Ontario is investing $11 million to help deliver meals and medicines to seniors and individuals with disabilities, as well as doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payments for low-income seniors facing continued hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford said the province working with the Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) to launch a new Ontario Community Support Program, which will received the funding.
The program will expand existing Meals on Wheels services to reach low-income seniors and people with disabilities and chronic medical conditions across Ontario.
The program will also develop the capacity of community organizations and others to help deliver medication and other essentials.
In addition, this week the province will also be issuing the first doubled GAINS payments.
Ford said individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month.
These doubled payments will continue for six months and provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the pandemic.
“As we face some of the darkest times in our province’s history, we have a duty to protect and care for the most vulnerable in our society,” Ford said.
“Our seniors and people with disabilities are the most at risk during this crisis, and we must go above and beyond to ensure they get financial relief, food, medicine and other essentials without delay.”
The province will says be investing $40 million in the Residential Relief Fund.
The funding will assist developmental services, child welfare, victims shelters, and organizations delivering social services to vulnerable First Nations individuals and families with COVID-related costs, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) and enhanced staffing.
In addition, the government is providing $148 million to municipal partners that administer social services with funding to support the province’s most vulnerable as part of the province’s $200 million in social services relief funding.
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On Monday, Ontario’s health officials announcement that the coronavirus community outbreak has likely peaked. However, cases are still growing in long-term care homes.
The enhanced public health measures, including staying home and physically distancing from each other, are working to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve.
Previously, the health officials said Ontario would hit its peak in May, but that given the enhanced measures, the peak came sooner than expected.
However, health officials said emergency measures must remain in place to continue reducing the number of cases and deaths.
“The province has avoided a significant surge in cases. Total cumulative cases are forecast to be substantially lower than worst case or even moderate case scenarios projected by previous models,” the province said in a release.
As of April 21, there have been 121 outbreaks reported in long-term care homes with 273 deaths reported among residents and patients.