August 18, 2020, Premier Doug Ford and Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), Kinga Surma, announced the government’s intent to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to advance tunneling work on the Scarborough Subway Extension. The RFP is expected to be issued in the coming days and the tunneling contract is expected to be awarded in mid-2021.
Premier Ford and Associate Minister Surma were joined by Metrolinx CEO, Phil Verster.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford responded to questions from media regarding the province’s response to COVID-19.
Questions from Media – Response to COVID-19
In response to questions about parents who are concerned about the safety of Ontario’s return-to-school plan, Premier Ford said that he understands why parents are nervous, while reassuring Ontarians that the province has the best plan in the country for a safe return to school. The plan was developed in consultation with SickKids, the COVID-19 health table, and the Ministry of Health, and was approved by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Premier Ford outlined the province’s investments and guidelines to reassure parents on the safety of Ontario schools. The province is making investments in cleaning, including hiring 1,300 additional cleaners and twice daily cleaning of school buses. In addition to the $25 million provided to hire additional educators, school boards will also be permitted to access reserve funds to secure additional spaces or hire educators to enable greater physical distancing. Masks will also be mandatory from grades 4 through 12.
COVID-19 Prevention Measures on GO Transit
In response to questions about GO Transit’s plans to increase service to correspond with a return to the classroom or office for many Ontarians in September, Metrolinx CEO Mr. Verster confirmed that GO Transit would be expanding service on all routes, adding 154 services in September.
Mr. Verster added that Metrolinx has gone farther than other major transit agencies in implementing health protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Polycarbonate screens have been placed between each seat on GO trains and buses. The network will also include help kiosks, designated entrance and exit points to control the flow of passengers, and hand cleaning agents at every doorway.