Ontario to release part of fall preparedness plan tomorrow

Christine Elliott

The Ontario Government plans to roll out its anticipated Fall Preparedness Plan starting tomorrow, Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday, as the province saw another jump in new cases not seen since June. 

“We are going to start bringing forward tomorrow for discussion and to let people know what we have been planning for some months now,” she said, as the province reported 425 new cases. 

The plan is not only the government’s vision of dealing with a surge of COVID-19, but also managing it along with flu season and a surgeries backlog. 

Lineups at testing centres have increased in Ontario’s heaviest hit regions - Toronto, Peel and Ottawa - leading to long waits to get tested and a backlog of test results. 

The provincial aim is to turn around tests within 24-48 hours, but some wait times are in the 48-96-hour window. 

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said in Question Period the province “scrambled” to react, despite quoting Premier Doug Ford back in July that a plan was being rolled out very soon. 

“Why then does the government claim that they would be rolling out this plan back in July and yet to this very moment, we have yet to see a plan while kids are going to school and outbreaks are happening and parents are waiting literally hours and hours and sometimes days on end in lines?” she said. 

Elliott responded by saying their plan is being implemented and that they are dealing with the increased testing, with Ford saying later in the day that this was a fluid situation. 

“What happened in March is different than what happened in July, what’s happening in July is different in September and we have a solid, solid plan,” he said. “This is moving day by day by day.” 

As for planned asymptomatic testing in pharmacies, Ford said he expects about 60 of them to be operational by the end of the week. 

The premier defended his government’s response to the surge in cases and lineups, saying Ontario is leading the way in testing and the PCs were ready as cases increased. 

“We had testing centres that people were standing around doing absolutely nothing, people weren’t getting tested,” he said. “Now, which is great, people are coming to get tested.” 

“Under 100 cases 10 days ago and all of a sudden, bingo, overnight people were lining up and we reacted and the numbers show how we reacted.” 

Saturday marked a different kid of record, but a positive one, with over 40,000 tests performed and the government’s current goal is to reach 50,000 daily tests within a month. 

Meanwhile, the number of school-related cases is up to 90 in 75 different schools, but only one currently closed.

Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said her team would look at British Columbia’s decision to remove 10 symptoms including sore throat and runny nose off parents’ daily checklists, while reviewing data to see if it’s something Ontario should do as well.