The Ontario Government is protecting licensed child care in Ontario during the COVID-19 outbreak by ensuring parents retain access to local licensed child care, as well as EarlyON Child and Family Centres. The government unveiled a plan that, together with federal and municipal partnership, provides supports to licensed child care providers to ensure they remain sustainable and ready to open when parents return to work.
The plan is focused on protecting child care spaces for parents with a time-limited approach that includes:
- support for fixed operating costs for eligible child care and EarlyON Centres, while providers are prohibited from charging parent fees while the Emergency Order is in effect;
- direct and rapid funding delivery through municipal service managers for centres that currently receive funding;
- a straightforward application process for child care centres that do not currently receive provincial funding by allowing them to apply directly to the Ministry of Education;
- direction that all child care centres will be required to maximize all available support under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including staffing costs retroactively to March 15, 2020, in addition to federal-provincial rental subsidy supports;
- red tape reduction and cost savings by waiving all child care licensing applications, renewals and revision fees;
- automatic extension of child care licenses set to expire during the emergency period; and
- protecting existing base funding for licensed home child care agencies, and regular funding and wage enhancement grant funding for licensed home child care providers who have remained active during the emergency closure.
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, issued the following statement to encourage school boards to proceed with celebrations of student achievement subject to health and safety limitations during the COVID-19 outbreak:
“Students have worked incredibly hard this school year, and we know that the COVID-19 outbreak has forced some schools to cancel or delay important milestones to recognize student achievement, such as prom and graduation ceremonies.
Although we are making great efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario, it may still be some time before schools and boards are able to offer the kinds of ceremonies and traditions in the same way they have in previous years.
I spoke directly to many graduating students and their parents. Their stories have moved me to act. I firmly believe Ontario students deserve this positive conclusion to their academic journey, even if ceremonies are delayed.
Despite this uncertainty, I am encouraging boards to reschedule these events based on input from local medical officers of health. In some cases, this might mean facilitating graduation ceremonies and proms during the summer or fall when it is safe to do so.These are important events for all students and their families. While students in Ontario have been incredibly flexible and eager in the transition to Learn at Home, we know that the support of their parents and guardians has been critical in rapidly shifting toward a newer model of learning. Students and parents deserve to celebrate many of these critical milestones — especially graduation ceremonies — and I expect boards to preserve these opportunities to proudly recognize the incredible success and achievement resulting from the hard work of our students.”
Starting May 11, 2020, more people will be returning to work across the province as the Ontario government allows retail stores with a street entrance to offer curbside pickup and delivery. Over the weekend, garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores began offering in-store purchasing. All retailers should follow available safety guidelines in order to protect staff, consumers and the general public during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, provincial parks and conservation reserves will begin opening today with limited access. To start, recreational activities will be restricted to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. People will be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and its health and safety association partners have now released over 80 sector-specific health and safety guidelines, including guidelines for curbside pickup and delivery services. The Ministry of Health has also released a Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces. Business owners should use these guidelines to develop reopening plans that work for their business and protect workers, customers and the general public as the province prepares for the gradual reopening of the economy.
Easing restrictions on retail stores is aligned with the first phase of the government’s Framework for Reopening our Province, Protect and Support, which allows for businesses that can operate safely to do so. The Framework also includes guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces, and sets out the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts are using to advise the government on adjusting or loosening public health measures.