News

Ontario Increasing Public Health Units' Capacity to Stop COVID-19

TORONTO — To support public health units' extensive efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario is taking further action to redirect existing resources to focus squarely on the fight against this new virus while allowing for public health units to considerably increase their capacity.

Ontario has launched a new user-friendly online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results. By offering faster and secure access to test results on their computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so that they can better focus on containing COVID-19.

"With this new portal, patients will be able to access their test results faster from the safety of their home," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "It will help reduce the burden on our public health units and frontline health workers, allowing them to focus their efforts where they are needed most during this challenging time."

Ontario is also issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, effective immediately, to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing fight against the outbreak of COVID-19, despite any collective agreements. As a result, public health units will be able to significantly expand their capacity to implement critical public health functions, such as case and contact management, through the use of volunteers, including the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province's website.

This latest order will support the recommendation made by Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, for all public health units to implement more aggressive contact tracing and management in response to the increase of community transmission. The province's medical officers of health are also encouraged to use their authority under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to ensure isolation of cases and contacts of COVID-19.

"We are at a critical juncture in our fight against COVID-19," said Elliott. "Our success as a province depends on our ability to quickly and effectively stop the spread of this new virus. These actions offer considerable support to our local health units and give them the authority they need to act and contain COVID-19 in our communities."

Quick Facts

  • Patients will be asked to verify their identity with the information on their photo health card. The portal will provide patients with their test results and offer guidance on next steps.
  • On March 30, 2020, Dr. Williams issued a statement to strongly encourage Ontarians to stay home, limit the number of essential trips and adhere to physical distancing.
  • If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario's Self-Assessment Toolto see if you need to seek further care.
  • Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health:
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
    • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve;
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
    • Avoid contact with people who are sick; and
    • Stay home if you are sick.

Additional Resources

April 03, 2020

Ontario Increasing Mental Health Support During COVID-19

TORONTO — Ontario government is making it easier for everyone, especially those on the front lines, to reach out for mental health support during the COVID-19 outbreak. To improve access, the province is providing emergency funding of up to $12 million to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports and $2.6 million to hire new psychologists and other mental health workers to support Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) personnel.

"Dealing with an evolving crisis like COVID-19 puts a lot of stress on everyone, including people who are self-isolating, families with kids out of school, and the frontline health care workers and first responders who are keeping us safe each and every day," said Premier Ford. "This very difficult situation will impact different people in different ways, but I can assure everyone we will be there to support you and help you cope in every way we can. Clearly, protecting our health and well-being is everything, and that includes our mental health."

These services will help people experiencing anxiety, stress and other mental health challenges, including people who are unable to access their regular in-person counselling supports. These resources will address the needs of youth and adults and will include more dedicated supports for those working on the frontlines who are dealing with the difficult realities of COVID-19 every single day.

"It's never been more important for Ontarians to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "As they do, we need to provide them with the supports they need to stay mentally healthy during these challenging times as more Ontarians experience heightened anxiety and depression."

With this investment, mental health agencies will receive emergency funding to hire and train more staff and purchase necessary equipment, appropriate technology and additional licenses. The emergency funding will immediately expand services, based on evidence-informed cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on a range of platforms including:  

  • BounceBack: A guided self-help program for adults and youth aged 15 and over using workbooks with online videos and phone coaching support.
  • Kids Help Phone: 24/7 virtual support service offering professional counselling, information and referrals as well as volunteer-led, text-based support to young people in both English and French at 1-800-668-6868.
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT): Online CBT , supported by therapists; available in English and French.
  • iCBT for frontline health care workers: Online CBT targeted at frontline health care workers experiencing anxiety, burnout or PTSD. Those requiring intensive levels of care could be referred to virtual face-to-face care. 
  • Training for Brief CBT-based interventions: Training will be provided to frontline workers in organizations such as Telehealth and emergency departments in order to better support individuals experiencing acute anxiety due to the pandemic.

The hiring of additional mental health workers for the OPP is in response to four of the 66 recommendations made by the OPP Independent Review Panel (IRP) in its final report. Established in April 2019 to examine the OPP's workplace culture, the IRP was also tasked to look into how the OPP addresses issues of mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members and provide a series of recommendations. The funding will help the OPP hire mental health workers who will:

  • Provide clinical services to members of all ranks and make referrals to external services if needed;
  • Develop and deliver mental health support programming specific to unique policing needs (e.g. geographical, specialized services, cultural);
  • Facilitate educational programs to both uniform and civilian members to reduce stigma and promote resiliency and access to help when facing mental health challenges; and
  • Provide guidance in peer support programs.

"The current COVID-19 outbreak reinforces how much we rely on front lines workers and why it is so important to look after their mental health and wellbeing," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "With this new assistance, OPP personnel will get access to the mental health support they need to continue protecting our communities."

"Many Ontarians, including our dedicated first responders, are experiencing increased anxiety because of COVID-19 and are worried about their health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods," said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "We continue to work with our partners across the mental health and addictions sector to fund more innovative services such as internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy, ensuring Ontarians receive the high-quality care they expect and deserve."

Where to Find Help:

  • For Ontarians currently receiving mental health and addictions services and supports, please contact your current service provider to learn about potential virtual care options.
  • For Ontarians interested in public addictions services and mental health services for those over 18, they can contact ConnexOntario, Ontario's mental health, addictions and problem gambling help line at 1-866-531-2600.
  • Children and youth under 18 can locate mental health services through the Ontario.ca and Kids Help Phone websites, or contact Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) for 24/7 support, if they need someone to talk to.
  • Good2Talk is a free, confidential mental health support service providing professional counselling and information and referrals for mental health, addictions and well-being to postsecondary students in Ontario, 24/7/365. Learn more at www.good2talk.ca[RR(3] .
  • To access BounceBack and their guided self-help program using workbooks with phone coaching support, visit bouncebackontario.ca or ask your primary care provider for a referral.

Additional Resources

April 02, 2020

Ontario Strengthening Victim Services in Response to COVID-19

TORONTO - Attorney General Doug Downey today announced emergency action to support victims of crime and protect front-line staff who continue to uphold the administration of justice in response to COVID-19.

The government of Ontario is providing an emergency payment of more than $2.7 million to support services for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes during the COVID-19 crisis.

"Staying home is unfortunately not always the safest option in certain households and sadly a recent increase in domestic violence has been reported to front-line victim service organizations," said Attorney General Downey. "This emergency payment will ensure victims of crime, particularly those who are experiencing domestic violence, get the help they need  to stay safe and healthy during this crisis."

This additional one-time emergency payment will help more than 50 community agencies across Ontario, including victim crisis assistance organizations (VCAOs), Indigenous organizations and those based in rural areas, stay operational and accessible to victims during the public health crisis. Funds will help front-line staff respond to challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis and enhance access to immediate supports for victims, including extended hotels stays, and transportation and meal vouchers available through the Victim Quick Response Program Plus (VQRP+).

"During the COVID-19 health emergency, victim service providers are seeing a spike in domestic violence cases just as victims are left with fewer and fewer places to turn for help," said Ontario Network of Victim Service Provider President, Sheri MacDonald. "The Attorney General and his staff understand what we're facing on the front lines and his cooperation and decisive action make a true difference for our clients."

Ontario is also working closely with justice partners to ensure critical services continue while keeping essential front-line workers and all Ontarians safe. 

To support these efforts, the government is investing $1.3 million in technology to help courts and tribunals continue the transition to remote operations. Investments include additional laptops, conference lines and doubling the complement of digital recording devices for court use. This funding was announced on March 25th in Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.

Ontario's courts and tribunals continue to shift to audio and video conferencing to hear priority matters. To date, all courtrooms in the Ontario Court of Justice are operating remotely. Matters involving individuals held in custody are now being held remotely, removing the need for transportation and transfers between correctional facilities and courthouses.

Ontario is also working with justice partners to support the transition to remote operations, including expanding e-filing tools.

"I want to thank the Superior and Ontario Courts of Justice, the Court of Appeal, Tribunals Ontario, front-line workers, including the province's dedicated crown attorneys and committed court staff, and other partners for working with our government to limit attendance at courthouses and enforce strict physical distancing measures to protect essential workers in the justice system and keep all Ontarians safe," said Attorney General Downey.

Additional Quotes

"Victim Services Toronto commends the Attorney General for taking swift action during this crisis to support vulnerable victims and shore up essential services. Victim Services Toronto is extremely pleased the Ontario Government is taking all possible steps to support Ontarians during this crisis."
— Bonnie Levine, Executive Director, Victim Services Toronto

"I am excited about this good news for Six Nations and other First Nations who support victim services in their communities. We welcome these additional resources that will benefit Indigenous people as we work together to face this outbreak."
— Barb General, Justice Director, Six Nations Indigenous Victim Services

"Increasing the budget and staffing will enhance the quality of services Victim Services of Simcoe County can provide to clients. This investment will help our employees do more valuable work for victims."
— Robert Burke, Inspector, Barrie Police Service and Chair, Victim Services of Simcoe County

"I would like to commend the Attorney General, Doug Downey and the Province of Ontario, for being responsive to the needs of victims of crime during this unprecedented time of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19."
— Gillian Freeman, Executive Director, Victims Services York

April 02, 2020

Ontario Supports Trucking Sector for Keeping Goods Moving

TORONTO - Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation issued the following statement on supporting truck drivers during the COVID-19 outbreak:

"In these extraordinary times, we have extraordinary heroes. Our truck drivers are these heroes. They are working long hours, day and night delivering food and equipment and other essential supplies for Ontario families.  

Our truck drivers deserve our respect, our support, our thanks and our best efforts to help them as they continue to make sure we can put food on our tables and pick up other necessary items. 

We have heard from those working within the trucking industry of the treatment that truck drivers have faced while travelling on our roads. In response, we are calling on all business owners to support truck drivers when they are stopping to rest, get gas or use washrooms. 

This will better keep our truck drivers safe and healthy and on the road. 

We expect businesses who rely on truck drivers to provide necessary facilities for these heroes. We need everyone to do their part to make sure drivers can keep doing their jobs safely. 

As a government we are working closely with truck drivers and associations to respond to the issues they face on the road.

We are providing more safe places for truck drivers to stop and rest across the province and are keeping all 23 ONroute travel plazas open for take-out, grab and go and drive-through services, including washrooms with enhanced cleaning. We are also providing portable washrooms at 32 truck inspection stations so trucks have a place to stop and rest safely.

These actions build on measures announced last month that allow the 24-hour delivery of goods without the restrictions of municipal noise by-laws, and the extension of the validation of driver's licences, Commercial Vehicle Operator's Registration certificates and other products that expired on or after March 1, 2020. 

Ontario is committed to supporting the trucking industry and we would like to thank commercial carriers and truck drivers for everything that they've done to keep goods moving during the COVID-19 outbreak."

Additional Resources

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

April 02, 2020

Ontario Joins Forces with the Private Sector to Fight COVID-19

TORONTO ― To stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe, the Ontario government is launching a new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment, including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators. This new Fund will support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

"Ontario has an army of innovators, entrepreneurs, and the hardest-working people in the world ready to roll up their sleeves, support our frontline healthcare workers, and beat this virus," said Premier Ford. "This mass mobilization of government, business, communities and private citizens to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe and healthy represents one of the largest and most ambitious efforts undertaken by Ontario in generations."

In addition, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade have worked closely with businesses across Ontario and the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association to ramp up production of ventilators to meet the need in Ontario and other parts of Canada. The government has recently placed an order with O-Two Medical Technologies who, with the support of Ontario's world-class manufacturing sector, will produce 10,000 ventilator units.

"Our government is taking extraordinary measures to support businesses and organizations that are responding to COVID-19," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. "It's inspiring to see the Ontario business community respond to the call to action. Through the Ontario Together web portal and the Ontario Together Fund, we are making sure that companies have the resources and support they need to supply emergency products and innovative solutions quickly and efficiently to help address this challenging time together."

The government will be looking for the most viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to the people of Ontario. The government is providing one-time funding of $50 million in 2020-21 during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is time-limited and will be available to companies and organizations across the province.

"The fight against COVID-19 presents significant challenges for small businesses, but their strength and ingenuity are key to weathering this storm," said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. "The Ontario Action Plan gives families and small businesses the supports they need. Ontario Together will link the resources of government with the capacity and #OntarioSpirit of our small businesses ― to manufacture the resources Ontario needs."

"Only by working together and harnessing the full potential of Ontario's innovators will we be able to confront the growing challenge of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "The Ontario Together Fund will help enable our business community to provide the supplies and equipment our frontline heroes need as they continue to keep Ontarians safe."

Additional Resources

Quotes

“O-Two Medical Technologies is eager to be part of the global effort to help save lives. Our e700 ventilator has a proven track record and, together with our partners and the provincial government, we will deliver this critical, life-saving equipment to the people of Ontario.”

Kim Lassaline

Chief Executive Officer, O-Two Medical Technologies Inc.

“Ontario has acted quickly to save lives, this is what matters most today. The manufacturing expertise of automotive suppliers Linamar, Magna, Martinrea and ABC Technologies will be critical in making this plan achievable.”

Flavio Volpe

President, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association

April 01, 2020

Ontario Extends School and Child Care Closures to Fight Spread of COVID-19

TORONTO — Due to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 outbreak, the Ontario government announced that schools and child care centres will remain closed to protect the health and safety of students and staff. This extension is being made on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Today's announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

To ensure continuity of learning, the government is launching the second phase of Learn at Home. Developed in conjunction with education partners, the government is establishing clarity for parents, enhancing education supports, and creating opportunities for teachers and educators to connect with students.

"The decision to extend school closures was not made lightly. We know from the medical experts that the next two weeks will be critical in the fight against COVID-19 and that's why we're taking further action to keep our kids safe and healthy by having them stay home," said Premier Ford. "At the same time, we cannot put the school year in jeopardy. That's why we're providing additional tools for at-home learning and ensuring students from kindergarten to Grade 12 to postsecondary education can finish their academic year and get the credits they need to graduate." 

Public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020. As these dates come closer, this decision will be re-evaluated based on public health advice. The closure may be extended if necessary to protect the health and safety of students, families and staff. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed until April 13, according to the Declaration of Emergency, which only allows closures to be extended for one 14-day period at a time. Select centres designated to support frontline health care workers and first responders will remain open.   

As previously announced, no student will have their graduation compromised by COVID-19 and the Ministry of Education continues to collaborate with the Ministry of Colleges and Universities to ensure that there will be no barriers to accessing postsecondary education.

"We will do whatever it takes to keep students safe from COVID-19 - which is why we have extended the school closure period and why we have unveiled a teacher-led program that keeps students learning while at home," said Minister Lecce. "By providing clarity for parents, enhancing support for students and enabling the teacher-student relationship, we are ensuring our children continue to safely learn - providing some sense of stability and hope for them amid this difficulty." 

The second phase of Learn at Home features a new set of expectations for the education community, including:

  • Reconnecting students with teachers and other school staff, including mental health workers;
  • Re-establishing teacher-led learning by grade groupings as follows:
    • Kindergarten-Grade 3: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy and math)
    • Grades 4-6: five hours of work per student/week (focus on literacy, math, science and social studies)
    • Grades 7-8: 10 hours of work per student/week (focus on math, literacy, science and social studies)
    • Grades 9-12: three hours of work per course per week for semestered students; 1.5 hours of work per course per week for non-semestered students (focus on achieving credits/completion/graduation)
  • Leveraging digital resources and identifying alternative forms of teacher-student connectivity, such as phone and mail;
  • Developing a program of training for educators to support them in virtual learning delivery;
  • Requiring final report cards for all students;
  • Prioritizing and supporting students on track to graduate;
  • Distributing laptops and/or devices from schools as needed, while observing public health direction;
  • Maintaining a responsive posture for health care and community partner requests; and
  • Establishing formal COVID-19 working groups with education sector unions to work together, share ideas and to find solutions in the support of students.

"The province is taking extraordinary measures to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "As we do, we need every Ontarian to continue to do their part by staying apart. Please stay home as much as possible and keep your distance from others if you must go out. Stay home, stay safe, lives depend on it."

On March 21, 2020, Ontario launched Ontario Together, an online portal helping organizations work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. The government will leverage partnerships with the telecommunication sector to provide innovative, low-cost and high-impact solutions to solve the equity challenges facing some students across Ontario. With this resource, the Ministry of Education has posted a new challenge that looks for learning solutions focused on:

  • Free or low-cost learning resources and supports for students, parents and educators;
  • Access to devices such as computers, tablets and portable wi-fi hotspots for families that need the supports; and
  • Other ideas, goods or services, for example, to support mental health and students with special education needs.

Quick Facts

  • English and French-language materials will continue to be added to Learn at Homeon a regular basis to provide new and compelling content throughout this period. Recent updates include supplemental STEM learning resources created by third-parties and a parent resource that is focused on reading and writing.
  • There are now 36 high-quality English courses and 47 French-language courses available for secondary students to review, refresh and extend their learning as part of independent study.
  • TVO Kids offers educational programming throughout the day for school-aged children. Their broadcast schedule can be viewed here. TFO also offers a range of educational programming in French throughout the day for school-aged children. L’horaire de diffusion est disponible ici.
  • Mathify provides real-time homework help led by OCT certified educators for students between Grades 6-10, six days a week, including weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • Eurêka! provides online learning support in French to students in Grades 1-12 with their school work and learning.

Additional Resources

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

March 31, 2020

Province Supports Postsecondary Students During COVID-19

TORONTO — The government of Ontario is easing the financial burden on students and making sure they can complete their studies during the COVID-19 outbreak by temporarily deferring payments for Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loans and making online learning supports, including year-end exams, available to postsecondary institutions.

"During this unprecedented period, it is important to help students and current borrowers, so students can continue with their studies and borrowers do not have to worry about making loan payments," said Premier Ford. "Our government is doing everything it can to ensure our college and university students can take their exams and complete their school year while studying remotely."   

To support borrowers during this difficult period, loan repayments will be subject to a six-month interest-free moratorium until September 30, 2020. This means that during this time, borrowers will not be required to make any loan payments and interest will not accrue on their OSAP loans. Borrowers can still make one-time payments via their online account or online banking if they want to repay their loans faster. Payments during this period will go entirely towards their loan principal.   

"Students and their families make great sacrifices to attend postsecondary education and it is incumbent on us to do everything we can to ensure this academic year is not put in jeopardy," said Minister Romano. "I want to thank our postsecondary institutions for their leadership in adopting alternative ways for students to study and take exams, while ensuring they practice physical distancing and stay safe."

To ensure students can successfully complete the academic year, Ontario has finalized an agreement with eCampusOntario to make digital learning supports available to postsecondary institutions. These interim digital learning supports, available in both French and English, will provide publicly-assisted colleges and universities with the technology they need to conduct year-end assessments, while preserving student privacy and the integrity of academic assessment.

Ontario will work with other partners who may be interested in offering digital learning, such as Indigenous Institutes and private career colleges. Supports will be accessible on an as-needed basis and limited to those courses and programs where formal exams are required.

The province is also distributing $25 million in additional funding to publicly-assisted colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes to help address each institution's most pressing needs in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak such as deep cleaning, purchasing medical supplies or offering mental health supports.

Additional Resources

March 31, 2020

Ontario Extends Emergency Declaration to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

TORONTO — In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep people home, the Government of Ontario has extended the Declaration of Emergency and associated emergency measures, including the closure of non-essential workplaces and restrictions on social gatherings. In addition, Ontario is issuing a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to close all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately. These actions are based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

"I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus," said Premier Ford. "Based on the best medical advice available, we are taking further steps today to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians by closing outdoor recreational amenities, like sports fields and playgrounds, and extending our emergency orders to save lives. We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings."

This new order would close all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities everywhere in Ontario, including but not limited to playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens, and other outdoor recreational amenities. Green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren't otherwise closed would remain open for walkthrough access, but individuals must maintain the safe physical distance of at least two metres apart from others. Ontario's provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.

"We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province" said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "We will continue to take decisive action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect Ontarians' health and wellbeing."

"The health and well-being of Ontarians is a top priority of our government as we navigate through the COVID-19 health crisis. I know our municipal partners are already taking action locally to protect their residents," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "This order makes the rules around closing shared outdoor recreational amenities consistent across the province."

To ensure the province is able to continue its extensive efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, Ontario will also extend the March 17, 2020 declaration of emergency and subsequent emergency orders, regulations and amendments issued under s.7.0.1 and 7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The following declaration and orders have been extended and will be in effect until April 13, 2020:

 

Quick Facts

  • Ontarians should stay home except for essential reasons, and to limit the number of these essential trips. Essential reasons include accessing health care services and medication, grocery shopping, walking pets when required and supporting vulnerable community members to meet the above needs. It is strongly recommended that people over 70 years old or who have compromised immune systems and/or underlying medical conditions self-isolate and get help with essential errands.
  • Ontarians must strictly practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people and keep at least two metres away from people outside of their household.
  • On March 25, 2020, the federal government announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. They must not go to work, grocery stores or on walks. They should monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days and contact their primary care providers or Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) if they experience symptoms.
  • Take everyday steps to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and protect your health : wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer; sneeze and cough into your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; avoid contact with people who are sick; stay home if you are sick.

Additional Resources

  • 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).

March 30, 2020

Ontario Increasing Health and Safety Measures to Better Protect Frontline Nurses from COVID-19

TORONTO — Ontario is taking further action to protect frontline nurses and to recognize their clinical training and experience to help to keep Ontarians and hospitals safe and healthy during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The province, in collaboration with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and in consultation with the Ontario Nurses' Association (ONA), Ontario Health and the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA), is issuing a directive on health and safety standards for frontline nurses in hospitals in order to prevent exposure to and transmission of COVID-19. These standards have been developed with the guidance of clinically trained frontline nurses, hospital leaders and public health experts.

"It is critical that we are protecting our frontline nurses who are fighting to protect us from COVID-19 every day," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "We are collaborating with our partners in the health system to implement this new directive to ensure that nurses have the protection they need to safely provide the best care for their patients."

This directive outlines:

  • Precautions for interactions with suspected, presumed or confirmed COVID-19 patients, including relying on the clinical education and training that nurses receive to use their professional and clinical judgement;
  • Point-of-care risk assessments for every patient interaction to assess appropriate health and safety measures; and
  • Training on safe use of all personal protective equipment (PPE).

The directive also addresses the ongoing stewardship and conservation of the current level of PPE supplies as the government aggressively pursues all available efforts to increase this supply to ensure the appropriate health and safety control measures are in place to mitigate the transmission of infections. A joint statement from the province, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the ONA can be found here.

Quick Facts

  • As part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the province is investing $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to frontline staff.
  • A new website, Ontario Together, will help the government partner with Ontario’s manufacturing sector to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak and redirect resources towards the production of essential equipment such as ventilators, masks and swabs.
  • Everyone in Ontario should stay home unless absolutely necessary and practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. Avoid close contact (within 2 metres) with people outside of your immediate families.
  • If you think you may have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, first self-isolate and then use Ontario's Self-Assessment Toolto see if you need to seek further care.

Additional Resources

March 30, 2020

Ontario Protecting Seniors During the COVID-19 Outbreak

TORONTO — The Ontario government is working with businesses, volunteer organizations and non-profits to make it easier for Ontario's seniors to self-isolate and practice physical distancing during this unprecedented time by ensuring they can receive the support they need to stay safe and healthy. Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is strongly urging those over the age of 70 or those with compromised immune systems or underlying medical conditions to stay at home.

The government is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors. This investment doubles the government's initial commitment in Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. The government is also working with grocers and pharmacists to prioritize seniors' delivery orders and establish senior-only shopping hours.

"We take seriously the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, and we're working to put an iron ring of protection around our seniors from COVID-19," said Premier Doug Ford. "I know asking our seniors to stay at home will not be easy as it will mean inconvenience, isolation and significant change in routine. That's why we are encouraging everyone to reach out and support them, whether it's delivering their prescriptions or picking up the phone and giving them a call. It will all make a positive difference to our most vulnerable citizens."

The government is also working with province-wide organizations including Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and Older Adults Centres' Association of Ontario (OACAO) to identify and mobilize potential volunteer supports and expand the use of innovative technologies in the community to address social isolation and support daily living assistance.

"Our seniors have dedicated their lives to making Ontario the great province it is today. During this very difficult period, we need to take every step possible to protect them and ensure they stay healthy both physically and mentally," said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. "I encourage everyone to stay in regular contact with a parent, grand parent or neighbour to make sure they have everything they need."

This $10 million delivery coordination program for seniors living at home is in addition to the $20 million over two years the province has invested to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures and $243 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, and additional surge capacity.

"We must do everything in our power to care for and support Ontario's most vulnerable population," said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care. "I want to assure you that we are working around the clock to assist and care for Ontario's seniors, especially those in long-term care, during this unprecedented time."

The government is implementing a new emergency order to ensure that staffing and resources are available to help care for and protect long-term care residents, providing further flexibility and allowing homes to redirect their staffing and financial resources to essential tasks. This is in addition to implementing a new approach to redeploying highly qualified inspectors to support long-term care homes on the ground through staff supply, care coordination, and helping homes prevent and contain infections. 

"It's never been more important that all Ontarians heed the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health by staying home and practicing physical distancing," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This is especially true because it's the only way to protect our seniors and the most vulnerable people in our province. All of us need to do our part to stop the spread of this virus."

Additional Resources

March 30, 2020