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Lazaridis Family Foundation provide s funds and expertise t o help hospitals in Waterloo Region, Grey and Bruce counties accelerate preparation plans for COVID - 19
An $8.5 - million series of gift s from the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Family Foundation to Cambridge Memorial, Grand River, St. Mary’s General hospitals and the South Bruce Grey Health Centre (SBGHC) profoundly strengthened their ability to respond quickly and effectively to the COVID - 19 pandemic The gifts and Mike Lazaridis ’ personal help improved their ability to respond to future emergencies in Waterloo Region and southern Grey and Bruce counties. “We didn’t even have to ask,” said Ron Gagnon, President and CEO of Grand River Hospital in Kitchener regarding the gift . “ In late February, before any of our communities had experienced their first confirmed cases of COVID - 19, Mike Lazaridis was in contact with us. He was keenly aware of the health care system challenges that were about to unfold. It was clear that not only did he hope to help with immediate needs but also to set us up for success in the future. These gifts allowed us to move quickly to implement the plans we had been preparing and act proactively.”
Imagine Fiberglass Products Inc., a Kitchener-based manufacturer of fiber-reinforced plastic products, is excited to announce it has created an innovative COVID-19 testing station that allows healthcare professionals to administer tests while reducing the need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Called the IsoBooth, the testing station would eliminate healthcare workers having to dispose of PPE - gloves, masks, gowns, face shields - after every test is administered, saving millions of dollars and reducing environmental waste. “The IsoBooth is intended to give healthcare providers a safe and comfortable place to administer tests while significantly reducing the amount of PPE consumed by traditional testing methods,” said Imagine Fiberglass President Jim Ashton. “Ontario alone intends to ramp up testing to 16,000 per day. Implementation of the IsoBooth would eliminate the use of almost two million disposable gloves and one million masks in two months.”
Judene Pretti, Director of the Waterloo Centre for the Advancement of Co-operative Education and Jennifer Woodside, Director of the Centre for Career Action answer our questions about the new world of work. Should people be trying to find jobs right now? Yes they should. While it’s obviously a very unusual time to be looking for a job, we are seeing examples of continued and increased hiring in a number of sectors. This has occurred in professional, scientific, and technical services, in information culture and recreation, in manufacturing, and in finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing. This is not to say that these areas haven’t been hit hard by the pandemic, but simply to say that there are still opportunities across a number of sectors of the economy. In some cases, there are new opportunities that have arisen.
The fourth challenge of Skills Ontario’s #SkillsAtHome social media challenge series is officially live. The #SkillsBridgeChallenge encourages applicants to design, construct, and test the strength of a bridge made of mini marshmallows and toothpicks. On Skills Ontario’s #SkillsAtHome webpage, the scope for the challenge also offers suggestions for other household items that may be used in case participants do not have access to mini marshmallows and toothpicks. This skill-building activity relates to skilled profession disciplines such as ironworking, elevating device mechanics, architectural design, and welding. “Our #SkillsAtHome challenge series has inspired a great amount of submissions, and we’re thrilled to see participants across Ontario developing their skills related to skilled trades and technologies,” says Ian Howcroft, CEO of Skills Ontario. “Through this challenge series, we’re proud to provide Ontarians with fun and engaging opportunities to explore skilled trades and technologies while they stay safe at home.” As the #SkillsBridgeChallenge launches, the #SkillsWackyHairChallenge reaches its deadline on May 11th. Winners of all challenges will be announced by Skills Ontario. Participants must send in submissions for the #SkillsBridgeChallenge by May 25th.
The distinguished computer scientist has nearly 20 years’ experience at Waterloo and will leverage his abilities as an administrator, teacher, and researcher to lead the Faculty of Mathematics. “Over his years at Waterloo, Prof. Geisbrecht has shown great depth in his understanding of the role and impact of the Faculty of Mathematics and dedication to the university in both academic and administrative roles," said Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor of Waterloo. “His considerable experience in academia and industry and his record of scholastic achievement positions him well to steward the Faculty of Mathematics.”
A new artificial intelligence tool is being used to help medical researchers at a Toronto-area hospital shave months off the time they need to identify clinical studies available to help physicians treat COVID-19 patients. In building the AI-driven search tool, researchers at the University of Waterloo used a machine-learning approach originally developed to expedite the review of documents in high-stakes litigation, to help the researchers mine through thousands of new studies on COVID-19 quickly. “Searching and finding studies for systematic reviews has traditionally been a time-consuming and laborious process that uses keyword search,” said Maura Grossman (photo), computer science research professor at the University of Waterloo. “It’s a long process that involves the manual screening of abstracts, and finally full papers.”
Yesterday, Kitchener City Council approved extending immediate short-term economic relief measures to support residents and businesses for an additional 30 days. To help offer some financial flexibility to those significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City will be waiving penalties and interest on property taxes, late payment charges on utility bills and invoices, and non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee charges for the month of June 2020. In addition, City Council approved additional relief and support for residents and business including:
Grand River Hospital Foundation is honoured to announce a gift from Equitable Life of Canada for a total of $4.6 million. The donation will support two important health campaigns. “We are incredibly grateful for Equitable Life’s generous donation to support health care in Waterloo Region,” said Ron Gagnon, President and CEO, Grand River Hospital. “In addition to ensuring that our hospitals are well equipped to respond to COVID-19 demands, Equitable Life has also made a significant contribution to health care that will benefit Waterloo Region residents for years to come.”
Professor Kelly Grindrod, a pharmacist, and professor at the School of Pharmacy explains why drug shortages are occurring, which medications are affected, and how Canadians can access medications at this time. Why are we experiencing drug shortages? It’s a perfect storm of pre-existing problems with manufacturing, the pandemic shutting down factories, a spike in global demand, and people stock-piling medications. Before the pandemic, drug shortages were already a major problem around the world. Over the last several years, the worldwide supply of generic drugs has been moving to a handful of factories in places like India and China. By centralizing manufacturing in developing countries, the goal is to reduce costs. However, this also means that issues like an earthquake, hurricane, factory fire, or a global pandemic can cause a major shortage around the world.
With school districts in some parts of Canada drafting plans to reopen , it’s time we ask: What have we learned about education from the days our school buildings were closed? We might say we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that there’s a lot more good out there than we’d have hoped to imagine – a lot of creativity and generosity. New curricula, content, resources, platforms, tools, tips, techniques and technology are being developed – and much of it freely shared. These quick pivots have been accomplished as schools and families adapted from classroom-based to home-based delivery of education.
The Canadian Federation of Agriculture really set the bar high with its $2.6-billion aid request last week. When a federal program barely worth $252 million was announced, the disappointment felt throughout the farming community wasn’t surprising. The funds were indeed underwhelming and won’t be enough to get some of those producers to stick around. Many will exit the industry, regrettably. Before the announcement, we expected to lose as many as 15 per cent of Canadian farms due to COVID-19. Ottawa’s plans won’t change that.
The need for more regional meat processing capacity in Ontario has never been so evident. The closure of two of Canada’s largest beef processors due to an outbreak of COVID -19 infections amongst employees has made that clear. While the employees from those plants isolate themselves and try to recover, farmers who sell their cattle to these plants are left with animals to care for and feed, or worse yet, euthanize because there is no market for them. And while the effects of slowed beef processing are only starting to be felt, Canadians are beginning to see the weaknesses of our food supply chain. But this is not all bad news. The pandemic outbreak provides us the opportunity to realize the flaws in our food system and make the changes that will bring resilience and food security to Canadians. The NFU-O has repeatedly advocated for policies that would bring about this change. Now more than ever, one key area that needs to be addressed is the lack of provincially licenced abattoirs in Ontario. The situation is serious.
Yesterday, the Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its Spring 2020 Economic and Budget Outlook report. The report shows that the partial shutdown of the Ontario economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic will deliver a severe blow to the province’s revenues, increase spending, and result in substantially higher deficits and debt. The FAO projects Ontario’s budget deficit will quadruple to $41 billion in 2020-21, the largest in Ontario’s history. Higher deficits will result in sharply increased borrowing and debt, raising Ontario’s net debt-to-GDP ratio to a record 49.7 per cent in 2020-21, up almost 10 percentage points from last year. Even as the economy recovers through 2021, Ontario’s debt burden would remain elevated at 48.7 per cent of GDP next year.
At some point – maybe soon, maybe still many weeks away – we will be presented with the monumental task of bringing employees across the country back to work. Employees who have been physically disconnected from their commuting and workplace routines for far longer than your typical vacation. Some have been working from their homes. Others laid off, furloughed or otherwise disengaged from work entirely. Regardless, the transition will be difficult and the scale of it, unprecedented. Fortunately, there is a resource at your fingertips – parents. Specifically, those who have recently been on maternity or paternity leave. I wouldn’t call them an “untapped resource” – they’re pretty tapped right now, to put it mildly. But organizations who manage parental leaves well – who have formal and informal policies and processes to help new parents return to work – already have a roadmap, founded on empathy and a genuine commitment to helping their employees re-enter the workplace feeling understood and supported.
With the goal of helping more Canadian businesses face the financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada announced the creation of the Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program available under Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) with support from Export Development Canada (EDC). The expanded program brings liquidity to companies who tend to have revenues of between $50 million to $300 million, to sustain operations during this emergency moment. “Medium-sized companies represent 16 per cent of employment in Canada and span all sectors. They are essential to the economic well-being of our country,” said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO, EDC. “Not only do they employ millions of dedicated Canadian workers, but they are essential to the livelihood of our industries, supply chains and our communities coast, to coast, to coast,” said Lavery.
Madrid, Spain – COVID-19 has placed the whole world on lockdown, with new research from the World Tourism Organization showing that 100% of global destinations continue to have restrictions on travel in place, and 72% have completely closed their borders to international tourism. From the start of the crisis, the United Nations specialized agency for tourism has been tracking responses to the pandemic. This latest research shows that while discussions on possible first measures for lifting restrictions are underway, 100% of destinations worldwide still have COVID-19 related travel restrictions for international tourists in place.
The greenhouse gas methane is a crucial factor of climate change in the Arctic and globally as well. Yet, methane emissions in the far north are difficult to measure across large regions. In the past, researchers usually scaled-up selective point measurements to generate landscape-scale methane flux estimates. Now, a group of researchers from Alaska and Germany is reporting for the first time on remote sensing methods that can observe thousands of lakes and thus allow more precise estimates of methane emissions. The study, in which several researchers from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences were involved, is published in the journal Nature Climate Change. According to the results, the total emissions estimated so far must be revised downwards.
The Hamilton-Brantford Building and Construction Trades Council is very disappointed that the Ontario Government has decided to cancel building the Halton Consolidated Provincial Courthouse P3 Project. The news comes as a real surprise to the HBBT Council, since the project was planned to be awarded this spring and was already scheduled to start construction in late 2020. The construction costs of the project were estimated to be close to $500 million while millions of dollars have already been spent to move this project to market over the past couple of years. This would be the second substantial public infrastructure project cancelled in the region in the past few months, following the cancellation of the $1 Billion Hamilton LRT Project. Taken together, these cancellations have generated real concerns among the local construction workforce being able to get back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic.
As another step in their coordinated emergency response to the global pandemic, the Region of Waterloo and all area municipalities extended the public closure of municipal administrative and operations facilities until at least May 31. The decision aligns the municipalities with Sunday’s announcement from the provincial government delaying the re-opening of the province’s schools until May 31. It is also consistent with the “Framework for Reopening our Province” recently released by the provincial government.
Snack packages to help those who relied on Nutrition for Learning Nutrition Programs at schools will go out to the following locations.
The City of Waterloo, in collaboration with other local municipalities and organizers of large events on municipal property, have agreed to reschedule, delay or cancel events up to June 30, 2020. Although provincial or regional public health does not currently require such postponements or cancellations, these changes allow for the potential extension of the physical-distancing requirements currently in place. Many of these community events rely heavily on volunteer and community group efforts. These changes will ensure countless volunteer hours leading up to an event are not lost.
The City of Kitchener, in collaboration with its events partners, announced that all city-affiliated events and festivals, as well as all third-party events, and festivals in city facilities or on city property have been cancelled up to and including June 30. While such postponements are not currently required by Provincial or Regional Public Health, these changes give our event partners appropriate planning windows while also protecting them against the potential extension of the physical-distancing measures currently in place. Most importantly, the decision helps to further protect the safety of residents, and our valued event organizers and partners. With so many of these community events relying heavily on volunteer and community group efforts, it is also anticipated that these changes will ensure countless volunteer hours leading up to an event are not lost.
The City of Cambridge, in collaboration with our various event partners, is announcing the postponement or cancellation of municipal-affiliated festivals and events until the end of June. City staff are working proactively with event organizers to delay, cancel or determine potential alternative options for events planned up to June 30 on municipal property as part of a collective effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. “This is sad news as our annual festivals and events are very important to the fabric and vitality of Cambridge, but the protection of our residents has to be our primary concern,” said Mayor Kathryn McGarry. “Taking these difficult measures now to avoid any large gatherings will help us get things back to normal sooner, and I know our special events and festivals will play a big part in the City’s path forward once the virus is contained.” The decision, which was agreed on by the regional Pandemic Control Group and will be implemented by all area- municipalities, supports Public Health direction that physical distancing is critical to stopping the chain of infection of COVID-19. Further, many community events rely heavily on volunteer and community group efforts. This action will help mitigate impacts where possible and avoid further lost volunteer hours.