Premier Doug Ford used his afternoon press conference to offer more clarity on the announcement forthcoming on Thursday.
"These are strictly guidelines that are coming out," the premier told the press. "We aren't quite there yet" for a full-fledged path to start Stage 1 of the province's reopening, he added.
The premier's comments followed mixed messages that were offered on Tuesday, when he said that Stage 1 would start on Thursday, which was later walked back in a clarification from his office that the details of what Stage 1 would entail would be announced that day. The vague parameters that the government announced in late-April say that some stores that meet public health guidelines could open, and that the restrictions on the number of people that gather could be loosened. More details are expected Thursday.
One of those foreshadowed details could include golf courses, with the premier hinting that tomorrow's announcement will allow the facilities to prepare for the golfing season, under socially distant rules.
"We're asking people to get ready for stage one," the premier explained.
Transit is becoming a third rail in a turf war between the provincial and federal governments.
Premier Doug Ford once again called on Ottawa to step up to bail out the Toronto Transit Commission, which is projected to run out of money by Labour Day due to the pandemic.
Like transit organizations all across the country, the TTC has taken a huge hit as ridership has plummeted during the pandemic while some costs, like cleaning, have escalated. The TTC, which operates the country's largest transit system, has already seen temporary layoffs that affected 1,200 employees as it tries to limit the damage. Despite the moves, the agency is expected to run a $520 million deficit by Labour Day, a total which outstrips the city's fiscal capacity to deal with the crisis.
Ford acknowledged the difficult situation, saying that "we're looking at that" and meeting about the issue. But he used the opportunity to try to get Ottawa to come to the table, although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has reiterated in recent days that transit is a provincial responsibility. "They're going to need our support," he said. "We're going to be at the table," he added, suggesting that some kind of bailout is in the cards.
But Ford said the feds have to be there too. "It's too big of a ticket," for the province to handle alone, he argued.
Ontario is projected to take on a significant deficit due to the pandemic, with the independent Financial Accountability Office projecting Tuesday that a $41 billion deficit is in the cards; that's twice what the provincial government forecast in its mini-budget.
Health Minister Christine Elliott signalled that more news about surveillance testing is forthcoming.
"Surveillance testing in the general community is really important," she said, stressing that it's critical when public health restrictions are loosened to understand how the virus is spreading so that adjustments can be made.
She indicated that another announcement about the subject could be coming next week.
"We will be rolling out a plan with respect to that very soon," she added.
Ontario has mostly struggled with testing thus far and has regularly failed to meet the government's stated targets. The government has cited the lack of availability of swabs and reagent, and difficulty getting samples to labs, as issues in ramping up testing.
The latest numbers saw 329 additional positive cases in the province, as well as another 40 deaths due to COVID-19. Despite this, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe was encouraged by the results, saying "We remain cautiously optimistic as the case counts continue to improve."