COVID-19 Update for April 22

This page was last updated on April 23nd. For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation please visit: Ontario.ca/coronavirus

Most Willowdalers continue to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home. Thank you. I know it's hard but your sacrifice today is saving lives. If you are not already, please stay home unless absolutely essential to leave. Leave your home only to go grocery shopping once a week, or to pick up medication or seek medical attention.

Do your part, please stay home!

The Ontario Government continues to monitor, prevent and respond to the spread of the novel coronavirus. As the situation changes, day by day, hour by hour, our government will continue to monitor the outbreak and escalate our responses as necessary. The health and wellbeing of Ontarians is our government's top priority.

My team and I continue to be available by phone and email to answer questions and connect you with any support or resources you may need during this time. You can reach us at 416-733-7878 or at stan.cho@pc.ola.org

Here is an update on new actions taken since April 6th:

For a list of actions taken before April 6th please see: https://www.stanchompp.ca/covid_19_update_for_april_6

You can also see an updated list of provincial, federal and municipal government supports for people and businesses, and a list of local Willowdale resources by clicking one of the buttons below:

Supports for People     Support for Businesses     Local Resources

Updated COVID-19 Action Plan: Long-Term Care Homes

Yesterday, Premier Doug Ford, Minister Elliott and Minister Fullerton provided an update on the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes. Since this plan was introduced the province has introduced more aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance, deployed specialized teams from hospitals, public health and the home care sector, additional frontline staff, and increased personal protective equipment.

The government has worked swiftly and decisively to provide targeted, on-the-ground support to long-term care homes through the following measures:

  • Assisting 20 long-term care homes, which were previously experiencing outbreaks, to become now outbreak-free. 
  • Increasing testing on both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and residents. To date, approximately 11,600 tests have been completed amongst residents in long-term care.
  • Conducting additional testing of asymptomatic residents and staff outside of the testing guidance at 21 long-term care homes, to help understand the spread of the virus.
  • Setting up a 24/7 Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response Team, which has already helped more than 30 homes by putting in place infection control protocols, resolving staffing issues, and fulfilling Personal Protective Equipment needs.
  • Launching 31 Infection Prevention and Control interventions, which are currently in progress, and with six assessments completed. 
  • Responding to every escalated request for personal protective equipment from long-term care homes within 24 hours through the following measures.
  • Working with hospitals across the province to deploy additional staffing and infection prevention controls in long-term care homes.

Making a formal request to access extra reinforcements from the federal government to fight COVID-19 in Ontario's long-term care homes. This could include personnel and other supports from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Armed Forces. This support would be deployed to five priority long-term care homes.

Launched the Ontario Community Support Program

On April 21st, the Ontario government invested $11 million to help deliver much-needed support to Ontario’s most vulnerable citizens, including seniors and persons with disabilities by delivering meals, medicines and other essentials. The province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program to expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario. The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.

To identify a Meals on Wheels provider in your local community and request service, visit www.ontariocommunitysupport.ca.

Those without Internet access or who require service in a language other than English or French, can dial 211 or 1-877-330-3213 (toll free). TTY service is also available by calling 1-888-340-1001.

Issued the First Doubled GAINS Payment

Issued the first doubled Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments. Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month. This will provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors.

Released COVID-19 Modelling

On April 20th, the Ontario government released updated COVID-19 modelling, which shows that the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve. However, the Chief Medical Officer of Health says emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths. Please click here to read more.

CVOR Renewal Applications Available Online

The Ministry of Transportation has now made Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR) renewal applications available online. Commercial vehicle operators in Ontario are still required to carry a valid CVOR certificate or a copy in their vehicles.

Launched the Rapid Research Fund

On April 18th, the province invested $20 million to support COVID-19 research. By leveraging the strengths of Ontario’s world-class research institutions, postsecondary institutions, industry and non-profit scientific partners this funding will go towards advancing medical research including finding a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

Ontario researchers are encouraged to submit proposals on ways to combat COVID-19 through the new Ontario Together website. Research submissions will be accepted until April 24, 2020.

Ontario Colleges and Universities, research hospitals and institutes have donated lifesaving ventilators and personal protective equipment to help combat COVID-19 and protect frontline workers.

Expansion of Emergency Child Care

On April 17th, our government expanded the list of essential workers eligible to receive emergency child care. 

To accommodate the children of these essential workers, 41 additional emergency child centres will begin to open in the coming days. Please click here to view a list of child care centre locations.

An Emergency Order was issued which will offer support to those providing a variety of critical services including people who assist vulnerable communities, emergency response and law enforcement sector staff, more health and safety workers and certain federal employees. 

Partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple

Partnered with Rogers Communications and Apple to help meet the educational needs of students and families. iPads are being purchased and distributed by Ontario school boards, pre-equipped with free Rogers high-speed wireless data. To date, over 21,000 will be sent to the homes of families in need.

Apple is providing ongoing support in French and English to teachers, parents and students, with a collection of resources to support learning and working from home.

Accelerated the delivery of Internet access, currently on track to be in every high school in Ontario by September 2020 and elementary school by September 2021.

Rogers Communications is working with Ontario school boards to provide high-speed, low-cost internet to subsidized tenants and members of housing partners across Ontario through its Connected for Success program, as well as the Government of Canada Connecting Families initiative. 

New Funding for the Agri-Food Sector

Canada and Ontario are investing up to $1 million in new funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation's supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (the Partnership) the federal and provincial governments will help primary agriculture, food processing companies and grocery retail to recruit and train workers who are vital to keeping the essential food supply chain functioning.

The targeted intake will begin accepting applications on April 17, 2020. Eligible applications will be received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available.

For more information about this targeted application intake or to obtain a program guidebook, email: agpartnership@ontario.ca or call: 1-877-424-1300.

Provided Municipalities and the DSSAB More Flexbility

Provided municipalities and District Social Service Administration Boards with the flexibility to offer reassignments to their staff, including child care workers, by-law enforcement officers, and those who deliver public health services, to where there is local need during the outbreak.

Gave Ambulance Services More Flexibility

Gave ambulance services the flexibility to hire and assign college students who have not yet completed exams or graduated, to provide services appropriate to their competence level and scope of practice.

Expanded Hospital Capacity

On April 16th, the Ontario government has significantly expanded hospital capacity by adding 1,035 acute care beds and 1,492 critical care beds. Of Ontario's 3,504 critical care beds, 2,811 are now equipped with ventilators, up from 1,319 when the outbreak first started.

Enacted pandemic staffing plans to ensure hospitals have the staff available to care for a sudden surge in patients.

Providing Drivers Auto-Insurance Relief

Enabled auto insurance companies to provide temporary insurance premium rebates to drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic and for up to 12 months after the declared emergency has ended.

Extended the Declaration of Emergency

On April 14th, on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and with the approval of the Ontario legislature, the Ontario government extended the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act for a further 28 days (until May 12th). Please click here to view the updated list of essential businesses.

The legislature also passed the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act to amend the Education Act, Planning Act, Development Charges Act, Police Services Act and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act to respond to the concerns of education and municipal stakeholders during the COVID-19 emergency. Please click here to read more.

Secured Critical Medical Equipment and Supplies

On April 13th, our government secured more than 13 million surgical and procedural masks, 200,000 N95 respirator masks, and 38 ventilators have been delivered to Ontario’s pandemic stockpile warehouses to ensure that patients, frontline health care workers and first responders have the critical equipment and supplies they need to protect themselves during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario is providing same-day deliveries to hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes and other facilities to support essential workers in all settings and ensuring supplies and equipment are expedited to those most in need. This includes shipments this past weekend of 6.5 million surgical and procedural masks to over 650 providers across the province to protect our frontline workers, patients and residents.

Alberta announced their commitment to send Ontario 250,000 N95 masks, 2.5 million surgical masks, 15 million surgical gloves, 87,000 safety goggles and 50 ventilators.

Pandemic Threat Response (PANTHR)

On April 12th, the Ontario government took steps to better detect, plan and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak by developing a new health data platform called the Pandemic Threat Response (PANTHR). This new platform will hold secure health data that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the immediate need to analyze the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Extended All Emergency Orders

On April 11th, the government extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until April 23, 2020. This includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price gouging.

Ontario Together Portal Status Update

Thousands of businesses and private citizens have stepped up and offered to help the Ontario government defeat COVID-19. On March 21 Premier Doug Ford launched the Ontario Together web portal appealing to Ontario’s manufacturers, entrepreneurs and innovators to provide essential supplies and equipment to support front line workers in their fight against the pandemic.

To date, the portal has received:

  • Over 14,000 submissions offering to provide everything from hand sanitizer, to gowns and coveralls, to masks and face shields, to testing equipment and ventilators.
  • More than 7,500 emergency supplies leads have been converted into nearly $90 million in purchases of critical supplies and equipment to support staff on the front lines including:
  • 50,000 units of clip-on hand sanitizer for OPP officers
  • 1 million gloves
  • 20 million masks
  • 250,000 face shields.
  • Over 1,200 businesses responded to our first 3 challenges to support the delivery of mental health solutions to vulnerable populations, ensure the strength of our supply chains and deliver financial advice to our small business community. 
  • Over 3,700 ideas have been submitted through the portal on how to address the COVID-19 outbreak: including offers to retool their business to make critical supplies or to deliver goods or services needed at this time.

New Measures to Address Surge Capacity

Introduced new measures to address surge capacity in retirement homes, restrict recreational camping on Crown land and allow the repurposing of existing buildings and temporary structures.

Increasing COVID-19 Testing Capacity

On April 10th, the Ontario government is implementing a new strategy and next phase to significantly expand and enhance COVID-19 testing by proactively testing several priority groups. Ontario expects to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15 and 14,000 by April 29, at which point overall lab capacity will have been further expanded.

In addition to the ongoing testing of the general public at any of over the 100 assessment centres now established across the province, Ontario will be proactively testing several priority groups, including:

  • Hospital inpatients
  • Residents of long-term care and retirement homes
  • Health care workers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics and first responders, including police and firefighters
  • Remote, isolated, rural and Indigenous communities
  • Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant persons, newborns and cross-border workers
  • Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders

The province has re-established same-day testing results, which are now conveniently accessible to patients through a new user-friendly online portal. This portal will help ease pressure on public health units and frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19.

Expanding the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management, both of which are critical to stopping the spread of the virus, by enabling the use of volunteers, including retired nurses and medical students.

Suspending Child Care Fees

An emergency order has been issued, and effective immediately, any child care operators currently charging fees without delivering child care service, can no longer do so. The order also means that parents cannot lose their child care space because they are not paying fees during this period. This will help provide much needed relief for parents during the outbreak.

Launched the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee

On April 9th, our government launched a new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. While the government’s primary focus is on combatting the virus, supporting frontline health care workers and providing immediate relief to people and businesses, this new committee will be developing a plan to stimulate economic growth and job-creation in the weeks and months ahead.

Providing $52 million from the Ontario's Action Plan financial package to better support individuals and families in financial crisis through social assistance. This funding will support those who are not able to access federal assistance to cover needs such as food costs, rent and medicine.

Worked with the federal government to develop the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan that will enable up to $40 billion in lending to help businesses meet cash flow requirements through guaranteed loans.

SPARK Ontario Volunteer Portal

Partnered with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak. Volunteers help to deliver food or medicines, run errands or check-up on seniors and the most vulnerable by phone or email while they self-isolate. We encourage volunteer organizations and people interested in volunteering to visit the SPARK Ontario website and learn more about how you can help Ontarians during this time.

Issued the COVID-19 Provincial Testing Guidance Update

This guidance adds to the initial COVID-19 Public Health Guidance on Testing and Clearance issued March 25, 2020.

Acceleration of Essential Construction Projects

On April 8th, local noise bylaws have been temporarily limited to allow essential construction projects and services related to health care to proceed at any time of the day or night – including new facilities, expansions, renovations and conversion of spaces that could be repurposed for health care space. All other essential construction is permitted from 6 a.m. to 10.p.m, seven days a week. Our changes will help ensure that important health care related construction projects, like expansion of hospitals, are completed during the outbreak. It will also help speed up the building of new facilities needed to provide health services in response to COVID-19.

New Directives for Long-Term Care Homes

The Chief Medical Officer of Health issued an updated directive for long-term care homes to immediately implement that all staff and essential visitors wear surgical/procedure masks at all times for the duration of full shifts or visits in the long-term care home as well as to ask long-term care homes to save and securely store used PPE, including masks. The directive includes rigorous direction for staff and resident cohorting, the limitation of staff workplaces, COVID-19 testing and the latest protocol for outbreak management, among other critical guidance.

Health Workforce Matching Portal

On April 7th, the Ontario government launched a new online toolthe Health Workforce Matching Portal – that will enable health care providers with a range of experience to join the province's response to COVID-19. The portal will efficiently match the availability and skillsets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance.

Employers and interested health care professionals can visit the portal here and create a profile. Once registered, professionals can add their availability and employers can enter their request for support. Registrants will receive an email notification if matched. Approximately 14,000 skilled frontline workers have already signed up on Ontario Health Workforce Matching Portal to get involved and help fight COVID-19.

Questions? Need Help?

My constituency office remains accessible via email: stan.cho@pc.ola.org and phone: 416-733-7878. For everyone’s safety, we are not taking any in-person meetings, walk-ins or appointments. 

We've also compiled a list of government supports for people and businesses, and a list of local Willowdale resources. Check them out here:

Supports for People     Support for Businesses     Local Resources