Ford Releases “Framework” for Ontario Economy to Reopen

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Premier of Ontario/YouTube

Premier Doug Ford has announced his government’s plan for reopening the Ontario economy today.

During the briefing, Ford said medical officials have said the COVID-19 cases are at their “peak” and because of that, the government is ready to reveal its ‘road-map’ to reopen the province’s economy.

“The framework is about how we’re re-opening, not about when we’re reopening.”

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Ford said he won’t set “hard dates” for when the province can re-open because the virus “travels at its own speed.”

Deputy Premier and Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott added, “There is light at the end of this tunnel. We have a clear path forward to safely and gradually ease restrictions.”

“Our top priority remains protecting the health and safety of the people of Ontario and supporting our frontline heroes as we do everything in our power to contain and defeat this deadly virus,” said Premier Ford.

“At the same time, we are preparing for the responsible restart of our economy. This next phase of our response to COVID-19 is designed to help us map out what needs to be done, and when, to get us back on the road to recovery.”

The provincial government says it will be taking 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.

The stages are as follows:

  • 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.

“It is because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians to stay at home and stop the spread of COVID-19 that we are able to consider plans to move into the next phase of our battle against this virus,” said Minister Elliott.

In order for the economy to reopen, 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 province’s chief medical officer and health experts will also 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% 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.

To support the next phases of Ontario’s Action Plan, the new Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee, chaired by Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, will be consulting with key sectors in all regions to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the provincial economy and develop a plan to move forward.

Additionally, the government and MPPs will lead discussions with business associations, chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the postsecondary sector, corporate leaders, small business owners, community and social service providers, Indigenous partners, Franco-Ontarians, entrepreneurs, and others.

The work of the committee will build on Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, the first phase of the government’s $17 billion response that is delivering targeted relief for businesses and families across the province.

This news comes as the province currently remains under a state of emergency that has been extended several times since it was first implemented on Tuesday, March 17. Under a state of emergency, all businesses that are considered non-essential remain closed, as do other services like child-care centres, libraries, recreation facilities, places of worship. It has already been announced that Ontario’s public schools and parks will remain closed until at least May 31.

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