With the steady decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and ICU admissions in addition to stabilizing health human resources, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and Ontario Health, is lifting Directive 2 to begin a gradual and cautious resumption of non-urgent and non-emergent surgeries and procedures across the province.
“Thanks to the sacrifices of Ontarians and unwavering efforts of our health care workers, we are now in a position to resume additional surgeries and procedures,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We recognize the impact these measures have had on patients and together with our hospital partners we will ensure patients can continue to access the health care they need when they need it.”
Resumption of non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures will follow a planned phased approach across the province, in alignment with guidance provided by Ontario Health. As these services cautiously resume, the province’s hospitals will continue to work in partnership to ensure that all regions have the capacity to resume services and no one is left behind, and when local conditions permit.
In addition, effective immediately, Ontario students can once again benefit from extra-curricular activities, including high-contact sports in schools. In alignment with advice from public health officials, layers of protection will remain in place to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including masking and daily on-site confirmation of screening. Students and other participants will be required to wear a mask while on school premises but may temporarily remove their mask where required, to enable active participation in activities such as playing basketball or musical instruments. Indoor curriculum-based programs including health and physical education and music, will continue with similar masking and other health and safety requirements in place.
“I have always believed that sports and extra-curricular are an essential part of a student’s learning journey and support positive mental and physical health,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “That is why, with the full support of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, students can partake in extra-curricular high-contact sports and activities in Ontario schools. This will allow students to participate in activities like indoor basketball, volleyball, choir, and wind instrument ensembles – activities that help students become well-rounded leaders, build teamwork skills, and support the development of students.”
“Thanks to the efforts of Ontarians to go out to get their booster dose and to adhere to current public health and workplace safety measures, the province has seen a recent steady decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and ICU admissions,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “While the months ahead will require continued vigilance, our hard work has allowed us to gradually and cautiously lift public health measures to let children and youth in schools participate in extra-curricular activities, and public hospitals to resume non-urgent surgeries and procedures.”
- On January 5, 2022, the Chief Medical Officer of Health reinstated Directive 2 as a time-limited measure, pausing all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity.
- On February 1, 2022, Directive 2 was revised to resume certain clinical activities including diagnostic imaging, cancer screening, and non-urgent and emergent surgeries and procedures in paediatric specialty hospitals.
- Since Ontario entered modified Step Two, over 202,000 Ontarians have received a first dose and 2,575,000 Ontarians have received their booster.
- Ontario has also built unprecedented hospital capacity since the start of the pandemic, including $5.1 billion to add 3,100 beds across the province.
- Since March 2020, the government has launched emergency programs that have already added over 6,700 health care professionals to the system, including acute care settings, long-term care homes and home and community care settings that help to preserve hospital capacity.
- To further support the province’s cautious easing of public health measures, Ontario is expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use. 5.5 million rapid tests will be distributed each week for eight weeks, with 5 million through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province and 500,000 through community partners in vulnerable communities.
- In response to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, Ontario updated its COVID-19 testing and isolation guidelines. Learn more about what to do if you have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19.
- To ensure schools are as safe as possible, since the outbreak of the Omicron variant the Ontario government has added layers of protection to support the return to more normal learning, including expanded access to vaccines, optional non-fit-tested N95 masks for education staff and three-ply masks for students, and the deployment of millions of rapid tests to help reduce risk.
- These measures are in addition to more than $600 million invested in ventilation improvements at schools, including the deployment of more than 70,000 HEPA filter units and other ventilation devices.