News

Ontario Unveils a Plan to Reopen Postsecondary Education

TORONTO — The Ontario government has developed a plan for the gradual and safe resumption of in-person instruction at postsecondary institutions across the province for the summer term. The plan was developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Starting in July 2020, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures. This first phase will allow institutions to reopen to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas, such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions. Thousands of students across the province could benefit from this summer's reopening.

In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend postsecondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.

"Whether it's donating PPE, researching a vaccine or treatment, or helping with contact tracing, our students, researchers and postsecondary community in Ontario have stepped up in a big way to support our frontline health care workers in response to COVID-19," said Premier Doug Ford. "Now, we have to have their backs and make sure our students can keep learning, in class or virtually, and become the next generation of frontline heroes, innovators and community builders."

The limited summer reopening will help individual institutions prepare for the fall term by ensuring proper health and safety protocols are in place. The province is developing a framework to be released to the sector in the coming days, which will provide guidance on the summer reopening and on health and safety measures.

Publicly assisted colleges and universities, Indigenous Institutes, private career colleges and other postsecondary education institutions may participate in this voluntary reopening. Institutions that choose to participate will be responsible for establishing their own plans for this limited reopening in accordance with public health advice and any ministry guidance.

"It's critical that we allow students to complete their studies and graduate so they can join the workforce in high-demand, frontline roles and help put the province back on the path to prosperity," said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. "I will continue to collaborate with the postsecondary sector to determine how best to move forward on reopening our campuses in the fall and beyond in a way that is responsible and safe for our students and staff."

In order to maintain Ontario's position as a global leader in higher education and research, the government will also begin working on a digital and academic modernization framework this summer. Through this exercise, it will look at unlocking the potential of virtual learning, adapting postsecondary education and training to meet the needs of a rapidly changing job market and economy, increasing the accountability of postsecondary education, developing the necessary physical and digital infrastructure, and fully realizing the value of research, innovation, and intellectual property licensing in the domestic and global marketplace.

Quick Facts

  • In 2018-19, more than 800,000 students enrolled in Ontario’s colleges, universities, Indigenous Institutes and private career colleges located in every region of the province.
  • Led by the work of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts, the government is planning a measured and phased approach outlined in A Framework for Reopening our Province.

Background Information

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario's website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19 or to take a self assessment.
  • Read more about the province’s Ontario Together initiative.

Quotes

“We're pleased the government continues to demonstrate such strong support for colleges and to ensuring students complete their programs, particularly in areas where there is a clear demand for more graduates. Throughout Ontario, faculty and staff have found creative and effective ways to continue delivering high-quality programs. We're excited to be collaborating with the government on further measures to modernize post-secondary education, including creating more opportunities for people who need to retrain for new careers during Ontario's economic recovery.”

Linda Franklin

President and CEO, Colleges Ontario

“The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff remains a top priority for Ontario’s universities. Our institutions will continue to work diligently to provide the safest options for summer and fall enrolment that both align with public health regulations and ensure students continue to receive a high quality education and an enriching university experience that ensures they graduate with the adaptable skills required to help retool and reimagine industries, stimulate economic growth and rebuild Ontario.”

David Lindsay

President & CEO, Council of Ontario Universities

June 10, 2020

Beaches and Campsites to Open at Ontario Park

TORONTO — As part of the Ontario government's Stage 2 reopening plan, more facilities and services will be available at provincial parks in certain regions beginning on June 12, 2020. Gradually over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks will start opening campgrounds, providing more washrooms and drinking water, along with roofed accommodations, park store and rental operations, visitor centres, and sports fields. It's important to check what facilities and services are available before visiting a provincial park.

"Due to the tremendous progress we have made to contain the spread of COVID-19, more services and activities will soon be available at our provincial parks," said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. "While this is encouraging, it is not business as usual. I encourage everyone to be responsible and continue to follow public health advice, including physical distancing, when enjoying our outdoor amenities."

The following is a list of recreational activities and facilities that will be opening soon at provincial parks in regions entering Stage 2:

  • On June 12, beaches at Ontario Parks will begin opening to the public as maintenance and water testing are completed.
  • On June 15, campers enrolled in this year's Ontario Parks' Seasonal Campsite Program will now have access to their campsites at the majority of participating provincial parks. Those who were preselected in 2019 for the program will be contacted by Ontario Parks directly regarding the status of their reservation.
  • Beginning the week of June 22, all other campgrounds in regions entering Stage 2 will gradually open at provincial parks, along with washrooms, water taps and trailer sanitation stations.
  • Roofed accommodations (e.g., yurts, cabins and lodges, where available), park store and rental operations, visitor centers, and sports fields will be phased in over the next several weeks.  

Facilities such as showers, laundry, group camping, picnic shelter rentals and swimming pools will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season.  

Visitors should check OntarioParks.com to see what facilities and services are available before visiting a provincial park.

To help protect visitors and staff, Ontario Parks will be implementing measures to address overcrowding and promote physical distancing in park spaces and buildings during busy visitation times, by limiting occupancy for day-use and camping in select provincial parks. This may include limiting the number of daily vehicle permits sold or the number of campsites available for reservations.

Ministry officers will be present in provincial parks to provide information, assist with emergencies and enforce provincial park rules and regulations. Additionally, these areas may be patrolled by local police or other enforcement agencies.

Quick Facts

  • Any reservations for campgrounds (and select backcountry campsites that currently remain closed) up to and into the week of June 22 will be automatically cancelled and you will receive a full refund with no penalty.
  • To ensure the safety of visitors and staff, Ontario Parks will continue to be guided by public health advice and will continually assess and adjust operational and safety protocols as required.
  • Ontario Parks manages 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves, covering over nine million hectares of land in the province.
  • Ontario Parks operates almost 19,000 campground campsites throughout the province.

Additional Resources

June 10, 2020

Ontario Helping Parents Return to Work

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province to support the next stage of the province's reopening framework. Developed in consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health and medical leaders at The Hospital for Sick Children, the plan will require child care operators to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of child care staff and children.

Details of the plan were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education.

"As we prepare to reopen more businesses and services, it is critical that we ensure supports are in place so people can return to work knowing their children will be cared for in a safe and healthy environment," said Premier Ford. "Our child care plan sets out strict protocols that must be followed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We have made great progress to contain the virus, but we must be mindful that there is still a public health risk."

As the province continues to implement its Framework for Reopening the Province, child care centres and home care providers across Ontario will be able to reopen with strict safety and operational requirements in place, similar to the safety guidelines required for emergency child care centres. Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:

  • Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
  • COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
  • Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting.  Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
  • Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
  • Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
  • No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
  • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.

Effectively immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen.

"We know the integral role child care plays in the restart of Ontario's economy, especially when it comes to enabling parents to return to work," said Minister Lecce. "But parents must have confidence in the child care system at this very difficult time. By imposing specific public health requirements, we are signaling our firm commitment to keeping our children, staff, and our families safe."

The Ministry of Education has been working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to develop these health and safety protocols. They will enable the safe reopening of child care centres across the province and enhance safety through effective contact tracing. This plan imposes strict requirements on operators, including mandatory training and reporting and support from the local medical officer of health before reopening.

"Having children safely re-engage in learning, play and social activities with other children is of great benefit to their mental, emotional and behavioural development," says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). "Children thrive when they are able to interact with other children. The reopening of child care centres is an important step forward for allowing children to be with their peers and enjoy activities outside of their home environment."

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with strict health and safety protocols in place, the government is now enabling summer day camp programs across the province to reopen this summer. Strict health and safety guidelines were developed by the Ministry of Health in partnership with public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities, and distributed to local public health teams earlier this month. At this time, overnight camps are not permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.

Quick Facts

  • As the province continues to move forward with its reopening plan, emergency child care will wind down effective June 26, 2020 as all licensed child care centres are permitted to open province-wide. Families served through emergency child care will be supported by service system managers to return to their previous arrangement or finding new space during the transition back to regular childcare.
  • As child care reopens across the province, if families are not offered access to their previous child care arrangement, operators will continue to be prevented from charging fees for these spaces.
  • Ontario is also helping parents pay for the extra costs associated with school and child care closures during the COVID-19 outbreak with the Support for Familiesprogram, by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs up to 21 years of age, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • To date, over 1.5 million families have benefited from the Support for Families program.
  • The existing child care funding formula will be leveraged to support enhanced cleaning costs and the health and safety requirements set out to support the reopening of child care centres, as well as the continued stabilization of the sector.
  • As required by legislation, the Ministry will be seeking input from families and the sector on the Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) over the summer, which will inform child care planning for the province.
  • There are over 5,500 child care centres and 124 licensed home child care agencies across Ontario.

Additional Resources

June 09, 2020

Ontario Proposing Temporary Ban on Commercial Evictions

TORONTO — The Ontario government announced today that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19. 

The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible.

In partnership with the federal government, Ontario is committing $241 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses which is providing more than $900 million in support. CECRA for small businesses provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50 per cent of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020.

The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25 per cent of rent, so that up to 75 per cent of the rent is covered. Tenants and landlords can learn how much they may be eligible for by visiting Ontario.ca/rentassistance.

"We need everyone working together to overcome COVID-19," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "Commercial tenants who can pay their rent, must do so. Landlords should work with their tenants to come to an agreement and use this joint program. Ontario's small businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need them to flourish."

If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020.  

"Working with the federal government, we are providing more than $900 million in relief to tenants and landlords," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. "We've been clear we would support small businesses and today's action does just that."

"Ensuring the immediate future of our small businesses is critical to helping our economy recover and rebound," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. "A moratorium on commercial evictions will bring stability to our small businesses and the employees and families they support. Their success is Ontario's success."

Additional Resources

June 08, 2020

Ontario Permits More Businesses and Services to Reopen in the Coming Days

TORONTO — Today, the Ontario government announced that it is getting more people back to work and more recreational activities open by moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of reopening the province.

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and local health officials, the government is easing restrictions in communities where it is safe to do so, based on trends of key public health indicators such as lower rates of transmission, increased capacity in hospitals, and progress made in testing.

Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.

Public health unit regions allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 12 at 12:01 a.m. include:

  • 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

Details of the Stage 2 reopening were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

"We are able to make this announcement today because of the extraordinary effort of our frontline workers and every other person in the province who helped to stop the spread of this deadly virus," said Premier Ford. "Entering Stage 2 means parts of the province will see more people back on the job and an opportunity to get back together with friends and family. Although this is extremely encouraging, I urge everyone to exercise caution and continue to follow public health advice as we are not out of the woods yet."

Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

As more people return to work, the services they rely on will need to be available regardless of the stage a region is in. The province will soon release more details on:

  • Child care;
  • Summer camps;
  • Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
  • Training centres; and
  • Public transit.

"The health and long-term economic well-being of the people of Ontario has guided every decision we have made in response to COVID-19," said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Chair of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee. "The people and employers of Ontario have demonstrated responsible behaviour throughout the global pandemic. I'm confident that will continue in Stage 2 and beyond. Our collective health and the economic recovery of the province depend on it."

At the beginning of each week, the government will provide an update on the ongoing assessment of these regions, and whether they are ready to move into Stage 2 at the end of the week.

Everyone, regardless of where they live in the province, must continue to follow public health advice, including to practise physical distancing, wear a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.

"As a result of efforts of all Ontarians to stop the spread of COVID-19, many regions have met the criteria to move into the next stage of our reopening plan, including a decrease in new daily cases and sufficient hospital capacity in the event of any spikes in cases or outbreaks," said Minister Elliott. "Our regional approach recognizes that different regions in the province are experiencing COVID-19 differently and can safely and gradually ease restrictions and reopen local businesses. We will continue to monitor any shifts in the spread and take decisive action to contain any outbreaks."

The government, in partnership with health and safety associations, has released more than 100 health and safety guidance documents at Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to help employers in multiple sectors ― including retail, restaurant and food services and child care ― keep spaces safe for workers and customers. As they prepare to reopen, employers are strongly advised to review these guidance documents and implement appropriate measures to help protect their workers and customers.

"Ontario employers have the information and the tools they need to keep workers safe," said Minister McNaughton. "That includes safety guidelines, posters and tip sheets to promote safe workplaces and help stop the spread of COVID-19. I strongly advise everyone to visit Ontario.ca/COVIDsafety to read, download, print and post them, for your sake and the sake of those around you."

"Since the beginning of this pandemic, our government has worked together with Ontario's business community to mobilize our manufacturing and innovation might to develop made-in-Ontario solutions," said Minister Fedeli. "As we proceed into Phase 2 of the reopening process, we will continue to support both businesses and workers as we move forward on the path to economic recovery together."

Quick Facts

  • For questions about what is currently able to open during Stage 1, or what will be open or impacts to your business or employment when we enter Stage 2, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee wants to hear directly from people and organizations from all regions and sectors to help inform the next steps in Ontario’s Action Plan in response to COVID-19. You can provide your input here.
  • Visit Ontario.ca/reopen to learn how you can provide your feedback on the impacts of COVID-19 on personal finances, business supports and government relief measures.
  • On April 1, 2020, 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.
  • The government has launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to provide businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers. The directory can be accessed here.

Additional Resources

June 08, 2020

Ontario Supports Those Struggling with Electricity Bills during COVID-19

TORONTO — The Ontario government announced that it will continue to support provincial electricity consumers by providing stability and greater customer choice, while helping those struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Details of the new programs were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Bill Walker, Associate Minister of Energy.

Initiatives include:

  • $9 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to support consumers struggling to pay their energy bills during the pandemic. CEAP will provide one-time payments to consumers to help pay down any electricity bill debt incurred over the COVID‑19 period. Applications will be available through local utilities in the upcoming months;
  • $8 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to provide support to businesses struggling with bill payments as a result of the outbreak; and
  • An extension of the Ontario Energy Board's winter disconnection ban until July 31, 2020 to ensure no one is disconnected from their natural gas or electricity service during these uncertain times.

In addition, the government recently announced that it will continue the suspension of time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates and, starting on June 1, 2020, customers will be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour.

"While we make progress to contain this deadly virus, we know people will need to stay home when possible and businesses will need ongoing support as we gradually and safely reopen the economy," said Premier Ford. "Providing additional rate relief, flexibility and customer choice will help ensure everyone can recover from this extraordinary crisis and get back to a life that is as normal as possible."

Starting June 1, 2020, the new COVID-19 Recovery Rate comes into effect for electricity customers who pay TOU rates. This fixed rate will apply to TOU customer bills 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing stability and certainty for consumers as the government restarts the economy and supports individuals and families who continue to spend more time at home.

The COVID-19 Recovery Rate will be in place until October 31, 2020, followed by a new customer choice initiative. Starting November 1, 2020, customers will be able to choose a plan that best suits their household and lifestyle with the option of either TOU electricity rates or tiered pricing, which will provide a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption.

"We recognize that businesses and families are living with a great deal of uncertainty, and they need to know what they can expect when they open their electricity bills every month," said Minister Rickford. "The new COVID-19 Recovery Rate will provide stability for Ontario electricity consumers, while we work to re-open our province and restart our economy."

The government will continue to subsidize electricity bills by 31.8 per cent through the Ontario Electricity Rebate. The government is providing approximately $5.6 billion in 2020-21 as part of its existing electricity cost relief programs, to help ensure more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers.

"With the financial hardships faced by so many in our province as a result of COVID-19, those struggling to pay their electricity bills need support," said Minister Walker. "This program, in partnership with the Ontario Energy Board and local distribution companies, will support electricity consumers by keeping rates stable and affordable."

Quick Facts

  • The new COVID-19 Recovery Rate is the Ontario Energy Board (OEB)’s Average Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Rate, which is based on the forecast average electricity supply cost for RPP consumers as of November 1, 2019, as published in the OEB’s most recent RPP Price Report.
  • Time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates vary by time of day and are comprised of three different rate periods of off-peak, mid-peak and on-peak pricing.
  • Tiered electricity rates provide customers with a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption. The rate increases for all electricity use that exceeds this threshold.
  • The OEB sets both tiered and TOU rates as part of the RPP.
  • There are approximately five million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses billed using TOU electricity prices under the RPP.

Additional Resources

  • Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19
  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
  • Additional supports for Ontario electricity consumers include the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP).

June 01, 2020

Ontario Extending Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for Workers during COVID-19

TORONTO - The Ontario government is taking steps to help ensure that as the economy gradually and safely reopens workers will have jobs to return to and businesses will be protected from incurring unsustainable termination costs. Today, the government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

Terminations triggered when temporary layoffs exceed the permitted length under the Employment Standards Act can result in costly payouts which, for many businesses, could be the difference between survival and closure. Under the new regulatory change to the Employment Standards Act, non-unionized employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated because of the pandemic will be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Workers will remain employed with legal protections and be eligible for federal emergency income support programs.

"As we take the necessary steps to safely and gradually restart the economy, we need to make sure business owners can reopen their doors and workers have jobs to go back to," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training & Skills Development. "This regulatory change will protect businesses from being forced to permanently lay off their employees due to COVID-19 and suffer a financial loss that could shutter their operations for good."

Many businesses had to close or reduce operations to comply with emergency orders necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. According to Statistics Canada, 379,000 Ontario workers were temporarily laid off in April 2020, an increase of 2,496 per cent compared with one year earlier.

The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The regulatory amendments do not include employees represented by a trade union.

The government is also supporting people and businesses by providing billions of dollars in deferrals and relief. That includes deferring $1.9 billion in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premium payments until August 31, 2020, $10 billion in interest and penalty relief, and other deferrals to improve cash flow, protect jobs and help household budgets. In addition, the province is partnering with the federal government to provide commercial rent relief for commercial tenants and landlords through the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

Quick Facts

  • The Financial Accountability Office of Ontario estimates that about 2.2 million Ontario employees were directly affected by pandemic-related shutdowns, through either job losses (1.1 million), temporary layoffs or sharply reduced hours (1.1 million) in 2020.
  • Termination and severance obligations create a significant financial burden for businesses. For example, a restaurant with 30 staff could be liable for termination payments as high as $100,000.

Additional Resources

Quotes

“Ontario’s small to medium manufacturers need this change to pre-empt unnecessary and significant business costs that will inevitably lead to numerous bankruptcies.”

Dennis Darby

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters

“In addition to the lost livelihoods of business owners and workers, the closures and job losses we would endure without any changes would have a further devastating impact on Ontario’s economy. We appreciate the actions the government has taken today to preserve jobs and keep businesses alive.”

Rocco Rossi

President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

“We thank Minister McNaughton for recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed employers in an extremely vulnerable position under current employment law. Without this important change, many businesses would have been forced to pay significant termination sums when they are financially strapped due to forced shutdowns, jeopardizing their ability to make it to the other side of COVID-19.”

Julie Kwiecinski

Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

June 01, 2020

Tourism Operators and the Impacts of COVID-19

Attention Tourism Operators!

Ontario wants to hear from you on the impacts of COVID-19 

If you’re a Tourism Operator in Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, the Ontario Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs want to hear from you about the impacts that COVID-19 has had and is expected to have on your business.

Ontario recognizes that the tourism sector of our economy is among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Tourism Operators are invited to register to present to the Finance Committee.  Virtual committee meetings will begin Thursday June 4th

Interested business owners can register to make a presentation to the committee by visiting https://www.ola.org/en/apply-committees by Monday, June 1 at 12 noon.

Alternatively, written comments can be submitted through the website until 5pm on Monday June 22nd.

We want to hear from you.

May 30, 2020

Ontario Provides Consumers with Greater Stability and Predictability with Their Electricity Bills

TORONTO - Today, Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, issued the following statement on electricity rate relief measures during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"Our government is committed to supporting families and business-owners as we plan for the safe and gradual reopening of the province.  

Since March 24, 2020, we have invested just over $175 million to deliver emergency rate relief to residential, farm and small business electricity consumers by suspending time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing. This investment was made to protect the people of Ontario from a marked increase in electricity rates as they did their part by staying home to prevent the further spread of the virus.

As Ontarians continue to work and learn from home, we are extending the suspension of time-of-use price to provide consumers with greater stability and predictability with their electricity bills.

To extend this support responsibly, we will introduce a fixed electricity price, known as the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, of 12.8 cents per kWh, which will be automatically applied to all time-of-use customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This fixed electricity price will be in place from June 1 - October 31, 2020. 

The COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8¢/kWh is based on the average cost of electricity, set by the Ontario Energy Board. This fixed rate will continue to suspend time-of-use prices in a fiscally responsible manner. By introducing this new fixed rate, consumers will have greater flexibility to use electricity when they need it without paying on-peak and mid-peak prices.

Thank you to the millions of Ontarians who are helping us stop the spread. More information on the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, and government's plan to build an electricity system that works for the people of this province, will be announced at the Premier's daily briefing on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. EST."

Quick Facts

  • The new COVID-19 Recovery Rate is the Ontario Energy Board's (OEB’s) average Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Rate, which is based on the forecast average electricity supply cost for RPP consumers as of November 1, 2019, as published in the OEB’s most recent RPP Price Report.
  • Time-of-use (TOU) electricity rates vary by time of day, comprised of three different rate periods of off-peak, mid-peak and on-peak pricing.
  • The OEB sets both tiered and time-of-use (TOU) rates as part of the RPP.
  • There are approximately five million residential consumers, farms and some small businesses billed using TOU electricity prices under the RPP.

May 30, 2020

Backcountry Camping available at Ontario Parks and on Crown Lands Starting June 1

TORONTO — The Ontario government is gradually reintroducing camping in Ontario Parks and recreational camping on Crown land, starting June 1, 2020, to give people more opportunities to enjoy the outdoors, while staying safe and practicing physical distancing.

As of June 1, backcountry camping will be available at Ontario Parks, including access points, paddle and portage routes and hiking trails. Ontario Parks will also be expanding day-use activities to include picnicking and off-leash pet areas.

"We are all eager to get outside this time of year, and backcountry camping will give people a low-risk way to enjoy the benefits of being outdoors while following physical distancing rules," said Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. "We're counting on people to be responsible when enjoying our parks and continue to follow all of the public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19."

Following current provincial restrictions, no more than five people will be allowed to occupy a backcountry campsite during their stay, unless they live in the same household.

The closure of all other overnight camping and some day-use activities at provincial parks and conservation reserves has been extended to June 14 and will continue to be reassessed. All buildings and facilities including campgrounds, roofed accommodations, visitor centers, park stores, playgrounds, and beaches remain closed. Some washroom facilities may be available.

In addition, Ontario is reopening recreational camping on Crown land while reminding visitors to continue to adhere to public health advice as the best defense against COVID-19, such as practicing physical distancing, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and frequent hand washing. Camping on Crown land does not include the use of shared facilities and is a low-risk way for people to enjoy the outdoors.

"Even as we begin to reopen camping so that Ontarians can enjoy our beautiful outdoors, people's health and well-being remain our top priority," said John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "We have to work together to ensure we open our province in a responsible, cautious manner. We are starting to contain the virus, but we cannot risk undoing all of the progress that we have made by reopening the province too quickly."  

Ontario Parks will begin collecting fees for day-use and backcountry camping access as of June 1. Please visit Ontario parks and click on the "Fees" tab to find out more. Advanced reservations or registrations will be required at most of the 20 operating provincial parks that are offering backcountry camping.

Ontario Parks has been conducting critical maintenance and other park start-up procedures and ensuring operational and safety protocols are in place so that more recreational activities and facilities can open when it is safe to do so.

Quick Facts

  • Backcountry camping involves hiking or paddling through park lands and setting up camp in remote areas. These campers are typically in small groups, fully equipped with supplies, and do not normally require the use of any facilities, such as washrooms, showers or other amenities.
  • People can also continue to access Crown land for recreational activities such as hiking, fishing and hunting.
  • Ontario Parks manages 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves, covering over 9.8 million hectares of land in the province.
  • Crown land, managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, represents approximately 77 per cent of the province.

Additional Resources

May 30, 2020