At the beginning of April, we faced some grim prospects. The easy option was to continue with our regular daily routines and experience the uncontrolled spread of the COVID-19 virus, overwhelming our health care system, and resulting in tens of thousands of deaths. We chose instead to slow down the spread by asking people to stay home and practice personal distancing. I want to thank Ontarians for their cooperation as we have seen a bending of the curve, allowing our procurement teams to redevelop supply chains for personal protection equipment and other supplies.
As pressure mounts to relax our current restrictions, we must ensure we have all the pieces in place to handle the predicted rise in health care demand, especially in crucial PPE and ventilators. For example, our health care practitioners alone require close to one million masks a day. Our access to foreign supplies has been severely disrupted as the world’s demand has skyrocketed. Ontario’s manufacturers have been rapidly retooling to supply our needs, but they need more time to ramp up to meet this huge demand. If you can help us in this endeavour, I encourage you to register on our website, www.ontario.ca/ontariotogether.
Ontarians have proven to be resilient and responsible. The Government continues to rely on our residents to follow through to meet the demanding measures that can tax our ideas of freedom, but the results can be truly life-saving. We are now tracking toward best-case scenarios for this pandemic. I cannot thank residents enough for their efforts, such as staying home as much as possible, respecting the two-metre physical distancing rule, washing your hands frequently, and limiting social gatherings to less than five people. All of these measures help to lessen the stress and demands on our frontline workers, whether it be emergency responders, health practitioners, nurses, or grocery store and pharmacy employees. We need them to stay on the job, so we do not fall short of the necessities of life.
Earlier this week, Premier Ford announced a gradual and staged approach to the opening of our economy. The Government will be consulting with the public, our stakeholders, and our medical experts to develop a stepped plan that allows our team to review the impact of each phase and then move ahead as appropriate. I will be setting up local consultation sessions to ensure our region’s voice is heard.
No sector of our province has been hit harder than our long-term care facilities. The ability of this virus to invisibly spread before someone shows any symptoms, coupled with the logistical delay in obtaining test results, has made the protection of our LTC homes extremely difficult. The conditions have been very taxing on our frontline health care providers, requiring the province to establish a process to match qualified staff and volunteers to support nursing and cleaning functions. The Government has also requested the assistance of the military to help in some homes to relieve staff. You can find more details at www.Ontario.ca/COVID-19-Action-Plan-Long-Term-Care-Homes.
During these unprecedented times, there are many different support programs available for you. They can be confusing, and people are looking for help. We’ve compiled an easy-to-navigate website for individuals, families, students, and businesses to make the journey a little easier. The website includes both federal and provincial programs and can be accessed at http://covidsupports.ca/jimmcdonell. The site is updated regularly, and I encourage you to check it out. As always, my office is here to support you. If we don’t have the answer, we’ll direct you to someone who does.
We have come a long way, but we need to ask you to continue to restrict your movements by staying home and only going out when absolutely necessary for groceries, prescriptions or medical appointments, and practising physical distancing.