Plans on how to reopen the Ontario economy are scheduled to be unveiled as early as next week by the provincial government, according to CTV News.
Premier Doug Ford admitted that he's been facing increasing pressure to reopen the province's economy in light of the most recent COVID-19 data that suggests the spread of infections has likely already hit its peak.
"The first priority is making sure we protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario," said Ford on Friday.
The Premier said his administration plans to take a "gradual and measured" approach to jump start its economy, citing Saskatchewan as a model for reopening.
“Saskatchewan has a much, much smaller population and large area,” said Ford. "But we always look at other models right across the province—actually, we look at models right around the world, to see what’s working, what’s not working, and take the best ideas of them.”
Just which areas of Ontario will be opened first is still unknown, but both Ford and Finance Minister Rod Phillips have said that the rollout of re-opening non-essential businesses will likely be what dictates the movement of residents.
While the lockdown measures remain in place, Ontario is providing small business owners and landlords with financial relief as they struggle to survive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario has committed to $241 million dollars so far, in partnership with the federal government through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA) to provide financial aid to those who need it most.
The provincial-federal relief fund will bring a total of $900 million dollars to the people who have been most affected by this pandemic.
Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the federal government and each of the provinces and territories have reached an agreement to implement rent assistance to businesses, as promised. Based on the agreement, rent will be reduced by as much as 75 percent for any small businesses that are eligible, so long as their landlords agree to take part.
“We are doing everything we can to support them through these tough economic times, so they can hit the ground running when we are in a position to open up the provincial economy,” said Ford.