The province has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework which helps ensure that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.
“It’s clear COVID-19 will be with us for a while, which is why we are putting in place a framework that will protect the health and safety of individuals and families, while avoiding broader closures across the province,” Premier Doug Ford said. “This framework, developed in consultation with our health experts, will serve as an early warning system allowing us to scale up and scale back public health restrictions on a regional or community basis in response to surges and waves of COVID-19. By introducing public health measures sooner, we can keep this deadly virus at bay, bend the curve and reclaim a little more of our normal lives.”
The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.
“The health and wellbeing of Ontarians is our number one priority, “Health Minister Christine Elliott said. “This framework, informed by public health experts, data and the experiences of other jurisdictions, is focused on introducing less invasive measures earlier to stop the spread of COVID-19. We are committed to being transparent with Ontarians, businesses and local communities as we work together to keep Ontarians safe, while keeping our economy open.”
“This framework is critical to ensuring that public health measures are able to help slow the spread of the virus, while also supporting mental health and other social determinants of health,” said Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. “The framework operates like a dimmer switch, enabling measures and restrictions to be increased and give individuals and families the information they need to adjust their activities and interactions based on local epidemiological data.”
As the province continues to expand access to real-time data, enhancements are also being made to Ontario.ca/coronavirus, Ontario’s one-stop shop for information on COVID-19. Information about the spread of the virus, and public health and health system capacity will now be available on the website. This includes local cases by public health unit regions, the total number of cases, resolved cases, deaths, and tests completed and how many are positive. The province will continue to add data sets as they become available, such as sources of outbreaks as a subset of overall cases. This information will better help businesses, organizations and local communities access key information to prepare in advance for any changes in their region.
“You deserve to have access to the same information that we have, and that’s why our government is enhancing online data and data visualization,” Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy said. “Greater transparency means that the people of Ontario have reliable access to the information they need to protect their health, and for businesses to reopen and operate safely. This is another way we’re using technology and pursuing innovation to put the people at the centre of government and move Ontario onwards.”
To provide the utmost transparency, each public health unit will be classified according to current framework indicators. Proposed classifications based on data for the week of October 26, 2020 can be found below. These will be confirmed by the province on Friday, November 6, 2020 and become effective on Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. Final decisions on moving public health unit regions into the framework will be made by the government based on updated data and in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and other health experts, and will be reviewed weekly.
As of November 7, 2020, the province will transition public health unit regions to the new framework. The following proposed classifications for public health unit regions are based on data for the week of October 26, 2020. Updated data will be used for final review by the Chief Medical Officer of Health and approval by Cabinet on Friday, November 6, 2020.
- No public health unit regions
- Peel Public Health *updated to Red-Control with other restrictive measures from the Peel Medical Officer of Health.
- Eastern Ontario Health Unit;
- Ottawa Public Health;
- York Region Public Health; and
- Toronto Public Health (may be delayed in entering Orange-Restrict level until November 14, 2020)
- Brant County Health Unit;
- City of Hamilton Public Health Services;
- Durham Region Health Department; and
- Halton Region Public Health.
- Algoma Public Health;
- Chatham-Kent Public Health;
- Grey Bruce Health Unit;
- Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit;
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit;
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health;
- Huron Perth Public Health;
- Lambton Public Health;
- Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit;
- Middlesex-London Health Unit;
- Niagara Region Public Health;
- North Bay Parry Sound District;
- Northwestern Health Unit;
- Peterborough Public Health;
- Porcupine Health Unit;
- Public Health Sudbury & Districts;
- Region of Waterloo Public Health and Emergency Services;
- Renfrew County and District Health Unit;
- Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit;
- Southwestern Public Health;
- Thunder Bay District Health Unit;
- Timiskaming Health Unit;
- Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health; and
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
Going forward, the government will continually assess the impact of public health measures applied to public health unit regions for 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods.