|SUBSCRIBE | EXPAND YOUR REACH | PREVIOUS POST | QUARTERLY
Ford Closing Non-Essential At-Risk Workplaces to Protect At-Risk Population
Due to the evolving COVID-19 situation, the Ontario government will be ordering at-risk workplaces to close-down, while encouraging businesses to explore opportunities to continue operations through work-from-home and innovative business models. Yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced that the government will be closing at-risk workplaces that are non-essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Essential businesses include, but are not limited to grocery stores and pharmacies, telecommunications and IT infrastructure service providers, and businesses that support power generation, natural gas distribution and clean drinking water. Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have partnered with an artificial intelligence (AI) startup on a project that aims to use AI to improve COVID-19 screening. The Waterloo research team publicly released AI software that can better detect infections from chest x-rays and is looking to enlist expertise from around the world to aid in the project. “This software has had promising initial results,” said Alexander Wong, a systems design engineering professor and director of the Vision and Image Processing (VIP) Lab at Waterloo. "We hope that by making this software open, we can attract clinicians and scientists far and wide to improve upon the technology."
We can reassure patients and families that their care is safe in our hospital. As we have managed through, and are preparing for COVID -19 in our community and hospit al, St. Mary’s has worked proactively to comply quickly with new directives, ensure we are meeting all standards of safety in the use of personal protective equipment, and in how we are caring for our patients. The Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) posted a news release on March 21, which contained details that are not entirely accurate. St. Mary’s has strong infection prevention and control policies that align with provincial standards and the provincial public health directive. When a potential exposure occurs, we have a clear process to investigate it quickly.
For the purposes of this order, businesses include any-for-profit, non-profit or other entity providing the goods and services described herein. This does not preclude the provision of work and services by entities not on this list either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery. Note that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.
A McMaster researcher has played a critical role on a small team that has successfully isolated and grown copies of the virus responsible for COVID-19, enabling urgent Canadian research into how it behaves and how it might be controlled. Arinjay Banerjee (photo), a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster’s Institute for Infectious Disease Research, specializes in coronaviruses and in bats, a rare combination that gave him the ideal qualifications to collaborate with colleagues from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the University of Toronto on the project. The team isolated severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, believed to have jumped to humans from bats.
In response to the COVID - 19 pandemic, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region will be adjusting their operations and activating the Community Food Assistance Network Pandemic Business Continuity Plan , to ensure essential services continue t o be offered i n our community. In collaboration with the Region of Waterloo Community Services and Public Health Department – this plan was designed to ensure local resources are mobilized to continue essential service delivery to our community while pro tecting the health and safety of staff, volunteers and community members. “It is critical – during this unprecedented health crisis – that we adjust our operations to better serve our community and ensure business continuity of vital food assistance services throughout Waterloo Region,” explained Wendi Campbell, CEO, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region. “With that in mind, we have made the decision to temporarily reduce the number of food distribution locations. This is an important step in not only ensuring emergency food is available for many weeks to come, but also in minimizing the health risks for staff, volunteers and community members.”
A multidisciplinary team of Western University researchers is beginning work on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. They join the global effort to curb the spread of the virus which to-date has been confirmed in 225,000 cases worldwide, and has caused more than 9,000 deaths. The team is rapidly mobilizing its efforts to establish and test an effective vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. At the same time they also are working to develop a ‘vaccine bank’ which would contain many ready-made vaccines to be used rapidly at the start of another coronavirus outbreak of a different strain. The work will be done in Western’s recently constructed Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) facility which contains Canada’s newest Containment Level 3 facility and a suite of state-of-the-art imaging equipment. This will allow the researchers to safely study the virus in exquisite detail.
Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce released the following statement in reaction to the Government of Ontario’s launch of a new procurement portal that will help businesses and their employees work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. “All businesses across the province and country must shift their focus to the singular cause of slowing the pace of the transmission of the virus. The Government of Ontario’s new procurement portal is critical as it will remove barriers and speed up the process for the government to procure required goods and services and share creative solutions. “Several of our members have already stepped up and offered to help support on-going public health efforts.
The Grand River Conservation Authority has been following the COVID-19 pandemic closely and is continuing to take steps to ensure public safety and the well-being of staff and visitors. Effective March 23, all Grand River Parks will be closed to visitors, including membership pass holders as well as day-use visitors, until April 6, 2020. Our parks staff have observed an increase in visitors. While many visitors have respected social distancing measures, our staff have reported concerns with some large groups of people, illegal parking and people entering areas that are marked as closed. No pedestrian traffic will be permitted within Grand River Parks during this period of time, and those who enter will be trespassing. Municipal partners are being made aware of these closures. Those who choose to ignore the closures and park outside of the parks on municipal roadways may be subject to fines.
Dino Infanti, National Leader KPMG Enterprise issued a advisory last week regarding Employers and employees during the COVID-19 crises. Employers should ensure they take appropriate steps to manage their employee issues during the COVID-19 outbreak. During this time, employers may want to look at their options to avoid laying off employees, including considering several government programs that are in place to assist employers in this situation.
The Region of Waterloo, the area municipalities and many community partners have taken action to support the health and safety of vulnerable people affected by COVID-19. As part of the Region pandemic response plan, more than 17 municipal and community partners have formed a Community Support Control Group. Together with the private sector, this group is responding to the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with the following supports:
Last night, Kitchener City Council approved the City’s Early Economic Support Plan, which includes financial and economic support measures to help reduce the financial strain on citizens and businesses during the current pandemic. The City of Kitchener’s Early Economic Support Plan, complements recently announced Federal and Provincial financial aid programs and is part of a coordinated economic response to the pandemic with Waterloo Economic Development Corporation (WaterlooEDC), Communitech, the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, area-municipalities and the Region of Waterloo. It includes immediate supports over the next two months as well as longer-term work with various partners to develop a comprehensive plan focused on supporting the community in its recovery.
“We have made the decision to continue with an alternative delivery system for Spring Term, meaning that regrettably we are not going to deliver in-person course activity," said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “While there is nothing like learning in person, this allows us to make sure that we can continue to deliver a great academic experience for our students during this extraordinary time. "We have delivered online courses since the late 1990s, so the University of Waterloo has a great deal of expertise in online learning. We believe we can apply this experience to provide a range of courses and programs in new ways while we cannot plan to learn in person.”
Restaurants Canada is calling on all provincial governments to take evictions and property seizures off the table until solutions are developed to help businesses impacted by COVID-19 meet rent obligations. For most foodservice operators, the single biggest fixed cost is rent. With the majority of establishments across the country temporarily shut down or restricted to takeout and delivery, many will struggle to have the cash flow necessary to meet fast-approaching rent deadlines. Once the COVID-19 crisis is over, re-opening their doors will also be difficult without solutions in place to keep them from owing many months of missed rent at once.
In “The Power of Postponed Retirement,” author C.D. Howe Institute's Joseph Nunes argues Ottawa should raise the age at which workers must stop contributing to tax-deferred saving vehicles and start receiving income from them to age 75 from the current 71. Working longer is one of the levers that savers in defined-contribution plans have to build up their nest eggs to the desired level. The author quantifies the relationship between saving more during a shorter work career versus saving less and working longer. He finds that starting with a salary of $50,000 and a baseline savings rate of 10 percent of salary, saving an additional 1.5 percent at age 30 is equivalent to postponing retirement by one year. Comparatively, at a starting salary of $100,000, a one-year postponement of retirement equates to only a 1.0 percent increase in the career-long rate of savings.
Cargill Inc. and Maple Leaf Foods announced a premium pay program for employees at their protein processing plants. “Workers in food manufacturing are key at this time to maintaining the food supply chain. The workers at Cargill and Maple Leaf Foods facilities have been under stressful conditions during this crisis and these measures will go a long way to providing security for them,” said UFCW Local 175 President Haggerty. Cargill’s program provides for a premium of two dollars per hour worked, with a bonus of five hundred dollars paid to those who complete weekly shifts over a period of eight consecutive weeks. This payment will be effective as of yesterday.
The National Farmers Union is pleased to see the federal government’s rapid response to the economic disruption that stems from putting urgent public health measures in place to slow the spread of pandemic COVID-19. New support programs are being rolled out to help vulnerable people during this crisis. However we are concerned that some of our most economically vulnerable people – farmers and migrant farm workers who produce labour-intensive food crops – are being left behind. Our economic security depends on maintaining our farms’ capacity to plant and grow food for Canadians, and migrant farm workers and their families depend on the wages earned in Canada every year.
Boys who enter puberty at an early age are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults than later developing boys, irrespective of their weight in childhood, according to an observational study following more than 30,600 Swedish men born between 1945 and 1961, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes). Specifically, researchers found that boys who had their pubertal growth spurt at age 9.3 to 13.4 years (the youngest group) were around twice as likely to develop early type 2 diabetes (aged 57 years or younger), than those who had the growth spurt at the age of 14.8 to 17.9 years (the oldest group), when the data was adjusted for the children's body-mass index (BMI) (see table 3 full paper). In addition to an increased risk of early type 2 diabetes, boys who went through puberty in the youngest group also had a 27% increased risk of late type 2 diabetes (after age 57 years), not as pronounced as for early type 2 diabetes. The age of 57.2 years was the cut-off point for 'early' and 'late' since it was the median age of developing diabetes in the study, with an equal number of those who developed diabetes doing so both before and after this age. The associations between early puberty and early and late type 2 diabetes were also maintained after adjustment for a range of factors including birth year, country of birth, birthweight, and education level.
According to Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, VPN usage in the US increased by 71% in the last 7-days and by a staggering 124% in the last two weeks. "We measured how much traffic traveled through our servers last week. We derived data from our 53,000 weekly users" says Welch. The number of customers increased by 6% during the last week. In most countries, traffic that traveled through our servers increased by more than 6%. Meaning, not only did the number of people using a VPN increased, but the frequency and time of connection increased as well.
The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili led a high- delegation to the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva to further advance the two agencies’ coordinated response to the worldwide Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (photo) welcomed the delegation to Geneva and thanked UNWTO for its close collaboration since the very start of the ongoing public health emergency. On the back of the productive meetings, the heads of both United Nations agencies stressed the need to include the following guiding principles:
A failure in the fire sprinkler system at Cambridges Lisaard House early Saturday morning (March 21) forced the evacuation of residents and staff from the facility. This system failure caused a flood in the kitchen and entrance way, and water damage to the structure is extensive. The 6-bedroom charitable residential hospice, which is celebrating its 20th year of operation this year, provides residential-based care to people in the last stages of their lives. Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice Executive Director, Andrea Binkle (photo), says staff responded quickly to the emergency and all residents were transferred to Innisfree House and staff were notified of the change. Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, the facilities were not at full capacity at the time. “In the coming weeks the Board of Directors and leadership team at Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice will determine how to move forward from this devastating situation.”
A new report on COVID-19 data to March 18 from Italy, prepared by an Italian expert for the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA), says that the rate of increase in the number of patients in intensive care with COVID-19 in Italy may have peaked in Lombardy, and may still be peaking in Italy as a whole. The report is by Davide Manca, Professor of Process Systems Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.Professor Manca explains the number of patients in intensive care with COVID-19 (NICUC) starts with an exponential trend, with numbers doubling over 2 to 4-day intervals, with this explosion observed for a long period, approximately until day 16 to 18. After this, there are 3 to 4 days in which the maximum speed of increase is continued, known as the inflection point. The data in this report goes up to day 26 of the pandemic, Wednesday March 18. Professor Manca says the data show that this inflection point was reached on day 19 in Lombardy, and day 22 in Italy. Patients that survive the infection are spending an average of 15 days in intensive care (ICU), and at least 10 days in each case.
Due to COVID-19 and recommendations by Waterloo Region Public Health to exercise social distancing, City Hall is closed to the public until April 6, 2020. Members of the public are invited to participate in this open meeting electronically by accessing the meeting via live-stream video at https://www.youtube.com/user/citywaterloo/live.