Ontario sets up locations for COVID-19 assessment centres and postpones public health cuts

Posted on March 12, 2020 in Health Delivery System

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TheStar.com – Provincial Politics

Ontario is set to open its “first wave” of COVID-19 assessment centres in the next several days with several locations in the Greater Toronto Area and postponing the effects of planned public health cuts for a year.

Premier Doug Ford’s government said Thursday it will extend “one-time mitigation funding” for the controversial cuts announced in last year’s provincial budget, keeping the funding for public health units in 2021 at the same level as this year.

This move “recognizes the considerable time and resources necessary for public health units to effectively respond to COVID-19,” a statement said.

The initial assessment centres will be at Brampton Civic Hospital, The Ottawa Hospital, North York General Hospital, Mackenzie Health in York Region, Scarborough Health Network, and Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, the government announced Thursday.

They will be separate from the hospital emergency departments, leaving them clear for other patients, and allow the province to “rapidly expand screening in these areas that are now seeing significant growth in testing for the new coronavirus.”

More sites will be established in the coming weeks as the virus that originated in China and has spread to dozens of countries is expected to take deeper hold in Ontario, with public health authorities saying the province is on the verge of person-to-person spread.

“We’re preparing for the worst-case scenario,” Health Minister Christine Elliott told reporters in Ottawa where she, Premier Doug Ford and other ministers are spending Thursday and Friday in meetings with federal counterparts.

Parts of Ontariot serviced by the assessment centres will be served by hospital emergency wards.

The province is also boosting resources for Telehealth Ontario, which has seen high call volumes and long waits as people call in with questions about the new coronavirus.

Ford yesterday announced a $100-million contingency fund for COVID-19.


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