October 15, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and President of the Treasury Board, Peter Bethlenfalvy, provided an update on uptake of the COVID Alert App in the province and called on major employers to promote the app to their employees.
Premier Ford and Minister Bethlenfalvy were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott. 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, the government also announced the addition of 200 transitional care beds to ease pressures on hospitals and reduce wait times for patients.
COVID Alert App Uptake
This afternoon, Premier Ford and Minister Bethlenfalvy provided an update on the government’s efforts to promote the COVID Alert app by working with influential brands and large employers.
In addition to publicly thanking private sector partners who have promoted the app to date, Premier Ford called on all employers to encourage their employees, members, and customers to download the app. Tools to help businesses promote the app can be accessed at a government webpageannounced today.
Questions from Media – Ongoing Response to COVID-19
Priority Areas for Rapid Tests
In response to questions about the province’s first shipment of rapid COVID-19 tests and how they will be allocated, Minister Elliott explained that the government has recently completed an analysis of how to best complement its existing testing strategy with rapid tests. Priority is likely to be given to long-term care facilities as well as areas in Northern Ontario where samples collected by the conventional nasopharyngeal swab tests are currently required to travel substantial distances to labs.
Regions in Modified Stage Two
When asked about individuals who travel from higher-risk regions to surrounding lower-risk areas in order to access amenities such as fitness facilities, which are currently closed in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel, Premier Ford asked Ontarians not to travel out of the hotspot regions for fitness. He added that more regions will be rolled back to a modified stage two if community spread worsens as a result of travel from hotspots.
Addition of Transitional Care Beds
Earlier today, the government also announced the additional of over 200 transitional care beds in order to ease pressures on hospitals and reduce wait times for patients. These beds will provide the appropriate level of care for those who no longer need to be in a hospital, but are waiting to transition to home, community, or long-term care.
Ontario will be developing five new reactivation care centres where patients, including those living with dementia or in need of personal support, will benefit from services such as physiotherapy, nursing, and support for daily living. The new centres will be located in the following areas:
- Hamilton, up to 60 beds at St. Joseph’s Villa;
- Kingston, up to 64 beds at the former St. Mary’s of the Lake Hospital;
- Newmarket, up to 30 beds at Southlake Residential Care Village;
- Sudbury, up to 52 beds at the Ramsey Lake Health Centre;
- Toronto, up to 28 beds at St. Joseph’s Hospital.
The majority of the new beds are expected to be completed in 2021-22. Additional capacity created as a result of these projects will help to ensure that hospitals can continue to offer elective surgeries and prepare for future waves of COVID-19.