Below are the most recent updates (March 29, 2020) on the Federal and Provincial governments’ actions in tackling COVID-19.
- Today Prime Minister Trudeau announced additional travel measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19. Starting on Monday March 30 at noon, anyone showing signs of COVID-19 will be denied boarding planes or trains for domestic travel in Canada.
- The Prime Minister also reinforced his message for Canadians to stay home. He also encouraged Canadians to pre-register for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). He encourages eligible Canadians to register in advance and to set-up direct deposit if possible. He noted that this will help to expedite the process.
- Premier Ford announced enhanced consumer protection measures to combat price gouging on “essential items”. This is in response to reports of some retailers jacking up prices on hand wipes and other items.
- The Province defined essential goods as:
- Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections.
- Non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus.
- Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans.
- Personal hygiene products, including soap products and paper products.
- The new severe penalties can be in the form of a ticket for $750, a charge under the EMPCA, with the possibility of a court imposed fine of up to $100,000 and up to a year imprisonment for an individual. A director or officer of a corporation could face a fine of not more than $500,000 and a term of imprisonment of note more than one year. In the case of a corporation, a fine of note more than $10 million may be imposed.
- The bill does not seek to set prices or dictate margins for retailers. I suspect that the attention this has received in the press and the public shaming will remain the strongest deterrent for retailers. The Premier also noted that the overwhelming majority of Ontario retailers are stepping up.
- The Minister of Health and Premier also spoke about protective equipment for health care workers. They said that the province has been securing new supply every day from existing suppliers, the federal government, and new companies in Ontario. They mentioned that they have secured 5 million N95 masks, and that they are coming in on a “rolling procurement”, meaning that as they get them, they are shipping them out. Responding to direct questions about individual hospitals, the Premier and Minister committed to having a call with all hospitals to make sure that they are getting them the materials that they need. The Minister also discussed protocols being in place to move resources around to support those hospitals that may have their ICUs overrun with COVID-19 patients.
- The provincial cabinet will be discussing a new emergency measure to limit public gathering to 5 people (down from 50). The exceptions are essential businesses, childcare facilities and families of five or more.