Canada Ford to make announcement with stay-at-home order set to expire next week
Maybe border restrictions could be tighter — but Ford is in no position to cast stones
Ontario Premier Doug Ford — previously a big fan of Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland — is suddenly very eager to let Ontarians how unhappy he is with how Justin Trudeau's government is handling the pandemic. Ford's office sent a news release to reporters at Queen's Park on Tuesday to alert them to the fact that the provincial government had sent three "urgent" letters to the federal government calling for stricter border measures to better screen travellers to Ontario for COVID-19. Ford's Progressive Conservative party has also now purchased ads on Facebook to criticize the federal government's handling of the border.
Premier Doug Ford is set to make an announcement Thursday, a week ahead of the scheduled end of Ontario's provincewide stay-at-home order.
It will be the first time Ford has taken questions at a news conference in more than a week.
Ford's office says he will be joined at the noon announcement by the minister of health and solicitor general, as well as Ontario's chief medical officer of health. You'll be able to watch it live in this story.
‘Nothing will dissuade’ Ford from continuing with sports lockdown
Prepare yourself, Ontario, for two more weeks of no-sports misery. Although sports organizers — on behalf of millions of frustrated, idled, even depressed young athletes across the province — are valiantly fighting back against the Ontario government’s current ban, it’s all for naught, apparently. Postmedia has learned Premier Doug Ford’s office told tennis leaders this week it has no plans to budge from its decision early last month to prevent hundreds of thousands of Ontarians from playing their sport of choice before May 20, when province-wide emergency lockdown measures are scheduled to expire.
This morning, Ford released another letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau requesting enhanced COVID-19 measures at Canada's borders, including:
- Reducing the number of international flights coming to Canada, particularly Ontario.
- Mandatory COVID-19 tests for domestic travellers.
- Requiring those crossing at a land border to spend three days in a quarantine hotel.
Ford said he has now sent four letters asking for the various measures without a formal response from the federal government. He went on to point out that the B117 variant, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is now the dominant strain in Ontario, accounting for almost all new infections.
"Existing measures at the border, an area of federal responsibility, failed to keep variants of concern out of Canada. These variants entered our province through our borders and, as a result, have had devastating impacts on our communities," Ford said.
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Notably, the provincial government's own scientific advisors warned back in early February that Ontario faced a potentially explosive third wave due to the prevalance of variants already in the country.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking on Toronto-based CP24, accused Ford of "pointing fingers" and urged the premier to instead work with the federal government instead of attacking it.
Meanwhile, there's still a question about what the province will do with its stay-at-home order.
The order was initially implemented on April 8, as cases of COVID-19 due to the B117 variant were growing exponentially, and was supposed to last 28 days. Shortly after it went into effect, though, it was extended until at least May 20. Health Minister Christine Elliott hinted this week it may be extended until early June, but that hasn't been confirmed.
Infectious disease experts and many physicians, including the Ontario Medical Association, have already said that the order will need to stay in place past its current expiry to ensure there is not a resurgence in cases and hospitalizations.
'We are not out of the woods yet': Ontario extends stay-at-home order until at least June 2
Ontario Premier Doug Ford criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday over measures involving air and ground travel, calling on the federal government for putting in more stringent measures. He also disagreed with Trudeau's comment made earlier this week of having a "one dose summer, two dose fall," saying if they can get the supplies they'll have a "two dose summer."
Dr. Peter Jüni, scientific director of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, said this week that the pandemic is now "sort of under control" in the province but easing restrictions too early could impede the progress being made.
Ontario: New daily cases of COVID-19
Daily case counts, total hospitalizations and admissions to critical care are all on the decline, but still far from levels that would allow for any significant reopening, especially in harder-hit regions of southern Ontario.
Ideally daily cases would be around 800, Jüni said, so that the testing and contact tracing system "can begin to work again." The seven-day average of daily cases in Ontario currently stands at 2,826.
Moreover, as of Tuesday, there were still 776 people with COVID-related illnesses being treated in ICUs. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, has said he'd like to see overall ICU admissions to drop below 150 before public health measures are eased.
That said, the science advisory table has called on the government to consider amending limits on outdoor activities.
"We need a clear distinction between indoor and outdoor space," Jüni told CBC Radio's Metro Morning in an interview yesterday.
"We can start to open up outdoor spaces safely. This will make a difference for how we all feel."
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