The kids are back in school - just not in classrooms - it is going to be an interesting and revealing week for everyone

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 6th, 2020



Child getting off school bus

Students will not be on school buses for the next couple of months.

Classrooms won’t have students in them this morning – but there will be thousands of students sitting in front of computers communicating with teachers at the other end of an internet connection.

Every restaurant in town will be empty – except for those who have decided to offer a take-out service.

Just about all of them are not certain they will ever be able to open again.

The schools will, at some point, re-open.
The Gazette will report on the hospitality industry later in the week. The federal government loan program has been announced – it will take a few days for the hospitality people to get a clear sense as to what this will mean for them. A $40,000 loan doesn’t really go all that far.

Sagar behind screen

Kerry Sagar didn’t know that she would be teaching from a computer screen several months ago.

This morning Kerry Sager will begin her classroom session with the iStem students at Aldershot high school. Sager

Julia Hunt Gibbons is a Superintendent with the Halton District School Board. When the schools were closed by the province her work load increased as she, along with all the other Superintendents who had to reflect, refine, and plan roll outs of continuity of learning/distance learning.

Hunt Gibbons

Superintendent Julie Hunt Gibbons will be doing a lot more explaining and advising for the next few months – by telephone and online.

Hunt Gibbons won’t be doing any direct teaching to students, although she does spend a lot of time “answering their questions on the Board FAQ.”

Her primary role is “more of a supporter of teachers, a writer — along with Secondary Program Department members offering lesson suggestions, assessment and evaluation, IT on-boarding, problem-solving and Ministry/board messaging.”
What Superintendents really have to do will become much clearer in the next few days as both parents and students adjust to how an education is going to be delivered.
One of the ironies with how students are going to be taught now (electronically) is that this was one of the issues teachers were fighting the Ministry of education over. Teachers wanted limits on just how much education would be delivered electronically – now that is all they a have to work with.
The biggest job now for everyone is facilitating the sharing that has to take place between teachers across the system, largely through Google Hangouts these days.

graphic coping redThe Gazette has created a small team of parents who have children in elementary classes. They are as concerned as the teachers who have to make the best of what they have. We will report on what the parents have to say. You can follow their views and comments in the Coping series.

As for Kerry Sagar, she is organizing her day getting ready to teach.

Related news story

How parents are coping with having the kids at home.

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The rate at which the virus is spreading is staggering. The worst for North America has yet to be recorded

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 4th, 2020



The numbers just keep climbing with New York State death toll from coronavirus on Saturday surpassed 3,500 as confirmed cases rose to 113,704, bringing the U.S. total to more than 7,700 fatalities and 287,000 cases.

Canadians now settle in for the onslaught and the surge that has been predicted and is now being experienced.

The Canadian experts have given the public instructions – they are simple – stay indoors; if you are out distance yourself from others.
Stay away from crowds and wash your hands frequently.

The rate at which the corona virus has spread world wide is staggering.

Livde screen Mar 23

March 232rd, 2020

March 27

March 27th, 2020

April 4th, 2020

April 4th, 2020

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The challenge: Learning to stay inside and walk safely when you choose to be outside

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 4, 2020



Getting people to fully understand what we are up against with the COVID19 crisis.

During a media event yesterday – Friday, three doctors made it very clear that 3000 to 15,000 people will die. They left the impression this level of loss was inescapable.

They will be people with compromised immune systems. Each year something in the order of 1300 people die during the annual flu season.

The downside is horrific.

The medical community warns that the surge of infections has yet to arrive in full force. That surge can’t be stopped. The infections that are going to show up in the days and weeks ahead were either brought into the country or passed from one person to the other a week to two weeks ago.

People have yet to see the number of deaths rise – we are seeing the number of infections reported increase. Some of those infected people will die; they are most likely to be people in the 70 and 80 year age range.


Projected death April 30Projected cases

This year the medical community is dealing with a flu that has never been seen before and for which there is not yet a vaccine.

Those are the hard on the ground facts.

People are told to stay inside – something many are having difficulty doing.

Rattlesnake 2

These cars were parked outside Rattlesnake Point Conservation Halton Area that had been officially closed earlier in the week.

We seem then in public parks where they have been gathering in groups. So the cities are closing the public parks.

People want to get outside for some exercise and fresh air – and are frustrated by all the negative news and rules they aren’t certain make a heck of a lot of sense.

The Beachway has always been a popular place for people to walk; to spend time on the beach in warmer weather.

Beachway - no cars parked

Not a single car parked – barricades in place

Earlier in the week the parking lots in the Beachway were packed – not the case now – except for one lot at the west end everything is blocked.

So what do you do to get out for some fresh air and exercise?

Beachway - west end lot open

West end lot was left open. For who?

You are going to have to be creative and find spaces that are not crowded.

This is a situation we are going to be in for the balance of April for certain.

Any lifting of the limits on what we can do and where we can do it will be determined by the number of infection reports we get.

Dr. Donnelly, one of the three presenters at the media event on Friday, made the point:

The solution to the crisis is in our hands – our behaviour will determine just how quickly we can get the worst of this behind us.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Critical six foot rule not being observed on the hospital site where 93 bed modular health unit is being assembled.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2020



It was the right decision.

Create additional ICU capacity for the wave of infections that are about to hit the province.

The Joseph Brant hospital moved quickly; allocated $2 million to a field hospital that can hold 93 people and the equipment needed to get them through the infection.

Hospital president Eric Vandewall made sure that the modular field hospital was sourced and delivered quickly. Trucks left Calgary with all that was needed and in just over a day the parts to construct the modular hospital were on the ground and being assembled.

Modular - full view

Located right beside a side entrance to the hospital the 93 bed modular unit is being assembled in about 12 days.

The structure looks a little like the inflated domes used for people to play soccer in.

The unit sits right beside a side entrance to the hospital – making the transfer of patients into the modular unit and back to the hospital if a higher level of care is needed – smooth and efficient.

The hospital expects to have everything in place by the end of the week.

But … there are health safety issues on the site.

The six foot rule seems to have been forgotten.

Modular three workers

Never mind the six foot rule – these men are not even six inches apart – 20 feet from the entrance to the modular 93 bed health unit they are assembling.

Men work inches apart over a piece of equipment. A hole had to be drilled into a steel plate – the drill bit broke twice.

A little further from the construction area a group of men gathered around what looked like an administration office for the builder – BLT.

No protective masks – which may not have been necessary. And not all that much in the way of space between the men.

Earlier in the day three doctors, President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson alongside President and CEO of Public Health Ontario Dr. Peter Donnelly and Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health Adalsteinn Brown revealed the projected numbers at Queen’s Park on Friday.  They spent an hour and a half explaining what the projections were for COVID-19 infections. The low end of the projections was 3,000 to 15,000 that could die.

That was possible if people worked to that six foot rule. Those on the Joseph Brant hospital site didn’t adhere to the rule – if just one of them was infected – then they would all become infected and take what they had picked up to the people they interacted with.

This is what the doctors were very very worried about.

With this kind of behavior everyone is at a much higher risk.

Modular - workers - group

Construction workers on the hospital site fail to adhere to the 6 foot rule – endangering everyone they are in contact with.

The Gazette photographer was a good 15 feet away.

Ironically and disturbing that someone did not explain to these men what and why they were putting together a modular health unit.

Some of them might be the first patients to be in one of the 93 beds available.

The spread of the COVID-19 virus is preventable – but not with this kind of behavior.

Where was the project supervisor?

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Response to the Mayor's call for a Front Line Clap goes unheeded.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 4th, 2020



It is said that it is the thought that counts.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward wanted to show a little love for the front line workers and asked citizens to join her for a Front- Line Clap as one way to show appreciation for the people who are working to protect us.

In a report to the citizens of the city Mayor Meed Ward said:

“I want to thank all our healthcare and front-line professionals for their remarkable work in this crisis, from doctors and nurses to janitorial and operational staff at our hospitals and doctors’ offices, to bus drivers and grocery store workers and the entire logistics chain that manufactures, delivers and sells the essential food and supplies we all depend on. I know they are working long hours, spending time away from their families and loved ones, and faced with new challenges and difficult decisions like never before. Our entire city owes them a debt of gratitude for their skills and service. They come to work every day for us, and they are the reason the rest of us need to stay home and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This Friday, April 3rd, please join me in showing your appreciation for all these heroes through the Front- Line Clap at 7pm. Stand on your front porch, front step, or balcony to clap for 2 minutes so they can hear our gratitude.”

It didn’t quite work out that way.

The Gazette spent some time in the area the Mayor lives in – the streets were quiet except for a father on a bike teaching his son how to maneuver his small bike.

Mayor with iPad on deck

Mayor sets up her iPad on her veranda. Was the intention to broadcast the clapping?

The Mayor came out onto her veranda and set up her iPad.

There were no neighbours on their verandas.

A local photographer happened along, chit chatted with the Mayor.

The Gazette photographer put the camera away and returned to the car.

Mayor talking to photo

Local photographer observes the six foot rule – chats with the Mayor.

A Gazette reader had hoped that hundreds of people would take up the Mayor’s call. The reader wrote:

“Put blue ribbons on my balcony & bundled up & waited for others in the neighborhood to join in with clapping or cow bells or shouting or honking of horns. NOTHING!!! I know we are all a little anxious right now, but a little appreciation for all those people looking after those affected by this insidious virus, are living with anxiety that we cannot possibly imagine. Bad on us!”

It is the thought that counts and the Mayor has it right when she says: “STAY home, STOP the spread, SAVE lives”

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The data suggest we can reduce significantly the number of people who will die because of the virus - if we follow the rules

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 3rd, 2020



The province could experience something between 3,000 and 15,000 deaths from the COVID-19 virus – if we follow the rules.

Three of the smartest medical minds in the province, each doing a critical job, were on-line for a media event that lasted more than an hour and a half.


Dr. Peter Donnelly and Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health

President and CEO of Ontario Health Matthew Anderson alongside President and CEO of Public Health Ontario Dr. Peter Donnelly and Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health Adalsteinn Brown revealed the projected numbers at Queen’s Park on Friday.

Dr Donnelly explained that in a normal flu season about 1,350 people die.

The data that was presented indicated that Ontario would have seen 300,000 cases of COVID-19 and 6,000 deaths by the end of the month if there was no government action or intervention.

There is one action that can keep the number of deaths down to that 3,000 level and that is to follow the rules.

graphic covid 1One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. Two ears that work is all you need. Stay indoors; if you do go out for exercise stay away from other people. Mayor Meed Ward got it right.

The solution to the crisis we face, said Dr. Donnelly “is in the hands of the public.”

The decision to close schools in March was the right decision. Closing offices and factories were the right decisions.

Dr Matthews explained that the level of mortality for people over 80 who have underlying conditions and become infected is 16% – For those 70 the mortality level is 10%

Getting the data that was needed to do useful modelling from which projections can be made did take some time. Ontario was a little slow off the mark in the testing.

There were other issues:

Are there going to be enough ICU beds? Dr Anderson said that it is going to be very tight – and if public behaviour does not follow the rules – there will be a problem.

ICU capacity

The province believes they will be OK – but there is no certainty.

Dr. Donnelly, who did most of the talking, said that the province is going to have to be rapid and rigorous in bearing down on people who don’t follow the rules.

Projected cases

Projected death April 30We are heading into what looks like a decent weekend. Last weekend there was some really poor public behaviour. Cars were lined up on the side of the road at Rattlesnake Conservation area – when the park was officially closed.

People at Spencer Smith Park were tearing away that yellow tape that was around the park swings – Do that and the numbers will rise – and we will all be in very serious trouble.

six feet

Is that six feet of space?

People were standing just too close together.

The solution is in our hands. The solution to the problem is in the way we all behave.  Discipline yourselves and don’t be afraid to remind your neighbours.

“It is not possible to be exact about where we will end up,” continued the Dr Donnelly. “But I think it is reasonable to say that if we do everything that we can think of, everything that already has been done stays in place, all of the other measures that are being considered put in place, we could reduce the death toll.”

He then talked about the virus being part of the world we live in for a couple of years.

Rattlesnake 2

The park these cars were parked outside had been officially closed.

Ontario is reporting 3,255 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the province with 67 deaths as of April 2.

President of Ontario Health, Mathew Anderson, said during today’s press conference on the models, that we are already growing close to pushing our healthcare system beyond its current capacity.

“If we do not adhere to social distancing — if we do not contain this disease, it will grow more rapidly,” he said.

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Province reduces the number of essential services that can operate during the COVID crisis: from 74 to 44

News 100 redBy Staff

April 3rd, 2020



The province has revised the list of essential services that can remain open and operate in the province.

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. This also does not preclude the operation or delivery of services of any publicly funded agency or organization that delivers or supports government operations and services, including operations and services of the health care sector.

Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.

The list has been reduced from 74 to 44.

They are:

Supply chains

Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario, or that supply businesses or services that have been declared essential in a jurisdiction outside of Ontario, with the support, products, supplies, systems, or services, including processing, packaging, warehousing, distribution, delivery, and maintenance necessary to operate.


Businesses that primarily sell food, beverages and consumer products necessary to maintain households and businesses including:
Supermarkets and grocery stores.
Convenience stores.
Discount and big box retailers selling groceries.
Restaurants (take-out, drive-through and delivery service only).
Beer and wine and liquor stores.


Gas stations and other fuel suppliers.
Laundromats and drycleaners.
Security services for residences, businesses and other properties.
Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services.
Courier, postal, shipping, moving and delivery services.
Funeral and related services.
Staffing services including providing temporary help.
Veterinary services (urgent care only) and other businesses that provide for the health and welfare of animals, including farms, boarding kennels, stables, animal shelters, zoos, aquariums and research facilities.
Home child care services of up to six children as permitted under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014, and child care centres for essential workers authorized to operate in accordance with Ontario Regulation 51/20 (Order Under Subsection 7.0.2 (4) of the Act – Closure of Establishments) made under the Act.
Hotels, motels, other shared rental accommodation including student residences, except for seasonal campgrounds and any pools, fitness centres, meeting rooms and other recreational facilities that may be part of the operations of these businesses.
Cheque cashing services.

Services to the public that are restricted to alternative methods of sale

Stores that sell any of the following items and provide them to the customer only through an alternative method of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery, except in exceptional circumstances:
Hardware products.
Vehicle parts and supplies.
Pet and animal supplies.
Office supplies and computer products including computer repair.
Safety supplies.

Financial services

Businesses that provide the following financial services:
Capital markets and related securities trading and advisory services.
Banking/credit union activities including credit intermediation.
Land registration services.
Real estate agent services.
Pension and benefits payment services.
Financial services including payroll and payment processing and accounting and tax services.

Telecommunications and IT infrastructure/service providers

Information Technology (IT) services, including online services, software products and the facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
Telecommunications providers and services (phone, internet, radio, cell phones etc.) and facilities necessary for their operation and delivery.
Newspapers, radio and television broadcasting.


Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.

Transportation services

Businesses and facilities that provide transportation services, including,
transportation services provided by air, water, road, and rail, including taxis and other private transportation providers, and
support services for transportation services, including,
logistical support, distribution services, warehousing and storage, truck stops and tow operators,
services that support the operations and safety of transportation systems including maintenance and repairs, and
marinas, but only to the extent that the marina is necessary to enable individuals to access their primary place of residence.
Businesses that provide and support online retail, including by providing warehousing, storage and distribution of goods that are ordered online.


Businesses that extract, manufacture, process and distribute goods, products, equipment and materials, including businesses that manufacture inputs to other manufacturers, (e.g. primary metal/ steel, blow molding, component manufacturers, chemicals, etc. that feed the end-product manufacturer), regardless of whether those other manufacturers are inside or outside of Ontario, together with businesses that support and facilitate the movement of goods within integrated North American and global supply chains.

Agriculture and food production

Businesses that produce food and beverages, and agricultural products including plants, including by farming, harvesting, aquaculture, hunting and fishing.
Businesses that process, manufacture or distribute food, beverages, crops, agricultural products, animal products and by-products.
Businesses that support the food or agricultural products supply chains and the health and safety of food, animals and plants.


Construction projects and services associated with the healthcare sector, including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space.
Construction projects and services required to ensure safe and reliable operations of, or to provide new capacity in, critical provincial infrastructure, including transit, transportation, energy and justice sectors beyond the day-to-day maintenance.
Critical industrial construction activities required for,
the maintenance and operations of petrochemical plants and refineries,
significant industrial petrochemical projects where preliminary work has already commenced,
industrial construction and modifications to existing industrial structures limited solely to work necessary for the production, maintenance, and/or enhancement of Personal Protective Equipment, medical devices (such as ventilators), and other identified products directly related to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.
Residential construction projects where,
a footing permit has been granted for single family, semi-detached and townhomes
an above grade structural permit has been granted for condominiums, mixed use and other buildings, or
the project involves renovations to residential properties and construction work was started before April 4, 2020.
Construction and maintenance activities necessary to temporarily close construction sites that have paused or are not active and to ensure ongoing public safety.

Resources and energy

Businesses that provide and ensure the domestic and global continuity of supply of resources, including mining, forestry, aggregates, petroleum, petroleum by-products and chemicals.
Electricity generation, transmission, distribution and storage and natural gas distribution, transmission and storage.

Community services

Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:
Sewage treatment and disposal.
Collecting, transporting, storing, processing, disposing or recycling of any type of waste.
Potable drinking water.
Critical infrastructure repair and maintenance including roads, dams, bridges etc.
Environmental rehabilitation, management and monitoring, and spill clean up and response.
Administrative authorities that regulate and inspect businesses.
Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.
Government services including but not limited to policing and law enforcement, fire and emergency services, paramedics, coroner and pathology services, corrections and court services, licences and permits.


Businesses and organizations that maintain research facilities and engage in research, including medical research and other research and development activities.

Health care and social services

Organizations and providers that deliver home care services or personal support services to seniors and persons with disabilities.
Businesses that sell, rent or repair assistive/mobility/medical devices, aids and/or supplies.
Regulated health professionals (urgent care only) including dentists, optometrists, chiropractic services, ophthalmologists, physical and occupational therapists and podiatrists.
Organizations that provide health care including retirement homes, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, independent health facilities and mental health and addictions counselling supports.
Laboratories and specimen collection centres.
Manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers of pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, including medications, medical isotopes, vaccines and antivirals, medical devices and medical supplies.
Manufacturers, distributors and businesses that provide logistical support of or for products and/or services that support the delivery of health care in all locations.
Not-for-profit organizations that provide critical personal support services in home or residential services for individuals with physical disabilities.
Not-for profit organizations that support the provision of food, shelter, safety or protection, and/or social services and other necessities of life to economically disadvantaged and other vulnerable individuals.

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Reports indicate the province is on the right path with the shutdowns that have taken place.

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

April 3rd, 2020



The message leaking out of Queen’s Park from highly respected journalist is that the province did do the right thing when it moved to an Emergency State earlier in March.

Doug Ford - habd to head

Ontario Premier Doug Ford – he is delivering on a daily basis. Not something many expected of him. Good on him.

Hospital modular

Modular hospital being built at hospital to meet Covid response is serious business.

The province is expected to release data later today that will confirm that the right decisions were made and that hundreds of lives were saved.

The belief is that the rules in place now will get even stricter – and getting the message out will be pervasive.

More when the Premier delivers his message later today.

There are public messages that pop up on the right hand side of the Gazette front page – pay attention to them.

The Pandemic Response field hospital being built at the hospital now is being done for a reason.

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Police can now use bylaw enforcement officers to crack down on those who do not comply with emergency orders being made by the province.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

April 2, 2020



Halton Regional Police Service officers are now collaborating with local bylaw enforcement officers to respond to calls for service related to non-compliance with emergency orders within our collective boundaries.

Halton police - good angle

Regional police now working with municipal bylaw enforcement officers.

For the duration of the pandemic, if a member of the public wishes to report an incident of non-compliance with the emergency orders, they may contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722   Do NOT use 911 for these calls

The Province of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17th, through the authority granted under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

Since this declaration, several emergency orders have been made under the Act to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure that essential services continue to be provided and Ontarians are supported.

A ministerial designation under the Provincial Offences Act temporarily allows for by-law enforcement officers to assist police officers with enforcing the emergency orders being made by the province.
It is critical that our residents use 911 for emergencies only.

A call taker will collect relevant information from the complainant, and when appropriate, a by-law enforcement officer or police officer will be dispatched to follow up.

Upon responding to an alleged incident of non-compliance, the severity of each infraction in relation to the potential risk to public health and the spread of COVID-19 will be taken into account to guide a response. If compliance is not obtained through dialogue and education, officers have the authority to issue a ticket or summons.

The enforceable orders that fall within the authority of the Halton Regional Police Service, the municipal by-law officers and Conservation Halton officers include:

• Closure of Places of Non-Essential Businesses
• Prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people
• Closure of public places and establishments
• Closure of all outdoor recreational amenities and parks

People who are being charged with an offence under the EMCPA will be required to identify themselves if asked by a provincial offences officer, which includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers.

The Halton Regional Police Service only has the authority to enforce the Federal Quarantine Orders under the Quarantine Act when directed by a quarantine officer or health officer. Residents may still contact the COVID-19 Hotline to request follow-up for quarantine concerns.

Further, at this time, there is no legislative authority for Halton Regional Police Service officers to enforce non-compliance with physical distancing recommendations. Residents may still contact the COVID-19 Hotline to request follow-up for physical distancing concerns.


Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner.

“These are unprecedented times. It is incumbent on every member of our community to do their part now to slow the spread of COVID-19. The emergency orders that have been put in place by the provincial government are there for our collective protection. Our expectation is that residents will step up, comply with these measures, and contribute meaningfully to flatten the curve,” said Halton Regional Police Chief Stephen Tanner.

“We are fighting an invisible threat to our health and our way of life—we all need to work together and take action now,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “I can’t stress enough how important it is that everyone take direction from Public Health seriously. Thank you to all those who are taking action to help flatten the curve and for those who haven’t, you need to start now. We are all in this together.”

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, in a prepared comment said: “We thank the province for giving our regional police and local municipal by-law enforcement officers the tools to ensure the orders for closures and gatherings are followed. The more we stay apart now, the sooner we can come together.”

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Rivers wonders why face masks are not mandatory in Ontario

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 2, 2020





Donald Trump regularly spouts so much misinformation that the American public has almost become immune to him. But almost a hundred thousand people have signed a petition calling for Trump to end his daily COVID-19 briefings, claiming he is politicizing the crisis and using the news pressers as just another partisan political rally.

Fortunately nobody is making that kind of complaint on this side of the border. As tedious as the PM and premier’s daily briefings have become, there is usually some newsworthy item to justify pre-empting our favourite day-time TV reruns. And unlike the combative Trump, our leaders appreciate the seriousness of the situation and have been careful to play nicely with each other.

Doug Ford, whose poll numbers were in the toilet only a few months ago, has almost overcome his bully-boy countenance, dutifully earned after attacking teachers and Toronto’s city council. His fight over the carbon tax with the federal government now seems like distant history, as he regularly heaps praise on the PM and his deputy PM.

doug-ford hard face

Doug Ford is coming across as a much more focused and stronger reader.

But his populist instincts of overreaching continue to get him into trouble, as for example when he advised workers to just walk off their jobs and promised not to let anyone get evicted for not paying their rents. But his past stumbles, most recently the illegible license plates, are forgotten and forgiven as this epidemic now interminably occupies our lives.

Compared to our southern neighbours, Canada is in a better place. But our numbers are still growing and there is no end in sight. And if there is a recovery strategy it has to be a best kept secret, as new numbers roll-in every day telling us that things are only getting worse – not better.

We’ve seen how China, despite bring hampered initially by its knee jerk denials, was finally able to lock down the virus only with a dramatic quarantine, exhaustive travel restrictions, a shuttering of virtually all business and the mandatory wearing of face masks in public. We’ve also seen how South Korea is claiming limited success by aggressive testing and tracking, isolation, travel bans, and… face masks.

But Canada is not following either of these models. Our first COVID-19 case arrived from China near the end of January, yet it took another month to restrict International travel. Arriving passengers were neither tested nor quarantined until enough infected people had arrived for the virus to become a self sustaining problem.

Trudeau welcoming

It was a different time: The Prime Minister was welcoming refugees into the country almost every day.

We just kept counting the infected and dead until, by early March, we had joined the rest of the world in suffering the consequences of this deadly and growing epidemic. So we started ratcheting down our economy by a series of half measures. Mr. Trudeau announced voluntary internal travel restrictions but not a ban, and only partially closed the US border. And Mr. Ford shuttered some, but not all, non-essential Ontario business.

Our chief medical officer of health keeps telling us that all we need to do is wash our hands and keep our social distances. Social distancing is a good idea but how is that even possible for those who need to make the daily commute to their job by subway or bus, for example. So what about the masks which worked so well in Asia?

The virus is respiratory. I’m not a medical doctor but even I know that means the pathway for the infection starts with the mouth or nose and moves out by a cough, sneeze or even talking. The virus apparently lasts a relatively long time on some surfaces (counters, doors and grab rails and grocery produce) but it gets there when an infected person coughs or sneezes near or onto those surfaces – or touches them after sneezing into their own hands.

Masks - crowd wearing

Masks were essential in China – Rivers wonders why they are not essential in Ontario

April 2 2020

World wide data on the morning of April 2, 2020

So the Chinese authorities believe wearing a mask reduces the contagion. But our Dr. Tam, the World Health Organization and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) are still telling us not to wear a mask in public unless we are already infected and contagious. But couldn’t people be contagious and not display symptoms? And shouldn’t they stay at home if they are sick? And why do doctors and nurses wear masks?

Given the enormity of the epidemic spreading across the USA, the CDC is apparently on the cusp of recommending that everyone should start wearing a mask in public. Of course there aren’t nearly enough masks in America for all the people, so the CDC will likely offer a ‘how-to’ make and keep clean (for re-use) your very own cloth mask.

This would no doubt give Donald Trump something new to announce at one of his press availability sessions. But how will he explain why he didn’t do this sooner? Trump’s poll numbers have never been higher. This is amazing given how he has totally mismanaged the COVID-19 issue. Trump was aware of the epidemic when he banned commercial flights to China back in January.

But his administration fumbled terribly. Having decided to develop their own test kits they failed to get them done in a timely fashion. They failed to enforce social distancing. And their business as usual attitude allowed the virus to spread such that the US is now the global epicentre of the pandemic. And they don’t even have enough face masks to protect their own health care workers, let alone their population.

The US infection rate has been doubling every four days and is now 200,000 – more than twice China’s. The US chief medic has projected that the outbreak could rise to a million infections or more in that country alone. It is very likely that US deaths, already greater than those in China, could reach 100,000, even if they all start to wear masks tomorrow. That is twice as many fatalities as all those American soldiers who died in Vietnam.

Canada’s political leaders are also witnessing a rise in their approval ratings. That is a natural phenomena, particularly In the early stages of a crisis like this. We want to believe in our government and leaders in a time of uncertainty. For example, George W Bush, one of American’s worst presidents by almost any account, saw his approval rating skyrocket after 9/11 as the country looked to their president for leadership.

The approval we’re giving Mr Ford and Trudeau is unlikely to last if this epidemic continues too long or gets worse, however. And that approval will disappear if the public discovers that our governments have failed to protect us because of some kind of prejudice by our chief medical officer against wearing face masks – even if they have to be homemade ones.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.


Background links:

Trump Petition –    Ford Overreach    Ford Risen –     Mask Use

Trump Worst Leader –    South Korea –     US Death Toll –    More Masks

Dr. Tam–    Face Masks

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District school board expects the school year to start September 8th - between now and then all options are on the table

News 100 blueBy Staff

April 1st, 2020



HDSB sign and benchSomeone seems to have forgotten to do a reality check.

The Halton District School Board today released the proposed school calendar for the 2020-2021 academic year.

At the March 25, 2020 Board meeting, trustees of the Halton District School Board approved the proposed calendar dates for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. Final approval of the calendar by the Ministry of Education is anticipated later in Spring 2020.

Will there be an academic year? In the event that there is the calendar proposed is set out below.

School calendar 2020-2021The school year calendar is developed with input from the School Year Calendar Committee consisting of representatives from interested and affected groups, including parents/guardians. The 2020-2021 school year calendar is aligned with the Halton Catholic District School Board calendar, to consolidate resources on school bus transportation, which is shared between school boards.

The calendar outlines the Professional Activity days (PA) for staff when schools will be closed to students, as well as school breaks and holidays. The first day of school for the 2020-2021 school year is Tuesday, Sept. 8.

These dates will be provided to schools to be shared with students and parents/guardians, and they are also posted on the Board’s website at (refer to the Calendar on the home page).

The date is April 1st – is this a prank?  Apparently not.

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Select childcare centres in Burlington, Georgetown, Milton and Oakville being made available to all front line workers - apply on line

News 100 yellowBy Staff

April 1st, 2020



Halton Region has partnered with the Ontario Ministry of Education and select childcare centres in Burlington, Georgetown, Milton and Oakville to provide eligible healthcare and frontline workers with emergency child care.

Emergency child care services will be funded by the Province of Ontario and are available at no cost to eligible health care providers and essential workers who have no other child care alternatives. The centres will provide care for infants to children 12 years of age and some centres will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To apply, eligible workers are asked to complete the Online Child Care Subsidy Application form available at Those who are unable to complete the online application form can call 311 for support. Spaces are limited and will be filled in order of the applications received.

Public Health is working close with the Ministry of Education to open these child care centres as soon as possible and are taking additional measures to maintain a safe and healthy environment, including:

• daily screening of children and staff;
• regular cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces;
• reduced group sizes; and
• limiting the number of people in each child care centre.

For more details on emergency child care service eligibility and to submit an application, visit

“These emergency child care centres across Halton will ensure health care and frontline staff have access to child care supports while they continue to protect the health and safety of our community,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “I am grateful for these dedicated workers who have been putting others first and working around-the-clock to help those impacted by COVID-19. There will never be enough words of thank them for all they are doing.”

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A little more transparency at the Emergency Coordination Group please

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020



I was surprised to learn that there isn’t always someone from city council at the Emergency Coordinating Group (ECG).

I knew that the Mayor and the City Manager were never in the room at the same time. Tim Commisso told me in a telephone interview that he is putting in 15 hour days and stick handling 200 + emails.  He has deep experience at the municipal level and has seen a city through a disaster.  But he is not a young man and he doesn’t have as much as he needs in the way of bench strength.

A State of Emergency does change the ground rules – but it shouldn’t dilute the level of on-the-ground democracy.

Running a city under a State of Emergency is not business as usual.

The politicians have to let the experts do what they do.

However, there isn’t a reason in the world why at least one member of Council cannot be in the room. They are not in the room to participate – they are in the room to witness, record and to serve as a hobble on bureaucrats that could go too far astray.

They are not there to ask questions. A good committee chair would ask the Councillor if there were any questions or suggestions at the end of a meeting.

Right now we have a Mayor saying everything is going just fine. That may well be the case.

We are not suggesting there is anything amiss. It is when the proceedings are transparent that things don’t go amiss.

Our Mayor would be serving her constituents’ interests well if she advocated for having at least one member of Council at that table or on-line.

Sharman was right to bring this to the attention of a very concerned public.

Related news story:

Councillor Sharman finds being elected means squat during an emergency.

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Handling people who just don't want to follow the rules can still be held accountable.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020



What do you do when you become acutely aware of someone who either doesn’t understand what social distance means or just doesn’t give a dam?

The Mayor has been out there every day saying over and over – walk – don’t stop. Take care of yourself.

Meed Ward

As Mayor Marianne has a “Bully Pulpit” – she can be very persuasive.

Most of the people who listen to the Mayor already know the rules – they follow them – but there are those who don’t even want to follow the rules.

You call the Mayor – there isn’t all that much she can do.

You call public health and there isn’t much they can do.

The police don’t have time for these small issues – which aren’t really that small in the big picture.

Can by law enforcement officers play a role? Give them a bull horn and an address and have them drive out and explain.

The federal government has enacted the Quarantine Act – that gives them the authority to take people into custody – but who wants to grab someone who might be COVID compromised and put handcuffs on them?

The biggest tool we have is social peer pressure.

A reader makes mention of “a guy beside me who has been holding court on his driveway and his porch sometimes with as little as 1 foot between him, his wife, and another neighbour.

“When I emailed the mayor’s office about this her assistant sent me a link about social distancing (SD) — I pointed out how unhelpful this was because I understand SD and was asking that someone inform the three families that are hanging out together about SD.

“Halton Dept. of Health said they can’t do anything because it’s a choice these people are making and that I can only keep myself safe.

Neighbourhood Watch

Something along these lines could be created in a couple of hours – and pressure city hall to get the bylaw officers out on the streets.

“Right now he is sitting at the bottom of his driveway with a beer trying to get kids and adults to come over and talk to him.”

Some people will recall when Neighbourhood Watches were created; they began developing in the late 1960s as a response to the rape and murder of Kitty Genovese in Queens, New York. People became outraged after reports that a dozen witnesses did nothing to save Genovese or to apprehend her killer. Inspired in part by Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), which stated that Americans need to keep their “eyes on the streets” and connect with each other in their neighborhoods.

Look for someone on your street to lead something like this and pressure city hall to get the bylaw enforcement people out on the road.

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Classes start again - lessons will be delivered electronically.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020



The students will be back in school – no later than next week.

Directors of Education from across the province have been in conference calls with the Ministry of Education – classes are to resume.

The Boards are waiting for the last bit of documentation from the province – “We want to be sure we are fully aligned with the province” said Miller.

It will be all electronic and there will be bumps during the first week or so.

Stuart Miller

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education

Stuart Miller, Halton District School Board Director of Education met with all his principals today and will begin meeting with the teachers tomorrow.

And yes they have followed the rules – they know the game.

Much of the communication is being done electronically. Miller does short videos and sends them out to the teachers.

Parents will be getting letters and later in the week Miller will go before the camera again and will talk to the students electronically.

HS student at computer

For most high school students the transition to electronic learning will not be that difficult. There will be exceptions

Secondary students will be doing regular classes – they just won’t be in the room with the teacher. The technology is  in place and, according to Miller, a lot of teachers are biting at the bit to get back to teaching. Will attendance be taken?   probably at the high school level.
It will be a little different at the elementary level – the focus will be on literacy and numbers.

Will parents be in the classroom? They can if they want.

Everyone is going to have to be flexible and patient.

child behind paper

Elementary students will be challenged – parents will have to be in the room – but with creative teachers at the other end of the internet connection it can work,

Miller said that the unions are on side – “everyone realizes this is a different time and a lot of rules are going to get bent. He added that at the same time there are going to be some interesting realizations.

Education is on a new course – the board wants it to work and the parents don’t want the length of time their children are out of the classroom to last much longer.

It will be interesting to see how this works out.

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Councillor Sharman finds being elected means squat during an emergency.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 31st, 2020



In 2014 Paul Sharman, ward 5 councillor found himself dealing with people whose homes had been heavily damaged during the flood that August.

Sharman finds himself in much the same situation and will tell you that “We need to recognize that Covid-19 is quite different from what we were dealing with in 2014 because it is pre-emptive, not reactive.

Sharman hand up

Councillor Paul Sharman: this is not an emergency that requires the city to stop functioning,

“I appreciate that an emergency has been declared and I know that protocols are being followed. However, this is not an emergency that requires the city to stop functioning, there are no armies in the street, no service outages, no starving crowds, no panic, nothing that manifests as a physical impediment to many people continuing to live their lives with optimism. Indeed, we need the economy to keep working and for people to continue to function as well as possible.

“In fact, technology permits us to conduct business, pretty much as usual on many core activities. A you may know, I ran a business with clients around the world with a bunch of staff members and colleagues. All of us worked from home. We would meet in person from time to time, but on-line technology makes that unnecessary now.

“The notion of an emergency in the case of Covid-19 is different from previous such emergencies in the sense that it is in anticipation of a worsening situation. Thank goodness governments took the steps they did. No complaints from me. Having said that, it seems probable that until widely available vaccination and significant levels of community immunity has been built up through natural transmission and recovery from Covid-19, it isn’t going away.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable and expects to get his way.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman is usually very direct, tends to want to see data that is verifiable.

“Lets hope three months is enough. Possibly not, given what is happening in the USA.

“If it does extend for many months, governments at every level might consider operating as always intended but as a modified continuum by adapting to the new context rather than continue as an emergency per se. Perhaps with a modification/adaptation of the emergency process to take advantage of available benefits.

“I understand that the Region and Province have not yet adopted a three month planning horizon. This means that Burlington is ahead of the curve, which I applaud. Further, because there are plenty of risks, plans are always wrong by definition. We need to recognize that planning is an inexact art that is only as good as its assumptions. Plans for rapidly changing times obviously need to be modified and adapt in an agile fashion.

Sharman folded

Emergency Coordinating Group meetings are not held in public nor with members of Council listening in.

“As a business person and as a consultant I have worked through quite a number of significant organization design activities (downsizing, ongoing business crisis are two examples), some quite aggressive. In all cases, leading practice was to begin with a strategic assessment of conditions, assumptions and goals for the long term, recognizing that short- and medium-term circumstances would arise that require evolving tactics and choices.

I believe the City of Burlington has something like that in mind. As a Councillor, I am waiting to find out, because ECG (Emergency Coordinating Group) meetings are not held in public nor with members of Council listening in.”

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Military Vehicles and Equipment Transported by Rail from Alberta

News 100 redBy Staff

March 31st, 2020



Should you see a freight train rumbling through town with all kinds of military equipment – it does not mean the army is about to take over and do a total lock down.

National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces announced yesterday that due to the cancellation of Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE, the public can expect to see a large amount of military vehicles and equipment transported by rail starting this week from Wainwright, Alberta. The rail movement will occur across the country and may cause surprise due to the extent of the equipment transported back to Garrison Petawawa, Ontario.

army tanks on flatbeds

That army equipment is being taken back to base – the MAPLE RESOLVE exercise was cancelled

This equipment transportation is not related to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. The equipment was meant for Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE, the largest Canadian Army exercise occurring every year in Alberta, which was cancelled two weeks ago.

Drivers and pedestrians are asked to be patient and cautious as the rail transportation is extensive and may cross roads and highways throughout Canada.


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93 additional beds being built in a modular unit attached to the South Tower of the Joseph Brant Hospital as a temporary Pandemic Response Unit

News 100 redBy Staff

March 30th, 2020


93 additional beds are being built in a modular unit attached to the South Tower of the Joseph Brant Hospital.

Joseph Brant Hospital is building a temporary Pandemic Response Unit to expand the hospital’s bed capacity in preparation for the anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients.

This modular structure is being built on the hospital grounds and connected to the South Tower. It will provide 93 additional beds for patients who require hospitalization and treatment for COVID-19.

Hospital modular

Modular hospital that will house at least 93 beds is on the way to Burlington from Calgary.

The modular unit left Calgary this afternoon on a transport truck – they will begin putting it together – could be ready by the end of the week.

JBMH president Eric Vandewall is reported to be working on his schedule and aking tme to meet with the city. Dinner with senior city staff was a good start.

JBH president Eric Vandewall

“The Pandemic Response Unit is being built as a critical part of our pandemic response plan to meet the heightened care needs of our community and ultimately save lives,” says Eric Vandewall, President & CEO of Joseph Brant Hospital. “We are doing everything we can to care for the people of Burlington to prepare for these unprecedented times.” The Pandemic Response Unit is a collaboration between Joseph Brant Hospital, community-based health care providers, the City of Burlington, and Halton Region.

“The construction of the Pandemic Response Unit will allow the hospital to preserve our critical care and high acuity patient beds for our sickest patients,” states Dr. Ian Preyra, Chief of Staff for Joseph Brant Hospital. “Physicians from the Burlington community are volunteering to provide patient care in the Pandemic Response Unit, treating COVID-19 positive patients with acute care needs who may require oxygen therapy and ongoing monitoring.

“I have confidence in our health care system, and particularly in our healthcare professionals. The Federal government has provided an extra $500 million to provinces to support our health care system. We are also coordinating the procurement of essential equipment to keep our front line workers safe and working with Canadian industry, including here in Halton, to produce the equipment we need. I want to recognize the efforts of our local hospital. This is a challenging time for everyone, but the measures we are putting in place are extremely important. By staying home and physically distancing ourselves from each other we are keeping our frontline workers, like nurses and doctors, safe. We all have a role play to protect ourselves and our community from Covid-19,” states Hon. Karina Gould, Member of Parliament for Burlington.

“On the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, the Ministry of Health has requested all hospitals implement pandemic plans to help increase capacity as cases of COVID-19 continue to grow. In these unprecedented times, I’m proud of the work the team at Joseph Brant Hospital is doing to ensure they are prepared to serve the people of Burlington by adding capacity,” MPP Jane McKenna reflects. “Thank you to the wonderful doctors, nurses and every employee on the frontlines at Joseph Brant Hospital. You are the real heroes in this crisis.”


Modular structure is being built on the hospital grounds and connected to the South Tower. It will provide 93 additional beds

“Joseph Brant Hospital’s plan for a Pandemic Response Unit is a critical step in ensuring we have the right resources in place during COVID-19,” said Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr. “This is a difficult time for everyone as we fight this “invisible threat” and I applaud the leadership at Joseph Brant Hospital and all community partners who are working together to support our healthcare workers. It is also important at this time for everyone in our community to practice physical distancing to reduce the burden on our hospital resources,” states Halton Regional Chair Gary Carr.

“I fully support the action Joseph Brant Hospital is taking in preparing for an increase in COVID-19 patients. Our community, including our hospital, needs to plan and prepare for every contingency during this emergency situation,” says Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

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The duration of the crisis depends on all of us: there are some serious gaps in some behaviour.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

March 30th, 2020



Comments from residents on what they see happening about the city suggest that the Mayor’s message hasn’t reached all ears.


The normal walk to the canal just wasn’t possible – there were far too many people on the path.

One resident said: “I abandoned my solo walk on the beach path this afternoon between the hospital and the lift bridge as it was simply too crowded to be sure that everyone was two metres apart.”

Another reported that “ at Spencer Smith Park, parents or caregivers were observed pushing young children on the swings, even though there was caution tape surrounding the swing sets. Unfortunately, the City must use their resources to dismantle the swings to protect the children from their parents or caregivers if they don’t adhere to the State of Emergency.”

The Gazette published this article yesterday – the last line “This will inevitably force us into lockdown.” is what the city will be forced to do.

“ I live on a court and have observed a home with a single resident welcome a) a girlfriend (not living at said residence), b) an adult son (not living at said residence) and c) a cleaning lady (also, not living at said residence). Likewise, I have noted a young couple with an 18 month old welcome one set of grandparents for playtime and a meal, and the next day another set of grandparents for playtime and a visit.

People are only willing to self isolate and socially distance themselves if it is of no inconvenience to them. This will inevitably force us into lockdown.”

“The beach path was terribly crowded yesterday – I saw someone had posted a video of the full parking lot and lots of people crammed everywhere. This will surely result in the parking lots being closed and perhaps the path itself being closed.”

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Road Closure - MacLaren Drive - new water main going in

News 100 blueBy Staff

March 30th, 2020



If you doubted that city staff are not really working – check this.Water main construction

March 31 to April 1: MacLaren Drive from Woodview Drive to Caplan Crescent will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for watermain installation.

April 2 to April 3: MacLaren Drive from Caplan Crescent to Glenn Moor Crescent (north leg) will be closed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily for watermain installation.

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