• Candice Vetter

News Update for March 25

Candice Vetter, reporting from my home office in North Russell

To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government ordered the closure of all non-essential workplaces as of Tuesday, March 24.

The closure is for 14 days, with the possibility of extending this order. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open will be released tomorrow. Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains, and help the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries and medicines. The 74-item list can be found at It seems fairly straightforward.

The City of Ottawa has delayed its decision on urban boundary expansion, until May 4th (which may be further postponed). However, residents with concerns about changes to the urban boundary, which will heavily affect our broadcast area, can still get involved from home. On online petition from Ecology Ottawa and its Hold the Line Campaign can be signed by going to and click on the Hold the Line image. Ecology Ottawa also encourages residents to write to City Council. Regardless of the needs of the current crisis, Ecology Ottawa wants to remind the public of the importance of sustaining momentum in decisions that will affect Ottawa well into the future.

Ontarians with smart electricity meters will be getting a break on electricity rates. Premier Doug Ford announced that time-of-use prices will all be changed to off-peak rates. That’s a little over 10 cents per kilowatt hour.

Depending on billing cycles, some customers will see these changes on their next bill. If not the reduced rate will show as a credit on a future bill. The Ontario Electricity Rebate will still provide a 31.8 per cent rebate on the sub-total bill amount for Regulated Price Plan consumers. The Ontario Energy Board has also extended the winter ban on disconnections to July 31st.

The Cumberland Ferry is running on reduced hours. The ferry will run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on the weekends from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, both the Province of Ontario and the Province of Quebec are asking people not to cross the Ottawa River unless absolutely necessary.

As community spread of COVID-19 is confirmed, Ontario’s Medical Officer of Heath, Vera Etches, suggests people be prepared for the long haul. "It is worth preparing, psychologically and practically, to imagine that we need to maintain the social distancing for a much longer period of time," she said.

There is significant concern about snowbirds returning from the United States, which is a new hotspot.

Travelers, whether returning from the United States, or any other country, MUST self-isolate for 14 days. That means not going to a store, a bank, a gas station, or to visit a friend. If you need groceries get them delivered and pick them up outside your door, then carefully clean everything that comes in. Stay six feet away from the other persons in your home, especially if they did not travel. Every day governments are cracking down harder on people who do not obey these emergency measures, including arrests, fines, and setting up snitch lines. In Ontario the OPP will be issuing fines.

Meanwhile, here in Eastern Ontario, testing cannot keep up with demand. So the Eastern Ontario Health Unit instructs residents NOT to visit an assessment centre, unless you have been referred by a health care professional. Do not call 911 unless it is a true emergency.

If you have symptoms the health unit instructs you to call your doctor (or other primary care provider), Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or the health unit at 1-800-267-7120. If you have SEVERE symptoms you should still go to Emergency, BUT call first so they can prepared to safely receive you.

The Perth and Smiths Falls District Hospital has launched a drive-through COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Smiths Falls. The centre is located on Elmsley Street North outside the hospital’s main entrance. It is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Patients NEED AN APPOINTMENT to be seen and such appointments are generated BY REFERRAL ONLY. Referrals can come from Telehealth Ontario, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, or a primary care provider (family doctor, nurse practitioner, or clinic).

The Winchester and District Memorial Hospital in Winchester is planning for the opening of a COVID-19 Assessment Centre but there is currently no planned opening date. If it opens the Assessment Centre will be in the Lions Club hall on Albert Street. Signage will be in place regarding entrances and parking. This will help keep the Emergency Department for emergencies. More details about that Assessment Centre will be provided as available.

Learning at home

The Province of Ontario launched Learn at Home, a new online portal for students to continue their educations while schools are closed.

Learn at Home offers Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French.

For students who do not have access to a computer, school boards are working to provide the technology to everyone who needs it.

There are numerous other sources of educational materials appearing on Facebook and other social media platforms. Children, teens and adults can access courses ranging from learning to play an instrument, to language lessons ,to math and science, to play-dough recipes. See

Do you have a unique take on this crisis? If yes, contact me by emailing .

CJRO – Last on the dial, first for local news.

Useful information to keep:

Government of Ontario Every day at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET, the province’s COVID-19 webpage will be updated including the status of cases in Ontario. Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 Ottawa Public Health 613-580-6744

Government of Canada:

Distress Centre of Ottawa and Region: Distress: 613-238-3311 Crisis: 613-722-6914 or 1-866-996-0991.

Here is more contact information provided by Dominique Tremblay and Vanessa Carriere of Russell Township’s planning department:

Government of Canada: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Resources for Canadian Businesses:

List of essential businesses: Ontario orders the compulsory closure of all non-essential workplaces to fight the spread of COVID-19:

Employment insurance: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) - Employment and Social Development Canada:

Free webinar Wednesday, March 25: How to cope with the impacts of COVID 19 on your business : March 25 at noon (see attached email for details)

Ministry of Health (Ontario) - The new coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19):

Canadian Chamber of Commerce - Preparation for a pandemic:

Emergency Products: The Ontario government welcomes assistance from businesses and organizations that can provide emergency products and innovative solutions to counter the progression of COVID-19:


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