COVID-19 Update #54

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
My thoughts on the government’s announcement for an independent commission into Long Term Care (LTC)

New as of May 19

Health and Safety Top Priority as Schools Remain Closed

The Ontario government is protecting the health and safety of students during the COVID-19 outbreak by keeping schools closed for the rest of this school year. This decision was made after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, health experts on the COVID-19 Command Table, and medical experts at The Hospital for Sick Children. At the same time, the government is planning for the reopening of schools for the 2020-21 school year, the gradual reopening of child care, and the opening of summer day camps subject to the continuing progress in trends of key public health indicators.

Today’s announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education, and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.

All students who were on track to graduate from secondary school before the initial school closure order was made in March will be able to graduate, and all students will receive report cards.

Later this summer, the government will announce a plan to strengthen learning and safety protocols to enable students and staff to return to in-class instruction for the 2020-21 school year. That plan will be bolstered by an enhanced province-wide virtual learning program that will allow all students to learn, regardless of the challenges that may transpire in the coming months.

Private schools, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will also remain closed for the safety and protection of children, families and staff through Stage 1 of the Framework for Reopening the ProvinceEmergency child care will continue to operate and provide support for health care and other frontline workers. A gradual reopening of child care is expected to begin when the province is ready to transition to Stage 2 based on public health criteria, which will include robust safety protocols for the safety of Ontario’s youngest learners and their staff.

Assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year with strict health and safety guidelines to be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020. 

The province also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning plan to ensure Ontario students have every opportunity to continue their learning through the summer months. Summer learning programs are being expanded to reach the most students in Ontario history, to ensure they remain on track to start the 2020-21 school year with the confidence and knowledge required to succeed.

To support at-home learning, the government is leveraging all tools, resources, technologies and services to assist school boards deliver equitable and effective learning through access to technology and Internet connectivity, especially for students in rural and remote parts of Ontario. To help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario has worked to identify and make available low-cost, high-impact solutions that can significantly improve the Learn at Home experience now and into the future. Access to digital learning resources, supports for special education needs and mental health, as well as Internet connectivity and access to devices have all been identified by school boards and other stakeholders as urgent needs during the current school closure period. These organizations and businesses were identified through a call for proposals on the Ontario Together website between March 31, 2020 and April 21, 2020.

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to Keep People Safe until May 29, 2020

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force until May 29, 2020. That includes the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women’s shelters. The government is also allowing drive-in religious gatherings.

Today, the province officially enters the first stage of its Framework for Reopening the Province. As part of this initial stage, the government is permitting the reopening of some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities and multi-use fields, off-leash dog areas, and outdoor picnic sites, benches and shelters in parks and recreational areas, effective as of Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Outdoor playgrounds, play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, public swimming pools, splash pads and similar outdoor water facilities will remain closed until later stages of the province’s reopening plan.

To ensure that individuals and families have safe access to outdoor spaces, it is critical they take everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus, such as maintaining physical distancing by staying two metres apart from anyone outside of their household, washing hands regularly, and staying home if feeling unwell.

In addition, the government has approved an exemption to the emergency order related to gatherings to allow Ontarians to attend drive-in religious gatherings, under certain conditions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The conditions include keeping vehicles two metres or more apart, only members of the same household can be in one vehicle, people will not be able to leave their vehicles, and no more than five people can conduct the service at one time from outside a motor vehicle and they must stay at least two metres apart.

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 29, 2020. The emergency orders include:

Extending these orders supports the government’s plan to cautiously and safely reopen businesses, services and amenities in a way that will enable the province to continue to protect the health and safety of Ontarians.

Ontario Announces Independent Commission into Long-Term Care

ment in response to the impact of COVID-19 in Ontario’s long-term care homes:

“Our government has been clear that we will review the long-term care system to get a better understanding of the impacts and responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today, I am announcing that we will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September.
Over the next several months, our government will be finalizing details of the commission including terms of reference, membership, leadership of the commission and reporting timelines.
We have been clear the long-term care system in Ontario is broken. We must act quickly and decisively, and that is why an independent non-partisan commission is the best way to conduct a thorough and expedited review.
As we all take steps to contain this pandemic, the Commission will get down to work and provide us with guidance on how to improve the long-term care system and better protect residents and staff from any future outbreaks.
Since day one of COVID-19, our top priority has been to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. That includes the most vulnerable members of our society like residents in long-term care.
Our government offers our condolences to the families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 while residing in a long-term care home.
Ontarians need and deserve answers, and let me assure you, they will get them.”

Ontario Collaborates with Med-Tech Innovation Hub in the Fight Against COVID-19

With this new collaboration, the government will drive innovation in the sector, create jobs and build Ontario’s domestic medical supply chain to ensure the province is as self-sufficient as possible and prepared for a future health crisis.  

Non-medical manufacturing companies that have received funding through the Ontario Together Fund, or a Purchase Order with the Province of Ontario, can access MIX members’ medical advisory services, including assistance navigating regulatory hurdles and increasing efficiencies. By taking advantage of these opportunities, companies can accelerate the delivery of much needed medical supplies and products to the front lines.

To support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal and help businesses retool their operations, the government launched the $50 million Ontario Together Fund. All submissions received through the portal are being reviewed and prioritized to focus on solutions that can respond to where the need is greatest and can be implemented quickly. 

Prime Minister announces expansion of support for workers and small businesses

Throughout the pandemic, the Government of Canada has focused on keeping Canadians safe and healthy and helping families pay their bills. That’s why we have introduced strong measures to protect middle class jobs and support businesses, so they can keep Canadians on the payroll during this challenging time.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. This extended measure will help small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians rely on.

The changes to the CEBA will allow more Canadian small businesses to access interest free loans that will help cover operating costs during a period when revenues have been reduced, due to the pandemic.   

The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Expenses will be subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada. Funding will be delivered in partnership with financial institutions. More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come. To date, over 600,000 small businesses have accessed the CEBA, and the government will work on potential solutions to help business owners and entrepreneurs who operate through their personal bank account, as opposed to a business account, or have yet to file a tax return, such as newly created businesses.

This measure is part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which is putting Canadians and the protection of middle class jobs first. We will continue to help all Canadians, and together we will get through this crisis.

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches

Thank you to the people of Ottawa for celebrating your long weekend differently this year. It is great to see many people enjoying the outdoors while practicing physical distancing and limiting your contacts.

Reopening Ottawa

As part of Ontario’s Framework for Reopening the Province, many businesses are reopening today. While this will have positive impacts on the economy and hopefully mental health, there are now increased opportunities for interacting with others and a greater chance of the virus spreading. The vast majority of the population remains susceptible to the COVID-19 virus and the virus is still present in the community, with undetected and asymptomatic infections posing a challenge to containment. Our message remains the same: the fewer people you come into contact with the better to keep COVID-19 pinned down.

The recommended physical distancing measures don’t change with reopening. Dr. Theresa Tam has encouraged Canadians to only go out if you can “go out smart”.

Going out smart while living with COVID-19 in our community means:  

  • maintaining physical distancing of 2 metres 
  • wearing a non-medical cloth mask when physical distancing cannot be maintained 
  • washing your hands frequently 
  • avoiding high-touch surfaces and objects 
  • always using cough etiquette 
  • staying home if you are sick   


In the last week, we have heard questions about the effectiveness of wearing gloves in public and whether it provides protection from COVID-19. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) does not recommend wearing gloves. Wearing gloves can make you feel more protected from the virus than you actually are. Whether or not you are wearing gloves, if you touch high-contact surfaces and then touch your face, you are increasing the risk of getting COVID-19 and transmitting COVID-19 to others. If you choose to not follow this advice and wear gloves in public, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section on to ensure you use them correctly. Remember that hand washing with soap and water or using hand sanitizer is effective to reduce the spread of germs and to prevent yourself and others from getting sick.

Self-screening tool for employees

As businesses and employers start considering re-opening, we have some guidance on our website that can help promote the health and safety of employees and residents who may be accessing services.  If possible, working remotely or from home is always a great way to respect physical distancing.  For employers, it is important to know that pre-employment testing is currently not required for employees to return to work. We do recommend employees use a self-screening tool. Self-screening in advance of each shift can help detect when someone should be assessed for testing and detect new infections more quickly. . Employees with symptoms of infection consistent with COVID19 should not go to work. Any Ottawa resident who has symptoms is recommended to be assessed for testing at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre or COVID-19 Care Clinics; the centres have the capacity for this increased testing.  

OPH’s website also links to the province’s recommended guidelines for businesses and workplaces on our website to help businesses reopen in a way that considers the health and safety of both employees and customers.

OPH capacity to follow-up with cases and contacts

OPH is following up with 94% of cases within 24 hours. When OPH is notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19, OPH notifies the individual within 24 hours and begins the process of contact tracing.

OPH reaches out to 100 per cent of contacts within the 24 hours from when they are identified. The length of time it takes to complete the contact tracing can vary as some individuals may be quite ill. The contact notification process can also vary in length, depending on the number of close contacts and length of time it takes to connect with them. Through our case and contact management work, OPH is seeing that the number of close contacts per case has decreased since physical distancing and self-isolation measures were introduced.

OPH has increased the number of staff conducting case and contract management. As of April 23, we have 55-115 employees working each day, seven days a week. In early March, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Communicable Disease team consisted of six full-time people.

COVID-19: Share your thoughts

Lastly, the first phase of the city-wide online engagement platform COVID-19: Share your thoughts is closing tomorrow, May 20. Please continue to contribute to this discussion to help the City and OPH to learn more about your thoughts, perceptions and understanding of current restrictions in place related to COVID-19. The information we receive from residents will help to ensure we develop a plan for the recovery period that aligns with the province and meets the needs and expectations of our community as much as possible. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, community input is always important.  

During this next phase of gradual reopening, our approach must be flexible. We are learning new information about this novel virus on a regular basis. Ottawa Public Health will continue to rigorously track and work to contain the spread of the COVID-19 during the next phase.

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.