Toronto

Ontario sees 95 new COVID-19 cases as Windsor-Essex moves into Stage 3 of reopening

The newly confirmed infections are concentrated mostly in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. Windsor-Essex, the last of Ontario's 34 public health units to move into Stage 3, saw another eight cases.

There are currently some 912 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide

Stage 3 allows for indoor dining. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Ontario reported an additional 95 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as Windsor-Essex officially moves into Stage 3 of the province's reopening plan.

The newly confirmed infections are concentrated mostly in Toronto, Peel and Ottawa. Windsor-Essex, the last of Ontario's 34 public health units to move into Stage 3, saw another eight cases.

While still in double digits, today marks an uptick from Tuesday, which included just 33 confirmed cases.

"All of Ontario is now in Stage 3. My friends, this is good news. It's proof that we're making progress," Premier Doug Ford said at his daily news conference Wednesday.

All of the figures used in this story are found in the Ministry of Health's daily update, which includes data from up until 4 p.m. the previous day. The number of cases for any particular region on a given day may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, which often avoid lag times in the provincial system.

Windsor's mayor said Tuesday that the city will move forward "cautiously" and ask for additional resources if case counts spike. Drew Dilkens also praised the province for dispatching additional resources to the region to help co-ordinate the local response to the farm outbreaks.

Ontario has now seen a total 40,289 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Of those, nearly 91 per cent are considered resolved by public health officials. Another 134 infections were marked resolved in today's report.

There are currently about 912 confirmed cases that remain active in Ontario. They are mostly found in the southern regions of the province.

Meanwhile, testing levels remain relatively high, with 24,572 test samples for the novel coronavirus completed yesterday. Another 22,054 were added the queue to be completed.

After staying steady for two straight days, Ontario's official COVID-19 death toll grew by one and is now 2,787. A CBC News count based on data from public health units puts the real toll at 2,825 as of yesterday evening.

Ford said Wednesday that the province is providing up to $1.6 billion to municipalities, a number that includes $660 million to keep transit running, and $212 million to help vulnerable people through food banks and shelters.

Associate Minister of Transportation Kinga Surma also pointed to the province's "safe restart agreement" with the federal government, which would allow for $2 million in funding for transit in two phases.

"This critical funding will keep municipal transit systems running," she said, adding that for a municipality to be considered for phase two, it would have to work with the province on "shared objectives."

Ford also said Wednesday that Minister of Education Stephen Lecce will be making an announcement "in a very short while," though the premier said it was not about changes to the province's plan to reopen schools this fall.

$38.5B deficit projected

Ontario is projecting its budget deficit will jump to $38.5 billion this year due to COVID-19.

The government revised the projection upward in a fiscal update provided today at the provincial legislature.

The previous fiscal update delivered in March projected the deficit would reach $20.5 billion in 2020-2021.

The increase is attributed to higher spending in the health-care sector, economic stimulus measures, and billions less in revenue. In March, the province announced a $17-billion spending package to provide aid during the global pandemic.

The government now says its COVID-19 relief spending will total $30 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Ford and finance Minister Rod Phillips were asked about how they would tackle the deficit. Neither gave a concrete answer, but Ford did say he "doesn't believe in raising taxes." The premier also said the province's plan to have a balanced budget by 2023 will change.

"Obviously governments can't and shouldn't spend at these levels forever, but right now we are in a health crisis and an economic crisis," Phillips said.

With files from Lucas Powers, Adam Carter and The Canadian Press

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