Coronavirus updates: Toronto cancels major events and festivals through August; Ontario says data glitch incorrectly reported record low in new COVID-19 cases


Top COVID-19 stories and news

Case summary

  • As of May 14, there are 21,922, known cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.
  • 16,641 cases have been resolved in the province and 1,825 people have died.
  • As of May 14, there are 8,257 cases in Toronto, 6,034 cases are resolved and 657 people have died.

The latest local and Canadian news on novel coronavirus

5:30 pm Toronto reports 160 new COVID-19 cases, nine more deaths

Toronto Public Health has reported 160 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the city’s total to 8,257. Another 183 people have recovered since yesterday’s report. Of the city’s cases, 6,034 are now resolved. Another nine people have died as well. In all, 657 people in Toronto have died of COVID-19.

4:17 pm Toronto cancels summer camps and recreation programs

The city is cancelling all planned summer camps and recreation programs, but will offer and  an alternative program called CampTO. Details of the program have not been announced and will be dependent on the lifting of provincial orders restricting day camps and recommendations from Toronto Public Health.

The alternative program promises to give kids a “high-quality” camp experience but incorporate public health measures, including physical distancing and smaller group sizes.

If permitted to operate, CampTO will provide 5,300 camp spaces per week for children ages six to 12. That’s approximately 50 per cent of the typical city-run camp capacity.

4:12 pm Toronto Public Library to offer curbside pickup

The Toronto Public Library will start offering curbside pick up of holds items in the coming weeks.

In a tweet, the library said customers will also be able to return materials to branches in drop boxes. Specifics around how the process will work has yet to be announced.

All library branches closed on March 13 as part of public health measures to curb COVID-19 spread.

3:40 pm Toronto cancels event permits through July and August

Toronto has extended the cancellation of permits for major festivals for the rest of the summer.

City-led and city-permitted major festivals and events with attendance of more than 250 people are now cancelled through July 31 and events with attendance of 25,000 or more are cancelled through August 31, the city said in a statement.

“The resumption or cancellation of professional sporting events is not included in this decision,” the city said. “Today’s announcement includes festivals, conferences and cultural programs held in facilities managed by City divisions or public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares. Issued permits are now cancelled and permits that have been applied for will not be issued.”

The move was undertaken so residents can maintain physical distancing as part of ongoing public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. Another reason is the need sustain essential services also limits the city’s ability to support to third-party event organizers to ensure public safety, the city said.

The cancellation of events of more than 250 people through July 31 means Salsa on St Clair, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Honda Indy, Toronto Triathlon Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival and Big on Bloor, among others, are off.

The August cancellation of large events with 25,000 people or more means Jerkfest, Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Manila, and Toronto Chinatown Festival are not happening either. The Canadian National Exhibition board already cancelled this year’s fair, which takes place at the end of August.

“I hope that particularly for the events cancelled in the month of August there may be hope that some, like for example Taste of the Danforth, could go ahead in the fall if conditions are right by that time and if that is the wish by the organizers,” Mayor John Tory said during his daily press conference on Thursday.

The city previously cancelled event permits through June 30. A handful of events, including Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Luminato and Toronto Pride, have plans to pivot to hosting online events.

To mitigate financial loss to organizers, Toronto is launching a Cultural Festivals Recovery Program to provide financial and in-kind support to affected events. The program is funded by grants that were previously approved by council. Organizers can find details of that program here.

1:52 pm Doug Ford decries “vicious” commercial landlords

Amid reports that small businesses are unable to convince their landlords to buy into the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), Premier Doug Ford was asked today if he would implement a ban on commercial rent evictions.

“To be honest, I side with the tenants. Give ‘em a break,” Ford said during his daily press conference. “Let them pay 25 per cent. The landlords, you have to be flexible. If the tenant moves out, what is the landlord thinking? They’re going to have an army of people wanting to move in?

“You know what drives me crazy? I can’t stand these vicious landlords. You gotta protect the little guy,” he added when the subject came up again later. “To all you big landlords out there, have a heart.”

CECRA would lower rents by 75 per cent for small businesses who pay less than $50,000 per month in rent by having the tenant pay 25 per cent of their rent and the province, federal government and landlord split the rest.

As we reported in last week’s cover story, only landlords – not tenants – can apply to the program, and the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC) funnels the money into the landlord’s mortgage. Under the agreement, landlords cannot evict tenants while they’re on the subsidy, but the program is voluntary.

Finance minister Rod Phillips has been repeatedly said that he is waiting for the program to take effect before deciding whether more needs to be done to help small businesses financially weather the pandemic.

1:20 pm Province to announce fate of the school year on Tuesday

Education Minister Stephen Lecce will announce whether the school year will continue or not on Tuesday (May 19), Premier Doug Ford said today. On the same day, some lockdown restrictions will lift as part of stage on in the province’s reopening plan.

12:18 pm Ottawa extends federal wage subsidy by three months

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Ottawa is extending the 75 per cent Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program by three months to the end of August. He added that the government will work with business and labour stakeholders on adjustments to ensure employers are using the subsidy to rehire employees – or even hire new workers.

“Business owners: please take confidence from this announcement. You have some runway to catch your breath as you get restarted. Please, bring back your employees,” he said.

The government will change eligibility for the program, particularly around the revenue decline thresholds businesses must meet to qualify. “Meeting a decline shouldn’t be a barrier to growth,” the prime minister said.

The $73 billion subsidy, which covers up to 75 per cent of payroll up to a maximum of $847 per week per employee, was retroactive to March and due to expire on June 6. Eligible companies had to demonstrate a 15 per cent drop in revenue in March or 30 per cent decline in April and May to be eligible.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will provide more details of the changes to the program.

10:50 am Ontario under-reported Thursday’s COVID-19 cases due to “small glitch”

Ontario public health officials have reported a two per cent increase in new COVID-19 cases. Since yesterday’s report, there have been 428 new infections, bringing the province’s total cases to 21,922.

However, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a tweet that 87 cases were missing from yesterday’s data due to a glitch in the reporting process. That means the official numbers for today skew higher than they should and yesterday’s record six-week low was not accurate.

“Because of a one-time data upload issue, yesterday missed 87 cases. While they’re captured in today’s update, the real day-over-day numbers are 345 new cases on May 14 and 341 today,” she wrote. “That means Ontario’s new daily cases continue to trend downward as we expand our #COVID19 testing guidelines to ensure we keep a close eye on any shifts in community spread and identify and contain new cases.”

Yesterday, 258 cases were reported, the same day Premier Doug Ford announced stage one of the province’s reopening plan.

Another 27 people have died from COVID-19, bringing Ontario’s total deaths to 1,825.

The number of resolved cases continues to increase slightly. The number of recoveries is 16,641, more than 75 per cent of total cases.

The number of hospitalizations has dropped to 986, with 179 people in intensive care and 135 in intensive care on ventilators.

There were 18,354 tests completed since yesterday and a further 14,373 cases are under investigation.

9 am Toronto begins closing streets to weekend car traffic 

Toronto will ramp up the ActiveTO program on Victoria Day weekend with major road closures.

As the city’s public health advice shifts from telling people to stay home to it’s okay to go outside if you keep your distance from others, city hall is shutting down 57 kilometres of streets to car – except local traffic – to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

The first quiet street has already been installed in Kensington Market, on Shaughnessy between Van Horne and Havenbrook  and  Havenbrook between Shaughnessy Boulevard and Manorpark Court. Temproary barricades and signage are going up indicating the road way is now a shared space.

The confirmed list of streets (as of May 14) that will be closed is below:

  • Kensington Market (area that borders Nassau, Spadina, Augusta and Dundas West)
  • Shaughnessy between Van Horne and Havenbrook 
  • Havenbrook between Shaughnessy and Manorpark 
  • Lakeshore/Lake Promenade (First to Forty Second)
  • High Park (Bloor West to Annette)
  • Brock/Emerson/Cowan (Dupont to King West)
  • Winona (Eglinton to Davenport)
  • The Esplanade (boundaries TBC)
  • Crawford St./Montrose (Bloor West to Queen West)
  • Howard and Earl (Sherbourne to Parliament)
  • Sackville/Sumach (Shuter to Gerrard East)
  • Monarch Park (Felstead to Sammon)
  • Fulton/Sammon (Broadview to Monarch Park)
  • Woodfield (Knox to Walpole)
  • Lee (Kingston to Alfresco Lawn)
  • Secord/Eastdale/Lumsden/Main/Hamstead/West Lake (Dawes to Oak Park)
  • Military Trail/Highcastle (Sealstone Terrace to Bonspiel)
  • Kew Beach (Waverly to Lake Shore East)
  • Westview (St Clair East to Holland)
  • Dundalk (Ellesmere to Antrim)
  • Trudelle/Cedar Brae (Danforth to Bellamy)

9 am Canada has over 73,000 cases of COVID-19

There are 73,401 cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 5,472 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.