December 11, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and the Chair of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force, General (retired) Rick Hillier, announced additional details of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan. The plan will occur in three phases, the first of which will begin on Tuesday, December 15, with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa.
Premier Ford and General Hillier were joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, and Solicitor General, Sylvia Jones.
Earlier today, Ontario announced the movement of several public health regions to higher levels of the COVID-19 response framework with stricter public health measures. As a result of this announcement, York Region and Windsor-Essex will be moved into lockdown as of Monday, December 14th at 12:01 a.m.
Premier Ford also issued a statement this morning, reiterating his call on the federal government to increase the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) to provinces. The Premier’s statement comes after yesterday’s First Ministers’ Meeting, where Premier Ford said “the Prime Minister did not accept [a unanimous proposal from Canada’s premiers to increase the CHT]” and that “no alternative was presented.”
COVID-19 Vaccination Plan
This afternoon, Premier Ford and General Hillier revealed Ontario’s three-phase implementation plan for the receipt, storage, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
On Monday, December 14, Ontario will receive 6000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was approved by Health Canada this week. The initial 6000 doses will be sufficient to vaccinate 3000 people, as two doses of the vaccine are required for each recipient.
Phase One of the province’s vaccination plan will begin on Tuesday, December 15, with a pilot project at University Health Network in Toronto and at Ottawa Hospital. It is expected that 1500 health care workers, who provide care in hospitals and long-term care, will be vaccinated at each site. Out of an abundance of caution, the remaining 3000 doses will be preserved in the event that they are needed for the first recipients of the vaccine.
Next week’s pilot will offer an opportunity to test the logistics of the province’s vaccine delivery and storage network. Each pilot site will also share lessons learned with other sites that will receive the vaccine in the future.
Following the pilot program, Phase One of the vaccination plan will involve the following key milestones:
- 90,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine are expected to be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites across the province by the end of December. These hospitals will be located in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones. Initial doses will be limited to health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
- Between 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected, once approved by Health Canada. Arrival of the Moderna vaccine, which is easier to store than the Pfizer vaccine, will enable the province to expand vaccinations to long-term care homes in Grey-Lockdown areas.
- Additional hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones will begin providing the Pfizer vaccine in 2021. Vaccination of health care workers and long-term care and retirement home residents will continue to be prioritized.
- An expansion of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine, which will include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public health units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and remote Indigenous communities.
Phase Two of Ontario’s vaccination plan is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021. During this phase, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, residents of long-term care and retirement homes, home care patients with chronic conditions, additional First Nation communities, and urban Indigenous populations.
Phase Three will begin when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. Vaccines will not be mandatory, although Ontarians are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.
Stronger Public Health Measures Implemented in Several Regions
Earlier today, Ontario announced the re-classification of seven public health units to higher levels of the COVID-19 response framework with stricter public health measures.
Effective Monday, December 14th at 12:01 a.m.:
- Windsor-Essex and York Region will move to Grey-Lockdown.
- Middlesex-London, Simcoe Muskoka, and Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph will move to Red-Control.
- Eastern Ontario will move to Orange-Restrict.
- Leeds, Grenville and Lanark will move to Yellow-Protect.
New classifications will remain in effect for a minimum of 28 days. All other public health regions will remain at their current level. A full list of classifications is available at Ontario.ca/covidresponse.
In response to the announcement that York Region would be moving to lockdown, Mayor of Markham, Frank Scarpitti, released a statement advocating for “fairer options for small businesses.”