Ontario issues stay-at-home order except for essentials

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Canada's long term care homes: from national shame to international disgrace
New report on Long Term Care (LTC) homes is a scathing indictment of Canada’s response to COVID-19 and senior care.

Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Mar 30, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 3 minute read • 12 Comments
Diane Colangelo visits her 86-year-old mother Patricia through a window at the Orchard Villa long-term care home in Pickering.
Diane Colangelo visits her 86-year-old mother Patricia through a window at the Orchard Villa long-term care home in Pickering. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI /Toronto Sun/Postmedia
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A new report on Long Term Care (LTC) homes is a scathing indictment of Canada’s response to COVID-19 and senior care.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information released a study of the first six months of the pandemic, showing how Canada’s nursing homes compare to those in other wealthy nations.

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It is not a pretty picture.

As statistics make clear, Canada really bungled the situation in LTC homes — and the end result is many deaths that probably could have been prevented. Compared to others, Canada has the worst record for deaths in LTC facilities.

Almost 70% of all COVID-19 deaths in Canada were in LTC homes; the international average is 41%.

The report — Canadian Institute for Health Information -The Impact of COVID-19 on Long-Term Care in Canada: Focus on the First 6 Months — makes several key findings.

First, nursing homes were disproportionately affected by COVID 19 in Canada, and the second wave was actually bigger and broader than the first in this regard — with more outbreaks and deaths in LTC and retirement homes. Infections went up 62% in the second wave.

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Lessons from the first wave were either ignored or fell on deaf ears, apparently.

LTC residents actually received less medical care during COVID’s first wave, with fewer doctor visits, and fewer transfers to hospital for the treatment of chronic conditions. There was also less contact with family and friends, associated with higher rates of depression.

LTC resident deaths from all causes were higher during the first wave lockdown versus pre-pandemic figures, even in locations with very little COVID. Ontario had the largest increase in excess deaths (28%) during the peak of the first wave.

According to the report, these findings point to structural challenges in the sector and to the need for, “Increased staffing levels, stronger infection control and prevention practices, better inspection and enforcement processes, and improved building infrastructure to reduce crowding and infection spread.”


In other words, all the same measures LTC advocates and health care workers have been begging for since COVID began. And for the 30 years before that.

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Between March 1, 2020 and February 15, 2021, 2500 Canadian care homes have had outbreaks — resulting in 14,000 resident deaths and 30 staff deaths. That’s more than two-thirds of all COVID deaths.

Some 80,000 residents and staff have been infected, which is 10% of all COVID cases in the country.

Again, that puts Canada’s care homes at 69% of total deaths, versus a 41% international average.

Things actually got worse in the second wave, with more outbreaks and more deaths.

As the report states, Ontario and Quebec had the largest proportion of homes with outbreaks involving resident cases.

“In spring 2020, more than 1,500 members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) were deployed to assist with staffing 32 of the most severely impacted homes in Quebec and Ontario,” the report reads.

“The CAF reported poor infection prevention and control practices (e.g., insufficient medical supplies and training, personal protective equipment [PPE] not available), residents being “denied food or not fed properly” and extensive staffing problems.”

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The same staffing problems prevail in many of Ontario’s nursing homes. And despite the vaccinations that should make residents safe, many are still in isolation, forbidden to leave their rooms.

The only possible reason for this continued violation of human rights is that it is cheaper to control the residents than to hire the required staff, and give them the proper salary and sick leave necessary to keep COVID-19 out of LTC homes.

As Ontario Tech University’s Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos — a respected advocate for LTC residents — said Tuesday, “They have Uber-ized the work force. The staffing shortages are still critical. The government never engaged in a staffing blitz.”

The office of Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long Term Care, said Tuesday in a statement that $115 million will be invested to support the entry of up to 8,200 PSWs into the workforce by the end of 2021.
 

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Many long term care residents have not left their room for over a year
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Mar 30, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
People demonstrate in support of the well-being of long-term care home residents outside of Kennedy Lodge Long Term Care Home in Scarborough.
People demonstrate in support of the well-being of long-term care home residents outside of Kennedy Lodge Long Term Care Home in Scarborough. PHOTO BY ERNEST DOROSZUK /Toronto Sun/Postmedia
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Many people in Ontario’s long term care homes have been living in isolation for over a year.

Despite government promises to spend your tax dollars on more and better, the situation for residents in LTC has never been worse.

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On the same day that a new report came down about Canada’s terrible track record with LTC deaths during COVID — we’re essentially the worst among wealthy nations — a press conference was held to demand an end to the lockdown of LTC facilities.

Despite now being vaccinated and living in homes where there is no COVID whatsoever, residents still cannot leave their rooms — even to walk in the hallway.

The press conference Tuesday was organized by residents, families and advocates; speakers included Sandra Caleta, spokesperson for Voices of LTC and Advocates for Long-Term Care Reform in Ontario; Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition; Jane Meadus, lawyer at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly; and Dr. Amit Arya, palliative care physician and Board Member of the Ontario Health Coalition.

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And the conference included heart-rending testimonials from residents and their essential family caregivers. Alfred Borg, who lives in a Newmarket LTC home, spoke about his daily reality.

He and his fellow residents have been confined to their rooms for months, with no outlet for exercise of any kind. “All day long we sit in our rooms, wasting away.” He’s had pneumonia twice in six months.

There is no COVID in his building. All the residents have been vaccinated.

And yet they can’t leave their rooms. Borg hasn’t been outside in a year.

He hasn’t even been allowed to shower in six months — only sponge baths in his room.

Michelle Morriseau, whose mother is in a home in Thunder Bay, said her mother has been out only once in a year — for her husband’s funeral.

Morriseau wept as she recounted how she, their daughter, was locked out as a caregiver, leaving her 88 year old father to take over her mother’s daily care. He died in February.

After his funeral, her mother was put into isolation for nine days because she’d left the building.

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“She’s so different when she’s outside. She’s so bright and interested in everything. How can you take that away from an elder?”

Her mother has likewise been denied baths and showers.

Chuck Ferkranus, another LTC resident, asked a simple question.

“What will it take for this to come to an end? Every resident and worker has been vaccinated. No one has COVID in this building and yet we cannot leave our rooms. We’re served our meals in styrofoam boxes with plastic knives and forks. I haven’t been able to shower for months. What does it take?”

Dr. Amit Arya said the science is clear: the risk of spread is less outside than inside; “What is the point of vaccinating residents if they can’t go out? The operators and the government make decisions that are contrary to logic and to science.

“Social isolation and loneliness is an epidemic with seniors and it makes them more likely to die early. Cognitive function declines, appetite declines, they become more susceptible to illness and infection.”

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Lawyer Jane Meadus said that since March of last year, over 150,000 residents have been detained illegally in their residence. Maybe it made sense at first, but now they’re all vaccinated.


“This is a human rights abuse and an abuse of the elderly. We want a clear directive from the province to the homes, banning this kind of unlawful detention.”

Natalie Mehra said the government has listened to the industry rather to residents and their families.

“That was evident when they acted to shield the industry from law suits, and in the choices not to improve staffing levels. The homes are severely understaffed. They don’t want to staff up — it’s easier to keep people in their rooms.”

And now families have to beg the government to allow their seniors to go outside.

“We have received hundreds of communications from families who want a chance for life before it is too late. It is appalling. It is beyond appalling.
 

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Governments investing in new vaccine-manufacturing plant in Toronto
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:Mar 31, 2021 • 30 minutes ago • < 1 minute read • Join the conversation
A bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to French biopharmaceutical company Sanofi logo.
A bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to French biopharmaceutical company Sanofi logo. PHOTO BY JOEL SAGET /AFP via Getty Images)
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The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing in a new influenza vaccine manufacturing facility in Toronto, sources tell The Canadian Press.

Sources say the federal government will invest $415 million in the partnership with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd.


Ontario’s government will contribute $55 million to the project, according to the sources.

Sanofi will invest more than $455 million as well as create and maintain 1,225 highly skilled jobs in Canada.

The company will also invest at least $79 million a year to fund Canadian research and development.

This new facility will ensure drug product formulation, fill-and-finish and inspection of flu vaccines.
 

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'WE WILL BE SELF-SUFFICIENT': Toronto getting new vaccine-manufacturing plant
Author of the article:Canadian Press
Canadian Press
Publishing date:Mar 31, 2021 • 19 hours ago • 1 minute read • 49 Comments
A bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to French biopharmaceutical company Sanofi logo.
A bottle reading "Vaccine COVID-19" next to French biopharmaceutical company Sanofi logo. PHOTO BY JOEL SAGET /AFP via Getty Images)
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A new influenza vaccine facility will be built in Toronto to help bolster Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity, the federal government said as it announced the new project Wednesday.

Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the federal government will spend $415 million in partnership with Sanofi Pasteur Ltd. and the Ontario government to build the new facility by 2027.


Champagne said the pandemic has taught all countries that they need to have domestic vaccine manufacturing capacity.

“When it comes to the next pandemic flu we should be self sufficient,” he said. “If there’s one lesson learned from the current COVID pandemic it is that we need to have a strong Canadian biomanufacturing sector.”

The federal government said the new facility will have the ability to produce enough vaccine doses to support the entire Canadian population within about six months of the World Health Organization identifying a pandemic flu strain.

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Champagne said that Sanofi chose Canada as the home of its new production and distribution centre after a global search.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government will contribute $55 million to the project and Sanofi will provide more than $455 million.


The project will create 1,225 jobs and Sanofi will also invest at least $79 million a year to fund Canadian research and development.

The new facility’s work will include drug product formulation, fill-and-finish and inspection of flu vaccines.

Canada’s ability manufacture its own vaccines and personal protective equipment has been a hot-button issue throughout the pandemic.

Ford, who has been critical of former U.S. president Donald Trump’s bid to block shipments of personal protective gear to Canada last year, lauded the announcement on Wednesday.

“We are now never going to have to rely on any country, any leader, we will be self-sufficient,” he said.
 

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'VERY, VERY CONCERNED': Ford government to impose provincewide COVID clampdown
There are 1,111 people hospitalized with the virus

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Apr 01, 2021 • 2 hours ago • 1 minute read • 392 Comments
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. PHOTO BY FRANK GUNN /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Ontario is hitting the emergency brake.

The Doug Ford government is expected to announce details of a provincewide clamp down Thursday in response to rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Toronto Sun has learned.


“Stay tuned. You’ll hear an announcement tomorrow,” Premier Doug Ford said Wednesday. “But I’m very, very concerned to see cases go up. I’m very concerned to see ICU capacity.”

Health Minister Christine Elliott said government decision-makers were looking at new COVID-19 modelling and hearing from Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams.

The government has to weigh the rising case numbers against the physical and mental health issues arising from lockdowns, she said.

“We need to take the time to come to the right conclusions,” Elliott said Wednesday.

Ontario reported 2,333 new cases Wednesday, 15 more deaths and 1,111 COVID-19 patients in hospital, 396 in intensive care, and 252 on ventilators.

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There were 785 new cases in Toronto, 433 in Peel, 222 in York, 153 in Hamilton, 124 in Ottawa, and 120 in Durham.

The province administered 89,873 vaccine doses in the previous 24 hours for a total of almost 2.2 million doses.

Ford has urged people to avoid large gatherings over Easter and other holidays.

Elliott said Ontarians should continue to wash their hands frequently, physically distance, and wear masks.

“What we are saying to people is please continue to follow the public health measures that you always have,” Elliott said. “Notwithstanding you might have had your first vaccine already, it’s still really important to follow those public health measures.”


NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said public health experts have been warning the Ford government since February that cases could spike.

“We’re here because Doug Ford decided to ignore the advice and walk us straight into a third wave and what looks like an inevitable lockdown,” Horwath said. “And this is all on Doug Ford.”

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

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LILLEY: Ford government apparently has no tools other than the hammer of lockdowns
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:Apr 01, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 3 minute read • 238 Comments
Closed due to COVID sign.
Closed due to COVID sign. Getty Images
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The Ford cabinet went from the afternoon into the evening debating whether to “shut down” the whole province or just parts of it.

The difference between a “lockdown” and a “shutdown” is open for debate, but it suffices to say that the debate was about shutting down businesses to stop the spread of COVID-19.


What’s the old saying? When you only have a hammer as a tool, everything looks like a nail.

The Ford government apparently has no tools other than the hammer of lockdowns or in the new vernacular, shutdowns.

What that will mean remains to be seen, but early indications are that schools will stay open – for now – all indoor dining will be closed, hair and nail salons, as well as barbers, will be forced shut and small businesses will remain at 25% and big box stores at 50%.

All of this will start Saturday, according to sources.

We are more than a year into COVID-19 taking over our lives and the Ford government and those advising it lack the imagination to think of anything other than shutting down businesses that are not responsible for the outbreaks. Even if the entire province goes into a “shutdown,” essential workplaces will remain open and those are the places where the spread continues to occur.

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Food processing facilities, warehouses, transportation outfits are the places that have never shut down and that continue to be the source of the spread, but we still have not done the simple thing and gone in to vaccinate those workers and their families.

Sure, the government may have to put up with a few bad headlines dealing with vaccinating those younger workers ahead of people in areas of little to no COVID, but isn’t that better than shutting down the economy of all or most of the province once again?


I would think so, but I’m not part of the Ford government. This is a body bereft of ideas, imagination, and conviction.

One of the main problems with the Ford government is that they are beholden to a group of doctors who are almost uniformly attached to the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health. This is an organization that has bought into the idea of COVID Zero.

COVID Zero doesn’t think that we need to manage this virus or deal with it, COVID Zero believes that we need to eradicate it completely before opening back up. Good luck with that.

We won’t be done with COVID any time soon, so that means not seeing family, friends or anyone else until COVID-19 no longer exits. That’s like asking for the flu, the cold, or any number of respiratory diseases not to exist.

Some doctors have started to call the Science Table the Scientology Table saying that there is a cult-like atmosphere around the place. I can’t say that they’re wrong.

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Ford refuses to listen to any doctor who recommends anything other than a lockdown.

British Columbia has long had better COVID numbers than Ontario and recently introduced “tough restrictions” that don’t meet what Ontario has been doing for months.

Of the 2,333 new cases announced on Wednesday, 59% were in areas already in the “grey” zone, the zone just before a stay-at-home order. The decision to allow restaurants in areas like Toronto to partially open hasn’t even been allowed to go on long enough to determine if it has made a difference — that takes at least two weeks, but they’ve only been open 11 days.

In order to deal with an increase in COVID-19 cases in areas shut down since Nov. 23, the Ford government will order all businesses to close that have not, according to the science, been open long enough to contribute to the spread.

When Doug Ford goes looking for their support next election, he shouldn’t be shocked when the door is slammed shut in his face.

blilley@postmedia.com
 

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Brampton woman charged with fake COVID-19 test result at Pearson
Author of the article:postmedia News
Publishing date:Apr 01, 2021 • 1 day ago • 1 minute read • 12 Comments
A woman arriving from overseas has been charged with allegedly using a fraudulent COVID-19 document after arriving at Pearson Airport.
International arrivals at Toronto's Pearson airport. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Toronto Sun
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A Brampton woman arriving at Pearson airport on an international flight has been charged with allegedly providing officials with a fake negative COVID test result.

The woman was charged by the Airport Division Criminal Investigations Bureau after the incident on Monday around 4:25 p.m., Peel Regional Police said.


A Canada Border Services Agency officer checking her entry documents “suspected the COVID-19 document to be fraudulent and subsequently had it review(ed) by Public Health,” police said.

The unidentified 26-year-old woman was charged with utter forge document. Cops say she was released on a notice to appear in Brampton court on May 17.

Once released, she returned to the Public Health Agency of Canada for processing, police said.

The woman isn’t the first traveller to allegedly provide a fake COVID test after arriving at Pearson. Last week, a 45-year-old Edmonton man was charged after his document was flagged, and a Stratford man, 29, was arrested on Feb. 8. None of the travellers’ originating flight locations were released.

International travellers are required to present a negative COVID-19 test before being allowed to board a flight to Canada.
 

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Ontario's daily cases to double without stay-at-home orders: Modelling
Variants of concern more likely to put people in hospital and kill them -- 16 deaths for every 10 deaths under previous strains

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Apr 01, 2021 • 1 day ago • 2 minute read • 233 Comments
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto's Public Health Department, answers questions during a news conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on April 20, 2020.
Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto's Public Health Department, answers questions during a news conference at Queen's Park in Toronto on April 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Highly contagious COVID-19 variants have forced the province into a third wave of the pandemic and are now putting Ontarians at higher risk of serious illness and death including younger people, new provincial modelling shows.

By mid-April, scientists are forecasting anywhere from 2,000 new cases a day, with a stay-at-home order and vaccinations, to 4,000 a day with just vaccinations.


Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, co-chair of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Table, on Thursday released new projections, numbers deemed serious enough by the Doug Ford government to hit the emergency brake on reopenings.

“We’re seeing situations where whole families end up in intensive care, all at the same time,” Brown said. “Even as people are fighting for their lives, we have to separate families, in ambulances or helicopters, and move them to other regions that have a spare bed. One family ended up spread between three hospitals.”

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The variants of concern (VOC), particularly the dominant United Kingdom variant, are more likely to put people in hospital and kill them — 16 deaths for every 10 deaths under previous strains, Brown said.

Risk of ICU admission is also 2.5 times higher with the U.K. variant, he said.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said patients showing up in hospital with COVID-19 mutations “come in more acute and more critical.”

The virus now threatens the ability of the health-care system to handle regular ICU admissions and care for patients, the documents say.

ICU occupancy rates rise under all scenarios, but fall more quickly with stronger public health measures such as a stay-at-home order.

Vaccination is not yet reaching the highest risk communities, delaying its impact as an effective strategy, Brown said.

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Closed due to COVID sign.
LILLEY: Ford government apparently has no tools other than the hammer of lockdowns
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
'VERY, VERY CONCERNED': Ford government to impose provincewide COVID clampdown
Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott speaks at a Shoppers Drug Mart at Sherway Gardens in Etobicoke March 19, 2021.
Vaccines for teachers of special needs kids a priority: Health Minister

People were less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in general if living in an area with the highest rate of spread.

“We need to reach those high-risk communities,” Brown said.

Although the modellers called for more restrictions in terms of reopenings, they argued that school disruption should be “minimized” because it has an inequitable impact on students, parents and society.

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SCHOOLS TO STAY OPEN
Education Minister Stephen Lecce confirmed Thursday that schools will remain open for in-person learning and that April Break, formerly March Break, will go ahead as planned April 12.

Brown said taking kids out of school comes with serious consequences — physical and mental health issues, academic gaps, a lifetime drop in earnings, and for society, a future drop in GDP.

“Schools should be the last place to close and the first to open,” Brown said.

The public health officials stressed that this is not being called a stay-at-home order because they want people to go outside for health reasons, but while following social distancing and other measures.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

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KINSELLA: Why is Randy Hillier preoccupied with Hitler?
Hillier has been piloting the dark waters of the anti-mask, pandemic-denying lunatic fringe for about a year, now, writes Warren Kinsella

Author of the article:Warren Kinsella
Publishing date:Apr 03, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
MPP Randy Hillier.
MPP Randy Hillier. PHOTO BY DAVE ABEL /Toronto Sun
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What would Hitler do? That’s what preoccupies Randy Hillier, apparently.

Hillier is a member of the Ontario legislature. He doesn’t belong to any political party, because Doug Ford kicked him out of the Progressive Conservative caucus two years ago.


On Thursday, Hillier tweeted a picture of Adolf Hitler surveying a parade of Nazi troops, above the caption: THE THIRD WAVE.

Here’s what Hillier posted: “The Third ….wave. Everyone who has ever been to the sea, knows there is no end to waves. Its only 28 days this time. Truth does not mind being questioned. Lies do not like to be challenged. #onpoli #WeAreLivingaLie #nomorelockdowns”

Hillier is the MPP for Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston. He thinks the warnings about the seriousness of coronavirus are a hoax, a lie.

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Hillier has been piloting the dark waters of the anti-mask, anti-lockdown lunatic fringe for about a year, now. He’s held anti-mask rallies, and cheerfully posed maskless for pictures. Along the way, he’s attracted the support of a gaggle of knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers who actually equate modest public health measures with fascism.

Hillier and his hillbillies don’t like lockdowns — and, as of Saturday, Canada’s largest province is again under one.

Premier Doug Ford said that the numbers — as reflected in the number of daily new infections, as well as hospitalizations — were heading in the wrong direction. So, Ford said, it was time to apply an emergency brake.

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” Ford said. “I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals.”

Some on the political Right are mad at Ford for going too far. Some on the political Left are mad at Ford for not going far enough.

That’s fine. That’s democracy. As my old boss Jean Chretien used to say, when the fringes on the Right and the Left are both mad at you, you’re winning.

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The Bond Place Hotel on Bond St. large outbreaks have occurred at the Bond Hotel (with 46 COVID positive).
COVID raging in homeless shelters
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Ford pulls four-week emergency brake for all of Ontario

Faith in the time of COVID-19

But no one of significance has actually likened Ford’s lockdown to National Socialism. Until now.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney condemned it on Twitter: “There is — and should be — a vibrant debate about how best to deal with the pandemic. But equating the public health measures of democratically elected and accountable governments to the genocidal anti-Semitism of the Nazi Third Reich is odious.”

Bernie Farber, former head of the Canadian Jewish Congress, also expressed outrage.

“The comparisons to Hitler re: Covid are obscene,” he said. “That it would come from a member of the Ontario Legislature is truly detestable. He needs to be isolated by his constituents and voted out of office.”

But he and his cabal are acutely in need of some education, so let’s give it to him. Because he’s got everything backwards. So here, below, is a message to Randy Hillier.


Like Kenney and Farber say, Randy Hillier is odious. He’s obscene.

Randy, Naziism — like the pandemic — is monstrous. Like Naziism, the pandemic has rendered life dark and grinding and bleak. Like Hitler and his murderous cult, it is the coronavirus that has killed and sickened millions.

Randy, the pandemic has stolen away jobs and livelihoods, just like Hitler did. Like National Socialism, the virus has destroyed businesses and economies.

Adolf Hitler and COVID-19 are the real killers, Randy. They are the real destroyers.

But our response to the coronavirus — as seen in the wearing of masks, and social distancing, and limiting public gatherings — doesn’t kill people. It saves them, Randy.

Randy, it was wrong to equate what most of us are willingly doing to Adolf Hitler and Naziism. Because if Adolf Hitler was here today, Randy, we all know where he’d be, don’t we?

He’d be at one of your rallies, clapping.

— Warren Kinsella was Special Assistant to Jean Chretien
 

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Delhi flights top source of international COVID-19 infections: Health Canada
Qatar, UAE, Paris and Turkey round out top five sources for COVID-19 infected international passengers

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:Apr 05, 2021 • 8 hours ago • 1 minute read • 22 Comments
People walk towards Terminal 1 at Toronto's Pearson Airport after mandatory coronavirus (COVID-19) testing took effect for international arrivals February 15, 2021.
People walk towards Terminal 1 at Toronto's Pearson Airport after mandatory coronavirus (COVID-19) testing took effect for international arrivals February 15, 2021. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /REUTERS
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The Indian capital of Delhi continues its weeks-long spot as a top source of international passengers testing positive for COVID-19.

Data from Health Canada shows 28 infected flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport landed in Canada between March 21 and April 1, with all but five touching down in Toronto.


Doha, the capital city of Qatar, was the point of origin for 13 infected flights over the same time period, while 11 came from the United Arab Emirates.

Paris (10 flights) and Istanbul (eight flights) rounded out the top-five destinations.

With the federal government’s Jan. 31 suspension of flights from sunny holiday destinations, the number of flights with infected passengers from Delhi began to grow, reaching as high as 30 between March 4 and March 20.

Canada saw 113 flights carrying passengers that tested positive for COVID-19 between March 21 and April 1.

Health Canada doesn’t track how many infected passengers were on each flight, providing only three-row “ranges” of where COVID-infected passengers sat.

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Other sources of infected overseas passengers include five flights from Amsterdam, four each from Pakistan and Jamaica, and three each from Addis Ababa, London, and Brussels.

The United States was the source of twelve infected flights, including two each from Denver and Detroit, and single flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.


International travellers are subject to mandatory COVID-10 tests and a two-week quarantine upon arrival, with three days spent at a government-mandated COVID-19 quarantine hotel.

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Delta planes are seen parked due to flight reductions made to slow the spread of coronavirus disease at Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Birmingham, Alabama, March 25, 2020.
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They’re also required to provide recent proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding any Canada-bound flight.

Of the 44,089 international travellers that arrived in Canada by air between Feb. 22 and March 15, 640 tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume
 

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Companies behind Ontario-developed graphene facemask welcome Health Canada scrutiny
Graphene-based facemask developed by two Ontario companies received Health Canada approval in March

Author of the article:Bryan Passifiume
Publishing date:Apr 05, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 2 minute read • Join the conversation
Disposable face masks.
Disposable face masks. SunMedia
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Producers of made-in-Ontario graphene-based personal protective equipment welcomed Health Canada’s warning last week regarding the nanomaterial, confident the scrutiny will flush poor-quality products out of the market.

Published April 2, the warning was issued after Quebec authorities became aware of 116-million Chinese-made “graphene” facemasks distributed to schools and daycares, and halted sales or production of masks containing the novel nanomaterial.


This came as a surprise to Trebor Rx Corp. and ZEN Graphene Solutions — two Ontario companies partnering to produce PPE treated with graphene-based ink that just last month gained Health Canada approval.

Those plans, said Trebor CEO George Irwin, have been placed on hold — at least temporarily.

“We 100% agree with what Health Canada did,” he said of Health Canada’s directive.

“It’s unfortunate these masks were even allowed into the country.”

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A two-dimensional, single-layer of carbon atoms, graphene is finding novel uses in many fields and industries, including health care.
Taking advantage of the nanomaterial’s enormous surface area, the filters — pioneered by Trebor and ZEN — are impregnated with a graphene ink bonded with a virucidal combination of oxygen and silver atoms.
ZEN CEO Greg Fenton said the emerging nature of graphene demonstrates the importance of regulatory oversight.

“The graphene industry is really a nascent industry,” Fenton said.

“The definition of graphene really wasn’t even set until about a year ago.”

That, he said, had resulted in claims that dodgy substances are “graphene” when they really aren’t.

The Quebec masks have a label indicating they contain “biomass graphene” — a substance Fenton says he’s never heard of.

“We’re one of the leading graphene companies, you think we’d might have heard about it,” he said.

Testing has shown the Trebor/Zen masks 99% effective against harmful microbes, including the COVID virus and its variants, according to the companies.

While plans to begin producing 100-million graphene-based masks and gloves at Trebor’s Collingwood, Ont. plant this month are on hold, Irwin says he’s confident they’ll be up and running soon.

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“They know about our masks, they know how it’s produced, they’re comfortable with our process,” Irwin told the Toronto Sun on Monday of the company’s relationship with Health Canada.

“It’s safe to say they respect our efficacy, and certainly respect the testing that we’ve done.”

bpassifiume@postmedia.com
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume
 

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WARMINGTON: A shutdown? Malls, parks, beaches packed
Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Publishing date:Apr 05, 2021 • 6 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Masks were in short supply at the skateboard park located at the foot of Coxwell Ave. on April 5, 2021.
Masks were in short supply at the skateboard park located at the foot of Coxwell Ave. on April 5, 2021. PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND, TORONTO SUN /Toronto Sun
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Ontario’s third pandemic shutdown includes packed malls, beaches, and parks.

Crazy times.


During the Easter long weekend, including Monday, roads were jammed, families gathered and shopped and the playgrounds were full of children.

Then, just like that, the hammer came down.

Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region’s medical officer of health, on Monday announced the closure of in-class learning for the next two weeks without even giving parents a full-day’s notice to prepare for the sudden change.

Speaking with Ryan Doyle and Jay Michaels on Newstalk 1010’s The Rush, Loh explained “heading into the long weekend there was a lot of discussion and chatter” and “both our English school boards requested parents take their things home for the children in anticipation of this … My own children brought their own stuff home.”

He added he was “sorry” the decision put parents in a lurch, but “I think it was a sign, though, when my daughter brought home her books.”

When pressed, however, Loh admitted his children are not affected by the school closures he’s called for since he doesn’t live in Peel. He also said he would consult with his wife on whether their kids would go to school?

Unusual times.

Peel’s public health doctor asked parents in Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon to accept a decision that does not affect his family.


After talking with Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who was critical of the decision and the lack of science behind it, I reached out to Loh for clarity.

He explained in an email he shared his “experiences as a parent to demonstrate that I empathize with these challenges and to share that it was not an easy decision.

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“I know how hard remote learning is because I lived it, but I also know our ICUs are full and our hospitals are transferring more and more patients out further, who are younger and sicker, and that increasing numbers of residents continue to succumb to this disease every day,” Loh added. “We all want our children to be in school and safely enjoying the benefits of in-person learning, but we are also at levels of transmission in Peel where the precautions are no longer foolproof.”

Tough times.

While provincial officials announced there were 2,938 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths, they haven’t explained why the temporary hospital at Sunnybrook has not been put into operation.

There are also few names and faces of people struck by the variants highlighted so far in the media, which could explain why Yorkdale mall, Toronto Premium Outlets, and big-box stores have had lineups.

Photographer Jack Boland and I also saw hundreds in Toronto without masks along the boardwalk or beach without a care in the world.

In our video, a woman named Nicole talked of how her 15-month-old son, Noah, born in December 2019, knows no other world except one in which the people he meets wear masks and stay two metres away in compliance with social-distancing rules.

Another tragic story flying under the radar was how three teens under 18 fell Monday from a seventh-floor condo building in central Mississauga. Their fall was slowed down by branches of a tree and the trio was in hospital in non-life-threatening condition.

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Not being considered a criminal investigation, we may not learn much more.

But in 35 years, I have never covered a story about three teens falling from a building — let alone all surviving.

Strange times!
 

spaminator

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Top docs call for new province-wide stay-at-home order
Author of the article:Brian Lilley
Publishing date:Apr 05, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 2 minute read • 166 Comments
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
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The medical officers of Ontario’s three largest public health units are demanding a province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home order.

They also want schools closed, businesses shuttered and travel restrictions imposed on various regions of the province.


The letter, sent Sunday, calls on Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer, to bring down the hammer on a long list of activities.

“A stay-at-home order issued by the province through an emergency order is necessary to prevent and mitigate large-scale morbidity and mortality and irreparable strain on the health-care system,” the doctors state in the letter.

The doctors also call for fewer businesses to be deemed essential and more operations shut down.

They also want staffing levels at workplaces deemed essential be capped at 50% and that capacity limits for customers be capped at 50%.

The letter also calls for legislated paid sick days, in addition to the existing federal supports and travel restrictions between regions of the province.

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The request is that these measures be implemented immediately for a period of at least four weeks.

Last Thursday, the Ford government brought in what it called the “emergency brake,” effectively banning outdoor dining and putting the entire province into a grey lockdown zone. Those measures, according to the doctors, are not enough.

Despite some regions having very few cases, the doctors of what amounts to the province’s three hot zones state the harsher measures are required across Ontario.


Stricter measures have been shown to be effective in other countries to control transmission while vaccine campaigns progressed, the letter states.

“It’s critical to point out that after applying public health measures, it takes time for the intended effects of the measures to be realized due to the incubation period of the virus,” said Alexandra Hilkene, press secretary to Health Minister Christine Elliott.

“Our government will continue to act on the advice of the chief medical officer of health who will review the science, data, and trends — along with collaborating with local medical officers of health and our team of expert health officials — on if and when public health measures can be loosened or strengthened.”

Under Ontario law, local medical officers do have sweeping powers to order businesses and schools to close and limit other activities even if the province does not mandate such closures.
 

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Ontario hospital ICUs see growing numbers of COVID patients
COVID-19 patients occupied 482 hospital intensive care beds Monday, according to the Critical Care Service COVID-19 daily report

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Apr 05, 2021 • 11 hours ago • 1 minute read • 65 Comments
Sunnybrook Hospital's employee parking lot is being converted over into a mobile hospital unit as part of Emergency Preparedness to possible combat the "third wave" of COVID. The site will initially allow for 84 beds and treatment areas for patients that could expand to 100 on Wednesday March 10, 2021. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Sunnybrook Hospital's employee parking lot is being converted over into a mobile hospital unit as part of Emergency Preparedness to possible combat the "third wave" of COVID. The site will initially allow for 84 beds and treatment areas for patients that could expand to 100 on Wednesday March 10, 2021. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network PHOTO BY JACK BOLAND /Jack Boland/Toronto Sun
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COVID-19 patients occupied 482 hospital intensive care beds Monday, according to the Critical Care Service COVID-19 daily report.

Anthony Dale, president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), said GTA hospitals have been forced to move 88 patients to the nearest available beds in other facilities around the region.

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“482 patients now in Ontario ICUs with COVID related critical illness on a total census of 1,800. 44 new admissions yesterday,” Dale tweeted Monday.


Ontario reported 293 people on ventilators due to COVID-19-related illness.

Provincial public health officials released two day’s worth of data Monday due to Easter Sunday.

There were 22 deaths and 5,979 new confirmed cases over the two days.

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“Ontario is reporting 2,938 cases of #COVID19 today and 3,041 cases reported yesterday. Today, there are 906 new cases in Toronto, 533 in Peel, 391 in York Region, 230 in Ottawa and 140 in Durham, “ Health Minister Christine Elliott tweeted Monday. “Nearly 36,600 tests were completed on April 4th and nearly 46,400 tests on April 3rd. As of 8:00 p.m. yesterday, 2,545,640 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered.

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The Ontario COVIC-19 Science Table reported Monday that more contagious and potentially dangerous mutations of the virus now make up 67% of new cases.


The variants of concern (VOC) have a reproduction rate of 1.25 compared to earlier variants of 1.10 – the higher the number, the more infectious the virus.

Although there are several VOC, the B.1.1.7 or United Kingdom-identified variant is the most dominant.

aartuso@postmedia.com
 

Danbones

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Good thing there is no need for beds for flu and pneumonia patients if there are still some around some where.
 

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WARMINGTON: Politicians fiddle with failed shutdowns while Ontario burns
Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Publishing date:Apr 07, 2021 • 12 hours ago • 3 minute read • 94 Comments
Rocco Mastrangelo, owner of Cafe Diplomatico Restaurant and Pizzeria, is pictured on April 6, 2021.
Rocco Mastrangelo, owner of Cafe Diplomatico Restaurant and Pizzeria, is pictured on April 6, 2021. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI/TORONTO SUN /Toronto Sun
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There is a yellow City of Toronto fire hydrant inside the patio of the legendary Cafe Diplomatico in the heart of Little Italy.

What there isn’t are people. They have been banished.


No matter how much the sun shines or how warm it gets this spring, the cafe at College and Clinton Sts. sits dormant as hundreds walk by.

“We really miss our customers,” said owner Rocco Mastrangelo.

It turns out there may be significance to that hydrant which was installed even before the 53-year-old restaurant was serving classic pasta dishes and pizzas.

Toronto’s small business community, after all, is on fire.

Ontario and Canada are surrounded by flames, too. Sadly, there is nobody in a leadership position who will bring out a hose to douse that fire.

Sadly, it’s small restaurant owners like Rocco getting burned.

“It feels like we are being punished,” he said Tuesday. “We just don’t understand why? We are not the problem.”

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Cafe Diplomatico has had no positive tests of COVID-19, and yet they are locked down like a super-spreader location.

With Premier Doug Ford is expected to tighten up his most recent shutdown order Wednesday, Rocco wondered what more the provincial government can do to add to the flames already consuming him and his restaurant peers.


“If the government subsidies were to stop being available, there is no question we would not be able to hang on.”

All that small operations want is an even playing field and consistency. This was the theme of a demonstration Monday at the Bulldog Pub and Grill in Oshawa where protesters objected to how unreasonable it is that pubs can’t safely serve their customers while giant big-box stores remain open as do other competitors like pot shops, LCBO stores, and Beer Store outlets.

“The shutdown (up until Tuesday) is only shutting down the small businesses while you can still shop at any big-box store, get furniture or clothing — or basically anything,” said Julie Eves, owner of the Bulldog Pub. “Restaurants, salons, gyms have the strictest cleaning protocols, but are always the first to be closed.”

It really is obscene. It’s unfair, too.

Unless the premier shuts everything across the board, pretending that empty patios are going to stop the spread of the coronavirus is dumb. It’s certainly not small businesses, locked-out students in Peel, Guelph, and now Toronto, who should be shouldering the blame for the lack of vaccine supply.

The data available from restaurants and schools does not justify closing them down.

While the province keeps talking about rising ICU numbers, the government has failed to provide data to illustrate who is in the hospital, their age, and why?

Do the patients have other medical issues or are the COVID variants causing this spike?

For example, Tuesday’s numbers showed more than 3,000 new cases and eight “COVID-19-related deaths.”

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The public should be able to learn who died, their situation, and if they passed away because of the virus or other contributing factors.

Every death is sad. But are they as a result of a medical crisis that justifies putting the rest of the province’s very future at risk?

When you close down a society for medical reasons, people are entitled to ask such questions. And there should be a way for the public to better understand the reason why measures are being taken other than being told to shut up and do it.

The biggest question people have is simple.

Will lockdowns, shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, arrests, tickets, shaming, and blaming work to curb the virus spread and save lives when they have not worked so far?

“If you keep doing the same thing, you are not going to get a different result,” said Rocco.

In the meantime, as the restaurant industry burns and his business goes to the dogs, the only thing standing in the Cafe Diplomatico’s patio area is a fire hydrant.
 

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'HEALTH CARE CAPACITY THREATENED': Ford orders four week Stay-At-Home order
Ford said people will be allowed to go out for essential reasons, including grocery shopping, getting medications, exercise and vaccination appointments

Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Apr 07, 2021 • 4 hours ago • 2 minute read • 664 Comments
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. PHOTO BY FRANK GUNN /THE CANADIAN PRESS
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Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared the province’s third state of emergency during the pandemic and issued a four-week stay-at-home order.

“Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for exercise close to home and with the people you live with, or for work that cannot be done remotely,” a government statement released Wednesday says. “As Ontario’s health care capacity is threatened, the stay-at-home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.”


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Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said the new orders will be enforced.

The abrupt enhanced lockdown, coming just a week after the emergency brake was applied, was due to the quick spread of variants of concern (VOC) and the impact on ICU occupancy, Ford said.

“It was different than the experts told me last week,” Ford said. “I was decisive, immediately, I said start writing the orders .. if I just stand still and keep with the same plan and just keep doing the same thing, it doesn’t cut it with this virus or the variants that are coming in.”

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford listens to a question during the daily briefing at a mass vaccination centre in Toronto on Tuesday, March 30, 2021.
Ford suggests more COVID-related restrictions on the way
A woman wearing a respiratory mask stands in front of a restaurant doorway.
That's some tab Ford has run up with restaurants

The stay-at-home order comes with new rules for retailers, including a requirement that big box stores rope off non-essential items to focus only on the sales of groceries, pharmacies, pet supplies and gardening items.

Most retail outlets, many that just recently began welcoming back in-store clients, will have to shut their doors again and offer only online and curbside sales.

New vaccination guidelines also came out which will emphasize inoculation in regions with the highest rates of transmission such as parts of Toronto and Peel Region.

Teachers and other staff who work with children who have special needs will also be moved to the top of the priority list.


Ford said he expects that 40% of the province’s adult population will have been vaccinated by the end of the four-week order, dependent on vaccine supplies.

Ontario reported 3,215 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday — one-third in Toronto — and 17 more deaths.

There were 1,095 new cases in Toronto, 596 in Peel, 342 in York, 187 in Durham and 104 in Hamilton.

Ottawa reported 225 new cases.

— With files by the Canadian Press
 

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BRAUN: Mental health takes another hit with third lockdown
Author of the article:Liz Braun
Publishing date:Apr 07, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
Half of all Canadians now say COVID-19 has affected their mental health.
Half of all Canadians now say COVID-19 has affected their mental health. PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES /FILES
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Half of all Canadians now say COVID-19 has affected their mental health.

For women, that number is 60%; it jumps to 72% for those aged 18-24.


For some people, the effects will last long after the pandemic is over.

Those are some of the findings in a new KPMG survey, with data collected between March 17-20 from 1,000 Canadians.

The current big anxiety, according to the poll, is that people have begun to let their COVID guard down. That’s a fear 89% expressed, and 87% said vigilance was crucial now.

If they did that poll today, the results would be more dire.

News of the third lockdown, which Wednesday ramped up into full stay-at-home orders, has likely plunged many people in Ontario into a slough of despond.

There are obvious psychological reasons why this lockdown feels so much worse than the others.

Despite the decimation of our elder population and terrible health fears all around, job loss, small business collapse, financial trouble, isolation, loneliness, closed schools, and the hundred other horrors available in this pandemic, the vaccine rollout made it possible for people to think about waking up from this nightmare.

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There was an end in sight.

As Dr. Jessica Gold writes at self.com, holding out hope that things will get better is a human coping mechanism that helps us get through dire things — such as a pandemic.

It allows us to create a tiny spot of order in the chaos. “You didn’t actually have to believe that this hellscape had a clear beginning and end for that to be true,” said Gold.

“The hope of it was enough.”

This third lockdown has crushed that hope, at least temporarily.

Moving the finish line yet again has a particular effect on the psyche and makes it extra difficult to cope. It is crucial to hang onto something that lets you continue to hope; hope builds resilience in humans.

Hope is aligned with control, too. Rather than thinking about how much seems out of control right now, try to find one thing you can control; maybe focus on the provincial election coming next year.


Sadly, what’s compounding the stress of this third lockdown is the inescapable knowledge that our so-called leaders have lost the plot.

Recently, 150 critical care doctors had to sign a letter to Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer, urging this lockdown, as the politicians were ignoring the pandemic red flags.

And there seems to be no consequences for the ineptitude.

On Long-Term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton’s watch, thousands of elders died in the province. Twice.

And nothing happens.

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Everyone continues to collect a salary, all of it paid for by taxpayers, even the taxpayers dying in our LTC homes and hospitals.

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A pedestrian wearing a face covering walks past a sign directing people to a rapid lateral flow COVID-19 testing centre at London Bridge train station in central London on April 5, 2021.
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Experts have mental health concerns due to COVID-19 lockdowns.
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We Canadians are a polite, obedient people, but for many, these new stay-at-home orders will be the last straw if the lockdown is not accompanied by what’s required: vaccinations in all high-risk areas, vaccinations for essential workers in every factory, warehouse, meat-packing plant and similar, and a living wage and paid sick days so people don’t need to work three jobs — with no benefits — and can stay home when they don’t feel well.

Otherwise, the next KPMG poll of mental health issues will be even worse.
 

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WARMINGTON: Pandemic rules essentially unfair for small biz
'This has been an economic tidal wave'

Author of the article:Joe Warmington
Publishing date:Apr 08, 2021 • 31 minutes ago • 2 minute read • 9 Comments
People work inside the Amazon fulfillment centre in Brampton on Friday, July 21, 2017.
People work inside the Amazon fulfillment centre in Brampton on Friday, July 21, 2017. PHOTO BY DAVE ABEL /TORONTO SUN FILES
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Turns out not everybody has to stay at home in Premier Doug Ford’s latest provincial emergency shutdown.

There are winners and losers chosen when such stark decisions are made. For example, does it make any sense that the nail salon on Steeles Ave. in Brampton with no known COVID-19 cases is closed while right across the street the massive Amazon warehouse with 600 cases is open?


The strip mall’s parking lot that houses Royal Nails is empty while the parking lot of the Amazon Brampton fulfilment centre on Heritage Rd. is packed. Seems some things are more essential than others!

If Amazon can still operate, why can’t the mom and pop personal services business?

It’s so unfair.

“Not everything needs to be essential,” said Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, who has been vocal about the uneven playing field. “My heart goes out to small businesses. This has been an economic tidal wave.”

Brampton City Councillor Rowena Santos also pointed out “small businesses are in a lose-lose situation as they struggle financially to pivot at the whim of announcements with too many shutting their doors permanently.”


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She’s seen it first-hand in Brampton where so many tiny enterprises are shuttered while bigger businesses flourish and in some cases rake in record profits. The small businesses have been the scapegoats in this pandemic. They get punched and kicked at the same time.

The strip mall’s parking lot that houses Royal Nails is empty while the parking lot of the Amazon Brampton fulfilment centre on Heritage Rd. is packed. JOE WARMINGTON/TORONTO SUN
The strip mall’s parking lot that houses Royal Nails is empty while the parking lot of the Amazon Brampton fulfilment centre on Heritage Rd. is packed. JOE WARMINGTON/TORONTO SUN
It really is something.

“It is heartbreaking,” said Santos. “If we want to end lockdowns and move to economic recovery, we need to adequately support our essential workers and small businesses or we will all continue to lose.”


Added Brown: “Canadians can wait a few extra days for their packages if it means we can get COVID numbers down faster.”

Of course, the authorities don’t know what to do. Whatever way they decide to go, they will face criticism from somebody. They can’t win or completely satisfy any side in this mess.


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But since lockdowns have not worked so far, perhaps a decision will come to just open everything up carefully as the province waits out the vaccination process.

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Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel Region's medical officer of health.
LILLEY: Peel's top doc rejected vaccine doses for Amazon workers
An aisle of non-essential goods is cordoned off at a Walmart store, as new measures are imposed on big-box stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in Toronto, Ont. on April 8, 2021.
Inspection blitz targets workplaces throughout province

How many lockdowns can the economy endure?

Amazon, which has special tents erected at its entry points and is clearly taking things seriously, had not yet returned a request for comment. However, it is not lost on many that while so much is closed down, despite their own battle with COVID-19, Amazon is still sending out trucks with goods all over the place.
 

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Ontario's health-care system 'strained,' Yaffe says
Author of the article:Antonella Artuso
Publishing date:Apr 08, 2021 • 3 hours ago • 2 minute read • 13 Comments
Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, takes part in a news conference in Toronto on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.
Ontario's Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, takes part in a news conference in Toronto on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. PHOTO BY VERONICA HENRI /TORONTO SUN
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Ontario now has 105 more COVID-19 patients in intensive care than it did during the peak of the second wave, associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe says.

“Our health-care system is already strained,” Yaffe said Thursday. “And this needs to be immediately addressed before the system is completely overwhelmed and we lose our ability to care for all the patients.”


Ontario reported 3,295 new cases Thursday, including 933 in Toronto and 649 in Peel Region, and 19 more deaths.

The last time the province saw a higher daily count was Jan. 17 when the province recorded 3,422 cases.

Ontario hospitals reported 1,417 patients with COVID-19 — a figure that included 525 patients in ICU and 331 patients on ventilators.

These numbers were stated as a key reason for the Doug Ford government’s decision to slap a stay-at-home order on the province Thursday.

Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the provincial outbreak response, said people in intensive care are being transferred across the province due to capacity issues.

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“What we don’t want to do is to continue to increase those numbers of people that are being admitted to the intensive care unit at this time,” Huyer said, when asked how health professionals might ration care.

Once the four-week state of emergency ends, about 40% of adults in the province will have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, depending on supply.

Huyer said it’s too soon to tell whether that level of vaccination will end tight lockdowns.


“What we can’t answer, and what we don’t have the ability to say, is whether that will prevent something as difficult as we are now experiencing with the stay-at-home orders,” Huyer said. “It’s really challenging to know exactly the percentage of coverage understanding the … vaccine effectiveness, the coverage of the population, the fact that we at this point still continue to learn about whether in fact vaccination will prevent transmission.”

The experience in long-term care (LTC) where close to 100% of residents and more than 70% of staff have been vaccinated is hopeful, Yaffe said.

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“We have seen a dramatic reduction in cases, in hospitalizations and in deaths,” she said.

The LTC sector reported six new cases in residents and three in staff Thursday and no additional deaths.

To achieve herd immunity, an estimated 70 to 80% of the population would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Yaffe said.

aartuso@postmedia.com