November 17, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced an investment of $37 million to significantly expand mental health services across Ontario’s justice system. The funding, which is part of the government’s Roadmap to Wellness, will be used to expand mobile crisis teams across the province, hire additional staff, and support the creation of tailored programs for First Nations communities.
Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibollo, and Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding the ongoing response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, the government began accepting applications from municipalities for the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Steam.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Extended Holiday Break for Schools
Premier Ford was asked about reports that Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, is considering an extended holiday break for Ontario schools. Premier Ford confirmed that Minister Lecce would be discussing this idea with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, but noted that a final decision has not yet been reached.
Limits on Indoor Dining
Minister Elliott was asked about the 10-person limit for indoor dining within public health units in the Red – Control zone. While she agreed that the limit on patrons is unfair to restaurant owners, she noted that because there is evidence of a link between COVID-19 transmission and bars and restaurants, this measure is required to prevent broader closures.
Holiday Season Guidance
Premier Ford and Minister Elliott were asked about a comment made by Dr. Williams yesterday, that he hoped all public health regions in the province would be re-categorized at the Green – Prevent level by the upcoming holiday season. Premier Ford admitted that while we will all have a better idea of what to expect over the holiday season in the next two to three weeks, he is urging Ontarians to be cautious.
Minister Elliott added that she doesn’t believe all of Ontario, particularly the hotspots, should count on being at the Green – Prevent level by the holidays. She noted that Dr. Williams will issue more guidance for the holiday season in the coming weeks.
Test Positivity Rates in Hotspots
In response to questions about high test positivity rates of close to 20% in portions of Brampton and Toronto, Minister Elliott outlined a number of supports that the government is providing to regions at the Red – Control level. These include mobile testing, limited walk-in COVID-19 testing availability at assessment centres, and additional case and contact management support.
COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure Stream
Earlier today, Ontario began accepting applications from municipalities for the Local Government sub-stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream.
The Local Government sub-stream of ICIP’s COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream includes up to $250 million to help municipalities address critical local infrastructure needs. Each municipality is allocated a certain amount of funding for which they can apply, with a minimum allocation of $100,000.
Eligible projects include infrastructure to support physical distancing, social infrastructure, active transportation, and disaster mitigation projects.