On May 6, 2020, Ontario announced an extension of its emergency order to May 19, 2020. This is an extension from the previous order extending the order to May 12, 2020. The state of emergency order mandates the closure of outdoor amenities including parks and recreational areas, the closure of non-essential workplaces, public places, bars, and restaurants. It also restricts social gatherings to 5 people or less.
Ontario now has capacity to complete up to 17,000 tests per day and is now the leading province in Canada in terms of the testing volume and per capita testing. Ontario’s testing strategy prioritizes the most vulnerable, including those in long-term care homes, retirement homes, group homes, shelters, and other shared living spaces. Ontario is in the process of testing every resident and staff member in every long-term care home in the region.
Indigenous peoples and communities are also included as vulnerable populations in Ontario guidelines for testing. The testing rate in First Nations is similar to the testing rates of mainstream Ontarians, sitting around 1.3% for First Nations people living outside of communities and 1.5% of people living within their communities.
RESOURCES – PROVINCIAL
On May 6, 2020, the province announced that part of their $12 million investment in mental health support for COVID-19 would be dedicated to virtual and online mental health supports available to everyone in Ontario, as well as supports specific to health care workers, youth, and kids. More information will be forwarded on these supports as it becomes available. These supports can be accessed without cost immediately through the following:
1-866-531-2600 or https://www.connexontario.ca/
(connects and directs towards services in Ontario appropriate for your need)
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or https://kidshelpphone.ca/ (telephone and online chat support for youth and children)
BounceBack: 1-866-531-2600 or https://bouncebackontario.ca/ (self-led mental health training and resources online for ages 15 and over)
Big White Wall: https://www.bigwhitewall.com/?lang=en-ca?lang=en-ca?lang=en-ca (group support chats)
MindBeacon: https://www.mindbeacon.com/ (Internet based cognitive behavioural therapy)
Morneau Shepell: https://ontario.abiliticbt.com/home
(Internet based cognitive behavioural therapy)
Further information on the mental health supports in Ontario can be accessed here:
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES – FEDERAL
The First Nations Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) of Indigenous Services Canada has launched a Hope for Wellness Help Line that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free to offer counselling and crisis intervention.
Chat is available in English, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut by calling: 1-855-242-3310
You can also connect to the online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.
The federal government has launched a mainstream online mental wellness portal called Wellness Together Canada. It provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals. The portal is available here:
The 10 Indigenous Navigators working in Ontario’s Regional Cancer Programs. Due to pandemic responses in Ontario, Indigenous Navigators may have to be redeployed from regular sites and duties to assist where needs are greatest.
Indigenous Navigators are still able to connect with and provide guidance to First Nation, Inuit, Métis and Urban Indigenous cancer patients. They are able to see patients currently staying in the hospital and communicate and consult with others via telephone or online mediums, such as Zoom and FaceTime.
Further information is contained in the attached memo from Cancer Care Ontario.
Updated policies regarding cancer screening and surgeries is provided in the memo called Updates from Cancer Care Ontario.
Ontario Renal Network has announced that while Chronic Kidney Disease services and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) patients continue to be served, kidney transplant activities have been scaled back and paused. Further detail is contained in the attachment called Update from Ontario Renal Network.
CONFIRMED CASES – FIRST NATIONS IN ONTARIO
There are 61 First Nations people in Ontario who have contracted COVID-19. Of these cases, 34 are First Nation people living outside of their community and 27 are people living in their communities.
The rate of positives in First Nations is less than the rate in mainstream Ontario with 3.9% positivity rate for people living within First Nation communities and 2.3% of people living outside their communities testing positive, while Ontario as a whole is reporting a positive test rate of 7.1%.
Further detail on First Nations testing and case data is provided in the attached document from the Chiefs of Ontario. Updated data specific to First Nations in Ontario will continue to be provided weekly.
CONFIRMED CASES – ONTARIO
Data reports indicate that the province is now in the peak period of spread of COVID-19 with the amount of new cases reported daily dropping to about 350-450.
Reported cases are concentrated in long-term care homes, retirement homes, and other congregate living settings. There are now 175 long-term care homes and 66 retirement homes in outbreak in the province. Residents long-term care homes account for over 1,000 of the 1,429 deaths reported in Ontario while residents of retirement homes account for 150 deaths. Four health care workers in Ontario have died as a result of contracting COVID-19 and 280 have been hospitalized.
To monitor updated case number data in the province go to: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus#section-0
On April 27, 2020, Ontario announced a framework for loosening public health restrictions and re-opening businesses and services in the province.
The framework sets criteria, indicators, and principles to guide a gradual and phased re-opening of businesses and services within Ontario. There are no dates included in the framework.
Certain businesses that were ordered to close during the pandemic and are able to immediately meet (or can modify operations to meet) public health guidance and occupational health and safety requirements for COVID-19 (ie. social distancing requirements and sanitation requirements) have been allowed to re-open as of Monday, May 4th, 2020. A full list of businesses allowed to open is available here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/05/certain-businesses-allowed-to-reopen-under-strict-safety-guidelines.html
Re-opening guidelines for businesses in 65 sectors can be accessed here: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/04/health-and-safety-association-guidance-documents-for-workplaces-during-the-covid-19-outbreak.html
The Ministry of Health is currently working on a plan to reinstate elective surgeries and will make announcements soon. Hospitals in the province are reported to have 77% capacity remaining and are deploying additional capacity to long-term care residences part of Ontario’s COVID-19 action plan for long-term care. This action plan is available here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-action-plan-long-term-care-homes
The full re-opening framework can be accessed here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/framework-reopening-our-province
CONTACT INFO AND RESOURCES
Public Health Unit Contact: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/common/system/services/phu/locations.aspx
Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000
Mental Health Supports
Hope for Wellness: 1-855-242-3310 or www.hopeforwellnes.ca
Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or https://kidshelpphone.ca/
self-assessment tool: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/self-assessment/#q0)
Ontario COVID-19 website: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus
Canada COVID-19 website: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
World Health Organization COVID-19 site: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Chiefs of Ontario COVID-19 webpage: https://chiefsofontario.wordpress.com/
*The information contained within this memo is provided for your information and usage as appropriate. It is collected from various sources and does not necessarily reflect the concerns or positions of the AIAI First Nations