August 19, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, announced the government’s intent to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance tunnelling work on the Eglinton Crosstown West Light Rail Transit (LRT) Extension. The RFP is expected to be issued tomorrow, August 20th, and the tunnelling contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.
Premier Ford and Minister Mulroney were joined by Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), Kinga Surma, Mayor of Mississauga, Bonnie Crombie, and Metrolinx CEO, Phil Verster.
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 an investment of $149,200 from the Ontario Together Fund to support made-in-Ontario physician scheduling technology.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
When asked for an update on progress made on retrofitting school ventilation systems, as well as the hiring of additional custodians, nurses and bus drivers ahead of the start of the school year, Premier Ford said that the government is “going full steam ahead” on measures to improve the safety of schools. He added that the government will continue to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers unions and will be flexible, as demonstrated by the decision to allow a staggered return to school over the first two weeks (as opposed to only the first week) of the school year.
Premier Ford encouraged school boards to utilize reserve funds to hire as many additional educators as possible to enable smaller class sizes, as well as the use of alternate spaces for teaching, including gyms and community centres.
In response to questions about the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) plan requiring students from kindergarten through grade 12 to wear masks, Premier Ford admitted that he thought this would be difficult to enforce in younger grades. While the government followed the advice of medical experts who recommended mask use only for students in older grades, Premier Ford said that he would support any school board that decided to mandate masks for all grades.
COVID-19 Restrictions on Hospital Visits
In response to questions about restrictions on hospital visits, particularly for patients in palliative care, Premier Ford said that he believes families should be permitted to visit loved ones in the hospital on their final days.
Investment in Made-in-Ontario Physician Scheduling Technology
Earlier today, the government announced an investment of $149,200 from the Ontario Together Fund in physician scheduling technology created by Ontario-based MetricAid. This scheduling solution helps physicians link their availability and expertise with needed hospitals and clinics.
The investment announced today will enable MetricAid to scale up its scheduling software, including by expanding its range of service to support nursing homes. The technology will help distribute shifts and hours to ensure the needs of doctors, patients and clinics are met. Its expansion will improve patient wait times and will optimize physician shift distribution.