Ontario not out of the woods yet, as closure of parks & playgrounds is extended

Parks, playgrounds and non-essential workplaces will all remain off-limits until at least May 6th. The Ford government extended all emergency orders in the province on Thursday.

The Emergency Order extension includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas, non-essential workplaces, public places and bars and restaurants, along with restrictions on social gatherings and limiting staff from working in more than one retirement home or long-term care home.

This Emergency Order extension includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas
This Emergency Order extension includes the closure of outdoor amenities in parks and recreational areas

Related: Retail stores, golf courses and hairdressers allowed to reopen in May in Saskatchewan

Premier Doug Ford called the extension “absolutely necessary” and said “we are not out of the woods, by a long shot.”

Speaking to media Thursday about the crisis at Ontario’s long-term care homes, Ford said the province “literally called in the troops and the cavalry is on its way.”

Prime Minister Trudeau says “we are failing our parents and grandparents” and “we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of our seniors.” This comes after Ontario and Quebec asked for Armed Forces assistance at LTC homes.

Ford asked for military help at Ontario’s long-term care homes on Wednesday, saying COVID-19 is spreading like “wildfire.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered some strong words Thursday when asked about outbreaks at LTC homes, particularly in Ontario and Quebec. “In Canada, we shouldn’t have soldiers taking care of seniors,” said Trudeau.

Ford says the province “isn’t too proud to call in help.” As of Thursday, over 500 COVID-19 deaths were reported at long-term care homes in Ontario. Premier Ford was visibly upset when asked about what’s happened at LTC homes. Ford’s voice broke as he mentioned the pain in long term care homes, saying “the system needs to be better.”

Doug Ford COVID 19
Premier Doug Ford was visibly upset during Thursday’s media briefing

Ford says the government is still working out where members of the military will be deployed, but military personnel say they will go into the hardest hit homes.

Ontario also delivered a new COVID-19 Action Plan for Vulnerable People to protect people living in high-risk settings, including homes serving those with developmental disabilities, shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking, children’s residential settings, and those residential settings supporting vulnerable Indigenous individuals and families both on and off reserve.

  • Enhanced Screening and Reduced Exposure to Prevent Spread
    • Enhancing screening of visitors, staff, and residents on sites, as well as restricting non-essential visitors.
    • Providing masks to staff working in congregate care settings and providing training on the use of personal protective equipment in the event of an outbreak.  
  • Infection Control: Managing Outbreaks and Limiting Spread
    • Enhancing testing of symptomatic staff and clients to identify the need for isolation and additional infection control measures on-site.
    • Planning to limit staff from working at more than one congregate care setting during an outbreak, specifically in developmental services, intervenor services, violence against women and anti-human trafficking settings.
    • Providing additional training and support for high-risk settings dealing with an outbreak, including guidance on how to isolate clients.
  • Sustaining Staffing and Managing Staff Shortages
    • Working with organizations to promote workforce stability and capacity in high-risk settings.