August 20, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones announced the hiring of an additional 200 Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers. This recruitment initiative responds to recommendations made by the OPP Independent Review Panel in its final report released in March.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding the province’s response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, the government announced the extension of current orders under the Reopening Ontario Act until September 22.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
In response to questions about whether the government planned to undertake proactive COVID-19 testing in schools located in regions with higher rates of COVID-19, Premier reiterated that the government’s priority in to ensure the safety of schools when children return in September. Nurses are being sent to COVID-19 hotspots for proactive testing efforts and the testing system is prepared to manage spikes in demand ahead of the school year.
When asked about the driver recruitment challenges currently being faced by the Ontario School Bus Association, Premier Ford said that it is “absolutely critical” to move forward with hiring school bus drivers by expediting the licensing process.
Extended Construction Hours
In response to questions about the extension of construction hours to permit 24-hour construction of essential infrastructure and all other construction between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., Premier Ford admitted that he understands the frustration many people are feeling due to increased construction noise. He added that COVID-19 created a tremendous construction backlog and the extended construction hours are necessary to get homes built and ensure that shifts for construction workers can be staggered due to COVID-19 precautions. Once construction is caught up from the backlog caused by the pandemic, the government will look at rolling back this measure.
Extension of Orders Under Reopening Ontario Act
Earlier today, the government announced the extension of current orders under the Reopening Ontario Act until September 22. The extensions will ensure that the government continues to have the flexibility to address risks related to the pandemic, and that measures to protect Ontarians remain in place.
The extension of orders until September 22 does not apply to the following orders, which will end earlier:
- The Education Sector order will end on August 31. As a result, school boards will no longer be permitted to redeploy staff to assist in congregate care settings or at COVID-19 assessment centres.
- The Limitation Periods order will end on September 14. As a result, the suspension of limitation periods indicated by statues, regulations, rules, by-laws, or government orders from March 16 will be lifted.