COVID-19 Update #57

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

Please read the letter I sent yesterday to Minister Lisa Thompson regarding Service Ontario concerns.

Remember that the government of Ontario has said that your driver’s license, health card and license sticker will not expire during the state of emergency. 

Most services are available online. 

You do not need to go to a Service Ontario location for these items at this time. 

For more information, please visit:

New as of May 22

ODSP members can contact new centralized number to request emergency benefits for May and June (1-888-444-2412)

Ontario Helps People Impacted by COVID-19 Get Back to Work

As the economy gradually reopens, the Ontario government is helping people affected by COVID-19 get back to work. The province is investing in Ontario’s first Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers, and is helping apprentices by providing grants to purchase tools, protective equipment and clothing for their trade, along with forgiving previous loans to purchase tools.

The announcement was made today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

The government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:

  • $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades;
  • $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades;
  • $400 for those in service sector trades.

To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:

  • completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020;
  • an active registered training agreement; and
  • been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months.

The government is also forgiving more than $10 million in outstanding loans owed by apprentices for tool purchases made at the beginning of their careers. The Loans for Tools Program allowed thousands of new apprentices to buy tools, equipment, clothing, manuals and code books required for their trade. About 19,000 apprentices who participated in the program owed, on average, $495.

The government is also investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75. This virtual job training resource will provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector with access to a wide range of services and supports online and over the phone, including:

  • Stress management and mental health resources through video conferencing;
  • Immediate health and safety online training for workers who return to work at designated quarantined sites;
  • Technical skills online training;
  • Online training to upgrade English language and digital skills;
  • Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing.

UNITE HERE will operate the Virtual Action Centre. UNITE HERE is a union that represents workers in hotels, restaurants, racetracks and casinos, laundry and food service companies, airport concessions and apparel, textile and general manufacturing and distribution centers.

Ontario Makes it Easier to Conduct Business during COVID-19

The Government of Ontario is making it easier for people to conduct business and practice physical distancing in the new COVID-19 environment. The province is permitting Ontario corporations to conduct virtual meetings and to defer certain annual meetings in specified circumstances and is allowing the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of documents, electronic signatures on documents, and electronic filing of documents. These changes are part of COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020.

Providing temporary flexibility to hold meetings virtually, defer annual meetings in specified circumstances, and submit e-filings will help Ontario corporations to safely meet their obligations during the COVID-19 outbreak while reducing the number of touchpoints needed to file documentation. Additionally, the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020 will permanently allow the Ministry to accept copies of documents signed by electronic signature, providing greater flexibility to businesses moving forward.

The government has consulted with the Business Law Modernization and Burden Reduction Council on these legislative amendments to address corporate and business law issues during the pandemic. The Council is a group of legal experts appointed by the Minister of Government and Consumer Services to advise on modernizing Ontario’s business laws, some of which have not changed in over ten years.

The government also consulted with key businesses, condominium corporation sector stakeholders, and co-operative corporation sector stakeholders. 

Government of Canada announces online tool, “Find financial help during COVID-19” to assist Canadians in accessing financial support

The Government of Canada is committed to getting benefits into the hands of Canadians impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic quickly and effectively.

Today, the Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government, announced a web-based benefits finder tool, “Find financial help during COVID-19”,  on, to help people living in Canada determine which government benefits programs best meet their needs.

“Find financial help during COVID-19” was developed by the Canadian Digital Service, together with partners at Employment and Social Development Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency, and is part of a suite of online tools and resources the government has made available to help Canadians navigate this crisis with confidence. 

By answering a few simple questions, individuals will be presented with a personalized list of financial benefits that could be available to them, based on their specific circumstances.

The tool provides individuals with information on federal, provincial and territorial benefits programs available to them, including the just-launched Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and the Canada Child Benefit top-up, as well as measures such as mortgage and student loan deferrals. It will be updated as needed as the government continues to support Canadians during this challenging time.

Guided by a set of digital principles, this tool was designed for, and with, Canadians to ensure they can get the accurate and timely information they need, now.

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches

At the end of this first week of reopening, and as the warmer weather appears to be here to stay, many people may be feeling like we have entered a new phase of this pandemic, and they would be correct. And, now is not the time to ease up on our efforts that have been keeping this virus pinned down. We are still learning how we can live with COVID-19 in our community while continuing to do some of the activities that we enjoy. I can’t say enough that we must continue to keep physical distancing and wear a cloth mask in situations when we can’t keep a two-metre distance from others outside our household.  These activities prevent infections.

We are still in this together as a community to protect ourselves and others.   

As we resume some of our usual activities and routines like shopping or grabbing take-out coffee, perhaps seeing others we have not seen in a long time at that two-meter distance, you may experience a variety of emotions. I for one got a little emotional yesterday when I saw the usual person serving in the coffee shop down the street when it reopened after two months. This is normal during times of stress and uncertainty and when we see signs of overcoming adversity. 

Thank you so much for your efforts in the first phase of the pandemic response and for your resilience to continue your hard work and share ideas on how we can live within this new normal.   

Testing strategy 

Testing to detect as many COVID19 infections in our community as we can is another one of the efforts that will help keep the virus pinned down as we begin to reopen Ottawa. 

I’d like to remind everyone that testing is now available to anyone with suspected COVID-19 symptoms. Many family physicians’ offices are open, so please check with them first.  And, the assessment centre, care clinics and laboratories have the capacity to offer this testing for everyone that needs it. 

By getting tested, you are helping us find every case we can to stop transmission of COVID-19; this information helps us to detect cases more quickly, understand what transmission is occurring in the community, investigate potential sources and identify outbreaks earlier.   

The testing strategy continues to evolve based on the needs of the community, testing capacity as well as provincial guidance. Currently, discussions are underway about in what situations it makes sense to test people who are asymptomatic. We currently test people who are asymptomatic in situations of outbreaks in congregate care settings.  Ottawa’s testing capacity has grown significantly since the declaration of the virus in Canada, but we still do not have the capacity to test everyone in Ottawa. We’re working closely with our healthcare, provincial and federal partners to best use our testing capacity. 

We encourage employers and organizations to consider using a screening questionnaire available on OPH’s website that your staff and volunteers can use to self-assess for COVID-19 symptoms before starting their work day. Any employees with even mild symptoms should not work when ill and are strongly encouraged to present for testing.

Focus on prevention 

I know that testing gets a lot of attention, but prevention is essential and has always been a key focus for the work of public health. We would much rather prevent cases of COVID-19 in our community than chase the virus down once it starts spreading. We know that prevention saves the health care system dollars, but it also saves lives.  Not getting sick in the first place is better for everyone, particularly when there is no effective cure for the infection. 

Early public health advice to practice physical distancing has prevented transmission in our community, and I thank all of you who continue to practice preventive measures such as physical distancing, washing your hands frequently, not touching your face and wearing a cloth mask when in close contact with people outside your household.  Testing is not enough.  These measures are important to continue to limit transmission in the community.  

Case and contact management 

Connecting with people with confirmed COVID-19 and their contacts, to support them to do their part to manage their illness and decrease further transmission, is another essential public health measure in place to help keep the virus pinned down as we begin to reopen Ottawa.

When OPH is notified of a confirmed case of COVID-19, we call the individual within 24 hours and begin the process of contact tracing. Through our case and contact management work, OPH is seeing that the number of close contacts per case is now often less than five and contacts are usually household contacts. Before physical distancing and self-isolation measures were introduced, OPH was notifying approximately 15 to 20 close contacts per case. We will continue to monitor the impact of reopening and how this influences the number of close contacts per case. Modelling shows that in Ottawa, if contacts rise by even 20 per cent, we can anticipate to see hospitalizations increase.   

I encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather. Please keep doing what you’re doing to limit your total contacts: stay two metres apart, wash your hands and wear a cloth mask when you can’t keep physical distance. Your actions are appreciated and will be what allows us to live in a more sustainable way in the future.   

A special note from VISTAS – our Alta Vista community newspaper is BACK IN PRINT, after a month of hiatus (an effort to support our volunteer distribution team’s safety and commitment to follow Stay at Home directives). While we are excited to be back on track with our final paper before the summer months, we acknowledge that some places of business who usually have papers for pickup are still not open. We’d like to remind our readers that VISTAS is also posted online each month at in addition to paper copies. Our June issue will be hot off the press and on the website on Friday, May 29.

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.