September 25, 2020
Today, Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, announced an investment of $741 million in order to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases in Ontario’s health system, while also continuing to reduce backlogs in health services created as a result of the first wave of the pandemic. Today’s announcement is part of the province’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which the government is rolling out this week.
Earlier today, the government also announced tightened public health restrictions, particularly for bars, restaurants, and clubs, in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19.
Keeping Ontarians Safe Pillar #5 – Accelerating Efforts to Reduce Health Service Backlogs
The province is expanding its efforts to reduce backlogs created in Ontario’s health system as a result of the first wave of COVID-19, in order to ensure that these procedures can continue, even as the province enters the second wave of the pandemic.
This afternoon, the government announced an investment of $283.7 million to support additional priority surgeries, including cancer, cardiac, cataract, and orthopedic procedures. The province is also extending the hours for diagnostic imaging, including MRIs and CT scans at health care facilities, in order to accelerate the timeline for patients awaiting these procedures.
In addition, 139 critical care beds and 1,349 other beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities will be added across the province to support more surgical procedures.
Keeping Ontarians Safe Pillar #6 – Preparing for Surges in COVID-19 Cases
In tandem with efforts to ensure that the province continues to address the backlog in surgery procedures, work is also underway to prepare health care facilities for possible surges in cases of COVID-19. The government will invest $457.5 million to increase community capacity, in order to reduce pressure on the health care system ahead of a second wave.
To create additional surge capacity in hospitals while ensuring Ontarians can access routine health services, the province will:
- Expand access to virtual emergency department services and give patients the option of virtual pre- and post-surgery appointments.
- Help up to 850 alternate levels of care patients access the right level of care in a home or community setting.
- Increase home and community care service volumes through a $100 million investment.
Tightened Public Health Restrictions
The Ontario government also announced tightened public health restrictions, particularly for bars, restaurants, and clubs, in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19. The tightened restrictions apply province-wide.
Effective today, September 25th, at 12:01 a.m.:
- Bars, restaurants, and other food and drink establishments must close by midnight.
- All adult entertainment clubs (strip clubs) are closed.
- Businesses and organizations are required to implement screening for workers.
Effective tomorrow, September 26th, at 12:01 a.m.:
- Bars, restaurants, and other food and drink establishments must stop serving alcohol by 11:00 p.m.
Restaurants, bars, and other food and drink establishments will only be permitted to be open for takeout or delivery between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.
Premier Ford did not comment when asked whether affected businesses would be compensated. He added that the decision was made on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and at the request of several mayors who were concerned about bars and nightclubs contributing to the spread of COVID-19.