Ontario Helping Keep Seniors Safe and Connected During COVID-19
Government’s investment will help older adults maintain their physical, mental and social well-being
TORONTO – The Ontario government is investing $4.5 million through the Seniors Community Grant Program to support over 180 diverse community projects. This year’s funding focuses on helping older adults stay connected with their communities while self-isolating from the safety of their home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The funding will help non-profit organizations, local services boards and Indigenous groups develop programs by:
Helping older men and women receive the support they need in their community, reducing demand on acute and long-term care
Ensuring older adults are less at risk for neglect, abuse and fraud, and that their rights and dignity are protected
Making sure more seniors are connected and engaged and not as socially isolated
Providing more opportunities for older adults to achieve greater financial security
“The health and safety of our seniors is a key priority for our government, and we are actively working to ensure all programs will make a positive impact on their lives – especially during this difficult time when people are self-isolating,” said Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility. “This year’s Seniors Community Grants will go towards virtual programs that will help older adults safely access programs while staying socially active and connected with their communities.”
The application period for this round of the Seniors Community Grant (SCG) Program opened on June 24 and closed on August 7, 2020.
Unincorporated and incorporated not-for-profit organizations, local services boards, and Indigenous groups were invited to apply for funding from $1,000 up to $100,000.
Since the program was established in 2014, nearly 1,900 grants have been provided which have positively impacted the lives of more than half a million seniors.
The SCG Program is the only grant program in the Ontario government dedicated to seniors.
First Round of COVID-19 Vaccinations Completed in All Ontario Long-Term Care Homes
Accelerated vaccination rollout continues despite supply delays
The first round of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in every long-term care home across Ontario to eligible residents who wanted one. 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.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario has invested $1.38 billion to ensure that long-term care homes have the resources they need to battle this virus. The government has also taken action to address urgent staffing shortages, including enabling the deployment of hospital staff to long-term care homes.
The province’s vaccine strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable populations first, including residents of long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes.
As the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines continues, the Ontario government is investing an additional $398 million during the second wave of the pandemic to reduce the risk of the virus entering long-term care homes from the community.
Ontario has taken steps to enhance protection for long-term care homes through the use of rapid antigen tests to increase the chance of detecting the virus earlier.
To address long-standing staffing challenges, the government has launched one of the largest recruitment and training drives in the province’s history to deliver on its commitment to provide an average of four hours of daily direct care for residents.
Financial Assistance Critical to Help Combat Economic Impacts of COVID-19
TORONTO – Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, issued the following statement in response to today’s monthly employment release by Statistics Canada:
“Employment in Ontario decreased by 153,500 in January. In the last eight months Ontario’s employment has increased by 739,800. This month’s employment numbers underscore the significant economic impacts of COVID-19. These numbers serve as a stark reminder that behind every economic statistic is a family, a worker or a business owner and the work that lies ahead of us to reach a full economic recovery.
The government imposed a provincial Stay-at-Home order in January to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help keep people safe. However, there is no denying that the impacts are being felt throughout the economy. We know that many Ontarians continue to struggle during this challenging time and that is why we are providing unprecedented support to workers, businesses and families as we plan for our economic recovery.
We recently launched the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which provides a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners impacted by the Provincewide Shutdown. Each eligible small business can use this funding in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business.
Eligible small businesses dealing with unexpected costs of personal protective equipment can also apply for one-time grants of up to $1,000 through Ontario’s Main Street Relief Grant. Our government is also providing $600 million for property tax and energy cost rebates to support businesses required to close or significantly reduce services because of public health restrictions.
We are all in this together. The people of this province continue to step up and make the necessary sacrifices to help slow the spread of COVID-19. By working together, we will defeat this terrible pandemic, restart the job creation engine of Canada, and lay the foundation for a brighter future.”
Ontario Expands Eligibility for Main Street Relief Grant
Helping Small Businesses Access PPE as Province Returns to Framework
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 funding will help even more main street businesses stay safe, keep people employed, and continue contributing to our communities, by expanding the accessibility to the Main Street Relief Grant our government will provide up to 60,000 small businesses with support to help them cover the cost of PPE and protective supplies. We continue to encourage businesses to apply and learn more at ontario.ca/COVIDsupport.”
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:
accommodation and food services;
repair and maintenance;
personal and laundry services;
gyms and yoga studios; and
arts, entertainment, and recreation.
“Expanding eligible sectors for the PPE grant that have been significantly affected by COVID-19 is another way we can support our small business community,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “These businesses often require frequent, in-person contact with coworkers and they have the least space to accommodate physical distancing. They need a steady supply of PPE to function in a sustainable way.”
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.
“Ontario’s heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries were hit first, hardest, and will take the longest to recover post-pandemic,” said Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Expanding eligibility of the Main Street Relief Grant to include more business-owners within these sectors will cover added costs and help us explore all that our province has to offer when it’s safe to do so.”
Small businesses can visit ontario.ca/smallbusiness to learn about the many supports available to them. These include resources to find Ontario-made PPE through the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, tools to build or expand their online presence through Digital Main Street, tailored local support through the Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, and free financial advice.
The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory provides businesses with information on personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers.
The government has opened applications for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses that have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown.
The government launched the $50-million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses retool their operations to produce PPE and develop technology-driven solutions and services for businesses to reopen safely.
Businesses and individuals looking to help in the fight against COVID-19 can submit their proposals through the Ontario Together portal.
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters’ Ontario Made program is helping the province’s manufacturing base regain and recover revenues lost due to COVID-19 by encouraging manufacturers and producers to register and promote their products on the SupportOntarioMade.ca site and use the Ontario Made logo.
Health Coalition Calls on Ford Government to Stop For-Profit Long-Term Care Chain Companies from Banning Essential Caregivers: COVID-19
Toronto/Sudbury – The Ontario Health Coalition has been hearing from family members of loved ones in long-term care homes who are being stopped from getting into the homes to provide support and care for their loved ones. This is happening in a range of long-term care homes across Ontario, and the Coalition is hearing it much more frequently from families with loved ones in for-profit homes. In one particularly egregious example, Jarlette, a for-profit chain with 14 long-term care homes across the province, has suspended all access for essential caregivers except compassionate and end-of-life care.
Under Directive #3 Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, has issued directions regarding visitors/essential caregivers. All LTC homes have to have a policy that is compliant with the Directives.
The Minister of LTC’s COVID-19 Visiting Policy, December 26, is to assist LTC homes with implementing Directive #3. In it, it is clear that essential caregivers are designated by the resident or their substitute decision-maker. Each resident can have up to two essential caregivers. In areas of high COVID prevalence or in homes with COVID-19 outbreaks, the homes can limit essential caregivers to one at a time. Essential caregivers must follow the homes’ policies for infection control and safety, including testing, PPE and training. But LTC homes cannot simply ban all essential caregivers. (Note: Visitors, who are not essential caregivers, can be stopped in homes in outbreak or in areas with high COVID prevalence.)
“At this difficult time, it is more important than ever that residents have access to essential caregivers for assistance and support,” said Jane Meadus LL.B Laywer and Institutional Advocate at the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly. “Under the Resident’s Bill of Rights in the LTC Homes Act it is unlawful for homes to interfere with this right.”
“While we understand the fear of the spread of the U.K. variant, the fact is that long-term care homes can set a policy of requiring and providing a stronger level of protection and PPE for essential caregivers,” said Natalie Mehra, Executive Director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “We all know the suffering and death of residents resulting from isolation and inadequate care. Locking out all essential caregivers is not a solution; it causes harm, and in some cases, irreparable harm. The Ford government must intervene.”
“The Elizabeth Centre Friends and Family Council sent a letter to Jarlette Health Services regarding the order to suspend all essential family caregivers, stating that we are concerned with it because of the effect it will have on the emotional well-being of our loved ones,” said Roma Smith, Chair of the Elizabeth Centre Friends and Family Council and member of the Ontario Health Coalition Long-Term Care Committee. During the first wave of this pandemic we saw the negative impact of social isolation on our loved ones. We asked Jarlette to reconsider their decision.”
Ontario Health Coalition Releases Tracking of UK Variant COVID-19
As COVID-19 U.K. Variant Spreads Ford Government Can Not Fail Us Again:
Stronger Enforced Public Health Measures Are Missing
Toronto – The Ontario Health Coalition has tracked all the cases of the U.K. variant (B. 1.1.7) for which we can find public information. The Coalition released the data today with a call for the Ford government to take fast action to protect Ontarians. The spread of the variant in Ontario is happening quite quickly and there are now an initial set of large outbreaks in long-term care (Barrie), food production (North York) and an apartment building (North Bay). It should be of deep concern. Here is a link to the tracking of U.K variant cases in Ontario by region with sources.
In the U.K. the variant has been traced back to September 20. By mid-December 60 % of cases were the new variant which spread very quickly across the Southeast, London and the East of England, overwhelming hospitals and resulting in a hard lockdown. The variant is reported to be 40 – 70 percent more infectious. In a new report published in the British Medical Association Journal, two new studies have found it may be associated with a higher death rate.
“The Ford government failed to act quickly enough to stop the huge increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths prior to the second wave. It failed again to do so prior to Hanukkah/Christmas. They cannot fail to do so again,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition. “Almost 1,000 staff and residents in long-term care have died since December 31 alone. Many of those deaths could have been prevented with adequate staffing, proper PPE, meaningful consequences for for-profit long-term care homes that do not follow safe infection control practices and provide resources for staffing and care. In addition, high community transmission rates have imperilled the lives of people in long-term care and other congregate care settings. Failure to act quickly enough to reduce the community spread has been a fatal political choice by the Ford government.”
“Yesterday the Ford government announced plans to permit more contacts between people in their plans to “open” up but did not announce safety measures to prevent the rapid spread of the UK variant of COVID-19. Our provincial government cannot simply repeat the same mistakes over and over again. We are calling on the Ford government to immediately provide clear, enhanced and enforced safety measures to protect Ontarians.”