|SUBSCRIBE | EXPAND YOUR REACH | PREVIOUS POST | QUARTERLY
COVID-19 UPDATE: ONTARIO's TOP ISSUES
Increasing support for students during COVID-19
New student counsellor positions and a digital virtual care tool will be created to expand the wellness service offerings for co-operative education students at the University of Waterloo. The new services come at a time of heightened uncertainty for students, as rapid changes in response to COVID-19 compound the stresses associated with co-op terms. Starting in spring 2020, the new counsellors will provide one-on-one counselling to prepare students for the challenges they face during work terms — including complications arising from the pandemic. Students will have faster access to mental health and wellness support through phone and virtual consultation. The digital tool will enable students to interact securely with campus wellness practitioners using video-calling technology.
"Life's beauty is inseparable from its fragility," says psychologist Susan David. In a special virtual conversation, she shares wisdom on how to build resilience, courage and joy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Responding to listeners' questions from across the globe, she offers ways to talk to your children about their emotions, keep focus during the crisis and help those working on the front lines. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by head of TED Chris Anderson and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded March 23, 2020)
With different countries, and different levels of government grappling with whether or not to publicly release their mathematical models and projections on the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked Professor Chris Bauch, an expert in mathematical and computer modelling of infectious disease outbreaks, to explain the basics to us.
The "decision by the government of Ontario to largely shut down private sector Industrial and Commercial construction in the province is a difficult but necessary one, given the growing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Patrick Dillon (right), Business Manager of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario. Public sector infrastructure projects, together with the residential sector will largely remain open. “In addition to construction workers having been declared ‘essential’ themselves, in continuing to build the infrastructure we rely on, Building Trades workers recognize and salute the contributions made by Ontario’s frontline workers. These are extraordinary times, and we all need to adapt responsibly,” he said, adding that “most importantly, we need to pull together as Ontarians, to get through this crisis. Our hearts go out to all Ontarians who have lost loved ones to COVID-19."
Professor Zahid Butt, of the School of Public Health and Health Systems, answers common questions about face masks including who should be wearing them, and when.
Access to food during the COVID-19 crisis has been a source of anxiety everywhere in the West. But the worst of the pandemic is yet to come, which means that anything can still happen. Panic buying by people in confinement has already demonstrated the fragility of supply chains, as supermarket shelves were emptying in many countries, including Canada. Seeing shelves fill up again across the network, most consumers felt reassured. And time and time again, experts have told the public that food security will never be compromised – if borders remain open. Global supply chains are working due to the goodwill of countries wanting to share wealth and knowledge with others. Essentially, trade is based on the principle that no one country can be good and efficient at everything.
In response to the challenges associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic, Grand River Transit (GRT) is making the following changes:· Effective immediately, GRT service will be free until May 31, 2020 · Weekday bus service will be reduced starting April 20 due to reduced staffing levels and low ridership; and · GRT’s customer service locations will close to the public April 10. “We recognize that transit is a critical service for many people in our community and that there are many who are struggling financially because of this pandemic,” says Peter Zinck, Director of Transit Services. “We remain committed to providing reliable service during this difficult time for customers carrying out essential trips. At the same time, I strongly discourage riders from using transit unnecessarily. Please only travel on transit if the trip is essential.”
Morneau Shepell announced the results of its new Mental Health Index, which includes a measure of how the pandemic is impacting Canadian workers' mental health. The index will be released monthly. The Mental Health Index found a statistically significant decrease in mental health, when compared to pre-COVID-19 benchmarks. The change represents a current score of 63 compared to the benchmark of 75. The size of the change is unprecedented in the three-year period when the benchmark data was being collected. An overall score of 63 is very concerning. Such a score is typically only seen in the subset of employees who have major life disruption and mental health risk. The largest negative change was seen in the measure of anxiety, followed by helplessness, optimism and isolation.
The Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) support today’s announcement by the Government of Ontario to restrict active construction. This new measure will reduce activity in the sector and enhance COVID-19 prevention measures, while enabling the completion of new homes that are moving towards occupancy. “The health and safety of our workers is the industry’s number one priority,” said David Wilkes (right), BILD President and CEO. “Following the recent release by the Ministry of Labour of new health and safety guidelines for construction sites during COVID-19, members have implemented strict controls to ensure worker safety. This includes additional requirements for sanitization, physical distancing, illness reporting and logging the number of workers on individual sites.”
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has established the Canadian Business Resilience Network (CBRN) in partnership with the Government of Canada to help the business community prepare, persevere and, ultimately, prosper in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CBRN is a coordinated, business-led, inclusive campaign that will focus on providing businesses the tools they need to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on them, our economy and communities across the country. Its goal is also to help businesses emerge from this crisis and drive Canada's economic recovery.
Owners and staff joined its 2020 Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 4, to hear leaders deliver the annual results for southwestern Ontario’s largest credit union. The meeting was held virtually for the first time, due to safety precautions made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a co-operative company owned by its shareholders, Libro redistributes profits to customers in the form of profit shares and investment share dividends. For 2019, that totalled $14.7 million, an increase of $3.1 million from the previous year.
Yesterday, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) and Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) hosted a roundtable with the Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade on the importance of air cargo and supply chains to the COVID-19 response. “It’s never been clearer how critical Ontario’s supply chain and the businesses within it are to the health and prosperity of this province. Businesses from coast to coast are stepping up, joining the fight, and diverting resources to combat COVID-19,” said Rocco Rossi (photo), President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We are dedicated to working with business and our partners, like the GTAA, to keep air cargo and supply chain goods moving.”
Canadian Blood Services is actively working with Health Canada and the international research community to contribute to the global effort to determine if COVID-19 convalescent plasma could be an effective treatment for the coronavirus. Canadian Blood Services is part of a team of experts representing Canada on an international working group in partnership with Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. In Canada, the research community has rallied together to design a national clinical trial on the use of convalescent plasma in treating the virus. An application will be submitted to Health Canada shortly. Pending approval, Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec will be responsible for supplying convalescent plasma to hospitals across the country.
Canadians have likely never heard more about supply chains than during the COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions about logistics and how food gets to restaurants, grocery stores and kitchens abound. Canadians aren’t just genuinely interested in supply chains, they’re also commending the people involved in making our food systems work, from farm to fork. That’s outstanding. But the journey hasn’t been perfect. Empty shelves, store lineups and long cues when ordering food online have made some people nervous. So the B.C. government recently gave itself the authority to take over supply chains for delivering essential goods and services throughout the province. In other words, the province believes it can do a better job at logistics than companies such as Costco, Amazon and Walmart.
The Liberal government’s plan to use Canada’s “fiscal firepower” to help Canadian families and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic has been appropriately termed “a measured well-targeted response” by the Fraser Institute. But no amount of cash can change the terrible reality that Canada’s health-care system is one of the least prepared to deal with the crisis. Decades before COVID-19 struck, Canadians in every province and territory were suffering, and some dying, on ever-lengthening wait lists. In an already overloaded system with virtually zero spare capacity, treating burgeoning numbers of COVID-19 patients will necessitate further delay for other patients with time-critical afflictions such as cancer. And that’s already happening. Over the past few days, two Ontario women had their cancer surgeries cancelled so hospitals can free up capacity for COVID-19 patients.
As organizations address the longer-term implications of COVID-19, it is imperative to focus on the needs of all stakeholders, from customers to suppliers to shareholders and, specifically, employees. In the current environment, most businesses are having to put in place new measures for their workforces rapidly – often with no previous comparable experiences. To help guide chief human resource officers and business leaders through this unfolding crisis, the World Economic Forum has launched The Workforce Principles for the COVID-19 Pandemic. Five principles and four management imperatives are a preliminary response to the crisis. Suggested action pathways are provided along with case studies and additional resources in each section. The project was completed in collaboration with Willis Towers Watson. “This crisis presents an opportunity to take bold actions and show leadership and solidarity,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Responsible employers can apply these principles and guidelines to better balance short-term crisis measures against the medium- and long-term objectives.”
Two Wilfrid Laurier University professors have co-edited a “rapid response collection” of 10 essays by Canadian scholars that examine societal and governmental reactions to the COVID-19 outbreak. was written, edited and published in less than two weeks in order to cast a critical eye on this historic event during its early stages. Co-editors Penelope Ironstone, associate professor in Laurier’s Department of Communication Studies, and Greg Bird, associate professor of Sociology, felt an urgent need to react to the pandemic as it unfolded. “During the Spanish flu pandemic in the early 1900s, people were so busy with the work of living that they didn’t capture the moment until after it happened,” said Ironstone. “With COVID-19, we are already seeing dramatic, rapid changes happening around us and we need to reflect on them as quickly as possible. In a period of heightened panic, the critical gaze is even more essential.”
ONroute will offer free coffee to truck drivers on Wednesday, April 8,2020 to show appreciation for their tireless efforts to maintain the provincial and national supply chain during COVID-19. “ONroute is proud to support the essential services provided by so many workers during this time,” says Melanie Teed-Murch, CEO of ONroute. “We have the opportunity to serve our trucking and supply chain sectors and hope that this small token of appreciation demonstrates our gratitude for the many ways they are helping our province and country during this challenging time.”
San Francisco company Startup Genome announced a partnership with the United Nations agency International Trade Centre to support and showcase the growing startup ecosystem in Kampala, Uganda. We’re in the middle of an unfolding health and economic crisis, and small businesses in emerging markets are facing disproportionate economic threats. This partnership will help Kampala take its spot on the global stage, which will continuously attract international investment and talent - essential to help businesses survive the crises and safeguard the economy and livelihoods.
As part of its business continuity plan, Waterloo Fire Rescue has established a temporary fire station at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex (WMRC). = “This move supports the medical officer of health’s directive to observe physical distancing and is beneficial for the health and safety of our firefighters,” said Chief Richard Hepditch. One truck and four crew members have been redeployed from Station 1 to WMRC. Station 1 also remains fully operational. The temporary fire station at WMRC will remain until further notice.
Corby Spirit and Wine Limited has once again shown its expertise in crafting fine Canadian whisky, having been adorned with four notable awards and a number of gold medals at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards. On the strength of the four awards — led by J.P. Wiser’s Alumni Series Whisky crafted in honour of Hockey Hall of Famer Darryl Sittler, named the World’s Best Canadian Blended Whisky — Corby / Hiram Walker & Sons was also named the Distiller of the Year in the Icons of Whisky – Rest of World category. “Corby continues to establish itself as Canada’s premier crafter of fine whisky,” says Keeshan Selvakumar, Brand Director, Canadian Whisky. “We are proud of the strong portfolio of exceptional whiskies we have developed across our brands. They are a clear reflection of the passion and innovation that happens in our distillery, resulting in a beautiful whisky in each bottle.”
Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast are leading a UK-wide clinical trial, offering an innovative cell therapy treatment for COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory failure. This clinical trial, led by Professor Danny McAuley and Professor Cecilia O’Kane (right), both researchers from the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine at Queen’s, is investigating the use of allogenic Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in patients with a complication known as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) caused by COVID-19. In the most critically unwell patients with COVID-19, many develop a complication known as ARDS. In ARDS the lungs become inflamed and leaky so they fill with fluid. This causes respiratory failure and patients may require admission to intensive care and a ventilator machine to support their breathing.
In these uncertain times, when accurate information is so essential to our individual and collective survival, a strong majority of Canadians place their trust in professional journalism over unregulated social media platforms like Facebook. And with the media industry experiencing layoffs and closures due to COVID-19, a clear majority believes that the federal government should treat the media crisis as an emergency. These are some of the findings of a new survey released this morning, conducted by Nanos Research for FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.
While the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn, anti-energy activists have spotted an opportunity: to kill off Canada’s oil and gas industry – the one that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenues to governments. The anti-oil and gas activists are busily making three claims to that end:
As another step in their coordinated emergency response to the global pandemic, today, the Region of Waterloo and all area municipalities extended the public closure of municipal facilities until at least May 4. Today’s decision aligns the municipalities with yesterday’s announcement from the provincial government delaying the re-opening of schools until May 4 to protect the health and safety of students and staff. All local municipalities continue to work closely together and follow the direction of federal, provincial and regional public health experts to ensure the health and safety of the local community. The list of community amenities impacted by the extended closure announcement locally has grown since the provincial government issued a new emergency order late Monday to close all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario. Closures now include, but are not limited to: playgrounds; sports fields; dog parks; basketball and tennis courts; outdoor community gardens; park shelters; outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens; and other outdoor amenities. These facilities will now remain closed to the public across the region until May 4.
The GRCA is cancelling all spring tree planting activities for 2020. This includes online orders, community planting events, private land tree planting projects, as well as the GRCA’s annual tree sale in May. Following the direction of both the federal and provincial government regarding social distancing, the GRCA reduced its operations with most staff working remotely. For a number of reasons, it would be difficult to practice appropriate social distancing measures while continuing with the usual tree planting activities this spring. “Some activities, like packaging trees and loading/unloading trees, require that people work alongside one another, and while we can encourage people to maintain physical distance, some incidental contact between people is still likely to occur,” says Lisa Stocco, Manager of Communications. “The safety of our staff and the community remains our highest priority.”