News

Ontario Takes Immediate Steps to Further Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During COVID-19 Outbreak

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 matching 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 Canada 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

April 22, 2020

Ontario Providing Additional Relief to the Province's Most Vulnerable

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.

April 21, 2020

Health Experts Say the COVID-19 Outbreak Has Likely Peaked in Ontario

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 result 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

April 20, 2020

Canada and Ontario Supporting Agri-food Sector Supply Chain During COVID-19

TORONTO — The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1 million in new funding to connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation's supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will provide support that will help people connect with job opportunities in the sector quickly. This program would help primary agriculture, food processing companies and grocery retail to recruit and train workers who are important to keeping the essential food supply chain functioning.

"The women and men who work on farms, in processing plants and throughout the food production chain, are doing an essential service for us during this critical time and we are thankful for their dedication and hard work," said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses right now and our Government is taking concrete actions to find solutions, including through this new initiative, to ensure that Canadians continue to have high-quality food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables."

"This is a very labour-intensive sector so it is critical to attract more people to ensure our food supply chain continues to provide healthy and nutritious food to Ontario families during this COVID-19 outbreak," said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Our government is doing everything possible to ensure we support our farmers and food processors to fill job vacancies, including the development of a new web portal connecting workers with employers."

Through the Partnership's Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will immediately accept applications and will expedite the approval process to help address sector labour concerns quickly.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to approximately 2,500 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Quick Facts

  • Funding will be cost-shared by the Province.
  • The intake is provided under the Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative – Addressing Labour Supply and Training Challenges project category.
  • The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.
  • This targeted intake will begin accepting applications on April 17, 2020. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.
  • For more information about this targeted application intake or to obtain a program guidebook, email: agpartnership@ontario.ca or call: 1-877-424-1300.
  • This programming follows Ontario’s recent establishment of an online portal to help link agri-food sector employers with people interested in being a part of government’s response to COVID-19.
  • OMAFRA delivers cost-share funding under the Place to Grow program.
  • The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy.

Additional Resources

April 18, 2020

Canada and Ontario Supporting Agri-food Sector Supply Chain During COVID-19

TORONTO — The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1 million in new funding to connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation's supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership), the federal and provincial governments will provide support that will help people connect with job opportunities in the sector quickly. This program would help primary agriculture, food processing companies and grocery retail to recruit and train workers who are important to keeping the essential food supply chain functioning.

"The women and men who work on farms, in processing plants and throughout the food production chain, are doing an essential service for us during this critical time and we are thankful for their dedication and hard work," said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "There is a strong need for workers on Canadian farms and in food processing businesses right now and our Government is taking concrete actions to find solutions, including through this new initiative, to ensure that Canadians continue to have high-quality food on their grocery store shelves and kitchen tables."

"This is a very labour-intensive sector so it is critical to attract more people to ensure our food supply chain continues to provide healthy and nutritious food to Ontario families during this COVID-19 outbreak," said the Honourable Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "Our government is doing everything possible to ensure we support our farmers and food processors to fill job vacancies, including the development of a new web portal connecting workers with employers."

Through the Partnership's Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) will immediately accept applications and will expedite the approval process to help address sector labour concerns quickly.

Since June 2018, both the federal and provincial governments have committed support to approximately 2,500 projects, through the Partnership, to help eligible Ontario farmers, processors, businesses and sector organizations innovate and grow.

Quick Facts

  • Funding will be cost-shared by the Province.
  • The intake is provided under the Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative – Addressing Labour Supply and Training Challenges project category.
  • The Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.
  • This targeted intake will begin accepting applications on April 17, 2020. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.
  • For more information about this targeted application intake or to obtain a program guidebook, email: agpartnership@ontario.ca or call: 1-877-424-1300.
  • This programming follows Ontario’s recent establishment of an online portal to help link agri-food sector employers with people interested in being a part of government’s response to COVID-19.
  • OMAFRA delivers cost-share funding under the Place to Grow program.
  • The Ontario agri-food sector supports more than 837,000 jobs in Ontario and contributes more than $47.5 billion each year to the province’s economy.

Additional Resources

April 17, 2020

Ontario Establishes Key Partnerships to Make Home Learning More Accessible

TORONTO — The Ontario government has partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. iPad is being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers LTE wireless data. Apple is providing on-going support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home.

"This important partnership will enable students to learn while making technology accessible for those that truly need it," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. "Our government is committed to ensuring equitable access to education, so that every child - irrespective of ability, geography or socio-economic circumstance - can continue their learning while schools are closed."

This week Ontario school boards began distributing iPad to students who don't have either the technology or the internet they need to access the Learn at Home program.  To date, over 21,000 will be sent to the homes of families in need. The free Rogers wireless data will be available until the end of June.  

Also, Apple is providing videos, apps and books to help teachers build engaging lessons for students at home, along with fun and creative activities that kids and families can do with the built-in features of iPad. Apple is also offering teachers free one-to-one virtual coaching by Apple Professional Learning Specialists.

In addition to providing free wireless data, Rogers is also working with Ontario school boards to provide high-speed, low-cost internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across Ontario through its Connected for Success program, as well as the Government of Canada Connecting Families initiative.  The Province has accelerated the delivery of broadband internet access, currently on track to be in every high school in Ontario by September 2020 and elementary school by September 2021. 

"With this collaboration and commitment to on-going support for remote learning, our school boards, Apple and Rogers clearly demonstrate the Ontario spirit and the incredible ability to overcome any obstacle for our kids," said Minister Lecce.

"For some of the most vulnerable members of our society, accessing online learning tools at home is an added burden at a time when there is already a lot of stress," said Dean Prevost, President, Rogers for Business. "Rogers is pleased to be working alongside the Ontario Government, Apple and school boards across the province to help close the digital divide for some of our most vulnerable young people and their families."

Quick Facts

  • Ontario’s Ministry of Education has collaborated with educators, school boards, Apple and Rogers to support the Learn at Home program with an iPad and integrated wireless remote learning solution to help meet the educational needs of our province’s families.
  • Working with Apple and Rogers, Ontario school boards now have access to affordable solutions with iPad, which is the most secure device for education that’s also easy to use, and to manage and deploy — so that no student is left behind while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
  • iPad will be purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with Rogers LTE wireless data. Rogers is providing this plan at no cost for the balance of the school year (until June 30, 2020). Students and families do not need to contact Rogers to set the devices up.
  • School boards will determine requirements for student eligibility to receive an iPad.
  • In addition, Rogers is allowing eligible households to sign up for high-speed Internet with no overage fees for $9.99 monthly.

Additional Resources

April 17, 2020

Ontario Offers Emergency Child Care to More Frontline Staff

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is expanding the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care. This will help additional frontline staff during the COVID-19 outbreak. An emergency order was issued which will offer support to those providing a variety of critical services including people who assist vulnerable communities, emergency response and law enforcement sector staff, more health and safety workers, and certain federal employees.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

"Our frontline workers have made so many sacrifices and put the needs of the community ahead of themselves," said Premier Ford. "These heroes work day-in and day-out to ensure everyone else can stay home and stay safe and healthy. The least we can do is ensure the safety of their children during these unprecedented times."

On March 20, 2020, the government issued an emergency order directing certain child care centres to reopen with fewer children to allow for physical distancing. This decision was made to support health care and other frontline workers responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. The list of essential workers eligible to access emergency childcare has now been expanded.

"Our frontline workers are making a real difference in our lives and deserve our support," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. "We are providing emergency child care to more frontline workers because in these unprecedented times, we will do whatever it takes to keep families safe, cared for, and healthy."

"Dedicated people are on the frontlines, serving our most vulnerable in developmental services agencies, in residential care homes," said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "We need to support them by making sure their families are taken care of when they go to work."

The additional frontline workers who can now access emergency childcare services include:

  • Staff working in developmental services, victim services, violence against women services, anti-human trafficking services and child welfare services (children's aid societies) and in children's residential settings;
  • Additional staff identified by the Ministry of the Solicitor General, including:
    • First Nations constables;
    • Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management fire investigators;
    • Select critical staff in community corrections, such as probation and parole officers;
    • Contractors in institutional corrections services;
    • Frontline staff at the Provincial Forensic Pathology Unit;
    • Critical staff at the Centre of Forensic Sciences; and
    • Critical staff operating the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre.
  • Staff working in shelters (e.g., serving homeless populations);
  • Power workers;
  • Pharmaceutical and medical supplies and device manufacturing workers;
  • Non-municipal water and waste-water employees; and
  • Federally employed staff including Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers and Canada Post employees.

"By ensuring staff who support some of our most vulnerable, including survivors of domestic violence, victims of human trafficking, and children and youth in care, have access to emergency child care, we can continue to provide these important services throughout the COVID-19 outbreak," said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues.

The Ontario Ministry of Education is working with Consolidated Municipal Service Managers (CMSM) and District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSAB) in their role as service system managers for early years and child care, as well as First Nations, to implement emergency child care centres in communities across the province.

Ontario will continue to monitor local needs to ensure frontline staff can continue to work and will communicate more details as the situation evolves.

A list of emergency child care centres is available on Ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Quick Facts

  • The need for child care spaces could grow by an estimated 11,300 during the eligibility expansion.
  • Since emergency child care was introduced last month, there are 74 child care centres up and running and home child care is being provided by 33 Licensed Home Child Care Agencies in communities across the province. 41 additional centres have also been approved and will be coming online in the coming days.
  • On April 14, 2020, the government issued an emergency order to give violence against women and anti-human trafficking agencies who deliver emergency residential services greater flexibility to address staffing challenges arising from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additional Resources

April 17, 2020

Ontario Enables Auto Insurance Companies to Provide Driver Rebates During COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is enabling auto insurance companies to provide temporary insurance premium rebates to drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province has amended a regulation under the Insurance Act to help ease the financial pressure on working people and families during this public health crisis.

By amending this regulation insurance companies would be able to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the declared emergency has ended.

"We are in an unprecedented time and people are experiencing extraordinary financial pressures," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. "My message to insurance companies has been clear: they should provide relief that reflects the financial hardships their dedicated customers are facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak."

"All of us will remember how companies treat us during these unprecedented times. I often remind business leaders that their customers from the past five years are likely to be their customers for the next five years," said Phillips. "Insurance companies indicated that the regulation preventing rebates was a barrier to providing relief to their customers. That barrier has now been removed so auto insurance companies can step up and do the right thing for the people and families of Ontario."

The Government and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) will continue to work together to monitor how the auto insurance sector is responding.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to remove existing restrictions on rebating so auto insurers can provide additional consumer relief.
  • The rebating prohibition is designed to protect consumers from being misled in purchasing decisions based on a rebate and to provide consumer protection from insurers who may discriminate between consumers.
  • Auto insurance policy terms generally last for 12 months. The 12-month time period of this regulation would allow insurers to provide rebates to all policyholders, regardless of their annual policy renewal date.
  • The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) is an independent regulatory agency designed to improve consumer and pension plan beneficiary protections in Ontario. FSRA is responsible for monitoring compliance with and enforcing the Insurance Act and its regulations.

Additional Resources

April 16, 2020

Ontario Significantly Expands Hospital Capacity to Prepare for Any COVID-19 Outbreak Scenario

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

  • Learn more about Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
  • Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
  • If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents.
  • For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (toll-free in Ontario only).

April 16, 2020

Ontario Ramping Up Protection for Long-Term Care Residents

TORONTO — In order to better protect the most vulnerable and stop the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, the Ontario government has developed a robust action plan with key measures to be implemented within hours. In addition, the province has issued a new emergency order restricting long-term care staff from working in more than one long-term care home, retirement home or health care setting. These measures are being taken on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health.

The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes was announced today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

"We will do everything we can to protect our seniors and most vulnerable citizens because we all know they are most at risk during this pandemic," said Premier Ford. "Our three-point action plan builds on the measures we have already taken to fortify that iron ring of protection we have placed around our long-term care residents and those who care for them." 

The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes adds critical new measures to prevent further outbreaks and deaths from COVID-19 in long-term care homes, including:   

  1. Aggressive Testing, Screening, and Surveillance: enhancing testing for symptomatic residents and staff and those who have been in contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19; expanding screening to include more asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases; and leveraging surveillance tools to enable care providers to move proactively against the disease.
  2. Managing Outbreaks and Spread of the Disease: supporting long-term care homes with public health and infection control expertise to contain and prevent outbreaks; providing additional training and support for current staff working in outbreak conditions.
  3. Growing our Heroic Long-Term Care Workforce: redeploying staff from hospitals and home and community care to support the long-term care home workforce and respond to outbreaks, alongside intensive on-going recruitment initiatives.

Additional measures under development will help to ensure preparedness and respond to the situation as it evolves, including improving isolation capacity at long-term care homes.

Within less than 48 hours, the government will immediately act to deliver:

  • enhanced testing and surveillance for symptomatic residents and staff and those in contact with persons confirmed to have COVID-19;
  • testing of asymptomatic residents and staff in select homes across the province to better understand how COVID-19 is spreading;
  • risk and capacity assessments for all homes;
  • working with Ontario Health, the Ontario Hospital Association, and public health units to assemble infection control and preventions teams and additional supports;
  • enhanced guidance on personal protective equipment and continued priority distribution to homes;
  • enhanced training and education to support staff working in outbreak situations; and
  • redeploying hospital and home care resources into homes.

"We must continue to act to stop the spread of this virus in our long-term care homes," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "Nothing is more important than protecting the health and well-being of our loved ones in long-term care, or the front-line heroes who care for them."

"This new action plan significantly enhances existing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable, including long-term care home residents and the staff who care for them," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "Having significantly expanded the scope and scale of testing and made considerable progress in securing personal protective equipment, Ontario has never been better positioned to deliver on our commitment to support long-term care homes in our shared battle against this virus."

The government has also issued an emergency order directing long-term care employers to ensure their employees, including registered nurses, registered practical nurses, personal support workers, kitchen and cleaning staff only work in one long-term care home. This means that employees cannot work in multiple locations such as a retirement home or other health care setting.

As a result of this order, long-term care workers who must temporarily give up a job in another care setting are protected from losing their job as they are entitled to an unpaid leave of absence. To help long-term care workers make up these lost wages, the government encourages long-term care employers to offer full-time hours to their part-time employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

To help employers cover this expense, the government is taking action to ensure long-term care homes have the flexibility and funds to rapidly hire nurses and other front-line staff they need, when they need them. These emergency funds are available to help long-term care homes cover the incremental costs of increasing hours for part-time staff to help those staff limit their work locations.

All long-term care staff continue to be subject to rigorous screening procedures and must follow personal protective equipment guidelines, including wearing surgical masks, gowns, gloves and eye protection while in homes.

Quick Facts

  • The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes will continue to evolve in response to COVID-19. The government is actively seeking and acting on proposals to fight this virus through the Ontario Together portal.
  • The temporary emergency order will come into effect on April 22, 2020 in order to give long-term care homes enough time to be compliant with the order. It builds on previous emergency orders issued March 24 and March 28, 2020.
  • An investment of $243 million in COVID-19 emergency funding is available to homes to cover the costs associated with securing the staffing, supplies, and capacity they need at this unprecedented time.
  • To help understaffed long-term care homes find qualified staff, the government launched an online tool to help match skilled front-line workers with employers: the Health Workforce Matching Portal.

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).

April 15, 2020