New migrant worker COVID testing plan coming, says Ontario health minister
‘Hybrid’ approach could see mobile team visit farms
TORONTO — Ontario’s health minister says the province will take a new approach to testing migrant workers in Windsor-Essex for COVID-19.
Christine Elliott says the new “hybrid” plan could use a standalone testing centre along with mobile teams moving from farm to farm.
Elliott says a mobile team by itself would take 84 days to test workers on every farm in the region, while a standalone centre could test all of the workers in 10 days.
Her statement comes after a local hospital which ran an assessment centre designed for the migrant workers announced it was closing the temporary facility.
Erie Shores HealthCare said Tuesday it will close the migrant worker testing centre on Thursday because it is not an efficient use of resources.
Premier Doug Ford said the centre has tested 724 workers since it started on June 9, but acknowledged today that the daily volume of workers using it was too low.
New legislation on evictions
Meanwhile, Ontario was set to introduce legislation Wednesday to temporarily ban commercial evictions.
The government said the proposed bill will protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized due to the negative impacts of COVID-19.
It would be retroactive to May 1, which is a month earlier than the Progressive Conservatives had previously proposed when they made the announcement earlier this month.
The New Democrats have been calling for the measures to be retroactive to mid-March.
The NDP also wants to see all businesses qualify, not just ones that would be covered under a federal-provincial rent relief program, but whose landlords won’t apply.
The government house leader’s office said the Tories would seek unanimous consent from all parties in the legislature to expedite the passage of the bill and have it become law by evening.
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 190 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, along with 12 more deaths.
More than 80 per cent of the new cases came from Toronto, Peel and Windsor-Essex — the only three regions that won’t be in Stage 2 of the province’s reopening plan as of Friday.
The new cases brought the provincial total to 32,744, including 2,550 deaths and 27,784 resolved cases — 353 more than the previous day.
The number of people in hospital dropped to 383 — the lowest amount since the province started publicly reporting that figure at the beginning of April.
The numbers of people in intensive care and on ventilators also fell to their lowest levels since reporting began.
Emergency orders extended
The government has also extended all emergency orders currently in force until June 30.
Premier Doug Ford said the province will review each of the orders on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they can be adjusted or lifted as officials work to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Some emergency orders were eased earlier this month, including a limit on social gatherings that is now set at 10 people instead of the previous limit of five.
Most of the province has also entered the second stage of reopening, allowing more businesses to operate again.
Ford first declared a state of emergency on March 17, which is also set to expire June 30.