Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to May 12th to Continue the Fight Against COVID-19
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the approval of the Ontario legislature, the Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for a further 28 days.
This will allow the government to continue to use every tool at its disposal to protect the health and safety of the people of Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since we first learned of COVID-19, Ontario has actively monitored the situation and continues to act decisively to contain the spread of COVID-19. Although the actions we have taken to-date are making a difference, the spread of COVID-19 remains a serious threat and we must keep up our efforts to contain it. These measures will remain in place until May 12, at which time they may be extended.
The Ontario legislature today also introduced and passed the COVID-19 Support and Protection Act.
This bill will continue to help us protect the public by amending five key Acts: the Education Act; the Planning Act; the Development Charges Act, the Police Services Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act.
Through this legislation, our government will allow school boards to continue to retain a vital source of revenue for new school projects, and also provide a fair and consistent approach to addressing school suspensions and expulsions.
Our government has listened to our municipal partners and is proposing to give them the time they need to focus on public health priorities by suspending planning decision timelines. We are also proposing changes to give municipalities the flexibility they need to support their communities in response to COVID-19.
Today’s legislation would also give municipalities flexibility by allowing the extension of the deadline of their first community safety and well-being plan.
We are also helping OSAP borrowers in this act by temporarily suspending student loan payments and initiating six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.
We will continue to take decisive action to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.
Securing Critical Medical Equipment and Supplies
Yesterday, Premier Ford and the Minister of Health, Christine Elliott announced that over the last six days, more than 13 million surgical and procedural masks, 200,000 N95 respirator masks, and 38 ventilators had been delivered to Ontario’s pandemic stockpile warehouses.
We will continue to ensure that patients, frontline health care workers and first responders have the critical equipment and supplies they need most to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nothing is more important than protecting the health and safety of patients and the workers caring for them, as well as our first responders. We will continue working around the clock to add to the provincial stockpile to ensure that we are equipped to support those fighting this outbreak on the frontlines.
Ontario Protects Parents During COVID-19
COVID-19 has imposed significant financial pressure on working parents in our community. We need to support our parents who may be facing reduced income or layoffs during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yesterday, we announced a new emergency order has been issued, and any child care operators currently charging fees without delivering child care service, to no longer do so. This order also means that parents cannot lose their child care space because they are not paying fees during this period. This will provide much needed relief for parents during the outbreak.
We know that the child care sector, like many others, is facing significant financial pressures. Child care providers can seek supports for businesses and individuals under the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery Plan.
From protecting health and safety, to jobs and incomes, we will do whatever it takes to get our province and our incredibly resilient people through this.
Ontario Significantly Expanding COVID-19 Testing
To stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government is implementing the next phase of our strategy to significantly expand and enhance testing.
Within the next five days, we’re committing to doubling the number of COVID-19 tests we perform daily. By the end of April we’ll be performing up to 14,000 tests per day. In addition to the ongoing testing of the general public at any of the assessment centres now established across the province, Ontario will be proactively testing several priority groups.
These groups include residents of long-term care and retirement homes, health care workers, first responders, Indigenous communities, specific vulnerable populations and more.
This will help to identify cases early, contain them and prevent putting more people at risk. This testing strategy follows extensive efforts to expand Ontario’s lab testing capacity, which helped to quickly eliminate a backlog of approximately 10,000 people within less than two weeks. To date, Ontario has conducted over 94,000 tests.
These new efforts will inform us all on how we can best protect ourselves and our families