On May 9, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks Jeff Yurek announced that as of May 11, Ontario will open most provincial parks with the exception of camping, playgrounds and beaches. Premier Ford and Minister Yurek were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott.
This morning, the Ontario government also announced a partnership with federal and municipal governments to support licensed child care providers to ensure they remain sustainable and ready to open when parents return to work, as well as an emergency order to allow voluntarily redeployment of school board employees to congregate care settings.
Following the announcement, Premier Ford and Ministers Yurek and Elliott responded to questions from the media.
Announcement on Provincial Parks
On Monday, May 11, 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves across the province will open, and the remaining 115 will open on the following Friday, May 15, for limited day-use activities. At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds, and beaches continue to be closed.
Announcement on allowance of voluntarily redeployment of school board employees to congregate care settings
Under the emergency order, school boards would be authorized to develop and implement staff redeployment plans. Voluntarily redeployed staff would maintain their employment relationship with the school board and would continue to receive their compensation and other employment benefits. They would also be eligible for the provincial government’s pandemic pay and emergency child care.
Announcement on Child Care Centres
Today, the province announced support for fixed operating costs for eligible child care and EarlyON Centres, while prohibiting providers to charge parent fees while the Emergency Order is in effect. Additional aspects of the plan include:
- Direct and rapid funding delivery through municipal service managers for centres that currently receive funding;
- A straightforward application process for child care centres that do not currently receive provincial funding by allowing them to apply directly to the Ministry of Education;
- Direction that all child care centres will be required to maximize all available support under Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including staffing costs retroactively to March 15, 2020, in addition to federal-provincial rental subsidy supports;
- Red tape reduction and cost savings by waiving all child care licensing applications, renewals and revision fees;
- Automatic extension of child care licenses set to expire during the emergency period; and
- Protecting existing base funding for licensed home child care agencies, and regular funding and wage enhancement grant funding for licensed home child care providers who have remained active during the emergency closure.
Highlights from Media Availability:
During the media availability, Minister Elliott was asked about any update to the 30-day prescription limit currently practiced by Ontario pharmacies. Minister Elliott indicated that the province is working on an imminent solution and are aware of the burden this has placed on seniors. Minister Elliott predicted the shortage of drugs will begin to subside by June. They plan to support those impacted until they see the shortage subside and then lift the 30-day policy.
In response to a question related to the outbreak of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, the Premier reiterated the province’s plan to do a complete review of the system. He also indicated his desire to see support from the federal government on this issue.
Premier Ford also informed media that an announcement will be coming from Education Minister Stephen Lecce next week regarding the remainder of the school year.