Today, the Ontario government released the province’s 2020-21 Third Quarter Finances. The report shows that the government is projecting to spend $25 billion more than last year, including an additional $2.6 billion since the 2020 Budget. The government has remarked that the increase was due to funding for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, hospital supplies and PPE, and COVID measures for long-term care homes and child care settings.
Additionally, the government is now using the fiscal reserve to top up the standard contingency fund, making an additional $2.1 billion available for spending before the end of the year. This added contingency is aimed at ensuring that the government can continue to respond with flexibility during the second wave, as well as to the emergence of new, concerning variants of COVID-19.
The Ontario government is once again extending electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms. The government will continue to hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 22, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers.
The off-peak rate came into effect January 1, 2021, providing families, farms and small businesses with immediate electricity rate relief. The off-peak rate will now be extended until the end of day February 22, 2021, for a total of 53 days of emergency rate relief. During this period, the off-peak price will continue to be automatically applied to electricity bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility.
The online application portal will also now allow businesses to apply for rebates on energy costs for one additional billing cycle.
Niagara Region Public Health has received a number of reports of a phone scam in the area about the COVID-19 vaccine. Please note that the Region is not calling residents to schedule vaccine appointments at this time, and will never ask for payment for COVID-19 immunization. If you receive a call like this, please hang up immediately and do not provide any personal information such as your health card or credit card number.
At their meeting on February 8, Town of Lincoln Council approved the 2021 Budget with an overall increase of 1.9% on the Town’s portion of the tax rate. This is broken down as an increase of 0% on the capital side, 0.9% in the operating budget, and 1% money in the bank dedicated to the special infrastructure levy, at a blended rate of 1.75% on the tax bill. For more information visit, https://lincoln.ca/budget/2021-budget.
Niagara Falls City Council approved the 2021 Operating Budget with a gross expenditure of $128,482,661, equaling a net tax levy increase of 1.7 per cent. The budget limits the municipal tax increase to 1.7%, amounting to an extra $23.75 annual increase for the average residential household ($279,854). The actual tax bill for each property owner will depend on the assessed value of the property. These estimates also reflect the City’s portion of taxes only.
Thorold City Council approved the 2021 Operating and Capital Budgets at its Council meeting of February 9, 2021 with the City’s levy increase at 1.8%. The approved budget continues to make investments in the community, support growth and deliver core essential services to residents.
The average home valued at $258,800 will see an estimated impact of $23.76 to the City General portion of the tax bill. The estimated change in the overall tax bill including City, Region, Education, Urban Service Area and Hospital is $47.16.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and should be deployed widely, including in countries where the variant of the coronavirus first identified in South Africa may reduce its efficacy, a World Health Organization panel said on Wednesday.
In interim recommendations on the shot, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) panel said the vaccine should be given in two doses with an interval of eight to 12 weeks, and should also be used in people aged 65 and older.
Even in countries such as South Africa, where questions have been raised about the AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy against a newly emerged variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, “there is no reason not to recommend its use,” SAGE’s chair, Alejandro Cravioto, told a briefing.
Ian Vandaelle, BNN Bloomberg
Bay Street veteran David Rosenberg isn’t buying into the hype swirling around bitcoin.
In a television interview, Rosenberg, Chief Economist and Strategist at Rosenberg Research & Associates Inc., said that while cryptocurrencies are here to stay, there’s no rational explanation for the massive run-up in the price of bitcoin.
“Crypto is here to stay. It has a function in the capital markets. But valuing it is next to impossible,” he said. “So all you really have to do is look at the price, and look at the chart, and you can see it’s a massive price bubble. The chart itself is telling you that.”
Joel Lexchin, The Conversation
As of Feb. 5, Canada had administered 2.7 COVID-19 vaccination doses per 100 people compared to 61.7 for Israel and 16.2 for the United Kingdom. By contrast, Canada has signed contracts with seven different companies for a total of 234 million doses with options for tens of millions more.
What’s going on?
To understand the problem, we need to go back to the 1980s. At that time, the government-owned Connaught Labs was producing vaccines here in Canada and decision-making was in the public realm. But Connaught was partially privatized and then finally allowed to be sold to the French company Merieux (now part of Sanofi) by the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.
Niagara COVID status tracker
Niagara’s most up-to-date COVID statistics, measured against the targets for the various stages of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, are presented below. This does not predict government policy, but is offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. These data are drawn daily from Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have its own metrics, but is triggered when the COVID-specific measurements in a Red-Control region have continued to deteriorate.
Note that the Provincewide Shutdown is not the same as the Grey-Lockdown level listed in the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, which has been suspended for the duration of the shutdown. Additional restrictions for businesses apply during the Shutdown. Businesses should not use the Response Framework as a guide during this time, but should instead refer to the Shutdown guidelines.
|December 18||December 25||January 1||January 8||January 15||January 22||January 29|
|New cases per 100,000||101.2||267.3||469.8||575.8||507.1||295.5||250.6|
|New cases per day (not including outbreaks)||60.7||178.7||311.7||376.9||325.4||182.7||145.7|
|Percent of hospital beds occupied||97%||95.2%||98.2%||103.2%||104.5%||103.6%||106%|
|Percent of intensive care beds occupied||78.8%||77.3%||87.9%||87.9%||90.9%||89.4%||93.9%|
|Percentage of positive tests||6.1%||15.6%||28.1%||28.6%||26.6%||21.2%||16.2%|
- Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per week
- Percent Positivity: the number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed
- Rt: the reproductive rate, or the number of people infected by each case of the virus