Government thanks those who stepped up, did their part, and showed the true Ontario spirit
TORONTO — Today, Premier Doug Ford and Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, issued the following statement to mark significant milestones since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Ontario on January 25, 2020:
“A year ago today, we were presented with one of the most difficult challenges in our history with the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Ontario. The rapid spread of the virus through the province, the country and around the world would lead the World Health Organization to declare COVID-19 a global pandemic in March 2020.
Since then, Ontario has tragically lost 5,846 lives to this deadly virus. We mourn the passing of each and every person and offer our deepest condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.
Since the start of the pandemic, the health and safety of Ontarians has been and remains our government’s top priority. We were one of the first provinces to declare an emergency in response to COVID-19 to protect individuals, families and workers.
Within weeks, we established an integrated Provincial Lab Network among public health, hospital and community labs, to create unprecedented testing capacity. Ontario is now a national leader in daily testing volumes per capita and has completed over 9 million tests to date – more tests than all the other Canadian provinces and territories combined. We have also introduced rapid tests in our long-term care homes, hospitals, and workplaces, as well as testing at Pearson International Airport.
When the world was facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies, we launched the Ontario Together initiative to mobilize our manufacturing sectors and build domestic capacity. We invested $50 million to help businesses retool and support the production of made-in-Ontario supplies and PPE, including ventilators and N95 masks.
We acted quickly to protect our seniors, our most vulnerable populations, and those who care for them. We introduced reforms to our long-term care system, including a commitment to deliver a nation-leading standard of an average of four hours of care per day for each and every long-term care resident. To fulfill this commitment, we launched the largest recruitment and training effort for long-term care in a generation. We also invested over $510 million to date in the Social Services Relief Fund to support our food banks, shelters, and other community organizations.
Our government is also using every tool at our disposal to support our hospitals as they respond to COVID-19. That is why we invested $2.5 billion more in our hospitals this year, the largest year-over-year percentage increase in a decade, including the investment in the creation of more than 3,100 new beds in hospitals and alternate health facilities across the province.
Late last year, a beacon of hope emerged on the horizon with the approval of two COVID-19 vaccines. In response, our government launched a three-phase COVID-19 vaccination plan and received our first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. To date, we’ve vaccinated over 285,000 frontline health care workers, long-term care, First Nations elder care and retirement home residents, staff and essential caregivers. We’ve completed the first round of vaccinations ahead of schedule in long-term care homes in regions with the highest rates of COVID-19. Soon, Ontario will have capacity to vaccinate nearly 40,000 people a day, and even triple and quadruple that capacity over the coming weeks dependent on supply from the federal government.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on businesses of all sizes. In response, our government is providing significant financial support through a variety of programs to help them through the Provincewide Shutdown. We offered rebates on property tax and energy bills, provided funding to offset the cost of PPE, and introduced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant which provides eligible business owners a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help them through these tough times. We are confident that our economy will come back with a vengeance when this crisis is over.
Time and again, the people of Ontario faced extraordinary challenges this past year – and time and again, they stepped up, did their part, and showed the true Ontario spirit. Thank you to everyone who made incredible sacrifices and put in countless hours to keep us safe and keep the province running smoothly.
Until vaccines are widely available, we are urging all Ontarians to continue to follow all public health advice. Simply put, we must all continue to stay home, stay safe, and save lives.
By supporting one another, we will persevere, and we will get through this pandemic together.”