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Ontario declares state of emergency as COVID-19 cases increase

Tuesday, March 17, 2020 @ 9:55 AM | By Amanda Jerome

As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Ontario, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency under s. 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act in a press conference on March 17.

In his address to the media, Ford stressed that this is “not a provincial shutdown.”

According to a government release, the “following establishments are legally required to close immediately: all facilities providing indoor recreational programs; all public libraries; all private schools as defined in the Education Act; all licensed child care centres; all bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery; all theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and concert venues.”

Ford noted that essential services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, public transit and construction will continue operation.

“We’ve been preparing for every scenario,” Ford said while urging people across the province to stay calm.

According to a government release, “all organized public events of over 50 people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship.”

“These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier,” the release stated.

In the same announcement, Ford declared that Ontario will invest over $300 million to “enhance the province’s response to COVID-19.”

The government said this investment will provide:

  • $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals to assist with the effective treatment of COVID-19 patients both in critical care and medicine beds; 
  • $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province. This includes contact tracing, increased laboratory testing capacity and home testing;
  • $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies and equipment to protect them;
  • $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres, including the creation of a new fund to provide respite care, child care services and other supports as they are needed;
  • $50 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies;
  • $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing, as well as additional cleaning costs;
  • $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures; and
  • $4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.

“There’s no level of support we won’t consider,” Ford added.

The provincial government is not ordering people to stay home because Ford said “we’re not at that stage yet.”

Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told the press conference that the government will continue to assess the situation to create protective measures for corrections workers and inmates. She noted prison transfers have been limited.

“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province,” said Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, in a statement.

“We know these measures will affect people’s every day [sic] lives, but they are necessary to ensure that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people. We’re working with all partners across the system, from public health to hospitals and community care, to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario,” she added.

For updates on how the province is preparing for COVID-19, see this website

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