Ontario Declares a State of Emergency

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Premier Doug Ford announced this morning that the province has declared a state of emergency. The decision was made on advice from the Chief Medical Officer and Public Health in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 and prevent overwhelming our hospitals. 

Effective today until March 31, 2020, the province is prohibiting gatherings of over 50 people. In an effort to increase resources to the healthcare system in a timely manner and take care of those who have already been contaminated, the province is taking measures to enforce social distancing. 

This means closures to:

  • Parades 

  • Events and services

  • Facilities providing indoor recreational programs

  • Private schools 

  • Public libraries

  • Licenced childcare centres

  • All bars and restaurants (except those that offer takeout and delivery services)

  • Theatres (live performance, dance and cinemas)

  • Places of worship

The Premier assured the public this is not a provincial shutdown at this stage. The vast majority of businesses vital to day-to-day life will not be affected; essential services and needs facilities will also continue to operate. 

As of now, the following will remain open:  

  • Grocery stores

  • Convenience stores

  • Manufacturing facilities

  • Public transit

  • Important public services

  • Pharmacies

  • Manufacturing plants

  • Construction sites 

  • Office buildings

 Malls remain open at this point but may shut down if the situation gets worse.


Emergency Relief Package 

As part of a larger COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package, the province released over $300 million towards the first stage of relief.

This initial investment will go towards: 

  • Purchasing 75 more critical care beds
  • Purchasing 500 post-acute care beds
  • Helping hospitals set up 25 more COVID-19 assessment centres
  • Backing up front line public health workers with more resources for monitoring and testing
  • Purchasing more personal protective equipment including: masks, gloves, surgical gowns for nurses, doctors and Personal Support Workers (PSWs), as well as more ventilators
  • Hiring 1,000 nurses and 1,000 PSWs
  • Providing funds for 50 physicians to cover emergency departments, urgent care and primary care for indigenous and northern rural and remote communities 

The province is looking to the federal government to support Ontario in establishing a loan program and creating a long-term plan to support businesses. They are also asking for quick reforms to the EI eligibility criteria in order to expand coverage to support workers impacted by the outbreak. 

The province says it will spare no expense to ensure Ontarians are supported.