COVID-19 Updates

  • Community Update

Ontario Announces Independent Commission into Long-Term Care

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, issued a statement in response to the impact of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes.

In this statement Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care stated that the government has been clear that a review will be conducted to gather a better understanding of the impacts and responses to COVID-19 in Long-term care homes. 

In addition, an independent commission will be launched into Ontario’s long-term care system come September. Over the next several months, the government will be finalizing details of the commission including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines. 

Ontario Collaborates with Med-Tech Innovation Hub in the Fight Against COVID-19

The Ontario government is working with Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), Canada’s first industry-led hub for med-tech start-ups, to provide non-medical manufacturing companies free support as they retool to provide essential supplies and equipment to health care facilities during COVID-19.  

With this new collaboration, the government will drive innovation in the sector, create jobs and build Ontario’s domestic medical supply chain to ensure the province is as self-sufficient as possible and prepared for a future health crisis.  

Non-medical manufacturing companies that have received funding through the Ontario Together Fund, or a Purchase Order with the Province of Ontario, can access MIX members’ medical advisory services, including assistance navigating regulatory hurdles and increasing efficiencies. By taking advantage of these opportunities, companies can accelerate the delivery of much needed medical supplies and products to the front lines.

To support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal and help businesses retool their operations, the government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund. All submissions received through the portal are being reviewed and prioritized to focus on solutions that can respond to where the need is greatest and can be implemented quickly. 

Health and Safety Top Priority as Schools Remain Closed

The Ontario government is protecting the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 outbreak by keeping schools closed for the rest of this school year. This decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children. At the same time, the government is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year, the gradual reopening of child care, and the opening of summer day camps subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.

All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.

Later this summer, the government will announce a plan to strengthen learning and safety protocols to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year. That plan will be bolstered by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program that will allow all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may transpire in the coming months.

Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the ProvinceEmergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers. A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario’s youngest learners and their staff.

Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020. 

The province also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan to ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.

To support at-home learning, the government is leveraging all tools, resources, technologies and services to assist school boards deliver equitable and effective learning through access to technology and Internet connectivity, especially for students in rural and remote parts of Ontario. To help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario has worked to identify and make available low-cost, high-impact solutions that can significantly improve the Learn at Home experience now and into the future. Access to digital learning resources, supports for special education needs and mental health, as well as Internet connectivity and access to devices have all been identified by school boards and other stakeholders as urgent needs during the current school closure period. These organizations and businesses were identified through a call for proposals on the Ontario Together website between March 31, 2020 and April 21, 2020.

Canada responds to humanitarian crises with funding to the world’s most vulnerable

In the face of rising humanitarian needs, now in the context of a global COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for Canada to continue supporting its partners in carrying out their life-saving work around the world to help those in communities affected by conflict and suffering from acute food insecurity.

Canada’s support will help address the needs of millions of vulnerable people by providing food assistance; life-saving health care, including sexual and reproductive health and sexual and gender-based violence services; safe drinking water; sanitation and hygiene facilities; and shelter and protection services.

Canada’s humanitarian assistance is in line with its Feminist International Assistance Policy, which addresses the specific needs and priorities of people in vulnerable situations, particularly women and girls.

Support for Community Organizations Helping Canadians

Canadian charities and non-profit organizations are on the frontlines. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for their services is now greater than ever before and they are doing more with fewer donations and fewer volunteers.

The federal government is working with the United Way Centraide Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada to disburse the $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund. These trusted partners will each post information on eligibility criteria and how to apply on their respective websites.

Community-based organizations from across the country will be able to apply for funding to support a variety of activities, such as:

  • increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications;
  • providing transportation services, like accompanying or driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments;
  • scaling up help lines that provide information and support;
  • providing training, supplies and other required supports to volunteers so they can continue to make their invaluable contributions to the COVID-19 response; and
  • replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences or the Internet.

The federal government will also work with Tropicana Community Services, the Black Business Initiative, and Le Groupe 3737 to disburse investments. Once fully established as intermediaries, these organizations will launch their own funding calls seeking proposals from grassroots organizations from across Canada for organizational capacity building projects before the end of 2020.

Government of Canada supports over 500 women’s shelters and sexual assault centres during the COVID-19 pandemic 

The Government of Canada is supporting Canada’s most vulnerable people during these times of uncertainty. This includes taking critical measures and making new investments to support shelters that provide a safe space for women fleeing violence and their families, and to ensure the continuing resilience of organizations assisting survivors of sexual assault. On April 4, 2020 the Government of Canada announced up to $40 million through Women and Gender Equality Canada for women fleeing gender-based violence.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s shelters and sexual assault centres across the country required support to manage demand, and these needs have increased significantly over the last few weeks. During these exceptional times, additional resources are needed so that organizations can continue to provide desperately needed support to some of Canada’s most vulnerable.

To meet these needs, the Government of Canada provided $20.54 million to Women’s Shelters Canada which has, to date, distributed funding to 422 violence against women shelters across Canada. Another $3 million was provided to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, which has, to date, provided funding to 89 sexual assault centres across the country. An additional $6.46 million was given directly to the Government of Quebec and is flowing to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres in the province.

The Government of Canada’s emergency funding ensures the continuity and sustainability of services provided by these organizations, supporting their efforts to adjust to the evolving needs of survivors, while facing sudden and unexpected changes to everyday operations. The many dedicated organizations supported by these investments include Inasmuch House in Hamilton, Ontario, which will keep crisis lines and emergency shelter services open to survivors, Miramichi Emergency Centre for Women in Miramichi, New Brunswick, which will adapt their shelter to accommodate self-isolation procedures, Saskatoon Interval House in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, which will continue ensuring safe accommodations for families, and South Okanagan Women in Need Society in Penticton, British Columbia, which will purchase new equipment to connect remotely with survivors.

These and many other inspiring organizations supported by the Government of Canada have shown outstanding dedication, perseverance and creativity in their work of supporting survivors of violence in a difficult and unpredictable time. For a full list of organizations receiving funding, click here.