Good morning, Greater Sudbury.
Here are some stories to start your day.
WATCH: Mayor Brian Bigger answer your questions:
Sudbury.com spoke with Mayor Brian Bigger by videoconference on Friday. We gathered questions from readers over the past days, picked the 10 best and put those to the mayor for you. However, we received more questions than we could answer is a reasonable amount of time, so we're going to ask the mayor to sit down with us again next week to answer those questions we couldn't get to. Check out the videoconference here.
Federal government increases COVID-19 wage subsidy to 75 per cent:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that wage subsidies for qualifying businesses struggling with COVID-19 have been increased to 75 per cent. The measure is meant to ensure "workers are supported and the economy is positioned to recover," while businesses slow down or stop. The subsidy will be retroactive to March 15. Trudeau said further details will be released soon. He explained, the unprecedented measure is meant to encourage employers to continue their relationships with employees during the "coming months" of restricted activity. The Prime Minister added he hopes that employers feeling pushed toward layoffs will reconsider, and that those who have laid off staff will consider re-hiring. For small storefront business, the government is also working with banks to provide $40,000 loans guaranteed by the government. The loans will be interest-free for a year and if certain conditions are met, $10,000 will be forgiveable. Also, GST, HST and certain duties and taxes paid on imports will not be due until June.
Cash for Cans: Lougheed brothers donate $100K to help feed Sudburians in time of crisis:
The Sudbury Food Bank has been given a much-needed financial boost thanks to the Lougheed Foundation, which donated $100,000 to help feed Sudburians during the COVID-19 crisis. “The Sudbury Food Bank for over 30 years has been a vital resource to helping feed the hungry through its network of over 40 local food providers,” said Geoffrey Lougheed, founder of the Sudbury Food Bank. “With the coronavirus crisis, Gerry and I felt it was important to provide essential resources to help feed the hungry with the increased demand.” Dan Xilon, executive director of the Sudbury Food Bank, thanked the Lougheed Foundation for its donation. “We recently kicked off our Cash for Cans campaign to raise $250,000," he said. "This donation is awesome and we hope others will join the Lougheed Brothers to help feed the hungry.” As of noon on March 26, the Cash for Cans Campaign has raised $50,847 from businesses and individuals after just four days into the campaign.
'Uncharted waters': Ontario's school boards directed to roll out distance learning amid pandemic:
It looks like kids will be heading back to class in Ontario amid the COVID-19 pandemic next month, but they'll be doing it using computers and iPads in their own homes. Rainbow District School Board director of education Norm Blaseg said the Ministry of Education has been working with all 72 school boards in the province to roll out a junior kindergarten to Grade 12 distance learning plan, with a target date of April 6. While this plan has not yet been announced by the province, Blaseg said parents should look for an official announcement by Monday at the latest. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has already acknowledged that due to the severity of the pandemic, it's not realistic for the province's schools to reopen April 6 after the three-week break. Blaseg said the Ministry of Education has been holding twice-a-week teleconferences with school board directors of education on the topic of distance learning. Get the full story here.
Video: Sudbury's top cop: Take precautions seriously to prevent spread of COVID-19:
Greater Sudbury's top cop issued a plea to residents to take seriously the orders in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen said residents need to do their part to flatten the curve, and that includes staying apart. “Don't gather in large crowds, don't throw house parties, don't have your kids playing on the same swings and slides as other kids,” Pedersen said in a Youtube video. “It' so important to keep our distance now, and this is one of the main ways for us all to stay healthy. “You put our people at risk if you're not looking after your own health. If our people get sick, they can't look after your safety. This is an officer safety plea to have you take these orders and warnings seriously.” Sudburians can help their community get through this pandemic by following the emergency pandemic orders set out by the province, Pedersen said. He also thanked all essential workers across all sectors, from grocery stores to hospital staff, from bus drivers to firefighters and everyone in between. Watch Pedersen's video message here.
Numerous smash and grab crimes in city's downtown this month:
Since March 5, there have been 12 reported attempted break and enters or break and enters in the downtown core where a window has been smashed/door has been pried open in order to gain entry to the building. The Break Enter and Robbery (BEAR) Unit has investigative leads that they are following up on. The BEAR Unit is actively investigating these matters and will be conducting focused patrols in the downtown core until the matter is resolved. Although closed, business owners should check on their businesses regularly. Businesses that appear neglected can become targeted by thieves and vandals.
Northern Ontario producers stepping up for hand sanitizer production:
More Northern Ontario enterprises have been moved to produce hand sanitizer as a way to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In Sault Ste. Marie, staff in the insect protection and quarantine laboratories at the Great Lakes Forestry Centre (GLFC) have produced a batch of hand sanitizer for local health authorities, including the Sault Area Hospital and the Group Health Centre. The group started its work on March 21, at first producing 160 litres, 100 of which have been delivered to the Group Health Centre. To date, the lab has made 350 litres to provide free of charge to the two health centres, which have been identified “at high risk of exposure to COVID-19,” according to a news release from the centre. “We have also been able to supply hand sanitizer to the local hospice (ARCH), to the Women in Crisis Centre, and to local food banks and homeless shelters,” the release noted.