News

Ontario Takes Steps to Improve Child Welfare System

TORONTO — The Ontario government released its plan today to modernize the child welfare system. The strategy focuses on strengthening families and communities through prevention, early intervention and seeking more permanent homes for children and youth in care when they cannot stay in their own homes or communities.

“Children and youth in care experience significantly worse outcomes than those in a family setting, such as lower graduation rates, a higher risk of homelessness and more involvement with the justice system,” said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. “That is why we are transforming the child welfare system, to ensure more families stay together and children and youth in care have the supports they need to be safe, succeed and thrive as they transition from care to adulthood.”

The strategy to redesign the child welfare system has five pillars that focus on:

  • Strengthening family well-being through community-based prevention services that keep children safe in family-based settings;
  • Improving the quality of residential care provided to children and youth;
  • Promoting the development of stable and lifelong connections and supports for youth, with a focus on education and employment opportunities;
  • Improving the adoption experience and focusing on family-based options over group care where appropriate; and
  • Creating a more efficient and effective child welfare system that is financially sustainable.

“This redesign reveals a holistic vision to work better across government ministries and sectors to support the safety, well-being, and prosperity of children and families across Ontario,” said Dr. Jeff Schiffer, executive director of the Native Child & Family Services of Toronto. “I'm particularly heartened by the distinct approach to co-develop services with First Nations, Inuit, Metis and urban Indigenous partners to make this vision a reality and reduce the overrepresentation of Indigenous children in the child welfare system.”

The new child welfare strategy was developed with input from youth, families, caregivers, First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, lawyers, community organizations, frontline workers and child welfare sector leaders. They participated in over 100 engagement sessions over the past year and provided over 3,000 responses to an online survey.

“Redesigning the child welfare system is a significant undertaking. It will take time and continued partnership with the child welfare sector, Indigenous communities and other health and social services partners to be successful,” said Minister Dunlop. “We are committed to taking the time to get this right and keep children and youth at the heart of everything we do. Their safety, well-being and future success is of utmost importance.”

Quick Facts

  • More than 12,000 children and youth are in the care of children’s aid societies in Ontario. This includes children and youth in kinship care, foster care and group care placements.
  • In addition to children and youth in care, those in need of protection may be placed with a family member or community caregiver, without coming into the care of a society. This is known as kinship service.
  • The Ontario government invested $5 million this year to enhance access to prevention-focused customary care for Indigenous children and youth. Customary care is the culturally-specific care and supervision of a First Nations, Inuit or Métis child by a person who is not the child’s parent. Customary care allows children and youth to remain closely connected to their culture and community.

Background Information

Additional Resources

July 29, 2020

Historic Agreement Delivers up to $4 Billion to Support Municipalities and Transit

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario's 444 municipalities. This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months. Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks. This funding is part of the province's made-in-Ontario plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

"By working together, we have united the country in the face of the immense challenges brought on by COVID-19 and secured a historic deal with the federal government to ensure a strong recovery for Ontario and for Canada," said Premier Ford. "I want to thank Ontario's 444 local leaders who supported us through our negotiations with the federal government and through each stage of reopening. We will continue to be a champion for our municipal partners as they safely reopen their communities and ensure people can get back to work."

Premier Ford worked collaboratively with municipal partners, fellow Premiers, Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland to reach this historic agreement, which includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities. Ontario will continue to work closely with its municipal partners to ensure this funding provides the support they need to address budget shortfalls related to COVID-19.

"Ontario's municipalities are the backbone of our great province," said Minister Clark. "Our government is committed to working hand in hand with our municipal partners to help them emerge stronger and enable them to lead economic recovery in every community. And the funding we are announcing today will play a critical role in that."

"Ontario municipalities told us they are dealing with a $4 billion shortfall as a result of COVID-19," said Minister Phillips. "Failing to act could result in cuts to services and higher taxes. That's why, under Premier Ford's leadership, Ontario was a strong advocate at the negotiating table to ensure municipalities and transit systems were supported as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. This is a historic level of support that's being provided during unprecedented times."

Through Ontario's leadership, a deal for public transit funding was also secured as part of the federal-provincial agreement. Up to $2 billion will be shared equally between Ontario and the federal government. Transit operators that have seen steep declines in revenues will receive the support they need to help address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and continue their operations in a safe manner.

"Transit operators across Ontario have done an incredible job ensuring that people who need to get around, including our frontline workers, have safe and reliable transit service during the outbreak," said Minister Mulroney. "This funding will help ensure transit services continue to be there so people can get where they need to go as our province reopens and people return to work."

The Safe Restart Agreement will help ensure a strong and safe recovery for Ontario through investments in testing, contact tracing and data management; health care capacity and mental health; protecting vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness and seniors in long-term care facilities; securing personal protective equipment (PPE); child care for returning workers; and support for municipalities and public transit systems.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario has invested about $350 million to support municipalities and social service providers such as shelters and food banks, as well as individuals receiving social assistance and those who are ineligible to receive federal support.
  • Ontario invested $100 million to support extraordinary public health costs incurred in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and in protecting Ontarians.
  • Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government has worked with municipalities to provide them with the tools and supports they need, including enabling them to hold virtual council and local board meetings during emergencies and temporarily extending expiring development charge bylaws to ensure they could continue to collect this vital source of revenue.

Additional Resources

July 27, 2020

Ontario Legislature Adjourns after Significant Sitting in Response to COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Quick Facts

  • Since the Ontario Legislature reconvened in February 2020, the government has passed 17 Government Bills and one Private Member’s Bill. Of the 17 Government Bills passed, six received unanimous consent of all parties for expedited passage.
  • The legislature met for extended emergency sittings since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March with nearly 220 hours of committee study to date and input from nearly 500 witnesses.
  • The legislature debated and extended the provincial Declaration of Emergency five times.
  • The government took steps to implement unprecedented measures to allow the full participation of all MPPs, while respecting public health guidance, including: permitting Members to vote from the public galleries and in the lobbies adjacent to the Chamber; permitting Members to sit at, speak from, or vote from any desk in the Chamber; limiting the number of Members present in the Chamber at any given time; mandating the use of virtual technology for meetings of Legislative Committees; allocating additional Question Period questions to the Official Opposition and Independent Members; and ordering an in-depth sectoral-based study at an expanded Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs to be conducted virtually to study the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and measures contributing to economic recovery.

Background Information

Additional Resources

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

July 22, 2020

Province Invites Ontarians to Safely Enjoy Summer at Ontario Place

TORONTO - The Ontario government is providing Ontario Place with $2 million to support on-site activities, including several innovative festivals and events that give people the opportunity to safely reengage in arts and culture experiences. As the province safely and gradually reopens, these initiatives will help with the economic recovery of the arts, entertainment and hospitality sectors in Ontario.

Details were provided today by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, during an announcement alongside leaders in the entertainment industry at Ontario Place.

"Ontario's heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries were hit first, the hardest, and will take the longest to recover from COVID-19," said Minister MacLeod. "As we gradually reopen the province, Ontario Place offers exciting opportunities to safely come together to enjoy arts and culture experiences, while supporting the province's economic recovery."

This summer's line-up at Ontario Place includes:

  • Lavazza Drive-In Film Festival will feature the latest international films from different countries including France, Spain, China, Russia, the US, the UK, Brazil, India and Canada, with a special focus on Italy. It will run from July 20-31.
  • Toronto Shines will present the best in live entertainment, comedy and current and classic films. It is running now through October.
  • DriveInTO, a new initiative launched by the City of Toronto, will offer free drive-in film screenings in August with programming by Hot Docs, imagineNATIVE and TIFF.
  • Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival, a not for profit organization that creates opportunities for young jazz artists to showcase their talent, will present a virtual jazz festival in the Trillium Park on September 5-6.
  • Toronto International Film Festival will run from September 10-19, with 50 new feature films, five programmes of short films, as well as interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers tailored to fit the moment with physical screenings, digital screenings, and at drive-ins, including Ontario Place.

In addition to the summer line-up, Ontario Place continues to offer small boat rentals and a casual dining experience at Vista Eatery, a patio overlooking Lake Ontario. Visitors can also safely enjoy the sweeping waterfront views, trails and green space offered by the Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail, while still practicing physical distancing.

With Ontario Place open for public use, staff and partners are working to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone. Visitors are encouraged to review the current COVID-19 updates before visiting the site and are asked to respect health and safety guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Businesses not able to open or resume full activities due to Stage 3 restrictions, or businesses that have ideas to safely amend Stage 3 restrictions or requirements can visit Ontario.ca/reopen to submit a reopening proposal. Government and public health officials will review proposals and contact businesses for feedback or clarifications. Proposals may inform the potential loosening of restrictions as Stage 3 progresses. Proposals will receive initial feedback within 10 days of submission. A sector could be allowed to reopen or resume activities based on Stage 3 proposals submitted by businesses.

Additional Resources

July 20, 2020

Ontario Taking Action to Further Protect Lake Simcoe

BARRIE — The Ontario government announced today that it is investing $581,000 in four new projects to help find better ways to reduce the amount of pollutants, such as phosphorus, from entering Lake Simcoe. Local projects like these are key to restoring and protecting Lake Simcoe and its watershed and support the province's commitment to protect our air, land and water, as outlined in the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.

These projects will build on the significant progress already made. A report released today by the Ontario government shows the health of Lake Simcoe is improving as a result of actions taken to protect and restore the lake and its watershed.

"Ten years ago, local environmental and conservation organizations, advocates and all levels of government came together as a community to restore the Lake Simcoe watershed, resulting in the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan," said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. "Today, we are celebrating the progress we have made together to protect and preserve this vital region, and I look forward to continuing this work."

The 10-year report on Lake Simcoe shows the restoration of more than 15 kilometres of degraded shorelines, the planting of more than 55,000 trees and shrubs, and the creation and restoration of 120 hectares of wetlands have resulted in encouraging signs of recovery including:

  • A 50 per cent reduction in phosphorus loads from sewage treatment plants entering the watershed;
  • Decreased amounts of algae over time; and
  • The successful reproduction of cold water fish such as lake trout, lake whitefish and cisco.

"The results of the 10-year report are very encouraging, but there is more work to be done," said Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and MPP for Barrie-Innisfil. "We all have a role to play to restore and protect the lake and I am proud Ontario will continue working to keep Lake Simcoe clean."

Protecting and restoring the health of Lake Simcoe requires collaboration with key partners, including local conservation authorities, Indigenous communities, municipalities, agricultural and commercial sectors and residents. This fall, the government is inviting all its partners, including the general public, to participate in a 10-year review of the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan to see if it needs to be updated.

Quick Facts

  • The restoration of Lake Simcoe and its watershed is a key commitment of the Ontario Government’s Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan.
  • Since 2009, the province’s actions to protect and restore Lake Simcoe have been guided by the Lake Simcoe Protection Plan, which focuses on the lake’s water quality, reducing phosphorus levels, caring for natural heritage, and addressing the impacts of invasive species and other emerging threats.
  • In the lake, total spring and ice-free (May through October) phosphorus concentrations have been consistently low since the 2015 Five-Year Report and have dropped significantly from 1980 to 2018.
  • Over the long term, the amount of algae in the lake has decreased, and deep water dissolved oxygen has improved, supporting the potential recovery of cold water fish.
  • Cisco, a cold water fish whose population was once in steep decline, are continuing to show positive signs of recovery. After a 13-year closure, the cisco winter fishery was reopened in 2015, and cisco continues
  • Over 450,000 people living in 22 municipalities depend on the Lake Simcoe watershed every day

Background Information

Additional Resources

Quotes

“We’re so pleased that our provincial government is continuing their commitment, both financially and through critical policies, to support the work of the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority (LSRCA),” said LSRCA’s Chair, Wayne Emmerson, Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York. “For the last 70 years, through the collaborative support of our governments and our communities, LSRCA has remained focused on protecting and restoring the Lake and watershed so that it remains a vital and thriving region for generations to come. We look forward to continuing to work with the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks as we strive to achieve this collective vision.”

Wayne Emmerson

LSRCA’s Chair, Chairman and CEO of The Regional Municipality of York

July 17, 2020

Nearly All Businesses and Public Spaces to Reopen in Stage 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

Additional Resources

July 13, 2020

Proudly Supporting Ontario's Manufacturing Sector

VAUGHAN — As the province safely and gradually reopens, Ontario is starting down the road to growth, renewal and economic recovery. That's why the Ontario government is proud to support the launch of the Ontario Made program from Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). This new program will promote the many world-class goods that are made across the province by helping consumers easily identify, access and purchase local products.

Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Dennis Darby, President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, at Artistic Skylight in Vaughan, Ontario.

"Ontario has always been Canada's workshop, and our products are recognized as the gold standard across the country and around the world," said Premier Ford. "Our government is proud to support Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters' Ontario Made program. Promoting locally made products will be essential to building a strong, self-sufficient province and key to our economic recovery."

Funding for Ontario Made is made possible through the $50 million Ontario Together Fund launched on April 1, 2020. This funding will be used to help retailers and consumers identify local products by:

  • Creating a new Ontario Made logo that manufacturers can use to help consumers identify their made-in-Ontario products. CME will also meet with major retailers to promote Ontario Made products in-store and increase visibility for customers;
  • Launching a new SupportOntarioMade.ca website that will connect consumers and supply chain partners to manufacturers of made-in-Ontario products through one directory;
  • Promoting Ontario Made through a digital newsletter to raise awareness of Ontario goods and products online and through social media.

"Over the past few months, plants and factories across the province retooled their operations to provide the front lines with the essential equipment needed in the fight against COVID-19, including PPE," said Minister Fedeli. "As the province reopens and the economy recovers, it is now more important than ever to support and promote Ontario's world-class manufacturing sector and get people back to work. By supporting Ontario manufacturing, consumers are buying quality, locally made products."

In March, the government launched the Ontario Together web portal to encourage companies to submit innovative ideas and ways to provide medical supplies, PPE and other essential equipment. To date, more than 27,000 submissions have been received since the launch of the web portal and 18,000 leads have been converted into more than $658 million in purchases of emergency supplies.

In April, the government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund to support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal and help businesses retool their operations or deliver innovative solutions in response to COVID-19.

"Ontario manufacturers have a long and proud history of making some of the most innovative products in the world. As consumers increasingly want to buy local, it's important that we help them make informed decisions and find local manufacturers," said Mr. Darby. "We want to encourage Ontario manufacturers to proudly wave the flag by labeling their products and buying local where possible. Ontario Made will help raise awareness of what is manufactured right here by our neighbours, friends, and families and support local manufacturing."

Quick Facts

  • The Ontario government is investing $500,000 from the Ontario Together Fund into the Ontario Made program.
  • CME is a national organization with significant membership in Ontario and across Canada, representing over 30 sector manufacturing associations.
  • To support business owners, workers and the economic recovery of the province, the government launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment suppliers so they can keep their employees, customers and clients safe as they resume their operations.

Additional Resources

July 10, 2020

Canada and Ontario Supporting Farmers through Enhanced Insurance Protection

WOODSTOCK — The governments of Canada and Ontario are providing the best support possible to help farmers manage challenges beyond their control by enhancing AgriInsurance coverage for the 2020 growing season to include labour shortages due to COVID-19.

Ontario's agriculture industry, specifically farms growing fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, melons and peaches, are labour intensive and highly dependent on seasonal agricultural workers. COVID-19 has interrupted regular flows of worker travel and has resulted in some gaps in labour availability. This could result in some crops being unharvested and financial loss for the agri-food industry.

The federal government made a commitment on May 5th to work with the provinces and territories to explore possibilities for expanding the AgriInsurance program to include labour shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector. This work with provincial and territorial partners would insure against lost production due to an insufficient workforce, should producers be unable to find enough labour to harvest.

"During these exceptional times, we fully appreciate just how essential our agri-food workers are to our entire food supply chain," said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. "Our Government has been working hard with the provinces and agri-food businesses to ensure those workers have a safe workplace so they can continue putting food on our tables. I congratulate Ontario for being the first province to take this important step that recognizes the hardships Ontario farmers and food producers have faced because of worker shortages, and gives them the added support they need."

 "We recognize that this terrible virus has created new business pressures and increased uncertainty for farmers, which is why we are taking action to ensure farmers have the resources they need to address today's challenges," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "By enhancing AgriInsurance coverage to include labour shortages due to COVID-19 for eligible farmers, we are directly responding to their requests for support and protecting Ontario's agri-food sector so it can continue producing the food our province needs."

Ontario farmers already enrolled in an eligible production insurance plan who suffer from crop losses due to labour disruptions during the 2020 growing season will have access to further insurance coverage through Agricorp. The added insurance coverage will include:

 

  • Inability to attract sufficient on-farm labour due to COVID-19; and
  • Illness or quarantine of on-farm labour and the producer due to COVID-19.

 

Farmers will be expected to notify Agricorp as soon as possible if they experience COVID-19 related labour disruptions that are having an impact on their crops.

 "This announcement is an important first step towards giving growers assurances that their government will have their backs during the pandemic," said Bill George, Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers' Association. "We thank Minister Bibeau for making this enhanced coverage possible, and we thank Minister Hardeman and the Ford government for its leadership, and for being the first province in Canada to take this step."

Business Risk Management programs, including AgriInsurance, protect producers against significant risks that threaten the viability of their farm and are beyond their capacity to manage, such as weather, disease and pests. It is a business risk management program under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year, $3-billion commitment by Canada's federal, provincial and territorial governments to support Canada's agri-food and agri-products sectors.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is home to 49,600 farms, growing 200 different commodities. Ontario’s agriculture industry supports 69,000 jobs and contributes $7.6 billion to the GDP.
  • Agricorp administers production insurance programming in Ontario on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
  • 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 provided funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS) to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces. For more information, visit the WSPS website.
  • The Federal government has launched a number of initiatives to help attract labour to primary agriculture:

July 09, 2020

Ontario Expanding Access to the Modern Digital Economy

The Ontario government is expanding access to reliable broadband and cellular service in underserved and unserved parts of the province. The application intake for the $150 million Improving Connectivity for Ontario program (ICON) opens today. This funding will help drive economic investment and job creation across the province, while allowing more people to work from home more efficiently, engage in online learning, and connect with family and friends.

"The outbreak of COVID-19 reinforced the need to improve access to reliable broadband and cellular service as more people work and learn from home in order to practice physical distancing," said Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure. "By making these investments we will help to ensure every region in the province can participate in the modern digital economy, and contribute to Ontario's economic recovery."    

Any areas across Ontario that do not meet the national standards for broadband speeds would be eligible for provincial funding. Up to 12 per cent of households in the province - mostly in rural, remote or northern areas - don't have adequate broadband service, according to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Telecommunication service providers, municipalities, Indigenous communities and non-profits are invited to submit innovative proposals and lend their investment, expertise and experience to improve connectivity in communities across Ontario. The preliminary application deadline for the first intake of the ICON program is August 21, 2020.

The province's investment of $150 million announced today is part of the $315 million Up to Speed: Ontario's Broadband and Cellular Action Plan. This action plan has the potential to leverage up to $1 billion in partner funding for broadband infrastructure investments.

Quick Facts

  • On June 3, 2020, Ontario announced the ICON program, a multi-year plan which aims to support approved projects as early as 2021.
  • National standards for adequate broadband service are defined by speeds known as 50/10 (50 megabits per second download, and 10 megabits for upload).
  • Over the past several months, Ontario has partnered with the Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) to leverage $213 million to improve cellular access in eastern Ontario.
  • The Province is investing in the $190 million Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project to bring high-speed broadband to 50,000 more homes and businesses across Southwestern Ontario.
  • Ontario has invested in initiatives to improve connectivity in Northern Ontario, such as a project that will connect five remote Matawa First Nations communities, seven broadband projects that will support rural and Indigenous communities, and the Next Generation Network Program.

Additional Resources

July 09, 2020

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Facts

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

Additional Resources

July 09, 2020