A summary of the day's activities of Monday, October 5, follows.
Federal Government Relief Measures
- There were no federal government relief measures announced today.
- Applications for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Care Benefit (CRCB) opened today.
Federal Government Briefings
- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
- Dr. Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
- Dr. Njoo, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
Prime Minister Trudeau began his statement by noting that Ontario and Quebec reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. He urged Canadians to respect the public health guidelines and download the COVID Alert app. He said, "If we can't get together for Thanksgiving, we still have a chance to turn things around for Christmas."
The Prime Minister then reminded the public that the federal government has created the COVID testing assistance response team to deploy quickly across Canada. With respect to testing and contact tracing, the Prime Minister said federal lab space is providing surge support in processing tests, including Ontario for 1,000 tests a day. He also said agreements on contact tracing were in place with Ontario, Quebec and Alberta with more to come for other provinces and territories. The Prime Minister reminded the public that Health Canada received last week its first submission for authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with the University of Oxford.
(Note: On September 16, 2020, the Minister of Health signed an Interim Order allowing companies to submit safety and efficacy data and information as they become available. Often referred to as a rolling review, this allows the Department to start its review as information continues to come in, to speed up the review process.)
Dr. Tam reported that there have been 166,156 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,481 deaths. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of over 71,000 people tested daily last week and 1.7% of these testing positive. She did highlight that national daily case counts continue to "increase steeply," with an average of more than 1,800 new cases being reported daily during the most recent 7 days. New cases in Ontario and Quebec still account for over 80% of the cases reported nationally over this time. The number of COVID-19 cases in hospital and the number of deaths reported daily have also increased. An average of 585 individuals with COVID-19 were in Canadian hospitals on any given day and 14 deaths were reported daily over the past week.
Dr. Tam then stated:
No matter the trajectory within your jurisdiction, we must all remain vigilant and committed to protect ourselves and those we care about. The accelerated spread in parts of Quebec and Ontario remind us how rapidly this virus can take hold. When case counts and the number of individuals they may have exposed are high, this places pressure on all parts of the public health response including our labs and contact tracers. Public health authorities across the country are continuing to increase their testing and tracing capacity but these resources have limits. At a certain point, reinstating some community-based public health measures, as we've observed in parts of Ontario and Quebec, is required to bring COVID-19 back down to manageable levels.
Dr. Tam acknowledged "right now we are on the wrong trajectory in some parts of the country." She echoed the Prime Minister's message and urged all Canadians to "commit to doing our part to reduce the spread of the virus" and expressed confidence that "we can right the ship and plank the curve again."
Regarding media reports that private clinics were allowing people to bypass the virus testing line for a fee, Prime Minister Trudeau said "it is important for Canada to have a universal, accessible health care system" and confirmed he was following-up on this matter with the Minister of Health later today.
Regarding the soaring number of cases and the related problems with testing and contact tracing, the Prime Minister refuses to admit that governments were caught off guard. He pointed out the federal money allocated for testing and contact tracing under the $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement helped improve the situation. The Prime Minster also said the federal government has delivered a larger number of contact tracers to Ontario (500) and federal labs were providing support in processing tests. "It not just about money," he said, "it's also about resources."
He then added, "As Dr. Tam said, we are on the wrong track." "Today's numbers reflects actions taken about a week ago. People need to make responsible choices now," said the Prime Minister.
Statement from Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Ministers
In a news conference in Queen's Park, Ontario Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce provided an update on their government's response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams joined them.
Premier Doug Ford announced $35 million to provide additional immediate school board supports in the communities of Peel, Ottawa, Toronto and York Region to enhance public health measures and protection strategies as they confront higher rates of transmission in their communities. This funding is part of the government's $1.3 billion plan to safely reopen classrooms.
This funding will be used for:
- Providing increased distancing between students through the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators, and educational assistants; and
- Providing increased remote learning supports, including the hiring of additional teachers, early childhood educators and educational assistants, as well as devices for students who have chosen to learn remotely.
"Our priority as we enter the flu season is to ensure our schools take every preventative measure possible to ensure students and staff remain safe," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. "We are delivering this additional funding ? targeting those communities with higher rates of transmission ? to ensure we prevent the spread and maximize the safety of Ontario families."
Testing and contact tracing were the issues of focus for the journalists. While Premier Ford reiterated that the government was working to address the situation regarding in the province, he noted that there was a "finite number" of diagnostic lab technicians in Ontario and a shortage of reagents worldwide. He then reiterated that antigen (rapid) tests will be a "game changer", contributing to reduce the pressure on the province's core testing network. Premier Ford said he was looking forward to Health Canada's approval of antigen tests and suggested that such an approval may be forthcoming within a couple of weeks.
Regarding school closures, Premier Ford reiterated the government's priority is to reduce the risk of transmission in communities because of its commitment to keep schools open.
Statement for Quebec Premier François Legault and Ministers
In Montreal, Quebec Premier François Legault provided an updated on the government's response to COVID-19. Minister for Government Digital Transformation Eric Claire, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé, and Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda joined the Premier.
After four consecutive days of recording more than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 across the province and a record high single-day increase of 1,191 cases today, Premier Legault announced that restrictions in the COVID red alert zones (Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches) were reinforced, including in schools. He also announced that the COVID-19 exposure notification app was now available in Quebec.
Regarding the app, Premier Legault indicated the government needed to ensure the app would safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of Quebecers before making it available for use. "The government came to the conclusion that the app was secure," Premier Legault said.
Earlier this morning, Quebec Ministers announced new public-health measures for sport and schools in the province's red zones amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge, Minister Responsible for Sports Isabelle Charest and, Minister of Higher Education Danielle McCann spoke with reporters. They were joined by Dr. Richard Massé, the strategic medical advisor to the Direction générale de la santé publique.
Effective October 8, organized team sports are prohibited in Quebec's red zones until Oct. 28. Fitness centres will be required to close for that time period, with an announcement set to be made in the coming days about financial compensation.
The Ministers announced a tightening of health measures in schools, which include mandatory masks for all high school students in classes and on school property. Grade 10 and 11 students will attend courses virtually one out of every two days. All extra-curricular activities and class trips will be temporarily suspended, though specialized programs like Sport Etudes and Art Etudes can be maintained as long as schools respect classroom groupings and two-metre distancing guidelines. The measures will take place for 20 days, until Oct. 28, at which point the situation will be re-evaluated.
As of Oct. 8, higher education establishments in the red zone must apply their planned emergency protocols, Minister McCann announced. In addition to limiting the physical presence of students in universities and colleges, the movement of students and staff will be limited when they are on the premises. Universities and colleges will have to hold their classes virtually, unless the presence of students is essential. These new measures will be in effect until October 28.
Elsewhere in Canada
On October 1, Alberta Health Services announced 122 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths. Case updates for the weekend are expected later today.
Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda approved a 130-year lease for the University Innovation Quarter lands at the University of Calgary, officially transferring all ownership of the lands to the University Innovation Quarter Trust. The university will establish the new University Innovation Quarter, a research park dedicated to commercializing innovation and new technologies from university research and attracting new research-oriented industries to Alberta. This will support the creation of up to 6,300 new jobs over the next 20 years as part of Alberta's Recovery Plan.
Alberta's government is contributing $1.1 million in funding towards a Homes for Heroes Foundation housing project for veterans in crisis or experiencing homelessness. The City of Edmonton will contribute $1.1 million in land through a 20-year nominal lease. The project will create about 32 jobs under Alberta's Recovery Plan.
MLA for West Yellowhead Martin Long has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary for small business and tourism and will work with Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer to implement Alberta's Recovery Plan.
On October 1, British Columbia's Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and deputy Minister of Health Stephen Brown announced 161 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 additional deaths. There are 63 individuals hospitalized,16 of whom were in intensive care. There were 1,302 active cases of COVID-19 in the province and 3,114 people under active public health monitoring as a result of known exposures. Case updates for the weekend are expected later today.
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