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Canada-U.S. border closes; Toronto’s emergency centres at Level 3
Today, the federal government has announced new measures to help Canadians adjust to new economic circumstances amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Toronto’s emergency centre is now operating at a Level 3, and the U.S.-Canada border is expected to temporarily close.
Here’s the latest on COVID-19 updates.
Ontario reports 23 new cases, province’s total sits at 212
Ontario has confirmed 23 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 212. There are more than 3,300 people currently under investigation for the virus. More than 10,300 people in Ontario have tested negative, and one person in the province has died due to COVID-19.
Toronto’s emergency operations centre now operating at highest possible level
Toronto’s emergency operations centre is now functioning at its highest level amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The centre was opened last week at a Level 1 activation, but the city increased it to Level 2 in order to staff it 24/7 and gain access to other resources.
On Tuesday night, Toronto fire Chief Matthew Pegg confirmed on social media that the centre is now operating at Level 3, which is the highest possible level. He said that the move was prompted by the provincial government declaring a state of emergency.
Additional resources will now be deployed to the centre, Pegg said. However, he did not provide specifics on those resources. Pegg said the centre is well resourced and is “operating effectively.”
Canada, U.S. to temporarily close border to non-essential traffic
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the border between Canada and the U.S. will be temporarily closed to non-essential traffic.
According to Trudeau, the decision was made jointly with the United States government and is designed to limit the spread of the COVID-19. Trudeau noted that essential travel will continue, in order to maintain critical supply chains between the two nations.
The prime minister stated that trucking which allows food, fuel and life-saving medication to move between Canada and the U.S. will not be affected by the closure. Those who need to travel for essential work, or for other “urgent reasons” will also not be affected, he added.
Canada reveals $27-billion aid package
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government will provide $27 billion in support directly to families and businesses struggling because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The government will also provide an additional $55 billion in aid to businesses and households through tax deferrals. The new measures are expected to put more than three percentage points of the country’s annual output into circulation, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.
The government will provide up to $900 every two weeks to workers who must stay home but do not qualify for unemployment benefits. It will also provide a one-time special payment for low- and modest-income households. The Canadian dollar weakened further after the announcement, falling to a four-year low of 1.4535 to the U.S. dollar.
Ottawa freezes student loans repayment for six months
The provincial government is following Ottawa’s decision to suspend student loan repayments. Ontario Finance Minister Rod Philliips made the announcement Wednesday during an update on the province’s response to the coronavirus crisis. He didn’t release any details.
But in the Government of Canada’s economic response plan to COVID-19, released earlier Wednesday, Ottawa said it would suspend the payments on loans for six months. The federal government said there would be an interest-free moratorium for “all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.” The plan is to come into effect in early April and continue until Sept. 30.
The cost of this plan is $190 million and it goes into effect in early April, according to the government release. According to a press release from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, this applies to all individuals who are in the process of repaying student loans.