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Ontario Premier Doug Ford spoke from Toronto's Queen's Park today, as he has been doing since the coronavirus forced the lockdown measures in Ontario and Canada. The emphasis was on the construction industry, contact tracing and reopening.
"No matter what you do, no matter where you live, we have your back," Ford said to Ontario's moms.
Ford encouraged those celebrating Eid to be considerate of social distancing, and to continue to wear masks.
When asked is business should have the right to refuse service to patrons who refuse to wear a face mask, Ford said that "Any business has the right to refuse anyone, that's their business, I highly encourage people to put on a face shield... it just protects everyone... that's the advice from our chief medical officer... so just wear a face shield when you can."
"It's not about me," he said in response to criticisms of his approaches to reopening. "I'm going to follow the advice of our chief medical officer, our health table, and science."
He said that people should "go out and get tested."
"We're asking people with symptoms to go into the assessment centre, and we will be testing front line workers this weekend, symptomatic and asymptomatic... The plan is we're going into senior centres," retirement homes, long term care, and "all the health care workers," to make sure that testing is happening.
Ford said that all the systems have to work together, and all the provinces will have to combine their efforts to ensure that contract tracing is effective.
"Between the ministry of health and public health and federal government we have over 2,000 contact tracers out there on a daily basis able to trace and track," Ford said.
Referencing Singapore, he noted that that nation has only been able to get 25 percent of the people to go online. "People believe in privacy, I believe in privacy," he said, "so we have to have the right app."
Minister of Health Christine Elliot said that "we are actively looking for the right app for Ontario right now... but in terms of contact management," there have been many people who have come forward to help. She noted that they have reached 92 percent of the people who have come into contact with a coronavirus positive individual within 24 hours, using a manual method.
"It is really important that we continue to do the tracing and testing," Elliot said. She noted that they are trying to increase the number of contact tracers and the amount of tracing that is being done, but that the app is needed.
Elliot said that testing of children at day cares will be required, but will only be done with parental approval.
When asked about opening hospitals to elective surgeries and other types of procedures that are not coronavirus specific, Elliot noted that hospitals will need PPE, surgical drugs, and an extra 15 percent of personnel so that if there is a surge hospitals will be able to handle it.
Elliot said that Ontario is providing PPE for pandemic purposes, but if hospitals are to resume other operations that require PPE, they should have or source their own supply and not dip into the pandemic stockpile.
In his morning briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that his government is working closely with Google and Apple to create a contact tracing app that would be implemented across the country.
As the construction industry opens up, Ford said that Ontario will be launching a program for students, Ontario Tools Grant Program. It will help up to 11,600 apprentices to get a "head start" on skilled trades. Additionally, 19,000 apprentices will benefit from a loan forgiveness program.
Workers will be invited to update their skills, as well, with skill training for Ontarians who will need to "adapt to the new environment."
"If you owed money from our 'loans for tools program', you're not going to owe that money anymore," Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said. He noted that Ontario wants to give workers "a leg up to starting their careers."
"We all work well when we work together," he said, "business, labour, and government." He thanked the tradespeople in the province for their work during this difficult time.
Ontario is one of the provinces that has taken up the Trudeau government on the federal offer to assist with the implementation of contact tracing. This practice requires personnel to reach out to all those people who are known to have been in close contact or association with someone who has been confirmed to have had the coronavirus.
Today's briefing comes as Ontario has recorded the highest number of new COVID-19 coronavirus cases within the last two weeks. The province has 24,628 total coronavirus cases, with 18,767 recoveries and 2,021 deaths. This represents 32 percent of the nation's total deaths due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.