October 20, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce announced an investment of $550 million to build 20 new schools and eight permanent school additions across the province in 2020-21. As a result of this investment, 16,000 new student learning spaces and 870 licensed child care spaces will be created.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, the Ontario government extended most orders in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act until at least November 21, 2020. The province is also amending emergency orders applying to public health regions in modified Stage 2, in order to permit dance classes in Toronto, Peel, Ottawa, and York.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Provincial Testing Capacity
In response to questions regarding why the province completed only about 24,000 tests yesterday, Premier Ford reassured Ontarians that the province now has capacity to complete upwards of 50,000 tests per day. According to Premier Ford, the low number of tests completed yesterday was a result of Ontarians not coming in for testing, rather than capacity issues. He encouraged anyone who is symptomatic to be tested for COVID-19.
Extension of COVID-19 Orders and Amendments to Orders for Modified Stage 2
Earlier today, the Ontario government extended most orders in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act until at least November 21, 2020. This extension will ensure that the government continues to have the necessary tools to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to respond rapidly where necessary.
All orders in effect under the Reopening Ontario Act have been extended by 30 days, with the following exceptions:
- Electricity Price for Regulated Price Plan Consumers has only been extended until October 31, 2020. Beginning November 1, time of use customers will have the option of choosing between time of use electricity rates or tiered pricing.
- Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record will expire on October 22, 2020. Changes to the Personal Health Information Protection Act recently came into force, which make this order unnecessary.
In addition, Ontario will be amending emergency orders for regions in modified Stage 2, including Toronto, Peel, Ottawa, and York. Amendments will permit classes that are “delivered for the purpose of teaching or training amateur or professional dancers in dance techniques.” This amendment applies to dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, and ballroom which can be taught and practised safely with public health measures in place. The amendment does not apply to dance classes, such as Zumba, that fail to meet the specified criteria.
When asked for clarification on the rationale for the amendment which permits some dance classes, but not classes at small fitness studios, Premier Ford explained that the dance studios permitted to reopen have stringent public health measures in place, including cohorting students to limit contacts, similarly to student cohorts in Ontario schools.
Regulations have also been amended to remove restrictions on in-person teaching and instruction for fire departments.