COVID-19 Update for March 31

This page was last updated at 1:20pm March 31st. For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation please visit: Ontario.ca/coronavirus

There’s a lot of anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, and how it has been affecting everyday life. But I'm proud of how our neighbourhood has come together to support one another, lend a hand, and keep each other safe by simply staying home.

Do your part, please stay home!

 

 

Please know, that I continue to work tirelessly with my colleagues 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.

Here is an update on new actions taken since March 17th:

For a list of actions taken before March 17th please see: https://www.stanchompp.ca/covid_19_update_for_march_17

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

Elementary, Secondary & Post-Secondary Education

Today, Premier Ford, Minister Lecce, Minister Romano and Minister Elliott announced that school and child care centres will remain closed to protect the health and safety of students and staff. Public schools will remain closed to teachers until Friday, May 1, 2020, and to students until Monday, May 4, 2020. Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed until April 13, according the Declaration of Emergency. The Premier and Minister also announced the government is launching the second phase of Learn at Home to ensure continuity of learning.

 

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.

To support student borrowers during this difficult period, OSAP 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.  

 

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.

Declaration of Emergency Extended

On March 30th, 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.

The Ministry of Health put out a public letter strongly urging those over the age of 70 self-isolate on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The Ontario government announced several measures to ensure seniors stay safe by providing them with their essential needs so they can stay home.

To help seniors who are self-isolating, we are investing:

  • $10 million dollar investment to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors.
  • $20M to increase infection control and active screening procedures, in addition to our $243M already committed.
  • $243M to long-term care for 24/7 screening, additional staff and cleaning

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

Measures to Stop Price Gouging

On March 28th, Premier Ford announced new penalties combat price gouging and hold offenders accountable for raising prices significantly on necessary goods.

Necessary goods include:

  • Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections
  • Non-prescription medication for treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus
  • Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans
  • Personal hygiene products including soap products and paper products.

These new measures are effective immediately and apply to those who have increased prices on these goods since March 17, 2020, the day Ontario declared a State of Emergency. To report price gouging, please click here.

Public Gatherings Limited to 5 People

The limit of public gatherings of people has been reduced from 50 to 5. These new measures follow the advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams and other leading public health officials across the province. Organized public events include parades, events (including weddings), social gatherings and communal services within places of worship. This order would not apply to essential workplaces and any members of a single household who are gathered at their regular place of residence. Funerals will be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.

Allowing Takeout and Delivery of Alcohol

On March 26th, effective immediately, Ontario allowed takeout and delivery of alcohol with a food order from licensed restaurants/bars, including through a third party delivery service. All active liquor licensees may immediately begin offering this service if they choose and there is no application process or fee required. The holder of the liquor sales licence is accountable for the responsible sale and delivery of alcohol. This includes making sure the person to whom the order is delivered is at least 19 and is not intoxicated. The licensee or its staff involved in the delivery of alcohol must have successfully completed Smart Serve training. In instances where the delivery is being carried out by a third party on behalf of the licensee, Smart Serve certification is required by April 25, 2020.

The Ontario 2020 Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

On March 25th, Minister Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update). Our government's action plan is a first step in our response to COVID-19 and includes $17 billion in additional resources for the healthcare system and direct support for people and jobs.

$10 B     In support people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, job protections and household budgets.

$3.7 B     In support for people and jobs.

$3.3 B     In support for healthcare. 

________________________
     $17 Billion

 

Our plan includes historic levels of prudence. We have set aside $1 billion in our COVID-19 contingency fund, as part of the additional health care investments, an unprecedented $2.5 billion reserve as well as an increased contingency fund of $1.3 billion to provide continued flexibility to respond to changing global circumstances. Our plan includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources to protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario. Today’s economic and fiscal update is the first phase in our government’s plan to respond to and address the COVID-19 outbreak, and ensure the necessary resources are in place to protect the health of Ontario’s people and economy. For more information, please click here.

Emergency Relief for Electricity Consumers

On March 24th, our government announced a $165 million dollar investment to provide immediate relief for Ontario’s time-of-use electricity consumers. In other words, time-of-use electricity prices will be held to the “off-peak” price of 10.1 cents/kWh for 24 hours a day for the next 45 days. No action is required by electricity consumers: this change will happen automatically for everyone paying time-of-use rates (TOU) effective Tuesday, March 24, 2020.

Closure of Non-Essential Businesses

On March 23rd, Premier Ford ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential businesses based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The closures are enforced from March 24th at midnight for the next 14 days. The businesses listed as essential are necessary to ensuring the health and safety of all Ontarians. Click here to view a comprehensive list of essential businesses. Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Increased Funding for Vulnerable Ontarians

$200 million in social services relief will be funded by the Ontario government to protect the health and safety of our province’s most vulnerable people, including those who live in poverty, are homeless or unemployed. The Social Services Relief Fund provides additional resources directly to individuals and families in financial crisis, and municipalities delivering critical social services.

 

Access to Emergency Assistance under Ontario Works are being expanded to support individuals who may be ineligible for federal financial support, or awaiting further details. This is available for individuals not already on social assistance, with limited income, assets or credit who are in a crisis or an emergency situation. For those currently receiving social assistance who need increased support, we are expanding discretionary benefits, making funds for extraordinary needs more flexible and accessible, while at the same time ensuring there is no disruption to current assistance.

Childcare for Frontline Healthcare Workers

On March 22nd, Minister Lecce and Minister Elliott announced that our government is ensuring frontline health care workers – doctors, nurses and paramedics, firefighters, police, and correctional officers – will be able to access safe, local emergency child care. The child care centres will be required to follow existing health and safety requirements, including advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and have a plan in place to protect staff and youth from COVID-19. Once emergency child care centres open, a list of locations will be made available on ontario.ca/coronavirus.

Ontario Together: Encouraging the Private-Sector to Help in the Fight Against COVID-19

On March 21st, Premier Doug Ford joined Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Christine Elliott, Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance and Flavio Volpe, President, Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) launched Ontario Together, a new website that will help businesses and their employees work with the government to meet the challenges of COVID-19. This initiative will remove barriers allowing Ontario’s manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs. 

First Phase of the Learn at Home Program

On March 20th, Premier Ford, Minister Elliott and Minister Lecce launched the first phase of Learn at Home/Apprendre à la maison, a new online portal that will provide resources for families so students can continue their education while schools are closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Learn at Home offers all students high-quality, made-in-Ontario math and literacy resources, created by Ontario-certified educators, in both English and French. Bilingual materials will continue to be added on a regular basis to provide new and compelling content throughout this period.

TVO Kids offers educational programming throughout the day for school-aged children. Check out their broadcast schedule here to what is on and when.

Mathify provides real-time homework help led by OCT educators for students between grades 6-10, six days a week, including weekdays from 9AM ET – 9PM ET. The Government worked in concert with TVO to expand Mathify beyond the existing grades 7-10, to now include grade six.

Protecting Workers

On March 19th, the Ontario government reconvened for an emergency sitting and passed:

  1. The Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2020 to provide job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario. The legislation will also make it clear employees cannot be required to show sick notes.
  2. The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 which ensures that for the near future, the delivery of goods to Ontario’s businesses and consumers isn’t impacted by municipal noise by-laws that may unintentionally be impeding such deliveries when they are most urgently needed. The legislation also gives municipalities the ability to fully conduct Council, local board and committee meetings electronically when faced with local and province-wide emergencies, empowering the government’s municipal partners to respond quickly when in-person meetings cannot be held.

Extending Licences, Permits and Health Cards

Our government has also extended validation periods for licences, permits and health cards that expired as of March 1, to reduce in-person visits. We want to assure Ontarians that no driver's licence applicant will lose test fees as result of a last-minute cancellation or not attending DriveTest or as a result of a DriveTest interruption in service. In addition to the road test fees, we will also be waiving the current "Fail to Keep Appointment" penalty fee.

Suspension of Residential Evictions

The Ministry of the Attorney General suspended the enforcement of residential evictions until ordered otherwise by the court. Tribunals Ontario have suspended issuing new eviction orders until further notice. Sheriff's offices have postponed scheduled enforcement of current eviction orders.

Tenants who can pay their rent must do so, to the best of their abilities. However, tenants cannot be forced to leave their homes if they can’t pay their rent on April 1st. Tenants that are having challenges paying rent due to the impacts of COVID-19 should speak with their landlords about possible deferral of rent payment or agreeing to other payment arrangements. If a tenant has been locked out their unit or if they’re being threatened with eviction should contact our Rental Housing Enforcement Unit by calling 1-800-772-9277.

We’re calling on landlords to be as flexible as possible when it comes to collecting rent at this time when many Ontarians are struggling. We also want ensure that Ontarians are aware that the Federal government is implementing a number of measures to provide financial assistance to Canadians, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit of $2,000/month for eligible Ontarians. Please click here for more information.

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