Ford defends COVID-19 stay-at-home order

Clay Curtis
January 14, 2021

Premier Doug Ford announced a list of new restrictions for Ontario yesterday at a time when casesof COVID-19 are expected to reach alarming new heights and hospitals are almost overwhelmed, but his announcement was missing the one measure experts have been demanding for months: paid sick leave.

Pressure has been mounting on Ford to impose a new round of restrictions quickly, after he told reporters on Friday that new modelling numbers would make people "fall off your chair", but declined to share them until today. It also said more than 11,000 vaccines have been administered since its last daily report.

Under the current lockdown measures, which were imposed on December 26, Brown said mobility and contacts between people "have not decreased".

The new cases are a slight rise from the 2,903 infections reported the previous day.

In the coming months, the province says municipally-run vaccine clinics will be opened, mobile vaccination sites will be set up and other places will be able to administer the vaccine, such as pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, primary care settings and community health centres.

The government is also going to substantially expand the list of health-care workers who can administer the vaccine; pharmacists and interns, for example, will now be included. "Our government is providing police and bylaw officers with the tools, and the authority, they need to enforce these critical restrictions and protect public health".

Brown said that at five per cent growth, Ontario will see over 20,000 cases a day by mid-February and seven per cent daily growth could lead to over 40,000 cases per day.

The premier said the province intends to take action against those who do not comply.

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Elliott also confirmed labs have detected eight new cases of the highly transmissible United Kingdom coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7, bringing Ontario's total variant cases to 14. That brings the total number of deaths across the province to 5,127.

Experts, including Toronto's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam, have said introducing paid sick days is imperative to getting the virus under control as it would prevent workers from having to choose between going to work sick and staying home and losing income. "They just can't afford to miss shifts", said Jamie West, the NDP Labour Relations Critic, in a news release. The province said 205 people are in hospital as a result of COVID-19, with 36 in intensive care.

Ford made the announcement at a media conference at Queen's Park on Tuesday afternoon (January 12).

In a statement, Ontario Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca was similarly critical.

Premier Ford said the state of emergency will be in effect for at least 28 days.

"The message is very, very clear. He's lost control and continues to show he's not up to the job".

The Ontario government is expected to announce new COVID-19 measures today as well as updated projections for the pandemic's progression over the next several weeks.

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