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Ontario premier says new federal funding ‘just won’t cut it’ as province reports 344 new COVID-19 cases

Premier Doug Ford says the federal government’s newly-announced funding to help provinces restart economies “just won’t cut it,” as Ontario reported 344 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

“There’s a massive need in Ontario,” Ford said at the province’s daily COVID-19 update.

“Every province has their own needs. We need to sustain long-term commitment.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference that the federal government will provide $14 billion to help provinces economically recover “safely and carefully.”

But Ford says there a “massive” financial need in Ontario alone — to the tune of $23 billion — due to pressures put on the province’s economy as a result of the pandemic.

“We can’t do it alone, we need the federal government’s help on this,” Ford said.

While Canada added 290,000 jobs in May — with most provinces adding between a few hundred and few thousand jobs — Ontario lost some 65,000.

“There’s no doubt that COVID-19 is having a real impact on Ontario’s economy,” said Economic Development Minister Vic Fedeli Friday.

But the province touted the fact that Ontario also regained more than 13,000 manufacturing jobs last month, adding that the newly-released Statistics Canada numbers are based on data from the week before Ontario started its first phase of reopening.

“We have taken the approach of wanting to make sure we have a safe and sustainable recovery,” Fedeli said.

Record number of tests processed

Meanwhile, Ontario’s network of labs processed a record number of tests yesterday.

Some 22,730 tests were processed yesterday, the most on any single day since the outbreak began in late January. The province’s partnership of about 20 public, commercial and hospital labs have capacity to handle up to 25,000 samples per day.

The Ministry of Health initially reported that 20,730 tests were processed since the last update, but later said it was an error. The backlog of tests waiting to be processed sits at 12,247.

The 1.2 per cent increase in total cases is on par with figures seen throughout the week, and brings the cumulative number seen in Ontario to 29,747. Slightly more than 79 per cent of those are now resolved, a relative jump in the number of active cases over yesterday.

Ontario’s official COVID-19 death toll grew by 15 and is now at 2,372. A CBC News count based on data compiled directly from regional public health units puts the real toll at at least 2,421 as of this morning.

Just over 79 per cent of COVID-19-linked deaths were residents in long-term care homes. The province has tracked outbreaks in 310 long-term care facilities, while 85 remain ongoing — the fewest since mid-April.

The number of patients in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 dropped by 27, down to 749. That is the fewest since April 12, when 738 patients with novel coronavirus infections were in hospital.

Those being treated in intensive care units fell by 3, to 118, while patients requiring a ventilator was unchanged and sits at 94.

Details of reopening ‘Stage 2’ expected early next week

Despite a steady stream of new numbers, the province says it will reveal details early next week on Ontario’s second phase of loosening pandemic restrictions.

“We have the right framework to further reopen the economy in a safe way,” Fedeli said Friday.

Although Stage 2 won’t begin immediately after details are revealed, Ford says the province will give notices to businesses that will be given the green light to reopen.

A phased plan for reopening Ontario’s child-care sector safely and gradually will also be released, Ford added.

Meanwhile, Ontario is lifting restrictions on short-term rentals today, which were able to resume operations as of 12:01 a.m.

Lodges, cabins, cottages, homes, condominiums and bed-and-breakfast rentals are all included in the reopening.

Ontario’s tourism minister said Thursday the sector had been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lisa MacLeod pledged more government support but also urged Ontarians to support local businesses and take staycations.

She says the province may not see its visitor levels return to 2019 levels until 2024.

CBC

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