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 29
As the province carefully and gradually reopens the economy, the Ontario government is implementing the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy to detect and quickly stop the spread of the virus. Testing will now be available to more people in more locations across the province.
Today, Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, released the next phase of the province’s COVID-19 testing plan, Protecting Ontarians Through Enhanced Testing, which includes three branches of testing:
- Assessment Centre Testing: expanding who gets tested to now include asymptomatic individuals concerned about exposure and continued routine symptomatic testing at assessment centres.
- Targeted Campaigns: detecting and containing cases by expanding asymptomatic surveillance for vulnerable populations, including in long-term care homes and other shared living spaces like shelters and group homes, as well as targeted testing of workplaces in priority sectors which work with priority populations and where it may be difficult to physically distance.
- Outbreak Management: testing to ensure rapid and agile response capacity for outbreak management, including in specific neighbourhoods and regions or at hospitals, institutions and workplaces.
Together, these branches of testing will support Ontario regions’ extensive efforts to reduce the rate of transmission, also known as instantaneous reproduction number, or Rt.
To help enable increased access to routine symptomatic testing, people will no longer need a referral to go to any of the more than 130 assessment centres across Ontario. Information about the assessment centres is now easily accessible on Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 website.
Ontario will also expand proactive surveillance testing to detect outbreaks and more actively monitor any spread among our most vulnerable populations in hospitals, long-term care homes, group homes, shelters, emergency child care centres, correctional facilities and other shared living spaces. This will include testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic residents and frontline staff in long-term care and retirement homes, as well as those working with priority populations, including first responders, essential workers and other workplaces as the economy gradually reopens.
Moving forward, the province expects that private-sector workplace testing will leverage private and public resources as the government works with private-sector employers to develop the appropriate models for each sector and workplace. Further proactive surveillance testing will also be conducted in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.
In response to a declaration of an outbreak in a specific neighbourhood, region, institution or workplace, the province is also developing agile testing resources, such as mobile testing teams, that can be rapidly deployed to communities across Ontario to enhance existing outbreak management.
Ontario will also soon release a renewed strategy to support public health units with case management and contact tracing, including launching a new exposure notification app that will alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and would recommend appropriate actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation and/or appropriate next steps on getting tested.
This initiative will keep more small businesses in operation and more people employed as the province gradually and safely restarts the economy.
The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, has launched the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The province is committing $241 million to the program, which will provide more than $900 million in support for small businesses across Ontario during this difficult time. To find out how much rent support you may be eligible for, visit Ontario.ca/rentassistance.
The CECRA for small businesses, administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial landlords to help cover 50 per cent of commercial rent for tenants for the months of April, May and June 2020. The tenant will be responsible for covering up to 25 per cent of rent, so that up to 75 per cent of the rent is covered.
To receive the forgivable loan, eligible commercial landlords will be required to enter into a rent reduction agreement with their impacted small business tenants for April to June 2020, which includes committing to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
To learn more and apply for the CECRA for small businesses, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) application portal.
Prime Minister announces additional funding for health, economic, and social support for Indigenous peoples and communities
COVID-19 has further highlighted many existing challenges already facing Indigenous peoples, particularly those who live in remote areas. The Government of Canada is working with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities to support their immediate public health response, with the flexibility to address their specific needs through community-led solutions, while also identifying opportunities to provide longer-term support.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced new funding to provide critical support to Indigenous families and communities during this crisis, based on needs that have been identified. The funding includes:
- $285.1 million to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. The investment will fund community-led responses to the pandemic, and provide targeted increases in primary health care resources for First Nations communities. In case of outbreaks, this funding can be drawn upon to provide surge capacity and additional support for community-based services in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
- $270 million to supplement the On-Reserve Income Assistance Program to address increased demand on the program, which will help individuals and families meet their essential living expenses. It will also help hire additional staff to better serve First Nations communities and connect individuals to other government programs.
- $44.8 million over five years to build 12 new shelters, which will help protect and support Indigenous women and girls experiencing and fleeing violence. This funding will help build 10 shelters in First Nations communities on reserve across the country, and two in the territories, to support Indigenous women and children. The government will also provide $40.8 million to support operational costs for these new shelters over the first five years, and $10.2 million annually ongoing. We are also announcing $1 million a year ongoing, starting this year, to support engagement with Métis leaders and service providers on shelter provision and community-led violence prevention projects for Métis women, girls, and LGBTQ and two-spirit people.
Today’s investment builds on the work already being done through the $305 million Indigenous Community Support Fund, and the additional $75 million provided for communities and organizations working with Indigenous peoples living in urban areas and off-reserve. The Government of Canada is taking a distinctions-based approach to address the needs of Indigenous peoples and communities. Where needed, the government has also provided additional support, including in northwestern Saskatchewan, where funding has supported a collective effort between First Nations, the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan, the Government of Saskatchewan, and other partners to coordinate the COVID-19 response in the region.
We will continue to work with Indigenous partners as we move forward to support their efforts to respond to COVID-19 and its health, social, and economic impacts.
First, I would like to begin by expressing my condolences to the family and friends of the personal support worker who recently passed away from the Madonna Care Home. Our thoughts are with you.
The Ottawa community has understood well the extraordinary measures required to avoid a health system catastrophe from COVID19 infections increasing too quickly. Because of Ottawans taking precautions, we are seeing results. We can start to get back to work and access more services. Thank you for continuing to observe recommendations through this challenging time.
The Champlain Health Region Incident Command (CHRIC) oversees COVID19 testing centres and the Eastern Ontario Laboratory Association. Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is working with CHRIC to continue to adjust the COVID19 testing strategy to balance demand for tests with laboratory capacity and ensure testing follows identified priorities.
Tests are completed in three general categories in Ottawa and across the province. First, for public health purposes related to case and contact management and controlling outbreaks.
When someone tests positive for COVID19, OPH conducts contact tracing to identify contacts at risk for infection to stop the chain of transmission. In addition to self-isolation or self-monitoring of contacts, testing is used to identify those who may have become infected. t When there is an outbreak in a congregate setting or workplace, staff and residents with the closest contact are tested, but depending upon the scenario, individuals on one floor or in the entire setting are tested as part of disease control actions.
Second, ongoing “surveillance” testing occurs in congregate settings. CHRIC and OPH are taking a risk-based approach so that congregate settings that face greater challenges to infection prevention and control complete testing more frequently. The frequency and approach will be further defined by the province.
The last category of testing is of the broader public that may be at risk of infection with COVID19. People who have COVID19-like symptoms are a priority for testing as soon as possible after symptoms appear. The testing of more asymptomatic people may provide more information about the geographic distribution of infections and hopefully help identify sources of exposure in the community to enable action to stop transmission.
Any Ottawa resident who feels they need a test, even if they are not showing symptoms, can present for testing. 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 by referral. OPH still recommends using the COVID-19 self-assessment tool if you are worried you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms.
Daily screening of workers for symptoms of COVID19
With workplaces increasingly reopening, OPH is encouraging daily screening of everyone working in the workplace by asking people if they have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and cough, sore throat or cold symptoms. Symptomatic people should go home, self-isolate and seek COVID-19 testing. Tests are currently being turned around in about a day. Screening tools are available on OPH’s businesses and workplaces webpage at ottawapublichealth.ca.
OPH encourages individuals to seek medical care if feeling unwell by contacting your healthcare provider.
Dr. Brent Moloughney
Living with COVID-19
As we adapt to living with COVID-19, controlling the rate of transmission and the number of cases will help keep this virus under control. Only a few cases at the beginning of the pandemic in Ottawa required us to ramp up public health measures. At that time, the number of infections was doubling every three to four days.
Until there is a vaccine or an effective treatment, while there is COVID19 infection in Ottawa, public health advice includes practicing physical distancing, hand hygiene, wearing a cloth mask when physical distancing is not possible and limiting your contacts; all these measures are going to be part of our new normal.
Warm weather has finally arrived, businesses are reopening and more people are going back to work. This is good for our mental health and the economy, and we need to be wise with our actions as we continue to live with COVID-19.
I’m happy to see more people wearing masks when out in public places. This shows that people are getting the message to wear a mask when physical distancing may not be possible. This will become our new normal as the city reopens. Remember: my mask protects you and your mask protects me.
We are following the provincial framework to reopen which includes monitoring four dimensions: virus spread and containment, health care system capacity, public health behaviours and testing and tracing capacity.
Questions are arising about what is permissible and what is not as provincial orders change and many provincial restrictions remain in place. Please continue to use the principle of protecting yourselves and others as you choose activities.
Examples of high-risk activities include having guests over, going to crowded places and participating in team or contact sports. Low-risk activities include going to less-crowded beaches or parks, enjoying a hobby alone like bird watching or shopping online with home delivery or curbside pickup options (preferably locally).
I know Ottawa is a resilient city. We’ve been through challenges before. And we’ve always worked together to address them and come out on the other side.
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 vistas-news.ca in addition to paper copies. Our June issue will be hot off the press and on the website on Friday, May 29.