COVID-19 Updates:

  • Provincial News

Ontario Continues to Support Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

Ontario also launched a Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System, which provides a clear path forward toward offering Ontarians easier access to standardized, high-quality care and supports in communities across the province. As the government implements this plan, they will continue listening and collaborating with our partners to ensure it works for all Ontarians.

Ontario Providing Support for Industrial and Commercial Electricity Consumers During COVID-19

Through an emergency order passed , the Ontario government is taking steps to defer a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan for the period starting from April 2020. This initiative is intended to provide companies with temporary immediate relief on their monthly electricity bills in April, May and June 2020. The government intends to keep this emergency order in place until May 31, 2020, and subsequent regulatory amendments would, if approved, provide for the deferral of these charges for June 2020 as well.

This relief will prevent a marked increase in Global Adjustment charges due to the low electricity demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Without this emergency order, a small industrial or commercial consumer (i.e., Class B) could have seen bills increase by 15 per cent or more. This emergency order will hold GA rates in line with pre-COVID-19 levels.

Government Launches New Tool to Support Trucking Industry

The Ontario government is offering a new free 511 app which will provide truck drivers immediate access to the information they need to stay safe, fed and rested while delivering essential goods across the province during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Ontario 511 app provides images from over 600 cameras and includes up-to-date highway information on construction, collisions and road closures. It also identifies open rest areas and locations throughout the province that offer food and fuel. The app includes an easy to use map view and features a drive mode that provides hands free audio alerts.   

Ontario Significantly Increases Daily Lab Testing

Ontario has significantly increased testing and contact tracing capacity, allowing health experts to identify cases of COVID-19 and support efforts to stop the spread of the virus in the community, long-term care homes, and other congregate settings. In partnership with Ontario Health, Public Health Ontario, local public health units, and hospital and community laboratories, the Ontario government has developed an integrated laboratory system which has established the province as a national leader in daily testing volumes per capita.

Testing is being carried out in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, and other congregate settings. Once test samples are collected and received from frontline staff, patients, residents and children, labs are providing test results generally within 24 to 48 hours. On May 2, 2020, the province released updated guidance to the health sector to ensure consistency across the province, and to help guide decision-making on the testing of priority population groups.

To date, Ontario has conducted over 342,000 tests, with testing results being made available to patients through the user-friendly online portal. The portal was developed to help ease pressure on frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19.

The new integrated laboratory system will support the province’s health care system and laboratory network far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The provincewide testing network consists of more than 20 organizations and is coordinating and leveraging the diverse expertise located throughout the province. This is being achieved through daily check-ins and processes that address operational needs, such as:

  • Levels of supplies, expected supply consumption per day, inventory replenishment and other supply chain issues
  • Equipment information
  • Technical capacity and advances
  • Test turn-around times and the shifting of test samples to laboratories that have spare processing capacity
  • Ongoing scientific and technical review of test performance
  • Alternative approaches to processing
  • Emerging technology

Ontario has also helped expand the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management. Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 provided $100 million in additional investments for public health units to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including funding to support enhanced contact tracing. This funding enables public health units to hire more personnel.

In addition, Ontario previously issued an emergency order to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing efforts to contain the virus. With the help of volunteers, public health units have been able to expand their capacity to conduct case and contact management ― both of which are critical to stopping the spread of the virus. These include the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province’s website.