COVID-19 Update for April 1, 2020 – 2:00pm

Today, Premier Doug Ford was joined by the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott to provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mobilizing Manufacturing

Premier Ford announced that the government will invest $50 million in the Ontario Together Fund to help factories retool their production lines to make the supplies needed.

In addition, Ford announced that the government has placed an order with O2 Technologies for 10,000 made-in-Ontario ventilators.

The Surge is Coming

Premier Ford reinforced how important our actions for the next few weeks will be in pushing back the oncoming surge of COVID-19 patients. “Thousands of lives are at stake,” noted Ford, and the further we can push back the surge, the more we can do to prepare our health-care system.

A number of reporters asked why the government hasn’t released best- and worst-case scenarios on the potential deaths associated with COVID-19. Premier Ford answered, saying that we do not have the right data yet to make accurate predictions and for the time being and we must prepare for anything. Minister Elliott added that once the testing backlog is cleared in the next day or so, the government will have a better idea of when the province’s health-care system can expect the surge.

Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act

Last night, the Solicitor General advised the public that under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, the public will now be required to identify themselves to law enforcement when asked, and they could be charged with breaking an emergency order during the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the release, failing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750. A fine of $1,000 is possible for anyone obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket.

In addition to fines given for failure to identify, there are severe penalties for those who fail to comply with emergency orders. Punishments include up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself.

Health Protection and Promotion Act

Earlier today, the Chief Medical Officer for Ontario released a memo to municipalities strongly urging all local medical officers of health to use their authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to further empower them to ensure cases and contacts of COVID-19 are isolated.

Alberta’s economic challenges

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alberta’s economy is also facing the added impact of plunging oil prices as the result of a global price war. Western Canada Select, currently around $5/barrel was more than $50/barrel this time last year. While the plunging price has Canada-wide ramifications, it particularly impacts Alberta.

On Tuesday, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that after six months of discussions, the province is making a $1.5 billion equity investment in TC Energy’s long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline, followed by a $6-billion loan guarantee for the project. The investment to kickstart the project means that construction will start today and support between 1,400 and 5,400 new jobs through construction. Most helpfully for the province’s economy in the long-term is that, when completed, Keystone XL will provide 830,000 barrels per day takeaway capacity, increasing the value of Alberta crude. The overall lack of export capacity has been a significant factor in reduced investment in the province and industry in recent years.

At the end of last week, Alberta published an initial list of business closures to limit the spread of COVID-19, focusing primarily on close-contact businesses. The province followed up with a comprehensive list of essential services.

If you have any questions about this update, please let us know.

The Enterprise Team

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