Non-Essential Businesses Closed: The government ordered the closure of all non-essential workplaces in Ontario starting March 24 at 11:59 p.m. The full list of essential businesses that may remain open can be found here.
Economic Aid: The Ontario government Employment Standards Amendment Act to ensure no Ontarian will need to worry about losing their job; and An Act to Amend the Municipal Act and City of Toronto Act to ensure groceries and other essential items are always stocked by allowing 24/7 delivery services.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update). The action plan includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and director support for individuals and jobs. The plan will also make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, while protecting jobs and household budgets. More details here.
Premier Doug Ford announced the Government of Ontario is investing $10 million to help community organizations with the coordination of subsidized deliveries of meals, medicines and other necessities to seniors. This investment doubles the government’s initial commitment in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
Closures / Restrictions: The government has limited all non-essential gatherings from 50 people down to 5 people. This new measure does not apply to essential businesses, childcare facilities, and families of more than 5 people.
COVID-19 Countermeasures: The government announced the launching of Ontario Together, a website to help businesses work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19 through redeploying manufacturing capacity, and solicit ideas through the portal here. The Premier announced a $300-million “first stage” relief package that is aimed at increasing containment efforts across the province. The provincial government will provide immediate electricity relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use rates. The electricity prices will be held to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour for a 45-day period. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams, has also issued a new directive for long-term care homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 that restricts residents from leaving a home for short visits with family and friends.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced new penalties to combat price gouging. Effective immediately, the government has issued an emergency order that retail businesses and individuals in Ontario cannot charge unfair prices for necessary goods including masks and protective gloves, non-prescription medication for the treatment of the symptoms of COVID-19, disinfecting agents intended for cleaning and disinfecting objects, and personal hygiene products such as soap products and paper products.
The new penalties include:
For Individual Offenders: a ticket of $750, or, if summoned to court and convicted, a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and one year in jail.
For company directors or officers: a fine of up to $500,000 and up to a year in jail.
For corporations a fine of up to $10 million.