November 18, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced an investment of $2.4 million to support an additional 13 Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) across the province. OHTs, 29 of which were announced last year, are a method of delivering care that brings together health care providers and organizations to work as a coordinated team. Including the 13 OHTs announced today, there are now 42 OHTs across Ontario, covering 86% of the province’s population.
Following today’s announcement, Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, also announced updated testing guidance for the long-term care sector, which will come into effect next week.
Premier Ford and Dr. Fullerton were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding COVID-19.
This afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa provided an update on the status of COVID-19 in the City of Toronto.
Announcement of 13 New OHTs
This afternoon, the Ontario government announced an investment of $2.4 million to support 13 new OHTs, bringing the total number of OHTs in the province to 42, which cover 86% of Ontario’s population.
OHTs provide access to 24/7 coordinated care and help Ontario patients more easily navigate the healthcare system, especially when transitioning from one provider to another, such as between hospitals, home care providers, and long-term care homes.
According to Minister Elliott, OHTs have demonstrated remarkable effectiveness in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. OHTs have played a crucial role in supporting long-term care homes, simplifying the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), helping to establish assessment centres, launching virtual urgent care initiatives, and expanding remote patient monitoring programs.
Updated Testing Guidance for Long-Term Care
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Dr. Fullerton also announced updated testing guidance for the long-term care sector.
Beginning next week, long-term care homes within regions in the Orange – Restrict, Red – Control, and Lockdown levels will require:
- Staff, essential caregivers and support workers who provide direct care to residents to be tested for COVID-19 weekly and show proof of a negative test result.
- Support workers who do not provide direct care for resident to verbally attest to having received a negative COVID-19 test result in the past two weeks.
For long-term care homes within regions in the Green – Prevent and Yellow – Protect levels, testing will continue every two weeks for staff, volunteers, caregivers and visitors.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Public Health Measures in Toronto, Peel and York
Prior to responding to questions from media, Premier Ford addressed the “extremely troubling” COVID-19 numbers in the regions of Toronto, Peel, and York. The Premier added that these regions are on the verge of another lockdown, and that he expects further regional restrictions to be discussed at Cabinet later this week, and announced in the coming days. He emphasized that additional measures are likely to be targeted to COVID-19 hotspots, rather than applied broadly to the entire province.
In response to questions about some Brampton employers refusing to cooperate with public health investigations, and workers showing up for work while symptomatic out of fear for losing their job, Premier Ford urged Ontarians to stay home if exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. He reiterated that the government has passed legislation to ensure that anyone who stays home from work due to COVID-19 will not lose their job.
Speaking to employers, Premier Ford added that there is “no excuse” not to require the use of face coverings in workplaces where employees cannot physically distance. The government will continue to ramp up workplace inspections in COVID-19 hotspots to ensure that employers are in compliance with public health guidelines.
Extended Holiday School Break
Premier Ford was asked about a statement released today by Minister of Education Stephen Lecce which clarified that the government is no longer considering an extended holiday break for schools. In response, Premier Ford explained that the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table determined that the safest plan is for children to remain in school, given the current low levels of transmission within schools.
City of Toronto COVID-19 Update
This afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa provided an update on the spread of COVID-19 within the City of Toronto.
Dr. de Villa highlighted troubling trends related to COVID-19 within Toronto, including:
- On 15 out of 18 days so far this month, the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Toronto has been above 150.
- Toronto’s percent positivity among all COVID-19 tests conducted is 6.2%, up from 5.9% a week ago. The figure is higher for teenagers aged 14 – 17 (7.5%) and young adults aged 18 – 23 (8.2%).
- There have been 5 days so far this month on which more than 500 new cases have been reported in Toronto. All of these days have occurred since November 9th.
Mayor John Tory was clear that more needs to be done to slow the spread of COVID-19 within Toronto, but indicated that the province is best poised to implement further restrictive measures.