TORONTO — The Ontario government is taking immediate action to enhance the local public health response to COVID-19 in Peel Region by expanding access to testing as well as increasing case and contact management and hospital capacity. These additional supports are part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover, which includes an additional investment of $572 million in Ontario’s hospitals to help offset the costs of COVID-19, including testing, assessment centres, laboratory and medical equipment, and personal protective equipment.
Details were provided today by Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and MPP for Brampton South.
“We are working across government and alongside our partners in health care and public health to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Peel Region,” said Minister Elliott. “Our government is focusing public health resources where they are needed the most to protect the individuals, families and workers in Peel Region.”
The seven-day indicators of public health trends in several communities in Peel Region, such as Brampton, support the decision to move the region to the Red – Control level. The Medical Officer of Health for the Region of Peel issued additional public health measures on Saturday, November 7. Local medical officers of health have the ability to tailor restrictions in their communities based on regional circumstances and needs.
In response to the increased need for local COVID-19 testing, Ontario is providing more sites and innovative options such as:
- Establishing three new community-based testing centres in Brampton by Tuesday, November 10 at Snelgrove Community Centre, Gore Meadows Community Centre and Greenbriar Community Centre;
- Implementing mobile testing sites, including at the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Peel Dufferin Mobile Health Clinic in Brampton, to respond to an increase in localized demand for tests within the community and to provide access to testing in communities where travel is a barrier to getting tested;
- Opening limited walk-in availability at assessment centres for those who can’t book an appointment online or by phone; and
- Implementing up to 7 pharmacies or specimen collection centres in partnership with LifeLabs, Dynacare and Alpha over the next two weeks.
Ontario is also exploring opportunities to engage with community leaders to help promote awareness of the importance of COVID-19 testing and to develop culturally and linguistically sensitive targeted communications to encourage testing in the region.
Additional case and contact management support will be allocated to Peel Regional Health Unit. This includes:
- Up to 70 case and contact management staff have started onboarding to support Peel Region directly.
- Ten public health units across the province with lower case counts are now assisting Peel Region with case investigation.
To support hospital capacity pressures and the continuation of surgeries and procedures, Ontario is investing $42 million for up to 234 new beds at three hospitals and their alternate health facilities in Peel Region. This includes:
- William Osler Health System receiving up to 87 total patient beds with 41 beds at Osler’s Brampton Civic Hospital and 46 beds at Osler’s Etobicoke General Hospital.
- Trillium Health Partners receiving up to 141 total patient beds with 99 beds at Mississauga Hospital, 36 acute beds at Queensway Health Centre and 6 beds at Credit Valley Hospital.
- Headwaters Healthcare receiving up to 6 total patient beds.
To continue to protect the most vulnerable, only essential visitors, including up to one caregiver per resident, have been allowed in long-term care homes in Peel Region since October 7. Anyone planning a visit to a long-term care home in Peel Region, or any other region, is advised to contact the home in advance to get information on the home’s visitor policy and any restrictions. A complete list of homes affected by visitor restrictions is posted online and updated as the areas with higher community spread change.
Keep Workers Safe on the Job during COVID-19
This past weekend a multi-ministry team of over 50 provincial offences officers carried out a safety campaign in Peel Region to help local workplaces stay safe and stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team consisted of officers from the following ministries:
- Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
- Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Transportation
- Ministry of Education
The team provided support to local businesses by educating owners and operators about COVID-19 public health requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act. They ensured businesses knew what precautions they needed to take to safely remain open for workers and the public such as completing a workplace safety plan. In total, over 330 retail establishments were visited during the two-day campaign, with a focus on big-box stores, supermarkets and malls. Officers found that the main areas for improvement related to active screening measures, mask wearing and sanitation.
“We know that most businesses are operating in safe and responsible ways to protect their workers and customers,” said Minister McNaughton. “However, there are still some businesses that need help and that’s why we are doing community safety campaigns. We’re committed to making sure all workplaces in Ontario have the resources and information they need to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
To help support businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions, or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown, Ontario is making $300 million available. This funding will help eligible businesses pay fixed costs such as municipal property taxes and energy bills. Businesses in Peel Region should check if they are eligible for these rebates.
“Main Street small businesses in Peel can count on our support with new funding programs that will help them rehire, rebuild, and re-emerge stronger than before,” said Associate Minister Sarkaria. “Everyone can do their part to support Ontario’s recovery by Shopping Local. Together, let’s help bring vitality back to our main streets and support the businesses that mean so much to our communities.”
Ontario will be monitoring weekly trends in public health data of all public health unit regions with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts in accordance with the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. In addition, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a different level.