November 6, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, outlined the $15.2 billion investment in health care announced yesterday in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. This investment includes $351 million for more than 2,250 new beds at 57 hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province, which was previously announced in the government’s Fall Preparedness Plan. A full summary and analysis of Ontario’s 2020 Budget can be found here.
Premier Ford also re-announced that as of tomorrow, Saturday, November 7th, Ontario’s public health regions will shift to the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, adopting new guidelines for adjusting and tightening regional public health measures. Ottawa and York region will be moved to the Orange “Restrict” level, while Peel region will be moved to the Red “Control” level. More information on the new Framework can be found here.
Premier Ford and Minister Phillips were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, and Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to COVID-19.
Earlier today, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vic Fedeli, issued a statement regarding today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada.
Ontario Moves Public Health Regions into Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework
This afternoon, Premier Ford re-announced that the province will be adopting the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework for public health guidelines, as of tomorrow, November 7th, at 12:01 a.m. As a result, all public health regions will be re-classified according to the public health levels outlined in the new Framework.
The five new public health levels are: Green (“Prevent”), Yellow (“Protect”), Orange (“Restrict”), Red (“Control”), and Lockdown.
Toronto will be excluded from the new Framework for an additional week, at the request of the local medical officer of health, and will remain in modified Stage 2 until November 14th.
The remaining 33 public health units will be categorized as follows:
- Red Level – “Control”
- Orange Level – “Restrict”
- Yellow Level – “Protect”
- Eastern Ontario
- Simcoe Muskoka
- Green Level – “Prevent”
- All other public health units. A full list is available here.
Public health measures required for each level can be found in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.
For long-term care homes, visitor restrictions will remain in effect for Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York.
Under the new framework, the government will review trends in public health data weekly and will assess the impact of public health measures for 28 days to determine if public health units should remain where they are or be moved to a different level.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Earlier this week, upon the announcement of the new Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, the government suggested that Peel Region, along with other public health regions currently in modified Stage 2, would be moved into the Orange “Restrict” level as of November 7th. It was announced today that while Ottawa and York would be moved to the Orange level, Peel would remain in the stricter Red “Control” level. According to Premier Ford, this decision was made because troubling trends have been observed in Peel, including a growing percent positivity in daily cases and hospital capacity that is under pressure.
When asked to address restaurant owners in Peel Region who have spent this week preparing to fully reopen, Premier Ford noted that restaurants within public health regions at the Red level are still permitted to accept customers for indoor dining, although they are subject to a customer limit of 10 with a maximum table size of four guests. He then explained that COVID-19 numbers in Peel are “out of control” and necessitate a reaction in order to avoid having to place the region in ‘Lockdown’.
Elaborating on the concerning COVID-19 trends in Peel, Minister Elliott mentioned that the public health region currently has a percent positivity rate of 11%, which the province hopes to reduce to 2.5%. The reproduction number of the virus is 1.2 and rising, which means that on average, every person infected with COVID-19 transmits the virus to 1.2 or more people. In addition, hospitals in the area are beginning to have to cancel surgeries in order to manage the volume of COVID-19 patients.
Minister Elliott also noted that 70 additional contact tracers are being sent to Peel Region to assist with case and contact management.