Please see below the most recent updates on the federal and provincial governments’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Prime Minister provided an update on federal support to Manitoba as they experience a significant outbreak. The federal government has just sent 90,000 rapid tests to Manitoba and is providing them with additional funding and support through the Safe Restart Agreement to curb the spread in the province, particularly Winnipeg.
- Chief Public Health Office Dr. Tam provided an update on testing, noting that today’s numbers do not include Alberta as the province has not provided its weekend or Monday data to PHAC. Public Health officers are currently executing over 60,000 tests per day with a positive infection rate of 4.7%.
- Dr. Tam also provided updated direction on PPE, indicating that non-medical masks should ideally be three layers or more and to be vigilant about proper fit to reduce your risk of infection, while continuing to practice social distancing and avoiding events and crowded places when possible. While this does not mean that Canadians should throw away masks with less than three layers, she urged Canadians to layer up by adding a filter where possible. Updated guidelines will be posted online via PHAC shortly.
- PM Trudeau and Minister Ng announced that the CanExport SMEs program is pivoting. It will now help small businesses to:
- develop and expand their e-commerce presence by covering partial costs associated with online sales platforms and digital strategy consulting, as well as advertising and search engine optimization.
- attend virtual trade shows and other business-to-business events.
- navigate new COVID-19-related trade barriers by helping pay for new international market certifications and requirements.
- Today, Premier Ford was joined by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, and Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health to announce the province’s Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.
- The government has developed public health measures that are to help limit the spread of COVID-19, with the intent to keep schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care. This framework will serve as an early warning system allowing the government the ability to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19.
- The government also announced enhancements to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive.
- Each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below.
- These classifications will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.
- Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.
- Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.
- The Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. If this program is of interest to your business, please contact us.
Public Health Unit Region Classifications
- As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.
- No public health unit regions
- No public health unit regions
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
- Ottawa Public Health;
- Peel Public Health;
- Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020); and
- York Region Public Health.
- Brant County Health Unit;
- City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Durham Region Health Department; and
- Halton Region Public Health.
- Algoma Public Health;
- Chatham-Kent Public Health;
- Grey Bruce Health Unit;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Huron Perth Public Health;
- Lambton Public Health;
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
- Middlesex-London Health Unit;
- Niagara Region Public Health;
- North Bay Parry Sound District;
- Northwestern Health Unit;
- Peterborough Public Health;
- Porcupine Health Unit;
- Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
- Southwestern Public Health;
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
- Timiskaming Health Unit;
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
Many media questions today surrounded the governments rationale around the decisions regarding the various region classifications set out in the framework. The Premier advised that this takes into account the publics’ health as well as being balanced against the other impacts COVID has had whether it be socially, mentally or economically. Dr. Williams expanded, advising that this framework is also about harm reduction to ensure that the data reflects the health measures that regions need to take and so that businesses and the public can be informed.
The Premier advised that the newly updated COVID dashboard will help the public have insight into how their region is doing and where the hot spots are so they can make informed decisions. He further went on to say that it is not time to let our guards down and encouraged Ontarians to continue to follow public health measures. Dr. Williams followed by asking the public to be more engaged on their personal risk assessment. She encouraged the public to use the dashboard so that Ontarians can make their own informed decisions based on data.
Regarding the increase of gatherings from 10 people, the Premier advised that this is not something the government is currently looing at and again encouraged all Ontarians to remain diligent in following health measures.
It was noted by the media that schools were not mentioned in the new framework. Dr. Williams advised that schools are deemed to be dealt with in a different area as they have their own strict guidelines and measures in place. He further advised that it has also been found that the students are coming to the school with COVID because it was already within the household, not because they are bringing it home from school.
Dr. Williams also advised that a local medical officer can choose to implement further restrictions if necessary. However, they are also able to do targeted communication and education in a specific hot spot of a region. Moving a small portion or “hot spot” of a region to a different restriction level, however, has not been advised due to movement of people through work, school, transit etc.
Before closing today the Premier took a minute to try to lift the spirits of Ontarians by reminding them that although COVID has had its hardships, there are many positive things happening. He referenced the new dashboard as being revolutionary as well as noting that he feels we will have a much better health care system, better long term care and many new improvements for business moving forward.
Executive Secretary Treasurer
IBEW Construction Council of Ontario
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