ANALYSIS: Thursday Roundup of COVID-19 Information

By John Swartz

What a week it’s been in the last couple of days. Early Wednesday morning parliament got done what should been finished by 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and passed a bill to get money to Canadians.

While the opposition bickered loudly, and the NDP barley, over a detail giving authority for the government to raise and spend money in an emergency until December 2021 – in the end they moved the goalpost to September 2020. At least it didn’t take two weeks to get it passed, through the senate and have Royal Assent.

The argument was there was no prior example of taxation and spending bills not coming to the House for debate and a vote as MPs have the right to, they failed to see that was exactly what they were doing. It’s not like we aren’t paying still for the spending done by some of Andrew Scheer’s predecessors. Oh, and they approved $25 billion more than the government put on the table.

We here in Simcoe North were represented by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Bruce Stanton, who had to ride heard on the debate because the Speaker Anthony Rota is in self-isolation.

Constituents in the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston riding, on the other hand were represented by Scott Reid. They must have breathed a sigh of relief when he decided to defy party leadership not to go and showed by anyway vowing to note no on the relief bill which required unanimous consent. Only 32 members were to be present by agreement among all parties because of physical distancing and the impossibility of all members to be present in the room under those conditions.

Interestingly all reference to Reid, his picture and his wonderful quotes have been removed from a Tuesday CBC story, but they were enlightening as to the quality of his representation.

Taking A Harder Line

Today marks the first day of mandatory quarantine rules for returning to the country Canadians. Health minister Patty Hajdu Is using the Quarantine Act and 14-day isolation orders will be given to all travelers on re-entry, carrying fines up to $750,000 and possible imprisonment.

Instruction Pamphlet for travellers

Previously travelers were given pamphlets at the border telling them to self-isolate. Those directions as applied in Ontario under the emergency declaration and could get people a minimum fine of $750, but the government so far has not imposed any fines.

This is in response to many Canadians complaining of instances reported of people ignoring orders and being out in public when they should have been at home.

Names and addresses are being taken of returning travelers and the government promises spot checks.

In Ontario

The government created a $1 billion contingency fund for unforeseen Healthcare expenses as the fight to control the virus continues. Another $594 million was also earmarked to create 1,500 new hospital beds in response to the pandemic. In total the increase announced is $2.1 billion, which includes additional money for long-term care facilities and other Pandemic related healthcare expenses.

The government has also increased the budget by $3.7 million to make additional payments to families with children, double payments to low income seniors for 6 months, set hydro rates to off-peak prices and boost electricity bill assistance, increase funding for local charitable organizations and cutting student loan interest, among other measures.

There is also a $10 million allowance to businesses to defer tax and other government payments. All these things will increase deficit spending to $20 billion for 2020/2021. The deficit spending was $9 billion last year.


Mayor Steve Clarke has been making daily video updates. You can find them here.

Earlier this week the City of Orillia expanded directions related to previous direction people must practice social distancing. The additional directions are:

  • Recreational activities: If you visit a park or trail to take a walk or run, you must ensure you maintain a two-metre distance between you and others. Walking and running groups who continue to meet should take extra caution to ensure they are maintaining this distance.
  • Waste collection services – You must keep a two-metre distance from waste collection operators. Remember: All garbage must be bagged and sealed properly. Anything not bagged will be left behind. All green bin organic materials must be placed in a certified compostable bag or liner.
  • Transit Service – Passengers are to board and exit the bus from the rear doors. Passengers with accessibility requirements are permitted to use the front door if necessary. Fares are waived to further encourage social/physical distancing from the bus operator.
  • Essential shopping: If you need to go shopping, you must follow social/physical distancing rules and respect the measures merchants and employees have put in place.
  • Essential services: If you are still working as an essential service – thank you – and you must ensure you are practicing safe social/physical distancing in your workplace.
  • Speak up: Feel empowered to speak up for yourself to maintain social/physical distancing

Waste collection is happening as scheduled and until April 24 you are allowed to place one bag at the curb without a garbage tag. Other bags need tags. Playground equipment is closed and off limits to the public. This extends to equipment on school properties and any that might be privately owned.

The City has also launched a project they call Orillia Cares. People are encouraged to write stories about acts of kindness they experience during this period of upheaval. Anyone writing on social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) is encouraged to use the hashtag #OrilliaCares and tag posts with @cityorillia (@cityoforillia – Twitter and @orilliaprc – Instagram), or email them to

I can say sitting down to compose a short story will eat up a good part of your day, thus taking away the complaint, “there’s nothing to do.”

There Are Still Some People

There is a growing outrage among social media users directed toward those who refuse to go by directions issued under the emergency declarations of the City and the province.

Those in charge are showing signs of frustration too. I predict any day now people will start to get $750 fines. It’s overdue. This is the preferable action opposed to more restrictive directions placed on all of us because a few blockheads.

You can report bad behavior to the OPP at 1-888-310-1122, or online here. Please have a conversation first with people you think are ignoring orders. I know of one case where someone had to deal with the police and they were doing what they were allowed to do under their self-isolation guidelines. The police have enough to do right now, make sure you have a valid complaint first.

We have experience dealing with viruses. Shut down, reboot to safe mode, run a scanner, disinfect/delete, reboot. It’s that simple, and it applies to what we have to do now with society. Why is it so hard for some people to understand this?

Vital Messages ?

Don’t lose your mind because of Facebook.

Despite some contrary opinion, Facebook is a wonderful tool for doing good. We have three local pages that have come into existence recently people should be checking out. They are Caremongering-Orillia, Give Orillia and Dr. Jeff Pitcher’s page. All three are being used to connect people who need help to manage staying at home or finding out information.

There is an art to navigating Facebook. Did you know you can turn off receiving ads. Not in general, but target the prolific ones as you see them. In the upper right hand corner of each post are three dots. Click there and you can send the ad to byte heaven. Similarly, on posts from friends that annoy you with discussions going off the rails, or the information is giving you anxiety, hit the three dots, and you can turn off notifications for that post and your dinger isn’t going to ding every time a new entry is made on it.

Now let’s talk about Facebook Messenger. I have been inundated with people posting videos, audio clips and memes which can be links to not-what-you-think. I’m seeing comments the last couple days from other people who are getting flooded too.

Facebook Messenger Window

First of all, if you are doing this, you are doing it wrong. Half of what you pass on to all your friends we already received, so while interesting to you on discovery, you are late to the party, don’t forward please.

Second, do not just put a link to something in the box and hit enter. On the receiving end there is usually very little indication what it is your thought was so important and smart web users are not going to click on it anyway. This is exactly how viruses are spread and we can’t tell the difference between your legit link and a malicious one, especially when 6, 7 or a dozen similar messages are being received.

If you really feel you need to send something by messenger to anyone or any group of people, you can type a few words explaining. You know, “Hi, I watched this video from and I found it useful. You might find it useful too. Oh, and by the way, how are you and the kids holding up?”

Bottom line, you should never send anything, mp3 file, video, link to article or another website, without some words of introduction to the recipient. We aren’t mind readers. Don’t be formal, use language we’d recognize as you. Check spelling and grammar too, those things done badly are common traits of phishing exercises.

Many are also complaining of getting lots of friend requests of a certain type from some good looking available person. Don’t click that; delete them from your notification list. Also, if you get a friend request from someone who is already a Facebook friend, send them an email and tell them about it. They don’t know you got another friend request because they didn’t make it. You might want also tell them to change their password because their account has been hacked.

Trusted Websites

The Ontario Medical Association has answers to frequently asked questions here. Also see the Ontario ministry of health (here as well), the federal government website, City of Orillia and the SMDHU.


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