For the latest information on COVID-19 in Ontario please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus
Friday, April 3, 2020
Hon. Doug Ford
Premier of Ontario
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Dear Premier Ford,
Thank you for holding a briefing today on how COVID-19 may impact Ontario. I understand that you will share projections in the spirit of openness and transparency.
Ontario Liberals know that we are all in this together. It is only through collective action that we will stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
Last week I wrote to you to ask that non-essential construction projects be put on hold. I think it is now more important than ever to put a pause on all work that is not truly essential, and I urge you to act quickly. We must protect workers and their families – nothing is more important than the health of Ontarians.
As you know I am committed to helping the government fight COVID-19. It’s in that spirit that I want to share the following recommendations:
- Better coordination of community health labs so that they are not underused. Ontario’s overall testing capacity would increase if the tests are spread out to take advantage of each lab’s capacity.
- Follow the lead of jurisdictions like South Korea and expand testing criteria to include non-symptomatic but high-risk individuals. Priority should go to testing patients with Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) symptoms. Once capacity is increased in the province asymptomatic patients should be screened if they are asked to self-isolate.
- Commit to full and transparent reporting of relevant data in real-time. Data should be drawn from the critical care information system provided by critical care services in Ontario. The most important information is not the amount of new cases. We need to know the number of patients in critical care who have COVID-19 or are presumed to have COVID-19.
- Working alongside Ontario’s nurses, doctors and PSWs, create standards and protocols for the re-use and sterilization of personal protective equipment (PPE). We must look at the science behind reusing equipment as supply chains are being massively disrupted. It’s important to have protocols and standards developed now for this worst-case scenario. We should not wait until a facility runs out of PPE to provide guidance. Every effort must be made to ensure a continuous supply of PPE to all healthcare workers.
Additionally, I would urge you to once again consider the following:
- Presumptive WSIB coverage for all healthcare workers impacted by COVID-19, including both physical and mental health supports. These workers are on the frontlines every day and they need to know that we have their backs.
- Through the Command Table, the province should examine the feasibility and need to utilize our pool of foreign-trained healthcare professionals. According to Health Force Ontario there are 13,000 foreign-educated doctors and 6,000 foreign-educated nurses whose expertise can assist the province at this time. Other jurisdictions, like the states of New York and New Jersey, are taking this approach. While some progress is being made on this, existing programs must be better publicized, and more professionals should be engaged.
- Through the Command Table, the province should examine the feasibility and need to mobilize a broader cross section of healthcare professionals. There are technicians and assistants trained in fields like dentistry, cosmetic surgery, and veterinary medicine currently not working. Their experience and training may also be leveraged in some way to assist during this crisis.
Premier, despite the best efforts of officials at all levels sometimes it feels as though Ontario is playing catch-up. I urge you to take all actions necessary to protect the health and safety of Ontarians. Health and safety must come first.
Steven Del Duca
Leader, Ontario Liberal Party