Ontario confirms 308 new COVID-19 cases, state of emergency to be pushed to June 2

Ontario reported 308 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the third straight day of that the growth rate in new cases has been below 2 per cent.

The province has now seen a total of 20,546 cases of COVID-19 since the outbreak began in late January. Nearly 74 per cent of those are now resolved.

Ontario’s official death toll rose to 1,669, an increase of 35 since the last update. Data compiled from regional public health units, however, put the actual death toll at at least 1,733.

The province’s network of labs processed 13,970 tests, a decrease from a record 17,618 the day before last and below the 16,000 tests per day target instituted last week. The backlog of tests now sits at 9,018.

Ontario’s legislature will sit Tuesday and is expected to extend the province’s state of emergency to June 2, while also holding question period again.

A statement from the government house leader’s office says unanimous consent is expected to quickly vote on all stages of the bill to extend the state of emergency past its current expiry of May 19.

Politicians have returned to the chamber — with physical distancing protocols — several times since the pandemic began to extend the state of emergency, but have now also agreed to regular question periods.

The sessions will be held Tuesday, as well as May 19, 20, 26, 27, June 2 and 3.

The government says it is consulting with opposition parties about the possibility of extending sittings into the summer.

Only 42 out of Ontario’s 124 members will be allowed in the chamber at any given time to ensure physical distancing.

Meanwhile, stores in Ontario are allowed to reopen Monday for curbside pickup after a weekend that saw the spread of COVID-19 slow to a pace not seen since March.

The measure announced last week is meant to help ramp the economy back up after the pandemic caused unprecedented job losses in March and April.

All retail stores with a street entrance will be allowed to open today to provide both curbside pickup and delivery — a move Premier Doug Ford has said will allow thousands of people to return to work.

On Friday, the government allowed garden centres and nurseries to fully reopen, and hardware stores could do the same on Saturday.

According to data released Friday by Statistics Canada, 689,200 Ontarians lost their jobs in April, in addition to the 403,000 the agency says were lost in March.

In its spring fiscal outlook published today, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Office estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to curb it will cause the province’s real GDP to drop by nine per cent this year, “the largest annual decline on record.

“Assuming the pandemic measures are lifted gradually and progressively through the second half of 2020, the province’s real GDP is forecast to largely rebound in 2021, rising by 8.5 per cent,” it added.

The FAO also projected that the province’s will deficit will quadruple to a record $41.0 billion this fiscal year. Though as the economy recovers, the deficit is expected to decrease to $25.3 billion the following year — still more than double last year’s figure.

Ford also announced over the weekend that provincial parks will reopen Monday, though beaches, camping areas and playgrounds will remain closed and physical distancing must be maintained.

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