COVID-19 Update #30

COVID-19 is something that we are all going to have to face together. Our primary concern is the health and safety of Ontarians.
We hope you are staying safe and healthy.

Thank you to all the province’s essential services workers and those on the front-line. You step up everyday to ensure individuals, families and seniors have what they need to stay safe and healthy.

Thank you to everyone else who is staying home and practicing physical distancing.

It is important to listen to the advice of Public Health experts: 

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Practice social-distancing
  • Stay home if you’re not feeling well
  • If you are concerned or suspect you have the virus, call
    Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000 or
    Ottawa Public Health: 613-580-6744

New as of April 16

My Open letter on Long Term Care 

April 16, 2020

Concerns about protecting our seniors and other vulnerable populations in Long-Term Care, retirement and group homes.
To the community of Ottawa South,

Over the last several weeks, it has become increasingly clear that those living in Long-Term Care, retirement and group homes, among our must vulnerable, have been disproportionally impacted by the spread COVID-19.

Sadly, we have seen repeated tragedies in facilities like the Almonte Country Haven Long-Term Care Home, Pinecrest Nursing Home in Bobcaygeon, Seven Oaks in Toronto, Participation House in Markham and others. This is deeply concerning and my heart goes out to all the families impacted. This is against the backdrop of the news reports that the Ontario government only completed 9 comprehensive inspections out of the 626 Long-Term Care facilities across the province last year.

Our seniors and loved ones deserve better.

Yesterday, the provincial government announced their Long-Term Care Action Plan in an effort to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 in these congregate settings. While a step in the right direction, many of the measures have taken too long to implement and do not go far enough to protect our loved ones.

For 3 weeks, the province has been at 50% of lab testing capacity. That’s tens of thousands of tests that could have been used in Long-Term Care homes, retirement and group homes to help manage the spread.

The Ontario government has been too slow to limit the movement of staff between multiple homes, especially given that we have known for weeks about the considerable risk of asymptomatic spread.

I am calling on the Ontario government and appropriate Ministers to take these additional actions immediately:

  1. Close the loophole allowing temp agencies to send workers into multiple homes
  2. Ensure all frontline healthcare workers has access to the PPE they need to stay safe
  3. Enhance wages of frontline workers in Long-Term care, group and retirement homes including PSWs/DSWs to stabilize the workforce

These steps must be taken right now to prevent further tragedy.

There is more work to be done to protect our seniors. Ontario is lagging behind and we can’t move fast enough.

Once we are through the worst of the pandemic, we must take an open and transparent look at the province’s response in Long-Term Care, retirement and groups homes. We owe it to all Ontario families, especially those directly impacted. For the immediate future however, our focus needs to be on what we can do right now to protect our loved ones.  

Thank you,

John Fraser,
MPP, Ottawa South

Province adds more than 2,000 acute care and critical care beds and enacts pandemic staffing plans

Acting on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health care professionals, the Ontario government has significantly expanded hospital capacity in preparation for any COVID-19 outbreak scenario. The province has added 1,035 acute care beds and 1,492 critical care beds and taken steps to ensure hospitals have the staff available to care for a sudden surge in patients.

Hospitals across the province have taken steps to make more beds available for COVID-19 patients in every region of the province. As a result, Ontario has a total of 20,354 acute care beds with a potential for an additional 4,205 more acute care beds by April 30, 2020. Of Ontario’s 3,504 critical care beds, 2,811 are now equipped with ventilators, up from 1,319 when the outbreak first started.

This bed capacity expansion has been organized in coordination with pandemic staffing plans to ensure each hospital has the physicians and staff needed, including in case of a major surge of cases. Measures include:

  • Redeploying surgical nursing staff who can now work with medicine units;
  • Sharing highly trained emergency department and intensive care unit nursing staffs across units;
  • Sharing physician resources across hospitals in a given region;
  • Recruiting family doctors to complete shifts within the hospital; and
  • Recruiting retirees, including nursing and support services.

The province continues to focus on what resources will be needed to further enhance capacity quickly, if the need arises. Hospitals have identified additional opportunities to add new beds, including through the use of field hospitals, conference centres, school locations and more. Sites are ready to open based on the needs of the community.

Ontario Enables Auto Insurance Companies to Provide Driver Rebates During COVID-19

The Ontario government is enabling auto insurance companies to provide temporary insurance premium rebates to drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The province has amended a regulation under the Insurance Act to help ease the financial pressure on working people and families during this public health crisis.

By amending this regulation insurance companies would be able to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the declared emergency has ended.

The Government and the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) will continue to work together to monitor how the auto insurance sector is responding.

Prime Minister announces additional support for small businesses

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and are vital for our families and communities across the country. They are facing economic hardship and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why the Government of Canada is working around the clock to give these businesses the support they need so they can continue to make our country strong at this critical time.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced new measures to support Canadian businesses so they can keep their doors open and their employees on the job.

The Government of Canada is:

  • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.
  • Announcing its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and we will have more details to share soon.

These measures are part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which has committed more than $107 billion in support to Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. The government will continue to monitor and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, and take additional actions as needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and stabilize the economy.


Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health 

Expanded testing criteria

The Province has again increased the categories of people eligible for testing:

  • Some asymptomatic residents and staff in long-term care and retirement homes experiencing an outbreak;
  • People experiencing at least one common symptom, and certain less common COVID-19 symptoms have also been added;
  • People and workers in congregate settings;
  • First responders;
  • Caregivers;
  • People with frequent health care contact; and
  • People living in remote, isolated, rural or Indigenous communities.

These expanded criteria will allow us to test more people and get a better sense of the potential scope of infection in our community. This is important into the future to enable more targeted strategies and the eventual relaxation of restrictions.  I encourage everyone that meets these criteria testing to go get tested. We are starting to see the testing numbers increase again.

Managing mental health

We know that this situation is taking a toll on people’s mental health.  This was a common concern shared on Twitter this morning when I asked for residents’ ideas on how we can sustain physical distancing measures a bit longer.  Everyone will experience this situation in their own way. It is completely natural to feel stress and concern during these times and so it is important to practice positive coping strategies.

Our team has added various resources on the Ottawa Public Health website, including a video on maintaining your mental health and a list of telephone, text or chat services. These may be helpful to you. However, if you are in crisis, please contact the Distress Centre at 613-238-3311. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Also, in response to the COVID-19 situation, the Walk-in Counselling Clinic is offering phone and video counselling services.

Wearing face coverings and masks

A lot of people have been asking if they should be wearing face coverings or masks when they do leave their home and go out into the community; this was also a common theme on the Twitter discussion about how we can sustain physical distancing. We know that there is some asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission of COVID-19 so if you cannot maintain physical distancing, wearing a mask helps to protect people you may come into contact with when you’re out in the community. It provides an added layer of protection.

Continue physical distancing

We continue to ask people to limit trips outside the home to essential needs such as for groceries, medicine or daily physical activity and to limit close contacts to members of their household.  Thank you to the many residents who have provided ideas on Twitter about how we can be resilient in this difficult time; the top themes shared were about consideration for how our outdoor spaces can be used and for all to continue to spread love and kindness in different ways.  I will take these suggestions into the planning process for when we are able to safely relax restrictions.

Our efforts are working. We are seeing signs of hope, but we need to keep practicing physical distancing in order to get to the other side of the curve.

Daily case numbers

Details about the daily case numbers are updated on our website daily. 

Lastly, I want to again thank the media for working diligently to keep residents informed about the COVID-19 situation in Ottawa.

Ontario has created a new self-assessment tool
If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care. Visit here.

If you require help in Ottawa South, please visit our website for Community links and contacts.


Ottawa Public Health
For the latest updates, please click here.

Government of Ontario
Every day at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.  ETthe Province of Ontario’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information including the status of cases in Ontario.

Government of Canada
For the latest COVID-19 updates, please click here.
For the latest on Employment and Social Development changes for employees and employers, click here.

Find out about the current reported scams related to COVID-19.

Learn how to protect yourself when banking online.

Know what to do if you’re a victim of fraud.