November 12, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vic Fedeli, visited the Heddle Shipyards facility in Hamilton, where they congratulated Heddle on a new long-term agreement with Vancouver-based shipyard Seaspan. As a result of this agreement, Heddle will fabricate Ontario-made ship components under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Premier Ford and Minister Fedeli were joined by Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips. Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding the province’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier today, Minister of Long-Term Care, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, announced an investment of $761 million to build and renovate 74 long-term care homes across the province.
Late this afternoon, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, unveiled updated COVID-19 modelling for Ontario. Dr. Williams was joined by Coordinator of the Provincial Outbreak Response, Dr. Dirk Huyer, and Dean of the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto, Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
Opposition Calls for Return to Modified Stage One
Premier Ford was asked about comments made this morning by Leader of the Official Opposition, Andrea Horwath, calling on the government to return to modified stage one-level restrictions in COVID-19 hotpsots. In response, Premier Ford said that his government was taking a more balanced approach. He also shared his concern for the mental health implications of wide-scale business closures, particularly for small business owners.
COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open
Premier Ford was also asked about a story published in the Toronto Star alleging that Ontario ignored the advice of its own public health experts by implementing the new colour coded Keeping Ontario Safe and Open framework. In response, Premier Ford noted that the framework was approved by Dr. Williams, emphasizing that he would continue to act on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
When asked additional questions about whether the new framework is effective, Premier Ford explained that prior to its implementation, many of the province’s public health regions had no framework in place. As a result, Premier Ford argued that the new framework provides the province and its public health regions with flexibility and the ability to move quickly. Premier Ford reiterated that the framework introduced by the province is a baseline only, and that local medical officers of health are welcome to implement additional measures.
Investment to Build and Renovate Long-Term Care Homes
Earlier today, Dr. Fullerton announced an investment of $761 million to build and renovate 74 long-term care homes across the province. This investment will create nearly 11,000 modern long-term care spaces more quickly, as part of the province’s new funding model for the accelerated construction of long-term care facilities.
The modernized funding model supports the Ontario government’s commitment of creating 30,000 long-term care beds over a 10-year period. This model provides incentives which are tailored to the needs of developers in rural, mid-size, urban, and large urban markets.
Ontario Releases Updated COVID-19 Modelling
Late this afternoon, Dr. Williams, Dr. Huyer, and Steini Brown presented updated COVID-19 modelling for Ontario. The modelling shows that key indicators of the pandemic are worsening across the province, even in public health regions with lower case counts.
The main findings included in today’s modelling are:
- Mortality is increasing among residents in long-term care facilities.
- Estimating a 5% rate of growth, Ontario’s case numbers are likely to exceed those in European jurisdictions which are currently in some form of lockdown, including France, Germany, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
- Intensive care unit (ICU) capacity across the province is expected to exceed 150 beds, the point at which some scheduled surgeries and procedures must be cancelled.
- There is a high level of cases with no epidemiological link, which indicates community spread.
- Even public health regions with low case numbers are experiencing significant growth in the percent positivity among all COVID-19 tests conducted.
Ontario recorded a record high of 1,575 new cases today, with 472 in Toronto, 448 in Peel, 155 in York, and 91 in Ottawa.