The Ontario government is allowing more businesses and services to open and getting more people back to work by moving the City of Toronto and Peel Region into Stage 2 on Wednesday. This decision was made in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the local medical officers of health. It is based on positive local trends of key public health indicators, including lower transmission of COVID-19, ongoing hospital capacity, public health capacity to do rapid case and contact management, and a significant increase in testing.
Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health will enter Stage 2 on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. They will join the 31 other public health regions that entered Stage 2 on June 12 and 19, 2020.
Windsor-Essex will remain in Stage 1 and the situation in the region will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis. To ensure the region is able to move forward as soon as it is safe to do so, the province is building on the work completed by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit to date and collaborating with federal and local authorities to support the implementation of a targeted and collaborative response that includes:
- Continuing with proactive targeted testing for agri-food workers, including enhanced on-farm testing;
- Conducting more than 200 Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on-farm inspections and investigations;
- Starting new joint inspections of farms with federal authorities to review current working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers with the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and local public health officials;
- Providing $15 million through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection program, which provides cost-share funding to improve employee and workplace health and safety on farms and in processing facilities. The funding can be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), put up physical barriers, make housing modifications, or provide alternate housing or other measures;
- Translating COVID-19 health and safety guidance documents into Spanish and posting them on Ontario.ca/covidsafety. Additional resources, including webinars and helpful posters, are also available, and will help farmers and other agri-food employers provide safe and healthy workplaces;
- Providing specific funding to Workplace Safety and Prevention Services to deliver resources and consulting services to help farmers and other agri-food businesses provide safe workplaces; and
- Continuing to press the federal government to provide new funding to support priority sectors impacted by COVID-19, including the agricultural sector, as the province reopens and charts a path to economic recovery.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health has also strongly recommended that local medical officers of health use their authority under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to issue class orders to ensure that employers of temporary workers take actions to decrease the risk of transmission of COVID-19 on farms. These actions will ensure:
- All foreign workers self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their arrival, with the resources and supports they need to avoid any contacts with others and notification to public health unit if they have any COVID-19 symptoms;
- All workers coming from any area where there is community transmission have tested negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to beginning work;
- Daily active screening;
- Accurate and updated contact information of permanent, temporary and contract employees available to the public health unit within 24 hours and ensuring employees are assigned to the same group to support effective case management and contact tracing;
- Physical distancing maintained between workers as best as possible and personal protective equipment to be provided based on risk assessment; and
- All legislative requirements to protect worker health and safety are followed.
With this enhanced response, and continued support from the entire Windsor-Essex community, the government is confident Windsor-Essex County Health Unit region will proceed to Stage 2 soon.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will continue to closely monitor the evolving situation in all regions of the province to advise when public health restrictions can be gradually loosened or if they need to be tightened.
Although restrictions are being gradually relaxed in Stage 2, the government is strongly recommending that everyone in Ontario follow public health advice, including physical distancing, wearing a face covering if physical distancing is a challenge, washing hands frequently and thoroughly, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
In Stage 2, additional restrictions will be loosened while emphasizing public health advice, workplace health and safety guidance, and personal and collective responsibilities. More businesses and services will be permitted to open, as well as community, recreational and outdoor spaces. The people and employers of the province must continue to act and work in the ways required to help stop the spread of COVID-19. As part of Ontario’s responsible approach, protections for vulnerable people must remain a top priority throughout the next stages of reopening.
Stage 2 will allow more people to get back to work safely while not overburdening the critical services that support families, workers and Ontario’s economy. Businesses, organizations and public spaces permitted to open or increase service during Stage 2 are strongly recommended to review and implement workplace health and safety guidance available and easy-to-access at Ontario.ca/covidsafety. There are more than 100 guidance documents published by the government and health and safety associations. Throughout reopening, many businesses and organizations across the province have used the government’s guidance to develop their own workplace policies and safety plans.
Find sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public from coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ontario.