Today, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the government announced that the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open (the "Framework"). Due to the fact that public health trends are improving in some regions faster than others, the current Stay-at-Home order will be amended and individual orders making it applicable to each public health region will be made.
At this time, Ontario will maintain the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home order and all existing public health and workplace safety measures. It is currently proposed that the order be lifted in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region on Monday, February 22, 2021. A final decision will be subject to review of the trends in public health indicators at that time.
To support the province's economic recovery, the government has also updated the Framework to allow for a safer approach to retail. Limited in-person shopping in Grey-Lockdown zones will be permitted with public health and safety measures, such as limiting capacity to 25 per cent in most retail settings. In addition, public health and safety measures in retail settings will be strengthened for other levels of the Framework.
I've heard from many of you over the past few weeks, and know how important it is for many families in Eglinton-Lawrence to have schools reopen.
Just as schools were set to resume from the holiday break, COVID-19 test positivity rates among school aged children reached new highs in our province. To ensure the health and safety of all students, our medical experts recommended that we keep schools closed to help prevent the further spread of the virus. Individual choices over the holiday season led to collective consequences for all of us.
The good news is that staying home has worked. Through all of our collective efforts, we have been able to reduce the cases of COVID-19 in the province. Last week, it was confirmed that Toronto schools will reopen on February 16, following the Family Day weekend.
And a important reminder that today is also the final day to apply for Support for Learners payments from the Government of Ontario!
Every year during the month of February, Ontarians celebrate Black culture and mark the many contributions made by Black Ontarians and Black Canadians to our province and to our country.
In 1978, the Ontario Black History Society was established, and they successfully petitioned the City of Toronto to proclaim the first-ever Black History Month in February 1979.
It was not until 2015 when the Black History Month Act was passed by the Ontario Legislature, officially proclaiming the month of February as Black History Month in our province.
With the events of the past year, Black History Month takes on even greater meaning. It strengthens our resolve and our commitment as a province to fight racial discrimination and intolerance in all its forms.
If you’re a small business owner facing challenges as a result of COVID-19, you may qualify for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, a one-time grant of up to $20,000 from the Government of Ontario.
Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business. For example, some businesses could need support paying employee wages or rent, while others could need support maintaining their inventory.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
· Are required to close or restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
· Have 100 employees or fewer at the enterprise level; and
· Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible provided they meet the other eligibility criteria.
In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and in adherence to the Stay-At-Home Order, my constituency office remains closed for in-person visits. My constituency staff and I will be working remotely at this time. We remain ready to assist. You can continue to contact us at (416) 781-2395 or email [email protected].