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
We will be publishing our Newsletter on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays now.
New as of June 12
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, updated public health advice to come into effect immediately province-wide to allow social circles of up to 10 members, including those outside the immediate household. Social circles will support the mental health and well-being of Ontarians and help reduce social isolation.
Details on how to establish a social circle were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Dr. Williams.
Ontarians who wish to form a safe social circle should follow these five simple steps:
- Start with your current circle: the people you live with or who regularly come into your household;
- If your current circle is under 10 people, you can add members to your circle, including those from another household, family members or friends;
- Get agreement from everyone that they will join the circle;
- Keep your social circle safe. Maintain physical distancing with anyone outside of your circle; and
- Be true to your circle. No one should be part of more than one circle.
The province has developed a practical step-by-step guide to help Ontarians as they safely develop and join a social circle.
The rules for social circles are different from the proposed expansion of social gatherings from five to 10 people. Social gatherings can be any 10 people from outside your household, but where physical distancing of at least two metres should be maintained. For example, the expansion of social gatherings enables individuals and families to enjoy the company of others at backyard barbeques and picnics in neighbourhood parks, while respecting physical distancing advice.
On the other hand, social circles will enable Ontarians to enjoy close contact with members of their circle. This could include hugging, carpooling, enjoying a patio and sharing a meal without staying two metres apart. Ontarians should avoid close-contact activities with anyone outside of their circle if they are unable to maintain physical distancing. Social circles will also bring back supports from people outside of their household who can now help with children, seniors or those in need.
While physical distancing does not need to be practised between members of the same social circle, other public health advice, including frequent hand washing, should be maintained. Anyone who is ill or feeling sick should immediately limit their contact with anyone in their circle, inform the other members of the circle, self-isolate, and seek testing if they have COVID-19 symptoms, by visiting one of the 145 assessment centres across Ontario. They should also seek testing if they are concerned that they might have been exposed to COVID-19 or be at risk.
As a result of the province-wide school closures, the Student Nutrition Program has had to find new ways to support families experiencing increased food insecurity.
The Student Nutrition Program is delivered in partnership with local agencies, school boards and community partner organizations and supported by countless volunteers. Over the past few months, the program has been adapted to include new local approaches to meal delivery, including distributing grocery gift cards or farm vouchers, delivering food boxes, meal kits or frozen meals and supporting food banks to provide nutritious items to families with school-age children.
The province is significantly expanding the Agri-food Workplace Protection Program and committing up to $15 million to enhance health and safety measures on farms and in food processing facilities.
The Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program provides cost-share funding for farmers to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and implement workplace modifications and other measures. By significantly expanding the program, farmers can take additional steps to improve health and safety for their workers and ensure the continued supply of locally grown food during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today’s announcement more than triples the previous investment through this program by the governments of Canada and Ontario. Both levels of government had committed a total of up to $4.5 million for farmers and provincially licensed meat processors to enhance worker safety under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership program.
Some of the measures already approved through this program include purchases of PPE, temporary housing for ill workers, building physical barriers for worker separation, enhanced hand washing facilities and a tent rental to expand lunch room space.
The Ontario government is also supporting producers and other operations that experience unexpected costs for short-term accommodation and transportation as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.
Effective June 15, 2020, program recipients can return to filling up to 100-day supply at a time from their pharmacy or dispensing physician, when appropriate.
Ontario Drug Benefit recipients’ co-payments will return to their previous amounts. People are encouraged to buy the medications they need in reasonable quantities. This will help ensure that everyone can get their prescriptions filled as we continue to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. The province will continue to monitor the situation to ensure there are no disruptions to the drug supply chain in the future.
Ontario to Resume Family Visits in Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, and Other Residential Care Settings
Family and friends will be allowed access to these settings beginning June 18, 2020. Long-term care homes will allow outdoor visits of one person per resident each week at a minimum. Retirement homes will resume indoor and outdoor visits in designated areas or resident suites when physical distancing can be maintained. Other residential care settings will be able to allow outdoor visits of two people at time. Physical distancing will be required for all visits. This approach will ensure the health and safety of residents, staff and visitors.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Long-Term Care, and Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
Visits will resume next Thursday, one week after the release of visitor guidelines. They will be subject to strict health and safety protocols, including requiring visitors to pass active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks, and complying with the infection prevention and control protocols. This includes bringing and wearing a face covering during visits.
Additionally, long-term care and retirement homes, as well as other residential care settings, must meet the following conditions before they welcome visitors:
- Homes must not be in outbreak;
- Homes must have an established process for communicating visitor protocol and the associated safety procedures; and
- Homes must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards.
For retirement homes, visitor admissions will vary from home to home depending upon their individual circumstances.
Other residential care settings will also be allowed visitors under similar rules. These residential care settings include homes serving people with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence, and children’s residential settings.
As the COVID-19 outbreak evolves in Ontario, the direction on visits at long-term care homes, retirement homes and residential settings will continually be updated keeping the safety and emotional wellbeing of residents and staff at the forefront.
Visits have been restricted since mid-March, with only essential visitors permitted to enter long-term care and retirement homes.
It is a $57-million program which will help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
The new program was unveiled today by Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, joined by Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
- shopHERE powered by Google will leverage Ontario’s strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
- Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
- Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.
In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
About 60 percent of Ontario’s small enterprises have a website, and only seven percent have an online payment solution. Digitally, Canadian businesses are estimated to be two years behind their U.S. counterparts.
In response, the Ontario government is providing significant support to small business. Along with the Digital Main Street platform, the province is investing an additional $150 million in rural broadband which will help open the digital road for many Ontario small businesses. In addition, the province has proposed a ban on commercial evictions to help businesses that have been impacted by restrictions due to COVID-19.
Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation, released comprehensive safety guidance for public transit agencies as the province reopens and more people return to work. This guidance, developed in consultation with health and transit officials, provides transit agencies with the information they need to help protect employees and passengers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The guidance document provides transit agencies with best practices and tips to help stop the spread of COVID-19, such as maintaining physical distance between people whenever possible, highly recommending that passengers wear face coverings or non-medical masks when taking transit, practicing proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, installing physical barriers between drivers and passengers, using physical markers between seats and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects.
The provincial transit agency, Metrolinx, has identified over 40 actions to help keep staff and passengers safe when riding GO trains, GO buses and the UP Express. These strategies include:
- Piloting health and safety kiosks that provide customers with tools and advice on how to stay safe.
- Enhanced deep-cleaning processes for vehicles and in stations.
- Providing hand sanitizer on every GO bus and in every station, so passengers can apply during their trip.
- Installing dividers for safety on GO trains and buses.
Metrolinx has also developed a comprehensive educational campaign called “Safety Never Stops” to inform passengers of safety tips on vehicles, platforms and in stations.
This guidance is part of the work that Ontario and public health experts are doing to carefully monitor the key public health indicators, as outlined in A Framework to Reopening our Province.
The Patient Ombudsman provides support for Ontarians who have voiced concerns about their health care experience. The Ombudsman also investigates unresolved complaints about public hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care, and makes recommendations to the government to prevent the recurrence of similar issues.
In this role, Ms. Fooks will also oversee an investigation into the care and health care experiences of long-term care home residents during COVID-19. This work will complement the government’s independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system which will begin in July 2020.
“I am honoured to be appointed as Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman,” said Cathy Fooks. “Patient and caregiver voices matter now more than ever and need to continue to be heard. They will help us to make the right changes that need to be done. I am here to ensure that happens, so we can continue to ensure Ontarians receive the quality of care they need and deserve.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented global crisis that is having a significant impact on all aspects of the Canadian transportation industry, travellers, and the economy. The Government of Canada is committed to implementing a multi-layered framework of measures to protect Canadians, and help prevent air travel from being a source for the spread of the virus.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced an additional measure to this framework. The Government of Canada will now require temperature screenings for all passengers travelling to Canada or travellers departing Canadian airports for either international or domestic destinations.
For international flights to Canada, air operators must conduct temperature screenings at the point of departure, unless the local authority has an equivalent measure in place, in addition to the existing required health check questions for symptoms prior to boarding.
Within Canada, Canadian Air Transport Security Authority screeners will conduct the temperature screening of passengers as part of departure screening procedures. This is in addition to the health screening questions and the wearing of face coverings that are already required for all passengers.
The Government of Canada is taking a phased approach to implementing temperature screening.
- Phase 1: By June 30, 2020, all air operators will be required to conduct temperature screenings of all passengers travelling to Canada prior to departure from international or transborder points of departure.
- Phase 2: By the end of July, temperature screening stations will be placed in the departure section of the four major airports that are currently identified as the only Canadian airports for international travel (Montréal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver).
- Phase 3: By September 2020, temperature screening stations will be in place in the departure sections of the next 11 busiest airports in Canada (St. John’s, Halifax, Québec City, Ottawa, Toronto – Billy Bishop, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Kelowna, Victoria).
In addition, all employees and personnel that enter or work in the restricted area of the airport will be subject to temperature screening procedures by Canadian Air Transport Security Authority personnel.
All passengers who have an elevated temperature and do not have a medical certificate to explain a medical or physical condition that would result in an elevated temperature, will not be permitted to continue their travel and will be asked to re-book after 14 days.
Today, we enter Stage 2 of the province’s recovery plan. We achieved this together, Ottawa. And I am incredibly proud of the people of Ottawa for getting us here.
The reality is that this isn’t the end. We must all continue cautiously to prevent infections and keep the virus at a manageable level in our community. Testing and follow-up is not enough to control the virus; we must prevent transmission in the first place.
That’s why I am asking each and every one of you to continue to be COVID wise.
W – Wear a cloth mask when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres.
I – Isolate yourself form others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms).
S – Stay two metres apart from those outside your household.
E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.
As we enter Stage 2 and resume some of our activities, being able to assess your individual situation and the associated risks and make informed decisions is key.
Because what is permissible under the provincial order will continue to change and does not address all possible scenarios, some confusion may result. There are differences between what is legally allowed and what is recommended. I appreciate that for some people this may cause a level of anxiety. OPH is here to help residents through any uncertain times by emphasizing the principles to decrease risk that do not change.
The province is now allowing group gatherings to increase from five to 10 people. And earlier today the province announced guidance on how to establish a social circle with those outside your household. No matter what, it is still wise to limit your contacts and keep gatherings to fewer people and to the same group of people over time.
Try to keep your activities outdoors. And, assess your own unique situations and associated risks – for example, whether you are or live with someone who may be at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.
We have heard concerns from adults over 70 years old that they are not sure which activities they can or should resume. Just like everyone else, you need to assess your own risk as older adults are more vulnerable to this virus and keep in mind the principles of reducing the risk of transmission.
We continue to work with our City of Ottawa partners to provide more guidance on how to safely resume business.
We have contributed to the City’s business toolkit, provided specific guidance for restaurants, businesses that provide personal services and will be holding a variety of workshops over the next several weeks for different businesses like day camps and childcare services, construction and manufacturing, offices and professional services, retail and vehicle dealerships and more.
Our local businesses sacrificed much by staying closed or reducing services to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Let’s honour their efforts by being respectful and patient customers that protect the health of employees.
Let’s learn to be COVID-wise: visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDwise for more information.
Visiting long-term care homes
Yesterday the Province of Ontario announced that visits will be allowed to resume in long-term care and retirement homes starting June 18 with certain limitations. For example, a home must not be in outbreak, must have established visitor protocols in place and must maintain the highest infection prevention and control standards. Only outdoor visits will be permitted during this first phase, and only one visitor at a time per resident. According to the provincial Ministry of Long-Term Care policy, visitors will be required to pass active screening every time they visit, confirming with staff that they have tested negative for COVID-19 within the previous two weeks.
Visitors should consider their personal health and susceptibility to the virus in determining whether visiting a long-term care home is appropriate.
It is important to note that homes can decide if they want or need to continue prohibiting visits, and if so, they should continue to offer virtual visits. The actions of one visitor that may unknowingly introduce COVID19 into a home could lead to extremely negative consequences, so utmost care is important.
The role that families, visitors and loved ones play in providing care-giving and emotional supports is important for the quality of life and health for residents in long-term care homes and must be balanced with mitigating the risk of death for residents.
More information on long-term care home visits can be found at ontario.ca.
Daily COVID-19 dashboard
Data plays an important part in helping to guide us in our community response with recommendations as we move forward into new stages of reopening.
Earlier this week we launched our new Daily COVID-19 Dashboard, a live interactive tool that is updated daily as data becomes available from the COVID-19 Ottawa Database. This dynamic tool serves as your primary source of up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases, outbreaks and core indicators for local monitoring.
The new tool provides a comprehensive snapshot of information that was previously housed in more than one place. You can still find archived reports prior to June 10 on our website, however, moving forward you will be able to use the interactive dashboard to find current information.
My team has developed a guide to help users understand how to use the tool. The guide is available on the website in the same location of the dashboard. We welcome your feedback as we continue to prioritize transparency and share information with the public.
My focus and Ottawa Public Health’s role is to provide guidance and help you make informed decisions to keep our City healthy. With ongoing caution, we can get back to more of the things we enjoy safely.
Stay safe and be COVIDWise.