COVID-19 Update #59

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 military report released today on conditions in Ontario Long Term Care homes.

New as of May 26

Government of Ontario’s Response to the Worst Hit Long-Term Care Homes

Since the outset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Ontario government has put the safety and security of our seniors as a top priority. The onset of COVID-19 has only exacerbated the already difficult situation in long-term care in the province.

Today, the Ontario government outlined key findings from the Canadian Armed Forces report on the five long-term care homes at which the military has been assisting. The report details serious concerns around infection prevention, safety, staffing and level of care. The report also indicates that these five homes are beginning to stabilize with the support of the armed forces.

On April 22, the Ontario government formally requested assistance from the federal government in the form of the Canadian Armed Forces to support five long-term care homes that were in crisis. These homes were amongst the hardest hit in Ontario with COVID-19 outbreaks and had significant challenges that could not be rectified through various efforts. Those challenges included: staffing, infection prevention and control, resident safety, food preparation and janitorial services.

On May 10, the Canadian Armed Forces reported 15 out of 20 categories being in high-risk. As of May 25, based on the Canadian Armed Forces assessment, 13 of these 15 categories were no longer considered high-risk.

The Ontario government is once again calling on the federal government and the Canadian Armed Forces to extend their current mission for at least an additional 30 days.

The government has already begun an active investigation based on the Canadian Armed Forces report. To date, one death has been referred to the Office of the Chief Coroner for investigation. In addition to continued regular inspections, the Ministry of Long-Term Care Inspections Branch will immediately investigate specific critical incidents referred to in the report.

In addition, the government recently announced it will be launching an independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system beginning in September. The government also continues to work with hospital partners to assist long-term care homes across the province with clinical, infection prevention and control, and other supports.

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

Prime Minister to join UN Secretary General and the Prime Minister of Jamaica to convene high-level meeting to address economic devastation caused by COVID‑19

The Event, which will be virtual, will open with a High-Level Segment in which Heads of State and Government will express their commitment to decisively facilitate global solutions to address the global economic crisis and its effects on the most vulnerable.

A High-Level Panel of leaders from international institutions will discuss the challenges and opportunities to act quickly on the six issues:

  1. The need to expand liquidity in the global economy and maintain financial stability to safeguard development gains. 
  2. The need to address debt vulnerabilities for all developing countries to save lives and livelihoods for billions of people around the world. 
  3. The need to create a space in which private sector creditors can proactively engage in effective and timely solutions.
  4. Prerequisites for enhancing external finance for inclusive growth and creating jobs, including lowering the transactions costs of remittances.
  5. Measures to expand fiscal space and foster domestic resource mobilization by preventing illicit financial flows.
  6. Ensuring a sustainable and inclusive recovery by aligning recovery policies with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Following the Panel, the High-Level Response Segment among Heads of State and Government, and partners will continue.

COVID-19 has so far claimed more than 344,000 lives, with more than 5.3 million confirmed cases. It will cause the global economy to sharply contract this year, throwing more than 300 million people out of work and pushing more than 30 million people into extreme poverty.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the social and economic crisis it triggered, will derail chances to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – unless there is a commensurate global response that reaches at least 10 percent of global GDP. This response must be rapid, and must provide support to all countries in need, in order to rebuild even better and more resilient economies and societies.

Government of Canada enhances Youth Employment and Skills Program to help create new positions for youth in the agriculture sector

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada is taking steps to ensure the resilience of the food supply chain and to provide support to keep the agriculture sector strong. The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, today announced an investment of up to $9.2 million to enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) and fund up to 700 new positions for youth in the agriculture industry.

This additional funding will help the agriculture industry attract Canadian youth, ages 15 to 30, to their organizations to assist with labour shortages brought on by the pandemic. This program aims to provide youth, and particularly youth facing barriers to employment, with job experience in agriculture that will provide career-related work experience.

The YESP will provide agriculture employers up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers are eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent of their costs.

Eligible applicants include producers, agri-businesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous organizations and research facilities. Employers may apply for this funding retroactive to April 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2021.

Application forms are available through the Youth Employment and Skills Program, or to get more information, please contact, or call: 1-866-452-5558.

Hotline to provide small businesses in need with financial planning advice amid COVID-19 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET)

Small businesses have been facing unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so as they take steps toward reopening. To help them get through this crisis, the Government of Canada has introduced a wide range of supports to help businesses retain their employees, keep their costs low and pay their operating expenses.

The smallest businesses may face the additional challenge of accessing tailored financial planning advice to help them survive this difficult period.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced that the Government of Canada will support the launch of a four-week hotline service called the Business Resilience Service. This service will help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice, particularly those who may not have access to an accountant. The service will also be open to not-for-profit organizations and charities.

The hotline is a national, bilingual service operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As of today, small business owners with pressing financial needs can call 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).

Business advisors—125 members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)—will be available to provide customized financial guidance to the smallest business owners in the most urgent need and help them make the best decisions for their business as they navigate this crisis. Advisors can answer questions about tax regulations and the implications of COVID-19, inform business owners about government support programs that best fit their unique circumstances, and provide strategic financial planning for their road to recovery.

Every step of the way through this crisis, the government will continue to support Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs—especially vulnerable businesses in dire need of help.

Special statement from Dr. Vera Etches

Thank you to everyone who practiced physical distancing over what was another beautiful weekend in Ottawa. Spending time in nature can have positive impacts on our mental health and the sunshine and warmer temperatures makes being outdoors much more enticing for many of us. 

I want to continue to stress the importance that as we go about reopening Ottawa and resuming activities, we must do so in a smart way, which includes keeping our two metre distance from others and wearing a mask in close contact with people outside our households. The likelihood and severity of a second wave is largely determined by our actions; what we do today will impact our future freedoms.  

Testing strategy 

Yesterday Premier Doug Ford stated that anyone in Ontario who is worried about having been exposed to COVID-19 can present for testing even if not showing symptoms. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) and the COVID-19 Assessment Centre & COVID-19 Care Clinics are awaiting further guidance provided by the Ontario Ministry of Health regarding testing.  

Any Ottawa resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms of illness, can now go for testing at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre or the COVID-19 Care Clinics and should not be turned away unless volumes are significant.  Populations at highest risk for COVID-19 transmission like healthcare workers and people with symptoms of illness will need to be prioritized if demand outstrips capacity. 

The available test detects COVID-19 virus in the body, not antibodies, so the test cannot tell you if you have had COVID-19 infection in the past. 

Since yesterday’s provincial announcement, we have seen increased numbers of individuals presenting for testing at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and COVID-19 Care Clinics. If you do present for testing, please be prepared for longer wait times and wear a mask if you are able to do so. When wait times are significant, priority will be given to residents from high-risk groups and those showing symptoms.  

Our website has been updated to reflect this change in testing:
please see for more details. We expect a formal testing strategy to be announced by the ministry later this week. 

In addition to the COVID-19 Assessment Centre and Care Clinics, some family doctors offices are providing this service, and mobile services are available for populations with need. We will be announcing further options for accessing COVID19 tests in the future.I am pleased that our labs have been able to increase testing capacity. As it stands, the Champlain region is able to process approximately 1,900 tests per day. We are working with healthcare partners to ensure this increased testing capacity is best used tofind out where the virus is in the community and break chains of transmission, with a focus on populations at highest risk.  

For more information on testing, please visit

Reopening cautiously 

We’ve been asked about the number of cases rising in Ontario and whether it really is the right time to be reopening. At this point, increases in cases are mostly in the Greater Toronto Area, not in Ottawa.   We will continue to monitor the situation locally and inform the public; people need to know what is happening where they live. 

Last Friday, Dr. Doug Manuel shared a cautionary note on reopening: while everyone in Ottawa has contributed to flattening the curve, we cannot move forward as though the virus is gone.  We still have outbreaks and a stable level of hospitalizations in Ottawa. We must find ways to live with this virus.  Our goal is to resume activities in a way that decreases risk of transmission – keeping distance between ourselves and supporting businesses’ employees’ health and protecting others by wearing masks when within two metres of someone. 

Heat preparedness 

Hot weather has come early this year in Ottawa and southern Ontario. To reduce the burden on our health care system, I want to remind residents of ways to prevent heat-related illnesses.    

Heat and high humidity can be difficult to deal with, especially for people at risk such as older adults, infants, outdoor workers and people with pre-existing health conditions.  

Ottawa Public Health is encouraging residents to get ready for the heat by having a plan on how they will stay cool and prevent heat related illnesses.  With many of our usual places to cool off not open right now, such as libraries, pools and shopping malls we will have to rely on other means to cool off.   

Cool water and the use of fans or air conditioning are two very effective ways of staying cool. Some good reminders to prevent heat related illnesses include: 

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated 
  • Cool off in the shade or at a park or greenspace.  
  • Use a fan and mist your skin with water  
  • Take cool baths and showers as often as needed  
  • Soak hands and/or feet in cool water 
  • Keep your home cool by closing blinds and curtains during the day 
  • Stay connected with people in your community who have a difficult time coping with hot weather and those who live alone. Check on them regularly. 
  • Practice sun safety. 

For more information visit

Hot weather concerns and face masks: 

Wearing a mask is important to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in any indoor setting where it may be difficult to maintain at least two-metre distancing or the room or corridor is small. Wearing a mask may not be necessary outdoors (where higher temperatures may be more of a concern) if distances can be maintained. 

Masks do become more uncomfortable in hot temperatures, but they will still work. The general public should plan outdoor outings for the coolest times of the day and take breaks in the shade or a cool environment if they are finding a face mask uncomfortable in the heat.   

For people undertaking physical exertion in heat, a mask can make the effort more difficult. Decreasing intensity/volume of work, more frequent rests, and more cooling breaks may be necessary. Discuss your health needs with your employer. 

Paramedic Services Week 

This week is Paramedic Services Week, an opportunity to recognize the invaluable work these frontline workers commit to every day. 

Our paramedics are on the front lines during this fight against COVID-19 and have played an integral role in responding to and preventing the spread of COVID-19. 

On behalf of Ottawa Public Health, thank you Ottawa paramedics for being there to help protect the health and well-being of all Ottawa residents.

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.