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COVID-19 Province of Ontario Media Releases & Information

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Ontario Government New Release: Ontario Extending Stay-at-Home Order across Most of the Province to Save Lives

February 8, 2021

Public Health Units to Gradually Return to the COVID-19 Response Framework

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government is moving to a regional approach and maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the “Framework”).

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Our number one priority will always be protecting the health and safety of all individuals, families and workers across the province,” said Premier Ford. “But we must also consider the severe impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses. That’s why we have been listening to business owners, and we are strengthening and adjusting the Framework to allow more businesses to safely reopen and get people back to work.”

To support the province’s economic recovery, the government has updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.

Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.

Based on the improving local trends of key indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, improving hospital capacity, and available public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, the following three regions will be moving back to the Framework at the Green-Prevent level on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. and will no longer be subject to the Stay-at-Home order:

  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health; and
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit.

Due to the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will be amended and individual orders making it applicable to each public health region will be made except for the three above. It is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply to 28 public health regions until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. For Toronto, Peel and York regions, it is proposed that the Stay-at-Home order will continue to apply until Monday, February 22, 2021. Final decisions will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.

“While we have seen some progress in our fight against COVID-19, the situation in our hospitals remains precarious and the new variants pose a considerable threat to all of us,” said Minister Elliott. “As we cautiously and gradually transition out of the provincewide shutdown, we have developed an emergency brake system giving us the flexibility to contain community spread quickly in a specific region, providing an extra layer of protection.”

Recognizing the risk posed by new variants to the province’s pandemic response, Ontario is introducing an “emergency brake” to allow for immediate action if a public health unit region experiences rapid acceleration in COVID-19 transmission or if its health care system risks becoming overwhelmed. If this occurs, the Chief Medical Officer of Health, in consultation with the local medical officer of health, may advise immediately moving a region into Grey-Lockdown to interrupt transmission.

“While we are seeing our numbers trend in the right direction, our situation remains precarious as the variants of concern remain a serious risk,” said Dr. Williams. “This is not a re-opening or a ‘return to normal’ and we must continue to limit close contact to our immediate households and stay at home except for essential reasons. By continuing to follow all public health and workplace safety measures, we can continue to reduce the number of new cases and the strain on our health system.”

In addition, the provincial emergency declared under s 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA) will be allowed to terminate at the end of February 9, 2021. While the provincewide Stay-at-Home order will cease to apply in some regions as of February 10, 2021, everyone is strongly advised to continue to stay at home, avoid social gatherings, minimize travel between areas with different rules, and limit close contacts to their household. Employers in all industries should continue to make every effort to allow employees to work from home.

Enforcement of residential evictions will remain paused in the public health unit regions where the provincial Stay-at-Home order remains in effect. This will ensure people are not forced to leave their homes. In regions where the Stay-at-Home order is lifted, the regular process for residential eviction enforcement will resume.

Orders currently in force under the EMCPA have been extended to February 23, 2021 and will be extended further if necessary. O.Reg.55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes) is currently in effect until February 19, 2021.

“While the declaration of emergency will be ending, the risks posed by COVID-19 and the new variants remain serious concerns,” said Solicitor General Jones. “That’s why extending the stay-at-home orders for most of the province is necessary to protect our communities, our most vulnerable populations, and stop the spread of COVID-19. We continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health guidelines and stay home, stay safe, and save lives.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with public health and other experts, review data, and provide advice to the government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians. Municipalities and local medical officers of health may have additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region.

QUICK FACTS

  • Provincewide Shutdown measures went into effect on December 26, 2020 to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the province.
  • The government declared its second provincial emergency on January 12, 2021 and issued a Stay-at-Home order to reduce mobility and address hospital capacity concerns.
  • Ontario has implemented a six-point plan to deal with the new variants which includes mandatory on-arrival testing of international travellers, enhanced screening and sequencing, maintaining public health measures to keep people safe, strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases, enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.
  • In January, Ontario’s provincial offences officers visited 1,147 big-box stores and other essential retail businesses to ensure businesses are following the public health guidelines and properly protecting workers and customers from COVID-19. 112 tickets were issued to businesses and individuals during three inspection campaigns.
  • To support the safe return of in-person learning, Ontario has introduced new measures to continue to protect students and staff against COVID-19 in the classroom.
  • Once the shutdown is lifted, visitor restrictions for long-term care homes will once again apply to those homes in the public health regions that are in the Orange-Restrict level or higher. In addition, long-term care homes must implement enhanced testing requirements.
  • A full list of emergency orders under the EMPCA as well as orders under the ROA can be found on the e-Laws website and at Ontario.ca/alert.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted February 9, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Ontario Continues Accelerated Vaccinations of Most Vulnerable Despite Vaccine Delays

February 2, 2021

Immunization Begins in Northern Fly-In Communities This Week

TORONTO — Ongoing vaccine delays and reduced shipments have forced the Ontario government to update its goal of completing the administration of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents in each long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care home to February 10. Amidst these delays, vaccination teams will be distributing vaccines in First Nations fly-in communities in the north as part of Operation Remote Immunity, beginning this week.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.

“While it’s disappointing that vaccine supplies are being delayed, General Hillier and his team are doing a fantastic job of getting vaccines into the arms of our seniors and those who care for them, and now to remote First Nations communities” said Premier Ford. “It’s clear we need to start production of COVID vaccines here in Canada, and I will continue pushing for that to begin as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we are continuing to build our capacity so when we receive enough supply for mass vaccinations, we will be ready.”

Last week, Ontario developed a plan to accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending this week’s delivery dates. Since that time, the federal government has confirmed Ontario’s allocation of the Moderna vaccine will be significantly reduced by 18,200 doses, to 63,400 doses. With the reduced shipment anticipated to be received late this week, doses will be delivered to public health units across Ontario to ensure residents of these homes are offered their first dose by February 10, 2021.

The decrease in supply of the Moderna vaccine is in addition to further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments from the federal government, which resulted in no deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021, and a reduced shipment of just over 26,000 doses for the first week of February.

The province’s initial approach was to offer vaccination to all residents, staff and essential caregivers working at long-term care and high-risk retirement homes to provide the opportunity for best overall protection. In response to the reduction in vaccine supply, the province prioritized the vaccination of residents of long-term care, high-risk retirement and First Nations elder care homes.

The province is expecting approximately 310,000 doses to be delivered in the remaining weeks of February. Once sufficient doses are available, vaccinations will resume to provide first doses for staff and essential caregivers in settings with the most vulnerable populations.

“Despite limited supplies from the federal government, our government has taken decisive action to provide protection to our most vulnerable seniors as quickly as possible,” said Minister Elliott. “Until everyone can receive the vaccine, it remains critical that Ontarians stay home and continue to follow public health measures to stop the spread and save lives.”

In addition to prioritizing the vaccination of First Nations elder care home residents, Ontario continues to implement its vaccination plan for northern, remote First Nations communities. Ornge, Ontario’s provider of air ambulance and critical care transport services, is providing the vaccine to community members 18 years of age or older in 31 Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) fly-in communities and Moosonee over the next three months. This week, vaccination teams will be providing the Moderna vaccine in Neskantaga, Slate Falls, Muskrat Dam, Fort Severn, Kashechewan and Webequie. Planning for vaccine distribution to additional First Nations communities and to urban Indigenous populations is underway through ongoing and regular engagement of the First Nations and Urban Indigenous Vaccine Distribution Sub-Tables, respectively.

The province also continues to protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose.

“Our government’s vaccine distribution plan continues to focus on getting the vaccine to those who need it most,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Despite the supply challenges, we are forging ahead with our plan to protect Ontarians, starting with our most vulnerable populations which includes remote First Nations communities.”

QUICK FACTS

  • As of February 1 at 8:00 p.m., over 344,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, including over 91,000 doses administered to long-term care staff and retirement home staff, over 138,000 doses administered to health care workers and over 90,000 doses administered to long-term care and retirement home residents.
  • To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups. For all other groups, second dose appointments will be 35 days after the administration of the first dose, and no later than 42 days. These intervals are aligned with guidance provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The intervals will be adjusted down to 21-27 days as quickly as possible, once vaccine supply permits.
  • Ontario is ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and expand the number of vaccination sites as soon as doses are received. The province has capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people per day and is building to triple or quadruple that capacity pending federal government supply.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted February 3, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: 280,000 More Ontario Students to Return to Class

January 28, 2021

In-Person Learning Begins with Tougher Health and Safety Measures in Place

TORONTO – Today, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement to provide an update on schools resuming in-person learning:

“On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, with the support of the local Medical Officers of Health, and with the introduction of additional layers of protection, 280,000 students in four public health regions will return to class on Monday, February 1.

The government agrees with the growing consensus in the medical community that returning students to in-person learning is essential to the wellbeing, development and mental health of children. According to leading medical and scientific experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, our province’s schools are safe places for learning.

In the fall, we introduced one of the most comprehensive back-to-school plans in the country with strict health and safety measures. As more students and staff return to in-person learning, we are building on our plan by introducing stronger masking protocols to include grades 1-3, expanding access to targeted asymptomatic testing, and implementing stricter screening protocols.”

BACKGROUND

Elementary and secondary schools in four additional public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to return to in-person learning on February 1, 2021. This will bring the total number of students able to learn in-person to 520,000 across the province.

The four additional PHUs are:

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Ottawa Public Health

This means that all schools in the following schools boards will resume in-person learning on February 1:

  • Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
  • Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario
  • Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien
  • Conseil scolaire de district catholique du Centre-Est de l’Ontario
  • London District Catholic School Board
  • Ottawa Catholic District School Board
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board
  • Thames Valley District School Board
  • Upper Canada District School Board

Two additional school boards that span across multiple PHUs may have some schools that resume in-person learning on February 1, 2021 while other schools will continue to teach remotely. The local PHU should be contacted on the status of schools in these boards:

  • Conseil scolaire catholique Providence
  • Conseil scolaire Viamonde

Local PHUs continue to have the authority to close schools based on their unique circumstances, and parents may choose to permit their children to continue learning remotely.

Schools in the remaining PHUs will continue with remote learning.

In the PHUs that are permitted to return to in-person learning on February 1, before and after school child care programs may also resume on February 1 and emergency child care will end on January 29. In the PHUs where schools are continuing with remote learning, before and after school programs continue to be closed and emergency child care remains available to support children of frontline workers.

Posted January 28, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Further Action Needed to Protect the Border and Stop the Spread of COVID-19

January 26, 2021

Ontario Makes Steady Progress Testing Travellers at Pearson Airport

TORONTO — Over 6,800 international travellers have been tested for COVID-19 as part of the Ontario government’s voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. This program was implemented to help quickly identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province. Despite this steady progress, the province is calling on the federal government to take further action to protect the border, including mandatory testing of all incoming international passengers and a temporary ban on direct flights from countries where new variants are detected.

Details were provided today at Pearson Airport by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“While we’ve made steady progress through this pilot program, thousands of people continue to pass through Pearson every week without being tested, creating a real risk to all Ontarians,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why, in addition to pre-departure testing, we’re asking the federal government to adopt mandatory testing upon arrival for all international travellers and impose a temporary ban on flights coming from countries where new COVID-19 strains are being detected. Until vaccines are widely available, we all need to do our part to stop the spread of this virus and that means tighter controls at our border.”

On January 6, in partnership with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, Ontario began offering COVID-19 testing at Pearson Airport for incoming international travellers who are staying in the province for at least 14 days. Since its launch, over 6,800 tests have been collected. For those participants that have received confirmed results from an Ontario lab, 146 cases, or 2.26 per cent, have tested positive. Participants receive their results within 24 to 48 hours of completing the test. The pilot program is working to detect positive cases even with the federal pre-departure requirement for travellers bound to Canada. Recent data shows that 1.8 per cent of all COVID cases are related to international travel.

Ontario is further calling on the federal government to strengthen enforcement of quarantine measures, including exploring new approaches that have worked in other jurisdictions, such as isolation hotels, to ensure compliance with the 14-day minimum quarantine requirement for incoming travellers.

“Ontario’s border testing pilot program is helping us to trace and isolate COVID-19 cases early among travellers arriving in Ontario,” said Minister Elliott. “In the meantime, we are in continuous contact with our federal partners to advocate for further measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect our borders, and most importantly, the health and safety of Ontarians.”

Ontario’s first COVID-19 UK variant case was confirmed last month and was due to international travel. As other new variants are being detected globally, the Ontario government is calling on the federal government to impose a temporary ban on direct flights from countries where new variants are detected, including Brazil and Portugal. Banning flights with multiple stops in countries with a known variant should also be considered. This ban would be consistent with the prudent measures announced by the United Kingdom and several other countries, and the restrictions would remain in place until more is known about these new variants.

“Airport testing is yet another tool we are using to help fight the spread of COVID-19, especially with several, more contagious variants coming from other countries,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We continue to urge all Ontarians to follow public health guidelines and stay home, stay safe, and save lives.”

The province continues to work with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other jurisdictions to monitor the developing situation. Ontario will continue to coordinate and support efforts to protect the public to ensure all effective measures are in place, including increased staffing, enhanced screening measures and follow-up measures, as appropriate.

QUICK FACTS

  • Inbound international travellers can register to participate in the program at torontopearson.com/testing. Registration can be done in advance of arrival at the airport or upon arrival at Toronto Pearson airport.
  • Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., a stay-at-home order is in effect. Ontarians are required to remain at home except for essential purposes such as food, health care, exercise, or work.
  • Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health strongly advises that travel out of the province should be limited to essential purposes only.
  • Ontario has completed over nine million COVID-19 tests to date, more tests than all Canadian provinces and territories combined.
  • Testing is available by appointment for those within provincial testing guidance at assessment centres, participating pharmacies and specimen collection centres. Please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find a testing location and for eligibility criteria to be tested.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted January 27, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Ontario Adjusts Vaccination Plan in Response to Pfizer-BioNTech Shipment Delays

January 25, 2021

Vaccinations for the Province’s Most Vulnerable to be Accelerated

TORONTO — The Ontario government is accelerating the vaccination of residents in long-term care, high-risk retirement, and First Nations elder care homes by a new target date of February 5, 2021. To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups and up to 42 days between the two doses for all other groups. These adjustments are being made following notification by the federal government of reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.

“Due to the delay in the next shipment of Pfizer vaccine doses, we are ensuring all available supplies are redirected to those who need them most: our residents in long-term care and retirement homes,” said Premier Ford. “I know this will mean that some people may have to reschedule their vaccine appointments, but it is critical that our most vulnerable seniors receive the protection they need as soon as possible.”

On January 19, 2021, the federal government notified the province of further reductions in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments. Ontario will not receive vaccine deliveries for the week of January 25, 2021 and will receive just over 26,000 doses for the first weeks of February. As of today, Ontario has not been provided its allocation for the weeks of February 8, 2021 and February 15, 2021, creating further uncertainty for the province’s vaccine rollout.

In response to the significant reduction in distribution by the federal government and the uncertainty of future shipments, the province and vaccination sites have worked together to develop a plan to accelerate vaccination of the province’s most vulnerable. Second doses will continue to be administered based on availability of supply provided by the federal government. Actions being taken include:

  • Accelerate vaccination of the most vulnerable populations across Ontario with the goal of visiting each home in the province to administer first doses by February 5, 2021, pending week of February 1, 2021 delivery dates.
  • Doses of the Moderna vaccine will be reallocated to 14 public health units to ensure vaccines are administered at each long-term care home in the province.

“Despite ongoing challenges with supply, together with our partners, we continue to vaccinate our most vulnerable as quickly as possible, and we continue to be ready to administer vaccines to Ontarians as soon as we receive them from the federal government,” said Minister Elliott. “Until there is sufficient supply to vaccinate every Ontarian who wants to receive one, we continue to urge everyone to stay home and continue to follow public health measures.”

Ontario’s initiative to vaccinate northern, remote First Nations communities will also continue. To date, 760 doses have been delivered by Ornge to Sioux Lookout, with 568 doses administered by Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre and 45 doses administered by Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority (SLFNHA). Ornge has also delivered 680 doses to communities across James Bay Coast, with 575 doses administered or scheduled to be administered to remote fly-in First Nations communities, including 100 staff at Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) vaccinated with a first dose. In February, Ornge will lead Operation Remote Immunity, to rollout the vaccine to 31 fly-in communities.

“We are working diligently with our partners to ensure vaccines continue to reach our Phase 1 priority populations, despite limited supplies from the Federal Government,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “It is critical that Ontarians continue to follow public health measures to ensure we limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep our communities safe.”

The government is ready to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and expand the number of vaccination sites as soon as doses are received. Ontario has capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people per day and is building capacity to triple or quadruple that capacity pending federal government supply.

“We continue to push forward with our vaccination efforts across the province to ensure our frontline health care workers, remote First Nations and vulnerable populations are protected,” said General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier. “We will be ready to ramp up our efforts once again when more doses become available.”

Today, the government extended the declared provincial emergency for another 14 days. The declaration of emergency made under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), originally declared on January 12, 2021, will now expire on February 9, 2021, unless extended further. All orders under the EMCPA, including O. Reg 11/21 (Stay-at-Home Order), O. Reg 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) and O. Reg 13/21 (Residential Evictions) were also extended. Orders under the Reopening Ontario Act (ROA) continue to be in force.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario is committed to vaccinating residents in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes as quickly as vaccines are received. To date, the first round of vaccinations have been completed, for those who are willing and eligible, in all long-term care homes in Toronto, Peel, York, Windsor-Essex, Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Ottawa, and Simcoe-Muskoka regions.
  • To protect access to second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those who have already received their first dose, Ontario will maintain the maximum interval of 21-27 days for long-term care, retirement and First Nations elder care home resident groups and up to 42 days between the two doses for all other groups. These intervals are aligned with guidance provided by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). The intervals will be adjusted down to 21-27 days as quickly as possible, once vaccine supply permits.
  • As of January 25 at 10:00 a.m., over 287,000 vaccine doses have been administered across the province, including over 80,000 doses administered to long-term care staff and retirement home staff, over 114,000 doses administered to health care workers and over 68,000 doses administered to long-term care and retirement home residents.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted January 25, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Ontario to Vaccinate up to 8.5 Million People in Phase Two

January 13, 2021

Province to Expand COVID-19 Immunization Program to Seniors, Frontline Essential Workers in Next Phase of Rollout Plan

TORONTO — The Ontario government is preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase Two of the government’s vaccine implementation plan, which aims to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as supply is available.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and General Rick Hillier (retired), Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force.

“With Phase One of our plan well underway, we’re getting ready to expand our vaccine rollout and get more needles into arms as soon as the supply is available,” said Premier Ford. “We now have a well-oiled machine, led by General Hillier, and we are making tremendous progress. We know this second phase will be an even larger logistical undertaking than the first. That’s why we’re ramping up our capacity on the ground to ensure these vaccines are administered quickly, beginning with the people who need them most.”

As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has mapped out the next steps for transitioning into Phase Two and has adopted an approach for identifying the next groups to receive the vaccination as early as March 2021. In order to vaccinate Ontarians as safely and quickly as possible, the government is expanding the list of health care providers who can administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Phase One of the vaccine implementation program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated. Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes has begun in many parts of the province, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than February 15, 2021. The vaccination of all staff and residents in long-term care homes in four areas with the highest rates of transmission, Toronto, Peel, York and Windsor Essex, is expected to be completed by January 21, 2021.

Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
  • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
  • Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, teachers, food processing industry); and
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.

Phase Two is expected to be completed by end of July 2021 and Phase Three for the general population could begin as early as August 2021, pending availability of vaccines. Vaccination of populations in Phase One will continue until all vaccinations are complete.

“We are prepared for the next phase in our vaccine distribution plan, but with limited supplies, our focus will be on vaccinating our seniors and frontline essential workers,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “When Ontario receives sufficient doses of vaccines, we will ensure that every person who wants to be vaccinated will receive it. Until then, everyone must continue to follow the public health guidelines and stay home, stay safe and save lives.”

In preparation for Phase Two of the vaccination distribution plan, more vaccination sites will be added. Over the coming months, those sites will include municipally run vaccination sites, hospital sites, mobile vaccination sites, pharmacies, clinics, primary care settings and community locations such as community health centres and aboriginal health access centres. The first municipally run vaccination site will be opening on January 18 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The site will be administering vaccines to Phase One priority populations, including select frontline health care workers. It will be an initial proof-of-concept for municipally run vaccination centres, with a small number of doses to start with, from which learnings will be used to inform other locations across the province.

“Ontario’s immunization program is a monumental mission, and we have laid the foundations to ensure it remains successful as more vaccines become available and as we scale our rollout to reach more people across our province,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “By expanding the immunization program to more seniors and a broader list of frontline essential workers we are ensuring Ontario is ready to protect those who need it most as we receive the vaccines.”

“As you can see, we are consumed with delivering and administering our vaccines as quickly, efficiently and equitably as possible. This is great news for the people of Ontario,” said General (Ret’d) Rick Hillier. “Despite the difficult times we find ourselves in, this proves that there is light at the end of the tunnel and, with that in mind, I’m asking everyone to stay strong, stay safe and follow the public health guidelines.”

As the vaccine supply increases, and guided by the Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution, Ontario is also enabling more health care providers to administer the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. This will help meet the unprecedented demand in the number of people who will be getting vaccinated. It will also increase access to the vaccine for all Ontarians, whether they reside in a remote fly-in community or a large urban centre. Health care professionals who are able to administer the vaccine can register and apply through Ontario’s Matching Portal. This could include nurse practitioners, registered nurses and registered practical nurses, along with pharmacists, pharmacy students, interns and pharmacy technicians.

Individuals interested in supporting the broader COVID-19 vaccination plan in roles such as data entry and scheduling, can also express their interest through Ontario’s Matching Portal.

As the vaccination rollout continues, it remains critically important that all Ontarians continue following public health advice to protect our communities and most vulnerable populations, and to stop the spread of COVID-19.

QUICK FACTS

  • To date, vaccines have been administered at 196 locations. Over 144,000 doses of the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine have been administered across the province, including over 45,000 vaccinations administered to health care workers in long-term care homes and retirement homes, over 77,000 vaccinations administered to hospital workers and over 13,000 vaccinations administered to residents. An additional 20,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered in 158 long-term care homes since December 31, 2020.
  • Nearly 1,290 doses have been delivered by Ornge to James Bay Coast and Sioux Lookout with 145 vaccines administered to remote fly-in First Nation communities this week.
  • Ontario is adding three additional sites, Niagara Health – St. Catharines Site, Kingston General Hospital, and Brantford General Hospital, to receive and host immunization clinics for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. These three sites will receive allocations to assist in vaccinating health care workers, residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care and high-risk retirement homes.
  • Ontario received nearly 196,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on January 11, with regular weekly shipments of Pfizer vaccine expected during January 2021. Additional delivery sites will be offering the vaccine to the key populations by the end of January.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted January 14, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis and Save Lives

January 12, 2021

Province Issues Stay-at-Home Order and Introduces Enhanced Enforcement Measures to Reduce Mobility

TORONTO – In response to a doubling in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks, the real and looming threat of the collapse of the province’s hospital system and alarming risks posed to long-term care homes as a result of high COVID-19 transmission rates, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown, Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table.

“The latest modelling data shows that Ontario is in a crisis and, with the current trends, our hospital ICUs will be overwhelmed in a few short weeks with unthinkable consequences,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we are taking urgent and decisive action, which includes declaring a provincial emergency and imposing a stay-at-home-order. We need people to only go out only for essential trips to pick up groceries or go to medical appointments. By doing the right thing and staying home, you can stay safe and save lives.”

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

These new public health measures will help stop the spread of COVID-19 by reducing concerning levels of mobility as the province continues its vaccine rollout and ramps up to mass vaccination when the federal government is able to provide the necessary supply to do so.

Additional Public Health Restrictions

Since the implementation of the Provincewide Shutdown over two weeks ago, the latest modelling trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen, forecasting an overwhelming of the health system unless drastic action is taken. Escalating case counts have led to increasing hospitalization rates and intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy which has resulted in cancellations of scheduled surgeries and procedures.

Provincial modelling shows growth in COVID-19 cases has accelerated, leading to increased hospitalization rates and ICU occupancy. ICU occupancy by COVID-19 patients is now over 400 beds and is projected to be as high as 1,000 beds by early February which has the potential to overwhelm Ontario’s hospitals. The number of COVID-19-related deaths continues to rise and is expected to double from 50 to 100 deaths per day between now and the end of February. Notably, data shows that mobility and contacts between people have not decreased with the current restrictions.  A new variant of COVID-19 emerged in November. If community transmission of this variant occurs, Ontario could experience much higher case counts, ICU occupancy and mortality.

In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the government will enact the following additional public health measures:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020.

“Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 is continuing to spread in our communities, our hospitals, our long-term care homes, and our workplaces. We are continuing to see concerning trends across the province, including a tragic number of deaths,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We have made great strides in vaccinating tens of thousands of Ontarians, and we can’t let these efforts go to waste. Urgent action is required to break this deadly trend of transmission, ensure people stay home, and save lives.”

To help quickly identify and isolate cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and service providers permitted to remain open such as long-term care homes and schools, the province will provide up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week to support key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes. This volume of rapid tests would support antigen screening for up to 150,000 workers per week over the next 4-5 months in Ontario’s most critical workplaces. The province is expecting to receive 12 million Panbio tests from the federal government over the next several months and continues to pursue opportunities to purchase additional rapid tests.

“The trends in key public health indicators are continuing to deteriorate, and further action is urgently required to save lives,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “By strictly adhering to all public health and workplace safety measures, we can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and keep our loved ones and our communities safe. It will take the collective efforts of us all to defeat this virus.”

The government knows that in order to keep Ontarians safe, it is important that they are not forced to leave their homes during the new state of emergency. Ontario is exploring all options available to put a temporary residential evictions moratorium in place, and will have more to say in the coming days.

The additional public health restrictions introduced expand on the existing measures put in place to keep Ontarians safe and healthy.

New Enforcement Measures

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.

In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.

“Extraordinary action is needed to protect the health and safety of Ontarians as we deal with this growing crisis,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “Our government is providing police and bylaw officers with the tools, and the authority, they need to enforce these critical restrictions and protect public health.”

Schools and Child Care Centres

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools in the following public health units (PHUs) will not return to in-person instruction until February 10, 2021:

  • Windsor-Essex
  • Peel Region
  • Toronto
  • York
  • Hamilton

By January 20, 2021, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling. Before- and after-school programs can be offered when in-person instruction resumes. Schools in northern PHUs will continue to remain open.

To continue to keep students, staff and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:

  • Masking for Grade 1-3 and requirements for mask wearing outdoors;
  • Enhanced screening protocols; and
  • Expanded targeted testing.

The government will also implement new health and safety measures in Ontario child care settings, such as enhanced screening to align with school requirements, voluntary participation in targeted testing and additional infection prevention and control measures to align with schools. These enhancements are in addition to the existing health and safety measures already being implemented in child care settings across the province.

Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open, and emergency child care for school-aged children will end in approved PHU regions on January 22, 2021 as these elementary schools return to in-person learning.During this extended period of online learning, in areas where in-person elementary learning is suspended, emergency child care will continue for eligible families in regions subject to school closures, as identified by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“At the heart of our continued efforts to protect against  the spread of COVID-19 in our communities is a firm commitment to return kids to school safely,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Protecting our students, staff and their families is our top priority, and these additional measures build on our comprehensive plan to reopen schools and keep young children in child care safe.”

Workplace Safety

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to

promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.

Evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections to date shows the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working. However, when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of wearing masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene.

As part of the “Stay Safe All Day” campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores. The Ministry is also using a new data-sharing program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Retirement Regulatory Authority, to focus onsite inspections of long-term-care homes and retirement homes.

“We know the majority of businesses are operating safely and responsibly to protect their workers and customers. But as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, we all need to step up and take additional measures to stop the spread,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “This includes increasing our inspections to look at everything workers do both while on the job and throughout the workday.”

In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Over the summer, the government enacted a new regulatory amendment that put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19, ensuring businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government is funding a temporary income support program that allows workers to take up to 10 days of leave related to COVID-19, preventing the risk of further spread in the workplace and allowing workers to focus on their health.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Government of Ontario declared its first provincial emergency in response to COVID-19 on March 17, 2020 which remained in effect until July 24, 2020 when the ROA was introduced. 47 emergency orders were made under the EMCPA.
  • An emergency declaration pursuant to s. 7.0.1 is terminated 14 days after being made and may be extended for up to a further 14 days by the Lieutenant Governor in Council. Thereafter, extensions require approval of the Legislature for additional periods of up to 28 days. Orders made during the declaration of emergency pursuant s. 7.0.2 (4) will automatically terminate after 14 days unless they are extended for additional periods of up to 14 days, while orders pursuant to s. 7.1 can be for a period of up to 90 days and renewed for additional periods of up to 90 days.
  • The orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) remain in effect until January 20, 2021. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time, and the government must continue to report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
  • A full list of emergency orders under the EMPCA as well as orders under the ROA can be found on the e-Laws website and at Ontario.ca/alert.
  • As of January 10, 2021, there have been 215,782 reported COVID-19 cases and 4,983 related deaths in Ontario.
  • Ontario has implemented the largest immunization plan in its history and to date, a total of over 130,000 doses have been administered provincewide.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted January 12, 2021


Ontario Government New Release: Ontario Extends Teacher-Led Online Learning Until January 25 to Keep Students and Staff Safe in Southern Ontario

January 7, 2021

Province Also Extends Provincewide Shutdown in Northern Ontario

TORONTO — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout the province, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is extending certain measures to keep students, education staff, and residents of Northern Ontario safe. This includes extending in-person learning until January 25, 2021 for elementary school students in the 27 Southern Ontario public health unit regions and extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario for another 14 days, aligning with the shutdown period in Southern Ontario.

These time-limited measures are being taken to help ensure that all Ontarians stay at home as much as possible to minimize transmission of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed, while at the same time being responsive to the fact that Northern Ontario students are not able to learn at home as effectively due to limited access to reliable Internet service.

“With the public health trends where they are across the province, our priority remains keeping students, teachers, school staff, and all Ontarians safe,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we’re extending the remote learning period for students in Southern Ontario and the shutdown period for Northern Ontario, while continuing to provide financial relief for parents through the Support for Learners program as well as electricity rate relief for all time-of-use customers. We have to get the numbers down and today’s measures will help us continue to stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Targeted testing done among students and staff in December 2020 confirmed that schools are not a significant source of transmission. However, with students having been at home for several weeks and with reports of concerning behaviour over the holidays, the positivity rate among school-aged children has increased sharply. Most troubling, the positivity rate for kids aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November, early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January.

In response to increasing community transmission, in-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in these regions. Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.

Returning students to school now with community transmission and positivity rates so high risks losing the hard-fought progress made in keeping schools and students safe. The Ministry of Education will continue to act on the best advice of medical and health experts to ensure that students in Northern Ontario are able to return to school safely and, when safe to do so, students in Southern Ontario as well.

The government’s comprehensive plan of more than $1.3 billion to protect students and promote safe learning environments will continue to be in place to support students and staff. The plan includes investments in personal protective equipment, improved ventilation, money to support the hiring of additional staff, and the introduction of asymptomatic testing to screen against COVID-19.

“I have and remain firmly committed to getting students back into class as soon as possible – there is nothing more important. However, the best medical and scientific experts have been clear: while schools have been safe places for kids, the sharp rise in community transmission puts that progress and Ontario families at risk,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “During this time, students will remain engaged in live teacher-led online learning with access to enhanced mental health and technology supports.”

In the nearly two weeks since Ontario was moved into a Provincewide Shutdown

, trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen in both Northern and Southern Ontario, including concerning trends in health system capacity, most notably in hospitals. Trends show increasing transmission in many Northern Ontario public health regions, with only one region showing a sustained low level of transmission. In addition, with the increased risk of transmission due to the confirmed presence of the COVID-19 UK variant in the province, the seven public health unit regions in Northern Ontario will remain in the shutdown until at least January 23, 2021. The impacts of these time-limited measures throughout the province will be evaluated after 14 days to determine if it is safe to lift any restrictions or if they need to be extended

“In the last two weeks, we have seen concerning trends at home and abroad, as well as increased community transmission during the holidays, indicating that it is not yet the time to begin easing public health and workplace safety measures,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While extending the shutdown in Northern Ontario is not the news many wanted to hear, we must work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, protect hospital capacity, and save lives.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health will continue to consult with experts, review data, and provide advice to government on the appropriate and effective measures that are needed to protect the health of Ontarians. This will include an assessment of how and when it is safe to exit the Provincewide Shutdown and move public health unit regions back into the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open, including how a revised approach for the safe reopening of retail may be operationalized.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is crucial that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, Ontarians are strongly urged to stay at home, limit trips outside of their households for essential reasons only and must not gather with individuals outside of the people they live with.”

To support families during this extended school closure, child care centres, and home-based child care services will remain open. Ontario is also expanding eligibility for the Ministry of Education’s targeted emergency child care program for a broader number of frontline health and safety workers.

In order to continue to support remote learning, the ministry has recommended that a portion of the second half of federal funding, an additional $80 million investment, will be provided for additional technological devices, such as laptops and tablets, to support school boards in procuring about 160,000 additional devices province-wide.

Financial support is also available for families during this temporary remote learning period through the Support for Learners program. Starting on January 11, 2021, an expanded Support for Learners program is providing $200 for each child or youth up to Grade 12 and $250 for each child or youth up to age 21 with special needs. Applications will be open until February 8, 2021.

For those requiring additional support during this challenging period, Ontario is providing an additional $10 million in support of student mental health, including funding for Kids Help Phone to support children and youth across the province. School Mental Health Ontario will be providing mental health resources and strategies to support students during this period.

QUICK FACTS

  • Since the Provincewide Shutdown was implemented on December 26, 2020, Northern Ontario has seen an additional 3 hospitalizations for COVID-19, and an additional 9 hospitalizations since September 1 (at which time there were zero). During this period of time Northern Ontario has also seen 1 additional COVID-19 patient admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) and has seen an additional 4 ICU admissions since September 1 (at which time there were zero).
  • Northern Ontario currently has 9 COVID-19 patients requiring acute care, 4 patients in ICU, with 2 on a ventilator. Acute hospital occupancy (total patients) in Algoma Public Health and Public Health Sudbury & Districts are at over 90 per cent.
  • Financial support is available for families during this temporary remote learning period through the Support for Learners program. Starting on January 11, 2021, an expanded Support for Learners program is providing $200 for each child/youth up to grade 12 and $250 for each child/youth up to age 21 with special needs. Applications will be open until February 8, 2021.
  • Strict health and safety measures are in place for Ontario’s childcare and early years settings to keep children safe – and ready to learn and thrive. These measures include daily screening, contact tracing, masks, eye protection, proper hand hygiene, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of toys, equipment and centres.
  • To support small businesses impacted by these necessary public health measures, the government introduced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.
  • In November, the government launched a program to provide rebates to offset fixed costs such as property tax and energy bills for businesses that are required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures. These Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates will continue to be available for businesses impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown and earlier restrictions. Business can apply for the rebates here.
  • If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert App. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
  • To find the right supports, visit COVID-19: Support for People, which has information about the many available and free mental health services and supports.
  • To stay safe, you can download the COVID Alert App free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Additional Resources

Posted January 7, 2021


Ontario Government News Release: Celebrate the Holiday Season Safely

November 25, 2020

Ontario Provides Public Health Advice on How to Protect You and Your Loved Ones

TORONTO — The holidays are going to look a little different this year due to COVID-19. To support Ontarians as they begin to safely plan for the season, the Ontario government, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and input from the Public Health Measures Table, is providing preliminary guidance on how to safely celebrate this year and protect your loved ones.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“I know there are many people looking forward to their traditional family celebrations at this time of year, but to keep your loved ones safe, traditions will have to be adjusted,” said Premier Ford. “We’re asking everyone to please stick to your own household when celebrating. Avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help us stop the spread of this deadly virus. By following this public health advice, we can all have a safe and fun holiday season.”

No matter where you live in the province, the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household as a safe way to spend the holidays.

While public health measures to keep Ontarians safe may be different in communities across the province, the following is some general advice to consider when planning your holiday season:

Safer Holiday Activities

  • Virtual holiday gatherings or events with family, friends or co-workers.
  • Outdoor holiday activities such as building a snowman or going on a sleigh ride with members of your household.
  • Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves outdoors and taking photos while keeping two metres apart.
  • Attending a drive-in or drive-through event.
  • Watching holiday or other movies with your household.
  • Decorating your doors and putting up lights around your home.
  • Lighting your menorah.
  • Baking holiday treats with your immediate household.
  • Donating to your favourite holiday charity or toy drive

Riskier Holiday Activities

  • In-person holiday gatherings or events, particularly gatherings where masks or face coverings must be removed to eat or drink.
  • Indoor holiday activities such as having overnight guests or sleepovers with friends or people outside your household.
  • Visiting Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus or their elves indoors and taking photos without being two metres apart. Children are not permitted to sit on Santa’s lap this year.
  • Visiting family and friends for non-essential reasons.
  • Individuals and families in higher transmission areas should avoid going to lower transmission areas, except for essential reasons.
  • Hosting or attending social gatherings or organized public events that do not adhere to provincial or local requirements. See below for information about the gathering limits that apply in the various zones.

While the above is recommended advice from public health officials, please remember you must adhere to public health and workplace safety measures and rules in your region.

A new holiday web page will be launched shortly to provide more direct and up-to-date guidance on how individuals and families can plan for a safe holiday season.

“The holidays are a special time of the year for many people, and while we all want to spend time with family and friends, we must celebrate safely to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “With the recent news about several vaccines there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I realize that it won’t be easy, but we must continue to follow public health advice and look for new and creative ways to celebrate this year.”

It is important for everyone to adhere to the public health measures in their communities, especially when connecting with others. All Ontarians are strongly recommended to continue doing the following:

  • Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild;
  • Avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
  • Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
  • Adhere to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings;
  • Wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or if wearing one is required;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
  • Cover your cough;
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app;
  • Individuals and families from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions (e.g., from Red level to Orange level), except for essential reasons; and
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.

“We understand the traditional importance of visiting family and gathering during the holiday season, but as we are continuing to live in unprecedented times, we need to look at new ways of celebrating and marking special occasions,” said Dr. Williams. “Everyone has a role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and by strictly following these measures we can all plan for a healthy holiday season while keeping our loved ones safe.”

Ontarians are advised to visit Ontario.ca/covidresponse to learn what public health measures are in place in their community, and check with their public health unit for any additional information or restrictions. Advice may also vary by the level a public health unit is in, which can change depending on public health trends in the region as the holiday season approaches.

Social Gathering Limits by Level under the Regulations

  • In all levels, people are required to comply with public health guidance on physical distancing;
  • Indoor and outdoor limits can not be combined to increase the applicable limit;
  • The specified limits apply to gatherings even if in a private dwelling, including houses, apartment buildings, condominium buildings and post-secondary student residences;
  • The limits do not apply to a gathering of members of a single household.

Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect and Orange-Restrict:

  • The limit for indoor social gatherings is 10 people;
  • The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 25 people.

Red-Control:

  • The limit for indoor social gatherings is five people;
  • The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 25 people.

Lockdown (Stage 1):

  • Indoor social gatherings are not permitted, except for a gathering of members of a single household, or a gathering that includes members of a household and one other person from outside that household who lives alone;
  • The limit for outdoor social gatherings is 10 people.

Note that capacity limits for religious services, rites or ceremonies, including wedding services and funeral services are different from the above. Refer to O. Reg. 82/20O. Reg. 263/20, and O. Reg. 364/20.

If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (“Reopening Ontario Act”), they could be ticketed with a fine of $750 under the Act

QUICK FACTS

  • Individuals living away from home, including those studying at colleges and universities, should consider doing a self-quarantine, or reducing close contact with others, 10 to 14 days before returning home for the holidays.
  • The fewer people you have contact with, the lower the risk of exposure to COVID-19. Virtual gatherings and virtual events are the safest way to visit or celebrate occasions with people outside your household.
  • In Red–Control regions, trips outside of the home should only be for essential reasons (e.g. work, school, groceries, pharmacy, health care, assisting vulnerable individuals, or physical activity).
  • If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self-assessment.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert app. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
  • To find the right supports, visit COVID-19: Support for People, which has information about the many available and free mental health services and supports.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 27, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Deploys Rapid Testing to Support COVID-19 Response

November 24, 2020

New technology is a gamechanger in significantly improving screening for the virus

TORONTO — The Ontario government has deployed new COVID-19 rapid tests to provide faster results in regions of high transmission and rural and remote areas. As an additional tool to help keep essential workers safe, rapid tests will also be used to screen staff in long-term care homes and select workplaces. These new tests will provide Ontarians with more access to innovative testing options and will help to quickly identify and manage outbreaks to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Details were released today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“These new rapid tests are gamechangers in the fight against COVID-19,” said Premier Ford. “This new technology can provide test results in hours, even minutes, instead of days. We’re deploying them as quickly as possible to protect patients, long-term care residents, and the frontline heroes who care for them. These new tools will ensure that Ontario remains the leader in testing in Canada to help stop the spread of this deadly virus.”

Ontario has received approximately 98,000 ID NOW tests that are initially being used in hospitals and assessment centres in rural and remote communities, as well as to test people as part of early outbreak investigations in hotspot regions where there are high concentrations of COVID-19 cases. Two hospitals are using ID NOW, with 20 additional hospitals preparing to launch rapid testing. Hospitals will be able to test people, such as staff and patients, who are either symptomatic or have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19.

“Our government strongly advocated for the approval of these rapid tests to help provide timely access to testing for Ontarians who need it the most,” said Minister Elliott. “These tests are helping to improve access to testing in our most underserved communities and allow us to better detect and contain any outbreaks. We are continuously working to expand our testing capacity and evaluate new and emerging technologies to provide safe testing options for a greater number of people.”

ID NOW tests continue to be distributed in Simcoe Muskoka, Southwestern Ontario and Eastern Ontario, and the program will be expanded to other areas of the province beginning in December. Continued rollout of this test is planned for in Toronto and Peel and work is underway with Ontario Health and local public health units to support rapid testing deployment across the province. Ontario also continues to work closely with Toronto Public Health and Peel Regional Health Unit to bring rapid testing into the regions’ outbreak response, using rapid testing to help with early identification and investigation of outbreaks.

The province has also received 1.2 million Panbio rapid antigen tests that will support a screening program for long-term care homes and other workplaces. To date, Panbio tests have been deployed to six long-term care operators for potential deployment in over 30 long-term care homes, 27 retirement homes, eight hospitals, and 11 industry partners such as Ontario Power Generation, Air Canada and Magna, with plans to expand further across province. Ontario is expecting to receive up to 1.5 million more Panbio tests by the end of December.

Over the next number of weeks, select long-term care homes will use the Abbott Panbio rapid antigen tests to help inform future deployment across the sector.

“Since day one of COVID-19, our top priority has been to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians, including long-term care residents,” said Minister Fullerton. “These rapid tests can help long-term care homes get results immediately allowing them to act faster to prevent COVID-19 from entering the home.”

Panbio tests will also be used in a broader eight-week pilot for participating employers in the private, public and non-profit sectors, prioritizing access for health care settings, essential frontline settings, and congregate settings. This pilot program is an important opportunity to learn about the value of antigen screening for asymptomatic workers in a range of workplace settings and will inform future decisions about safely and fully re-opening the economy. Participating employers would cover associated costs of delivering antigen rapid tests including human resource expenses and ensure testing follows guidelines as set by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The province continues to ensure that anyone who needs a test can get a test and receive their results as quickly as possible. Anyone who falls within the current Provincial Testing Guidance should continue to seek publicly funded testing, available at participating pharmacies and assessment centres. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested at an assessment centre.

As both ID NOW and Panbio tests are new, they will be carefully evaluated and used in alignment with guidance from Health Canada.

QUICK FACTS

  • The ID NOW test uses molecular testing with a nasal, nasopharyngeal or throat swab. Molecular testing detects genetic material of COVID-19 to diagnose people with symptoms.
  • The Panbio test uses antigen testing with a nasopharyngeal swab only. Antigen testing detects specific proteins from the virus to screen and identify people who need further testing.
  • Rapid tests must be performed at a laboratory or specimen collection centre licensed under the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act (LSCCLA) or by certain regulated health professionals that are specifically exempt from the licensing requirements of the LSCCLA. Ontario has also released guidance for individuals or organizations that choose to participate in COVID-19 testing that falls outside of the public health care system, to ensure there is appropriate oversight and consumer protection and that public resources are supporting public health initiatives.
  • The launch of rapid testing is part of the province’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, to enhance and expand efforts to quickly test and identify new cases of COVID-19.
  • Ontario has completed over 5.8 million tests to date, more tests than all Canadian provinces and territories combined.
  • Testing is available by appointment for those within provincial testing guidance at assessment centres, participating pharmacies and specimen collection centres. Please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find a testing location and for eligibility criteria to be tested.
  • It is still critically important for all Ontarians to follow public health measures to stay safe and stop the spread of COVID-19—wear a mask when required, stay two metres apart from people outside of your household, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are not feeling well, and download the COVID Alert mobile app.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 27, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Announces 13 New Ontario Health Teams

November 18, 2020

New approach will improve patient outcomes and support Ontario’s response to COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams across the province to provide better, connected care to patients. These teams are a new way of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as one coordinated team to improve patient outcomes. This new collaborative model is helping the province respond more quickly and effectively to COVID-19 and end hallway health care.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“Today’s investment will not only help our province respond more effectively to the current global pandemic, but it will also help us end hallway healthcare and build a better, patient-focused health care system for the future,” said Premier Ford. “While these new teams will provide better support for more Ontarians, we won’t stop until every person and every community in Ontario has access to this new improved model of care.”

Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals, home care providers or long-term care homes, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. As Ontario Health Teams are established, patients and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services. This includes enabling the further expansion of virtual care for patients through dedicated funding to maintain access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the addition of 13 new Ontario Health Teams, the province now has a total of 42 teams which will cover over 86 per cent of the province’s population at maturity.

“While still in its early stages, Ontario Health Teams are already breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care for both patients and our frontline heroes,” said Minister Elliott. “These teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by helping to address challenges in a variety of areas, and they are essential to building a connected health care system centred around the needs of patients.”

The strong partnerships and integrated care established by Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health have helped better position the province to respond quickly and effectively to COVID-19. This includes supporting long-term care homes, simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, helping establish assessment centres, launching virtual urgent care initiatives, and expanding remote patient monitoring programs to support COVID-19 patients and other vulnerable populations.

The Ontario Health Team model has already proven how a collaborative team can support each other in times of need such as when there is a significant outbreak at a long-term care home. These teams were able to come together and respond quickly to address staffing shortages; infection, protection and control measures; and support keeping residents and staff safe during COVID-19.  These stronger partnerships between hospitals, primary care, home and community care and long-term care homes will create a connected health care system that focuses on the needs of patients and is a key recommendation by the Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission.

“COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of continuous learning: the more we learn, the better we can protect ourselves, including our residents in long-term care,” said Minister Fullerton. “The coordination of care through Ontario Health Teams is a significant collaborative initiative that supports our commitment to modernizing long-term care in Ontario.”

Ontario Health Teams will help maintain hospital capacity by coordinating programs that link hospitals, primary care, home and community care services, long-term care homes, congregate settings, and other services, as well as supporting virtual care, online appointment booking and patients’ digital access to their health information. It will also support the participation of patients, families and caregivers in Ontario Health Team’s planning, decision-making and expanding the involvement of primary care and family medicine.

Betty-Lou Kristy, the Chair of the Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council, assisted in the review process for selecting the new Ontario Health Teams and will provide ongoing advice to all teams. Meaningful engagement and partnership with patients, families and caregivers is a key requirement for Ontario Health Teams to ensure they achieve the goal of improving the way that Ontarians experience the health care system.

“As the health system changes and evolves, it is critical that new approaches to health care focus on what patients really need,” said Ms. Kristy. “Ontario Health Teams can be part of the solution and improve how patients are treated throughout their health care journey. I look forward to supporting these teams to build a connected system centred on patients, their families and caregivers.” 

The Ontario government will continue working with its healthcare partners to establish Ontario Health Teams across the province and ensure everyone is supported by a team.

To further protect long-term care home residents, staff and visitors, the Ontario government is also updating testing guidance in communities with greater transmission of COVID-19. Starting next week, in long-term care homes in public health unit regions in the Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Lockdown levels under the COVID-19 Response Framework, the following changes will be made:

  • Staff, essential caregivers and support workers who provide direct care to residents need to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and show proof of a negative test result.
  • Support workers who do not provide direct care to residents must verbally attest to having received a negative COVID-19 test result in the past two weeks and not subsequently tested positive.

For long-term care homes in regions at the Green-Prevent and Yellow-Protect levels, testing will continue every two weeks for staff, volunteers, caregivers and visitors.

QUICK FACTS

  • An Ontario Health Team is responsible for delivering care for their patients, understanding their health care history, easing their transition from one provider to another, directly connecting them to the different types of care they need and providing 24/7 help in navigating the health care system.
  • Ontario is investing approximately $28 million to directly support the 42 teams in fiscal year 2020-2021.
  • Under an Ontario Health Team, Ontarians can be confident that they can continue to contact their health care providers as they always have, to access the health care they need. The Ontario government will continue working with its health care partners until Ontario Health Teams are fully established across the province and everyone is supported by a team.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 19, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Updating COVID-19 Response Framework to Help Stop the Spread of COVID-19

November 13, 2020

Modelling Shows New Thresholds Needed to Bend the Curve and Keep People Safe

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government is taking immediate action to respond to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and is updating the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, by lowering the thresholds for each level in the framework. These necessary updates will help limit the spread of COVID-19 while keeping schools open, maintaining health system capacity, protecting the province’s most vulnerable, and avoiding broader lockdowns.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“Our number one priority right now is getting the numbers down and keeping people safe. That’s why, on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, we’re updating the framework with new thresholds so we can slow the spread of this virus,” said Premier Ford. “These adjustments are necessary to respond to the latest evidence we’re seeing and we are prepared to make further adjustments as the health experts continue to review the current public health restrictions. We must do whatever it takes to stop our hospitals from being overwhelmed and protect our most vulnerable.”

The latest modelling shows that if the number of new cases continues to grow at its current rate, the province could register up to 6,500 new cases per day by mid-December. Within the next two weeks the province will likely exceed its intensive care threshold of 150 beds, under any potential scenario.

The framework changes are in response to the current data and trends, and will lower the threshold for each of the five levels for: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission. Based on these new thresholds, the following public health unit regions would be moved to the following levels in the framework:

  • Red-Control:
    • Hamilton Public Health Services
    • Halton Region Public Health
    • Toronto Public Health
    • York Region Public Health
  • Orange-Restrict:
    • Brant County Health Unit
    • Durham Region Health Department
    • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
    • Niagara Region Public Health
    • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
    • Region of Waterloo Public Health
  • Yellow-Protect:
    • Huron Perth Public Health
    • Middlesex-London Health Unit
    • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
    • Southwestern Public Health
    • Huron Perth Public Health
    • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Please visit Ontario.ca/COVID19 for the full list of pub lic health region classifications that will come into effect as of Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Toronto Public Health will move into the framework on Saturday, November 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions will apply to public health regions within the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels in the framework. This will go into effect on Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

“Over the last week we have seen an alarming shift in the trends of key public health indicators in regions across the province,” said Minister Elliott. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, and our government’s response must evolve with it. These updates to the COVID-19 Framework will ensure that the necessary targeted measures are in place in hotspots to help stop the spread of the virus and keep our schools and businesses open. Protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians remains our top priority.”

The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework has been designed to:

  • Be responsive and flexible to latest data;
  • Introduce preventative measures earlier to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools open, supporting mental health, protecting our most vulnerable, and keeping businesses open where possible;
  • Recognize that every community is different and provide the flexibility to allocate resources where they are needed most; and
  • Support the ability for local officials to tailor restrictions in their communities based on regional circumstances. The framework serves as a baseline that municipalities and local medical officers of health can build on by imposing additional restrictions or targeted requirements in their region, on top of the public health and workplace safety measures required at their specific level.

“The latest modelling shows a concerning situation in our province. Worldwide we are seeing COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and Ontario is no exception,” said Dr. Willia ms. “It remains critical that everyone continue to strictly follow public health advice to protect yourself and your community. We bent the curve during the first wave and, although it will be challenging, we can do so again through the collective actions of all Ontarians.”

Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Ontarians have been playing their part to help bend the curve and stop the spread of the virus. Today more than ever, it is critical for everyone to follow public health advice and strictly comply to the restrictions applied in their regions, especially when connecting with others. The following recommendations apply to all public health unit regions in the province:

  • Avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
  • Adhere to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings;
  • Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
  • Wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing may not be maintained or if wearing one is required;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
  • Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild;
  • Cover your cough;
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you’ve been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app;
  • Individuals and families from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions, except for essential reasons; and
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app.

In addition, as the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements have been made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Beginning today, users will now be able to view new, active, resolved, deceased, and total cases, by public health unit, on a map. In addition, the website will now provide Ontarians with an effective reproduction number, as well as enhanced long-term care data. The government will continue to update the dashboard with relevant data to ensure as much transparency as possible. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

QUICK FACTS

  • Find out what level and which regional public measures are in place for your area.
  • The Ontario government has developed a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, to ensure the province’s health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the flu season.
  • The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 (Red–Control level) public health restrictions, or, going forward, in Lockdown. As a result, businesses in these areas will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal.
  • If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self assessment
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert app. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
  • To stay safe, you can download the COVID Alert App free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Investing Additional $761 million to Build and Renovate More Long-Term Care Homes

November 12, 2020

Modernized funding model will lead to the construction of close to 11,000 spaces sooner

ATHENS — The Ontario government is investing an additional $761 million to build and renovate 74 long-term care homes across the province, creating close to 11,000 safe, modern spaces sooner for residents to call home. The additional funding is part of the province’s new funding model that helps break down historic barriers and accelerates the construction of urgently needed long-term care projects, providing seniors with the high-quality care they deserve.

Details were provided today at the Maple View Lodge by Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP for Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

“Our government has been taking historic steps to improve the quality of life for our loved ones by adding capacity and upgrading Ontario’s long-term care homes,” said Minister Fullerton. “We introduced the modernized funding model to build and renovate these homes faster, and we’re already seeing results, with thousands of new, safe, and comfortable spaces in progress.”

The modernized funding model is helping the government deliver on its commitment to create 30,000 beds over 10 years. The new model moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach, and instead, provides tailored incentives to address the needs of developers in different markets: rural, mid-size, urban, and large urban. It also introduces an up-front development grant to address high cost barriers to construction.

“Bringing the long-term care funding model into the 21st century means we have a targeted approach for improving and expanding long-term care capacity in our communities,” said Minister Clark. “For example, under the modernized funding model, Maple View Lodge will receive an additional investment of close to $7 million. This will help the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville build 132 new and much needed spaces in Athens township sooner.”

Working together with long-term care partners, Ontario continues to use innovative ideas and modern solutions to help end hallway health care and increase long-term care capacity in communities across the province. The government is also driving the development of new long-term care spaces by selling surplus lands with the requirement that long-term care homes be built on portions of the properties, and through the Accelerated Build pilot program, which is adding 1,280 spaces in a matter of months, not years.

QUICK FACTS

  • The modernized funding model has already boosted support for 74 projects, representing 10,753 long-term care spaces: 3,957 new beds, and 6,796 older beds being redeveloped to modern standards. Of the 74 projects, 49 involve the construction of a brand-new building.
  • Under the previous funding model, these projects would have received $8.1 billion, which includes one-time funding, 2019 construction funding subsidies over 25 years, and operational funding over 30 years. Thanks to the modernized funding model, the projects will now receive an increased amount of $8.9 billion.
  • As of June 2020, more than 38,500 people are on the waitlist to access a long-term care bed.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Releases COVID-19 Response Framework to Help Keep the Province Safe and Open

November 3, 2020

Government Provides Additional Details on $300 Million to Support Eligible Businesses

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open FrameworkIt ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“It’s clear COVID-19 will be with us for a while, which is why we are putting in place a framework that will protect the health and safety of individuals and families, while avoiding broader closures across the province,” said Premier Ford. “This framework, developed in consultation with our health experts, will serve as an early warning system allowing us to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19. By introducing public health measures sooner, we can keep this deadly virus at bay, bend the curve and reclaim a little more of our normal lives.”

The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.

“The health and wellbeing of Ontarians is our number one priority. This framework, informed by public health experts, data and the experiences of other jurisdictions, is focused on introducing less invasive measures earlier to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “We are committed to being transparent with Ontarians, businesses and local communities as we work together to keep Ontarians safe, while keeping our economy open.”

“This framework is critical to ensuring that public health measures are able to help slow the spread of the virus, while also supporting mental health and other social determinants of health,” said Dr. Williams. “The framework operates like a dimmer switch, enabling measures and restrictions to be increased and give individuals and families the information they need to adjust their activities and interactions based on local epidemiological data.”

As the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.

“You deserve to have access to the same information that we have, and that’s why our government is enhancing online data and data visualization,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “Greater transparency means that the people of Ontario have reliable access to the information they need to protect their health, and for businesses to reopen and operate safely. This is another way we’re using technology and pursuing innovation to put the people at the centre of government and move Ontario onwards.”

To provide the utmost transparency, each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below. These will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.

Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.

Supporting Businesses Affected by COVID-19 Public Health Measures

The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown.

Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas subject to the targeted modified Stage 2 public health restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. The property tax rebates will be net of any federal support in respect of property taxes provided through the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), so that the rebate will cover costs beyond those covered by CERS.

Beginning November 16, 2020, eligible businesses will be able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. Eligible businesses include restaurants, bars, gyms and cinemas.

“On Thursday, I’ll introduce Ontario’s 2020 Budget, the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan,” said Minister Phillips. “It is a plan that will have three pillars. As we announced yesterday, the first is protect. The second pillar is support, because we know COVID-19 has brought severe challenges and economic difficulties to families and employers. Supporting businesses affected by necessary public health restrictions in regions experiencing a greater risk from COVID-19 is one way we are helping employers manage during these difficult times.”

Through Ontario’s Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates program, the government is building on its collaboration with federal partners to ensure eligible businesses receive the financial help they need as a result of targeted provincial public health restrictions.

Public Health Unit Region Classifications

As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.

Lockdown:

  • No public health unit regions

Red-Control:

  • No public health unit regions

Orange-Restrict:

  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
  • York Region Public Health

Yellow-Protect:

  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Durham Region Health Department; and
  • Halton Region Public Health.

Green-Prevent:

  • Algoma Public Health;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Huron Perth Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Northwestern Health Unit;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Porcupine Health Unit;
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
  • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Southwestern Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit;
  • Wellington-Duf ferin-Guelph Public Health; and

QUICK FACTS

  • The Ontario government has developed a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, to ensure the province’s health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the flu season.
  • If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self assessment.
  • Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert app. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.
  • Types of businesses that are eligible for support include restaurants and bars, bingo halls, gaming establishments, casinos, conference centres and convention centres, gyms, facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities, community centres and multi-purpose facilities, museums, performing arts and cinemas and personal care services (with exception of oxygen bars) that were required to close or are subject to significant restrictions under modified Stage 2.
  • Businesses that are not eligible are those that were already required to close prior to the introduction of modified Stage 2 public health restrictions, those that were not required to close or restrict services due to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions, and those who do not pay property taxes or energy costs.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted November 3, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Helps Protect Most Vulnerable People Across the Province

October 28, 2020

Funding will support local shelters, provide rent relief and build longer-term housing solutions during COVID-19

TORONTO —The Ontario government is providing municipalities and Indigenous community partners with over $241 million to help more than 110,000 Ontarians affected by COVID-19, including those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The provincial funding is part of the government’s $510 million investment to help protect the health and safety of the province’s most vulnerable people. Funding will be delivered through the Social Services Relief Fund and will be used to support homeless shelters, create or renovate more than 1,500 housing units and expand rent support programs.

“We’re working hand in hand with our communities to ensure they have the tools and flexibility they need to keep people safe,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our investments will help build long-term solutions, while meeting the ongoing and immediate needs related to COVID-19.”

Municipal service managers and Indigenous program administrators will also use the funding for longer-term housing projects. Regions such as York, Durham and Waterloo will construct modular housing units to provide supportive and transitional housing. Other regions will acquire motels to provide individual housing units for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

“We know that when it comes to housing and homelessness, local communities know their needs best. That’s why we asked them to come to us with their best ideas for provincial funding,” said Minister Clark. “These investments will ensure that our partners have the resources they need to protect our most vulnerable citizens today and in the future.”

The Social Services Relief Fund is part of the up to $4 billion being provided to Ontario municipalities under the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. It will help municipalities protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario while delivering critical public services, such as public transit and shelters, as the province continues down the path of economic recovery.

QUICK FACTS

  • In March, Ontario launched the Social Services Relief Fund with an initial $148 million investment to help protect the health and safety of the province’s most vulnerable people in response to the outbreak of COVID-19. In July, an additional $150 million was committed to help improve shelters and create opportunities for longer-term housing. In August, Ontario committed another $212 million in funding, bringing the government’s assistance to service managers and Indigenous program administrators to $510 million.
  • Ontario’s service managers and Indigenous program administrators help provide shelter or housing for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, victims of domestic violence, and members of Indigenous communities who are in need.
  • In September, the Ontario government passed the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act, which freezes rent in 2021 for the vast majority of Ontario’s 1.7 million renters in both rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 29, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends COVID-19 Orders to Protect the Public

October 20, 2020

Dance classes with conditions allowed in areas under modified Stage 2 regulations

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). This extension will be in effect until November 21, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“With the cold and flu season upon us and the continuing high number of COVID-19 cases in certain parts of the province, it’s critical we continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We have renewed the majority of orders to ensure we have the tools in place to address any urgent public health situations and support the continued delivery of critical services.”

Orders in effect under the ROA have been extended by 30 days with the following exceptions:

Ontario is also amending emergency orders for regions under modified Stage 2 regulations (Toronto, Ottawa, York and Peel Regions) to clarify that classes delivered for the purpose of teaching or training amateur or professional dancers in dance techniques are permitted to operate provided specified conditions are met. This change to the regulation recognizes that dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, and ballroom, can still be taught and practised safely when certain public health measures are followed, similar to other permitted activities, such as cheerleading and gymnastics. Dance classes that do not meet the specified criteria (e. g. a Zumba class) would not be permitted.

Additionally, regulations Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and Rules for Areas in Stage 3 have been amended to remove restrictions on in-person teaching and instruction for fire departments. The amendments, similar to what is currently in place for police training, are critical for public safety and the safety of fire department personnel.

The ROA came into force on July 24, 2020 to ensure important measures remained in place after the provincial declared emergency came to an end. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time. The government will review all orders continued under the ROA and report on order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.

The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website.

QUICK FACTS

  • The ROA allows certain orders to be amended, subject to criteria, and does not allow new orders to be created.
  • The ROA requires the Premier to table a report on any amendments or extensions of any orders within 120 days after the first anniversary of the act coming into force.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 21, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Stay Safe and Follow Public Health Advice This Halloween

October 19, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, issued the following statement detailing public health advice for Halloween this year:

“As Ontarians begin to prepare for Halloween this year, I’d like to remind everyone to take extra precautions to ensure you are keeping yourself and your families safe.

Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended and people should consider alternative ways to celebrate. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Encouraging kids to dress up and participate in virtual activities and parties;
  • Organizing a Halloween candy hunt with people living in their own household;
  • Carving pumpkins;
  • Having a movie night or sharing scary stories; and
  • Decorating front lawns.

It is recommended that you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place. It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.

To have a safe and happy Halloween, Ontarians should follow some simple steps:

  • Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household;
  • Stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19;
  • If you live outside the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions and are going to go out to trick or treat:
    • Only go out with members of your household;
    • Only trick or treat outside;
    • Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering. A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe;
    • Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting. Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects;
    • Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer; and
    • Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or oth er similar tools to hand out treats.

I would also like to remind everyone that we are in a second wave of COVID-19. There have been increases in cases in many areas across the province, and the percentage of people tested who get a positive result is going up.

The severity of this second wave is in our hands. Through our collective efforts, we can change the outcome of this new outbreak. That is why it remains critical to continue following these important actions everyday in order to protect your health and stop the spread of COVID-19, including:

  • Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
  • Stay home if you feel ill or have symptoms even if they are mild;
  • Maintain physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
  • Wear a face covering indoors in workplaces, businesses and facilities, and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or if wearing one is required;
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
  • Follow social gathering and organized public event limits;
  • Download the COVID Alert mobile app;
  • If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self-assessment; and
  • Get tested if you have&nb sp;symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through COVID Alert. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • If you live within a public health unit region in Stage 3, consider printing one of these posters as a tool to help let your neighbours know whether you are handing out treats.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.

Posted October 19, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Millions Across Canada Now Using Made-in-Ontario COVID Alert App

October 15, 2020

Province Working with Private Sector to Encourage More Users to Help Keep People Safe

TORONTO — The Ontario government is working with some of the most influential brands in Canada, including Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, to encourage more people to download the made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app and help protect people across the country from the pandemic. To support businesses large and small, the government is launching a new webpage that will provide them with the tools they need to promote the app and build on its success to-date.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Jamaal Magloire, Canadian NBA All-Star and Toronto Raptors team ambassador.

“One of the best and simplest ways to protect you, your family and people around you from COVID-19 is to download the made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app,” said Premier Ford. “We have already seen tremendous support from all corners of the province ― and the country ― with millions doing their part. I am proud to say that the Prime Minister, my fellow premiers, mayors and CEOs from some of Canada’s largest institutions are stepping up. I encourage everyone to participate because we need all of us pulling in the same direction to make this COVID Alert app work.”

Today, Nova Scotia joins Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and almost 4.5 million Canadians, in this national effort to download the COVID Alert app and help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Ontario is working with major employers from a variety of sectors, from banking and insurance to large retailers, telecommunications, media and entertainment companies, to promote the COVID Alert app. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Argonauts, Toronto FC and the Toronto Maple Leafs used their voice to encourage people across the province to download COVID Alert to protect themselves and their loved ones.

COVID Alert has also been promoted by other private-sector partners, including:

  • Bell Canada
  • BMO
  • Bruce Power
  • Canada Life
  • CIBC
  • Enbridge
  • Manulife
  • Postmedia
  • RBC
  • Scotiabank
  • Sun Life
  • TD Bank
  • Torstar
  • The Globe and Mail

Additional support for the app is being provided by:

  • Ontario Chamber of Commerce
  • City of Toronto
  • City of Ottawa
  • Residential Construction Council of Ontario
  • Canadian Armed Forces
  • Restaurants Canada
  • Ontario Energy Board
  • Ontario Pension Board
  • Ontario Pension Trust
  • Ontario Power Generation

These organizations are leading by example and encouraging their employees, members, and customers to download the app by reaching out through advertising and social media campaigns.

“As our government continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are committed to developing digital tools to help stop the spread,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board and Minister Responsible for Digital and Data Transformation. “I’m echoing the Premier’s call for people and businesses across our province to support our government’s efforts in combating this virus by either downloading or encouraging those around them to download this free, voluntary, and easy to use app.”

More than 1,130 one-time keys have been entered by app users in Ontario who have tested positive for COVID-19, in turn notifying Ontarians of potential exposure to the virus and allowing them to take necessary public health precautions.

“Protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians is and always will be our government’s top priority,” said Minister Elliott. “While following public health guidelines continues to be the best way to protect yourself and your community, the COVID Alert app helps support our contact tracing efforts and is another tool in our fight against this virus.”

The COVID Alert app is one more way Ontario is leveraging the power of technology to deliver more convenient, more reliable and more accessible programs and frontline services to the people and businesses of Ontario.

QUICK FACTS

  • The COVID Alert app became available for download from the Apple and Google Play app stores in Ontario on July 31, 2020.
  • All Ontarians are encouraged to download the COVID Alert app for free from the Apple and Google Play app stores.
  • The more people who have the app, the more effective the province will be at stopping the spread of COVID-19.
  • The COVID Alert app is compatible with the vast majority of smartphones owned by Ontarians. With close to 90% of Ontarians having access to a smartphone, almost all of them should be able to download the app.
  • Ontario was the first province where people could confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis in the app, notifying other app users in a privacy-protected way.
  • One of the app’s key strengths is its focus on privacy: the app was developed in consultation with the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario, does not track or trace users, and does not store users’ personal information, health information, or location data.
  • The app does not replace manual contact tracing by local public health authorities. It complements these efforts by helping more Ontarians get notified more quickly when they’re exposed to COVID-19 ― so they can follow public health advice and self-isolate, get tested, and slow the spread of the virus sooner.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Outings on Hold for Long-Term Care Homes in Areas of Higher Community Spread

October 14, 2020

Updated directive pauses absences to protect residents and staff

TORONTO — The Ontario government is adding to the precautions taken last week to protect residents and staff in the province’s long-term care homes.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, effective October 16 and until further notice, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be allowed at long-term care homes in areas of the province where there is higher community spread of COVID-19. Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed.

The communities where these restrictions apply are:

  • City of Ottawa
  • Region of Peel
  • City of Toronto

“We recognize these changes may be difficult for the residents and families affected,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “But our priority has to be the safety and well-being of the residents and staff in Ontario’s long-term care homes.”

A complete list of homes affected has been posted online. The province will update the list as the areas with higher community spread change. People planning a visit to a long-term care home are advised to contact the home in advance, to make sure the home is free of outbreaks and to get information on the home’s visitor policy and any restrictions.

Direction on safety in long-term care homes will continue to be updated as Ontario’s experience with COVID-19 evolves. The government will continue to make every effort to support the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and the staff who care for them.

QUICK FACTS

  • Today’s changes take effect 48 hours after the release of the updated Directive #3 for Long-Term Care Homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007.
  • On October 5, the province announced updates to its visitor policy that address areas where there is higher community spread of COVID-19. As of October 7, essential visitors, including caregivers are the only visitors allowed in long-term care homes in the affected communities.
  • Caregivers are essential visitors who provide direct care to residents, such as helping with feeding, mobility, hygiene, or cognitive stimulation. They can be family members or friends, privately hired caregivers, paid companions and/or translators. Each resident and/or their substitute decision maker may designate a maximum of two caregivers. However, only one caregiver at a time may visit a home in an area with higher community spread.
  • All visitors to long-term care homes are required to follow public health measures (including active screening, physical distancing, hand hygiene, masking for source control) during their visits.
  • Caregivers must attest to having a negative COVID-19 test within the previous fourteen days, without a subsequent positive test.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 15, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Continues to Support Restaurants During COVID-19 Pandemic

October 13, 2020

Province Helping to Offset Fixed Costs and Permitting Alcohol with Delivery and Takeout Food Orders

ETOBICOKE — The Ontario government is encouraging everyone to support local restaurants and the food services industry during COVID-19. Last week, the province introduced additional targeted public health measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts to help slow the spread of the virus. Over the next 28 days, indoor food and drink service at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments in these regions will be prohibited, but they may continue to offer takeout, delivery and outdoor dining.

Today, Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, were at Mamma Martino’s Restaurant in Etobicoke to highlight government support for the industry.

“Families and entrepreneurs across Ontario have poured their hearts into local restaurants and diners. They’ve been there for us, from donating to charities to sponsoring little league sports,” said Premier Ford. “To support them during these tough times, our government is making millions available to provide relief for fixed costs. I’m also calling on everyone in Ontario to rally around our small businesses by ordering takeout or delivery. Together, we can make a huge difference.”

To provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new public health measures, Ontario announced $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.

The government is also supporting small business through its Main Street Recovery Plan by:

  • Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
  • Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
  • Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
  • Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work;
  • Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today;
  • Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
  • Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
  • Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.

“Small businesses account for 98 per cent of all businesses across the province and employ close to 2.4 million hardworking Ontarians. That’s why their recovery, including those in the food service sector, is so critical to Ontario’s recovery,” said Minister Sarkaria. “During the good times, our restaurants have given us a place to gather as family and friends — to build memories. We must continue to show them what they mean to our communities. All Ontarians can support their local businesses by celebrating #TakeoutDay — today, tomorrow, and any day of the week.”

QUICK FACTS

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government took additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be in effect for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
  • Ontario’s new Main Street Recovery Plan builds on more than $10 billion in urgent relief and support provided through Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
  • The Ontario government cut the small business Corporate Income Tax rate by 8.7%, starting on January 1, 2020. This delivers up to $1,500 in annual savings to Ontario’s small businesses.
  • In April 2020, Ontario partnered with the federal government to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses, making more than $900 million available in urgent commercial rent relief for Ontario small businesses and their landlords.
  • On October 9, 2020, the federal government announced plans to replace the CECRA for small businesses, which ended on September 30, 2020, with a new rent subsidy, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS). CERS is expected to provide rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying small businesses and organizations affected by COVID-19.
  • Ontario is helping businesses overcome the unique challenges created by this pandemic with 50 temporary regulatory changes made to help them adapt. The government is looking at removing 400 additional roadblocks.
  • Ontario’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act is laying the foundation to restart jobs and development, strengthen communities, and create opportunity for people in every region of the province.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Supporting Local Festivals and Events

October 8, 2020

Government investment will help promote creative and safe programs during COVID-19

TORONTO – Ontario is investing $9 million through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program to support municipalities and event organizers during COVID-19. This funding will be used to maintain public safety requirements and allow people to reconnect with their communities through online, drive-through and other innovative experiences. Organizers will be developing creative programs such as virtual Remembrance Day events, reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year’s Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings.

Details were provided today by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries at Ontario Place.

“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented and devastating impact on our local festivals and events,” said Minister MacLeod. “This important investment through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program will continue to support Ontarians as they reconnect and experience all their local communities have to offer.”

Funding may be used for eligible expenses such as programming and production, promotion, mobile applications and website development, and implementation of health and safety measures.

The application period for the Reconnect Festival and Event Program runs from October 8 to December 1, 2020.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Reconnect Festival and Event Program is open to organizers with a minimum $50,000 operating budget and the capacity to safely reconnect Ontarians with their communities.
  • Tourism is a key economic driver in Ontario, supporting more than 400,000 jobs and generating over $36 billion in spending.

This year, through Celebrate Ontario, the government invested $9.75 million to support more than 250 festivals and events in communities across the province, including Blockbuster events.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Revises COVID-19 Screening Guidance for Schools and Child Care

October 1, 2020

Updates Reflect Latest Public Health Advice

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is updating its COVID-19 school and child care screening guidance. This additional information will help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.

The school and child care screening guidance is being updated with two sets of questions about symptoms and information to help parents make informed decisions about whether their children should attend school or child care, need to consult a health care provider, or get tested for COVID-19. The guidance can be found immediately at the COVID-19 Screening Tool for Children in School and Child Care, and the refreshed online tool will launch on Friday, October 2 for download.

“Ensuring that children can attend school with minimal interruption is an important part of their healthy growth and development,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “Based on a review of the current evidence and consulting with paediatric infectious diseases experts, we are updating the list of symptoms in the COVID-19 screening tool for schools and child care to ensure that our children receive the education and care that they need while minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

The first set of questions asks about symptoms such as fever or cough. Students and children with any of these symptoms will still be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.

The second set of questions asks about other symptoms that are commonly associated with other illnesses, such as a runny nose or headache:

  • Students and children with only one of these symptoms will be advised to stay home for 24 hours, after which they can return to school or child care if their symptoms are improving.
  • Students and children with two or more of these symptoms will be advised to stay home until they are able to consult with a health care provider and receive an alternative diagnosis or a negative COVID-19 test.

In addition, based on the latest public health guidance the symptom list for children in school and child care no longer includes abdominal pain or conjunctivitis (pink eye).

“We are grateful to Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health for contributing significantly to the development of Ontario’s Back-to School Plan,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Our focus continues to be on limiting the spread within our schools by listening to and acting upon the best available medical advice, which includes ensuring all layers of prevention are in place to keep kids safe.”

QUICK FACTS

  • With a recent increase in cases of COVID-19 it is critical for everyone to follow public health advice to continue to protect vulnerable populations and stop the spread. This includes: staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill; practising physical distancing with those outside your household; wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and adhering to gathering limits and rules.
  • For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted October 2, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Delivers $2.8 Billion COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan

September 30, 2020

New Investments Prepare Province for Second Wave of COVID-19

TORONTO ― The Ontario government has developed a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan to ensure the province’s health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season. Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 will enable the province to quickly identify, prevent and respond to surges and waves of the virus to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.

The full plan was delivered today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“For months, our government has been developing one of the most robust and comprehensive COVID-19 fall preparedness plans in the entire country,” said Premier Ford. “We are making an unprecedented investment of over $2 billion to fortify the frontlines of our health care system and ensure we are prepared for future waves of this virus, while ensuring patients and long-term care residents continue to receive the absolute best care from our top-notch health care professionals and their loved ones.”

“Over the past week, we have unveiled key pillars of our fall preparedness plan which sets out specific investments and actions to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians,” said Minister Elliott. “As the number of cases continue to increase, we cannot afford to let our guard down. It remains critically important for everyone to continue to follow public health advice and measures as we implement this plan. Everyday actions like physical distancing, wearing a face covering and staying home when you are ill will help us protect each other and the most vulnerable as we continue our fight to stop this virus.”

“With today’s release of the updated modelling, it shows that we need to be ready for all possibilities,” said Dr. Williams. “By implementing this plan and reminding everybody to continue following public health advice and measures, we will be prepared to respond to any scenario.”

The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan focuses on six key areas to rapidly identify and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks and surges, build health system capacity, and reinforce the province’s health care workforce. These areas are:

Maintaining strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management:

Ontario is investing $1.376 billion to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19. As part of this funding, $1.07 billion will expand laboratory capacity, reduce testing backlogs, support existing assessment centres, and add more testing locations and capacity. The province is working with Ontario Health, local public health units and hospitals to expand testing locations based on local needs, while also offering more convenient and less invasive testing options and increasing testing capacity. Up to 80 pharmacies in Ontario are currently offering free COVID-19 testing by appointment only. The province has also added over 1,700 staff to assist with case and contact management.

Implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history:

Ontario is investing nearly $70 million to purchase and distribute flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. In addition, Ontario is investing $26.5 million to purchase and administer additional flu vaccine doses if required and $2 million to purchase additional antiviral medication to support outbreak management of influenza in institutions. Flu vaccinations help reduce emergency department visits and wait times during flu season and help to preserve hospital capacity for any surges in COVID-19 patients. Ontario is prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes. In addition, the province is making it easier for seniors to receive high-dose flu vaccines by making them available at participating pharmacies, as well as primary care providers and public health units. The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units f or anyone over the age of six months, and at participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older.

Quickly identifying, managing and preventing COVID-19 outbreaks:

Ontario is investing $30 million to build on its efforts to rapidly identify and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks. Under the leadership of Dr. Dirk Huyer, Coordinator of the Provincial Outbreak Response, the province is working to prevent, minimize and manage outbreaks in a number of sectors, including education, child care, agriculture and health care. Ontario has also developed a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the virus and detect cases and outbreaks quickly.

Accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs:

Ontario is investing $283.7 million to assist the health system’s ongoing efforts to reduce surgery backlogs by supporting extend hours for additional priority surgeries and diagnostic imaging. The government is also adding 139 critical care beds and 1,349 hospital beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province to support more surgical procedures. This investment is in line with the guidance framework released in May 2020, A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic. These efforts will support a resilient system that can safely continue to provide services during potential future outbreaks and surges.

Preparing for surges in COVID-19 cases:

Ontario is investing $457.49 million to ensure that the health system is prepared to respond to any waves or surges of COVID-19 without interrupting routine health services. This includes helping up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the proper care in a home or community setting to help add more capacity in hospitals; expanding digital health and virtual services; improving access to mental health and addictions services and supports with a $26.75 million investment; and increasing home and community care service by adding 484,000 nursing and therapy visits and 1.4 million personal support worker hours.

Recruiting, retaining, training and supporting health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers:

Ontario is investing a total of $52.5 million to recruit, retain and support over 3,700 more frontline health care workers and caregivers to ensure the health care system can meet any surge in demand, while continuing to provide safe and high-quality care to patients and long-term care residents. This includes $18 million for Ontario’s Nursing Graduate Guarantee program, which provides full-time salary and benefits for over 600 nurses; up to$8 million to add over 800 nurses to the health system in areas of need across the province; and $10.3 million into the new Personal Support Worker Return of Service Program, to recruit and retain 2,000 recently graduated personal support workers (PSW) to work in long-term care homes and in the home and community care sectors.

Supporting Long-Term Care Homes:

To support the six key areas of focus of Ontario’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, the province also released COVID-19: Long-term care preparedness, a plan that includes nearly $540 million in long-term care investments to prepare long-term care homes for future waves of COVID-19. Ontario’s investments in long-term care will help homes enhance infection prevention and control, support adequate staffing, manage operating costs related to COVID-19, and help people on the long-term care waitlist stay in their own homes longer through an innovative community paramedicine program in development.

This funding includes $405 million to help homes with operating pressures related to COVID-19; $61.4 million for minor capital repairs and renovations in homes to improve infection prevention and control; $40 million to support homes that have been impacted by the changes in occupancy numbers due to COVID-19; $30 million to allow long-term care homes to hire more infection prevention and control staffing; and $2.8 million to extend the High Wage Transition Fund.

“We are working in partnership across government and doing everything we can to protect Ontarians from COVID-19,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “We have made tremendous progress to fortify our long-term care homes, so they have the physical and human resources they need to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents and staff.”

Supporting Schools and Child Care Centres:

Earlier this month, Ontario released a $1.3 billion plan to reopen schools safely and provided $234.6 million through the federal Safe Restart Agreement for child care and early years settings, which complements existing provincial and federal investments to help keep children and families safe.

For schools, this includes funding to hire more teachers to keep class sizes small, funding to hire additional nurses to facilitate public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies, and funding to hire 1,300 custodians to enhance cleaning in schools and buses. The government is also continuing to ensure personal protective equipment is delivered to all schools, and masks continue to be sent to all Ontario child care centres to ensure they can operate safely.

Ontario has also developed a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the virus and detect cases and outbreaks quickly in schools. This includes launching a voluntary, simple and fast online COVID-19 School Screening Tool for families, school staff and essential visitors, and providing daily public reporting of cases at schools and child care centres. To provide rapid-response support to schools and boards, and facilitate public health measures, the province is investing $62.5 million to hire 625 public health nurses to monitor for COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.

“Our comprehensive plan prepares us for every possible scenario and adds new layers of protection as we follow the guidance of leading health experts to ensure our schools and child care settings are safe,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We are making unprecedented investments to support health and safety measures including hiring more staff, purchasing more cleaning supplies, improving ventilation, and expanding access to technology and mental health supports.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The best way to protect yourself and your community, to fight COVID-19 and to help stop the spread is to continue to follow public health advice that reduces the risk of transmission and helps keep Ontarians safe, including the new restrictions on social gathering.
  • The province continues to make progress in building its inventory of personal protective equipment to support the response to COVID-19.
  • COVID Alert is available for free use and download from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This new app lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted September 30, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Releases Updated COVID-19 Modelling for Second Wave

September 30, 2020

Modelling Shows Following Public Health Measures Remains Critical to Stop the Spread

TORONTO — The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows the province is experiencing a second surge in cases similar to what other jurisdictions have experienced. The province is providing the public with full transparency about the consequences if Ontarians are not vigilant in adhering to public health measures. The Chief Medical Officer of Health says Ontarians must be vigilant in adhering to public health measures to reduce the number of new cases and the spread of the virus.

Ontario has developed a comprehensive plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, to ensure the health care system is prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall including future surges and waves of COVID-19 and flu season. The plan ensures the province is able to quickly respond to any scenario in order to protect all Ontarians and communities.

“COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat in our communities, and today’s modelling shows the importance of adhering to public health measures,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Over the summer we saw how our collective efforts helped slow the transmission of COVID-19, we must not let our guard down now as we head into the cold and flu season. We all need to do our part and continue to follow all public health measures in place to contain and stop the spread of the virus.”

Key highlights from the modelling update include:

  • Ontario is currently on an upward trajectory similar to what its peer jurisdictions, including Victoria, Australia and Michigan in the United States, have experienced.
  • Cases are currently doubling approximately every 10 to 12 days.
  • The growth in cases was initially in the 20 to 39 age group but now cases are climbing in all age groups.
  • Forecasting suggests that Ontario could be around 1,000 cases per day in the first half of October.
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) occupancy is currently steady, but it is predicted that admissions will likely rise with an increase in COVID-19 patients being hospitalized.
  • Ontario may see between 200 and 300 patients with COVID-19 in ICU beds per day if cases continue to grow.
  • In order to reduce the spread and the number of new cases, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including avoiding large gatherings, physical distancing and wearing a face covering.

“With the recent rise in cases, we limited private social gatherings and tightened public health measures for businesses and organizations to reduce the transmission in our communities,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We wanted to release this modelling to be open about the challenges our province faces, and the important work we all need to do to flatten the curve.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise if and when public health restrictions need further adjustment, or if a community-specific or region-specific approach should be taken.

QUICK FACTS

  • To reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, it is critical that all Ontarians continue to follow everyday steps to reduce risk of COVID-19 transmission:
    • Staying home when ill or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
    • Maintain physical distance by keeping at least two metres from others outside your social circle;
    • Wash hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available; and
    • Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so.
  • Testing is available to those within provincial testing guidance at any of the province’s assessment centres and participating pharmacies. To find your closest assessment centre or pharmacy, please visit ontario.ca/covidtest.
  • For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted September 30, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Providing over Half a Billion Dollars to Protect Vulnerable Seniors against Second Wave of COVID-19

September 29, 2020

New Investments Part of the Government’s COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing close to $540 million to protect residents, caregivers, and staff in long-term care homes from future surges and waves of COVID-19. The funding is part of the province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19.

Details of the plan were shared today by Premier Doug Ford, Dr. Merillee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We have a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable, while ensuring they continue to have access to the best medical staff and their caregivers,” said Premier Ford. “We are taking every step possible to fortify that iron ring of protection around our long-term care homes and that includes updating the visitor policy. I encourage family members to identify as essential caregivers at the homes, so they can continue to visit and support both the physical and mental well-being of their loved ones and all the residents.”

As part of the Fall Preparedness Plan, the government is enabling necessary renovations and measures to improve infection prevention and control, shoring up personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles, and building a strong health care workforce.

The new investments include:

  • $405 million to help homes with operating pressures related to COVID-19, including infection prevention and containment measures, staffing supports, and purchasing additional supplies and PPE;
  • $61.4 million for minor capital repairs and renovations in homes to improve infection prevention and control. These repairs and renovations may include minor upgrades to support physical distancing, plumbing or water supply cleaning, updating HVAC systems, or repairing or replacing furniture and equipment that cannot be fully cleaned;
  • $40 million to support homes that have been impacted by the changes in occupancy numbers due to COVID-19. As the sector has been directed to stop admissions of third and fourth residents to larger rooms, a key source of income for each operator will be impacted. This funding will help stabilize the homes through the transition to lower occupancy rooms;
  • $30 million to allow long-term care homes to hire more infection prevention and c ontrol staffing, including $20 million for additional personnel and $10 million to fund training for new and existing staff. This new funding will enable homes to hire over 150 new staff;
  • $2.8 million to extend the High Wage Transition Fund to ensure that gaps in long-term care staffing can continue to be addressed during the pandemic;
  • Provide all long-term care homes with access to up to eight weeks of supply of PPE so they are prepared in case of outbreaks. This supply will be available starting the week of October 5, 2020. The province will also continue to deliver PPE within 24 hours of urgent requests;
  • The government continues to look at innovative solutions to provide more care where and when people need it. Through the skills of community paramedics and working with municipal partners, the government will be making an investment to help people on the long-term care waitlist stay in their own homes longer.

“COVID-19 demands a culture of continuous learning: the more we learn, the better we can plan and prepare for future waves,” said Minister Fullerton. “Our government is committed to applying what we have learned during this outbreak to build and strengthen a long-term care system that works in the best interests of our residents and the people who work so hard to keep them safe.”

“Protecting the health and safety of Ontarians, especially those who are at higher-risk like seniors and residents living in long-term care homes, is our top priority,” said Minister Elliott. “The actions our government is taking to protect our loved ones along with the critical investments we are making to strengthen the long-term care sector will ensure our homes are prepared for the second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season.”

The province will also be making changes to its visitor policy to long-term care homes, to ensure that long-term care homes in areas of highest community spread are able to continue to keep residents safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 within their homes. Effective Monday, October 5, 2020, visitors to long-term care homes in these areas will be restricted to staff and essential visitors only, which includes essential caregivers.

Residents and substitute decision-makers are encouraged to identify up to two individuals as essential caregivers. Doing so will ensure the continuation of visits and support the physical and mental well-being of residents at the home.

Essential caregivers must continue to follow all public health measures, including having a negative COVID-19 test within two weeks of a visit, passing active screening at the home, wearing a mask and additional PPE as directed, and practising frequent handwashing.

The province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities. The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:

  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers;
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history;
  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs; and
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases.

QUICK FACTS

  • Starting on September 25, 2020 Ontarians can get tested for COVID-19 at pharmacies if they are not showing symptoms and are a worker, visitor, or resident of high-risk settings, such as a long-term care home, shelter, or other congregate setting. They may also include any individual identified as part of a targeted testing campaign as directed by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Long-Term Care or by local public health.
  • In September 2019, the High Wage Transition Fund was extended while the government developed new programs to improve how long-term care is delivered in Ontario. The original end date of the fund was December 31, 2020. Due to the impact of COVID-19, the High Wage Transition Fund will be extended until March 31, 2021.
  • The province reconvened the Long-Term Care Incident Management System (IMS) structure in September. The Long-Term Care IMS Table monitors the data and organizes efforts to make rapid decisions that support long-term care homes in need. This includes those struggling to control outbreaks, complete infection prevention and control assessments, ensure appropriate staffing levels, access PPE, and complete the testing of long-term care home residents and staff.
  • The province will continue to facilitate temporary management partnerships between Ontario hospitals and long-term care homes to help the homes manage resident care in response to COVID-19 outbreaks. Thirteen partnerships have been facilitated since May.
  • Launched in April, the province’s Health Workforce Matching Portal has helped make over 650 staffing matches for long-term care homes.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted September 29, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Updates COVID-19 Testing Guidelines

September 24, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health issued the following statement outlining updated COVID-19 testing guidelines for Ontario:

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario has adhered to public health measures and established a strong foundation for testing and case and contact management that allowed us to rapidly identify and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks. To support this, Ontario established a provincial COVID-19 lab network with capacity for more than 40,000 daily tests.

As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, the province must also adapt its approach to testing. With the upcoming flu and cold season approaching, we need to ensure Ontario’s publicly-funded testing resources are available for those who need them the most, such as school children and others with symptoms of COVID-19. That’s why, in consultation with health experts and Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel, Dr. David Williams and I have recommended Ontario update testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at the greatest risk, while shifting away from untargeted asymptomatic testing.

Publicly-funded testing will be available and easily accessible for those who are symptomatic, have had close contact with a confirmed case, or are part of an outbreak investigation. In addition, testing will continue to be available on a targeted basis for specific asymptomatic individuals who are at greater risk due to their health condition or employment, at the direction of the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Evolving our testing guidance in this way will support timely access to testing for those who need it.

Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if you are:

  • Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
  • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit; and
  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Starting on September 25, you can get tested for COVID-19 at select pharmacies if you are not showing symptoms and eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Our best defence against COVID-19 is still to follow all public health measures like practicing physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill even with mild symptoms, so we can stop the spread.

As Ontario continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel and Public Health Ontario will continue to actively review testing guidelines.

Testing continues to be available at any of the province’s 150 assessment centres currently open, and at participating pharmacies starting this Friday. To find the closest pharmacy or assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest.”

Posted September 24, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Investing More Than $1 Billion to Expand COVID-19 Testing and Contact Tracing

September 24, 2020

Province Also Enhancing Efforts to Quickly Identify, Manage and Prevent COVID-19 Outbreaks

TORONTO — The Ontario government is building on the largest provincial testing initiative in Canada by providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management. The government is also immediately investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province’s long-term care homes, retirement homes and schools. These investments are part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“We’ve put over $1 billion on the table to help track, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 through the largest and most robust pandemic testing initiative in the country,” said Premier Ford. “By ramping up our daily testing capacity to 50,000 tests and closely monitoring our long-term care homes and schools, we can quickly respond to any outbreaks and surges and stop the spread of this deadly virus in its tracks.”

Expanding testing and case and contact management

A critical part of Ontario’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan is encouraging people to continue to adhere to foundational public health measures and monitor public health trends carefully. That’s why the province is investing $1.07 billion to enhance and expand efforts to test, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19.

“As part of our plan to ensure the health system’s readiness for future waves of COVID-19, our government is dramatically expanding our testing capacity, launching more testing locations and adding more case and contact management resources to trace and isolate new cases,” said Minister Elliott. “In doing so, we will also support long-term care homes, schools and hospitals to effectively prevent, track and contain outbreaks of COVID-19.”

To date, Ontario has maintained adherence to public health measures and established a strong foundation for testing and case and contact management by:

  • Establishing a provincial COVID-19 lab network with capacity for more than 40,000 daily tests;
  • Establishing over 150 assessment centres;
  • Testing long-term care home residents and staff in addition to the ongoing testing of staff and homes in outbreak;
  • Providing up to 1,700 more contact tracers to support public health units in contact follow-ups through an agreement with the federal government;
  • Launching a new, custom-built case and contact management digital system to improve data quality and timeliness and eliminate the use of the multiple tools being used across the province and the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) for COVID-19;
  • Launching COVID Alert, the country’s made-in-Ontario exposure notification app; and
  • Launching a robust public awareness campaign to educate the public on how to keep them and their families safe, including targeted campaigns to young Ontarians.

Building on these efforts, Ontario will strengthen public health measures and continue to expand testing and case and contact management through the following:

  • More Testing Locations: Working with Ontario Health, local public health units and hospitals, Ontario will expand testing locations based on local needs to provide Ontarians with more access to testing and reduce testing wait times. This will include adding more testing locations such as primary care offices, at-home testing for certain home and community care clients, and starting on Friday, September 25, 2020, in participating pharmacies.
  • More Testing Options: Ontario will ensure health professionals can provide more people with timely and convenient tests by expanding the methods for COVID-19 testing. Less invasive collection methods, such as throat, nasal swabbing and saliva collection will now be used in addition to nasopharyngeal swabs to test for COVID-19. Starting this week, three Ontario hospitals are offering saliva collection, with more assessment centres offering this option in the coming weeks. The province continues to review innovative technologies, such as rapid and point of care tests, to ensure Ontarians have access to leading and faster testing options.
  • More Testing Capacity: Ontario will continue to expand the capacity of the provincial lab network so more tests can be processed and testing targets can be achieved. This includes hiring more lab staff and professional staff and improving data quality through digitizing requisition forms and other automated features. As a first step, the province will increase testing capacity to conduct up to 50,000 daily tests.
  • More Case and Contact Managers: Ontario will continue to add case and contact management staff to prevent the spread of the virus. There are currently more than 2,750 case and contact management staff active across all public health units tracing and managing COVID-19 cases, up from approximately 1,500 staff in the spring. An additional 500 Statistics Canada employees are being onboarded this month to assist with contact management and Ontario is hiring an additional 500 contact tracers. In total, there will be more than 3,750 case and contact management staff working to keep Ontarians safe.
  • Better Health Behaviour Information: Ontario will conduct health behaviour surveillance to track adherence to public health measures across Ontario and to help understand how to better communicate the importance and benefit of continuing to follow public health measures.

To measure success in these efforts, Ontario will track progress against the following:

  • Faster turnaround time for testing: 80 per cent of test results delivered within 48 hours.
  • Maintain test positivity rate under three per cent;
  • Ensure sufficient case management and contact tracing capacity to continue reaching 90 per cent of cases within 24 hours; and
  • Compliance with public health measures (based on health behaviour surveillance data).

In support of these efforts, the province has also released new testing guidance to help focus public resources on where they are needed the most.

Quickly Identify, Manage and Prevent Outbreaks

With the flu and cold season approaching and a potential second wave of COVID-19, Ontario will invest $30 million to build on its efforts to rapidly identify and contain any COVID-19 outbreaks.

To date, Ontario has worked to improve outbreak prevention and management by:

  • Deploying hospital infection prevention and control (IPAC) resources to provide ongoing support to long-term care homes;
  • Naming Dr. Dirk Huyer as Coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response to work collaboratively with all ministries, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health units to prevent, minimize and manage outbreaks, including in schools, long-term care homes, retirement homes, child care centres, farms and hospitals;
  • Developing a COVID-19 surveillance strategy to monitor the disease and detect cases and outbreaks in a timely manner, including in long-term care homes and schools; and
  • Launching a new, custom-built case and contact management digital system for rapid identification of cases to speed up outbreak management response times.

Ontario will continue to improve outbreak management through the following:

  • More than $510 million provided through the Social Services Relief Fund to municipal Service Managers and Indigenous Program Administrators to protect vulnerable populations, including supporting physical distancing and enhanced infection control measures in congregate settings and isolation facilities;
  • Emergency Management Ontario has developed and distributed an outbreak guidance toolkit to support each ministry’s outbreak management planning, ensuring strong sector responses; and
  • Stress-testing outbreak response protocols and structures through virtual simulation exercises that have been held across the province to address outbreaks in schools, universities and correctional facilities. Additional scenario planning exercises are focusing on Indigenous communities, long-term care homes and retirement homes.

As Ontario works to contain and prevent outbreaks, the province will measure success using the following criteria:

  • Rapid containment of outbreaks; and
  • Fewer outbreaks in congregate and other high-risk settings, including long-term care homes.

The province’s COVID-19 fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities.

The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:

  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.

QUICK FACTS

  • The best way to combat COVID-19 is to continue to follow strong public health advice that reduces the risk of transmission and help keep Ontarians safe.
  • With current capacity of more than 40,000 daily tests, Ontario has been processing an average of 39,500 tests per day over the past seven days and is working on building testing surge capacity.
  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 151 assessment centres currently open and at participating pharmacies starting Friday, September 25. To find the closest assessment centre or pharmacy, please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest.
  • Since the launch of the Case and Contact Management Strategy, Ontario continues to consistently reach more than 90% of new cases within 24 hours of a case receiving a positive test result.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Ontario Updates COVID-19 Testing Guidelines
  • COVID Alert is available for free use and download from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This new app lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus.
  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.

Posted September 24, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Expands COVID-19 Testing to Pharmacies

September 23, 2020

Up to 60 Ontario Pharmacies to Offer Testing by Appointment Starting Friday

HUNTSVILLE — The Ontario government is providing people with convenient and timely access to free COVID-19 testing at pharmacies in the province. As of Friday, up to 60 pharmacies in Ontario will begin offering testing by appointment only, with further locations coming online in the coming weeks. This initiative will expand testing capacity well beyond the province’s 150 assessment centres.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We rely on our pharmacists for our flu shots, prescriptions, and important health advice for ourselves and our families. It makes sense to engage them as key partners in delivering more COVID-19 testing,” said Premier Ford. “I have to thank Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, and the independent pharmacies who have stepped up in a big way to help expand testing to more people in the province. With everyone pitching in, we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 50,000 tests a day and stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Pharmacies may choose to provide testing for Ontarians who have no COVID-19 symptoms. Individuals, within provincial testing guidance, will be able to visit select pharmacies by appointment only, and they will be pre-screened and then tested at no charge. When visiting a pharmacy Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures, including wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.

“As part of our plan to ensure that we are ready for future waves of COVID-19, our government is working with pharmacies to help expand testing for Ontarians,” said Minister Elliott. “With a recent increase in the number of cases, we are making sure people have more options for testing to identify cases of COVID-19 early. We must not let our guard down. Our best defense is still to follow all public health measures like practising physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill, so we can stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The expansion of COVID-19 testing to pharmacies is part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 will help the province quickly identify, prevent and respond to any scenario in order to protect communities.

The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:

  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.

Given the size and complexity of the Keeping Ontarians Safe plan, the province will continue to release details over the coming days.

In addition, Women’s College, Mount Sinai and University Health Network―Toronto Western Hospital assessment centres will be offering saliva testing this week. More assessment centres will offer this less invasive method in the coming weeks, giving Ontarians more options to access testing for COVID-19.

QUICK FACTS

  • Beginning September 25, up to 60 pharmacy sites, including Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall and independent pharmacies, will provide testing for Ontarians with no COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 150 assessment centres currently open, and at participating pharmacies starting Friday. To find the closest pharmacy or assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest.
  • Stay at home and away from others if you are feeling ill. If you are experiencing any symptoms or worried you have been exposed to COVID-19, you should get tested at an existing assessment centre.
  • For added protection, download the COVID Alert app from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.

Posted September 23, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Set to Launch Largest Flu Immunization Campaign in Province’s History

September 22, 2020

New Investments Part of the Government’s COVID-19 Fall Preparedness Plan

TORONTO — The Ontario government is implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history. The campaign is part of the province’s comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19. The plan, entitled Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, sets out a series of steps to prevent, identify and respond to any outbreak scenario this fall.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We’ve been working through the summer to put in place a robust and comprehensive plan to tackle a potential, more challenging second wave of COVID-19,” said Premier Ford. “It’s important that we prepare for any scenario in order to protect all of our citizens, especially our seniors and most vulnerable. Our government is doing everything it can to defeat this deadly virus, including delivering an unprecedented flu shot campaign to maintain capacity in our hospitals.”

The Keeping Ontarians Safe plan will:

  • Maintain strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management;
  • Quickly identify, manage and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks;
  • Accelerate efforts to reduce health service backlogs;
  • Prepare for surges in COVID-19 cases;
  • Recruit, retain, train and support health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers; and
  • Implement the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario’s history.

Given the size and complexity of the Keeping Ontarians Safe plan, the province will release details over the coming days.

“Our government has been working directly alongside our partners on the frontlines to ensure the health system is ready to deal with any future waves of COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “While our best defense continues to be our everyday actions to stop the spread, like practising physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill, we have developed a plan that prepares us for any eventuality, including the approaching flu and cold season.”

The annual spread of the flu presents an additional challenge to Ontario’s response to future waves of COVID-19. That’s why the province is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded campaign this year. Ontario has implemented several measures, such as:

  • Ordering 5.1 million flu vaccine doses in partnership with the federal government and other provinces and territories, 700,000 more than the approximated usage last year. This includes 1.3 million high-dose vaccine doses for Ontario seniors, especially those with pre-existing health conditions;
  • Prioritizing early distribution of the flu vaccine for vulnerable populations in long-term care homes, hospitals and retirement homes;
  • Investing an additional $26.5 million to purchase additional flu vaccine doses if required and made available through the national vaccine bulk procurement program;
  • For the first time in Ontario’s history, improving access by allocating high-dose flu vaccines for seniors to participating pharmacies; and
  • Launching a public education campaign to encourage getting the flu shot.

“The Ontario Pharmacists Association is very pleased that pharmacy professionals will have a significant role in the Ontario government’s fall preparedness plan to protect Ontarians this year from flu and COVID-19,” said Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association. “The Ontario government’s decision to expand the high-dose flu vaccine program recognizes the high degree of accessibility of frontline pharmacy professionals, especially during the pandemic, as well as pharmacy’s dramatic success story in boosting immunization rates against influenza.”

The flu shot will be available in the coming weeks at primary care provider offices and public health units for anyone over the age of six months, and participating pharmacies for anyone five years of age or older. When getting the flu shot, Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures, including wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.

QUICK FACTS

  • The flu is a contagious illness that can result in a hospital stay or can lead to complications such as pneumonia, heart attack or, in rare cases, death.
  • The flu shot is especially important for children four and under, those who are pregnant and people 65 years and older who are at higher risk of flu-related complications. Children four and under should visit their doctor to get the flu shot.
  • Flu season can start as early as November. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to reach full effect, so be sure to get the shot when it becomes available.
  • Last flu season, there were about 5,719 flu-related hospitalizations in Ontario and 280 flu-related deaths.
  • To measure the success of this year’s flu immunization campaign, the province will measure the following: higher number of doses distributed this year in comparison with 2019, and higher estimated vaccine uptake in comparison with 2019.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • For more information on the flu, visit ontario.ca/flu.
  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19.
  • For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted September 22, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Limits the Size of Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings across Entire Province

September 19, 2020

Province Takes Decisive Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, is reducing limits on the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored and private social gatherings across the entire province. Earlier this week, the government imposed these restrictions in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa.

The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Over the past several days, we have seen an alarming growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in the province,” said Premier Ford. “Clearly, the numbers are heading in the wrong direction. That’s why we are taking decisive action to lower the size of unmonitored private social gatherings in every region of Ontario. We need everyone to follow the public health rules in order to prevent another provincewide lockdown, and protect all our citizens, especially the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

The new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering across the province is:

  • 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
  • 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).

Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

“We are taking further action to slow the spread and limit new cases of COVID-19 by reducing the size of private social gatherings across Ontario. This action is based on the increasing case counts that we are seeing,” said Minister Elliott. “As we continue to closely monitor the spread of this virus, we will never hesitate to take further action to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.”

The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, continue to be in effect.

These new limits are effective immediately.

To support better compliance with public health guidelines, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, establish:

  • A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order.
  • A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings.
  • Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.
  • Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises.

“It is critical that we continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We are making it easier for communities to keep people safe through a broad array of tools and deterrents including stiffer penalties for organizing social gatherings at private residences that violate the applicable size restrictions. Today’s expansion of gathering restrictions across the province shows that we remain agile in our response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Ontario.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice. This includes:

  • staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
  • practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings;
  • protecting your social circle;
  • wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
  • washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
  • adhering to gathering limits and rules.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

QUICK FACTS

  • On July 24, 2020, the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act (ROA) came into force to ensure important measures remained in place after the provincial declared emergency came to an end. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time. The government will continue to review all orders continued under the ROA and will report on order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
  • Some local municipalities may have enacted by-laws or local medical officers of health may have issued Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, in some settings. Other medical officers of health may have mandated the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, through reference to emergency orders. Refer to local municipal or public health unit webpages for more information.
  • Over 180 guidance resources are available to businesses to help them safely reopen and keep customers and workers safe.
  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 147 assessment centres currently open. To find your closest assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted September 21, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Launches New COVID-19 Screening Tool to Help Protect Students and Staff

September 16, 2020

New Tool Part of the Government’s Plan for the Safe Reopening of Schools

TORONTO — The Ontario government launched a new voluntary interactive screening tool to assist parents, students and staff with the daily assessment of COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors that is required before attending school. The results will let parents, students, and education staff know whether they should attend school each day or guide at-risk individuals to proper resources. This tool is another layer of prevention that the province is using to protect the health and safety of students, staff, and the communities where they live and work.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board.

“We are doing everything we can to keep students and staff safe, and that includes this new screening tool which will help people protect themselves and others from COVID-19,” said Premier Ford. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to screen themselves or their child for symptoms before going to school. If you’re sick or someone in your household is sick, even with mild symptoms, please stay home.”

The new easy-to-use tool is voluntary and available for all parents, students and staff to use to help screen for symptoms of illness every day. Users will simply respond to clinician-informed symptom and risk questions, and the tool will then immediately inform users whether it is safe to attend school that day. The tool protects privacy and does not collect any personal health information. The tool was also developed in house by the Ontario Digital Service at no additional cost to taxpayers.

“Our government is taking every preventive action to safely reopen our schools, including the introduction of Ontario’s new COVID-19 screening tool for students and staff,” said Minister Lecce. “We have made tremendous progress as a province, which is why we must continue to heighten our vigilance by stepping up screening of each student and staff member before they enter our schools.”

Earlier this summer, Ontario unveiled the nation’s most comprehensive plan for the safe reopening of schools in September. The plan is supported by $1.3 billion in critical supports to hire more teachers and increase physical distancing, purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), enhance cleaning of schools and school buses, improve ventilation, hire more custodians, and add more school leadership positions and administrative support for virtual schools. The province has also established a mandatory masking policy for grades 4-12, and a robust surveillance and testing strategy to ensure a successful return to classrooms.

In addition, local public health units have filled over 530 nursing positions, or 85 per cent, of the additional 625 nursing positions created to help keep students and staff safe. The nurses will be providing rapid-response support to schools and school boards in facilitating public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies. In order to ensure that schools are supported from the start of the school year, several public health units have temporarily redeployed existing nurses while recruitment activities continue.

As part of Ontario’s commitment for transparency, and in partnership with the Ministry of Heath and the Ontario Digital Service, the Ministry of Education has also launched a webpage to report COVID-19 cases in schools and child care centres. This page will be updated every weekday with the most up-to-date COVID-19 information available, including a summary of cases in schools and licensed child care centres and agencies. This important resource will help parents and guardians know whether a COVID-19 case has been confirmed at their children’s school, and where the numbers come from.

“As students across the province return to school, it’s more important than ever that we provide families with the tools and information they need to stay safe and healthy,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “Throughout the pandemic, our government has worked swiftly to leverage technology and innovation that puts vital programs and services at your fingertips. This tool is another example of how we’re building a government that works for you.”

The government also released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document. This guide was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario has committed to making $1.3 billion in COVID-19 resources available to school boards in support of the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes $381 million in federal funding to support provincial back-to-school plans and $50 million in provincial funding for air quality and ventilation in schools.
  • For September, the government has delivered over 37 million pieces of PPE to Ontario’s 72 school boards and 10 education authorities, including more than 19.5 million masks, 16 million gloves, 317,000 face shields, 320,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, and 218,000 containers of disinfectant, among other critical supplies.
  • The Ontario government has named Dr. Dirk Huyer as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response. In this role, he will lead the province’s efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture, and health care sectors.
  • The voluntary screening tool is one of several tools Ontarians should use to stop the spread of COVID-19. Other tools include Ontario’s self-assessment tool, which helps people check whether they have symptoms of COVID-19, and the COVID Alert app, which lets people know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19—and alert others if they test positive.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted September 17, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Province Ramps Up Production of Ontario-Made Ventilators

September 15, 2020

Lifesaving Equipment Will Support Frontline Health Care, Prepare Province for Future Challenges

GUELPH ― The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund in Guelph-based Linamar Corp. to support the retooling of its assembly line to manufacture ventilator components to produce 10,000 Ontario-made e700 ventilators. O-Two Medical Technologies partnered with Linamar Corp. and other partners, including Bombardier, to produce these lifesaving devices to enhance future preparedness and help patients with severe cases of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford and Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.

“Ontario is the workshop of Canada, and it’s the creativity and ingenuity of enterprising companies like Linamar and O-Two that will make Ontario-made medical equipment known for quality and excellence across the country and around the world,” said Premier Ford. “By building homegrown capacity to make ventilators, we will never again have to rely on any other country for this critical piece of lifesaving medical equipment.”

Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is delivering targeted investments that will increase the province’s stockpile of Ontario-made products and personal protective equipment (PPE). This new manufacturing capacity will enable the province to combat the current COVID-19 outbreak and prepare for potential challenges in the future, while supporting local businesses during the safe and gradual reopening of the province.

“Businesses like Linamar, O-Two Medical, and Bombardier have stepped up with solutions to help at a critical time,” said Minister Fedeli. “Ontario’s economic recovery would not be possible without the collective efforts of everyone in every corner of this province. We applaud our world-class manufacturing sector for helping ensure the province has the Ontario-made solutions to respond to the needs now and any future emergency, should it arise.”

Linamar is a leading Ontario-based diversified advanced manufacturing company supplying the automotive, agriculture, and aerial work platform markets.

QUICK FACTS

  • The government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses retool their operations to produce PPE and develop technology-driven solutions and services for businesses to reopen safely.
  • Businesses and individuals looking to help in the fight against COVID-19 can submit their proposals through the Ontario Together web portal.
  • The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory provides businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted September 15, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Releases COVID-19 Management Plan for Schools

August 26, 2020

Plan Prevents and Minimizes Outbreaks to Keep Students and Staff Safe

TORONTO — As part of Ontario’s plan for students to safely return to the classroom in September, the government has released the Operational Guidance: COVID-19 Management in Schools document. This guide was developed in consultation with public health experts, including Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and aims to help schools identify and isolate COVID-19 cases, reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, and prevent and minimize outbreaks.

In addition, Dr. Dirk Huyer, who was recently the Executive Lead for the COVID-19 Testing Approach at the Command Table and is the Chief Coroner for Ontario, will serve as Coordinator, Provincial Outbreak Response. Dr. Huyer will lead the province’s efforts to prevent and minimize COVID-19 outbreaks in a number of sectors, including the education, child care, agriculture and health care sectors.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Dirk Huyer.

“Just as many schools have fire safety and emergency response plans, we have been working hand in hand with the medical experts to develop a plan that will allow schools to quickly and effectively find, isolate and contain a COVID-19 case or outbreak,” said Premier Ford. “With medical experts helping to develop and support our plan, parents, teachers and educators can be confident every measure has been taken to put the health and safety of students and staff first.”

The guidance document will help school boards and school authorities consistently implement prevention measures, maintain accurate records of staff, students and visitors, work with their local public health units, and take appropriate action when staff, students, or visitors become ill during the school day. It includes detailed instructions for a variety of different scenarios. It also outlines recommendations for what parents should do to support their children.

“Ontario’s COVID-19 management plan for schools was developed by medical leaders, with one aim: to maximize safety and minimize the risk to your children,” said Minister Lecce. “We have the resources in place ― from nursing to testing and enhanced screening and cleaning ― to help prevent the spread, coupled with a comprehensive plan to respond to any challenge immediately and decisively, under the leadership of Dr. Huyer.”

Key elements of the guidance document explain:

  • The role of school boards and schools: keeping communities informed by creating a COVID-19 advisory section on both the board and school’s websites;
  • The role of local public health units: leading case and contact tracing activities, declaring outbreaks and directing closure of classrooms or schools where necessary;
  • The critical role of parents: screening their children every day before they go to school and keeping them home if they are ill;
  • Appropriate steps to take when a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, including notifying the school community while respecting individual privacy; and
  • Protocols to trigger various levels of public health responses or infection control measures. One case will trigger a public health response, two or more linked cases will trigger the declaration of an outbreak.

“The Government of Ontario needs to be prepared to identify and mitigate outbreaks, especially in settings such as schoo ls and child care centres,” said Dr. Dirk Huyer. “Through enhanced planning across government, we will be positioned to intervene quickly to prevent outbreaks and the spread of COVID-19.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health is also issuing an additional public health guidance, COVID-19 Guidance: School Outbreak Management, for medical officers of health and public health units to support their efforts in investigating cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks in school settings.

“As schools welcome students and teachers back in the coming weeks, it’s important for everyone to be informed and understand their role in keeping each other safe,” said Dr. David Williams. “This guidance document provides a thorough management plan for school boards, schools, parents and community partners like public health units to respond to COVID-19.”

The new guidance includes the following:

  • A protocol has been developed to deal with students who become ill while they are at school, including isolation, and providing personal protective equipment to the ill student and staff attending to them;
  • A clear communications process will be followed, so parents will know if a student or staff member in a school tests positive for COVID-19;
  • School boards will be required to work closely with public health units to communicate updates in real time and determine whether a class or school must be closed;
  • Led by Ontario Public Health, the government intends to surveillance test asymptomatic secondary students in schools.

On top of hiring more public health nurses for schools, education staff will have completed rigorous professional development on health and safety.

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, the guidance document will help support parents and schools as they continue to work together during these unprecedented times. The Minister of Education has issued a letter to parents to outline the shared responsibility to keep students safe and the key elements of the outbreak management protocol.

QUICK FACTS

  • Additional information is available on the provincial COVID-19 website, including resources to help stop the spread, sector specific resources including helpful posters, mental health resources, and other information.
  • On July 30, 2020, the government released the Guide to Reopening Ontario’s Schools, which was developed in consultation with leading medical experts and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. This plan committed over $300 million in funding to support a safe reopening of Ontario’s schools. The provincial guidelines provide a baseline and school boards are encouraged to adapt them to meet local needs and support students and families.
  • Dr. Huyer was appointed Chief Coroner for Ontario in March 2014. He received his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1986. He has served as a coroner in Ontario since 1992 and as Regional Supervising Coroner for five years. He is also an Assistant Professor with the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. During the pandemic, Dr. Huyer has been instrumental in implementing expedited response plans for the hospital and long-term care sectors and provided strong leadership in developing Ontario’s testing strategy.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted August 28, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Orders Under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020

August 20, 2020

Extensions needed to address ongoing risks of COVID-19 as province reopens

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). The extensions provide the government with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure important measures remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, people with developmental disabilities and those with mental health and addiction issues.

All orders under the ROA have been extended to September 22, 2020, with the following exceptions:

“We’ve seen great progress in our fight against COVID-19 in recent weeks, but now is not the time to let our guard down,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We must continue safely and gradually down the path to recovery while tackling the ongoing effects of this pandemic. We’re conducting an ongoing review and assessment of all orders to determine if they are still necessary and will relax restrictions or lift orders when it is safe to do so.”

On July 21, 2020, the Ontario Legislature passed the ROA to ensure important measures remained in place to address the sustained threat of COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency came to an end. Orders, made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) that were in effect when the ROA came into force, were continued under the new act for an initial 30 days. Under the ROA, orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time.

The government will continue to review all orders and will report on order extensions to the newly created Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.

The following orders under the ROA have been extended until September 22, 2020:

QUICK FACTS

  • The provincial Declaration of Emergency was terminated on July 24, 2020 when the ROA came into force.
  • The ROA allows certain orders to be amended, subject to criteria, and does not allow new orders to be created.
  • The ROA requires the Premier to table a report on any amendments or extensions of any orders within 120 days after the first anniversary of the act coming into force.
  • The power to extend or amend continued orders is limited to one year; these powers can only be extended by the legislature. If powers are extended beyond one year, an additional report is required for the extension period.
  • The Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight will meet for the first time on August 24, 2020 to hear the rationale for decisions to extend orders.
  • A full list of orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) and at Ontario.ca/alert.
  • As of August 10, 2020, all Public Health Units in the Province are in Stage 3 of reopening.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19

Posted August 21, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Implementing Additional Measures at Bars and Restaurants to Help Limit the Spread of COVID-19

July 31, 2020

Measures to Further Protect the Health of Ontarians as the Province Continues to Re-open Under Stage 3

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, has amended orders O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 and O. Reg. 263/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 2, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, implementing additional measures for restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments, as the province carefully and gradually reopens.

“Protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians has always been our top priority,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These additional measures will help reduce close contact between individuals in these settings, and support case and contact tracing, thereby limiting the spread of COVID-19.”

In order to keep patrons of restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments safe, the amended orders will implement the following measures:

  • All patrons will be required to be seated at all times, in both indoor and outdoor areas, with limited exceptions; and
  • Bars and restaurants (and also tour boat operators) in Ontario will be required to keep client logs for a period of 30 days and to disclose the client logs to the medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request, which will support case and contact tracing.
  • Complementary changes are being made in respect of existing provisions relating to tour operators and tour boat operators.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

QUICK FACTS

  • Businesses and sectors unable to open or facing significant difficulties in operating under the current restrictions are invited to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. Businesses are also encouraged to use the government’s guide to develop a workplace safety plan. Government officials will work collaboratively with them on a plan to safely reopen, where feasible. The plan will be considered by public health officials and the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee as part of Ontario’s approach to Stage 3.
  • Some local municipalities may have enacted by-laws or local medical officers of health may have issued Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, in some settings. Other medical officers of health may have mandated the use of face coverings, and other restrictions, through reference to emergency orders. Refer to local municipal or public health unit webpages for more information.
  • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1 888 444-3659.
  • Over 180 guidance resources are available to businesses to help them safely reopen and keep customers and workers safe.
  • The province has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.
  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 144 assessment centres currently open. To find your closest assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus.
  • The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 31, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Releases Plan for Safe Reopening of Schools in September

Province Providing Critical Investments and Resources to Keep Students and Staff Safe

TORONTO — The Ontario government is announcing the safe reopening of schools for in-class instruction beginning this September. The government has unveiled a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff, and provides school boards with unprecedented resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators. This plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the COVID-19 Command Table and paediatric experts.

Details on the safe restart of the 2020-2021 school year were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will reopen provincewide, with in-class instruction five days a week. Secondary schools with lower risk will reopen with a normal daily schedule, five days a week, while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online. Students from Grade 4-12 and school staff will be required to wear masks.

“It’s been hard on families to balance work and child care, while kids have been separated from friends and other kids their own age. We want to get our kids back to school, but it has to be done safely,” said Premier Ford. “That’s why we’ve worked with our public health experts, Ontario Health and the medical experts at SickKids to develop a plan that ensures students can return to the classroom five days a week in a way that protects the health and safety of our children, teachers, and school staff.”

Parents will continue to have the option to enroll their children in remote delivery, which respects their fundamental role in making the final determination of whether they feel safe with their children returning to school.

Based on the best medical advice available, the province is implementing additional public health protocols to keep students and staff safe when they return to school in September. To support the implementation of these protocols, the government is providing over $300 million in targeted, immediate, and evidence-informed investments, including:

  • $60 million in procurement of medical and cloth masks for students and staff, with direction to boards to ensure that students who cannot afford a mask are provided one;
  • $30 million for teacher staffing to support supervision, keeping classes small and other safety related measures;
  • $50 million to hire up to 500 additional school-focused nurses in public health units to provide rapid-response support to schools and boards in facilitating public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies;
  • Over $23 million to provide testing capacity to help keep schools safe;
  • $75 million in funding to hire over 900 additional custodians and purchase cleaning supplies for schools;
  • $40 million to clean school buses, to ensure that students are in a thoroughly cleaned transportation environment;
  • $10 million for health and safety training for occasional teachers, who have historically not been covered by professional development that is offered to permanent teachers;
  • $10 million to support special needs students in the classroom; and
  • $10 million to support student mental health.

This funding is in addition to a $25 million investment in mental health and technology, which will see an additional $10 million dedicated to mental health staff, resources, and programs, as well as $15 million in technology funding to support the procurement of over 35,000 devices for Ontario’s students to support their synchronous learning in-school and beyond.

“This plan reflects the best medical and scientific advice with a single aim: to keep your child safe,” added Minister Lecce. “While this plan will continue to evolve to respond to the changing threat of COVID-19, we will remain constant and consistent in investing in the resources, staffing, and cleaning supports, and strict health and safety protocols to keep our communities and our classrooms safe.”

The Ministry of Education has received clear and compelling public health guidance to inform the delivery of instruction for boards for the 2020-2021 school year. These decisions are adaptable to changing public health situations and were based on the rigorous and data-informed guidance of leading medical, epidemiological, and paediatric leaders in the province.

“Based on the current data, we are seeing that overall instances of COVID-19 are declining in Ontario. When considering the health of the whole child, and as long as this trend continues, we believe that with the appropriate measures and strategies in place to handle potential outbreaks and prevent spread, schools are expected to be a safe place for Ontario’s students and staff who attend in person,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure the safety of students and staff and will be prepared to transition to alternative options should circumstances change.”

“As a society, we’ve made an important shift in the dialogue about our children and the adverse health impacts of school closures,” says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids. “While we recognize that COVID-19 will be with us for some time, continuing to stay home from school has become untenable for many children, youth and families. Effective, evidence-based strategies can help promote the safety of students, teachers, school staff and families as they return to school.”

The Ministry of Education will continue working closely with public health and school boards to monitor and report on the health status of school communities, which is part of the government’s outbreak management plan. This plan, which was developed with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Health, outlines clear protocols and authorities of the multiple agencies and organizations involved in the public health landscape. In the event of positive cases of COVID-19 among students, parents, teachers, or other staff, these protocols will enable immediate action by health and education sector officials to identify, track, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the education system. Every school board will have communication protocols in place to keep families informed.

Quick Facts

  • Since June, school boards have been planning for three models of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year: conventional delivery, adapted instruction, and remote instruction, bolstered by live, dynamic synchronous learning. As the public health situation unfolds through the course of the school year, boards will continue to rely on these three models to respond nimbly and pragmatically to local public health dynamics.
  • Over the summer, students and families took advantage of expanded summer learning across the province. Over 150,000 students enrolled in high school programs, including more than 21,000 students who took Reach Ahead credits. Elementary students participated in literacy and numeracy programs and students with special education needs and mental health concerns are participating in new targeted and transition programs in preparation for the coming school year.
  • The government will be releasing a Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) to school boards to outline the requirements for educators and board staff in utilizing synchronous learning as part of remote and online forms of instruction during the school year.
  • As part of Bill 197, the government enabled a double-cohort of students in the province’s demonstration schools for the 2020-2021 school year, which will provide critical support and learning for students with severe learning needs. This was in direct response to the potential learning and development loss resulting from the school closure as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • On June 19, 2020, the government released a provincial reopening guidance plan to school boards and asked boards to prepare their own restart plans for the upcoming school year, which they will present to the Ministry of Education in early August.
  • The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will supply key personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to schools. Supplies needed for September are ready to be delivered to schools by mid-August.
  • Prior to school starting, School Mental Health Ontario will provide school boards with a professional learning framework and toolkit to support the mental health of all students that can be tailored at the board and school levels for different audiences. The professional learning will have a strong focus on building students’ social-emotional learning skills so that they can build resilience, manage their stress and build positive relationships.
  • On March 20, 2020, the Ministry of Education unveiled the Learn at Home / Apprendre à la maison portal, which provides online resources for families and students while schools remain closed.
  • Parents and guardians still have until August 31, 2020 to apply for Support for Families. Under this program, parents or guardians of children between 0-12 years old, or up to 21 years old for children and youth with special needs, are eligible for a one-time payment, per child, to purchase educational materials to support learning at home.

Background Information

Additional Resources

Posted July 31, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 3

July 29, 2020

Following Public Health Protocols Essential as Province Continues Down the Road to Economic Recovery

TORONTO — Additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening as the Ontario government allows the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to conduct rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.

Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020.

“While more restaurants, theatres and businesses can hang up their Open for Business sign, we’re asking everyone to follow public health advice and act responsibly,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We have made tremendous progress that allows us to return to something a little closer to our normal lives this summer, but we are not out of the woods yet. This virus is still among us and we have to be extra cautious to avoid sparking a surge or an outbreak. I strongly urge everyone to continue following public health protocols.”

Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will remain in Stage 2. Ontario will continue to monitor local trends of key public health indicators in the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region and move it into Stage 3 when it is safe to do so. In the interim, the government continues to address the needs of the region, in partnership with other levels of government, through measures such as on-farm testing, the deployment of mobile testing units and the adoption of new public health guidance for positive asymptomatic workers for all workplaces.

“More businesses and services are able to reopen thanks to the collective efforts of all Ontarians to limit the spread of the virus,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While public health trends across the province are positive, we continue to closely monitor Windsor-Essex so that we can move the community into Stage 3 when the time is right. No matter which stage a region is in, everyone needs to continue to follow public health advice to protect themselves, their families and community.”

Ontario is also supportive of proposals made by the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health relating to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments that are permitted to be open. For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health and workplace safety restrictions necessary to keep people safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

Businesses that are unable to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements, can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal for consideration. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarification and provide an initial response within 10 days.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health experts also continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice as more businesses and services reopen in Stage 3. This includes practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so, staying home when ill, and washing your hands frequently and thoroughly.

QUICK FACTS

  • Proposals from the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health, if adopted, would further limit close contact and interaction in restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments. This includes further restrictions on movement/seating and maintaining client logs to support case and contact tracing and limit the spread of the virus.
  • For regions in Stage 3, gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors, with physical distancing in place. Gathering limits apply to all social gatherings and events, as well as some higher risk activities and venues. Gathering limits do not apply to settings such as restaurants and bars, however these settings must be configured so that patrons seated at different tables are separated by a distance of at least two metres, plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.
  • Some local municipalities may have enacted by-laws or local medical officers of health may have issued Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, mandating the use of face coverings in some settings. Other medical officers of health may have mandated the use of face coverings through reference to emergency orders. Refer to local municipal or public health unit webpages for more information.
  • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1 888 444-3659.
  • Over 180 guidance resources are available to businesses to help them safely reopen and keep customers and workers safe.
  • The province has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.
  • Testing is available at any of the province’s 144 assessment centres currently open. To find your closest assessment centre, please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus.
  • The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 30, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Announces Five New Ontario Health Teams

July 23, 2020

Ontario Health Teams Better Connect Care and Support Ontario’s COVID-19 Response

LONDON — In support of the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and as part of the province’s plan to end hallway health care, the Ontario government is announcing five new Ontario Health Teams and is providing additional funding to better connect care.

“Over the past several months, Ontario Health Teams have demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to the COVID-19 outbreak by simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment, supporting the staffing of long-term care homes and assessment centers, and expanding virtual care options,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “They’ve done so by breaking down long-standing barriers to better connect care, both in support of patients and our brave frontline heroes. Today’s announcement of five new teams will build on this success as we continue to implement our plan to defeat COVID-19.”

The five new Ontario Health Teams are:

  • Algoma Ontario Health Team in Algoma District;
  • Niagara Ontario Health Team in Niagara Region;
  • Ottawa East Ontario Health Team in Eastern Ottawa, Eastern Champlain and a certain portion of Ottawa Centre, offering services in both official languages;
  • Western Ontario Health Team in London-Middlesex; and
  • Western York Region Ontario Health Team in Vaughan, Richmond Hill and King City.

Ontario Health Teams bring together health care providers to work as one team to improve patient outcomes. Through an Ontario Health Team, patients will experience easier transitions from one provider to another, including, for example, between hospitals and home care providers, with one patient story, one patient record and one care plan. Patients and families will also have access to 24/7 navigation and care coordination services.

“We have been provided with a remarkable opportunity to improve access for our patients and work more collaboratively as a care system,” said Linda Crossley-Hauch, Co-Chair, Western Ontario Health Team. “It is especially significant today, in the midst of a global pandemic, that we continue to find ways to work together in a more integrated and seamless way. We look forward to continued work with our partners and the Ministry of Health in service to our patients, their families and our community.”

The province is also investing up to $25.25 million to directly support the 29 approved Ontario Health Teams. Of this funding, $9.5 million will be dedicated to virtual care, which will provide more support for vulnerable populations and individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. With the remaining $15.75 million, each Ontario Health Team will receive up to $375,000, to be used for:

  • Expanding digital care, including training, education and purchasing new tools and technology for virtual visits, booking online appointments and patient portals;
  • Dedicated human resources to help develop and implement this new model of care, including more collaborative responses to COVID-19; and
  • Purchasing business information tools to measure the performance and outcomes of the Ontario Health Team model.

“Looking beyond the immediate threat of COVID-19, Ontario Health Teams will continue to meaningfully improve the care patients receive,” said Elliott. “Our investments will help provide additional resources for teams to develop these new integrated models of care and further expand virtual care options to benefit patients and families, especially during COVID-19.”

Last year, the Ontario government began implementing its plan to build a new, integrated health care system for patients by announcing the first 24 Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health, a single agency to oversee quality health care delivery, and improve clinical guidance and support for providers. The strong partnerships and integrated care established by Ontario Health Teams and Ontario Health has helped better position the province to respond quickly and effectively to COVID-19. As Ontario Health Teams continue to expand across the province, these partnerships and the lessons learned will also help better prepare the province for a potential second wave of COVID-19 and flu season.

QUICK FACTS

  • An Ontario Health Team is responsible for delivering care for their patients, understanding their health care history, easing their transition from one provider to another, directly connecting them to the different types of care they need and providing 24/7 help in navigating the health care system.
  • In its first year, the Western Ontario Health Team will focus on patients with advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and/or congestive heart failure, who need more support and coordinated care to prevent future emergency hospital visits.
  • The province has invited an additional 17 teams to submit a full application to become an Ontario Health Team. If approved and at maturity, these 17 teams will join the already approved 29 teams to cover 80 per cent of the province’s population.
  • Under an Ontario Health Team, Ontarians can be confident that they can continue to contact their health care providers as they always have, to access the health care they need. The Ontario government will continue working with its health care partners until Ontario Health Teams are fully established across the province and everyone is supported by a team.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 27, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Legislature Adjourns after Significant Sitting in Response to COVID-19

July 22, 2020

Emergency Measures Passed to Protect the Public and Prepare for Economic Recovery

TORONTO — The Ontario Legislature adjourned after an unprecedented session that saw cross-partisan collaboration in the fight against COVID-19. Since reconvening in February, the legislature passed 18 pieces of legislation, including emergency measures needed to protect public health and prepare for economic recovery. The legislature has now risen until September 14, 2020.

Premier Doug Ford and Paul Calandra, Government House Leader, thanked the Members of the Provincial Parliament (MPPs) for coming together during a time of crisis to support individuals, families and businesses across the province.

“In our hour of greatest need, MPPs stood shoulder to shoulder as Team Ontario to protect the public during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Premier Ford. “The people of this province expected us to work together and we reached across party lines to quickly introduce and pass critical legislation. We will continue to work for the people of Ontario to help them get back on their feet as we chart a path to recovery for every region in the province.”

After authorizing safe, limited sittings of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to allow for the passage of emergency legislation and in cooperation with the opposition parties and independent Members, the government charted a path to the responsible resumption of legislative business in May. The resumption of business facilitated the passage of 18 important pieces of legislation, including the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 and the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020.

“In the last five months, working through an unprecedented global public health crisis, our government adapted and innovated to ensure that all MPPs could be fully engaged in legislative business,” said Minister Calandra. “From the passage of 18 bills, one-third by unanimous consent of all parties, to the ground-breaking study into the economic and fiscal impacts of COVID-19 by the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, our government has been working cooperatively to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

The Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 ensures important measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. These measures will provide the province with the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak as Ontario moves towards recovery. The Act will come into force on July 24, 2020 to coincide with the termination of the declared provincial emergency.

The COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, 2020 will help create jobs and generate development by getting key infrastructure projects built faster. It will also strengthen communities by ensuring municipalities are equipped with the tools they need to continue to provide critical services, along with protecting consumers, modernizing services, improving the education system and removing social and economic barriers for young people.

“Ontario’s municipalities are the backbone of this province and their success is our success,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We are helping to ensure our municipal partners across the province are well-positioned to play their critical role in our economic recovery.”

Additional emergency legislation introduced and passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes:

  • Economic and Fiscal Update Act, 2020The government’s first steps in its response to COVID-19 were set out in the March economic and fiscal update, which included $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for students, families and seniors, and made available $10 billion for people and businesses through interest and penalty relief measures and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.
  • COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020: Legislative changes that made it easier for people to conduct business and practise physical distancing by providing Ontario corporations temporary flexibility to hold meetings virtually, defer certain annual meetings and allow the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of documents, electronic signatures on documents, and electronic filing of documents.
  • COVID-19 Support & Protection Act, 2020: The second phase of the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which included temporary relief for repayment of student loans, extending expiring development charge by-laws, suspending time limits for planning matters, and extending deadlines for municipal Community Safety Plans
  • Protecting Small Business Act, 2020: To support small businesses that experienced a significant decline in revenue during COVID-19, the government temporarily halted or reversed evictions of commercial tenants and protected them from being locked out or having their assets seized if they are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance.

QUICK FACTS

  • Since the Ontario Legislature reconvened in February 2020, the government has passed 17 Government Bills and one Private Member’s Bill. Of the 17 Government Bills passed, six received unanimous consent of all parties for expedited passage.
  • The legislature met for extended emergency sittings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March with nearly 220 hours of committee study to date and input from nearly 500 witnesses.
  • The legislature debated and extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency five times.

The government took steps to implement unprecedented measures to allow the full participation of all MPPs, while respecting public health guidance, including: permitting Members to vote from the public galleries and in the lobbies adjacent to the Chamber; permitting Members to sit at, speak from, or vote from any desk in the Chamber; limiting the number of Members present in the Chamber at any given time; mandating the use of virtual technology for meetings of Legislative Committees; allocating additional Question Period questions to the Official Opposition and Independent Members; and ordering an in-depth sectoral-based study at an expanded Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to be conducted virtually to study the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and measures contributing to economic recovery.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted July 23, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders

July 16, 2020

Extensions Protect Health and Safety as Economy Gradually Reopens

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended most emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) until July 29, 2020. Keeping the emergency orders in place provides the government with the necessary flexibility to ensure the protection of vulnerable populations, such as seniors, while continuing to implement its Framework for Reopening the Province with many regions entering Stage 3 on Friday.

“Although the trends in public health indicators continue to improve, we must remain on our guard and only relax emergency orders if and when safe to do so,” said Premier Doug Ford. “By following our gradual plan to reopen the province, we are seeing people get back to work and resume many activities safely. We do not want to undo the tremendous progress we have made together, so I urge everyone to stay the course and follow public health advice.”

On July 7, 2020, the Government of Ontario introduced the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 that would, if passed, ensure important measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial Declaration of Emergency has ended. The extension of these emergency orders under the EMCPA would allow orders that remain essential to be continued under the proposed legislation, if pas sed. The government continues to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if they can be safely eased or lifted.

The following orders under s.7.0.2 (4) of the EMCPA are extended until July 29, 2020:

QUICK FACTS

  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the EMCPA. The declaration of emergency is currently in effect until July 24, 2020.
  • On July 13, the government announced that more businesses and public spaces can reopen starting on July 17, 2020 as Stage 3 gets rolled out in many regions of the province.

In addition to extending orders, the government is making technical amendments as needed to certain orders. A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the EMCPA and at Ontario.ca/alert.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Nearly All Businesses and Public Spaces to Reopen in Stage 3

July 13, 2020

Public Gatherings Will Increase in Size as the Province Continues its Path to Economic Recovery

TORONTO — The Ontario government announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place. As Ontario continues down the path to economic recovery, decisions on which regions will enter Stage 3 and when will be made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts and based on trends of key public health indicators.

Details on the Stage 3 reopening framework were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

“Our success in reducing the spread of COVID-19 and getting Ontario to a place where we are ready to reopen most of the province is a testament to the hard work of business owners, individuals and families right across the province,” said Premier Ford. “So many have stepped up and played by the rules, demonstrating that we can restart our economy safely and responsibly. Small actions can make a big difference. Now more than ever, we must continue to follow the public health advice to preserve the progress we have made together.”

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Public gathering limits apply to indoor and outdoor events, such as community events or gatherings, concerts, live shows, festivals, conferences, sports and recreational fitness activities, fundraisers, fairs, festivals or open houses. A two metre distance must still be maintained at such events.

Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health, public health experts and other officials have advised the following, high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, even if a region has entered Stage 3, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID‑19:

  • Amusement parks and water parks;
  • Buffet-style food services;
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
  • Overnight stays at camps for children;
  • Private karaoke rooms;
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

The province is committed to working closely and collaboratively with businesses and sectors not yet able to reopen or who are experiencing significant challenges for reopening due to Stage 3 restrictions. These businesses can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to work with the government on a reopening proposal that will enable them to safely resume or increase operations. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications.

“With almost all businesses and services able to resume operations, Stage 3 is a major step forward in our plan to reopen the province,” said Minister Phillips. “We have to keep treating each other with respect and acting responsibly to keep up the progress in our fight against COVID-19. Our government will continue working with our partners across Ontario to rebuild our economy so that our province is a place of economic strength and prosperity for every person and family.”

The following public health unit regions will be allowed to move into Stage 3 first, on Friday, July 17, 2020:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Businesses and municipalities will be permitted to enter Stage 3 based on their region and, as in the previous stages, may choose to take more time before reopening. For a list of regions that will remain in Stage 2, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

At the beginning of each week, the province will continue to reassess local trends in public health indicators, including rates of transmission, hospital capacity, progress on testing and contact tracing, to determine if additional public health unit regions can progress to Stage 3. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened or reapplied.

“Having seen a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases as the province safely re-started over 90 per cent of economic activity with Stage 2, we now have the confidence to move certain regions into Stage 3, including expanding the size of gatherings indoors and outdoors,” said Minister Elliott. “As we do, it’s never been more important for all Ontarians to continue to practise physical distancing and wear a face covering when doing so is a challenge, such as safely visiting a favourite local store. Together, we’ll continue to move Ontario forward.”

As the province safely and gradually enters Stage 3, child care centres and home child care providers across Ontario will be able to continue to operate with strict safety and operational requirements in place. Beginning on July 27, 2020, child care centres will be permitted to operate with cohorts of 15 children, which is an increase from the current cohort cap of 10. This change will allow parents to return to work, and bring the child care sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Providing child care for parents is critical so that, as more Ontarians return to work, they can do so with confidence in knowing that their children are being safely cared for,” said Minister Lecce. “Child care is an integral enabler to the continued restart of Ontario’s economy, and we remain committed to working to ensure child care remains accessible, affordable and, most importantly, safe as we gradually increase capacity of Ontario’s child care sector.”

The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released over 170 guidance resources at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including fitness, restaurant and food services, and the performing arts ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. Guidance will be available for all spaces permitted to open in Stage 3. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review and implement appropriate measures to help protect their communities.

“As we enter Stage 3 and continue on the path to economic recovery, it is more important than ever that we support business owners and workers,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “That is why we launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment suppliers so they can keep their employees, customers and clients safe as they resume their operations. By continuing to work together, we will ensure Ontario is prepared and well-supplied for any future challenges.”

Based on community needs, some municipalities and local medical officers of health have implemented more restrictions or requirements, such as mandatory face coverings in commercial establishments and all indoor public places. Check your local public health unit‘s or local municipality’s website.

QUICK FACTS

  • The government invites businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions to visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal.
  • For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • The Ontario government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply PPE.
  • The government has also launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal to help businesses retool their operations.
  • Free online workplace health and safety training is available through Employment Ontario for up to 100,000 job seekers, with topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention. Contact an Employment Ontario service provider in your area to enroll.
  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, is leading a new committee focused on strengthening the work of the Ontario government following the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee will ensure public sector services are customer focused and digital- and data-driven, while increasing the speed of government operations and decisions.
  • Find sector-specific guidelines and return-to-sport resources to help facilities, trainers and athletes safely return to play and recreation activities in Ontario at Ontario.ca/returntoplay.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19

Posted July 13, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders

July 9, 2020

Province Maintains Flexibility to Protect Public Health as Economy Gradually Reopens

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 22, 2020. The extension was made to ensure the province maintains the necessary flexibility to protect public health and safety as more businesses reopen and people go back to work.

The extension of the emergency orders will help protect vulnerable people, such as seniors, by allowing the redeployment of frontline staff in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and other congregate care settings, like women’s shelters and residential services. In addition, the extension would allow public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing.

“Our government is getting Ontario back on track and more people back to work, but at the same time taking steps to ensure we don’t undo the tremendous progress we have made together,” said Premier Doug Ford. “By keeping these emergency measures in place, we will continue to support our frontline care providers, protect our most vulnerable, and ensure we can rapidly respond to potential outbreaks or surges.”

The government intends to extend emergency orders to align with the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, if passed. This proposed legislation is part of the government’s plan to cautiously reopen Ontario in a way that recognizes the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 even after the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. The bill, if passed, would allow Ontario to continue its path to recovery by easing restrictions where appropriate, while maintaining important select tools to address the ongoing threat of this deadly virus and protect Ontarians.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The declaration of emergency was extended and is currently in effect until July 15, 2020.
  • The government brought forward a motion in the Ontario legislature that, if passed, would extend the provincial declaration of emergency until July 24, 2020.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 9, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Starting Down the Path to Growth, Renewal and Economic Recovery

July 8, 2020

COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act Will Help Create Jobs and Opportunities, Build Stronger Communities

TORONTO — The Ontario government is taking the first step in a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery. Today, the province introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, proposed legislation that lays the foundation to restart jobs and development, strengthen communities, and create opportunity for people in every region of the province.

Details of the legislation were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all Ontarians and created significant hardship for individuals, families and businesses,” said Premier Ford. “People are relying on our government to help rebuild the province and get people back to work ― and that’s exactly what we’re doing, starting with this new legislation.”

If passed, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act will:

  • Restart jobs and development to get Ontario’s economic engine roaring again by getting key infrastructure projects built faster, attracting more jobs and investment, and cutting red tape to help businesses adapt to the new environment.
  • Strengthen communities by ensuring municipalities are equipped with the tools they need to continue to provide the critical services people rely on every day, including allowing municipalities and their local boards to continue to choose to hold meetings electronically at any time and putting in place a new community benefits charge to help municipalities pay for the infrastructure and services needed for growing communities.
  • Create opportunity for people as they recover their lives and livelihoods by protecting consumers, modernizing services, improving the education system and removing the social and economic barriers that stand in the way of success for young people.

“We are working hand in hand with our municipal partners so they can emerge stronger and better able to meet the needs of local residents,” said Minister Clark. “Ontario will continue to be a champion for communities and work closely with the federal government to help every community chart a path to a strong economic recovery.”

“Making Ontario a modern regulator — one that communicates clearly and operates effectively — will free up our people and businesses to focus on what’s important: recovering and re-emerging stronger than before,” said Minister Sarkaria. “By improving digital access to government and incorporating best practices, we’re empowering businesses to rebuild, rehire, and return to a period where their success fuels our economic growth. A modern Ontario is better for people and smarter for business.”

The government is committed to working in partnership with people, businesses and municipalities to respond to the challenges they face and support the long-term health and prosperity of Ontario’s economy.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario’s COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website was created to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by this pandemic.
  • Through almost 1,300 submissions the government is actively investigating nearly 400 as identified roadblocks.
  • To assist municipalities, the province announced several supports in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID 19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update). This lays the groundwork for nearly $450 million of direct support to assist municipalities in their efforts to support vulnerable people, deferring the June municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, and postponing the property tax reassessment for 2021 to ensure that municipal governments can focus their attention on critical public health initiatives.
  • The $450 million in support includes: $350 million through the Social Services Relief Fund, most of which allows local service managers and Indigenous program administrators to expand supports for our vulnerable people across the province; an additional $100 million to support public health units and Public Health Ontario for the extraordinary costs incurred in meeting this public health threat and in protecting Ontarians.
  • The government is investing $2.6 billion this year to rehabilitate Ontario’s highways and bridges in every corner of Ontario. To get shovels in the ground faster and get more people back to work, the government is making it easier to build this critical transportation infrastructure, which will reduce delays and save taxpayers money.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted July 9, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Introduces Legislation to Protect Public Health as Economy Reopens

July 7, 2020

Proposed Bill Would Provide Flexibility to Address the Ongoing Threat of COVID-19

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government introduced proposed legislation that, if passed, would give the province the necessary flexibility to address the ongoing risks and effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. The proposed legislation is part of the government’s plan for the continued safe and gradual reopening of the province once the declaration of emergency ends.

Details about the proposed legislation were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.

“If passed, the proposed legislation would allow us to chart a responsible path to economic reopening and recovery without putting all the progress we’ve made in fighting this virus at risk,” said Premier Ford. “Even as we continue certain emergency orders under the proposed legislation to protect public health, we will always be a government accountable to the people of Ontario. That’s why I will ensure ongoing updates are provided and that a report is tabled within four months of the anniversary of this proposed Act coming into force.”

“While the declaration of emergency may come to an end shortly, the risk posed by COVID-19 is likely to be with us for some time to come,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “This new legislation would provide the government with the necessary flexibility to ensure select tools remain in place to protect vulnerable populations, such as seniors, and respond to this deadly virus.”

The Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 would, if passed, ensure important measures remain in place to address the threat of COVID-19 once the provincial declaration of emergency has ended. Specifically, the legislation would:

  • Continue emergency orders in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) under the new legislation for an initial 30 days.
  • Allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to further extend these orders for up to 30 days at a time, as required to keep Ontarians safe.
  • Allow the Lieutenant Governor in Council to amend certain emergency orders continued under the EMCPA if the amendment relates to:
    • labour redeployment or workplace and management rules;
    • closure of places and spaces or regulation of how businesses and establishments can be open to provide goods or services in a safe manner;
    • compliance with public health advice; or
    • rules related to gatherings and organized public events.
  • Not allow new emergency orders to be created.
  • Allow emergency orders to be rescinded when it is safe to do so.

The ability to extend and amend orders under the new legislation w ould be limited to one year, unless extended by the Ontario legislature. Appropriate oversight and transparency would be ensured through regular, mandated reporting that provides the rationale for the extension of any emergency order. The legislation would include the same types of provisions on offences and penalties as set out under the EMCPA to address non-compliance with orders.

QUICK FACTS

  • The termination of the provincial emergency declaration under the EMCPA, or the passage of the proposed Act, would not preclude a head of council of a municipality from declaring under the EMCPA that an emergency exists in any part of the municipality or from continuing such a declaration.
  • The termination of the provincial emergency declaration under the EMCPA, or the passage of the proposed Act, would not preclude the exercise of the powers under the Health Protection and Promotion Act by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health or local medical officers of health.
  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial declaration of emergency under s.7.0.1 of the EMCPA on March 17, 2020. The declaration has been extended under s.7.0.7 of the EMCPA and is in place until July 15, 2020, allowing the province to continue to make new emergency orders or amend existing orders under the EMCPA until that date.
  • On June 26, 2020, emergency orders then in effect that were made under section 7.0.2 of the EMCPA were extended to July 10.
  • A full list of current emergency orders in effect under the EMCPA can be found on the e-Laws website under the EMCPA and at Ontario.ca/alert.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted July 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to July 15

June 24, 2020

Province Focuses on Safe, Gradual Reopening of Regions

TORONTO ― In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 15, 2020. This extension, approved by the Ontario Legislature earlier today, provides Ontario with the additional time, flexibility, and the necessary tools to safely and gradually allow more places to reopen, while continuing to support frontline health care providers in the fight against COVID-19.

“As we gradually and safely reopen our economy, our frontline care providers can continue to rely on these emergency orders to better protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens and provide the flexibility to put resources where they’re needed most,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are hopeful that another extension of the Declaration of Emergency will not be needed as we see improvements in the public health trends and as people and businesses continue to act responsibly and adapt to the new environment.”

The provincial Declaration of Emergency enables the government to make, and as needed amend, emergency orders that protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. Emergency orders in force under the Declaration of Emergency include those allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff to areas most in need, limiting long-term care and retirement home employees to working at one home, and enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support the province’s enhanced case management and contact tracing strategy. These measures continue to be needed to protect seniors and other vulnerable populations from the threat of COVID-19. The extension of the Declaration of Emergency will allow the province to make or amend emergency orders as needed as it continues to ease restrictions in support of its phased reopening.  

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government will continue to monitor public health trends related to COVID-19 and assess on an ongoing basis whether the provincial Declaration of Emergency needs to be extended further. The government will also continue to review emergency orders currently in place to determine when and if it is safe to amend or lift them as more places in the province are allowed to reopen in a safe and measured way.

As of June 24, 33 public health unit regions have entered Stage 2 of the Framework for Reopening our Province, allowing more businesses and services to open and getting more people back to work. The Windsor-Essex County public health unit region remains in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted June 25, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Moving Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 2

June 22, 2020

More People Can Return to Work as Key Public Health Trends Improve

TORONTO — The Ontario government is allowing more businesses and services to open and getting more people back to work by moving the City of Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 2 on Wednesday. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.

“Today’s announcement is another sign that we continue to make steady progress,” said Premier Ford. “We have been working hand-in-hand with our municipal partners and local public health units to safely and gradually reopen the province. We will do everything we can to get our final region, Windsor-Essex, into Stage 2 as soon as possible. That’s why we are ramping up testing and inspections on Ontario’s farms to protect workers and keep our food supply chains strong and healthy.”

Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will enter Stage 2 on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. They will join the 31 other public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12 and 19, 2020.

“Because of our collective efforts, we continue to make real and significant progress in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “As a result, more regions have met the public health criteria to move into Stage 2 and reopen more services for the communities to enjoy. Just as importantly, these efforts to stop the spread have ensured that we aren’t seeing spikes in cases in those regions that have been open for well over a week now.”

Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis. To ensure the region is able to move forward as soon as it is safe to do so, the province is building on the work completed by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to date and collaborating with federal and local authorities to support the implementation of a targeted and collaborative response that includes:

  • Continuing with proactive targeted testing for agri-food workers, including enhanced on-farm testing;
  • Conducting more than 200 Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on-farm inspections and investigations;
  • Starting new joint inspections of farms with federal authorities to review current working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and local public health officials;
  • Providing $15 million through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection program, which provides cost-share funding to improve employee and workplace health and safety on farms and in processing facilities. The funding can be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), put up physical barriers, make housing modifications, or provide alternate housing or other measures;
  • Translating COVID-19 health and safety guidance documents into Spanish and posting them on //Ontario.ca/covidsafety. Additional resources, including webinars and helpful posters, are also available, and will help farmers and other agri-food employers provide safe and healthy workplaces;
  • Providing specific funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces; and
  • Continuing to press the federal government to provide new funding to support priority sectors impacted by COVID-19, including the agricultural sector, as the province reopens and charts a path to economic recovery.

“Our government is committed to protecting our agri-food workers who continue to produce the safe and healthy foods Ontarians rely on,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Expanded on-farm proactive testing, more workplace inspections and additional resources like our $15-million Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program are part of our coordinated effort to safeguard our farm workers.”

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has also strongly recommended that local medical officers of health use their authority under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to issue class orders to ensure that employers of temporary workers take actions to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on farms. These actions will ensure:

  • All foreign workers self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their arrival, with the resources and supports they need to avoid any contacts with others and notification to public health unit if they have any COVID-19 symptoms;
  • All workers coming from any area where there is community transmission have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to beginning work;
  • Daily active screening;
  • Accurate and updated contact information of permanent, temporary and contract employees available to the public health unit within 24 hours and ensuring employees are assigned to the same group to support effective case management and contact tracing;
  • Physical distancing maintained between workers as best as possible and personal protective equipment to be provided based on risk assessment; and
  • All legislative requirements to protect worker health and safety are followed.

“COVID-19 has changed the way people work and interact with each other ― both on and off the farm,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development. “Our ministry, together with its health and safety partners, has worked hard to get important information to employers and workers in the agricultural sector. I encourage you to access these documents at //Ontario.ca/covidsafety.”

With this enhanced response, and continued support from the entire Windsor-Essex community, the government is confident Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will proceed to Stage 2 soon.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation in all regions of the province to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

Although restrictions are being gradually relaxed in Stage 2, the government is strongly recommending that everyone in Ontario follow public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

QUICK FACTS

  • Every Monday, the government is providing an update on the ongoing assessment of the different regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2.
  • To get tested, people should visit Ontario’s website to find their local assessment centre and whether they need to call ahead to make an appointment.
  • Stage 3 will focus on reopening more workplaces and community spaces, while carefully and gradually relaxing restrictions, and sustaining and expanding workplace health and safety guidance.
  • The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 23, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders

June 17, 2020

Province Focuses on Safe, Gradual Approach as Reopening Continues

TORONTO — The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This extension will be in effect until June 30, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to safely and gradually reopen the province, while continuing to support frontline health care workers and protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19.

“Extending these emergency orders gives our frontline health care providers the necessary flexibility to rapidly respond to urgent needs and protect our most vulnerable,” said Premier Ford. “Even though we’re seeing decreasing infection rates with increased testing levels, we can’t let our guard down just yet. We need to keep these emergency measures in place to support our frontline heroes and we must all continue following the public health advice, so we can reopen more of the province safely and gradually.”

While current emergency orders will remain in place until the end of the month, the government will continue to review each one on an ongoing, case-by-case basis to determine when and if they can safely be adjusted or lifted, as part of the province’s framework to safely reopen the province.

Over the past week, the government announced 31 public health unit regions across the province may proceed to Stage 2 of its Framework for Reopening the Province. This will allow additional businesses and services to reopen and more people to return to work.

In addition, larger social gatherings of up to 10 people are now allowed in all parts of the province, and people are encouraged to create or join a social circle. Social circles are different from social gatherings. Social gatherings of people from outside your household are limited to 10 people. A social circle is voluntary, but if adopted should include all household members, and can include family and friends outside the household up to a maximum of 10 people in the social circle, who can interact and come into close contact with one another without physical distancing. To learn how to create a social circle, please see the step-by-step guide.

To help stop the spread, people should continue to follow public health guidelines, including practising physical distancing, wearing a face covering where physical distancing is a challenge and washing their hands thoroughly and frequently. Anyone who is worried they may have COVID-19, or who may have been exposed to the virus, is encouraged to go for testing.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The declaration of emergency was extended and is currently in effect until June 30, 2020.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 18, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Releases Guide on How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

June 16, 2020

New Toolkit Will Help Employers Create Safer Working Environments for Employees during COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“As more regions enter Stage 2 of reopening, we want to give businesses the tools and resources they need to adapt and succeed in this new environment,” said Premier Ford. “By providing this guide on COVID-19 workplace safety, employers, employees, and customers can have the confidence they need to resume business as usual with the right health and safety measures in place.”

The new guide will help each employer create a safety plan that is right for their own unique workplace. It includes information on the use of face coverings, as well as applying controls in the workplace, from most important to least important. It also includes information on what personal protective equipment may be needed for workers.

The government’s first general workplace guide is accompanied by a template that employers can fill in to develop their own unique COVID-19 safety plan. The materials will help employers:

  • Identify the risks for transmitting the virus through person-to-person contact and actions such as touching faces with hands that have been contaminated by contact with surfaces and objects;
  • Determine what controls are needed to help mitigate risk, such as engineering controls like the installation of plexiglass to separate workers from customers, administrative controls limiting the number of workers in a space at one time, and personal protective equipment including face and eye protection;
  • Create a workplace safety plan based on the identified risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer’s workplace;
  • Implement the plan in the workplace, and review and update it as the situation evolves; and
  • Communicate the actions being taken to workers and other people entering the workplace.

The new guide is supported by 121 workplace resources available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety to help protect workers from the virus. They include safety guidelines and helpful posters with tips for 28 distinct sectors such as construction, food, agriculture, manufacturing and long-term care. These materials were developed by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in consultation with provincial health and safety associations.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of workers and others during these unprecedented times,” said Minister McNaughton. “I strongly encourage all employers in the province to visit our website at //Ontario.ca/covidsafety. The tools are there. The resources are there. The most up to date information is there. As more businesses reopen, we want to ensure they are able to adapt to this new environment quickly and efficiently.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development have inspected 10,716 workplaces as of mid-June. They have issued 6,405 orders, including 23 stop work orders, related to COVID-19.
  • Any worker who thinks they are working in unsafe conditions should report their concerns to Ontario’s Health and Safety Contact Centre, at 1-877-202-0008.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: More People Can Get Back to Work as Additional Businesses and Services to Reopen This Week

June 15, 2020

Ontario Moving More Regions into Stage 2 on Friday

TORONTO — More people will be able to get back to work as additional businesses and services in certain regions across Ontario can begin reopening this Friday. The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local medical officers of health, is enabling more regions of the province to enter Stage 2 of the government’s reopening framework. These regions are able to reopen due to positive trends of key public health indicators at the local level, including lower transmission of COVID-19, sufficient hospital health system capacity, local public health capacity to assist with rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing provincially.

The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, and Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Tourism, Culture, and Sport Industries.

Informed by public health advice and workplace safety guidance, and supported by the collective efforts of businesses, workers and families to limit the potential spread of the virus, the latest public health unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. are:

  • Durham Region Health Department;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Halton Region Health Department;
  • Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Lambton Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health Department; and
  • York Region Public Health Services.

These regions are in addition to the 24 public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12, 2020. Before opening, business owners need to review the workplace safety guidelines and public health  advice.

“Thanks to the collective efforts of our frontline health care workers and the people in these regions to stop the spread of COVID-19, more businesses will be able to open their doors and thousands of people will be able to go back to work and put food on the table,” said Premier Ford. “With the public health trends improving day by day across the province, I am hopeful all regions of Ontario will enter Stage 2 very soon. But we must remain on our guard to prevent any potential surge or secondary wave by continuing to follow the sound advice of our public health officials.”

The following regions will remain in Stage 1 under ongoing assessment until trends of key public health indicators demonstrate readiness to move into Stage 2:

  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

“Opening more regions of Ontario is another positive sign that we are making steady progress in our collective efforts to contain this deadly virus,” said Minister Elliott. “As many more Ontarians begin to work, shop and interact with others, it’s never been more important that we continue to follow public health advice, especially physical distancing with anyone outside of our social circle, so we can soon successfully and safely move into Stage 3.”

Public health remains the government’s top priority. All Ontarians must continue to follow public health advice, including practising physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID‑19, get tested.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

QUICK FACTS

  • At the beginning of each week, the government is providing an update on the ongoing assessment of Ontario’s regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of the week.
  • To get tested, people should visit Ontario’s website to find their local assessment centre and whether they need to call ahead to make an appointment.
  • The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario to Resume Family Visits in Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, and Other Residential Care Settings

June 11, 2020

Strict Health and Safety Guidelines Will Be Required to Protect Residents, Visitors and Staff

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government announced the gradual resumption of visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings.

Family and friends will be allowed access to these settings beginning June 18, 2020. Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum. Retirement homes will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained. Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time. Physical distancing will be required for all visits. This approach will ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and visitors.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

“Thanks to the hard work of our frontline workers and the collective efforts of everyone in stopping the spread, we can now allow families to reunite with their loved ones safely and in person with strict public health measures to protect residents, visitors and staff,” said Premier Ford. “But I ask everyone to be cautious and act responsibly as the battle to contain COVID-19 is not over and the risk to our loved ones still remains.”

Visits will resume next Thursday, one week after the release of visitor guidelines. They will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, including requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks, and complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.

Additionally, long-term care and retirement homes, as well as other residential care settings, must meet the following conditions before they welcome visitors:

  • Homes must not be in outbreak;
  • Homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures; and
  • Homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.

For retirement homes, visitor admissions will vary from home to home depending upon their individual circumstances.

“We know the visitor restrictions have been tough on residents, as families and loved ones play an important role in providing care and emotional support to residents. We are confident these visits can occur safely,” said Minister Fullerton. “With the possible spread of COVID-19 in our long-term care homes still being a real threat, people will need to follow strict health and safety protocols in order to protect our most vulnerable.”

“Seniors living in retirement homes have been doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “Our government appreciates their cooperation and we are happy they will soon be able to enjoy visits with family and friends while continuing to stay safe.”

Other residential care settings will also be allowed visitors under similar rules. These residential care settings include homes serving people with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence, and children’s residential settings.

“We are all looking forward to the day when we can once again see family and friends, and spend time together,” said Minister Smith. “Today is an important first step in reconnecting loved ones who have been separated all spring.”

As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves in Ontario, the direction on visits at long-term care homes, retirement homes and residential settings will continually be updated keeping the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and staff at the forefront.

Visits have been restricted since mid-March, with only essential visitors permitted to enter long-term care and retirement homes.

QUICK FACTS

  • In the event of an outbreak at an individual home or residential care setting, non-essential visits will again be restricted. If a second wave of COVID-19 occurs, the government will revert to restricting visitors at all homes and residential care settings to protect residents and staff.
  • These public health restrictions for long-term care homes, retirement homes, and residential settings are meant to provide meaningful and equitable access to visits for all residents, while considering the staffing and space capacity available to the home to maintain safety of residents, staff and visitors.
  • The government recently announced the launch of an independent, non-partisan commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in July 2020. Details of the commission are now being finalized, including the terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.
  • Testing of long-term care and retirement home residents and staff for COVID-19 has been completed, or is in the process of being completed, with additional rounds of testing currently underway.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)

Posted June 11, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Permits More Businesses and Services to Reopen in the Coming Days

June 8, 2020

Restrictions Being Eased in Communities Where It Is Safe to Do So

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government announced that it is getting more people back to work and more recreational activities open by moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of reopening the province.

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local health officials, the government is easing restrictions in communities where it is safe to do so, based on trends of key public health indicators such as lower rates of transmission, increased capacity in hospitals, and progress made in testing.

Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.

Public health unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m. include:

  • Algoma Public Health
  • Brant County Health Unit
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
  • Huron Perth Public Health
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health
  • Leeds Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
  • North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit
  • Northwestern Health Unit
  • Ottawa Public Health
  • Peterborough Public Health
  • Porcupine Health Unit
  • Public Health Sudbury & Districts
  • Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services
  • Renfrew County and District Health Unit
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit
  • Southwestern Public Health
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit
  • Timiskaming Health Unit
  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

Details of the Stage 2 reopening were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

“We are able to make this announcement today because of the extraordinary effort of our frontline workers and every other person in the province who helped to stop the spread of this deadly virus,” said Premier Ford. “Entering Stage 2 means parts of the province will see more people back on the job and an opportunity to get back together with friends and family. Although this is extremely encouraging, I urge everyone to exercise caution and continue to follow public health advice as we are not out of the woods yet.”

Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

As more people return to work, the services they rely on will need to be available regardless of the stage a region is in. The province will soon release more details on:

  • Child care;
  • Summer camps;
  • Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
  • Training centres; and
  • Public transit.

“The health and long-term economic well-being of the people of Ontario has guided every decision we have made in response to COVID-19,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. “The people and employers of Ontario have demonstrated responsible behaviour throughout the global pandemic. I’m confident that will continue in Stage 2 and beyond. Our collective health and the economic recovery of the province depend on it.”

At the beginning of each week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of these regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of the week.

Everyone, regardless of where they live in the province, must continue to follow public health advice, including to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

“As a result of efforts of all Ontarians to stop the spread of COVID-19, many regions have met the criteria to move into the next stage of our reopening plan, including a decrease in new daily cases and sufficient hospital capacity in the event of any spikes in cases or outbreaks,” said Minister Elliott. “Our regional approach recognizes that different regions in the province are experiencing COVID-19 differently and can safely and gradually ease restrictions and reopen local businesses. We will continue to monitor any shifts in the spread and take decisive action to contain any outbreaks.”

The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released more than 100 health and safety guidance documents at //Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including retail, restaurant and food services and child care ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review these guidance documents and implement appropriate measures to help protect their workers and customers.

“Ontario employers have the information and the tools they need to keep workers safe,” said Minister McNaughton. “That includes safety guidelines, posters and tip sheets to promote safe workplaces and help stop the spread of COVID-19. I strongly advise everyone to visit //Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to read, download, print and post them, for your sake and the sake of those around you.”

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, our government has worked together with Ontario’s business community to mobilize our manufacturing and innovation might to develop made-in-Ontario solutions,” said Minister Fedeli. “As we proceed into Phase 2 of the reopening process, we will continue to support both businesses and workers as we move forward on the path to economic recovery together.”

QUICK FACTS

  • For questions about what is currently able to open during Stage 1, or what will be open or impacts to your business or employment when we enter Stage 2, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee wants to hear directly from people and organizations from all regions and sectors to help inform the next steps in Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19. You can provide your input here.
  • Visit Ontario.ca/reopen to learn how you can provide your feedback on the impacts of COVID-19 on personal finances, business supports and government relief measures.
  • On April 1, 2020, the government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal and help businesses retool their operations.
  • The government has launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The directory can be accessed here.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to Support Its Reopening Efforts

June 6, 2020

Province Extends the Suspension of Limitation Periods and Time Periods for Legal Proceedings until September

TORONTO — The Ontario government, after consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 19, 2020. Extending these emergency orders will give employers of frontline care providers the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable people and the public as the province gradually and safely reopens.

Current emergency orders that have been extended include those that enable frontline care providers to redeploy staff where they are needed most, allow public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing, and prohibits long-term care and retirement home employees from working at more than one home or for another health service provider.

“It is critical that we keep these emergency orders in place so we can continue to reopen the province gradually and safely,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are not out of the woods yet, and this deadly virus still poses a serious risk. We encourage businesses to begin preparing to reopen, so when the time comes, they will be able to protect employees, consumers and the general public.”

Additionally, due to COVID-19’s unprecedented impact on the justice system, the province is extending the suspension of limitation periods and time periods in proceedings until September 11, 2020 under s.7.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This will ensure people will not experience legal consequences if the original time requirements of their case are not met while this order is in effect. The province is working closely with the courts to ensure operations can resume as soon as it is safely possible.

Anyone who suspects they may have COVID-19, or may have been exposed to the virus, is encouraged to visit an assessment centre to be tested. To help stop the spread, people should practise physical distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone outside their immediate household, wash hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if physical distancing is a challenge, wear a face covering.

The following emergency orders under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act have been extended until June 19, 2020:

QUICK FACTS

The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was recently extended and is currently in effect until June 30, 2020.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted June 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Appoints Special Advisor to Develop Health Data Platform

June 4, 2020

New tool will help researchers detect, plan and respond to COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government has appointed Dr. Jane Philpott as the special advisor to support the design and implementation of the new Ontario Health Data Platform (formerly known as PANTHR). This data platform will provide recognized researchers and health system partners with access to anonymized health data that will allow them to better detect, plan, and respond to COVID-19. As well, this platform will support projects from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.

“Dr. Philpott has extensive leadership experience in the health care system and her advice will be invaluable as we finalize the creation of the Ontario Health Data Platform,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This data platform will provide our world-class researchers and health system partners with secure access to better and more consistent population data, improving decision-making in health care and aiding our efforts to beat COVID-19.”

The Ontario Health Data Platform is being developed in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner. The information gathered will help break down long-standing barriers and allow researchers to help with:

  • Increasing detection of COVID-19;
  • Discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations;
  • Predicting when and where outbreaks may happen;
  • Evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working; and
  • Identifying where to allocate equipment and other resources.

As special advisor, Dr. Philpott will also chair the Joint Ministers’ Roundtable and provide recommendations to the Minister of Health and the President of the Treasury Board. The members of the Joint Ministers’ Roundtable include public health, research, privacy and clinical experts. Together, they will provide strong proactive leadership to ensure data is used in a privacy-protected way. The roundtable will participate in a consultation forum that will inform the development of the platform.

“As special advisor and chair of the joint ministers’ roundtable, Dr. Philpott will provide critical insight to support the design and implementation of this secure data platform,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. “The Ontario Health Data Platform will be a powerful tool that will help us better understand COVID-19, how it spreads and the most effective means of combatting it.”

“Whether on the frontlines of health care or as a medical educator or in this new role as special advisor, I’m honoured to be part of Ontario’s fight against COVID-19,” said Dr. Philpott. “This integrated data platform is an essential element in the province’s response to the pandemic. I look forward to watching how it will facilitate a broad range of health research and support quality improvements in clinical care.”

“My good friend Dr. Philpott is an extraordinarily accomplished public servant,” said the Honourable Paul Calandra, MPP for Markham-Stouffville. “I know she will bring an incredible depth of experience and dedication to this role.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Dr. Philpott is a physician, academic, administrator and former Canadian politician who served as the Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services and President of the Treasury Board in the federal government. She has executive experience in public health, medicine, academic administration, fiscal administration, health administration and public service. Beginning July 1, she will be the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University.
  • Working in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the Ontario Health Data Platform will hold secure data that will allow researchers and clinical decision-makers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the need to analyze the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Researchers can begin to access the platform in July 2020.
  • The Ontario government is investing $20 million through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund to support COVID-19 research by tapping into the expertise of Ontario’s colleges and universities, research institutions and non-profit scientific partners.
  • Ontario is committed to ensuring that government use of artificial intelligence and similar technologies has a strong, clear framework for transparent and appropriate use. Ontarians are encouraged to share their feedback on the framework by posting comments on the province’s draft guidelines.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 4, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency until June 30

June 2, 2020

Extension Key to Protecting Ontarians as Province Safely Reopens

TORONTO ― In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario is extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency to June 30. The decision supports the government’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak and protect the health and safety of Ontarians as the province reopens in a measured and responsible way. The extension, under s.7.0.7 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, was approved by the Ontario legislature earlier today.

“Extending the provincial Declaration of Emergency will allow us to safely and gradually reopen the province, while we continue to use every resource at our disposal to battle this deadly virus,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We are not out of the woods yet, so it is critical that we exercise caution to keep everyone safe, including protecting our most vulnerable citizens in long-term care homes, retirement homes and group homes.”

As Ontario charts a path to recovery, the Declaration will support the continued enforcement of emergency orders that give hospitals and long-term care homes the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations and the public as the province reopens.

As Ontario charts a path to recovery, the Declaration will support the continued enforcement of emergency orders that give hospitals and long-term care homes the necessary flexibility to respond to COVID-19 and protect vulnerable populations and the public as the province reopens.

Current emergency orders include allowing frontline care providers to redeploy staff where they are needed most, enabling public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing, limiting long-term care and retirement home staff to working at one home, and preventing unfair pricing of necessary goods.

The Declaration of Emergency may be further extended with the approval of the legislature, as set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 3, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Opens Up COVID-19 Testing Across the Province

May 29, 2020

Strategy Expands Testing for General Public, Frontline Workers, First Responders and Workplaces

TORONTO — As the province carefully and gradually reopens the economy, the Ontario government is implementing the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy to detect and quickly stop the spread of the virus. Testing will now be available to more people in more locations across the province.

Today, Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, released the next phase of the province’s COVID-19 testing plan, Protecting Ontarians Through Enhanced Testing, which includes three branches of testing:

  1. Assessment Centre Testing: expanding who gets tested to now include asymptomatic individuals concerned about exposure and continued routine symptomatic testing at assessment centres.
  2. Targeted Campaigns: detecting and containing cases by expanding asymptomatic surveillance for vulnerable populations, including in long-term care homes and other shared living spaces like shelters and group homes, as well as targeted testing of workplaces in priority sectors which work with priority populations and where it may be difficult to physically distance.
  3. Outbreak Management: testing to ensure rapid and agile response capacity for outbreak management, including in specific neighbourhoods and regions or at hospitals, institutions and workplaces.

“Ontario now has the most open and robust testing criteria in the entire country. In fact, anyone who feels they need a test will be able to get a test,” said Premier Ford. “We can’t manage what we can’t measure, and our newly expanded testing strategy is our best defence against stopping the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually and safely reopen the province. More proactive testing will give employers and their employees confidence as they return to work and will fortify our alert system for any potential surge in new cases.”

Together, these branches of testing will support Ontario regions’ extensive efforts to reduce the rate of transmission, also known as instantaneous reproduction number, or Rt.

To help enable increased access to routine symptomatic testing, people will no longer need a referral to go to any of the more than 130 assessment centres across Ontario. Information about the assessment centres is now easily accessible on Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 website.

“The significant expansion of testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals will go hand in hand with public health units’ ongoing contact tracing and case management efforts to stop the spread of the virus and keep our families and our communities safe,” said Minister Elliott. “I just want to caution people, although your test may be negative, you must continue to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and wash your hands regularly. These simple actions will help keep everyone safe and healthy.”

Ontario will also expand proactive surveillance testing to detect outbreaks and more actively monitor any spread among our most vulnerable populations in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, correctional facilities and other shared living spaces. This will include testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic residents and frontline staff in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as those working with priority populations, including first responders, essential workers and other workplaces as the economy gradually reopens.

Moving forward, the province expects that private-sector workplace testing will leverage private and public resources as the government works with private-sector employers to develop the appropriate models for each sector and workplace. Further proactive surveillance testing will also be conducted in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

In response to a declaration of an outbreak in a specific neighbourhood, region, institution or workplace, the province is also developing agile testing resources, such as mobile testing teams, that can be rapidly deployed to communities across Ontario to enhance existing outbreak management.

Ontario will also soon release a renewed strategy to support public health units with case management and contact tracing, including launching a new exposure notification app that will alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and would recommend appropriate actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation and/or appropriate next steps on getting tested.

QUICK FACTS

  • On May 14, 2020, the province expanded its testing guidance to include a broader range of symptoms for all populations and to help guide decision-making on testing of priority population groups.
  • To get tested, people should visit Ontario’s website to find their local assessment centre and whether they need to call ahead to make an appointment.
  • No Ontarian will be declined a test at an assessment centre (either through appointment or walk-in, per the processes of each individual assessment centre), especially those who are symptomatic or who are concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19.
  • Ontario continues to lead large Canadian provinces in daily testing volumes, and to date, has completed 680,687 tests, with 69,318 tests completed since May 24, 2020.
  • Ontario has a provincewide network of more than 20 laboratory sites working in coordination to further increase capacity and test turn-around times for COVID-19 testing.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted June 1, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Taking Action at High Risk Long-Term Care Homes

May 27, 2020

Government deploying inspection teams to long-term care homes, starting process to take over management of five long-term care homes

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government is taking additional immediate action at high-risk long-term care homes, following the disturbing allegations outlined by the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The Ministry of Long-Term Care has deployed long-term care inspection teams to conduct comprehensive, detailed inspections at high-risk long-term care homes over the next 21 days. At the same time, the Ministry of Long-Term Care has started the process of appointing temporary management at Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Altamont Care Community, Orchard Villa, and Camilla Care Community. Further, the recently announced independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system will now begin its work in July 2020.

“Today, we are taking further steps to protect our most vulnerable seniors across the province and fix the broken system we inherited. We will do whatever it takes to get the job done because as Premier, the buck stops with me,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I made a commitment to our long-term care residents and their families that there would be accountability and justice after receiving the military’s heart-breaking report on the state of five of our homes.”

Starting tomorrow, long-term care inspectors will be assessing six homes including those captured in the CAF reports and any reports previously filed regarding critical incidents in those homes. Six teams of two long-term care inspectors will go into each of the homes to do an expanded, stringent inspection process over a two-week period. The six homes being inspected include Eatonville Care Centre, Hawthorne Place Care Centre, Orchard Villa, Altamont Care Community, Camilla Care Community, and Holland Christian Homes Inc.

The teams will develop a customized inspection plan based on the details outlined in the CAF report. Their inspections will include record and chart reviews; in-depth interviews with staff and residents; and observations in order to determine the extent of the issues. The inspectors will follow a rigorous and consistent inspection methodology for all inspections.

After an inspection is completed in a high-risk home, the ministry will set up regular status calls, monitoring, as well as regular unannounced in-person follow up inspections with the home. Results of these and all other inspections will be posted publicly on the ministry website.

The government is also inspecting other long-term care homes that are currently considered high-risk over the next 21 days. Additionally, working with hospital and other partners, each of these homes will be required to submit a plan for the ministry that details how they intend to return to acceptable levels of care immediately.

“What we saw in the reports from the Canadian Armed Forces was gut-wrenching and appalling,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Our inspectors are professionals like nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists and they will stop at nothing to ensure all high-risk homes are quickly returned to places of safety and stability.”

Allegations such as the ones contained in the CAF report triggers the Ministry of Long-Term Care to share its findings with other agencies which may result in:

  • Police investigations and potential criminal charges
  • Ministry of Labour inspections into worker health and safety, given the lack of training observed
  • Public health inspections into food preparation, etc.
  • Referrals to professional colleges for practice standard violations, given medication management and care observations

During this unprecedented time, inspectors will continue to be deployed to ensure all homes are compliant with the Long-Term Care Homes Act. When the ministry receives any information from any source, it is immediately triaged. Where there is high or moderate risk to residents, a risk level is assigned and inspections are conducted in the home, regardless of its outbreak status.

The government’s priority is protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians, especially long-term care residents who are among Ontario’s most vulnerable seniors. The government will continue to explore every opportunity to provide further support to long-term care partners as the situation evolves.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Canadian Armed Forces will continue to provide support until June 12, 2020.
  • A recent emergency order made on May 12, 2020 allows the Ministry of Long-Term Care to order alternative management to temporarily manage a long-term care home where at least one resident or staff member has tested positive for COVID-19. A mandatory management order helps to address the outbreak and effectively protects our most vulnerable Ontarians from COVID-19.
  • Every long-term care home in Ontario gets inspected at least once a year.
  • The ministry’s more than 140 inspectors conducted 2,882 inspections in 2019 to ensure that long-term care homes are safe and well-operated, and are meeting all the requirements in the Act and Regulation.
  • Inspectors are the ministry’s frontline teams and play a critical role in collecting information and coordinating to ensure that long-term care homes in critical need of support are receiving the supplies, staff and support they need.
  • Inspections conducted by the Ministry of Long-Term Care continue to be the most rigorous in Canada. Ontario’s legislation is the most prescriptive so in turn, the requirements for long-term care operators are the strictest in the country. As recommended by Ontario’s Auditor General, the ministry uses a risk-based inspection approach, which prioritizes issues and homes based on risk of harm to residents. This approach to inspections was also endorsed by the Gillese Inquiry.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted May 28, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Health and Safety Top Priority as Schools Remain Closed

May 19, 2020

Government unveils plans for reopening child care, day camps and initiatives to strengthen learning into the summer

TORONTO — The Ontario government is protecting the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 outbreak by keeping schools closed for the rest of this school year. This decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children. At the same time, the government is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year, the gradual reopening of child care, and the opening of summer day camps subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Nothing is more important than protecting our kids in this province, bar none over anything,” said Premier Ford. “Today’s announcement gives parents certainty, knowing that their children can continue to learn safely at home and that we have a plan for child care as we work to gradually reopen more of our economy, when it is safe to do so.”

All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.

Later this summer, the government will announce a plan to strengthen learning and safety protocols to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year. That plan will be bolstered by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program that will allow all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may transpire in the coming months.

Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the ProvinceEmergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers. A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario’s youngest learners and their staff.

“We will never waver from our commitment to keep your child safe, while learning at home,” said Minister Lecce. “Our plan will ensure students receive the best educational experience, both inside and outside the classroom, during this difficult time. That is why we are strengthening summer learning opportunities, reopening summer day camps, and it is why we will continue to make the case for synchronous, live, and dynamic learning.”

Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020. 

The province also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan to ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.

To support at-home learning, the government is leveraging all tools, resources, technologies and services to assist school boards deliver equitable and effective learning through access to technology and Internet connectivity, especially for students in rural and remote parts of Ontario. To help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario has worked to identify and make available low-cost, high-impact solutions that can significantly improve the Learn at Home experience now and into the future. Access to digital learning resources, supports for special education needs and mental health, as well as Internet connectivity and access to devices have all been identified by school boards and other stakeholders as urgent needs during the current school closure period. These organizations and businesses were identified through a call for proposals on the Ontario Together website between March 31, 2020 and April 21, 2020.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Ontario government is transforming elementary and secondary education to create more fluency with digital learning and literacy, provide equitable access provincewide to high quality online courses, and improve teacher capacity to support remote learning.
  • On March 20, 2020, the Ministry of Education unveiled the Learn at Home / Apprendre à la maison portal, which includes resources for families and students while schools remain closed. The portal has received 3.35 million views to date.
  • Nearly 25,000 teachers have taken the Ministry of Education professional development program on virtual and synchronous learning.
  • On May 9, 2020, the government introduced a plan to support child care operators during the emergency period so that spaces remain protected for parents as they return to the labour market.
  • Ontario is helping parents pay for the extra costs associated with school and child care closures during the COVID-19 outbreak through the Support for Families initiative, a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools. To date, the province has supported approximately 1.23 million children and youth in Ontario.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

QUOTES

“We know children belong at school with their peers for their physical and mental well-being. As I have discussed with Minister Lecce, taking the time to ensure the appropriate infection prevention and control measures are in place, along with thoughtful screening and testing protocols, is a prudent step forward as we work to facilitate a safe return to school in the fall.”
— Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO, The Hospital for Sick Children

Posted May 19, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to Keep People Safe

May 19, 2020

Some Outdoor Recreational Amenities Reopening with Restrictions

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force until May 29, 2020. That includes the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women’s shelters. The government is also allowing drive-in religious gatherings.

Today, the province officially enters the first stage of its Framework for Reopening the Province. As part of this initial stage, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas, effective as of Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will remain closed until later stages of the province’s reopening plan.

“Although we are entering the first stage of our framework to reopen the economy, it’s critical that we continue to do so in a safe and responsible manner,” said Premier Ford. “The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus. With warmer weather beginning, individuals and families will now be able to enjoy many outdoor amenities, but everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing from those outside of their household.”

To ensure that individuals and families have safe access to outdoor spaces, it is critical they take everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus, such as maintaining physical distancing by staying two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, washing hands regularly, and staying home if feeling unwell.

“It’s never been more important for people to continue following the public health measures and advice we’ve laid out, so we don’t undo the tremendous progress we’ve made to contain COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While reopening parks and other outdoor spaces is important for our physical and mental health, we’re encouraging people to be responsible by keeping a safe distance of at least two metres from members outside of their household.”

In addition, the government has approved an exemption to the emergency order related to gatherings to allow Ontarians to attend drive-in religious gatherings, under certain conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The conditions include keeping vehicles two metres or more apart, only members of the same household can be in one vehicle, people will not be able to leave their vehicles, and no more than five people can conduct the service at one time from outside a motor vehicle and they must stay at least two metres apart.

“Our government recognizes the importance that Ontarians place on participating in religious services,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “We continue to take a measured approach to reopening our province and this exemption is another important step forward in that process.”

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 29, 2020. The emergency orders include:

Extending these orders supports the government’s plan to cautiously and safely reopen businesses, services and amenities in a way that will enable the province to continue to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was most recently extended on May 12, 2020 and is currently in effect until June 2, 2020.
  • Ontario is now allowing individuals to attend drive-in religious gatherings so long as they comply with the safeguards listed in the amendment to the emergency order.

Ontario is amending an emergency order to open some outdoor recreational amenities, including: outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields (including baseball diamonds, soccer fields, and frisbee golf locations, tennis, platform tennis, table tennis and pickleball courts, basketball courts, BMX parks, and skate parks); off-leash dog areas; and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in park and recreational areas.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted May 19, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Announces Independent Commission into Long-Term Care

May 19, 2020

Government commits to improving system following COVID-19 outbreak

TORONTO — Today, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued the following statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes: “Our government has been clear that we will review the long-term care system to get a better understanding of the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Today, I am announcing that we will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September.

Over the next several months, our government will be finalizing details of the commission including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.

We have been clear the long-term care system in Ontario is broken. We must act quickly and decisively, and that is why an independent non-partisan commission is the best way to conduct a thorough and expedited review.

As we all take steps to contain this pandemic, the Commission will get down to work and provide us with guidance on how to improve the long-term care system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks.

Since day one of COVID-19, our top priority has been to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. That includes the most vulnerable members of our society like residents in long-term care.

Our government offers our condolences to the families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 while residing in a long-term care home.

Ontarians need and deserve answers, and let me assure you, they will get them.”

Posted May 19, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Announces Additional Workplaces that Can Reopen

May 14, 2020

Additional seasonal, retail and household businesses must follow public health guidelines

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government announced the retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers who will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., provided that the general trend on health indicators continues to improve as part of the first stage of the government’s reopening framework. The workplaces opening as part this stage are well-positioned to put workplace safety measures in place and get more people back to work, while not overburdening public transit and other services.

The government also announced additional seasonal services and activities will be permitted to open as early as Saturday May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, as key public health indicators continue to show progress.

The details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development..

“During the last several weeks, the people of Ontario have been called on to make incredible sacrifices to help us stop the spread of COVID-19, including staying home from work, closing down businesses and going without a regular paycheque,” said Premier Ford. “However, we are reopening even more of our businesses beginning this long weekend. We are taking a cautious, balanced approach to our economic reopening, to protect the health and safety of everyone.”

As soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

The government’s responsible and measured approach to reopening will allow business owners and service provider’s time to ensure workplaces are safe for staff, consumers and the general public. Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will include:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.

“We are taking a cautious, practical and reasonable approach to restarting the economy, while maintaining the health and safety of the p eople of Ontario as our top priority,” said Minister Phillips. “This will allow Ontario to emerge from this outbreak with a clear path to economic recovery that keeps people safe and healthy.”

The government and health and safety associations have released more than 90 safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance and manufacturing. As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available to help protect the safety of workers and the general public.

To support business-owners, workers and the economic recovery of the province, the government has launched a website to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment.

“Ontario’s businesses stepped up at the outset of this crisis not only to keep their workers and customers safe, but to come forward with innovative ideas and solutions that represent the best of the Ontario Spirit,” said Minister Fedeli. “This new website is truly a made-in-Ontario approach with Ontario businesses helping Ontario businesses.”

The government continues to prioritize the needs of patients, frontline health care workers and first responders when it comes to having critical equipment and supplies to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses are encouraged to access only the PPE they need to keep their employees and customers safe.

“We will leave no stone unturned in our mission to keep workers in this province safe,” said Minister McNaughton. “Ontario’s labour laws are clear: businesses must protect the health and safety of workers, including against workplace hazards like COVID-19. That’s why our ministry has released practical safety guidelines, doubled our capacity to help people by phone and hired more inspectors. We want to ensure everyone is safe at work.”

To ensure that these first actions to reopen the province are a success, the public should continue to adhere to public health measures, including practising physical distancing or wearing a face covering when physical distancing is difficult or not possible, as well as regular handwashing and staying home when ill. The Chief Medical Officer of Health will closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when certain public health restrictions, including adjustments to social gatherings can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

“Because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians, we are making real and significant progress in our battle against COVID-19, with the number of new cases each day shrinking,” said Minister Elliott. “As we move forward with caution, public health experts will closely monitor each stage of reopening to carefully assess the evolution of the outbreak, so we can benefit from the best practices and lessons learned across Ontario.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The province will be providing an update on school closures and child care early next week.
  • If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • On April 30, 2020, the government, in partnership with Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations, released sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public in preparation for the gradual reopening of the economy. These contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers and customers safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • On April 27, 2020, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which unveiled the guiding principles to the safe, stage-by-stage reopening of businesses, services and public spaces in Ontario. This gradual reopening is part of the first stage of Phase 2: Restart in Ontario’s Framework for Reopening our Province.
  • On March 25, 2020, the government launched Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID 19, a $17-billion package with funding targeted to protect the people of Ontario and support jobs, businesses and families as part of the government’s initial response to the pandemic.
  • The new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee wants to hear directly from people and organizations from all regions and sectors to help inform the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19. The survey, which is seeking feedback on the impacts of COVID-19 on personal finances, business supports and government relief measures, will be open until June 2020. Visit Ontario.ca/reopen to learn how you can provide your input.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted May 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Declaration of Emergency Extended While Ontario Gradually Reopens the Economy

May 12, 2020

New legislation will allow for more virtual or remote transactions during COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This additional time will ensure the province has the necessary tools and health care capacity to contain COVID-19, while gradually reopening businesses, services, and amenities safely.

Passed during a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature today, the Declaration of Emergency has been extended until June 2. The declaration will allow Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as restricting retirement and long-term care home employees from working in more than one facility and prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people. Since the emergency was first declared on March 17, the government has taken over 150 actions to help protect individuals, families, and businesses from the impacts of COVID-19.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“We are making steady progress to flatten the curve and get more people back to work safely, including our legislators, but we still have far to go in defeating COVID-19,” said Premier Ford. “Extending the declaration of emergency will allow us to continue to take action to protect Ontarians, while carefully and cautiously reopening more parts of our economy.”

The House also passed the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020, which will help people conduct business while practising physical distancing by:

  • Providing authority to address in-person attendance rules for school board trustees’ meetings in regulation. This would provide the flexibility in certain emergency situations to allow trustees to meet virtually during school closures;
  • Enabling corporations to call and hold meetings virtually, as applicable, and extending the time period in which annual meetings must be held in specific circumstances;
  • Allowing designations of a beneficiary to be provided electronically for Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Locked-in Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Tax-Free Savings Accounts;
  • Allowing electronic filing of business registration documents, and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of business registration documents and e-signatures;
  • Allowing for regulations to set out the parameters for remotely commissioning or notarizing a document;
  • Extending, on a one-time basis for 2020, the legislated four-year period during which a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) election is mandated to be held to give more time to support remote voting.

The Expenditure Estimates for the 2020-21 fiscal year were also tabled in the Legislature. This includes program spending to support the $17 billion announced as part of Ontario’s Action Plan 2020: Responding to COVID-19 to ensure the province’s health care system, communities, and economy are better positioned to weather challenges posed by the pandemic.

“Today’s legislation is just one step further in the fight against COVID-19,” said Government House Leader Paul Calandra. “We are all eager to reopen the economy and return to work, while physical distancing remains an important reality. Today’s legislation helps to modernize some of our economic and community activity and make many necessary interactions that much easier and safer.”

Posted May 13, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Further Eases Restrictions on Retail Stores and Essential Construction During COVID-19

May 6, 2020

Retailers to follow health and safety guidelines

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores. The business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“We haven’t been sitting on our hands. Whether it’s releasing our framework for reopening or putting in place the workplace safety guidelines needed to help businesses adapt to the new environment, we’ve been laying the groundwork for the safe, measured, and gradual reopening of our province,” said Premier Ford. “As the trends improve, we can move forward with reopening more and more of our economy and getting people back to work.”

As early as Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 9. On Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements.

In addition to easing restrictions on retail, the government is also expanding essential construction to allow below-grade multi-unit residential construction projects like apartments and condominiums to begin and existing above-grade projects to continue. This will help clear the way for the housing and jobs our economy will need to support economic recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines, such as promoting physical distancing and frequent handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, installing physical barriers, staggering shifts, and using contactless payment options to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s due to the progress we have made collectively to slow the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to see a gradual easing of restrictions, allowing certain businesses to reopen safely,” said Minister Fedeli. “During this period, we must move cautiously and strike the right balance between getting people back to work and preventing further outbreaks. Protecting the safety of staff, customers and the general public is our number one priority.”

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has released over 60 sector-specific health and safety guidelines, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. Business owners should review the guidelines and consult with local public health officials to ensure they have the information they need to protect workers, customers and the general public as the province prepares for the gradual reopening of the economy.

“Small businesses across Ontario have done their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “I encourage all business owners to learn the new health and safety guidelines, so when it comes time to reopen you will be prepared to hit the ground running and provide the services we all count on every day.”

The government’s Framework for Reopening our Province, which was released on April 27, 2020, includes guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, and the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of public health measures, including emergency orders.

“The health and safety of every Ontarian will always be our top priority as we continue planning for the next phase of our fight against COVID-19,” said Minister Elliott. “Together, each of us have put in tremendous effort to stop the spread, and because of these collective efforts we have made tangible progress. More than ever, we need to continue practicing physical distancing while we slowly and carefully reopen Ontario’s economy.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted May 6, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Expands Virtual Mental Health Services During COVID-19

May 5, 2020

Free Internet-Based Programs Help People Cope with Unprecedented Situation

TORONTO ― Starting today, the Ontario government is expanding virtual mental health services to help thousands of Ontarians experiencing anxiety and depression, including frontline health care workers, during the COVID-19 outbreak. These Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) programs were developed in partnership with MindBeacon and Morneau Shepell and will be provided at no out-of-pocket costs to Ontarians across the province.

The details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, during National Mental Health Week.

“Even though this virus has taken a heavy toll on our everyday lives, we are doing everything we can to keep people healthy, physically and mentally,” said Premier Ford. “By expanding access to free virtual and online mental health supports, I want those who are struggling to know that we are here to support and help you cope with the stress, isolation and anxiety during these extraordinary times.”

As part of the government’s $12 million commitment to mental health during COVID-19, the emergency funding is helping mental health agencies hire and train more staff, purchase the necessary equipment and technology they need to help patients, and support the creation and enhancement of virtual and online supports for mental health services including:

  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Clients can self-refer to programs through the various service providers listed and be guided through their client journey to find the appropriate supports they need. Online iCBT is supported by therapists and available in English and French.
  • Supports for frontline health care workers: Online iCBT is available to frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or post-traumatic stress disorder. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care, as well as weekly online peer discussion groups and access to confidential support from a clinician.
  • Virtual mental health support services: These include BounceBack telephone coaching and workbooks, and Kids Help Phone for children and youth.

“In order to help stop the spread of this deadly virus our frontline workers are working long hours in stressful si tuations and people across the province are doing their part by staying home, in many cases alone,” said Minister Elliott. “We know these actions are not easy and can cause stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. That’s why we are providing virtual mental health supports, allowing people to get the help they need while still physically distancing.”

The province has also established a Mental Health and Addictions COVID-19 Response Table, led  by the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health, to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on access to public mental health and addictions services. Its members include representatives from across Ontario’s mental health and addictions sector, who are working collaboratively to focus on maintaining services during the outbreak. The Response Table is identifying concerns and implementing quick solutions, supporting virtual care strategies, sharing best practices, and connecting with other COVID-19 regional and provincial tables to ensure any issues impacting the province’s mental health and addictions system are quickly resolved.

“Ontario’s mental health and addictions organizations are working around-the-clock to ensure individuals and families have access to the critical mental health and addictions supports they need,” said Minister Tibollo. “I applaud these mental health professionals for their commitment, dedication and compassion during these unprecedented times.”

At Ontario.ca/coronavirus, people can find information about the different virtual mental health and wellness options that meet their unique needs, including online therapy.

QUICK FACTS

  • This week is National Mental Health Week, Maternal Mental Health Week and Children’s Mental Health Week, which coincides with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7.
  • Five hospitals have partnered with the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health and Addictions Centre of Excellence at Ontario Health to provide specific services for frontline health workers: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, The Royal Mental Health Centre, and Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care.
  • Mental health and addictions challenges affect over one million Ontarians each year.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted May 6, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Continues to Support Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

May 4, 2020

Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, released the following statement to acknowledge Mental Health Week:

“During this unprecedented time in Ontario, many people are facing great challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. During Mental Health Week this year, we are dedicated to raising awareness around an issue that affects over one million Ontarians each year.

Our government recognizes many Ontarians are experiencing increased anxiety because of COVID-19 and are worried about their health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods and are feeling anxious in physical isolation. We want to help those who need support and have taken immediate action to ensure everyone can access the high-quality care they expect and deserve.

Recently, our government announced up to $12 million in emergency funding to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports. This brings additional access to care for people across the province and specific services to our frontline heroes.

We know maintaining physical distancing can be stressful for many people across the province. Just as it is critical that Ontarians heed the advice of our public health experts to stay at home and maintain safe physical distancing, it is critical that we continue providing everyone with the supports they need to stay both physically and mentally healthy. Ontario’s community mental health and addictions sector is working hard every single day to continue delivering services to people in need. We thank them all for their efforts and we will continue working collaboratively with them to identify further opportunities for investments to ensure all Ontarians have access to supports.

This week also marks Maternal Mental Health Week and Children’s Mental Health Week, which coincides with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7. The mental health of all children and youth in Ontario is of great importance. That is why we have recently expanded programs, such as BounceBack, and have provided emergency funding to Kids Help Phone, to further support children and youth who are struggling with their mental health.

Ontario also launched a Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System, which provides a clear path forward toward offering Ontarians easier access to standardized, high-quality care and supports in communities across the province. As we implement this plan, we will continue listening and collaborating with our partners to ensure it works for all Ontarians.

We are committed to creating an Ontario where everyone is fully supported in their journey toward mental wellness. While you are staying home, we urge you to stay in touch with each other, and to reach out for help when you need it and to those who may be struggling. Even if we cannot be close physically, we are all in this together.”

Posted May 5, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines

May 1, 2020

Steady Decrease in COVID-19 Cases Required Before Beginning Next Stage of Reopening

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided general recommendations on how the openings of businesses and workplaces could be implemented to support safe operations, including strict adherence to health and safety requirements.

“We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment,” said Premier Ford. “While further reductions in the spread are needed before we can begin reopening the province, we have the right framework and the right workplace guidelines in place to do so gradually and safely.”

The government, in partnership with Ontario’s health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures will help employers prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected.

By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

“Ontario workers and businesses have shown exemplary cooperation and resilience throughout the course of this crisis,” said Minister Fedeli. “We’re beginning to ease restrictions on select businesses as we carefully and methodically re-open Ontario’s economy and continue together on our path to renewed prosperity.”

Although certain businesses are being permitted to reopen, it is critical that people continue to stay home, practise physical distancing and only go out for essential reasons, to pick up groceries, prescriptions or to keep a medical appointment. It is through these simple actions that Ontario is making progress to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“As we begin planning for the next phase of our fight against COVID-19, Ontarians should continue to stay home as much as possible to ensure we stop as quickly as possible the spread of this virus,” said Minister Elliott. “While we have made tremendous progress in our shared battle against this new virus, we are not done yet. We need to keep up the fight by continuing to practise physical distancing and good hygiene habits.”

On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using 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.

While the government remains in Phase One of Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19, Protect and Support, allowing certain businesses and workplaces to open under strict guidelines demonstrates the government’s commitment to balance the needs of the economy with the health and safety of the people of Ontario.

“People’s efforts are paying off and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Minister Phillips. “Our response has always been based on the current status of the outbreak in our province, and on what makes sense for Ontario. To be clear ― we haven’t moved into the reopening phase of our response to COVID-19. Not yet. But based on the best public health advice available to us, we are a step closer.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted May 2, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Supporting Frontline Heroes of COVID-19 with Pandemic Pay

April 25, 2020

Government Recognizes the Dedication and Sacrifice of Frontline Workers

TORONTO — In recognition of the dedication, long hours and increased risk of working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment.

This increase will provide four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee’s hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. This means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation. Those eligible to receive the payment will be staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“During these dark days, the Ontario spirit continues to shine through with everyday acts of heroism, courage, and compassion by our frontline workers,” said Premier Ford. “These people put themselves in harm’s way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens. I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it’s time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out.”

Staff providing frontline clinical services, along with those providing support services, such as cleaning and meal preparation, will be eligible to receive the pandemic payment. The additional compensation is temporary and would begin flowing immediately and continue for 16 weeks.

“The pandemic payment recognizes the valiant efforts of our frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19,” said Minister Bethlenfalvy. “These heroic workers are delivering critical services that support all Ontarians, including the most vulnerable members of our communities, often putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. They are saving lives and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”

“It is vital that we retain our frontline health care workers as we continue our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are taking further actions to continue to ensure that our healthcare workers are supported, and the health care sector maintains a safe staffing level, especially in places where it is needed the most.”

These measures build on steps the government has already taken to support frontline workers, including providing free emergency child care and securing necessary medical equipment and supplies. The Ontario government remains committed to using every resource it has to support frontline workers as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Ontario government remains committed to using every resource it has to support frontline workers as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 27, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Parks to Remain Closed until May 31, 2020

April 25, 2020

Extension required to keep people safe and stop the spread of COVID-19

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, issued the following statement on Ontario Parks operations in response to COVID-19:

“In order to keep Ontarians safe during this COVID-19 outbreak, our government is extending the closure of Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves to May 31, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings.

Provincial parks and conservation reserves will continue to remain fully closed to all recreational activities.

Reservations for arrivals up to, and including, any further closure extension date will be automatically cancelled and reservation holders will receive a full refund with no penalty. We are also providing penalty-free refunds to reservation holders who wish to change or cancel their 2020 camping reservation, regardless of arrival date.

Please continue to visit OntarioParks.com and Ontario Parks social media channels for the most up-to-date information.

We understand this extension may impact many Ontarians’ plans during the month of May. However, the health and well-being of Ontarians is our government’s number one priority. Although we are making progress to stop the spread, the virus has not yet been contained. As a result, all but essential service workers must continue to stay at home and practice physical distancing.”

Posted April 27, 2020


Letter from the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs 

April 25, 2020

Dear Friends;

Nothing is more important than protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians.

Since first learning of COVID-19, Ontario has taken decisive action to stop the spread of this virus, while ensuring the continuity of critical operations and services.

Given the evolving situation, the government has made an amendment to the emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act as set out in O Reg. 104/20. This decision is endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Effective immediately, the Ontario government is allowing the use of allotment and community gardens across Ontario, provided that people practice physical distancing and do not gather in groups of more than five.

Those taking part in community and public allotment gardens are required to follow the advice of their local medical officer of health and adhere to the requirements that pertain to the use of any facilities.

The order is available at the following link, which will be updated within the next few days: www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200104

During these unprecedented times, I’m so proud to see Ontarians coming together to defeat this ruthless virus and to witness the awakening of an incredible spirit of duty and volunteerism. Community and allotment gardens play an important role in supporting people vulnerable to food insecurity amid this outbreak and I look forward to seeing community gardens across Ontario open as soon as possible.

If you require further information, please contact Service Ontario: 1-866-532-3161 or Stop the Spread Business Information Line – 1-888-444-3659.

I wish you all the best.

Sincerely,

Original signed by

Ernie Hardeman

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Posted April 27, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Takes Immediate Steps to Further Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During COVID-19 Outbreak

April 22, 2020

Response includes increased testing, COVID-19 SWAT teams, and additional PPE

TORONTO — The Ontario government is making progress on the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes to help stop and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the province’s long-term care homes. The government has introduced more aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance, deployed specialized teams from hospitals, public health and the home care sector, recruited additional frontline staff, and increased personal protective equipment.

Today’s update was provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Heath, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

“Within 48 hours of launching our Action Plan, we sent in reinforcements to further protect our most vulnerable seniors and those who care for them in our long-term care homes,” said Premier Ford. “Today, we are making progress against this ruthless disease, but I want to emphasize that every option is on the table to get our long-term care homes what they need to stop the spread. That is why we intend to make a formal request for assistance from the federal government.”

Since the Action Plan was announced, the government has worked swiftly and decisively to provide targeted, on-the-ground support to long-term care homes through the following measures:

  • Assisting 20 long-term care homes, which were previously experiencing outbreaks, to become now outbreak-free.
  • Increasing testing on both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and residents. To date, approximately 11,600 tests have been completed amongst residents in long-term care.
  • Conducting additional testing of asymptomatic residents and staff outside of the testing guidance at 21 long-term care homes, to help understand the spread of the virus.
  • Setting up a 24/7 Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response Team, which has already helped more than 30 homes by putting in place infection control protocols, resolving staffing issues, and fulfilling personal protective equipment needs.
  • Launching 31 Infection Prevention and Control interventions, which are currently in progress, with six assessments already completed.
  • Continuing to identify critical 24-, 48-, and 72-hour help that homes need by ma tching qualified people and volunteers who can help with duties, including nursing support and cleaning.
  • Responding to every escalated request for personal protective equipment from long-term care homes within 24 hours through the following measures:
    • A four-step process is in place to ensure an optimized regional distribution and redistribution when supplies are urgently needed.
    • Critical supply needs are escalated for provincial action.
    • Daily distribution of supply from provincial warehouses to regional sites.
    • Daily monitoring of and reporting against performance target of 100 per cent of critical need requests being shipped within 24 hours.
  • Working with hospitals across the province to deploy additional staffing and infection prevention controls in long-term care homes:
    • In Toronto alone, five hospitals (Michael Garron Hospital, Women’s College, North York General, Unity Health Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital) have been engaged to support approximately 40 long-term care homes in the city.
    • Other hospital partners and health partners have stepped up to help their local homes, including Trillium Health Partners, Halton Healthcare, Grand River, Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and the Ottawa Hospital.
    • More than 70 volunteers, including registered nurses, social workers, administration and medical doctors, have been recruited from the University Health Network to assist long-term care homes in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Providing over 400 job matches for long-term care homes through the province’s Health Workforce Matching Portal, with over half of Ontario’s long-term care homes now using the portal.

To further support ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes, the federal government has offered resources that could include personnel and other supports from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Can ada and Canadian Armed Forces. This support would be deployed to five priority long-term care homes as one element of the government’s robust Action Plan. The Ontario government will be making a formal request to access those extra reinforcements today.

The government continues to explore additional measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep vulnerable people safe, including building isolation capacity at long-term care homes.

“We must continue to act swiftly and decisively to keep our loved ones in long-term care safe, as well as their caregivers,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “Our long-term care homes continue to be the front-lines of this pandemic and we must continue to work around the clock to assist all our dedicated staff during this crisis.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted April 22, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Providing Additional Relief to the Province’s Most Vulnerable

April 21, 2020

Funding and services will help seniors and people with disabilities during the COVID-19 outbreak

TORONTO — The Ontario government is delivering much-needed support to Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and persons with disabilities, during the outbreak of COVID-19. The province is investing $11 million to help deliver meals, medicines and other essentials to those in need and doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

“As we face some of the darkest times in our province’s history, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society,” said Premier Ford. “Our seniors and people with disabilities are the most at risk during this crisis, and we must go above and beyond to ensure they get financial relief, food, medicine and other essentials without delay.”

The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.

“We know that the best way we can all take care of ourselves during this outbreak is to stay home,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “For older Ontarians and people with disabilities, this may be especially challenging. That is why I am so proud to see the Ontario Spirit being demonstrated by the volunteers, local not-for-profit organizations, charities and businesses that are helping our most vulnerable through the Ontario Community Support Program.”

This week the province will also be issuing the first doubled Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments. Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month. These doubled payments will continue for six months and provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, we are investing $3.7 billion to provide immediate and direct support to Ontario’s people and employers. It starts with those most in need,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “For our vulnerable seniors, we will double the Guaranteed Annual Income System payment for six months. That will ensure 194,000 of our lowest income seniors will have some extra support during these unprecedented times. The first payment will start to arrive this week and assist low income seniors with their essential expenses when they need it most.”

The province is investing $40 million in the Residential Relief Fund. The funding will assist developmental services, child welfare, victims shelters, and organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families with COVID-related costs, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced staffing. In addition, the government is providing $148 million to municipal partners that administer social services with funding to support the province’s most vulnerable as part of the province’s $200 million in social services relief funding in response to COVID-19.

“Our government is taking decisive action to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “If you have a friend or neighbour who is a senior or a person with a disability, please reach out to them to ensure they have what they need and are doing okay during this very difficult period.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The Ontario Community Support Program will serve low-income seniors and people with disabilities in need such as those in supportive housing environments or community-based independent living programs.
  • To identify a Meals on Wheels provider in the local community and request service, visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca. Those without Internet access or who require service in a language other than English or French, can dial 211 or 1-877-330-3213 (toll free). TTY service is also available by calling 1-888-340-1001.
  • Volunteer organizations can now visit www.sparkontario.ca to post volunteer opportunities available in their communities. Ontarians interested in volunteering are also encouraged to check the website for opportunities to make a difference where they live.
  • GAINS provides a monthly, non-taxable benefit to low-income Ontario seniors. These payments are provided on top of the federal government’s Old Age Security pension and federal Guaranteed Income Supplement payments to ensure seniors have a minimum income level.
  • Payments are being automatically doubled for current GAINS recipients ― no additional applications are required. Payments are issued on the 25th of each month, or the first business day prior if the 25th falls on a non-business day.
  • Ontario recently announced $200 million in social services relief funding to help the province’s most vulnerable.
  • Learn about how the government is supporting people, businesses and families during COVID-19 by visiting www.ontario.ca/coronavirus

Posted April 21, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Health Experts Say the COVID-19 Outbreak Has Likely Peaked in Ontario

April 20, 2020

Modelling shows physical distancing still needed to prevent further spread

TORONTO — The Ontario government today released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. However, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.

“The modelling clearly demonstrates that we are making progress in our fight against this deadly virus. That’s due to the actions of all Ontarians, those who are staying home and practising physical distancing, and to the heroic efforts of our frontline health care workers,” said Premier Doug Ford. “But COVID-19 continues to be a clear and present danger, especially to our seniors and most vulnerable citizens. That is why we must continue to follow the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and stay the course in order to keep people safe and healthy.”

Key highlights from the modelling update include:

  • The wave of new community spread cases of COVID-19 in Ontario appears to have peaked.
  • Outbreaks in long-term care and congregate settings continue to be a major concern. Concerted actions are underway to protect vulnerable people in these settings.
  • Ontario is now trending toward a best case scenario rather than a worst case scenario and has significantly improved its standing as compared to March modelling.
  • The province has avoided a significant surge in cases. Total cumulative cases are forecast to be substantially lower than worst case or even moderate case scenarios projected by previous models.
  • While several hundred new cases are identified daily in Ontario, hospitals across the province have not been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 outbreak as a result of capacity planning and the public health measures currently in place. The rate of growth day-over-day is declining.
  • To further reduce the number of cases and deaths, it remains critical that Ontarians continue to adhere to public health measures, including staying home and practicing physical distancing if they must go out for essential reasons only.

“The information released today shows early but unmistakable signs that our efforts are working,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These numbers are not an accident. They are the re sult of months of planning and collective action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. However, in order for these projections to become reality, each of us must continue to stay home as much possible and practise physical distancing.”

To enhance protections for residents and staff in long-term care homes, last week Ontario launched the COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes. This action plan will ensure the implementation of critical new measures to prevent further outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 in long-term care homes. These measures include enhancing and expanding testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; providing public health and infection control expertise; and redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce.

“The new province-wide modelling data are encouraging, but we know that long-term care homes and other congregate settings will track on a different path,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “We will continue to take aggressive action to support our most vulnerable residents and their caregivers.”

QUICK FACTS

  • All Ontarians need to stay home unless absolutely necessary for essential trips, such as accessing health care services, groceries, picking up prescriptions or supporting vulnerable community members with meeting essential needs. If you must leave your home, go alone and stay at least two metres apart from others.
  • Ontario has made improvements to its COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool by expanding its symptom list, addressing the most high risk individuals, and making it more accessible and responsive.
  • Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health: wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 20, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Takes Further Action to Protect Vulnerable People from COVID-19

April 17, 2020

Province makes it easier to reassign staff where they are needed most

TORONTO — To help stop the spread of COVID-19 among the province’s most vulnerable citizens and ensure frontline services can continue to be delivered in priority areas, the Ontario government has issued new temporary emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“Every day, incredible sacrifices are being made by frontline workers in every region of the province to care for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Premier Doug Ford. “In order to better protect our seniors, people with various abilities, and the homeless population, along with our heroic frontline workers, our government is adopting emergency measures to provide flexibility in a variety of staffing arrangements to help stop the spread of this terrible virus.”

The Emergency Measures issued to further protect vulnerable people during the COVID-19 outbreak include:

  • Restricting retirement home employees from working in more than one retirement home, long-term care home or health care setting, with compliance required by April 22, 2020;
  • Providing Local Health Integration Networks with the ability to direct home care service provider organizations to safely reassign frontline staff to areas where they are most needed, including home and community care settings, long-term care homes, supportive housing, retirement homes and hospitals;
  • Providing municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards with the flexibility to offer reassignments to certain staff to where there is local need during the outbreak, including child care, by-law enforcement, and public health services.

“We have heard the concerns of our municipal partners and are taking action to ensure they have the support they need to help their communities during the outbreak to address local needs,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

“Today our government is taking further action to protect both the residents and staff of retirement homes. The health and safety of retirement home residents is of the utmost importance,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “We must stop the spread of COVID-19 and we must do everything we can to protect retirement home residents and staff.”

In order to ensure there are enough paramedics and emergency medical attendants, ambulance services will have the flexibility to hire and assign college students who have not yet completed exams or graduated, to provide services appropriate to their competence level and scope of practice.

“We continue to take decisive action to contain the virus and support our heroic frontline workers during this challenging time,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Expanding the capacity of our health care workforce will support their incredible efforts to provide patients with the care they need.”

With the new staffing flexibility measures, municipalities or District Social Services Administration Boards will determine where there is a local need for staffing to deliver particular services. These employers have to comply with all provincial orders, as well as any guidance and safety standards prescribed by the Ontario government for COVID-19. They are also responsible for ensuring that any staff reassigned to the new duties have the required training and skills.

“During this critical time, our local delivery partners need the flexibility to be able to respond quickly and effectively to maintain essential frontline services,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We will continue to face these challenges together as we work to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians.”

QUICK FACTS

  • As announced on April 15, Ontario is restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health care setting to help stop the spread of COVID-19 between facilities.

Local Health Integration Networks are responsible for arranging in-home or school health and social services, and for processing placements in long-term care facilities for individuals who can no longer remain in their own homes.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 or to take a self assessment.
  • The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes outlines the steps that the government is taking to protect residents and staff in long-term care homes.

Ontario has launched an online portal to match available health care workers with employers.

Posted April 17, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Significantly Expands Hospital Capacity to Prepare for Any COVID-19 Outbreak Scenario

April 16, 2020

Province adds more than 2,000 acute care and critical care beds and enacts pandemic staffing plans

TORONTO — Acting on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health care professionals, the Ontario government has significantly expanded hospital capacity in preparation for any COVID-19 outbreak scenario. The province has added 1,035 acute care beds and 1,492 critical care beds and taken steps to ensure hospitals have the staff available to care for a sudden surge in patients.

“Thanks to the hard work and relentless preparation of our hospital staff to build capacity in our hospitals, we are in a position to better allocate resources to sectors that are in critical need and respond to any potential surge in cases,” said Premier Doug Ford. “When you combine these life-saving beds with the very best care delivered by our highly skilled hospital staff, our patients will definitely have a fighting chance against this deadly virus.”

Hospitals across the province have taken steps to make more beds available for COVID-19 patients in every region of the province. As a result, Ontario has a total of 20,354 acute care beds with a potential for an additional 4,205 more acute care beds by April 30, 2020. Of Ontario’s 3,504 critical care beds, 2,811 are now equipped with ventilators, up from 1,319 when the outbreak first started.

“As we’ve said from the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario will be prepared to respond to any outbreak scenario, including having plans in place for the worst-case scenario,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Heath. “Thanks to the innovative work by our health care leaders, we have been able to significantly expand acute and critical care capacity in Ontario’s hospitals. While these are positive steps forward, it remains as important as ever that everyone continues to help stop the spread by staying home unless you are an essential service worker.”

This bed capacity expansion has been organized in coordination with pandemic staffing plans to ensure each hospital has the physicians and staff needed, including in case of a major surge of cases. Measures include:

  • Redeploying surgical nursing staff who can now work with medicine units;
  • Sharing highly trained emergency department and intensive care unit nursing staffs across units;
  • Sharing physician resources across hospitals in a given region;
  • Recruiting family doctors to complete shifts within the hospital; and
  • Recruiting retirees, including nursing and support services.

The province continues to focus on what resources will be needed to further enhance capacity quickly, if the need arises. Hospitals have identified additional opportunities to add new beds, including through the use of field hospitals, conference centres, school locations and more. Sites are ready to open based on the needs of the community.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario’s hospitals activated their pandemic plans to guide their decisions on how they created the enhanced capacity, including postponing some elective surgeries and reorganizing the discharging of alternate level of care patient to appropriate locations.
  • Several other measures, including the launch of Ontario’s online self-assessment tool, opening assessment centres, increasing Telehealth capacity and the ability to consult with emergency department doctors virtually have also helped to reduce emergency room visits and hospital admissions.
  • As of April 13, 2020, the average hospital occupancy rate was 69.1%% (64.1% for acute care only), a significant decrease from 96.2% (97.3% for acute beds) before COVID-19 measures. There are over 7,300 acute care beds unoccupied and over 2,000 critical care beds currently available across Ontario.

Ontario recently placed an order with O-Two Medical Technologies to produce 10,000 ventilator units, along with the support of Ontario’s world-class manufacturing sector.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted April 16, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to Continue the Fight Against COVID-19

April 14, 2020

Sustained Measures Necessary to Stop the Spread and Protect Public Health

TORONTO ― On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the approval of the Ontario legislature, the Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for a further 28 days. This will allow the government to continue to use every tool at its disposal to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Passed during a special sitting of the Ontario legislature and with the full cooperation of all parties, the Declaration of Emergency has been extended until May 12. The extension of the provincial declaration of emergency allows Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as the closure of all non-essential workplaces, outdoor amenities such as parks and recreational areas, public places and bars and restaurants, as well as restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and prohibitions against price-gouging. A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

“During these unprecedented times, we cannot let our guard down. The actions being taken by everyone to stay home and practice physical distancing are making a difference, but we are not out of the woods yet,” said Premier Ford. “With the support of every Ontario MPP, we continue to take any and all actions necessary to support our frontline health care workers and respond rapidly and decisively to slow the spread of this deadly virus.”

The legislature also passed the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act to amend the Education Act, Planning Act, Development Charges Act, Police Services Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act. This new legislation demonstrates that the government is actively listening to the concerns of education and municipal stakeholders during this COVID-19 emergency.

“This legislation is about protecting the health and economic interests of Ontarians,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “We will do whatever it takes to get through this challenge ― most especially for the next generation ― so that students continue learning and graduating.”

The amendments to the Education Act will allow school boards to continue charging fees on new construction in order to retain a vital source of revenue for new school projects. The bill also includes an amendment to provide a fair and consistent provincewide approach to addressing school suspensions and expulsions as part of the government’s commitment to the safety of students and staff upon the reopening of schools.

The changes to the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act will temporarily suspend student loan payments for OSAP borrowers and initiate a six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.

“We are taking action to ease the financial burden for students and current borrowers during the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By temporarily suspending loan repayments and interest accrual, our government is providing immediate support for OSAP borrowers during these challenging times.”  

The government is making it possible to suspend certain municipal planning decision timelines during the state of emergency, and change the Development Charges Act to ensure municipalities can continue to count on a vital source of revenue that helps pay for local growth-related infrastructure, such as roads, water and sewers as well as fire and police services. The amendments to the Police Services Act also allow the Solicitor General to give municipalities an extension beyond January 1, 2021 to prepare and adopt a community safety and well-being plan.

“Nothing is more important than protecting the health and well-being of all individuals and families,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We have listened to our municipal partners and made these changes to help them better manage staff time and resources so they can focus on the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“In these unprecedented times, our government is doing everything in its power to support our municipal, policing and community partners,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “While Community Safety and Well-Being Plans are an important tool for municipalities to keep our communities safe, we need them to focus on allocating resources where they are needed most right now, and that is to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted April 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Secures Critical Medical Equipment and Supplies

April 13, 2020

Same-Day Deliveries Made to Protect Patients and Frontline Workers from COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government continues to ensure that patients, frontline health care workers and first responders have the critical equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak. Over the last five days, more than 13 million surgical and procedural masks, 200,000 N95 respirator masks, and 38 ventilators have been delivered to Ontario’s pandemic stockpile warehouses.

“The global competition to secure critical personal protective equipment and medical supplies is fierce, yet our team of procurement specialists continues to locate the masks, gloves and ventilators we need to keep our frontline workers and patients safe,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I also want to take this opportunity to thank Premier Jason Kenney and the people of Alberta for making a generous donation of critical medical supplies and equipment in the fight against COVID-19. By standing united in adversity, Team Canada will stop this virus in its tracks.”

Ontario is providing same-day deliveries to hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and other facilities to support essential workers in all settings and ensuring supplies and equipment are expedited to those most in need. This includes shipments this past weekend of 6.5 million surgical and procedural masks to over 650 providers across the province to protect our frontline workers, patients and residents.

“I am pleased to report that we continue making significant progress in securing the necessary personal protective equipment needed to effectively respond to COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of patients and the workers caring for them, as well as our first responders. We will continue working around the clock to add to the provincial stockpile to ensure that we are equipped to support those fighting this outbreak on the frontlines.”

Ontario has been procuring vital supplies and personal protective equipment through its traditional suppliers and donations, as well as working in collaboration with the federal government, other provinces, and Ontario’s manufacturers. On Saturday, Alberta committed to send Ontario 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million surgical masks, 15 million surgical gloves, 87,000 safety goggles, and 50 ventilators.

While Ontario is making progress in procuring critical supplies and equipment, the global supply chain remains constrained. Conservation of supplies and equipment, particularly personal protective equipment is of utmost importance. The government is working to ensure those in priority areas and in urgent need are receiving the supplies they need.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario obtains its own supplies and receives others procured centrally by the federal government.
  • As of April 13, through the Ontario Together web portal, the province has received over 14,500 submissions from businesses and private citizens, offering to provide or donate various supplies and equipment, such as masks, face shields, testing equipment, ventilators, hand sanitizer, gowns and coveralls. More than 9,000 emergency supply submissions have generated nearly $90 million in purchases of critical equipment and supplies.
  • Ontario has launched a new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators

Ontario is making it easier for businesses to work with government by developing a smarter procurement system that will save taxpayer money, drive office efficiencies and help small- and medium-sized businesses tap into new opportunities in government procurement.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Province Developing New Health Data Platform to Help Defeat COVID-19

April 12, 2020

New platform will allow researchers to better detect, plan and respond to the outbreak

TORONTO —The Ontario government is taking steps to better detect, plan and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. In consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the province is developing a new health data platform called the Pandemic Threat Response (PANTHR). This new platform will hold secure health data that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the immediate need to analyze the current COVID-19 outbreak.

“Better access to integrated data will improve modelling and research to determine how COVID-19 is evolving, ensuring frontline staff are as prepared as possible in these unprecedented times,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “While access to data is important, we are taking all measures to ensure patient privacy is always respected and Ontarians are aware of how anonymized information may be shared.”

Ontario will appoint a PANTHR special advisor and form a roundtable to provide recommendations about the data and policies to support and help overcome barriers while developing this platform.

The information gathered in the secure platform will help break down long-standing barriers and allow researchers to help with:

  • Increasing detection of COVID-19;
  • Discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations;
  • Predicting when and where outbreaks may happen;
  • Evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working; and
  • Identifying where to allocate equipment and other resources.

“Integrating data from across the province will allow us to effectively leverage tools, like artificial intelligence, to better understand this virus, how it spreads and the most effective means of combatting it,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. “These key insights will mean our world-class health system partners have secure access to better and more consistent population data, improving decision-making in health care and aiding our efforts to beat COVID-19. The health and safety of Ontarians remains our singular focus – this is another measure that will allow us to continue to deliver on that commitment.”

When launched, PANTHR will provide access to de-identified, integrated data on publicly funded administrative health services records, including:

  • Physician claims submitted to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP);
  • Medical drug claims submitted to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program;
  • Discharge summaries of hospital stays and emergency department visits; and
  • Claims for home care and long-term care.

PANTHR will also contain clinical data from special registry collections, such as the Critical Care Information System (CCIS), which reports on critical care capacity in the province, and clinical data extracted from public health, hospital, laboratory and diagnostic imaging information systems. Other supporting data may also be added based on needs of researchers in achieving COVID-19 objectives.

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 or to take a self assessment.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted April 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Takes Further Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

April 11, 2020

Province Extends Emergency Orders until April 23

TORONTO — To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of people across the province, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until April 23, 2020, including the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price gouging.

In addition, new measures have been introduced to address surge capacity in retirement homes, restrict recreational camping on Crown land, and allow the repurposing of existing buildings and temporary structures. All of these actions are based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“I understand the actions we are taking are affecting the lives and livelihoods of people across the province, but these are extraordinary times and we need to do whatever we can to keep individuals and families safe and stop the spread of this terrible virus,” said Premier Ford. “We all must continue to do our part by staying home and practicing physical distancing. With the proper precautions and additional measures we’re taking today, I am confident we will get through this together and stronger.”

Ontario introduced the following new steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The government is:

  • Making it easier to repurpose existing buildings and put up temporary structures, like tents, so communities can meet their local needs quickly. This will reduce pressure on health care facilities, where needed, and help shelters provide more space for sleeping to maintain the physical distancing requirements to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • Temporarily enabling hospitals to increase their capacity by using the beds and services of retirement homes without certain labour relations implications during the declared provincial emergency.
  • Prohibiting recreational camping on Crown land as of April 9, 2020. Under the emergency order, no individual can camp on Crown land, including the placement of tents or other camping structures, while the order is in effect. The government will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate if further actions are required.
  • Supporting construction workers and businesses with emergency action to help improve cash flow in the construction industry during the COVID-19 outbreak. This will lift the suspension of limitation periods and procedural time periods under the Construction Act and allow the release of holdback payments to contractors and subcontractors.

The following emergency orders have been extended until April 23, 2020:

QUICK FACTS

  • Temporary facilities must be designed and reviewed by qualified professionals (such as licensed architects and professional engineers) and municipal Building Officials must inspect the facilities to ensure they are safe.
  • The Construction Act is intended to regulate how payments are made, to help ensure that workers who have provided services or materials during a construction project are paid for their work.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted April 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Starts Planning for Economic Recovery

April 9, 2020

Premier Ford Appoints Team to Develop Plan for Post-Pandemic Growth and Prosperity

TORONTO — The Ontario government has launched a new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. While the government’s primary focus is on combatting the virus, supporting frontline health care workers and providing immediate relief to people and businesses, this new committee will be developing a plan to stimulate economic growth and job-creation in the weeks and months ahead.

“My heart goes out to those individuals and families who have been out of work, or whose business has closed through no fault of their own,” said Premier Ford. “I can assure each person affected by this crisis that we will do everything we can to support you, and get you back on the job as soon as possible. While our government battles this virus, members of our new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee will roll up their sleeves and develop a roadmap to a stronger, more prosperous economy.”

The membership of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee includes:
• Rod Phillips, Chair, Minister of Finance
• Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
• Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board
• Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation
• Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
• Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
• Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
• John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
• Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure
• Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
• Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
• Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
• Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

The Committee will be consulting with a wide variety of people to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop an action plan to move forward, including business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business owners, and entrepreneurs.

“While we focus our energy and resources on defeating COVID-19, today’s job numbers highlight why we also need to plan for an economic recovery,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “At Premier Ford’s request, I have convened the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. And our first order of business is to prepare for the next phase of Ontario’s Action Plan, which will be ready to launch as soon as COVID-19 is contained. This team will get our economy moving again ― with a focus on job creation, opportunities for growth, and protecting our province from future threats.”

Today, Statistics Canada released its monthly job numbers, which showed a 402,800 decrease in employment in Ontario. To support the provincial effort to deal with this crisis, the government launched Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. This is a $17 billion package with funding targeted to help families and a variety of sectors across the province.

In addition to $3.3 billion in more health care resources, the plan includes $3.7 billion to support people and jobs, and relief of $6 billion by temporarily deferring taxes for 100,000 Ontario businesses, $1.9 billion to allow employers to defer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments, and $1.8 billion to defer municipal education property tax payments.

The government is also providing $52 million from the package to better support individuals and families in financial crisis through social assistance. This funding will support those who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food costs, rent, medicine and other essential services during this time. Individuals can easily apply online for assistance.

To support small businesses, the Ontario government has also worked with the federal government to develop the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank. This new program will help businesses meet cash flow requirements through guaranteed loans.

“Our government is pulling out all the stops to support our job creators and workers today, during this very difficult time,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “But it is incumbent upon us to look ahead and map out a plan that considers life after COVID-19, a plan that will guide us into a future filled with hope, new employment opportunities and steady economic growth.”

“While the health and safety of Ontarians is our top priority, we need to ensure that our province is positioned to support and facilitate economic growth when we lift the State of Emergency,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. “This starts with the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, which will ensure we have a long-term, strategic vision to responsibly reopen our economy.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 14, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Calls on all Health Care Workers to Help Fight COVID-19

April 7, 2020

Province Launches Online Portal to Match Available Health Care Workers with Employers

TORONTO — The Ontario government is taking further action to stop the spread of COVID-19 by actively recruiting health care workers to increase the frontline capacity of hospitals, clinics, and assessment centres. Today, the province is launching a new online tool that will help match skilled frontline workers with employers.

The new Health Workforce Matching Portal will enable health care providers with a range of experience to join the province’s response to COVID-19. Those providers include retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience. The portal will efficiently match the availability and skillsets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance to perform a variety of public health functions, such as case and contact management.

“Our health care heroes on the frontlines of this battle are doing extraordinary work, but they need reinforcements to step up and lend a hand to help defeat this virus,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Whether you’re retired or in training, we can’t afford to have people with professional health care skills who want to help sitting on the sidelines during this crisis. This is a call to action and I encourage every available person with health care experience to get involved.”

Employers and interested health care professionals can visit the portal here and create a profile. Once registered, professionals can add their availability and employers can enter their request for support. Registrants will receive an email notification if matched.

“Since the beginning of this outbreak, we have heard from thousands of volunteers who want to help in any way they can,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We are very grateful for those stepping up during these unprecedented times. That’s why we are using everything possible to support these frontline healthcare workers as they fight the spread of this virus.”

On April 1, Ontario issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, to enhance the public health units’ human resources capacity and support their ongoing fight against COVID-19.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents.

Posted April 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Premier Declares Easter Bunny an Essential Service

 View the Global News report HERE.

Posted April 8, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Business Closures to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

Posted April 3, 2020

Additional Measures Necessary to Protect the Health and Safety of the People of Ontario

TORONTO — Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is reducing the list of businesses classified as essential and ordering more workplaces to close. This measure is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of the people of Ontario, while ensuring that necessary goods and services remain available.

The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves. Teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses. All supply chains necessary for the production of vital food and healthcare supplies are being protected and remain intact.

The updated essential businesses list can be found here.

“We are facing a critical moment in the fight against COVID-19 and we must do everything in our power to keep everyone safe and healthy and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,” said Premier Ford. “Everyone must do their part to stop the spread and flatten the curve. If you are not an essential business, you need to close your doors, work from home if possible and play a role to help contain this outbreak. This is a matter of life and death.”

As a temporary measure the Ontario government has revised the list of essential businesses. The updated list will direct additional businesses to close and restricts specified businesses to providing services by alternate methods such as curb side pick up and delivery, except in exceptional circumstances. This includes stores that sell hardware products, vehicle parts and supplies, pet and animal supplies, office supplies and computer products and repairs and safety supplies.

“We have now reached a critical time in our fight against COVID-19.” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health “Every step taken by the province and every effort made by each of us to avoid close contact with others are the key to our success as a province to stop the spread of this virus.”

Only critical construction projects will continue, including industrial projects such as refineries and petrochemical plants and infrastructure projects such as new hospitals, roads and bridges. New starts in residential projects will stop, while residential construction that is near completion will continue. Business-owners with questions concerning their essential business status are encouraged to call the Stop the Spread hotline at 1-888-444-3659. The hotline is available from 8:30 a.m.― 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8:30 a.m.— 5:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

“We recognize the toll this outbreak is taking on business owners and workers,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Ontario businesses are top of mind during this unprecedented time. We know that the only way to ensure the health of our businesses and our economy is to ensure the health of all Ontarians.”

The government is implementing additional measures to protect frontline workers in essential businesses by adding more than 60 special consultants and officers and doubling the number of phone agents at its Health and Safety Call Centre to 50 to make it easier for workers to report safety concerns. Workers worried their workplaces are unsafe can phone 1-877-202-0008 to speak with an agent.

“If you’re a worker on the frontlines of this outbreak, you should know we’re doing everything in our power to keep you safe at work,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “We’re beefing up our inspectors and making it easier for you to report your concerns. We’re working around the clock.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Everyone in Ontario should stay home unless absolutely necessary and practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of your immediate families.
  • If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health: wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; and stay home if you are sick.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 3, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Increasing Public Health Units’ Capacity to Stop COVID-19

April 3, 2020

TORONTO — To support public health units’ extensive efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario is taking further action to redirect existing resources to focus squarely on the fight against this new virus while allowing for public health units to considerably increase their capacity.

Ontario has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. By offering faster and secure access to test results on their computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so that they can better focus on containing COVID-19.

“With this new portal, patients will be able to access their test results faster from the safety of their home,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “It will help reduce the burden on our public health units and frontline health workers, allowing them to focus their efforts where they are needed most during this challenging time.”

Ontario is also issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, effective immediately, to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing fight against the outbreak of COVID-19, despite any collective agreements. As a result, public health units will be able to significantly expand their capacity to implement critical public health functions, such as case and contact management, through the use of volunteers, including the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province’s website.

This latest order will support the recommendation made by Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, for all public health units to implement more aggressive contact tracing and management in response to the increase of community transmission. The province’s medical officers of health are also encouraged to use their authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to ensure isolation of cases and contacts of COVID-19.

“We are at a critical juncture in our fight against COVID-19,” said Elliott. “Our success as a province depends on our ability to quickly and effectively stop the spread of this new virus. These actions offer considerable support to our local health units and give them the authority they need to act and contain COVID-19 in our communities.”

QUICK FACTS

  • Patients will be asked to verify their identity with the information on their photo health card. The portal will provide patients with their test results and offer guidance on next steps.
  • On March 30, 2020, Dr. Williams issued a statement to strongly encourage Ontarians to stay home, limit the number of essential trips and adhere to physical distancing.
  • If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.
  • Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
    • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick; and
    • Stay home if you are sick.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents

Posted April 3, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Joins Forces with the Private Sector to Fight COVID-19

April 1, 2020

New $50 million Ontario Together Fund will support the development of essential equipment and supplies

TORONTO ― To stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe, the Ontario government is launching a new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators. This new Fund will support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

“Ontario has an army of innovators, entrepreneurs, and the hardest-working people in the world ready to roll up their sleeves, support our frontline healthcare workers, and beat this virus,” said Premier Ford. “This mass mobilization of government, business, communities and private citizens to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe and healthy represents one of the largest and most ambitious efforts undertaken by Ontario in generations.”

In addition, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade have worked closely with businesses across Ontario and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association to ramp up production of ventilators to meet the need in Ontario and other parts of Canada. The government has recently placed an order with O-Two Medical Technologies who, with the support of Ontario’s world-class manufacturing sector, will produce 10,000 ventilator units.

“Our government is taking extraordinary measures to support businesses and organizations that are responding to COVID-19,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “It’s inspiring to see the Ontario business community respond to the call to action. Through the Ontario Together web portal and the Ontario Together Fund, we are making sure that companies have the resources and support they need to supply emergency products and innovative solutions quickly and efficiently to help address this challenging time together.”

The government will be looking for the most viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to the people of Ontario. The government is providing one-time funding of $50 million in 2020-21 during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time-limited and will be available to companies and organizations across the province.

“The fight against COVID-19 presents significant challenges for small businesses, but their strength and ingenuity are key to weathering this storm,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “The Ontario Action Plan gives families and small businesses the supports they need. Ontario Together will link the resources of government with the capacity and #OntarioSpirit of our small businesses ― to manufacture the resources Ontario needs.”

“Only by working together and harnessing the full potential of Ontario’s innovators will we be able to confront the growing challenge of COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “The Ontario Together Fund will help enable our business community to provide the supplies and equipment our frontline heroes need as they continue to keep Ontarians safe.”

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted April 1, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Protecting Seniors During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Province Investing $10 Million to Mobilize Businesses and Volunteers to Support the Most Vulnerable

March 30, 2020 1:30 P.M.

TORONTO — The Ontario government is working with businesses, volunteer organizations and non-profits to make it easier for Ontario’s seniors to self-isolate and practice physical distancing during this unprecedented time by ensuring they can receive the support they need to stay safe and healthy. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging those over the age of 70 or those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions to stay at home.

The government is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors. This investment doubles the government’s initial commitment in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. The government is also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors’ delivery orders and establish senior-only shopping hours.

“We take seriously the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and we’re working to put an iron ring of protection around our seniors from COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I know asking our seniors to stay at home will not be easy as it will mean inconvenience, isolation and significant change in routine. That’s why we are encouraging everyone to reach out and support them, whether it’s delivering their prescriptions or picking up the phone and giving them a call. It will all make a positive difference to our most vulnerable citizens.”

The government is also working with province-wide organizations including Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and Older Adults Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) to identify and mobilize potential volunteer supports and expand the use of innovative technologies in the community to address social isolation and support daily living assistance.

“Our seniors have dedicated their lives to making Ontario the great province it is today. During this very difficult period, we need to take every step possible to protect them and ensure they stay healthy both physically and mentally,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “I encourage everyone to stay in regular contact with a parent, grand parent or neighbour to make sure they have everything they need.”

This $10 million delivery coordination program for seniors living at home is in addition to the $20 million over two years the province has invested to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures and $243 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, and additional surge capacity.

“We must do everything in our power to care for and support Ontario’s most vulnerable population,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. “I want to assure you that we are working around the clock to assist and care for Ontario’s seniors, especially those in long-term care, during this unprecedented time.”

The government is implementing a new emergency order to ensure that staffing and resources are available to help care for and protect long-term care residents, providing further flexibility and allowing homes to redirect their staffing and financial resources to essential tasks. This is in addition to implementing a new approach to redeploying highly qualified inspectors to support long-term care homes on the ground through staff supply, care coordination, and helping homes prevent and contain infections.

“It’s never been more important that all Ontarians heed the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health by staying home and practicing physical distancing,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This is especially true because it’s the only way to protect our seniors and the most vulnerable people in our province. All of us need to do our part to stop the spread of this virus.”

LEARN MORE

Posted April 1, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Public Required to Identify Themselves if Charged with Breaching an Emergency Order During the COVID-19 Outbreak

March 31, 2020

TORONTO — People who are being charged with an offence under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA) will be required to identify themselves if asked by a provincial offences officer, which includes police officers, First Nations constables, special constables and municipal by-law enforcement officers. This temporary power was approved by the Ontario government today through an emergency order to better protect people during this COVID-19 outbreak.

“It is essential that measures are in place to allow provincial offences officers to lawfully require an individual to disclose their correct name, date of birth and address in order to protect our communities,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “By providing provincial offences officers with this temporary power to obtain identifying information under the EMCPA, they will be able to enforce emergency orders during these extraordinary times.”

Emergency orders currently in place to address the COVID-19 outbreak include the closure of non-essential businesses, prohibiting organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people and stopping price gouging on necessary goods such as disinfectant products. Failing to comply with any of these emergency orders is an offence under the EMCPA and so is the failure to identify oneself accurately.

Failing to correctly identify oneself carries a fine of $750 for failure to comply with an order made under the EMCPA or $1,000 for obstructing any person in exercising a power if a provincial offences officer issues a ticket. In addition, failure to comply with an emergency order could carry punishments of up to one-year imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 for an individual, $500,000 for a director of a corporation, or $10,000,000 for a corporation itself if a provincial offences officer charges the individual by issuing a summons.

These penalties apply in addition to the penalties for breaching other emergency orders.

“It is the responsibility of all Ontarians to do their part and respect the emergency orders in place. We are supporting provincial offences officer in their critical work to enforce that responsibility and ensure the safety and well-being of Ontarians,” added Solicitor General Jones.

Posted April 1, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Extends Emergency Declaration to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

March 30, 2020

All Outdoor Recreational Amenities across Province Now Closed

TORONTO — In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people home, the Government of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency and associated emergency measures, including the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. In addition, Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately. These actions are based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus,” said Premier Ford. “Based on the best medical advice available, we are taking further steps today to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians by closing outdoor recreational amenities, like sports fields and playgrounds, and extending our emergency orders to save lives. We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”

This new order would close all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario, including but not limited to playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens, and other outdoor recreational amenities. Green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren’t otherwise closed would remain open for walkthrough access, but individuals must maintain the safe physical distance of at least two metres apart from others. Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.

“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We will continue to take decisive action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect Ontarians’ health and wellbeing.”“The health and well-being of Ontarians is a top priority of our government as we navigate through the COVID-19 health crisis. I know our municipal partners are already taking action locally to protect their residents,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “This order makes the rules around closing shared outdoor recreational amenities consistent across the province.”To ensure the province is able to continue its extensive efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, Ontario will also extend the March 17, 2020 declaration of emergency and subsequent emergency orders, regulations and amendments issued under s.7.0.1 and 7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The following declaration and orders have been extended and will be in effect until April 13, 2020:

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontarians should stay home except for essential reasons, and to limit the number of these essential trips. Essential reasons include accessing health care services and medication, grocery shopping, walking pets when required and supporting vulnerable community members to meet the above needs. It is strongly recommended that people over 70 years old or who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions self-isolate and get help with essential errands.
  • Ontarians must strictly practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people and keep at least two metres away from people outside of their household.
  • On March 25, 2020, the federal government announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. They must not go to work, grocery stores or on walks. They should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days and contact their primary care providers or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) if they experience symptoms.
  • Take everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health : wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (toll-free in Ontario only).

Posted March 31, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Enhancing Public Reporting about COVID-19

March 30, 2020

Dedicated Website Will Include Expanded Information of Confirmed Cases Across the Province

TORONTO — Ontario is enhancing the public information it provides about the status of COVID-19. As the outbreak evolves, Ontario has launched a new dedicated web page and is changing how COVID-19 cases are being reported to provide a more relevant summary of data from Public Health Ontario that offers expanded information every day at 10:30 a.m.

This daily epidemiologic summary replaces the general information on the status of COVID-19 cases that was previously provided twice daily on the web page. The new summary provides more provincial and regional data on confirmed cases, including trends of cases since the outbreak began, geography, exposure and severity.

“Ontario has been diligently monitoring and taking decisive action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep Ontarians informed,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We will continue to work with Public Health Ontario, public health units and the health sector to have and report on the best possible data to help us understand the scope of the COVID-19 outbreak in our province and inform our collective response to keep all Ontarians safe and healthy.”

The daily summary is based on data recorded by local public health units in the province’s integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS), as of 4 p.m. the day before the summary is posted. iPHIS is the Ministry of Health’s disease reporting system, where data is regularly updated.

In addition to the daily update to the website, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, will continue to hold regularly scheduled daily media briefings via teleconference, to provide an update on the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19.

QUICK FACTS

  • Everyone in Ontario should be practicing physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of your immediate families.
  • If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario’s Self-Assessment Tool to see if you need to seek further care.
  • On March 25, 2020, the federal government announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act, that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. They should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.
  • On March 28, 2020, Ontario issued a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people.
  • Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
    • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick; and

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted March 31, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Protecting Supply Chains To Support COVID-19 Emergency Response

March 28, 2020

Province to Buy Urgently Needed Critical Goods and Services and Deploy them to Where They are Needed the Most

TORONTO – Ontario continues to take important steps to protect the province’s supply chain and make sure the heroes on the front lines have the essential goods and services they need in the fight against COVID-19 like ventilators, masks and swabs.

“COVID-19 is impacting supply chains across Canada, and around the world,” said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “That’s why we are proclaiming the Supply Chain Management Act to make sure we can deploy critical supplies, equipment and services to where they are needed most.”

These regulations will enable the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Health to centrally manage public sector supply chains. It will allow the collection of key data on inventories, orders and supply constraints and the development of a virtual inventory tool so that demand for crucial supplies are visible and trackable. With these measures in place, the government can prioritize buying what is needed most, deploying them, and allocating them on a priority basis to support the delivery of essential services to Ontarians.

Support will also be available to other public entities, such as publicly funded social service agencies and municipalities if they choose to participate.

“Ontario is implementing critical and necessary measures to ensure that we are able to protect the health and well-being of Ontarians,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “This includes working with innovators and businesses across the province who can supply emergency products and cutting-edge solutions to support ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19.”

Ontario has also launched Ontario Together, a new website that is helping businesses work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. This removes barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment.

QUICK FACTS

  • Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 17, 2020 in the fight against COVID-19.
  • As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, Ontario has announced $935 million for the hospital sector, to address capacity issues, an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds, and for additional assessment centres.

The government launched OntarioTogether to invite businesses and their employees to supply emergency products and innovative solutions in the battle against this disease.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.

Posted March 31, 2020


Ontario’s Action Plan – Support for Businesses and Individuals

Update: March 30, 2020 @ 4:30PM

Below is a document which outlines Ontario’s plan for supporting individuals and businesses during this time.

Government Announced Support

Posted March 31, 2020


Ontario Government News Release: Ontario Prohibits Gatherings of More Than Five People with Strict Exceptions

Stronger action required to stop the spread of COVID-19

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government is taking immediate and decisive action to further stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.

Based on the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately.

This order would not apply to private households with five people or more. It would also not apply to  operating child care centres supporting frontline health care workers and first responders provided the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people. Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.

“If we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19 now and keep our communities safe, we need to take extraordinary measures to ensure physical distancing,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I strongly encourage everyone to do the responsible thing and stay home unless absolutely necessary. I can assure everyone that we will do everything in our power to stop this virus in its tracks.”

“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “These are extraordinary times that demand extraordinary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people. Nothing is more important.”

Organized public events include parades, events including weddings, social gatherings and communal services within places of worship. This order replaces a previous emergency order which prohibits organized public events of over 50 people.

Ontario declared a provincial state of emergency on March 17, 2020 and has issued orders to close non-essential workplaces, recreational programs, libraries, publicly funded schools, private schools, daycares, provincial parks, churches and other faith settings, as well as bars and restaurants, except those that may only offer takeout or delivery. Essential services, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, public transit, manufacturing facilities, and supply chain companies remain open and operational.

Quick Facts

  • Everyone in Ontario should be practicing physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of your immediate families.
  • On March 25, 2020, the federal government announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. They should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days.
  • Take everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health: wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick.

Additional Resources

You can also view this News Release on the Ontario Government’s website.

Posted March 29, 2020


Ontario Government News Release

March 25, 2020

Premier Ford and Minister Phillips Announce Additional Health Care Resources and Support for People, Jobs and Employers

TORONTO — Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update).

The government’s action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs. It also will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.

This $17 billion response is a critical first step to ensure our health care system, communities and economy are positioned to weather the challenges ahead. The plan includes historic levels of prudence, including a dedicated $1 billion COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments, as well as an unprecedented $2.5 billion reserve and an increased contingency fund of $1.3 billion to provide continued flexibility to respond to changing global circumstances.

The plan includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources to protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario.

“As Finance Minister, my number one priority right now is ensuring that our front-line health care professionals have the resources they need to fight the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Minister Phillips. “The people of Ontario can have confidence that we will do whatever it takes to protect their health and well-being. These additional resources will enhance hospital capacity, protect our loved ones in long-term care, and support our public health officials’ work to flatten the curve and slow the spread.”

Health

  • Committing to a dedicated $1.0 billion COVID-19 contingency fund for emerging needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Investing $935 million for the hospital sector, including $594 million to accelerate progress on the government’s commitment to address capacity issues, as well as $341 million for an additional 1,000 acute care and 500 critical care beds and additional assessment centres.
  • Increasing public health funding by $160 million to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, and laboratory and home testing, while also investing in virtual care and Telehealth Ontario.
  • Investing $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector, as well as funding for 24/7 screening, more staffing to support infection control, and supplies and equipment to help tackle the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff to tackle COVID-19.

As part of the action plan, the Province also announced $3.7 billion to directly and urgently support people and to protect jobs.

“During this global pandemic, I want the people of Ontario to be focused on their health — not worrying about losing their job or how to make ends meet as they deal with unexpected additional expenses,” said Minister Phillips. “We are helping make life a little more manageable for every person in Ontario, while providing additional support to those who need it the most.”

Key initiatives in the government’s plan to strengthen its response to the COVID-19 outbreak and support people, families, workers and employers include:

People and Jobs

  • Helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • Proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.
  • Supporting more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers, by providing approximately $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, which is an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Further supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering.
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • Providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Providing emergency child care options to support parents working on the front lines, such as health care workers, police officers, firefighters and correctional officers.
  • Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.
  • Enhancing funding by $148 million for charitable and non-profit social services organizations such as food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services to improve their ability to respond to COVID-19, by providing funding directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs.
  • Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people’s pockets.
  • Helping to support regions lagging in employment growth with a proposed new Corporate Income Tax Credit, the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit.
  • Providing additional supports of $26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.

The government’s plan also includes measures that will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flows over the coming months, including:

  • Making available $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
  • Over $1.8 billion by deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards continue to receive their funding.
  • Making available $1.9 billion by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

“We’re taking responsible steps to lessen the burden for businesses and people,” said Minister Phillips. “Together, these actions can free up as much as $10 billion in cash flows for businesses and people in these uncertain times, helping protect jobs and household budgets.”

QUICK FACTS

  • The March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update provides planning assumptions for the year ahead. The government will provide regular updates of the Province’s fiscal and economic outlook throughout the year.
  • The Province is projecting a deficit of $9.2 billion in 2019–20, an improvement of $1.1 billion relative to the 2019 Budget. As a result of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the government is planning for a deficit of $20.5 billion in 2020–21.
  • Ontario’s $2.5 billion reserve in 2020–21 is the highest ever in history.

The government will release a multi-year provincial Budget by November 15, 2020. This responsible approach will allow the government to continue assessing the economic situation and put forward a long-term outlook based on the most recent and reliable data.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Posted March 26, 2020


Ontario Government News Release – Stop the Spread Business Information Line Now Open at 1-888-444-3659

March 25, 2020

The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

On Monday, the province issued an emergency order to close at-risk workplaces and encourage non-essential businesses to find ways to help their employees work from home. The government also reminded businesses to put in place protocols for physical distancing and regular hand-washing in order to protect the health and safety of employees and the general public.

Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m.

A complete list of essential services is available on the Government of Ontario’s website.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

Posted March 25, 2020


Public Health Ontario Posters

– Self-Isolation: Guide for Caregivers, Household Members and Close Contacts

– Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings

     

Posted March 18, 2020
Updated March 19, 2020