As rates of COVID-19 cases in Ontario continue on a downward trend, Torontonians can finally visit local restaurants and malls again, joining the rest of the province which was earlier allowed to enter Stage 2.
The City of Toronto and Peel Region have qualified to move into Stage Two of reopening starting Wednesday, June 24, the province announced yesterday.
Windsor-Essex remains the only region of the province to remain in Stage 1 until further notice.
“No one wants to see every region in Ontario open more than I do, but we have to do it right,” Premier Doug Ford said in his June 22 press conference.
“While we’ve seen the trends improve in Toronto and Peel, we haven’t yet seen those targets met in Windsor,” Ford said. “Our government is doing everything in our power to make sure [Windsor-Essex] can reopen as quickly as possible.”
The delay in Windsor’s move to Stage 2 is due to high rates of COVID-19 infection among migrant agricultural workers in the Kingsville and Leamington areas, according to a statement from Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. Three migrant workers, all from Mexico, have died of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Toronto’s reopening is a vital step forward for economic recovery as the GTA makes up “one-fifth of the totality of Canada’s economy,” said Professor Ian Lee of the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University,
“Its often been said that Ontario is the engine of Canada, and it’s true,” Lee said in a phone interview. “But more precisely, the GTA is the engine of Ontario.”
“Until the GTA gets back to work, which is finally now, [the impact on the Canadian economy] wasn’t really going to become enormously important or significant until the GTA returned,” he said.
Lee said the projected deficit for the province this year will increase to $40 billion from $10 billion. He believes the province will see tax increases next year with the next provincial budget to help pay back that projected deficit,
“I think there will be a combination of tax increases and cuts or reductions in expenditures,” Lee said.
He is optimistic that any approach in case businesses need to close down again because of a second COVID-19 wave won’t be as drastic as the initial shutdown.
“If there is a second wave, we will be much more surgical and targeted in [potential] shutdowns, and not what is called the ‘shotgun approach’ where you just shut down everything indiscriminately,” he said.
“I think the risk the next time around is going to be significantly less because of what we know, what we’ve learned, and how we will change what we do as a consequence,” Lee said.
The timeline below to see more about Ontario’s journey through its economic shutdown and its current progress in reopening.