Ontario temporarily moves to Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen
In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Ontario government is temporarily moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with modifications.
Unlike other variants throughout the pandemic, evolving data is showing that while the Omicron variant is less severe, its high transmissibility has resulted in a larger number of hospital admissions relative to ICU admissions. Staff absenteeism is also expected to rise and affect operations in workplaces across Ontario due to Omicron infection and exposure, including in hospitals and schools.
Niagara Health asks public to help relieve pressure on emergency departments
Niagara Health is seeing a high number of patients in our Emergency Departments (ED) who do not need this level of healthcare and could access the right level of care through their family physician or other primary care provider.
A significant number of these people are seeking a COVID-19 test and have mild or no symptoms. In these cases, people should stay home and rest while self-isolating to limit the spread of this highly contagious virus. Patients should reach out to their primary care provider for help managing symptoms at home, if needed.
Demand for COVID-19 testing in Niagara is currently very high and continues to increase. Niagara Health is prioritizing tests for those at greatest risk, including healthcare workers and emergency responders.
Visit the Niagara Region Public Health website for testing options in our region.
Government of Canada launches applications for the expanded Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit
The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced on December 30 that the expanded access to CWLB is now in effect and Canadians in designated regions affected by lockdowns or qualifying capacity restrictions can apply for the benefit.
Currently, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut are included in the list of designated lockdown regions. This list will be updated as provincial or territorial governments introduce changes to public health restrictions.
Minimum wage in Ontario rises to $15/hr
The Ontario government has raised the general minimum wage to $15.00 per hour starting today. This new, higher general minimum wage is expanded to now include bartenders and alcohol servers. The special minimum wages for students under 18, homeworkers and hunting, fishing and wilderness guides have also increased.
Ontario updates COVID-19 testing and tracing protocols
Key changes include the following:
- Symptomatic testing will be available for high-risk individuals, and individuals who work in high-risk settings.
- Individuals with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are presumed positive and they should follow isolation and/or self-monitoring guidelines.
- Testing for asymptomatic contacts of cases is generally no longer recommended, except for high-risk contacts/individuals that are part of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings, as recommended by public health.
- Positive rapid antigen tests will no longer require PCR confirmation.
- Individuals with COVID-19 should isolate for five days if they are fully vaccinated or under the age of 12, and if their symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours.
Forecasting oil prices is a tough business at the best of times, but especially so when the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put consumer plans on hold, government policies are slowly dismantling the current global energy system and businesses are under a fog of uncertainty.
But one resistance level could offer a clue: US$72.4 per barrel. That’s the price Saudi Arabia needs to balance its budget in 2022, the International Monetary Fund estimates.
The Middle East kingdom has considerable influence over oil prices as the guiding spirit behind the 13-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Lately, Saudi Arabia and its allies have been in a power-sharing pact with Russia to stabilize the price of oil since its infamous plunge into negative territory in April 2020. The extended group, known as the OPEC+, has bandied together to drain excess inventories from the global energy system through quotas and curtailments.
Premier Doug Ford, in a press conference Monday, said that 1 per cent of people infected with the Omicron variant will need hospital care. New daily hospital admissions have reached “triple digits” in Ontario, he said. Given Omicron’s rapid spread, the government said it had to take action to slow the spread in order to protect the health-care system and the economy. The province reported 1,232 people hospitalized with COVID-19, with a total of 13,578 new COVID-19 cases on Monday. “We face a tsunami of new cases in the coming days and weeks,” Mr. Ford said. “Virtually everyone in this province will know someone who has been exposed to this virus. Now, we are bracing for impact.”
Free rapid COVID-19 testing kits are now available to businesses. Visit gncc.ca/workplace-self-screening-kits to learn more and reserve kits for your organization.
For information on rapid testing kits for individuals, click here.
Information on government grants, resources, and programs, policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here. The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.
Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.