Extensive Planning to Prepare Province for All Scenarios
From the Ministry of Health
TORONTO — As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve globally,
Ontario is taking further action to ensure the province’s health care
system is positioned to continue to safeguard the health and well-being
Since being formally constituted, Ontario’s new Command Table
has been refining and finalizing plans for the implementation of
enhanced measures to ensure the province is prepared to respond quickly
and effectively to any scenario, including:
- Enhanced access to screening;
- Expanding lab-testing capacity; and
- Implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe.
public health system continues to demonstrate remarkable responsiveness
to COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of
Health. “While we have so far effectively contained new cases of this
virus, we are relentlessly focused on planning for any scenario. We are
actively working with our partners at all levels in the health care
system to implement enhanced measures to ensure that we are prepared to
protect the health of all Ontarians.”
Enhanced Access to Screening
To rapidly expand screening and ease pressures on hospital emergency departments, Ontario will immediately establish a number of dedicated assessment centres
in areas experiencing significant growth in testing. Some of the first
wave of assessment centres will open in the next several days, including
at Brampton Civic Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, North York General
Hospital, Mackenzie Health, Scarborough Health Network, and Trillium
Health Partners. These centres are located in dedicated spaces that will
facilitate high-quality care, to protect broader patient populations.
assessment centres will be established across the province in the
coming weeks. Regions without an assessment centre will continue to be
serviced by their local hospital or primary care settings.
Ontario has also approved new physician billing codes
for telephone assessments, enabling doctors to conduct more assessments
over the phone rather than in their clinic, helping to keep patients at
home rather than in primary care settings where they would co-mingle
In the coming days, the province will also launch a new COVID-19 self-assessment tool on its dedicated web page (Ontario.ca/coronavirus).
This new tool will take the public through a series of questions to
help inform those who are concerned about having contracted COVID-19
about how they can seek care based on their needs.
Ontario is working
closely with Telehealth to ensure adequate support to handle increased
call volumes and is committed to allocating additional resources as
needed to ensure timely responses for Ontarians. In addition to
continuing to review virtual care capacity, including further expanding
Telehealth and encouraging virtual care uptake, the Command Table has
initiated early planning for the implementation of at-home testing, all
of which will support caring for people at home.
Expanding Lab-Testing Capacity
Working with Public Health Ontario and Ontario Health, the province is working to enhance laboratory testing capacity across the province to rapidly mobilize, monitor and coordinate COVID-19 testing.
testing is also being conducted on other respiratory samples from
hospital emergency departments and long-term care homes in order to
identify and quickly respond to any unknown cases of COVID-19.
Protecting the Public and Frontline Workers
ensure Ontarians have access to credible and up-to-date information on
how to maintain their health and the health of their families, Ontario
has launched a provincewide public education campaign.
The campaign, which includes search, social, print and radio ads on
every-day steps Ontarians can take to keep themselves safe, is in
addition to the resources available on Ontario.ca/coronavirus. This
dedicated web page is now being updated twice a day (10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. EST), seven days a week, with relevant information on any new cases and includes fact sheets translated in nearly 30 distinct languages.
As the global and local situation evolves, the Command Table will continue to evaluate the latest evidence to provide ongoing guidance to the public and providers. Ontario has issued updated guidelines to long-term care homes
to ensure active screening for all staff, volunteers, family members,
as well as new and returning residents, and will do so for retirement
homes shortly. Ontario will continue to update guidelines for other
health care facilities in response to the evolving situation.
addition to these extensive planning measures, Ontario is extending
one-time mitigation funding for an additional calendar year for public
health units, which gives a 10 per cent increase to the municipality
funding dedicated to these units.
This action, which
recognizes the considerable time and resources necessary for public
health units to effectively respond to COVID-19, would keep municipal
funding levels for public health units in calendar year 2021 at the same
level as calendar year 2020. This is in addition to the up to $100
million COVID-19 Contingency Fund announced yesterday.
- Last week, Ontario established a new Command Table
to serve as a single point of oversight providing executive leadership
and strategic direction to guide the ongoing response to this new virus.
- Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause
illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory
infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory
- There is no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19,
but there are every-day actions that can help prevent the spread of
germs that cause respiratory illnesses. To find out more visit Ontario’s
Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
Learn about travel advisories related to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents.