COVID-19 Updates:

  • Provincial News

Declaration of Emergency Extended While Ontario Gradually Reopens the Economy

The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This additional time will ensure the province has the necessary tools and health care capacity to contain COVID-19, while gradually reopening businesses, services, and amenities safely.

Passed during a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature on May 12, 2020, the Declaration of Emergency has been extended until June 2. The declaration will allow Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders, such as restricting retirement and long-term care home employees from working in more than one facility and prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people. Since the emergency was first declared on March 17, the government has taken over 150 actions to help protect individuals, families, and businesses from the impacts of COVID-19.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The House also passed the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020, which will help people conduct business while practising physical distancing by:

  • Providing authority to address in-person attendance rules for school board trustees’ meetings in regulation. This would provide the flexibility in certain emergency situations to allow trustees to meet virtually during school closures;
  • Enabling corporations to call and hold meetings virtually, as applicable, and extending the time period in which annual meetings must be held in specific circumstances;
  • Allowing designations of a beneficiary to be provided electronically for Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Locked-in Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Tax-Free Savings Accounts;
  • Allowing electronic filing of business registration documents, and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of business registration documents and e-signatures;
  • Allowing for regulations to set out the parameters for remotely commissioning or notarizing a document;
  • Extending, on a one-time basis for 2020, the legislated four-year period during which a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) election is mandated to be held to give more time to support remote voting.

Ontario Takes Steps to Better Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The Ontario government has adopted an emergency order allowing the province to issue a mandatory management order for a long-term care home struggling to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak. This order would support the use of rapid, immediate and effective management alternatives to protect residents and staff within a home. The manager could be any person, including a corporation or a hospital.

A long-term care home may require management assistance if they face challenges like a high number of cases among residents or staff, a high number of deaths, an outbreak that has not yet been resolved, significant staffing issues or outstanding requirements from infection prevention and control assessments. Decisions regarding when and where to assign additional management support will be made on a case-by-case basis.

On April 15, 2020, the government announced a COVID-19 Action Plan for Long-Term Care Homes to help prevent the spread of the virus by focusing on additional testing, containment, addressing staffing challenges and securing personal protective equipment.

The province also adopted several emergency orders restricting the movement of staff between multiple homes; enabling the implementation of pandemic premium pay for LTC staff; and enabling the deployment of hospital staff to address staffing shortages and the use of Infection Prevention and Control teams.

In addition, Canadian Armed Forces personnel have been deployed into five long-term care homes to provide support where significant staffing shortages are occurring.

Protecting Ontario’s Children with COVID-19

On May 13, 2020, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued the following statement about multisystem inflammatory vasculitis, which appears to be similar to Kawasaki Syndrome, in children and COVID-19:

“Recent reports in Canada and internationally indicate that there may be an increase in multisystem inflammatory vasculitis, a rare but serious multisystem inflammatory illness that impacts children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

While the link between this inflammatory illness and COVID-19 is not confirmed at this time, we are taking immediate action to better monitor this emerging issue so that we can effectively respond to the illness and protect Ontario’s children.

In consultation with Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, we are updating the case definition of COVID-19 to include multisystem inflammatory vasculitis as an atypical presentation in children. This will support clinicians in making clinical assessments of patients who may have symptoms, including some of the most vulnerable of patients, children.

Some of the symptoms associated with this illness include persistent fever, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as rash. Parents should contact their health care providers immediately if their children are having these symptoms.

While we are being vigilant to monitor any situation that could be related to COVID-19, recent data in Canada indicates that the majority of COVID-19 infections in children are mild and do not require hospitalization. People under the age of 19 make up five per cent of COVID-19 cases and no Canadian children are known to have died.

We will continue to assess the situation as it evolves, including how to track this illness to ensure we have access to appropriate data and information to care for young patients. As we learn more, we will determine if further actions are needed to support our response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of all Ontarians, especially our children.”