|“This pandemic has tested us as a province and we have risen to the occasion. Throughout this pandemic I’ve heard so, so many stories. Thousands of Ontarians have stepped up to lend a hand… We know Covid-19 has taken a toll on everyone. And for those who may be isolated from their loved ones, our seniors and those with disabilities, we know this has been especially difficult and we’re here to help.” – Premier Doug Ford|
This week, the province received a report from the Canadian Armed Forces, who had earlier been called in to help five long-term care homes in crisis. Our brave men and women in uniform have been working around the clock to help stabilize our hardest hit long-term care homes.
We knew these homes were having serious problems and needed help. But until Monday, the government didn’t know the full extent of what these five homes and their residents were dealing with. The reports they provided us were heartbreaking.
When the Premier spoke about the report, he said that “There is nothing worse than feeling helpless when it comes to protecting a loved one. So please pray for these residents. Please pray for their families. And as hard as this is for everyone, as hard as it will be to hear some of these details, I believe that the public needs to see these reports. You need to know exactly what I know. “
As soon as the government received these reports, we launched a full investigation into these allegations. This includes an investigation by Ontario’s chief corner. The results of these investigations will be shared with police to look into any possible criminal charges. The Premier has also committed to making the results of these investigations public.
Our number one priority remains protecting residents in long-term care homes, continuing to stabilize the conditions in the five homes and across the system. Each of these homes now has a hospital partner supporting them. The Armed Forces have agreed to extend their help to Ontario’s long-term care homes until June 12.
Long-term care in Ontario is a system that has been neglected for decades and pushed to the brink. COVID-19 has exposed the deep, deep cracks in long term care system and unfortunately, tipped some of the homes over the edge. It’s up to us now to fix these problems. Fixing a system that has suffered from decades of neglect takes time and it takes massive resources and billions of dollars. But we know that we must do better as a province, that we must do better as a country, because this isn’t a problem that is unique to Ontario.
- Effective this week, we have begun the process of taking over the temporary management of an additional five long-term care homes: Eatonville Care (Etobicoke), Hawthorne Place (North York), Altamont Care (Scarborough), Orchard Villa (Pickering) and Camilla Care (Mississauga). Our government had previously taken over two others.
- We are deploying six teams of two inspectors for a period of two weeks to each of the five homes identified in the Canadian Armed Forces report and Camilla Care. These inspectors will conduct rigorous inspection and monitoring of these homes.
- Over the next 21 days, we will conduct further inspections in other high-risk homes facing the greatest challenges in managing their outbreaks.
- Over the next 30 days, the Ministry of Long-Term Care will conduct random spot checks of both high-risk homes, and other homes across the province.
- We are moving up the establishment of our independent commission to review long-term care to July.
When our government took office in 2018, we knew Ontario was short of long-term care beds and we’ve announced both renovations and new construction to create more beds. Staffing is also an issue in long-term care, and even before the pandemic we knew we had to find ways to get more staff to help the hard-working nurses, PSWs and other staff in the system.
In April, our government partnered with Spark Ontario, investing $1,000 to help this platform connect community organizations with the volunteers they need during COVID-19. We issued a call for reinforcements to help us deliver the extra meals and supplies and support those most in need. Over 6,500 Ontarians answered this call, helping deliver vital necessities, support local food banks, or check in on those who need extra support to everyone who signed up. I thank you.
Through the new Ontario Community Support Program, the province is working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and their large volunteer base to increase Meals on Wheels food deliveries and deliver essential supplies to isolated, low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions. More than 500 meal referrals and nearly 2,000 essential supply referrals have been made since the program launched in mid-April. The need is great, but the people of this province are meeting the challenge with kindness, compassion and generosity.
On March 19th, 2020, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health issued a Directive to Health Care Providers requiring all non-essential and elective services to be ceased or reduced to minimal levels, subject to allowable exceptions, until further notice.
The health and wellbeing of Ontarians is our government’s top priority. As we work to reopen our economy, the Ministry of Health has been working diligently with our health care partners to ensure a safe process was in place.
Following discussions, the government can now allow for the reopening of health practices around the province.
It is important to note that this does not mean that all health services will be available on May 27. Rather, we have asked health regulatory colleges to develop guidance to ensure high-quality and safe clinical care will be met before services can resume.
Health care providers must also consider which services should continue to be provided remotely and which services can safely resume in-person with appropriate hazard controls and sufficient PPE. To be clear, a health provider’s decision to reopen should be guided by the best available clinical evidence. Here are the regulated health providers who fall under this provision:
Medical Laboratory Technologists
Medical Radiation Technologists and Sonographers
Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists
Helping People Get Back to Work
Funding for Apprentices and Hospitality Workers
As the economy gradually reopens, the Ontario government is helping people affected by COVID-19 get back to work. The government 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 government is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing.
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.
For our hospitality workers, the government is investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE (the union representing many workers in the sector) Local 75.
This new 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 technical skills training, stress management and mental health resources and help with language and digital skills.
Dove Canada made a donation of products for health workers at Halton Healthcare. And COBS Bread in Headon Forest Burlington provided a tasty breakfast for the Diagnostic Imaging team.
Support Joseph Brant Hospital by purchasing a t-shirt today! Proceeds support the JBH COVID-19 response. To purchase a t-shirt visit burlington.fullypromoted.ca/showrooms.htm
Students from Palermo and Heritage Glen Public Schools showed their support for health workers at Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital with beautiful letters and posters now displayed in the hospital’s main lobby.
- $285.1 million to support the 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. During our study at the Status of Women Committee on Transitional Housing in the last Parliament, we heard about the critical need for more shelters on reserve. These 12 new shelters are a significant move in the right direction to protect women and girls from gender based violence.
Our government is committed to ensuring Indigenous communities have the support they need, and we will continue to work closely together to identify and address their needs and challenges.
If you, a spouse, or common-law partner are self-employed, you still have until June 15 to file your taxes and your payment deadline has also been extended to September 1. For those who need to pay by instalments, the June 15 payment due date has been extended to September 1st. Instalment penalties and interest will not be charged for this payment if it is made by the extended deadline.
Why file by the deadline if no payment is due until September 1? Filing by the deadline will minimize impacts to your benefit and credit payments. If your 2019 return has not been assessed by the CRA, information from your 2018 return will be used to calculate benefit and credit payments until September 2020. Filing on time will ensure you continue to receive important payments that will help through the COVID-19 crisis.
For more information on the filing and payment deadline changes due to COVID-19, go to Income tax filing and payment deadlines: CRA and COVID-19.
We also launched the Business Resilience Service (BRS), a hotline to help small businesses that have been facing unprecedented challenges during COVID-19. This free service provides Canadian business owners, including those who run charities and non-profits, with customized financial guidance – from navigating tax regulations and government supports, to planning their path to recovery and will immediately connect businesses with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. Visit CBRN.ca to get the latest information, tools and resources or call 1-866-989-1080.
I would like to provide some clarification to a question I received from a number of you regarding the recently announced Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) top-ups. These one-time payments of $300 and $200 respectively, will be sent to all OAS and GIS recipients, with no form to fill out or application required. Many of you received your standard payments this month, and were surprised the top-ups weren’t included. I want to re-assure you that there is no issue on your end, and these payments will be sent separately from your standard OAS or GIS payments as soon as possible. For details on these one-time payments, click here.
Effie and Pam