TORONTO — As Ontarians continue to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores. This app, which is available beginning today, lets users know if they may have been exposed to the virus. It is free, easy and safe to use. The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in stopping the spread of COVID-19.
Work on COVID Alert was initiated in Ontario by the Ontario Digital Service and volunteers at Shopify, and was the foundation of the work by the Government of Canada. The app was developed in consultation with the Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario to ensure the highest level of privacy for everyone using it.
"This important, made-in-Ontario COVID Alert app will be a critical part of our case and contact management strategy as more regions in Ontario enter Stage 3 today," said Premier Doug Ford. "This innovative tool was developed by some of the best and brightest minds in our province, working in partnership with Ottawa. As businesses open their doors and schools prepare for September, we need to help stop the spread and keep others safe by downloading this COVID Alert app."
The COVID Alert app uses Bluetooth technology to detect when users are near each other. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to let other users know without sharing any personal information. Ontarians who receive an exposure alert can then get tested and take action to help keep themselves, their families, and their friends from spreading COVID-19 throughout the community. The app does not collect personal information or health data, and does not know or track the location, name, address, or contacts of any user.
"Built with a privacy-first approach, COVID Alert is a safe and easy-to-use tool that Ontarians can download to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community from COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This Ontario-made app keeps people informed about being potentially exposed to the virus and allows them to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus. It is a key tool in our case and contact management strategy. I encourage all Ontarians to download the app, as early detection of cases will be important as we continue to carefully reopen more of the province."
COVID Alert is a key tool to strengthen Ontario's comprehensive case and contact management strategy, Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management. The app supports the efforts of public health units, allowing the province to quickly test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus and prepare for any potential outbreaks ― without sharing any personal information.
"As Ontario safely and gradually re-opens, we continue to take a digital-first approach to delivering simpler, faster, better services to support Ontarians, including the COVID Alert app, which will leverage technology to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. "By making it easier for Ontarians to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities, we continue to deliver on our commitment to build a smarter government that works for you."
If an app user receives a message from COVID Alert that they may have been exposed to the virus, they should follow the public health advice given on the app and get tested. To notify other people if an app user has tested positive for COVID-19, they can enter their one-time key from Ontario's test results website (Ontario.ca/covidresults) into the app. A message will then be sent to other app users who have been within two metres of them for at least 15 minutes within the past 14 days, without sending any information that identifies the user, or the time and place of exposure.
To stay safe as more of the province reopens, Ontarians should continue to follow public health guidelines including physical distancing with people not in their social circle, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands thoroughly and frequently, and if anyone thinks they have COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested.
- COVID Alert is available for free use and download from the Apple and Google Play app stores.
- All aspects of COVID Alert are completely voluntary. Ontarians can choose whether to download the app, whether to use the app after downloading it, and whether to notify others if they test positive for COVID-19.
- COVID Alert does not collect any personal information, health information, or location data. It uses Bluetooth technology to send out encrypted codes to other nearby app users and was built using the Apple/Google framework for exposure notification to ensure that it leverages global best practices to protect privacy.
- COVID Alert is a Digital First Smart Initiative, one of many cross-government projects that focus on better outcomes and improving the customer experience.
- The Government of Canada is also working with the other provinces and territories to get their jurisdictions on board with the app in the coming weeks and months.
- In addition to his responsibilities as President of the Treasury Board, Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy is now overseeing Ontario’s efforts to lead digital and data transformation for the people of Ontario, including oversight of the Ontario Digital Service.
- Government of Canada: New mobile app to help notify Canadians of potential COVID-19 exposure now available
- Protecting Ontarians through Enhanced Case and Contact Management
- Learn more about how to properly wear, clean and dispose of face coverings
- Learn more about Stage 3 of reopening Ontario.
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
- For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1 866 532-3161 (toll-free in Ontario only).
FENELON FALLS - The Ontario government is taking steps to protect fish stocks and natural habitat from the harmful impacts of double-crested cormorants by introducing a fall harvest for the species. The harvest will help address concerns about impacts to local ecosystems by cormorants, a bird that preys on fish, eating a pound a day, and that can damage trees in which they nest and roost.
The announcement was made today by John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.
"We've heard concerns from property owners, hunters and anglers, and commercial fishers about the kind of damage cormorants have caused in their communities, so we're taking steps to help them deal with any local issues," said Minister Yakabuski. "In large amounts, cormorant droppings can kill trees and other vegetation and destroy traditional nesting habitats for some other colonial waterbirds, so it's critical that we take action to strike a healthy balance in local ecosystems."
Following public consultations, the province has made changes to its initial proposal and has decided to introduce a hunting season that will run annually from September 15 to December 31, starting in 2020.
"We listened to those who provided comments about the cormorant hunting proposal, and as a result, we are introducing only a fall hunting season to avoid interfering with recreational users of waterways and nesting periods for some migratory birds," said Minister Yakabuski. "We have also reduced the maximum number of cormorants a hunter can take to 15 a day, which is a similar limit to one for federally regulated migratory game birds such as mourning doves, Snow and Ross's Geese, Rails, coot and Gallinules."
In 2019, the ministry and partner agencies surveyed cormorant colonies across the Great Lakes and select inland lakes in Ontario. Based on nest count surveys, there are an estimated minimum of 143,000 breeding cormorants in 344 colonies across the province. Combined with historical data, trends suggest that cormorant populations are increasing in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, and Lake Superior and are stable on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Huron.
"Growing up in North Bay and spending many summers fishing on Lake Nipissing, I have seen firsthand the issues that cormorants have caused in some local areas," said Mike Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "A new fall hunting season will help communities manage cormorant populations where they have negatively impacted natural habitat and other waterbird species."
"Cormorants have been a growing problem on Sturgeon Lake and Balsam Lake, where they have covered islands with their guano, killing trees and vegetation," said Laurie Scott, MPP for Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock. "We're listening to local residents who have voiced their concerns and asked for additional tools to address the issue."
Ontario has a healthy and sustainable cormorant population. We will continue to monitor the cormorant population status and trends to support sustainability of cormorants in the province.
- Double-crested cormorants are fish-eating birds, usually eating easy-to-catch fish species. They nest on the ground or in trees on islands and peninsulas.
- In large amounts, cormorant droppings, called guano, can kill trees and other vegetation and destroy traditional nesting habitats for some other colonial waterbirds.
- Competition between cormorants and some colonial nesting waterbirds has been well documented, including the displacement of some other species by cormorants.
- Hunters are responsible for appropriately identifying their target and ensuring they are harvesting only double-crested cormorants.
- While some hunters may choose to consume cormorants, those who choose not to consume the cormorants they harvest must retrieve the birds and dispose of them properly.
“Our group fully supports a fall hunting season for double-crested cormorants. For the past decade, we have observed the destruction of Muskrat Island, which is clearly visible from our shoreline on Sturgeon Lake. The rapid population explosion of the colony has put extreme stress on our fish population. The birds have a voracious appetite, and trees and vegetation on the island have been destroyed by their toxic guano. Other species have also been driven from the island. In our view, this is a very serious problem that has required a response.”
“The Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association is concerned about the significant negative impacts of uncontrolled populations of cormorants on the ecosystem, including the commercial fishery. In addition to the serious destruction of vegetation that unchecked populations of cormorants have caused, cormorants have seriously undermined certain fish stocks on the Great Lakes. Each cormorant eats approximately one pound of fish, per day. We strongly support the government’s decision to introduce a fall hunting season, which will help to control damaging cormorant populations. Our position has not been to seek the extinction of cormorants from Ontario but for the management of cormorants to promote a balanced ecosystem, which is in the best interests for all Ontarians.”
“We are pleased to see a provincial government finally take action to control overabundant cormorant populations to help protect Ontario’s ecosystems, and we are encouraged to see that the MNRF has made adjustments to the original proposal in response to concerns expressed by the OFAH and others.”
“The Northwestern Ontario Sportsmen’s Alliance fully supports Minister John Yakabuski as he introduces regulations under the FWCA allowing a fall hunting season for cormorants in Ontario. This hunting regulation will assist in preventing a variety of destructive ecological impacts resulting from over abundant cormorant populations in Ontario. The protection of healthy and sustainable fish populations is just one of the many tangible benefits that this hunting regulation will offer and we applaud Minister Yakabuski for his action in this regard.”
“As Delta Waterfowl is actively involved in wildlife management for waterfowl habitat and populations, we fully support the government’s efforts to manage cormorant populations in Ontario. This approach using hunters to manage populations is a common practice in wildlife management and similar to the approach in New Brunswick where cormorants are managed as unprotected wildlife similar to crows, starlings and other species.”
TORONTO - People will be able to access more drive testing services as the Ontario government moves DriveTest centres into the second phase of its reopening plan. Beginning on Tuesday, August 4, 2020 road testing for class G2 and all motorcycle licences will resume and the number of locations offering commercial driver road tests will expand.
"As we continue to reopen our economy, resuming driver testing is another way our government is helping people get back to work," said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. "We are phasing-in these services to ensure important health and safety measures are in place at all DriveTest centres and our staff and customers are fully protected."
Starting on Tuesday, August 4, 2020, the following services will be available at DriveTest centres:
- Class G2 road tests
- Class M2 and class M motorcycle road tests
- Commercial driver road tests availability will expand to 42 DriveTest locations across Ontario
- Part-time Travel Point locations will resume driver examination services as the shared facilities they are located in become available for the public's use.
All driver licensing services offered as part of phase 1 of DriveTest's reopening, including knowledge tests and driver's licence exchanges and upgrades, will continue to be available on a first-come, first served basis. To reduce crowding and support physical distancing, most DriveTest centres will continue to serve these customers based on the date of the customer's birth. Customers who need road tests should visit DriveTest.ca to schedule a test.
People with birthdays between January to June will be allowed to visit a centre one week, and people with birthdays between July to December will have access to DriveTest services the following week.For information on which customers are being served this week, please visit DriveTest.ca.
"We have temporarily extended the expiration date of all driver's licences, so we would ask that everyone hold off on visiting a DriveTest centre unless absolutely necessary," said Minister Mulroney. "For those going to a centre please exercise caution and follow all of the public health guidelines."
To protect the safety of Ontarians DriveTest requires 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 wear appropriate personal protective equipment when serving customers and driver examiners will also be equipped with face shields, sanitizer packages and seat covers when conducting road tests.
- 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 reopened June 22, 2020. Part-time Travel Point locations will begin reopening August 4, 2020, as the shared facilities they are located in become available for the public’s use.
- Please visit DriveTest.ca to schedule your road test.
- DriveTest requires customers to wear face coverings inside centres and during road tests. To learn about face coverings and how to properly wear, fit, remove and clean your non-medical face mask, visit Ontario.ca/page/face-coverings-and-face-masks.
- 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.
TORONTO — Today, Ontario released two reports and announced new initiatives that further deliver on recommendations made by the Honourable Eileen E. Gillese, Commissioner of the Long-Term Care Homes Public Inquiry, that will make long-term care safer and stronger, now and in the future.
The "Report Back on the Gillese Inquiry" provides an update on accomplishments in four key areas recommended by Justice Gillese: increasing awareness, prevention, deterrence and detection of intentional harm in long-term care homes. The Gillese Inquiry provided a thorough analysis and recommendations for making the long-term care system safer, and to date, 80 per cent of the recommendations are complete or underway.
"My heart goes out to the victims, the victims' families that have been affected, and the surviving victim," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "Our government's efforts follow Justice Gillese's clear roadmap to achieve 21st century safety standards in long-term care and we will continue to build on and deliver the high-quality of care our residents deserve."
As part of Ontario's long-term care modernization, the "Long-Term Care Staffing Study Report," was released as well. This study will inform the development of a comprehensive staffing strategy to be released later this year. The study was informed by an external Long-Term Care Staffing Study Advisory Group composed of resident and family advocates, operators, academics and other industry thought-leaders. This group provided the government with advice on staffing in the long-term care sector in response to a key recommendation in Justice Gillese's report.
The province is investing in a $10 million annual training fund to help frontline care staff acquire new skills, including the flexibility and resiliency needed to adapt to changing practices.
Delivering on Justice Gillese's recommendations, Ontario has entered into a three-year, $1.8 million partnership with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada to help long-term care homes strengthen medication safety practices. Ontario also plans to launch a Medication Safety Technology program next spring to help homes adopt new technologies to strengthen medication dispensing safety and consistency.
"Our actions today are part of a broader modernization plan to build a safer and stronger long-term care system for our loved ones," said Minister Fullerton. "I want to thank my Parliamentary Assistant, MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos for her leadership and tireless work on this staffing report, which will lead us into our staffing strategy later this year."
- Already this year, we have announced $243 million in emergency funding for staffing, supplies and capacity, provided additional funding of $78.2 million to preserve front-line staff and maintain current levels of service provided for resident care and accommodation, allocated $10 million to support education and professional development for front line staff, and provided $22.8 million to launch a minor capital program in the long-term care sector.
- Ontario’s long-term care homes employ over 100,000 staff across the province.
- The largest proportion of employees in long-term care are personal support workers, registered nursing staff, including registered practical nurses, registered nurses and nurse practitioners, and allied health professionals such as activity assistants, dieticians, occupational and physical therapists and social workers.
- Rising complexity of care, staffing shortages and high daily care needs of residents are some of the key challenges faced by the long-term care sector.
- In response to Justice Gillese’s recommendations, the province recently developed a poster campaign to educate staff, families and visitors to long-term care homes of their obligation to report suspicions of abuse or neglect among residents to the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
- Read the Report Back on the Gillese Inquiry
- Find out more about the province’s Long-Term Care Staffing Study Report
- Read about Ontario’s Independent Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission
- Read the Honourable Eileen E. Gillese’s report titled The Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System
TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to allow licensed child care centres across Ontario to open at full capacity starting September 1, 2020. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table. As a result, parents will be able to return to work knowing their children are in a safe and supportive care setting.
EarlyON Child and Family Centres will also be permitted to reopen with in-person programming along with before- and after-school programs for school aged children which will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements. All of these programs will be subject to health and safety protocols in order to keep kids safe.
"Our government is gradually and safely supporting child care expansion to ensure moms and dads across the province can return to work with confidence," said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. "We will continue to ensure strict health and safety protocols remain in place, to keep our youngest learners safe."
The Ministry of Education will continue to work closely with municipal service managers, First Nations, and childcare operators to maximize capacity and access for families over the coming weeks. This includes revised health and safety operational guidance, additional funding parameters, and direction on providing notice to parents for placements. Licensees will continue to be required to maintain ratios and group sizes as set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 (CCEYA).
The government will continue to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the COVID-19 Command Table to ensure the health and safety of the children and staff is never compromised as childcare capacity expands to 100%. The enhanced health and safety procedures that were put in place as part of our re-opening plan, will remain in place, and in some instances strengthened, to protect children, staff and families, including:
- Requiring all child care staff to wear masks at all times, effective September 1;
- Ensuring frequent cleaning of child care centres;
- Screening of children and staff before entering a childcare facility;
- Maintaining attendance records for rigorous contact tracing and coordination with local public health authorities;
- Ensuring frequent hand washing and proper hand hygiene for children and staff; and
- Establishing clear and rigid case management protocols in the event a staff member or child becomes ill, or tests positive for COVID-19.
"Our commitment to the health and safety of the children and staff, will never waver," continued Minister Lecce. "Child care and early years programs will operate with additional health and safety procedures in place upon fully reopening. And rest assured, if at any time the health and safety of the children is jeopardized, we will take action immediately."
Ontario will also provide additional funding, with support from the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement, to help child care operators and EarlyON Child and Family Centres purchase cleaning supplies, PPE and support staffing needs related to new procedures.
- Licensed child care centres will be permitted to operate at full capacity beginning September 1, 2020. More information about reopening protocols and guidelines will be shared in the coming days.
- Families whose children attended a licensed child care centre immediately before the emergency was declared must be given at least 14 days notice to accept a placement available on or after September 1, 2020.
- From March 22 – June 26, 2020, the government provided Emergency Child Care to health and front line workers free of charge. On April 10th, 2020, the government committed to protecting parents from financial hardship during COVID-19 by preventing operators from charging fees while child care centres were closed. On May 9th, 2020 the government announced supports to licensed child care providers to ensure they remain sustainable and ready to open when parents return to work. On June 9, 2020, the government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province. On June 12, 2020, child care centres were permitted to reopen once strict health and safety measures had been met.
- Funding is being provided to support enhanced cleaning costs and health and safety requirements set out to support the reopening of child care centres, as well as the continued stabilization of the sector.
- The government of Ontario will supply face coverings to licensed child care settings and EarlyON locations.
- There are over 5,500 child care centres and 124 licensed home child care agencies across Ontario.
- Parents and guardians have until August 31, 2020 to apply for Support for Families. Under this program, parents or guardians of children between 0-12 years old, or up to 21 years old for children and youth with special needs, are eligible for a one-time payment, per child, to purchase educational materials to support learning at home.
- To date, over 1.6 million families have benefited from the Support for Families program.
- Learn more about Stage 3 of reopening Ontario
- Operational Guidance During COVID-19 Outbreak – Child Care Reopening
- COVID-19: reopening child care centres
- Learn about the plan to provide funding support for the early years and child care sector during recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19
TORONTO — The Ontario government is announcing the safe reopening of schools for in-class instruction beginning this September. The government has unveiled a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff, and provides school boards with unprecedented resources and flexibility, while accommodating regional differences in trends of key public health indicators. This plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the COVID-19 Command Table and paediatric experts.
Details on the safe restart of the 2020-2021 school year were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will reopen provincewide, with in-class instruction five days a week. Secondary schools with lower risk will reopen with a normal daily schedule, five days a week, while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online. Students from Grade 4-12 and school staff will be required to wear masks.
"It's been hard on families to balance work and child care, while kids have been separated from friends and other kids their own age. We want to get our kids back to school, but it has to be done safely," said Premier Ford. "That's why we've worked with our public health experts, Ontario Health and the medical experts at SickKids to develop a plan that ensures students can return to the classroom five days a week in a way that protects the health and safety of our children, teachers, and school staff."
Parents will continue to have the option to enroll their children in remote delivery, which respects their fundamental role in making the final determination of whether they feel safe with their children returning to school.
Based on the best medical advice available, the province is implementing additional public health protocols to keep students and staff safe when they return to school in September. To support the implementation of these protocols, the government is providing over $300 million in targeted, immediate, and evidence-informed investments, including:
- $60 million in procurement of medical and cloth masks for students and staff, with direction to boards to ensure that students who cannot afford a mask are provided one;
- $30 million for teacher staffing to support supervision, keeping classes small and other safety related measures;
- $50 million to hire up to 500 additional school-focused nurses in public health units to provide rapid-response support to schools and boards in facilitating public health and preventative measures, including screening, testing, tracing and mitigation strategies;
- Over $23 million to provide testing capacity to help keep schools safe;
- $75 million in funding to hire over 900 additional custodians and purchase cleaning supplies for schools;
- $40 million to clean school buses, to ensure that students are in a thoroughly cleaned transportation environment;
- $10 million for health and safety training for occasional teachers, who have historically not been covered by professional development that is offered to permanent teachers;
- $10 million to support special needs students in the classroom; and
- $10 million to support student mental health.
This funding is in addition to a $25 million investment in mental health and technology, which will see an additional $10 million dedicated to mental health staff, resources, and programs, as well as $15 million in technology funding to support the procurement of over 35,000 devices for Ontario's students to support their synchronous learning in-school and beyond.
"This plan reflects the best medical and scientific advice with a single aim: to keep your child safe," added Minister Lecce. "While this plan will continue to evolve to respond to the changing threat of COVID-19, we will remain constant and consistent in investing in the resources, staffing, and cleaning supports, and strict health and safety protocols to keep our communities and our classrooms safe."
The Ministry of Education has received clear and compelling public health guidance to inform the delivery of instruction for boards for the 2020-2021 school year. These decisions are adaptable to changing public health situations and were based on the rigorous and data-informed guidance of leading medical, epidemiological, and paediatric leaders in the province.
"Based on the current data, we are seeing that overall instances of COVID-19 are declining in Ontario. When considering the health of the whole child, and as long as this trend continues, we believe that with the appropriate measures and strategies in place to handle potential outbreaks and prevent spread, schools are expected to be a safe place for Ontario's students and staff who attend in person," said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure the safety of students and staff and will be prepared to transition to alternative options should circumstances change."
"As a society, we've made an important shift in the dialogue about our children and the adverse health impacts of school closures," says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of SickKids. "While we recognize that COVID-19 will be with us for some time, continuing to stay home from school has become untenable for many children, youth and families. Effective, evidence-based strategies can help promote the safety of students, teachers, school staff and families as they return to school."
The Ministry of Education will continue working closely with public health and school boards to monitor and report on the health status of school communities, which is part of the government's outbreak management plan. This plan, which was developed with the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Health, outlines clear protocols and authorities of the multiple agencies and organizations involved in the public health landscape. In the event of positive cases of COVID-19 among students, parents, teachers, or other staff, these protocols will enable immediate action by health and education sector officials to identify, track, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the education system. Every school board will have communication protocols in place to keep families informed.
- Since June, school boards have been planning for three models of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year: conventional delivery, adapted instruction, and remote instruction, bolstered by live, dynamic synchronous learning. As the public health situation unfolds through the course of the school year, boards will continue to rely on these three models to respond nimbly and pragmatically to local public health dynamics.
- Over the summer, students and families took advantage of expanded summer learning across the province. Over 150,000 students enrolled in high school programs, including more than 21,000 students who took Reach Ahead credits. Elementary students participated in literacy and numeracy programs and students with special education needs and mental health concerns are participating in new targeted and transition programs in preparation for the coming school year.
- The government will be releasing a Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) to school boards to outline the requirements for educators and board staff in utilizing synchronous learning as part of remote and online forms of instruction during the school year.
- As part of Bill 197, the government enabled a double-cohort of students in the province’s demonstration schools for the 2020-2021 school year, which will provide critical support and learning for students with severe learning needs. This was in direct response to the potential learning and development loss resulting from the school closure as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- On June 19, 2020, the government released a provincial reopening guidance plan to school boards and asked boards to prepare their own restart plans for the upcoming school year, which they will present to the Ministry of Education in early August.
- The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will supply key personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies to schools. Supplies needed for September are ready to be delivered to schools by mid-August.
- Prior to school starting, School Mental Health Ontario will provide school boards with a professional learning framework and toolkit to support the mental health of all students that can be tailored at the board and school levels for different audiences. The professional learning will have a strong focus on building students’ social-emotional learning skills so that they can build resilience, manage their stress and build positive relationships.
- On March 20, 2020, the Ministry of Education unveiled the Learn at Home / Apprendre à la maison portal, which provides online resources for families and students while schools remain closed.
- Parents and guardians still have until August 31, 2020 to apply for Support for Families. Under this program, parents or guardians of children between 0-12 years old, or up to 21 years old for children and youth with special needs, are eligible for a one-time payment, per child, to purchase educational materials to support learning at home.
Today, Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues and Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General, released the following statement on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons:
"Today, we join countries around the globe on World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness about human trafficking, one of the fastest-growing crimes worldwide. This year's theme focuses on first responders working on the frontlines to end human trafficking.
As we mark this important day, our government is proud to recognize the many service providers, community partners and police forces across Ontario doing critical work to prevent this crime, help survivors, and bring traffickers to justice.
Over the past several months, those working on the frontlines have faced unprecedented challenges responding to the ongoing threat of human trafficking and providing continued supports to victims during the COVID-19 outbreak. We deeply appreciate their unwavering dedication.
Our government helped support these frontline workers with $40 million in relief funding, which helped address the increased costs for residential service providers, including emergency shelters for women. We also provided $2.7 million for victim services and an additional $1 million to help frontline agencies supporting people experiencing, or at risk of, sexual assault, human trafficking and gender-based violence during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our government is taking strong action to combat human trafficking and end child sexual exploitation with a new $307 million Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy released earlier this year. This strategy includes a comprehensive plan to raise awareness, protect victims and intervene early, support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
Human trafficking has a devastating impact on the lives of victims, families and communities. It includes sexual exploitation and forced labour, and the vast majority of victims are women and girls. More than two-thirds of police-reported cases across Canada occur here in Ontario.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all of our community partners and frontline service providers and reaffirm our commitment to fighting human trafficking. This is a battle that is far from over. But we believe, by working together, we will better protect those most vulnerable and keep our communities safe."July 30, 2020
TORONTO — The Ontario government launched an independent commission into COVID-19 and long-term care. Three commissioners will investigate how COVID-19 spread within long-term care homes, how residents, staff, and families were impacted, and the adequacy of measures taken by the province and other parties to prevent, isolate and contain the virus. The commission will also provide the government with guidance on how to better protect long-term care home residents and staff from any future outbreaks.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.
"As Premier, I made a commitment to our long-term care residents and their families that there would be accountability and justice in the broken system we inherited," said Premier Ford. "Today, we are delivering on that promise by moving forward with a transparent, independent review of our long-term care system. We will do whatever it takes to ensure every senior in the province has a safe and comfortable place to call home."
Three commissioners have been appointed for the expertise and experience they bring to addressing the commission's mandate:
- Associate Chief Justice Frank N. Marrocco (Chair) ― appointed to the Superior Court of Justice in 2005 and holds a distinguished career practising criminal law and civil litigation law spanning 33 years.
- Angela Coke ― served as a former senior executive of the Ontario Public Service where she spent more than 27 years committed to the transformation of government operations, consumer protection reform, and the development of a strong professional public service.
- Dr. Jack Kitts ― served as President and CEO of The Ottawa Hospital from February 2002 until his retirement in June 2020. He is known nationally for his focus and expertise in patient experience, performance measurement and physician engagement.
This independent commission has the power to conduct an investigation, including compelling persons to give or produce evidence, issuing summons, and holding public meetings. The commission's findings are delivered within the timeframes set out by the Minister of Long-Term Care in the Terms of Reference, allowing investigations to be completed in months, rather than years. The commissioners are expected to deliver their final report by April 2021.
"The people of Ontario deserve a timely, transparent and non-partisan investigation," said Minister Fullerton. "That is why our government is launching this independent commission to help us identify ways to prevent the future spread of disease in Ontario's long-term care homes. I look forward to receiving their report and recommendations to make Ontario's long-term care homes a better place for our most vulnerable seniors to live and receive the care they deserve."
- While the work of the commissioners is underway, Ontario will continue to move forward with system improvements, including implementing the recommendations of the Public Inquiry into Long-Term Care Homes, acting on essential learnings from COVID-19, and supporting the accelerated development of new, modern long-term care beds.
- The Ontario government has committed to investing a historic $1.75 billion to create new and redevelop existing long-term care beds. The province is also updating design standards to include air conditioning for any new and renovated homes, beginning immediately.
- The Ontario government recently announced a new funding model, to make it more attractive for operators to build long-term care homes and bring aging homes up to modern design standards — providing seniors with the quality care they deserve.
- Nearly 78,000 Ontario residents currently live in 626 long-term care homes across the province. More than 38,000 people are on the waitlist to access a long-term care bed (as of March 2020).
- Previous public inquiries, such as the Public Inquiry into Long-Term Care Homes, took two years to complete.
- In 2003, the Ontario government appointed an independent commission to investigate the introduction and spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) under the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The commission interviewed 600 people and held six days of public hearings.
- Read the commissioners’ terms of reference.
- Ontario Announces Independent Commission into Long-Term Care
- The COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes outlines the steps that the government is taking to protect residents and staff in long-term care homes.
- Emergency information and orders
- Ontario Taking Action on Key Recommendations from Public Inquiry into the Safety and Security of Residents in the Long-Term Care Homes System
- Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
- For public inquiries, call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only).
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.”
- 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.
- Overview of Ontario’s plan to Redesign the Child Welfare System
- Ontario’s Quality Standards Framework and the Children and Young Persons’ Rights Resource will help give children and youth a stronger voice in decisions about their care as well as support residential services providers in delivering high-quality care.
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.
- 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.
- Joint Communiqué ― Safe Restart Agreement
- Learn more about A Framework for Reopening our Province
- Provide your input on the economic impacts of COVID-19
- See how your organization can help fight COVID-19
- Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect the people of Ontario from COVID-19