Ontario officially extends state of emergency as it gradually reopens businesses

May 12 2020, 12:05 pm

The Ontario government has officially extended the Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 2.

According to the province, this additional time will ensure it has the necessary tools and health care capacity to contain COVID-19, while gradually reopening businesses, services, and amenities safely.

The new state of emergency declaration was passed during a special sitting of the Ontario Legislature on Tuesday afternoon. It allows Ontario to continue “to enforce current emergency orders, such as restricting retirement and long-term care home employees from working in more than one facility and prohibiting events and gatherings of more than five people.”

The emergency was first declared on March 17.

“We are making steady progress to flatten the curve and get more people back to work safely, including our legislators, but we still have far to go in defeating COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Extending the declaration of emergency will allow us to continue to take action to protect Ontarians, while carefully and cautiously reopening more parts of our economy.”

The province said the House also passed the COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020, which will help people conduct business while practising physical distancing by:

  • Providing authority to address in-person attendance rules for school board trustees’ meetings in regulation
  • Enabling corporations to call and hold meetings virtually, as applicable, and extending the time period in which annual meetings must be held in specific circumstances;
  • Allowing designations of a beneficiary to be provided electronically for Retirement Savings Plans, Retirement Income Funds, Locked-in Retirement Accounts, Life Income Funds and Tax-Free Savings Accounts;
  • Allowing electronic filing of business registration documents, and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of business registration documents and e-signatures;
  • Allowing for regulations to set out the parameters for remotely commissioning or notarizing a document;
  • Extending, on a one-time basis for 2020, the legislated four-year period during which a Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) election is mandated to be held to give more time to support remote voting.

In a release, the province said that Expenditure Estimates for the 2020-21 fiscal year were also tabled in the Legislature.

“This includes program spending to support the $17 billion announced as part of Ontario’s Action Plan 2020: Responding to COVID-19 to ensure the province’s health care system, communities, and economy are better positioned to weather challenges posed by the pandemic,” reads the release.

Government House Leader Paul Calandra said today’s legislation is just one step further in the fight against the coronavirus.

“We are all eager to reopen the economy and return to work, while physical distancing remains an important reality,” said Calandra. “Today’s legislation helps to modernize some of our economic and community activity and make many necessary interactions that much easier and safer.”

Earlier today, Ford said he would have more reopening news later into the week.

“On Thursday, we will share more good news,” Ford said during the press conference.

“More good news about getting people to work, more good news about opening more places, more good news about getting paychecks out the door, and more good news about slowly getting back to normal.”