There won’t be any in-person bargain-hunting taking place in Ontario this Boxing Day.
When resident across the province wake up Saturday morning, they will find themselves under a provincially-ordered lockdown brought in to try curb the runaway spread of COVID-19.
While Toronto, Peel Region, York Region, and other areas are already under lockdown, the province-wide order takes effect at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26.
The lockdown means the closure of all but a handful of businesses. Those deemed essential such as grocery stores and pharmacies will be allowed to stay open with capacity restrictions, but gyms, movie theatres and just about every other type of indoor business will have to close.
Stores and restaurants will still be allowed to offer curbside pickup and delivery.
Capacity restrictions will be tightened to 25 per cent per room at discount and big box retailers that sell food and are allowed to be open.
The new provincial lockdown comes as runaway community spread threatens to overwhelm hospital Intensive Care Units.
Earlier this month, hospitals in the province were told to prepare surge capacity plans in anticipation of an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Health officials have warned that serious surgeries and treatments – such as those for cancer, heart problems and other conditions – could be delayed if hospital ICU’s are overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.
Despite pleas from elected officials and public health professionals, data have shown that people have not been staying home as much as they did during the restrictions in the spring
Ontario has been smashing through successive daily case records in recent weeks. While no numbers were reported by the province on Christmas, Ontario set a new daily record of 2,447 cases on Christmas Eve.
Despite promises that an “iron ring” would be extended around long-term care homes following the first wave in the spring, the virus has returned to long-term care homes with devastating effect in recent months.
As of Thursday, there were outbreaks at 162 long-term care homes in Ontario, meaning more than 25 per cent of all homes in the province are currently experiencing an outbreak.
The number of cases in schools was also climbing rapidly prior to winter break, forcing the province to implement a lengthened break from in-person learning. Elementary students in the province will learn virtually from Jan 4-8, while secondary students will learn virtually until returning to in-person instruction on Jan. 25.
Outbreaks among essential workers such as firefighters have also caused concern about a possible strain on essential services.
The lockdown will be in effect for the entire province until Jan. 9. After that, lockdown restrictions will continue for all 27 public health units in Southern Ontario until Jan. 23.
LILLEY: Vaccine debacle triggers scramble to make do with existing supply – Toronto Sun
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In two weeks, starting Jan. 31, deliveries are expected to drop by 50% — from 143,000 doses to 71,500.
During the week of Feb. 7, deliveries are expected to be 45% lower than promised with regular deliveries starting the week of Feb. 14.
“The impact is huge,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday.
Officials working on the provincial plan described a logistics nightmare of having to change gears. Instead of ramping up to vaccinate a record number of people, they’re trying to ensure that those who have received the first shot get their second.
It was the same reaction in Alberta.
“We’ll have to delay the number of planned vaccines for eligible health-care workers, and the vaccinations to other Albertans,” Premier Jason Kenney said.
“This week, new shipments of Pfizer vaccines will not be enough to match our pace of inoculation, and so appointments regrettably will have to be rescheduled.”
While Kenney mused about trying to find other vaccine supplies elsewhere, Ford said he wants Ontario to ramp up vaccine production in the future.
Contrary to what many have claimed, Canada still has vaccine manufacturing capabilities.
There have been attempts by the Liberals to blame the Harper Conservatives, or even Brian Mulroney’s government, for Canada not being a player in vaccine manufacturing. It’s nothing but politics.
The Mulroney government sold off what had been known as Connaught Laboratories to a French firm in the ’80s. Today, it’s the Connaught Campus of French vaccine giant Sanofi Pasteur and is Canada’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
Unifor members approve pact that will see GM invest $1B in CAMI plant – CBC.ca
Unifor members have voted to approve General Motors Canada’s plan to invest $1 billion in an electric vehicle plant in southern Ontario.
The union’s 1,900 Local 88 members voted online Sunday on a tentative deal with the automaker to transform GM’s CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ont., into a hub for producing electric commercial delivery vans.
The union said members voted about 91 per cent in favour of the deal and that work will begin immediately to ready the plant to begin van production in November.
The industry has been hit hard over the last decade as automakers cut jobs in the province and production work flowed to the U.S. and Mexico. Unifor has spent much of the last year striking deals with GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler that will pump $6 billion into Canada’s auto manufacturing industry.
“The stakes going into these negotiations were high with the (Chevrolet) Equinox program ending, and there wasn’t a time during these difficult negotiations that we were not thinking about our members and their families,” said a statement by Mike Van Boekel, chair of Unifor’s master bargaining committee.
Unifor national president Jerry Dias credited the deal to hard work by the local bargaining unit and collaboration with the Ontario and federal governments despite complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To achieve this level of commitment for auto manufacturing shows what can happen when we have a collective vision to secure this sector and create good jobs for Canadians,” Dias said in a statement.
With the Ingersoll plant wrapping up Chevrolet Equinox production in 2023, the plan also comes as GM is trying to transform its business to focus more on electric vehicles.
Last week, the automaker unveiled an updated logo focused on electric vehicles and made headlines at the CES technology trade show. GM Canada president Scott Bell said it was a good sign that Canada was identified as the home of the new electric van just three days after GM announced the new venture.
“GM Canada engineers in Markham and Oshawa were instrumental in the early stages of ideation and testing of this truly innovative solution for the massive global delivery industry,” Bell said in a statement.
“With more than $2 billion in new combined investments announced for Oshawa, St. Catharines and Ingersoll, we are standing up as one of Canada’s most confident investors.”
Bell said the mayors of the Ontario communities, as well as the union and nearby universities, helped move along the Canadian investments. He also said GM’s vision aligns with the Canadian government’s “leadership in addressing electricity prices, industrial taxes.”
Federal Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Monday that the government will work with the company on the project and that it is “prepared to support the future of Canada’s auto sector.”
The investments from GM and other automakers, said Champagne, “demonstrate clearly that our government’s policies, working alongside our partners in industry and labour, are driving historic private sector investment.”
Ontario must cut COVID-19 cases to 1,000 daily to lift lockdowns, medical officer says – Global News
TORONTO — COVID-19 cases in Ontario must fall below 1,000 per day before lockdown measures can be lifted, the province’s top doctor said Monday as he expressed cautious optimism that infection rates may have plateaued.
Dr. David Williams said while the province’s virus rates remain high – with 2,578 new cases reported Monday – he thinks the impact of a provincewide lockdown that started on Boxing Day is beginning to emerge.
Williams said Ontario’s seven-day case average has dropped to just over 3,000 cases he said, down from the mid-3,000s in recent weeks.
He said he would like to see the province’s new daily case counts move to levels last seen in late October before any pandemic measures are relaxed.
“It is achievable, we can get back there,” Williams said. “I take that as a sign that Ontarians … are making headway.”
Williams said he would also like to see the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units drop to 150 – from 395 reported Monday – before ending the lockdown.
“If you get below 150 COVID patients in ICU beds that starts to get you back down to where all the hospitals can start to do their other elective procedures,” he said.
Williams said while people must continue to stay-at-home and follow public health rules, the latest numbers show that Ontario’s per cent positivity has not risen in recent days.
His comments come less than a week after the province was plunged into its second state of emergency during the pandemic and Premier Doug Ford’s government imposed a stay-at-home order.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
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