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COVID-19 Update: Updates from the City of Hamilton

HAMILTON, ON – Earlier today, Mayor Fred Eisenberger joined Dr. Elizabeth Richardson, Medical Officer of Health, and the City’s Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) Director, Paul Johnson to update media and the community on the City’s response to COVID-19.

As of 9 a.m. this morning, there are 404 confirmed cases, 5 probable cases, and 17 deaths from COVID-19 in Hamilton. More details about cases are available on the City’s website including demographics, risk factors, exposure, etc.

The public is reminded to stay home as much as possible. If you must go out, please practice physical distancing and maintain 2m or 6ft between yourself and others at all times.

Provincial Framework for Re-Opening Ontario

Earlier today, the Province released a Framework for Reopening Ontario after COVID-19, which outlines the criteria that Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

Premier Ford stressed the framework is to outline how the province will reopen, not when. Rather, it is a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

More information about local plans for reopening Hamilton will follow in the coming weeks.

Community Gardens

Over the weekend, the province announced the re-opening of community gardens. At this time, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre is working with Public Health on a set of guidelines to re-open the gardens that prioritizes the continued health and safety of those accessing them. We expect more information on the guidelines to be available later this week or early next. Until then, community gardens in Hamilton remain closed.

Emergency Funding Request by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities

The City of Hamilton has joined the call by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) for $10-$15 billion in assistance from the federal government. Canadian cities, including the City of Hamilton, have taken unprecedented steps to support the health and safety of our residents. In Hamilton, these initiatives have included:

  • an emergency homeless shelter in First Ontario Centre
  • drive-through testing centres in arenas
  • not collecting HSR fares in order to promote physical distancing on board buses
  • educating the public about the City’s response to COVID-19, the importance of physical distancing, property tax deferrals, and other essential municipal information 

These initiatives have been undertaken all while maintaining vital City services such as water, garbage and recycling collection, and emergency services. At the same time our revenue has dropped dramatically, with no easy way to replace it except through property taxes at a time when many people are not working.

FCM is seeking cooperation and support from the provincial and federal governments to help municipalities manage through the pandemic and beyond into recovery. 

Modified delivery of some City services

On Friday last week, the Emergency Operations Centre announced the restart of some City services. Some services are restarting on a modified basis in a way that ensures adherence to the provincial orders and the health and safety of staff and the community. As part of this restart, we are implementing physical distancing practices, staggering hours and increasing cleaning practices. Restarting these modified services is critical to maintaining our facilities as the seasons change. Generally, the services include:

  • Grass cutting
  • Waste and litter collection in parks and in the right-of-ways
  • Asset safety inspections
  • Critical park maintenance
  • Burials in City cemeteries
  • Some work at Gage Park Greenhouse
  • Some pre-work for the fall Mum Show
  • Annual road maintenance programs will operate at reduced staffing levels due reduction of student resources and full-time staff will be redeployed to fill those duties
  • Cleanup of all escarpment crossings
  • Enhanced by-law enforcement related to property standards calls
  • Parking maintenance staff will do spring maintenance on surface lots including pothole filling, line painting and minor repairs.
  • Parking labourers will also be assisting with garbage and litter pick-up in areas surrounding downtown parking facilities

For more information about the modified delivery of these services, visit: https://www.hamilton.ca/coronavirus/affected-city-services.

Reminder: Temporary Leaf and Yard Collection Program

The City of Hamilton is continuing its temporary leaf and yard waste curbside collection program. The temporary program will collect leaf and yard waste bi-weekly, in alternating parts of the City.

Collection is occurring this week at homes on the Hamilton mountain and across the lower city. Next week, homes in the communities of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook and Stoney Creek will have their yard waste collected. The bi-weekly rotation will continue until late June, or longer if required.

Residents should ensure their leaf and yard waste is at the curb by 7 a.m. on Monday morning during the week of their pick up. City crews will pick up the bags or containers by the weekend.

This program change will help the City to manage reduced staffing levels resulting from the COVID-19 emergency. Residents are asked to please be patient with crews as we work to ensure leaf and yard waste collection can continue.

The City is continuing to pursue options for more waste collections staff, including training staff from other divisions.

There is no change to the collection of garbage, recycling, green cart or bulk pick up.

Transit Reminders

The City is reminding residents that public transit is for essential travel only. The public is asked to please not take public transit to pass some time during the day, transit is for essential trips only, such as going to work or a medical appointment. The public is also reminded to adhere to physical distancing measures and not sit in seats that have been blocked off to promote physical distancing.

Any residents experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or going to an assessment centre for testing should not use public transit. They are asked to contact the Public Health hotline for more information on appropriate transportation to the testing sites: 905-974-9848 or [email protected].

Reminder: City accepting Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) donations

The City continues to accept donations of personal protective equipment (PPE). The equipment will be provided to essential service workers. The City is accepting surgical masks, N95 masks, impervious gowns, gloves, face shields, swabs and sanitizer. We are requesting these items from local healthcare providers, pest control, hospitality providers, nail salons and construction companies. Homemade equipment will not be accepted. To donate, please email [email protected] or call 905-546-2424 ext. 2257 and make an appointment for drop-off at a location in downtown Hamilton.

Supports from other levels of Government

The provincial government announced a $4 per hour salary increase for frontline workers as part of a temporary pandemic payment to recognize their efforts in the fight against COVID-19. 350,000 workers across the province will qualify, including nurses, personal support workers, correctional workers and support staff. These frontline employees will receive a $4 per hour increase, which will be paid on top of existing hourly wages. The top-up will continue for 16 weeks. Employees working more than 100 hours a month would also receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. The City is awaiting further clarity on the announcement in order to better understand the scope of eligible workers, how the funding will be administered and the City’s role within that process.

The federal government announced on Friday the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses, which will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. This program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three-monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

“The province’s report outlining the recommended steps to re-open our economy is encouraging. While there are no changes being implemented today, all levels of government continue to look at and plan for economic recovery following COVID-19. As municipalities await further direction, it is important we stay the course and continue to flatten the curve of this virus. Stay home, only go out for essentials and practice physical distancing. When we all do our part and take advice from top health care professionals seriously, we step closer to re-opening our communities.” - Mayor Fred Eisenberger


Additional Resources

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Jasmine Graham
Senior Communications Officer
City of Hamilton
905-973-2829
[email protected]

Michelle Shantz
Communications and Media Advisor
Office of Mayor Fred Eisenberger
905-546-4225
[email protected]