“We are asking people to make greater sacrifices to help contain this deadly virus, whether that’s staying home or asking their employees to work from home where possible,” said Ford. “In response, our government is providing people and businesses with additional financial relief to help them get through this very difficult period.”
Beginning on December 26, the entire province will be placed into a lockdown. To support people as they stay home during this period, the government said it will hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents-per-kilowatt-hour for all time-of-use and tiered customers.
The changes will go into place on January 1, 2021, and will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for a 28-day period. The off-peak price will automatically be applied to bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates, the government said.
“As we enter a province-wide shutdown, our government is ensuring that all households have stable and predictable electricity bills when they need it most,” said Greg Rickford, the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, Minister of Indigenous Affairs.
“Staying home means using more electricity, especially during the day when electricity prices are usually higher. We will continue to support hardworking families and small businesses doing their part by staying home.”
In addition, the province said it is making it easier for families and businesses to get the support they need to help pay their energy bills through the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP).
Any residential, small business or registered charity customer with an overdue electricity or natural gas bill will now be eligible to apply for the program through their local utility.
A residential customer can receive up to $750 to help cover their electricity bill, and an additional $750 for their natural gas bill, according to the government. Small businesses can receive up to $1,500 for each.
Officials also announced that starting in January, students aged 13 through to Grade 12 will be eligible for funding under an expanded Support for Learners program.
Parents or guardians will receive a one-time payment of $200 per eligible student to help offset education expenses as students learn at home under the province-wide shutdown. The support will be available for public and private school students, as well as those who are homeschooled.
Under the shutdown, elementary students will be studying virtually until January 11, 2021, as will secondary students in Northern Ontario. Secondary students in Southern Ontario will be learning online until January 25, 2021.
“While Ontario schools remain safe, we won’t take any chances following the holidays — we will pivot to teacher-led online learning to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.
“We are providing direct financial support to parents of elementary and now high school children to help them get through this pandemic.”
Application instructions will be available on the Support for Learners web page in January. For secondary school students, they will available from January 11 to February 8, 2021.
The application deadline for children aged 0 to 12, and for children and youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs, is being extended to February 8.