June 22, 2020, Premier Doug Ford announced that the public health regions of Toronto and Peel will be permitted to move into stage two of economic reopening this Wednesday, June 24, at 12:01 a.m.
Premier Ford was joined by Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Christine Elliott; Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips; and Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton.
Late last week, the government also announced that it will provide up to $10-million to Indigenous-owned small and medium sized businesses to help mitigate the costs of COVID-19.
Toronto and Peel Region Begin Stage Two June 24
This afternoon, Premier Doug Ford announced that the City of Toronto and Peel Region (Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon) will be permitted to move into stage two of reopening this Wednesday, June 24, at 12:01 a.m.
As a result of this afternoon’s announcement, Windsor-Essex is the only public health region which has not yet been permitted to move beyond stage one. The province is working with federal and local authorities to implement a collaborative response to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Windsor region, particularly among agri-food workers.
The targeted response in Windsor-Essex will include:
- Continuing with proactive targeted testing for agri-food workers, including enhanced mobile on-farm testing;
- Conducting more than 200 Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development on-farm inspections and investigations;
- Starting new joint inspections of farms with federal authorities to review current working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers;
- Providing $15 million through the Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection program, which provides cost-share funding which can be used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE), put up physical barriers, make housing modifications, or provide alternate housing;
- Translating COVID-19 health and safety guidance documents into Spanish and providing additional resources to help farmers and other agri-food employers ensure safe and healthy workplaces.
When asked about whether he would consider allowing areas of Windsor-Essex outside of farming communities to progress to stage two, Premier Ford expressed concern that this approach could contribute to further spread between agri-food workers and the rest of the community. He asked farmers to cooperate with the government by allowing their temporary workers to be tested.
In response to questions about when parts of Ontario will be permitted to move to stage three, Minister Elliott said that the government will first prioritize getting Windsor-Essex to stage two. She assured reporters that the government continues to plan for stage three but must observe the health effects of stage two before moving ahead.
Support for Indigenous-Owned Businesses
On Friday afternoon, the government announced that it would provide up to $10 million to Indigenous-owned small and medium sized businesses to help with COVID-19 recovery.
Loans of up to $50,000 will be available to businesses that are either ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses. Businesses may use these funds to cover general expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities and taxes. They may also be used towards increasing production capacity, developing new products, moving to online marketing, or to make improvements to accommodate social distancing requirements.