Ontario Stepping Up Measures to Limit the Spread of COVID-19 in Correctional System

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, issued the following statement regarding regulatory changes to temporary absences and parole at Ontario's adult correctional facilities as a further precautionary response to COVID-19:

"As Ontario continues to act to slow the spread of COVID-19, we are making further changes to protect our frontline workers and our health care system from the burden an outbreak in our correctional system could cause.

On March 13, we announced measures to protect Ontario's adult correctional facilities from COVID-19 by granting intermittent inmates, who serve time on the weekends, temporary absences from custody, and temporarily halting personal visits. Intermittent inmates have already been deemed low-risk by the courts and remain in the community Monday to Friday to live and work.

Building on these changes, Ontario is implementing amendments to Regulation 778 under the Ministry of Correctional Services Act to allow senior corrections officials to expand the use of temporary absences and for the Ontario Parole Board to use alternatives to in-person meetings.

Going forward, correctional services will have the option to issue temporary absences beyond the current 72-hour maximum. This means those serving intermittent sentences, who have been granted a temporary absence will not have to report to a correctional facility every weekend, which will avoid cycling individuals back and forth between the community and a correctional facility. 

In addition, the longer-term temporary absences will allow for early release of those inmates who are near the end of their sentence. To ensure public safety, inmates would be carefully assessed to ensure they are a low risk to reoffend. Those inmates who have been convicted of serious crimes, such as violent crimes or crimes involving guns, would not be considered for early release.

A second regulatory amendment will allow the Ontario Parole Board to conduct hearings by electronic or written means, rather than solely in-person, providing alternate options for hearings.

We continue to evaluate all options to limit the possible spread of COVID-19 within our correctional system. These regulatory amendments will help us preserve the integrity of our health care system, protect our frontline workers and help keep our communities safe."

March 20, 2020

Statement by Minister Elliott and Minister Mulroney on How Ontario is Protecting Ontario Drivers During COVID-19

TORONTO - Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation issued the following statement in response to COVID-19 and ensuring that Ontario drivers are being protected:

"The health and safety of Ontarians continues to remain our top priority.

As announced yesterday, the province is extending the validity of government driver, vehicle, carrier products and services to help keep people safe and reduce the need for in-person visits to DriveTest centres.

We want to assure Ontarians no driver's licence applicant will lose test fees as result of a last-minute cancellation or not attending DriveTest or as a result of a DriveTest interruption in service. In addition to the road test fees, we will also be waiving the current "Fail to Keep Appointment" penalty fee.

Ontario will ensure that no customer will lose their current licence or lose their prepaid testing fees due to the current situation. If you have a road test scheduled and would like to reschedule please do so in advance of your appointment date.

This direction will be in place until further notice, based on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials.

We encourage people to use the extended validation period, and to follow the advice of our medical professions and stay at home.

We have a responsibility to Ontarians to ensure that we take every possible step to enable social distancing and stop the spread of COVID-19.

These additional measures are expected to minimize any impact to the driving needs of Ontarians during COVID-19."

Quick Facts

March 20, 2020

Ontario Helping Students Learn from the Safety of Their Own Home

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford joined Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education to launch the first phase of Learn at Home and Apprendre à la maison, a new online portal that will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

"As a father myself, I know parents always want the best for their children, and I also know from speaking to parents that many are concerned that their child is going to fall behind while schools are closed during this difficult period," said Premier Ford. "To support families and students, our government has developed a one-stop spot for at-home learning. It doesn't replace school, but offers a great alternative as we approach the end of March Break."

Learn at Home offers all students high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Elementary resources are designed to help young students learn at home with interactive activities that encourage participation through entertaining and stimulating digital content. High school content was designed with a focus on STEM courses and ensure core competencies and skills are reinforced. The government is also providing access to course content for students who take the initiative to refresh and extend their learning. 

"The Learn at Home initiative will help mitigate 'learning loss' during this period of uncertainty," said Minister Lecce. "Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home."

"By offering new at-home educational resources, the province is further supporting Ontario's families as they help contain the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health. "Each and every Ontarian has a role to play in flattening the curve. Our government is providing families with the support they need so that they can continue to contribute to our shared goal of protecting the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians, including our young students."

"TVO is proud to be part of this important initiative by the Ministry of Education." said Jennifer Hinshelwood, TVO's Acting Chief Operating Officer. "TVO's suite of digital learning products are designed to engage young minds in learning - a mission that seems doubly important at times like this when many of our traditional learning environments are not accessible."

The at-home activities offered by Learn at Home provide quick and easy access to some of Ontario's best online kindergarten to grade 12 learning resources produced by Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) Educators. As part of the government's commitment to planning for every scenario, the province is working closely with education stakeholders to develop a plan for scaling and building additional online learning programs.

"In these uncertain times, we are proud as a public agency to join the Ministry of Education's efforts in supporting families and students," said Eric Minoli, TFO's Chief Operating Officer. "Our online Apprendre à la maison program will help ensure continuity in education for Francophone and Francophile parents. TFO will be offering daily activities which will be accessible at all times on our IDELLO.ORG platform, BOUKILI.CA and our TV channel. TFO will remain a proud partner of all families through a tailored program of fun, high-quality educational activities and content, all of which will be aligned with the curriculum of Ontario."

Quick Facts

  • For students who do not have access to a computer, work is underway, in conjunction with school boards, to provide the necessary technology to everyone who needs it.
  • TVO Kids offers educational programing throughout the day for school-aged children. Check out their broadcast schedule here to know what is on and when.
  • Bilingual materials on Learn at Home will continue to be added on a regular basis to provide new and compelling content throughout this period. Other learning programs, such as Ontario’s Virtual Learning Environment, are being further developed to provide enhanced learning options.
  • Mathify provides real-time homework help led by OCT educators for students between grades 6-10, six days a week, including weekdays from 9AM ET – 9PM ET. The Government worked in concert with TVO to expand Mathify beyond the existing grades 7-10, to now include grade six.
  • Eurêka! is another online learning support program that helps students in French language schools from grades 1 to 12 with their school work and their learning.
  • Ontario public schools will be closed from March 14 through to April 5, 2020 in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Similarly, private schools and licensed child care centres will also be closed until April 5, 2020.
  • EQAO assessments for the 2019-20 school year have been cancelled, including the Ontario Secondary School Literacy test. The literacy requirement for students graduating in the 2019-20 school year has also been waived.
  • The Ministry of Education is working with TVO and TFO to roll-out robust education programming on their broadcast channels, with a phased-in approach commencing next week. This iterative process will ensure that Ontario students and families have additional mediums available for engaging with high-quality, made-in-Ontario education resources that support a continuity of learning for students.

Additional Resources

March 20, 2020

Ontario Supporting Workers, Municipalities and Retailers in Response to COVID-19

TORONTO ― Today, the Ontario government took unprecedented action to respond to COVID-19 by convening an emergency sitting of the legislature and passing two pieces of legislation which will protect the jobs of employees who self-isolate or quarantine, help keep store shelves stocked and give municipal councils the flexibility to continue operations while maintaining social distance.

The legislation passed with unanimous consent by only 26 MPPs. The number of members participating in this extraordinary session was intentionally kept small in order to practice social distancing and help prevent the spread of COVID-19. A first in Ontario history.

"I want to thank all parties for coming together to pass this important legislation so we can deliver immediate relief to Ontario workers and families," said Premier Doug Ford. "The health and safety of the people of Ontario is our number one priority and that's why we are protecting the jobs of workers and making sure that essentials like groceries, household basics, and medicine can arrive on store shelves. We must work together as Team Ontario to slow the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve."

The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario. The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.

"During this time of great uncertainty, the last thing employees should have to worry about is job security," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "People can't be punished for following the advice of our leading medical health professionals."

The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 will ensure that for the near future, the delivery of goods to Ontario's businesses and consumers isn't impacted by municipal noise by-laws that may unintentionally be impeding such deliveries when they are most urgently needed. The legislation also gives municipalities the ability to fully conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering the government's municipal partners to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held.

"These changes will assist in getting goods to market in a more expeditious manner. Our government wants to do everything we can to help connect distribution centres with grocery stores and pharmacies to replenish empty shelves more quickly," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "As well, we are helping communities respond to this crisis by allowing councils to conduct meetings remotely. These changes empower municipalities to respond quickly and continue to function when in-person meetings cannot be held, and council decisions need to be made."

Background Information

March 19, 2020

Ontario Extending Validation Periods for Driver, Vehicle and Carrier Products, Services and Health Cards

Ontario continues to take decisive action to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families.

As part of the province's enhanced measures, the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and ServiceOntario, is extending the validity period of driving products, services and health cards. These changes reduce the need for in-person visits to ServiceOntario, International Registration Plan offices and DriveTest centres during the COVID-19 outbreak, helping to promote social distancing and contain the spread of the virus.

These new regulations include extensions for driver licences, licence plate validation, Ontario Photo Cards, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration certificates, among others. Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services.

The Ministry of Transportation is also automatically extending the due dates for medical or vision reports, which both reduces the need for in-person visits, but also ensures that patients do not need to visit their doctors, helping the health system to focus on containing COVID-19.

"We have a responsibility to Ontarians to ensure that we take every possible step to enable social distancing and stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "By implementing these additional measures, Ontarians can avoid putting themselves at risk and will continue to have access to the services that they need, when they need them."

This extension will be in place until such time that, based on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, the current situation improves.

"We're working with all partners across the system to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "These changes will help relieve the burden already faced by Ontarians and businesses by providing more time to renew their licences and permits without being penalized, while also reducing the need for in-person visits."

The Ministry of Transportation will continue to deliver time-critical services, including Motor Vehicle Inspection Station Stock orders and Single-Trip Oversize/Overweight permits.

"We urge our customers not to visit a ServiceOntario centre unless absolutely necessary," said Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. "We encourage people to complete transactions online or use the extended validation period, and to follow the advice of our medical professions and stay at home."

As per advice from the Chief Medical Officer, we are encouraging everyone to take appropriate measures to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus. This includes staying home if you are sick and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

Quick Facts

  • The public can visit for a full list of products and services that are affected by this change.
  • More than 40 services are already available online – please visit for more detail.
  • There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. To find out more visit Ontario's website.

Background Information

Additional Resources

March 19, 2020

Ontario Protecting Critical Front-Line Justice Services in Response to COVID-19

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Doug Downey, Attorney General, issued the following statement in response to COVID-19 and the government's commitment to keep communities safe while continuing to hold offenders accountable:

"The health and well-being of Ontarians is our government's number one priority. This commitment extends across the vast network of justice partners and individuals who interact with the justice system on a daily basis.

We are working around the clock with our partners to respond to this constantly evolving public health issue. Adjustments are being made throughout the justice system to minimize disruption and continue to provide seamless, responsive justice services to all Ontarians, particularly the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Technology Solutions and Prioritizing Urgent Matters

To sustain these efforts and to address health and safety concerns raised by legal service professionals, Ontario courts and tribunals are limiting in-person proceedings and making use of audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters remotely, where possible. Justice partners are working collaboratively to develop and deploy technology solutions and other innovative tools across the province to ensure urgent matters can be heard without needing to appear in person. This approach will also help to mitigate the potential impacts of possible service disruptions. Courts and tribunals are also deferring non-urgent matters until they can be managed safely and securely.

Ontario's judges and justices of the peace continue to prioritize critical matters such as criminal and child protection proceedings. There is strong collaboration across the system to ensure that urgent and priority legal matters continue to be heard before our courts and tribunals.

All Tribunals Ontario in-person proceedings, including at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, Landlord and Tenant Board and Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, are postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date. Where feasible, alternative hearing options such as written and telephone hearings will be considered. Front-line counter services will be closed until further notice.

We are also working very closely with our partners and colleagues in Ontario's court systems to ensure Ontarians can see justice done while also prioritizing the protection of public health in the province. The following actions have been taken across the justice system:

  • The Superior Court of Justice has suspended all regular court operations until further notice, while continuing to hear urgent matters during this emergency period.
  • All sittings of the Small Claims Court in Ontario are suspended until further notice. 
  • The Ontario Court of Justice has established procedures to reduce the number of people who attend court in-person for criminal and family matters. All non-urgent matters have been adjourned.
  • All Provincial Offences Act matters scheduled up to and including April 3, 2020 will be adjourned and rescheduled to a later date. Tickets, fines or other court business may be handled online. 
  • The Court of Appeal has suspended all scheduled appeals until April 3, 2020. During this period, urgent appeals will be heard based on either the written materials or remotely.

Keeping People Safe

We are committed to ensuring Ontarians remain safe and secure during this challenging time and are looking at all tools to help individuals and families stay in their homes. As part of this approach, the Ministry of the Attorney General has been granted an order suspending the enforcement of residential evictions until ordered otherwise by the court. Tribunals Ontario will not issue any new eviction orders until further notice. Sheriff's offices have been asked to postpone any scheduled enforcement of eviction orders currently set for this week.

We want to thank our partners at the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice, Tribunals Ontario, and the front-line workers across our justice system who are working hard to keep everyone safe and healthy while maintaining the administration of justice in our province.

Ontario takes the health and safety of court users, staff and the judiciary very seriously. As this public health situation evolves, the government is committed to providing Ontarians with safe and reliable access to critical front-line services, including supporting the delivery of justice at its courthouses and tribunals. We are closely monitoring developments and will continue to provide updates as the situation evolves."

Additional Resources

March 19, 2020

Ontario is Protecting Seniors' Health and Safety

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility, issued the following statement regarding Ontario's older adults in response to COVID-19:

"The health and wellness of seniors is of the utmost importance to our government. That is why yesterday Premier Doug Ford announced a $5 million investment to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.

We would like to reassure all Ontarians that the province has been diligently monitoring the developing situation in all: long-term care facilities, retirement and seniors' homes. The health, wellbeing and safety of all Ontarians is paramount to our government.

In order to ensure a safe, healthy and secure environment for residents, the Chief Medical Officer of Health has recommended that licensed retirement homes only allow essential visitors—people visiting residents who are very ill or require end-of-life care—until further notice. Licensed retirement homes will continue to actively screen essential visitors and staff before they enter the home.

It is recommended that no other visitors should be permitted to enter these premises. Instead, they should be asked to keep in touch with loved ones by phone or other technologies, as available.

This recommendation was not made lightly.

We recognize visits provide important social connections and improvements to quality of life for many residents and families may feel frustration, sadness and even anger considering this change. However, during the global COVID-19 pandemic, the health and well-being of Ontarians—especially retirement home residents who may be more vulnerable to such diseases, as well as their families and staff—is our number one priority.

During this extraordinary time, it is as important as ever to be aware of all our older Ontarians and people with disabilities who may be vulnerable to social isolation. We encourage everyone to check in on elderly family members, people with disabilities and neighbours in your community with a phone or video call. We also encourage those who are able to help with errands such as picking up groceries for those who should remain at home and self isolate."

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

For individuals with loved ones living in a retirement home with questions regarding this procedure, please contact the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority at 1-855-ASK-RHRA or at

March 17, 2020

Ontario Moves Forward with Child Care Retrofit in Cannington

LINDSAY - Ontario's Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, has provided the Durham District School Board with approval for a child care retrofit at McCaskill's Mills Public School. 

The retrofit will include an infant room with 10 new, modern child care spaces. Cannington-area families with children younger than 12 years will benefit from these modern learning spaces. 

Minister Lecce was joined by Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure, Laurie Scott, at the Boys and Girls Club of Kawartha Lakes in Lindsay to announce details of the new project.

"Laurie Scott has been a strong advocate for families in this region and for this child care initiative," said Minister Lecce. "Our government approved the new retrofit at McCaskill's Mills Public School so parents can access high-quality child care."

"Today's announcement is excellent news for parents, children and caregivers in our community," said Minister Scott. "I'm proud to belong to a government that is making the kinds of investments that will continue to make life easier for families."

In 2019-20, Ontario is investing more than $2 billion and is committed to creating up to 30,000 new child care spaces in schools to build a stronger child care and early years system. In fact, a new report from the Ministry of Education shows that the province's public and private sectors have already created over 19,000 licensed child care spaces in 2018-19. During that period, 268 child care spaces were created in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.

November 13, 2019

Ontario Improving Transit in Kawartha Lakes

CITY OF KAWARTHA LAKES — Ontario is working to support municipalities and get people moving by investing up to $790,000 for new transit infrastructure projects in the City of Kawartha Lakes.

"These transit projects will make a real difference in people's lives," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. "Better public transit creates stronger communities. It helps people spend less time commuting to work and home, and more time doing the things they love with those they care about most."

The funding includes new buses, bus routes and bus stops plus a new transit hub and expanding Lindsay Transit's bus maintenance facility. Investments will also include transit software upgrades, five new replacement buses, seven bus-mounted bike racks, and more bike routes linking riders to road networks.

This project is being nominated under the Public Transit stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), a 10-year, $30-billion fund that provides support to help municipalities repair or build critical infrastructure. This is part of the government's 10-year, $144-billion strategic infrastructure capital plan, which includes over $90 billion for public transit and provincial highways over the next decade.

The project in the City of Kawartha Lakes is in addition to 56 new transit projects being nominated outside of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. These transit projects are worth more than $100 million in provincial funding. As of today, Ontario has nominated 350 infrastructure projects to the federal government to get people moving and grow the economy. The projects are now with the federal government for final funding decisions as they are reviewed for eligibility under the ICIP program. Some projects could begin as soon as fall 2019.

"Ontario is ready to get shovels in the ground and get people moving," said Scott. "With our plan, businesses, families and workers can count on an Ontario that will move faster than ever before."

"Our government's transit vision is helping to get people moving by improving our transportation network and creating a better transit experience for commuters," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "We're continuing to work with municipalities to make smart investments in our roads and local transit services that keep them reliable for workers, families and businesses."

August 16, 2019