Coronavirus updates: Ford promises investigation into “horrific” long-term care conditions; Porter Airlines suspends flights through July 29; GM starts producing face masks


Top COVID-19 stories and news

Case summary

  • As of May 25, there are 26,191 known cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.
  • 19,958 cases have been resolved in the province and 2,123 people have died.
  • As of May 25, there are 10,373 cases in Toronto, 7,627 recovered cases and 768 people have died.

The latest local and Canadian news on novel coronavirus

6:20 pm Toronto reports 161 new COVID-19 cases, seven more deaths

Toronto Public Health has reported 161 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the city’s total of cases to 10,373. Another 118 people have recovered. The total number of recovered of resolved cases is now 7,627. Another seven people have died since yesterday’s report. In all, 758 people have died from COVID-19 in Toronto.

5:30 pm Toronto announces second phase of affordable housing plan

Toronto is pushing ahead with a plan to build affordable rental units, Mayor John Tory said today.

As part of the second phase of the city’s Housing Now initiative, Toronto will build between 1,455 to 1,710 new residential units. Approximately 1,060 to 1,240 of those units will be purpose-built rentals, of which half – 530 to 620 – will be affordable rental for households earning between $21,000 to $56,000 per year.

The second phase also includes the construction of 470 to 495 ownership units. 

The housing will be on six proposed city-owned sites within mixed-income, mixed-use neighbourhoods near to public transit: 158 Borough, 2444 Eglinton East, 1627 and 1675 Danforth, 1631 Queen East, 405 Sherbourne and 150 Queens Wharf.

The city’s goal is to build 40,000 affordable rental homes, including 18,000 supportive homes over the next 10 years. Tory wants to accelerate the plan in light of the COVID-19 crisis, as providing housing for people experiencing homelessness and physical distancing makes the need more urgent.

City council approved the plan last year. It will cost $23.4 billion, with the city picking up $8.5 billion. Tory is looking for the province and the federal government to contribute nearly $15 billion.

Read more here.

1:50 pm Province launching investigation into “horrific” long-term care home reports

Premier Doug Ford has promised a full investigation into “heart-breaking” and “horrific” reports of neglect in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

“Reading those reports is the hardest thing I’ve done as premier,” Ford said at today’s Queen’s Park press conference. “But what I am feeling – what we all our feeling – is little in comparison to the hardship that these residents and their families have had to endure.”

The premier said the reports, which were made by Canadian Armed Forces members called into support five care homes during the COVID-19 crisis, will be made public.

Details listed by reporters during today’s news conference include patients with bed sores, force feeding causing choking, cockroaches, staff not wearing appropriate PPE, patients left in soiled diapers or on the floor after falling out of bed, and patients not being cleaned.

Ontario is asking the army to extend their mission in the homes for another 30 days. A full investigation is being launched, including one by the province’s chief coroner. Results will be shared with police if criminal charges need to be laid, Ford added.

One death has been referred to coroner for investigation and the Ministry of Long-Term Care inspections branch will immediately investigate specific critical incidents referred to in the reports.

Ford has previously announced an independent commission into what he has repeatedly referred to as the “broken” long-term care system, but now says he is not ruling out a public inquiry.

“Everything’s on the table,” Ford replied when asked if he would launch an inquiry. “I’m not ruling out anything after reading this. My immediate reaction is to make sure we stabilize these homes and any other homes.”

Out of 626 long-term care homes in Ontario, 150 are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.

11:57 am Trudeau says Doug Ford to share “deeply disturbing” report on Ontario long-term care homes

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today that he has received a “deeply disturbing” report from Canadian Forces members working in Ontario long-term care home.

Trudeau said he’s spoken with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, who will share the report at his 1:30 pm press conference at Queen’s Park.

The prime minister said that he was “shocked,” “sad,” “disappointed” and “angry” after reading the report, which he shared with Ford on the weekend.

“There are things in there that are extremely troubling and we need to take action,” Trudeau said. “I spoke with the premier this morning to assure him that of course the federal government would be there to support them as them as they deal with this situation. We need to do a better job of taking care of our elders in long-term care facilities.”

11:43 am Porter Airlines suspends flights through July 29

Porter Airlines is extending the suspension of flights until July 29, a month later than previously scheduled.

In a statement, the airline said uncertainty created by government travel restrictions “is impacting our ability to operate flights. We are closely watching developments and know that Porter will be an important part of providing people with travel options as the economy recovers.”

Porter is also cancelling seasonal summer service to Muskoka and Stephenville, Newfoundland.

The airline plans to introduce enhanced health and safety measures when service resumes. Detail will be announced at a later date. Porter is also waiving change and cancellation fees on fares booked between today and July 29.

11:35 am Ottawa signs contract with GM to produce 10 million masks

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government has signed a contract with automaker General Motors to produce 10 million face masks.

“For the autoworkers in Oshawa, this contract will support good, well-paying jobs in an industry that’s faced tough times,” the prime minister said.

Trudeau said Ottawa has signed a contract to produce 10,000 ventilators that will be made through a partnership with manufacturer Vexos and Canadian astrophysicist Art McDonald.

10:36 am Ontario reports a big drop in new COVID-19 cases

Public health officials have reported 287 new COVID-19 cases, a drop after five consecutive days of more than 400 new cases. That’s a 1.1 per cent increase.

In total, there are 26,191 cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Of those cases, 76. 2 per cent or 19,958 are considered resolved.

Another 21 people have died since yesterday, bringing the total number of deaths to 2,123. The total number of confirmed deaths among residents of long-term care homes is 1,538.

The number of tests is still well below the province’s target of 16,000 per day. There were 9,875 tests completed since yesterday. Another 6,961 cases are under investigation.

9 am City staff to paint social distancing circles in Trinity Bellwoods Park

City staff will pilot a “social distancing circles” program in Trinity Bellwoods Park to enforce physical distancing requirements and prevent scenes overcrowding.

“To assist residents with physical distancing, the City is exploring the use of circles painted on the grass, as has been successful in other jurisdictions,” the city said in a news release on Monday. “This will be piloted in Trinity Bellwoods Park, and staff will evaluate the effectiveness of this measure and may expand it to other destinations and high-traffic parks.”

At a press conference on Monday, Mayor John Tory also confirmed the city is considering painting large white circles on grass similar to the ones seen in San Francisco’s Dolores Park and Brooklyn’s Domino Park.

Tory said city staff are preparing a report on a number of considerations, including enforcement, to ensure people are physical distancing in public spaces such as parks. He’s asked for the report to be completed before the weekend so any recommendations can be implemented immediately. Read more here.

9 am Canada has more than 85,000cases of COVID-19

There are 85,711 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 6,545 people have died.

The outbreak is a serious public health threat though most people who contract the virus have not been hospitalized. 

Symptoms include cough, fever, difficulty breathing and pneumonia in both lungs and may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure. People age 65 and over and people with compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions have a higher risk of contracting a severe case.