On June 11, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that the province will allow for the gradual resumption of visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings, beginning June 18th.
Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, and Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Todd Smith.
Earlier today, the Ontario and federal governments jointly announced a $57-million investment in the Digital Main Street platform, which will help small businesses in Ontario enhance their online presences as they reopen and recover from COVID-19.
This morning, Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, and Associate Minister of Transportation, Kinga Surma, released comprehensive safety guidance for public transit agencies as the province reopens and more people return to work.
Resumption of Visits in Long-Term Care and Residential Care Settings
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that Ontario will gradually resume visits to long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other residential care settings, beginning June 18.
For all visits to congregate living settings, physical distancing will be required. Visitors will be required to be screened before every visit, as well as provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous two weeks. Face coverings must be worn during visits.
Guidelines for visits are as follows:
- In long-term care, only outdoor visits will be allowed. These visits will be limited to one person per resident each week.
- In retirement homes, indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas will be allowed. Visits may also occur in resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained.
- In other residential care settings, outdoor visits of two people at a time will be allowed.
In order to welcome visitors, long-term care, retirement homes, and other residential care settings must not be in outbreak. They must also have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and safety procedures, and must maintain high standards of infection prevention and control.
Premier Ford reminded Ontarians that these settings remain vulnerable to outbreaks and emphasized that we must remain vigilant in order to protect residents from COVID-19. He said that the decision on whether or not to allow visits will ultimately be left up to individual homes, once the above criteria have been met.
In response to questions about Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) support in Ontario’s long-term care homes, Dr. Fullerton confirmed that discussions are ongoing in order to keep CAF personnel in the hardest-hit homes for as long as is necessary. The military support was originally set to end tomorrow, June 12th.
Helping Ontario Small Businesses Go Digital
Earlier today, the Ontario and federal governments jointly announced a $57-million investment in the Digital Main Street platform. This funding, $50-million from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and $7.65-million from the Government of Ontario, will help Ontario small businesses move online as they reopen and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Currently, only about 60 per cent of Ontario’s small businesses have a website, and only seven per cent have an online payment solution. The investment announced today will help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presences, and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
- shopHERE powered by Google will hire highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves;
- Digital Main Street Grant, a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association to help main street small businesses be more effective digitally by adopting new technologies and embracing digital marketing.
- Future-Proofing Main Street, which will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support to help existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector.
In addition to the three programs above, the Toronto Region Board of Trade Recovery Activation Program will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. This program will receive $7.7-million from today’s announcement and, as a result, will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
Public Transit Safety Guidance
Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, and Associate Minister of Transportation, Kinga Surma, announced comprehensive safety guidance for public transit agencies as the province reopens and more people return to work.
The guidance document was developed in consultation with health and transit officials in order to protect employees and passengers of public transit agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Best practices and tips to help stop the spread of COVID-19 on public transit include:
- Maintaining physical distance between people whenever possible;
- Highly recommending that passengers wear face coverings or non-medical masks when taking transit. This measure has been implemented by transit agencies in Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, and Ottawa which will require face coverings on public transit;
- Practicing proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- Installing physical barriers between drivers and passengers;
- Using physical markers between seats;
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects.