December 18, 2020, Ontario revealed the 17 additional hospital sites which will be tasked with administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the coming weeks. Today’s announcement represents a continuation of the first phase of the government’s three-phase immunization plan, which began this week with a pilot program at Toronto’s University Health Network and The Ottawa Hospital.
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford made a brief announcement to confirm that the public health units of Toronto and Peel would remain in lockdown beyond Monday, December 21 (the originally scheduled end date of the 28-day lockdown in these regions). Premier Ford did not provide an update on whether stricter measures would be imposed for regions in lockdown, or whether the government planned to move additional public health units to lockdown. More information concerning the rest of the province will be announced at 1:00pm on Monday.
Also this afternoon, the Ministry of Long-Term Care approved a Voluntary Management Contract, allowing Cambridge Memorial Hospital to provide enhanced support to Cambridge Country Manor long-term care home. The contract will remain in effect for 90 days and may be extended, if necessary.
Ontario also announced that the Supporting Local Restaurants Act, 2020 will come into effect tomorrow, December 19, at 12:01 a.m. As a result, food delivery companies will be required to limit the rates they charge to 20% for each transaction, with no more than 15% for commission for food delivery services. This requirement will apply in all areas where indoor dining is prohibited, in order to support small and independent restaurants.
Earlier today, the government announced up to $3.8 million to help the Shaw Centre overcome the impacts of COVID-19, as well as $332,000 from the Ontario Together Fund for Mississauga-based McRae Imaging for the production of inclusive face masks featuring a lip-reading lens.
Yesterday, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton announced two initiatives, to support workers impacted by COVID-19 and to help businesses avoid costly payouts.
Announcement of 17 Additional Vaccination Sites
This afternoon, Ontario announced that the following 17 hospital sites will join Toronto’s University Health Network and The Ottawa Hospital in administering the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine over the coming weeks:
- Windsor Regional Hospital
- London Health Sciences Centre
- Grand River Hospital (Kitchener-Waterloo)
- Halton Healthcare
- Hamilton Health Sciences
- William Osler Health System (Brampton)
- Trillium Health Partners (Mississauga)
- Southlake Regional Health Centre (Newmarket)
- Mackenzie Health (Richmond Hill)
- Humber River Hospital (Toronto)
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Toronto)
- Toronto East Health Network
- Unity Health Toronto
- Scarborough Health Network
- Lakeridge Health (Durham Region)
- Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (Barrie)
- Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
All of the above sites already have the necessary equipment to store the Pfizer vaccine at -70 degrees. Since this vaccine cannot be easily transported, vaccinations will continue to be prioritized for health care workers in high-risk settings, such as long-term care homes and hospitals.
Ontario expects to receive up to 90,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine prior to the end of the year.
Training Program for Workers Impacted by COVID-19
Yesterday, Minister McNaughton announced an investment of $77 million to help Ontarians who were laid off due to COVID-19 find in-demand jobs. The funding, which is being delivered through the redesigned Second Career grant program, is expected to help more than 2,750 job seekers with up to $28,000 for tuition, training materials, and living expenses.
The initiative will help job seekers train for careers in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, information and communications, and supportive health sciences.
Measures to Help Businesses Avoid Costly Payouts
Minister McNaughton also announced regulatory amendments to help businesses avoid costly payouts yesterday. The intent of this initiative is to protect jobs and help businesses avoid potential closures.
For employers with non-unionized employees, the government extended regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act by six months, until July 3, 2021. The changes include putting non-unionized employees on job-protected leave during the COVID-19 pandemic any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer, in order to prevent temporary layoffs from becoming permanent.
To support the hospitality sector and other hard-hit industries, the government is also creating a special industry regulation which allows employers to negotiate alternative arrangements with unions for putting termination and severance pay into trust for laid-off employees. Given the challenges currently faced by this sector, the government is providing employers and unions the option to instead use these funds to help keep businesses open. The provision is only available if agreed upon by unions and employers.