported its first COVID-19-related death on Thursday and has mandated face coverings in public buildings. Out of 136 cases, 121 are recovered.

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data

Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked why his government didn’t collect race-based data

The Northwest Territories and the Yukon continue to see no new cases, having resolved all their cases for some time. Nunavut remain the only region in Canada that hasn’t reported a positive case of COVID-19 so far.

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Worldwide, COVID-19 has resulted in more than 6.7 million cases and nearly 394,000 deaths, according to figures tallied by Johns Hopkins University.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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'Safe restart' of Canadian economy will take 6-8 months, Freeland says – CTV News



A ‘safe restart’ of the Canadian economy will likely take at least half a year, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Friday, a day after Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam cautioned that relaxing current restrictions too much or too soon could result in an “explosive growth” of new cases.

“One other thing that we would like to really underscore is what we are talking about is the safe restart right now. So this is not a long-term plan,” Freeland told reporters when asked about the government’s plans for the $14 billion earmarked to help provinces and territories.

“This is for ensuring a safe restart over the next six to eight months. And I think it’s important for Canadians to understand that’s the timeframe that we are focused on.”

Canada is fast approaching 95,000 COVID-19 cases and has recorded more than 7,700 deaths across the country. Most provinces and territories have begun reporting no or very few cases and deaths and are beginning to look at how to restart the economy, but Ontario and Quebec are still reporting close to or morethan 300 new cases a day and numerous deaths. The two provinces now account for more than 90 percent of the cases, but have also begun plans for reopening.

Tam said Thursday that until an effective vaccine or treatment becomes available, Canada needsto remain vigilant with its containment efforts to prevent an “explosive” second wave, with the latest federal modelling showing that another peak was possible in October without sufficient prevention measures.

The last time the federal government made a projection was in late April, when it estimated that the country was on track to report between 53,196 and 66,835 cases of COVID-19, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths. In reality, there were 62,046 confirmed cases and 4,043 people had died by May 5.

Freeland said the government understands that the needs of each province and territory vary a great deal, and that it wanted to work collaboratively with them.

“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, we understand that a safe restart is essential.  And that it is expensive.”

With files from Ottawa news Bureau Online Producer Rachel Aiello

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Feds to send $600 to some Canadians with disabilities – CTV News



Canadians with disabilities will be sent a one-time tax-free payment of up to $600, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday, in an effort to help offset the financial pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new financial aid will go to all who are eligible for the Disability Tax Credit, as of June 1.

Canadians who have a valid certificate for the Disability Tax Credit will receive $600. Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive $300. Canadians who are eligible for both of these programs and are also eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will be receiving $100.

The government says that because of the special one-time payments going to seniors, the amount seniors with disabilities will receive through this stream will be less, but in the end will total the same amount of $600.

“People who are eligible for this special payment will receive it automatically,” the federal government has announced, meaning that eligible recipients of these new one-time payments will not need to apply. However, as announced with the seniors funding on Thursday, it could be weeks before the money lands in the hands of those eligible. 

For those who are eligible and under the age of 18, the special payment will be sent to their primary caregiver and in cases of shared custody, each parent will receive $300.

“This payment will go to existing disability tax credit certificate holders, which includes parents with children or dependents with disabilities, seniors, veterans and many other Canadians that we know have costs associated with severe and prolonged disabilities,” Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough said on Friday.

Some Canadians with disabilities had been watching the various announcements for students, seniors, and other targeted demographics and have been left wondering why they appeared to have fallen through the cracks.

For many already living on a low income, they are facing more expenses due to the pandemic, such as increased costs for personal support workers, grocery delivery fees and prescription drug dispensing fees.

The government estimates that 1.2 million Canadians will be eligible for this one-time top-up, which will cost $548 million. Among working-age Canadians with disabilities, more than 1.5 million are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely.


In addition to the one-time payments, the federal government is launching two new accessibility-focused programs.

One, focused on national workplace accessibility, will see $15 million go to community organizations to develop programs and expand current training opportunities to help Canadians with disabilities adapt to the realities of COVID-19, including helping set up effective work-from-home arrangements and training for in-demand jobs.

The second is a $1.8 million fund being shared between five projects to develop accessible technology such as accessible payment terminals for individuals with sight loss; arm supports that will allow Canadians with disabilities to use standard technology; systems to allow Canadians with neurological conditions to interact with technology for a longer period of time; and to develop software to expand expression and voice recognition.

“We know this pandemic has deeply affected the lives and health of all Canadians and disproportionately affected Canadians with disabilities in particular,” Qualtrough said. “We also recognize that persons with disabilities are at a higher risk of job loss during economic downturns.”

Asked more broadly whether the government has plans to extend or amend the $2,000 a-month Canada Emergency Response Benefit in light of the shifting economic situation and gradual reopening, the minister said that conversations are underway.

“Our thinking moving forward is how do we balance a need to continue to support workers while not disincentivizing work, and absolutely those conversations are happening right now.” 

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