January 21, 2021, Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, announced an investment of $2.4 million to train up to 300 personal support workers (PSWs) for positions in Ottawa-area long-term care homes. This announcement is part of Ontario’s ongoing efforts to hire more staff and improve working conditions in long-term care, as outlined in A Better Place to Live; A Better Place to Work: Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan.
Earlier today, the government announced plans to open COVID-19 isolation centres in Oshawa and Brampton, as well as the expansion of isolation centres currently serving the City of Toronto. These centres are part of the government’s $42 million High Priority Communities Strategy to help residents self isolate safely in Ontario’s hardest-hit communities.
The government is also working with transportation agencies and providers to leverage network signs and communications systems, in order to remind Ontarians to only leave home for essential reasons. Due to decreased ridership, GO Transit will also temporarily replace select GO train service with buses and reduce service on the UP Express beginning January 23.
The governments of Canada and Ontario jointly announced up to $11.1 million in funding today to support small air carriers serving remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario. This investment will help ensure access to essential goods in these communities during the pandemic.
Yesterday evening, Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, issued a statement to announce that schools in seven public health units with low rates of COVID-19 transmission would be permitted to resume in-person learning on January 25.
In addition, the government announced the expansion of its workplace inspection campaign yesterday, following the “inspection blitz” of big box stores which took place last weekend. As a result, more than 300 provincial offences officers will visit an expanded range of essential workplaces to protect workers and customers, and educate and ticket businesses not in compliance with COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
PSW Training Pilot
This afternoon, Minister Fullerton announced an investment of $2.4 million to train up to 300 PSWs for positions in Ottawa-area long-term care homes. The pilot scholarship program is being delivered in partnership with Willis College and will be offered at no cost to accepted applicants.
The 30-week pilot program will begin this month and will offer students both academic instruction and volunteer experience within long-term care. Each cohort of the program will include 30 students.
Today’s announcement is part of the province’s ongoing efforts to increase hours of daily direct care for long-term care residents, in part by hiring more staff and improving working conditions in these facilities.
Schools Permitted to Resume In-Person Learning in Seven PHUs Next Week
Yesterday evening, Minister Lecce issued a statement to confirm that elementary and secondary schools would be permitted to resume in-person learning next Monday, January 25, in seven Southern Ontario public health units with low rates of COVID-19 transmission.
The public health units in which in-person learning is permitted to resume next week include:
- Grey Bruce Health Unit;
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
- Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Health Unit;
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit;
- Peterborough Public Health;
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit.
Northern Ontario schools that reopened on January 11 will remain open. Northern Ontario public health units include:
- Algoma Public Health Unit;
- North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit;
- Northwestern Health Unit;
- Porcupine Health Unit;
- Sudbury and District Health Unit;
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
- Timiskaming Health Unit.
Schools in all other public health units will continue to operate remotely while Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health monitors COVID-19 trends.
The government has also introduced new provincewide measures to ensure schools remain safe, including expanded asymptomatic testing, enhanced screening, and mandatory masking for students in Grades 1-3.
Expansion of Workplace Inspection Campaign
The government also announced the expansion of its workplace inspection campaign yesterday. This announcement followed an initial “inspection blitz” of big box stores last weekend in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), which found that 69% of inspected businesses were in compliance with public health requirements.
Beginning January 20, more than 300 provincial offences officers will visit an expanded range of essential workplaces across Ontario to educate and ticket businesses that are not complying with COVID-19 requirements. Businesses that may be inspected include retail establishments (including big box stores), restaurants providing take-out meals, essential service-sector establishments (such as gas stations), and farming operations.
Corporations can be fined $1,000 for failing to comply with orders in effect under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act and the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. All individuals, including employees and patrons, can be fined $750 for failing to comply with orders. If convicted of failure to comply with an order under these acts, an individual may be fined up to $100,000, while directors and officers of corporations may be fined up to $500,000.