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CJRO News December 21st, Winter Solstice, 2020, to January 4th, 2021.

Hello, bonjour, and welcome to my final news broadcast of 2020, thank goodness. This is CJRO News on Carlsbad-Vars Radio.

I’m Candice Vetter, reporting from near Carlsbad Springs.

Although the Province of Ontario is going into lockdown on Christmas Eve, last week Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Teresa Tam assured children in Canada (and probably a large part of the world, considering Santa Claus is Canadian) that Santa Claus is allowed to visit homes like he usually does this year. He’s been very careful, only attending malls where there was lots of protection and appearing in very few parades. He has stated that as he comes in the middle of the night and speaks to no one, there is no risk to households. He also said the North Pole has no cases of COVID and that Claus, Mrs. Claus, the elves and reindeer are all well.

Premier Ford has announced that Ontario will go into a province-wide shutdown starting one minute after midnight on December 26th. To clarify, that means midnight on Christmas Day. Residents are instructed to stay at home and only leave when absolutely necessary. Essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies can remain open. All other retailers can do curbside pickup and deliveries only. Restrictions will last 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario, defined as south of Sudbury. After that period the province will reassess. The province-wide shutdown is partly to protect areas in yellow or green, including the risks of interprovincial travel from Quebec.

Ford also gave a shout-out to areas like Ottawa saying they did a great job lowering numbers. He complained about federal regulations allowing international and domestic travelers to enter the country without testing. He said he knew not everyone was quarantining on arrival in Canada. This is particularly important considering travelers from the United Kingdom may have entered already and be carrying the new strain of COVID, which is even more transmissible than the one already running rampant worldwide. Ford sounded extremely frustrated by the lack of testing at airports, something many Canadians have questioned since March. He said 63,000 people are going unchecked through international airports daily. He said if the federal government will not start the testing the Ontario government will, particularly with Pearson International Airport in Toronto, including check stops on roads outside the airports.

Ford also announced that school closures over the break will be extended. Kindergarten to Grade 8 will be off until January 11th although it was unclear if remote learning is required from January 4th to January 11th. High schools will start January 11th for remote classes and January 26th in class. Also bear in mind that this may, and in fact, is likely to, change.

A new Ontario small business support grant of between $10,000 and $20,000 will be rolling out in the new year. There will also be

increased access to testing, transportation assistance, use of rapid testing, and wrap around support to allow individuals to isolate safely. The province has COVID hotel isolation spots lined up.

Over the past four weeks, there has been an almost 70 percent increase in COVID hospitalizations, and an 83 percent increase in intensive care patients. Thousands of elective surgeries are backlogged. Health officials stated that Ontario has reached the tipping point. Vaccines are coming but supplies are limited. So it will be months before mass immunization is finished.

Although the official lockdown doesn’t start until Boxing Day, Ford asked that people please stay home, starting today.

Last week I reported that Rogers is working with the Carlsbad Springs community to bring high speed internet to the area. Since then Zac Carreiro of Rogers has provided the following statement to CJRO. “We know how important it is for Canadians to stay connected now more than ever, no matter where they live. When the Carlsbad Springs community reached out to us, we worked together to explore the options to meet their needs. We look forward to working in partnership with the community and government to improve rural connectivity in the area.”

Rogers has been in talks with the Carlsbad Springs Community Association for several months. It will work with the community association to submit proposals for funding, with Rogers acting as a partner with government.

Also last week I reported that Sienna Senior Living Inc., which runs the Madonna Care Home in Orleans, has paid dividends of 7.8 cents per share to its shareholders in every month so far this year, and I asked for an explanation. Sienna has since responded to CJRO’s request. In a statement a spokesperson said, “… shareholders provide the funding we need to invest in the maintenance, upgrading and redevelopment of our residences. The dividends we pay them are similar to interest costs on loans. Funds to pay dividends do not come from any government funding for resident care or for pandemic response. We generate revenue from private pay services such as retirement residences. In terms of our response to COVID-19, during Wave 1, long-term care was disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. At the onset of the virus, the protocols prescribed by medical experts and the provincial government changed almost daily because so little was known about it. Many lessons were learned during this time, and as the COVID-19 virus became better understood, better measures were enacted. We took those learnings and developed a robust plan to proactively respond to Wave 2 to protect residents' and team members' health and safety. This also included hiring new physician experts... Our team is very grateful for the assistance of local health partners, who have collaborated with us to respond to this challenging virus.”

In better news, no one has caught the ace in the Russell Kin Club’s Catch the Ace lottery. The next jackpot is estimated at over one hundred thirty-seven thousand dollars. The weekly prize is estimated at about seven thousand dollars. Online ticket sales end Saturday, December 26th. Go to the to buy tickets.

The Russell branch of the Russell Township Library will be closed from January 4th to January 8th while it is repainted. Curbside pickup will still be available and books can still be returned through the drop box outside.

COVID has entered Morrisburg, which was one of very few communities in the country with zero cases. On December 15th a case was reported. Russell Public School reported a case on December 13th.

Do you have news that matters to our area? If yes, contact me by emailing I’ll talk to you again in 2021. In the meantime, have as merry a Christmas as you can, keep as safe as you can, and look forward to the new year. I’m Candice Vetter, sending best wishes to you and yours. CJRO – Last on the dial, first for local news.

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