Ontario Supporting COVID-19 Response in High Priority Communities

Community Ambassadors Providing Specialized Assistance to Better Protect Individuals and Families

TORONTO – The Ontario government continues to implement its  High Priority Communities Strategy  to provide targeted supports to 15 communities hardest hit by COVID-19. As part of the strategy, the province is providing $12.5 million to local lead agencies to work in partnership with Ontario Health, public health units, municipalities, and other community partners to help high risk neighbourhoods contain the spread of the virus and access services to better protect individuals and families.

“We know that COVID-19 has impacted some communities much worse than others due to some of the barriers to accessing critical services,” said Premier Doug Ford. “This strategy starts to break down these barriers by offering people assistance in a variety of languages to ensure these communities know where to get PPE, get tested or isolate safely away from loved ones.”

The province is also investing up to $42 million under the High Priority Communities Strategy to create about 1,500 spaces in approximately 11 COVID-19 isolation centres so people can self-isolate and keep their families and communities safe. The voluntary centres provide a range of wraparound supports and services, including meals, security, transportation, and links to health and social services, free of charge. The strategy will support other populations and communities facing barriers related to the determinants of health across Ontario who are at greater COVID-19 risk (e.g. Black and other racialized populations).

To further help those impacted by COVID-19 and in need of financial assistance, the government is also providing emergency income support to people who are facing a crisis situation and not receiving support from Ontario Works, or the Ontario Disability Support Program. A single individual could receive up to $733 a month in emergency income support.

In addition, more than 160 Community Ambassadors have been engaged and more than 225 are being hired to deliver much-needed targeted outreach and communications to members of these communities. This outreach includes providing contact information and details on financial and isolation supports in multiple languages. In addition, through collaboration with local partners, the province is implementing and expanding multiple testing approaches including the opening of mobile and pop-up clinics and rapid testing. 184 testing sites have been opened and nearly 9,800 PPE kits have been shipped and distributed to community members.

“Our government is taking action to support communities that have been hit the hardest by this devastating virus,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Through the High Priority Communities Strategy, we are supporting local community agencies in strengthening outreach and education, improving access to testing and COVID-19-related services, and connecting individuals and families with the wraparound supports they need to help keep themselves and their loved ones healthy and safe.”

Quick Facts

  • From January 26 to February 1, 2021, 82,164 COVID-19 tests were performed in high priority communities.
  • If you are in a crisis or emergency situation, need help paying for food and housing, and are not already on Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), you can apply for COVID-19 emergency assistance. Visit Ontario.ca/EmergencyAssistance for more information.
  • On February 8, 2021, the Ontario government announced it is maintaining the shutdown in the majority of the public health regions in Ontario, including the Stay-at-Home Order. When it is safe to do so, the province will gradually transition each region from the shutdown measures to a revised and strengthened COVID-19 Response Framework.
  • Testing is available by appointment for those within provincial testing guidance at assessment centres, participating pharmacies and specimen collection centres. Please visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find a testing location and for eligibility criteria to be tested.
  • COVID-19 isolation centres are open in Toronto and Ottawa as well as the regions of York, Durham, Peel and Waterloo. For information on isolation centres and supports individuals can contact their local service manager or public health unit.
  • Learn more about the province’s emergency financial assistance at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-emergency-assistance


“Mississauga is one of the most diverse cities in the country and has also been incredibly hard hit by COVID-19. We know that our ability to connect with all of our residents on the services and supports available to them is essential in our battle against this virus. I want to thank the Ontario Government for recognizing the unique needs of our city and region and for providing us with additional support through the High Priority Communities Strategy.”

– Bonnie Crombie
Mayor of Mississauga

SOURCE  Province of Ontario

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