On May 11, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford provided an update as Ontario reopened some sectors of its economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Premier Ford was joined by Minister of Finance Rod Phillips and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Phillips responded to questions from media regarding the continued easing of public health restrictions, funding for municipalities and Ontario’s projected deficit.
Retail Stores Open for Curbside Pickup and Delivery
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford provided an update as Ontario retail stores with street entrances were permitted to reopen today for curbside pickup and delivery.
Employers are asked to follow safety guidelines, including Guidance on Health and Safety for Curbside Pickup and Delivery Services during COVID-19, in order to protect staff, customers, and the general public.
Provincial parks and conservation reserves also began reopening today with limited access for select activities such as walking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching.
Premier Ford explained that new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario seem to be trending downward, with 294 new cases reported yesterday and 308 today. Yesterday saw the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in the province in six weeks. These numbers are a good indication that “Ontario is headed in the right direction,” according to Premier Ford.
Minister Phillips added that the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee continues to actively work towards reopening Ontario’s economy more broadly. The government will have more information in the coming days on the next steps to safely reopen the province.
Questions from Media
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Phillips responded to questions from media regarding the continued easing of public health restrictions, funding for municipalities, and Ontario’s projected deficit.
In response to questions about today’s estimate from the Financial Accountability Officer (FAO) that Ontario’s budget could double to $41 billion this year, Minister Phillips admitted that the true size of the deficit is difficult to predict in the middle of both a health and economic crisis. Minister Phillips reassured reporters that the government will continue to monitor the size of Ontario’s deficit, and will have another opportunity to provide a fiscal update this summer.
When asked about “household bubbles,” or increasing the permitted gathering size so that Ontarians can again visit with friends or family members living in separate households, Premier Ford was hopeful that this step could be taken soon. Premier Ford added that the people of Ontario would need to use their best judgment when deciding whether to interact with people other than those in their immediate household. He reiterated that Ontarians should keep their gatherings as small as possible and not take risks by visiting with seniors or loved ones in poor health.
In response to questions about whether funding would be provided to municipalities to assist with increased costs and revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19, Premier Ford said this issue had recently been raised on a call with the Prime Minister. Ontario is waiting to see the federal government’s plan for municipalities.
When asked for clarity on reopening dates for childcare and schools, Premier Ford said there will be an announcement on these areas early next week.