COVID-19 Updates:

  • Community Update

Ontario Reduces Financial Barriers to Postsecondary Education

The Ontario government is reducing financial barriers for full-time students attending postsecondary education. Starting today, those most in need can apply to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) for the 2020-21 school year.

For many students, the loans they receive from OSAP are their first major financial commitment. To support a greater understanding of the program and the responsibilities as an OSAP recipient, applicants will be required to complete an information module that highlights basic information about the student assistance program and financial literacy. This is knowledge students will need to make informed financial decisions today, and throughout their lives.

During this unprecedented period, the government is providing a six-month temporary deferral of OSAP loan payments and interest accrual on OSAP loans from March 30-September 30, 2020 to support OSAP borrowers in good standing. The province has also worked with postsecondary institutions to support virtual learning and virtual exams.

The government is now preparing for the 2020-21 school year by working closely with the province’s colleges and universities to ensure students receive the high-caliber education and training they need to obtain rewarding careers. Acting on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Ontario’s postsecondary institutions are developing their plans for the fall term – exploring a range of delivery options depending on the trajectory of COVID-19.

As Ontario Reopens, People Urged to Continue Following Public Health Advice

As the Ontario government carefully and gradually reopens the province, those taking public transit, returning to work or going out shopping are being urged to continue to adhere to public health advice as the best line of defence against COVID-19. To assist the public, the Ministry of Health today released specific recommendations on how to choose, wear and care for appropriate face coverings used in public where physical distancing is not possible, along with additional safety measures for provincial transit agencies.

The details were released today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.

Since the beginning of the outbreak, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has advised people to wash their hands often, stay at home if feeling ill, and practise physical distancing by staying at least two metres apart from anyone outside their household. Now that the province is reopening, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts are recommending that individuals wear a face covering where physical distancing is not possible, such as on public transit or in a small grocery store or pharmacy. In order to assist people and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health released the following face covering recommendations:

  • Wear your face covering safely and snugly to cover your nose and mouth, without any gaps. Ensure your face covering is made of at least two layers of tightly woven material and can be cleaned multiple times without losing its shape;
  • Medical masks, such as surgical and N95 masks, should be reserved for use by health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons such as seeking medical care, picking up medication or groceries;
  • Face coverings should not be placed on or used by children under the age of two; anyone who has trouble breathing; and anyone who is unable to remove it without assistance.

Workers and employers may also consider using face coverings as an additional public health measure in addition to mandatory occupational health and safety measures.

To assist provincial transit agencies in protecting transit staff and riders in this new environment, the Ministry of Health is also recommending the following measures be put in place:

  • Physical distancing of at least two metres by admitting fewer passengers and using physical markers between seats;
  • The use of face coverings, particularly when physical distancing is not feasible;
  • Ensuring the availability of alcohol-based hand rub upon entering and exiting the vehicle;
  • Implementing engineering controls like plexiglass windows between drivers and passengers; and
  • Enhanced cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces.

All Canadians continue to be legally required to self-isolate for 14 days when returning home from international travel.

In the meantime, Ontario and public health experts will carefully monitor the key public health indicators outlined in A Framework to Reopening our Province at each stage of reopening and will adjust public health measures if necessary.

Additional Resources

City of Toronto reopening more than 850 park amenities this week

Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto will open more than 850 park amenities this week, following the Province of Ontario’s amendments to an order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The City of Toronto closed all parks amenities in March, based on public health advice and ahead of the provincial order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the city. 

The City moved quickly Tuesday to open more than 70 off-leash dog parks across Toronto. 

Five BMX locations, 14 skateboard parks and four disc golf locations are opening today. Many parks’ parking lots will also reopen this week at parks across the city. 

Park amenities scheduled to open in time for this upcoming weekend include:  
• picnic shelters 
• more than 300 soccer and multi-use outdoor fields  
• more than 300 baseball diamonds and 
• 150 basketball courts.  

Staff are also preparing more than 600 tennis courts at 185 locations, to begin to open this weekend. The reopening of parks amenities will continue into next week, as staff work with Toronto Public Health to open lawn bowling facilities and outdoor bocce. 

Permits for soccer, multi-use fields and baseball diamonds continue to be cancelled until June 29. Individuals may use outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields for non-team sports, such as walking, running, biking, skateboarding, frisbee, kicking a ball, and low contact racquet sports like tennis, badminton, pickleball and ping pong. Individuals are not permitted to play team sports, such as soccer or baseball, even on fields intended for this purpose unless they are members of the same household. 

Park amenities that continue to be closed include playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment, swimming pools and splash pads. Greenhouses, nurseries and conservatories, High Park Zoo and Riverdale Farm also remain closed. Waterfront parking lots will remain closed for the time being, and High Park will continue to be closed to traffic on the weekends. 

While visiting a park, people must continue to practise physical distancing. Signage is being installed at open park amenity areas to remind users of the importance of physical distancing to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to protect the safety and well-being of all residents. People must always stay two metres (six feet) apart while visiting the City’s parks. If a resident arrives at an amenity that is crowded, they are advised to wait until there is enough space to physically distance or return at another time. 

The City’s COVID-19 Enforcement Team will continue monitoring popular parks across the city to ensure residents are practising physical distancing. Enforcement of the City’s physical distancing bylaw and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act orders is ongoing. 

Residents are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool on the Ontario Ministry of Health website for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 before heading out to use a park amenity. It is available at covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment. If residents do not pass the assessment, they should remain at home and not use park amenities.  

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check toronto.ca/covid-19 for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.