News

Ontario Extends Electricity Rate Relief During COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is extending emergency electricity rate relief to families, farms and small businesses until May 31, 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak. Customers who pay time-of-use electricity rates will continue to be billed at the lowest price, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This electricity rate relief, initially provided for a 45-day period starting on March 24, 2020, has been extended by an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The rate relief is intended to be in place for an additional 24 days.  

"During this extraordinary period, many people are struggling to pay the bills as they do the right thing by staying at home, as well as our farmers and those whose businesses have closed or suffered reduced customer traffic," said Premier Doug Ford. "Although we are making progress in our fight against this COVID-19 outbreak, we are not out of the woods yet. The extension of this electricity rate relief will leave more money in people's pockets until businesses can start to reopen and people can get back to work."

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is also extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 19, 2020. The emergency orders include:

 

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Ontario declared a provincial emergency on March 17, 2020 under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This declaration of emergency was last extended on April 14, 2020 and is currently in effect until May 12, 2020.
  • There are approximately five million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses billed using time-of-use (TOU) electricity prices under the Regulated Price Plan.
  • The current off-peak Time of Use electricity rate is 10.1 cents per kilowatt hour for Regulated Price Plan customers.

Additional Resources

May 06, 2020

Ontario Significantly Increases Daily Lab Testing

TORONTO — Ontario has significantly increased testing and contact tracing capacity, allowing health experts to identify cases of COVID-19 and support efforts to stop the spread of the virus in the community, long-term care homes, and other congregate settings. In partnership with Ontario Health, Public Health Ontario, local public health units, and hospital and community laboratories, the Ontario government has developed an integrated laboratory system which has established the province as a national leader in daily testing volumes per capita.

"We've been working around the clock to establish a vast and robust testing regime, which is critical in our fight against this deadly virus," said Premier Ford. "We're now exceeding our target of 16,000 tests a day, with many of those tests aimed at protecting our long-term care residents and staff. This important milestone provides a strong foundation for gradually reopening our economy and getting people back to work, while protecting the health and safety of all Ontarians."

Testing is being carried out in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, and other congregate settings. Once test samples are collected and received from frontline staff, patients, residents and children, labs are providing test results generally within 24 to 48 hours. On May 2, 2020, the province released updated guidance to the health sector to ensure consistency across the province, and to help guide decision-making on the testing of priority population groups.

To date, Ontario has conducted over 342,000 tests, with testing results being made available to patients through the user-friendly online portal. The portal was developed to help ease pressure on frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19.

"Thanks to the joint efforts of this diverse group of health experts we have dramatically expanded the scale and scope of COVID-19 testing provincewide and have emerged as a national leader," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "We have met and exceeded our testing goals, which is critical to containing and limiting the spread of this new virus, both in our communities and in long-term care homes and other shared living spaces."

The new integrated laboratory system will support the province's health care system and laboratory network far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The provincewide testing network consists of more than 20 organizations and is coordinating and leveraging the diverse expertise located throughout the province. This is being achieved through daily check-ins and processes that address operational needs, such as:

  • Levels of supplies, expected supply consumption per day, inventory replenishment and other supply chain issues
  • Equipment information
  • Technical capacity and advances
  • Test turn-around times and the shifting of test samples to laboratories that have spare processing capacity
  • Ongoing scientific and technical review of test performance
  • Alternative approaches to processing
  • Emerging technology

Ontario has also helped expand the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management. Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 provided $100 million in additional investments for public health units to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including funding to support enhanced contact tracing. This funding enables public health units to hire more personnel.

In addition, Ontario previously issued an emergency order to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing efforts to contain the virus. With the help of volunteers, public health units have been able to expand their capacity to conduct case and contact management ― both of which are critical to stopping the spread of the virus. These include the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province's website.

Quick Facts

  • On April 10, 2020, the province committed to expanding its testing capacity by doubling the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15, 2020 and 14,000 by April 29, 2020.
  • Within 48 hours of implementation, the province’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes significantly increased testing of long-term care staff and residents.
  • The province’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People further expanded testing of staff and clients at group homes, homeless shelters, and other congregate settings.
  • Ontario has a provincewide network of 23 laboratory sites working in coordination to further increase capacity and test turn-around times for COVID-19 testing.
  • Ontario is now a leader in Canada in daily testing volumes per capita. Recent expansion of testing has the province’s per capita testing ahead of Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.

Additional Resources

May 04, 2020

Ontario Continues to Support Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues, released the following statement to acknowledge Mental Health Week:

"During this unprecedented time in Ontario, many people are facing great challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. During Mental Health Week this year, we are dedicated to raising awareness around an issue that affects over one million Ontarians each year.

Our government recognizes many Ontarians are experiencing increased anxiety because of COVID-19 and are worried about their health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods and are feeling anxious in physical isolation. We want to help those who need support and have taken immediate action to ensure everyone can access the high-quality care they expect and deserve.

Recently, our government announced up to $12 million in emergency funding to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports. This brings additional access to care for people across the province and specific services to our frontline heroes.

We know maintaining physical distancing can be stressful for many people across the province. Just as it is critical that Ontarians heed the advice of our public health experts to stay at home and maintain safe physical distancing, it is critical that we continue providing everyone with the supports they need to stay both physically and mentally healthy. Ontario's community mental health and addictions sector is working hard every single day to continue delivering services to people in need. We thank them all for their efforts and we will continue working collaboratively with them to identify further opportunities for investments to ensure all Ontarians have access to supports.

This week also marks Maternal Mental Health Week and Children's Mental Health Week, which coincides with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7. The mental health of all children and youth in Ontario is of great importance. That is why we have recently expanded programs, such as BounceBack, and have provided emergency funding to Kids Help Phone, to further support children and youth who are struggling with their mental health.

Ontario also launched a Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario's Mental Health and Addictions System, which provides a clear path forward toward offering Ontarians easier access to standardized, high-quality care and supports in communities across the province. As we implement this plan, we will continue listening and collaborating with our partners to ensure it works for all Ontarians.

We are committed to creating an Ontario where everyone is fully supported in their journey toward mental wellness. While you are staying home, we urge you to stay in touch with each other, and to reach out for help when you need it and to those who may be struggling. Even if we cannot be close physically, we are all in this together."

May 04, 2020

Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.

Today's announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health has provided general recommendations on how the openings of businesses and workplaces could be implemented to support safe operations, including strict adherence to health and safety requirements.

"We are allowing certain businesses to reopen under strict guidelines because we are confident they can operate safely and adapt to the current environment," said Premier Ford. "While further reductions in the spread are needed before we can begin reopening the province, we have the right framework and the right workplace guidelines in place to do so gradually and safely." 

The government, in partnership with Ontario's health and safety associations, has developed more than 60 guidelines in response to COVID-19. These sector-specific measures will help employers prepare their workplaces so they can be reopened safely and ensure workers, customers and the general public are protected.

By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

"Ontario workers and businesses have shown exemplary cooperation and resilience throughout the course of this crisis," said Minister Fedeli. "We're beginning to ease restrictions on select businesses as we carefully and methodically re-open Ontario's economy and continue together on our path to renewed prosperity."

Although certain businesses are being permitted to reopen, it is critical that people continue to stay home, practise physical distancing and only go out for essential reasons, to pick up groceries, prescriptions or to keep a medical appointment. It is through these simple actions that Ontario is making progress to stop the spread of COVID-19.  

"As we begin planning for the next phase of our fight against COVID-19, Ontarians should continue to stay home as much as possible to ensure we stop as quickly as possible the spread of this virus," said Minister Elliott. "While we have made tremendous progress in our shared battle against this new virus, we are not done yet. We need to keep up the fight by continuing to practise physical distancing and good hygiene habits."

On April 27, the government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

While the government remains in Phase One of Ontario's Action Plan in response to COVID-19, Protect and Support, allowing certain businesses and workplaces to open under strict guidelines demonstrates the government's commitment to balance the needs of the economy with the health and safety of the people of Ontario.

"People's efforts are paying off and we can see a light at the end of the tunnel," said Minister Phillips. "Our response has always been based on the current status of the outbreak in our province, and on what makes sense for Ontario. To be clear ― we haven't moved into the reopening phase of our response to COVID-19. Not yet. But based on the best public health advice available to us, we are a step closer."

Additional Resources

May 01, 2020

Ontario Providing Employers with Workplace Safety Guidelines

TORONTO ― The Ontario government is ensuring employers have the safety guidelines they need to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

The government safety guidelines released today will provide direction to those working in manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, and the agricultural sector. These measures build on more than 60 guidelines developed by Ontario's health and safety associations in response to COVID-19 for various sectors such as retail, health care, construction, transportation, police services, firefighters, and transit employees. 

"We all want to reopen our businesses, services and favourite places across the province, but we must do it in a safe and responsible way," said Premier Ford. "That's why we are providing clear guidelines to employers, with practical measures to help them keep staff and customers safe while preventing the spread of COVID-19. By taking these steps, we will be prepared to get people back to work when the time is right."

These new sector-specific guidelines feature recommended actions employers can begin to plan for as they prepare to adapt to the new reality during COVID-19, including:

  • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, like eliminating pay-at-the-door options, holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow.
  • Changes to the workplace, like installing plexiglass barriers, increasing the air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase air flow, and using boot sanitizing trays.
  • Promoting proper workplace sanitation, providing personal protective equipment, substituting dry dusting with vacuuming, ensuring customer-facing staff are given hand sanitizer, providing a place to dispose of sanitizing wipes, and enforcing handwashing before and after breaks.

The government is also issuing posters to promote a variety of useful safety tips. The posters offer helpful advice on physical distancing and sanitation. They are downloadable from the Ontario.ca website so employers can print and post them in their workplaces.

"We are truly in extraordinary times and employers and employees are facing situations they have never had to deal with before," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. "It is incumbent on our government, with the advice of health officials, to provide the guidance and tips outlining the safest ways to reopen workplaces and help prevent the spread."

The government will work with Ontario's health and safety associations to bring forward additional workplace safety guidelines for more sectors in the coming days and weeks.

Starting this week, 58 new inspectors will join the hundreds of existing provincial labour inspectors on the ground. The inspectors, which include workers from the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) and the Ontario College of Trades (OCOT), will be tasked with communicating COVID-19 safety guidelines to essential workplaces or enforcing emergency measures, including physical distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses.

"Protecting the health and well-being of Ontarians during the COVID-19 outbreak has been and will always be our government's number one priority," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "These guidelines will help employers begin to plan for their safe reopening based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and in alignment with our framework to ease public health measures and restart our economy. In doing so, we can ensure we continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep workers safe."

"Our province's businesses have made great efforts to protect the health and safety of their workers throughout the course of this pandemic," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "These new guidelines will help employers continue to protect their staff and customers as we begin to carefully and methodically re-open our economy, so that we can return Ontario to prosperity in the safest way possible."

The government is committed to a careful, stage-by-stage approach to loosening emergency measures and reopening Ontario's economy. Public health and workplace safety will remain the top priority, while balancing the needs of people and businesses.

 

Quick Facts

  • The 61 sector-specific guidelines are available here from Ontario’s health and safety associations.
  • Guidelines for construction are available here.
  • Ontario recently doubled the capacity of Ontario’s Health and Safety Call Centre to 50 phonelines to deal with a large increase in calls.
  • As of April 29, inspectors had completed 5,158 workplace visits and issued 1,822 orders, including 18 stop-work orders, related to COVID-19.

Background Information

Additional Resources

April 30, 2020

Ontario Helping Businesses Overcome the Unique Challenges Created by COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government is launching the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by the global pandemic. Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to the website. The province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario's supply chain.

Today's announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.

"With COVID-19, we are facing unchartered territory. As government, we must be prepared to work with businesses and show some flexibility in helping them to overcome challenges they may have never faced before," said Premier Ford. "This website will allow us to listen to and support businesses as they adapt to this new environment. At the same time, it should also make it easier for businesses to retool to produce the health-related supplies and equipment that our frontline workers need."

"During this extraordinary period, we need to do everything we can to support businesses as they struggle to operate as an essential business, or wait for the outbreak to subside," said Minister Sarkaria. "Clearly, it is not business as usual for anyone, and that's why our government is prepared to temporarily adjust our processes, rules, and regulations to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. I encourage everyone to visit our new website if there are any questions or concerns."

The website builds on steps the government has already taken to help businesses respond to COVID-19, including:

  • providing $10 billion in provincial tax deferrals, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premium deferrals, and other business supports;
  • providing more than $900 million in urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through a new program, the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA);
  • providing $50 million to help businesses such as manufacturers and distilleries retool so they can produce health-related products and supplies, such as ventilators, gowns, face masks and hand sanitizer;
  • permitting 24-hour construction for critical infrastructure;
  • permitting 24-hour deliveries in every municipality across the province to help grocery stores and pharmacies keep their shelves stocked; and
  • allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with food takeout or delivery orders.

In order to help Ontario businesses focus on overcoming today's challenges, the province is also pausing or extending any existing public consultations, delaying non-urgent related consultations while the emergency situation remains in place, and considering extending deadlines for reports and audits.

Additional Resources

April 28, 2020

Ontario Unveils Guiding Principles to Reopen the Province

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

"Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus," said Premier Ford. "At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery."

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

Throughout each stage, continued protections for vulnerable populations must be in place, along with the continued practice of physical distancing, hand washing and respiratory hygiene, and significant mitigation plans to limit health risks.

"Recent public health indicators show us that we're beginning to turn a corner in the COVID-19 outbreak, while economic data, feedback from businesses and insights from our communities are outlining how we need to plan for economic recovery," said Minister Phillips. "Turning on an economy after an unprecedented shut-down is not as simple as flipping a switch. We need to plan this out carefully to ensure we do not spark a sudden outbreak, undo the progress we have made and put the safety of the public at risk."  

To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

"It is because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to consider plans to move into the next phase of our battle against this virus," said Minister Elliott. "The Chief Medical Officer of Health has outlined some criteria he will use to advise government on when we may begin to slowly and safely ease public health measures and restart our economy. To be able to do so, we need everyone to continue their extraordinary efforts so that we can meet these thresholds and begin to move forward."

Supporting the next phases of Ontario's Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Minister Phillips, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward. The government and Members of Provincial Parliament will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs and others.

The work of the committee will build on Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government's $17 billion response, that is delivering targeted relief for businesses and families across Ontario.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has had far-reaching economic impacts for businesses and communities across Ontario," said Minister Fedeli. "In the face of these challenges, businesses and individuals have stepped up to support our frontline workers, produce essential equipment and keep our supply chains moving. Our plan to carefully and methodically reopen Ontario's economy will ensure that businesses are supported on our path to renewed economic prosperity."

Additional Resources

April 27, 2020

School Closures Extended to Keep Students, Staff and Families Safe

TORONTO — Today, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that all publicly-funded schools will remain closed until at least May 31, 2020, as part of an effort to keep students, staff and families safe from COVID-19.

The extension was based on expert advice from the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health officials on the COVID-19 Command Table and is part of the government's ongoing effort to stop the spread of the virus. The advice was to extend school closures for an additional period of time to permit updated modelling and data to inform next steps, given the government's absolute commitment to safety.

"We will do whatever it takes to keep our students safe," said Minister Lecce. "The government is taking a careful approach which provides our medical experts the time to review the modelling and make the best decision for the safety of our students and the future of learning." 

The government took immediate action to close schools in Ontario, the first in Canada to do so. The ministry continues to monitor the evolving situation and if necessary, the closure may be extended further to protect the health and safety of Ontario's school communities.

At the same time the Ontario government is taking steps to ensure learning can continue. In March the province unveiled its Learn at Home portal. It offers all students high-quality resources, featuring 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 ensures core competencies and skills are reinforced.

At the end of March the Ministry of Education unveiled the second phase of Learn at Home to ensure the continuity of learning for students. This included providing clarity for parents, enhancing education supports and creating opportunities for educators to connect with students.

The government has also partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families during the COVID-19 outbreak. iPads are 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. To date, over 20,000 iPads have been sent to targeted families in need. The free Rogers wireless data will be available until the end of June.

"Regardless of what transpires over the coming weeks, Ontario's students will be able to complete their school year with confidence," added Minister Lecce. "In particular, for students in their final year, we are removing all impediments to ensure students graduate and pursue post-secondary education." 

Quick Facts

  • Should schools be permitted to reopen, school employees will have access as of May 29, 2020.
  • The Ministry of Education will move forward to replace the remainder of Professional Activity (PA) days and examination days with instructional time, as well as the introduction of an expanded summer learning program that will focus on credit recovery, supports for vulnerable students, and course upgrading. Boards are to find solutions at the local level in keeping with this direction while upholding collective agreement obligations.
  • Private schools, First Nation schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will remain closed until May 6, 2020, with certain exceptions for licenced care, under an emergency order made under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, which only allows closures to be extended for 14 days at a time.
  • Through the Ontario Together web site, the province received more than 300 proposals from businesses, organizations and everyday Ontarians to provide solutions to remote learning while schools are closed during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Next steps will be shared soon.

Additional Resources

April 26, 2020

Ontario Supporting Frontline Heroes of COVID-19 with Pandemic Pay

TORONTO — In recognition of the dedication, long hours and increased risk of working to contain the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government is providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment.

This increase will provide four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of the qualified employee's hourly wage. In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months. This means that eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation. Those eligible to receive the payment will be staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as those providing home and community care and some staff in hospitals.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

"During these dark days, the Ontario spirit continues to shine through with everyday acts of heroism, courage, and compassion by our frontline workers," said Premier Ford. "These people put themselves in harm's way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens. I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it's time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out."

Staff providing frontline clinical services, along with those providing support services, such as cleaning and meal preparation, will be eligible to receive the pandemic payment. The additional compensation is temporary and would begin flowing immediately and continue for 16 weeks.

"The pandemic payment recognizes the valiant efforts of our frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19," said Minister Bethlenfalvy. "These heroic workers are delivering critical services that support all Ontarians, including the most vulnerable members of our communities, often putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. They are saving lives and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude."

"It is vital that we retain our frontline health care workers as we continue our fight to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "We are taking further actions to continue to ensure that our healthcare workers are supported, and the health care sector maintains a safe staffing level, especially in places where it is needed the most."

These measures build on steps the government has already taken to support frontline workers, including providing free emergency child care and securing necessary medical equipment and supplies. 

The Ontario government remains committed to using every resource it has to support frontline workers as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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

April 25, 2020

Ontario Parks to Remain Closed until May 31, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, issued the following statement on Ontario Parks operations in response to COVID-19:

"In order to keep Ontarians safe during this COVID-19 outbreak, our government is extending the closure of Ontario's provincial parks and conservation reserves to May 31, 2020. This includes car camping, backcountry camping, roofed accommodations, day use opportunities, access points and all public buildings.

Provincial parks and conservation reserves will continue to remain fully closed to all recreational activities.

Reservations for arrivals up to, and including, any further closure extension date will be automatically cancelled and reservation holders will receive a full refund with no penalty. We are also providing penalty-free refunds to reservation holders who wish to change or cancel their 2020 camping reservation, regardless of arrival date.

Please continue to visit OntarioParks.com and Ontario Parks social media channels for the most up-to-date information.

We understand this extension may impact many Ontarians' plans during the month of May. However, the health and well-being of Ontarians is our government's number one priority. Although we are making progress to stop the spread, the virus has not yet been contained. As a result, all but essential service workers must continue to stay at home and practice physical distancing."

April 25, 2020