UPDATES:

April 12:

Ontario Moves Elementary and Secondary Schools to Remote Learning Following Spring Break. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April break. All publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the April break on April 19, 2021. Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021. Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.

Ontario Launching COVID-19 Rapid Screening Pilot Program for Small and Medium-sized Businesses. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is launching the StaySafe™ COVID-19 Rapid Screening Pilot in the Waterloo Region. The StaySafe™ program will provide free rapid antigen point-of-care tests for employees of small- and medium-sized businesses, with a target of 3,000 rapid tests conducted each week in the region. The program will help detect cases of COVID-19 in the workplace that might otherwise be missed, helping to keep workers and their families safe.

The StaySafe™ COVID-19 Rapid Screening Pilot is complementary to those participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program. Through this program rapid testing is provided to workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing.

April 7:

Ontario Enacts Provincial Emergency and Stay-at-Home Order. Read more here.

Today, the Government of Ontario declared a state of emergency for the third time during the COVID-19 pandemic, and announced that it is imposing a provincewide Stay-at-Home order effective Thursday, April 8 at 12:01 a.m. for four weeks (i.e. May 6). The COVID-19 Response Framework (colour-coded zones) will remain paused during this time.

The Stay-at-Home order requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.

Public health measures under the Stay-at-Home order include:

  • Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6:00 am and 9:00 pm, and other restrictions.
  • Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions.
  • Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only.
  • Schools and child care will remain open for in-person care and learning in public health regions where it is permitted.

The following retail stores will be allowed to operate, with restrictions, for in-person shopping:

  • Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
    • Safety supply stores;
    • Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
    • Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
    • Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
    • Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
    • Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
    • Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
  • Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

These measures are in addition to those announced on April 1 when the Province issued a Provincewide Shutdown. Read more about today’s announcement here.

April 6:

Ontario Moving to Phase Two of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Read more here.

The province is moving into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, with a focus on reaching individuals in “hot spot” communities where COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted certain neighbourhoods.  The province released a detailed list of hotspots in 13 public health units, which will now be factored in for vaccine allocations. Adults 50+ in hotspot communities across will now also be prioritized as part of the second phase of vaccinations.

Starting as early as April 6, 2021, individuals with the following highest-risk health conditions will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Ontario:

  • Organ transplant recipients;
  • Hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients;
  • People with neurological diseases in which respiratory function may be compromised (e.g., motor neuron disease, myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis);
  • Haematological malignancy diagnosed less than one year ago;
  • Sickle cell disease;
  • Kidney disease eGFR< 30; and
  • Essential caregivers for individuals in the groups listed above.

Other groups that will become eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program include:

  • Individuals with specific health conditions which make them at high-risk or at-risk, as well as some primary caregivers;
  • People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers; and,
  • Certain workers who cannot work from home (e.g., elementary / secondary school staff, food manufacturing workers, high-risk and critical retail workers, and more).

April 1:

Ontario Implements Provincewide Emergency Brake. Read more here.

Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it would be imposing a provincewide “emergency brake“, effective 12:01 am on Saturday, April 3, 2021. The “emergency brake” will be in effect for at least four weeks (May 1, 2021), during which time the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework will be paused.

The measures under the provincewide emergency brake include, but are not limited to:

  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 percent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 percent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures.
  • Prohibiting personal care services.
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only.
  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions.
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 percent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

Read more about today’s announcement here. Read more about what public health and workplace safety measures are included in the emergency brake here.

 

Ontario Extends COVID-19 Vaccination to More Age Groups. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to more age groups in 10 public health units on Friday, April 2, 2021. Appointments can be booked through the provincial booking system.

As of 8:00 a.m. booking eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination appointments at mass immunization clinics will extend to more Ontarians in the following regions:

Individuals aged 60 and over:

  • Toronto Public Health; and
  • Peel Public Health.

Individuals aged 70 and over:

  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Peterborough Public Health;
  • Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
  • Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
  • Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
  • Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
  • Northwestern Health Unit; and
  • Public Health Sudbury and Districts.

The following 10 public health units are already booking individuals aged 70 and over:

  • City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Grey Bruce Health Unit;
  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • Lambton Public Health;
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health;
  • Ottawa Public Health;
  • Simcoe-Muskoka District Health Unit;
  • Timiskaming Health Unit; and
  • York Region Public Health.

March 31:

Ontario Expands Domestic Manufacturing Capacity Through New Partnership. Read more here.

The Ontario government is partnering with the federal government, the City of Toronto and Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, to expand its Ontario facility to meet growing demand for flu vaccines. This partnership will create 300 high-quality jobs.

The province is investing $55 million through a performance-based loan, toward construction of Sanofi’s $925 million state-of-art vaccine facility. The investment will enable Sanofi to bulk manufacture Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine, a flu vaccine approved for people 65 years and older, at its historic Connaught site in Toronto. The facility will include industrial scale Formulation, Filling and Packaging, a key requirement for pandemic preparedness.

March 26:

Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it is introducing limited, targeted amendments to the “Grey-Lockdown” level of its COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.

The amendments include:

  • Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting outdoor fitness classes, outdoor training for team and individual sports and outdoor personal training, subject to public health and workplace safety measures, including, but not limited to:
    • a maximum of 10 patrons;
    • every person maintaining a physical distance of at least three metres from another person;
    • requiring a reservation and active patron screening.
  • Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., permitting marinas and boating clubs to operate clubhouses or any restaurant, bar and other food or drink establishment for outdoor dining, subject to public health and workplace safety measures.
  • Effective Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., personal care service settings including but not limited to barber shops, hair and nail salons, and body art establishments, will be permitted to operate at 25 per cent capacity or five patrons (whichever is less) subject to physical distancing, including by appointment only, and other public health and workplace safety measures.

The province is also modifying outdoor capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies held in regions in all levels of the Framework. Effective Monday, March 29, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., capacity limits for weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies, will be adjusted to allow for the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance. This change does not apply to social gatherings associated with these services, such as receptions.

On Friday, March 19, 2021, your chamber partnered with six Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce in Ontario to send a joint letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for a reform of the current COVID-19 Response Framework. The joint letter calls on the province to reform the Framework to allow safe business activity and to reorient the province’s Framework to focusing on community contact rather than business activity. Many of the changes announced today reflect the recommendations of that letter. Read the letter here.

Read more about today’s announcement here. Read more about the workplace safety regulations associated with the announced changes here. Learn more about what restrictions and guidelines are included in the Grey-Lockdown level here. For a full list of public health region classifications click here.

March 24:

On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, the Government of Ontario released its 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy. Budget 2021 focuses on responding to the health impacts of the pandemic and providing needed support to businesses and communities in anticipation of an economic recovery. The following is a summary of highlights from the perspective of Ontario’s business community.

Supports for business: 

  • Doubling of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant has helped many organizations survive the crisis thus far and making this an automatic top-up instead of asking businesses to re-apply will reduce the administrative burden on both businesses and government.
  • Additional resources for the Digital Main Street Grant. Many small businesses, particularly in rural and remote regions, have benefited from the supports of this grant to get their business online. Expanding the program will help more businesses digitize and prepare for the economy of tomorrow.
  • Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC). NOHFC’s Northern Ontario Recovery Program has been a critical funding program for Northern businesses during the pandemic. An additional investment of $50 million in NOHFC programming to support economic development and job creation is welcome news.
  • Invest Ontario Fund. Additional funding in Invest Ontario over the next four years will be important to create jobs and investment across the province.

Support for tourism: 

  • Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant. The OCC recently wrote to the Ontario government about how the tourism industry is not eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. This new grant is welcome news for hotels, travel agencies, hunting and fishing camps, and other organizations that did not qualify for the original grant.
  • Local Tourism Tax Credit and Tourism Recovery Program. These additional supports will be critical to support a revival of tourism after the pandemic.

Support for communities: 

  • Broadband investments. The pandemic has put the spotlight on the digital divide for people and businesses, particularly in remote and rural communities. Additional funding of $2.8 billion to connect all Ontarians, including businesses, to reliable broadband by 2025 is welcome news.
  • A taskforce for inclusive economic growth. The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected women, racialized individuals, Indigenous people, people with disabilities, and other communities in the province. The new taskforce will examine how to increase women’s participation in the workforce, which will support economic recovery.
  • Temporary Job Training Tax Credit. Studies suggest about half a million jobs are not expected to return in Canada after the pandemic, the majority of which are occupied by women. Financial support for underemployed individuals to access training and reskilling will be particularly important for lower-income workers, new immigrants, and Ontarians living in Indigenous, rural, remote, and northern communities.
  • Expansion of the Ontario Together Fund. The Ontario Together Fund has successfully leveraged Ontario’s business community to address pandemic-related challenges and support relief efforts.
  • Regional Opportunities Tax Credit. Additional resources towards this program will allow rural and remote communities to invest in projects that create local jobs and economic growth.
  • Access to vaccination appointments. The Ontario Chamber Network welcomes support to help seniors and people with disabilities get to their vaccination appointments. The faster the population is inoculated, the sooner we can focus on recovery.

Read the the chamber’s full press release here. Read the Ontario Chamber Network’s complete policy analysis of Budget 2021 here. Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s provincial pre-budget submission here. Read the Ontario Budget here.

March 19:

New Measures for Restaurants, Bars and other Food and Drink Establishments. Read more here.

The provincial government has introduced new capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the COVID-19 Response Framework. These measures will come into effect on Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

For regions in the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels, capacity limits for indoor dining will be adjusted and based on a standard, scalable calculation that will allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public, subject to physical distancing rules. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in Red-Control and 100 patrons in Orange-Restrict.

New strengthened measures for Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels in the Framework include:

  • Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers;
  • Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and
  • A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.
  • Outdoor dining would be permitted for regions in Grey-Lockdown, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures. Indoor dining continues to be prohibited for areas in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework.

March 19:

Online Vaccine Booking System to Expand to Individuals Aged 75 and Older. Read more here.

The Ontario government is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective Monday, March 22, 2021, ahead of schedule. Access the booking system here.

Ontario Providing Funding to Publicly Assisted Colleges and Universities. Read more here.

The Ontario government is providing $106.4 million to help publicly assisted colleges and universities address the financial impacts of COVID-19. The funding will provide immediate and targeted support for postsecondary institutions that are most affected by decreases in tuition and ancillary revenues and have incurred expenses associated with online learning, personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning. Institutions can also use the funding in 2020-21 to offset COVID-19 expenses related to student financial supports and human resources.

March 17:

Ontario Expanding Rapid Antigen Testing to More Sectors. Read more here.

The Ontario government is providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual. Based on the success of the initial deployment of rapid antigen testing, the government is also expanding the program to more sectors including first responders, emergency medical services, trucking and transportation, wastewater management, and post-secondary institutions. Individuals who test positive through rapid antigen tests still need to take a confirmatory lab-based PCR test at an assessment centre or participating community lab.

The province has also removed regulatory barriers governing the use of COVID-19 tests that are approved by Health Canada for point-of-care use to make it easier for organizations to offer onsite testing and support a safe return to work.

March 16:

Ontario Invests in the new Community Building Fund. Read more here.

The Ontario government is investing $105 million through the new Community Building Fund to support non-profit tourism, culture, sport and recreation organizations. The funding will be used to help these non-profits recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and meet the needs of their communities.

The fund will be administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) through two program streams:

  • The $55-million operating funding stream will provide community non-profits with the support they need to help sustain their operations and create new experiences and events – such as trail systems, heritage attractions, winter activities and local sport and recreation programming – that are critical to the economic and social well-being of their communities.
  • The $50-million capital funding stream will go to municipalities and non-profit organizations to carry out sport- and recreation-facility infrastructure repairs, including retrofits and rehabilitation to meet COVID-19 public health protocol requirements and local community needs.

The operating stream of the Community Building Fund will open for applications on March 31, 2021, while the fund’s capital stream will open later in 2021.

March 14:

Ontario Launching Provincial Booking System for COVID-19 Vaccines. Read more here.

The Ontario government is launching a provincial booking system and customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings. The portal will be live on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. and will be accepting appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. Individuals who will be turning 80 or older in 2021 (born in 1941 or earlier) and wish to make an appointment — or an individual trusted to make an appointment on their behalf can book the appointments. Book your appointment here.

Individuals who still have a red and white health card, or who require assistance with booking, can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488 beginning on Monday, March 15.

March 14:

Ontario Launching Provincial Booking System for COVID-19 Vaccines. Read more here.

The Ontario government is launching a provincial booking system and customer service desk to support COVID-19 vaccination appointment bookings. The portal will be live on Monday, March 15 at 8:00 a.m. and will be accepting appointment bookings at mass immunization clinics. Individuals who will be turning 80 or older in 2021 (born in 1941 or earlier) and wish to make an appointment — or an individual trusted to make an appointment on their behalf can book the appointments. Book your appointment here.

Individuals who still have a red and white health card, or who require assistance with booking, can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488 beginning on Monday, March 15.

March 11:

Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it is activating an “emergency brake” and is transitioning Public Health Sudbury & Districts from its current “Red-Control” level to the “Grey-Lockdown” level in its COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. The new regional classification comes into effect on Friday, March 12, 2021 at 12:01 am.

Public health measures under Grey-Lockdown level include:

  • No indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household, with some exceptions for seniors and individuals living alone.
  • Restaurants, bars and food or drink establishments can only do take out, drive through, and delivery including alcohol. Indoor and outdoor services are prohibited.
  • In person shopping capacity limit of 50% for supermarkets and other stores that primarily sell groceries, convenience stores and pharmacies.
  • In person shopping capacity limit of 25% for all other retail, including discount and big box retailers, liquor stores, cannabis stores, hardware stores and garden centres.
  • Stores must post capacity limit publicly and must have passive screening for patrons (for example, posting signs outside the store front about not entering if you have COVID-19 symptoms).

Learn more about what restrictions and guidelines are included in the Grey-Lockdown level here. For a full list of public health region classifications click here. Read more about today’s announcement here.

March 10:

Ontario Pharmacies and Primary Care Settings to Begin Offering COVID-19 Vaccinations. Read more here.

As of Friday, March 12, over 325 pharmacies will be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine to eligible Ontarians aged 60-64, by appointment only, as part of the vaccine delivery pilot program in specific regions. Toronto, Windsor-Essex, and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington public health regions will be booking appointments starting today. The vaccines will be rolled out to more regions across the province as supply increases. For more information and to book an appointment visit here.

The province is working with primary care professionals to offer vaccinations in primary care settings and community locations, such as physician offices, in collaboration with public health units. This initiative will  begin in Hamilton, Toronto, Guelph, Peterborough, Simcoe-Muskoka, and Peel as of Saturday March 13, 2021. Primary care providers will not be taking appointments by request but will be contacting eligible Ontarians aged 60-64 directly to book an appointment starting today. They will only be offering the AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD vaccine at this time.

March 5:

Public Health Sudbury and Districts Move Back to Red-Control Zone. Read more here.

The Ontario Government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is transitioning Public Health Sudbury & Districts to the Red-Control zone in its COVID-19 Response Framework. The change takes effect Monday, March 8, 2021 at 12:01 am. The classification will remain in effect for at least two weeks.

Read more about what Red-Control means for your business here.

Ontario Ready to Rollout Phase 2 of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan. Read more here.

The Ontario government announced today the second phase of the vaccination plan will commence in April and is expected to be complete by July. Phase 2 of the plan focuses on vaccinating populations based on age and risk. About 9 millions Ontarians will receive their first dose of a vaccine in this phase.

During Phase 2, groups that will receive the vaccine include:

  • Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
  • Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
  • People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
  • Certain workers who cannot work from home.

March 3:

Ontario Chamber of Commerce Continues to Call on the Province for Clear and Consistent Communications. Read more here.

The Ontario Chamber Network calls on the province for clarity on milestones that trigger lockdown measures and improved communications to the business community. The Ontario chamber sent a letter to the Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Heath outlining five recommendations from its Health Policy Council around the vaccine roll-out and distribution in Ontario. The recommendations ask the government to:

  • prioritize communications;
  • address vaccine hesitancy and build vaccine literacy;
  • leverage the private sector;
  • ensure physicians are integrated into the vaccine roll-out plan, and
  • be proactive, where possible.

The Health Policy Council was launched in April, 2020 and comprises of a diverse cross-section of OCC members who come together to exchange ideas, inform OCC priorities, and provide government with timely recommendations.. Read more about the Council here.

February 24:

Ontario Invests in Historic Campaign to Accelerate Training for Personal Support Workers. Read more here.

As part of the recently launched Ontario’s Long-Term Care Staffing Plan, the Ontario government is investing over $115 million to train up to 8200 new personal support workers (PSWs) for high-demand jobs in Ontario’s health and long-term care sectors. The full funded program will commence in April 2021 and will be offered at all 24 publicly assisted colleges.

The Accelerated PSW Training Program is a tuition-free opportunity for 6,000 new students and is expected to take only six months to complete, rather than the typical eight months. After three months of coursework, and experiential learning in a clinical setting, students will complete the final three months in paid onsite training in a long-term care home or in a home and community care environment. The province is also offering tuition assistance to students who are close to finishing an existing PSW program at one of Ontario’s publicly-assisted colleges. Nearly 2,200 students will be eligible to receive a $2,000 tuition grant to help them complete their studies, as well as a stipend to complete the clinical placement part of their training.

February 19:

Ontario Launches Education Campaign to Help Workplaces Reopen Safely. Read more here.

The Ontario government is launching new health and safety education campaigns, with a particular focus on helping small businesses across the province reopen safely. The on-the-ground assistance includes a comprehensive suite of resources business owners can access at no cost to ensure they are helping prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Starting next week, provincial offences officers will be visiting businesses in regions opening into grey, red and orange zones, such as the regions of Wellington-Dufferin Guelph, Durham and Eastern Ontario, with a focus on businesses that were closed during the provincial shutdown. The officers will be carrying out inspections to ensure businesses are complying with the Reopening Ontario Act and adhering to capacity limits, appropriately screening workers and customers, enforcing masking requirements and having adequate safety plans in place. Businesses visited will include stores, gyms and personal care services.

The full suite of government educational supports available includes:

  • Provincial Employment Standards Call Centre (webes@ontario.ca) and Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre (webohs@ontario.ca) to answer small business health and safety questions.

For more information on these tools, visit covid-19.ontario.ca/covid-19-help-businesses-ontario.

February 16:

Ontario Expands Eligibility for Main Street Relief Grant. Read more here.

The Ontario government is expanding the number of small businesses that can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) to cautiously and gradually reopen in parts of the province. Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors – expanded from 2-9 employees – including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for up to $1,000 in financial support. The expansion is being made as more parts of the province enter the strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework, which allows for the gradual and safe reopening of in-store shopping at non-essential retail stores.

This one-time grant reimburses main street businesses for up to $1,000 in PPE costs incurred since March 17, 2020. Eligible businesses for the Main Street Relief Grant now include those with 2 to 19 employees in the following sectors:

  • retail trade;
  • accommodation and food services;
  • repair and maintenance;
  • personal and laundry services;
  • gyms and yoga studios; and
  • arts, entertainment, and recreation.

The grant can be used to help cover the costs of a variety of PPE, including installing plexiglass or purchasing gloves and masks. Eligible businesses can apply for this grant and other COVID-19 financial supports – like the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and property tax or energy cost rebates – through a simple online application. Small businesses can visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness to learn about the provincial supports available to them.

February 12:

Ontario Announces Return to Colour-Code Framework. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced further details about the transition back to the province’s COVID-19 Response Framework. Effective Tuesday, February 16 at 12:01 am, Public Health Sudbury & Districts will move into the Orange-Restrict zone of the Framework.

After returning to the Framework, public health regions will stay in their level for at least two weeks at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health and workplace safety measures to determine if the region should stay where they are or be moved to a different level. Public health regions will move up through the levels, if necessary, based on the set indicators and thresholds outlined in the Framework.

The province has also introduced an “emergency brake” system to allow it to move a region to shutdown or introduce any other necessary measures to respond to a drastic rise in cases within a particular region.

For more details on regulations regarding retail stores under Orange-Restrict classification, see here. Review the Province’s COVID-19 Response Framework here. Read more about each public health region’s classification here.

Ontario Deploys Rapid Tests to More Essential Workplaces and Settings. Read more here.

Based on the successful use of rapid tests in select settings across the province the Ontario government is deploying test kits to more essential workplaces and sectors in order to quickly identify and help stop the spread of COVID-19. Rapid tests are now being used in long-term care homes, retirement homes, congregate care settings, First Nations communities and many essential workplaces.

To enhance protection against COVID-19 variants and support a safe and gradual return to the COVID-19 Response Framework, Ontario has deployed approximately two million rapid antigen tests and 175,000 rapid diagnostic tests to essential workplaces and highly vulnerable settings like long-term care homes and retirement homes. At scale, the province will be deploying approximately one million tests per week across targeted sectors.

February 11:

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund will be accepting applications again starting February 16, 2021 at 1 p.m. EST. Over $14 million has been contributed to Canada United Fund by the federal government, RBC and Canada United partners to support recovery efforts due to COVID-19.

Small businesses will be able to apply for a relief grant and eligible small businesses can get up to $5,000 as reimbursement for COVID-19 related expenses. These include expenses incurred since March 15, 2020 for:

  • Purchasing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Physical space renovations to adhere to reopening guidelines
  • Developing website or e-Commerce capabilities

The program is managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national chamber network. Applicants who have already applied but have not yet received an update on their applications will be contacted by February 15, 2021.

Full program guidelines, including application details, are available HERE. For any questions about the application process, please contact cusbrf@occ.ca.

February 11:

First Round of COVID-19 Vaccinations Completed in All Ontario Long-term Care Homes. Read more here.

On February 11, the Ontario government announced the completion of first round of COVID-19 vaccines in every long-term care home across Ontario to eligible residents who opted to take the vaccine. This goal was achieved despite repeated delays and reductions of vaccine shipments. To date, more than 62,000 long-term care residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 34,000 residents have received their second dose. As the administration of second doses continues, Ontario will maintain the recommended interval of 21-27 days for residents who received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

February 11:

Ontario Delays March Break in an Effort to Reduce Community Transmission of COVID-19. Read more here.

On February 11, Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Minister of Education announced the postponing of March break until April 12-16, 2021. The Minister said the decision was made with the best advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and public health officials, including consultations with many local Medical Officers of Health.

February 10:

Ontario Extends Off-Peak Electricity Rates. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended the off-peak electricity rates it introduced to provide relief to customers spending more time at home during the province’s stay-home-home order. The government will continue to hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 22, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers. The off-peak price will continue to be automatically applied to electricity bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility.

February 8:

Ontario Extends Stay-at-Home Orders. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended the stay-home-home orders in most public health regions in the province. Once it considers it safe to do so, the province will transition all public health units to its COVID-19 Response Framework, which colour-codes each region according to its COVID-19 data.

Additionally, the province is also revising its retail regulations. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. Individuals will also be required to wear a face covering and maintain physical distance when indoors in a business, with limited exceptions.

Other measures include a requirement for individuals to wear a face covering when attending an organized public event or gathering (where permitted) if they are within two metres distance of another individual who is not part of their household (both indoor and outdoor). All other requirements for gatherings and organized public events would be maintained.

The shutdown will be reviewed in all public health regions except Toronto, Peel and York before February 16, 2021. The province is also introducing an “emergency brake” system to allow for immediate shutdowns or other actions in particular regions as determined necessary to counteract rapid increases in COVID-19 cases.

February 5:

Applications Open for Ontario’s Skills Development Fund. Read more here.

Applications are now open for the Ontario government’s new two-year $115 million Skills Development Fund. The fund, which will support workers and apprentices, is specifically designed to address the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and help reduce obstacles to hiring, training and retaining while preparing workers for the province’s economic recovery.

The Skills Development Fund will accept applications from a wide range of employment and training organizations in Ontario, and the focus will be on:

  • giving laid-off workers immediate access to training supports or new jobs
  • improving the quality of training
  • reaching out to traditionally underrepresented groups
  • increasing apprentice registrations and completion
  • better serving local communities
  • supporting the talent needs of small businesses

Examples of projects from the fund could include: a digital career fair that allows employers to connect with job seekers impacted by COVID-19, mentorship programs and career counselling for apprentices while they are training on-the-job, the creation of training materials that teach employers how to accommodate employees who have disabilities, and making workspaces and equipment more accessible.

Applicants, including employers, apprenticeship training delivery agents, unions, post-secondary institutions, community organizations and others can now submit proposals beginning today, until February 28, 2021.

January 29:

Ontario Takes Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19 Variants. Read more here.

The Ontario government is taking action to stop the spread of new COVID-19 variants throughout the province. It is implementing a six-point plan which includes:

  • mandatory on-arrival testing of international travellers;
  • enhanced screening and sequencing to identify the new variants;
  • maintaining public health measures to keep people safe;
  • strengthening case and contact management to track the spread of new cases;
  • enhanced protections for vulnerable populations, and
  • leveraging the latest data to inform public health decisions.

Ontario’s first COVID-19 UK variant case was confirmed last month and was due to international travel. Since that time, 51 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the province.  Evidence shows that the UK variant could be up to 56 per cent more transmissible. Recent evidence shows Ontarians’ efforts to contain COVID-19 are working, with provincial trends in most key public health indicators trending down. However, recent modelling suggests that the UK variant and other new variants remain a significant threat to controlling the pandemic and could become the dominant strain of the virus in the province by March 2021, posing an increased threat to public health and hospital capacity.

Ontario’s six-point variant action plan enhances the existing coordinated and ongoing efforts of the province to detect, track, trace, and contain the spread of COVID-19.

January 27:

Ontario Extends Off-Peak Electricity Rates to Provide Relief for Families, Small Businesses and Farms. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms to support those spending more time at home in response to the provincial Stay-at-Home Order. The government will continue to hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour until February 9, 2021. This lower rate is available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for Time-Of-Use and tiered customers.

January 25:

Ontario Government Safety Plan Guide and Checklist. Read more here.

The Ontario government has released a guide to help employers develop a COVID-19 safety plan and checklist to keep employees safe. On the website, visitors will see a new “button” beside the safety plan template for the online version of the checklist. Clicking that button takes the visitor to the pdf form. In the sidebar at the right of the safety plan page, visitors will also see links to related guidance such as:

January 20:

Ontario Expands Workplace Enforcement Campaigns. Read more here.

The Ontario government is expanding the current workplace inspection campaign at essential businesses. Following last week’s big-box store blitz, provincial offences officers will now be visiting an expanded range of workplaces across Ontario to educate and ticket businesses that are not complying with COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

January 16:

Ontario Extends Reopening Ontario Act Orders. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) for another 30 days. The list of orders under the ROA and the EMCPA can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website. Throughout the period of the declared emergency, orders under the ROA remain in effect, along with orders under the EMCPA.

January 15:

Ontario Hires Additional Contract Tracers. Read more here.

The Ontario government has hired more case managers and contact tracers, building the provincial workforce to 1,600 by February 15, 2021. Along with staff who work in or have been redeployed within public health units, this support brings the total number of case and contact tracers in the province to nearly 5,600 staff. These people are vital in helping to isolate new cases of COVID-19 and stopping the spread of the virus in communities across Ontario.

January 14:

Applications are now open for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which helps small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown effective December 26, 2020.

Apply for funding here

About the Ontario Small Business Support Grant:

On December 21, in response to the Provincewide Shutdown, the Government of Ontario announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a one-time grant of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business, including wages or rent.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
  • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.

Read more about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant here.

Ontario Pauses Residential Evictions. Read more here.

The Ontario government has issued an emergency order to temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions and ensure people are not forced to leave their homes during the provincial declaration of emergency and while the stay-at-home-order is in force.

January 12:

Ontario’s Phase Two of the Vaccination Plan. Read more here.

The Ontario government is preparing to immunize up to 8.5 million people before the end of Phase Two of the government’s vaccine implementation plan. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and aligned with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has mapped out the next steps for transitioning into Phase Two and has adopted an approach for identifying the next groups to receive the vaccination as early as March 2021.

Phase One of the vaccine implementation program is expected to see approximately 1.5 million eligible people vaccinated. Vaccination of residents, staff and essential caregivers of long-term care homes has begun in many parts of the province, with the goal of having the first dose administered in all homes no later than February 15, 2021.

Groups eligible to receive vaccines as part of Phase Two of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Older adults, beginning with those 80 years of age and older and decreasing in five-year increments over the course of the vaccine rollout;
  • Individuals living and working in high-risk congregate settings;
  • Frontline essential workers (e.g., first responders, teachers, food processing industry); and
  • Individuals with high-risk chronic conditions and their caregivers.

Phase Two is expected to be completed by end of July 2021 and Phase Three for the general population could begin as early as August 2021, pending availability of vaccines. Vaccination of populations in Phase One will continue until all vaccinations are complete. In preparation for Phase Two of the vaccination distribution plan, more vaccination sites will be added. Over the coming months, those sites will include municipally run vaccination sites, hospital sites, mobile vaccination sites, pharmacies, clinics, primary care settings and community locations such as community health centres and aboriginal health access centres.

January 12:

Provincewide Shutdown Deck – Updated January 12, 2021 – English.

Ontario Announces a State of Emergency. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced that it would be extending the Provincial Shutdown in Northern Ontario for an additional 14 days, to align with the lockdown in Southern Ontario. Northern Ontario’s lockdown was previously set to end on January 9.

Today, the Government of Ontario announced a second state of emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic, including a stay-at-home order, effective Thursday, January 14 at 12:01 am.

The stay-at-home order requires everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

Additional public health measures include:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can’t physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce. Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution.

In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada’s Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Along with the initial announcement of a Provincewide Shutdown, the province also announced the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help small businesses. The details of the application are expected to released in January, 2021.

January 7:

Ontario Extends Northern Ontario’s Shutdown for Additional 14 days. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced that it would be extending the Provincial Shutdown in Northern Ontario for an additional 14 days, to align with the lockdown in Southern Ontario. Northern Ontario’s lockdown was previously set to end on January 9.

Elementary students and secondary students in the seven Northern Ontario public health unit regions will proceed with returning to in-person learning on January 11, 2021.

January 6:

Ontario Invests $5.3 million into Federal Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund. Read more here.

The Ontario government is investing $5.3 million, provided through the federal Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund, to help small and medium sized forest sector businesses offset the cost of COVID-19 safety measures. The funding will be used for initiatives such as setting up sanitizing stations, providing enhanced cleaning, additional worker training, measures to increase physical distancing, and to purchase personal protective equipment.

December 30:

Ontario Releases Ethical Framework for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution. Read more here.

The Ontario government has released an Ethical Framework for COVID-19 vaccine distribution which was developed in partnership with the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force to guide further vaccine prioritization and distribution across the province.

The Ethical Framework includes the following principles to guide COVID-19 vaccine distribution:

  • Minimize harms and maximize benefits, to reduce overall illness and death related to COVID-19, protect those at greatest risk of serious illness and death due to biological, social, geographical and occupational factors, protect critical infrastructure, and promote social and economic well-being;
  • Equity in the distribution of vaccines without bias or discrimination, to reduce disparities in illness and death related to COVID-19, and ensuring benefits for groups experiencing greater burdens from the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Fairness, to ensure that every individual within equally prioritized groups has the same opportunity to be vaccinated, and to ensure inclusive, consistent processes that are tailored to unique needs of Ontario’s many and varied communities when making decisions about vaccine prioritization;
  • Transparency, to ensure the principles and rationale, decision-making processes and plans for COVID-19 prioritization are clear, understandable and communicated to the public;
  • Legitimacy, making decisions based on the best available scientific evidence, shared values and input from affected parties including those historically underrepresented, to ensure decisions have the intended impact, and to include participation of affected parties in the creation and review of decisions and decision-making processes; and
  • Public trust, to ensure decisions and decision-making processes are informed by these principles to advance confidence and trust in Ontario’s COVID-19 immunization program.

December 21:

Provincewide Shutdown Deck – English / French

Ontario Announces Provincewide Shutdown. Read more here.

Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it would be imposing a Provincewide Shutdown, effective 12:01 am on December 26, 2020. The Shutdown will be in effect for 14 days in Northern Ontario and 28 days in Southern Ontario, and will be reevaluated after those periods. Measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
  • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings – curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
  • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls – patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

During this time, the province will be applying a High Priority Communities Strategy to contain the virus in high-risk communities. The strategy will take a tailored, community-based approach to fund community agencies in 15 priority communities in the York, Peel, Durham, Ottawa, and Toronto regions. Additional funding of $42 million will also be available to establish isolation centres.

Additionally, schools will move to remote-learning for a period of time after the winter break. Elementary and secondary schools in Greater Sudbury can resume in-person learning on January 11, 2021. During this period, child care centres, authorized recreational and skill building programs and home-based child care services will remain open. From January 4-8, 2021, when elementary students move to remote learning, before and after school programs will be closed and emergency child care for health care and frontline workers will be provided.

Read more about the new measures and restrictions here.

Ontario Introduces the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. Read more here.

In response to the Provincewide Shutdown, the Government of Ontario announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help small business owners. Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business, including wage or rent.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26
  • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
    • For small businesses not in operation in April 2019 or April 2020, eligibility criteria will be announced in January 2021.

Businesses that are not eligible include those that were already required to close prior to the introduction of modified Stage 2 measures, and essential businesses permitted to operate with capacity restrictions (e.g., discount and big box stores selling groceries, supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, and beer, wine and liquor stores).

Further details, including how to apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, will be announced in January 2021.

December 18:

Ontario Moves Public Health Sudbury and Districts into Green-Prevent zone. Read more here.

On November 13, after a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases, the province had moved Public Health Sudbury & Districts into the Yellow-Protect classification under its Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. Today, after successful local efforts to control the spread of the virus, the province has moved the region back into the Green-Prevent classification. Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.

As the holiday season approaches, the government is urging all Ontarians to continue to follow all required public health measures and public health advice. No matter where people live in the province, the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. People who live alone may have exclusive close contact with one additional household to help prevent feelings of isolation and mitigate against negative mental health impacts.

Read more about the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework and the five zones of public health measures here.

December 17:

Ontario Extends Job-Protected Leave to July 3, 2021 and Introduces New Regulations for the Hospitality Industry. Read more here.

For employers with non-unionized employees, the Ontario government is extending regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act to July 3, 2021.The regulation’s changes include putting non-unionized employees on job-protected leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to the pandemic to prevent temporary layoffs from becoming permanent. Under the Act, temporary layoffs become terminations when they exceed the permitted period. Previously set to expire on January 2, 2021, the extension of this amendment ensures that workers remain employed while providing relief to employers.

To support the hospitality industry and other hard-hit industries, the government is creating a special industry regulation allowing employers to negotiate alternative arrangements with unions for putting termination and severance pay into trust for laid-off employees. Employers with laid-off unionized workers need to put all potential termination and severance payments in a trust after 35 weeks while employees wait to be recalled to their jobs.

December 11:

Ontario Begins Rollout of COVID-19 Vaccine. Read more here.

The Ontario government has developed a three-phase implementation plan to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines to Ontarians as soon as they are received. Phase One will begin on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 with a pilot project in Toronto and Ottawa which will include the vaccination of over 2,500 health care workers with the Health Canada approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

As part of Phase One, Ontario will be participating in a COVID-19 vaccine readiness pilot in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Pfizer-BioNTech. Two pilot sites at University Health Network in Toronto and The Ottawa Hospital will receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine to be administered to health care workers who are providing care in hospitals and long-term care homes.

This pilot will help inform the province’s preparedness plan to receive larger vaccine quantities as it moves forward in Phase One, providing the opportunity to test the logistics of delivery, reconstitution of the vaccine, clinic management, and post-vaccine surveillance. The pilot also affords the opportunity to learn from the experiences of those being immunized so lessons learned can be shared with sites that will receive the vaccine in the coming weeks and months.

Phase One will continue with the following key milestones:

  • Based on per capita allocations, an expected 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses received from the federal government will be delivered to up to 14 hospital sites in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones in December, to vaccinate health care workers in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.
  • Deliveries of an expected 35,000 to 85,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine, once approved, will enable vaccinations to be expanded to long-term care homes in the Grey-Lockdown areas.
  • In early 2021, expansion of additional hospital sites providing the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Grey-Lockdown and Red-Control zones, with continued vaccination provided to health care workers and, with the appropriate safety protocols, to long-term care home and retirement home residents.
  • It is anticipated that by end of January over 20 hospitals across the province will be administering the Pfizer vaccine.
  • An expansion of the number of locations to administer the Moderna vaccine would include long-term care homes, retirement homes, public heath units, other congregate care settings for seniors, and adults in First Nations, Métis and Indigenous populations.

When an increased stockpile of vaccines becomes available to Ontario, the province will shift to Phase Two of its vaccination implementation plan, which is expected to begin later in the winter of 2021. During Phase Two, vaccinations will be administered to health care workers, as well as to residents in long-term care homes and retirement homes, to home care patients with chronic conditions and to additional First Nation communities and urban Indigenous populations, including Métis and Inuit adults.

Ontario will enter Phase Three when vaccines are available for every Ontarian who wishes to be immunized. While vaccines will not be mandated, during Phase Three, people will be strongly encouraged to get vaccinated.

December 10:

Ontario Permanently Allowing Alcohol with Food Takeout and Delivery. Read more here.

The Ontario government announced today that it would be making permanent the reform introduced during COVID-19 that allows the sale of alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders. These changes were previously introduced on a temporary basis to support restaurants and the hospitality sector.

Additional permanent reforms for the hospitality sector will allow:

  • alcohol service on docked boats by operators with a liquor sales licence;
  • reduced minimum pricing of spirits consumed on-site, to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders;
  • the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO); and,
  • for a requirement that ensures third parties delivering from licensed restaurants and bars have a delivery licence.

December 7:

Ontario Identifies Key Groups for Distribution of Initial COVID-19 Vaccines. Read more here.

As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first, including long-term care and retirement home residents and the staff who provide care to these groups.

Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:

  • Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19;
  • Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel;
  • Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high; and
  • Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

Ontario will also be prioritizing the rollout of the vaccine in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection, including those in the Red-Control and Lockdown zones. The immunization program will focus on healthcare workers and the most vulnerable populations in those regions.

November 20:

Ontario Order Toronto and Peel Regions into Lockdown. Read more here.

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, the province is moving certain public health unit regions to new levels in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework, which includes moving Toronto and Peel into Lockdown. These necessary measures are being taken to limit community transmission of COVID-19 in order to keep schools open, safeguard health system capacity, and protect the province’s most vulnerable populations. Based on the latest data, the government intends to move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Additional Supports Available for Businesses Affected by COVID-19 Public Health Measures

The Ontario government is now providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover.

Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province, via an easy-to-use one-window portal. The rebates will cover the length of time that a business is required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in an area categorized as Red-Control or Lockdown, or previously categorized as modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application. A detailed list of eligible businesses, as well as instructions for applying, can be found at Ontario.ca/covidsupport.

Ontario Extends COVID-19 Orders. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) until December 21, 2020.

November 19:

Ontario Launches Workplace Education and Enforcement Campaigns. Read more here.

The Ontario government is launching a series of education and enforcement campaigns to ensure businesses across the province are taking the necessary steps to keep employees, consumers and the public safe. These campaigns will support the current efforts of police, municipal by-law officers, and public health inspectors to educate businesses and enforce the COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Officers will be asking employers to produce their workplace safety plans.

The campaigns are being carried out in strategic locations, drawing on a team of more than 200 provincial offences officers from across ministries. To date, three education and enforcement campaigns have taken place. Almost 1,000 workplaces have been visited, and the response from business owners and operators has been overwhelmingly positive. No tickets have been issued and all contraventions were resolved with compliance assistance.

During each visit, officers provide business owners with guidance on how to operate safely during the pandemic and comply with public health requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. These campaigns are developed in consultation with local health units and support Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework and enforcement under the Reopening Ontario Act. The length of the safety campaigns can range from a few days to several weeks, depending on local circumstances.

If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, they could be ticketed with a fine of $750 under the Reopening Ontario Act. Where prosecuted without issuing a ticket and on conviction, individuals could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000. Any individual convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act could also receive a term of imprisonment of up to one year. The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act is $10,000,000.

November 13:

Today, the Government of Ontario lowered the thresholds for each level of its “Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.” As a result, Greater Sudbury has moved into the “Yellow-Protect” level of the framework. The new regional classification comes into effect as of Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 am.

Learn more about what restrictions and guidelines are included in the “Yellow-Protect” classification here. Review industry-specific guidelines here. See templates for creating a Workplace Safety Plan here.

Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of all public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

Download the COVID-19 Alert mobile app here.

November 10:

Message from Public Health Sudbury & Districts:

Dear Owners and Operators of Businesses and Organizations within the Public Health Sudbury & Districts service area:

On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, the Ontario Government announced the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open. This document examines the risk factors by public health unit jurisdiction and classifies each area into one of five levels:

  1. Green—Prevent (standard measures)
  2. Yellow—Protect, (strengthened measures)
  3. Orange—Restrict (intermediate measures)
  4. Red—Control (stringent measures)
  5. Lockdown (a measure of last and urgent resort)

The Ontario Government will be reexamining each area regularly to see if the risk is increasing or decreasing, resulting in a change to the level.

On Saturday, November 7, 2020, the Ontario Government announced which category each public health unit jurisdiction is in. The list can be seen at https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open. Currently, Public Health Sudbury & Districts’ service area is in the Green—Prevent category.

Additionally, changes were made to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17.  These changes were also enacted on November 7, 2020.

Local owners and operators are expected to be familiar with, and ensure that their business or organization is operating in compliance with:

While the published Regulation has not yet been consolidated, Public Health Sudbury & Districts recommends that owners and operators carefully review this and other important information within the related table at https://www.ontario.ca/page/emergency-information. Once consolidated, the regulation will be posting on this site.

Please note that the restrictions listed at each level are cumulative. Therefore, the restrictions at Green are in place in the Yellow, Orange, Red, and Lockdown categories unless a more restrictive rule is introduced at the higher level. Similarly, Orange category restrictions apply to Red and Lockdown unless there is a more restrictive rule.

As mentioned, Ontario Regulation 364/20 applies to levels Green, Yellow, and Orange.  The points below highlight some of the changes in the revised Regulation, as well as information to help you interpret the Regulation – note that this is not a comprehensive list:

  • Many types of businesses will require a safety plan which will be required to be available to the public, at their request, as well as posting the plan where the public can easily see it. Although the plan is normally required at the Yellow—Protect level, Public Health Sudbury & Districts strongly recommends completing it before the area is placed into the yellow level. Provincial guidance for the safety plan, Develop Your COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan, can be found at https://www.ontario.ca/page/develop-your-covid-19-workplace-safety-plan.
  • In general, the mask use requirement has not changed significantly from the previous version of the regulation. As in the past, mask use is required within indoor establishments; however, the requirement has been added that if a person provides services, within 2 metres, to another person who is not wearing a mask and is not separated by plexiglass, then the person providing services must wear a mask as well as eye protection.This will affect staff in bars and restaurants and personal service settings. Some specific businesses have additional requirements.
  • If food or drink is served in the premises, you are required to follow the same restrictions as restaurants and bars plus your own setting restrictions. Based on Regulation 364/20, the following types of business fall under this requirement:  meeting or event spaces, food courts, cinemas, performing arts facilities, drive ins, casinos, bingo halls, gaming establishments, nightclubs, museums, strip clubs, bathhouses, and sex clubs.
  • Hours of operation and alcohol service are restricted at the Yellow level and above. Owners and operators should check the regulation to see if the restrictions apply to their setting.
  • Requirements have been added to define an outdoor dining area.
  • Various types of premises are responsible to ensure that patrons lining up or congregating outside the establishment maintain 2 metre separation and wear face coverings.
  • At the Green—Prevent level, any premises which are required to follow the restaurant and bar restrictions, must record one person’s name and contact information from each group and the information must be kept and made available to Public Health if requested. At the Yellow—Protect level, these facilities and others are required to record of all patrons who enter the establishment’s names and contact information which must be kept and made available to Public Health if requested. Although not required under Regulation 364/20, Public Health Sudbury & Districts strongly recommends that any facility type that is required to record all patron names and contact information at the Yellow—Protect level, do so at the Green—Prevent level as well.

Note again that these points do not cover all of the changes in the legislation, and we strong urge you to carefully review the regulations to determine how your premises is affected. If you have any questions, please contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 748 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

November 5:

Today, Finance Minister Rod Phillips released the government’s 2020 budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. The budget includes $187 billion in annual spending, including $45 billion pandemic-related spending over three years, and a projected deficit of $38.5 billion.

Some key measures in Budget 2020 supported by the Ontario business community include:

  • Reducing commercial and industrial electricity rates will make Ontario businesses more competitive and enable them to invest in recovery and growth. For years, Ontario businesses have paid more for electricity than most other jurisdictions in North America, and the pandemic has only increased electricity system costs.
  • Business Education Tax rates vary throughout Ontario; as a result, businesses in London, Waterloo, Hamilton, Toronto, Windsor/Middlesex, and Kingston are paying higher taxes than those in other regions. The government has announced it will both reduce the BET rate and address regional variance within that rate, both of which the OCC has advocated for in the past.
  • The decision to make the higher Employer Health Tax threshold permanent is a welcome one that will free thousands of businesses from having to pay this tax.
  • The move to allow municipalities to target property tax relief specifically to small business is a creative and important tool to grant communities, given that small business has been hardest hit by the pandemic.
  • Broadband is a basic infrastructure requirement in today’s economy, but the ongoing pandemic has made it even more essential to public health and economic resilience. We are very pleased to see the government take this seriously with an additional investment of $680 million (for a total of nearly $1 billion) over six years.

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s reaction here.

Access the full budget document here.

November 4:

Today, the Ontario government announced an investment of $1 billion over six years to improve and expand broadband and cellular access across the province. The $680 million being announced today is on top of the $315 million to support Up to Speed: Ontario’s Broadband and Cellular Action Plan.

The investment announced today doubles funding for the Improving Connectivity in Ontario (ICON) program, bringing the new total to $300 million. This program now has the potential to leverage more than $900 million in total partner funding to improve connectivity in areas of need across Ontario. As part of Ontario’s broadband and cellular action plan, ICON is one of several provincial initiatives underway to improve connectivity across Northern, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario.

Read more here.

November 3:

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework

It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings. Public Health Sudbury & Districts currently is classified as a Green-Prevent district.

Additionally, the Ontario government is making $300 million available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions (Ottawa, Peel, Toronto, and York Region) or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown.

Read more here.

October 23:

On October 23, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development released guidance on using masks in the workplace. As part of an obligation to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace, businesses need to develop a policy on mask use. This document provides more specific information to help businesses make decisions about the use of masks in workplaces.

October 15:

On October 3, 2020 the Government of Ontario made changes to O. Reg. 364/20: RULES FOR AREAS IN STAGE 3 under Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c. 17 https://www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/200364/v14 requiring mandatory face coverings in businesses and organizations in Ontario:

Schedule 1 section 2

(4) The person responsible for a business or organization that is open shall ensure that any person in the indoor area of the premises of the business or organization, or in a vehicle that is operating as part of the business or organization, wears a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin during any period when they are in the indoor area unless the person in the indoor area,

(a) is a child who is younger than two years of age;

(b) is attending a school or private school within the meaning of the Education Act that is operated in accordance with a return to school direction issued by the Ministry of Education and approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health;

(c) is attending a child care program at a place that is in compliance with the child care re-opening guidance issued by the Ministry of Education;

(d) is receiving residential services and supports in a residence listed in the definition of “residential services and supports” in subsection 4 (2) of the Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008;

(e) is in a correctional institution or in a custody and detention program for young persons in conflict with the law;

(f) is performing or rehearsing in a film or television production or in a concert, artistic event, theatrical performance or other performance;

(g) has a medical condition that inhibits their ability to wear a mask or face covering;

(h) is unable to put on or remove their mask or face covering without the assistance of another person;

(i) needs to temporarily remove their mask or face covering while in the indoor area,

(i) to receive services that require the removal of their mask or face covering,

(ii) to engage in an athletic or fitness activity,

(iii) to consume food or drink, or

(iv) as may be necessary for the purposes of health and safety;

(j) is being accommodated in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005;

(k) is being reasonably accommodated in accordance with the Human Rights Code; or

(l) performs work for the business or organization, is in an area that is not accessible to members of the public and is able to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other person while in the indoor area.

(5) Subsection (4) does not apply with respect to premises that are used as a dwelling if the person responsible for the business or organization ensures that persons in the premises who are not entitled to an exception set out in subsection (4) wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin in any common areas of the premises in which persons are unable to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from other persons.

(6) For greater certainty, it is not necessary for a person to present evidence to the person responsible for a business or place that they are entitled to any of the exceptions set out in subsection (4).

Public Health Sudbury & Districts has received a number of questions regarding staff, particularly cashiers, that are behind plexiglass. In consultation with the provincial government, PHSD have been informed that the barrier does not constitute an exemption so workers behind the barrier will still be required to wear a mask if within 6 feet or 2 meters of a customer or other staff member.

If you have any questions please contact Public Health Sudbury & Districts at 705.522.9200, ext. 748.

October 7:

Province Proposes a $60 Million Funding Grant to Small Businesses. Read more here.

Today, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, announced Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan and intends to introduce the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, proposed legislation that would support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. If passed, the act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment.

The plan includes:

  • A one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses — in retail, food and accommodations, and other service sectors — with two to nine employees to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Ontario’s Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, which links 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres across the province as places where small businesses can access tailored advice and information on local, provincial and federal programs;
  • Digital Main Street Squads to help small businesses grow online;
  • Mental health supports for families, frontline workers, young people, children, and Indigenous communities;
  • Ontario’s Small Business Recovery Webpage to provide single window access to small business supports.

September 25:

New Mandatory Screening for Employees and Essentials Visitors in Ontario Workplaces. Read more here.

As part of increased measures to help stop the surge of COVID-19 cases, the Government of Ontario amended O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 (the “Regulation”) effective September 26, 2020. The amendment requires any person responsible for a business or organization that is open to operate the business or organization in compliance with the advice, recommendations and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening individuals.

The Ministry of Health has concurrently issued a “COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces (Businesses and Organizations)” (the “Tool”). The Tool contains recommendations for businesses or organizations for COVID-19 screening under the Regulation. Despite the permissive language used in the Tool, compliance with the recommendations are obligatory.

The Tool provides that a workplace’s screening tool should include at least three screening questions for any workers or essential visitors entering the workplace, which include asking whether the individual has:

  • Specified new or worsening symptoms or signs,
  • Travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days, and
  • Had close contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Screening should occur before or when a worker enters the workplace, at the beginning of their day or shift, or when an essential visitor arrives:

  • “Worker” refers to staff and is intended to include students, contractors or volunteers that conduct business or related activities where applicable and appropriate.
  • “Essential visitors” include individuals providing a service in the establishment who are not employees or patrons of the establishment (e.g., delivery, maintenance, contract workers).

September 8:

Ontario Reopens Apprenticeship and Trade-Related Exam Centes. Read more here.

The Ontario government has gradually reopened all 24 provincial centres for  apprenticeship and trade-related certifications, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer and provincial health authorities. Apprentices and skilled tradespeople can now book their final exams at their local apprenticeship office.

August 21:

Ontario Expands Indoor Capacity for Meetings and Event Facilities. Read more here.

Beginning August 21, 2020, facilities can have up to 50 guests for each indoor meeting room or event space within the facility. The facility would have to adhere to a plan approved by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health. The current indoor gathering limit will now apply on a per meeting room or event space basis at professional meeting and event facilities, including convention centres, hotels, motels, resorts, banquet halls and conference centres. Outdoor meeting and event facilities remain subject to the 100-person gathering limit for the entire outdoor area. Capacity limits exclude employees or event personnel.

August 7:

Ontario Invests $234.6 million in child care. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing $234.6 million in funding to keep children and staff safe in child care and early years settings. This funding will help support enhanced cleaning costs as well as health and safety requirements set out to support the reopening of licensed child care and early years programs.

July 31:

Ontario and Canada Launch a Mobile App to Help Notify Canadians of COVID-19 Exposure. Read more here.

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, today announced that COVID Alert, a new national mobile app, is now available to Canadians for free download. The app, first developed in Ontario, helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Use of COVID Alert is voluntary, and serves as another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Once the app is fully functioning in their province or territory, users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app. When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes in the past 14 days, so they can contact their local public health authority for guidance.

How It Works:

  • The app uses Bluetooth to exchange random codes with nearby phones.
  • Every day, it checks a list of random codes from people who tell the app they tested positive.
  • If you’ve been near one of those codes in the past 14 days, you’ll get a notification.

Download the app, COVID Alert, here.

July 30:

Ontario Releases Plan for September School Reopening. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen schools in September. Elementary schools (Kindergarten to Grade 8) will reopen provincewide, with in-class instruction five days a week. Secondary schools with lower risk will reopen with a normal daily schedule, five days a week, while most secondary schools will start the school year in an adapted model of part-time attendance with class cohorts of up to 15 students alternating between attending in-person and online. Students from Grade 4-12 and school staff will be required to wear masks. The government is investing $300 million to support the implementation of its school reopening protocols.

Ontario Releases Plans to Reopen Child Care Centres. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to allow licensed child care centres across Ontario to open at full capacity starting September 1, 2020. EarlyON Child and Family Centres will also be permitted to reopen with in-person programming along with before- and after-school programs for school aged children which will be permitted to operate with standard ratios and maximum group size requirements. All of these programs will be subject to health and safety protocols in order to keep kids safe.

July 29:

Toronto and Peel Region to Move to Stage 3. Read more here.

Additional businesses and public spaces will be reopening as the Ontario government allows the City of Toronto and Peel Region to move into Stage 3 of reopening the province on Friday, July 31 at 12:01 a.m. Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health regions will join the 31 public health regions that entered into Stage 3 on July 17 and 24, 2020.

July 27:

Province Transferring $4 billion to Municipalities for Critical Services and Transit. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. This funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months. Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks.

July 20:

Additional Regions to Move into Phase 3. Read more here.

The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions to enter Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, increasing the number of businesses and public spaces that will reopen across the province.

The following public health units will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Durham Region Health Department;
  • Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
  • Halton Region Health Department;
  • Hamilton Public Health Services;
  • Lambton Health Unit;
  • Niagara Region Public Health Department; and
  • York Region Public Health Services.

The following regions will remain in Stage 2 until local trends of key public health indicators demonstrate readiness to move into Stage 3:

  • Peel Public Health;
  • Toronto Public Health; and
  • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

July 16:

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to July 29. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 29, 2020. See here for a full list of emergency orders.

July 13:

Ontario Announces Plans to Progress to Stage 3 of Reopening. Read more here.

The Ontario government announced nearly all businesses and public spaces will reopen in Stage 3 of the province’s reopening framework with public health and workplace safety measures and restrictions in place. As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit Ontario.ca/reopen.

July 9:

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to July 22. Read more here.

The Ontario government, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2(4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 22, 2020. See here for a full list of emergency orders.

July 8:

Ontario Introduces the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act. Read more here.

Today, the province introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, proposed legislation aimed at restarting jobs and development, strengthening communities, and creating opportunity for people in every region of the province.

July 6:

Ontario Announces Made-in-Ontario Plan for Growth, Renewal and Economic Recovery. Read more here.

The Government of Ontario has developed a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery. This plan includes measures that would make it easier and faster to build provincial highways, major transit infrastructure projects and affordable housing.

As part of the government’s plan, the province is proposing to accelerate key provincial highway construction and priority transit projects by establishing an exemption from the Hearing of Necessity process. The government would also enter into new commercial agreements with partners to build transit-oriented communities.

July 3:

Ontario Launches Online Health and Safety Training Programs. Read more here.

The Ontario government is investing $3 million to provide free online health and safety training for the first time. These virtual courses will make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while practising physical distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. There are 10 courses on offer, which include topics such as infection control, conducting health and safety incident investigations, ladder safety, slips, trips and falls prevention, and preventing workplace violence and harassment. Job seekers should contact an Employment Ontario service provider in their area to enroll.

June 27:

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders to July 10. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020, while removing restrictions that were limiting access to certain sport training facilities. See here for a full list of emergency orders.

June 24:

Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency Until July 15. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 15. The state of emergency was first declared on March 17.

See here for a full list of emergency orders.

June 18:

Ontario to Launch COVID-19 Tracing App. Read more here.

Today, in partnership with the federal government, the Ontario government announced that it will launch a new app called “COVID Alert” in the next two weeks. Users will be able to voluntarily download the app and be notified anonymously if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days. In Ontario, the app will also provide users with quick access to Ontario’s public health advice and resources, and recommend any necessary actions, such as monitoring for symptoms, self-isolation or appropriate next steps on getting tested.

June 17:

Ontario Pauses Commercial Evictions. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders until June 30. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. This extension will be in effect until June 30, 2020.

June 16:

Ontario Release Guide on How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan. Read more here.

The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province.

The government’s first general workplace guide is accompanied by a template that employers can fill in to develop their own unique COVID-19 safety plan. The materials will help employers:

  • Identify the risks for transmitting the virus through person-to-person contact and actions such as touching faces with hands that have been contaminated by contact with surfaces and objects;
  • Determine what controls are needed to help mitigate risk, such as engineering controls like the installation of plexiglass to separate workers from customers, administrative controls limiting the number of workers in a space at one time, and personal protective equipment including face and eye protection;
  • Create a workplace safety plan based on the identified risks and appropriate controls specific to the employer’s workplace;
  • Implement the plan in the workplace, and review and update it as the situation evolves; and
  • Communicate the actions being taken to workers and other people entering the workplace.

Access the Guide here.

June 15:

Today, the province announced that additional regions of the province can move to Phase 2 of reopening. 24 public health regions, including Greater Sudbury, moved into Phase on June 12, 2020. As of June 19, 2020, all except Peel region, Toronto, and Windsor-Essex region can move into Phase 2. Read more here.

June 11:

Ontario Announces a $57 million Digital Main Street Platform. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, announced a plan to help small businesses enhance their online presence through a $57 million investment in a Digital Main Street platform.

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.

Learn more about Digital Main Street Ontario here.

June 10:

Ontario Announces Plan to Reopen Post-Secondary Schools. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to resume in-person instruction at post-secondary institutions across the province. Starting in July 2020, limited in-person education and training may restart for students who were not able to graduate due to COVID-19 closures. This first phase will allow institutions to reopen to provide in-person instruction to students in essential, frontline, and high labour market demand areas, such as nursing, personal support workers, engineering, and other critical professions. In September, all students will have the opportunity to attend post-secondary education through virtual learning, in-class instruction, or hybrid formats.

The province is developing a framework to be released to the sector in the coming days, which will provide guidance on the summer reopening and on health and safety measures.

Beaches and Campsites to Reopen at Ontario Parks. Read more here.

As part of the Ontario government’s Stage 2 reopening plan, more facilities and services will be available at provincial parks in certain regions beginning on June 12, 2020. Gradually over the next several weeks, Ontario Parks will start opening campgrounds, providing more washrooms and drinking water, along with roofed accommodations, park store and rental operations, visitor centres, and sports fields. It’s important to check what facilities and services are available before visiting a provincial park.

Facilities such as showers, laundry, group camping, picnic shelter rentals and swimming pools will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season.

June 9:

Ontario to Reopen Child Care Centres. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced its plan to reopen child care centres across the province. Developed in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and medical leaders at The Hospital for Sick Children, the plan will require child care operators to follow strict health protocols to ensure the safety of child care staff and children.

Centres will be required to adopt specific rules, including:

  • Cohorting ― putting children and staff in groups of 10 or less day over day;
  • COVID-19 response plan ― all child care settings will be required to have a plan in place if a child, parent or staff member/provider is exposed to COVID-19;
  • Screening ― all staff and children must be screened prior to entry to the child care setting.  Anyone feeling unwell must stay home;
  • Daily attendance records ― child care settings must keep daily records of all attendees in order to support contact tracing;
  • Cleaning ― child care settings must be thoroughly cleaned before opening and frequently thereafter;
  • No visitors ― only essential visitors are permitted entry into the child care setting;
  • Implementing drop-off and pick-up protocols in a way that facilitates physical distancing.

Effectively immediately, staff can re-enter child care facilities and begin preparation for reopening. When these operators have met all the strict and stringent guidelines for reopening, they will be permitted to reopen.

Health and Safety Guidance During COVID-19 for Employers of Child Care Centres

June 8:

Ontario Moves to Regional Reopening Phase 2. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced a regional approach to progressing to Phase 2 of reopening the province. Public Health Sudbury & Districts is among the public health unit jurisdictions that is allowed to progress to Phase 2.

Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshipers.

Read here for more details on which sectors of the economy are allowed to progress to Phase 2.

Read here for more details on the reopening framework.

Ontario Proposes Temporary Ban on Commercial Evictions. Read more here.

The Ontario government announced today that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.

The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020. If passed, the proposed legislation would make it illegal to evict a commercial tenant until August 31, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible.

June 6:

Ontario Extends All Emergency Orders Until June 19. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 19, 2020. Current emergency orders that have been extended include those that enable frontline care providers to redeploy staff where they are needed most, allow public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing, and prohibits long-term care and retirement home employees from working at more than one home or for another health service provider.

See here for a full list of emergency orders.

June 2:

Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency Until June 30. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 30. The state of emergency was first declared on March 17.

See here for a full list of emergency orders.

June 1:

Ontario Extends Infectious Disease Emergency Leave for Workers During COVID-19.

Today, the government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The regulatory amendments do not include employees represented by a trade union.

Read CCPartners’ analysis of the announcement here.

May 30:

Ontario Introduces COVID-19 Recovery Rate Electricity Rate. Read more here.

Today, the province introduced a fixed electricity price, known as the COVID-19 Recovery Rate, of 12.8 cents per kWh, which will be automatically applied to all time-of-use customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This fixed electricity price will be in place from June 1 – October 31, 2020.

The COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8¢/kWh is based on the average cost of electricity, set by the Ontario Energy Board. This fixed rate will continue to suspend time-of-use prices in a fiscally responsible manner. By introducing this new fixed rate, consumers will have greater flexibility to use electricity when they need it without paying on-peak and mid-peak prices.

May 29:

Ontario Expands COVID-19 Testing; Considering Regional Reopenings. Read more here.

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:

  1. Assessment Centre Testing: expanding who gets tested to now include asymptomatic individuals concerned about exposure and continued routine symptomatic testing at assessment centres.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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.

May 27:

Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency Until June 9. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 8. The state of emergency was first declared on March 17.

See here for a full list of emergency orders.

May 19:

Ontario Announces School Closure Until September, 2020. Read more here.

Today, the province announced that it would be closing all schools for the rest of the school year. The province intends to re-open schools for the 2020-21 school year in September.

Ontario Extends Emergency Orders Until May 20, 2020. Read more here.

The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force until May 29, 2020. That includes the closure of bars and restaurants except for takeout and delivery only, restrictions on social gatherings of more than five people, and staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings like retirement homes and women’s shelters.

See here for a full list of emergency orders.

May 14:

Ontario Progresses to Stage 1 of Reopening Phase; Lifts Some Restrictions. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government announced the retailers, seasonal businesses and health and community service providers who will be permitted to open or expand their services on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

The government also announced additional seasonal services and activities will be permitted to open as early as Saturday May 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, as key public health indicators continue to show progress.

As soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will include:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.

Additional Resources:

A Framework for Reopening our Province: Stage 1

Detailed List of Stage 1 Openings

Workplace PPE Supplier Directory

May 12:

Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency Until June 2. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 2. The state of emergency was first declared on March 17.

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

May 9:

Ontario Opening Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves. Read more here.

The Ontario government is opening provincial parks and conservation reserves for limited day-use access. The first areas will open on Monday May 11, 2020, with the remaining areas opening on Friday May 15, 2020. At this time, recreational activities will be limited to walking, hiking, biking and birdwatching. Day visitors will also be able to access all parks and conservation reserves for free until the end of the month.

On Monday, 520 provincial parks and conservation reserves across the province will open, and the remaining 115 will open on the following Friday for limited day-use activities. At this time, camping and other activities are not permitted at any provincial park or conservation reserve. All buildings and facilities including washrooms, water taps, campgrounds, backcountry campsites, roofed accommodations, playgrounds, and beaches continue to be closed.

Before planning your trip, please visit www.ontarioparks.com/park-locator to check the status of your local provincial park.

May 6:

Ontario Eases Restrictions and Allows Certain Stores to Reopen. Read more here.

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores. The business owners should review the health and safety guidelines developed by the province and its health and safety association partners.

As early as Friday, May 8 at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries will be able to open for in-store payment and purchases, operating under the same guidelines as grocery stores and pharmacies. Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 9. On Monday, May 11 at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery, in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces and occupational health and safety requirements.

Businesses must follow public health measures and should review the workplace safety guidelines, such as promoting physical distancing and frequent handwashing, sanitizing surfaces, installing physical barriers, staggering shifts, and using contactless payment options to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Relevant documents:

Ontario Extends Electricity Rate Relief Until May 31; Extends All Emergency Orders Until May 19. Read more here.

The Ontario government is extending emergency electricity rate relief to families, farms and small businesses until May 31, 2020 during the COVID-19 outbreak. Customers who pay time-of-use electricity rates will continue to be billed at the lowest price, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Ontario government is also extending all other emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 19, 2020.

May 1:

Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines. Read more here.

The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.

By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

Progress to the next stage of reopening requires a steady decrease in COVID-19 cases.

April 30:

Ontario Released Workplace Safety Guidelines in Anticipation of Loosening Restrictions. Read more here.

The government’s safety guidelines released today will provide direction to those working in manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, and the agricultural sector.

These new sector-specific guidelines feature recommended actions employers can begin to plan for as they prepare to adapt to the new reality during COVID-19, including:

  • Ways to ensure appropriate physical distancing, like eliminating pay-at-the-door options, holding team meetings outdoors, staggering shift times and using ground markings and barriers to manage traffic flow.
  • Changes to the workplace, like installing plexiglass barriers, increasing the air intake on building heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to increase air flow, and using boot sanitizing trays.
  • Promoting proper workplace sanitation, providing personal protective equipment, substituting dry dusting with vacuuming, ensuring customer-facing staff are given hand sanitizer, providing a place to dispose of sanitizing wipes, and enforcing handwashing before and after breaks

View the guidance notes for the construction, food processing, restaurant and food services, agriculture, manufacturing, and long term care sectors here.

April 28:

Ontario Launches COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website. Read more here.

The Ontario government is launching the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by the global pandemic. Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to the website. The province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario’s supply chain.

The province is also pausing or extending any existing public consultations, delaying non-urgent related consultations while the emergency situation remains in place, and considering extending deadlines for reports and audits.

Access the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website here.

April 27:

Ontario Unveils Guiding Principles to Reopen the Province. Read more here.

Today, the Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. The framework also provides details of an outreach strategy, led by the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, to help inform the restart of the provincial economy.

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

  • Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.
  • Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.
  • Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.

To reopen the economy, the government will consider factors such as the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the ability to implement protective measures to keep workplaces safe. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will provide advice to the government about easing public health measures using a range of set criteria, including:

  • A consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases;
  • Sufficient acute and critical care capacity, including access to ventilators and ongoing availability of personal protective equipment;
  • Approximately 90 per cent of new COVID-19 contacts are being reached by local public health officials within one day, with guidance and direction to contain community spread; and
  • Ongoing testing of suspected COVID-19 cases, especially of vulnerable populations, to detect new outbreaks quickly.

April 23:

Ontario Extends All Emergency Orders Until May 6.

The Ontario government is extending all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 6, 2020.

This Emergency Order extension includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and limiting staff from working in more than one retirement home or long-term care home.

For a full list of Emergency Orders in effect, see here.

April 14:

Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency Until May 12. Read more here.

April 11:

The Province Extends Emergency Orders until April 23. Read more here.

  • The Government of Ontario has extended all emergency orders that have been put in place to-date under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until April 23, 2020, including the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and the prohibition of price gouging.

April 9:

Premier Ford Appoints Team to Develop Plan for Post-Pandemic Growth and Recovery. Read more here.

  • Ontario launches a Job and Recovery Committee, which will focus on getting businesses up and running and people back to work after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
  • The membership of the Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee includes:
    • Rod Phillips, Chair, Minister of Finance
    • Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
    • Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board
    • Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation
    • Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
    • Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
    • Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
    • John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
    • Laurie Scott, Minister of Infrastructure
    • Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
    • Lisa Thompson, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
    • Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
    • Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

April 3:

Ontario Updates List of Essential Business. Read more here.

  • The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves.
  • Teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses.
  • View updated list of essential businesses here.

April 1:

Ontario Launches $50 million Ontario Together Fund to Combat COVID-19. Read more here.

  • The new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment.
  • This new Fund will support the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal.

March 28:

Ontario Prohibits Gatherings of More Than Five People. Read more here.

Ontario Protecting Consumers from Price Gouging. Read more here.

  • Effective immediately, retail businesses and individuals cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods.
  • Necessary goods include:
    • Masks and gloves used as personal protective equipment in relation to infections.
    • Non-prescription medications for the treatment of the symptoms of the coronavirus.
    • Disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects or humans.
    • Personal hygiene products, including soap products and paper products

Ontario Introduces Changes to Public Sector Supply Chain Management for Duration of COVID-19 Crisis. Read more here.

  • These regulations will enable the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Health to centrally manage public sector supply chains. It will allow the collection of key data on inventories, orders and supply constraints and the development of a virtual inventory tool so that demand for crucial supplies are visible and trackable. With these measures in place, the government can prioritize buying what is needed most, deploying them, and allocating them on a priority basis to support the delivery of essential services to Ontarians.

March 25:

Province delays release of annual budget; releases $17 billion Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. Read the Action Plan here.

  • The Action Plan includes $10 billion in support for people and businesses aimed at improving cash flows.
  • Business Supports in the Action Plan:
    • Defer $6 billion of provincially administered taxes (April 1 to August 31)
    • Defer $1.9 billion of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and expenses for employers for 6 months
    • Work with municipal partners to defer $1.8 billion in property taxes for 90 days (including the provincial education tax)
    • Postpone the 2021 property tax reassessment.
    • Retroactively reduce the Employer Health Tax (EHT) and temporarily increase the exemption from $490,000 to $1 million
    • Help support regions lagging in employment growth with the proposed new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit
    • Support energy affordability for small business, farm, and residential consumers with approximately $5.6 billion towards electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Other Supports in the Action Plan:
    • Invest an additional $3.3 billion in health care resources beyond what was budgeted last year. This includes:
      • $935 million towards the hospital sector
      • $160 million towards public health funding to support COVID-19 monitoring, surveillance, testing, and Telehealth Ontario
      • $243 million for surge capacity in the long-term care sector
      • $75 million to supply personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies to front-line staff
    • Provide $26 million in additional support to Indigenous peoples and communities
    • Help families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those under 21 with special needs
    • Double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months
    • Defer loan payments and interest accrual for six months for Ontario Student  Assistance Program (OSAP) borrowers

Read the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s Rapid Policy Update of Ontario’s Action Plan.

The formal provincial budget is expected no later than November 15, 2020.

Ontario Launches a Toll-Free Business Information Line: 1-888-444-3659. Read more here.

  • The toll-free Stop the Spread Business Information Line will provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces.
  • The line will be available from Monday to Sunday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm.

March 24:

Ontario Extending Off-Peak Electricity Rates to 24 hours per day for 45 days. Read more here.

  • For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.
  • This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province.
  • This discount will be applied automatically to electricity bills without the need for customers to fill out an application form.

March 23:

Ontario Orders All Non-Essential Stores and Services to Close, Effective 11:59 pm on Tuesday, March 24. Read more here.

  • List of what constitutes essential services and stores can be viewed here.

Ontario Launches COVID-19 Self-Assessment Tool. Access the Self-Assessment Tool here.

March 21:

Ontario Urges Business to Join the Fight Against COVID-19. Read more here.

  • A new provincial government website removes barriers for companies to provide essential goods and services. Access Ontario Together here.
  • Ontario Together will identify the province’s supply challenges and solicit ideas and advice from Ontario’s business and manufacturing communities on how the government can work together to meet the need. Through the portal, companies will be able to submit proposals for the government to procure required goods and services and share creative solutions quickly.
  • Read the OCC’s statement in support here.

March 19:

Ontario Passes the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 and Municipal Emergency Act, 2020. Read more here.

  • The Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2020 provides job-protected leave for employees who are in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or care for other relatives. This legislation is retroactive to January 25, 2020.
  • The Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 amends the municipal by-law to allow commercial deliveries at all times of day, where previously they may have been limited.

March 17:

Ontario Declares a State of Emergency. Read more here.

  • This declaration requires that the following establishments across the province are legally mandated to close:
    • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
    • All public libraries;
    • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
    • All licensed child care centres;
    • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
    • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
    • Concert venues.

Read CCPartners’s analysis here.

March 16:

Ontario Introduces Legislation to Protect Workers During COVID-19. Read more here.

  • The proposed legislation, if passed, would provide job protection for employees unable to work for the following reasons:
    • The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
    • The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
    • The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
    • The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
    • The employer directs the employee not to work.
    • The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.
    • Not require a medical note for time off from work.
  • The legislation would be retroactive to January 25, 2020.

Read CCPartners’s analysis here.

Ontario to Delay Release of Annual Budget; to Provide a Fiscal Update on March 25. Read more here.

March 12:

Ontario Orders All Publicly Funded Schools to Close from March 14 to April 5. Read more here.