March 24th, COVID-19 UPDATE

The number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the globe and in Canada. Canada now has just over 2000 cases and over 20 deaths. Ontario now has just under 600 confirmed cases.

The Assembly of First Nations has declared a state of emergency for all First Nations across the country as an effort to attempt to secure additional resources (see AFN attachment for more information).

The Ontario Regional Chief has advised all First Nations to issue a “shelter in place” directive and lock down their communities continuing work and services necessary for food supplies, personal protective equipment, medicine, and other essentials. (See ORC attachment for further details). Ontario has declared a state of emergency in the province and mandated closure of all non-essential businesses. Businesses considered essential services in this order include those that fall under the following categories:

  1. Essential supply chain
  2. Essential retail/wholesale
  3. Food service (take out or delivery only) and accommodations
  4. Essential Institutional, Residential, Commercial and Industrial Maintenance
  5. Telecommunications and IT Infrastructure/Service Providers

The official list with detailed descriptions is attached to this email and also available here:

Ontario has mandated licensed retirement homes to only allow essential visitors, which include people visiting residents who are very ill or require end-of-life care. Actively screen for essential visitors and staff before they enter the home is also required.

An order allowing hospitals to cancel and postpone certain services in order to free-up space and staff to address the COVID-19 pandemic has also been put in place in the province.

Ontario Health has updated its COVID-19 self-assessment tool to be more interactive and more user-friendly. If you feel any symptoms of COVID-19, do an online assessment to determine your next course of action for seeking medical attention. (Access online assessment tool here:

If you have flu-like symptoms or feel sick, you can also contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-000, your local public health unit, or your regular medical practitioner. Do not show up at a medical facility of any kind without contacting them in advance.

Restrictions and prohibitions applied to public events and gatherings remain in place until further notice. Every person is being asked to continue to practice social/physical distancing. Vulnerable people, anyone returning from travel, and anyone exhibiting any symptoms is required to self-isolate. (

As many people are now staying in their homes, they are encouraged to maintain healthy routine practices as much as possible. Public health suggestions include making personal and family schedules to ensure you are taking breaks from work, maintaining regular sleeping, healthy eating, and exercise, as best as possible.  Use telephone or online methods to maintain contact with friends and family, or to access mental health supports.

Public Health Unit Contact:

Telehealth Ontario: 1-866-797-0000

Essential businesses in Ontario:

How to self-isolate:

Symptoms and Treatment:

Ontario State of Emergency:

How to protect yourself:

Ontario COVID website:

Canada COVID website:

Chiefs of Ontario COVID webpage: