Calling it a “good news day,” Premier Doug Ford’s daily briefing included the announcement that this coming Wednesday Toronto and Peel will join the regions moving into Stage 2 of re-opening. Only Windsor-Essex – primarily because of a relatively high number of positive COVID-19 tests among temporary agriculture workers – remains under the Stage 1 restrictions.
Phase 2 Re-opening
Noting that the number of new COVID-19 cases across Ontario is lower than it has been in three months – with fewer than 200 new cases eight out of the last nine days – Premier Ford confirmed that as of June 24 at 12:01 am, Toronto and Peel Region will be allowed to enter into Stage 2 of Ontario's restart plan.
Windsor-Essex will be held in Stage 1 for at least another week. While expressing sympathy for residents in that area, Ford didn’t hide his frustration with farmers for not facilitating enough testing for farm workers. He said he is “begging” them to “please cooperate” and allow more mobile testing on their properties.
As for the next steps in the re-opening plan, Finance Minister Rod Phillips said that details on Stage 3 will be coming soon.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced $15 million, in collaboration with the federal government, for an Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Program. This funding will help farmers purchase PPE and increase safety measures. There will also be a PPE directory for farmers to source masks and gloves.
Federal inspectors and local health officials are also to begin joint farm inspections, in addition to the 230 inspections that have already been performed to review the working and living conditions of temporary foreign workers.