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 May 4
Ontario has significantly increased testing and contact tracing capacity, allowing health experts to identify cases of COVID-19 and support efforts to stop the spread of the virus in the community, long-term care homes, and other congregate settings. In partnership with Ontario Health, Public Health Ontario, local public health units, and hospital and community laboratories, the Ontario government has developed an integrated laboratory system which has established the province as a national leader in daily testing volumes per capita.
Testing is being carried out in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, and other congregate settings. Once test samples are collected and received from frontline staff, patients, residents and children, labs are providing test results generally within 24 to 48 hours. On May 2, 2020, the province released updated guidance to the health sector to ensure consistency across the province, and to help guide decision-making on the testing of priority population groups.
To date, Ontario has conducted over 342,000 tests, with testing results being made available to patients through the user-friendly online portal. The portal was developed to help ease pressure on frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19.
The new integrated laboratory system will support the province’s health care system and laboratory network far beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The provincewide testing network consists of more than 20 organizations and is coordinating and leveraging the diverse expertise located throughout the province. This is being achieved through daily check-ins and processes that address operational needs, such as:
- Levels of supplies, expected supply consumption per day, inventory replenishment and other supply chain issues
- Equipment information
- Technical capacity and advances
- Test turn-around times and the shifting of test samples to laboratories that have spare processing capacity
- Ongoing scientific and technical review of test performance
- Alternative approaches to processing
- Emerging technology
Ontario has also helped expand the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management. Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 provided $100 million in additional investments for public health units to support COVID-19 monitoring and testing, including funding to support enhanced contact tracing. This funding enables public health units to hire more personnel.
In addition, Ontario previously issued an emergency order to provide public health units the authority and flexibility they need to make staffing decisions that support their ongoing efforts to contain the virus. With the help of volunteers, public health units have been able to expand their capacity to conduct case and contact management ― both of which are critical to stopping the spread of the virus. These include the thousands of retired nurses and medical students who have signed up through the province’s website.
Today, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, released the following statement to acknowledge Mental Health Week:
“During this unprecedented time in Ontario, many people are facing great challenges as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. During Mental Health Week this year, we are dedicated to raising awareness around an issue that affects over one million Ontarians each year.
Our government recognizes many Ontarians are experiencing increased anxiety because of COVID-19 and are worried about their health, the health of their family and friends, and the future of their livelihoods and are feeling anxious in physical isolation. We want to help those who need support and have taken immediate action to ensure everyone can access the high-quality care they expect and deserve.
Recently, our government announced up to $12 million in emergency funding to immediately expand online and virtual mental health supports. This brings additional access to care for people across the province and specific services to our frontline heroes.
We know maintaining physical distancing can be stressful for many people across the province. Just as it is critical that Ontarians heed the advice of our public health experts to stay at home and maintain safe physical distancing, it is critical that we continue providing everyone with the supports they need to stay both physically and mentally healthy. Ontario’s community mental health and addictions sector is working hard every single day to continue delivering services to people in need. We thank them all for their efforts and we will continue working collaboratively with them to identify further opportunities for investments to ensure all Ontarians have access to supports.
This week also marks Maternal Mental Health Week and Children’s Mental Health Week, which coincides with National Child and Youth Mental Health Day on May 7. The mental health of all children and youth in Ontario is of great importance. That is why we have recently expanded programs, such as BounceBack, and have provided emergency funding to Kids Help Phone, to further support children and youth who are struggling with their mental health.
Ontario also launched a Roadmap to Wellness: A Plan to Build Ontario’s Mental Health and Addictions System, which provides a clear path forward toward offering Ontarians easier access to standardized, high-quality care and supports in communities across the province. As we implement this plan, we will continue listening and collaborating with our partners to ensure it works for all Ontarians.
We are committed to creating an Ontario where everyone is fully supported in their journey toward mental wellness. While you are staying home, we urge you to stay in touch with each other, and to reach out for help when you need it and to those who may be struggling. Even if we cannot be close physically, we are all in this together.”
For many Canadians, COVID-19 is having a major impact on their everyday lives, as they work to pay their bills, put food on the table, and take care of themselves and their families. That is why it is more important than ever that Canadians have access to the tools and resources they need to support their health and well-being.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an investment of $240.5 million to develop, expand, and launch virtual care and mental health tools to support Canadians.
Working with provinces, territories, and stakeholders, this investment will be used to create digital platforms and applications, improve access to virtual mental health supports, and expand capacity to deliver health care virtually, including projects to reach vulnerable Canadians. These supports will also help ease the burden on our health care system, as we continue to deal with COVID-19. This investment will:
- help Canadians safely engage with their regular health providers and specialist health services through telephone, text, or video-conferencing;
- support access to mental health supports and reliable health information in a safe and secure manner, which will reduce the pressure on our health system;
- help governments, public health officials, hospitals, and health care facilities make evidence-based decisions; and
- support federal, provincial, and territorial initiatives in collaboration with innovators, health stakeholders, and organizations like Canada Health Infoway, to expand virtual health services to Canadians.
This investment will support Wellness Together Canada, an online portal that provides Canadians with free resources, tools, and professional support services to help with wellness and resilience, as well as mental health and substance use. It will also support a growing family of digital products that includes the Canada COVID-19 app, which helps people track their symptoms, receive the latest updates, and access trusted resources.
With these additional supports, we are helping Canadians access the health resources they need, wherever and whenever they need them. The government will continue to focus on the health, safety, and well-being of all Canadians during these challenging times.
Families are feeling the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in their everyday lives. Parents are concerned about putting food on the table, and trying to find creative ways to educate and entertain their kids. This is a difficult time for many families, and we need to continue helping parents and investing in our children.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today highlighted that families receiving the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will get $300 extra per child in May to help them deal with the added pressures of COVID-19.
Eligible families will automatically receive this one-time increase as part of their scheduled CCB payment in May. Those who already receive the CCB do not need to re-apply for this one-time increase. This increase will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support across the country to help families with the high cost of taking care of their kids during this challenging period.
This is just one of the many measures the Government of Canada has put in place to help families weather this crisis. In addition to this one-time CCB increase, we have provided individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit. This measure gave, on average, close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples, injecting $5.5 billion into the Canadian economy. We have also extended the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, 2020.
The government will continue to monitor and respond to the health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19. We stand ready to take additional actions as needed to support all Canadians, including families and children, and stabilize the economy.
(Please read so that you are prepared when gardens officially open)
The risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus in outdoor settings like community gardens is lower than indoors — this includes the risk of human-to-human spread and from the risk from contaminated surfaces. Distancing is usually easier to maintain outdoors, there is more air circulation, and there is UV sunlight. In addition, we know that virus survives for less time on surfaces that are not smooth, and that UV light kills all SARS coronavirus in 60 minutes. For more general and updated information on COVID-19 visit our page.
Be aware that in addition to maintaining a minimum of 2-meter distance from all others, good hand hygiene is very important to protect yourself and others from infection both indoors and outdoors
- Conduct a COVID-19 health self-assessment each day before attending the garden to ensure you are not ill. Should self-assessments indicate they should self-isolate or seek medical advice, gardeners must not go to the garden until the issue is resolved.
- Practice good personal hygiene practices such as washing your hands, coughing or sneezing into your arm, and not touching your face (mouth, nose, or eyes) unless you have washed your hands immediately before. Washed hands are the best protection against accidently transferring virus to your mouth, nose or eyes where infection can get started. Wash hands as soon as possible before and after gardening at the site. If hands are visibly soiled, handwashing with soap and water is preferred, but hand sanitizer can be effective if dirt is removed from hands first.
- Use your own garden gloves and bring them home to wash with soap and clean water after each use. Always wash your hands thoroughly immediately after taking off your gloves.
- Practice physical distancing from others in the garden:
- stay at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others to limit the number of people you come in close contact with, except members of your household who are gardening.
- limit the number of gardeners at each plot. Allow only 1 or 2 gardeners per garden plot. Having more than 1 or 2 gardeners will make it more difficult to maintain at least 2 meters from all other people and would be unfair to other gardeners.
- Minimize the use of shared tools and consider cleaning and disinfecting tools that are shared. Not touching your face and washing hands after gardening are protective of infection spread from contaminated surfaces.
- The normal practice of wearing gardening gloves combined with not touching your face and washing hands after gardening are protective of infection spread from contaminated surfaces.
- Consider wearing a non-medical face mask when physical distancing is difficult, to protect others from the spread of droplets generated by breathing, talking, coughing, sneezing, etc.
- Wash your hands as soon as possible after touching commonly touched surfaces in the garden. Remember that you cannot rely on a surface being clean when you touch it – always wash your hands before touching any part of your face even if you think a surface you have touched is clean.
- Consider bringing soap and water and a disinfectant with you to clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces prior to use and ideally after touching them. Commonly used cleaners and disinfectants are effective against COVID-19. The following cleaning and disinfection recommendations aim to reduce the risks associated with surface transmission. Surfaces should first be cleaned with soap and water and then disinfected.
- Follow recommendations from Public Health Ontario on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, consult Public Health Ontario’s fact sheet on Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings, as well as read the specific label instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure products are properly prepared and applied; allowed adequate contact time for the disinfectant to kill germs; and that the person preparing and applying them is wearing gloves and any additional recommended personal protective equipment.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running tap water as per normal when preparing foods. Always wash your hands with soap and water before washing fruits and veggies and between handling different kinds of foods. Visit Ottawa Public Health’s Keeping foods safe (clean, cook, chill, separate) for more information.
Starting today, CHEO’s Emergency Department is offering virtual appointments with a pediatric emergency physician for children and youth needing urgent, but not medically life-threatening, care — becoming Canada’s first pediatric hospital to do so.
CHEO’s Emergency Department is always open for in-person visits and we encourage anyone who needs in-person care to come. We are here and we are safe.
“Being the first pediatric hospital in Canada to offer virtual Emergency Department visits responds to a real need,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO, a pediatric health and research centre in Ottawa. “In the past 60 days we’ve seen a significant decline in the number of kids and teens coming to our Emergency Department, and those who are coming are too often presenting with worse symptoms than we would normally see. Offering these virtual Emergency Department appointments as a pandemic initiative provides more choice, so every child or youth has access to the care they need during this extraordinary time.”
CHEO still asks that families first consult with their primary care physicians, providers and pediatricians, whenever possible, and to always follow their recommendations when advised to come in person to CHEO’s Emergency Department.
To start, CHEO will offer 24 virtual appointments a day, between 9 am and 9 pm. These appointments will be conducted using secure video connections.
“Because this approach to emergency care hasn’t been done before, we will be learning to walk before we run. We will adjust as we go and appreciate families’ understanding as we do. We are also looking to them for guidance and feedback as we work to improve and expand this new service,” said Dr. Lindy Samson, Medical Chief of Staff for CHEO.
“This is not, in any way, meant to provide primary care. That is always best done by primary care providers in the community,” emphasized Dr. Samson. “This is a service for children and youth who require emergency care.”How it works
· Go to www.cheo.on.ca, where you can submit an appointment request 24 hours a day.
· CHEO has developed a self-triage checklist that indicates whether a virtual appointment is right for them. CHEO always asks that families first consult with their primary care provider whenever possible.
· If you are requesting a virtual emergency visit, you will be asked to fill out a secure online form with more details.
· A CHEO registration clerk will contact you to schedule a virtual appointment. Between 7:30 am and 11:30 pm, you will receive a call back within 30 minutes. Response times overnight may take a bit longer.
While we expect to be able to manage a good portion of the appointments entirely virtually, some families or youth will be advised to come to CHEO in person for further evaluation.
If you need urgent, in-person care our Emergency Department is always here for you. If you do need to visit in person, make sure to follow the physical distancing markers and put on a mask when you arrive.
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.