Executive summary

On April 7, 2021, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) and other health experts, declared a third provincial emergency under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). This declaration was in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19covid 19 transmission, the pressure on hospital capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by variants of concern (VOCs). By declaring an emergency, Ontario was able to implement and enforce the necessary measures to protect the health and safety of individuals, families and communities from the threat of the COVID-19covid 19 virus.

This declared provincial emergency enabled Ontario to make new emergency orders. These orders were necessary to introduce new public health and workplace safety measures to respond to the third wave of the COVID-19covid 19 pandemic. These new orders were in addition to those remaining in effect under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19covid 19) Act, 2020 (ROA) and the two emergency orders made under the EMCPA during the second provincial emergency.

This report focuses on the 56-day period that the third declared provincial emergency was in effect and outlines the nine emergency orders the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) made during this period as well as two emergency orders made during the second declared provincial emergency that remained in effect under the EMCPA. The report is organized into two sections based on the challenges the emergency orders addressed:

  1. limiting the spread of COVID-19covid 19
  2. continuity of critical services to support vulnerable sectors


Once the third provincial emergency was declared, the Ontario government made, and amended where necessary, emergency orders under section 7.0.2 of the EMCPA. This was done in consultation with the CMOH and other health experts, based on data, evidence and immediate need to respond to the ongoing threat of increased COVID-19covid 19 transmission. Emergency orders under section 7.0.2 are automatically revoked 14 days after being made unless extended by order of the LGIC and can only be extended by Cabinet for periods of up to 14 days. The LGIC may, by order, extend the effective period of an order made under subsection 7.0.2 (4) for periods of no more than 14 days where the extension is necessary to deal with the effects of the emergency.

Based on improvements in trends of key public health indicators, the third declared provincial emergency was not extended beyond the end of the day on June 2, 2021 in accordance with the EMCPA. In response to a downward trend in COVID-19covid 19 case numbers and steady improvement in hospital system capacity, the government introduced the Roadmap to Reopen, a three-step plan to safely and cautiously reopen the province and gradually ease public health and workplace safety measures in effect under the ROA. Under the Roadmap to Reopen, decisions to gradually lift public health measures are based on the province-wide vaccination rate and improvements in key indicators.

Approach to developing emergency orders

All emergency orders made under the EMCPA were based on public health information and evidence available at the time, with the intent to address COVID-19covid 19 challenges while limiting intrusiveness. The province considered the advice of the CMOH, the Public Health Measures Table, local medical officers of health and other health partners across the system.

Data indicated that COVID-19covid 19 cases were spreading rapidly through communities across the province and across a variety of settings and sectors. It was necessary for the emergency orders to apply province-wide due to the widespread nature of the pandemic, and to mitigate the risk of the health care system becoming overwhelmed. Once data showed key public health and health system indicators were improving, including the provincial vaccination rate, certain orders made under the EMCPA were not extended.

Emergency orders made during the third declared provincial emergency

The objectives of the emergency orders made under the third declared provincial emergency were to limit the spread of COVID-19covid 19, including VOCs, protect the public health and health care system and enable the continuity of critical services to support vulnerable sectors.

  1. Limiting the spread of COVID-19covid 19
    • O. Reg. 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19covid 19 Measures)
    • O. Reg. 55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes)
    • O. Reg. 265/21 (Stay-at-Home Order)
    • O. Reg. 266/21 (Residential Evictions)
    • O. Reg. 288/21 (Closure of Public Lands for Recreational Camping)
    • O. Reg. 293/21 (Persons Entering Ontario from Manitoba or Québec)

Ontario sought to reduce the spread of COVID-19covid 19 by limiting the purposes for which people could leave their home to reduce the number of contacts people had with others outside their household.

On April 8, 2021, O. Reg. 265/21 (Stay-at-Home Order) came into effect and applied provincewide. This emergency order required everyone to remain at home unless leaving was necessary for one or more of the permitted purposes in the order such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), outdoor exercise or work that could not be done remotely.

Other measures used to reduce the transmission included the restriction of travel into Ontario from Manitoba and Québec with certain exceptions, the closure of public lands for recreational camping and the temporary suspension of the enforcement of residential evictions to ensure people were not forced to leave their homes while the Stay-at-Home Order was in effect.

To increase public compliance with the Stay-at-Home Order and other orders under the EMCPA, the ROA and the Health Protection and Promotion Act, (HPPA) the government also strengthened enforcement measures that had been put in place during the second declared provincial emergency.

In addition, Ontario continued to extend measures that had been made during the second declared provincial emergency to enhance the compliance authority as set out in the Retirement Homes Act, 2010 to allow the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority (RHRA) to require a retirement home to implement measures to prevent, respond and alleviate the effects of COVID-19covid 19 where there was a risk or harm to residents.

  1. Continuity of critical services to support vulnerable sectors
    • O. Reg. 304/21 (Work Redeployment for Independent Health Facilities)
    • O. Reg. 305/21 (Regulated Health Professionals)
    • O. Reg. 271/21 (Work Redeployment for Local Health Integration Networks and Ontario Health)
    • O. Reg. 272/21 (Transfer of Hospital Patients)
    • O. Reg. 317/21 (Agreements Between Health Service Providers and Retirement Homes

Orders were made to allow certain employers to take reasonable measures, as necessary, related to work deployment and staffing to support the health care system. These measures were put into place to address a gap or resource pressure.

In response to trends in COVID-19covid 19 cases and ICU occupancy in Ontario hospitals, and in anticipation of capacity strains due to large case numbers, orders were also made to enable the transfer of patients to alternate hospital sites, long-term care homes or retirement homes, and to permit health care professionals certified in other provinces and territories to work in Ontario. These measures were made to maximize capacity across the hospital system during the third wave of the COVID-19covid 19 pandemic.