TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has released its Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually lift public health measures based on the provincewide vaccination rate and improvements in key public health and health care indicators. In response to recent improvements to these indicators, Ontario will allow more outdoor recreational amenities to reopen, with restrictions in place, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.
“As a result of the strict public health measures we introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19 variants, we are seeing a steady improvement in our situation as ICU and hospital numbers begin to stabilize,” said Premier Doug Ford. “While we must remain conscious of the continued threat the virus poses, with millions of Ontarians having received at least their first dose of vaccine we can now begin the process of a slow and cautious re-opening of the province in full consultation with our public health professionals.”
Roadmap to Reopen outlines three steps to easing public health measures, guided by the following principles:
Step One An initial focus on resuming outdoor activities with smaller crowds where the risk of transmission is lower, and permitting retail with restrictions. This includes allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people, outdoor dining with up to four people per table and non-essential retail at 15 per cent capacity.
Step Two Further expanding outdoor activities and resuming limited indoor services with small numbers of people where face coverings are worn. This includes outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people, outdoor sports and leagues, personal care services where face coverings can be worn and with capacity limits, as well as indoor religious services, rites or ceremony gatherings at 15 per cent capacity.
Step Three Expanding access to indoor settings, with restrictions, including where there are larger numbers of people and where face coverings can’t always be worn. This includes indoor sports and recreational fitness; indoor dining, museums, art galleries and libraries, and casinos and bingo halls, with capacity limits.
The province will remain in each step for at least 21 days to evaluate any impacts on key public health and health system indicators. If at the end of the 21 days, the following vaccination thresholds have been met, along with positive trends in other key public health and health system indicators, then the province will move to the next step:
Step 1: 60 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose.
Step 2: 70 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
Step 3: 70 to 80 per cent of adults vaccinated with one dose and 25 per cent vaccinated with two doses.
Based on current trends in key health indicators, including the provincial vaccination rate, the government expects to enter Step One of the Roadmap the week of June 14, 2021. The province will confirm closer to the expected start of Step One.
“While we know that now is not yet the moment to reopen, Ontarians deserve to know the path forward on what we will carefully reopen and when, starting with the settings we know are safest,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Brighter days are ahead and we believe this Roadmap represents a path out of the pandemic and will encourage Ontarians to get vaccinated and to continue following public health advice.”
The provincewide emergency brake restrictions remain in effect while the province assesses when it will be moving to Step One of the roadmap with the Stay at Home order expiring on June 2, 2021. During this time, the government will continue to work with stakeholders on reopening plans to ensure full awareness of when and how they can begin to safely reopen.
Due to the continuing success of Ontario’s vaccine rollout and the collective efforts of Ontarians in following public health and workplace safety measures to date, effective May 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. the province will reopen outdoor recreational amenities with restrictions in place, such as the need to maintain physical distancing. These amenities include but are not limited to golf courses and driving ranges, soccer and other sports fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate parks. No outdoor sports or recreational classes are permitted. Outdoor limits for social gatherings and organized public events will be expanded to five people, which will allow these amenities to be used for up to five people, including with members of different households. All other public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake will remain in effect.
At this time, publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province will continue to operate under teacher-led remote learning. Data will be assessed on an ongoing basis and medical experts, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health officials will be consulted to determine if it may be safe to resume in-person learning.
“Due to the stringent efforts of Ontarians following public health and workplace safety measures, we have reached the point where we can begin preparing to exit the provincewide emergency brake and lift the Stay-at-Home order,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We must remain vigilant however, as the fight against COVID-19 is not over and our case counts, ICU capacity and hospitalizations are still concerning. It remains critical that all Ontarians continue to follow all public health and workplace safety measures currently in place to help further reduce transmission and save lives.”
The government will continue to work with the Public Health Measures Table, Public Health Ontario, and other public health and scientific experts to determine public health guidance for Ontarians to follow, including protocols for masking and outdoor/indoor gatherings, after being fully vaccinated.
Based on the latest modelling data COVID-19 case, positivity and hospitalization rates are decreasing, and control of the pandemic is improving. Maintaining the current rate of vaccination and public health and workplace safety measures will help to ensure Ontario starts to safely and gradually reopen.
Ontario has administered first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to over 58.5 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over. Over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Ontario since the start of May, and the province remains on track to have administered first doses to 65 per cent of Ontarians aged 18 and over by the end of May.
The government has extended the provincewide Stay-at-Home Order until June 2, 2021, and has maintained all public health and workplace safety measures under the provincewide emergency brake to help to stop the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in communities, protect hospital capacity and save lives.
The Stay-at-Home order currently in effect requires everyone to remain at home except for specified purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely.
If passed by the Legislature, powers under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) will be extended to December 1, 2020 to ensure public health measures currently in place can be extended and adjusted as necessary, to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 and support a gradual re-opening of the province. There are currently 29 orders in effect under the ROA. Orders can be extended for up to 30 days at a time under the ROA, and the government must report on all order extensions to the Select Committee on Emergency Management Oversight.
As of 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, individuals aged 18 and over in 2021 across Ontario are eligible to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment through the provincial booking system and call centre, or directly through public health units that use their own booking system.
Visit Ontario’s website to find out if you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.
Eligible groups can use Ontario’s vaccine booking system to find out how to schedule an appointment, or can call the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line number at 1-833-943-3900. For general inquiries, individuals can call the Provincial Vaccine Information Line number at 1-888-999-6488 or TTY service is also available by calling 1-866-797-0007.
As businesses start to reopen in the near future, it is important to continually prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Vaccine rollouts continue to accelerate across Ontario, but that doesn’t mean we stop following public health measures and advice. Employers are required to have a safety plan available upon request in the following sectors in health units that are in the yellow, orange and red zone. Tune in to this podcast from the Workplace Safety and Prevention Services for expert advice on how to keep your business safe! It is available on any of the streaming services listed above.
COVID-19 rapid testing kits for workplaces now available
The governments of Ontario and Canada are making rapid testing kits for businesses available for free via Chambers of Commerce. The GNCC is now distributing kits in the Niagara region in partnership with Great Wolf Lodge. Great Wolf Lodge, located at 3950 Victoria Avenue, Niagara Falls, is a member of the Ontario Vaccination Support Council, whose mission is to support public vaccination through partnerships with private businesses. Great Wolf Lodge will be the distribution site for kits throughout Niagara. The GNCC and Great Wolf Lodge are donating their resources and facilities to the administration of this program, which was developed and spearheaded by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.
For the safety of staff and volunteers at the site, no kits can be picked up without an appointment. These kits are for businesses with essential employees only and cannot be distributed to the public. Great Wolf Lodge is unable to provide information or book appointments directly.
Studies have suggested that as many as one-third of COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, so detecting and isolating asymptomatic carriers is vital to stopping the spread. While PCR testing remains the gold standard, these tests are expensive and must be done in a laboratory, with results taking several days to return.
Rapid antigen test kits can identify a significant number of asymptomatic individuals. When used to test employees in essential workplaces, along with rigorous self-screening, the COVID Alert app, physical distancing and PPE, these tests can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through workplaces.
Canadian Department of Finance announces new minimum qualifying rate for all uninsured mortgages
Earlier today, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced that, effective June 1, 2021, it will implement a new minimum qualifying rate for all uninsured mortgages. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, stated that with today’s official confirmation from OSFI of the new minimum qualifying rate for uninsured mortgages, the federal government will align with OSFI by establishing a new minimum qualifying rate for insured mortgages, subject to review and periodic adjustment, which will be the greater of the borrower’s mortgage contract rate plus 2 per cent, or 5.25 per cent.
NEWS RELEASE Canada helps Central Fire Station project with major heritage grant
The Government of Canada, through a $500,000 grant, will assist in the revitalisation of Welland’s Central Fire Station.
The Canadian Heritage Legacy grant, spread over three years, will help cover the costs of architects, engineers and specialists as well as costs for restorations.
A volunteer not-for-profit group, the Central Station Education Initiative (CSEI) leases the Central fire Station from the City of Welland.
The project involves renovating the designated historic site in downtown Welland. It will reopen as a multi-use community centre, which will include original fixtures and artifacts from 1920, when the classic fire station opened.
The restored fire hall will house a heritage display illustrating the building’s history, a hall of honour for first responders, rentable office space for not-for-profit cultural groups and artists and an innovative co-working space for businesses, artists and artisans, the Heritage Department said.
“The heritage display and restored fire hall will increase access to local heritage in the community,” the ministry said. “It will celebrate and raise awareness about the local history of firefighting, as well as the fire hall’s role in the community over the years.”
Canadian Heritage’s Building Communities through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund provides funding for community-initiated capital projects intended for community use on significant anniversaries.
This grant to the Central Station Education Initiative commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Central Fire Station’s opening on December 17, 1920. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, altered a planned celebration.
It has been said that “the greenest building is the one still standing”. CSEI recognizes that the most significant artifact is the 100-year-old building itself, the only historic fire hall in the Niagara Region intact with its original interior fixtures.
The group continues to raise funds to preserve and update the three-storey firehall and convert it to a multi-use community centre with a “time capsule” heritage display on the first floor using the original fixtures and artifacts as well as other donated or loaned items.
The upper storeys, formerly offices, firefighter’s sleeping quarters and meeting/recreation room will be rented to community groups with the exception of one firefighter’s bedroom for display. The rental income will help to make the historical preservation project self-sustaining.
In addition, this project will stimulate tourism and enhance existing downtown features such as the recreational canal (former Welland Canal), farmers market, retail businesses and restaurants, City Hall, the Welland Museum, and the area’s parks and multi-use trails.
CSEI president Nora Reid expressed thanks to the Government of Canada and Canadian Heritage for their generous support of this project that will have historical, environmental, cultural and economic benefits to the City of Welland. The Legacy Grant, along with a grant of $100,000 over the next two years from the City of Welland, means that the not-for-profit group now has half of the $1.2 million needed to complete the project.
If the general public would like to help CSEI complete this project, donations can be made through our website, www.centralfirehall.ca, Facebook at www.facebook.com/wellandcentralfirehall, by cheque to Central Station Education Initiative, P.O. Box 432, Welland ON L3B 5R2 or by e-transfer to email@example.com.
To get involved in transforming this beautiful building as a volunteer please leave a message on our Facebook page and a Board member will call you to let you know how you can help.
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada Ce projet a été rendu possible en partie grâce au gouvernement du Canada
Quote from President of Central Station Education Initiative
From Nora Reid, President of Central Station Education Initiative.
“On behalf of Central Station Education Initiative I would like to thank the Government of Canada and Canadian Heritage for their generous support of this project that will have historical, environmental, cultural and economic benefits to the City of Welland. I would also like to sincerely thank our current Board members and prior Board members for all their dedication and hard work over the last five years and for their continued commitment to this project. In addition I would like to thank our professional and volunteer firefighters past and present and all our volunteers, business partners and donors along with everyone in this community who have supported this initiative to revitalize our 100- year-old Fire Hall, one of Welland’s most significant heritage sites, and preserve the irreplaceable history of Welland’s and Canada’s firefighters contained within it.”
Alexis Higginbotham Executive Director
60 East Main Street