Today, the Ontario government marks three months since they enacted a provincial Declaration of Emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Ontario has come a long way and made tremendous progress since the initial declaration which closed down non-essential businesses, limited organized public events and social gatherings and provided tools to long-term care homes and hospitals to fight the spread of COVID-19.
Ford commended the efforts of all Ontarians to stop the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve. He thanked the frontline health care workers, Canadian Armed Forces and volunteers who have helped manage the devastating impacts of the virus. Ford also thanked the Ontario businesses who have stepped up to be part of the solution with “Ontario Made” medical supplies and equipment.
Today, the Ontario government also extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 30, 2020. The government has indicated this is necessary to ensure they have the necessary tools to safely and gradually reopen the province in a manner that protects the population from COVID-19.
A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and at Ontario.ca/alert. The government has committed to reviewing each emergency order on an ongoing, case-by-case basis to determine when and if they can be adjusted or lifted in a safe manner.
Yesterday, the Ontario government took steps to help employers create safer working environments for employees during COVID-19. The government provided employers with a new downloadable toolkit and general workplace guide to help them develop a unique safety plan for their workplace to better protect workers, customers and clients. The government hopes that this new guide will help everyone have more confidence that the right health and safety measures are in place as more businesses reopen and the more regions enter Stage 2.
While Ontario has made tremendous progress, it is important to remember that the province is not out of the woods yet. Without a cure or vaccine for COVID-19 Ontario must continue to prepare and be ready for any scenario and continue monitoring and testing to safely reopen the province. The government, Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts continue to urge everyone to exercise caution and follow public health advice, especially physical distancing with anyone outside of your social circle, wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge and washing hands frequently.