As the Coronavirus continues to spread across Canada, the Ontario government has decided to take action. With a litany of measures, which initially started with discouraging gatherings of 100 or more individuals, but now as the virus has been spreading more rapidly. The Ontario government has decided to take further action. For those who may have missed the press conference held by Premier Doug Ford, the Ontario government has officially enacted a of Emergency within the province, in order to avoid further spread of the virus.
As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:
- All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
- All public libraries;
- All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
- All licensed child care centres;
- All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
- All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
- Concert venues.
This is what Premier Ford had to say when addressing the press, “We are facing an unprecedented time in our history. This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”
The government has also put a halt to all organized public events of over fifty people, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.
The Ontario government is also investing up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19 by providing the following:
- $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals to assist with the effective treatment of COVID-19 patients both in critical care and medicine beds.
- $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province. This includes contact tracing, increased laboratory testing capacity and home testing.
- $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies and equipment to protect them.
- $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres, including the creation of a new fund to provide respite care, child care services and other supports as they are needed.
- $50 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies.
- $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing, as well as additional cleaning costs.
- $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
$4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.