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COVID-19 UPDATE: ONTARIO's TOP ISSUES
Funders Unite To Support Region's Charitable Sector
United Way Waterloo Region Communities, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, Social Venture Partners Waterloo Region (SVPWR), and Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation, along with other regional funders, are working together to support urgent and emerging community needs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Lasting community change happens when service providers work together as part of a larger service network – no one individual or organization can do it on their own,” notes United Way WRC CEO Joan Fisk.
A professor at the University of Waterloo is drawing on two decades of research into disinfection using ultraviolet (UV) light to help solve a shortage of masks for front-line healthcare workers in the COVID-19 crisis. Bill Anderson (photo), a professor of chemical engineering, has consulted with officials at several hospitals in southern Ontario as they explore ways to reuse N95 respirators instead of throwing them out after each use. “At this point, in Canada at least, people are looking at it as a Plan B in case they run out of masks,” he said. Anderson gave an online webinar on the subject Wednesday and is collaborating with a Cambridge company that is building a machine to disinfect up to 500 of the heavy-duty masks an hour using UV light.
As the impact of COVID-19 across Waterloo Region grows, so does the demand for services provided through our not for profit sector. As a community foundation, we understand our responsibility to support our community in whatever way we can. As a first response, we are announcing that Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation (KWCF) has allocated $300,000 to address the immediate and longer-term effects this will have on our community. “Last week we sent a brief survey to our charitable partners to ensure their voices were incorporated in our approach to dealing with COVID-19,” stated Elizabeth Heald, President & CEO, Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation. “Based on the valuable information we received, our Board and team have developed a plan to quickly flow funds to local organizations.”
On Tuesday, the Guelph Community Foundation announces a partnership with the United Way of Guelph Wellington Dufferin to support the growth of the Guelph COVID-19 Community Response Fund. Through this collaborative effort they will support agencies doing critically important work and those that have been put under immense pressure as a result of the current crisis. The Guelph Community Foundation’s contribution to the Community Response Fund launches with an initial donation from the Hugh and Lorna Guthrie Fund that will match up to $10,000.00 to get the ball rolling. The collaborative fund will provide one place for philanthropists, community leaders, corporations and Guelph’s care mongering citizens to support the community’s COVID-19 response. The fund will work through three phases:
Yesterday, Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce released the following statement in response to the Government of Canada’s further details on the wage subsidy. “Questions still remain, and we cannot wait anymore. “A wage subsidy is a critical measure to support businesses and employees throughout this difficult time and we appreciate the Government of Canada’s efforts to listen and respond to our needs. However, we are disappointed in the subsidy’s final design. Simply put - businesses cannot afford to wait any longer for relief. “Asking businesses to wait an additional six weeks is completely unacceptable. They have waited long enough. Every day means more and more businesses closing and more and more workers being laid off.
Western University is supporting production of low-cost, substantively effective medical face shields that could be in hospitals for healthcare workers (HCW) within days if not hours. Face shields are vitally important to the global fight against COVID-19 as they extend the duration of surgical masks used by HCW interacting with at-risk patients and they also help prevent potential spreading of the virus by HCW to others in the hospital environment. The advanced manufacturing team at University Machine Services (UMS) – an ancillary service based in Western Engineering – is shearing and forming polycarbonate (PETG) to create the shield and attaching Velcro fasteners, which were designed and 3D-printed by the Western Physics and Astronomy Machine Shop, to the completed masks to allow for adjustable head placement.
Restaurants Canada estimates that 800,000 foodservice jobs have already been lost nationwide due to COVID-19 — more than 300,000 just in Ontario alone — and they might not return if current conditions continue. With restaurants now struggling to pay rent and other bills due in April, the national association has conducted a survey to shed light on the state of the industry. Responses from foodservice operators across the country have revealed: • Four out of five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1. • Seven out of 10 foodservice operators will further cut back on staff hours or lay off more employees if conditions do not improve. • Nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.
The University of Waterloo has launched a new online tool to help children who are now learning from home continue with their math and computer science education. The tool, developed by Waterloo’s Centre for Education and Mathematics and Computing (CEMC), is called CEMC at Home and includes games, problems to solve, videos and other materials to help kids with their studies. Ontario’s Ministry of Education has included CEMC at Home in their virtual resources for parents and caregivers. “CEMC at Home has been developed to support teachers, students and parents during these challenging times,” said Ian VanderBurgh, director of CEMC. “We are hoping that CEMC at Home and other existing resources on the CEMC website can do their part to ease this transition for everyone and we’re glad to see that Ontario Government is also sharing our content so that it can reach as many people as possible.” Most weekdays, the CEMC will post content developed by Waterloo faculty members and current and retired secondary school teachers for each of the four grade levels: Grade 4/5/6, Grade 7/8, Grade 9/10, and Grade 11/12.
To stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe, the Ontario government is launching a new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators. This new Fund will support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal. The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
In response to recent global disruptions due to the global health crisis, the University of Waterloo's incubator has extended its intake for new companies and is giving priority to those that can help with Canada’s effort to combat COVID-19. “We know that startups have a great capacity to identify opportunities, innovate quickly, and develop market-ready technologies,” said Adrien Côté, executive director of Waterloo's Velocity incubator. “Velocity can help by working with founders to quickly evolve their strategies and product development to rally to this cause. "We are already working with a number of companies building COVID-19 solutions, and we are ready to work with more.” Velocity's expanded intake process will now give companies the ability to submit their proposals by April 6 for an April 20 start date.
If you’re a small to medium-sized business (SME) with an idea that can help in Canada’s fight to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, a national research organization is poised to help your company rapidly transform that concept into reality. Mitacs — a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions — has announced a first-of-its-kind initiative to help SMEs expedite coronavirus-related projects by securing government funding, accessing resources for research, development and equipment, and hiring post-secondary interns, within days. “Our team is committed to supporting the development of innovative solutions for Canada and the world,” said John Hepburn (photo), CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs. “In response to federal and provincial government announcements of funding for coronavirus research, our 80 business development experts nationwide are poised to guide SMEs through the process and give them access to the talent and tools needed to succeed.”
If only we had heeded Bill Gates back in 2018. In a 2018 article , the Microsoft co-founder noted that the “global community eradicated smallpox, a disease that killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century alone. We’re on the verge of eradicating polio, a disease that 30 years ago was endemic in 125 countries and that paralyzed or killed 350,000 children per year. “And today, nearly 21 million people are receiving lifesaving HIV treatment, thanks primarily to the support of the world community. We need a clear road map for a comprehensive pandemic preparedness and response system, because lives, in numbers too great to comprehend, depend on it.” At this moment, we see the value of preparedness and the importance of innovation. And that we are woefully unprepared.
Canopy Growth Corporation announced that Ms.Terry Yanofsky and Mr. David Lazzarato have been appointed to the Company's Board of Directors, effective immediately. "It is my pleasure to welcome both Terry and David to the board," said Judy Schmeling, Chair of the Board of Directors, Canopy Growth. "Their leadership and experience in highly competitive industries will be instrumental as we focus the business and evolve into an execution-driven operating company. I also want to thank outgoing board members, Peter Stringham and John Bell, for their contribution and service to the board during times of rapid expansion and growth." John Bell is the former Lead Director and Peter Stringham Chaired the Corporate Governance, Compensation and Nominating Committee.
As Canadians stay home to keep their communities safe in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, millions of people are out of work and countless businesses have closed their doors. It’s an unprecedented situation. Never before have governments deliberately put their economies into a coma in order to fight a health pandemic. And with the economy at a near-standstill, governments are looking at every option to help tide people and businesses over until we can get back to something resembling normal. While people stay home to prevent the spread of the virus, they still have bills to pay, such as rent, mortgages, car payments and groceries. And with so many people suddenly out of work – last week alone, nearly one million Canadians applied for employment insurance – the federal government is scrambling to find ways to ensure people can pay their bills.
Less than half of consumers pay for media, with 16% paying for news and 44% paying for entertainment – but a willingness to pay is rising, according to new research published by the World Economic Forum. Between 80% and 90% of consumers spend 24 hours reading, watching or listening to news and entertainment per week. Almost 60% of consumers have registered for a media service (free or paid) and have on average seven media services covering video, sport, gaming, music, podcasts, news and blogs. The study also highlights three strategic shifts in media – new payment architectures, the rise of podcasts and changing advertising environments. “The current coronavirus challenge only emphasizes the indispensable role that media play in society today. With the value of content growing, the industry needs financial models that enable them to fulfil their social functions while still supporting widespread access to critical content. This can’t happen in isolation: it requires dialogue, including with regulators, to find solutions that balance innovation, consumer welfare and corporate responsibility of every stakeholder in the media industry”, said Kirstine Stewart.
What can past pandemics teach us how to tackle the current one? Tracing the history of contagions from cholera to Ebola and beyond, science journalist Sonia Shah explains why we're more vulnerable to outbreaks now than ever before, what we can do to minimize the spread of coronavirus and how to prevent future pandemics. (This virtual conversation is part of the TED Connects series, hosted by science curator David Biello and current affairs curator Whitney Pennington Rodgers. Recorded March 31, 2020)
Leading World Economic Forum representatives and members, including Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, Siemens and Maersk Chairman Jim Snabe, and Royal DSM Hon. Chairman Feike Sijbesma, on Wednesday asked the global business community to step up their coordination in the response to COVID-19. In a written statement, they called on their peers to voice support for a set of “Stakeholder Principles” to manage the economic impacts from the public health emergency, and work towards economic recovery when the virus is defeated.
Bruce Power announced it will be providing 600,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to support the province’s fight against COVID-19, ensuring that front-line workers have the protection they need as the heroes supporting our families and communities. The company’s President and CEO, Mike Rencheck (photo), made the announcement during a conversation with Ontario Premier Doug Ford on 560 CFOS AM’s Open Line radio show with Dave Carr. Bruce Power’s commitment includes masks, gloves, gowns for safety protection.
On Tuesday Region of Waterloo Public Health has received notification of the death of an individual at St. Mary’s General Hospital. This is the first confirmed death related to COVID-19 in the region. The individual, was a male in his 40s with pre-existing medical conditions. In order to protect privacy, we will not be releasing further specifics regarding this case. “This is a very sad time for all of us, but especially for the family and loved ones of the man who passed away. I want to express my deepest condolences,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Region of Waterloo’s Acting Medical Officer of Health.
A new report on Covid-19 data up to March 30 from Italy, prepared by an Italian expert for the European Society of Anaesthesiology (ESA), says that the number of daily deaths in Italian hospitals is today still accelerating at the maximum rate, and significant numbers of deaths in hospital are likely to continue until at least mid-April and could go on until early June. The report is by Davide Manca, Professor of Process Systems Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. The data suggest that the increase in numbers of patients in intensive care (ICU) in both the Lombardy region and Italy as a whole are likely to have peaked, but that numbers of deaths in hospital will continue to increase at the maximum rate for several days to come.
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.
Please note… times for locations are approximate