Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Our Sector

The increasing seriousness of the current coronavirus pandemic has led to rapid changes in our daily lives. PRO, like all other organizations in Ontario, is coming to grips with the impact of COVID-19 on our programs and services. While the future is uncertain, one thing is clear: we all have an important role to play in “flattening the curve” of this pandemic.


Prior to the Province declaring a state of emergency, PRO had made the difficult decision not to hold the upcoming Educational Forum and Trade Show on March 24-27. The Annual General Meeting, scheduled for March 26, 2020, has also been postponed and will happen via web-conference in the coming weeks. PRO has also closed its physical office, opting instead for staff to work from home. All PRO staff can still be reached by phone and email.

We ask for your patience as we explore our options to continue to provide you, our valued members, with opportunities for education and networking in a safe and healthy environment. We will be reaching out to all Forum registered delegates, exhibitors and sponsors regarding next steps very soon. We also continue to support organizations planning to hold HIGH FIVE trainings over the coming months.

PRO is also in contact with the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries to provide them with information about the impact on our sector. Additionally, PRO, along with allied organizations like AMO, is calling on the government to extend the deadline for current regulatory postings.

As things have been changing daily, PRO is assessing the best way it can support its members. Your best source for information continues to be local public health, and the Ministry of Health website. However, as developments happen, PRO will be proactively providing information to its members either through teleconferences or email.

The Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries is asking for feedback from the sector on the impact of the pandemic. They would also like your opinion on what government can do to support the sector. Click here to take the short survey.

What can local Parks and Recreation do?
The province-wide state of emergency means all indoor facilities providing recreation programs must be closed, along with licensed childcare. Some municipalities and other recreation providers had already taken this step, and we have no idea yet what may be coming in the next weeks or even months. Parks, trails and Conservation Authorities continue to provide opportunities for recreation, but we have also been told to practice social distancing. Here are a few common themes that are emerging:

Public Health Experts
Everyone should be working with their local public health officials to ensure that all public notices, procedures or policies are based on the current evidence. Things are changing so rapidly that we need to have open lines of communication.

Use of Public Outdoor Space
Public health officials are asking everyone to practice social distancing by keeping six feet of distance between individuals. In a playground, that can be a challenge for families. Again, work with your local public health unit to ensure you are responding appropriately and providing consistent messages to your citizens. Consider talking with your public health unit about providing guidance for outdoor play through signage, public service announcements or other methods of direct communication with the general public. Offer ideas for activities for families that limit close contact.

Taking the advice of public health, consider turning off outdoor drinking fountains and drinking fountains in other public buildings that remain open. Put up additional signage about hand hygiene in park washroom facilities if they remain open.

Long term impact on planning and staffing
The experts can’t yet predict when we will be “back to normal” or what the “new normal” might be. Contingency and emergency planning is going on in our communities, but we must also plan for a return to providing the vital programs and services. When the situation stabilizes, PRO will bring together senior leaders from across the province to discuss common approaches that we can take as a sector.

Last week, PRO made the decision not to hold the 25th Anniversary Educational Forum and Trade Show from March 24-27, 2020. We have rescheduled the event for Monday, November 23 until Thursday November 26, 2020. The event will be still be held at Blue Mountain Conference Centre.

We are still working out many of the details, but we will have the same great program with as many of the keynote speakers and session presenters as we can secure for the new dates. Information has been sent to delegates, exhibitors and sponsors with details on registration and accommodation.

The Parks and Recreation Ontario Annual General Meeting, scheduled for March 26, 2020 at the PRO Educational Forum has been postponed and will rescheduled in compliance with PRO's By-Law No. 1. This will most likely occur in late Spring 2020.


For more information about the event or if you did not receive an email regarding your registration, please visit our conference website: or email Mike Hood at


Note from Title Sponsor Legend Recreation Software

“As title sponsor Legend understands and fully supports the decision taken by Parks and Recreation Ontario to step back from holding the PRO Educational Forum as originally scheduled for March 24-27, 2020. It’s a tough decision but the right one, especially with our responsibilities as an industry to lead by example for public health and wellness. We applaud the PRO Committee’s swift and decisive action at this relatively early stage of the current coronavirus global health crisis’ development in Canada.”

Sean Maguire, Managing Director and Jeremy Ham, Vice President, Canada


Contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit if you are experiencing symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus. Please do not visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a healthcare professional. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency.