COVID-19 Updates

  • Provincial News

As of April 9, 2020

Ontario Creates Partnership with Volunteer Hub to Help Seniors

 The Government of Ontario is partnering with SPARK Ontario to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak.

SPARK Ontario is the province’s first bilingual volunteer hub designed to direct volunteers to where they are needed most. The needs of each community vary, but groups across the province are looking for volunteers to help deliver food or medicines, run errands or check-up on seniors and the most vulnerable by phone or email while they self-isolate.

Volunteer organizations can visit www.sparkontario.ca to post volunteer opportunities available in their communities. Ontarians interested in volunteering are encouraged to check the website for opportunities to make a difference where they live.

Seniors, people with disabilities, and others in need of assistance can also be connected to essential services in their community at any time by visiting www.211ontario.ca or by dialing 211 or 1-877-330-3212 (toll free). TTY service is also available by dialing 1-888-340-1001.

Ontario is taking action to protect the health and safety of seniors and people with disabilities during this outbreak. That includes an additional $20 million investment over two years to better protect seniors and staff at retirement homes, and an investment that will support the delivery of foods and medicines to seniors and people with disabilities to ensure they can stay home and stay healthy.

Ontario Businesses Stepping Up to Fight COVID-19

The Ontario Together web portal has received over 14,000 submissions offering to provide everything from hand sanitizer, to gowns and coveralls, to masks and face shields, to testing equipment and ventilators.

More than 7,500 emergency supply submissions have generated nearly $90 million in purchases of critical equipment and supplies. These include:

  • 5.1 million gloves
  • 20 million masks
  • 250,000 face shields
  • 50,000 units of clip-on hand sanitizer for OPP officers

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.

Ontario Significantly Expanding COVID-19 Testing  

To stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government is implementing the next phase of its strategy to significantly expand and enhance testing. In addition to the ongoing testing of the general public at any of the 100 assessment centres now established across the province, Ontario will be proactively testing several priority groups, including:

  • Hospital inpatients;
  • Residents of long-term care and retirement homes;
  • Health care workers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics, and first responders, including police and firefighters;
  • Remote, isolated, rural and Indigenous communities;
  • Other congregate living centres, including homeless shelters, prisons and group homes;
  • Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant persons, newborns and cross-border workers; and
  • Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders.

By implementing this strategy, Ontario expects to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15, 2020 and 14,000 by April 29, 2020, at which point overall lab capacity will have been further expanded.

The province has re-established same-day testing results, which are now conveniently accessible to patients through a new user-friendly online portal. This portal will help ease pressure on public health units and frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19. The province is also helping to significantly expand the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management, both of which are critical to stopping the spread of the virus, by enabling the use of volunteers, including retired nurses and medical students.

People who have tested negative for COVID-19 must still follow all precautions, including staying at home except to pick up essential supplies like groceries and prescriptions, and keeping at least two-meters apart from others. While an individual may receive a negative test at a given moment in time, the individual is still able to contract and spread the virus.

Government Introduces COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2 to Help Businesses Keep Canadians in their Jobs

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau introduced in Parliament Bill C-14, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2 which includes additional flexibilities that would provide effective support to those eligible employers that are hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and would help protect the jobs Canadians depend on during these difficult times.

Taking action to protect a strong economy includes taking action to protect jobs. CEWS is a key measure in the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. It provides a strong incentive for employers to pay employees who have been sent home for health and safety reasons or due to lack of work.

The CEWS would apply at a rate of 75% of the first $58,700 earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week, per employee. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy would be eligible, with certain exceptions including public sector entities.

An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy would be based on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to bring employees’ wages to their pre-crisis levels.