Queen’s Park Update – May 22
by Jim McDonell
This past week, we marked a significant milestone: the official first day of the Ontario government’s Framework for Reopening the Province. As Premier Ford said, “The people of Ontario have been doing a fantastic job to help flatten the curve and stop the spread of this terrible virus.” Now, as the weather warms up, I encourage you to stretch your legs and breathe the fresh air at our popular outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities, multi-use fields and picnic areas. Play structures and equipment, fitness equipment, splash pads and similar outdoor water amenities will remain closed at this time. Private child care services with less than six children are also allowed to open with proper safety measures in place.
We ask everyone to maintain social distancing, to wash hands regularly, and to avoid leaving the house if feeling unwell. If social distancing is not practical, we are recommending that you wear a simple cloth mask, leaving the medical-grade masks for our health care workers, those providing direct care, first responders, and individuals who are ill and must leave their home for essential reasons, such as seeking medical attention, picking up medication, or groceries.
Stage 1 for reopening businesses is now into its second week. Customers and staff are being asked to follow established public health guidelines, which will be monitored by the local public health unit. Based on compliance and new case data over the next two to three weeks, the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) will advise the government on implementing the next steps for businesses. A complete list can be found at www.ontario.ca/Reopen, and by calling a business information line at 1-888-444-3659.
The health and well-being of our children is foremost in our efforts. After consultation with the CMOH, the government has decided to close public and private schools for the remainder of the school year. Let me assure everyone that students who were on track to graduate will do so. We also unveiled an expanded seven-point summer learning program for Ontario students to ensure those that participate remain intellectually stimulated through the summer months. To help improve access to remote learning, Ontario is partnering with 34 organizations and private businesses, along with school boards, to address key needs among educators, students, and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Lastly, assuming trends in key public health indicators continue to improve, summer day camps, both indoor and outdoor, may be permitted in July and August of this year. Strict health and safety guidelines will be developed in partnership with local public health, the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, and municipalities. Overnight camps will not be permitted to operate in the summer of 2020.
Our local MP, Eric Duncan, and I will continue to host virtual town hall meetings to answer your questions. Please check our websites and Facebook pages for upcoming sessions. Previous town halls are also available for viewing. An up-to-date list of all federal and provincial programs for individuals and businesses is available at http://covidsupports.ca/jimmcdonell. For those who need assistance, my office continues to be available at Jim.McDonellco@pc.ola.org or 613-933-6513 (toll-free 1-800-514-9660).
Remember, as much as you can, stay home and protect yourself and your loved ones.