On April 9, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced the launch of Ontario’s Jobs and Recovery Committee to begin planning for economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott; Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy; and Minister of Finance Rod Phillips.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions about Ontario’s preparedness for a pandemic situation and ongoing measures the province is taking to further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy announced the launch of Ontario’s Jobs and Recovery Committee, as the province begins to turn an eye toward recovering from the economic fallout of COVID-19.
This announcement follows today’s release of monthly job data from Statistics Canada, which showed the loss of over 400,000 jobs last month in Ontario, and over one million jobs nationally.
According to Premier Ford, the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over. By starting the work of planning for economic recovery early, the committee will ensure that a long-term plan for economic growth and job creation is ready when the time comes to reopen sectors of Ontario’s economy that have been closed due to COVID-19.
The Committee will focus on job creation, opportunities for growth, and protecting the province from future threats by solidifying Ontario’s position as the “workshop of Canada” and an “economic powerhouse.” The Committee will consult with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, small business owners and entrepreneurs in order to assess the impact of COVID-19. The Committee will also look at recovery measures being taken by other jurisdictions and consider how to apply best practices in Ontario.
The membership of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee includes:
- Rod Phillips, Chair, Minister of Finance
- Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board
- Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation
- Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
- Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
- John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
- Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure
- Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
- Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
- Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
- Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction
Premier Ford reiterated that the number one priority of his government remains the health of Ontarians. He also emphasized that the sooner Ontario is able to curb the spread of COVID-19, the sooner economic recovery efforts can start. Premier Ford couldn’t specify a timeline for economic recovery, although he committed to publicly releasing any new information on timelines that he receives.
The Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee builds on $17 billion of support for Ontarians announced in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, such as targeted funding for families and tax deferrals to increase cash flow for businesses and individuals across the province.
Ongoing Response Measures in Ontario
Following this afternoon’s announcement, in response to questions about whether there were warning signs that Ontario was unprepared for a pandemic, Minister Elliott reiterated that the province was overly reliant on other countries to provide necessary personal protective equipment. She emphasized that the government has learned from this and is now relying on Ontario companies. To prevent a similar situation from happening in the future, Minister Elliott said that the province must continue to be prepared and have necessary resources and equipment available from within Ontario.
In response to questions about Alberta considering the use of smartphone data to track Albertans in quarantine, Premier Ford said he would consider this measure and would ask Alberta Premier Jason Kenney for more details during a call this afternoon.
Premier Ford also urged Ontarians and those from neighbouring provinces to avoid travel over the coming long weekend, directing his message at Manitobans who may be considering travel to cottages in Northern Ontario. Premier Ford also confirmed that he would be speaking to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers later today and would raise the issue of interprovincial travel.