TORONTO, Ont. – Ontario has extended the validation periods for driver, vehicle and carrier products as well as health cards in a bid to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The move was announced Thursday by Premier Doug Ford.
“We’re suspending all renewals for driver’s licences, licence plate stickers and health cards. It is just one less thing to worry about,” Ford told a news conference.
The extensions eliminate the need for in-person visits to ServiceOntario, DriveTest centers and other provincial government offices, helping to promote social distancing to contain the spread of the virus.
Expiring and expired health cards will continue to provide access to health services.
Ford spoke as health officials reported 43 more cases of Covid-19 in the province, taking the total infections to 257. Two people have died, including one death reported Thursday. Nationwide, the virus has sickened nearly 700 people, killing nine of them.
Supply chain worries
Ford also said the government will ease regulations governing deliveries so that grocery stores and other retail outlets can accept shipments round the clock.
Many stores have reduced opening hours to limit person-to-person contacts in the fight against the virus.
But Ford made an impassioned plea to Ontarians to take the pressure off the supply chain.
“Please don’t hoard, and don’t panic buy,” he pleaded. “If we all do our part, there should be plenty of supplies for everyone.”
Later in the day, the Ontario government convened an emergency sitting of the legislature and passed two pieces of legislation.
One of them will help keep store shelves stocked while the other will protect the jobs of employees who self-isolate or quarantine.
The Municipal Emergency Act 2020 will ensure that, for the near future, the delivery of goods to Ontario’s businesses and consumers is not impacted by municipal noise bylaws that may unintentionally be impeding such deliveries.
Medical or vision reports
In a separate announcement, the Ministry of Transportation said it is automatically extending the due dates for medical or vision reports, further reducing the need for in-person visits.
“This extension will be in place until such time that, based on the advice of Ontario’s chief medical officer of health and public health officials, the current situation improves.”
The ministry added it will continue to deliver time-critical services, including Motor Vehicle Inspection Station stock orders and single-trip oversize/overweight permits.
“We’re working with all partners across the system to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario,” said Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney.
“These changes will help relieve the burden already faced by Ontarians and businesses by providing more time to renew their licences and permits without being penalized, while also reducing the need for in-person visits.”
PMTC welcomes changes
The Private Motor Truck Council of Canada welcomed the measures announced by Ford, saying the changes will allow shelves to be restocked at all times.
“These are items that the PMTC and others in the industry have been asking for,” the organization said in an email.
“We are in communication with other jurisdictions to encourage them to act on these items as well.”
– This story has been updated to include the passing of emergency legislation by the Ontario government.
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