On May 12, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced that MPPs will be asked to extend Ontario’s declaration of emergency until June 2 during today’s emergency session of the legislature. He also indicated that the government would have good news to share on Thursday, May 14 regarding reopening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services.
Premier Ford was joined by Minister of Finance Rod Phillips; Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Government House Leader Paul Calandra.
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from reporters regarding a public inquiry of the long-term care system, pandemic pay for frontline workers, and Ontario’s testing strategy.
Extension of State of Emergency and “Good News” to Come Thursday
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford provided an update on Ontario’s state of emergency, which is expected to be extended until June 2 during today’s emergency session of the legislature. Extending the provincial state of emergency will also extend public health measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The government continues to work to get Ontarians back to work in a safe and gradual manner. Premier Ford added that he will have more good news to share regarding the next stages of reopening Ontario this Thursday, May 14. He indicated that Thursday’s announcement will relate to stage one of Ontario’s restart phase, outlined in A Framework for Reopening our Province, specifically reopening more low-risk workplaces, seasonal businesses and essential services.
In response to questions about this Thursday’s announcement, Premier Ford indicated that discussions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health are underway regarding expanding Ontario’s maximum permitted gathering size. When asked about reopening trailer parks and private campgrounds, Premier Ford also said good news would be coming shortly.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips added that the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee is working to understand the unique impacts of COVID-19 across various regions and sectors in the province. The experience and best practices of sectors that remained open during the height of the pandemic will be used to inform Ontario’s reopening plan, particularly as more sectors are permitted to reopen.
Questions from Media
Following this afternoon’s announcement, Premier Ford and Minister Elliott responded to questions from reporters regarding a public inquiry of the long-term care system, pandemic pay for frontline workers and Ontario’s testing strategy.
When asked whether he would commit to conducting a public inquiry into Ontario’s long-term care system, Premier Ford said there would be a complete review of many areas where systemic cracks have been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He did not commit to a public inquiry in long-term care.
In response to questions about why certain hospital workers have not been included in the pandemic pay increase for frontline workers, Minister Elliott confirmed that the government is listening to feedback from a number of organizations and individuals who were not originally included, and is willing to expand the pandemic pay if necessary.
When asked whether the government would begin random community testing for COVID-19 prior to broader economic reopening, Premier Ford indicated that long-term care and other congregate care settings remain priority areas for testing. Once the testing needs in these areas have been fulfilled, the government will look at broader community testing to set a baseline against which to measure COVID-19 spread resulting from economic reopening.