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February 17, 2021

Your CFA Update on COVID-19

B.C. approves single-use plastics bans in Surrey, Nanaimo, Rossland and Esquimalt

The British Columbia government has approved single-use plastics bans in four more communities. Surrey, Nanaimo, Rossland and Esquimalt are the latest municipalities to implement bans based on their particular needs.

The province approved similar bylaws in Victoria, Richmond, Saanich, Tofino and Ucluelet last September to prevent waste such as shopping bags and takeout containers from ending up in landfills and the ocean.

Environment Minister George Heyman says B.C. continues to work on regulations allowing local governments to place bans on single-use plastics without the need for provincial approval. He says the aim is to reduce plastic use overall, expand the deposit-refund system and call on manufacturers to take more responsibility for their products' end of life.

Hotel quarantine measures for air travellers come into effect Feb. 22: Trudeau

Air travellers landing in Canada will have to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, starting Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday, as the federal government tries to curb the spread of the new, more transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus. 

The enforcement date comes two weeks after the federal government said air travellers returning from non-essential trips abroad will have to isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours while they await the results of a polymerase chain reaction test, commonly known as a PCR test.

Health Minister Patty Hajdu said travellers will need to book a hotel in the city in which they first arrive in Canada, either Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto or Montreal. Hotel booking information will be available online as of Thursday. Those with a negative result on their arrival test will be able to take a connecting flight to their final destination. The potential cost of the three-day quarantine hotel stay at $2,000. Those who test positive will be moved to a designated quarantine facility as the government monitors new variants of the coronavirus.

Hajdu says vaccinated Canadians will not be exempt. The testing requirement is in addition to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for returning non-essential travellers. The government has had travel restrictions on most foreign nationals in place since March 2020.

Changes at land border

As of Feb. 15, non-essential travellers entering Canada through the land border will soon need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arriving. Essential workers, such as truckers, emergency service providers, and those in cross-border communities, will be exempt from this requirement. On Friday, officials clarified that land travellers can also provide proof of a positive test taken 14 to 90 days prior to arrival.  Trudeau has said officers can't legally deny entry to Canadians, but those who show up without proof of a test could face fines of up to $3,000.

Starting Feb. 22, travellers entering Canada at the land border will also be required to take a COVID-19 molecular test on arrival as well as toward the end of their 14-day quarantine.

Tracking COVID – Vaccinations and Infections

Ontario Expands Eligibility for Main Street Relief Grant

The Ontario government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province. Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors - expanded from 2-9 employees - including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support. The expansion is being made as more parts of the province enter the strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework, which allows for the gradual and safe reopening of in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores.

To apply and learn more at

This one-time grant reimburses main street businesses for up to $1,000 in PPE costs incurred since March 17, 2020. Eligible businesses for the Main Street Relief Grant now include those with 2 to 19 employees in the following sectors:

  •  retail trade;
  • accommodation and food services;
  • repair and maintenance;
  • personal and laundry services;
  • gyms and yoga studios; and
  • arts, entertainment, and recreation.

Ontario legislature resumes after winter break

Analysis by Temple Scott Associates

The Government returns to the House in the middle of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent government interventions across the province seem to have been effective as the number of reported cases has been decreasing and the Government is now lifting restrictions on a regional basis. Notwithstanding this positive outlook, the House will continue to work under all-party protocols with limited in-person participation and agreed voting. Spectators and visitors will continue to be banned from the Legislature.

COVID-19 will continue to dominate the airwaves as the vaccine inoculation process finally rolls out in earnest this week. The Government will continue to defend its COVID-19 actions as the Opposition is expected to focus on the pandemic response.

Last week’s update by the Minister of Finance, clearly indicted that the Government’s immediate priority is to continue with initiatives to keep Ontarians safe and focus on economic challenges later. Having said that, as the vaccination program progresses, the Government is likely to shift to an economic recovery focus, which may possibly come before the end of the current session in June.

Expect Federal-Provincial relations to dominate the session as well. If the Federal Government delivers vaccines in March and into the spring, as promised, the onus will shift to the province to ensure efficient distribution. The provincial system is still untested and has many challenges before being deemed successful. If the Federal Government does not produce the promised doses, look for the Provincial Government to step-up its attack on vaccine availability and likely move to more aggressive tactics.

It is quite possible that the success/failure of the vaccine process will determine the timing of the next Federal Election. Regardless of political affiliations, the bond between the provincial Premiers has remained strong through the pandemic and should continue as long as the vaccine process operates smoothly. Premier Ford continues to be the unofficial leader in this group and will not hesitate to speak out when warranted. He has been willing to give the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt, and even supported them by criticizing the pharmaceutical suppliers.  This cordial relationship will continue so long as federally-contracted vaccines are delivered on-time and in sufficient quantities.

 If there has been a benefit from COVID-19, it appears to be the strengthening of the relationship between the Premier and the Mayor of Toronto. Premier Ford and Mayor Tory are working well together which bodes well for future issues.  The Ford Government is beginning to look forward to a Provincial Election in 2022.  A stronger relationship with the popular Mayor of Toronto can be beneficial to the provincial Conservatives, particularly given the critically important seats in Toronto and the GTA.

What’s Next

Budget 2021 will be delivered by the end of March. Look for it to continue to offer assistance to Ontarians as the pandemic moves into the final stages. A likely indication of the economic recovery path can be expected as well.

The tone of the Budget will be determined by pandemic conditions over the next month. If the pandemic has regained strength, look for additional spending to assist Ontarians in need. If it continues to recede, the focus will turn to economic recovery.

Last week, NDP Opposition Leader, Andrea Horwath, shuffled several critic positions, signalling a change to NDP strategy in the House. The most notable change was the promotion of Peggy Sattler (MPP for London West) to the role of House Leader, replacing veteran Gilles Bisson (MPP for Timmins). Bisson has been the NDP’s House Leader for over a decade. With the Election on the horizon, expect the NDP to focus on the failures of the Ford Government during the pandemic, raising issues such as long-term care. Other issues on their radar include low-income housing and environmental protections.

With minimum representation in the House, the Ontario Liberals continue to battle for attention. The Party is still fragile and without a seat, Leader Steven Del Duca has been challenged to get any message across. In this session the Liberals will remain vocal on education issues seeing that as their strength in comparison to the Government’s performance on the file. Del Duca and his Caucus maintain that the Government has not delivered adequate funding to ensure the safety of students, and has not acted on important measures such as smaller class sizes, sufficient cleaning supplies, upgraded ventilation and new classroom space.

The Legislature is scheduled to sit until June 3, 2021 when it will likely rise for the summer break. Look for the Fall 2021 to be the unofficial kick-off to the 2022 Provincial Election.

A Federal Election could happen anytime given the current minority Parliament and the uncertainly surrounding the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations nationally.

Indoor pools, movie theatres to open in Quebec's red zones for March break

Quebec Premier François Legault says movie theatres and indoor sports facilities across the province will be allowed to reopen during March break, but the rest of the province's red-zone restrictions will stay in place in all but one region.

The Outaouais will be downgraded to an orange zone, Legault said on Tuesday afternoon. This is based on the fact that the number of new cases there and in the Ottawa region is stabilizing. As for the rest, residents can expect restaurant dining rooms to stay closed and the 8 p.m. curfew to remain in place.

Cinemas, sports arenas and indoor pools will be open on Feb. 26 to allow parents to enjoy activities with their children.

No indoor gatherings allowed. Stage theatres and musical venues are not opening. He said cinemas can be operated safely with people sitting two metres apart, and they can be reopened quickly with little preparation.

People will be allowed to gather in groups of eight or two families for outdoor activities, but are not allowed to rent chalets or hotel rooms with other family bubbles. Any type of indoor gathering is strictly prohibited, and tickets will be issued. Police have been issuing about 1,000 tickets per week.

Newfoundland election delayed and in person voting called off due to COVID-19 outbreak

Less than 12 hours before polls were set to open in much of the province, Newfoundland and Labrador's chief electoral officer on Friday called off all in-person voting in response to a COVID-19 outbreak. Bruce Chaulk announced voting in the provincial election set for Saturday will now be exclusively by mail, and ballots must be received by March 1.

The announcement came shortly after health officials announced that they had confirmed the United Kingdom variant was behind the COVID-19 outbreak that hit the St. John's region this week.

Voters in 22 of the province's 40 ridings were set to head to the polls Saturday after Chaulk on Thursday suspended voting across the Avalon Peninsula, which includes St. John's.

Under the Alert Level 5 imposed Friday by chief medical officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited.

An Elections NL spokeswoman said earlier Friday that many poll workers in the ridings where the election was set to proceed were quitting over fears of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie had called for the election to be delayed across the province, and on Friday one of his candidates echoed that plea. Shortly before the delay was announced, Progressive Conservative candidate Damian Follett, who is running in the St. John's riding of Mount Scio, confirmed that he'd been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Throughout the day, confusion about the election's status reigned, and the party leaders were largely absent from view, apart from an appearance by Liberal Party Leader and Premier Andrew Furey at a public health briefing on the outbreak.

A news release from the chief electoral officer Friday afternoon said parties could continue campaigning in ridings where the vote was delayed until the day of the rescheduled vote.

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