QUEEN’S PARK – The provincial government has officially extended all emergency orders currently in force under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to July 22.
In a July 9 press release, the government states the extension was made, in consultation with Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, to ensure the province “maintains the necessary flexibility to protect public health and safety as more businesses reopen and people go back to work.” The move was widely expected after the province introduced the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 on July 7. The government indicated it was extending emergency orders to align with new legislation, which, if passed, would allow the province to end its declared state of emergency, while keeping in place some of the orders made under it, such as limitations on gathering sizes, closures of places and spaces and regulation and limitation on business operations. In some cases the remaining orders would need to be extended every thirty days.
Ontario initially declared a state of emergency on March 17. That declaration has been extended several times and is currently set to expire July 15. However the government brought forward a motion on July 8 that, if passed, would extend the provincial declaration of emergency until July 24.
While no new emergency orders could be created under the proposed legislation, it would allow emergency orders to be rescinded when the government concludes it is safe to do so. The ability to extend and amend orders would be limited to one year, unless extended by the Ontario legislature.
The province says the extension of the emergency orders will help protect vulnerable people by allowing the redeployment of frontline staff in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and other congregate care settings, like women’s shelters and residential services. In addition, the extension would allow public health units to redeploy or hire staff to support case management and contact tracing.
“Our government is getting Ontario back on track and more people back to work, but at the same time taking steps to ensure we don’t undo the tremendous progress we have made together,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“By keeping these emergency measures in place, we will continue to support our frontline care providers, protect our most vulnerable, and ensure we can rapidly respond to potential outbreaks or surges,” the premier added.