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Toronto's Pearson airport cuts 1/4 of staff due to reduced travel demand amid COVID-19 pandemic – CBC.ca

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The biggest airport in Canada is eliminating 500 jobs because of the dramatic reduction in demand for air travel due to COVID-19.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority, which operates Pearson International Airport, says it will not fill 200 current open positions and get rid of an additional 300 positions through voluntary departures and layoffs.

The cuts represent a slash of 27 per cent of the airport operator’s pre-pandemic workforce.

In April, Pearson airport processed 97 per cent fewer passengers than it did in the same month a year earlier and right now the GTAA says passenger traffic is back where it was in 1996.

Other major airports have already made similar job cuts, including 25 per cent of staff at Vancouver’s main airport and one third of the staff in Calgary.

Isabelle Dostaler, the dean of business at Memorial University in St. John’s, says the news is not surprising. 

“Anyone in this air transportation system is being affected right now,” she said in an interview.

Isabelle Dostaler says airports big and small have been feeling the pinch of drastically reduced demand for travel during the pandemic. (Aaron Saltzman/CBC)

She said smaller regional airports like her local one in St. John’s have been hit perhaps even harder than big hubs such as Pearson.

“It’s now empty,” she said, speaking of the arrivals hall of St. John’s airport. “You look at the screen, and normally the screen is full announcing flights coming in and going out; there’s just three or four lines now.”

But even an airport as busy as Pearson can’t maintain current staffing levels forever in the face of cratering demand.

“It’s all across the system,” she said.

50 million passengers last year

The staffing move comes after the GTAA already deferred $265 million in planned capital spending this year, including  temporary cuts to salaries for the company’s management and board of directors.

Two of the job cuts will come from the ranks of the GTAA’s executive team, with the departure of its vice-president and chief strategy officer, Kim Stangeby, along with vice-president of customer and terminal services Scott Collier.

“Our leadership team and board of directors have worked concertedly each month to navigate these turbulent times and have put our people first,” CEO Deborah Flint said in a release. “This reduction in force is a difficult but necessary step, and one that we take with great sadness.”

The airport operator says it will work with the Unifor union and Pearson Airport’s firefighter association to implement the changes while respecting their labour contracts.

Full recovery may take 5 years

Last year, Pearson moved 50 million passengers, but this year the GTAA says the airport is experiencing “significant declines in passengers and flight activity as a result of travel advisories and restrictions by governments, flight and route cancellations, and fleet groundings by air carriers.” 

The GTAA says normal flight activity “may not return to pre-COVID-19 levels for at least three to five years, according to certain industry participants.”

Business professor Ken Wong at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., says the layoffs are to be expected during the current situation, but he’s concerned about what might happen if the layoffs become more permanent.

“While the current cutbacks are easily understood given the state of demand they face and the uncertainty of how the pandemic will unfold, eventually conditions will show improvement,” he said.

“Historically, during recessions, rehiring staff is the last thing done. Employers are waiting for more certainty since the cost of onboarding can only be justified if the employment is for a long duration.”

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Ford differentiates between Ontarians holding private gatherings and establishments defying COVID-19 rules – CBC.ca

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Premier Doug Ford drew a distinction between Ontarians flouting public health measures through private gatherings and establishments that openly defy the province’s COVID-19 rules Tuesday.

The remarks came in response to questions about at Toronto barbeque restaurant owner publicly vowing to keep his doors open amid the province’s lockdown for the city.

“They have to follow the rules. There can’t be rules for one group and not another,” he said at a news conference Tuesday, less forcefully than in other instances where the premier has come out swinging against people throwing large parties or weddings, for example.

“When it comes to private parties, that’s a different ball of wax,” Ford said. “I’m not going to get up here and start pounding the small business owner when the guy’s holding on by his finger nails. I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying and renting a public storage place … that’s reckless.

“I don’t condone that he opened up but I feel terrible. My heart breaks for these guys … these business-owners, believe me. “But please, in saying all that, you’ve got to follow the protocols and guidelines.”

WATCH | Ford comments on Toronto BBQ restaurant vowing to stay open during COVID-19 lockdown:

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says the owner of a Toronto BBQ restaurant who opened for indoor dining in violation of provincial lockdown orders should follow the rules, and he says his ‘heart breaks’ for small business. 1:12

Rapid testing begins, auditor general set to release report

The province also announced Tuesday that it has begun deploying rapid testing in long-term care homes, rural and remote areas — something the premier called a “gamechanger.”

The rapid tests, which can produce results in minutes rather than days, have been sent to 36 long-term care homes and 27 retirement homes, as well as some hospitals.

Ford said the province will continue to deploy the 98,000 ID Now tests and 1.2 million Panbio tests it has received from the federal government in the coming weeks.Health Minister Christine Elliott says another 1.5 million Panbio tests are expected to arrive in Ontario next month.

The announcement comes as a data error resulted in an artificially low daily total of 1,009 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

It also comes just one day before the province’s auditor general is set to issue a three-part report on the province’s pandemic emergency preparedness and its response to COVID-19, including lab testing, case management and contact tracing. 

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said that yesterday’s figure of 1,589 cases (which appeared to be a record high) inadvertently included eight-and-a-half extra hours worth of data from Nov. 22, meaning the total count was inflated. Today’s number adjusts for the mistake.

The new cases include 497 in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The seven-day average now sits at 1,395.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Waterloo Region: 40
  • Windsor: 31
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Ottawa: 19
  • Niagara Region: 19
  • Durham Region: 16
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 16
  • Hamilton: 10
  • Thunder Bay: 14

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]

Testing falls to about half of capacity

Today’s additional cases include 270 that are school-related: 223 students and 47 staff. The Ministry of Education said in a statement that the figure is not a one-day increase. Rather it reflects cases identified in schools from 2 p.m. last Friday to 2 p.m. yesterday, and also some others that were not reported Friday because of professional learning days in some boards, including the Toronto public and Catholic boards.

There are currently 703 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to the illness, including one in Windsor with 39 cases, the largest school-related outbreak in the province.

There are now 12,917 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, a slight drop from yesterday as 1,082 cases were marked resolved today. 

The further infections in today’s update come as Ontario’s network of labs processed just 27,053 test samples for the novel coronavirus, and added 29,316 to the queue to be completed. There is currently capacity in the system for up to 50,000 tests daily. Meanwhile, the province reported a test positivity rate of 5.8 per cent.

The official COVID-19 death toll grew by 14, up to 3,519. So far this month, 374 people with COVID-19 have died in Ontario. 

Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 also jumped, up 27 to 534. Of those, 159 are being treated in intensive care and 91 with ventilators. Public health officials have identified 150 patients in ICUs as the threshold for when unrelated surgeries and procedures are likely to be postponed because of burdens on the hospital system.

Meanwhile, a group of engineers, physicians and other professionals issued an open letter to the province Tuesday, calling for updated COVID-19 guidelines that emphasize the importance of ventilation when it comes to curbing the risk of spreading the virus

‘With winter approaching, our activities are moving indoors and it is therefore imperative that public institutions, workplaces and individuals understand the risk of aerosol transmission as well as the actions that can be taken to combat it,” the letter says.

Backed by 36 professionals, it also calls on the province to mandate and fund ventilation assessments and upgrades of settings like schools and long-term care homes, establishing ventilation standards for reopening, among other measures.

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Ford differentiates between Ontarians holding private gatherings and establishments defying COVID-19 rules – CBC.ca

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Premier Doug Ford drew a distinction between Ontarians flouting public health measures through private gatherings and establishments that openly defy the province’s COVID-19 rules Tuesday.

The remarks came in response to questions about at Toronto barbeque restaurant owner publicly vowing to keep his doors open amid the province’s lockdown for the city.

“They have to follow the rules. There can’t be rules for one group and not another,” he said at a news conference Tuesday, less forcefully than in other instances where the premier has come out swinging against people throwing large parties or weddings, for example.

“When it comes to private parties, that’s a different ball of wax,” Ford said. “I’m not going to get up here and start pounding the small business owner when the guy’s holding on by his finger nails. I differentiate between someone at home being reckless and having 100 people over and partying and renting a public storage place … that’s reckless.

“I don’t condone that he opened up but I feel terrible. My heart breaks for these guys … these business-owners, believe me. “But please, in saying all that, you’ve got to follow the protocols and guidelines.”

The province also announced Tuesday that it has begun deploying rapid testing in long-term care homes, rural and remote areas — something the premier called a “gamechanger.”

The announcement comes as a data error resulted in an artificially low daily total of 1,009 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday.

It also comes just one day before the province’s auditor general is set to issue a three-part report on the province’s pandemic emergency preparedness and its response to COVID-19, including lab testing, case management and contact tracing. 

A spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said that yesterday’s figure of 1,589 cases (which appeared to be a record high) inadvertently included eight-and-a-half extra hours worth of data from Nov. 22, meaning the total count was inflated. Today’s number adjusts for the mistake.

The new cases include 497 in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The seven-day average now sits at 1,395.

Other public health units that saw double-digit increases were:

  • Waterloo Region: 40
  • Windsor: 31
  • Simcoe Muskoka: 25
  • Ottawa: 19
  • Niagara Region: 19
  • Durham Region: 16
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 16
  • Hamilton: 10
  • Thunder Bay: 14

[Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.]

Today’s additional cases include 270 that are school-related: 223 students and 47 staff. The Ministry of Education said in a statement that the figure is not a one-day increase. Rather it reflects cases identified in schools from 2 p.m. last Friday to 2 p.m. yesterday, and also some others that were not reported Friday because of professional learning days in some boards, including the Toronto public and Catholic boards.

There are currently 703 publicly-funded schools in Ontario, or about 14.6 per cent, with at least one reported instance of COVID-19. Four schools are closed due to the illness, including one in Windsor with 39 cases, the largest school-related outbreak in the province.

There are now 12,917 confirmed, active cases of the illness provincewide, a slight drop from yesterday as 1,082 cases were marked resolved today. 

The further infections in today’s update come as Ontario’s network of labs processed just 27,053 test samples for the novel coronavirus, and added 29,316 to the queue to be completed. There is currently capacity in the system for up to 50,000 tests daily. Meanwhile, the province reported a test positivity rate of 5.8 per cent.

The official COVID-19 death toll grew by 14, up to 3,519. So far this month, 374 people with COVID-19 have died in Ontario. 

Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 also jumped, up 27 to 534. Of those, 159 are being treated in intensive care and 91 with ventilators. Public health officials have identified 150 patients in ICUs as the threshold for when unrelated surgeries and procedures are likely to be postponed because of burdens on the hospital system.

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Error in reporting COVID-19 data resulted in overestimation of case count on Monday, province says – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Ontario is reporting 1,009 new cases of COVID-19 but the province says an error in reporting yesterday’s data has resulted in an underestimation of today’s case count and overestimation of Monday’s total.

On Monday, Ontario reported 1,589 new cases of the virus , a new single-day record, but the province now says that number was not accurate.

“Due to technical issues, instead of including cases up until 12:00 p.m. on November 22, yesterday’s report contained cases reported in CCM up until 8:30 p.m. on November 22, resulting in an overestimate of the daily counts yesterday, and an underestimate of the daily counts today,” a spokesperson for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said in an email on Tuesday.

The province has not confirmed how many cases should have been included in yesterday’s total.

When averaging out new infections reported over the last two days, Ontario saw 1,299 cases on both Monday and Tuesday.

“Ontario is reporting 1,009 cases of #COVID19,” Elliott tweeted on Tuesday, acknowledging Monday’s data glitch.

“Locally, there are 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel and 118 in York Region. There are 1,082 more resolved cases and nearly 27,100 tests completed.”

On Monday, the province said that 37,471 tests were completed, meaning that an average of just 32,285 tests were processed on both Monday and Tuesday, well below the province’s goal of 50,000 tests per day.

The test positivity rate averages out to about 5.2 per cent over the two days, according to figures provided by provincial health officials.

The rolling seven-day average of new cases is now 1,395, down from 1,421 one week ago.

According to the province’s latest disclosure, 14 more virus-related deaths were reported in Ontario today.

Ten of those deaths involved residents of long-term care homes in the province.

Hospitalizations now sit at 534, according to provincial health officials, and intensive care admissions are at 159.

On Monday, Toronto and Peel Region officially entered into a 28-day lockdown period to curb the spread of the disease.

Restaurants have been forced to close patios and indoor dining rooms in the two regions as part of the lockdown but they can remain open for takeout and delivery.

All non-essential retail stores are also closed to in-person shopping but are still permitted to offer curbside pickup and delivery.

New GTHA cases (average over two days):

Peel Region: 355 (535 on Monday, 175 on Tuesday)

Toronto: 416.5 (336 on Monday, 497 on Tuesday)

York Region: 162 (205 on Monday, 118 on Tuesday)

Durham Region: 37 (51 on Monday, 23 on Tuesday)

Halton Region: 29 (53 on Monday, 5 on Tuesday)

Hamilton: 35.5 (61 on Monday, 10 on Tuesday)

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