COVID-19 Update #34

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 22

Ontario Takes Immediate Steps to Further Protect Long-Term Care Residents and Staff During COVID-19 Outbreak
Response includes increased testing, COVID-19 SWAT teams, and additional PPE

The Ontario government is making progress on the implementation of the COVID-19 Action Plan for Protecting Long-Term Care Homes to help stop and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the province’s long-term care homes. The government has introduced more aggressive testing, screening, and surveillance, deployed specialized teams from hospitals, public health and the home care sector, recruited additional frontline staff, and increased personal protective equipment.    

Today’s update was provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Heath, and Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care.

Since the Action Plan was announced, the government has worked swiftly and decisively to provide targeted, on-the-ground support to long-term care homes through the following measures:

  • Assisting 20 long-term care homes, which were previously experiencing outbreaks, to become now outbreak-free. 
  • Increasing testing on both symptomatic and asymptomatic staff and residents. To date, approximately 11,600 tests have been completed amongst residents in long-term care.
  • Conducting additional testing of asymptomatic residents and staff outside of the testing guidance at 21 long-term care homes, to help understand the spread of the virus.
  • Setting up a 24/7 Long-Term Care COVID-19 Response Team, which has already helped more than 30 homes by putting in place infection control protocols, resolving staffing issues, and fulfilling personal protective equipment needs.
  • Launching 31 Infection Prevention and Control interventions, which are currently in progress, with six assessments already completed. 
  • Continuing to identify critical 24-, 48-, and 72-hour help that homes need by matching qualified people and volunteers who can help with duties, including nursing support and cleaning. 
  • Responding to every escalated request for personal protective equipment from long-term care homes within 24 hours through the following measures:
    • A four-step process is in place to ensure an optimized regional distribution and redistribution when supplies are urgently needed.
    • Critical supply needs are escalated for provincial action.
    • Daily distribution of supply from provincial warehouses to regional sites.
    • Daily monitoring of and reporting against performance target of 100 per cent of critical need requests being shipped within 24 hours.
  • Working with hospitals across the province to deploy additional staffing and infection prevention controls in long-term care homes:
    • In Toronto alone, five hospitals (Michael Garron Hospital, Women’s College, North York General, Unity Health Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital) have been engaged to support approximately 40 long-term care homes in the city.
    • Other hospital partners and health partners have stepped up to help their local homes, including Trillium Health Partners, Halton Healthcare, Grand River, Cambridge Memorial Hospital, and the Ottawa Hospital.
    • More than 70 volunteers, including registered nurses, social workers, administration and medical doctors, have been recruited from the University Health Network to assist long-term care homes in the Greater Toronto Area.
  • Providing over 400 job matches for long-term care homes through the province’s Health Workforce Matching Portal, with over half of Ontario’s long-term care homes now using the portal.

To further support ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes, the federal government has offered resources that could include personnel and other supports from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Canadian Armed Forces. This support would be deployed to five priority long-term care homes as one element of the government’s robust Action Plan. The Ontario government will be making a formal request to access those extra reinforcements today.

The government continues to explore additional measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep vulnerable people safe, including building isolation capacity at long-term care homes.

Ontario Marks the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day

Today, Jeff Yurek, Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks released the following statement on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

“Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the day that we as global citizens come together to increase awareness and appreciation of Earth’s natural environment.

It’s a chance to reflect on the importance of the environment to our own health and wellbeing, and what we must do to protect it for future generations. As we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19, we are seeing, first hand, how our personal contributions make a difference.

Now, more than ever, true meaningful action begins at home. 

I’ve been so inspired by what I’ve seen online these past few weeks. I’ve seen gardeners re-growing their own produce from vegetable stalks and making seed pods using old toilet paper rolls, people sewing masks from used textiles and children creating homemade “thank you” signs to show appreciation to frontline waste collection workers. 

I’ve also been encouraged by all the organizations like the Toronto Zoo and Earth Rangers stepping it up to offer free daily educational activities virtually that help growing minds stay connected with nature and wildlife, while practicing physical distancing. 

Our government continues to take action to support a healthy and clean environment through actions committed to in our Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan. Through our plan, we will continue to protect our land, air, and water, address litter and reduce waste, and fight climate change.  

So today, on Earth Day, I want to thank you all for your incredible contributions and I look forward to engaging with you as we work together to make our communities and our province a cleaner, healthier place to live, work and grow.”

Support for students and new grads affected by COVID-19

Post-secondary students are feeling the economic impacts of COVID-19. Many students were preparing to start a summer job in May, and are now worried about how to pay rent and cover basic living expenses, while recent graduates are struggling to find meaningful work. This is a critical point in their lives, and we must do everything possible to support their future.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced comprehensive support of nearly $9 billion for post-secondary students and recent graduates. This plan will help provide the financial support they need this summer, help them continue their studies in the fall, and help many get the experience they need to start their careers. These measures include launching:

  • the proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020.
  • the new Canada Student Service Grant, which will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic. For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall. 

The Government of Canada will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months. In addition, to help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will:

  • double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.
  • broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.
  • enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
  • increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.
  • extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

Taken together, these programs will not only help ensure more students get the financial support they need, but the opportunities and experience many students were counting on.

The government will continue to monitor and respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19. We are ready to take additional actions as needed to stabilize the economy and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on Canadians.

Removing barriers for international students working in essential services to fight COVID-19

To help battle the COVID-19 outbreak, starting immediately, the government will remove the restriction that allows international students to work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session, provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, workers in certain roles and industries have been under considerable pressure, and the government recognizes that international students who are already present in Canada will help meet the challenges of the pandemic.

For instance, thousands of international students are studying in health- and emergency service-related programs, including many who are nearly fully trained and ready to graduate. This temporary rule change provides health-care facilities with access to additional well-trained workers at a time when they are badly needed.

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches

Yesterday, the province of Ontario released updated modelling which shows the enhanced public health measures, including staying home and practicing physical distancing, are working to contain the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. However, the Premier, Minister of Health and Canada’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, agree these measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.

While this is strongly encouraging, it is too soon to say that we are currently peaking here in Ottawa. We are waiting for more evidence to show that COVID-19 is slowing down in our community, particularly based on the number of hospitalizations, which follow the rate of infection by about a week. While hospitalizations have stabilized over the last week, we want to see this number start to go down before we can confidently say COVID-19 has peaked in Ottawa. Therefore, I am asking residents to continue practicing physical distancing and to stay home except for essential trips, like for groceries and physical activity. What we’re doing is working but now is not the time to relax these measures and undo the hard-won progress we have made together.

People living in long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings still need the protection provided by the community doing its part.  Healthcare workers still do not have as much personal protective equipment as they will need into the future.  And, the province is still working on building a surveillance system and testing strategy essential for monitoring the levels of infection in our community that could rise with relaxing restrictions.

For the latest epidemiological data for Ottawa, visit our website.


I know there has been evolving messaging about whether or not to wear a mask. If you are coughing or sneezing, wear a non-medical mask to protect people around you from getting sick. This is very important if you go to an appointment, clinic or a hospital. Do not go to other public places when you are sick, even if you are wearing a mask.

If you are not sick or not displaying symptoms and are going to a public place (e.g., grocery store or pharmacy) wearing homemade masks or  face coverings  may offer some additional protection to those around you where maintaining physical distancing is difficult.

Additionally, I’d like to remind residents that medical masks and N95 respirators should not be worn by healthy community members since they need to be protected for healthcare workers

For more information on masks, please visit

Long-term care and retirement home outbreaks

I continue to express my condolences to those who are impacted by the outbreaks in long-term care and retirement homes be it staff, residents or family members.

I am encouraged by the way the government has enabled staffing levels to be addressed to ensure homes have enough support. OPH continues to work with healthcare partners to ensure long-term care and retirement homes are a top priority for protection.

I get a lot of questions about testing in long-term care and retirement homes. When there is an outbreak in a home or congregate setting, all healthcare workers are tested regardless of whether they have symptoms. Close contacts of a positive case are also tested regardless of symptoms. And, testing is not the solution because regardless of the result, someone could be in the early stages of an infection or go on to become infected.   What is absolutely vital is using proper personal protective equipment, keeping cases isolated and consistently incorporating proper infection prevention and control measures. This is what will protect people the most and this is also the focus of OPH and our healthcare partners.

Case contacting and follow up

I’d like to address how Ottawa Public Health investigates and follows up with each positive case of COVID-19. OPH has a mandate to follow up with all persons who test positive for COVID-19 as well as their close contacts. Each case is monitored on a daily basis, meaning my team will reach out to each positive case and their close contacts every day for 14 days to see how each person is doing, provide information and address questions and concerns. The reason it is so important to check in daily is so OPH can ensure cases and close contacts are following proper home isolation guidelines and to provide clear direction on what each individual should be doing to protect themselves and others. Additionally, this is a new disease so daily follow up is imperative in recording information on how the disease is progressing.

I’d like to acknowledge my case management team who has undertaken this crucial undertaking. Consistent case follow up is one of the many things OPH is doing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Thank you

 Thank you for your collaboration in practicing physical distancing and for finding new and innovative ways of supporting each other including by providing donations and making homemade masks.  This is very important work that we encourage volunteers continue. 

I want to thank the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) for their support during this crisis to significantly enhance our capacity with over 100 nurses for triaging, test results, case management and contact tracing.  Our City of Ottawa partners deserve recognition and thanks. Other City departments have been supporting our efforts in various ways, including the redeployment of resources to OPH and support of the Human Needs Task Force and the Business Task Force, among other things. Thanks also to  our healthcare system partners for their continued efforts to increase capacity, share resources, facilitate patient flow, and so many other aspects of this response. Lastly, I want to thank the media for their continued work in ensuring residents have accurate, timely information. 

For an in-depth review of OPH’s work on the COVID-19 response to date, you can watch yesterday’s Board of Health meeting on YouTube. Residents can also tune in to tomorrow’s City Council meeting on YouTube or on Rogers TV.

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.