News

Ontario Protecting Farmers and Food Supply Chain

WOODSTOCK - The Ontario government is taking action to balance the safety and security of farmers, their families and the provincial food supply with protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property. Today, Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, received Royal Assent. Once proclaimed into force, the Act will further protect against the health and safety risks of on-farm trespassing.

"If there's one thing the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated, it's the importance of a steady and reliable food supply and the safety of those who feed us," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "I am more committed than ever to supporting our farmers, food processors and transport sector — the agri-food heroes who have worked so hard to keep food on our grocery store shelves and our kitchen tables throughout this crisis."

In recent years, farmers have faced increased levels of trespass and theft of livestock from their farms as well as mental heath stress due to these threats. Bill 156 will increase protections for those farmers while simultaneously protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.

The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 helps deter trespassers by:

 

  • Escalating fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;
  • Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine;
  • Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer's livestock or from theft;
  • Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided the farmer did not directly cause the harm;
  • Removing consent to enter a farm property when it was given under duress or false pretenses.

 

"Our government will always protect the right for people to participate in lawful protests. The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 does not change that. However, that right has never included trespassing onto private property and harassing farmers and their families," said Minister Hardeman. "We need to do more to help our agri-food workers focus on contributing to a strong and safe food supply, instead of fearing for their and their family's safety from unlawful trespassing and harassment activity."

Prior to the bill's introduction, the Ontario government consulted with stakeholders across the province to ensure the right balance of protecting Ontario's farmers and the rights of people to participate in lawful protests. Over the coming months, the ministry will continue consulting with stakeholders to develop the regulations that must be put in place before the Act can be proclaimed into force.

"The Ontario Federation of Agriculture and its members appreciate the support of the Ontario government in taking the concerns of Ontario livestock and poultry farmers seriously and acting swiftly to address them by passing Bill 156," said Keith Currie, President of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture. "On-farm trespass causes serious threats to the mental health and well-being of Ontario farmers and significant stress and harm to our animals. The intent of this act is to protect farms, our families and the safety of our food supply chain by addressing the ongoing threat of unwanted trespassing."

Last year, the government passed the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019, giving Ontario the strongest penalties in Canada for people who are convicted of animal abuse. The province now has the first fully provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement system in Canada.

If anybody in Ontario believes that an animal is being mistreated, they should call 1-833-9ANIMAL or 1-833-926-4625 and have a trained inspector investigate the allegation.

"Dairy farmers in Ontario take the welfare of the animals in our care and the quality of the milk we produce very seriously. The act goes a long way to keeping the integrity of the biosecurity measures we have in place for food safety, and to keeping our animals, families and homes safe from unauthorized visitors," said Murray Sherk, Board Chair of Dairy Farmers of Ontario. "We appreciate the time and attention this government has dedicated to hearing first-hand from dairy farmers across the province and look forward to engaging further as the regulations for the act are considered."

Quick Facts

  • The act received broad support from many organizations, including: Rural Ontario Municipal Association, Association of Municipalities Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Chicken Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Pork, the Ontario Livestock Transporters’ Alliance, Dairy Farmers of Ontario, Food and Beverage Ontario and the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association.
  • Nearly 130 municipalities have passed or supported council resolutions calling on the government to strengthen protections for farm families, employees and animals.
  • Minister Hardeman first introduced Bill 156 on December 2, 2019.

Additional Resources

June 18, 2020

Ontario to Gradually Reopen DriveTest Centres Across Province

TORONTO - Ontario's driver testing services provider, DriveTest, will begin offering limited services across the province beginning Monday, June 22, 2020, with the expectation of restoring full services by September. This gradual, staggered approach, based on customer date of birth, will ensure that strict protocols are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

"As Ontario continues to gradually and safely reopen, reopening DriveTest centres will help get more people back to every day life," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "By resuming driver testing in a phased, staggered approach, important health and safety measures, such as physical distancing and extensive cleaning, can be maintained."

DriveTest centres will begin serving customers based on when they were born to reduce crowding, support new requirements for physical distancing, health checks and enhanced sanitation. People with birthdays between January to June will be allowed to visit a centre the first week of reopening, and people with birthdays between July to December will have access to DriveTest services the following week. Access to DriveTest services will continue to alternate weekly until full services are restored.

In the first phase, all 56 full-time DriveTest centres will reopen on Monday for G1 and M1 knowledge tests, driver's licence exchanges and commercial driver's licence applications and upgrades. Commercial road tests will also be available by appointment at 28 locations across Ontario.

"We encourage applicants to be patient when visiting a centre and hold off visiting DriveTest where possible to support physical distancing and reduce crowding," said Minister Mulroney. "We have extended the validity of all driver's licences, so we would ask that everyone hold off on visiting a DriveTest centre unless the need for a driver's licence is urgent. I can assure you that no one will lose their licence as a result of COVID-19."

To protect the safety of Ontarians, DriveTest will also require customers to wear face coverings inside centres and during road tests, sanitize their hands when they enter the building and undergo temperature checks before road tests. All DriveTest staff will wear personal protective equipment when serving customers. Driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.

Details of the DriveTest reopening plan, which outline the driver testing services available, how to access DriveTest centres, and which customers are being served each week, will be updated every Monday on DriveTest.ca.

Quick Facts

  • All 56 DriveTest centres and 39 Travel Point locations were closed on March 23, 2020, in response to COVID-19.
  • All full-time DriveTest centres will reopen June 22, 2020. Part-time Travel Point locations will begin reopening more gradually.
  • Starting June 22nd, DriveTest will offer the following transactions to customers based on when they were born (between January and June or between July and December) on alternating weeks: applications for G and M Class driver’s licences (knowledge tests), driver’s licence exchanges, commercial driver’s licence upgrades and renewals, and Commercial Vehicle Operator Registration (CVOR) testing.
  • Information about which customers (those born between January and June or between July and December) are being served will be posted at DriveTest.ca weekly. Please visit DriveTest.ca to plan your visit before arriving at a DriveTest centre.

Background Information

Additional Resources

June 18, 2020

Ontario Moves Forward with Infrastructure Projects that Improve Communities and Create Jobs

TORONTO - The Ontario government continues to move forward with 37 major infrastructure projects across the province using the public-private partnership (P3) model. The projects were listed in the Spring 2020 P3 Market Update (known in the market as updates to the "P3 Pipeline"), which was released today by Laurie Scott, Ontario's Minister of Infrastructure.

"The message today is clear, our government is moving from shovel ready to shovels in the ground," said Minister Scott. "The P3 Market Update signals to the infrastructure sector that Ontario remains committed to major infrastructure projects including subways, highways, health care and community safety projects. This is stimulus that will create jobs and contribute to the economic recovery of our province."

The P3 Market Update is a list of public projects in the pre-procurement and procurement stages for which Ontario has committed funding. The list helps potential local and global private sector partners organize their time and resources to make sure Ontario gets robust, innovative and competitive bids for its P3 infrastructure projects.

"Ontario's unique P3 model is a proven, internationally-recognized approach that gets projects done on time and on budget," said Minister Scott. "We look forward to continuing to work with our private sector partners to build these significant projects for the benefit of people today and for generations to come." 

Ontario's P3 model is part of the government's plan to build new infrastructure including transit, highways, schools and hospitals faster, improve productivity, help businesses get goods to markets, and create jobs.

"This spring's update is an important reassurance to industry and the people of Ontario," said Ehren Cory, Infrastructure Ontario President and Chief Executive Officer. "It is important to provide as much certainty as possible to our industry partners regarding the Province's commitment to the many P3 projects in planning and procurement."

The government committed to providing four infrastructure updates annually, with the next update planned for this summer, and a more comprehensive update planned for the fall.

 

Quick Facts

  • The Spring 2020 P3 Market Update includes a total of 37 P3 projects including: 17 civil (such as transit, subways, highways), 16 health care, three community safety, and one children’s treatment centre. Twenty-four of these are currently in procurement. Another 13 projects are in the pre-transaction phase. In addition, 13 additional projects are currently included in the planning phase.
  • The Fall 2019 Update was the largest in Ontario’s history, investing more than $60 billion in projects across Ontario.
  • Infrastructure Ontario (IO), a Crown agency overseen by the Minister of Infrastructure, is responsible for delivering projects under Ontario's P3 model.
  • Read the Spring 2020 P3 Market Update letter from Ehren Cory, President and Chief Executive Officer.
  • To find out more about projects in your community, visit the Ontario Builds map.

Additional Resources

June 18, 2020

Ontario Enhancing COVID-19 Case and Contact Management

TORONTO — As the province safely and gradually reopens, the Ontario government is enhancing case and contact management to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential future waves. These additional measures include a comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management, and, in partnership with the federal government, a new made-in-Ontario national app called COVID Alert.

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

The government's enhanced strategy focuses on strengthening and standardizing case and contact management by:

  • Ensuring that all new cases and their close contacts are identified early, contacted quickly, investigated thoroughly and are followed up with daily for up to 14 days;
  • Supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada;
  • Improving technology tools by modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS) through the implementation of a new custom-built COVID-19 case and contact management system; and
  • Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

"You can't manage what you can't measure. That's why our government has been relentless in building our testing and contact tracing capacity to track, trace, and contain the invisible enemy we face," said Premier Ford. "As we take our contact tracing strategy to the next level today, I want to thank the federal government for providing more boots on the ground and supporting a privacy-first app that will protect both Ontarians and Canadians alike."

"Along with the early detection of new cases through the ongoing implementation of our enhanced testing strategy, more effective and efficient case and contact management will ensure that we are able to stop the spread of COVID-19 as we gradually reopen the province," said Minister Elliott. "To support these efforts, we are dramatically expanding staffing levels and getting on with the long-overdue work of replacing outdated systems that no longer meet the needs of public health units."

Ontario is providing updated case and contact management guidance for all public health units to ensure consistency across the province. To continue to ensure cases and their contacts are reached in a timely and effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19, public health units will:

  • Connect with cases, and with all individuals who have had close contact with a positive case, within 24 hours of being identified;
  • Direct all close contacts to self-isolate for up to 14 days;
  • Follow up with close contacts every day for the duration of their self-isolation; and
  • Advise testing of all appropriate close contacts.

To augment the current provincial capacity of approximately 2,000 case managers and contact tracers, Ontario is providing additional contact tracing staff. New and expanded capacity will be provided through Statistics Canada with access to up to 1,700 additional staff, available to all provinces, for contact tracing. Public Health Ontario will continue overseeing the training and coordination of these additional resources.

Over the summer and into the fall, Ontario will continue to build a supplementary pool of contact tracers from the Ontario Public Service and the broader public sector for additional surge capacity, as required. This will allow public health units to perform their other critical functions, including inspections of food premises and water in recreational facilities, and vaccinations.

To help Ontarians stay safe as the province reopens and social interactions increase, Ontario will be partnering with the federal government to launch COVID Alert, a new privacy-first exposure notification app, within the next two weeks. The made-in-Ontario app was developed by the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) and a group of volunteers from Shopify. One of the overarching principles is ensuring the privacy and security for all users, which is why the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province's internal security reviews.

Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario's public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested. Using a national application will help ensure that Ontarians are notified, regardless of which province they are in, helping us towards the goal of ensuring we can all move more freely and safely.

Ontario is also implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff. A single central system will enable the province to identify provincewide regional trends and hotspots, while protecting personal health information. Custom-built on the Salesforce platform, the new system will also allow for a remote workforce, enabling contact tracing to be quickly ramped up when required.

Everyone should continue to follow public health guidelines to stay safe, including physical distancing with people not in your social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, and, if you think you have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, getting tested.

Quick Facts

  • iPHIS was implemented in phases starting on April 1, 2005, with full implementation across the province by the end of that year.
  • Approximately 97 per cent of new COVID-19 cases are currently being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread.
  • The exposure notification app will not collect personal or location data. It uses Bluetooth technology to send out encrypted, anonymized codes to other nearby phones that have the app. The app was built using the Apple/Google framework for exposure notification to ensure that it leverages global best practices to protect privacy.
  • 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. Visit Ontario’s website to find your local assessment centre and whether you need to call ahead to make an appointment.

Additional Resources

June 18, 2020

Ontario Pauses Commercial Evictions

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.

"We know COVID-19 has had a significant impact on small businesses, which are the backbone of our economy," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This Legislation will allow us to protect small businesses and help them get back on their feet so they can continue to create jobs and participate in the rebuilding of the provincial economy."

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to participate in the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The pause on evictions does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses, as the program requires landlords to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants and commits them to a moratorium on evictions for three months.

"Pausing evictions of commercial tenants is another way we are supporting small businesses and providing much needed relief as we work to reopen the economy," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. "Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords in Ontario through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses."

Quick Facts

  • In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to CECRA for small businesses, which will provide more than $900 million in support for small businesses and their landlords.
  • CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords for the months of April, May, and June 2020. Small business landlords would be asked to forgive at least 25 per cent of the tenant's total rent, tenants would be asked to pay up to 25 per cent of rent and the provincial and federal governments would share the cost of the remaining 50 per cent.
  • Tenants and landlords can learn who is eligible and how to apply at Ontario.ca/rentassistance. The application deadline is August 31, 2020.

Additional Resources

June 17, 2020

Ontario Marks Three Months Since Declaration of Emergency

TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford issued the following statement reflecting on the province's response to an unprecedented international public health crisis:

"Three months ago, our government made the difficult, but necessary decision to enact a provincial Declaration of Emergency in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, closing down non-essential businesses and limiting organized public events and social gatherings. It marked the beginning of one of the darkest periods in our province's history.

Our government, joined by thousands of frontline health care workers, volunteers, businesses, and the 14.5 million people who call this province home, rallied immediately to stop the spread of COVID-19. The collective call to action was inspiring, but as we all know, it has been a long and difficult road with losses far greater than anyone could have imagined.

I am proud and grateful for how everyone from every corner of the province has gone above and beyond in the face of this global crisis.

Since the first sign of the outbreak, we have been laser-focused on supporting our frontline workers and building the capacity that our health care system needed to respond to this threat. Thanks to the diligent work of our hospitals and their top-notch staff, Ontario now has a total of 21,425 acute care beds and 3,276 critical care beds, 2,583 of which are equipped with ventilators. During the peak of the outbreak, the system freed up between 5,000 and 6,000 acute care beds, and had preparedness plans in place to go up to 11,000 acute care beds if needed.

Within weeks, we built a network of over 30 laboratories to ramp up our testing capacity, starting at about 3,000 per day in March to reaching over 20,000 a day in recent weeks. Ontario now leads the country in testing capacity. Public health units have also increased their capacity to conduct rapid case and contact tracing, respond to outbreaks, and support local response efforts.

We have been tireless in our efforts to ensure frontline workers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to carry out their heroic work in hospitals, long-term care homes and other care settings. We mobilized the manufacturing might of Ontario to make the PPE we need here at home and to showcase "Ontario Made" as the gold standard worldwide for quality medical supplies and equipment. Through the Ontario Together portal, thousands of leads on emergency supplies have resulted in more than $610 million in purchases of critical equipment, including 10,040 ventilators, 123 million masks, four million face shields, 173 million surgical gloves, and 21 million gowns.

To fortify the iron ring of protection around our seniors, we have provided our long-term care homes with $243 million in emergency funding to hire staff, purchase supplies, and increase capacity. Thanks to our hospital partners, rapid response teams are working with 150 of our long-term care homes across the province to support infection protection and control and staffing needs. We are also incredibly grateful to our brave men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces who have been deployed to provide critical support in seven of our long-term care homes.

Above all, the people of this province have shown the true Ontario spirit with countless individuals volunteering in their communities and caring for those in need. Thanks to our partnership with Spark Ontario, over 4,300 volunteers have signed up to help people affected by COVID-19. Thousands of volunteers, including retired nurses and medical students, put up their hand to manage the phone lines at Telehealth Ontario and assist with case management and contact tracing. Through Ontario's Health Workforce Matching Portal, over 24,400 volunteers have asked to be matched with organizations in need of help, including our long-term care homes.

As we work to find a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, we must remain ready for any scenario. I will continue to press the federal government to provide the necessary long-term and sustained funding commitment that will ensure Ontario has the strong health care system and the strong economic recovery it deserves. Our province alone faces up to $23 billion in additional cost pressures related to health care, protecting our most vulnerable seniors, and supporting our municipal partners in delivering critical services. Ottawa must come to the table with serious commitments to funding support.

I want to thank each and every person in Ontario for their collective efforts during this unprecedented time. As we gradually reopen our economy, we will continue to support Ontario families and businesses, so they can get back on their feet quickly and get back to work safely. These are the challenges that define a province and its people. While tough times still lie ahead of us, if we stick together and keep looking out for each other, we will come back stronger than ever before."

Additional Resources

June 17, 2020

Canada and Ontario Support Beef and Hog Farmers During COVID-19

WOODSTOCK — The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $10 million in emergency assistance for beef and hog farmers. The funding will help cover the increased costs of feeding market ready cattle and hogs due to COVID-19 related processing delays, while redirecting surplus pork products to help those in need. This program will help ensure the country's food supply chain will remain strong and ready to recover as the economy gradually and safely reopens.

The beef cattle set-aside program will provide beef farmers with up to $5 million in support. Farmers can claim $2 per head of cattle per day to help pay for additional maintenance costs should they have to keep their market-ready animals on their farms for extended periods of time.

The hog sector support program will also provide hog farmers with up to $5 million to help cover additional maintenance costs. Ontario is also providing up to $1.5 million to process and package surplus pork for food banks, to provide those in need with fresh, locally produced pork products. This will assist the pork processing industry with managing capacity while helping those in need.

"We are grateful to our hardworking farmers who are providing Canadians with safe and healthy meat products," said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "This investment is another way we are supporting the agricultural sector to ensure a stable meat supply and keep high-quality and affordable Canadian meat products on our grocery store shelves and kitchen tables."

"During consultations with the pork and beef sectors, the need for emergency support to help them maintain their operations during COVID-19 was clear," said Ernie Hardeman, Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "We understand the challenges that our farmers are facing and we are working with our commodity organizations to address their priorities and help our farmers manage through these unprecedented times."

Both the beef cattle set-aside and hog sector support programs are being offered through AgriRecovery initiatives, under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The provincial contributions are part of Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

"Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 provided $17 billion in relief, including additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of Ontario's Jobs and Recovery Committee. "Throughout the pandemic, farmers have continued playing their vital role feeding the province and supporting our economy. We know these are challenging times  for our farmers so we are stepping up to help cover some of the increased costs they are facing."

"I would like to thank Minister Hardeman, Minister Bibeau and our federal and provincial governments for their investment into the creation of a beef cattle set-aside program for Ontario," said Beef Farmers of Ontario President Rob Lipsett. "This will be an important tool to have available to help manage potential disruptions within our processing sector. Having this safeguard in place, if it is ultimately needed, is critically important."

"Ontario Pork appreciates the continued dialogue with the government during this world-wide crisis," said Eric Schwindt, Chair, Ontario Pork. "The announced program is an important first step in helping family pork farms to navigate this stressful situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Quick Facts

  • The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.
  • The province is significantly expanding the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program and committing up to $15 million to enhance health and safety measures on farms and in food processing facilities. The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides cost-share funding for farmers to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and implement workplace modifications and other measures.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has also partnered with the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS) to provide agri-food businesses, organizations and associations with educational resources, tools and consulting services to help them implement COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Additional details about businesses that may qualify can be found on the WSPS website.
  • During the COVID-19 emergency, Foodland Ontario has promoted local foods of all kinds, including lamb and veal, to help consumers choose and buy local, and to market the important sectors that bring food to Ontarians’ tables.

Additional Resources

June 17, 2020

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders

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

June 17, 2020

Ontario Investing in Frontline Corrections Workers

TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $500 million over five years to transform correctional facilities across the province. This funding will help ensure the safety and security of frontline staff.

This major investment will support the hiring of more than 500 new staff to help address challenges within the correctional system such as mental health and addiction issues. The additional funding will also be used to modernize outdated infrastructure to address overcrowding and to improve services.

"Our government heard from corrections staff across the province about the challenges they face each and every day," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "These investments will create a better, safer environment for our hard-working frontline staff and will help strengthen Ontario's corrections system."

Hiring additional staff will also help ensure the government is complying with its obligations regarding the use of segregation within correctional facilities. The modernization of outdated infrastructure, including building additional day rooms and making modifications to yard spacewill allow the province to provide more effective programming space.

 "We have been clear in our support for corrections staff and we are determined to continue providing needed resources to these men and women who are always there when they are needed most," said Solicitor General Jones.

Recent government action to support correctional staff includes:

 

Additional Resources

June 16, 2020

Ontario Expanding Services for Young Victims of Sex Trafficking

TORONTO — The Ontario Government is investing up to $46 million over the next five years to increase community-based and Indigenous-specific supports for child and youth victims of sex trafficking. The Anti-Human Trafficking Community Supports Fund and the Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will prioritize early intervention and increased protection for victims of sexual exploitation and dedicated survivor supports.

“Over the last year, we heard from our frontline agencies, survivors and Indigenous communities and organizations that there is a critical need to increase available supports for children and youth affected by sex trafficking,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Our goal is to build a more comprehensive network of anti-human trafficking services across Ontario, so more victims have access to the supports they need.”

Funding will be available to partners and agencies and focus on areas such as:

  • Trauma-informed programming developed and delivered by survivor-led organizations,
  • Dedicated services for victims under age 18, including residential placements and treatment, peer mentoring, as well as education and employment training programs;
  • Culturally-appropriate, Indigenous-designed supports for First Nations, Inuit and Métis victims, families and communities;
  • Targeted supports for sexually exploited boys, individuals with developmental disabilities, LGBTQ2S individuals, and racialized and newcomer populations;
  • Specialized programs for children and youth involved in or transitioning out of child welfare or the youth justice system.

“Human trafficking isn’t just an enforcement issue — it’s a vicious and violent crime that preys on our most vulnerable, robbing them of their health, safety and dignity,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General.  “By investing in intervention and specialized services for young people, we can reduce the threat of exploitation and protect those most at risk. These programs are vital components of Ontario’s comprehensive plan to combat human trafficking, bring traffickers to justice and end this heinous crime.”

Announced in March 2020, Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy will invest $307 million over the next five years on a comprehensive plan to raise awareness of the issue, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable. The strategy reflects valuable input from survivors of human trafficking, Indigenous communities and organizations, law enforcement and frontline service providers.

Applications to the Community Supports Fund and Indigenous-led Initiatives Fund will be accepted until 5 p.m. on July 30, 2020.

Quick Facts

  • Approximately two-thirds of police-reported human trafficking violations in Canada occur in Ontario.
  • Over 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police are under the age of 25 and 26 per cent are under 18.
  • The average age of recruitment into sex trafficking is 13 years old.
  • Young women and girls are particularly at risk, especially those from Indigenous communities and children and youth in care, though boys, men and people who are LGBTQ2S are also targeted.

Additional Resources

June 15, 2020